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Archive for england

Precious Paper

By Linda Tancs

William Morris ceiling paper was the height of fashion in 1881. It’s one of the many treasures at England’s Newark Park in Gloucestershire, near the village of Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge. In fact, it’s the same paper that’s used in the banqueting hall at St. James’s Palace in London. The Tudor hunting lodge-turned-private home is set in a spectacular estate at the southern end of the Cotswold escarpment with views looking down into the Ozleworth valley and to the Mendips beyond. Were it not for the restoration efforts of American architect Bob Parsons in the 70s, the house might’ve been lost to history. The fruits of his efforts led to many discoveries, like a giant Tudor fireplace and serving hatch. The basement also reveals three historical kitchens: Tudor, Georgian and Victorian. This “house of many eras” has only recently been opened to public viewing.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Experiencing Gin in Manchester

By Linda Tancs

If you’ve ever fancied becoming a master distiller for a day, then head to Manchester, England, where you’ll find The Gin Experience at The City of Manchester Distillery. Their award-winning experience guides visitors through the production facility and the art of making gin. Afterward, every guest gets the opportunity to make his or her own bespoke bottle of gin from over 50 botanical flavors. Best of all, they save guests’ recipes so that you can re-order another bottle of your unique concoction at any time.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

England’s Roaring Meg

By Linda Tancs

Overlooking an ancient crossing point of the river Wye, England’s Goodrich Castle was a thriving medieval household. It takes its name from an English landowner, Godric, who built the first castle in the late 11th century. In 1646 the castle was the scene of one of the most hard-fought sieges of the English Civil War. The Royalist garrison there surrendered after a two-month bombardment with Parliament’s locally made cannon known as Roaring Meg. The only surviving mortar from the war, it is now on display in the castle courtyard.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

England’s Famous Fen

By Linda Tancs

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire is the oldest nature reserve in England and also its most famous fen. One of Europe’s most important wetlands, it’s home to over 9,000 recorded species of plants, birds and dragonflies as well as amazing wildlife. As the colder months approach, the reserve is populated with wigeon, hen harriers, short-eared owls, starlings and winter thrushes. The ancient part of the region, Sedge Fen, is explorable year-round thanks to the Boardwalk Trail. To enhance your wildlife viewing experience, check out the Sightings Book in the visitor center.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Great House in Hampshire

By Linda Tancs

Chawton House is a center for early women’s writing. Owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward, the Elizabethan manor house in Hampshire, England, was referred to by Austen in her letters as the “Great House.” The venue has many first editions and original manuscripts; not surprisingly, one of those assets is “Sir Charles Grandison,” written in Jane’s own hand. Although she may have dined frequently at the home, Jane did not live there. Instead, her brother offered another residence minutes away, which many might consider the real “great house” because she penned her major works there: “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park,” “Emma,” “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion.” That residence, Jane Austen’s House Museum, may be the most treasured fan site in the world. Both sites are accessible via hourly trains to nearby Alton from London’s Waterloo station.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

From Castle to Hostel

By Linda Tancs

St. Briavels Castle began in the 12th century as a significant means of defense against the campaigns of the Welsh. Strategically located in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, it reaped the benefits of the area’s renown as a center of the medieval iron industry and the manufacture of crossbow bolts. Under King Edward I, thousands of crossbow bolts were produced at the castle in preparation for the king’s defensive campaigns. Once the conquest of Wales was completed, the castle served as a debtor’s prison. These days, the castle’s gatehouse prison serves as a youth hostel. Due to this use, access to the interior is limited; visitors should call ahead. However, the exterior of the castle and moat can be viewed during daylight hours, and there is seasonal access (April to October) to the inner bailey and courtyard.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Woodland Living in Wye

By Linda Tancs

For those who enjoy rustic living, the latest luxury hotel in the U.K. is sure to please. Located in two acres of private woodland at St. Briavels Common near Tintern on the border of England and Wales, a luxury A-frame treehouse retreat is pitched 13 feet above the ground on the hillside above The Hudnalls, a collection of woodlands in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Known as The Hudnalls Hideout, it’s the first A-frame, oak-clad treehouse to be built in the country, accessible via a suspended wooden bridge. Requiring a minimum two-night reservation, your experience includes an outdoor copper bath, a fire pit, an outsize window in the master bedroom loft for nature viewing and a telescope. Glamping never looked so good.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Curating London

By Linda Tancs

London has a museum for every taste. What about a taste for London itself? That’s where the Museum of London comes in, curating details about the capital from its first settlers to modern times. Discover the London “before” London, from around 450,000 B.C. until the creation of the Roman city of Londinium around A.D. 50, the biggest city Britain would see for over 1,000 years. The permanent exhibitions also feature medieval times, the city’s growth to one of the most populous and wealthy in the world and the 2012 Olympic cauldron. Free gallery tours are available daily. Currently located at 150 London Wall, the facility is on the move to historic West Smithfield in the next several months.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

London’s Only Lighthouse

By Linda Tancs

Built in the 1860s, London’s only remaining lighthouse in the Docklands is of interest not only for its historical use as a testing facility for lighthouse technology but also for its current use as the musical home of a composition destined to last for 1,000 years. Known as Longplayer, the score is a continuous 1,000-year-long piece of music performed with Tibetan singing bowls conceived for the turn of the millenium in 1999. The music will run uninterrupted (and without repetition, thanks to technology) until midnight on December 31, 2999, when the music will start anew. There’s a listening room in the lighthouse itself as well as an installation of 234 Tibetan singing bowls that were part of a live performance of part of the score, which lasted for 1,000 minutes. The lighthouse is located at Trinity Buoy Wharf, just minutes from Canning Town Underground station.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Heights of the Mother

By Linda Tancs

In the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park is Castleton, a popular English village. It’s legendary as a walking center, thanks to the steep hills surrounding it on three sides. The most famous is Mam Tor (translated Heights of the Mother), standing at over 1,690 feet, site of ruins of a Celtic hill fort. Next to walking, its four underground show caves are a major attraction. Two of them, Blue John and Treak Cliff, are still actively mined for a yellow and blue fluorspar called Blue John. A third cave, Peak Cavern, was home to the last of Britain’s cave hermits. Unlike these three caves, Speedwell Cavern is only accessible via boat. The closest rail station to the village is in nearby Hope.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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