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  • AFTERNOON TEA AT FORTNUM & MASON: A CLASSIC BRITISH EXPERIENCE

    There are few things more synonymous with Britain than drinking tea, especially from dainty china cups and saucers, served with sandwiches with the crusts cut off, scones and jam and petite cakes; and there is nowhere more synonymous with a classic afternoon tea than one of the archetypal, vintage London locations - The Savoy, the Ritz or Fortnum & Mason. Fortnum & Mason is the quintessential British emporium. It was founded in 1707 by William Fortnum, a footman to Queen Anne, who saw an entrepreneurial opportunity due to the insistence of the royals that they must have fresh candles every day. Fortnum took the half used ones, melted them down and sold them on. With his landlord, Hugh Mason, they set up a small grocers in St. James's Market. Business boomed, particularly with the increase in travellers heading west, and they set about making portable food for the journeys. They invented the Scotch Egg, developed luxury ready meals, created a special tea blend for Edward VII and introduced Heinz baked beans to the UK. Their famous hampers travelled the globe, with beef tea sent to Florence Nightingale for the wounded in Scutari, hampers donated to suffragettes to build up their strength after release from prison, to the front lines in Flanders and they were even taken up Everest and into the heart of Africa on assorted expeditions. They are still innovating to this day, with the invention of the famous 'fourth blend' of chocolate, rooftop hives across the city and in 2020 they launched a website so that locked down citizens could still get their fix of Fortnum & Mason goods. The shop today takes up much of Piccadilly. The building has undergone several changes, but their famous neo-Georgian design and Eau-de-nil green has remained. The intricate Fortnum & Mason clock was added to the exterior in 1964, with 4 foot high models of Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason who come out and bow to each other every hour, accompanied by 18th century music. In 2016 it was joined by a statue called 'King and Queen, sitting couple on a bench' by artist Lynn Chadwick, their modern steel, triangular bodies a complete contrast to the ornate Georgian architecture, yet looking strangely at home. The interior of Fortnum & Mason is magnificent. Of all the old, classic shops in London, and there are many, this is easily my favourite. Everything just feels so very civilised. There are six floors which can be accessed by a modern helical stone staircase under a large atrium, or you can use my favourite, the traditional double staircase; wrought iron and a deep mahogany polished to a gloss by over 300 years of customers hands, the floor thickly carpeted giving a soft bounce to your step as you glide past the panelled walls. The displays within are impressive; goods are stacked in perfect symmetry, lined up in faultless rows, piled in sumptuous mounds. Even the vegetables in the food hall are arranged in consummate harmony. Food on offer includes a huge variety of cheeses, condiments, scotch eggs of course, champagne, gin, biscuits, 500 types of chocolate, sweets and so much more. Tea is ubiquitous, with a whole area of the first floor dedicated to a tea blending station where you can create your own bespoke blend. Their beautiful ceramics are on display, delicate china tea services with tea pots, silver tea strainers and cake stands. The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is on the fourth floor, one of several restaurants and bars within the shop and it is the pièce de résistance of them all. Your entrance is accompanied by the music from the Steinway, with the resident pianist tickling the ivories while you check in. Your coats get whisked away to an unseen cloakroom and uniformed staff show you to your table. The dining room is exquisite - all pale wood, linen tablecloths, soft padded chairs, light and airy white walls with accents of eau-de-nil. There is a cheerful yet peaceful ambience, the piano music drifting through the room mingling with the laughter and chatter from other guests. Glasses and cutlery shine, corks pop, teaspoons clink against bone china. There are several types of afternoon tea on offer - traditional, savoury, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. You just pick one and your type of tea, adding a glass of bubbles if required (which I felt I just had to, to really make the most of the experience). The tea arrives in tea pots with silver tea strainers and you can't help but feel the picture of elegance as you strain your loose leaf tea and sip it delicately, putting your cup back down into a dainty saucer. From the moment you sit down, the service is wonderful. Understated yet attentive, everything arriving at the right time with regular offers of refills. Food varies according to which menu you order and the time of year - visiting in December we had the festive vegetarian afternoon tea. The tea comes on a three tiered cake stand - sandwiches, scones and cakes, with a further cake stand for jam and clotted cream to go with the scones. An extra plate of cakes is brought out, so you don't have to argue over who is going to eat what. It goes without saying that the food is fantastic, although it is far more filling than it looks and I made the classic rookie error - eating the scone before I had the cakes, leaving me little room for them. I did the best I could and valiantly struggled on, but had to admit defeat in the end and to my shame, I left a couple of cakes untouched. The whole experience is wonderful, and while neither your wallets or waistlines will thank you if you eat there regularly, I do think that it is something that everyone should try once for the ultimate, classy London afternoon tea. Tips for Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason: Book in advance Don't worry too much about dress code, they are quite egalitarian Allow at least a couple of hours Make sure you are hungry! They add a service charge to the bill - bear that in mind when working out if you can afford it Visit off-season as apparently in summer the tearooms can be filled with tourists in shorts and t-shirts with their rucksacks lining the walls, which detracts from the rarified atmosphere you are paying for Visiting at Christmas adds an extra air of festivity and means the shop and tea rooms are beautifully decorated

  • STORM WATCHING ON THE CORNISH COAST

    Think Cornwall is just for the summer? Long after the bucket and spade brigade have left its sandy beaches, the craggy coastline becomes a natural battleground where the sea and wind cause many a treacherous storm during the winter months. An internet search will offer several places to go to watch the storms, but why not try an independently owned, 5 star hotel in Newquay, full of history and sitting right on the cliff top to give you the best view in the house? The Headland Hotel is one of Cornwalls most iconic hotels. A magnificent Victorian building sitting on a cliff top overlooking Fistral Beach, the hotel wowed early visitors with its luxurious, opulent interiors and incredible views. A huge ballroom with a maple dancefloor, special quarters for the servants and high society events made this the place to be seen. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were the first royals to stay there and the current Prince of Wales and Princess Royal have also visited several times. Bought by a couple in 1979 who restored and improved the building, they still own the hotel and have strived to create an atmosphere of comfortable luxury, adding some self-catering cottages, a spa, an Aqua Club which has six pools and several restaurants. Nearby Fistral Beach is considered one of the best surfing beaches in the UK; miles of golden sand and big swells make it home to some of the big names in surfing and several surfing festivals. The conditions which make the area so perfect for surfing in the summer are also what makes the area ideal for dramatic winter storms. Seasonal gales and spring tides lash at the coast, and the Headland Hotel high on the cliff top overlooks it all. Ocean spray spatters the windows, the wind roars around the building and the cloudy grey skies loom above. The hotel even offers a special Storm Watching package which runs from November to February - 3 nights in a room with a view which includes a three course dinner, two course lunch and very tasty looking afternoon tea, all with locally sourced food. Time can be spent in the heated pools watching the Atlantic rage in the distance, walking the coastal path to feel the spray on your face or hiding from the weather in front of a real fire. It is a unique and luxurious way to visit Cornwall as a Slow Traveller; to enjoy the beautiful county without adding to the hordes of tourists who fill it in the warmer months, clogging up the roads and sites, whilst having an unforgettable experience. To find out more about the hotel and to book your stay, visit their website >>

  • THE RISE, FALL AND RISE OF THE SLOW MOVEMENT

    For a time back in the early 2000s, it looked like Slow Living was about to take off as a major lifestyle change, with the Slow Food movement growing into every other avenue of life such as Slow Cities, Slow Schools and Slow Technology. But the movement seemed to peter out and for many years it seemed like there were just small pockets of people who kept the Slow Movement going. The pandemic has changed things again, with people re-evaluating the way they live, and Slow is back on the agenda. So where did it all go wrong, and how can we ensure it doesn't get lost again as the world gets back to normal? Slow was introduced with great fanfare in the early noughties, with books such as Carl Honore's 2004 In Praise of Slow opening up the world of Slow to a new audience with the focus shifting from Slow Food to applying the principle to all aspects of living. The book became an international bestseller and the world seemed ready to embrace a new philosophy. Unfortunately for the Slow Movement, just as it was gaining in popularity, so was social media, and the two were just not compatible - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all came out after the publication of the book. As people's lives became ever more public, so did their need to prove just how amazing those lives were - travelling the world, going out to parties and events, ticking things off their bucket lists and trying to look fabulous while they were doing it. There was nothing impressive about letting everyone know that you spent a day in the garden with a good book, doing the housework or just watching TV in your pyjamas. When Instagram really took off around 2012, we were introduced to people posing in beautiful locations; looking mystically at a sunset, drifting barefoot through a field of lavender, arms spread in joy overlooking a view. The pressure was on to travel further than everyone else, go to more countries and more beauty spots and to pose in front of all of them. People added flags to their profiles so they could brag about just how many countries and continents they had ticked off. On a visit to Santorini, which is Instagrammer Central, I watched a couple charge from one beautiful spot to another - she would stop, pose looking dreamily into the distance, he would take a photo, then they would speed off again to do exactly the same at a different spot. Outfits were changed, accessories added - this wasn't people enjoying the place, this was people trying to cultivate an image. It was the complete antithesis of the Slow Movement. The damage caused by these shallow people became apparent after some years and the pendulum is now swinging to the rise of the Earnest Influencer. This is a new breed, those who make a living out of their attempts at perfect, simple living and 'educating' everyone else on how to do it. Slow Living now is YouTube videos of terribly serious young women in neutral coloured linen clothing, living in minimalist apartments, making their own nut milk from scratch every morning before 'journaling' and meditating for hours before they start their day. They encourage you to 'check in with yourself' and use words like 'quietude' in their thin, mid-Atlantic upspeak. Photos are sepia tinted shots of them in chunky knit cardigans, warming their hands around a vast cup of chai tea and endlessly talking about 'intentionality', 'mindfulness' and 'creating a morning routine', before they start their flexible online job, working from a laptop in a healthy smoothie café. Although it may be a step in the right direction, it is just as vacuous and self-obsessed. The Slow Lives on display from these practitioners are completely unobtainable for the majority of us. You just know that these young women have absolutely no-one to look after except themselves. The rest of us are getting up early to feed children, empty dishwashers and battling the traffic to get to work, grabbing a snack bar on the way out and trying to organise a million things before we reach the office. By the time I’d fitted in a meditation, thought about three things I was grateful for, made time for a slow breakfast, commuted mindfully, taken a real lunch break, written in my journal, read a bit of a book, cooked a proper meal (slowly, no microwaves involved), remembered to turn my phone off an hour before bed, timed my bath so my sleep hygiene would give me the best chance of a perfect night sleep…. I was exhausted. And that didn’t even include any attempts to be a good girlfriend/friend/daughter/human. TV was the enemy, according to the gurus, but come the evening I was too tired to do anything but binge watch The Good Place. Thinking Of Trying Slow Living? Read My Horror Story First - Kim Easton Smith These 'gurus' have given Slow Living a bad name and put people off. It has become enmeshed with Minimalism, Konmari, Hygge, capsule wardrobes, tiny houses, van life - all those things that are great for people at the start or end of their adult lives, but not so good for those of us in the middle. We have jobs, kids or parents to look after, bills to pay; we can't waft around in beige linen making nut milk from scratch and we certainly don't have the time to thank our possessions or chant life-affirming mantras. ... embracing slow living offers you a different path. It may be that you can only spare 5 minutes at lunch time, but use those 5 minutes intentionally and mindfully ... Take a quick walk around the office, open a window and take deep breaths of fresh air, do some quick exercises, read a poem, light a candle and sit still. From a Guide to Slow Living (by the people who want to flog you linen clothing to do it in) I dare any one of you reading this to try those suggestions above, in just five minutes, in your shared office and not feel like a complete pillock, induce hysteria from your colleagues or the wrath of HR for lighting candles at your desk. Slow Living is a mindset, an attitude, not a checklist of virtuous things to work through. All of these things can be aspects of it; minimising your possessions, focusing on what matters, but they do not need to be accompanied by the sanctimonious bells and whistles. Fortunately, with the lockdowns, it looks like people are now re-evaluating the speed of their previous lives. With travel severely restricted, people discovered the joy of local, and the pressure thankfully came off bucket-list travel. Finding 'hidden gems' on your own doorstep, exploring your local woods, beaches and heritage sites is becoming much more normal and here's hoping it stays that way. The Slow Movement is ready for a rebirth and it needs to be entirely different to what has gone before; there is no need to replace one set of rules for another. Slow Living does not need to have anything to do with morning routines, quietude or minimalism. If people want to do those while drifting around in linen and bleating on about intentionality then good luck to them, but they really need to stop hijacking the Slow Movement to do it. “The slow movement is not about doing everything at a snail's pace. Nor is it a Luddite attempt to drag the whole planet back to some pre-industrial utopia. The movement is made up of people who want to live better in a fast-paced, modern world. The slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word: balance. Be fast when it makes sense to be fast, and be slow when slowness is called for. Seek to live at what musicians call the tempo giusto - the right speed.” Carl Honoré, In Praise Of Slow

  • SALISBURY FESTIVALS

    Are you planning to visit Salisbury and want to coincide your trip with one of its cultural events or festivals? There are plenty to chose from and although some have been paused due to the pandemic, they should all be starting up again soon. In approximate date order, here are the best of the Salisbury festivals. Photograph © Salisbury Journal Salisbury International Arts Festival 27 May - 18 June 2022 A week or more of cultural and artistic events in Salisbury and the surrounding area, the Arts Festival has been running since 1974. Each year has a different theme and a wide variety of activities, with events ranging from opera in the Salisbury Playhouse, street performers in the Market Square, Shakespeare in Old Wardour Castle, human towers outside the Cathedral and so much more. Performances can be very eclectic and appeal to all ages of culture vultures. Find out more about the Salisbury International Arts Festival >> The Vintage Nostalgia Festival 2 - 5 June 2022 Just 13 miles outside Salisbury is the Wylye Valley, which for a long weekend each June is filled with people wandering around in period attire, dancing, perusing antiques and making merry. A popular festival, not just with re-enactors, this is a fun way to spend a vintage weekend in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. Find out more about the Vintage Nostalgia Festival >> The Chalke Valley History Festival 23rd - 27th June 2022 The biggest and best history festival in the UK, this takes place in the village of Broadchalke just outside Salisbury. It is hugely popular and attracts big names and heavyweights from the worlds of history, politics and literature. The festival has talks, lectures, living historians, re-enactments, battles and plenty for kids, all in a verdant green valley. It is a marvellous, civilised way to spend a week and one all previous visitors will highly recommend. Read more about the joys of the Chalke Valley History Festival >> The CVHF: Your Questions Answered >> Beerex June A popular beer festival held in the Salisbury Arts Centre, Beerex is run by CAMRA to promote real ales across the country. Attendees are a mixture of people who take their beer very seriously indeed, and people out for a drink and a dance. You get a free glass to take home and a headache the next morning. Find out more about Salisbury Beerex >> The Lamer Tree Festival (Cancelled for 2022 but should be back for 2023) A family friendly festival of music, comedy, talks and arts held over 3 days in the beautiful grounds of Larmer Tree in nearby Cranbourne Chase. The Larmer Tree Gardens are 11 acres of Victorian pleasure gardens designed by Pitt-Rivers in the 1880s and which make the perfect setting for a cultured festival. Find out more about the Larmer Tree Festival >> The New Forest Folk Festival 6 - 10 July 2022 Five days of folk festival in farmland just outside Salisbury on the road to Southampton, this attracts some of the big names in folk music and is a chilled out event for music lovers. Run by local families, it is described as one of the friendliest festivals, with really good prices and a great vibe. Find out more >> Salisbury History Festival Last week in August Run by local historians Timezone Productions, this event features talks, tours, plays and films focused on history in the Salisbury area. Well received by locals, events are often sold out and provide a fascinating insight to some of the less well known history of the city. Dates can vary. Find out more about the Salisbury History Festival >> Salisbury Food & Drink Festival Usually a week in September Photograph © Spencer Mulholland Photography The free Food and Drink Festivals take place across the city, often culminating in a food market in the Market Square, with demonstrations, tastings, market stalls and competitions. With a wide variety of local foods on offer, talks and beer tents, the festival is always popular with foodies and locals alike. Find out more >> The Salisbury Art Trail 3 - 18th September 2022 The Art trail takes place every two years and has over 100 artists in over 50 venues, with diverse art across all media which can be discovered in open houses, artists studios, pop up venues, offices, cafes, restaurants, galleries, churches, workshops, hotels, colleges and more. Find out more >> Salisbury Literary Festival Usually October Started in 2017 with an unfortunate two year hiatus thanks to the pandemic, hopefully this will be back in 2022. With talks, walks, presentations and more, this festival focuses on literary works from or about Salisbury. There are a surprising amount of writers who have lived in the city, from Nobel Prize winner William Golding to comic writer Terry Pratchett and modern day playwright Barney Norris. Read more about the Salisbury Literary Festival >> Visiting Salisbury? Try out Salisbury City Guide for activities, places to visit, locally owned places to stay and eat and much more >>

