Posts Tagged ‘Church’

Day Trip 3

It’s Wednesday everyone! Which means it’s time for Rambler5319 to take over with another story from his holidays. Enjoy.

I thought I’d do another of my days out from a recent holiday.

This time I was visiting Castle Rising just a few miles north of King’s Lynn in Norfolk. The castle in the village of the same name has a very interesting history going back to about 1138 and its current owner is actually an ancestor of the original builder! That’s nearly 900 years of ownership!

It is the place where, in the 14th century, Queen Isabella (wife of Edward II) was moved after some problems with the monarchy and its (including her) allegiances.

Cutting a very long story short it goes like this. Isabella was brought to England as a 12 yr old from Paris. Her marriage, in 1308, to Edward II (of England) had been arranged some years before by her father. As was the case with many royal marriages it was meant to try and overcome conflicts between warring countries or sides in an argument. In this case the dispute was over French lands which had been captured by England. In 1312 the future Edward III was born. In 1324 Edward II & his supporters began to confiscate Queen Isabella’s lands. Because of hostilities with France, and Isabella being French, Edward II put people in to run the royal household as well as putting her French staff in prison. Her youngest children were taken away from her. She then went to her brother King Charles IV of France and began to take back lands which Edward owned in France. She started bringing together opponents of Edward II in France, some of whom were English, to form an army. At this point she formed an alliance with and later took as a lover, Roger Mortimer. (He had previously escaped from prison in England in 1322.) Isabella betrothed her son (future Edward III) to Philippa of Hainault (an area of Belgium which bordered France) and with the dowry was able to raise a mercenary army. They came back to England and forced Edward II to give up the throne. (Some believe Isabella was later responsible for Edward’s murder.) Isabella became regent and she and Mortimer ruled for 4 years until 1330. During this time both had amassed large amounts of money and land and two years prior to this Edward had married Philippa of Hainault. Edward III, then deposed Mortimer and put him on trial for treason and had him executed. Isabella escaped punishment by apparently being portrayed as the innocent party. After being under house arrest at Windsor Castle until 1332 Isabella was moved back to her own place at Castle Rising. Even though she had lost her lands she was still given a large income to live off. She was able to employ a good number of staff and enjoyed other luxuries. She remained at Castle Rising until her death in 1358.

Before setting off for my tour of the castle I decided to get one of those audio guide things. Naturally you had to leave a deposit but I was given an unusual choice – either £20 or my car keys! I worked it out that £20 was probably a better deal. It turned out to be really good as instead of just wandering round looking at the bare signs and stone walls you had the commentary going on and it was very well done I thought.

Ok so here we go with the pics:

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Note it’s rather cube-like appearance which just goes to show that sometimes medieval architecture could be rather uninteresting just like some of today’s “modern” buildings. You can see the entrance at the bottom right corner in the lower section.

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This was looking back down towards the front door.

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Remember we learnt about what garderobes are on 19.6.13 in 10 Words (Part 3). What is interesting is the location of them in this castle: although you can’t see it in the pic I was standing in the kitchen, the next room to them!

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In the pic above you can see the two places where users have to crouch down with the dividing wall for a bit of privacy. I was curious as to what happens when say the person in the far one finishes first and has to walk past the other one which may still be being used. Maybe there were curtains or something. Hmmm….. And I suppose you’re wondering where the waste goes. Check out the next pic.

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The two arches in this picture are where waste (no.2s especially) from those using the garderobes inside would drop down – quite a height! No flush toilets in their day.

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This pic is showing what would have originally been the basement area but the upper floors have rotted away. The hole you can see with the grill was actually a well and here’s the sign.

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The next pic shows clearly a number of arched windows at different levels which must have been for each of the floors.

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In the castle grounds there are also remains of a Norman Church which was built in the 11th century

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And a view of what remains of the inside

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Here’s a view looking back towards the castle through the gatehouse entrance.

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And just in case you were wondering how they cut the grass round the moat and fields around the castle – here’s the answer:

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I returned to the ticket/shop place to hand in the audio guide machine. I was asked if I paid £20 or left my car keys. When I claimed I’d left the keys to the Rolls Royce now in the car park it didn’t work but at least I got my £20 back.

I did buy something in the shop. I don’t know about you but I struggle to remember more than a few significant kings and queens of the past 1,000 years so I thought something to help me remember them would be useful. I bought this:

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Now check out the other side of it

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You might have to enlarge it a bit but it’s really useful.

So, if you’re ever in the King’s Lynn area I would recommend a trip to Castle Rising but don’t forget to pick up one of the audio guide things as it makes it so much more interesting.

Day out (Part 2)

Good morning all. Welcome to the eagerly-awaited follow up to last Wednesday’s post from my guest blogger….

After the climb to St Winefride’s Well and descent to our cars we drove a couple of miles to our next port of call on our day out. Abakhan Fabrics is one of those places that have everything you could ever want for knitting, sewing & craft making. We had a look round each of the shops in this little enclave before setting out on the next part of our excursion into North Wales. A brief walk along the main road brought us to the path which leads down to the sea. This was a much shorter flatter walk than the St Winefride’s bit but the path did go under a rather low bridge. Here are two ladies walking under it and you can see how low it is. Some of the gents had to dip their heads to avoid the roof.

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Just beyond the bridge was this next pic – A ship, apparently abandoned.

