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  • ST. STEPHEN WALBROOK, LONDON - THE WREN CHURCH THAT SAVED LIVES

    St. Stephen Walbrook is considered one of Wren’s finest churches in London, and was where he practiced the designs and techniques he would later use in St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is also the original home of The Samaritans, the listening service which has saved so many lives. Easy to miss from the outside, it is impressive and unique on the inside, with a stunning domed ceiling, and it is definitely worth a visit. With pale, mismatched stone, and flanked on all sides by towering modern buildings, St. Stephen looks entirely unprepossessing from the outside, and it would be easy to miss as you walk past. A Starbucks is jammed right up to the side of it with tables and chairs spilling out onto the pavement, making the church fade into insignificance against this modern onslaught. Yet this church is considered to be one of Wren’s finest churches, where he experimented with designs for his masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral. The building may be muted on the outside, but as you step inside after climbing the steps, a completely unexpected delight awaits you and I couldn’t believe I had never heard about this church before. The brightness and light of the Baroque interior makes you realise that you have discovered one of London’s unknown joys. The first recorded history of this church is a Saxon building in 1090, which was built over the remains of a Roman Mithraic temple. By 1482 the church and graveyard were too small for the parish and a larger church was built; one of a hundred churches in just the square mile of the City of London. As with so much of London, St Stephen Walbrook burnt to the ground within 24 hours during the devastating Great Fire of 1666, and nothing is left of those early years. In 1669, Dr. Christopher Wren was appointed as the King’s Surveyor and was commissioned with the rebuilding of 16 of London’s churches, as well as St Paul’s Cathedral. St Stephen Walbrook was Wren’s own parish church (he lived at 15 Walbrook) and it is likely that he paid particular attention to this project even while he was designing St Paul’s, experimenting with geometric form and structure, and particularly on the admission of light into a dark building. This church is regarded as Wren’s best, the dome being a prototype for the magnificent circular masterpiece of St Paul’s that, amazingly, defied the Blitz and stands proudly over London today. In St Stephen Walbrook you go symbolically from darkness to light as you emerge from the sheltered doorway and relatively gloomy short nave into the chancel where all is bright and radiant. Wren’s churches were intended to be inclusive: auditories in which everyone in the congregation could see, hear and take part in the services without any obstruction, and the modern interpretation of the layout adheres strictly to that concept. The dome above, glorious in its own right, and the eight clear windows immediately below it, allow the maximum possible light to flood into the chancel. The Hill Organ was placed in the western apse 100 years after the church was completed. Wren had intended a doorway to open northwards from here, but it was blocked up due to the stench coming from the Stocks Market, now the Mansion House residence of the Lord Mayor of London. During the Blitz the area was heavily bombed and 160 people died. The dome was badly damaged but enough survived for it to be rebuilt and for the church to be restored to its former glory. Today the congregation sit “in the round” on light-coloured pews and kneelers designed by the artist Patrick Heron, famous for his exploration and use of colour and light. In the centre is the Henry Moore altar, a huge sculpted stone block made from travertine marble and cut from the quarry used for many of Michelangelo’s works. This altar was placed in the church in 1987 amid much controversy, which involved two court cases, not just because it was stone instead of wood, but because it was centrally located and not at the east end of the church, where Wren had originally located it. It was deliberately designed for people to gather as a community around the altar, and it makes the church unique. Traditional features of Christianity over the centuries remain, such as an elaborately carved wooden pulpit high up on steps with a domed hood, a small font with a detailed cover, a reredos at the east end with the Ten Commandments inscribed in wood, but the focus of this building is not on tradition but on its role in the modern world at the heart of the City which surrounds it. This church is also famous for being the base from which Chad Varah, then the vicar of the parish, launched the Samaritan service in 1953. He was made Rector of this church in that year, and was finally able to start his listening service that he had long harboured thoughts about. In 1935, he was an assistant Curate at his first funeral for a 14 year old girl who had committed suicide because she had started menstruation and believed it was a sexually transmitted disease. He vowed at that time to encourage sex education as well as to help people who were contemplating suicide and had nowhere to turn He founded The Samaritans in the Rector’s study in November 1953, the world’s first hotline for suicidal people. The black bakelite telephone stands in the nave to commemorate and honour this remarkable achievement, a listening service still heavily in demand today. Visiting St. Stephen Walbrook Opening Hours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 10am - 4pm Wednesday: 11am - 3pm Friday: 10am - 3.30pm There are free organ recitals on Fridays 12.30pm - 1.30pm The church holds regular events and festivals. See their website for details.

  • WALKS IN SALISBURY

    Salisbury has some lovely places for walking, both in the town centre and the outskirts. With so much beautiful countryside around the town, there are a lot to choose from. Keep checking back as this page will be regularly updated. Historical Walks in Salisbury The Salisbury Cathedral Close Walk Spend an afternoon exploring the Cathedral Close, or make a day of it and visit the buildings which are open to the public - there are two museums, a Prime Ministers house, places to eat and of course, the cathedral itself. Read more >> Historical Sites of Salisbury Walk This walk takes you around all of the major historical sites of Salisbury including some little known buildings which are open to the public: see a medieval cinema, the pub where D-Day was planned, Constable's painting spots and lots more. Everywhere is free to visit and full directions are provided. Read on >> The Constable Water Meadows Walk Follow this trail around the Close, Harnham and the Water Meadows to see the places where Constable painted some of his most famous pictures of Salisbury. Full walking directions and pictures of his paintings side by side with photos of the same views today. Read more >> Salisbury Cathedral to Old Sarum Walk This circular walk of about 4 miles follows the River Avon out of the city to the original Salisbury, where you can explore the outer ramparts for free and enjoy 360 degree views over the area. Full directions given with a choice of 3 routes depending on the weather. Read more >> The Milford Street Memory Walk A short walk which takes in Salisbury's industrial heritage, the tight knit Greencroft community and much more in this detailed walk. Read more >> The Secret Salisbury Walk A short, circular walk which takes in places even many of the locals don't know about: the remains of 13th century city walls, a porch removed from the cathedral, the Secret Garden, the old school house, even the vanishing trough. Full walking directions, photos and historical background >> Walks in the outskirts of Salisbury The Woodford Valley Camel Walk This 3.5 mile walk starts and ends at a pub in the beautiful village of Lower Woodford, and follows part of the Monarchs Way as well as a tree-lined avenue, open farmland, woods, incredible views and some free-roaming camels. Detailed directions and photos >> The Witches Trees of Grovely Woods Walk Just outside Salisbury is the town of Wilton, which gives easy access to these mysterious trees buried deep in Grovely Woods, said to be planted over the bodies of four witches. With a Roman Road and World War II bunkers nearby, this is a great walk for all the family. Detailed directions and photos >> Long Distance Walks Salisbury is the start / end point for two long distance walks: Avon Valley Path - 34 miles The AVP is from Salisbury Cathedral to Christchurch Priory, roughly following the River Avon down to the sea. Most people do it over 4 or 5 sections, although it can be done in two days. It is straightforward to follow and there are plenty of historical sites to see en route. Read more >> Clarendon Way - 24 miles From Salisbury Cathedral to Winchester Cathedral, the Clarendon Way gets its name from Clarendon Palace, a hunting lodge for Norman royalty. It passes through some beautiful villages, water meadows and iron age hill forts as it follows ancient riding routes. You can read an entertaining account of the walk by Mike from HikerHero here, complete with maps. Visiting Salisbury? Our Salisbury City Guide is full of information on where to visit, stay, shop, eat and lots more.

