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Bridgnorth in Shropshire; what to see

You’ve probably never heard of Bridgnorth and it would not be a  big surprise,  it’s not an extremely famous place. But it has some interesting things that are worth visiting, it was in fact an important town during the Middle Ages.

First of all, the town is divided into two area by the river Severn, the lower part and the upper part. The upper part is located on a large sand dune.

Above the hill are the ruins of an old Norman castle built in 1100 and then practically destroyed during the English Civil War in the 17th century. The tower that still stands now, is not very straight. It is also worth climbing on the hill for the views of the river Severn.

Photo: © Copyright Ian Slater and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The two parts Bridgnorth are connected by a funicular opened in 1892, once operated on water power but is now run on electricity. If you like the historic railways from here you can also find the Severn Valley Railway which while smoking and puffing takes you up to Kidderminster.

The town has several interesting museums, for example the Costume and Childhood Museum which has costumes and toys especially of the nineteenth century and also a collection of minerals from all over the world. You can also visit the North Gate Museum which is located above the only remaining gate of the medieval town.



Near the High Street you will find some old medieval streets, even if the houses are at the earliest from the Tudor era. Unfortunately, many buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1600. In any case you can enter  courtyards where you will often find workshops of craftsmen and small shops. Also have a look at the Bishop Percy’s House, a beautiful 16th century house in typical Tudor style.

How to get to Bridgnorth?

From London the best way to get there is by train to Birmingham from Euston Station, but instead of getting to Birmingham, get off at Coventry where you will find a train to Wolverhampton and get off there. From here you can take bus number 9 to High Town and you can get off at Bridgnorth. There are numerous hotels and B & Bs here and you can spend a few days exploring the area.

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All Hallows by the Tower – a church in London you should definitely visit


Many visitors to London forget the many old churches, several of those can be found in what  is called The City of London. Those found in today’s City have almost all been damaged or destroyed by the Great Fire and/or by the German bombings during the Second World War. Many have been rebuilt and should be visited, an example is the church of All Hallows by the Tower.

The oldest church in the City of London

This is a church that managed to survive the Great Fire but was damaged during the Second World War, whose real name is  All Hallows Barking. The reason for the name is that the land where it stood belonged to the abbey of Barking. We are talking of a timea few centuries before the year 1000, just to give you an idea of how old this place of prayer is.

Foto: © Copyright John Salmon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In fact this church, the oldest in the City of London, was founded in 675, 300 years before the Tower of London! The original structure no longer exists, but you can still admire an old Saxon arch. At the end of 1100 Richard I  had a chapel built inside All Hallows by the Tower. It is said that his heart was buried here (obviously after his death).  But the chapel was destroyed by Henry VIII at the time of the dissolution of churches and monasteries. Therefore we will never know.

In 1640 the church was partially reAll Hallows by the Towerbuilt. It was then damaged by a gunpowder explosion that destroyed at least 50 houses a few years later. If the church survived the Great Fire in London it is also thanks to the efforts of a  Admiral Penn who tried to protect it from the flames. He also happened to be the father of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania.

Foto: © Copyright Christine Matthews and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In 1940 the church was bombed by the Germans and almost completely destroyed, the walls remained, together with the tower (which was rebuilt in 1600) and some medieval objects.

The church was then completely rebuilt in the 1950s,  thanks to donations from all over the world. The pulpit you will see now was that of St Swithin’s church, which was also destroyed by bombs.

Visit All Hallows by the Tower

When you visit the church now you can also see a small museum of Roman and Saxon artifacts that have been excavated here. Notice now in many panoramic views of the City of London from the Thames, you can see the green tower of All Hallows by the Tower.

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Durham Cathedral: some facts and history

Though Durham dates from the tenth century, yet it is necessary, to understand the growth of its power, to go back to the
seventh century. The exact date of the birth of St. Cuthbert is unknown. As a youth he was admitted into Melrose Abbey, where in the course of fourteen years he became monk and prior. From there hepassed another fourteen years in the Convent of
Lindisfarne, after which he retired to Fame for nine years. At the end of this period he was persuaded, most unwillingly, by Egrid, King of Northumbria, to become Bishop of Lindisfarne, a See in Bernicia, as Durham County was then

But after two years’ office he retired to Fame. There died St. Cuthbert on March 20, a. d. 687,in the thirty-ninth year of his monastic life, still undecided as to where he should be buried. However, the remains were reverently preserved in the Church of Lindisfarne, till the monks were compelled to flee, owing to the invasion of the Danes, towards the end of the ninth century.

