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Archive for england

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.

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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.

A Roundabout View in London

By Linda Tancs

Located in the large, irregularly shaped island in the middle of the Hyde Park Corner roundabout in London, England, Wellington Arch offers panoramic views of the city from its balconies. Originally intended as an entrance to Buckingham Palace, it later became a victory arch proclaiming Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon. The facing masonry of Portland stone is capped off with the largest bronze sculpture in Europe, “Peace Descending on the Quadriga of War,” by Adrian Jones.

England’s Wool Town

By Linda Tancs

Located in the heart of Suffolk, Lavenham is widely recognized as one of England’s prettiest medieval villages. Known in particular as a wool town, it was granted its market charter in 1257 and started exporting its famous blue broadcloth across the globe. Although its woolen trade fell to market forces in the 16th century, the village’s half-timbered medieval cottages remain the same today as they would have looked in those halcyon days. The Guild Hall, in particular, dominates the town and offers exhibitions on local history, farming and industry, as well as the story of the medieval woolen trade.

300 Years of Freemasonry

By Linda Tancs

Freemasonry began in medieval Europe as a guild for stonemasons who built the great castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Today it is one of the largest fraternal and charitable organizations in the world. The United Grand Lodge of England at Great Queen Street in London is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year. Their facilities include The Library and Museum of Freemasonry. Open to the public, it’s located on the first floor of Freemasons’ Hall, where guided tours of the Grand Temple and ceremonial areas are provided when the hall is not in use. The free museum displays one of the world’s largest collections associated with Freemasonry, including pottery and porcelain, glassware, silver, furniture, clocks, jewels, regalia and items belonging to famous Freemasons like Winston Churchill and King George IV (the first Royal Grand Master). The closest tube stations are Holborn, Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

Candlelight in Bournemouth

By Linda Tancs

When Princess Eugenie of France visited Bournemouth in 1896, the Lower Gardens were lit with candles in her honor. That event sparked a tradition in this Victorian spa town on England’s south coast that continues to this day. Tonight is the annual Candlelight Procession, a candle-lit walk in the dusk from the Lower Gardens to Pier Approach. The lighting of thousands of candles in colored jars brings a magical touch to a garden adorned with floral displays that feature a range of colors, textures and scents.

Cuddy’s Corse

By Linda Tancs

Cuddy’s Corse is one of two heritage trails in Chester-le-Street, a historic market town in County Durham, England. The 7.5 mile walking trail starting at St. Mary’s and St. Cuthbert’s church follows in the footsteps of St. Cuthbert’s community on their final journey from Chester-le-Street to Durham Cathedral, carrying the uncorrupted body (corse) of Cuthbert (the patron saint of the North) and his book, the  Lindisfarne Gospels. It was at the parish church that the gospels were first translated into Saxon English, and one of only three facsimiles of them can be viewed there. The ancient town also traces its roots to a Roman fort; catch a glimpse of the site behind the parish center.

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