BRITAIN THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE
TRAVEL CULTURE HERITAGE STYLE
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 £3.95 01
9 771757 973077
CITY OF E X P LO R E S E C R E T E D I N B U RG H
BRITISH BY DESIGN
Teapots to tartan, poppies to pub signs
PRINCE GEORGE Tracing the new baby’s royal namesakes
STORY OF A STATELY HOME Discover the wild world of Longleat
W IN ah
ol id for twoay Liverpo in ol
WONDERS OF THE WYE VALLEY
Romantic landscapes on the Welsh border
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EDITOR'S LETTER Autumn is my favourite time of year – as the first leaves begin to turn shades of orange and gold, a chill nips the air and orchards and hedgerows lie heavy with fruit, Britain seems to be at its most beautiful. It’s the perfect season to enjoy the countryside, and the Wye Valley (page 6), a unique landscape that straddles the border between England and Wales, characterised by spectacular limestone gorges and dense ravine woodlands, has to be one of the finest places to appreciate our rural scenery at its best. If you prefer to enjoy beautiful views along with all the comforts a big city can bring, then Edinburgh (page 59) is the destination for you. With its dramatic location and fascinating history, this is one of Britain’s must-see cities, guaranteed to amaze every visitor. Of course as the nights draw in and we keep cosy in wellies and winter woollies, thoughts also turn to Christmas. This issue we look at everyone’s favourite festive plant, mistletoe, in Christmas kisses (page 29) and bring you a special Brit List (page 23) with a host of seasonal British gifts and experiences. Jessica Tooze, Editor
CONTENTS VOLUME 81 ISSUE 6
ROMANCE OF THE RIVER
THE ENGLISH CATHEDRAL
WHAT'S IN A ROYAL NAME?
10 OF THE BEST RAILWAY JOURNEYS
THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE
TRAVEL CULTURE HERITAGE STYLE
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 £3.95 01
9 771757 973077
CITY OF E X P LO R E S E C R E T E D I N B U RG H
BRITISH BY DESIGN
Teapots to tartan, poppies to pub signs
a holiday for two Liverpooin l
PRINCE GEORGE Tracing the new baby’s royal namesakes
STORY OF A STATELY HOME Discover the wild world of Longleat
WONDERS OF THE WYE VALLEY Romantic landscapes on the Welsh border
FINAL COVER BRND13V3.indd 2
Cover image: Calton Hill, Edinburgh © Maurizio Rellini/SOPA RF/SOPA/Corbis
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A view of Hereford Cathedral and the River Wye in autumn
Spectacular viewpoints, striking historic ruins and stunning countryside make the Wye Valley one of Britain's most fascinating destinations. Award-winning photographer Peter Marlow captures England's cathedrals in a new light. Why the familiar mistletoe plant is now synonymous with British Christmas festivities.
New baby Prince George has some colourful royal namesakes – we take a look at their reigns. North-west Norfolk has everything for the perfect holiday – sweeping beaches, endless countryside and historic towns. From St Ives to Snowdonia, Britain's railways offer a wonderful way to see the country. BRITAIN 3
CITY OF LEGENDS
A dramatic setting and tumultuous history make Edinburgh one of Britain's most memorable cities.
SHOPPING IN SPLENDOUR
BRITAIN is the official magazine of VisitBritain, the national tourism agency. BRITAIN is published by The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd, Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ Tel: 020 7349 3700 Fax: 020 7901 3701 Email: email@example.com
A special festive round up of what to see and do, where to go and what to buy during your travels around Britain.
THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE
The everyday items with an especially British flavour that have become household treasures.
Editor Jessica Tooze Acting Deputy Editor Martha Alexander Art Editor Rhian Colley Designer Alicia Fernandes Publisher Simon Temlett Digital Marketing Manager Helena Martins Digital Product Manager Oliver Morley-Norris
London’s glamorous shopping arcades are steeped in history and retain their quirky heritage.
HOTELS WITH HISTORY From ghostly goings on to famous faces, the capital's hotels have scandalous stories to tell.
Sales Executives Natasha Syed, James Darnborough, Jack Shannon Group Digital Sales Manager Matt Rayner
UNTAMED HERITAGE With a history that is as unconventional as its current owner, Longleat House in Wiltshire is one of the world's most unusual stately homes.
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IN THIS ISSUE
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Romance of the
The beautifully tranquil Wye Valley on the border between England and Wales was visited towards the end of the 18th century by artists and poets such as JMW Turner and William Wordsworth, all clutching a guidebook by William Gilpin that pioneered tourism in Britain WORDS JANE GIFFORD
PHOTO: ÂŠ NOBLEIMAGES/ALAMY
The small market town of Ross-on-Wye, said to be the birthplace of the British tourism industry www.britain-magazine.com
Territorial disputes have been making their mark on the Wye Valley for well over 1,000 years. In the 8th century, Saxon King Offa went to the effort of building a dyke to protect his kingdom
officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1971. For most of its course, from its confluence with the Severn and the Bristol Channel below Chepstow, up to the prosperous county town of Monmouth, 30 miles away, then onward to Ross, the River Wye weaves a watery frontier between England and Wales, snaking its way through dramatic cliffs and wooded hills. Territorial disputes have been making their mark on the Wye Valley for well over 1,000 years. In the 8th century, Saxon King Offa went to the extraordinary effort of building a dyke on the English side of the valley to protect his kingdom of Mercia from the Welsh. Offa’s earthworks begin at Chepstow and extend for a further 150 miles, still roughly marking the border between England and Wales today. Offa’s Dyke Path is a National Trail, 177 miles long, which begins at Sedbury Cliffs below Chepstow and runs through the Welsh Marches (as the England-Wales borderlands are known) all the way to the Welsh coast at Prestatyn. Chepstow is a good place to watch the turning of the tide as treacherous currents sweep under the bridge. One minute the river is completely calm and covered in serene reflections, the next it is brown and seething. The water recedes to reveal steep glistening mud banks reaching as far up-stream as Bigsweir Bridge, 13 miles away.
PHOTOS: © DAVID CHESHIRE/LOOPIMAGES/NAGELESTOCK.COM/ALAMY ILLUSTRATION: SCOTT JESSOP
he railings on Old Wye Bridge at Chepstow have a story to tell. From the quay on the River Wye, you can see that they are divided midstream, with Monmouth shaped in wrought iron lettering on one side, Gloucester on the other. Here in border country, a unique history can be found on either side of the river. On the Chepstow side is Wales, flying the Welsh Dragon flag, while across the bridge lies England and the Royal Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Peaceful now, this beautiful section of the Lower Wye has been the scene of many fierce battles between the Welsh tribes, who considered themselves the true British, and the Anglo-Saxon and Norman conquerors of England, who sought to dominate them. The stark battlements of medieval Chepstow Castle are an impressive reminder of these times, guarding the entrance to the Wye from the top of sheer cliffs above the river. Although in ruins now, the castle remains a focal point of this attractive walled town. It was built in 1067 by the Normans as a statement of power to intimidate the undefeated Welsh, a year after William the Conqueror’s victory over the English at Hastings. Chepstow Castle has changed hands many times, most latterly between Royalists and Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. On the English side of the river, a few miles north, is Wintour’s Leap, a far-reaching viewpoint on top of high cliffs over a particularly sinuous meander in the river. According to local myth, Sir John Wintour, a Royalist, escaped capture here by leaping into the Wye far below and swimming to safety. There is a fabulous viewpoint looking towards Wintour’s Leap from the Welsh side at ‘Eagle’s Nest’. You can see over Lancaut Nature Reserve all the way to the River Severn, a scene that the Romantic poet Coleridge described as having “the whole world imaged in its vast circumference”. To get there, follow the road on through the woods from Chepstow Racecourse and you will discover a delightful picnic spot under the trees at Wyndcliff. The Wye Valley covers a 40-mile stretch of the river from Chepstow to Ross-on-Wye, which includes the counties of Monmouthshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. The area was
The view from Symonds Yat Rock in the Forest of Dean. Facing page: Tintern Abbey on the River Wye is one of Wales' most spectacular monastic ruins www.britain-magazine.com
Above: Cliff-top Chepstow Castle overlooking the River Wye is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain
The Wye has the second largest tidal range in the world and is consequently seriously challenging to navigate. Nonetheless, 300 years ago Chepstow was a busy commercial harbour and the Wye Valley echoed with the sounds of heavy industry. The area was one of the first British regions to industrialise, blessed with abundant water, wood and coal. Special flat-bottomed sailboats called ‘trows’ navigated the Wye from Hereford to Chepstow before heading to Bristol, servicing paper mills, wireworks and foundries along the way. They carried oak bark bound for Irish tanneries, and other local produce such as cider and hops. Gangs of men called ‘bow hauliers’, wearing wooden harnesses, were hired to drag the trows through shallow water. The opening of the Wye Valley Railway in 1876 killed the river trade but now the trains, too, have gone. Nature has long since reclaimed the old industrial sites and today the fun lies in re-discovering them. It was commercial traffic on the river that inspired Dr John Egerton, Rector of St Mary’s Church in Ross-on-Wye, to design his own boat in 1745. Sheltered from the elements by a canopy, he then took friends on tours to enjoy the wonders of the Wye. The idea rapidly caught on and by 1808 there were eight boats taking sightseers along the river, boarding at Ross – dubbed ‘the Gateway to the Wye Valley’ – Monmouth and Chepstow. One such sightseer in 1770 was the Reverend William Gilpin, whose experiences were published in 1782 under the convoluted title Observations on the River Wye and Several Parts of South Wales etc., relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty. “If you have never navigated the Wye”, Gilpin enthused, “you have seen nothing.” His work was a resounding success, encouraging Victorians in their
droves to take the Wye Tour. So it was that Dr Egerton’s modest desire to share the beauty of his surroundings, coupled with Gilpin’s guidebook, gave birth to tourism in Britain. Amongst the early Wye Valley tourists was the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, who wrote in July 1798 of his yearning for the river in his poem Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey: “O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro’ the woods,/ How often has my spirit turned to thee!” Fellow Romantic JMW Turner painted the abbey several times and it remains one of the most popular attractions in the Wye Valley. It was founded for the Cistercian Order in 1131 and the iconic ruined church dates back to the 14th century. Monks lived a peaceful out-of-the-way existence here on the Welsh banks of the Wye for 400 years until 3 September 1536, when King Henry VIII’s officials forced Abbot Wyche to surrender Tintern Abbey to the English Crown. Devil’s Pulpit Viewpoint, looking over the abbey from the opposite side of the river, is one of the highlights of the Offa’s Dyke Footpath. A limestone pillar, with a commanding view over Tintern, stands alone on the cliff edge where the Devil is said to have taunted the monks below. Close by, an ancient yew grows out of the stone itself. You can drop back down to the Wye by following the steep lane to the tranquil medieval village of Brockweir, famed for riverside walks and for its award-winning community shop that you will pass on the way down, crammed with local produce and information on all that’s going on in the Wye Valley. Sleepy Brockweir, however, was once a rather more boisterous place, infamous as a den of iniquity full of cider houses and brothels, serving trowmen, merchants and bow hauliers while they waited for the tide to turn.