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It is called the Duke of Lancaster but is obviously past its sell-by date. How did it get there? Why was it there and obviously not likely to move? In fact it looks like local vandals have sprayed graffiti along the side. Our leader informed us that the council had actually employed someone to do the artwork. The intention was to convert the vessel for use as something else. For a time it became a shopping centre with traders bringing their stuff to it to sell from inside the ship. However they moved on and due to our modern health and safety regulations further plans had to be shelved. This is because any use involving the public nowadays would have to have access for emergency vehicles; and of course neither ambulances nor fire engines would get under that low bridge (probably clearance of barely 6ft/1.83m) on the path into the berth. Given that, it is unlikely permission would be granted for anything like a visitor attraction of any kind.

The ship was originally built, in 1956, as a passenger ferry and was also used for cruises. (It could carry 1,800 passengers.) That was until about 1966 when it became a car ferry doing the Belfast to Heysham run. However demand dropped and with no other apparent employment for the vessel it was moved to Mostyn in 1979 and was concreted in. If you fancy a watch of some info about it there’s a YouTube clip (5 mins) which is part of a series of programmes called “Coast” which ran in the UK a few years ago. (The BBC2 programme is in its 8th series now with a 9th planned for next year.) It shows you the guy who lives on board (or lived on board at one time). He’s got a very emotional tie to the ship which you can see in the clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2rZWtX844w

We walked a little further past the ship along what is now part of the North Wales Coast Path enjoying the sunshine.image

Then we returned and just before passing under the low bridge back to our cars we saw this little boat. Its name, as you can see on the hull, is Girl Al.

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I couldn’t find out much about it but when I checked Flickr I found this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/58735253@N03/6892776955/

Now you can see it actually looks like a completely different boat. The cabin is boarded up; the hull has a fair number of barnacles; the paint on deck is peeling; however, as you can see, it has the same name (Girl Al) and the same registration number (CH101). This means it must have either have been extensively re-built and repainted or it’s actually a new boat after the old one was scrapped. And what’s the reason for the name? I’m sure there’s a story there if only I could find out who knows about it.

Next stop was a very ancient village inland for a drink on the way home – The Red Lion at Llanasa, a place with, at the latest count, just 240 residents. And very nice it was too. (The pub dates back to around 1600.) Despite the Bank Holiday the place was not too crowded and we got the drinks far quicker than the cup of tea episode earlier in the day (mentioned last week).

The village & church have a history dating back to about 600AD (and possibly even earlier than that). It used to be called Llanasaph because it was where the remains of St Asaph were kept; they were moved to St Asaph Cathedral in the late 13th century. The other interesting thing is that the church is the burial place of the guy who was the father of Owain Glyndwr. (You may remember my post of 13.3.13 which mentioned Owain and the Welsh Revolt he led, during the reign of Henry IV, at the start of the 15th century.) His tombstone is still there with the words here lies Gruffudd Fychan” engraved in Welsh.

If you go to this site and scroll down to the 4th image you can see an outline drawing of the tombstone with a brief and interesting explanation of the markings on it:

http://llanasaconservationsocie.homestead.com/page2.html

Just across from the pub was the local parish church so we decided to have a quick look.

On the way over I spotted this sign outside a house which clearly had had a significant former life.

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It was a real reminder of how, in all the cutbacks the The Post Office has had to make over the years, so many village post offices were closed down. It was nice to see the owners had, at least, hung on to the name so there’s a reminder for future generations of what the building used to be. I wonder how far the village folk have to travel now to get the services it used to provide.

Here’s the path leading round the back of the church.

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What you probably can’t see from the pic is that all those stones laid as edges to the path are actual gravestones. I could only assume they must have been ones that were falling over and had been laid flat. Cemetaries have to be very careful now because if a gravestone is loose or leaning and it falls and injures someone they are liable for compensation. Thus there are lots of gravestones which have been laid flat to avoid claims being made. One of my own family ancestor’s grave has had this done to it and I can’t read the inscription because it was put face down! Well done the council. I was told I could pay someone to come along and lift it so I could get a picture of the information but that it would have to be laid flat again for “health & safety” reasons.

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Next I went to find out if it was possible to see inside the church. It wasn’t. However there was a notice pinned to the door and here it is:

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Well there’s a curious one. I wonder why swallows seem to be the main culprits. Where I live it’s pigeons that get in these kinds places and cause mess & havoc.

If you don’t know what a swallow sounds like have a listen to this:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/radio4/science/birdsong_swallow.mp3

A local property website has a couple of places up for sale in Llanasa: one for £750,000 (approx $1,152,000) and a 7-bedroom one for £1,000,000 ($1,537,000) if you fancy splashing out!

And so it was home time. We joined the queues as everyone else thought it was a good time to go home as well but at least it kept moving. Great day!

London trip (part 2)

Good morning all. It’s time for the second part of last week’s brilliant post ny my guest blogger about walking in London. Enjoy!

Just to recap – last week I did the first part of my walk around some London sights (and sites). I covered the oddly named St. Andrew By-The-Wardrobe Church, The College of Arms, St Magnus the Martyr Church with the London Bridge (1176-1831) sign, John Donne’s bust near St Paul’s Cathedral, the YMCA sign showing its origins and the very unusual Postman’s Park which became the Memorial To Heroic Self Sacrifice celebrating those who gave their lives in saving others.

 

For this second part it’s important to understand something of the history behind the next few pics so I hope you will bear with me. This week we’re starting with a visit to the Smithfield area and the front of St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

The first thing to notice is this sign:

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As well as the info about public executions which we’ll come to in a moment notice the bottom 5 lines of the sign. Society must have sunk to a very low level at this point!

