St Matthew, CA
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St Matthew, CA
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St Matthew Church, Pacific Palisades, CA
Choral Director Tom Neenan.
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Durham            It is not only the lover of architecture who will be thrilled by Durham.  It is one of the most visually exciting cities in Britain.  The magnificent Norman Cathedral and the Castle stand proudly on a sandstone hill almost enclosed by a steep banked wooded bend of the River Wear.  It is a scene well worth looking at from every vantage point.  The best views are obtained from the railway station, Prebends Bridge, South Street, Silesgate and also Palace Green.  The Castle was built in 1069 by the Norman invaders and the town grew up under the Castle walls between the two river crossings at Elvet and Framwellgate.  Durham is not a large city but is a centre of local government and education (Durham University was created as the third university in England by an act of Parliament in 1832)
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Durham Cathedral                        The Cathedral was founded as a shrine for the body of St Cuthbert.  When Viking raids forced the monks on Lindisfarne to flee in 875.  They carried with them the body of the saint, they reached Durham in 995 after time at Chester le Street and Ripon.  In Durham the coffin seemed to become rooted to the ground and the spot for the new shrine was revealed in a vision.  By 998 they had built a church (nothing remains of this early building) it quickly became a place of pilgrimage.  The Bishops became Prince Bishops of Durham giving the city the right to raise armies, own nobility, coinage and courts.  All these privileges were ended in 1836.  The present Cathedral Church of Christ and blessed Mary the Virgin was built between 1093 and 1133 to a plan of Bishop William of Calais.  He died but the work continued under Bishop Flambard.  It is possibly the finest Norman building in Europe.  St Cuthberts body was brought to his shrine behind the high altar in 1104.  The Cathedral was the first in Northern Europe to be covered with stone ribbed vaulting and it has the earliest pointed transverse arches in England.  There are few monuments because of a long held rule that no one should be buried in the shrine of st cuthbert.  From the South side aisle a door leads to the monks dormitory, a great timbered hall 194ft by 39ft where some of the Cathedrals prized possessions can be seen, they include St Cuthberts illuminated manuscripts.  In front of the font is a line of marble, the nearest point that women were allowed to get to the altar.  Almost no amount of time is to long to spend in this unique place of worship. 
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Alnwick     Still looks like a stronghold of the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland.  You may enter from the South through the narrow medieval arch of Hotspur Tower and within moments confront the great barbican guarding the gateway to Alnwick Castle.  Within the town, age speaks for itself from the narrow streets, cobblestones, passageways, sturdy grey buildings and monuments.  The town grew up on the River Aln beside the great border castle whose walls enclose 7 acres.  Below and around the castle are grounds landscaped by Capability Brown in 1765 which now form a beautiful park.  In the town a broad main street with slopping tree shaded cobblestone parking space alongside, passes near a market square.  A free standing 18th Century hall has an arcade for shops on the ground floor and assembly rooms above.  A very interesting town steeped in history and the ravages of this wild border country.
The town name
pronounced Annick, situated on the River Aln from which it gets its name, which in turn derives from the Celtic word Alaun meaning holy or mighty.  Wick means a farm, outlying from a main settlement.  The earliest known record or the River Aln is in the Venerable Bedes, ecclesiastical history of the English people written in Latin and dated 731, it appears as Fluuium Alne.
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Alnwick Castle     The main seat of the Duke of Northumberland. this great border castle whose walls enclose 7 acres of park has survived many battles during its chequered history.  Below and around the castle are grounds landscaped by Capability Brown in 1765 which now form a beautiful park.  The castle was begun by the Vesci family in the early 12th Century.  When the last legitimate member of the family line died in 1297 the castle was held in trust by the then Bishop of Durham who subsequently sold it on to Henry Percy in 1309.   The family Percy eventually became Dukes of Northumberland and have lived here ever since.  Outwardly the castle has altered little since the 14th Century.  However it was severely damaged during the border wars and stood as a ruin for nearly 200 years before the 1st Duke restored it in the 18th Century.  Some of the state rooms in the castle are open to the public displaying superb paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto & Van Dyck.  Augmented by collections of Meissen pottery and superb furniture the fine library is the largest room in the castle and the main staircase exquisite.
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Alnwick Castle Gardens    The rose garden with over 2,000 roses, the grand cascade linking over 120 water jets into a display utilising 7,000 gallons of water per minute. Ornamental Garden, woodland walk and much more as this garden opened only very recently begins to grow.