One minute the river is completely calm and covered in serene reflections, the next it is brown and seething. The water recedes to reveal steep glistening mud banks
From the quay you can see that the railings on the Old Wye Bridge at Chepstow are divided midstream, with Monmouth shaped in wrought iron lettering on one side, Gloucester on the other
photoS: ÂŠ DaviD CheShire/Loop iMaGeS/aLan noveLLi/aLaMy/ChriStina BoLLen/iStoCk/Mark SunDerLanD
Clockwise from top left: Chepstow High Street; signpost marking Offa's Dyke Path; J K Rowling's home when she was a teenager at Tutshill near Chepstow; Hereford Cathedral overlooks the Wye; a view to Chepstow Castle; the Old Wye Bridge at Chepstow
images: © superstock/the photolibrary Wales/alamy
monmouth and ross-on-wye
MonMouth J monmouth is a prosperous welsh border town, at the confluence of the wye and the monnow. It was the birthplace, in 1387, of King henry V, whose defeat of the French at agincourt in 1415 was famously owed to the support of monmouth’s local longbowmen. the 13th-century fortified bridge over the monnow is the last surviving medieval bridge of its kind in Britain. ‘wye tour’ boats moor up at wye Bridge, which
confidently spans the river with five solid 17th-century sandstone arches. J monmouth shire hall was built in 1724 on agincourt square. here, too, a statue of Charles rolls commemorates the co-founder of rolls-royce, tragically killed in a flying accident in 1910, aged only 32. ross-on-Wye J the slender spire of saint mary’s Church, reflected in the waters of the river, is the iconic view of this small market town in rural herefordshire. Built on a sandstone cliff overlooking a bend in the river, ross's tudor architecture offers a pleasant contrast to monmouth. J In the town centre, quirky black and white timbered houses cluster around an unusual 17th-century market hall topped with a clock tower. the house of John Kyrle, ‘man of ross', a major 18th-century benefactor of the town, stands opposite the market hall where a market is traditionally held every thursday and saturday.
The little red sandstone castle at nearby St Briavels dates from the 12th century too. This was the residence of the Warden of the Royal Forest of Dean, who protected the king’s game, and is also known as King John’s Hunting Lodge. King Edward I added the impressive twin-towered gatehouse in 1292 to defend a crossbow bolt factory housed inside the castle walls, but by the 15th century the Welsh had been subdued and the castle’s importance fell into decline. It was used as a debtors’ prison until 1842 and now is a youth hostel where guests sleep in the gatehouse prison. Another castle not be missed is at Goodrich, on the Wye near Ross, overlooking the rich red soil of Herefordshire. It has a fascinating history stretching back 1,000 years, with a cast including the English landowner Godric, who gave the castle his name; Richard ‘Strongbow’ de Clare, who built the 12th-century square keep that still stands today; and King Richard the Lionheart, who granted Goodrich to the famous castle builder William Marshal, in whose family’s hands it remained until 1245. The castle was hotly contested during the Civil War until the Royalists surrendered in 1646. Today you can see ‘Roaring Meg’, the war’s only surviving mortar, along with some of the most complete domestic medieval buildings of any castle in Britain. Goodrich guards the entrance to Symonds Yat Valley, which offers a wide choice of outdoor activity and riverside pubs for relaxation. Head for Symonds Yat Rock, where the famous panorama over the Wye is always uplifting: you are standing on top of a 2,500-year-old Iron Age Hill Fort, some 500 feet above sea level. When mist covers the river, the summit of Yat Rock often peers above it. Then, magically, you can hear every splash in the river, every call of a bird below, as if it were right beside you.
Above: Monnow Bridge in Monmouth is the only remaining medieval fortified river bridge in Britain with its gate tower still standing in place. Left: Promotional poster, 1951
For more information on visiting the Wye Valley and for places to stay, please go to the BRITAIN website at www.britain-magazine.com
Brighton Beach, 1966 by Tony Ray-Jones ÂŠ National Media Museum
21 September 2013 â€“ 16 March 2014 Group discounts of up to 25% off tickets and specially designed catering packages are available. Call 0870 870 4868 to plan your visit now. Visit sciencemuseum.org.uk/mediaspace for more information. mediaspaceLDN South Kensington
How to Read Churches
A crash course in Christian architecture By Denis McNamara This handy, easy-to-carry book provides the reader with a strictly visual approach to reading the architecture of churches. Covering all the ecclesiastical building types of Western Christianity, readers are taken on a journey tracing the development of the church building from the simple stone halls of the Anglo-Saxon period right through to the eclectic designs of the nineteenth century. Another addition to the bestselling How to Read series, How to Read Churches is a practical guide, showing readers how to search for architectural clues that tell hidden stories expressing the liturgical function and spiritual symbolism of a church building. The perfect companion to How to Read Buildings and How to Read Castles, this guide is ideal for any traveller or visitor to Britain.
About the How to Read Series The bestselling How to Read series includes guides on how to read everything from symbols to the landscape, architectural features, fashion and gardens. Ideal gifts as well as practical guides, the books are small enough to slip into a pocket and each includes a wealth of information.
the english cAthedrAl
The interiors of England's 42 Anglican cathedrals are strikingly different. We examine the history and design of these majestic buildings with award-winning photography by Peter Marlow Words martha alexander
Wells takes its name from the spring that gushes from the ground to the east of the present cathedral. The current cathedral was begun in the 1170s, erected on a site that has enjoyed a rich religious history – a church was first built here in the early 8th century. Today the view down the nave is remarkable for the enormous scissor arches inserted in the 14th century to support the weight of the central tower. “It is very boldly conceived, resulting in an appealing, satisfying relationship,” says historian John Goodall. “The entire interior is very typical of French-inspired 13th-century English architecture – French detail is an English obsession.” www.britain-magazine.com
photoS: © Alex hAre/loop ImAgeS/SuperStock/vISItgreenwIch
Portsmouth’s cathedral is largely a 20th-century structure, but the choir is 13th century, and the tower was rebuilt after the English Civil War of 1642–1651, making this cathedral a very complicated collection of buildings. “It emulates 17th-century church forms,” says Goodall. “It is a light space dominated by an organ in its modern shutters. It’s beautiful and offers serenity.” The organ was only completed in 2001, and the paintings are by iconic British artist Patrick Caulfield, giving the cathedral a distinctly modern feel.
all photoS: © peter marlow
DURHAM, COUNTY DURHAM
One of the most spectacular examples of European Romanesque architecture, the Durham Cathedral that we see today was begun in 1093. This picture, although beautiful, shows the interior artificially lit, something that Goodall believes diminishes the true effect. “You lose the gloom,” he says. “That is not meant to be negative; cathedrals are not historically functional buildings – they were conceived to be beautiful forms. The way in which light falls within them is an important element of their design. In Durham, your eye should be drawn into the darkness as you look along the length of the interior. That is part of its magic.” www.britain-magazine.com
COVENTRY, WEST MIDLANDS Coventry Cathedral was built between 1956 and 1962 on the site where the medieval church of St Michael was bombed during World War II. The medieval spire remains. The interior is a modern masterpiece. It may look as though there are no windows in the cathedral, but this is because they all face towards the high altar. “Those almost impossibly attenuated columns taper down and are joined to the floor simply by metal bolts,” explains Goodall. “So it actually looks as though those columns float to the ground.”
ST PAUL’S, LONDON
It’s often hard to convey the sheer scale of St Paul’s, although it’s interesting to remember that it is considerably smaller in every dimension than the medieval cathedral it replaced after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Sir Christopher Wren was appointed to rebuild the cathedral, and it was completed in 1711. The interior was originally incredibly austere as was fitting for a cathedral in the capital city of a deeply Protestant nation. “All that decoration, apart from the choir stalls, is 20th century,” says Goodall. “Ironically, the detailed baldachin over the high altar makes it look rather like St Peter’s in Rome. Its ornateness would have appalled an 18thcentury congregation.”
Winchester Cathedral was founded in the mid-7th century, but the present building was begun in 1079 and served by a community of Benedictine monks. This striking image shows the view from the choir westwards down the nave. “This is actually not a coherent building,” says Goodall. “It’s an 11thcentury structure constrained in all kinds of ways. The nave has been shortened since the 11th century and this vaulting was thrown over the top in the late 14th century; it’s rich in the detailing that was typical of the time. The vaults have turned into a wonderful star-shaped pattern. The idea of articulating structure for aesthetic effect is at the heart of the Gothic style.” www.britain-magazine.com
Peter Marlow's stunning photography is displayed in a beautiful hardback book that offers a comprehensive and intimate guide to all 42 Anglican cathedrals in England and shows the interiors of these majestic buildings in great detail. Capturing the nave of each cathedral gives a sense of the architectural diversity of each building. Images are accompanied by concise insights from John Goodall as well as an in-depth introduction from Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A Museum, Martin Barnes. Published by Merrell – price £45. Available from UK bookshops and www.merrellpublishers.com
Made in Switzerland / Worldwide limited edition of only 500 pieces / ETA 251.272 Quartz chronograph / 1/10ths second split- timing / 316L marinegrade stainless steel case / Anti-reflective sapphire crystal / Unique serial number / â€œToro Bravoâ€? leather deployment strap
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In 1133 King Henry I made the recently founded Augustinian monastery in the former Roman city of Carlisle the seat of a new cathedral. Today little survives of the monastic building and the enormous interior is instead typical of northern English architecture in the late 13th century. The stained glass windows and ceiling are both medieval survivals â€“ many monastic church ceilings are barrel-vaulted in timber like this. The spectacular decoration was added in 1856.
ď€¸ For more on visiting English cathedrals, please visit the BRITAIN website at www.britain-magazine.com www.britain-magazine.com
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What to do ● Where to go ● What to buy
In a festive round-up this issue, we feature the best Christmas gifts, seasonal events and wonderful wintery places to visit
sugar plum fairy
photo: © Roh/Johan peRsson
It’s hard to think of any show more festive than The Nutcracker, a ballet with a sparkling Tchaikovsky score, set on Christmas Eve and featuring dancing toys. A new performance opens at the Royal Opera House in London from 4 December 2013 to 16 January 2014. The stage alone is a visual treat, with an enormous and beautifully-laiden Christmas tree. www.roh.org.uk
cotswolds christmas Combine a festive visit to the Cotswolds with some of the best antiques shopping in the country. The village of Broadway even offers late shopping until 8.30pm on 29 November and 6 December so you can enjoy a glass of mulled wine while you browse. www.beautifulbroadway.com
What to do ● Where to go ● What to buy
PaPer flowers The library of the Royal Horticultural Society contains some of the finest botanical paintings in the world. The best of the bunch, including 17th-century works, are printed in this set of 100 different postcards to frame or send. £14.99, www.amazon.co.uk
get your skates on London's largest Christmas fair, Winter Wonderland, includes an ice rink illuminated by 100,000 lights set around hyde Park's Victorian bandstand You can also stroll through a traditional Bavarian market selling gorgeous festive gifts and mulled wine, immerse yourself in the stunning sculptural surroundings of the Magical Ice Kingdom or scare yourself silly on one of the many whiteknuckle rides at the funfair. www.winterwonderland.co.uk
tudor tales a new exhibition at the national Portrait gallery in London gives a fascinating insight into the reign of one of england's longest serving monarchs. elizabeth i & her People includes fascinating portraits of the tudor queen's courtiers and soldiers as well as 'ordinary' people such as butchers and brewers. alongside the paintings will be jewellery, books and coins, which afford an extraordinary glimpse of elizabethan england, at time of great enterprise when the economy flourished. www.npg.org.uk
this indulgent travel set from noble isle, whose bath and body products take inspiration from all over the british isles, makes a welcome Christmas gift and will smarten up any bathroom. £19.50, www.nobleisle.com
Photo: © AM Stock/AlAMy
editor's PiCk – stoCking fiLLers homeware designer Tori Murphy adds a bit of grown-up glamour to the festive season with her fabulous Christmas stockings in muted tones featuring simple motifs. a truly british buy, www.britain-magazine.com
these big woollen boots are woven in Lancashire, washed in the yorkshire dales and pieced together in nottingham. £75, www.torimurphy.com forget settling down to scrabble or monopoly after your Christmas lunch
– the Talking Tables Great British History quiz will not only provide hours of (competitive) fun, but test your knowledge on everything from William shakespeare to the beatles or ben
nevis in the process. there are 60 fascinating questions all packed into one small cube. £3, www.talking tables.co.uk keep your iPad safe with the Wild &
Wolf London Tablet Case – the detailed map of London looks great and might even prove helpful for visits to the capital! £24.95, www. wildandwolf.com britain
D IST I N CT IV E LO CAT I O N OVERLOOKING KENSINGTON PALACE AND GARDENS, THE ROYAL RESIDENCE OF THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE, THE 5-STAR ROYAL GARDEN HOTEL IS CONVENIENTLY LOCATED FOR A STROLL TO THE PALACE, WHERE YOU MAY EVEN GET A GLIMPSE OF THE NEWEST ADDITION TO THE ROYAL FAMILY – HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE GEORGE OF CAMBRIDGE.
