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Posts Tagged ‘english history’

I’d never been to Southampton and as it’s on my Project 101 list, I thought that since I’d be close enough by train I may as well stay there for a couple of days and explore the city.  Besides which…it was also a whole lot cheaper than staying in Winchester LOL (I actually told one lady that I didn’t want to buy the house, just stay there for one night! – she wasn’t impressed hahahaha).

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tired after a day of exploring…take a seat why don’t you.

I had initially planned to explore Southampton on the 19th but instead decided to head over to Winchester instead. Most places appeared to be closed in Southampton on a Sunday, and since I was wanting to do the King Alfred walk in Winchester and the weather was going to be cloudy both days anyway, I decided to change plans. Benefit of being a solo traveller.

So, the day before I was due to start my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way, I had a super day exploring Southampton Old Town. I walked along sections of the old city walls; quite a thrill. I was delighted to find that there were still whole sections that you could walk along and I made the most of the opportunity.

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wonderful history of the UK…welcoming refugees

A little bit of history to tickle your fancy:

Southampton; located on a major estuary on the English Channel has been settled since the Stone Age.
Known as Clausentum in Roman times, Southampton was an important trading port, but abandoned circa 410 when the Romans up and left.
The settlement was known as Hamwic and or Hamtum during the Anglo-Saxon period
After defeating the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready in 1014, the Viking King, Canute the Great, was crowned in Southampton.
Southampton became a major port of transit between Winchester (capital of England until early 12th C) and Normandy following the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The 1086 Domesday Book indicates that Southampton already had distinct French and English quarters at the time of the Norman Conquest.
The foundation of St. Michael’s Church has been dated at 1070.
Mary Magdalen Leperosy Hospital was established to the north of the town by 1173.
St Julians Hospital, also known as God’s House Hospital, was founded around 1196 by Gervase ‘le Riche’. A Franciscan friary was later built alongside God’s House hospital.
The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy. It’s been through various changes since then and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”, the Maritime Museum circa 1966, a workshop; The Moonbeam Engineering Company Limited who built motor launches, Element Arts; a pop-up arts organisation – who used the space as a gallery and community arts venue featuring exhibitions and live events – music, dance, poetry, theatre, and now the Dancing Man Brewery a brewpub/restaurant.
Southampton was awarded City status by The Queen in 1964.

On my way towards the Old Town I passed the area of Holy Rood; a series of metal sculptures were erected around the estate in tribute to the area’s role in the Merchant Navy’s history of Southampton.
Holyrood Church, which was damaged in World War II, now serves as a memorial to the Merchant Navy.

I started off at the edge of the city walls, once the boundary of a Franciscan friary (settled in 1224). By the end of the 14th century, the town of Southampton was entirely enclosed by stone walls.

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then walked past the remains of God’s House Tower (protected the medieval town from attack),

from there I followed the perimeter of the old city walls, I discovered a link with Jane Austen 🙂 – Watergate & Quay – “Jane’s niece, 14 year old Fanny Knight, records in her diary of Tuesday 15 September 1807, that Jane and the rest of the family embarked from here to visit friends in Hythe for Afternoon Tea. Fanny writes; “Mama to everyone’s astonishment was of the party and not at all sick”.

the rear view of the Watergate ruins

the 12th century Duke of Wellington Pub

A short distance later I discovered the Wool House and popped in for a quick look (I didn’t see the prisoner’s inscriptions though) – The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy, and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”

after which a short diversion took me along Bugle Street

first I passed the fabulous 12th century Duke of Wellington pub

strolling on along Bugle Street I discovered the amazing Tudor House – Restored 14th-c. Tudor house & remains of a 12th-c. Norman home, with 16th-century gardens & a cafe…where I enjoyed a superb lunch… Wow, what an extraordinary place.

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I spent ages exploring this fabulous house; a time capsule with some incredible artefacts. A visit to the cellar is a must – used as a WW2 shelter by the family who lived there at the time, there is a fantastic and spine-tingling audio that takes you right back to an air-raid.

Exploring the premises behind the house (where you find the café) I saw a canon made for Henry VIII, and the awesome ruins of King John’s Castle.