 

There’s a memorial to 3 men (3 Johns) who gave their lives, not to save others like the ones in Postman’s Park, but because they refused to change their beliefs. I wonder how many of us would be prepared to die for something we believe in or would we just change our minds to stay alive. What if the government asked us to sign a piece of paper saying we definitely believe in the existence of aliens. Would it bother you? Would you sign? Maybe not? However what if they then said unless they had this piece of paper with your signature on you would not be eligible to apply for any jobs or any benefits if you are out of work. That’s a lot harder now isn’t it? Are you going to sign? What if the next step is that all who sign have to undertake not to speak to any who haven’t signed? Then ultimately what if they say if you don’t sign you no longer have the right to live? Do you sign now? Probably you do because you say it doesn’t really make much difference to your life and that’s probably right. What if though it’s not aliens but a particular belief system be it religious or secular (cult of the leader like in North Korea for instance)? There are a number of countries around the world where Christians are persecuted just because they believe Jesus died on the cross to save people from their sins. For them it’s not just a matter of changing their belief to suit the current government requirements it’s about a daily life lived a different way. This plaque is really about men for whom it was more important to stand for what they believed in rather than simply change to stay alive. Apologies for the picture being slight obscured by the railings in front of it but when I held the camera inside the railings I couldn’t get the whole thing in.

Here’s the picture:

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The three men are John Rogers, John Bradford, John Philpott. Let’s take a brief look at each.

 

John Rogers (1500-4.2.1555) was born in Birmingham and became a minister and Bible translator producing the second complete Bible translation from the original languages in 1537. He was the first Protestant Martyr (English) to be executed under Mary I. The last reported conversation JR had went something like this when Mr Woodroofe, one of the sheriffs, came to lead him out of Newgate Prison to be executed. He asked if JR was willing to revoke “his abominable doctrine”:

 

John Rogers: “That which I have preached I will seal with my blood.

Woodroofe: “Thou art an heretic.”

John Rogers: “That shall be known at the Day of Judgment.

Woodroofe: “I will never pray for thee.

John Rogers: “But I will pray for you.”

 

Remember Woodroofe had come to lead the man to the stake to be burned alive; I guess I know which man’s character speaks of goodness & compassion and which one doesn’t.

 

John Bradford (1510-1.7.1555)

He was born in Manchester and became a law student at the Inner Temple (a professional association for barristers and judges) in London. When he became a Christian he felt called to the ministry and was later ordained by Bishop Nicholas Ridley; he would later share a cell with this man in the Tower of London. He is famous for the saying (when he saw others being led out to their execution): “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” Many of you will be familiar with the saying in its modern form when people reflect on their situation which could easily have been a lot worse if something which could have happened didn’t. They look at someone for whom it did go badly and they say: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”, or just “There, but for the grace of God..” Perhaps you’ve even used the phrase yourself. Well now you know it comes from John Bradford. Before the fire was lit he turned to the man alongside him and said: “Be of good comfort brother; for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night!” A very strong faith indeed!

 

John Philpott (1511-18.12.1555)

He was born in Hampshire and the son of a knight. He studied civil law and the Hebrew language. He became archdeacon at Winchester. When Mary came to the throne he was called to account for his beliefs. Amazingly he was interviewed/examined 14 times before the final one which condemned him to death. On the appointed day the sheriffs took him to Smithfield. As they approached the stake the ground was very muddy and they offered to carry him. His reply: “Would you make me a pope? I am content to finish my journey on foot.” When he got to the stake, he said, “Shall I disdain to suffer at the stake, when my Redeemer did not refuse to suffer the most vile death upon the cross for me?” He then recited the Psalm 107 & 108. When he had finished his prayers, he was tied to the post, and the fire lit.

 

All three died in 1555. The other years mentioned on the stone plaque must refer to the many anonymous ones who died in the following two years.

Now in the hustle and bustle of the day, with people scurrying about their daily business around me in the street, I stood for a few moments thinking about how seriously these guys took the way they lived their lives and the God they believed in to such a degree that they would simply not change to save their own lives.

 

Just along from this plaque was another one – this time to Sir William Wallace.image

He was born nearly 300 years before the men above were burned at the stake. In 1296 Edward I of England had forced the King of Scotland, John de Balliol, to give up his throne. He then put him in jail and declared himself King of Scotland. In May 1297 Wallace and others began their resistance and a few months later the English army and the Scots met at the Forth River near Stirling. Because of the narrow bridge which the English had to cross, the outnumbered Scots actually massacred the English forces. Wallace and his men then crossed the border and, in Oct 1297, began attacking the counties of Northumberland & Cumberland. Wallace returned to Scotland in Dec 1297 and was proclaimed guardian of the realm ruling in the deposed king’s name. 8 months later in July 1298 Edward I went back to Scotland and defeated the Scots. However it was not until 1304 that the Scots actually accepted (recognised) Edward I as their king. However Wallace refused to go along with this and continued to rebel. He was captured in 1305 and taken to London where, after being condemned as a traitor, he was hanged then disembowelled, beheaded, and quartered.

 

The 2-line Latin inscription at the bottom Dico Tibi Verum, Libertas Optima Rerum: Nunquam Servili Sub Nexu Vivito, Fili translates to: “My Son, Freedom is best, I tell thee true, of all things to be won. Then never live within the Bond of Slavery.” He is reported to have said this at his trial (23 August 1305). Underneath it, the phrase Bas Agus Buaidh means “Death & Victory”.