  • VISITING SITES FOR GCSE HISTORY: MEDICINE IN BRITAIN 1250 - PRESENT

    Many British students study History for GCSE, a module of which is often Medicine Through the Ages. What can often seem a rather dry subject in the textbooks can be brought to life with visits to museums where they can get hands on with the subject matter. There's no need to wait until the school organises a field trip - plan your own and give your kids a head start. Written by a GCSE History teacher, here is our guide to the best sites to visit whether you are studying History or are just interested in the history of medicine through the ages. Visits to make the textbooks come alive, put knowledge into a chronological context, and provide meaningful and memorable experiences for learning are incredibly useful for all those struggling with a GCSE syllabus, as well as being a trip out and, de facto, a lot of fun for students. Here are some suggestions, closely related to the new syllabus adopted by the GCSE boards for History and which give insights into the nature and process of change, ideas about the cause of disease and illness, and approaches to prevention and treatment – the key requirements of understanding in answering exam questions. Inevitably, many museums are in London, but they are mostly small without too many visitors, reasonably priced (sometimes free!) and can therefore be very rewarding. Other museums such as the Science Museum, the Wellcome Trust, and the Imperial War Museum often have relevant exhibitions but have not been included here. Edward Jenner Museum, Berkeley, Gloucestershire Designated a Key Individual in the process of change by the GCSE Boards, Dr Edward Jenner, pioneer of vaccination against smallpox, lived in this house in Berkeley and, from here, told the world about his work. Less than 200 years later, smallpox had been eradicated, with countless lives saved. Vaccination had its opponents and there was debate about its use. The museum holds important collections about the history of smallpox and its eradication, and helps to answer some questions about the significance of the discovery. Find out more about the Edward Jenner Museum >> The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, London One of the best museums for GCSE students, showing medicine and surgery before the impact of anaesthetics and antibiotics. This is a quirky and unusual museum, high up in the attic of the eighteenth century church of the old St Thomas’ Hospital. Access is by a tight, twisting spiral staircase which leads you in to displays showing how herbs were used medicinally, (important for questions about apothecaries and early medical care), old surgical instruments and some gruesome artefacts. The highlight is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe, added in 1822. At weekends and after hours, for £12 a head, there is even a bookable mock demonstration of operations before anaesthetics. You come out very thankful that you live in world of 21st century medicine…. Find out more about the Old Operating Theatre Museum >> Florence Nightingale Museum, London A great visit for the essential study of the improvements in hospitals in the nineteenth century and the influence of Florence Nightingale, a key figure when considering approaches to prevention of disease and illness. On her return from the Crimea, Florence Nightingale was able to have a huge impact on the way hospitals were designed and in the training of nurses. The museum has a collection of her personal items as well as focusing on her achievements and legacy. Read more about a visit to the Florence Nightingale Museum >> Alexander Fleming Museum, St Mary’s Hospital, London You visit the laboratory, reconstructed to its original appearance, in which Alexander Fleming, a Key Individual in the process of change, discovered penicillin in 1928. It contains some bacteriological equipment and an exhibition telling the story of Fleming, the search for the “magic bullet”, and the impact of penicillin on modern healthcare after his work was revived by Florey and Chain. Find out more about the Alexander Fleming Museum >> The Royal London Hospital Museum, London This hospital has cared for the community of East London on this site since 1740. The museum has collections from its earliest days, particularly of original surgical instruments used in the era before antisepsis. There is also a replica skeleton of Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man). Find out more about the Royal London Hospital Museum >> Surgeons’ Hall Museums, Edinburgh This is a newly renovated museum with much to assist the GCSE student. It has old bleeding bowls, early microscopes and dissected bodies among many significant artefacts and instruments that changed the course of medical history. There is focus on Joseph Lister’s discovery of antiseptic, and James Simpson’s discovery of chloroform. You can also learn how warfare changed the landscape of military surgery, particularly relevant to those studying medical advances on the Western Front. Find out more about the Surgeons' Hall Museum >> Barts Hospital Museum, London Barts Hospital was founded in 1123 and so is important to an understanding of medicine in Medieval and Renaissance Britain. Their collection includes historical surgical instruments and medieval archives. There’s a 5 minute video by way of introduction and a display of documentary material and artefacts showing the 900 year old history of the hospital, its patients and changing treatments. Find out more about Barts Hospital Museum >> Barts Pathology Museum, London This museum is filled with skeletons and body parts and so counts as part of “dark tourism” – a fascination with the macabre and gruesome. Its aim is to bring pathology alive and reveal its mysteries to the uninitiated. Over 5000 medical specimens are on display on three mezzanine levels of this Victorian museum. There are the skeleton(s) of conjoined twins and the skull of the assassin – John Bellingham – who killed the Prime Minister, Spencer Percival, in 1812. There is the bound foot of a Chinese woman from 862, showing the horrific damage done to female feet in the desire to create “lotus feet” to confirm aristocratic credentials. Sadly, there is the fractured mandible of a 14 year old boy, his jaw caught between the rollers of a printing machine in 1886 before children and workers were protected from occupational dangers. On the exterior wall of the hospital gate is a plaque commemorating the death of William Wallace, hanged, drawn and quartered at Smithfield for high treason, and adorned with the Scottish flag. Find out more about Barts Pathology Museum >> The Hunterian Museum, London The Hunterian Museum (closed until 2023) is a museum of anatomical specimens in London, located in the building of the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London. In 1799 the collection of the Scottish surgeon, John Hunter, was bought by the government and given to the Royal College. This has instruments belonging to Joseph Lister who in 1867 experimented with carbolic acid spray to produce the first antiseptic which reduced the chance of patients dying from infections during operations. It has the skeleton of an “Irish giant”. The University of Glasgow also has its own collection. Find out more about the Hunterian Museum >> Museum of London This museum has exhibitions on plague from 1348 to 1665 and so is particularly useful for learning about the designated case studies of the Black Death and the Great Plague. It is very helpful for assessing continuity and change - the progress (or lack of progress) from the early outbreaks up to the seventeenth century. There is a video on the Black Death in the Medieval Gallery, and many relevant objects to all outbreaks are on display in the War, Plague and Fire Gallery. Find out more about the Museum of London >> John Snow Memorial Pump, Broad Street, London Not a museum, but perhaps worth a visit to fix the achievement of John Snow into the student mind, as his work is a significant case study into the causes of disease in the nineteenth century. His removal of the pump handle in Broad Street in 1854 helped to prove his theory that cholera was caused by contaminated water, and is an important milestone in medical understanding. Find out more about the John Snow Memorial Pump >> Eyam Plague Museum, Derbyshire One of the very best small museums around, the Eyam Museum shows how the Great Plague of 1665 spread across the country when a local tailor ordered a box of materials from London. It shows the extraordinary example of self-sacrifice that the villagers displayed to prevent the plague spreading, and includes much information and many artefacts useful to a study of the disease and its social impact. Find out more about a visit to the Plague Village of Eyam>> Anaesthesia Heritage Centre, London (Appointment recommended) This museum tells the story of anaesthesia from its first public demonstration in 1846 by William Morton to the work of modern days anaesthetists and those who specialise in resuscitation and pain relief. It is a small museum of two rooms, but you should allow about an hour to read the information boards and look at the displays of instruments and apparatus from the earliest times when ether and chloroform were just coming into use. The second room contains a small specialist library in which you will find the table upon which the first operation under ether was performed. There is the ECG equipment that was used on King George VI during his terminal illness in 1951. Find out more about the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre >> History of Science Museum, Oxford The medical collections here chart the progress of medical science since the seventeenth century. They help to explain the development of penicillin, including the work of Florey and Chain on the isolation and production of penicillin in wartime Oxford. These men are Key Individuals whose work led to the development of a new generation of powerful antibiotics. Find out more about the History of Science Museum >> Royal College of Physicians Museums– London, Edinburgh and Glasgow These museums have old surgical instruments on display, apothecary jars, a set of 17th century human remains, and John Finch’s anatomical tables which give insight into the dissection and discoveries made in anatomy. The Symons Collection in London includes artefacts of relevance to GCSE students including many examples of leeching, bleeding and cupping methods. Find out more about the Royal College of Physicians >> Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, London This Society was founded by Royal Charter in 1617 and over 85% members belong to professions allied with medicine. It lies at the hart of the early foundations of modern day medicine and remains an important active medical institution today. The archives give a fascinating history of the society’s origins, its role as a major centre for the manufacture and sale of drugs, its time as manager of the Chelsea Physic Garden and its continuing role as a medical examining and licensing body. The word “apothecary” comes from apotheca – a place where wine, spices and herbs ere stored. In the 13th century the word came into general use for any one selling these commodities from a shop or street stall. By the mid 16th century apothecaries had become the equivalent of today’s community pharmacists. The Society’s Hall was originally the guest house of the Dominican Priory of the Black Friars and was acquired in 1632. This building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt in 1672. The Collection has paintings, silverware, and a range of pharmaceutical and medical artefacts as well as extensive archives and rare books. Special topic - The British sector of the Western Front in WWI. Find out more about the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries >> Museum of Military Medicine, Aldershot (This museum is due to relocate to Cardiff in 2022-3). There are exhibits to reflect the advances in battlefield medicine as the war progressed – exactly the focus required by GCSE students of this topic. Among some of the more unusual items in the Museum is the box of dental tools used by Napoleon’s dentist when in exile on St. Helena, a wooden model of a horse’s leg used as a teaching aid for farriers, the death mask of Rudolph Hess, and the training models for maxilla-facial surgeons. Find out more about the Museum of Military Medicine >> The Royal Society of Medicine Museum, London Between 1907 and 1909 seventeen specialist societies joined who brought with them their varied collections including administrative archives, rare books, art, silverware and medical equipment. Today the Royal Society of Medicine has 60 Sections ranging from Cardiology to the History of Medicine and to Psychiatry. Find out more about the Royal Society of Medicine Museum >> British Red Cross Museum & Archives, London The museum and archives exist to collect, preserve and make accessible the history of the British Red Cross and its place in the context of the international movement to a wide audience. It has regular exhibitions, including the Museum of Kindness which tells the 150 years of the British Red Cross’s existence since 1870. The movement was inspired by Swiss businessman Henry Dunant, who was appalled by the sufferings of soldiers after the Battle of Solferino in 1859. Soldiers were left on the battlefield to die through lack of care. Dunant proposed the creation of national relief societies made up of volunteers to provide neutral and impartial help to relieve suffering in times of war. His idea became international, with the British branch being established in 1870. The museum collection includes UK and international service equipment, uniform, medals and badges awarded to staff and volunteers, items relating to the lives of beneficiaries, food and emergency relief parcels, art work, and a significant poster collection. The archive collection includes records from different UK are offices, a large collection of personnel records for both volunteers and staff, personal papers and photographic and film collections. Find out more about the British Red Cross Museum >> Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London The museum is situated in the hospital grounds of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in a magnificent art deco building. It is a relatively new museum, opened in 2015 by Grayson Perry. Bethlem Museum of the Mind records the lives and experiences of people with mental health problems through the ages and celebrates their achievements. Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247, the first institution to care specifically for the mentally ill. The museum has a collection of art, archives and artefacts to show the history of mental healthcare and treatment. It reveals the horrors of early attitudes towards the mentally ill and the progress towards the more humane and understanding approach of modern times. Find out more about the Bethlem Museum of the Mind >>

  • TRY HOSTELLING FOR A WINTER GETAWAY IN THE OPEN LANDSCAPES OF SCOTLAND

    With plenty of space and striking landscapes, the great Scottish outdoors is proving increasingly popular with Slow Travellers for a variety of reasons; those who want to explore their local region rather than take an environmentally damaging flight abroad, those who want to get back to basics and go off-grid in the wilderness, or those who want to enjoy a safely distanced getaway during the pandemic. Scotland is the ideal place for the Slow Traveller, with vast open spaces (which aren't fenced off like the rest of the UK), where visitors can wander at will for hiking, climbing, exploring and adventuring. With dark skies where you can stargaze and see the Northern Lights, snow topped mountains, lochs and beaches, winter is the perfect time to visit to avoid the summer tourists. Staying away from the cities means you are immersed in the landscape, surrounded by nature and wildlife rather than crowds of people. Scottish Independent Hostels specialise in providing comfortable and often remote shared accommodation across the country, for visitors wanting all the comforts of self-catering with a base to come and go as they please. They offer a variety of accommodation from shared dormitories to private rooms, some with ensuites, with shared facilities such as kitchens and sitting rooms which not only keep costs down, they provide the opportunity to meet like minded people on your adventures (although many offer sole use occupancy while there are special pandemic rules in place). All of the hostels listed below have good availability this winter, and are independently owned, run by their owners, giving you direct local knowledge as well as ensuring each one has a unique environment with no homogenous corporate branding across them all. Unlike other Scottish hostelling organisations, there is no need to take out membership before staying. Argyll Backpackers, Argyll & The Isles Argyll Backpackers is a custom-built and accessible hostel that wows with stunning views over Loch Fyne, Arran and the Cowal Hills. The property has seven ensuite bedrooms of various sizes, but is also available to rent in its entirety for those who want to stay amongst themselves in their own group. There is also a spacious lounge, a well-equipped kitchen with access for guests with mobility impairments, several outdoor seating areas, and a BBQ / firepit. A small beach is within easy reach, the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring. While there is no onsite restaurant or café, the hostel has a mini shop with a limited selection of products, with ‘breakfast bags’ and takeaway delivery available upon request and at an extra charge. In the winter months (until April 1st 2022), Argyll Backpackers is available only for ‘sole use’ for up to 23 guests or as part hostel ‘sole use’ for up to 13 guests. Alternatively, there is the ‘Wee Snug’ private apartment accommodating up to 4 guests. Find out more and book your stay >> Saddle Mountain Hostel, Lochaber The Saddle Mountain Hostel is a comfortable and modern four-star property in the village of Invergarry in the Great Glen, and on the doorstep of many great attractions such as the famous Ben Nevis mountain, the Steall Waterfall, and the Jacobite Steam Train. The hostel was shortlisted for hospitality awards in both 2019 and 2020, a testament to the great location, well-kept facilities and warm welcome that awaits. Saddle Mountain Hostel has four private bedrooms with either ensuite or private bathroom access, as well as one mixed dormitory sleeping up to four people. There is also a spacious and bright kitchen, a dining room, lounge and drying room. Find out more and book your stay >> Glenbeg Bunkhouse & Bothy, Cairngorms Located in the Cairngorms National Park, Glenbeg Bunkhouse & Bothy is situated in a quiet rural estate just a few miles outside Grantown-on-Spey, a convenient stop for those wanting to hit the North Coast 500, North East 250 or Malt Whiskey Trail. The converted ‘Bunkhouse’ farmhouse can sleep up to 27 people over three rooms, while the cosy ‘Bothy’ fits up to six guests all on the same floor. Both buildings have central heating to keep them dry and warm year-round. The Bothy is also suitable for guests with disabilities and has an especially equipped wetroom. There are flat screen TVs and DVD players in both buildings for a cosy movie night (although the TV has deliberately not been connected) as well as facilities to plug in gaming consoles. Find out more and book your stay >> Fraoch Lodge, Cairngorms Situated just 30 minutes from Inverness and 40 minutes from Loch Ness, the quaint Fraoch Lodge offers a desirable location on the edge of the Speyside Way walking trail and the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail. To offer a safe environment, the original layout of the lodge has been divided into two units accommodating individual groups offering two bedrooms and two bathrooms each. The kitchen facilities are shared and can only be used one group at a time, but each has their own breakfast room. There is a large garden with a trampoline and BBQ area. Find out more and book your stay >> Forest Way Bunkhouse, North West Highlands Situated close to the Braemore Junction, the picturesque Forest Way Bunkhouse is ideally located to tour the North West Highlands. The charming village of Ullapool is only 9 miles up the road, with many mountains and beaches nearby. Guests choosing this hostel are in the perfect spot to enjoy stunning scenery, fresh seafood and delightful walks. Built in 2009, the Bunkhouse offers a pleasant and clean environment with modern facilities such as underfloor heating and reliable hot showers. There are two private rooms and one dormitory, all with ensuite bathrooms. The hostel sleeps up to 10 people in total and is available for exclusive use from £140 per night. Find out more and book your stay >> Skye Basecamp, Isle of Skye Skye Basecamp is located in Broadford on the beautiful Isle of Skye and offers a “home from home” with a selection of private rooms and stunning views across Broadford Bay. Located in the town centre, you have all amenities such as petrol stations, bars and restaurants on your doorstep, while also being close to nature. Just two minutes away from the hostel is a local beach where otters and other wildlife are frequently spotted. The Beinn na Caillich, a local hill, tempts hikers to test their stamina from the horizon. The perfect base for keen walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, Skye Basecamp is run by Skye Guides, the island’s biggest provider of professional instruction and guiding for walking & climbing. Find out more and book your stay >> For further information on these and other independent hostels in Scotland, visit www.hostel-scotland.co.uk Looking for things to do during your stay? Try the Visit Scotland website for ideas, walks, activities, attractions and more.

