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Archive for england

Country Life in Dorset

By Linda Tancs

Mapperton has been touted as England’s finest manor house. Located in Dorset, it was entered in the Domesday Book 1086 as Malperetone and was owned by a sheriff. Today’s Jacobean manor house still shows vestiges of the Tudor manor of the 1540s from which it originated. It’s the home of the Montagus, currently the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. Their ancestor, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, is credited with putting roast beef between two slices of bread. Perhaps his more notable achievement was reorganizing the navy and improving its ships. Seafaring achievement is likewise evident in the life of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, who became Charles II’s first general-at-sea. Their portraits are in the Sandwich collection, along with pictures by Lely, Van de Velde the Younger, Scott, Reynolds and Hogarth. Be sure to visit the gardens, rated as one of the top in the southwest. Tucked into a steep north-south combe, the period gardens descend among tumbling hills and unspoiled countryside.

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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.

Magic in Oxford

By Linda Tancs

They say that springtime is magical at Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum. Part of the University of Oxford, it’s the oldest botanic garden in Great Britain and one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world. With winter in the rear view, the gardens are coming alive with hellebores, crocuses and some early scilla as well as some early daffodils in the Lower Garden. The conservatory beckons with citrus and hyacinth as well as bougainvillea and primula. And it doesn’t stop there. The arboretum (part of Oxford Botanic Garden since 1963) is awash in Darjeeling flowers, a scent you can’t miss along the Serpentine Ride, the oldest part of the arboretum. Originally a physic garden, today’s complex contains over 5,000 different plant species, a year-round oasis of biodiversity.

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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.

Underground in the Lake District

By Linda Tancs

Honister Pass is among the highest navigable routes in England’s Lake District. As you can imagine, the views are stunning. There’s also a different sort of view at the summit of the pass, below the earth. That’s where the country’s last working slate mine sits, home of the iconic Westmorland green slate. Explore the mine’s history with a 90-minute tour of its underground tunnels and caverns. You can buy small slate items from the shop.

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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 Portals of Derwent

By Linda Tancs

Ladybower Reservoir was built in Derbyshire, England. Its most dramatic characteristic might be the two stone spillways (plug holes) opposite each other that keep water levels in check during heavy rains or flooding. Nearly 80 feet in diameter, it’s tempting to think of them as portals to another dimension, particularly when they’re flowing with water. When water levels are low, you might see ruins of Derwent and Ashopton, two villages drowned when the reservoir was created. For stunning viewpoints, take the circular walk (about 5 miles in length) around the reservoir, a favorite of hikers and dog walkers.

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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 Greatest Snowdrop Garden

By Linda Tancs

Snowdrops, generally appearing in February and March, are one of the first spring flowers to bloom, often while snow is still on the ground in some regions. In the heart of England’s Cotswolds, Colesbourne Park is heralded as the premier garden to see them. Open on select days each February, the gardens comprise approximately 10 acres of formal snowdrop walks. The trails are situated around an estate originally owned in 1789 by John Elwes, son of the celebrated miser John Elwes, reputedly one of the models for the character of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

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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.

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.

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