Hailes Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery , in the tiny quaint village of Hailes, near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. Founded in 1246 it was home to the monks who lived and worshipped there for nearly three centuries. of piety, culture and tradition. Before being dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539.
Sadly it was torn down and the stones used in the local area for building and so little remains except a few beautiful arches and the ghost of footings marked out in the grassy meadow . We wandered the site, faithfully following the contours of imagined walls and in the utter peace and quiet that pervades the whole area it was easy to imagine the sense of spirituality that must have settled into the ground over the years and still creates an aura of calm.
The obviously once imposing ruins of the once wealthy Hailes Abbey are set in the delightful Cotswold countryside. The sound of sheep in the distance has been heard for hundreds of years and it is easy to sit and soak up the serene and peaceful atmosphere and transport yourself into the past imagining chanting and incense. We tried out the audio tour which added greatly to our enjoyment .
After spending much longer that anticipated wandering the Abbey grounds and sitting happily in companionable silence, we set out in search of refreshments. Luckily, although a small site, there is a wonderfully friendly and thoroughly educational little museum which houses various displays and the obligatory National trust and English heritage gifts plus of course delicious ice creams and the cup of tea or a brew as my husband calls it, that we can never pass up! Hailes Abbey is not the most interesting architectural or historic site we have ever visited nor indeed on the scale of many but its intimate atmosphere and real spirituality lend it a special quality.
We drove there on a magical mystery tour one day but have since discovered that In June 2017, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) reopened Hayles Abbey Halt, a request stop half a mile from the abbey which allows members of the public to visit the site by rail for the first time in more than 50 years. A steam journey added to this special little site would make a fabulous addition to a day out !
Visit the English Heritage site on Hayles Abbey.
Sighisoara in Romania, a place of towers, churches and Dracula
Sighisoara in Romania has a look and atmosphere that immediately makes us think of Count Dracula. We should not be surprised, in fact Sighişoara is located in Transylvania and was the birthplace of Vlad III the Impaler. A historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker to write the novel Dracula. It was not fa coincidence that Vlad was really called Vlad Dracul.
The medieval centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will immediately understand why. Visiting the centre is certainly a unique pleasure.
The centre had 14 defense towers, each managed by a different guild and corporation, this was an area often attacked by the Turks. The towers have been used a lot. Now 9 of these towers survive, for example the shoemakers’, the tailors’ and the blacksmiths’ towers remain. They are generally closed to the public but are nice to photograph from outside.
The clock tower which dates back to 1300 is not closed to the public. Not only is it beautiful to look at but you can also climb it to have beautiful panoramic views.
Many will want to visit Vlad Dracul’s house where there is now a restaurant, but if you go there and ask the waiters, for a small fee they will show you Vlad’s room.
Sighisoara in Romania; the place of Vlad the Impaler
The unpronounceable Piaţa Cetăţii is the market square that was the centre of medieval life of the town, here there were also the many executions by Vlad.
The church of the Dominican monastery has a decidedly Baroque look and was in fact rebuilt in 1600 after a raging fire. The church has existed here since at least 1200. Visit it just to see the carpets from Anatolia. Behind the church you will find a statue of a very mustachioed Vlad Dracul.
If you feel like climbing stairs, you can go up to see the church on the hill in a late Gothic style. This church was also older and initially in Romanesque style but was rebuilt in Gothic style in 1300-1400.
There is also a festival dedicated to vampires, during the event you may have problems finding a place to sleep, so book in advance.
Sighisoara in Romania is located on the railway line to Bucharest and therefore easily accessible
Albert Bridge in London, facts you might not know
Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge in London, but perhaps the Albert Bridge is the most beautiful and certainly the most delicate bridge. Named after Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, the best time to see this bridge is after dark when over 4000 lights illuminate it.
But its pastel colors play with the sunlight at any time, it is a bridge to be seen several times, with the sun, the moon and the clouds. The Albert Bridge connects Battersea to Chelsea and is a modification of a cable-stayed bridge but has been modified several times due to its instability. Initially, you paid to cross the bridge but it was not very successful and after six years it became a bridge open to the public.
If the bridge has a delicate look it is no coincidence, this structure has always been delicate and shaky since its inauguration in 1873.
The thing got worse with the advent of the car and heavy vehicles. Especially the SUVs driven by the wealthy inhabitants of Chelsea. Another problem was that the bridge was used by troops from Chelsea Barracks to cross the Thames, and hundreds of marching men were a danger to the bridge. For this reason you still see signs instructing the troops not to march on the bridge.
The problem of dogs on the Albert Bridge
Another thing that ruins the bridge is the urine of dogs taken for a walk from Chelsea to Battersea Park, in short, dog pee corrodes the wood of the structure.
In the 1950s, the bridge was due to be demolished, but vigorous campaigning by prominent supporters, including the poet John Betjeman, who was fighting at the time against the destruction of many historic buildings, stopped the demolition.
In 1973, pillars were placed to strengthen the bridge which remains the least used of London’s bridges. It was recently closed for restoration for a year and officially reopened in 2011 by two dogs from Battersea Dogs Home, aptly named Prince and Albert.
London: How to visit Hyde Park Pet Cemetery
In the northwest part of Hyde Park, almost hidden away is the famous Pet Cemeteryfrom the Victorian era. Not everyone knows where it is and it’s not easy to see even from Bayswater Road.
Opened in 1881, the animals of wealthy London families were buried here until 1903. It all started by chance when the park keeper a Mr. Winbridge allowed two children who always visited Hyde Park to bury their little dog Cherry in the garden. The following year another dog was buried and then another, until the cemetery began to become popular.
There are not only dog graves but also two cats, a couple of monkeys and other pets. They all have a small headstone exactly like a miniature human cemetery. There are over 300 small tombstones in the cemetery and often have writings that show how much these animals were loved by their owners.
Keeping pets was very fashionable among wealthy Londoners in the 1800s. The second dog buried here belonged to Prince George the Duke of Cambridge’s wife who was the granddaughter in the male line of King George III of the United Kingdom. He was an army officer and served as commander-in-chief of the British Army from 1856 to 1895. The little dog was a Yorkshire terrier and was killed after getting under the wheels of a carriage.
To visit it you have to book one of the tours that are organised every now and then to see the animal cemetery, otherwise you can only see it from the outside. To see when there are organised tours you can look here. There are regular guided tours to visit the cemetery and the good thing is that they are completely free. Even the pandemic has not stopped these initiatives. If you want to participate, just book online.
Concerts coming up!
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