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Holy Island (Lindisfarne)            Lindisfarne is famed as the birthplace of English Christianity.  A 3 mile causeway connects the island with the mainland at low tide and can be crossed during six hour spells between tides. approx 300 people live on the island, with fishing and tourism the main employment.  In 635 A.D. St Aidan came on the invitation of King Oswald from Iona on the West Coast of Scotland to teach Christianity to the Angles of Northumbria.  Linidsfarne Monastry was established and the first English diocese founded.  The Sixth Bishop was St Cuthbert who came to the island in 664A.D. and was buried here until the monks fled with his coffin ahead of the Danes in 875A.D.  The Danes destroyed the Abbey and the island lay deserted until a Priory was founded by a Benedictine order in the 11th Century. 
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Bamburgh Castle            Built on a towering outcrop 150ft above the sea this was chosen to be the seat of the Kings or Northumbria or Bernicia as it was known, as early as 547AD.  The name Bambrugh comes from the time of 607AD when King Aethelfrith rained.  He gave the Castle to his wife Bebba and the castle was renamed to Bebbanburgh in her honour.  King Oswold, later St Oswold was the eldest son of Aethelfrith, when he came to the thrown he invited Aiden to come to his lands to convert his people to Christianity.  It was at this time that he gave the island of Lindisfarne for a Monastery, which still stands today.  During 700-800AD the Northumbrian Kingdom started to dissolve with regular attacks from other Kingdoms and the Vikings.  in 993AD the Vikings attacked Bamburgh and the Castle fell into disrepair.
The new age for Bamburgh began after William the Conqueror came to the throne.  His Son William Rufus captured the Castle in 1095 from the Earl of Northumbria and the Castle remained in Royal hands until 1610.  The Castle was rebuilt in 1131 as the Northern stronghold for the Crown to defend against the Scotts and restless Barons.  The Great Tower was built in 1164.  The Castle remained a Royal fortress until the wars of the Roses in 1464 when Henry VI (for the Lancastrians) is besieged in the Castle by Lord Warwick who was fighting for Edward IV (for the Yorkists) It was proven that even the strongest walls are no match for Gunpowder and shot and Henry had to flee as the walls came down under a devastating artillery barrage.  Bamburgh was never again a major stronghold. 
The Royal link to the Castle ended in 1610 when James I gives the Castle to Claudius Forster in thanks for long service.  Unfortunately the upkeep was to much and the Castle fell into disrepair, with only the Great tower being maintained.  Through Marriage the Castle eventually came into the hands of the Bishop of Durham in 1701 who was determined to rebuild the Castle to its former glory, On his death he left a large sum of money in trust for the upkeep of the Castle and extensive work was carried out.  Again in 1894 the Castle was up for sale and Lord Armstrong, a self made industrialist purchased the property and starts modernisation of the Castle, leaving it to his son the 2nd Lord Armstrong to complete the work and start using it as a family home.
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Hexham Abbey                Two contrasting church styles set in one building. The old church to the East comprising the magnificent Crossing and Chancel.  Together with Temple Moores Scholastic Nave started in 1905 to the West.  Hexham has suffered more than most from its prime location, not far from Hadrians Wall.  The 7th Century foundation by St Wilfred was burnt and plundered by the Vikings.  The restored Augustine Priory refounded in 1113 was then attacked by the Scots under William Wallace at the end of the 13th Century, the Nave was destroyed and not rebuilt.  Therefore it is to the East end one naturally is drawn, early Gothic architecture in a Parish Church.  It is in this area where the transept is dominated by the Priory`s famous night staircase.  Described by many as one of the finest Monastic relics in an English church.  A treasure trove of architectural gems.   Lest not forget the Crypt, beneath the Nave a Saxon Tunnel vaulted chamber built primarily of Roman Stones its arch reputedly dating from the 7th Century.  Many Celtic and Roman relics of their occupation adorn the fabric of this lovely Church
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Housesteads Fort  (Vercovicium)            Possibly the remains of the most complete Roman Fort in Britain. Superb position with commanding views all round, spectacular scenery.  See the foundations of the fort, granaries, barrack blocks, hospital, latrines. Excellent views of the wall as it joins the fort.
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Hadrians wall                 The most important monument built by the Romans in Britain.  It is a world heritage site and is by far the best known frontier in the entire Roman Empire.  Built by order of Emperor Hadrian on his visit to Britain in 122AD.  It took 6 years to build and is 73 miles in length, 15ft high and runs from Wallsend in the East to Bowness on Solway in the West.  It was built to separate the Romans from the Barbarians.  When the Romans left in about 400AD the wall became derelict and stones where used in buildings and walls all, over the area.
