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Archive for england

East Anglia’s Waterfront Town

By Linda Tancs

Steeped in history, Ipswich is a waterfront town in East Anglia. The county town of Suffolk, it’s the oldest Anglo-Saxon town in England. The town was granted a royal charter in 1200 and has been closely linked with the discovery of the New World and with historical figures such as Cardinal Wolsey and Charles Dickens. The town’s unique and free museum delves into Suffolk’s past from the Iron Age to the Romans and Saxons. Woolly mammoths were believed to have lived in the Ipswich area until 11,500 years ago, a fact commemorated by the life-size model that serves as a mascot in the museum.

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Augmented Reality in Newark

By Linda Tancs

The National Civil War Centre in the Nottinghamshire town of Newark in England presents a unique perspective on the nation’s Civil War. Staunchly Royalist from the war’s beginning, the market town has over 5,000 artifacts from the conflict, including the cannon ball that punched a hole in the spire of St. Mary Magdalene (one of the country’s largest parish churches). You can watch the story of the Civil War unfold on your smartphone or tablet device with augmented reality technology that will guide you through the town on the National Civil War Trail. If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet but still want to explore the trail, then pick up a paper version at the Centre.

The King of Castles

By Linda Tancs

Once the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria, England’s Bamburgh Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country. Perched 150 feet above the sea on a bed of volcanic dolerite, it has dominated the Northumberland countryside and coastline for over 1,400 years, making it an attractive backdrop for many U.K. TV shows as well as Hollywood films. Among its 14 exhibition rooms over 3,000 items are on display, ranging from arms and armor to fine porcelain, china, artworks and furniture. Acquired by the First Lord Armstrong, it remains a family home that was opened to visitors in the mid-1900s.

1,300 Years of Faith on Tower Hill

By Linda Tancs

All Hallows by the Tower is the oldest church in the City of London, founded 300 years before the Tower of London by the Abbey of Barking in A.D. 675. Due to its proximity to the tower, it had handled (as one might suspect) many temporary burials for those beheaded at Tower Hill in bygone days. It survived the Great Fire of 1666 and extensive bombing during World War II and witnessed happier occasions like the marriage of U.S. President John Quincy Adams. You can download an audio tour on your smart phone, take a free guided tour between April and October or arrange a guided group tour at any time of the year.

An Anglo-American Gem in London

By Linda Tancs

Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, spent nearly 16 years at 36 Craven Street near Trafalgar Square in the heart of London. The terraced, Georgian house, built circa 1730, is both architecturally and historically significant. Structurally, it holds a Grade I listing and retains a majority of original features, like the central staircase, lathing, 18th century paneling, stoves, windows, fittings, beams and brick. Historically, Franklin worked there during Revolutionary War times, and the dwelling served as the first de facto U.S. Embassy. Open to the public since 2006, the house is the world’s only remaining Franklin homestead.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt

By Linda Tancs

You know Christmas is right around the corner when you witness the pilgrimage to Birmingham, England, this time of year. The city’s most sought-after event in the calendar is their annual Frankfurt Christmas Market, described as the largest authentic Christmas market outside Germany or Austria. Enjoy shopping among the 120 stalls, which will no doubt work up your appetite for bratwurst, schnitzel, pretzels and beer. Musical entertainment takes place on Victoria Square. The market runs today through December 24.

Bonfire Capital of the World

By Linda Tancs

Medieval streets? Check. Old English churches? Check. Tiny twittens (a Sussex word for alleyway)? Check. They’re all alluring features of the market town of Lewes in East Sussex, but this time of year it’s the embers that rule. This weekend marks the annual Lewes Bonfire Night, an event commemorating the failure of (fall) Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament in 1605. Dubbed by some as the Bonfire Capital of the World, it is generally recognized as the UK’s largest and most famous bonfire festival. Reminiscent of Mardi Gras, the event is dominated by bonfire societies, each of which sports a unique costume and parade route. Fireworks represent the explosives that were never used by the plotters. An honor—of sorts—is to be burned in effigy. Contemporary figures holding that ignominious distinction include Donald Trump, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and David Cameron.

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