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Archive for england

A Time Capsule in Durham

By Linda Tancs

It isn’t every day you get to literally walk through a time capsule, so a place like the Beamish Museum in England’s County Durham is a real treat. Arguably one of the best open-air, living museums in the world, it offers faithful replicas of life in the Northeast from the 1800s to the 1950s. Among its many charms you’ll find a look at Rowley Station as it existed in Edwardian times, a replica of renowned Georgian quilter Joseph Hedley’s home, coal community cottages and a farm from the 1940s. The 300-acre site is served by vintage trams and buses. The closest train station to the museum is Chester-le-Street, where regular bus service from the town centre to Beamish takes about 20 minutes.

A Unique Island Community

By Linda Tancs

The Thames Estuary is one of the United Kingdom’s major estuaries. It extends from the tidal limit of the River Thames at Teddington Lock to the North Sea. The region comprises a cluster of cities, towns and villages. One of those places is Canvey Island, the whole of which is below sea level. Originally a salt marsh before being reclaimed by sea waters in the 7th century, it eventually became home to around 200 Dutch immigrants in the early 17th century, who reportedly sought refuge from the Duke of Alba (Alva), notoriously known as the “butcher of Flanders” for disposing of those who allied themselves with or provided aid to the troops leading the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule. The island’s Dutch connection is part of the history told in murals along the 14 miles of high sea walls safeguarding the locale against devastating flooding. The journey time from London via rail is about one hour.

An Electrifying Home in Northumberland

By Linda Tancs

Surrounded by one of Europe’s largest rock gardens, Cragside is a Victorian country house near the town of Rothbury in Northumberland, England. Built in 1863 by Lord Armstrong (a civil and mechanical engineer), it was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectricity, harnessing lakes on the estate to generate electricity through a turbine. You can take a walk around two of those lakes, one of many waymarked trails among the estate’s 1,000 acres.

Missions to Maharajas

By Linda Tancs

Saint Hill Manor is reputedly the finest 18th-century sandstone building in Sussex, England. It also boasts quite the history, having served a variety of purposes ranging from a Christian mission to the home of a maharaja of Jaipur. Its notoriety continued when it was acquired by L. Ron Hubbard as a family home and became British headquarters for his Church of Scientology. Tours of the house are available by advance booking, but the grounds are open daily and include nearly 60 acres of landscaped gardens, woodlands and lakes. The estate is located on the outskirts of East Grinstead, an ancient market town.

Stanway’s Famous Fountain

By Linda Tancs

Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Stanway is noted for its Jacobean manor house, which boasts a famous fountain in its watergarden that opened in 2004. Rising over 300 feet, the fountain is the tallest gravity-fed fountain in the world. The rest of the manor’s watergarden is, of course, much older, created in the 1720s and considered one of the finest of its kind in England. It features a canal, a cascade and a pond at the tithe barn. While you’re there, don’t miss the restored watermill with its massive 24-foot overshot waterwheel, the eighth-largest waterwheel in England.

London’s Oldest Bookshop

By Linda Tancs

Hatchards is London’s oldest bookshop. It was established in 1797 by publisher John Hatchard and has occupied its current space at 187 Piccadilly since Georgian times. Far from a crusty old bookstore, it shelves are lined with the latest bestsellers and contemporary works along with time-honored classics. The store’s dedicated team can even source out-of-print titles. As one might expect, they’re the Official Bookseller to the Royal Household.

England’s Woodland Memorial

By Linda Tancs

A site of national remembrance, England’s National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire is a woodland oasis featuring 25,000 trees with a collection of nearly 400 memorials honoring those who have served and sacrificed. The memorials are diverse in size and scope and represent a broad population of society, from military associations and charities to emergency services, fraternity groups and individuals. The 150-acre site is located on the edge of the National Forest on Croxall Road in Alrewas, close to all the Midlands motorways.

Bubblecars in Lincolnshire

By Linda Tancs

Bubblecars are a form of microcar, typically characterized by their three wheels and an engine capacity under 700cc. They are a significant part of British motoring history, so it should come as no surprise that the Bubblecar Museum near Boston in Lincolnshire is dedicated to them. The only public museum of its kind in the country, over 50 microcars are on display, many featuring period backgrounds. You’ll find examples of the prominent English manufacturers like Bond, Reliant, Bamby and Meadows Frisky. And yes, you can take a ride in one.

A Local History Museum in London

By Linda Tancs

Gunnersbury Park boasts an opulent stately home in Regency style located in the London Borough of Hounslow. Once owned by the Rothschild banking family, it now houses a local history and heritage museum for the London boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow. You can thank Maria de Rothschild for that, who sold the park and its mansion houses to Ealing Borough Council and Acton Borough Council in 1925 to be preserved as a public space. Some popular features are the 19th-century carriages owned by the Rothschilds, the Victorian kitchens and the Greek-style Doric Temple, one of the oldest buildings in the park. You can get there easily via Acton Town or South Ealing tube stations.

Silk Capital of the UK

By Linda Tancs

Like other medieval market towns in Suffolk, Sudbury gained acclaim as one of the famous wool towns. The textile of choice these days, though, is silk. In fact, the town has four working mills manufacturing 110 metric tonnes of Chinese silk every year which supplies 95 percent of the nation’s woven silk textiles, making it the silk capital of the United Kingdom. “Sudbury Silk” is so desired worldwide that it was granted protected geographical status in 2015. You can find exhibitions on the town’s silk industry at the former home of renowned landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough, which is now a museum and gallery.

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