Though in dire dread and confusion, the monks forgot not their sacred trust, but carried the holy remains of St. Cuthbert with them. They wandered many a weary day throughout the North of England in search of ” Dunholme,” which Eadner, a monk of their order, declared to them had been divinely revealed to him as the lasting place of rest for the holy and incorruptible body of St. Cuthbert. They seemed to have had  great difficulty in locating the whereabouts of
Dunholme, for according to tradition they were miraculously delivered from their nomadic life. As they proceeded they heard a woman inquire of another if she had seen her cow, which had gone astray. Much to their joy and relief they
heard the reply, ” In Dunholme.’

Thereupon they climbed to the summit of the ” Hill Island,” at the base of which they had arrived, as they wished to deposit their corruptible burden on a spot so close to Heaven that it should remain incorruptible, and by its incorruptibility
be a fitting foundation on which to build a shrine worthy of their Saint and the God who honoured him.

About 995 their idea was realised by Bishop Ealdhune. He founded a church, built in the style usual then in Italy, of brick or stone with round arches. This style, based directly on Italian models, became prevalent throughout all Western Europe till the eleventh century, and in England was known as Anglo-Saxon.

This church was erected over the Saint’s resting-place, upon the rock eminence called Dunholme (Hill Island). Later on the Normans changed this into ” Duresne,” whence Durham. And a representation of a dun cow and two female attendants was placed upon the building. At the same period the See was transferred from Lindisfarne, and, together with the growing fame of the presence of the ” incorruptible body ” of the Saint, attracted pilgrims, who settled there with their industries. Thus were laid the foundations of the great city.

In this wise St. Cuthbert became the patron Saint of Durham, as well as of the North of England and of Southern Scotland. In 1072 William the Conqueror found it necessary to erect, across the neck of the rock- eminence, the castle, to guard the church and its monastery.

In 1093 Bishop Carileph built a church of Norman structure in place of Ealdhune’s Anglo-Saxon church, and changed the Anglo-Saxon establish- ment of married priests into a Benedictine abbey. After the Norman Conquest the county became Palatinate, and acquired the independence peculiar to Counties Palatine. The bishops of Durham were invested with temporal and spiritual powers, exercising the royal prerogatives, such as paramount property in lands, and supreme jurisdiction, both civil and military, waging war, right of forfeiture, and levying taxes.

These privileges were granted, owing to the remoteness of Durham from the metropolis and its proximity to the warlike kingdom of Scotland, and allowed of justice being administered at home, thereby doing away with the obligation of the inhabitants quitting their county, and leaving it exposed to hostile invasions. They were also excused from military service across the Tees or Tayne, on the plea that they were specially charged to keep and defend the sacred body of St. Cuthbert.

Those engaged on this service were called ” Haliwer folc ” (Holy War folk). But in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Henry VIII. the power of the See was much curtailed ; and eventually, on the death of  Bishop Van Milvert in 1836, it was deprived of all temporal jurisdictions and privileges.

Around Carileph’s fine Norman church numerous additions were made from time to time, namely : The Galilee or Western Chapel of Durham cathedral, of the Transitional Period. The gradual change from the Norman to the Pointed style, which took place between 1 154 and 1 1 89, during Henry H.’s reign. The Eastern Transept, or ” Nine Altars.*’

The Western Towers, built in “The Early English Style,” which was a further development of ” The Transitional.’* It was carried out in the reigns of Richard I. to Henry HI., 11 89 to 1272. It is also known as “First Pointed” or “Lancet.” The Central Tower (Perpendicular). The Windows (Decorated and Perpendicular).