  • 9 FORMER PRIME MINISTERS' HOUSES YOU CAN VISIT IN THE UK

    The office of British Prime Minister has been around since the 1720s, with Sir Robert Walpole recognised to have been the first. Since then, and as of 2023, the United Kingdom has had 80 of them, from the great and the good to the weak and unscrupulous. Many are forgotten, others stand out in the national consciousness and some of their homes are open to the public. The title of Prime Minister was once considered an insult - the implication being that a person had risen too highly in royal circles. The belief was that a monarch should be their own prime minister. Sir Robert Walpole was First Lord of the Treasury in the early 18th century. Walpole manipulated and influenced politics so that he became the primary figure, although he unequivocally denied that he was the ‘Prime’ Minister. The role wasn’t formalised until the late 1800s. Many Prime Ministers have faded into obscurity. As well as their expertise in the House of Commons, some are still renowned for their skill on the battlefield, their literary achievements or their passion for other pastimes, such as sailing. Many saw out their final days in grand stately homes which they acquired as a result of their premiership. Here are eight of their previous homes which you can visit. Winston Churchill: Chartwell, Kent Churchill lived at Chartwell from 1922 to 1965, and it is easy to see why he adored his home. Originally built in Tudor times but extended and renovated extensively since, it was given to the National Trust in 1946 while Churchill and his family continued to live there until his death in 1965. It is set in magnificent gardens in the Weald of Kent, and a visit includes many of the rooms where he worked and raised his family, as well as his study and art studio. It retains a homely feel, with personal photographs and many of the gifts from international statesmen, all the while presenting informative details about his life and premiership. More details >> Sir Edward Heath: Arundells, Salisbury, Wiltshire Arundells was the home of Sir Edward Heath, Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974. Originally a Medieval canonry, the house was redesigned in the early 18th century and has a magnificent Queen Anne style frontage looking out on to Salisbury Cathedral, with the River Avon running at the end of the garden. It reflects the sailing, musical and artistic talents of this Prime Minster, and includes in its extensive collections many important treasures such as a cartoon gallery, Lloyd George’s writing desk, and art works by Winston Churchill, John Singer Sargent, John Piper and Walter Sickert. More details >> Benjamin Disraeli: Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire A magnificent redbrick Victorian house, Disraeli’s residence is set in the delightful countryside of the Chilterns of Buckinghamshire. Now run by the National Trust, the rooms and displays give a good insight into the flamboyant and colourful personality of Victoria’s favourite Prime Minster. The house is decorated as it might have been at the time it was occupied by Disraeli and contains a collection of memorabilia including family portraits, Disraeli’s own furnishings, a library with Disraeli’s novels and one written and signed by Queen Victoria. Recently more rooms have been opened to the public, revealing the story of the top secret map-making facility that operated here in WWII. More details >> David Lloyd-George: Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd, Wales Photograph © Terry Firth The Lloyd George Museum is housed in a relatively modern building in the small town where Lloyd George grew up in Wales. It includes Highgate, the cottage that was his childhood home, which is furnished and decorated to appear as it was in the late 19th century. On display are many historical records and artefacts that document the life and times of Lloyd George as both a social reformer in the early 20th century and war leader in the Great War, as well as a copy of the Treaty of Versailles. There is a good balance between the personal and the political aspects of his life, and visitors can access his grave and memorial, a five minute walk away. More details >> Robert Walpole: Houghton Hall, Norfolk Photograph © Dennis Smith Built in the 1720s for Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall in Norfolk is one of England’s finest Palladian houses. The magnificent state rooms were sumptuously decorated by William Kent, with painted ceilings and include suites of carved and gilded furniture. There is an extensive park, a walled garden and a Soldier Museum with a large collection of model soldiers. Walpole is still considered one of the best British Prime Ministers, as well as the nation’s longest serving one, and a visit to the State Rooms of the house shows the splendour considered necessary to impress his distinguished guests. Visiting Information >> Duke of Wellington, 1 Apsley House, Piccadilly, London Apsley House was originally built by Robert Adam and then remodelled to make a London home for the Duke of Wellington soon after Waterloo. A visit to the house shows you the extensive collections of paintings, silver and porcelain and sculpture but also the displays about his career as soldier, national hero and politician. His premiership from 1828 to 1830 was not popular, and Apsley House was twice attacked by protesters. He was forced to put iron bars on the windows, which led to his nickname of the ‘Iron Duke'. Now owned by English Heritage, the house is open to the public during the summer months. More details >> Duke of Wellington: Stratfield Saye, Hampshire Photograph © Andrew Smith Stratfield Saye was Wellington’s country home in Hampshire. A Jacobean house with Georgian additions, many of its furnishings were installed by the Duke including central heating radiators. The house itself has paintings and furniture from the time of Wellington’s ownership. In what were the stables is the Wellington Exhibition, which has many mementos of his military career and later life in politics. The collection includes weapons, drawings and maps used by the Duke, and the centrepiece is the magnificent carriage used for his funeral. Visits are by guided tour only, which can’t be pre-booked. More details >> William Gladstone: Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales Photograph © Gladstone's Library William Gladstone was Britain’s Prime Minister on four separate occasions during the 19th century. He founded his Library in 1894 after his retirement as he was keen to share his books with others, particularly those who could not afford their own. At the age of 85 he personally wheeled many of the books from his home at Hawarden Castle to the nearby library. It now houses a collection of more than 250,000 printed items, including theological, historical, cultural and political texts. Today it offers residential accommodation, a restaurant, a chapel and conference facilities and has a year long programme of events based on Gladstone’s interests. The library’s reading rooms are also open to visitors for short guided tours. Visiting details >> Charles Watson Wentworth: Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire Wentworth Woodhouse is a vast stately home in South Yorkshire set in 50 acres of grounds. It was the family home of the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, who was born there in 1730. A Whig, he was twice First Lord of the Treasury but spent much of his time in opposition as he was unpopular with George III who was King at the time. His main achievement was laying the foundations of reconciliation with the rebellious American colonies, with his Declaratory Act 1766 which secured the dependency of His Majesty’s dominions in America upon the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain. Wentworth Woodhouse is open to the public, free for those with Historic Houses membership, and you can wander around the grand State Rooms, explore the gardens which have follies and kids play areas, as well as eat in the Butlers Pantry café. Tours of the house are available for an additional charge. Visiting details >>

  • FROZEN IN TIME - THE GHOST VILLAGE OF IMBER

    In 1943 when Britain was in the grip of World War II, the decision was taken by the Allied leaders to invade France. As plans were made for Operation Overlord, there was a need for somewhere to train over 150,000 men. The war cabinet selected suitable locations, and within weeks residents of these villages were given formal notice to leave their homes. Of the villages specifically requisitioned for D-Day, two can still be visited today, Imber and Tyneham. Imber, a small village in the middle of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, has a history that can be traced back to the Iron Age with evidence for a small settlement in the area. Imber was later specifically mentioned in the Domesday Book with just seven households. The church of St. Giles was built in the 13th century and the village also had a manor house, a Baptist chapel, a schoolroom and a pub as well as residential properties. The village was always very isolated due to its remote location, with the villagers working closely connected to the land and agriculture. The population of Imber never went over 440 and by the 1940s it was down to 150, as Imber was affected by changes brought about by the introduction of mechanised farming equipment and greater mobility for inhabitants, even in this remote area. In the 1920s the military, who already owned a great deal of land around the village, started buying up farms and properties, leasing them back to the villagers. Times were hard and many welcomed the extra money, little realising what the military’s long term plan was. In 1942, Imber was the scene of a rehearsal for a tactical demonstration of airpower, when Spitfires and Hurricanes were to demonstrate hitting targets on the ground in front of Churchill and other dignitaries. The event was watched by many spectators, both civilian and military. One of the pilots, a 21 year old American, mistook the spectators for dummies as part of the demonstration, and opened fire. 25 people were killed, some of them Home Guard residents of Imber. The tragedy is referred to as the ‘Imber Friendly Fire Incident’, and one can only imagine how the residents of Imber felt when 18 months later, they were ordered to leave their homes. With the plans for the D-Day invasion in full swing, and the need for more space to prepare for the D-Day landings, specifically for the American troops to practise urban fighting, it was easy to remove the villagers when they were just leaseholders and tenants. They were told in November 1943 at a public meeting in the schoolroom, being given just 47 days’ notice with not even one final Christmas in their homes before they had to leave by 17th December. Most villagers went peacefully, doing their bit for the war effort, although a few had to be forcibly ejected. The local blacksmith was found sobbing over his anvil on the day of departure; he died only one month later from a broken heart, and was the first resident to be allowed to return to the village for burial. Residents received no compensation, as they did not own their land, and were not given anywhere to go, only travelling expenses and the value of their garden produce. Relying on family and friends, they had to start their lives all over again, far away from the homes they loved and the community they grew up with. For many years the military denied that they had promised that the residents could return after the war, and court cases were held to determine if the villagers could return home. Although the original eviction notice promising they could return was eventually found, the judiciary still found in favour of the military and the village has remained under military control. The church was never relinquished and is now owned by the Churches Conservation Trust, who may own the church, but the MOD still controls the access to it. The House of Lords ruled that the church must always be allowed a public service on the Saturday nearest St. Giles Day, September 1st. It is also usually open at Easter, Christmas and some Bank holidays, it varies considerably. Old Photographs © Imber Village IMBER TODAY We visited Imber on a bleak and foggy day, even though it was August, with a long drive across the barren Salisbury Plain, down narrow and unfamiliar roads that all looked the same. Imber is right in the middle of a restricted training area and the access roads on all sides are only opened at certain times of the year. Imber sits a good 5 miles in the centre. The journey takes you past military checkpoints, mournful looking cows and roads lined with barbed wire and danger signs telling you not to leave the roadway. On each side of us, the rusted shells of blown up tanks appeared out of the gloom as we drove past, lending an air of morbid desolation to the journey. On arrival in Imber there are several large parking areas, with no parking charges. There are a lot of signs telling you that you cannot wander where you wish and you must stick only to the roads. The buildings are mostly intact, albeit with no windows and tin roofs replacing the original ones, but you are not allowed in them as they are not structurally safe enough and may contain unexploded ammunition. The focal point of the village is St Giles Church, the only active building left in the village. Outside the churchyard is fenced off with barbed wire but the church itself is welcoming and active, with light streaming through the stained glass windows, comprehensive displays about life in the village and people selling homemade jams and cakes. Church services are sometimes held here and there was a real sense of people fighting the odds to keep the place alive. The rest of the village, which you can only admire from the road, looks uninviting and rather gloomy. The houses have lost their sense of being homes, they just look like shells, some with shuttered windows and set back from roads which are designed for tanks, not people. Even though they are complete structures, it is hard to imagine an active and bustling village life here, which it clearly once was, based on old photographs. As many of the original buildings were destroyed or knocked down over the years, the MOD have built some of their own – bare shells of bricks, breeze blocks and tins roofs in browns, greys and greens that form a make-believe housing estate for the military to practise urban warfare. They are fascinating but slightly ominous. The landscape around the village is not particularly inviting, as Salisbury Plain is a high chalk plateau of open plain and fields where the wind picks up and rolls through the dry valleys. Around Imber the vegetation is cut back, the grass is cut short and the trees seem to tower over the buildings rather than blend in. There are no remnants of gardens or communal village areas, just isolated brick houses in the barren grass looking very inaccessible and displaced. The prevalence of barbed wire and danger signs adds to the sense that this is a village that has been completely consumed by its military owners. Imber really does feel like a true ghost village, one that has had its heart ripped out and where I found it difficult to be able to imagine the lives of the previous inhabitants. It is an interesting place and is well worth a visit, particularly as the MOD keep reducing the amount of available public access days, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they stop altogether at some point in the future. It is a desolate place; very different to the other ghost village in this part of the country, Tyneham. Tyneham is the village I would truly advise visiting. It was beautiful, charming and still felt alive, as if the traces of the inhabitants were still there, hiding just out of sight in the undergrowth. It was poignant rather than bleak, affirming rather than depressing and the perfect backdrop for the imagination to flourish.. Visiting Imber How to get to Imber Imber is not signposted and has no postcode for satnavs, as well as no mobile phone service. Click here for detailed directions. Imber Opening days These vary considerably although usually include Easter, some days over August and Christmas. Check here for more detailed information. It is also worth following Imber Church on Facebook as they post the latest information on there. Always check the that the site is open before setting out as last minute changes can occur. Imber Parking Costs Free Essential Information for visiting Imber It is imperative that people do not stray from the paths or go inside any of the properties other than the church. The MOD may restrict all future public access as visitors keep ignoring the rules by trespassing. There is a risk of injury or death if you do so. You can also be prosecuted by the MOD. Good to Know The church sells home made cakes, tea and squash. There are no bins on site so you must take your rubbish home. Dogs are allowed but again their rubbish must be taken home too. The church usually provides temporary portable loos for visitors. The Imber Bus is an annual feature, where visitors can take a classic red Routemaster bus directly to the village. Further details can be found online. Official Website of St. Giles Church >> The nearest towns to Imber are Westbury and Devizes. However, Salisbury offers the best options if you are looking for other things to do. Take a look at our Salisbury City Guide for information on where to stay, eat, shop and other places to visit A fascinating and moving short documentary told by the former residents of Imber