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Across the garden are some glass doors, step through…. there you will find a delightful exhibition worth having a look at

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After strolling back along Bugle Street I noticed another section of the city walls down an alley, so I climbed the steps and strolled along another section of the city walls and onto Cuckoo Lane…passing the Westgate Hall aka Tudor Merchants Hall on my way.

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Heading back to the Tudor House, I walked past and turned left down along Blue Anchor Lane towards the previous town quay…now a road.blue anchor lane southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton The Pilgrim Fathers embarked here from the West Quay on the Mayflower in August 15 1620. Passing through the Westgate (through the archway marched some of the some of the army of Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415) – stupendous. It gave me goosebumps walking through the arch.

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walking through history; through this archway marched some of the some of the army of     Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415 – awesome

I strolled alongside the ancient walls, known as The Arcades, and found another section that could be walked (yes, I’m addicted to walking along old city walls LOL- also part of Project 101) I reached ‘Catchcold’ Tower (fortunately I didn’t catch a cold) – purpose built in the early 15th century to carry ordnance (cannon). Brilliant views of the old quay. During WW2 an anti-aircraft machine-gun was mounted on the tower.

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From there I walked along to Arundel Tower – said to be named after the magical horse of Sir Bevois, one of the founders of Southampton. Legend has it that Arundel was so fast he could out-fly swallows. When Sir Bevios died, the horse threw himself from the tower in sorrow.

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Leaving the ramparts I descended to ground level and walked across to the Bargate. Wow, just stunning. By walking through the Bargate’s grand entrance, you travel in the footsteps of generations of townspeople, visitors and kings and queens. A pair of lions has guarded the gate since the 1600s. The Jane Austen heritage trail starts at the Bargate.

Walking further I took a random turn and saw a beautiful pub and another link to Jane Austen ; Jane’s homes from 1807 to 1809 was sited here in Castle Square.

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finding Jane Austen in Southampton

Then back past the fabulous Tudor House, opposite which was St Michael’s Square; once a busy fish market selling freshly caught eels, mackerel, whiting and oysters. Built in the 1070s, St Michael’s is the only surviving parish church in Southampton.

I then continued my walk along Castle Way where I passed the fantastic medieval Merchant’s timber house (sadly closed during the week) – what was that I said about places being closed yesterday….hmmm. .

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The medieval Timber House, Castle Way, Southampton

The weather was brilliant and I even squeezed in a quick visit to the harbour. I noticed there was a ferry to the Isle of Wight and the temptation to just hop on and visit Cowes again was very strong LOL. But I resisted….I was due to start my walk the next day and it would have been awful if I hadn’t been able to get back to Southampton for some reason.

After a brilliant few hours of exploring I meandered through Queen’s Park then back along Queensway and through West (Watts) Park where I saw the plaque for the Mary Magdalen Leprosy Hospital which stood near this spot in medieval times.

Then back to the AirBnb to rest and prepare myself and Pepe for the start of The Pilgrim’s Way.

In all, a very satisfactory day full of history, surprises and delights. Visit Southampton and be sure to explore the Old Town, and prepare to be delighted at the Tudor House.

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a link with Jane Austen

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I’m totally in love with Chester. I may just move here 😊😊😊 It’s been a real mixed bag of weather starting with rain just after I arrived, sleet at about 9am yesterday, then rain which soaked me to the skin (I eventually dried out). Besides the weather it’s been an awesome stay with a fantastic walk around the city and perambulation along the Roman city walls when the skies cleared. What an extraordinary city.

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Dewa – Roman Chester

I can’t tell you how thrilling it has been to walk along ancient streets, the galleried balconies of The Rows, and strolling along walls along which Roman soldiers and King Charles I amongst many other historical figures have walked. So exciting.  😉

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Ancient streets, The Rows, city gates

So today I took a walk along the canal and ended up in a village called Christleton. To my delight it turned out to be a Domesday Book Village. I started early (08.05) and since it was such a gorgeous day and my last full day, I decided to make the most of it and walk a short way….well a short way turned into a few miles and by 9am I was in Christleton.

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Chester Canal

The canal was stunning with a number of locks, a few small humped bridges, lots of colourful canal boats and a number of fabulous canal-side properties.

christleton, chester canal

canalside properties

Although I had not been my intention to walk that far, I’m absolutely thrilled that I did. I explored the village and the little church that literally opened as I got there, then stopped for tea and toast at the Ring O’Bells pub; so cosy I could have stayed all day…

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Christleton – Domesday Book Village

but I had a city to explore, so jumping on the next bus to Chester, I arrived shortly after 11.20.