From 1 154, the commencement of Henry II ‘s reign, architecture acquired new characteristics in each reign, or rather the architects of each reign attempted to improve on the style of their predecessors. It began with the “Transition from Norman to Pointed.” From that it passed to ” First Pointed or Early English.” Then to ” Complete or Geometrical Pointed.” This was succeeded, in Edward III.’s time, by a more flowing style called ” Middle Pointed,” ” Curvilinear,” or ” Deco- rated.” The graceful flowing lines of this period culminated in what is known as “The Third Pointed,” “Rectilinear,” or ” Perpendicular Style.” This period existed from 1399 to 1546, that is to say, from the beginning of the reign of Henry IV. to the end of the reign of Henry VIII.

The Galilee or Western Chapel was built and dedicated as an offering to “The Blessed Virgin,” by Bishop Pudsey, between 1153 and 11 95; and served as the allotted place of worship for women, who were strictly forbidden to approach the sacred shrine of St. Cuthbert. In the south-west corner of this chapel there is an altar-tomb of blue marble. This is revered as the abiding-place of the earthly remains of the great monk and historian, the Venerable Bede.

durham cathedralConcerning him, tradition relates how Elfred, “The Sacrist” of Durham, in 1022, stole these remains from Jarrow and preserved them in St. Cuthbert’s cofiin till 1 1 04. They were afterwards placed in a gold and silver shrine by Bishop Pudsey, which was left in the refectory till i 370, when Richard of Barnard Castle, a monk afterwards buried under the blue stone on the west of the present tomb, influenced its removal to the Galilee Chapel.

Interior of Durham Cathedral

There upon the altar-tomb, mentioned before, the casket was placed, and was covered by a gilt cover of wainscot, which was drawn up by a pulley when the shrine was visited by pilgrims. Upon this altar tomb there is an inscription in Latin, in current use of the period, which runs thus: ” Hac sunt in fossa Bedae Venerabilis ossa.” (” In this tomb are the bones of the Venerable Bede.”) In connection with this inscription there is a legend that the sixth word, ” Venerabilis,” was miraculously supplied by divine intervention to the tired and till then uninspired monk who was pen-ning it. Hence Bede is known generally as ” The Venerable Bede.”

Close by there was an altar to the Venerable Bede. The Reformation swept away the original tomb, leaving only a few traces behind, and the bones were buried under its site ; and an altar-tomb, which still exists, was erected over them. Every Sunday and holiday at noon a monk was accustomed to ascend the iron pulpit beneath the great west window, and from it to preach. Though this pulpit is gone, there still exists in close proximity a small chamber of the time of 4 [ 49 ] CATHEDRAL CITIES Bishop Langley, which was obviously the robing- room of the preacher.

From 1775 to 1795 this magnificent pile was given over to the tender mercies of one James Wyatt, architect, who, but for timely intervention on the part of John Carter, would have left little of it to our present view; but, alas! by his chisel- ling and interference with the superficial details of the exterior, he has taught us a lesson in vandalism. The Cathedral still survives with surpassing beauty, and the name of the would-be destroyer is dead. The Galilee Chapel was happily rescued in time from utter destruction at the hands of James Wyatt.

This gentleman had already commenced to pull down a portion of it to make room for a coach- road, which he had planned to facilitate the connection between the castle and the college. Unhappily the spirit of utility of a most material age allowed the Chapter House to be demolished, but, oddly enough, this demolition, together with the peeling of the exterior, the removal, so to speak, of details and minor embellishments of the grand edifice, have robbed us of nothing of its impressiveness, but indeed remind us, as the mutilated Parthenon marbles do, of the irony of man’s vain predilection to mutilate the beautiful, which must last for ever. Thus again there is evidence in the  interior of man’s destructive power in the mutilation of the Neville tombs.

It seems strange that the House of God the Peacemaker and the shrine of St. Cuthbert the “incorruptible” should have been used as a prison-house of corruptible beings and peace-breakers, legitimised murderers,  for here were interned the Scotch prisoners to the number of forty-five hundred, after the battle of Dunbar, and ample scope of amusement was given for their empty brains, as their ruthless exercise of the privilege records. The Chapel of the Nine Altars still contains the remains of St. Cuthbert. When the tomb was opened in 1827 a number of curious and interesting books and MSS., the portable altar, vestments, and other relics were found. These are now placed in the Durham Cathedral Library.