  • FROZEN IN TIME – THE GHOST VILLAGE OF TYNEHAM

    In 1943 when Britain was in the grip of World War II, the decision was taken by the Allied leaders to invade France. As plans were made for Operation Overlord, there was a need for somewhere to train over 150,000 men. The war cabinet selected suitable locations, and within weeks residents of these villages were given formal notice to leave their homes. Of the villages specifically requisitioned for D-Day, two can still be visited today, Imber in Salisbury Plain and Tyneham in Dorset. Tyneham and Imber are two small villages 60 miles apart in the south of England, with similar origins and a strikingly similar fate. For in 1943 they were reluctantly abandoned by their residents and handed over to the military for training D-Day troops. Although both were due to be returned to the residents after the war, neither village was. So today these once loved communities stand derelict, tumbling down and subject to the ravages of time. Although potentially rather forlorn and neglected, these villages offer something unique to the historian as they have not been subjected to modernisation, commercialisation or anything else that comes along in the name of progress. They offer a faded snapshot of village life in 1943 and enable the onlooker to imagine just how life might have been 80 years ago in rural England. On the south coast of Dorset, only a few miles from the tourist traps that are Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, is the village of Tyneham and the nearby coastal bay of Worbarrow. The area shows evidence of occupation from the Roman times, of fishing communities from the Iron Age and is included in the Domesday Book of 1086. The village changed hands several times and was passed down through the generations until it was bought by the Bond family in 1683, and they retained ownership until the Second World War. Living in a grand manor house, they owned most of the properties and buildings in the village, which included a 13th century church, a school, a rectory, farms and cottages. Off the beaten track and isolated, the villagers continued the traditions of the generations before them, living a peaceful and sheltered existence until November 1943, when each household received a letter from the War Office, giving them just 6 weeks’ notice to quit their properties and move out . Vast tracts of nearby land were already being used by the tank corps, and more space was needed in the run up to D-Day to cope with the influx of extra troops and equipment. The residents packed up their lives, said their farewells and had all gone by the week before Christmas, with the last one, Evelyn Bond, leaving a poignant note pinned to the church door: "Please treat the church and houses with care. We have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly". The Bond family received £30,000 compensation (nearly £1,000,000 in today’s money) as they owned most of the village. Many of the others were only compensated for the value of vegetables in their home garden plots. They were moved to council houses, some at the other end of the county. One can only imagine how they must have felt, although they were reassured that their homes would be returned to them as soon as the hostilities were over, and there was a resigned acceptance for many with a feeling that they were doing their patriotic duty for the war effort. The whole area was fenced off and the troops moved in. The image of what they had to leave behind is one of a rural idyll but it is important not to over romanticise the site. Villagers were tied to the Bond family in a near feudal set up, working for the family, living in tied properties, working in their farms. The class system was firmly entrenched here with few opportunities to escape it. The arrival of motorised farming equipment meant that there were fewer jobs available on the land and the arrival of the motor car and public transport meant that more people could access nearby towns for less arduous employment. Servant numbers working in the big manor houses across the country were waning and their numbers had dropped even more sharply with the advent of WWII, as staff left to join the military or work for the war effort. The fishing industry at Worbarrow Bay was in decline due to fishing trawlers operating out at sea from nearby Weymouth. The school had closed in 1932 due to a lack of demand. The villagers had no running water or electricity, having to queue at the village pump for water and some walked 12 mile round trips to the nearest town, Wareham, for their supplies. It was a blessing for many to be moved to new homes that had all the modern conveniences, including running water and electricity. However, the fact that so many of them were desperate to return after the war shows that for all its negative points, it was still a home they loved, and that the benefits of living there far outweighed any comfort to be found in their new lives. They had lived within a close knit community, surrounded by family and friends, far away from the troubles of the outside world, in a beautiful unspoilt location by the sea. It is said that many of the older residents died of shock and broken hearts soon after they left their homes. The War Office reneged on the deal and the villagers were never allowed to return. A son of the Bond family, who had spent much of the war as a prisoner at Colditz, was shocked to find out on his return that his family were now living in Corfe Castle. There were several campaigns over the years to return the village to its former inhabitants but none ever succeeded. As time passed, much of the village had gone, the inhabitants had moved on or died and their homes were crumbling away. The land is still part of the Defence Training Estate at Lulworth and is still used for live firing exercises and manoeuvres. Old photographs from TynehamVillage.org TYNEHAM TODAY I visited on a weekend in May, when the sun was out and spring was in the air. It’s hard to find, down a steep and sharp bend on a winding single track country road, with lots of cars reversing as they realise they’ve missed the turning. A drive down the hill with stunning views over the valley leads to a large and busy car park, as this is a popular place, especially on a sunny day. However, the car park is the only evidence of tourism in the area. Local byelaws mean that loos are the only facilities available for visitors, as any form of commercial enterprise is forbidden. The village itself is the star attraction. Only two buildings still remain fully intact, the church and the school, both of which were restored by the army around the 1980s. The Elizabethan manor house is sadly long gone, demolished in the 1960s, with its remains in a cordoned off area of the woods. Everything else has been left to the ravages of time and most buildings are simply ruins, with tumbled-down walls, weeds growing in the cracks, empty windows looking out over the wilderness. A few walls of top floors remain, where you can see the rusted bedroom fireplaces; some still have their metal grates. The school and church are both small museums full of memories of village life. The school was particularly fascinating, with names still above the pegs written in faded copperplate script, photos of the pupils who had been there and a nature table covered in the dusty ancient treasures of children who had found their delights in the natural world around them. The rest of the village is softly crumbled walls, lush vegetation and the odd stark remnant of a previous life. The whole village is maintained by the army, with grass cut and paths kept clear, ponds cleared of vegetation, striking just the right balance between making the site accessible and keeping its feeling of wilderness. Ancient trees were covered in blossom on that spring day, the small ponds teemed with life and the stream flowed, all oblivious to the absence of the inhabitants that had created and nurtured them. There is a 1920s phone box outside what was the post office, complete with 1940s posters plastered inside as well as a telegraph pole standing proudly over the ruins. Small information panels tell you who lived in the cottages, what their profession was and often include a black and white photograph, helping you to visualise the lives of the people who had lived there so contentedly. You can wander at will and explore the whole village at your own pace, following the tracks and ruins to see where they lead you. The farm is the other side of the car park to the main village, and is in the process of being restored. The stables are intact, dusty and full of hanging cobwebs. There is an oil lamp still on the windowsill, a saddle slung over a stall, a 1940s radio set under a thick layer of grime and neglect. Relics of the village are assembled in a display against the backdrop of the valley views, a rusted collection that includes the mangled shells of exploded ordinance. After exploring the village and the farm, we walked to Worbarrow Bay, past the fields fenced off with barbed wire and warning signs about the danger, the bombed out tanks and huts from the live firing exercises, to a pebble beach without a single shop or sunbed. People sat dotted around just enjoying the view and listening to the swoosh of the waves on the massive pebbles, or the scrunch of others wading through those heavy pebbles as they walked the length of the beach. Sprigs of purple and yellow flowers forced their way through the heavy clay of the white cliffs which formed a backdrop that faded away into the distance, merging with the pale blue sea in the watery May sunshine. Other than voices and laughter, there was not a man-made sound to be heard. I absolutely loved Tyneham and found it incredibly moving as well as beautiful. As someone with a strong aversion to the ugliness and chaos of the modern world and who prefers the overgrown, dilapidated and the signs of nature reclaiming its space from human habitation, it was glorious; the sheer prodigious greenness of the place was a joy. The absence of the modern world and the abundance of nature was soothing, restorative and above all, very peaceful. In my research about the history of Tyneham I read an article by someone who had found the place disappointing, called it a ‘sanitised showpiece with weeds’ with ‘no atmosphere’. All I could think was that the writer must have no soul at all, no imagination to be able to conjure up the lives and sense of history that is so easy to find here. Visiting Tyneham How to get there Tyneham is not well signposted and has no postcode for satnavs, as well as poor mobile phone service. Click here for detailed directions. Opening days Most weekends as well as much of the school holidays, but always check the that the site is open before setting out as last minute changes can occur. Opening hours Tyneham school and church exhibitions - 10am to 4pm Gates to the range walks - 9am on Saturday to 8am on Monday Elmes Grove gate (allows vehicle access to Tyneham Village) - 9am to dusk Parking Costs Per Vehicle £2 Good to Know There are no shops or kiosks anywhere near by, so take your own food and drinks. There are picnic benches near the car parking area. There are no bins on site so you must take your rubbish home. Dogs are allowed but again their rubbish must be taken home. Visiting Tyneham Website >>