Since I had alighted near to the fantastic Church of St John the Baptist, I stopped off there first and was just in time to hear the 12noon chimes. This church is extraordinary with a history that stretches back to the 7th century. Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time. Founded in 689 AD by Aethelred King of Mercia, it was enlarged by Aethelfleda the daughter of King Alfred the Great and her husband in AD 907. This is one of those churches where if you don’t go in and do research afterwards, you regret not stopping. It is stunning.

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Church of St John the Baptist, Chester

With Norman architecture and pillars adorned with not only Mason marks but ancient frescoes amongst which is a 13th C image of St John the Baptist, memorials from the 17th century, a wooden Jacobean screen, an organ built for the Coronation of Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey, rebuilt and installed here, Saxon and Viking stones dating from 900-1100 and examples of medieval tombstones including the grave slab for Agnes de Ridley wife of a sheriff of Chester, and so much more, you could stay for hours.

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Mason marks, medieval paintings

In the grounds surround the church are some amazing ruins of the older church, one of which contains a very bizarre object; a coffin shaped hole in the top of the wall. Very bizarre. This church too suffered at the hands of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops.

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Chapel of St John the Baptist, Chester

From there I revisited the Roman Amphitheatre “When he saw the blood, it was as though he had drunk a deep draught of savage passion. He fixed his eyes upon the scene and took in all its frenzy ….He watched and cheered and grew hot with excitement” St Augustine Confessions 6.8 Having followed The Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury last year, finding this link was quite exciting.  Chester’s amphitheatre is the biggest in Britain and could seat 7,000 spectators; a powerful symbol of Roman supremacy on the edge of the empire. I walked right around the amphitheatre, imagining I could hear the cheers, jeers, shouts and screams and the roar of the crowds ringing in my ears. I wonder what it must have been like in Roman times…brutal I should guess. The spectacle that the crowds could see in the arena wild beast fights, public executions and gladiatorial combats, were not just bloodthirsty entertainment, they were rituals that expressed Roman values. While I was there a Roman soldier followed by a gaggle of noisy schoolchildren entered the arena and soon there were full-blooded cries echoing off the walls. What a terrific way to learn history!!! I think I must go back to school…in Chester!

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The Roman Amphitheatre, Chester

Leaving the amphitheatre I walked through the Roman Gardens located right next to the city walls where you can see various artefacts as well the ruins of Roman baths, one of the most impressive buildings of the Chester fortress. Here again was a Roman soldier putting a gaggle of children through their soldier paces….with fierce screams and stamping feet. Too much fun!!

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The Roman Gardens, Chester

Chester was known as the Roman Fort of Deva and there is a charming little exhibition that you can visit – the Dewa Roman Experience; experience the sights, sounds and smells of Roman Chester.  Just off  Bridge Street, I popped in for a thoroughly enjoyable ‘quick’ visit. Absolutely worth the time, the cost of the ticket minimal and less than 2 cups of coffee.  The kids will love it.

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Dewa Roman Experience, Chester

http://www.dewaromanexperience.co.uk/experience.html

After whizzing through this delightful exhibition, a brisk walk took me through the centre of the city and onto the cathedral where I joined the FREE ground floor tour at 1.30pm. Wow, I wish I had a photographic memory or at least a tape recorder. The guides ply you with so many fascinating and interesting snippets of information, it’s quite overwhelming. Suffice to say, it is well worth the hour and it’s free. Times: 11:00 13:30 15:00

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Chester Cathedral

After this fascinating hour tour I joined the 60 minute Tower Tour at 3pm (£8) a very well spent £8 and 60 minutes; fascinating history and stunning views -we walked up along the narrow passageways around the church looking down onto the floor and up close and personal with the stained glass windows, stopped off in the ringing chamber, had a look at the fantastic bells, and then onto the roof for stupendous 360 degree views of Chester and as far as the Welsh mountains. I stood on the spot where Charles I stood during the Civil War and nearly had his head blown off….after which he ‘forsook the city and made haste elsewhere’. The views outdoors were just as fabulous as the views indoors and being up close to the ceiling was amazing, they are so beautiful. All too soon the tour was over and we returned to the floor of the cathedral. Absolutely fantastic.