The Cathedral Library was formerly the dormitory and refectories of the abbey, as it was originally styled. In this connection one is led to speculate upon the possible early evolution of religious thought of early Christianity, and to half suspect that the “Nine Altars” in the Galilee Chapel and the “Woman’s Bar” were the remnants of symbols of pre-Christian era, retained for the obvious purpose of satisfying converts to the faith still young.

There is a strong flavour of the worship of the Nine Muses of pagan times, and of the Judaical laws with regard to women either within or without the places of worship. Tradition has it that St. Cuthbert was a misogynist, and so strong was it that the precincts of St. Cuthbert were strictly guarded against the encroachment of women. To enforce this “The Boundary Cross” or “Woman’s Bar” was constructed to limit their approach, in the south of the nave. By this attitude towards women St. Cuthbert, as a priest, only foreshadowed the present regime of the Church of Rome as regards matrimonial obligations on the part of its servants.

For so saintly a man must not be taken as a hater of women, or his beatification as the son of a woman would have no sense, and would call his incorruptibility into question, and his saintliness of character in grave doubt. The chief entrance to the Cathedral was originally in the west end, but when Bishop Pudsey built the Galilee Chapel, a doorway was constructed in the north end, framed in a rich and deeply recessed Norman arch, doing away with the necessity of the great entrance. Fixed to the door is the famous Norman knocker, suspended from the  mouth of a grotesque monster, by which offenders seeking sanctuary made their presence known.

One of the most marvellous features, perhaps, of the whole Durham Cathedral is the impressive grandeur of its appearance to the traveller, approaching from any quarter, who sees this Island Hill capped by the mighty structure, soaring up, as it were, into the heavens, yet dominating by its protecting shadows the city round its base — the symbol most beautifully conceived of the affinity between earth and heaven, and truly the noblest form of monu- ment of reverential design that the human brain could have possibly conceived.


This extract comes from “Cathedral cities of England” by George Gilbert, published in 1908 and now in the public domain

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The impact of the Romans in Bath

romans in bath

This text on the Romans in Bath was written by Arthur Leslie Salmon in 1900. The book was called “Bath and Wells” is in the public domain and can be found here

Bath can claim a high lineage, with much pomp and circumstance of event. It may even link itself with the fate of
old Troy; for Bladud, its mythical prince, was a descendant of the Trojan Brutus, who is supposed to have landed at Totnes, extirpated the West Country giants, and established his dynasty in the newly-named Britain. That Bladud was a leper who cured himself by imitating the pigs that he saw washing themselves in Bath waters, belongs to the fairy tales of history, things which we neither assert nor positively deny; but it is interesting to lay some stress on two very
modern features in his story — his cure by means of waters now stated to be radio-active, and his deathby an attempt at flying, more than two thousand years too early.

In English records it is usually thought sufficient to begin with the Romans; yet Bath was probably a place of some antiquity when the Romans came and discovered for themselves the value of its springs — a value, by the way, that is supposed to come from the eastern Mendips, whose drainage reaches the  spot by percolation through a depth at which the water becomes heated. Physically, the Romans were a very clean people, especially in the late years when they
were slowly losing their virility; and the luxurious elaboration of the bathing remains as a model or a warning.

It was in 1877 that excavations began which resulted in the revealing of these baths to their full extent. The chief or Great Bath is rectangular, 73 feet by 29J, the water being about seven feet in depth, surrounded with dressing-rooms and steps; its floor is coated with heavy sheets of lead, on concrete and masonry. The gallery with its piers has been restored,
not perhaps very happily, but the more ancient work can easily be recognized.

romans in bathArticles found among the ruins may be seen in the Pump room; other Roman remains are plentiful at the museum close by. Adjoining the larger bath is a fine circular bath; in addition to this and several others there were vapour and hotair chambers. It may almost be said that what the Romans did not know about bathing is not worth knowing, even if they were not our masters in this as in some other respects.

They reached Bath by important roads from Cirencester on the north, Silchester and Marlborough on the east, and Exeter on the southwest; and from Bath they had a road, apparently crossing the Severn at Aust, leading to Caerwent and
Caerleon. Some of these roads are probably pre Roman.