  • TOMBS AND MEMORIALS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SALISBURY CATHEDRAL

    Like all cathedrals, the walls and floors of Salisbury are filled with memorials, tombs and epitaphs to the great, the good and the now completely obscure. Behind each one lies a story; of national disasters, heroes, saints, war poets and prisoners. Here is just a few of them. The Salisbury Rail Crash 1906 On July 1st in 1906, 28 people were killed and 7 were injured when the Plymouth to Waterloo train approached a curve in the tracks at Salisbury Train Station at 70mph, despite a 30mph limit, and crashed into the London to Yeovil milk train, which crashed into a stationary goods train. The noise is said to have woken up the townspeople, fire broke out and the scene was of total destruction, with mangled and burnt corpses strewn around the area. The train was full of American passengers who had docked at Plymouth, and included a prominent New York lawyer who lost his entire family in the crash - you can see the five Sentell names on the memorial. The ladies waiting room on Platform 4 was used as a morgue for the following week, and others were turned into first aid rooms. The crash is the worst to have happened in Salisbury and the reason for the excessive speed is still unknown - the papers at the time say that the Americans would offer the driver money to get them to London as quickly as possible, which may have been the case, although there is no way of knowing. Trains did not have speedometers at the time, and drivers would tend to approach the station at speed to get a good run up the hill. A 15mph speed limit was put in place for trains leaving Salisbury Station after the crash, which is still in force today. Sir Edward Heath 1916 - 2005 Former Prime Minister (1970 1974) and resident of the Cathedral Close, Ted Heath was buried here in 2005. His funeral was attended by his political arch enemy, Margaret Thatcher, who had offered him a seat in her Shadow Cabinet which he permanently refused, in what the press at the time called 'the long sulk'. He was also an author, musician, sailor and collector of fine things. His house in the Close, Arundells, is open to the public and is well worth a visit. His tomb is near the south transept. Henry Fawcett 1833 - 1884 Henry Fawcett was an MP, Postmaster General and husband to suffragist Millicent Fawcett. He was born and lived in Salisbury, was blinded in a shooting accident on Harnham Hill just a few miles away from the cathedral, and frequently returned to the city throughout his life. The cathedral has a plaque to him, his sister and one to both of his parents, who lived in the Cathedral Close. You can read more about Henry Fawcett and his life in Salisbury, as well as follow a walking trail of the Salisbury places in his life here >> St Osmund ? - 1099 Osmund was a Norman nobleman who arrived in England with William the Conqueror. Chancellor of the realm in 1070 and a chief commissioner for the Domesday Book, he was made Bishop of Salisbury in 1078. He was responsible for the completion of the first cathedral, the foundations of which you can see in present day Old Sarum, and was buried there when he died in 1099. His remains were transferred to the 'new' cathedral in 1226. He was made a saint in 1457 by Pope Callistus III and was the last English person to be declared a saint until the canonization of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher in 1935. He is the patron saint of of insanity; mental illness; paralysis; ruptures and toothache, which seems oddly specific. After his canonisation, a magnificent shrine was built in his honour, which was subsequently destroyed in the English Reformation, when the worship of saints was forbidden. All that remains is his tomb, which has moved between several locations around the cathedral. The holes in the side are foramina, which were to enable people to reach in to get closer to the body of the saint to receive its healing powers. Richard Brassey Hole 1819 - 1849 There is a very simple plaque to Richard Brassey Hole MD, resident of The Close, who died at the age of 30 of cholera. Cholera was prevalent in Victorian England, but Salisbury suffered particularly badly and with one in 45 citizens afflicted, Salisbury in fact suffered more than any other English city of comparable size. The reason for this was that Salisbury at that time was filled with water courses which ran through virtually every street in the city, giving it the nickname 'The Venice of England'. Built around 1220, these channels supplied water and drainage for the inhabitants, but by the early 19th century they had become little more than open sewers. (It wasn't until John Snow's discovery in 1854 in London that people knew cholera was transmitted through contaminated water.) The local paper, The Salisbury Journal, had deliberately hidden the severity of the outbreak from its readers, until an editorial in the London Times revealed the truth. Richard Hole MD was a surgeon who worked at the Salisbury Infirmary, where over 1300 cholera sufferers were hospitalised; it was perhaps inevitable that he could also fall victim to the same illness. His son William, who was only 2 when his father died, went on to become an artist, best known today for illustrating books by Robert Louis Stevenson, J. M. Barrie and Robert Burns. Andrew Bogle Middleton 1819 - 1879 It was another Salisbury physician, Andrew Middleton, who ensured that the water courses were eventually filled in, the outbreak of 1849 being clustered around water courses and rivers having persuaded him that they were responsible for carrying the disease. Also a resident of the Cathedral Close, he wrote a paper and contributed to a public enquiry, writing in 1868, ‘ I shall always be happy to plead guilty to any charge of having caused the destruction of the “English Venice”, since by that destruction a “New Salisbury” has been created, and very many hundreds of human beings saved from untimely death'. There is a stained glass window in the cathedral in memory of Andrew Middleton, showing the biblical King Hezekiah who cut the Siloam tunnel to provide Jerusalem with a water supply, as well as Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well at Sychar, in Samaria, with the words "To the Glory of God and loving memory of Andrew Bogle Middleton born Oct 8th 1819: died Dec 13th, 1879. There is a plaque to him and his first wife in the north cloister of the cathedral. His idea about filling in the water courses were so controversial that the Salisbury Mayor would not allow the public enquiry to be held in the Guildhall, so instead it was held in the Assembly Rooms (now Waterstones, where there is a blue plaque to him). Middleton's ideas were supported by the Inspector for Public Health, and the water courses were replaced in 1852 - 1875. It is worth noting that Middleton’s work preceded that of John Snow who is credited with discovering its method of transmission in 1854, that of Louis Pasteur who discovered the bacteria in 1864, and that of Robert Koch who discovered the bacterium Vibrio cholerae in 1884. Andrew Middleton truly is an unsung hero. Edward Wyndham Tennant 1897 - 1916 The eldest of three sons of Lord Glenconner who had been an MP for Salisbury, Edward was educated at nearby Winchester College, joining the Grenadier Guards at the outbreak of World War I. After training in London then nearby Bovington Camp, he was sent to France, where he was killed by a sniper on the Somme at the age of 19. He is one of the War Poets, producing several poems about life in France before his untimely death. He was clearly a popular man; above his memorial is an additional plaque which states: When things were at their worst he would go up and down in the trenches cheering the men, when danger was greatest his smile was loveliest. His two brothers went on to make the most of the Roaring Twenties, with both of them being front and centre of the 'Bright Young Things'. His brother Stephen was said to be the 'brightest of them all' and the inspiration for characters in Brideshead Revisited and Love in a Cold Climate, his brother David was founder of the Gargoyle Club in Soho. Do you know what these rats eat? Body-meat! After you’ve been down a week, an’ your cheek Gets as pale as life, and night seems as white As the day, only the rats and their brats Seem more hungry when the day’s gone away The Mad Soldier June 13th, 1916, 3 months before his death Rex Whistler 1905 - 1944 The memorial to Rex Whistler, killed in action in World War II, is a glass prism of the cathedral, crafted by his brother, the famous glass engraver, Laurence Whistler. The prism is in the Morning Chapel in the northeast transept. It slowly revolves, each turn creating a new image of the cathedral. Both of the Whistler brothers have a connection with the Cathedral, with their parents living in the Walton Canonry in the Close, where there is now a blue plaque dedicated to them. Rex Whistler was a painter, designer and illustrator who had studied at the Slade School of Art, where he became best friends with Stephen Tennant. His works include the (now controversial) café of the Tate Gallery, society portraits of the 'Bright Young Things' and he also painted the mural in nearby Mottisfont House, his last artwork before his death. He served in the Guards Armoured Division during World War II, and was killed in France by a mortar bomb as he was going to the aid of some his men, just a month after D-Day. Sir Robert Hyde 1595 - 1665 Born in Heale House in the village of Woodford just outside Salisbury (which has beautiful gardens open to the public), Sir Robert was a judge and recorder of Salisbury. He was a loyalist during the Civil War, who helped saved the cathedral from the Roundheads, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London until the Restoration, when he resumed his previous occupation. He died suddenly in 1665, probably of the Plague, which had spread to Salisbury from London, Southampton and Winchester. Just a few months later, King Charles II and his court fled to Salisbury to escape the plague in London, before they then moved on to Oxford when the plague spread further throughout Salisbury. Translation of Sir Robert Hyde's Memorial: A man of primitive manners, a protector of destitute Widows, most observant of the laws, and an avenger of them when broken : he was not dismayed at the disorder of the state; in public calms and storms the same. At length justice revisiting the land, emulous of his paternal uncle, and his exalted paternal cousin, he rose by due steps to the highest state of his profession Chief Justice of England. Perhaps you may enquire whether captivity in the Tower was more honorable to him, than the tribunal purple; where being intimately acquainted with the common and statute law, he was a faithful guardian to both, an asylum to the people, and protector of the clergy. Richard Colt Hoare 1758 - 1838 Looking rather like an elderly woman in her dressing gown, the statue of Richard Colt Hoare is in the north transept. Traveller, artist, antiquarian and owner of the magnificent Stourhead estate in west Wiltshire, he is primarily remembered for his work as a Wiltshire archaeologist. In 1785 he had an annus horibillis losing his wife, a son and his career, so he started to travel - grand tours of Europe were followed by explorations across England and Wales, ending with his own county of Wiltshire. Developing an interest in its history, he excavated 379 barrows on Salisbury Plain, was the first archaeologist to excavate Stonehenge, and bought Glastonbury Tor, repairing the tower on the top. He pursued the scientific in a time of gothic romance, his motto being "We Speak from Facts not Theory". His seminal work was The Ancient History of Wiltshire, written between 1810 - 1821, which played a critical role in the development of archaeology as a science. He suffered from rheumatic gout in his later years but was described as "always cheerful and resigned, he conversed with vivacity and pleasure on his antiquarian pursuits". He is buried in the small church at Stourton on the Stourhead estate, which is now owned by the National Trust and open to the public. Susan Elizabeth Gilbret Harris 1936 - 1956 Over the entrance to the ticket office from the cathedral cloisters is an angel with a trumpet engraved into the glass, with the words "In memory of Susan Gilbret Harris who gave her life to save that of another". In 1956, Susan Harris was a 20 year old trainee teacher at Sarum St. Michael College (now Salisbury Museum) in the Close. She was out riding her bike by The Old Mill when she saw a 9 year old boy struggling in the water, shouting for help. Being a strong swimmer she went to his rescue and although she managed to reach him, they were both sucked under the weir, and Susan did not reappear. The 9 year old was saved by a passing teenage boy. Her shoes and bike were left on the bank and her body was recovered the following day. She was posthumously awarded the Queens Commendation for Brave Conduct. The angel in the cathedral is not the only memorial to her; in 2008 a bench with a plaque in her memory was installed at the place where she drowned (you can find it at w3w: sofa.risen.curry) Arthur Corfe Angel 1846 - 1866 On the south wall of the Cloisters is a memorial to Mr A .T. Corfe, organist of Salisbury Cathedral, and underneath that is one to Arthur Corfe Angel, his grandson. Arthur was an officer on board the SS London, a British steamship which sank in the Bay of Biscay in 1866. Overloaded with a heavy cargo and caught in a terrible storm, only 19 of the 263 people onboard survived. The last thing that survivors heard was the hymn, Rock of Ages, coming from the ship, before the ship swiftly sank. Messages in bottles were later found on the French coast from those who had died, such as one from a Mr. H.F.D. Denis who wrote, "Adieu, father, brothers and sisters, and my dear Edith. Steamer London, Bay of Biscay. Ship too heavily laden for its size, and too crank. Windows stove in. Water coming in everywhere. God bless my poor orphans. Storm not too violent for a ship in good condition. Arthur Corfe Angel also has a memorial plaque in Exeter Cathedral, which describes him as a 'true hearted and dauntless sailor, counting duty more precious than life, he remained at his post to the last and was seen by the survivors with his hand still upon the engine of which he was in charge, calmly awaiting death when the waters closed over the ship'. The tragedy was commemorated by the world's worst poet, William McGonagall, and I would urge you to read it for its sheer awfulness. You can read the full poem here, but here is a stanza to whet the appetite: 'Twas in the year of 1866, and on a very beautiful day, That eighty-two passengers, with spirits light and gay, Left Gravesend harbour, and sailed gaily away On board the steamship "London," Bound for the city of Melbourne, Which unfortunately was her last run, Because she was wrecked on the stormy main, Which has caused many a heart to throb with pain, Because they will ne'er look upon their lost ones again. Want to read about other things to look at in the Cathedral? Try our Definitive Guide to Salisbury Cathedral which has everything you need to know. Want to read about more of the memorials, including their translations? Try this free online book written in 1825. Visiting Salisbury Cathedral Getting to Salisbury Cathedral Train: There are regular trains from cities such as London and Bath. Book your tickets 12 weeks in advance to get the largest discounts. Salisbury train station is an easy 10 minute walk to the cathedral, or you can get a taxi from the taxi rank outside the station - no pre-booking required. Bus: There are regular buses into and around Salisbury with several bus stops just outside the Cathedral Close. Find your bus >> Car: It is not advisable to park in the Cathedral Close. Instead your best bet is to park in the central car park at SP1 3SL and walk the 5 minutes to the cathedral. If you are coming from out of town, consider using one of the Park & Ride sites, as traffic in Salisbury can be busy and confusing at times. Opening hours: Monday - Saturday, 9.30 - 5pm You can book in advance or just show up - tickets are cheaper if you book in advance. Ticket Prices: Adults: £8 advance, £9 on the day Students (13-18 years): £5 advance, £6 on the day Children under 13: Free Residents in SP1, SP2 and Laverstock: Free (with proof of residence) Book tickets here>>

  • BREAN DOWN – A DRAMATIC COASTAL WALK WITH HISTORIC BUILDINGS AS A HIGHLIGHT

    Brean Down is a slender finger pointing from the West Coast of Somerset into the Bristol Channel and is a great place for a short stroll of just three miles, combining dramatic scenery with a glimpse into Victorian defences. Brean Down is a long, hill peninsula with the earliest signs of life dating from 10,000 BC. A walk along the top westwards and back along the Military Road on the north side is an adventure covering the far distant past into the 19th century. The whole Down is steeped in history - evidence of extinct creatures such as mammoths and woolly rhinos have been found here, as well as an Iron Age hillfort, a roundhouse, barrows and a pre-Roman shrine. The walk is accessed by some fairly severe steps leading up from the National Trust carpark with convenient passing and breathing spaces factored in along the way. Once on the top you can look south to see Glastonbury Tor in the distance then turn westwards along the grassy tracks. A Roman temple was excavated on the top of the first high point – nothing now to see as the Romans themselves destroyed it in about 390 AD but you can imagine its presence if you try hard! Roman gold and silver coins found here include some from the reign of Augustus, showing this area was of strategic importance to them and was occupied swiftly by the Romans after the invasion of Britain. As you walk and reach the trig point you can see the coast of North Somerset in the south and the coast of South Wales to the North West. The town of Weston-super-Mare is further along the North coast. The view sweeping down to the sea in front of you encompasses the dramatic remains of the fort ordered by the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, in the 1860s to provide protection to the Bristol Channel ports from the threat of a French invasion. A gentle descent to the coast brings you to the remains of the fort and an exploration of the site by strategically placed information boards. They cover two periods of occupation – the first being the last decades of the 19th century and the second being its hasty recommissioning on the outbreak of WWII. Inside Brean Down Fort Originally the fort was armed with seven 7-inch rifled muzzle-loading guns cast in Woolwich. It was manned by 50 officers and men, although no shots were ever fired in action. In 1900 No 3 magazine which held 3 tons of gunpowder exploded. The explosion was caused by Gunner Haines firing a ball cartridge down the ventilator shaft and the resulting eruption killed him instantly. An inquest found this was a deliberate act of suicide - the Gunner, described as sullen, morose and with a violent temper, had been out without permission the night before, which would have resulted in his arrest. He had removed all of his clothes, leaving them in a neat pile on his bed before stealing a carbine from a colleague, sneaking out to the gunpowder store and firing a bullet into it. The explosion ripped through the fort with windows shattered, iron girders twisted and the explosion audible in Cardiff. Gunner Haines' headless body was found in a nearby pit. This event, and the diminished threat from the French, led to the decommissioning of the site in 1901. The fort was run as a café until 1939, when it came into its own again and was rearmed with two six-inch naval guns and two searchlights as a Coastal artillery battery for World War II. Some experimental weapons were tested here including the seaborne bouncing bomb. The buildings evoke the memories of both occupations as you clamber and explore the ruins. A long Barrack Room is where the soldiers (and sometimes their wives and children) lived and slept, with beds opening out from the wall and the area also being used for dining. The Officers Quarters are in a separate building, probably housing 4 officers and their families in 4 large rooms. The underground magazine that housed the gunpowder is there, along with explanations of the security measures taken to ensure that no spark entered the room – soldiers had to change outside into clothing with bone fastenings and rope sandals. You can walk further out on the rocks and note that this spot is where Marconi moved his equipment after his first experiments and set a new distance record of 8.7 miles transmission over open sea. The 21st century may well make its presence felt at this point – when I visited there were groups of happy young climbers learning abseiling on the rocks, their colourful bags and equipment occupying the spots where uniformed soldiers of two different centuries must have patrolled, looking anxiously out to sea for signs of the enemy. If you’ve had enough of the heights you can return along the Military Road to the north, built for the transport of building materials, guns and supplies to the fort. This will take you back on a gentler route to the car park. You can reward the kids for the walk with a visit to the café and the beach – a great beach for sandcastles as the sand is firm, and also for swimming in the sea in summer as the area is patrolled by lifeguards. VISITING BREAN D0WN How to get to Brean Down Postcode: TA8 2RS Public Transport: The no 20 bus goes to Brean Beach from Weston-super-Mare. By bike along the National Cycle Network Parking: Park in the National Trust car park at Cove Café. When is Brean Down open? From dawn to dusk. The carpark is open at different times depending on the season. How much does it cost to visit Brean Down? The site itself is free. Carparking is free to NT members or £5 for the day. Are there any facilities at Brean Down? There is a café on the beach and a pub called The Brean Down Inn.