KENSINGTO N PALACE & GARDENS
2-24 KENSINGTON HIGH STREET LONDON W8 4PT TEL +44 (0)20 7937 8000 FAX +44 (0)20 7361 1991 WWW.ROYALGARDENHOTEL.CO.UK
WHAT TO DO ● WHERE TO GO ● WHAT TO BUY
LITTLE DONKEY Made out of continental spiced biscuit and hand-decorated with marzipan and royal icing, this delicious donkey biscuit is perfect for your Christmas tree. Part of a a wider Christmas collection from Bettys, the traditional tearooms founded in Yorkshire in 1919, other seasonal goodies include plum puddings, mince pies and fruit cake. Each culinary creation is produced at the Bettys Craft Bakery in Harrogate and the company offers a home delivery service. A classic Christmas pudding costs £9.95. www.bettys.co.uk
A CLASSIC CHRISTMAS REVIVAL Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake returns to Sadler's Wells Famous for its spectacular all-male cast, Bourne’s Swan Lake is the longestrunning ballet in the West End and one of the world’s most popular. The dramatic show will run at Sadler’s Wells Theatre between 4 December and 26 January. It has undergone a reinterpretation by Bourne, who was awarded an OBE in 2001 for services to dance. www.sadlerswells.com
FESTIVE PAMPERING Take a night off from rocking around the Christmas tree and create a serene ambiance with a relaunched candle from Aromatherapy Associates Not only is it aptly named Relax, this gorgeous candle includes myrrh as a key ingredient, making it perfect for festive pampering. Hand-poured in the UK, each candle burns evenly for over 40 hours. £34, www.aromatherapyassociates.com
A TRADITIONAL READ
PHOTO: © BILL COOPER
Foodies will love Roast (£25, Absolute Press) by Marcus Verberne, filled with British recipes. For history buffs, Whitaker’s Britain (£9.99, Bloomsbury) draws together key moments from the past 145 years in a superb almanack. 27
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Christmas kisses From pagan symbol to religious custom and seasonal Victorian tradition, the familiar mistletoe plant is now synonymous with British Christmas festivities Words AnnAbelle blAdon
images: ©OCean/COrBis/amOret tanner/alamy
istletoe, a poisonous plant identified by its clusters of waxy white berries, is steeped in British folklore; indeed its very name comes from the Old English ‘mistletan’ meaning ‘special twig’. Usually found living as a partial parasite in the high boughs of deciduous trees, notably apple trees, it is commonly seen in cider country – Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire – and it is the county flower of Herefordshire. In Cornish tradition it is said that mistletoe was originally a fine tree itself and furnished the wood for Christ’s cross, after which it was condemned to live as a parasite. Since the 18th century mistletoe has been a symbol of ongoing life through winter and used as a popular British Christmas decoration known as a ‘kissing ball’ – a ball of mistletoe, other evergreens, ribbons and tiny ornaments. In Victorian times, any girl walking under the mistletoe could not refuse a kiss, which might be seen as a symbol of light-hearted romance or as an unofficial declaration of engagement. Some people would take down the mistletoe decorations on the festival of Candlemas, or otherwise it was said all the boys and girls who kissed under it would be doomed never to marry (though the more recent tradition is for it to be brought down on the 12th day of Christmas). Other people would leave their mistletoe hanging until the following Christmas Eve to protect the house from fire. But these Victorian customs hark all the way back to the pagan rituals of the ancient druids; according to the Roman philosopher,
Pliny the elder, druids worshipped the mistletoe of the sacred oak. Following the winter solstice, five days after the new moon, priests robed in white would cut the mistletoe with a golden sickle, careful not to let it drop to the ground. Two white bulls would be sacrificed amid prayers, and sprigs would be hung over doorways and windows to provide protection from evil spirits. The plant was believed to cure ailments and act as a poison antidote, and it was a symbol of love and fertility as well as peace and goodwill – when enemies passed beneath it, a truce would be called until the following day. Yet another story says the kissing tradition stems from Norse paganism. Myth has it that Frigg, goddess of marriage, loved her son Baldr so much she persuaded the four elements to promise her that no harm would come to him. But the evil spirit Loki killed Baldr with an arrow made of the one wood that grew neither on nor below earth – mistletoe. Frigg’s tears became the pearly white berries of the plant, and when her love restored Baldr’s life she reversed mistletoe’s lowly reputation, decreeing that no harm should come to those who pass under the mistletoe tree, only a kiss. In the city of York, mistletoe was once incorporated into a winter church service of forgiveness and repentance, and though it is largely rejected by Christianity today, mistletoe still decorates York Minster’s high altar at Christmas time.
For more seasonal traditions, please go to www.britain-magazine.com
Main image: A snowy sprig of mistletoe. Above: A Christmas greeting card, circa 1880, showing a seller of mistletoe and holly www.britain-magazine.com
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What’s in a
royal name? Prince George of Cambridge will one day become the seventh George to be crowned king. We look at his colourful royal namesakes and how they fared on the throne
Photo: © MiChael Middleton/Pa Wire
Words neil Jones
Prince George with his parents, The duke and duchess of Cambridge, in a photo taken by the duchess' father
rom the moment the son of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was born in July, speculation ran riot over the choice of his first name. George was the public’s favourite, with James in second spot. William and Catherine plumped for George alexander louis, sticking firmly to royal traditions, and they duly did so in double-quick time. www.britain-magazine.com
His royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge was just two days old when the announcement was made – William had been unnamed for a week after his birth while his father, Charles, remained anonymous for a whole month after he was born in 1948. It has been suggested that in choosing ‘George’ the Duke and Duchess are paying tribute to The Queen’s father, britain
George I to Prince George
George I 1660 – 1727 1714 – 1727
Sophia Dorothea of Celle 1666 – 1726
George II 1683 – 1760 1727 – 1760
Caroline of Ansbach 1683 – 1737
Frederick Prince of Wales 1707 – 1751
George III 1738 – 1820 1760 – 1820
Charlotte of Mecklenburg 1744 – 1818 William IV 1765 – 1837 1830 – 1837
George IV 1762 – 1830 1820 – 1830
Albert of SaxeCoburg-Gotha 1819 – 1861
Victoria 1819 – 1901 1837 – 1901
Edward Duke of Kent 1767 – 1820 m. Victoria of Saxe-Coburg 1786 – 1861
Above: George I and his grandson Prince Frederick in a detail from the Painted Hall, Greenwich
George VI; others say the couple merely liked the name, and no doubt they have set a trend for a generation of boys to come. But royal names are also important because they define eras. So, what sort of kings were young George’s namesakes, and how did they handle the role that he will inherit one day? There have been six British monarchs called George. The first four ruled consecutively from 1714 to 1830 to provide history with the resplendent Georgian age that we recall through the harmonious Palladian architecture of great stately homes, the Battles of Trafalgar (1805) and Waterloo (1815), the social whirl of Jane Austen novels, and the grind of the Industrial Revolution. The four Georges, all from the House of Hanover, were an unlikely cast of kings. The first, the Elector of Hanover, was only 52nd in line to the British throne, but he was the closest Protestant claimant: following the 1701 Act of Succession, Roman Catholics were excluded from the inheritance. So when Queen Anne died childless in 1714, he was plucked from his tiny German kingdom to become Britain’s George I. Already 54 years old at his accession, George is infamous for his German mistresses, for imprisoning his wife because of her indiscretions with a Swedish cavalry officer, and for scarcely speaking any English. Used to
images: © The arT gallery ColleCTion/alamy/KirsTy mClaren/wiKipedia
Below: Elegant Georgian curved terraced housing in Knightsbridge, London
getting his own way, he quickly tired of the English parliamentary system of negotiation and mostly left a minister to represent him at Cabinet meetings – unwittingly initiating the role of Prime Minister. Less well known is that George loved music and we at least can thank him for bringing George Frideric Handel to England where, among other things, the composer produced his famous Water Music for a royal party on the River Thames. Despite his unpopularity, George I survived the 1715 Jacobite uprising that sought to put James Stuart, Roman Catholic son of James II, on the throne, and the Crown passed to George’s son in relative calm. George II (reigned 1727-1760) made the effort to speak English and the public warmed more to this ‘foreigner’ than the last, though like his father he had a penchant for mistresses and still preferred Hanover to Britain. He also liked to meddle in politics, unable to accept the increasingly constitutional role of the monarchy. “I am sick to death of all this foolish stuff,” he once exploded. But he stayed and, at the age of 61, he even became the last British monarch to lead his troops into battle, against the French at Dettingen in 1743.
Edward VII 1841 – 1910 1901 – 1910
Alexandra of Denmark 1844 – 1925
George V 1865 – 1936 1910 – 1936
Mary of teck 1867 – 1953
George VI 1895 – 1952 1936 – 1952
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon 1900 – 2002
Elizabeth II 1926 – 1952 –
Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh 1921 –
Charles Prince of Wales 1948 –
Diana Princess of Wales 1961 – 1997
Prince William Duke of Cambridge 1982 –
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge 1982 –
Edward VIII 1894 – 1972 1936 Abdicated
Prince George 2013 –
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B E A U T Y & H I STO RY For over a thousand years, people have come to seek inspiration in this magnificent Cathedral. Discover incredible architecture, priceless treasures and great works of art. Find the 12th-Century Winchester Bible, sculpture by Antony Gormley and Barbara Hepworth and the burial place of Jane Austen.