You can still find the legacy of the Romans in Bath

When we turn into the Abbey Churchyard to reach the Pump-room, it is interesting to remember that weare on the site of the old Roman forum, though the pavement of that space lay about twenty feet below the present surface. Bath has literally risen since those days. In the sixteenth century men had forgotten that the Romans used to drink the waters; it was supposed that they only bathed in them, and Dr. Jones, who in 1572 first recommended their internal use, may rightly be regarded as a discoverer.

From that time the waters gradually gained in repute; the room built for their drinkers proved soon too small, and in 1796 the existing Pump-room was erected, with its Pindaric motto. More recent is the fine concert hall with its marble columns and gilded capitals, opening on a gallery that overlooks the great Roman bath. It must be confessed that those responsible achieved a very successful blending of the new with the old; and it is satisfactory that much excellent music can be listened to amidst such surroundings. For those who come here suffering from various ailments there is every accommodation, every possible comfort that their purses
can afford to pay for; but many are attracted now who do not primarily come to “take the waters”, and
for these also there is ample welcome.

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London SW5 – Earls Court area

Earls court area

The Earls Court area has  some beautiful streets, not surprising as it is in fact an extension of Kensington and Chelsea, although many of these houses have been divided into rooms or converted into hostels and has become a point of arrival for many more than a place where to settle down.

Not that many years ago it was full of Australian and New Zealander travellers and was nicknamed Kangaroo Court, but  in the following years Australians have preferred  less central areas which are less expensive and more livable as Acton and Willesden.

Photo: © Copyright Danny P Robinson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Earls Court area has a choice of shared rooms, many of which, although relatively expensive, are of poor quality and are often rented to passing travellers, Eu students of English and recent immigrants.

It is an area where one can stay for a short period but not to be considered for a long stay, unless you have  a substantial budget that allows you to rent a decent apartment.

In the Earls Court area families, children or the elderly are almost absent. Most of the inhabitants are recent immigrants or passing people living in temporary homes. Over 70% of those who live there at any moment is temporary and staying from a few days to a few months.

There are also some council houses estates that have a more permanent population. But as in many other areas of London their numbers are decreasing, some neighborhoods have been demolished to make room for luxury apartments often bought for investment. Others have been bought by the tenants and often sold privately.

The Earls Court area certainly has a multicultural feeling, and there are plenty of lively pubs even if you might not meet  many Londoners. It is not a very green area and was also famous for Earls Court Exhibition Center, where there were fairs, various events and concerts.

Earls Court was a place of exhibitions and fairs from around 1870 and at the end of the 19th century it also had a Ferris Wheel that could hold more people than the London Eye! The Earls Court Exhibition Centre was opened in 1937  and closed in 2014, after that it was demolished together with the neighboring district to give space to a shopping centre and luxury apartments. The new project is said to be completed in 2033.

Earls Court has many inexpensive hotels and a good choice of fairly affordable restaurants around Earls Court Road.

Where is the Earls Court Area?

It is found in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea and is connected to the rest of London by the District Line and the Piccadilly Line. Earl’s Station on the District Line is a major hub with part of the line branching out to Olympia, Wimbledon and Edgware Road. The station has two exits, one on the Earls Court Road which is the one used by most and the other one on the Warwick Road, was meant to take people to the Exhibition Centre.
Note that the underground station is called Earl’s Court while the area is called Earls Court. The name comes from the fact that in the Middle Ages the earls of Oxford had a house in this area.
Photo: © Copyright Shazz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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A brief history of the Liberty store in London

Liberty store in London

The famous London Liberty store department store opened 1875, particularly well know for its floral designs. Liberty in London gave the name in Italian to the Liberty style that  in English has a French name instead and is called Art Nouveau.

The shop was founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty, the son of a Chesham (in the Chilterns) fabric merchant, who worked for an importer of shawls from India. In 1875 he opened his shop on 218th of Regent Street, calling it East India House and selling silks from India and Asia. He later decided to sell other products from Asia, including many from Japan.

Photo: © Copyright PAUL FARMER and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Within a few years, he was in the position to open two more stores and soon he was able to buy all the buildings from 140 to 150 of Regent Street and create a large store. The shop was then called Chesham House to remember its birthplace. It immediately had a major success among the well-to-do classes in London and beyond.