 

So if England, or the country you live in, was invaded would you be willing to do the same? It’s a tough call isn’t it?

 

(Interesting to note that it was a similar story in Wales where in 1400 Owain Glyndŵr started resistance to the English king Henry IV. However even after being defeated in 1408-9 he was never captured and never betrayed. His fate is unknown but Shakespeare wrote him into Henry IV Part 1.)

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Literally, on the corner of the front wall of St Bart’s Hospital.

 

And just a few steps away from it is the entrance way access to the church behind:

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The building was founded by a guy called Prior Rahere in 1123 as the sign said. It is claimed he built it after recovering (allegedly miraculously) from an illness. Once this became known the church used to fill up with sick people every August 24th (St Bartholomew’s Day). Sadly I cannot show you any pics inside the church itself as they were charging for the privilege and after paying an entrance fee I thought it a bit much then to ask for more money to photograph the building! However I can tell you that outside & inside there were piles of film equipment (booms, lighting, mics, cabling etc) and the guy told us they are going to be using the building to film scenes from the next Muppet movie. A man was standing guard over the piles outside to prevent theft. So just remember when you see the next Muppet film you’ll know the church interior shots were taken at St Bartholomew’s (dating back to 1123) in Smithfield, London.

 

Just a few minutes away and we were in the rather oddly named street – Cloth Fair. Obviously it harks back to the days when there was a cloth fair in the area and they just kept the name for the street. We stopped for a quick drink in the pub – The Hand & Shears (dating back to 1532!). In nearby Smith Field back in history tailors and drapers came from all over the country to buy & sell. Because of the risk of people not getting the correct length of cloth the Merchant Tailors would carry a yardstick and anyone found to be selling short measures of cloth were brought to this pub and taken upstairs to a courtroom where they would be tried. If found guilty it was either the stocks or a whipping! (The yardstick was known as early as the tenth century during the reign of King Edgar the Peaceful – a great-grandson of King Alfred – who reigned from 959 to 975.)

As he lived nearby it also became poet John Betjamin’s local.

Note the entrance doors are curved to fit with the rounded corner step stone and cornice above. Also check out the greenery at first floor level. I wonder who gets the job of watering that lot?

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Here’s an interesting sign in the wall of a building:

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If you enlarge the pic you may be able to see the inscription round the central coat of arms. It says The Worshipful Company of Founders. Their origins go back to 1365 and it is one of earliest guilds formed to protect the interests of its members and to promote high standards of quality & workmanship in brass & bronze. You might be able to enlarge the centre bit but I was struggling to see the words. I checked their website to get the motto which is very tiny underneath the shield in the coat of arms. It is: “God The Only Founder”.
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How narrow is this? It’s called Benjamin Street and is just one step and half wide. Shortly after taking this pic a small van drove through and its tyres appeared to be touching the kerbs on both sides.

 

Next stop was this sign outside a building which you would hardly even notice.

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Apart from the name Bounce which you might query the blue plaque above is easy to miss as you walk along the street. The light shining on it does obscure it a bit but it says: “On this very site PING PONG was created and patented by John Jaques III 1901”. Do any of you play table tennis? By 1903 apparently the two branches (ping pong & table tennis) had joined together but there is still a large amount of verbiage on what the differences are doing the rounds today! I won’t bore you with the detail because….well… it’s boring.

 

Next stop was a bar for a drink; but not just any old bar – one where you have to email ahead a booking asking for permission to enter. Yes that’s right an email is required, you can’t just turn up at the door and walk in!! On arrival your details are checked and you are directed to the lifts. Up you go to floor 32. As the door opens someone is ready to take your coat if needed and another person takes you to the bar where you order your drink. Once you’ve got it you can go upstairs to floor 33 which is a viewing floor looking out over the London skyline. Here’s a pic looking down on a street below. The white tops in the long street are bus roofs: they’re white to reflect heat in the summer. Although you can’t see it in this pic the roofs also have large letters and numbers which identify the individual vehicle and the operator of that vehicle. These are used by police and emergency service airborne units

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Next one is looking down on a couple of those huge building cranesimage

Look at the small park in the centre amongst all those buildings in the next one.

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Couldn’t resist a sunset pic so here it is:image

And on the way back to the station I was curious about an old odd looking building on the street corner ahead. I wondered what the Dickens it could be? As we came round the front this is what we saw:image

Ha ha ha. I did read that they named the shop couple of years after the book came out and not the other way round. It was built using wood from old ships. It survived the Great Fire (1666) & the WW2 bombers in the Blitz.

 

Although the whole walk had been less than 6 miles we’d seen so much. (My legs were convinced it had been about 12 miles!) The weather had been kind to us and we’d had a great day.    

London trip (Part 1)

Good morning all. It’s over to my guest blogger today for a little tour of some of London’s little-known hotspots…

 

After my visit to Bletchley Park I drove further south and stayed overnight in London. Next day a relative had organised a walk round some of the lesser known parts (and some of the more well-known). We headed by tube to Blackfriars and began walking from there. The origin of name Blackfriars itself goes back to the 14th cent. It comes from the black cappa worn by Dominican Friars and the Friars part comes from the French word frères meaning brothers. Close by we saw this very unusually named church:

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Now if you’re wondering how a parish church can get a name like St Andrew By-The-Wardrobe I can tell you it goes way back in history to 1170. However the “wardrobe” bit of the name did not come about till 1361. Apparently Edward III (1312-77, reigned 1327-1377) moved his royal wardrobe (included, arms, clothing & personal stuff) to somewhere just near the site of the church and so that’s how it got its current name because it was near (or “by”) the king’s wardrobe.