  • HOW TO SEE THE UK'S TOP 20 MOST POPULAR TOURIST SITES WITHOUT THE CROWDS

    Every year, Visit Britain release the visitor numbers of the top attractions in the UK, and other than in 2020/21 (for obvious reasons), the numbers have shown a steady increase. The UK is the tenth most visited country in the world with over 36 million visitors (2018) which may be only a third that of the top country, France, but France is 126% bigger than the whole of the UK. This constant increase in visitors means that our top tourist sites are becoming more and more crowded, with an increase in queues, noise, litter and people getting in the way of the site itself. Visiting these sites can become stressful and not the enjoyable experience it is meant to be, so how can you visit the sites without the crowds and get the most from your time spent there? The Natural History Museum in London Photograph © Paul Albertella England's Top Tourist Sites in order of Visitor Numbers 2019 *All costs given can vary depending on adult/child/peak/off-peak etc 1. The British Museum, London Annual Visitors: 6,239,983 Location: London Cost: Free How to see the British Museum without the crowds: Take an Out-of-Hours Tour before the museum opens. Take a free Eye-Openers Tour Visit on a weekday as soon as it opens or the hour before it closes. Avoid school holidays. Visit on a sunny day - most people will be outside. Visit on one of the Late Night Openings (usually a Friday). The crowds all tend to be around the most popular artefacts while other galleries can be empty even at peak times. Go against the flow and visit those instead. Want some fresh air and calm after a visit to the museum? Try Russell Square for trees, shady benches and places to eat - its just a couple of minutes walk away. 2. The Tate Modern, London Annual Visitors: 6,098,340 Location: London Cost: Free Read about a visit to the Tate Modern >> How to see the Tate Modern without the crowds: Visit as soon as it opens as the crowds arrive around lunchtime. Avoid school holidays and weekends. Late night openings tend to be Fridays and Saturdays and have fewer visitors. Visit on sunny days when everyone else is outside. Take a private tour when the museum is closed to others. Want some fresh air and calm after a visit to the museum? Try Bankside Beach (tides permitting) for a river view and a sandy seat - it is just a couple of minutes walk away. 3. The National Gallery, London Annual Visitors: 6,011,007 Location: London Cost: Free How to see the National Gallery without the crowds: The National Gallery is usually very busy but if you get there as soon as it opens and head straight to the most popular artworks you should be able to see them without too many people around (Rooms 45 and 46 have Van Gogh and the Impressionists which are the most popular). Visit on a sunny day. Late night openings are usually on a Friday and are quieter than normal times. August has twice as many visitors as September so avoid the school holidays, especially the summer ones. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the quietest days of the week. The nearest green space is Leicester Square, which is anything but peaceful. Instead try Victoria Embankment Gardens which are a 6 minute walk away and have shade, a play park, outside gym and countless statues to admire. 4. Natural History Museum, London Annual Visitors: 5,423,932 Location: London Cost: Free How to see the Natural History Museum without the crowds: Arrive at opening time or towards the end of the day to avoid the worst of the crowds - between 12-3 is the busiest time. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10am are the quietest. There is always a queue so arriving at 9.30am will get you to the front of it Avoid school holidays, particularly from April - August. The dinosaurs section is the busiest and often has its own queue within the museum - get there first thing to minimise this. The Museum has its own twitter account which will update you on queue times. There are regular late night openings - usually every last Friday of the month except December. Do an out-of-hours Dino Tour before the museum opens. Explore the museum at night with Dino Snores Sleepovers - they do them for both kids and adults. The nearest green space is the wildlife garden of the Natural History Museum, or Hyde Park which is a 8 minute walk away and has plenty of gardens, lakes, wildlife and places to relax after your hectic visit to the museum. 5. Brighton Pier, Sussex Annual Visitors: 4,901,221 Location: Brighton Cost: Free entrance but all rides and activities have a cost How to see Brighton Pier without the crowds: There is only one way to see the Pier without the crowds - visit in winter, when its raining and get there early. It is not a place I recommend for the Slow Traveller - it is loud, packed and will leave you wondering where all your money has gone. 6. Victoria & Albert, London Annual Visitors: 3,992,198 Location: London Cost: Free How to visit the Victoria & Albert without the crowds: Afternoons are by far the quietest time of day, particularly after 3pm. Friday, Saturday and Sundays are the busiest, Thursday is the quietest day. It is a very big place and can't be done in a day, so choose your preferred areas before visiting and head straight for those. School mornings are Tuesday - Thursdays, 10 - 12, so you may want to avoid those. There are two cafes on site - the V&A Café is very popular as it was the first museum restaurant in the world. There are lates on some Friday evenings when the museum has far fewer visitors. Your nearest green space is Hyde Park which is a 8 minute walk away and has plenty of gardens, lakes, wildlife and places to relax after your hectic visit to the museum. 7. Science Museum, London Annual Visitors: 3,301,975 Location: London Cost: Free How to see the Science Museum without the crowds: Go on a weekday - Tuesday and Thursdays are the quietest. Visit on a sunny day when most other people will be outside. Avoid school holidays if you can. Go in as soon as it opens or at the end of the day. It is a vast place and you will waste time leaving to eat and then re-enter, so either don't go in there hungry or eat at one of their cafes. There are often special events such as late nights which are the last Wednesday of each month. These are adult only and include talks, workshops and a silent disco. The nearest green space is the wildlife garden of the Natural History Museum which is next door, or Hyde Park which is a 8 minute walk away and has plenty of gardens, lakes, wildlife and places to relax after your hectic visit to the museum. 8. Tower of London, London Annual Visitors: 2,984,499 Location: London Cost: £30 Read about a visit to the Tower of London >> The Tower of London is the most popular paid ticket attraction in the UK, and the square outside it is often packed with people queuing for tickets. How to see the Tower of London without the crowds: Buy your tickets online in advance to avoid the queues outside. Book for the end of the day - around 3pm - to miss the worst of the crowds. Do the indoor parts of the Tower first (they close around 4.30 - 5) before wandering around the battlements. Alternatively book for the earliest time slot and make sure that the Crown Jewels are your first port of call. Book an early access tour which means you also get to see the Opening Ceremony - its at 8.45 and is offered by lots of tour companies. Avoid the school holidays and weekends if you can. Your nearest green space is the Tower Hill Memorial, just over the road from The Tower, which has plenty of places to sit in the sunshine, as well as a kids playpark right next to it. 9. Somerset House, London Annual Visitors: 2,841,772 Location: London Cost: Free How to visit Somerset House without the crowds: Arrive first thing or at the end of the day for fewer crowds. It is a big place and doesn't get too busy unless it is for one of their special events, such as ice skating at Christmas, outdoor film showings and other big events. There is no way to avoid the crowds for these. The nearest green space is Victoria Embankment Gardens, a large park filled with monuments, riverside views and places to sit in the shade. 10. Kew Gardens, London Annual Visitors: 2,316,699 Location: London Cost: £15 How to see Kew Gardens without the crowds: Its an obvious one, but you will get far fewer people on rainy days. Weekdays are best, particularly during term time. Get there as it opens and make a beeline for the most popular areas - the glasshouses, treetop walk and beehive, so that you have seen them by the time the masses arrive. Explore the far reaches of the gardens where fewer people bother to go.. Attend one of the lectures or talks, many of which take place in the evenings Kew has an article on their website of their Secret Gardens, which will help you to find the more peaceful spots. 11. Chester Zoo, Chester Annual Visitors: 2,086,785 Location: Chester Cost: £23 How to see Chester Zoo without the crowds: Avoid school holidays and weekends, particularly in the warmer months. Get there as soon as it opens. There may be school groups but they are easily avoided. Try one of the animal experiences - there are a huge amount on offer, such as Breakfast with the Lions, Keeper for a Day or an Early Birds Tour. 12. Tate Britain, London Annual Visitors: 1,808,637 Location: London Cost: Free How to see Tate Britain without the crowds: A sunny day when everyone else is outside means fewer crowds inside. Get there as it opens or towards the end of the day. Decide in advance what you want to see the most and focus on that first. Join a talk or guided tour (daily at 12 and 1pm). Tate Britain has occasional lates when the museum is quieter. There are regular Private Viewings, mostly for members, but not all. The nearest green space, other than the grounds of the Tate itself, is the very uninteresting Bessborough Gardens, which are 4 minutes away. Instead the Victoria Tower Gardens South, a 7 minute walk away, have more facilities, better views and help you get further away from busy roads and their associated noise. 13. St. Paul's Cathedral, London Annual Visitors: 1,716,417 Location: London Cost: £17 How to see St Paul's without the crowds: Book one of their tours, many of which are free. Visit on a weekday in term time, although be prepared for school groups. Get there first thing in the morning (8.30am) or at the end of the day (4pm) for fewer crowds. Attend a service or a concert. The nearest green space is St.Paul's Churchyard and nearby Festival Gardens, the only oasis of green in the sea of concrete and bricks which is the City of London. 14. National Portrait Gallery, London Annual Visitors: 1,619,694 Location: London Cost: Free Currently closed until 2023 15. Windermere Lake Cruises, Lake District Annual Visitors: 1,613,785 Location: Lake District Cost: Varies How to go on a Windermere Lake Cruise without the crowds: Winter is the best time to visit the Lake District if you don't want crowds. Pandemics aside, it is always swarming with coach tours. The longer cruises will have fewer groups of coach parties. Go for the first one in the day before the coach parties have arrived. You can buy cruises which include meals and music which will have fewer daytrippers. There are 16 lakes in the Lake District - consider a cruise on one of these instead. 16. Stonehenge, Wiltshire Annual Visitors: 1,604,248 Location: Salisbury, Wiltshire Cost: £20+ per adult (but can be done for free) How to see Stonehenge without the crowds: If buying a ticket, either visit towards the end of the day and do the museum before you see the stones, or visit as soon as it opens and see the stones before the museum. Weekdays and outside school holidays are best. Rainy and cloudy days have fewer visitors. You can do VIP tours outside the normal opening hours - these are in small groups and take you inside the stones. You can see the stones for free outside opening hours by walking on the free footpath. You don't get as close but it means you can see them without the crowds. You can see them virtually on a 360 degree camera from right inside the stones. Read more about how to see the stones for free >> 17. Westminster Abbey, London Annual Visitors: 1,574,401 Location: London Cost: £24 How to see Westminster Abbey without the crowds: Choose a sunny day when everyone else is outside. Get there for when it opens (9.30am) or for the last slot of the day (3.30pm). Do a Verger Guided Tour, which lasts 90 minutes and will take you to places that are not normally accessible to the general public. Attend an event or service. Avoid the school holidays, particularly Easter and Summer, when the most tourists are in London. The nearest green space is Victoria Tower Gardens South, a 4 minute walk away and next to the House of Lords. There are plenty of places to sit in the sunshine, as well as riverside views and monuments to admire. 18. British Library, London Annual Visitors: 1,534,860 Location: London Cost: Free (charges for some exhibitions and events) How to see the British Library without the crowds: Choose a sunny day when everyone else is outside. School groups are regular visitors so term times could be just as bad as holidays - try the start or end of the day to avoid them. Take a Treasures Tour. There are regular exhibitions and events - the ones with a charge will have fewer crowds than the ones without. This is a particularly built up area of London as the library is squashed in between Euston Station and St. Pancras Station, but your nearest green space is Tavistock Square, a 10 minute walk away. 19. Roman Baths, Somerset Annual Visitors: 1,325,085 Location: Bath, Somerset Cost: £27 How to see the Roman Baths without the crowds: Visit on a weekday, outside the school holidays and in winter (although you may still get school groups). The coach tours from London tend to arrive around lunchtime, so visit as soon as the Baths open to avoid them. In the summer months they stay open late for the Baths by Torchlight, which means there are far fewer day trippers and no coach tours, making it very peaceful - its a delightful experience and one I have done 3 times! Read about visiting the Roman Baths by Torchlight >> 20. Old Royal Naval College, London Annual Visitors: 1,264,683 Location: London Cost: £12.50 How to see the Royal Naval College without the crowds: Avoid weekends and school holidays. It is a large open space with expansive grounds, but it can get crowded in the Painted Hall, which is the chief attraction. Book on one of the tours - there are several on offer. Attend a service in the chapel or one of the events in the Painted Hall. Book a Sunday afternoon tea in the Admiral's House - it is rarely open to the public and this is currently the only way to see it.

  • TOM EDWIN ADLAM V.C- SALISBURY'S WORLD WAR I HERO

    Visitors to Salisbury Guildhall and War Memorial may be interested to read more about the Salisbury man who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in World War I. Here we have abridged information from the The Bedford Regiment and VC Online. Tom Edwin Adlam (1893-1975) was born at Waterloo Gardens, Salisbury, Wiltshire on 21st October 1893. His father, John, was a wheelwright, and his mother was Evangeline, a tailoress. They married in 1882 in Alderbury. Tom had five siblings – born between 1882 - 1900. Tom was educated at St Martin’s Infants School, Bishop Wordsworth’s School and the Pupil Teachers Centre, all in Salisbury. He then attended Winchester Training College from 1912-14. He was a keen sportsman and regularly turned out for Salisbury City FC with his brother Edward in the Southern League Second Division 1906-11. He became a teacher at Brook Street Council School, Basingstoke. Tom enlisted in the 4th Hampshire Territorial Force in September 1912 and served with 2/4th Hampshire early in the Great War, serving in India from December 1914, returning to Britain late in 1915. He was commissioned into the Bedfordshire Regiment on 16th November, joining the regiment at Sittingbourne, Kent, where he was trained as a Bombing Officer due to his unusual talent of being able to throw Mills bombs '40 yards' with both arms, which he put down to years spent playing cricket. On 21st June 1916, Tom married Ivy Annette, at St Mark’s Church, South Farnborough, Hampshire. The couple went on to have four children – born between 1918 - 1929. Tom was posted to 7th Battalion, joining C Company at Maricourt, France on 18th July 1916. His mother died in July 1916 while he was on the front, but as the burial and service would have been finished by the time he returned to England, he chose to remain with his platoon. This decision would ensure he was with the battalion while they stormed Thiepval and the Schwaben Redoubt, otherwise he would not have been with them during the action that saw him win the Victoria Cross. The 7th battalion had served with distinction on the Western Front, suffering heavy losses since the opening day of the battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916. They had been in the front assaulting waves on that notorious day, which saw them storm and hold the German positions on the southern edges of the battlefield. Not only had they been one of the few British battalions to successfully get into the German trenches, but they had taken the front three lines of enemy trenches as well as the heavily fortified and stubborn Pommiers Redoubt that bristled with machine guns. Two weeks later they were again mauled during the assault on the deadly Trones Wood, after which battle a further draft of reinforcements saw the new Second Lieutenant Tom Adlam join them in the field on the 18th July 1916. He was posted to C Company and, other than two weeks in August spent in the front lines opposite Lille, spent the period leading up to the storming of Thiepval and the Schwaben Redoubt in reserve positions. Here the battalion initially rested after their ordeal on the Somme, then started training for their involvement in the Somme battles that September. The trailer for They Shall Not Grow Old - Tom's voice is the last one you hear on the video Tom joined what he called a 'very happy platoon' and remarked how he was never bitten by a bug during his time on the Western Front, although his impression of it all was that it could be 'bloody awful at times'. On 27th September 1916 at Thiepval, France, a portion of a village which had defied capture had to be taken at all costs. During fierce fighting, Adlam sought the Company O.C. in another shell hole to debate what the best course of action was. He decided to 'have a go at getting in' to the German trenches, to which the O.C. solemnly shook his hand before departing, expecting to not see him again. Having played a lot of cricket, Tom had a stronger than normal arm and was capable of throwing grenades further than most. The men fed him with bombs and he threw them from his shell hole until it was feasible to rush the surviving defenders. Moving in short bursts, his platoon made it into the German trench and, charging along the trench 'like a lot of mad things', they bombed the more stubborn German posts including a well defended machine gun position. On arriving at a second machine gun post which was causing havoc among the attacking troops, Adlam had already run out of bombs but his platoon collected every German stick grenade they could lay their hands on. Stacking them up next to him, Adlam threw one after another in a continuous stream, silencing the post and allowing his platoon to clear it with their bayonets, before moving on to clear the entire section of trench in the process. Adlam was wounded in his leg and his throwing arm during the phase that saw them pushing through the heavily defended trench but he simply reverted to using his other arm which was just as effective! He led his men from the front and they continually bombed their way deeper into the German first line positions, remarking how even the gentlest and calmest men in his platoon lost both personal control and all shreds of mercy whilst in the heat of a battle like the one they were embroiled in. When the C.O. arrived in Adlam's section he insisted Tom retired due to his wounds, so he retired, escorting a dozen POW's to the rear when he went back. Second Lieutenant Adlam's Victoria Cross was gazetted in the London Gazette on the 25th November 1916. He was recovering in Colchester when news of his VC reached him. No one had mentioned him even being proposed for a medal but he returned to the Orderley Room from a night out only to find himself swamped with telegrams. Calling his father to ask what everyone was congratulating him for and why newspaper people wanted to get his photograph, his father was the one to give him the news! The VC was presented to Tom by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 2nd December 1916. On 16th December he was presented with a gold watch by the Mayor of Salisbury, on behalf of the people of the city. He was also awarded the Italian Silver Medal for Military Valour on 26th May 1917. Tom was not fit to return to active duty and became an instructor at No 2 Officer Cadet Battalion, Cambridge. He was appointed Temporary Lieutenant on 19th April 1917 and became Lieutenant on 1st July. He was transferred into the newly formed Royal Air Force and ready for embarkation to Singapore when news of the Armistice came. Being stationed in Cambridge, he joined the celebrations and, getting carried away, climbed the flagpole in the main market square. In his interview he revealed he was more terrified then than at any stage of his assault against the Redoubt but could not climb down and lose face! He returned to the military though, being commissioned as Lieutenant in the Army Educational Corps on 11th December 1920, and served in Ireland during the Troubles. He was confirmed as Lieutenant in December 1921 and in February 1922 he unveiled the war memorial outside Salisbury Guildhall. The service was conducted by the Reverend WRF Addison VC. Tom transferred to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers on 20th February 1923 as a Captain. Tom was then employed as an Assistant Master at Sandy Church of England School in Bedfordshire and was the first Chairman of the Sandy British Legion 1922-1926. While there he was a Scoutmaster and a member of Biggleswade Football Club. In 1926, he became Headmaster of Blackmoor Church of England School, Liss, Hampshire. On 24th August 1939 Tom was recalled as Captain and served with the Royal Engineers as a Staff Captain with the Movement Control Section at Avonmouth Docks. In February 1940 he was appointed Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General at Glasgow until August 1943. He later was Commandant at Dover, Kent and Tilbury, Essex from 1943-1946, including involvement in the Normandy invasion. He returned to Blackmoor Church of England School after the war, and remained in post until 1952, when it closed and he retired. He bought the school and converted it into a family home. He became Clerk to Whitehill Parish Council and Secretary of the Blackmoor Flower Show Club. Tom attended every VC/GC Reunion between 1920 and 1974. In 1933 he led the Remembrance Day Parade at the Cenotaph with Christopher Cox VC, also formerly of 7th Bedfordshire. In July 1966, he was one of 12 VCs invited to take part in the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. On 6th April 1970, he was one of the “10 VCs on a VC10” inaugural flight from London to Nairobi. Tom died whilst on holiday at Hayling Island, Hampshire on 28th May 1975 and was buried with his wife in St Matthew’s Churchyard, Blackmoor, Liss, Hampshire. In addition to his VC, he had been awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and the Italian Silver Medal for Military Valour. On 27th September 2003 the medals were presented to Salisbury Guildhall by his grandson, Sergeant Martin Adlam RAF, on loan from the family. You can see them on display in the Crown Court when you visit. Find out about visiting Salisbury Guildhall >> You can listen to audio recordings of TE Adlam being interviewed about his life and experiences on the Imperial War Museum website >> Sources and further information available at: The Bedford Regiment and VC Online