  • HOW TO AVOID OVERTOURISM

    Overtourism has led to some of the most beautiful places in the world being overrun with people, buildings, pollution and rubbish. Locals get priced out of their home towns, fast food restaurants move in, hotel blocks get built with increasing speed, the natural areas once filled with wildlife get concreted over. Tourism is no longer the benign money-spinner it was once considered to be, it has become increasingly hazardous for all involved. So how do you still travel and see the world, without making the problem worse? What is Overtourism? Overtourism is simply when there are too many visitors for a particular place. One hundred extra visitors in a city would not have any real impact, but in a small beauty spot, it could be devastating. When narrow streets are filled with traffic, when the locals are forced to move to the outskirts as every other home is an Airbnb, when public transport is stuffed with people, when local amenities can't cope with the volume of people and rubbish, when local wildlife is forced out to make way for new concrete buildings which go up without any thought to capacity; that is all overtourism. Queuing for the summit of Mount Snowdon in Wales (photograph © Peri Vaughan Jones), where fights have actually broken out over queue jumping, and the crowds around the Trevi Fountain in Rome. What are the causes of overtourism? There are countless causes, but essentially the tourism industry has been allowed to grow unchecked, with no-one considering the negative impact until it was too late. Cheap flights, cheap accommodation, cruise ships, travel being seen as a necessity instead of a luxury, the growth of bucket list travel, the rise of the Instagram posers; all of these combine to create a perfect storm of destruction to some of the most beautiful places on the planet. The impact of overtourism Photograph © Fund for Education Abroad Photograph © The Watchdog Locals are starting to fight back against the invasion of their cities, beaches and countryside. Places such as Barcelona and Venice are introducing new measures to curb the drastic increase in visitors, such as a certain amount of permits per day, or banning cruise ships from certain places. It is not happening fast enough however, and the time will come when there are increasing amounts of stand-offs between locals and visitors. Tourists have to tackle this themselves on an individual level, and try to become part of the solution, rather than the problem. "We take our holidays in other peoples homes" This powerful film from the people at Responsible Travel is a fascinating and concerning documentary on the damage that overtourism is causing around the world. Just 23 minutes long, it is well worth a watch. How to avoid contributing to overtourism Choose your timing Think about the timing of your visit. If you avoid peak season, then you will be putting less of a burden on your destination. The shoulder seasons, or even the off season, will show you a side to the place that only the locals usually get to see. You may well get beaches to yourself, no crowds at the most popular tourist spots, empty public transport and locals who welcome you with open arms. Avoid the tourist traps There is no need to go to the most popular destinations just because everyone else goes to them. Many tourist traps are completely overrated anyway, having been ruined by catering to so many people. Areas are fenced off, views are ruined by excessive signage, crowds prevent you seeing anything, or leave you queuing for eternity; everything is overpriced and generally unsatisfactory. It is far better to explore places away from the crowds, head inland to the countryside, the places where the locals live and work; find their favourite places and you will discover far more about your destination that you ever will following the masses. Travel Independently Avoid packaged holidays where you are herded around en masse, such as large cruise ships, or where everyone is put in the same hotel. Cruises can be devastating for places - hordes of people descend on a town for a day, fill the streets, the public transport, the main sites, and then flock back to their ship for food and entertainment, meaning very little money is spent with the locals. Add that to their shocking environmental impact, and cruises are very bad news for everywhere they visit. Tourist destinations which suffer the most from overtourism: Research beforehand Do your research before you go. Check to see if the area you are going to has a problem with overtourism, and change your destination if you need to; no-one wants to go where they are not welcome. Once you have settled on your location, research the bus stops, the bicycle hire places, the local markets and shops; everything you will need during your stay to help you avoid the large retailers and to keep your money local. Keep a secret If you find somewhere amazing, a beautiful location that could easily fall victim to over crowding, think twice before plastering it all over Instagram or geotagging it. Some environments are really fragile, and are best kept as secrets. Don't travel under the social influence. This video by New Zealand's tourist board may be light hearted, but it has a serious message behind it. Expectation vs. Reality The Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino near Malta is world renowned for its incredibly beautiful blue water and all of the photos you will see of it show it as a mostly empty idyllic spot. The truth however, is something else. To get there you have to walk past several makeshift cafes in steel containers, all with generators whirring at full volume and all pumping out loud music. Vendors serve cocktails in pineapples, none of which are eaten, and wasted pineapples litter the beach. Beach umbrellas are everywhere. The queues for food and loos are horrendous and there are people in every direction you look. It is impossible to find a peaceful place to even just sit, and the views are ruined by people posing for their endless selfies and the boats which fill the bay. Far better to go to the next beach along, or inland, and have the place to yourself.

  • LEAVE NO TRACE

    Vistors to a region can often leave a trail of destruction in their wake, from casually strewn litter to wildfires. Even straying off a footpath in an environmentally sensitive area can cause the destruction of plant life and habitats. It isn't always about what we may leave behind though, as tourists have been known to help themselves to 'souvenirs' from places of importance to the locals. How to ensure you 'leave no trace' 1. The most obvious of guidelines is to take all of your rubbish away from a site with you and dispose of it properly, preferably in local recycling facilities. People on holiday often don't worry too much about recycling and will just put everything in the bin, thereby generating an increase of landfill. If you are not sure of local recycling facilities in an area you are going to, research it before you go so you don't waste time doing it on holiday. Also research things like water bottle refill stations before you go, so you don't have to use any single use plastic. 2. Never, ever start camp fires unless you have triple checked that you are allowed to do so. We are all aware of the devastation that wildfires can cause in places like Australia and the USA, but it happens everywhere. Just last year, 223 hectares of Wareham Forest were destroyed after burning for 3 weeks, because some idiot decided to use a portable BBQ there. 3. Never help yourself to any plantlife from an area, or stones from an historic site. It might be great to have a piece of Hadrian's Wall at home, but sites of great importance are vanishing because of this awful habit. 4. Stay on trails and paths when you are out in nature or on historical sites. You may think you are just taking a short cut, but over the years new footpaths emerge from sustained use by impatient walkers, leading to soil erosion and destroying the wildlife or archaeological record beneath them. 5. Avoid building cairns and piles of stones. They may look pretty to some people, but they can be very destructive to the environment they are in. Wildlife lives under these stones in the nooks and crannies, so you are destroying their homes, and removing their natural hiding places when threatened by predators. Piling up stones can also increase soil erosion, exposing it to the elements. There is also the issue that people travel into nature to see the natural world, not piles of man-made creations dominating the landscape. We don't have to leave evidence of our presence everywhere we go. It is no different to graffiti and leaving 'Kilroy was here' scrawled across the place. 6. Be conscious of noise you are making. Travelling to a remote area in the wilderness for a knees up may seem like a good idea, but there are always going to be other people around who don't want to hear your sound system, yelling or loud hysterical cackling. 7. On a similar note, research the cultural traditions of a place before you go there. There seems to be a recent trend of travellers completely ignoring what is acceptable, and skinny dipping in sacred waters or whipping their clothes off at the top of sacred mountains. Not only is it really disrespectful to the locals, you can end up in prison or with massive fines. It will certainly leave the locals with a dislike of you and your arrogance, meaning future tourists will not be made as welcome. The Seven 'Leave No Trace' Principles used in the National Parks of the USA are relevant for any trip into nature - Plan ahead and prepare. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Dispose of waste properly. Leave what you find. Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire). Respect wildlife. Be considerate of other visitors