VI S IT E LY CATHEDRAL One of the Wonders of the Medieval World
Widely acknowledged as one of the most inspiring Cathedrals in Europe, this magnificent building dates back to the 11th Century. Located only 1 hour from London, Ely is a key visitor attraction and has been a prominent film location for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl and The King’s Speech. • Daily tours around the Cathedral & the Medieval Monastic buildings • Tours up the world famous Octagon Tower and West Tower • Stained Glass Museum & Brass Rubbing • Restaurant, Tea Rooms & Gift Shop • Open Daily from 7.00am For further information please visit www.elycathedral.org
The Refectory is a hidden gem with its pretty walled garden, terrace and Cathedral views. A great place for homemade cakes, lunch and afternoon tea. For details of opening times, admissions, tours, services and events please call us on 01962 857 200 (Monday to Friday) or visit the website.
iamges: © royal pavilion/lordprice collection/alamy
Left: A Cruikshank caricature of the new King George IV unable to escape his wife Caroline. Below: The Royal Pavilion in Brighton viewed from the east lawn, dusted with winter snow
Two years later, further Jacobite trouble in Scotland threatened the Hanoverian reign, this time with the attempt to put ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, the grandson of James II on the throne. The uprising was brutally quashed at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and any realistic Stuart hopes for the Crown were now at an end. A curious consequence of the episode was the emergence of ‘God Save the King’, now the British National Anthem, which was played as a sign of patriotic support for George II. George’s heir Frederick died, so the succession skipped to his grandson George III (r. 1760-1820). Poor George III is chiefly remembered for the loss of Britain’s American colonies following the War of American Independence and, as portrayed in the film The Madness of King George, for becoming deranged: he probably suffered from porphyria. But there was so much more to the most likeable of the Hanoverian sovereigns. The first Georgian king to be born in England and speak English without a telltale accent, he was master of the common touch. He preferred to live simply and was nicknamed ‘Farmer George’ on account of his interest in agriculture, writing pamphlets on the subject under the nom de plume Ralph Robinson. He was also highly cultured and founded the Royal Academy of Arts, and he was a devoted family man, fathering no fewer than 15 children by his wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. When the king became too ill, his son acted as Prince Regent from 1811, and then from 1820 to 1830 reigned as King George IV. To get the measure of this George we need look no further than his flamboyant pleasure palace, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton with its Indian-style domes www.britain-magazine.com
and exotic Chinese interiors. Here, beneath lotus-shaped chandeliers, George entertained his racy friends, singing and tinkling the royal fingers on the pianoforte. When still a prince, George IV had illegally married a Roman Catholic widow, then been forced into a more ‘suitable’ marriage with Caroline of Brunswick, a match of mutual loathing. His debauched lifestyle – so at odds with the hardships of the common man – was mercilessly lampooned by cartoonists of the day. And yet, loose cannon that he was, George presided over a glittering era for the arts and had the vision to commission John Nash to develop London’s West End. He also converted Buckingham House, acquired by his father, into a palace – the principal official residence of the British monarchy. He loved pageantry and happily squeezed his corpulent body into Highland dress for a visit to Edinburgh in 1822, stage-managed by Sir Walter Scott, to schmooze the Scots and begin to heal the wounds of Culloden. The House of Hanover survived George IV’s excesses, via the reigns of William IV and Queen Victoria to 1901, and the Edwardian years provided an elegant interlude to 1910. When George V ascended the throne (r. 1910-1936), 80 years after his last namesake, much had changed in Britain. The British Empire had reached its height and would soon shape-shift into the British Commonwealth; the old social order was fading and new challenges demanded a reinvention of the sovereign’s role. In George V and George VI, the country was given two reluctant kings who yet proved their mettle to fashion the modern monarchy.
To get the measure of George IV we need look no further than his flamboyant pleasure palace, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton
History Left: Coronation celebrations for George VI on 12 May 1937, from the Illustrated London News. below: King George V (right) and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1913, before the outbreak of war. right: Statue of Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge in Whitehall
Prince of cambridge The title Prince of Cambridge was last held in the 19th century: by another George, who was a grandson of King George III. Born in Hanover in 1819, Prince George was in the running to marry his cousin, the future Queen Victoria, but in the event she chose Prince Albert. Meanwhile, George caused a scandal by siring two sons by an actress, Sarah Fairbrother, before wedding her when a third child was on the way. The ceremony was declared unlawful under the 1772 Royal Marriages Act, the children inherited no titles, and George left Sarah for another mistress. If the prince, who succeeded his father as Duke of Cambridge in 1850, led a spicy personal life, he proved a stodgy traditionalist in his career. He commanded the British Army from 1856 to 1895 and, though he cared for the welfare of soldiers, his resistance to reforms hampered the Army from keeping pace with its European rivals. As well as believing that promotions of officers should be awarded according to social standing rather than ability, George bristled at fresh ideas, declaring: “There is a time for everything, and the time for change is when you can no longer help it.” His statue stands in Whitehall close to the War Office – whose creation he had resisted. When George died in 1904, the title Duke of Cambridge fell into abeyance until The Queen conferred it on Prince William following his marriage in 2011. It’s to be hoped that his son, the new Prince George of Cambridge, will fare better than the last!
When the heir Edward VIII suddenly abdicated in order to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, Bertie had to step into his brother’s shoes
images: © The PrinT ColleCTor/alamy/anTiques & ColleCTables/PjrTravel
In his early career, George V was a well-regarded naval officer and only became king because his elder brother had died. He appeared diffident – “We sailors never smile on duty,” he once explained – and is usually portrayed as a solitary soul, hiding away with his beloved stamp collection or playing the country squire at his Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. The truth is more subtle: George knuckled down to his royal duties and emerged a ‘People’s King’. When the First World War erupted he embarked on morale-raising visits to troops, and to assuage anti-German feeling he dumped the royal family name, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha inherited from his grandfather Prince Albert, in favour of the patriotically British Windsor, as still used today. Post-war, he continued to show a quiet understanding of what was needed to help draw people together in challenging times. He encouraged the idea of a National Government, formed in 1931, to tackle the country’s social and economic woes. And in 1932, he inaugurated the tradition of a Christmas Day broadcast that, to this day, continues to bring sovereign and subject a little closer. The accession of George’s younger son Albert was more traumatic. When the heir Edward VIII suddenly abdicated in order to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, Bertie had to step into his brother’s shoes. He was totally unprepared and terrified of public office, not britain
photoS: © ApictoriAl preSS ltd/AlAmy
Left: Victory in Europe Day 1945 – King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Below: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with her newborn baby boy Prince George
When the Second World War broke, George VI maintained a high public profile and he and the queen refused to leave Buckingham Palace least because he suffered from a stammer (as portrayed in The King’s Speech). Staunchly supported by his wife Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, he nevertheless grasped his duty, at no little cost to his health. Choosing to be known by his fourth name to stress the continuity of the succession, George VI (r. 1936-1952) set about restoring the dignity of the Crown. He presented a strong image of family life: “Us Four”, including his wife and daughters Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. When the Second World War broke he maintained a high public profile visiting factories, troops and bomb-damaged homes, and during the Blitz he and the queen refused to leave Buckingham Palace, though it received a direct hit in 1940. Such behaviour endeared them to the nation. George VI, in wartime prime minister Winston Churchill’s words “a model and a guide to constitutional sovereigns”, reinvigorated the monarchy as a ‘family monarchy’ given to public service, and it is this legacy that he passed to his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. What the future holds for Prince George of Cambridge is impossible to predict: it will be many decades before he is likely to be king, with Prince Charles and Prince William ahead of him in the succession. What is clear already is that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plan as ‘normal’ an upbringing for him as possible, among the Middleton family as much as the Windsors. Whatever his colourful namesakes, he will be encouraged to be his own man.
For more on Prince George of Cambridge and the Royal Family, visit the BRITAIN website at www.britain-magazine.com
Bespoke is a fashionable word
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North-west Norfolk offers the perfect blend of heritage and countryside, with with fascinating attractions and charming places to stay Words jessica tooze
photoS: © ocean/corbiS/iStock illuStration: Scott jeSSop
am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so,” said Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, national hero and the county’s most famous son. With nearly 100 miles or half its boundary formed by coastline, Norfolk is proud of its maritime history. But these days it is less known for its seafaring tradition and more for the Broads and the Brecks, its historic stately homes and, especially, for being flat! It is true that this easterly county, jutting out into the North Sea and named from the Anglo-Saxon for ‘the place of the north folk’, is very low lying, with swathes of sandy beaches, bands of salt marshes and plentiful farmland, blanketed by shifting skies. Yet Norfolk is far from a bleak landscape. Its countryside is dotted with some of the most beautiful hamlets and villages in England, crisscrossed by waterways and sprinkled with windmills and ancient
Facing page: The first windmills appeared in the late 12th century and at one point there were more than 100 in Norfolk. Above: Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea
churches. And all of this can be reached in just a two-hour train journey from London, making it a wonderful destination for a short escape from the capital. Norfolk’s northernmost coastline is home to the great golden beach and nature reserve at Holkham that was memorably used as the setting for the final scene in the film Shakespeare in Love. Here families picnic on the sands, couples stroll in the dunes and horse riders canter in the surf, yet it never feels busy, even in the height of summer. The sheer freedom and space of the place, covering some 9,000 acres, is quite astounding for those used to the busy beaches of England’s south coast. Birds are a particular attraction in this expansive, wild landscape and many species can be spotted, from summer visitors such as common and little terns and avocet, to the
thousands of pink-footed geese that arrive and depart from their roosts between October and March. From Wells-next-the-Sea to Burnham Overy the dunes and beach are backed by fragrant pine woodland. The scenery now is largely man-made, having been reclaimed in the late 19th century by
photoS: © holkham eState/StrattonS hotel
PLACES TO STAY
bank House Hotel King's Lynn, Norfolk PE30 1RD The hotel is situated in a former bank and visitors can still see a dent in the antique floor of the Counting House, now the front room of the Brasserie, where customers once shuffled their feet as they waited at the cashiers' desk to make their withdrawals. www.thebankhouse.co.uk strattons Hotel Ash Close, Swaffham, Norfolk PE37 7NH This beautiful building was once a favourite with the Nelson family. The first noted owner of the villa was related by marriage to Admiral Lord Nelson's brother, who inherited the Admiral's title on his death. www.strattons-hotel.co.uk titcHwell Manor Titchwell, Nr Brancaster, Norfolk PE31 8BB As well as the glorious coastal location, a highlight of this hotel is the food, and you can choose from casual dining in the new Eating Rooms or try the excellent value tasting menu from Norfolk Chef of the Year Eric Snaith in the Conservatory. Here local ingredients including lavender and Cromer crab are incorporated into delicate dishes served in a relaxed environment. www.titchwellmanor.com
Facing page: Holkham's imposing Marble Hall. Below: Holkham is one of England's finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture. Left: Strattons Hotel
the 2nd Earl of Leicester who planted three miles of sand with Corsican pine trees to stabilise the dunes, hold back the seas and secure the freshwater marshes. But at one time the tidal creeks were wide enough for ships to load cargo from a ‘staithe’ or quay in Holkham village. Today this village shows rural Norfolk architecture at its best. Pretty red-brick cottages with tall chimneys, originally built as homes for workers on Holkham Estate, are now home to shops, the Victoria Hotel and the Rose Garden café, situated in Holkham’s oldest domestic building, The Ancient House.