Arthur Liberty also designed  costumes for the opera and theatre, in fact we remember those made for Gilbert & Sullivan and there were many collaborations between Liberty and artists such as William Morris, Alma-Tadema or Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Mr Liberty died in 1917.

The Tudor styled shop at Great Marlborough Street you see today opened in 1925. It was built using the wood of two ships: HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. The Liberty store in London was decorated by Italian carvers and windows with colored mosaics.

The side of the building facing Regent Street has a series of statues and a 35 meters frieze depicting the wealth of distant countries  and  a statue of Britannia. This was sculpted by Doman and Clapperton but a classical facade next to a Tudor one did not please critics at the time.

Since then the Liberty store in London has increased its product lines which also include furniture and stationery products.

Liberty opened branches in Manchester, Brighton, York and Chester which were then mostly closed in the 90s as the decision was only to open shops in airports. Since 2010 Liberty belongs to a holding company.

Where can you find the Liberty store in London?

It is easy to find in Central London, not far from Oxford Circus underground station. It is open from 10 am to 9 pm every day except Sundays when it is open from 11:30 to 6pm.


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St John’s College in Cambridge by Gordon Home

With its three successive courts and their beautiful gateways of mellowed red brick, St John’s College is very reminiscent of Hampton Court.  Both belong to the Tudor period, and both have undergone restorations and have buildings of stone added in a much later and entirely different style. Across the river stands the fourth court linked with the earlier buildings by the exceedingly beautiful *”Bridge of Sighs.”

To learn the story of the building of St. John’s is a simple matter, for the first court we enter is the earliest, and those that succeed stand in chronological order, — eliminating, of course. Sir Gilbert Scott’s chapel and the alterations of an
obviously later period than the courts as a whole.

To Lady Margaret Beaufort, the foundress of St John’s College, or, more accurately, to her executor, adviser and confessor, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who carried out her wishes, we owe the first court, with its stately gateway of red brick and stone. It was built between 1 5 1 1 and 1520 on the site of St. John’s Hospital of Black Canons, suppressed as early as 1509.

The second court, also possessing a beautiful gate tower, was added between 1595 and 1620,the expense being mainly borne by Mary Cavendish, Countess of Shrewsbury, whose statue adorns the gateway. Filling the space between the second court and the river comes the third, begun in 1623, when John Williams, then Lord Keeper and Bishop of Lincoln, and afterwards Archbishop of York, gave money for erecting the library whose bay window, projecting into the silent waters of the Cam, takes a high place
among the architectural treasures of Cambridge.

If anyone carries a solitary date in his head after a visit to the University it is almost sure to be 1624, the year of the building of this library, for the figures stand out boldly above the Gothic window just mentioned. The remaining sides of the third court were built through the generosity of various benefactors, and then came a long pause,for it was not until after the first quarter of the nineteenth century had elapsed that St John’s College was extended to the other side of the river.

This new court came into existence, together with thedelightful ” Bridge of Sighs,” between the years 1826 and 1831, when Thomas Rickman, an architect whose lectures and published treatises had given him a wide reputation, was entrusted
with the work. The new buildings were not an artistic success, in spite of the elaborate Gothic cloister, with its stupendous gateway and the imposing scale of the whole pile.

Their deficiencies might be masked or at least diminished if ivy were allowed to cover the unpleasing wall spaces,and perhaps if these lines are ever read by the proper authority such a simple and inexpensive buthighly desirable improvement will come to pass.

The stranger approaching St John’s College for the first time might be easily pardoned for mistaking the chapel for a parish church, and those familiar with the buildings cannot by any mental process feel that the aggressive bulk of Sir Gilbert Scott’s ill-conceived edifice is anything but a crude invasion. Nearly half a century has passed since this great chapel replaced the Tudor
building which had unluckily come to be regarded as inadequate, but the ponderous Early Decorated tower is scarcely less of an intrusion than when its masonry stood forth in all its garish whiteness against the time-worn brick of Lady MargaretBeaufort’s court.