  • VISITING HISTORICAL SITES AND MUSEUMS WITH KIDS - THE SLOW TRAVEL WAY

    Taking children to historical sites and stately homes can be done, although it can be hard work and you will definitely miss the days when you could just go somewhere with a minimum of planning and preparations. But it is rewarding, well worth doing and will give you, and them, many happy memories - you’ll hopefully forget the times they threw up in the National Trust gift shop, or had a very public tantrum because they weren’t allowed to climb the castle walls. These are my top tips for taking children around historical sites and museums – something I have done a considerable amount of - which should give you maximum reward and minimum stress. Some of these are obvious, others you may not have thought of. I hope they help! 1. Choose your site wisely … Some sites are just more naturally interesting than others for children and bear this in mind when choosing, particularly in the early days. Pompeii with its plaster casts of bodies and full size town is easy; foot high dusty ruins can be more challenging. Keep an eye out for themed days targeted at children, such as learning to joust, falconry or building dens. For older children, try to do museum sleepovers, behind the scenes tours, visiting a site by candlelight, a Twilight Tour – anything that is different and out of the ordinary. This gives an added element of excitement and interest and tends to lead to increased involvement. A lot of museums have interactive displays, usually involving a screen, which children will instinctively gravitate towards. These can be really good, but screens are often broken or surprisingly dull unless specifically designed for children. They are still an improvement on many museums though and worth factoring in to your decision about where to visit. Just remember that great quantities of hi-tech and interactive exhibits don’t always mean a better experience for children. Living museums are great and I cannot praise them highly enough for keeping children interested and teaching them far more than artefacts in glass cases ever will. One of my favourites is Milestones in Basingstoke which not only has streets with shops, an arcade of playable antique fairground games, a 1940’s sweetshop that sells children their weekly ration of sweets, but also an Edwardian pub where adults can buy an actual drink. It was a happy day when we discovered that one. There is also Blist's Hill near Ironbridge which is a full sized Victorian town and is fantastic for its detail and level of immersion. We had to change our money to pre-decimal currency in a Victorian bank before we could buy anything in the town. There was a lot of activities on offer, including a proper Victorian funfair, and so many things for children to do that we could have gone there for two days and not done it all. 2. Fail to Prepare and You Prepare to Fail … Always check the basics beforehand – parking, food establishments in the area, facilities, and pushchair parks. Most of this information will be available on the site website. Site websites often have a kid’s area so always look at this first as it will give you an idea of how child friendly the site is and also if there are any special areas of interest that are particularly interesting for children. For older children that have screen access, the children’s area on site websites often have games and fact sheets that will give them an idea of where they are going and provide some basic facts beforehand. Read the Trip Advisor reviews before you go. You can take the opinions with a pinch of salt, but often people will point out things that you just won’t have considered for children (e.g. the pushchair park is a mile away from the main site, or you will be asked to leave your rucksack at the coat check and so won’t have easy access to your supplies). It goes without saying, but ensure you have more than enough snacks, drinks, wipes, sun cream, waterproofs and all of the other usual accoutrements that all parents have attached to them when out of the house and put them in a rucksack so you still have your hands free for dealing with your small people. Sometimes it’s a good idea to tell your children where you are taking them for the day, and making a big deal out of it, sometimes it’s best to sneak the site in before the main attraction: “We’re off to the cinema this afternoon! On the way, were just going to quickly explore a 12th century ruin.” It’s a judgement call and depends on the age and temperament of the child. I tend to big up the interesting and interactive sites, the 12th century ruins I keep quiet about until the last minute. Know beforehand that you will only get to read about 25% of the information panels yourself. Make your peace with this and the visit will be far less stressful. 3. The visit … When you do have to take those overlong journeys to get to a place, there is no shame in allowing your kids their screens if they’re old enough. It prevents any complaints before you’ve even left your driveway and keeps them, and therefore you, even tempered for your arrival at the site. If you are taking younger children, let them do some charging around before you go in, to burn off any excess energy. In each new place, don’t forget to designate a meeting point in case anyone gets separated from the group. Chose the tallest and most central spot you can. A great many sites will offer you a children’s trail as you pay to get in, be prepared for this and have your answer ready so you don’t stutter out an automatic ‘yes’. Parents either love or loathe trails - after 13 odd years of these, I am now firmly in the loathing camp. When the children were very small we found that they raced through the property thinking that the trail was all they had to do, so as soon as they had found the mouse, or whatever was on the trail, they were charging off to the next location and there was no time to look at anything else. It also means that as parents, you are forced to carry their clipboards for them when they get bored and want to run off somewhere. Fortunately we have now reached the point where the children themselves say a firm no to any proffered clipboards, knowing that the prize of a sticker at the end really isn’t worth the shame and hassle of carrying around a clipboard. Guided tours can also be a feature of historical and archaeological sites. When I was a child, visiting historical houses usually meant a very long tour with someone droning on while you stood behind a rope and had distant items pointed out to you. These were never targeted at children and could be very tedious. Things have come a long way since then and most stately homes now will allow people to wander where they wish and will often leave out a pile of toys for children to play with. National Trust places are very good at this and in the summer months will also put out a wide variety of outdoor games. Sadly there are a few places where the guided tour and roped off areas still exist, so I recommend using TripAdvisor first; something I really wish I had done before dragging my poor, unsuspecting children around a stately home near Romsey, which will remain nameless, and subjecting them to an old fashioned, slow-paced, adult targeted tour, complete with ropes and everything. There wasn’t even a café to reward them with sugary items afterwards. This segues nicely into that other aspect of modern presentation of historical sites – costumed characters. These can be fantastic in some places, really adding to the ambience and helping your children to see exactly how the site would have been used by people in the past. The best example of this that I have seen is at the Roman Baths in Bath, where they had people in togas just wandering around and acting as they probably would have done. It really added to the atmosphere and made the visit something special. The flip side of this is that in some places, the costumed characters can approach your terrified child and start a conversation with them that they are just not interested in - being approached by a bewhiskered and very tall butler asking questions can be rather intimidating. Warn your kids in advance if there are likely to be any, so they know what to expect. Many museums and sites these days will have an area where they have laid out costumes relevant to the time period for children and adults to try on. Mine just walk past these with contempt now but when they were younger, this was always a good way of getting them interested and giving them something to do other than just looking at objects. It can provide a welcome respite for the parents too as there is often somewhere to sit down for a few minutes, which is always welcome. Gruesomeness is a bonus. Children reach an age when they are fascinated by all things gory and grotesque. If the site you are visiting has any grisly stories, it’s always a good idea to find them out beforehand and promise the kids that they will see the spot where someone had their innards ripped out 300 years ago, or their head put on a spike. Tell them the story of what happened, slip in a few historical facts with the story and you will be amazed at how well they retain the information. 4D/5D cinemas are great for children and if the site has one on offer then it’s definitely worth going in. We have seen some fantastic ones and it is such a good way for your children to learn the facts about a site. Mine still remember feeling rats tails brush the back of their legs in the seat when learning about the plague, or the way the chairs shook as the film took us on a carriage ride through medieval Vienna. Even teenagers will enjoy these, however much they try not to. Do a family photo competition if your children are older, these can work well to sustain interest on larger sites. Set the rules beforehand e.g. best picture of an amphora, first one to take a picture of a Latin inscription, best selfie in a toga etc. For younger children, taking a favourite toy round the site and taking photos of it in situ can also help to keep them engaged and interested. Allow time for exploring and going off route. In Pompeii we just let the children chose where we went and which street to walk down. It kept them really interested and let them feel like they were in control – we were able to spend an entire day on the site, saw everything we had wanted to and no-one moaned once. Keeping it fun, by playing chase or running around a larger site can burn off energy and keep them engaged. Exit through the gift shop but set a budget first. Use it as a reward for good behaviour round the site. Everywhere sells pens, bookmarks, fridge magnets that are affordable and yet desirable for small people. Finally, I asked my children what their advice would be to get children interested and well behaved around historical sites. They both said the same thing – bribery. And that is definitely what I would recommend if all else fails.

  • THE MYTHICAL BEAUTY OF AGIOS ACHILLIOS ISLAND AND PRESPES NATIONAL PARK, GREECE

    Agios Achillios is a tiny lake island located in Mikri (Small) Prespa and is a part of Prespes National Park a wetland of international importance. Efi from Life.Lovers.Greece, a travel website which focuses on Slow Travel in Greece, tells us about a remote island in northern Greece which is the perfect destination for the Slow Traveller. In Agios Achilios, the balanced co-existence of humans and nature is a reality that every traveller experiences. In this amazing environment, it seems as if time has frozen. This historical island has 23 permanent inhabitants and is only reachable on foot via a 650m long floating bridge. The cinematic scenery of Prespes lakes The 11 traditional houses on the island are made with natural materials such as wood, clay, stone and reeds. They stand amongst water buffaloes, ‘’Nanas’’, the Greek Steppe cows, mallard ducks, purple herons, great white pelicans and Dalmatian pelicans, in specific, the largest breeding colony in the world! The locals are employed in tourism, farming or agriculture. Agios Achilios is the second inhabited lake island in Greece, after Ioannina`s lake island. Photo credits: Kristo Pantera photography Local myths at 850 meters above sea level The local myth says that if one more house will be built on the island, the rest of the houses will collapse. In this cinematic scenery, the life-rhythm is natural and pure, inspiring, and harmonic. If you walk a circular track of about 2 hours, you can reach the highest point of the island, approximately 850 meters above sea level, and admire the mythical beauty of Agios Achillios island and Prespes lakes. Travel through history Agios Achillios has a wealth of Byzantine churches scattered across the island. The ruins of the three-aisled basilica of Saint Achillios is the most important archaeological site on the island and dates from the 10th century A.D. Archaeological researchers have discovered fragments of ancient inscriptions, dated back to the 2nd and the first half of the 3rd century A.D, and revealed the existence of the ancient city, ‘’Lyki’’. Photo credits: Kristo Pantera photography The cultural value of Agios Achillios As the local fishermen say, when the lake water is clear, the narrow streets of the ancient city can be seen underwater. They often pull the stony parts of ancient looms out of the water, the textile weaving machines, and shells they caught in their nets. Other archaeological finds are significant amounts of unpainted Terra sigillata pottery and ceramics from daily items such as cooking utensils, which date back to the 1st century A.D. The findings of written pottery in the area, made with coarse clay, prove the existence of a local pottery workshop and confirm once again the cultural value of Agios Achillios and Prespes National Park. Prespeia festival Every summer, at the end of August, ‘’Prespeia’’ takes place in Agios Achillios, a landmark cultural festival with free-of-charge entry, which is accessible to everyone. The festival programme includes music performances, theatre, folk and folklore arts. This festival highlights the cultural heritage and diversity of the Prespes area, and the northern edge of Greece where three countries meet: Albania, Fyrom (North Macedonia) and Greece. The mythical beauty of Prespes valley A narrow strip of land separates Mikri (Small) Prespa from Megali (Great Prespa, the second lake of the Prespes valley where humans have lived for over four thousand years. In particular, Mikri Prespa is shared between Greece and Albania, and Megali Prespa between Greece, Albania and North Macedonia (FYROM). The numerous archaeological sites and ancient finds in Prespes, from the Neolithic Age to the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period and the unusually high number of species recorded in the area, clarify Prespes National Park uniqueness, by international standards. Birdwatching in Agios Achillios Locals co-exist in the island with several diverse species. In specific, in the Prespa National Park have been recorded over 2,000 species of flora, 271 bird species, 60 mammal species, 23 fish species, 22 reptile species and 11 amphibian species! Agios Achillios is a Slow Travel destination that offers a variety of activities such as birdwatching, cycling, canoeing and hiking. During the winter months, the lake is frozen and the best you can do is have a warm drink and a talk at the extraordinary café-restaurant of Agios Achillios, at the lakeside. If you are looking for wellness and relaxation, a visit to Agios Achillios will pay off. Prespa`s clarity will clear your mind, and you will freely enjoy with all your senses the silence on this tiny lake island. Read more from Life.Lovers.Greece and plan your next Slow Holiday in beautiful Greece.

  • THINGS TO DO IN THE SALISBURY AREA FOR KIDS

    There is a lot on offer for families in Salisbury and the surrounding areas, whether you want a peaceful day at the beach, a walk through the forest, to ping around on inflatables, a day at a theme park or just splashing around in puddles. Here we list our top picks for kids in the area - all tried and tested by our own youngsters. Riverbourne Farm is in the Salisbury suburb of Laverstock. It is a community run farm which is free to visit and has donkeys, goats, pigs, rabbits, birds and plenty more. You can buy a bag of food to feed the animals, have a bite in the farm café or just wander around looking at the friendly animals. There are often trails, activities and events on offer. Best for: under 10's Food: café on site Distance from town centre: 20 min walk Noise levels: Peaceful Clownabout is a typical soft play centre which is ideal for little ones. Ball pools, slides, tunnels, climbing frames, all the usual stuff you expect from such places, with free parking. If you visit during school times, it is usually just toddlers playing, so there are no bigger kids to knock them over. Best for: under 10's Food: café on site Distance from town centre: 15 min walk Noise levels: Cacophony LazerA starts at 6.30 in the soft play area used for Clownabout. Kids and adults can run around the ball pools and climbing frames with laser guns shooting each other. Best for: Over 10's to adult Food: café on site Distance from town centre: 15 min walk Noise levels: Peaceful JumpinFun is an inflatable park on the outskirts of Salisbury and although it is for all ages, they do run toddler sessions with soft play and ball pools. If you want to avoid the bigger kids then take your under 5s during a school day. There is a large café area filled with decent food and bored parents. Best for: under 15s Food: café on site Distance from town centre: 23 mins by bus Noise levels: Cacophony Strikers is Salisbury's only bowling alley, in the same building as ClownAbout but separated by the café. There are only a few lanes so it is a good idea to book in advance. You can pay £2.50 extra and let the kids have a go on the climbing wall too. Best for: all ages Food: Food and drinks on site Distance from town centre: 15 min walk Noise levels: tolerable Odeon Cinema is in the centre of town and shows all of the latest films which you can watch in medieval splendour. Best for: all ages Food: Snacks and drinks on site Distance from town centre: 2 min walk Noise levels: peaceful Salisbury Escape Rooms are the only ones put together by ex-detectives and have been voted the #1 attraction in the area for fun and games. They cater to all ages and get great reviews. Best for: 10+ Food: None on site Distance from town centre: 5 minutes walk Noise levels: Peaceful Wilton House is not just a stately home, but has a large adventure playground in its grounds, with huge wooden slides, climbing nets, swing boats, trampolines and more, as well as an area just for the under 5's. It's very popular with families as parents get to enjoy sitting on the pristine grass and wandering through the gardens while their kids run riot. Read more about visiting Wilton House >> Best for: any age Food: Café and ice cream stand on site Distance from town centre: About 20 minutes by bus, 10 by car Noise levels: Tolerable Salisbury has some excellent playparks which will appeal to all ages - whether its paddling in the shallow waters of the River Avon in Lizzie Gardens, following the Fairy Trail in Avon Valley Nature Reserve or playing on slides and swings in several of the parks. For older children, try Churchill Gardens which has a skate park, parkour and outdoor gym. Outside Salisbury Paultons Park is a big deal in these parts, and now has international acclaim thanks to Peppa Pig World which was added a few years ago. There are loads of rides for all ages, particularly the younger ones, with rollercoasters, pirate ships, log flumes and all sorts of rides to induce screaming. The park itself is lovely, with wonderful grounds and even some rides that adults can cope with. Best for: all ages Food: cafés, restaurants and snack bars on site Distance from Salisbury: 17 miles Public Transport: Catch the X7 from Salisbury to Southampton and get out at Ower Adventure Wonderland is a theme park for little ones near Bournemouth with rides, animals, soft play, mazes, trampolines and theatre. There is loads for young kids to do here and it will easily fill a whole day. Older kids and teenagers will be less than impressed. Best for: under 10's Food: cafés, restaurants and snack bars on site Distance from Salisbury: 25 miles Public Transport: Car is easiest Cholderton Charlies is a farm with a soft play centre and lots of things to do in the village of Cholderton. Its popular with young ones and often has events and activities on. Just 5 miles from Stonehenge, you could visit this farm afterwards to give the kids some fun as they really won't be impressed by Stonehenge. Best for: under 10s Food: café on site Distance from Salisbury: 11 miles Public Transport: Catch the X67 from Salisbury to Tidworth, get out at Rare Breeds Farm stop Go Ape in Moors Valley Park is a tree top course which has different difficulty levels, set in acres of forest. Moors Valley also has fishing, a mini train, large playparks and other activities on the huge site. It can get busy at peak times and queuing to pay for parking can be a nightmare, but the kids will enjoy it there. Best for: all ages Food: café on site Distance from Salisbury: 20 miles Public Transport: Car is easiest New Forest Water Park on the A338 road to Bournemouth, this outdoor water park has inflatables on a large lake for kids to leap around on. It is only open in the warmer months but is great for older kids. There is also kayaking, paddle boarding and wakeboarding on offer. Best for: older kids Food: Distance from Salisbury: 13 miles Public Transport: Get the X3 Salisbury to Bournemouth bus and get out at the New Forest Water Park stop The Hawk Conservancy near Andover is an excellent day out as well as a really worthwhile charity. There are flying shows which adults and kids love, the site is immaculate and they offer lots of experiences such as Owls by Moonlight which is great fun. Best for: all ages Food: Restaurants on site Distance from Salisbury: 19 miles Public Transport: Car is easiest Beaulieu is more than a stately home, it is also home to the National Motor Museum which will keep all car-mad kids very happy. There is also playparks, a monorail, a James Bond experience and a few small rides - I particularly recommend the ride through the history of motoring which is very relaxing and strangely absorbing. Easily enough to do for a full day out. Best for: all ages Food: cafés, restaurants and snack bars on site Distance from Salisbury: 27 miles Public Transport: Catch the train to Romsey then C17 bus to Beaulieu Bournemouth Beaches are great for a traditional day by the sea in this very popular resort. Its an easy bus journey from Salisbury with regular buses. The pier is packed with activities, the sand is golden, the sea blue and there are ice creams, beach huts and everything else you could want for a day beside the sea. Best for: all ages Food: cafés, restaurants and snack bars abound Distance from Salisbury: 28 miles Public Transport: Catch the X3 bus from Salisbury to Bournemouth Marwell Zoo is the largest zoo in the area and has hundreds of animals and five adventure playparks. The giraffes, tigers and penguins are the most popular attractions, but there is a wide variety and something for everyone. Best for: all ages Food: cafés, restaurants and snack bars on site Distance from Salisbury: 30 miles Public Transport: Car is easiest Longleat is the safari park that started them all, and was once home to the eccentric Lord Bath and his wifelets. It is an excellent park with a wide variety of animals, some fabulous playparks and some great activities for kids. I particularly recommend feeding nectar to the birds, which land on you and drink it from your hands. Best for: all ages Food: cafés, restaurants and snack bars on site Distance from Salisbury: 27 miles Public Transport: Car is easiest Snowtrax in Christchurch is for any kid who has wanted to hurtle down a slope at full speed in a ringo or a skibob. They also have an alpine adventure park, snowboarding and dry skiing on offer. Best for: all ages Food: café on site Distance from Salisbury: 21 miles Public Transport: Car is easiest New Forest Wildlife Park near Ashurst is a small wildlife park but its great for younger kids, very easy to get around in a pretty site and up close to the animals. Just down the road is Longdown Activity Farm which is great for young ones. Best for: under 10s Food: cafés, restaurants and snack bars on site Distance from Salisbury: 21 miles Public Transport: Car is easiest Want to read more? Find out what day trips you can take from Salisbury and how to get there with public transport.