  • LOW IMPACT TRANSPORT

    There are plenty of alternatives to the high-polluting methods of transport such as planes, cars and cruise ships, and although they may take longer, the journey itself can become part of the adventure. Which is the most polluting way to travel? Planes, cars and large cruise ships are the most polluting methods of transport available. Planes are said to cause about 10,000 deaths a year from air pollution, and that number is only set to increase, with an estimated 50,000 planes in service by 2040 (its currently around 20,000). It is possible to 'offset' the damage done by buying carbon footprint offsets, but it would be far better to just not fly in the first place. Cruise ships are horrendous polluters and reek huge damage everywhere they go. Just one cruise ship provider, Carnival, emitted ten times more sulphur oxide around the ports of Europe than every single car in Europe generated in the same year in 2017. While people focus on the damage caused by planes and cars, cruise ships who burn the filthiest fuel of them all, seem to get a free pass. Noxious chemicals aside, they also cause huge damage to aquatic life, generate tonnes of waste, and can cause mayhem in the cities they visit. They may move slowly, but they are the total antithesis of what slow travel represents. Cars are well known for their polluting qualities, although some advancement is finally being made with clean fuels and electric cars. They cause direct pollution at ground level when they sit in queues with exhausts pumping out fumes over the pedestrians and cyclists just feet away, they clog up towns, cause huge swathes of countryside to be concreted over and are an eyesore littering any place of beauty. What are alternative ways to travel? Obviously the best way to travel with zero impact on the environment, is walking. However, this is not always practical, and doesn't help when you need to travel long distances. Cycling is a good alternative, but in countries such as the UK which don't have very good cycle lanes, it is not always practical. Trains are one of the best ways to get around over long distances. Most countries already have excellent train networks, and with an increase in night trains on offer, you can travel great distances while you sleep in comfort, or watching the silent world go by as you speed through the night. It saves on needing to book accommodation for a night and becomes part of the adventure itself. If you book your tickets early enough, you can travel by train very cheaply. Coaches and buses are often the cheapest way to travel, and although the journey may be long and rather uncomfortable if you are travelling some distance, the fact that you are travelling with a lot of other people reduces the environmental impact you are inflicting on the roads. Ferries are sometimes a good option. They may not be environmentally perfect, but the industry is starting to clean up its act, and they are still far better than flying; their emissions aren't at a high altitude, which magnifies the devastating impact on the environment. Cars really should be the last option for people, especially if they are only carrying a single person. There are some ways round this, such as using lift sharing and car pooling services, which can give you the easy directness of a car on a journey that someone else would be doing anyway. Its not perfect, but every little helps. See our Slow Travel Resources page for the best way to travel with minimal impact - from cross country travel to local, there are plenty of alternatives out there.

  • EAT LOCAL

    Chain restaurants are ubiquitous - they infest every town centre with their generic cuisine, whether its pizzas and pastas, burgers or a slightly soggy risotto. With menus the same across the country, food shipped in from a single source many miles away, themed décor and often irritating muzak, eating at chain restaurants may not be a terrible experience, but it is rarely a great one. The world's largest restaurant, McDonalds, has nearly 40,000 restaurants across 120 countries, and they serve 69 million people a day, with the golden arches logo recognisable across the world. It was in fact a McDonalds being built at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome which started the whole Slow Food Movement in 1986. 25 years later, the movement has over 150,000 members across 150 countries, with the emphasis on locally produced, good quality food. The same applies to coffee shops such as Costa or Starbucks - they have filled high streets, petrol stations, canteens, popular beauty spots; they are everywhere. Starbucks has over 30,000 shops in 70 countries, Costa has nearly 4,000 across 3 continents. People used to dream of running their own little coffee shop, but few bother now when the competition is this fierce. Peaceful and quirky little tea rooms are now becoming a thing of the past, instead we only get to chose between the large chains. Reasons to avoid chain restaurants 1. The food is often sourced from a single supplier and shipped many miles across country to get to the individual restaurants, usually by polluting trucks, planes and container ships. 2. Local food producers, who don't supply in high volume and can't afford to slash their profits, get priced out of the market. 3. Local specialties are usually ignored for menus which can be used across the whole chain, meaning that not only do customers not get to try new things, but that local specialty producers get ignored. 4. Food is often heavily packed with chemicals to extend its shelf life for both transportation purposes and to cut wastage. Flavour enhancers are used to disguise the lower quality produce. 5. Food prepared in chain restaurants is often highly calorific, with large portions and increased chemicals meaning a higher level of bad food groups. 6. The prevalence of chains means that local entrepreneurs get priced out of the market, unable to afford business rental rates. 7. Food is often part-cooked at the chains supply depot, rather than in the restaurant, so you often end up eating food which was cooked months ago, frozen and then heated in a microwave just before being served to you. Nutrients are severely diminished, as is the taste. 8. The ambience of the restaurant is the same as in every other in the chain - you get the same themed décor, same muzak, same uniformed staff. It is bland, generic, uninspiring and boring. 9. Chain restaurants don't care so much about reviews, so they put less effort into customer service or good cooking. 10. Your money goes off to head office, often in a different country, and doesn't get spent in the local community. Reasons to Eat Local 1. Locally owned restaurants can be far more selective about where their food comes from, with no compulsion to buy from a supplier many miles away. This means that you are far more likely to eat food which has no food miles on it, maintaining its nutritional qualities and meaning that the owner can shop around for the best flavours for their dishes. 2. You are far more likely to be able to try local specialties and local dishes, and the menu may well have more unusual options that you just couldn't find elsewhere. 3. The restaurant or café will be unique in its style, décor and layout. 4. Owners and staff are more likely to chat to customers, seeing the benefits of taking the time to get to know their customers and develop a rapport. 5. Menus are more likely to change on a weekly or even daily basis. 6. Staff care a lot more about reviews, as a bad review can break a small business, so you will probably get much better levels of customer service. 7. With food prepared on site, you are able to ask for alterations to a dish. 8. Smaller, locally owned restaurants are less likely to generate so much food waste as they are more conscious of their overheads.

  • STAY LOCAL

    Staying in hotel chains may be easy, but there is no joy to be had from staying in a soulless room with bland decoration, views over concrete and car parks, eating the same food you can eat in every other hotel, and getting woken up by the loud family in the room next door. Far better to drift off the beaten path to stay somewhere locally owned with a personality and where you can find all sorts of unexpected surprises. This Premier Inn sits on the busiest road in Salisbury, and is right next to a huge Macdonalds, a Tesco superstore and a Park & Ride car park. It has replaced a field where horses used to graze under the trees. The UKs largest hotel chain, Premier Inn, is owned by Whitbread, who also own several major UK restaurants. They have more than 1000 hotels with over 72,000 rooms, serving 5 million guest a year. Each one of these rooms is exactly the same colour (purple), with exactly the same bedding, the same generic wall prints, and the same restaurants (owned by their parent company), where you can eat the same food they offer around the rest of the country. Usually in large, purpose built square blocks, with rows of small windows and surrounded by low maintenance planting that wildlife hates as much as the rest of us, these hotels often resemble prison blocks. They do have their uses, normally if you need to stay near an airport or train station for an early departure, but otherwise they should be avoided like the plague. Whitbread makes an absolute fortune, recently selling Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola for nearly £4 billion, their property portfolio alone is worth £6 billion. This is not a company that needs any extra money. Far better to search the locally owned hotels, B&B's, holiday lets or glamping sites. Every building, every room, every aspect will be unlike any other accommodation you will stay in. Often located in areas away from high traffic and high footfall, you may find they are a lot more peaceful than city centre chains. There are often gardens to explore, local dishes on the menu, interesting landlords to chat to and quirky surroundings to investigate. What is even better though, is that your money is being spent in the local community where you are staying, not being sent off to a head office miles away. Avoid the crowds, the noise, the billionaire owners, the dreary blandness; stay local and enrich your holiday. Look on our Slow Travel Resources page to find alternative options to the hotel chains.

  • LOCALLY OWNED SHOPS IN SALISBURY

    Like most British towns, Salisbury is filled with the same chain stores which you can find in every town across the UK or the rest of the world. Fast food places, coffee shops, clothing brands, giant supermarkets that feel the need to take over even the smallest of corner shops, Salisbury has them all. However, scratch the surface and you will find some locally owned shops where you can buy food, goods and souvenirs, and ensure that your tourist pounds benefit the local community, not the tax dodging multi-nationals. Food and Drink Food is the one area where it is hard to buy local with ease - the town is just crying out for a traditional grocers shop. There are ways around it, but they do involve some planning. Salisbury's Charter Market, which has been twice a week in the market square for early 800 years, is every Tuesday and Saturday mornings. Here you can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, meat, fish, cakes, condiments and a lot more. On the third Wednesday of every month is the Farmers and Artisans Market, by the Poultry Cross from 9am - 2pm. Here you will find a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, organic meats and more. The Happy Fruiters are a greengrocers who trade at the market, but who also run a delivery service. You can order online for next day delivery - there is a huge variety of choice and their prices are excellent. They also donate much of their produce to a local charity which feeds the homeless of the area - this a local business which is well worth supporting. Pritchetts are a locally owned butchers, who have been trading in Salisbury since 1868. Originally one of many, it is now the only butchers left in town. You can find them at the markets, but they also have their original shop, which is in Fish Row in the centre of town. Salisbury has some farmshops, although they are not central and you will need transport to get to them. Britford Farm Shop is the closest - set in a pretty spot to the south of town, there is a farm shop and restaurant. Bird & Carter are to the north of the town - they do vegetable boxes, meats, delicatessen, store cupboard items and pre-prepared meals. There is only one Pick Your Own farm in the area which is in the village of Ansty, 13 miles outside Salisbury. Ansty PYO has a farm shop, but you can also pick your own from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, depending on what is in season. Well Natural in Catherine Street is a good place to buy healthy and organic staples such as flour, cereals, condiments and chilled foods, as well as finding vegan/gluten free alternatives. You can order online for click and collect or for delivery. Zero Waste is a new phenomenon in Salisbury, and a very welcome addition. Blueberry Den offer staples such as household cleaning products, food and more. You can order online and receive deliveries to your front door where they will refill existing containers, or you can go to their shop in Winchester Street and refill your bottles yourself. For beer lovers, try Dark Revolution who brew beer in Salisbury. You can collect direct from the brewery, you can get same day shipping or if you want delivery on a Friday, they deliver within the local area on an Eco bike. Souvenirs Many visitors to a place want to take home little souvenirs to remind them of their travels. If you are looking for traditional souvenirs, such as Salisbury themed tea towels/bookmarks/pictures etc, then Hardings at 56 Salisbury High Street is the place to go. They have a wide range of goods on offer, as well as a Post Office at the back of the shop, and they also have some great stuff for kids. If you are looking for something more esoteric, then try somewhere like the Phoenix Emporium on Tollgate Road. Just a ten minute walk from the centre of town, this is a large warehouse filled with many different small retail outlets, most of which sell vintage products as well as hand made goods such as candles and cards. It is easy to spend a long time here as there is just so much to look at, and there is also a café on site for coffees and light bites. Other Independent Shops in Salisbury For all other purchases, you are likely to be able to find an independent shop which can supply it. Most of these shops are either in Fisherton Street or on Winchester Street, but there are others dotted around the town. Salisbury Indies has a full directory of what is on offer and where you can find them. Visiting Salisbury? Our Salisbury City Guide is packed with information on places to visit, day trips to take, where to eat and stay locally, kids activities, walks, sporting activities and more.