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Tower Tour of Chester Cathedral

After a quick cup of tea and cake (included in the Tower Tour price) I made a dash through the streets to the Chester Museum and entered with like 10 minutes to spare, so all I got to see were the Roman exhibitions, which were amazing. It’s so exciting to see items that were made nearly 2,000 years ago and I guess I shall just have to return to Chester for a 2nd visit 🙂

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Chester Museum

Talking of which, I was scrolling through my photos and was reminded of a walk that was of interest; The Two Saints Way – a 92 mile walk from Chester to Lichfield…I’ve ordered the book and started planning hahahaha.

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Two Saints Way – Chester to Lichfield

After my quick visit I headed over to Spud You Like to see the remains of a Roman Hypocaust…wowwww. Now that was seriously impressive. I had to plead and beg and ask very nicely to go in as they had actually just closed for the day, but the young lass on the door heeded my entreaties and let me walk across her nice clean floor and run downstairs to have a look; so just a couple of very quick photos and a touch of the stones and my visit was over. I was disappointed as I had planned on having supper there LOL. Oh well. Sadly I was also told that they were closing as of end March as the lease had run out. What a shame.

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Roman Hypocaust, Chester

And that brought my visit to Chester to a close. I walked back towards the Town Hall looking for something different to eat and ended up at Blackstock’s Fish and Chips. I ordered the battered fish and a portion of chips and mushy peas. Very very disappointing. For a higher price, I got perhaps a 1/4 of the amount of chips I had at Adam’s Fish and Chips and although the chips tasted nice they were not a patch on the ones I had at Adam’s. The fish was tasty but small and to my utter dismay the mushy peas were not only tasteless and vinegary, but they were served in a polystyrene cup and plastic cutlery. Not good enough. When you visit Chester and fancy a cone of chips and fish…try Adam’s Fish & Chips on Bridge Street. 😉

After my meal I strolled through the city, sad to be leaving so soon I felt I could have stayed another day. I will seriously have to go back…perhaps when I do the Two Saints Walk.

Join me on instagram where I share photos of places I visited

 

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I couldn’t believe that I was finally here. After years of wanting to visit, it was thrilling to be walking these ancient streets, lined with all the amazing black and white buildings. I was giddy with elation and came close to photographing every single blessed building LOL

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The wonderful canal, famous black and white buildings and the world famous Chester clock

To say that I was charmed and delighted by Chester would be the understatement of the year.

Soon after I arrived, and after dropping my luggage, I set off from the AirBnb where I was staying and walked back into the city in the waning hours of the day. The sky was painted a soft blue with a pink tinge to the west, the last remnants of the setting sun. First stop was to photograph the lovely little houses on the canal…..the lights casting yellow reflections on the water. I determined there and then to walk along at least a part of the canal during my stay.

I soon reached the city centre and stood with my jaw agape, thrilling at the many black & white buildings, albeit many of them being Victorian restorations, they were utterly charming. I meandered here and there, my camera clicking away, thrilled to see the famous Victorian Chester clock above the city gate.

I love these old Roman towns with their city walls and gates. It always gives me an absolute thrill to walk beneath them or along them. Chester’s city walls are in a remarkably good condition and I noticed that I could practically walk right around the city via the walls……tomorrow.

The cathedral stood majestic and proud, shadows casting a spell in the early evening light, the building looked mystical, magical, ethereal and otherworldly. I walked along the famous Rows in the heart of the city, described as the oldest shopping arcade in Britain they were between 1220 and 1350 when Chester was a booming market town and port.

I walked along the 4 main thoroughfares and then with the Chester High Cross behind me I walked down to the river. Passing through the medieval Bridgegate that guarded the approach to Chester from North Wales I soon crossed the medieval bridge over the River Dee. Bliss. I stood there for ages and then retraced my steps through the city and back to the B&B. Tired but happy. I could barely wait to explore the next day.

Originally a Roman settlement, Chester was one of the 1000s of villages listed in the Domesday Book (great survey of 1086) and adds to my ever growing list for Project 101…I may just have to make it Project 202 at this rate LOL. Chester appears in 9 entries in Domesday Book.

One last photo of the clock, and although it was only 7.30pm it was totally dark. And so to bed, perchance to dream…….

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the Chester Clock

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