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Archive for england

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.

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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.

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.

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