  • ST. MARY'S CHURCH BREAMORE

    Breamore is a small village in Hampshire, on the main road between Salisbury and Bournemouth. It is a small rural village with a lot of heritage which includes this rare example of an 11th century church, making it one of the most important Saxon buildings in the south of England. Hidden in a small copse of trees not far from Breamore House, is the rather squat and unique little church of St. Mary's which represents an important stage in Anglo-Saxon architecture. Dating from around 980 - 1000AD, the church was built during the reign of King Ethelred II The Unready and was a minster church serving a large estate owned by the crown. It is a 'Turriform' church, otherwise known as a tower-nave church and there are very few of them left. Not all Anglo-Saxon churches were built in the Romanesque basilica style and instead, like this one, were built with a central tower - the ground floor of which was the nave, with two shallow lateral extrusions. There are so few remaining because as populations grew, the western extrusion was usually transformed into a nave. Breamore Church, being built slightly later than some other turriform churches, already had the nave in situ, separated from the chancel by the square central tower, so it is a snapshot in time of a particular development of Anglo-Saxon churches. The church also still retains other Saxon features, such as the seven 'double-splayed' Saxon windows. What is even more remarkable is the original arch over the entrance to the south transept. Clearly visible is an Anglo-Saxon inscription, incised in the stone and painted in red ochre, which reads “HER SWUTELATH SEO GECWYDRAEDNES THE”. (“Here the covenant is manifested to thee”.) Another stone in the wall has “DES” inscribed, suggesting that there was once more of the sentence elsewhere. Although some of the text may have been touched up over the centuries, some of it has not, and to see the original artwork from over 1000 years ago is impressive. Even more astonishing is the Saxon Rood, which is in the porch, but which was once over the chancel arch, removed in the 14th or 15th century when the chancel was enlarged. It was probably around this time that the porch was enlarged to protect the rood. The rood shows Christ suffering on the Cross with St. John on his right and the Virgin on his left, with the Hand of God above them all. It was defaced between 1561 - 1580 under the instructions of Robert Horne, the Bishop of Winchester who was part of an ultra-Puritan movement to remove papist art. A life-size carving of Jesus suffering on the cross is an unusual subject matter for that time, but even more unusual is the depiction of Judas having committed suicide, which is on the west wall of the porch next to the rood, and which is part of wall paintings of a landscape background with buildings of towers and spires. The church has obviously undergone many modifications over the years - the chancel arch and the arch in the west wall of the tower are 15th century, as is the octagonal font. The tower houses four bells cast in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and there are traces of medieval paintings behind the altar. There are a few memorials of interest, although the Hulse family, minor gentry, society page regulars and residents of Breamore House for nine generations, do seem to dominate this small church. The majority of the memorials are dedicated to them - most of the family seemed to live to a ripe old age, as only the rich can do, except for those who died on the battlefield. My favourite memorial of theirs is to the American widow of the considerably older 8th Baronet of Breamore. He died in 1931 and she clearly then made her escape from the ghastly family and hot-footed it to Monte Carlo, where she died in a luxurious hotel two years later at the age of only 58. I like to think she really made the most of her freedom for those last two years. As well as most of the wall memorials being dedicated to the Hulse family, their family hatchments are all over the walls. In fact, St. Mary's has the largest collection of funeral hatchments of any parish church in England. Hatchments are plaques which commemorate and show the marital status of the deceased and were originally hung outside the deceased's place of residence for a year before moving to the parish church. Those with a black background show that the deceased was single at the time of death. For widows and widowers the arms are divided in two with the arms of the dead person and his/her spouse on either side. If the deceased was a bachelor or a spinster then his/her arms cover the whole hatchment. When a man dies before his wife the left side is black and the right is white. When a woman dies first, the left side is white and the right side is black. English parish churches perform many worthwhile functions. Perhaps the perpetual reminders of the overweening self-importance of the “nobility” down the centuries is not one of them. (Source) The presence of the Hulse family is rather overwhelming here, and it certainly wouldn't be somewhere I would want to attend for a service or event; you would feel like a peasant in their fiefdom. Fortunately, there are at least a few memorials that aren't just about them. There is a plaque which commemorates the presentation of a standard to the Old Contemptible Association in 1930 (although naturally the plaque also has to have the Hulse name on it somewhere). The Old Contemptibles Association was formed in 1925 of the men who had served in the British and Indian Expeditionary Force who were holders of the Mons Star with Clasp, a medal awarded to those who had served in France or Belgium between 5 August and 22 November 1914 and who had served under fire or who had operated within range of enemy mobile artillery. It was formed to provide assistance to members who had fallen on hard times, and to foster the spirit and strengthen the bonds of the 'Chums', as they were known. It is rather saddening to think that the Chums are no more: “I'm throwing a lot out, nobody's interested in these things now. Gradually we're destroying the papers: nobody will look after the papers when we all go. It's the best way, really, to wipe it all out, the past." James Preston, Former General Secretary to the National Council of The Old Contemptibles’ Association (The Guardian 22 June 1978). Most poignantly, the church contains a memorial to Mary Hall, a woman from Fordingbridge who was murdered on her way to church at the age of 22 in 1862. The case became a celebrated Victorian murder case and at the time was described as 'a case almost without parallel in the history of crime' by the judge. Her killer was executed in Winchester. You can read more about the Mary Hall case in this article >> The graveyard is a particularly pretty one with some ancient graves as well as a couple of Commonwealth war graves. If you visit in Spring, not only is the graveyard awash with daffodils, but there is a public footpath which runs through some beautiful bluebell woods nearby. You can walk from the church up to the Breamore Mizmaze, a remnant from the priory which once stood on these lands and which is the oldest and one of only two remaining mizmazes left in the country. (The public footpath takes you past Breamore House which is sometimes open to the public, but not a place I recommend visiting.) Right next to the Mizmaze is the Giant's Grave, a Neolithic longbarrow. The church also features on the Breamore-Woodgreen Walk, a five mile circular walk which also includes the tiny church in Hale, an old railway station and some ancient water meadows. VISITING ST. MARY'S CHURCH BREAMORE How to get to St. Mary's Church Breamore Postcode: SP6 2DF what3words: valid.handover.silver Public Transport: There is a bus stop called Breamore House Turn which is the nearest one and is on the main X3 route between Salisbury and Bournemouth Find timetable >> Parking: There is parking outside the church for just a couple of cars Which is the nearest town to St. Mary's Church, Breamore? Salisbury is the nearest town. See our Salisbury City Guide for details on how to get to Salisbury, locally owned accommodation, restaurants and shops, further places to visit and things to do.

  • THE MURDER OF MARY HALL

    A memorial plaque to Mary Hall is in St. Mary's Church in Breamore, a woman who was murdered in 1862 in a case which shocked Victorian England. To be read in conjunction with this article on St. Mary's Church, Breamore >> This is a transcript of a newspaper article about the murder case for any one who may be interested in reading more about it when they visit the church. It may be upsetting for some people to read. (From The Times, July 19th 1862) THE MURDER OF MISS HALL AT FORDINGBRIDGE At the Winchester Assizes, yesterday, before Mr. Justice Keating, George Jacobs Gilbert was indicted for the willful murder of Mary Ann Susan Hall, at Fordingbridge, on the 22nd of June last. The court was crowded to excess. The prisoner, in a low tone pleaded "Not guilty." Mr. Prideaux and Mr. H T Cole conducted the case for the prosecution, Mr. M Bere, at the request of the learned Judge, defended the prisoner. Mr. Prideaux opened the case on the part of the prosecution. The young lady whose violent and melancholy death was the subject of this inquiry was named Mary Ann Susan Hall, and was the only child of a farmer, residing upon a farm, called Midgham Farm, in the parish of Fordingbridge the distance from Midgham Farm to Fordingbridge church was about a mile. There was a public footpath leading through Midgham Moor. At the end of that moor was a stile, and then a lane called Holmes's-lane, which was bounded on one side by the moor and on the other side by a field called Harding's or Pinhorn's. In Harding's field there were two cows, Holme's-lane had a high bank and hedge on each side; it was a very wet lane, having water running through it. The path went on to Fordingbridge church. On the morning of Sunday, the 22nd of June, about ten o clock, this young lady left her father's house for the purpose of going to Fordingbridge church. She had on a bonnet, with green flowers. She had in her hand a parasol. She had a cloak or mantle with some tassels; and she had with her two books which she was in the habit of taking to church, which she carried in her pocket. Mr. Hall's dairymaid would prove that it was about ten o clock when this young lady left her father's house. He should call a little boy who sat in the same pew in which Miss Hall was in the habit of sitting, and he would tell them that Miss Hall was not at church that morning. He would call a witness, named Hicklin, who would say that about a quarter-past ten that morning he had occasion to go by Harding's Field, where the cows were, and he observed the cows running about in a state of great excitement and disturbance, but he did not look in the lane. Between two stiles there were several marks of footsteps, as if there had been trampling about, and on the following day a piece of the green ornament of Miss Hall's bonnet was picked up there. There were marks on the bank of the lane, showing that struggling had been going on in the lane. About half way up the lane a tassel was found in the branches-one of the tassel of the young lady's mantle. Up at the end of the lane, covered with mud, with mud in her throat and mouth, with her dress much disordered, her pocket torn out, with several marks of violence on her throat, this young lady was found dead. There could not be a doubt that she had been murdered there, and after a violent struggle, resisting the attacks which had been made upon her - and it was by the sacrifice of her life that she had preserved her honour. But there was a gleam of light amid the shades and the darkness of this most melancholy and painful transaction. It would be some comfort to them, and a great comfort to her sorrowing father and her friends, to feel that, although this young lady was compelled to struggle to the death, yet she had struggled with success, and had passed through nature to eternity as unsullied in her person as she was pure in the beauty of her mind. That she was murdered after a great struggle there could be no doubt. Then the painful duty the jury had to perform was this - who was the man who committed the murder? He would briefly point out to them the material facts upon which the prosecution relied. On two different Sundays, "five weeks and three weeks before the 22nd of June, the prisoner was walking with a young man named Turner, when they saw Miss Hall pass on her way to church, the prisoner, upon seeing Miss Hall, made use of some indecent expressions showing a desire to have improper intercourse with her. Turner asked him why he should like to go with her more than any other girl. The prisoner replied he did not know there was much difference, but there was a little more fancy. A witness named Haskell would tell them that on the morning of the murder, about seven o'clock, he had occasion to pass through Harding's field, when he observed the cows, which w ere perfectly calm, and there was nothing that attracted his attention , but on again, being there about half past ten he observed footsteps by the lane, apparently of trampling, and that so far attracted his attention that he went four yards up the lane, but was then stopped by the depth of water in the lane; he saw a pressure on the bank, and it was 'evident that somebody had gone up the lane. He then went into a field called Lopez; he went along the footpath, and saw the prisoner coming up through Harding's Field, some little distance off off. They got within twenty yards of each other; the prisoner had on a dark smock frock. The trousers of the prisoner were wet up to the knees. Hi« boots were unlaced. The cows appeared to be disturbed, and they were looking into the hedge, next to which the body was found. Haskell went on towards Fordingbridge church. He observed that the prisoner followed him until he came to the stile. He then got behind a tree as if watching him. The next witness would be a man named Gosney, a shepherd, who had occasion on that morning to go to look after his sheep. He went into a field called Amberland, in which the sheep were. He saw the prisoner sitting in a dry ditch in which there was neither water nor mud. It was perfectly dry, and had been so for some days. The prisoner was sitting in that dry ditch, apparently rubbing down his trousers, and as Gosney approached him he took up something and he then walked on in the direction in which he lived. The next witness would be Mrs. Philpotts, the wife of the half-brother of the prisoner, who would tell them that he breakfasted with the family that morning ; he went out at half-past nine; he had on a white shirt which she had washed for him; it was then without a tear. He came back again a little before one o'clock. Her little boy said he bad seen his uncle George hang out his stockings in the hedge, and he put his hands on the prisoner's trousers, and said, "Lord, Uncle George, how wet your trousers are!" The prisoner made no reply. He thon sat down and went to dinner with the family. After dinner the prisoner said he wished to change his shirt, which was a white one, Mrs. Philpotts told him where to find another shirt, and he went up and changed it. The white shirt was torn as if in a struggle, and the sleeves were wet. He should then prove by the dairymaid that at twelve o'clock that day she went to a christening at the church. She saw nothing to attract her attention in Harding's field. She returned about one o'clock to dinner. Miss Hall was not there, but the family thought nothing of her absence, as she sometimes went to her cousin's. At three o'clock, the dairymaid left her master's for the purpose of going to church. She saw the prisoner going towards Midgham-moors. Mrs. Philpotts went out with, her little boy about half-past three o'clock for a walk. She had not gone far when she saw the prisoner coming in the direction of her house; he had a parasol in his hand. She said, "Wherever, George, did you get that parasol?" The prisoner replied that he found it in Harding's field, flying about, and the cows making a great noise. He then asked her if her husband was at home. She said he was, and asked what he wanted with him. The prisoner replied that he had found a woman dead down in the ditch, smothered in mud. The prisoner had given three accounts of finding the parasol; one was that he had found it flying about in Harding's field; another that he found it within l8 yards of the murdered woman, and that it was in Coomb's field. It was impossible, owing to the thickness of the hedge, to see the dead body of the woman unless a person went close up to the hedge. He should call several witnesses who were present with him when the body was removed. The prisoner did not assist in the removal, nor did he go into the lane. Other persons went into the lane and took up the body, and had the melancholy duty of taking it to Midgham Farm, and disclosing to the young lady's father the distressing event that had occurred. It must have been shortly before half-past three that he said he saw the parasol flying about; whereas, the dairymaid who had passed shortly before that saw no parasol, and the cows were quiet. When the prisoner was taken into custody two policemen were present; the prisoner was cautioned in the usual manner, but he said and persisted in it that he was at home all day until one o'clock, and that he had had a nap in the garden. He was out during the whole time; he denied that the white shirt was his, and said that he had on a coloured shirt, and that he had changed it before breakfast. He should prove that he had one white shirt, which he changed after dinner. There was another strong circumstance, some spots of blood were seen upon his waistcoat, which were evidently fresh. His account was that his nose had bled a fortnight before. One of the policemen told him that it was important for him to prove where he was on Sunday morning. The prisoner, after a short consideration, sent for Gosney, and asked him what time it was when he saw him in the ditch; Gosney said about a quarter-past eleven, and the prisoner said "That's- right." His boots had apparently been washed, but there were pieces of mud adhering to them. In the dry ditch three pieces of grass were found as if torn up, they were wet and dirty, and smelt like the mud in the lane. There were some other statements which, the prisoner made to the constables. He stated to Roddoway, "I have been in pretty near as bad a mess as this; do you think it will be a hanging touch?" The constable said, "I do not know, it makes me feel ill to think of." The prisoner said, "So it do me. I should be glad to get rid of it. This will be the last time you will have to take me up." There was another remarkable fact; a person named Jefferys, who was the sexton of the church, would tell them that they were working together on the Saturday. The prisoner was working in his shirt-sleeves, and he had on a white shirt; that was tolerably clean, and was not at all torn. Jefferys took particular notice of his boots; they had nails all round them, and he thought they corresponded with some footmarks which were very near the lane. He believed he had now stated the leading facts of the case. It was peculiarly a case of circumstantial evidence. The facts were themselves very slight, but it would he for the jury to say whether these were reasonably consistent with the innocence of the prisoner. If they were, let them by all means acquit him, but if they brought home a conviction to their minds that the prisoner was guilty, he was sure they would not hesitate to do their duty by convicting him. Proof was then led at considerable length, which fully bore out the opening statement of the learned counsel for the prosecution, and established the guilt of the prisoner, by a chain of the clearest circumstantial evidence. Mr. M. Bere then addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner, and concluded an eloquent and ingenious defence by saying he did not believe that a villain existed under God's heaven who would commit such a monstrous crime without a motive, and he confidently contended that no motive had been proved. Mr. Justice Keating then summed up. They would look to the evidence and the evidence alone. It was a case of circumstantial evidence, which required to be carefully anti vigilantly watched. No human eye looked upon the deed except the murderer and his victim. It was not for the prisoner to show who committed the murder if he did not, but it was for the prosecution to make it out to their satisfaction. If they allowed the considerations of the consequences of their verdict which had been urged upon them by the learned counsel who had so ably addressed them to influence that verdict, then they would fail to discharge their duty. The learned Judge then went through all the evidence. When a prisoner was in custody on a charge it was better that the police should abstain from putting questions, although accompanied by a caution but if a prisoner made a statement voluntarily it was the duty of the police to take it. The magistrates' clerk had gone beyond his duty in putting questions to the prisoner. The jury would give their verdict upon the evidence - on the one hand, discarding from their minds any rumours they might have heard before they came into that box, and disregarding any suggestion of consequences on the other hand. The jury retired for about twenty-five minutes and then returned a verdict of guilty. His Lordship then addressed the prisoner: After a long, a patient, and fair trial, the jury have found you guilty of murder - murder, under circumstances of aggravation which present a case almost without parallel in the history of crime. That unfortunate young lady, upon whom you cast a lustful eye, you attempted to dishonour; but you experienced a degree of resistance which led to her cruel death. I do not advert to these circumstances for the purpose of aggravating the horror of the position in which you stand, but I advert to them for the purpose of endeavouring to induce you to forego the hope of any mercy here, and to look for it here-after. Time will be given you - that time which you did not give to your victim, for you hurried her to her great account at a moment's notice. The law will be more merciful to you. You will have sometime to think of your past course in this world, and endeavour to prepare yourself for that which is to come. His lordship then passed upon the prisoner the awful sentence of death, and the prisoner was then removed from the bar. Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13234274# THE PRISONER'S CONFESSION Bell's Weekly Messenger of the 20th, says: "The wretched man Gilbert, who was convicted at Winchester last week of the willful murder of Miss Hall, has made a full confession of his guilt. He says he lay in wait for her, and when she came near the ditch, he pounced upon her and throttled, but did not kill her. He next tied her hands behind her, used her very brutally, and left her then alive, but shortly returned and dragged her up the ditch, and then left her dead. It may be mentioned, however, that when the body was found the hands were not tied." He was executed on the 4th August 1862. Source: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13234262/1481606#

