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A Visit to Bolingbroke Castle

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Bolingbroke Castle is an important historical castle and was the birthplace of Henry IV and was taken over by Parliament during the Civil War. The castle itself was surrounded by a moat and contained large towers and a gatehouse. It was white-washed, and traces of this limewash can still be seen on the stones on the outer wall. Bolingbroke Castle was made out of weak stone, however, and considered to be in a bad state in the early 1300s. (The lime may have been used to try to protect it.) Part of the wall collapsed in the mid-1500s.

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The castle was built in the early 1200s and then owned by John of Gaunt, father to Henry IV. The castle was never used as a royal residence after Henry IV became king, but it was under Royalist control. The Battle of Winceby took place a couple of miles north of the castle, and the Parliament forces won and ruined the castle. A lot of the stone was later taken from it.

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Part of the grassy mound that encased the castle remains was unearthed in the mid-1900s and escavated. The Great Hall and kitchens were buried again to preserve them.

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Have you been to Bolingbroke Castle?

Newark was one city in England that I had never visited before this September. The main reason of the visit was to see Newark Castle, which is located in the centre of the city. Newark is a city in Nottinghamshire that has a rich history and was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War, and there's a trail and museum dedicated to it in the city. While visiting the castle, we decided to walk into the centre of Newark to see what the town had to offer. I was already impressed with a few old buildings near the castle. The market square was sign-posted, so we followed these signs into the centre to take a look and to find brunch.

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The side streets from the castle opened up into the main market square, which contained covered tents. The stalls were not very busy, and many of them were empty on the Saturday morning when we visited. We found a couple of vans selling cooked food in the square, and I had a cheese and onion toastie from one of them while the bloke has a bacon roll from another.

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The market square also contains a water pump with an emblem of the city's coat of arms. Bear and bull-baiting also took place in the square until it was outlawed in the 1830s.

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Many of the buildings in and near the square were very old. I wish we could have stayed a little bit longer for tea in the timber-framed building below, which appeared to be a popular tearoom.

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The city also has an art gallery and small museum off the square, and these can be visited for free. There's also a few niche shops and the chain stores, but the city is quite a small one and can be visited with lunch in a couple of hours. (To visit the museums, do plan a little longer.) Have you ever been to Newark? What did you like the best?

A Visit to Newark Castle

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Newark was one town in England that I had not yet visited, but as we were staying the night in Rutland, we decided to drive a little further in order to visit it. Newark Castle was on my list of places to see, and we found parking across the road and paid the castle a visit. Although it looks imposing from the river, there's not much left of the castle after it was destroyed in the Civil War. The castle was free to visit.

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The city of Newark suffered a lot in the Civil War as troops loyal to the king were stationed here at the castle and at private houses (thus increasing the size of the town), and the town only surrendered after the king did first. The town does have a museum and a Civil War walk.

The castle gardens were landscaped in Victorian times and opened in 1889. Additional landscaping was done in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Right inside the gardens is a model of present-day Newark, which was created in 2005.

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Newark Castle was built in 1130 by a powerful bishop Alexander the Magnificient, but the site was the location for a timber and earth castle and was also used by the pre-historic, Romans, and Saxons. King John died at the castle in 1216 (possibly due to being poisoned), and early in October marks 800 years since he died.

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As Newark was a strong loyalist centre, the castle became a stronghold. After the surrender, the castle buildings were destroyed and left to ruin. The stones were eventually stolen, and there's not much left of the castle itself except for the areas that are a little harder to reach. Damage by cannon fire can be seen on the river-side of the castle.

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The main wall of the castle is against the river banks. On the side of this wall (in the picture above), timber-framed buildings were constructed which formed the Great Hall and Bishop's Hall. These contained the large windows to let a lot of light in, and the large windows looked over the river.

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Tours of the upper rooms of the castle tower and the dungeon are possible, but these only happen on select days and times. Unfortunately, my visit was outside of those times.

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I also had a wander across the river to get some photographs of the imposing-looking structure.

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Have you ever visited Newark Castle?

An Afternoon in Ipswich, England

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I've never been to Ipswich before last weekend when I went to see the Pigs Gone Wild trail. Ipswich is a small town, and I enjoyed the old buildings and the new harbour area. I could not get great photographs of a lot of the areas, but there's a large square with beautiful buildings (known as Cornhill or Cornmarket). The market was set up, and I wandered around and saw other timber-framed buildings and buildings with ornate designs.