 

Next we came to the College Of Arms. Now this is nothing to do with weapons. It’s all about coats of arms. It’s the place which oversees the granting of various heraldic symbols, shields & town crests used by various councils and individual families across England, Wales & N.Ireland. If you want your family to have its own crest or coat of arms it’s to them you have to apply. (It’s not cheap by the way!). Here’s the entrance:

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You can just see the name above the shield over the centre window. It was founded by Richard III in 1484. (His remains, as you may have seen in the news recently, have just been found in Leicester buried under a car park!). Although a royal corporation, with heralds appointed by the British sovereign, they are self-financing and receive no state funding.

Now if you or I decided to make up and use our own coat of arms or indeed someone else’s without their permission we could be brought into the courtroom at the College of Arms. Here’s the pic.
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This is where you would be tried for your crime of using an unauthorised coat of arms or misusing someone else’s.

 

Next stop was The Monument. It’s only ever called that and most people know it only by that name. Many people don’t know what it’s a monument to; I also didn’t. It was designed by Christopher Wren & Thomas Hooke and commemorates The Great Fire Of London (1666); it was built 1671-77. Interesting things about it: it is 202ft (62m) tall and lies 202ft from the place where the fire started in Pudding Lane; it is the tallest single stone column in the world; there are 311 steps to the top. As we arrived we saw a queue waiting to go up to the top. However the wait wasn’t too bad and soon we were paying our entrance fee and climbing the spiral stone staircase. I tried to keep count so I knew how far there was to go; I ended up at 314 so not too bad in that I only miscounted by 3 (less than 1% error!). It was pretty full at the top and we could only just about move. They were letting too many people in and not balancing it with those coming out. However it was a great view from the top. Apparently it was used by a number of people for committing suicide by jumping off the top so the area is now fenced in.

 

From there next stop was a church called St Magnus the Martyr. It’s interesting because it stands at what became the start of the (very) old original London Bridge. The church was cut back and an arch built so that horses and carriages could get onto the bridge. Here’s the arch

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And the sign nearby

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The original bridge as you will know had many buildings on it – houses, shops etc. Selling them was how they financed the building costs. In the church they have a model about 5-6 feet long showing just how many buildings were crammed onto the bridge.

 

On the way to St Paul’s Cathedral we went past a statue (bust) of John Donne (1572-1631): poet, satirist, lawyer and cleric in the Church of England.
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He is famous of course for a number of poems but perhaps his best known lines are No Man Is An Island & For Whom The Bell Tolls. As I looked at the statue I thought that probably Paul Simon would disagree with the sentiment in the first as his song I Am A Rock (from the album Sounds Of Silence released 1966 although the song began life a year or two earlier) says he’s built walls that make a fortress deep and mighty that none may penetrate; also that he has no need of friendship because friendship causes pain. Van Morrison fans – yes I am one – will know there is a tribute to the man on his album Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart and the track Rave On John Donne. (The song also references Walt Whitman, Omar Khayyam & WB Yeats.)

 

Then we passed a sign reminding us how the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) started – no not in 1978 with The Village People! In 1844 George Williams and eleven others began it in the drapery house where GW lived and worked. The closing words on the plaque are: From its beginning in this place, inspired of God, the association grew to encompass the world.

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And how about this place?

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The name comes from the nearby GPO (General Post Office) Headquarters.

In 1900 the park became the site of the Memorial To Heroic Self Sacrifice (by George Frederick Watts). Basically it is a memorial to ordinary people who died saving the lives of others. Here are a couple of examples of the sort of acts commemorated

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That seems a good place to take a break – with people whose only thought in that moment of incredible danger was for the person in the danger and not themselves; and their actions, whilst saving that person, actually ended up costing them their own life in the process.

 

I will do part 2 next week.

Written by a future Booker Prize winner. Sort of.

Last week, I went to Liverpool to visit friends and family and thought I’d follow one of Rambler5319’s walks as the recent one, around Woolton, looked really interesting.

I set out in the morning, the threatening drizzle making me worry slightly but I kept going, hopeful despite the obvious. By the time I reached John Lennon’s house, my view through the car window was this….

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Still I continued to Woolton and thankfully, by the time I wanted a photograph of me at the highest point in Liverpool, the rain had stopped….

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I then got out and visited the church graveyard where two gravestones bear the names which gave inspiration to the Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby.

Over the road from here was, what looked like, a community centre which was part of the church and I realised in a flash, I came to Weight Watchers here when I was 17! I had been a teenager with some extra ‘puppy fat’, I would like to call it. And my friend Nicki and I came to Weight Watchers together. We would drive into the car park and in front of it was the entrance to the Weight Watchers group while behind it was the hall where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met! And I’d had no idea all that time. I was big into The Beatles as well. That is a fact I would have liked to know.

There is so much interesting history at your fingertips in Woolton. For example, just the little hall where I went to Weight Watchers had been there for almost two hundred years…

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(I don’t know if you can see but it was built in 1823.)

There was also, at the furthest point on this walk, a little school which was build in 1610….

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I also realised, with fond memories, that as I walked along a small path with two quarries falling away either side of it, I had walked this way many times before when my brother and my Dad and I used to walk to my Nanna’s house every Sunday for lunch. I remembered my brother and I having nettle stings and finding some really good dock leaves at the end of the path to rub on the stings to stop the pain.