  • WINCHESTER CASTLE AND THE GREAT HALL - THE 13TH CENTURY HOME OF AN 'ARTHURIAN' ROUND TABLE

    The Great Hall and a few passageways are all that remains of Winchester Castle, one of the earliest castles built by William the Conqueror. It was once home to the Domesday Book, was where Sir Walter Raleigh was tried for treason and was where the infamous Judge Jeffries conducted his Bloody Assizes. It is also home to a 13th century Arthurian roundtable which has hung on the wall for about 700 years. A Brief history of Winchester Castle and the Great Hall Winchester Castle was built for William the Conqueror as one of his first castles in England, on the site an old Roman fort. Venta Belgarum, as the Romans knew present day Winchester, was a city of great importance, but was left to decline around 380AD. It wasn't until the middle of the 7th century that a Christian church was built within the walls of the city. In 802, King Egbert was crowned King of Wessex and made Winchester his capital. The city began to thrive again and became a centre of art and education. When William the Conqueror invaded Britain in October 1066, Winchester along with other significant towns in the south, had surrendered to him by November. Crowned in Westminster Cathedral on Christmas Day that year, he then came to Winchester for a second coronation. It was the following year that he ordered the building of the royal castle, using parts of the old Roman walls. The castle was the seat of government for Norman kings for the next 100 years, being rebuilt and fortified several times. William's fourth son managed to get rid of one of his brothers, William Rufus in mysterious circumstances in the New Forest and rushed to Winchester to be pronounced King Henry I, occupying the castle and seizing the treasury. Henry II built a stone keep to house the Domesday Book, which was also known as Liber de Wintonia - Book of Winchester. Winchester, as with London, was not included in the book due to its tax-exempt status. It was Henry III, who was born in Winchester Castle, who made significant changes to the castle, and it was he who added the Great Hall, sometime around 1235. Work started in 1222 under the charge of Master Mason, Elias of Dereham, who is better known for his work building Salisbury Cathedral and Clarendon Palace. The site continued to be used as a royal residence until a fire gutted the royal apartments of the palace in 1302. The required repairs were so extensive that it took a long time for them to be completed; instead royal visitors to Winchester would stay at the Bishop's Palace, nearby Wolvesey Castle. It was around this time that the seat of power started shifting towards London. The castle was still used in early Tudor times. Henry VIII entertained Emperor Charles V in the Great Hall, Queen Mary married Phillip of Spain in Winchester and because of an outbreak of plague in London, Sir Walter Raleigh went on trial in the Great Hall for his part in the plot to depose James I - he was then imprisoned in the Tower of London. After the Civil War and the sacking of Winchester, the castle was destroyed under Cromwell's orders in 1649. The Great Hall was the only part which escaped the destruction. It was often used as a court, and was where the notorious Judge Jeffreys condemned people such as Alice Lisle to death for their parts in the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. She was executed just outside what is now the Winchester City Museum and a plaque commemorates the spot. The rest of the site was offered to Charles II, who commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to design a magnificent palace called The King's House to rival that at Versailles, but Charles died soon after and although it had been completed, it did not become a royal residence. Instead it housed refugee priests during the French Revolution, and was converted to barracks in 1809. It burnt down in 1894 and only one wall remains. The Great Hall was used as a county court until 1874, and again from 1938 - 1974. One famous trial which took place within its walls was in 1953, when the then Lord Montagu of Beaulieu was one of three men on trial for indecency in a court case which was to become groundbreaking for LGB rights. Restored in 1975 with Queen Eleanor's Garden open in 1986, and The Long Gallery added ten years later, the Great Hall is now a major tourist attraction as well as filming location and wedding venue. What to see in the Great Hall The Round Table The Winchester Round Table was made from English Oak around 1290, probably for a Round Table Festival in honour of the marriage of one of Edward I's daughters. Edward I was a fan of the Arthurian Legend who regularly attended Round Table events. These were held across England and Europe in the latter Middle-Ages and involved jousting, feasting and general merriment, with guests often dressing up as characters from the legends. The artwork however was done under the orders of Henry VIII, who had it painted with 24 sections to represent each of Arthur's Knights, with himself as King Arthur and a Tudor Rose right in the middle. The table originally had legs, but was hung on the east wall possibly around 1348. It was moved to its present location on the west wall in 1873. The Long Gallery The Long Gallery is a relatively recent addition to the Great Hall. It is filled with information about the history of the Great Hall, with copies of medieval illustrations and manuscripts which detail Sir Walter Raleigh's trial, the Civil War and the Kings and Queens who ruled there. Queen Eleanor's Garden Outside the Great Hall is a garden which has been recreated as a medieval garden, based on a 13th century herber garden. Herber gardens were small, enclosed gardens which usually contained perfumed and medicinal flowers. This one was opened in 1986 by the Queen Mother. It has a tunnel arbour made with willow, grave vines and roses to shield ladies' pale skin from the sun, a water channel which symbolised everlasting life in Christianity and a turf seated conversation area. If you look on the wall behind the arbour, you will see all that remains of the King's House. It had been converted to barracks by 1809 and was destroyed by fire in 1894. The black streak down the wall are melted pitch from the roof, which ran down this wall and are still clearly visible today. The West Wall and the Wedding Gates The Great Hall is connected to the law courts by a huge archway, which in 1983 was fitted out with two large gates made to commemorate the wedding of Price Charles with Lady Diana Spencer. Made from stainless steel they are considered ground breaking forge work of the 20th century. The key to open them is the shape of a W to commemorate their son, William. On the whole of the west wall is a 'family tree' with the names of parliamentary representatives for Hampshire from 1283 - 1868. There are a few gaps amongst all the names from times of political upheaval or the plague. These were painted when the Great Hall underwent restoration in 1874 and are a really striking addition. The Castle Passageways Outside the Great Hall and free for anyone to enter, are all that remains of the rest of Winchester Castle. Steps lead down to a dark and gloomy passageway which were once underneath one of the castle's towers and which led out to the dry moat. There is not much left to see, you can only peer through locked gates into the darkness beyond, but they do give you a good impression of how big the castle must once have been. The World War I Memorial Bench During World War I, Winchester was a major army depot and one of the largest military transit camps in the UK at the time, with over 2 million soldiers passing through the area during the conflict. Soldiers would arrive at the camps of Morn Hill and Winall Down in the hills around the city and once a division was fully assembled, they would take the trains to Southampton and then on to the front lines in France and Belgium. In 1917, the camps were transferred to the US Army for the transit of their soldiers, with nearly a million passing through. In 1919, the Mayor of Winchester made a promise to commemorate the American soldiers billeted in the hills around the city, and in 2014 the promise was finally fulfilled. This bench made of Portland stone is just outside the Great Hall and shows a soldier's kit left on a railway bench. VISITING THE GREAT HALL How to get to The Great Hall Postcode: SO23 8UJ what3words: grills.additives.amber Public Transport: Winchester is fully served by buses within the city and from cities such as Salisbury and Southampton. Parking: Use the Winchester Park & Ride if you are driving into town When is The Great Hall open? The standard hours are 10am - 5pm but check their website as they sometimes close for functions. How much does it cost to visit The Great Hall? £4 per person Are there any facilities at The Great Hall? There are is no café but it is in the centre of town and there is a lot of choice nearby..

  • THE ST. CATHERINE'S MIZMAZE AND HILLFORT, WINCHESTER

    Just south of the city of Winchester, a short walk from its ancient city centre, is St. Catherine's Hill, an Iron Age hillfort with a long history. Now a nature reserve of rare traditional downland, it is also home to one of only two mizmazes left in the country - an historic labyrinth cut into the turf. The hill and mizmaze are open to any visitor who can make the 220 foot journey up there. Winchester is a city with a long and venerable past. Once one of the most important cities in Roman Britain, the seat of Norman Kings and the heart of King Alfred's Wessex, it is now a small but beautiful city filled with heritage and places to visit. Long before the city though, it was the hill which was occupied, in use as a hill fort from about the 6th century BC. The hill fort was initially undefended, until 250BC when defences were added, with a line of bank and ditch, which followed the contours of the hill. Archaeological surveys show traces of roundhouse dwellings, granaries and pits. The site was abandoned around 100 - 50BC after it was sacked, with the inhabitants moving to Oram's Arbour - now central Winchester. Excavations have provided some Roman pottery and coins dating from when Venta Bulgarum (Winchester) was at its peak, but there is no evidence of any further occupation of the site until the middle of the 12th century, when a Norman chapel was built on the hill. Known as St Catherine's Chapel, it is this that gave the hill its current name. Little remains of the chapel, which was destroyed in 1537 and now lies now underneath a small copse at the top of the hill, known as 'The Clump', but there are some medieval earthworks such as ditches which are associated with it. For many years, the hill was used by Winchester College as a playground, until purpose built playing fields were created for them in 1868. The Mizmaze is believed to date from their time using the hill, although no-one can be strictly sure of the date of the mizmaze - the archaeological records dates it to between 1647 - 1710. The primary theory seems to be that it was created by a pupil at the college who had been sent to the hill as a punishment, cut the maze himself by hand, then throwing himself off the hill and dying shortly afterwards. Mizmazes are not mazes in our modern understanding of the word, but are actually labyrinths - a continuous path with no dead ends. This one is unusual in that it is in a square rather than circular shape. They were historically used for religious purposes, with monks and pilgrims using them for contemplation or penitence, but by the time of the 17th century, when this one was probably created, it was more likely to have been used for recreational purposes. "Tolling (walking) the labyrinth" was certainly a hobby of the college boys and still takes place today. The mizmaze was recut between 1830 - 1840 and was probably inversed at that time. The other surviving mizmaze, at Breamore, is a raised path whereas this one is a path cut into the turf. The maze is open and accessible to all. Due to its inversion, it is quite a narrow path to walk, which takes about 15 minutes in total. St. Catherine's Hill is now a nature reserve, and the best time to visit it is in the summer months. It is a 220ft climb, a mixture of wooden steps and narrow pathways, and it was very hot and tiring getting up there, but there are incredible views over the city to reward you. The traditional downland is awash with the noise of the insects and birds which all call it home and the grasses are filled with rare orchids and the 25 different species of butterfly which flutter in front of you as you walk. Visiting the St. Catherine's Mizmaze How to get to St. Catherine's Hill Postcode: SO23 9PA what3words: victory.cabin.preheated (mizmaze) Public Transport: Winchester has a train station - you can catch a bus or walk to St. Catherine's Parking: If you are driving, it is best to park in the St. Catherine's Park & Ride, which is right next to the bottom of the hill. When is St. Catherine's Mizmaze open? The site is open daily, all hours. How much does it cost to visit St. Catherine's Mizmaze? The site is free to visit but donations to the Wildlife Trust which manages the reserve are always welcome. Are there any facilities at St. Catherine's Mizmaze? There is a café at the bottom of the hill - The Handlebar Café - which is a fantastic local social enterprise. They serve snacks, cakes, drinks and are well worth supporting. Useful tips for visiting St. Catherine's Mizmaze Wear sensible shoes as there is some 'off-roading' required to get up the hill.

  • WINCHESTER CITY MUSEUM

    Winchester City Museum is a small museum next to the cathedral, which tells the story of this city, once the fifth largest in Roman Britain, the seat of government of Norman Kings and the heart of King Alfred's Wessex. The museum may be small but it is well laid out and packed with fascinating artefacts, making it an essential place to visit for any traveller to the city. Housed in a rather lovely flint and stone building right next to Winchester Cathedral, the City Museum has been here since 1903. Over three floors it covers the history of this once important city - from its Iron Age origins through the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Jane Austen to the Victorians. The story starts on the top floor of the museum. Just 30 years after the invasion of Britain in 43AD, the town of Venta Belgarum (modern day Winchester) was formed, absorbing its Iron Age predecessor and becoming the fifth largest city in Roman Britain. By the beginning of the 3rd century, its earthen and timber defences were reinforced with stone, and the previous wooden dwellings were being replaced by those made of stone and flint, with underfloor heating. The city was in an ideal location and received ceramics, glass and other commodities from across the Roman Empire. The museum has several items from this era which were found during archaeological excavations, from everyday domestic items such as buttons, bone combs and rings to the wonderful mosaics used in the larger villas just outside the city; British farms which had been developed as Roman villas complete with bath suites and hypocausts. One such villa was at Sparsholt, midway between Winchester and Old Sarum. This luxury country estate had mosaics and colourful plaster walls. One mosaic was found almost entirely intact and is on display in the museum - a magnificent geometric mosaic which forms the centerpiece of the Roman room. Nothing remains of Sparsholt Villa, although you can see a recreation of one wing of it at nearby Butser Ancient Farm. Excavations show that the Roman occupation of Winchester came to an end around 380AD, with buildings falling into ruins and civic amenities ceasing. Someone buried a hoard of bronze coins and a necklace by a wall which they never managed to retrieve. The second floor of the museum is the Gallery of 1000 years, covering the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval periods of life in Winchester. The city's revival began in the 9th century with St. Swithun and the Kings of Wessex and it soon became one of the principal towns of England in the 9th century, the closest thing to a capital city. Known as Wintanceaster it was a religious monastic centre and high status town with a royal palace. Artefacts on display include an amazing reliquary known as The Winchester Reliquary, decorated with gilt-bronze sheets. Made in the 9th century, it held religious relics and was carried in processions on religious festivals. King Alfred encouraged the arts and the growth of religion, resulting in the Winchester School style of manuscript illumination, with acanthus leaves, tendrils and foliage. This reliquary is decorated with acanthus leaves and is the only Anglo-Saxon reliquary found in the country, discovered during an excavation of a cesspit dated to 925. Winchester was at the height of prosperity after the Norman Conquest, with the city population growing to over 10,000 and becoming a centre of international trade. The city had its own mint, started by King Alfred and continued by the Norman kings. The city became a major religious centre in Medieval times, wielding enormous power across the south of England including London. The Bishop's Palace at Wolvesey Castle (which you can visit) was both a palace and a fortification. When Winchester Cathedral was built, it was one of the largest in Europe at the time. Pilgrims travelled from afar to visit the shrine of St. Swithun. Medieval artefacts include a 12th century bronze horn, tools from a medieval kitchen, a loo seat from the home of a wealthy trader, a child's leather shoes which survived in a waterlogged site and all other types of paraphernalia of medieval life. The fortunes of the city started to decline after the first Plague in 1348, with the population reduced by a third. In 1382, Bishop Wykeham opened Winchester College as a school to educate new clergy, to replace those lost in the plague. Poverty struck with the loss of trade, and the 100 Years War further reduced the city's importance globally. Money, power and population shifted to London, and the city went into a steady decline. The bottom floor of the museum is dedicated to more recent history from the 19th and 20th century. The centrepiece is a huge model made of Winchester made by a former county councillor, depicting Winchester in 1870. Other displays include an original, full sized shop front of Foster & Son Tobacco Blenders, which opened in 1871 and closed in 1980, having barely changed in all that time. There is a wonderful medicine chest filled with little drawers all labelled with their medical contents, and jars for leeches, as well as a penny farthing and commemorative items from the Millenary celebrations for King Alfred. A highlight incudes a few items which belonged to Jane Austen. Jane Austen died in Winchester, having moved here in 1817 to seek medical care. She died after just two months and is buried in Winchester Cathedral. The house she lived in is right next to Winchester College, and will soon be opened up as a tourist attraction. On display in the museum are two small purses, both of which were hers, one of which she made. There is also a manuscript of a poem written in one of her notebooks, and a spool case which belonged to her and is engraved with her initials. It is a well presented, informative museum, with plenty of hands-on and interactive things for kids to do, and it provides an absorbing introduction to this historic city. VISITING WINCHESTER CITY MUSEUM How to get to Winchester City Museum Postcode: SO23 9ES what3words: uniform.devoured.secures Public Transport: The museum is a ten minute walk from the train station or catch a bus to Winchester city centre. Parking: If you are driving, it is best to use one of the Park & Ride sites. They always have spaces, are clean and have a regular bus service. When is Winchester City Museum open? Daily, 10am - 5pm How much does it cost to visit Winchester City Museum? Tickets cost £5 per adult (or £6 to include a visit to the nearby Westgate Museum) and are valid for a whole year. Are there any facilities at Winchester City Museum? Being in the centre, there are plenty of places to eat just right outside the door.