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We went to Smokey Joe's for lunch. It wasn't my first choice of place, but my partner wanted to go there instead of the open-air street pub or the Thai restaurant across the street. I had the chicken burger, which was very delicious. It came with chips that had a paprika salt on them, and I also ordered beer-battered onion rings. Onion rings were a weakness of mine and a food that I often do not get to try in the UK.

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I loved these timber-framed buildings.

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The building above is known as 'Ancient House' and is a shop.

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This old building contains ornate decorations and details. One is an advertisement for a Croydon watch maker.

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The harbour area looks like it has recently been regenerated and contains many restaurants, hotels, and clubs as well as the university.

The 'Great Fire of London' Walk

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Three-hundred-and-fifty years ago on September 2, London burned for four days just a year after the Great Plague (Black Death) plagued the city. The city and most of its buildings, including St. Paul's Cathedral, was largely destroyed by the fire. This destroyed over 130,000 homes and 84 churches and left thousands homeless considering only approximately six people (that they know about) perished.

We know a little bit about the unfolding events from Samuel Pepys and his writings in his diary. Because this year marks 350 years since the anniversary of the fire, many events are taking place to commemorate it. One of the events is a free two-hour walk around the City, which takes place all week this week at different times. I decided to join one of the walks earlier today. I know this part of the City very well as I worked near Cannon Street and Bank Station.

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Our meeting point was Monument, the monument created after the fire as a memorial. It is a large free-standing column with a frieze on the side. The Monument can be climbed (as there is a staircase inside the column) and views can be enjoyed; I climbed Monument a few years ago and received a certificate. The location of the Monument is imporant because if it was laid down, the gold flame on top would meet the location where the great fire is said to have started.

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Thomas Faryner's bakery on Pudding Lane is attributed to the start of the fire and printed on maps after. He was the King's baker. It is thought that his maid forgot to put the fire in the ovens out, but something else may have set the fire off. The summer of 1666 was very hot and dry, so it may have been a spark or started by something else. We will never know. The maid was actually one of the few who is thought to have died in the fire. A plaque, gifted by the Worshipful Company of Bakers, marks the spot near where the bakery would have stood.

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The baker and his family did manage to escape. The buildings were built so close together with some of the top floors almost joining. They managed to jump out of the window and into the neighbours house and escape. 

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On the Monument, the frieze depicts London as a lady lying on rubble. The older figure to her left represents Father Time, and the two figures in the clouds represent peace and wealth. This means that London will rise again from the ashes. On the right side, the King and architects/scientists/other important people build the city up again.

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The flame on the top of Monument is plated with gold.

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From Monument, we headed down the hill and across the road to St. Magnus-the-Martyr. Just to the right of this church was the original entrance to the old London Bridge. I have previously covered this church in a blog post, and it's worth a visit to see the model of London Bridge. The walk was meant to go inside the church to see the model, but the church was shut. You can read more about London Bridge, the model of the bridge and St. Magnus-the-Martyr here.

After the visit to the church, we walked along the Thames and got to Cannon Street Bridge where we were told about the steel yard. It was actually a place for weighing wool, not for steel. It was owned by foreigners (we were told that they were mainly Dutch, French and German), and at the time of the fire, it was thought that the fire started here and anyone with a foreign accent was to blame and some suffered violence during and after the fire.

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We were also read passages from Samuel Pepys' diary. In the diary, he mentions Cannon Street and Walting Street. We walked around the area where Bow Church is because these streets follow a similar footprint to the original streets from 1666. 

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Bow Church looked lovely in the sunshine.

We then headed north across Cheapside, which was a wider street and the main shopping area. The fire managed to jump across the street here. We walked down Ironmonger Street.

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Near the Guildhall, I captured a photograph of one of the old buses.

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The Guildhall mostly survived the fire, but it needed a new roof. The fire did continue northward and further east and west.

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We then made our way down Gresham Street toward St. Paul's Cathedral. We stopped off at the candlemaker's livery hall, which is decorated well. Next door is the goldsmith's hall.

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We came to St. Paul's Cathedral. The original cathedral was destroyed by the fire. Actually, many years before the fire, another fire had burnt part of the cathedral. The scaffolding remained while it was being repaired, but this caught fire and the whole cathedral and its beautiful tower was destroyed. Christopher Wren constructed this new one with the second largest dome in the world. He is buried in the crypt.

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While they were clearing the burnt rubble from the original cathedral, they found the stone with the word 'resurgam' ('will rise again'). This had meaning for them, so they made a new stone with this word and a falcon rising from the ashes on top of it. Although London suffered, it did rise again from the ashes.

