A Cornish Pilgrimage – Falmouth

The road veers right and begins the steady climb to the heady heights of Pendennis Point. My modest car huffs and puffs as traffic files patiently behind me. A barrier to my left clouds the seascape and the temptation to peep is too immense. I stop the car and stride eagerly to the wall and peer over. The scene is impressive, revealing a small section of old Falmouth harbour. A vast warship, presumably undergoing maintenance prior to setting out to defend the shores dominates the visible harbour view. As the road continues to twist and climb en route for the summit, hungry seagulls swoop overhead, groups ever-increasing as we approach the peak and assembled tourists. Surprisingly, parking is free, hence …

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle, midway between Wareham and Swanage, is one of the most dramatic of English ruins. It stands on an isolated hill which forms part of the Purbeck range, towering over the picturesque village of the same name. The late Saxon kings had a palace here and it was outside the gates that Edward the Martyr was murdered in a family coup that put Ethelred the Unready on the throne. The site allowed for two baileys of unequal size flanking a steep-sided summit, which forms a natural motte. The ring work known as The Rings, a quarter mile to the southwest is probably the siege fort of Matilda. Edward II was held captive here for a while between his abdication …

Chester Castle

Chester originated as the Roman legionary fortress of Deva. Stone defenses first rose around AD 100 and for the next three centuries it housed the Twentieth Legion. When the Roman occupation came to an end the site appears to have been deterred, but the Danes took refuge one winter behind the old walls and withstood a Saxon attempt to dislodge them. This prompted Ethelred, Earl of Mercia, to establish a burgh here on the Wessex pattern in 907. It put up a rare resistance to William the Conqueror but fell in 1070. The present city wall is largely of the thirteenth century, a period when most English towns rebuilt their defenses. Underlying the medieval defenses are the remains of the …

A Cornish Walk: A Simple Tourist Activity, But An Absolute Must For An English Holiday

Cornwall has always been a favourite holiday destination and its dramatic coastline, picturesque villages, vibrant culture and sumptuous cuisine. For those visitors who have travelled to the region, the benefits of a Cornish holiday need no explaining, but for our international friends, who have yet to explore outside of London, a visit to Cornwall will give you a very different taste of English life. In this article, I describe one of my favourite walks in Cornwall and thoroughly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Parts of the walk between St Agnes and the Jericho Valley have been trodden so often by my sturdy boots, that they practically know their own way. It’s one of my favourite stretches of coastal …

Buckden Palace

Buckden Palace was a residence of the medieval bishops of Lincoln, allowing a midway break on the journey from London to their cathedral city. This Episcopal palace was entirely rebuilt in brick by Thomas Rotherham, who became bishop in 1472. After his transfer to York in 1480, it was completed by Bishop Russell. The dominant feature is a tower modeled on the great brick tower at Tattershall Castle. Buckden’s tower house is oblong in plan with octagonal corner turrets rising above parapet level. However, it is less ambitious in scale and lacks the machicolated crown, which gives Tattershall such distinction. The broad chimneybreast is a prominent and altogether domestic feature. Another obvious weakness is the tower’s proximity to the steeple …

Hertford Castle

Hertford was one of the burgs founded by King Edward the Elder during the English re-conquest of the Danelaw. It was no doubt soon after 1066 that William the Conqueror raised the castle beside the River Lea. In general form, Hertford Castle resembles Berkhamsted – a motte and bailey once surrounded by a double moat, with much of its flint curtain still standing. The earthworks of the castle do not compare favorable, since the motte is surprisingly small and the moats have long been filled in. Royal expenditure is recorded in 1171-74, and the curtain probably dates at least partially from that time. The octagonal tower at the south angle of the enclosure is a later medieval addition. Like Berkhamsted, …

Hereford Castle

Hereford means “army ford”, a reference to the turbulent days of its foundation when the Kingdom of Mercia was pushing westwards into Welsh territory. Excavations have uncovered the Saxon town rampart. For centuries the English settlers and the Welsh beyond the River Wye were uneasy neighbors, and in 1055 the town went up in flames. Harold Godwinson, later King Harold, drove back the invaders and rebuilt the shattered defenses. In Norman times, the enclosed area doubled in size and a walled circuit replaced the earthwork defenses from 1224 onward. Hereford rebuffed a Scottish army in 1645 but fell to Parliament at the end of the year. Damaged during these sieges, the city wall suffered the common fate of demolition and …

Dartmoor National Park Guided Walks a Huge Success

The walks have been a great success with both tourists and local people due to the careful planning of the walks. The start times and locations are set to make the walks as accessible as possible for all concerned but still manage to take in some of the must see sights on the moors. If you’ve’ ever wondered what creatures are out and about on Dartmoor at night, why not go along for a two hour stroll at Newbridge on Monday 14 August at 8 pm. Situated in the beautiful Dart valley, the Newbridge area is a haven for a great many species. Younger wildlife enthusiasts can join a Wet and Wild stream dipping activity, or a Dartmoor Family Play …

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall stands on a bluff overlooking the River Wye, two miles southeast of Bakewell. The situation and the embattled outline give an impression of strength from a distance, but as a castle Haddon is something of a mystery. Its complex building history suggests a manor house, which developed defenses but has been effectively de-fortified since. The story goes back to Richard de Vernon, who obtained a peculiar license in 1195. It allowed him to enclose his house within a wall, but the wall was not to exceed twelve feet in height and was not to be crenellated. Some of the wall and part of the chapel survive from that time. What stands today is a rectangular enclosure of the …

Exeter Castle

Despite its checkered history, Exeter preserves many relics of its medieval past. Even its city wall has managed to survive for the most part and the bombing revealed stretches, which had been concealed behind houses for centuries. It is nearly two miles long, but with frequent small gaps and little parapet to walk along it is not a particularly rewarding circuit. The Roman and medieval city occupied a near-rectangular area, today bounded by Northernhay, Eastgate, Southernhay and West Street. Like most other Romano-British cities, Exeter was first enclosed by a stonewall in the third century. The Roman plinth and regularly coursed masonry can be seen in many places – it is unusual for so much Roman work to survive. The …