A Perpendicular tower would have added a culminating and satisfying feature to the whole cluster of courts, and by this time would have been so toned down by the action of weather that it would have fallen into place as naturally as the Tudor Gothic of the Houses of Parliament has done in relation to Westminster Abbey. Like Truro Cathedral, and other modern buildings
imitating the Early English style, the interior is more successful than the exterior ; the light, subdued and enriched by passing through the stained glass of the large west window (by Clayton and Bell) and others of less merit, tones down the appearance of newness and gives to the masonry of 1869 a suggestion of the glamour of the Middle Ages.

Fortunately, some of the stalls with their ‘ miserere ” seats were preserved when the former chapel was taken down, and these, with an Early English piscina, are now in the chancel of the modern building. The Tudor Gothic altar tomb of one of Lady Margaret’s executors —Hugh Ash ton. Archdeacon of York — has also beenpreserved

At the same time as the chapel was rebuilt. Sir Gilbert Scott rebuilt parts of the first and second courts. He demolished the Master’s Lodge, added two bays to the Hall in keeping with the other parts of the structure, and built a new staircase and lobby for the Combination Room, which is considered without a rival in Cambridge or Oxford. It is a long panelled room occupying all the upper floor of the north side of the second, court and with its richly ornamented plaster ceiling, its long row of windows lookinginto the beautiful Elizabethan court, its portraits of certain of the college’s distinguished sons in solemn gold frames, it would be hard to find more pleasing surroundings for the leisured discussion of subjects which the fellows find in keeping with
their after-dinner port.

There is an inner room at one end, and continuing in the same line and opening into it, so that a gallery of great length is
formed, is the splendid library, built nearly three centuries ago and unchanged in the passing of all those years.

The library of St. John’s is rich in examples of early printing by Caxton and others whose books come under the heading of incunabula, but it would have been vastly richer in such early literature had Bishop Fisher’s splendid collection — ” the notablest library of books in all England, two long galleries full ” — been allowed to come where the good prelate had intended.When he was deprived, attainted, and finally beheaded in 1535  refusing to accept Henryas supreme head of the Church, his library wasconfiscated, and what became of it I do not know.

st john's collegeOver the high table in the hall, a long and rather narrow structure with a dim light owing to its dark panelling, hangs a portrait of LadyMargaret Beaufort, the foundress of the college, and  on either side of this pale Tudor lady are paintings of Archbishop Williams, who built the library, and Sir Ralph Hare. The most interesting portraits are, however, in the master’s lodge, rebuilt by Sir Gilbert Scott on a new site north of the library.

Photo: © Copyright Hugh Chevallier and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

It was through no sudden or isolated emotion that Lady Margaret was led to found this college in 1509, the year of her death, for she had four years earlier re-established the languishing grammar college, called God’s House, under the new name of Christ’s College, and had been a benefactress to Oxford as well. On the outer gateways of both her colleges, therefore, we see
the great antelopes of the Beauforts supporting the arms of Lady Margaret, with her emblem, the daisy, forming a background. Sprinkled freely over the buildings, too, are the Tudor rose and the Beaufort portcullis.

St. John’s Hospital, which stood on the site of the  present college, had been founded in 1135,and was suppressed in 1509, when it had shrunk to possessing two brethren only. The interest of this small foundation of Black Canons would have been small had it not been attached to Ely, and through that connection made the basis of Bishop Balsham’s historic experiment already mentioned-

The founding of St. John’s by a lady of even such distinction as the mother of Henry VII. could not alone have placed the college in the position it now occupies : such a consummation could only have been brought about by the capacity and learning of those to whom has successively fallen the task of carrying out her wishes, from Bishop Fisher down to the present time. To
mention all, or even the chief, of these rulers of the college is not possible here, and before saying farewell to the lovely old courts, we have only space to mention that among the famous students were Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, Lord-
Lieutenant of Ireland ; Matthew Prior, the poet- statesman ; William Wilberforce, and William Wordsworth.


This text is now in the public domain and was taken by the book “Cambridge” by Gordon Home published in 1911

Where is St John’s College?

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The Roaches in the Peak District

the roaches


The Roaches are a rock formation located above the village of Leek in the Peak District. It exceeds 500 meters above sea level and the place attracts climbers and hikers in almost all periods of the year. They are called Roaches not because they look like cockroaches, but the name derives from the French roches which means rocks.