While the King and mayor were at a loss and not taking the situation seriously, Samuel Pepys was instrumental in coming up with a solution to tear down houses so that they would not spread fire.

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The 'Fire of London' walks take place all week this week in the lead up to the 350th anniversary of the great fire, which started on September 2. The walks are free and led by a City of London guide.

For more information about other events, visit http://www.visitlondon.com/greatfire350. Also, the Museum of London is holding an exhibition about the great fire until next spring.

An Afternoon at Lincoln Castle

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We visited Lincoln at the end of July, and we explored the city and looked at the poppy installation in the grounds of Lincoln Castle. While in Lincoln, we also decided to take advantage and see Lincoln Castle. We paid to enter the Victorian prision (located inside the castle walls), walk along the castle walls, see the Magna Carta and listen to the audio guide. The Magna Carta, a document dating from 1215 specifying liberties and freedoms to citizens, is currently outside of Lincoln Castle to be shown with its counterpart at Salisbury and two at the British Library. The Magna Carta at Lincoln Castle is only one of four in existance. A replica can be found at the castle until the original is returned later this year. Because it is currently not on display, we had our entrance tickets marked so that we could return to the castle to see it for free.

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The castle itself dates from the 1000s, and it was built on the site of a Roman fortress. The town was a popular strategic centre and market town, and it is built on two mottes (raised earth). It is one of the best examples of a Norman castle.

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The walls are Norman, and we walked around them. Along the walls are information panels about each area, but I listened to the audio guide. 

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At Cobb Tower, over-looking the cathedral, hangings were held above the trap door into the tower. This tower was used as a prison. When soldiers were stationed here, they drew grafitti. Most of these were crosses, but there were figures (probably of saints) drawn as well.

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Further along the wall walk is the old location of one of the mottes, and this is now a cemetery inside the walls with large trees. The graves are of prisoners or their children.

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We also saw one of the other exist gates, which suffered from damage due to a property developer.

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The last part of the castle tour consisted of visiting the prison (the red brick building below). The prison was separated into a men's prison and a smaller prison for women. Actors and actresses played out the prisoners and their victims, and the rooms could be visited to see the living conditions. Many of the rooms also contained interactive elements for children.

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A museum with World War memorabilia was also inside one of the larger rooms to coincide with the poppy exhibit. There was also another part of the prison that houses artefacts discovered on the grounds of the castle, such as a skeleton.

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The prisoners also had the benefit of a church, but there were panels between the prisoners so that they could listen but not interact with each other.

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This prison was one of the first to be regulated and also took an overflow of prisoners from London. The rooms in London would hold several prisoners to a room, and many would get the wrong connections or be in danger. The number of prisoners to a room would be limited and modest. 

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We did not have long before the castle closed, so we rushed through the prison. However, we have the ticket so that we can return again. Have you been to Lincoln Castle?

Ruins of Southampton Castle and City Walls

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Southampton Castle is in ruins now. It is located at the western end of the Southampton City Walls, which can still be seen along the western part of the city. Only parts of the ruins of the castle can be seen today. It was impressive in its day as Southampton became a busy port on the southern coast. In the 1500s, the repairs on the castle stopped and the castle fell into ruin before being sold to property developers in the 1600s.

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A city wall walk reveals glimpses of the former glory with the great tower and garderobe being accessible via stairs. The city wall has a bridge where visitors can walk across the top.

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The castle is a part of the old city walls walk and can be visited for free. Interesting sculptures, wall walks, and buildings can also be seen when walking around the city walls on the western and southern sides of Southampton.

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At the end of July, the bloke and I visited the city of Lincoln. Lincoln was one of the few tourist cities in England that I had not yet visited, and I've wanted to make a visit for the past few years. Finally, this plan became a reality at the end of last month when we spent the day in the city. I did plan on spending the weekend there, but all of the hotels were full by the time I got the opportunity to take time to book it. Despite not having that long there, we did see a lot of the city and got the opportunity to see the poppies at Lincoln Castle, a visit to Lincoln Castle, and a short visit to the cathedral.

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Lincoln was founded on an Iron Age settlement, which became a Roman settlement with a city wall. It was a very wealthy city in the middle ages due to the wool trade and dying of the wool in bright green (known as Lincoln Green) and red colours.

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The coat of arms of King James I adorns this Roman archway.

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A climb up Steep Hill is necessary to take in the views, and many small shops are located here. Several of these are sweet shops, cafes, and tea rooms that cater to the tourists. I took so many photographs on the walk up, and the hill is very steep in places.