  • VISITING THE TATE MODERN, LONDON

    The Tate Modern is the largest, best known and most visited of the UK's modern art museums. Located in a former power station in the Southwark area of London it is filled with modern art of all genres and styles. It is often promoted as essential viewing for any visitor to the capital city, so here we answer all your questions including the critical one - is it worth visiting? The Tate Modern has skillfully acquired some of the most famous modern art collections in the world as well as holding regular innovative exhibitions which attract people from across the globe. It is the third most visited modern art museum in the world and within the UK it is even eclipsing visitors to the British Museum. Where is the Tate Modern? The Tate Modern is right on the south bank of the River Thames, right next to The Globe Theatre. Directly opposite on the north bank is St. Paul's Cathedral - you can use the Millennium Bridge to cross the Thames between the two. The museum is housed inside the old Bankside Power Station which was designed by Gilbert Scott, built in 1947 and closed in 1981. It is a vast, cavernous place; all wide open halls, angular concrete blocks and seemingly endless floors. How much does it cost to visit the Tate Modern? Like many of London's museums, it is free to visit, you only have to buy tickets for the special exhibitions. You can book your timed visiting slot in advance on their website, or just show up and hope they have spaces. What is there to see at the Tate Modern? The special exhibitions change regularly, but there is a core collection of art which permanently resides at the museum. Exhibitors include Picasso, Warhol, Dali and Pollock. Is the Tate Modern good for kids? Kids are welcome at the museum - all of the galleries are pushchair friendly and there are often kids activities on offer. That being said, although there may be activities on offer for young children, there is less available for older ones. The Tate website promotes activities such as 'making shadow puppets' or 'dancing', so essentially stuff children can do anywhere. Older children will be less entranced by the assorted colours and shapes on display. My 14 year old son loathed the place and said it made him feel angry. The echoing halls, lack of windows, confusing layout and discordant, meaningless artwork did nothing for him; it just left him feeling unsettled and desperate to leave. Is the Tate Modern worth visiting? Obviously this is a matter of personal taste, but I would suggest that you need to be really into modern art to find it an enjoyable experience. There are some pieces where you can think that the artist is clearly talented, but much of it is utterly meaningless unless you read the artist's explanation of what they were trying to convey. These explanations, which are displayed near the pieces, are often little more than pretentious waffle, leaving you disconcerted and unsatisfied. The following are some of the many negative reviews from Trip Advisor : It was a mix of with middle class children with daft names, people who need to open their eyes when they get dressed in the morning, foreign tourists and people trying so hard to be trendy, edgy and arty. As for the art ??? I am not being funny but most of it reminded me of many a lost night at parents evenings and school open days. "I became angry that some of this is actually art" "The building itself had all the warmth of your local morgue and art if you could call it that presented coldly, with grey lighting, cold in every aspect" "It was free to get in and I wanted a refund on the way out" I do enjoy art and even studied it at university, but like the negative reviewers above, I found it a waste of time. Much of it was just stuff; newspaper clippings, photos, random items on a work bench, Venetian blinds hanging from a ceiling, that I struggled to see where the skill was. It seemed that much of the perceived value in these objects was in their explanation rather than the object itself, yet anyone can write pretentious waffle, so why was it worthy of a spot in the museum? A room filled with air conditioning units had the title: (Unbounded [sic]-Vibrational [sic] Always [sic]-on-the-move [sic] Praising Flesh (An_Extra aSubjective p,n,e,u,m,a-mode of Being T,o,g,e,t,h,e,r)' 2019 No, that isn't a sentence of typos, that really is what the art was called. Like my son, the whole thing left me feeling irritated, annoyed and keen to leave. How long does it take to walk around the Tate Modern? Again this can vary considerably, but you do need to be really into modern art to spend longer than a couple of hours. The building is very large and difficult to get around, particularly with their pandemic one way system, and large parts of it seem to be closed off. Our visit lasted less than an hour but would have been shorter if we could have found the exit sooner. (Trip Advisor review) Museum fatigue kicks in quickly here - there is limited daylight, few places to sit and rest, lots of bright white walls and lights, an excess of signage barking orders at you and the noise of the crowds carries far in the huge open halls. The café was overpriced and had limited seating. A visit to the Tate Modern is not the most pleasant of experiences - it is overwhelming, baffling and tiring. Which is better - Tate Modern or Tate Britain? Tate Britain in Westminster has a mixture of traditional art and modern art, so you actually get the best of both worlds. I also preferred the modern art in the Tate Britain as it had more of a dramatic visual impact - lots of lights, colours and sounds which meant that it was at least entertaining, even if the interpretations didn't endear themselves to me. If you are trying to chose between the two, definitely chose the Tate Britain. What is there to do near the Tate Modern? Just a two minute walk away is the ancient Ferryman's Seat. The Millennium Bridge is less than a minute away and is worth a stroll for the views. The Clink Prison Museum is small but fun and will provide great relief for kids after a challenging visit to the Tate. The Golden Hinde is just beyond The Clink. The Globe next door does wonderful tours. Waterloo Station is a ten minute walk away.

  • SALISBURY'S SECRET SPITFIRE MEMORIAL

    This brand new memorial was unveiled in July 2021 and commemorates Salisbury's hidden history of manufacturing Spitfires during World War II, a fact which has only recently been made public with the 2016 release of the film Secret Spitfires. In 2016, filmmaker Ethem Cetintas and spitfire engineer and historian Norman Parker got together to make a film called The Secret Spitfires, uncovering a secret which had been kept for over 75 years; the role Salisbury played in the manufacture of this iconic plane which helped to win aerial Battle of Britain. The Supermarine Spitfire, designed by R.J. Mitchell in the 1920s and 1930s, was an innovative fighter plane which became the backbone of the RAF during World War II. Beloved by both pilots and the public, the Spitfire was a fast moving, high performance machine which was a good match for the German Meschershmitt. The Spitfire was initially built in Southampton and the Morris Motor car factory in Birmingham, under the management of Lord Nuffield. Their manufacture was beset with problems and spiralling costs, but they soon started rolling off the production line. Images from Secret Spitfires The Germans made concerted efforts to destroy the factories which built the Spitfire, realising that they would not be able to win air supremacy against it. The Luftwaffe bombed the Southampton factories in September 1940, causing great loss of life and casualties, mostly of experienced aircraft workers, and thought that they had put the dreaded Spitfire out of action. What they didn't realise however was that production of the Spitfire had moved to secret locations around the south, with all of the various component parts being constructed in garages, sheds, bus depots, even a laundry, hotel and bedrooms. Local, untrained personnel of women and older men had been trained and were working around the clock to produce the Spitfires. Salisbury, Trowbridge and Reading built half of the 22,000 spitfires produced during the war, with the other half from the factory in Birmingham. Salisbury was one of the major secret centres with locations scattered across the area - Castle Street, New Street, Devizes Road and Castle Road. Fuselages, wings and tails were built and then taken to Highpost Airfield, in the village of Little Durnford which is just outside Salisbury. Highpost became an assembly and testing site for the Spitfires, which were then flown to the various airfields across the country. Salisbury has long had a history of military aviation, as both the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service started life on Salisbury Plain. Just outside Salisbury you can visit the Museum of Army Flying which charts the history of the role of Army Flying and its connection to the area. The film Secret Spitfires was made in 2016, and after 75 years the secret was out; people became aware of the role the city and its inhabitants had played in the war. A charity was formed to raise money for a memorial to the ordinary people who had achieved so much, and who had never been acknowledged for their contribution to the Allied victory. The memorial is a full size fibreglass replica of a Spitfire made in Salisbury and flown by Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson, a famous pilot who shot down 14 enemy aircraft with this plane. Inside, there is a mannequin in the cockpit, dressed in authentic flight gear and accessories. The memorial is located next to the Rugby field, close to where Factories 1 and 2 were sited. Underneath is planting which is meant to resemble the land the Spitfires flew over so often on the White Cliffs of Dover. Nearby is a bench in the shape of Spitfire wings, dedicated to filmmaker Etham Cetintas who died suddenly just a few months before the unveiling. The grand unveiling of the memorial was delayed due to the pandemic, but on 9th July 2021 there was a ceremony to officially welcome the memorial to Salisbury. Locals turned up in force, dignitaries were suited and booted and an RAF band opened the ceremony. The ribbon was cut by Norman Parker, Salisbury Spitfire Engineer and historian, with a pair of scissors which he made out of Spitfire material. In attendance was Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC, the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs. Sarah Troughton and Mayor of Salisbury Mrs. Caroline Corbin. There were speeches and the Queen’s Colour Squadron gave a drill display which was fascinating to watch. A Spitfire flew overhead, that wonderful noise, so familiar to those of us who love old black and white war films and which seemed the perfect tribute to those who had worked in the factories. Visiting The Salisbury Spitfire Memorial Postcode: SP1 3RX what3words: processor.sunroof.intervene Public Transport: There are several bus stops on Castle Road. The one nearest to the memorial is called Old Castle. Parking: You can park in the Rugby Club parking which is right next to the memorial. Walking: You can walk from Salisbury Cathedral to Old Sarum and visit this en route. The memorial is very close to Old Sarum, which is a great place to visit or for a walk. Victoria Park is also very close. Find out more from the Secret Spitfires website>>

  • THE JEWEL TOWER: A LITTLE KNOWN CORNER OF WESTMINSTER'S PAST

    Tucked away in a small corner, almost unnoticed near the dominant buildings of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, stand the remains of the 14th century Jewel Tower which once held a very significant part in the government of Britain. While the tourists rush to view the highlights, the Slow Traveller can spend an hour learning about some more unusual aspects of the past. The Jewel Tower was part of the great royal palace of Westminster and is only one of the four palace buildings to survive. From 1042 – 1512 the Palace of Westminster was the main residence for English Kings, and the Jewel Tower was built in 1365 to house Edward III’s gold and silver treasure. The 15th century “Black Book” of Westminster Abbey records the anger of the monks at this area of their land being requisitioned for the tower, and their conviction that the early death of the man responsible, the Keeper of the Palace, William Ussheborne, was through divine retribution for this crime; he died after choking on a fish caught in the tower’s moat, which had also been dug on the abbey’s land. The tower was constructed with thick stone walls and windows protected by metal grilles and surrounded by a moat for maximum security. You can still feel that sense of strength, power and royal dominance as you climb the spiral staircase and pass through the solid doors with their massive locks. The door to the second chamber on the top floor is made of iron and has the date 1621 and the royal cypher of James I. The original wooden supports of the tower, 650 years old, are on display. Household plate, goblets, wall-hangings and bedding were also kept here and stored in chests, being sent out in carts or river barges to be used at banquets or royal occasions. The second storey of the tower houses many replicas of such items to give an idea of what was held here. In 1512 there was a fire in the King’s lodgings so Henry VIII abandoned the Palace of Westminster as a royal residence. The jewel tower remained in use, albeit of less importance. At the end of the 16th century the House of Lords began to use the tower to house its parliamentary records. The first floor has copies of important documents which were once held here – the death warrant of Charles I in 1649, the Bill of Rights of 1688 and the Act of Parliament that abolished slavery in 1833. The records were overseen here by the Clerk of the Parliaments. In 1869 the Jewel Tower was taken over by the Standard Weights and Measures Department and you can see the official weights which were used as a standardised system of measurement across the country and the British Empire. The tower continued in this role until 1938. Damage caused through bombing in World War II was repaired in 1948 and the tower is now a tourist attraction run by English Heritage. VISITING THE JEWEL TOWER How to get to the Jewel Tower Postcode: SW1P 3JX Public Transport: The nearest tube is Westminster, a 7 minute walk When is the Jewel Tower open? 10am - 5pm daily How much does it cost to visit the Jewel Tower? English Heritage members – Free Adults - £5.90 Concessions £5.30 Children £3.50 Are there any facilities at the Jewel Tower? There are plenty of loos and restaurants in the Westminster area

  • VISITING FORT HENRY, SWANAGE

    Swanage is a lovely seaside town on the south coast of England with golden, sandy beaches and plenty of amusements, making it the perfect place for traditional 'bucket and spade' holidays. It also played a crucial role in the defense of the UK against a possible German invasion during World War II, the remnants of which are still scattered across the beaches and coastline of the area. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF FORT HENRY During World War II, the south coast of England was anticipated to be the location of an attempted invasion by the German forces during the Battle of Britain. Codenamed Operation Sealion by the Germans, their plan was to invade the U.K. once Germany had gained naval and air superiority over the English Channel. The English, who had been aware that an invasion was a possibility even before war was officially declared, had hastily erected as many fortifications as they could to delay any attack. Concrete gun emplacements, turrets, defensive traps and all manner of fortifications shot up along the south coast. Fortunately, the Germans never did achieve either; the planned invasion was called off in late 1940 and never revived. Over the latter years of the war and as planning for D-Day progressed, the coastline fortifications changed from defensive to offensive as buildings, factories and storehouses were built to manufacture the equipment and machinery used for the landings. This also transformed the coastline with new concrete constructions sprouting up at great speed. Studland and Swanage, right next to each other on the Dorset coastline, have retained some of their fortifications which can still be visited today. OPERATION SMASH AND FORT HENRY The planning for D-Day involved full scale exercises to test out the equipment and prepare the troops for the battle ahead. Studland was selected as being similar to the Normandy beaches, and so Operation Smash took place on 4th April 1944, just six weeks before D-Day. It was the largest live exercise of its time. Fort Henry was built overlooking the bay, a reinforced concrete bunker where Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery and the King could stand and watch the action unfold. The new Duplex Drive tanks were being tested, which were designed to sail from the landing craft to the shore. During the exercise, the weather changed and seven of these tanks sank in the bay, killing six soldiers. Lessons were learnt and during the actual landings, the tanks were released much closer to the shoreline, inevitably saving lives. You can see the only remaining Duplex Drive tank, and plenty of other World War II tanks, at the Bovington Tank Museum, a 30 minute drive away. Peering through the observation slit, and the beautiful view you now get through it. It would have looked very different in 1944 Fort Henry is still there, perched on the top of a small cliff between Middle Beach and South Beach, with magnificent views overlooking Studland bay and the sea. Now a Grade II listed building and owned by the National Trust, the fort is free for all to visit. Measuring 90 feet long, with walls and ceiling 3 feet deep, there is a narrow slit across the whole bunker wall overlooking the bay, where the observers had an excellent view over Operation Smash. The bunker is fun to explore, being divided into segments, and my son ran as fast as he could several times through the bunker, clambering around and peering out of the observation slit. We both enjoyed the sense of walking in the footsteps of Churchill et al, it somehow seemed more immediate than in other sites we have visited, probably because the fort has just been left as it was and not restored or presented for tourists. There are a couple of information panels, as well as a memorial to the men who died. When we visited in May, there were wildflowers everywhere; it was hard to believe that such a beautiful location had been the scene of battle and death. Right behind Fort Henry is a concrete gun turret from the earlier stages of the war when the threat of invasion was still real – they had built the fort right in front of it as it was no longer needed. Here you can see the base of the huge gun that once sat there, and rust patches all over the walls. Nearby you will find Dragon's Teeth which were to prevent tanks from invading the country, as well as several gun turrets, slipways and a bunker at Peverill Point which once contained two naval guns. VISITING FORT HENRY How to get to Fort Henry Postcode: Bh19 3AX (Middle Beach car park) what3words: trespass.fled.spoil Public Transport: Bus is the only viable public transport option. Bus times >> Parking: You can park at Middle Beach car park. It is free for National Trust members or £3 for 2 hours, or £5 all day When is Fort Henry open? The site is open every day. How much does it cost to visit Fort Henry? The site is free to visit. Are there any facilities at Fort Henry? There are no facilities here but there is a café at Middle Beach which is only a few minutes walk away. Which is the nearest town to Fort Henry? Swanage is the nearest town. It is a lovely place to visit - you can find more information here>>