At the top of the Roaches there is a small pond that according to an old legend has a blue mermaid or nymph, which is supposed to be a girl fallen in the pond and who since then tries to invite those who enter to stay.

In the ’30s a group of wallabies were freed as the place is meant to be similar to Ayers Rock in Australia. Their descendants have been sighted recently so it looks like they like here.

Foto:  © Copyright Graham Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The best view from the top of the Roaches is to the southwest where you can see the Churnet valley of the Tittesworth Reservoir.

You can also see the village of Leek with the stylized form of its bell tower. In good weather you can see a good part of the Cheshire plain that comes up to Wales and the peaks of Snowdonia. A breathtaking view!

Instead, if you look to the east you will see a barren land of heather and moss with several ponds, in short, a territory of sheep and little else. There are several paths to get to the top or you can climb the steep wall directly.

Foto: © Copyright Richard Law and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

This website  will keep you updated on the latest sightings around the Roaches, including birds and wallabies.

Where are the Roaches?

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10 villages in London you should visit

villages in london

For centuries the centre and heart of London was the City, basically the  historical area found more or less within the medieval walls. Other parts that are now considered to be in central London were basically in the middle of the countryside. Some of these are old villages in London.

As you know,  there are so many parts of London that were villages and only from the 1800s with the advent of the railway they were slowly absorbed by what we now call Greater London. Now they look like they have always been London, unless you look closely!

Some of these villages in London have been destroyed, others have lost their main characteristics and buildings, while others despite being in the city still have that village feeling, often thanks to renovations of the last 20 years. The important thing to have an authentic atmosphere is the absence of  any stores of large chains with shops, restaurants, pubs and places to sit down and drink a coffee or a pint. These give, at leas, the impression of being unique and characteristic.

Real estate agents love to market the village idea,  in fact the proximity to a village can greatly increase the prices of a property. You will find many of these villages in London, some have the name ‘village’, others do not. Some are very famous, others less so. Here we will see 10 of them.

Where to find villages in London?

Stoke Newington

Foto: © Copyright ceridwen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


It definitely has the atmosphere of a large village and anyway you do not feel in London, you will also find many places to eat, a famous market and many shops of maritime style objects. As you can guess the area has lots of touristy things to see and do.

Chelsea Green

Around the neo-Gothic church of St Luke’s in Chelsea you will find Chelsea Green, a collection of food shops, a few bars and a few boutiques. The majority of shops are located on Elystan Street which emerges on the square with  the green in the middle.

Victoria Park Village

Recently renovated with several new restaurants and gastropubs, it is a village of only 4 streets that meet. However, it has an almost rural atmosphere, thanks to the many flowers. As the name reveals you will find it near Victoria Park in the East End of London.

little venice
Crouch End
A place where families really live and it shows. It is a creative area with nearly half of the inhabitants working in the creative industry. It is near Alexandra Park and Palace and has a variety of shops and good restaurants. It is said Bob Dylan liked it here, well there is plaque remembering that he stayed here. 

Whitecross Village

It is mainly famous mainly for its market, you should visit it at lunchtime when the place is filled with food and you will have a choice that you can not imagine. It is located near Old Street and Shoreditch, therefore it is easy to reach if you are in Central London.

Wimbledon Village

Much better known is this small village that includes some pubs, shops and restaurants. It is also located near Wimbledon Common which with its old mill will give you the impression of being really in the countryside.

victoria park
Victoria Park

Walthamstow Village

If you want to live in a village in London and you can not afford Wimbledon or Chelsea, Walthamstow Village is still the least expensive London village, but it does not mean it is not good. This is a lovely village. There are often parties and other events for those who live here, it is certainly not a boring place.

Foto: © Copyright Martin Addison and licensed for reuseunder this Creative Commons Licence.

Little Venice

If you expect to find Venice, you will be disappointed but the place has a certain charm, especially if you like colourful narrow boats. Every year at the beginning of May there is a big canal boat festival called Canalway Cavalcade which consists of a whole weekend full of events and plenty of boats.

Church Street,  Stoke Newington

Another area reinvented recently but where you will find a good selection of food from around the world, independent shops and weekend markets. Clearly now it is  very fashionable to go there.