honour of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII (whose Sandringham Estate was not too far away). The room was illuminated by 300 waxlights and the dancing continued until the early hours. Outside, the Walled Gardens are also worth exploring. The six and a half acres, originally laid out by Samuel Wyatt during the late 18th century, are being restored and offer a tranquil place to wander. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, some 10 miles west of Holkham near the pretty village of Brancaster is Titchwell Manor. In an atmospheric location overlooking marshland and
Magnificent Holkham Hall is one of the finest Palladian houses in the country. Today the 7th Earl of Leicester has retired to another property on the estate, leaving his son, Viscount Coke (pronounced ‘cook’), to enjoy the grand Italianate villa. Many of the Hall’s most handsome rooms are open to the public, including the imposing Marble Hall where the colonnade is copied from the Temple of Fortuna Virilis in Rome, while the splendid ceiling, taken from Rome’s Pantheon, rises to a height of over 50 feet. In contrast to this classical space is The Saloon, which is used for entertaining. In 1865, a grand ball was held here in
the sea, this former Victorian farmhouse is just a short walk from Titchwell Marsh where seals can often be found basking beside a small creek. Head east along the coast to Caley Mill at Heacham and you will find the heady scent and purple haze of lavender. This has been England’s premier lavender farm for 80 years and there are 100 acres under cultivation. Here you can marvel at the beautiful fields and enjoy the tearoom and gift shop with its extensive selection of lavenders, herbs and other perennials. An annual Lavender Festival takes place here each July. Also easily accessible from Titchwell is the traditional seaside
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Norfolk St Mary's Church in the picturesque village of Titchwell. Below: Norfolk Lavender at Heacham is England’s premier lavender farm
photoS: © Steve NicholS/AlAmy/trAcey Whitefoot
J HolkHam Hall is open from 25 March to 31 October and an adult ticket to the Hall, Walled Gardens and Bygones Museum, with its exhibition of domestic and agricultural memorabilia, costs £12. www.holkham.co.uk J The rSPb nature reServe at titcHwell marSH is free to visit and a walk from the visitor centre down to the sandy beach takes you past reed beds and shallow lagoons. www.rspb.org.uk J norfolk lavender is open every day from 9am until 5pm. Visit when the lavender is
in bloom from the middle of June until the end of August. www.norfolk-lavender.co.uk J King's Lynn old Gaol HouSe in the Town Hall, where smugglers caught by the revenue men of the Custom House would be thrown, is open from 27 March to 2 November and costs £3.30. www.kingslynntownhall.co.uk J Grime’S GraveS is the only Neolithic flint mine open to visitors in Britain. Admission to this grassy lunar landscape is from March to September. www.english-heritage.org.uk/ grimesgraves
town of Wells-next-the-Sea and beautiful Burnham Market, only a mile from Admiral Nelson’s birthplace at Burnham Thorpe. It was near here that Nelson learned to row and sail a dinghy at the age of 10, two years before joining the Navy and another 35 years before his great victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Wells offers the perfect seaside day out, with a lovely sweeping beach
traveller in search of England’s Heritage, the county is a paradise.” King’s Lynn, situated on the River Ouse as it prepares to enter the estuary where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire, was one of England’s most important ports from as early as the 12th century. Its maritime past remains very much in evidence today. The town is reputed to have more listed buildings than any other of its
backed by forest, colourful beach huts and an historic harbour that was once England’s most important. From Tudor times until the 19th century this was a prosperous centre for shipping and maritime industry. Today it is busy with children casting for crabs off the jetty and quaint shops selling buckets and spades and fish and chips. Norfolk is one of the best places in England to explore the nation’s history and traditions. As the writer Arthur Mee once declared: “For the
size in Britain and many fine old merchants’ houses reach down to the river along cobbled lanes, flanked by two magnificent market places. In Saturday Market Place the vast St Margaret’s Church, recently designated as a Minster Church by the Bishop of Norwich, sits opposite the Town Hall and Trinity Guildhall, built between 1422 and 1428; nearby you cannot fail to be impressed by the majestic proportions of Tuesday Market Place, surrounded by a range of elegant Georgian architecture. britain
photo: © holmes Garden photos/alamy
King’s Lynn grew rich on trade as part of the Hanseatic League, a powerful German trading organisation composed of merchants from North Germany and neighbouring countries around the Baltic Sea. This legacy can be seen today in the town’s most famous monument to maritime prosperity, the Custom House. Built by Henry Bell in 1683, the striking building contains a special display of the town’s seafaring history. Beside the Custom House and River Ouse, Bank House Hotel is the perfect choice for those looking to stay in the heart of historic King’s Lynn. This 18th-century former bank is now an elegantly furnished townhouse with 10 luxurious bedrooms featuring antique furniture and Georgian panelling. Further east, the market town of Swaffham is an excellent base from which to explore inland Norfolk. Here, at the northernmost point of the Brecks, the landscape remains flat, the big skies met not by sea but by endless fields of crops and open heathland. The Brecks has a human history stretching back to the Stone Age.
Above: The late medieval Oxburgh Hall has always been a family home
A Neolithic flint mine at Grime’s Graves has over 700 pits, some more than 5,000 years old. The distinctive stone can be seen on many of the buildings in the county, especially its churches. Norfolk has 659 medieval churches – the highest concentration in the world. The Brecks is also home to some grand houses, notably the magnificent
hiding places were built into many of the principal Catholic houses of England during the period when Catholics were persecuted by law, from the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558. Back at Swaffham you will find your ideal home at Strattons Hotel, a splendid Queen Anne Palladian villa that possibly began life as a malting
15th-century moated manor house of Oxburgh Hall. Home to the Bedingfeld family since 1482, this glorious and romantic red-brick house boasts the King’s Room, where Henry VII stayed in 1487 while visiting with his queen, Elizabeth of York, and some handsome embroidery made by Mary Queen of Scots while in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury, following her escape to England in 1568. The Hall is also well known for its priest’s hole, accessed through a trapdoor and open to visitors. These
barn. Today the building is packed full of quirky odds and ends, outlandish decoration and a range of extravagant bedrooms. You can pop across the driveway to CoCoes café for a delicious picnic of Norfolk cheeses, local pear juice and chunky sausage rolls, then head off to revel in this county’s wild and wonderful countryside and fascinating heritage.
For more information go to the BRITAIN website at www.britain-magazine.com www.britain-magazine.com
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at Norwich Cathedral
Experience a truly unique and traditional Christmas. Join us at Norwich Cathedral to enjoy a festal service, attend one of our many events, concerts or exhibitions, or, perhaps, simply join us for a spot of lunch and some Christmas gift shopping. Get in the festive spirit, visit www.cathedral.org.uk/christmas
Sandringham houSe muSeum & gardenS The Country retreat of h.m. The Queen
Sandringham houSe muSeum & gardenS The Country retreat of h.m. The Queen
A real taste of Norwich’s history Visit a replica Victorian shop stocking exclusive Colman’s Mustard products and showing displays on the history of Colman’s Mustard in Norwich.
Free entry Groups welcome 15 The Royal Arcade, Norwich, NR2 1NQ t. 01603 627889 email@example.com www.mustardshopnorwich.co.uk open daily easter to mid-July and early august to october (closed good Friday) www.sandringhamestate.co.uk or 01485 545408
@themustardshop Colman’s Mustard Shop & Museum
open daily easter to mid-July and early august to october (closed good Friday)ColmansMustardShopBritainMag.ind1 www.sandringhamestate.co.uk or 01485 545408
1O OF THE BEST
AILWAY JOURNEYS From the majestic Highlands of Scotland to Cornwall's sun-baked cliffs you can enjoy some of the most scenic areas of Britain from the comfort of a carriage WORDS MARTHA ALEXANDER
HEART OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS This is the classic Orient-Express journey: four blissful nights on one of the most luxurious trains in the world, The Royal Scotsman, travelling through the northernmost fringes of Britain. An early afternoon departure from Edinburgh’s Waverley station sees you head north via the Forth Bridge to Fife and from here it is magnificent views and breathtaking countryside all the way. The train stops for whisky tasting at the Glen Ord Distillery on the Black Isle peninsula and the chance to take a boat trip to see wild seals in the unfeasibly pretty Highlands village of Plockton on the west coast.
There are wonderful castles to be explored too, including romantic medieval Eilean Donan on a small tidal island in the West Highlands, built at the dramatic confluence of two lochs to guard against Viking attack. Since the 13th century there have been at least four different castles here – the last restored to its former glory in the early 20th century. Towards the end of the adventure the train snakes south, taking in vistas of the picturesque town of Pitlochry and pausing so you can visit grand Glamis Castle – before pushing on to Perth and back to Edinburgh.
The Royal Scotsman passing near the Kyle of Lochalsh, a village on the north-west coast of Scotland
Exploring Britain oxford to hereford The university city of Oxford is one of the most beautiful in Britain and is ideal to explore before your journey begins. Follow in the footsteps of Lewis Carroll and J R R Tolkien, discover colleges and ancient historical sites hidden away down narrow cobbled streets and wander through the Victorian Covered Market. The route from here west to Hereford on the Cotswold Line winds through the heart of a picture-perfect area of southern England. It crosses one of the country’s most famous Roman roads, Fosse Way, and creeps past the Malvern Hills, revealing spectacular sweeps of this miniature mountain range. Great Malvern itself has one of the finest stations in the country. As you enter Hereford, look out for the cathedral, which has a rich history dating back to 1079.
Radcliffe Square and St Mary's Church in Oxford on a snowy winter morning
photoS: © orient expreSS/SuperStock/AlAn copSon/AWl imAgeS
delights of the dales The Wensleydale Railway cuts right through the Yorkshire Dales National Park from the quaint market town of Leyburn to the charming village of Redmire. This railway line serves both the local community and international tourists alike. From Leyburn, look out for the prominent Pennhill to the south. You might spot its beacon, part of the large network built in the 16th century to warn of a Spanish invasion. To the north you will see the medieval majesty of Bolton Castle, nestled into the landscape. Completed in 1399, the castle was built by Sir Richard le Scrope, Lord Chancellor of England to King Richard II. The castle is still in the private ownership of Lord Bolton, a direct descendant of the original owner. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned at Bolton for six months by Queen Elizabeth I, but she was allowed to wander the surrounding countryside and often went hunting in the green upland pastures. And it is the rich pastoral nature of the Yorkshire Dales that is the greatest delight here, where stone walls criss-cross a landscape of river valleys and gentle hills, reaching towards the Three Peaks area of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. This part of the Yorkshire Dales is sparsely populated with tiny villages springing up sporadically and grey stone farmhouses peppering the valleys. It is also the rural country of James Herriot, the veterinary surgeon whose All Creatures Great and Small stories about animals won fans around the world. Ribblehead Viaduct with Whernside Mountain beyond – one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks
border country On this journey from Durham to Edinburgh you are treated to many thrilling views, starting with one of the most admired Norman cathedrals in the world – Durham Cathedral – which overlooks the city. Next is Newcastle upon Tyne, where you’ll cross the river to take in the city’s industrial glory. The urban cityscape is soon left behind, however, replaced by rolling, unspoilt Northumbrian countryside. The track hugs the coast north of Newcastle, showcasing quite unforgettable landscapes. The train passes through the village of Chathill close to Bamburgh Castle, one of the largest inhabited castles in Britain. With a history dating back 2,000 years, it sits dramatically on an outcrop overlooking the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is marooned in the North Sea and accessed at low tide by a causeway known as Pilgrims’ Way. The peaceful atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make a visit here well worth the effort, but it has not always been such a serene spot. Founded by St Aidan in 635 as an important centre of Celtic Christianity, Lindisfarne was raided over the following centuries by the Vikings and then the Danes. By 1093, after the Norman Conquest, a priory was re-established and a small castle was built in the 1570s. Passing from England to Scotland through border country presents some of the loveliest rural scenery you will find. It is a hilly area, with the Scottish Southern Uplands to the north, and the Cheviot Hills forming the border between the two countries to the south. Just before arriving at Berwick-upon-Tweed, the train crosses the Royal Border Bridge – a Grade I listed railway viaduct opened by Queen Victoria in 1850. The 656-metre-long bridge doesn’t actually mark the border, though, as this is three miles further north.
photoS: © iviewfromtheShardtrevor SmitherS/arpS/alamy/
Mussenden Temple, built as a library in 1785, is perched on the cliff edge near Castlerock in County Londonderry
A snow-covered Bamburgh Castle at sunset
picture of NortherN irelaNd
photoS: © Guy EdwardES/robErt hardinG/dan tuckEr/alamy/tranSlink
This 45-minute route to Coleraine through one of the most picturesque parts of Northern Ireland begins in Derry~Londonderry, the completely walled city that is this year’s UK City of Culture. The train follows the River Foyle out of Derry and into the rich green landscape for which the Emerald Isle is famous. Before long, the track begins to cling to the northern coastline, offering up dramatic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean as it crashes onto gorgeous sandy beaches. Near the seaside village of Castlerock you'll find the Downhill Estate, created by Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol who was the Bishop of Derry in the 1780s. The 18th-century ruined palace and its estates are now owned by the National Trust and are part of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Mussenden Temple, built on the estate in 1785 as a summer library and isolated on a basalt cliff edge, is one of the most photographed scenes in Ireland. Coleraine, the main town on the Causeway Coast, lies on the pretty banks of the River Bann and you’ll have an excellent view as the train follows the river’s progression.
remote scotlaNd This journey on the Far North Line from Inverness to Thurso offers the drama of Britain’s least populous region as you travel to the northernmost point of mainland Scotland, discovering all its unusual visual treasures. The line is single track in many places, adding to the remoteness and isolation of the journey, and traces the eastern coastline so that it feels as though the train is running along the beach. When you cross the ‘flow country’ of Caithness, a large, rolling expanse of peatland and wetland area, the virtually uninhabited landscape has a rare, bleak beauty. This landscape looks deserted now but is rich with the remains of pre-historic occupation and the numerous coastal castles (now mostly ruins) are Norse in their foundations. The tiny station at Georgemas Junction is the point at which the line splits into two branches – one to Wick and the other to Thurso. In between the two, on the rocky shore to the north side of Sinclair's Bay, stand the ruins of Keiss Castle, built by George, 5th Earl of Caithness who held sway here from 1582 to 1643.
