Crypts, cottages and castles

The Queen Victoria statue is located in Kensington Gardens in London. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

The Queen Victoria statue is located in Kensington Gardens in London. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

With all its history, England is worth more than one visit

By ROXANNE ROWLEY
Special to the News Advocate

There are many locales to vacation, both at home and abroad, in this wide and wonderful world. And many of them merit more than one visit.

England is one such place, at least for my husband and me. We enjoy going to England, partly because it is the land of my husband’s ancestors as well as being a fascinating and appealing country.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields was built in the 1720s. Saint Martin’s mission was caring for the poor. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

St. Martin-in-the-Fields was built in the 1720s. Saint Martin’s mission was caring for the poor. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

We visited England a few weeks before the big Royal Wedding. What an exciting time to be on holiday there. There was a lot of interest in Harry and Megan, the royal couple, and it was easy to strike up a conversation.

It seems that Prince Harry is a favorite with many people. So we had some very enthusiastic chats with locals and visitors alike.

London is an incredible and exciting city with a population of almost 9 million. In spite of its size, London is a pretty manageable city thanks to the Tube (subway) and the neighborhoods. There are so many sights with the numerous galleries, museums and historic buildings that it would take months to see it all.

One of our favorite places was St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The church was built in the 1720s. Saint Martin’s mission was caring for the poor. Back in the 13th century there was a church was where St. Martin-in-the-Fields stands today. Then it was in the field in the middle of nowhere, hence the name of the “new” church.

There is a very good cafeteria in the crypt of the church, and a gift shop that helps raise funds to achieve that goal. It is a unique place to dine sitting over a gravestone of a monk in that ancient crypt. I am pretty sure the spirits of the monks are happy lots of people visit the crypt so the work of serving the poor can continue.

Tower Bridge, a drawbridge, spans the Thames River. It was built to accommodate the growth of the East End of London. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

Tower Bridge, a drawbridge, spans the Thames River. It was built to accommodate the growth of the East End of London. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

Trafalgar Square is the central square in London. It is an exciting place to hang out and observe people. It is also the home of Nelson’s Column, a tribute to Lord Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

From Trafalgar Square it is easy to visit the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery and St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

Our hotel happened to be near Kensington Gardens, a great place to stroll. Kensington Palace was also close by. We passed a statue of Queen Victoria each time we took a walk in the gardens.

Like so many of the gardens in London, there were lots of flowers, greenery and many trees — some quite old.

Tower Bridge spans the Thames River. It is a drawbridge and was built to accommodate the growth of the East End of London. It lifts about a thousand times a year to let ships pass through. It is an impressive piece of architecture and has become kind of an iconic symbol of London.

Not far from Tower Bridge is the 900 year old Tower of London. It has served as a castle and as a king’s residence, but it is best known as a prison and an execution site for rebels. Anne Boleyn lost her head there, as did Sir Thomas Moore and others.

One of the highlights, for me at least, was the visit to Highclere Castle, located near Hampshire, an hour’s train ride west of London. The popular British series, “Downton Abbey,” was filmed there.

The popular British series, "Downton Abbey," was filmed at Highclere Castle in England. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

The popular British series, “Downton Abbey,” was filmed at Highclere Castle in England. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

Highclere has been the home to the Earl’s of Carnarvon since 1679. The current house (castle) was built in the 1840s by Sir Charles Berry who also designed the Houses of Parliament in London. What fun it was to tour the huge house and see the rooms we had seen on the series up close and personal.

There is a really fine Egyptian exhibit in the basement of the castle. It seems that the 5th Earl was very interested in archaeology. So he helped fund Howard Carter’s expedition that discovered King Tut’s tomb in 1922. There are many interesting artifacts on display, including lots of newspaper clippings about King Tut’s tomb.

Stonehenge was another fascinating site to visit. It is as old as the pyramids and so very impressive. It is a mystical and magical place.

It is believed that Stonehenge was built between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Researchers think that it was originally used as a cremation cemetery. Many burial mounds have been discovered nearby.

But Stonehenge does still function as a celestial calendar. Summer solstice sees thousands visit this ancient site to welcome the new season. Over a million people visit Stonehenge a year.

Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway. Costumed actors perform hakespeare’s works in the lovely garden.

At Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford costumed docents provide a history of the home that had been in the Hathaway family since the 1400s. Parts of that original cottage still stand. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

At Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford costumed docents provide a history of the home that had been in the Hathaway family since the 1400s. Parts of that original cottage still stand. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

At Anne Hathaway’s cottage costumed docents provide an interesting history of the lovely home that had been in the Hathaway family since the 1400s. Parts of that original cottage still stand. The gardens surrounding the cottage are spectacularly beautiful.

We had the good fortune to have a delicious meal at Hall’s Croft, the 400 year old house that was the home of William Shakespeare’s daughter, Anne and her physician husband. That home was built in 1614 and parts of the original building are still intact.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is listening to the various accents people have. The British speak English but use some different words than we do. It’s fun to pick up some new vocabulary words.

When I feel peckish (hungry) in the afternoon, I enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit (cookie).

Perhaps for supper I will have bubble and squeak (cabbage and potatoes fried together).

Or maybe I will enjoy a serving of bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes). I think before I take the car out I will check under the bonnet (car hood).

Darn, I cut my finger looking under the bonnet, so I need a plaster (band-aid). But first I will use a face flannel (washcloth) to clean the wound. I need to go to the ironmonger (hardware store), but first I will put on my jumper (sweater).

It has been quite a busy day and I am feeling fagged (exhausted). Enough of this jiggery-pokery (nonsense). Time for pudding (dessert) and a cuppa (cup of tea).

It is believed that Stonehenge was built between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Researchers think that it was originally used as a cremation cemetery. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

It is believed that Stonehenge was built between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Researchers think that it was originally used as a cremation cemetery. (Roxanne Rowley/Courtesy photo)

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