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Venerable Bede           Born probably in 673.  In 670 he was sent school in Monkwearmouth but stayed only two years before being sent to Jarrow in 672.  He loved knowledge and found the libraries of St Pauls fascinating.  He enjoyed astronomy, numbers, Latin and wrote the life of St Cuthbert.  He also wrote a famous history book.  The first of its kind about the English Church and People.  He also loved the Bible and was working on St Johns Gospel when he died on may 25th 735.  He was 62 years old.  He was buried in Jarrow.  During the 11th Century his bones were stolen and brought to Durham.  At the time they were put in the same coffin as St Cuthbert.  However in the 13th Century they were separated and brought to a new tomb in the Galilee Chapel also in Durham Cathedral.
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St. Pauls Church, Jarrow            The Parish Church of St Pauls Jarrow has been a place of worship for 13 Centuries.  The Church & Monastery was built on land given by King Ecgfrith of Northumbria in 681AD.  The Chancel of St Pauls is the original Saxon Church built as a separate Chapel and thus offers at least a relic of Bede`s time.  Much of the cut stone is Roman, do look for the three single splayed Saxon windows, the middle one containing Saxon stained glass made in the monastic workshops, it was excavated from the site in 1980 and inserted here in the Chancel.  Reputedly the oldest such glass in Western Europe.  The Monastery where Bede came as a boy thrived in the 7th & 8th Centuries.  Outside the church are the remains of the domestic buildings of that monastery, it was here that he lived, worked and worshipped.  The buildings where sacked by the Vikings in 794AD. It was not until 1074 that the church was repaired by the Normans and the Monastery re-founded by Aldwin, Prior of Winchcombe Abbey in Gloucestershire.  Do look for the original dedication stone of 685 (above the Chancel arch) supposedly the oldest in England.  Although St Martins Church Canterbury does predate Jarrow by maybe 100 years and therefore holds the honour of oldest church in England.
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Fountain Abbey  (Declared a world heritage site)          The majestic ruins of possibly the Greatest Abbey in England, stand in this scenic valley of the River Skell.  Just a few miles South West of Ripon.  Even today so much of the building is still visible.  From very humble beginnings, a rise to power then total Dissolution under Henry VIII.  It was from St Mary`s Abbey York, that the prior and some followers left to establish a new Cistercian order here at Fountains in 1132.  They started to build and over the years the community grew in property, prosperity & recruits. Unfortunately this power and wealth replaced the original Cistercian ideals and was a great prize for Henry VIII during the Dissolution.  He sold it to Sir Richard Gresham in 1540.  One can clearly see from the ruins the picture of what life in a Monastic institution was like during the middle ages.  The tower stands a remarkable 168ft in height with the church extending some 360ft.  In 1738 William Aisdale who owned the adjoining Studley Royal Estate purchased Fountains and continued to mould the two together.  Landscaping and gardening as he went along.  Today the Cistercian Abbey ruins are the largest in Britain blending in naturally with a landscape of ornamental lakes, cascades, bridges, river walks and eye catching vistas.  A 500 head deer colony live in the deer park and at night the whole area of the ruins are floodlit.
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Whitby Abbey        Famed as one of the earliest and most important centres of Christianity in England.  In 657 St Hilda founded the Abbey for King Oswy of Northumbria in thanks for his victory over the heathen Penda of Mercia.  It was also the setting for the Synod of Whitby in 664 who committed the English Church to the Roman Rite rather than the Celtic one and also fixed the Precise date on which Easter should be celebrated, the exact formula which is still in use today.
Both men and women lived in the early Monastery, it is where Caedmon was inspired to sing of creation.  Destroyed by the Danes in 867 it was founded again by the Benedictines in 1078.  Continued to flourish until surrendered in 1539.  From then on the buldings have slowly blown away, by 1830 the tower had collapsed and in 1914 it was shelled by the German fleet.
The oldest part of the town is on the East cliff, with the new town under the West cliff, dividing the two the River Esk.  The old port of Whitby developed on the East bank, where ancient houses lean against each other and is a muddle of cobbled streets and narrow alleyways.  James Cook the explorer lived in this area and of course Whitby became his home port
Whitby: a Scandinavian name meaning Hviti`s village. The doomsday book records it as Whiteby.
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