Old Keiss Castle in Caithness, between John O'Groats and Wick
Tailor made holidays - just for you
Royal Scotsman Highland Journey Step back in time on a luxurious holiday with the Royal Scotsman into the wild, rugged landscapes of the Highlands. Enjoy faultless service, gourmet dining and some fascinating excursions off the train during your breathtakingly scenic journey.
London to Edinburgh and York Discover two historic cities on this 5 night holiday from London. Travel up the east coast to Scottish capital Edinburgh before returning via the historic city of York, founded by Romans, settled by the Vikings and conquered by Norman invaders in 1066.
Make Tracks with Railbookers Currently celebrating ten years in the business, Railbookers is an independent travel company, specialising in tailor made holidays by rail throughout Europe and beyond. With offices in London, Sydney and Los Angeles, we can help put together the perfect holiday to suit you, whether you are looking for a short break in London or Paris, a beach getaway on the Amalfi Coast or a dream journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Give us a call today and let us tailor make your perfect holiday by rail.
Historical Britain From a Roman capital city to a fashionable Georgian spa resort and a Viking stronghold, take a scenic rail journey through the history of Great Britain with visits to London, Bath, Cardiff, Chester, Manchester and York.
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Crossing the Cob embankment over the Glaslyn estuary in Porthmadog
the welsh highlands
Castle Stalker in its glorious island setting off Loch Linnhe
This 40-mile journey from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog showcases the splendour of Snowdonia and has been made possible by the joining together of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway companies: the section between Caernarfon and Porthmadog has been recently restored. Founded in 1832, the Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest operational railway company in the world and the only one to operate double-ended Fairlie steam locomotives, invented by the Scottish engineer Robert Francis Fairlie in 1864. The route takes you across the whole width of Snowdonia National Park and past the foot of Mount Snowdon – the highest mountain in Wales. You can also travel the length of the Aberglaslyn Pass, a beautiful narrow gorge that runs through Snowdonia from south of Beddgelert, intersecting the Glaslyn River, as it journeys to the Bay of Cardigan.
photoS: © FFeStiniog Railway/alamy/henk meijeR
scotland's west coast The West Highland Line from Scotland’s industrial hub, Glasgow, to the second largest settlement in the Highlands, Fort William, is one of the most popular in the country – and it is easy to see why. Not only does the journey take you up to Corrour, the highest station in Britain, but it also speeds across the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct with views of vibrant green landscape to the east and the coastal waters to the west. Of course now this amazing viaduct is known worldwide from the Harry Potter films and the train may pause here to allow you to take in the magnificent scene. At Glenfinnan station you can visit the West Highland Railway Museum located in the restored station building. Arriving in Fort William is a treat, as it is situated at the head of the lovely Loch Linnhe, with views across to Glencoe and Ben Nevis. Look out for Castle Stalker (pronounced stal-ker, with the 'l' sounded), a tower house built around 1320 and picturesquely set on a loch inlet. www.britain-magazine.com
Exploring Britain the midlands shakespeare express Starting in Britain’s second largest city, Birmingham, and finishing in Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon, this is a classic stream train journey. The open countryside outside Birmingham is delightful – you will pass through the ancient market town of Henley-in-Arden and its surrounding forest and chug past thatched cottages in abundance, providing a true taste of Warwickshire. Arriving in Stratford with its Tudor houses and literary heritage is somehow more exciting in a steam train, as different histories are brewed together to create a truly memorable experience.
It's said it was a special quality of the light and the arrival of the Great Western Railway that put St Ives on the map as an artists’ colony. The short trip here from St Erth on the St Ives Bay Line is the shortest in Britain – it may only take 12 minutes, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in prettiness. St Erth, four miles south-east of St Ives, is a charmingly tiny village at the old crossing point of the River Hayle. From here the train moves up the dunes above the sweeping expanse of white beach at Porth Kidney Sands. Two viaducts are crossed on this journey: the Carbis and the St Ives, the latter forming part of a dramatic descent into this seaside resort, which was once a pilchard-fishing village. Opened in June 1877 the line was the last ‘broad gauge’ railway to be built in Britain. This splendid feat of Victorian engineering follows the cliff edge around the coast to provide a stunning first impression of St Ives' colourful harbour.
For more information and other wonderful rail journeys across the country The Shakespeare Express
please visit the BRITAIN website at www.britain-magazine.com The railway into St Ives offers fabulous views of the pretty harbour
photoS: © john whitehouSe/iStock
Create your unique adventure in Great Britain With your own custom made map from Ordnance Survey, the national mapping authority
• Design a personalised memento of your trip to the UK. • Pick the centre of your map and the area that it covers. • Upload your own cover photo and add your titles.
www.oscustommade.co.uk Image © David M Balshaw
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Travel BriTain with BriTrail If you’re heading to the UK this winter there’s no better way to see the sights than by train, with BritRail’s seasonal discount
f you’re heading to Britain this winter, there’s no better way to see as many of its cities and sights as possible in ease and comfort than by train. Rail journeys offer the perfect way of experiencing all of the most memorable destinations, from the lush Highlands of Scotland to the coastal idylls of Cornish seaside towns. Imagine being able to tour England, Scotland and Wales, on one of 18,000 daily departures, hopping on and off at any one of 2,500 destinations at your leisure, and keeping to a flexible schedule. All of this is made possible with a classic BritRail Pass, which offers unlimited journeys throughout Britain each day. BritRail Passes can be tailored to suit every itinerary, allowing flexibility of length of stay and travel style. And during the winter months the BritRail Low Season Discount means the passes are available for up to 20 per cent less. New to BritRail’s Low Season Discount this year, the BritRail South West Pass covers travel throughout Great Britain’s south-west region. You can begin your journey, for example, in London where some of the world’s most visited sights and attractions await, from Big Ben to The London Eye. You can then visit the city of Bath, with its Roman baths and Georgian architecture, before heading to Oxford, the home of England’s oldest university, as well as visiting Windsor Castle, Salisbury Cathedral, King Arthur’s famous round table in Winchester and any stop in between. www.britain-magazine.com
The south-west also boasts popular coastal destinations and beautiful seaside resorts such as Torquay, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Bournemouth and Portsmouth. Additionally, travellers can head to St Ives for a truly scenic ride through Cornwall. The journey includes stops in the picturesque waterfront towns of Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance along the way: the ideal getaway for leisure travel and family holidays. The region has a number of golf courses and you can also visit Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales, which hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup, where golf enthusiasts can play a few rounds while taking in the stunning surrounding landscapes. BritRail offers Flexi Passes valid from three to 15 days of travel to be used within two months or Consecutive Passes valid for a period of travel from three days to one month. Since all are offered in First or Standard Class, those who opt for the First Class experience will enjoy additional benefits on
select trains such as free Wi-Fi, more spacious seating, at-seat meal service, free newspapers and complimentary tea and biscuits. A BritRail Pass even covers travel on Airport Express trains, the most convenient way to skip traffic from the airport to central London. You can take advantage of BritRail’s Low Season Discount by booking a BritRail Pass, BritRail England Pass or BritRail South West Pass on www. BritRail.com or by calling 1 866 938-RAIL (North America) before 15 February 2014. Remember to book and buy before you leave, as BritRail Passes cannot be purchased in Britain.
visit www.britrail.com to start your journey of discovery throughout Britain.
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Edinburgh was once described as ‘a mad god's dream', but even the maddest of gods couldn't have dreamt up a more dramatic setting or tumultuous history
Edinburgh is set in a dramatic location, perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags www.britain-magazine.com
PHOTO: © MAURIZIO RELLINI/SOPA RF/SOPA/CORBIS
WORDS ROBIN MCKELVIE
photoS: © getty imageS/alamy/dgb
Above: A view over the Stewart Monument and Edinburgh Castle. Far right: The ruin of St Anthony's Chapel in Holyrood Park
ith its imposing castle set atop a volcano and cobbled historic old town, few visitors ever forget their first sight of Edinburgh. Scotland’s magnificent capital does not so much wear its history on its sleeve as overflow with intoxicating tales of medieval villains, feuding warlords and all manner of royal intrigue. Edinburgh today, though, is also the capital of a modern nation that now has its first parliament in 300 years. A new sense of confidence has spiced up and injected more fire into the very heart of the Scottish capital, adding even more richness to its fascinating historical charm. Edinburgh’s story is inexorably intertwined with its natural landscape. The city lies at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, the deeply strategic waterway that connects Scotland’s historic heartlands around Stirling (the land of William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace and Robert the Bruce) with the North Sea. It is an urban oasis laden with natural drama, from its rugged hills and craggy volcanoes, through to the Forth and the Water of Leith, a truly special place where the ever-changing weather conditions constantly shift the city’s hues and moods.
A treasure trove of archaeological finds has shown that Bronze Age tribes once eked out a living around Edinburgh and that the Romans set up camp here too. It was not until the Middle Ages, though, that Edinburgh – the modern English name comes from the first hill fort on the site of Din Eidyn – started to rise to greater prominence, with the Castle Rock serving as Scotland’s southern bulwark. Edinburgh’s growth accelerated over the centuries. In the 11th century Malcolm Canmore (King Malcolm III of Scotland) designated Edinburgh a royal burgh, then in 1128 King David I established an abbey at Holyrood. Perhaps even more significantly in 1329 Robert the Bruce granted a new charter that brought the Port of Leith, the largest enclosed deepwater port in Scotland, into the fold. Edinburgh rode the crests and hollows of the tumultuous relationship between Scotland and England over the next 500 years. Under King James IV of Scots Edinburgh basked in Renaissance glory, while the reign of King Henry VIII in England brought about the sacking of the city. The Act of Union in 1707 effectively created Great Britain as it is today and for three centuries Edinburgh was a capital city without a parliament. All that changed in www.britain-magazine.com
1999 when political devolution brought a sparkling parliament building and the city hasn’t looked back since. All of the tribes, civilisations and cultures that have breezed through Edinburgh over the centuries have left their indelible traces. There is the old Roman fort at Cramond, Pictish sites and Gaelic legacies, as well as, of course, the more modern Scottish and British cultures that have given the city its world-renowned architecture. History is so thick in the air in Edinburgh that you can feel it. Delving into the Old Town is like leafing through the pages of a dusty historical novel as each era unfolds with its own legends and tall stories. One of the most nefarious tales is of the duplicitous deeds of cabinet maker Deacon Brodie. A respected man of high society by day but a devious burglar by night, Brodie was eventually hanged for his crimes. The story goes that the gallows used were of a new type introduced by Brodie himself. Another soul to meet her fate on the gallows was Maggie Dickson. This local lassie was hanged for being a witch. When the motion of the cart carrying her body revived her on the Old Town cobbles she was hanged again as the prosecutors decided her initial survival definitely www.britain-magazine.com
J While most visitors trekking through
holyrood Park to the top of Arthur’s Seat – edinburgh’s highest point – follow the same route back down towards the Palace of holyroodhouse, savvy locals continue south down the grassy slopes into the sleepy village-like charms of duddingston. here the characterful Sheep heid inn
(www.thesheepheidedinburgh.co.uk) awaits, a cosy pub where you can enjoy a pint of the local beer, called ‘heavy’ to signify its strength, and great Scottish cuisine. J Orocco Pier (www.oroccopier.co.uk) in the historic waterfront suburb of South Queensferry offers an alternative to edinburgh’s city centre hotels. there are only 17 rooms, a seafood restaurant and buzzy café/bar on hand, both boasting epic views out across to the Forth bridges. J the Water of Leith is edinburgh’s little explored other river. A favourite stroll amongst the locals is from the Scottish national gallery of Modern Art along the river’s leafy banks down to Stockbridge, where a sprinkling of cosy pubs, restaurants and independent shops awaits.