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Also along this stretch are beautiful buildings, such as the "Jew's House" below. The city had a large Jewish population at one time, but they were treated unfairly.

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At the top of the hill is the castle and the cathedral, which opens into a beautiful square.

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On the way back down Steep Hill, I noticed the plaque on this pie shop. It mentioned Lawrence of Arabia. He lodged here and wrote about his life leading the Arabian troups in World War I.

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The views were amazing, and we had such lovely weather.

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At the top of the hill, we also had a look at the cathedral and peeked inside. There is an entrance fee to enter the cathedral, but we opted to give it a miss and see what we could from the entrance of the cathedral. A cathedral was built here in the 1000s, but it burnt down and had to be rebuilt in 1185. That cathedral fell in an earthquake and was built again. Each new cathedral was larger than the last, and the spires on this were the tallest man-made structure, higher than the pyramids. The spires were since removed because they were struck by lightning. 

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We headed back to the car at the bottom of town, where Brayford Pool is located. This is a modern part of town, although the old settlement was located around the pool until the castle was built on the top for defense. Many restaurants and entertainment venues are in this area.

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Have you ever visited Lincoln?

Poppies at Lincoln Castle

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In 2014, the Tower of London had a popular exhibition of a field of poppies to commemorate the people who gave their lives 100 years ago during World War I. The poppies are symbolic in that they each represent a British soldier that died during the conflict. The art installation (Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red), arranged by Paul Cummins, became extremely popular with many people making the pilgrimage to see them at the Tower of London, which I covered here. Due to their popularity, a section of the poppies known as 'the wave' were kept back from sale in order to tour around the country so that others could see them in case they never got the chance to visit them in London.

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I recently went to Lincoln, and I caught a glimpse of the poppies on display in the grounds of Lincoln Castle. The wave lifts off the ground of the bank of the inner walls of the castle and cascades toward the top of the wall.

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Lincoln Castle was used in World War 1, and there is a display of some items (weapons, uniforms, models of planes, and other bits and pieces) that date from that time on display in the castle.

Below are photographs of the poppies at Lincoln Castle

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The 'Wave' is on display at Lincoln Castle until September 4. It can be visited without purchasing an entrance to the castle.

The summer has come at last after a couple of months of cold and wet weather. We visited the pub at Titchfield (the Fisherman's Rest) for a third time. Titchfield is near Portsmouth; it is between Portsmouth and Southampton. We'd previously visited it with friends with the goal in mind to see the abbey after a Sunday roast. However, storms the day before at the end of June meant that the abbey was closed. We decided to try to visit it again, and we had wonderful weather and the grounds of the abbey to walk around in. 

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The first time, we all had Sunday roasts, which were really yummy. I can vouch for the chicken fajitas too, except they set off the smoke alarm that we were sat under. Ops. On the third visit, we had the standard menu as this was on a Saturday. I was spoiled for choice and went with the chicken curry in the end. It was actually big enough for two people, and the only criticism was that the sauce was too thin (and marked my new shirt as it was impossible to eat).

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After eating, we walked across the road to visit Titchfield Abbey. The premonastarian abbey at Titchfield near Portsmouth was founded in 1231. The 'white canons' (named that beause of their white robes) lived and studied here, and there were about 15 of them here at a time. They primarily worked for the community and helped to spread religious studies, and a couple of them were vicars for nearby churches. Of course, the monastaries came to an end after Henry VIII. Before this, Edward VI, Elizabeth I and Charles I visited.

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After the monasatries were dissolved, Henry VIII gave the land to one of his loyal servants (Thomas Wriothesley) as a reward. He converted the building into an elegant mansion that he called "Place House". Some of the structures that formed the monastary were removed, and others were used for the mansion. For example, the cloisters became the courtyard and the abbey became the main gatehouse. Shakespeare was a friend of Wriothesley and probably visited and performed some of his plays here as one of the rooms is known as a 'theatre' in some of the plans.

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Some of the tiles from its time as a mansion can be seen laid out inside the courtyard area.

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Many of the gargoyles appear around the gatehouse on both sides, and some of them are in better shape than others.

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One of our friends took his car up to the abbey for photographs. Classic cars and old architecture make a beautiful photo.

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I also had a stoll around the grounds, and I noticed a few apple trees. Perhaps these apple trees are descendants of the original ones that would have grown here in the days when the structure was a monastary.

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We couldn't have hoped for better weather. Have you ever been to Titchfield Abbey?

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