  • PARKS AND GREEN SPACES IN SALISBURY

    If you're looking for somewhere for a peaceful walk, to enjoy a picnic, to let the kids play, or to undertake any sports, Salisbury has a wide variety of green spaces to choose from. Queen Elizabeth Gardens Opened in the 1960s and a mix of formal planting, open spaces and rivers, there is a large play park for kids, paddling and plenty of benches with river views, this is one of the most popular, and central, parks in Salisbury. Read more >> Churchill Gardens To the south of the city, Churchill Gardens is a large open space by the river, with two play parks, a skate park, basketball court, parkour park, a green gym and walking trails with cathedral views. Read more >> Victoria Park The oldest and most traditional park in Salisbury which dates back to 1887, this is a large park with plenty of places to walk, a kids play park, tennis courts, a football pitch and a pavilion. Read more >> Greencroft Park The Greencroft has an interesting history, having been the site of a Saxon battle, a burial pit for plague victims and an execution site. Now it has a good kids playground, sports pitch and open spaces for walking and picnicking. Middle Street Meadow A part of the original water meadows, Middle Street is a large space left for wildlife and pondlife. Paths are cut through the tall grass, and there is a football pitch on offer, but wildlife is the focus of this beautiful spot in Harnham. Avon Valley Nature Reserve A boardwalk by the River Avon leads through reed beds and meadows. There are several paths to follow, and you can walk to Old Sarum from this route too. It is popular with dog walkers and there is a nature trail for kids. Ashley Road / Fisherton Recreation Ground Next to each other and the Avon Valley Nature Reserve, this whole area is currently (2022) undergoing re-generation and is being developed as a 'River Park'. Best avoided until all of the work is completed! Bourne Hill Gardens Built on the remains of the city's walls, there is a large tree-filled area which leads onto what is known as The Secret Garden - beautiful gardens tended by volunteers behind the main council building. Harnham Cricket Field At the end of the Town Path, this huge open space has the river Nadder running on one side, and has some beautiful views of the cathedral. There is a cricket field and sports nets, as well as paddling at the Old Mill. Castle Hill Country Park A new park established in 2018 to the north of Salisbury, this park is the perfect place for dogs, with wide open spaces and a dog agility park. There are kids play areas and a bike track being built, but for now, its one for the dogs. Read more >> Harnham Slope A site of historical and scientific interest, the Slope leads to the chalk pits used in the construction of the cathedral. There are walks, wildlife and incredible views over the city. Read more >> Visiting Salisbury? Our Salisbury City Guide is packed with information on places to visit, locally owned places to stay, eat and shop, day trips to take, walks in the area, off the beaten track places to explore and lots more.

  • CLOUDS HILL: THE AUSTERE DORSET RETREAT OF ARCHAEOLOGIST, SOLDIER, WAR HERO, AND WRITER, TE LAWRENCE

    TE Lawrence, otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia, escaped his fame in a small rural cottage called Clouds Hill, in Dorset, where he lived for ten years before his tragic and untimely death in 1935. The cottage was passed on to the National Trust, who have kept it very much as he left it. It is a great place to learn more about this fascinating and controversial man. A visit to Clouds Hill is a unique experience – something far removed from many of the sophisticated mansions and stately homes owned by the National Trust. It is one man’s private retreat from the world, a space where he could be himself, away from the public eye and live his life simply, modestly and quietly. It was the isolated cottage home of T E Lawrence, set in the tranquility of the Dorset countryside, and from where he tragically rode out to his death on his beloved Brough Superior motorbike. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Much has been written about the life of TE Lawrence, a complex man who accomplished so much throughout his life. The illegitimate son of an Irish lord and his daughter’s governess, he had an unhappy childhood; beaten, punished and sedated by his god-fearing mother. He felt a great relief when he could leave home for Oxford University to study History, a subject he had a great fascination for from an early age. He had spent a couple of summers in his youth visiting medieval churches to study them, and also made several contributions to the Ashmolean. During his degree, he walked 1,000 miles alone through Syria, studying crusader castles. In 1911 he worked on Leonard Woolley’s team excavating the Hittite site of Carchemish on the river Euphrates for the British Museum. For the next few years, he learnt Arabic, became a useful archaeologist, and even worked with Flinders Petrie in Egypt for a while. He was a talented photographer and draughtsman, speaking over seven languages as well as knowing the basics of many more. During World War I, his knowledge of Arabic and the local cultures led to his work in army intelligence, and his fight alongside Arab guerrilla forces in the Middle East, his work for Arab independence and subsequent disappointment at the treatment of the Arabs are all well documented. His role in events led to a great deal of celebrity and fame, which soon became a heavy burden. After the war he was posted to the RAF recruits’ training depot at Hillingdon House at Uxbridge, later the site of the Battle of Britain Bunker, under the pseudonym John Hume Ross. When the press discovered his name change he left the RAF, briefly joined the Tank Corps under the name of T E Shaw at nearby Bovington and first rented then bought the cottage at Clouds Hill. He rejoined the RAF, working for the Marine Craft Section on air-sea rescue launches. It has been said that his works there saved the lives of 30,000 RAF servicemen during World War II. Clouds Hill was an old foresters cottage, discovered by Lawrence when he was out walking one day. Wanting somewhere to write and reflect, he persuaded the owner to rent it to him, using the money he had received for his translation of Homer. He had been writing for most of his life as well as corresponding with many notable people of the day and many of these letters have since been published. He wrote three significant works, the most important of which was the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his vivid account of his experiences in the Arab Revolt, which he revised while at Clouds Hill. His other two were translations of Homer’s Odyssey and The Forest Giant by Adrien Le Corbeau. A further book, The Mint, about his time in the RAF, was published posthumously. He finally retired from the RAF in 1935 and settled permanently in the cottage – sadly to die just two months after at the age of 46. CLOUDS HILL An easy to miss turning off the tree-lined main road in rural Dorset leads to a small dusty car park. A short walk down a track and a tiny cottage appears behind the fir trees, painted a brilliant white, with light blue windows and a moss covered red tiled roof. As you approach the main entrance round the other side, the first thing you notice is not just how small it actually is, but that it has no windows. An old stone lintel above the doorway is inscribed with a Greek inscription ‘οὐ φροντὶς’, ‘don’t worry’, which is the only ornamentation on the entire cottage, and was inscribed by Lawrence. The tour begins in the small thatched garage, which he had built himself and where his motorbike was kept. He had a real love of bikes, apparently driving at full speed over the bumpiest roads he could find, even racing an RAF plane at one time. The garage has good information boards about his life, copies of his most famous book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a video of his funeral, and a bronze bust of Lawrence, standing at his height. Your instant thought is just how small he was, as he stood at just 5 feet 5 inches. With low ceilings, oak panelling, and very few windows, the house is dark inside, and there are just four rooms. These rooms however very quickly give you the essence of this complex man – the furniture and furnishings are much as he left them in 1935, and fit in with his own declaration that: “Nothing in Clouds Hill is to be a care upon the world. While I have it there shall be nothing exquisite or unique in it. Nothing to anchor me”. The first room downstairs, known as the Book Room, seems overcrowded – a large leather Arabian divan dominates the space, 6 foot square and covered in cowhide. He used it as a sofa during the day, but spread his sleeping bag out at night; he was so used to sleeping under the stars in the desert that this was natural to him. The sleeping bag has MEUM (mine in Latin) stitched on it, and a spare for visitors had TUMM (yours) on it, and it had some famous occupants over the years. The walls are lined with shelves and shelves of books and some of his own photographs. The only other piece of furniture is a large armchair made to his own specification, with a reading stand and wide arms so that he could read in comfort, and still reach the log box to top up the fire. The other room downstairs is a small bathroom, which he added later, being particularly fond of hot baths. He lined the walls with cork, fed water by pump from a nearby tank and fitted a boiler in the room to heat it. There is no hand basin and no loo. Guests were given a spade and told to go outside – there were four acres of land and the only rule was that they were not to be visible from the house. In fact an outdoor privy had been installed while his mother stayed there, which he had ripped out when he took up residence again. “Give me the luxuries and I will live without the essentials.” and his luxuries were no more than books, music, a hot bath and a roaring fire. Upstairs, the dark music room with its exposed beams houses his gramophone “with a huge amplifier horn” of over 50cm wide and made from papier mache. Lawrence loved music and had over 200 records, a lot of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and other classics. The room contains a leather sofa, a typewriter, some chrome candlesticks and a chair. The mantelpiece above the fire is built so that he could rest his elbow on it while eating or drinking – its height reveals just how small he was in stature. Many distinguished guests were entertained here including Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Robert Graves, EM Forster, Siegfried Sassoon and Augustus John. They would make toast on the fire, eat tinned olives and baked beans while talking in that strangely spartan yet intimate atmosphere. Alcohol was not allowed, food was not cooked (there is no kitchen) but eaten from tins or raw. The room evokes a vivid feeling of earnest intellectual discussions in a garret, of the world being discussed and dissected by some of the greatest writers of the time, it is easy to feel as you stand there that they might return at any moment and resume their conversation. The second room upstairs is distinctly quirky. Lawrence wanted it to resemble a boat so he included a porthole in the wall and built a “cabin” bunk bed for his guests, with drawers underneath to provide storage for his few clothes and possessions. He lined the room with asbestos and aluminium, to keep out the damp and provide insulation, as well as make it resemble the interior of a ship’s cabin. He kept his food in here, huge quantities as he believed in buying in bulk, and perishables such as cheese or nuts were kept under large glass domes. The visit to the cottage is a brief one, but you emerge with some understanding of Lawrence’s deep affection for the place and also feeling that you have been given some insight into his difficult and unusual character. There has been a lot of controversy over him: his childhood, his relationships, his death, but here you do feel as if you can clearly see at least one facet of the man he was. There are no formal gardens: “Clouds Hill is no place for tame flowers”, just four acres of hilly heathland, covered in trees, shrubs and rhododendrons. They are a steep climb, but you can walk up the hill to experience the views that he saw so often, and look down upon his little cottage from above. He had written to Lady Astor; “It is the gem of gems in the eye of its owner. I made it myself from the roots up – it is black, angular, small, unstable – very like its creator”, and it is possible to realise exactly what he had meant. TE LAWRENCE WALK For those who want to explore further there is a circular Lawrence of Arabia Trail, starting and finishing at Bovington Tank Museum, which takes you across spectacular heathland between the various significant sites. It takes in Clouds Hill and the small memorial by the roadside at the spot where he was killed on his motorbike, trying to avoid two young cyclists. You also walk to Moreton Church where his funeral took place and you can see photographs of the event and read of the many dignitaries including Winston Churchill who attended the service. It was an occasion of deep national mourning. The route takes you across the road to the churchyard where he is buried. The grave is simple – it says nothing of the exploits for which he is best known but, at the wish of his mother, who was proud of his academic accomplishments, has only the Oxford University crest and the recognition that he was a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford. In nearby St Martin’s Church at Wareham, there is an effigy of Lawrence carved by Eric Kennington. The face is delicate, showing both the strength and sensitivity characteristic of him. Full directions and details of the walk can be found on The Lawrence of Arabia Walking Trail >> VISITING CLOUDS HILL Postcode: BH20 7NQ w3w: trembles.twice.calm Opening Hours: 11am - 5pm Closed October to March, see website for details Ticket Prices Adults £7.40 Children £3.70 Families £18.50 Facilities A very small shop, tea and coffee in an urn in the garage There is no wheelchair or pushchair access in the house. Official Website