Edinburgh is known as a city of ghosts, where spooky stories are evocatively spiced up on popular ghost tours through the warren of Old Town narrow cobbled lanes or ‘closes’
meant she was indeed a witch! Even more sinister were Burke and Hare, the notorious ‘bodysnatchers’. When they ran short of dug up corpses to supply the local surgeons’ insatiable hunger for cadavers to dissect they cut out the middlemen and started killing innocent people. Unsurprisingly Edinburgh is known as a city of ghosts, where stories like these are evocatively spiced up on popular ghost tours through the warren of Old Town narrow cobbled lanes or ‘closes’. Alternatively you can just enjoy them in the local pubs, with watering holes dedicated to Deacon Brodie, Maggie Dickson and Burke and Hare. Edinburgh’s dramatic castle enjoys an unparalleled location. Proudly perched on an extinct volcanic outcrop, it has panoramic views over the rambling Old Town – which has preserved its medieval street plan – and the stately order of the New Town, often considered to be a masterpiece of city planning. Both old and new have been recognised on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. On a clear morning the vistas you can savour stretch out even further: north towards the rugged mountains of the Highlands, south towards the once wild border country with England, east out across the pale blue expanse of the North Sea and west towards the old battlefields of Falkirk (1298) and Bannockburn (1314) where the English and the Scots respectively won bloody victories. Dropping down from the castle ramparts, after exploring its maze of museums and galleries, you can investigate the cobbled Royal Mile. In the early 18th century English writer Daniel Defoe described the Mile as
photoS: © ScottiSh viewpoint/Maurizio rellini/Sopa rF/Sopa/corbiS/JaSon Friend/loop iMageS
Above: An ornate clock on Princes Street. Right: Sign for Deacon Brodie's tavern on the historic Royal Mile
the ‘Finest street for buildings... not in Britain only, but the world’. Today, despite a flurry of souvenir shops, the majestic regal thoroughfare remains breathtaking. As it descends to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the Edinburgh residence of The Queen) there are a host of attractions such as St Giles’ Cathedral, John Knox House and the Scotch Whisky Experience, not to mention a selection of fine pubs and restaurants. Edinburgh’s Old Town was not always as salubrious, however. In medieval times it was notorious for being an overcrowded, unsanitary mass of humanity. Seeking a better life the city’s moneyed classes gravitated south across the newly built Mound, which crossed the drained Nor Loch en route to what was in effect a new city. The chief architect of this ‘Athens of the North’ was incredibly 22-year-old James Craig, who won a design competition to find a suitably modern layout for the new suburb in 1766. A seminal figure who is to Edinburgh what Haussmann was to Paris, he created an oasis in complete contrast to the Old Town. A neoclassical paradise of grand boulevards and green squares, it had the luxury of two wide avenues, Princes Street and Queen Street, that were only built up on one side in order to allow the views to shine through. In this refined world the ground-breaking Scottish Enlightenment ideas of such luminaries as philosopher David Hume, geologist James Hutton and economist Adam Smith flourished, bringing the city even further renown. Into the 19th century Edinburgh inspired two of Scotland’s greatest ever writers, Sir Walter Scott and
Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens. Below: The National Monument on Calton Hill
The view from Symonds Yat Rock in the Forest of Dean. Facing page: Tintern Abbey on the River Wye is one of Wales' most spectacular monastic ruins
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Edinburgh lies at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, the deeply strategic waterway that connects Scotland’s historic heartlands around Stirling with the North Sea
Above: The spectacular 19th-century Forth Bridge over the Firth of Forth. Below: The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Robert Louis Stevenson. Scott’s novels brilliantly conjured up the country around him, as well as bringing alive the Jacobite years of the preceding century. He is commemorated by the Scott Monument, an unmistakable Victorian edifice that straddles the divide between the Old Town and New Town – you can climb up to appreciate both. The stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, whose Jekyll and Hyde novel is largely based on the tale of Deacon Brodie, vividly evokes this city of split personalities and both his work and life come alive at the Writers’ Museum on the Royal Mile. Edinburgh’s cultural scene continues to flourish today. As well as staging the world’s largest arts festival in
August, modern Edinburgh (recognised by UNESCO as its first City of Literature in 2004) boasts its own twin literary luminaries in the form of JK Rowling and Ian Rankin. Rowling famously wrote her first Harry Potter novel in the city’s Elephant House café, while fans of Ian Rankin’s fictional Edinburgh detective John Rebus will be delighted to learn the characterful pub he drinks in (the Oxford Bar) not only exists, but is exactly as described in Rankin’s novels. Edinburgh also boasts a new architectural face in keeping with its renewed role as the site of the modern Scottish Parliament. The parliament building is a dreamy avant-garde collage of architectural styles that manages to
Right at the foot of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s royal quarter, Holyrood, which still functions as the Edinburgh residence of The Queen.
The story of Holyrood drifts back to the 12th century and Scottish King David I. The legend goes that he was thrown from his hunting horse and confronted by a mighty white stag. He was spared when he tried to wrangle with its antlers only to find himself holding a crucifix before the mysterious stag wandered off. This miracle inspired him to found Holyrood Abbey (‘rood’ means cross). The composer Felix Mendelssohn was certainly inspired too, declaring, “Everything in ruins, decayed, and open to the skies. I believe I found there today the beginning of my Scottish Symphony.” It became his Symphony No 3 in A Minor. The Palace of Holyroodhouse was mainly crafted in the 17th century, but its ghosts and swirl of styles
date from many eras since. Much of the palace harks back to the reign of King Charles II, who styled a lot of its grand plasterwork and sense of space on his cousin King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles near Paris. The Great Gallery is a highlight, bedecked as it is with over 100 portraits of Scottish monarchs. Tragic Mary Queen of Scots is also closely linked to the palace as it was here that her jealous husband Lord Darnley had her lover David Rizzio murdered. You can delve into the legends of Holyroodhouse on the illuminating guided tours. Make sure to visit the Queen’s Gallery, where extraordinary pieces from The Queen’s own private art collection (which you can normally only view in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle) star.
photoS: © NatioNal MuSeuMS ScotlaNd/david RobeRtSoN/alaMy
The Royal Yacht Britannia is moored at Edinburgh's waterfront in Leith. Above: The elegant glass atrium in the National Museum of Scotland
harmonise with the city’s other grand edifices, while the Weston Link (between the National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy) is a brilliant architectural and cultural marriage of two neo-classical buildings. The year 2011 saw the reopening of another innovative union at the National Museum of Scotland as the elegant original Victorian glass atrium was entwined with the sleek sandstone modern annexe. Then there is the designer store-laden Multrees Walk, the centre’s first new street in decades and home to luxury department store Harvey Nichols. Topping it off, 2014 will see the return of trams to the city’s streets for the first time in more than half a century. Edinburgh’s renaissance is also taking shape down on the once neglected waterfront in Leith, which is now one of the city’s up-and-coming districts. The new Ocean Terminal leisure complex is the star of the old docklands, with its collage of bars, hotels and restaurants, and further restaurants dot the historic waterside at Commercial Quay. Leith’s highlight is the Royal Yacht Britannia, now permanently moored as a museum by the refurbished waterfront. Edinburgh fought off a host of rival UK cities to become the last resting place of this slice of floating history, which served for four decades as the Royal Family’s private yacht. The success of Britannia’s move has served to further strengthen the appeal of a city that has long managed to seamlessly blend the alluring ghosts of its past with the patriotic energies of its present and future.
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Do get in touch with your views about the country, your travels and the magazine
PHOTOS: © VISITBRITAIN/ADAM BURTON/PAWEL LIBERA
OUR FAVOURITE LETTER
Reading Volume 81 Issue 4 of BRITAIN, I came across two advertisements, one for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the other for tours of the Houses of Parliament. These brought up contrasting memories of two incredible trips to England – one in 2001 and the other in 2012. During the first we had scheduled two tours, both firsts – the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament – on 13 September 2001, which turned out to be two days after our whole world changed. We hurried to Buckingham Palace on the morning of 13 September to witness a truly historic moment – the playing of the American National Anthem in the Palace courtyard for the very first time.
Words cannot describe our emotions watching the Band of the Grenadier Guards marching down the Mall playing The British Grenadiers with the Band of the Black Watch following playing Stars and Stripes Forever. After entering the courtyard the massed bands played first the British National Anthem, then the American National Anthem. I don’t think there was a dry eye anywhere. Standing near us was a Welshman, who sang the anthems with a wonderful, rich voice. We toured the State Rooms at the Palace and both Houses of Parliament as scheduled thanks to the indomitable spirit of the British. What a marked change was our visit of 2012 when we visited the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to watch field hockey during the Olympic Games and again in September to witness the athletic finals of the Paralympic Games. That was an incredible experience and very humbling. Lesley Keller, California, USA • Our favourite letter wins a
lovely Biscuiteers tin filled with a delicious handmade collection of biscuity edibles fit for a queen, including crowns, corgis and Buckingham Palace. www.biscuiteers.com
BEHIND THE SCENES Can you advise on the filming locations of the UK television series Broadchurch and The Royal (what is the actual building used for the outside shots of the hospital)? You have been kind enough in the past to help me with similar queries. Alan Cobb, via email
BRITAIN REPLIES: Broadchurch was mostly filmed around the Jurassic Coast of West Dorset as well as areas of North Somerset. The outside scenes in The Royal were filmed in the North Yorkshire holiday resort of Scarborough. The exterior of the hospital was represented by the Red Court residential building on the Esplanade, which was originally built in the early years of the 20th century. HOW TO WRITE TO US – By post to: Letters, BRITAIN, Chelsea Magazines, Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ; or to: Letters, BRITAIN, Circulation Specialists Inc, 2 Corporate Drive, Suite 945, Shelton, CT 06484, USA Or email the editor: email@example.com
Tower Bridge illuminated during the London 2012 Olympic Games
BRIDGING THE GAP 071-074 BRJA13 ICONS_v3.indd 73
In Volume 81 Issue 4 of BRITAIN, there is a beautiful picture of Tower Bridge I noticed on page 73. Have you ever done an article about Tower Bridge? I am wondering, other than the walkways and the old engines, what else is housed in there? Amy Heyman, via email
BRITAIN REPLIES: We shall
certainly consider a feature on Tower Bridge in the near future, Amy. It’s a fascinating structure; you mention the Victorian Engine rooms and the high walkways, 42 metres above the River Thames, but it also houses two exhibition spaces as well as areas available for hire for weddings and events. www.towerbridge.org.uk 8 COMPETITION WINNER Congratulations to Jill Horn from West Glamorgan who has won a wonderful holiday to the Scilly Isles, staying at Hell Bay Hotel.