As an aside, I checked in the window of a small shop which had been on Rambler5319’s walk and, sure enough, they’re still looking for a paper boy/girl, if anyone’s interested.

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I walked back to my starting point through Woolton Woods, from where there is a fantastically clear view over Liverpool, (it’s hard to see it on a photograph though).

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On my way back from this walk, I stopped off at 192 Booker Avenue, where the Liverpudlian writer of a book I’m currently reading grew up.

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Her name is Linda Grant and her novel, The Clothes On Their Backs was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. And no, it not just a coincidence that the name of Booker is the road where she grew up and the prize – it’s the same man! He was a business man based in the area who, among many things, had spent time in Demerara in the West Indies and was responsible for bringing Demerara sugar to England.

I grew up in a little cul-de-sac off Booker Avenue and spent eight years of my life attending Booker Avenue Infants and Junior school. I think that means, by default, that I will have a Booker Prize-winning novel out soon?

P.S. Due to my slight telling off by a fellow blogger, for not having any Christmas decorations up, I asked my favourite 5 year old to make me a Christmas tree, which is now in living room. See?

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Are you going to Scarborough Fair? – No!

It’s Wednesday so it’s over to the guest blogger again for a visit to Scarborough…

I suppose the title gives it away. Yep, I visited Scarborough. I didn’t go to the fair and I didn’t see one. I didn’t see any parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme and no-one lives there who’s a true love of mine!

Let’s start with the accommodation: a Youth Hostel (means any age allowed, in fact). Here’s the approach road (lane?) and the hostel at the far end.
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Arriving somewhat hungrily around 5pm, I decided to go for the full monty and booked an evening meal and a breakfast for the morning to go along with my plush bunk bed. Both were well cooked and I enjoyed someone else cooking for me. There were two of us for evening meal; the rest self-catered or went to the nearby pub. My co-eater, it turned out, was a cyclist down from Tyneside to do some trips out on the Moors. This 70 year old had cycled over 35 miles up hill and down dale that day!

So if I didn’t go to the fair, had I found it, and I didn’t get any spices, why was I there?

It’s a story that goes back over 200 years. I’m doing some family history research and have traced a set of great-great-great grandparents to an address in Scarborough. Now just so you get the idea on these relatives think of this: biologically, we each have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents & 32 great-great-great grandparents. So I’ve found 2 of those 32! I had an address from the Census of 1841 and I wanted to see if anything remained of the area or even the street. Also I wondered if there might be any other local info about the time when they lived there.

My research day started with a walk from the Youth Hostel up the hill to the bus stop. I arrived in plenty of time and checked with the local who was already there that I was on the correct side of the road for where I wanted to go. The bus route was a circular one so I wanted to make sure I was not going to go the long way round. Then surprise, surprise we just started talking and ended up talking the whole time we were waiting for the bus to arrive. Seems like a friendly place I thought.

Once I’d arrived in the town centre, my first stop was the library for the academic research. I gave the lady in the library the name I was looking for and told her that I’d rung about 18 months ago to make some inquiries. She said she remembered the call! When I sounded surprised she said the name I’d asked about was very unusual for the town and that’s why she remembered it. I had a good 3 hours digging about in the old records and then set off for some sight-seeing looking for some of the places which would have been familiar to my distant relatives.

First stop was street where the folks from long ago lived. It was still there although the original housing has gone. However some features are still there and it was interesting to see that the steps leading to the upper part of town and to the church where they got married are still there. They must have walked them many times. It somehow felt as if I had some connection although I’d never been there before and no-one in the family knew of this link to Scarborough all those years ago.
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This picture is Edwardian so is about 60 years later than when my ancestors were there but it gives a feel for the place. This upper part of the street is called Church Stairs St. for obvious reasons. The original flight of steps dates back to the 14th cent but they were replaced later with stone and there are 199 of them. Why didn’t they make one more? Just off the bottom of the picture the street crosses a junction and on the other side becomes St Mary’s St which is the street where my far off ancestors lived for a while. Here’s a present day view of the lower part of the street.
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Using the birth records of their children, I know they moved out of this street to London some time between 1841-1846. It seems they moved there to find work and settled on the western side of Isle of Dogs. The street they lived in there is described as “a narrow way with a lay-by to enable two carts to pass each other; it was little more than an access to the iron works on either side.” That has to be narrow if they had to make a lay-by for carts to pass each other. And it has to be for very poor families. I looked on an old map of the area and it looked like living on an industrial estate between two factories. Anyway I stood in St Mary’s St for a few minutes just thinking about the conditions they left and what they thought they were going to and what I know they might have found in such an industrial area. I saw this plaque on the wall of a far newer property in the street where they had lived. I wondered if their parents had possibly heard the man himself preach.
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John Wesley had preached at a chapel on the site 14 times between 1759-1790. It means he must have visited the town a number of times as he travelled extensively about the country on horseback. Sometimes he preached in the fields outside of towns because some churches would not let him into their pulpits and sometimes because there were just too many people to fit inside one building.

I went up to St Mary’s Church at the top of the steps, in the old pic, and made my way to the grave yard where I sat down on a bench seat to take in the view across the bay. I ate my sandwiches and looked at the grave I’d sat next to.
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And here’s the transcription as the original gravestone was badly decayed
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As you can see by the correction on the plain slate version, the original stone mason actually carved the wrong age for Anne. She was born 17.1.1820 & died 28.5.1849 so was definitely 29 years old not 28 as on the original stone. Interesting. Anne wrote the two novels Agnes Grey (which I’ve not read) & The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (which I have, and it’s good).