  • 35 HISTORIC WRITERS’ HOUSES YOU CAN VISIT IN ENGLAND

    From the humble lodgings of an impoverished writer yet to make their fortune, to the grand stately mansions of the successful writer, a writer’s home can tell us a lot about the person behind the words: how they lived, what their passions were, what were the personal stories that produced such incredible literature? Here we list over 30 famous writer’s houses throughout England, all of which are open to visitors. A person’s home can tell us a great deal about them, and in England we are fortunate that some writers’ homes have been preserved to enable us to have a glimpse into their lives. We can see the same walls, the same views they looked at while they wrote, often sit on the same furniture, and learn far more about the person that we can through their fictional works or poetry. In their homes we learn about their families, the tragedies and triumphs that made them who they are, what they kept hidden and what they were happy to share, all of which led them to write the works that are still part of our literary landscape. This list includes writers from Shakespeare onwards, and all of them are open to visitors, but do check their websites before leaving as some are only open over the summer months. 1. Jane Austen: Chawton, Hampshire The Jane Austen House Museum is the only house she lived in which is open to the public. She spent the last eight years of her life in this small house and it was when living here that all her major works were published. Her brother owned the much larger Chawton House nearby and she was a regular visitor there: Chawton House is also open to visitors. The museum contains letters and personal possessions such as her jewellery and the table she wrote at. Official Website >> 2. Charles Dickens: Doughty Street, London This is the house in which Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickelby. It is now open to the public as a museum and contains over 100,00 important manuscripts, rare editions, personal items and assorted artefacts. It holds regular exhibitions, events and tours, including a Housemaids’ Tour where you can see life below stairs. Official Website >> 3. William Shakespeare: Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire Shakespeare’s Birthplace is where his story began in 1564. He was born and lived here, including for the first five years of his marriage to Anne Hathaway. He inherited this house on his father’s death and leased it to an Inn, who stayed there until the 19th century when the house was bought by the Shakespeare Trust. It contains rare artefacts from their collection and is one of five properties in Stratford that visitors can see connected to Shakespeare and his life. Official Website >> 4. Thomas Hardy: Hardy’s Cottage, Dorset In the heart of rural Dorset is this small traditional cob and thatch cottage, built in 1800 by Thomas Hardy’s great-grandfather. Hardy was born and raised here writing much of his early poetry and novels at a small desk overlooking the front garden. Now owned by the National Trust, this cottage is furnished in rural Victorian style and gives a revealing glimpse into Hardy’s love for nature and the outdoors. There is a visitor centre, café and woodland trails. Read about a visit to Hardy's birthplace >> 5. Agatha Christie: Greenway, Devon Set on the River Dart estuary, Agatha Christie’s holiday home has a huge garden and a wealth of her personal items, along with many of the archaeological finds found by her husband, Max Mallowan. The boat house features in some of her novels, and it was also the location for some of the televised adaptations of her works. With regular events and exhibitions, a cafe and stunning gardens, Greenway makes for a fascinating glimpse into the life of the world’s best crime writer. Official Website >> 6. Rudyard Kipling: Batemans, East Sussex This Grade I listed Jacobean sandstone manor house was bought by Kipling in 1902 and is where he lived until his death in 1936. Here you can see his Nobel prize for literature, paintings from The Jungle Book, the family’s Rolls Royce and so much more. His study looks as if he has just left it, preserved by his daughter who wanted visitors to see the house she grew up in. Now owned by the National Trust, it also has a working flour mill in the grounds. Official Website >> 7. Wordsworth: Dove Cottage, Lake District Described by Wordsworth as ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’, he and his sister moved here in 1799, and he wrote some of his finest poetry within these walls. Dove Cottage is small with whitewashed floors and slate floors and a semi-wild cottage garden and contains many of his personal items. This quiet spot in the Lake District provides a fascinating insight into one of the UK’s most famous poets. Official Website >> 8. Brontë Family: Parsonage Museum, Yorkshire The Bronte family moved to the Parsonage in Haworth on the edge of bleak the Yorkshire Moors in 1820, and remained there until their deaths. The three daughters of Parson Bronte, himself a published novelist, all wrote poetry and novels, with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall considered to be amongst the greatest in English literature. The house is now a museum and contains a wide rage of Bronte artefacts and manuscripts. Official Website >> Photograph © DeFacto 9. Beatrix Potter: Hill Top, Lake District This 17th century farmhouse was bought by Beatrix Potter after the success of her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and provided the inspiration for the many books that followed. She left the house and her vast, eclectic collection of objects to the National Trust, who now look after it and the landscape around it, including the most famous vegetable patch in the world. There are regular events and exhibitions and the house does get very busy in peak season. Official Website >> 10. Virginia Woolf: Monks House, East Sussex This 16th century cottage was her home from 1919 until her death in 1941. She is still considered one of the foremost writers of the early 20th century. The house contains many of her possessions and books, as well as her writing lodge in the garden. Visitors included the intellectuals and artists of the Bloomsbury Group and much of their artwork is still hung on the walls. Now owned by the National Trust, it is open over the summer months. Official Website >> Photograph © Oliver Mallinson Lewis 11. Thomas Hardy: Max Gate, Dorset Max Gate was Hardy’s home once he was a successful published author, only a few miles away from the cottage where he was born. He designed this house himself, a grand Victorian villa, and lived here until his death in 1928. The house is owned by the National Trust, contains some of his personal belongings and has been recreated as faithfully as possible. There are regular events and exhibitions which provide insight into his complicated marriages and show the emotions behind some of his greatest poetry. Read about a visit to Max Gate >> 12. Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Coleridge Cottage, Somerset This little cottage, now owned by the National Trust, was where Coleridge and his family lived for just three years from 1796; however it was in those years that he produced some of his finest works, such as Kubla Khan and Rime of the Ancient Mariner. He would walk in the countryside for inspiration, and his poetry marked the start of the Romantic literary movement. It was in this cottage that his addiction to laudanum developed, and he was never able to repeat his early successes. Official Website >> 13. G.B Shaw: Shaw’s Corner, Hertfordshire Bernard Shaw and his family moved to this beautiful Arts and Crafts home in 1906 and stayed there for over 40 years until his death in 1950. He is still renowned as one of the country’s leading playwrights and his Nobel prize is on display inside the house. Now owned by the National Trust, the house and gardens are as he left them, and include his revolving writing hut in the garden, which he would turn to face the sun. Official Website >> Photograph © Jason Ballard 14. Dr Samuel Johnson: Gough Square, London This Grade I listed, 300 year old townhouse in the City of London still has many of its original period features, despite it having many uses after he had lived there. This was where Johnson lived when he wrote his epic Dictionary of the English Language, which took him seven years in total. All items within the house are connected with Johnson and include paintings, books and artefacts. The museum holds regular events, exhibitions, tours and open days. Official Website >> Photograph © Jim Linwood 15. William Wordsworth: Rydal Mount, Lake District The Wordsworth family home from 1813 until his death in 1850, the house is still owned by the Wordsworth family. The five acre garden remains much as he designed it and has views over the lakes. His writing hut is still in the garden and the house contains some of his possessions. Both house and garden are open to visitors. Tours run regularly and there is a café on site. Official Website >> Photograph © Rydal Mount 16. Gilbert White: The Wakes, Hampshire The Wakes in Selborne was where Gilbert White studied nature, leading him to write Natural Histories and Antiquities of Selbourne, said to be the third most published book in the English language after the Bible and Bunyan. His house is now a beautifully curated museum, which also houses the Oates Collection; the artefacts of both Frank Oates, a naturalist and his nephew, Captain John Oates, from the ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic. The house has an extensive garden, loads of activities for kids to do and a café. Read about a visit to Gilbert White's House >> 17. T.E. Lawrence: Clouds Hill, Dorset T.E Lawrence, often known as Lawrence of Arabia, bought Clouds Hill after his adventures in the middle East, when he was looking for an escape to his unwanted fame. A tiny cottage of