The Brontës endured tragedy after tragedy. Look below at the ages at death of their mother Maria and all six children:

Maria, mother of 6 Brontë children, aged 38 (Sep 1821)
Maria, aged 11 (6th June 1825)
Elizabeth, aged 10 (15th June 1825)
Branwell, aged 31 (Sep 1848)
Emily, aged 30 (Dec 1848)
Anne, aged 29 (May 1849)
Charlotte, aged almost 39 (Mar 1855)

So in the space of 8 short months Charlotte, having already lost her mother in 1821 & 2 sisters in the space of 10 days in 1825, lost two more of her sisters and brother in the period 1848-9; she survived them by just 6 years. Charlotte’s husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, lived to 3rd Dec 1906 surviving Charlotte by 51 years!
In this next pic, look at where the church decided to put the refreshments notice. Yep, that’s right, next to the most visited grave of the most famous person in the graveyard! I couldn’t help feeling it looked out of place and perhaps shouldn’t have been there.
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I did, though, go and look inside the church, where my ancestors married, and then ended up buying a cup of tea and scone and chatting to the two ladies serving. I wondered if some kind of subliminal message had reached me from that notice in the graveyard! It was here that I got my old photo postcard. As I walked back down the hill I came to this scene and fully expected the sea gulls to fly away as I approached. They didn’t. It meant I got close enough for this photo. As I went into the shop just to the left of the blue car, I was surprised to hear a voice say, “I hope you’re not disturbing my friends.”

Friends? Yes apparently the lady who owns the shop has been feeding one of these birds since he was a baby! He comes every day, sometimes with a friend, to get some food from her. She calls them her “boys”. I’m not that good on determining the gender of gulls so I didn’t know if they were “boys” or “girls”. I’ll bet she shop lady is not popular with the car owners. Remember the post about bird droppings; the birds are standing on a silver car and silver formed only 3% of car colours which get hit. They appear to have ignored the blue one and yet blue comes second in the table of colours most hit. Perhaps my photo disproves the theory although when I looked at the roofs they hadn’t done any droppings so I wasn’t sure what to conclude.
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As I walked back towards the town centre I saw this little alleyway with its name carved into the stone arch. I’ve not seen that done before. Didn’t seem like a route to be taken during the hours of darkness even today. Despite its name implying some delusion of grandeur (palace) I did wonder just what kind of life existed in alleyways like this 200 years ago.
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A little bit further back into the town centre, at the top of the cliffs overlooking the beach was this.
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To the right of the pic is the steeply-angled railway down to the beach and here is one of the carriages. It’s called a cliff railway or funicular railway.
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Here’s the entrance just to the right of the picture above. Thanks to Wikipedia for this one as mine didn’t come out.
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And so it was time to hit the road. I had to return to the Youth Hostel to pick up my gear and drive home. It had been a good day. I liked Scarborough. I will go back.

A day in Highgate

Now I’m not one to go to peices over a puppy or wax lyrical over my feelings and the inspiring patterns on a snowflake. But yesterday I spent an unexpectedly magical day in Highgate hunting down Samuel Taylor Coleridge. And I may, in this post, get a bit misty eyed and nostalgic. I’ll try to keep it under control but be prepared.

I started at Archway station and trekked up Highgate Hill. I had to double back and start again when I realised I’d missed the Whittington Stone.

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So I climbed the hill again and was pretty knackered by the time I finally got to the top. Having climbed so high, there was a fabulous view across London which I stopped and admired for a while (actually, I was just getting my breath back but I did look at the view once or twice).

Across the road from me was Lauderdale House, where Nell Gwynn first slept with Charles I, apparently.

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I saw Highgate Bookshop over the road too and obviously had go in. Obviously. In the spirit of my walk, I bought a book about Coleridge and one about the history of Highgate. It was £23.98. I had tons of pound coins on me and managed to count out £22! That’s why my bag was so heavy! I scraped together a few more coins and got to £1.50. I was 48p off. The coppers started coming out… I can do this! I can do this! The lovely lady in the shop was helping me. Eventually I said I’d have to pay by card because I was 20p short.

“No,” she said sternly. “No, I won’t let you. Not after all this.” (We’d been there for ten minutes doing this!) “Bring me the 20p when you get change,” she said kindly. I knew I wouldn’t be coming back past the shop on my walk but I figured it would give me a reason to come back soon. I already liked Highgate a lot.

Over the road and further up slightly was my first Coleridge stop – the chemists with the side door to the ‘back shop’ where he used to pick up his opium.

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The chemist is now a generic estate agent but this side door has been left mostly untouched.

I was opposite a public area called Pond Square and South Grove ran alongside it. Here I found the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution.

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I knew you had to be a member to go in but I also knew they had a whole room dedicated to Coleridge things, manuscripts, paintings etc, that I was dying to see. I went into the hall but was super nervous. I couldn’t see anyone apart from someone behind one door on a ladder. The reading room to my right looked beautiful, full of ornate chairs, an open fire and loads of books and magazines. I knew it was members only but really wanted to go in. It was locked though, as was the other entrance door.

I didn’t mind not being able to get in because I was a stone’s throw from Highgate Cemetery so off I pottered, down Swain’s Lane, looking for the cemetery. It’s on both sides of the road and is £7 to get into the east cemetery and £3 to get in the west cemetery. Great! I’ll go in, look around, get some pics, this place is pretty famous, Dickens and Karl Marx are buried here, among others. Great. I entered the little hut to pay.

And that’s when I remembered! I’d given ALL my money to the bookshop! Every last little penny. I knew I was hoping for too much when I asked if they took cards. Dammit. I was all the way here and couldn’t get in! I took a few pics through the gates and left, feeling a bit annoyed. I should’ve just paid for the books on card!

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Back out of Swain’s Lane and the sun was coming out and beaming down on me. Damn me for wearing these skinny jeans! The air has NO chance of getting in. I was heating up unpleasantly. But then I stumbled across another Coleridge stop.

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This is where Coleridge came for tea with a doctor called James Gillman to ask for help with his opium addiction. Doctor Gillman suggested he come and stay in his house and he would treat him. Coleridge agreed and never left Highgate again! He spent the last 19 years of his life in this village. He later moved with Doctor Gillman to another house close by, which we’ll get to. But this is where he had the cup of tea and where he first lived in Highgate. The black iron gate and the pillars by the front door are the same ones from Coleridge’s day. Most of the other stuff was rebuilt after a fire though.

Further along the same road, toward the end, I reached St Michael’s Church, where Coleridge is buried. He was moved here from another site about fifty years ago. But it was closed! I was having another Highgate Cemetery moment, I was all the way here and I couldn’t do it.

As I was standing there, bemoaning my misfortune, a lady in a car stopped and said that if I waited til 2pm, the church would be opened and I could have a tour. It was ten to 2. I decided to wait it out. I sat on a concrete stub and noticed that I’d been smelling lovely perfumed smells for the past few minutes. I looked around for a particular flower but couldn’t figure it out. Then I realised it was just the smell of summery-ness, high up on a hill, where the cars were few and the trees were many. I walked about a bit, enjoying the smells until the church was opened. In the lobby, I found this.

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It says that it is the same level as the cross on St Paul’s Cathedral. I hadn’t realised I was so high until that point.

I located Coleridge’s gravestone and intended to move on but it was a really beautiful little church so I stopped for a bit longer, wandering around.

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(I can’t get this the other way round so you’ll have to lean to your right to read it)

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I came out of the church, blinking as the sun was even brighter and the floral smells were lovely and it all of a sudden seemed quite magical, this village on a hill in London with all this fascinating history.

I crossed over the road to a little pub called The Flask, which was Coleridge’s local during his stay in the second house he lived in in Highgate.

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From here, I crossed another road into a street lined with chestnut trees and started searching for number 3, not an easy task when it seemed the numbers were hidden for top secret purposes. Eventually I located it and peered over the gates to find two plaques, one saying Coleridge had lived there and one saying J. B. Priestley had lived there! Amazing! I hadn’t expected that at all and was quite excited.

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As I photographed the plaques over the gate, a man in a white van stopped behind me and said “Do you know who lives there now?” I walked over to him and asked who. “Kate Moss,” he told me.

What?! Now I’m not a Kate Moss lover, nor do I get star struck, but I was still reeling from the J. B. Priestley thing so was double surprised by this fact.

Suspicious, I asked, “Are you lying?”

“No,” he said and lowered his voice a little. Taking out a camera with a massive great lens, he said, “I’m paparazzi.”

“Wow.”

“And George Michael lives over there,” he said, pointing two doors down.

“Wow.”

Now I decided at this point to believe him because it increased the coolness factor of my walk by fifty million percent. You, however, do not have to believe the man in the van. I did check afterward and apparently they both do live in Highgate, so it may be true!

Between two houses, I found a path and pottered down. The sun was out, the smells were lovely, the houses were beautiful and I got a bit poetical. I was also walking down the lane that was Coleridge’s favourite walk onto the heath and eveything just felt lovely and amazing for a while.

At the bottom, without warning, the trees and houses stopped and I found myself on the open fields of the heath. I turned right, heading to the top of Hampstead Heath, to a viewpoint, said to be the best in North London.

On my way I saw this sign…

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…and happened to have my swimming stuff with me, because I was planning to swim in the outdoor pool near home on my way back. It was too tempting. It had been hot and I longed to jump in the water. It was only £2 for a swim.

And that’s when I realised it! I’d given all my money to the bookshop lady! Dammit. I went to one of the lifeguards.

“Is there any way of paying by card? I don’t have cash on me and I’m dying to go for a swim!”

“It’s fine. Just pay next time you come.”

More kindness! Highgate was turning out to be a real winner.

I changed quickly and got in. It’s not a swimming pool as such. It’s just a section of lake/pond that ladies can swim in. Amazing. There were moorhens and ducks swimming too and the sun was shining on my face and there were lilies on the surface and I remember thinking that this was one of the best days I’d ever had since moving to London. I swam round a few times then got out an changed.

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(Proof!)

I just had one more stop to make, at the top of the hill. I found this lovely little gazebo…

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…with this amazing view over London (it doesn’t look so spectacular on a photo but it was, believe me).

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The eagle eyed among you might be able to spot the Gherkin and the Shard, which was officially opened last night.

And that was my magical day in Highgate. London-based people, go there if you haven’t already. Non-London-based people, write it into your itinerary for your next trip here. It’s already one of my favourite places ever and I’ll be going again next week (to pay off my debts to the bookshop and the bathing pond, if nothing else!)