just four rooms, here he lived a life of material austerity, focusing on his writing, conversation and music. Set in heathland and next to the road on which he died, the house is now owned by the National Trust and open to visitors over the warmer months. It is very quirky and gives a glimpse into the mind of this complex man. Read about a visit to Clouds Hill >> 18. Horace Walpole, Strawberry Hill House, London This magnificent gothic revival palace was home to Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto, considered to be the world’s first Gothic novel, which he had printed in the grounds of Strawberry Hill on the world’s first private printing press. He spent three years on a Grand Tour from 1739 and the house is filled with the treasures he collected. With extensive grounds, regular events and guided tours, this palace is a truly unique place to visit. Official Website >> Photograph © Chiswick Chap 19. Vita Sackville-West: Knole House, Kent Knole House was built as a Bishop’s Palace, passing into ownership of the Sackville family in the 17th century, who still live there today. One of the largest houses in the country at just under 4 acres in size, sitting in 1000 acres of land, this magnificent late Medieval/Stuart mansion is Grade I listed. Vita was born here in 1892 and used Knole as the inspiration for her most famous novel, The Edwardians. It is one of the National Trust’s biggest properties. Official Website >> Photograph © tnmthalfshell 20. Charles Darwin: Down House, Kent The home of world-renowned scientist Charles Darwin, it was here that he wrote The Origin of Species. The house contains many of his personal possessions, some from his time on HMS Beagle. His study has been faithfully recreated and the gardens are extensive and include the Sandwalk where he would stroll up and down to allow himself thinking time. Owned by English Heritage, the site is open all year round and has regular events and exhibitions. Official Website >> Photograph © anthonyeatworld 21. John Keats: Keats House, London John Keats lived as a lodger in part of this house in Hampstead for two years before he left for the warmer climes of Rome to ease his worsening tuberculosis. It was here that he wrote many of his best works, including Ode to a Nightingale and La Belle Dame Sans Merci. He met his fiancée and muse, Fanny Brawne here, but he died whilst still abroad and before they could marry. The house is now run as a museum and literary centre, with regular events and activities. Official Website >> 22. Elizabeth Gaskell: Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Manchester This neoclassical villa was where Gaskell lived for 15 years from 1850 until her death. She wrote her most famous books here, such as Cranford, North and South and Wives and Daughters. Opened to the public in 2014, the museum has been restored in the style of an authentic Victorian home, and has regular tours, exhibitions and events, many of which are family friendly. Official Website >> Photograph © Patyo1994 23. John Milton: John Milton’s Cottage, Buckinghamshire This 16th century building was where Milton came to live with his family when he fled London due to the plague outbreak. He completed Paradise Lost here, and started the sequel, Paradise Regained. Opened as a museum in 1887, it houses early editions of his poetry and prose, and has a Grade II historic cottage garden, filled with plants which he wrote about. The museum holds regular exhibitions, events and workshops, many of which are family friendly. Official Website >> Photograph © Alan 24. Anne Lister: Shibden Hall, Yorkshire Anne Lister was never a published author. Nevertheless, she wrote over 5 million words in her diaries, which were found behind the walls of her home at Shibden Hall, and detailed her unique life as an English landowner and traveller. She wrote about events and politics, as well as her private life, which was written in code. Known by the locals as ‘Gentleman Jack’, her diaries are said by UNESCO to be a ‘painfully honest account of her life as a lesbian’. Her home dates back to 1420 and is run as a museum with visitor attractions for all the family. Official Website >> 25. DH Lawrence: The Birthplace Museum/Breach House, Nottinghamshire This miners' cottage from the 1880s was where Lawrence was born and was his childhood home. It is often known as 'the Sons and Lovers house', as it was represented in that 1913 novel as 'The Bottoms'. The house is run as a museum and has a browsing library upstairs and a garden trail outside. Visitors can take guided tours to see the authentically recreated rooms, and there are often exhibitions and events held there. Official Website >> Photograph © Breach House 26. John Clare Cottage: Cambridgeshire The home of poet John Clare for 40 years of his life, the cottage has recently opened to the public. He was a farm boy and agricultural labourer whose poetry records the minutae of rural life at that time of great change. His works were met with great acclaim, only to fall out of favour until after his death. His birthplace has been recreated with authentically furnished rooms, regular workshops and exhibitions, a poet in residence and a garden. Official Website >> Photograph © Clare Cottage 27. Izaak Walton: Izaak Walton's Cottage, Staffordshire Published in 1653, Walton's The Compleat Angler is a celebration of the art of fishing and one of the most famous early printed books, with copies now fetching hundreds of thousands of pounds. His thatched cottage is a museum dedicated to his life as a writer, churchman, royalist, conservationist and to angling. Decorated to reflect rural life in the 17th century, the museum also has a knot garden and runs regular events throughout the summer months. Official Website >> Photograph © Stafford Council 28. James Herriot: World of James Herriot, Yorkshire This is the home of England's most famous vet, James Herriot, which was the nom de plume of Alf Wight. Faithfully recreated to look as it did in the 1940s, this is where he lived, worked and wrote. Filled with his possessions and personal effects, as well as his dispensary and a TV studio to show the filming of the original series, there is plenty here for kids to do and see. Located in the heart of Yorkshire, it also provides guides to all of the beautiful filming locations. Official Website >> Photograph © World of James Herriot 29. Phillip Sydney: Penshurst Place, Kent The manor house was built in 1341 with various additions over the years, and was the ancestral home of poet and courtier Phillip Sydney, who was born in 1554. Renowned for his sonnets, he also wrote several love stories. He died at the age of 31 when he was shot in the Battle of Zutphen. The house remains in the Sidney family and is open to the public, with extensive grounds and lots for kids to do. Official Website >> Photograph © Penhurst Place 30. Thomas and Jane Carlyle: Carlyle's House, London Thomas Carlyle was a writer, historian and social commentator in the 1840s-50s and his wife is considered to be one of the best ever English letter writers. They lived in the house from 1834 until their deaths 50 years later. Their home was host to the great literati of the day. Now owned by the National Trust, the house is filled with their personal possessions including their library and paintings. Official Website >> Photograph © Emma Jolly 31. Lord Byron: Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire A former 12th century abbey, Newstead was the home of Lord Byron for six years. It is open to the public and contains some of his personal belongings such as his bed, pistol and the desk where he wrote some of his finest work. With 800 years of history, the house has ruins, medieval cloisters, formal gardens, a fort, and plenty to do. Visitors can book a tour of the house or follow the trails around the gardens. Official Website >> Photograph © Newstead Abbey 32. The Richard Jeffries Museum, Swindon This Victorian farm was the birthplace of Richard Jeffries, a nature writer who wrote about rural life through novels, essays and nature books. He was born in this house near Swindon in 1848, the son of a farmer. Initially working as a journalist, he developed a love for the natural world which filled his writing. The house is open as a museum and is filled with ephemera from his life as well as the wider area, with other attractions on the site as part of Coate Water Country Park. Official Website >> 33. L. Ron Hubbard: Fitzroy House, London An original 18th century house in the heart of literary London, Fitzrovia, this house was once home to both George Bernard Shaw (from 1881-1882) as well as L. Ron Hubbard, prolific author and founder of Scientology, who lived there from 1956. The museum is over 4 floors, much of it a 1950s time capsule of L. Ron Hubbard's life and works. It is free to visit but is only open by appointment. Official website >> Photograph © LRonHubbard.org 34. Henry James: Lamb House, Sussex A Georgian house in Rye, Sussex, Lamb House was home to American writer Henry James and later to E.F Benson, author of the Mapp and Lucia novels. The house itself has featured in several novels written by both James and Benson, as well as Joan Aitken. The house is owned by the National Trust and is now open to the public, after being tenanted for many years. Official website >> Photograph © Klotz 35. The Dickens Birthplace Museum This small terraced house was where Charles Dickens was born in 1812. Located in a suburb of Portsmouth on the south coast of England, the house has been recreated as it could have been when he lived there for a short time after his birth. There are three rooms furnished in full Regency style, one of which is the room where he was born. Genuine articles on display include the couch he died on, a snuff box and his inkwell. The house is open to visitors over the summer months. Official website >> Photo © Visit Portsmouth

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