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DISTINCTLY BRITISH From mustard to Marmite and teapots to tartan â€“ for an understanding of British life look no further than the everyday objects that have become national icons WORDS MARTHA ALEXANDER
Remembrance poppies, worn each autumn in the weeks before Remembrance Day, the Sunday nearest to 11 November, honour those who have given their lives fighting in wars. Not only do poppies symbolise bloodshed, they grew on the Belgian battlefields of World War I. Canadian soldier John McCrae describes them in his poem In Flanders Fields: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row”. A handful of poppies picked between 1914 and 1918 have been discovered over the years pressed between the pages of soldiers’ diaries and Bibles.
The design of these folding chairs was patented in 1886 by John Thomas Moore. They were used on the decks of ocean liners that transported passengers all over the British Empire.
LOVE IT OR HATE IT
Since 1393, it has been a legal requirement that all public houses in Britain have a sign outside, so that they can be easily identified as such. Pictures on signs to illustrate the pub’s name were especially useful in centuries gone by when many people were illiterate. Pub names might reflect local trades, such as The Builders’ Arms, or pay homage to the monarch who reigned at the time of opening. Pubs continue to be at the heart of many communities across Britain, although they are now, in many cases, much more sophisticated than the smoky watering holes of yesteryear.
Thanks to its strong, distinctive taste, Marmite polarises opinion, so much so that the term ‘marmite’ is regularly used in British life to describe something that is either loved or loathed. TIME FOR TEA
Teapots were invented some 500 years ago, in China, not Britain, but tea is such a British institution that this spouted vessel is considered very much part of the nation’s cultural identity. Prior to the 1960s when teabags were widely popularised, tea was always brewed and served from a china pot. Etiquette dictated that the hostess would always pour, however, the phrase “shall I be mother?” came to be used if a guest was offering to pour in lieu of a hostess. Teapots are still used in many households and novelty versions are valuable amongst collectors.
Style CHRISTMAS PUDDING
It’s said the making of Christmas puddings began in medieval times when the Church declared that each household should produce a pudding that contained 13 ingredients in it, to represent Christ and the 12 apostles. TARTAN KILT
King Charles II returned to England from exile on the Continent in 1660, bringing with him the French fashion for the ruling classes to wear wigs. By 1800 it was only barristers and judges who continued to wear horsehair wigs, largely to convey a sense of learning and to separate their professional and personal identities.
RED TELEPHONE BOX
A universal symbol of Scotland, the tartan kilt dates back to the 16th century, when it was the traditional dress for boys and men in the Highlands. The associations that kilts had with warrior clans led to the garment being banned in 1746 by King George II – who felt threatened by those who wore them. However, the ban was lifted 35 years later and in 1822 King George IV wore a kilt when he visited Scotland. Highland tartans were, until the 19th century, associated with region rather than clan. However, the Victorians artificially matched tartan to specific families to romanticise Scottish history.
Red telephone boxes are iconic in Britain but their colour – chosen so they would be easy to spot in an emergency – was once regarded as garish. The K6 version (pictured) was designed in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V, and was an updated version of the K2. Both were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect of London’s Battersea Power Station. Since the advent of mobile phones many boxes are now used as book exchanges or galleries.
Sticks of rock are synonymous with British seasides. Blackpool rock was initially made in Yorkshire in the 1880s by confectioner Ben Bullock, who was the first to put the resort’s name down the middle. www.britain-magazine.com
Style POSTAGE STAMP
HOT CROSS BUN
These spiced buns were traditionally a religious food, made and eaten during Lent between Shrove Tuesday and Good Friday. The cross marking on the top is intended to be a symbol of the crucifixion of Christ.
Named after the 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, the general who fought and defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, these boots were designed to be worn in battle and were originally made from leather. The style was much-coveted by English gentlemen keen to emulate their hero. Soon it became fashionable to wear the boots on any occasion, even indoors. The first brand to create a rubber version was Hunter in the late 19th century. Hunter wellies served in both world wars and remain popular today.
The adhesive postage stamp was invented in Victorian Britain by Sir Rowland Hill, who began postal reform in 1835. Prior to this, recipients were expected to pay for postage and the costs depended on extensive variables including distance travelled, dimensions and weight, while records of postage were made by ink stamps. The first gum-backed stamp was the 1840 Penny Black. Initially stamps had to be cut out using scissors, before being divided by perforated lines. The head of the reigning king or queen in profile (facing the opposite direction to his or her predecessor) has always been on British stamps, but Britain remains the only nation in the world that doesn’t include the name of the country on its stamps.
English mustard is exceptionally strong. Colman’s, the best-known brand, was created in a Norfolk water mill and is a potent mixture of white and brown mustard.
ALL PHOTOS: © GEOFF HALL AND KAMILA KASPEROWICZ
BRILLIANT BRITISH OBJECTS
British life is cleverly illuminated in British Stuff, a stylish compendium of British objects by Geoff Hall and Kamila Kasperowicz. The authors tell the stories of 101 everyday items that have become globally recognisable as national British icons, detailing rich histories and including quirky facts. The book is appealingly illustrated with large, fresh images of each and every object. Offering a comprehensive understanding of British life, from past to present, British Stuff is compulsive reading.
Rugby is said to have been invented after a pupil at Rugby School in the Midlands town of the same name broke the rules of football by picking up the ball and running with it. Rugby balls in the 19th century were made of pigs’ bladders, and were not uniform in shape or size. In 1892 the Rugby Football Union decided that all balls must be oval.
Published by Summersdale – price £14.99. www.summersdale.com
icons visit www.britain-magazine.com
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Clockwise from this image: Liverpool's Albert Dock; Marco Pierrre White Steakhouse; The Beatles Story museum
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MAIN PHOTO: © VISITBRITAIN
e have an amazing competition this issue: an action-packed stay in the stylish and vibrant city of Liverpool. Situated in the northwest of England, Liverpool has undergone a huge renaissance, transforming it into a thriving cultural capital that is bursting with character and charm. We are offering one lucky winner and their guest the opportunity to win a fantastic VIP city break to experience this captivating destination. The trip is for early 2014, offering the perfect escape after the hustle and bustle of the festive season. You will be treated to a two-night stay with breakfast in the four-star boutique Hotel Indigo Liverpool, located within the heart of the Commercial District. Within the hotel you’ll find the hugely popular Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, where you will enjoy dinner on your first evening, with a sumptuous menu created under the leadership of the renowned chef. Albert Dock is Liverpool’s most visited free attraction, and this year celebrates its milestone 25th anniversary. Here you’ll enjoy a day of treats offered by Tate Liverpool, the Beatles Story, Vinea and Wheel of Liverpool. A visit to Tate’s only venue in the north of England is a must. You will receive tickets for Art Turning Left (until 2 February) or Keywords (28 February-11 May), as well as a special private daytime ‘Tour for Two’ experience. The Beatles Story charts the life and music of the Fab Four – John, Paul, George and Ringo. You will have ultimate passes for both venues, including the special exhibition, Elvis and Us, as well as a Fab4 store goodie bag each. Find out all there is to know about wine with specialists Vinea, at a VIP wine tasting with nibbles. Then it’s off to the Wheel of Liverpool for panoramic views across the city from your own private gondola with a bottle of Champagne.
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SHOPPINg IN SPLeNdOuR London’s arcades are steeped in history and retain their heritage thanks to high-end shops and customers who are as interested in the city of yesteryear as they are in spending WORDS Martha alexander
efore Oxford Street swarmed with shoppers or the sprawling department stores of Harrods and Harvey Nichols put Knightsbridge on the retail map, the capital was the place to go for luxury consumers. London’s shopping story began as far back as the 1600s when tailors, jewellers and shoemakers started to establish shops in St James’s and Mayfair, areas surrounding what we now know as Piccadilly. This road, which runs beneath Mayfair and joins Hyde Park Corner to Soho is thought to be named after a high, stiff collar– the piccadil – created by 17th-century draper Robert Baker.
It was in this part of London that the city’s first shopping arcades were built in the 18th century, becoming home to the most high-end and well-appointed shops in the land. From shoemakers Loake and shirtmakers Hilditch & Key to chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker, these retail hubs were for only the most discerning customer. This exclusivity remains and London arcades are not the domain of high street chains. One of the most striking is the Royal Arcade, which links Albemarle Street with Old Bond Street and was completed in 1880. It is distinctive thanks to its cream and britain
Previous page: Piccadilly Arcade. Above left: Two Beadles walk across the Lord Linleydesigned carpet that runs through Burlington Arcade. Above right: Beadle John Capper
orange facade decoration, which has a relief profile of Queen Victoria in the centre. This ornate sculptural architecture continues inside, in multiple arches dividing an entirely glass roof. It was originally known as just The Arcade, but following the patronage of shirtmaker H W Brettell by Victoria, the collection of shops was renamed accordingly. Princes Arcade, next to Fortnum & Mason department store, links Piccadilly with Jermyn Street on the ground floor of Princes House. The building was originally built to house the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and opened by The Prince and Princess of Wales in 1883. However, the arcade as we see it today was opened in 1933. Also linking
Piccadilly and Jermyn Street is the Piccadilly Arcade, which was opened in 1909. One of the most unusual of its 16 shops is The Armoury of St James’s, a seller of traditional hand-painted toy soldiers as well as military antiques. However, the most famous of London’s shopping arcades is also the oldest in the country. Burlington Arcade, which is directly opposite the Piccadilly Arcade, runs between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens. It was established between 1818 and 1819 by George Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington, following an unusual conception. Lord Cavendish’s home was Burlington House, where the Royal Academy of Arts is. His garden stretched down to what is now Old Bond Street and proved a popular place for the public to relieve themselves of any rubbish. Lady Cavendish insisted that a preventative wall be built. However, it still didn’t stop passers-by flinging their oyster shells and other unsavoury dross into the garden. So Lord Cavendish decided to build a shopping area. It would principally solve the problem of the litter, but there was a secondary reason, too. London at this time had no police force and the streets were a Dickensian mayhem. Lord Cavendish wanted a place where his wife could shop in safety with her friends. He employed his ex-servicemen as guardians of the arcade, providing them with welcome jobs when they came back from war. Known as Beadles, liveried guards still patrol each entrance today and are recognised as the smallest private police force in the country “No running, no singing, umbrellas need to be closed, and no whistling,” says John Capper, one of four Beadles working at Burlington Arcade, listing the rules all customers must abide by. www.britain-magazine.com
photos: © justin setterfield/paul smith/istock
Far left: Iconic British designer Paul Smith has a boutique in the Royal Arcade. Left: Burlington Arcade decorated for Christmas. Below: Illustration of Charbonnel et Walker's shop front at the Royal Arcade
The Beadles of Burlington Arcade still patrol each entrance and are recognised as the smallest private police force in the country “The ‘no whistling’ rule came about from when we had tenants renting the areas above the shops,” explains Capper. “When there was a quiet period, those apartments would be filled with ladies of the night. The women would whistle to kids who had snuck into the arcade, telling them who to pickpocket and warning them when Beadles were coming. The whistles were codes and that’s why it was stopped.” The only person officially allowed to whistle in here is former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, who was caught whistling in the arcade by a Beadle and readily apologised. “The Beadle gave him a pass to whistle when he came into the arcade,” says Capper. “Every year he comes in around Christmas and whistles and gives the Beadles a wave.” The Beadles are not only there for security; they also offer an excellent information service and look after the arcade’s tenants. They wear the same uniforms worn by the officers of Lord Cavendish 200 years ago, which are made by Henry Poole & Co, the Savile Row tailor. The outfits consist of a tailcoat and waistcoat – each with silver Chinese silk trim, top hat and shoes from Church’s. The buttons bear the Burlington Arcade crest. The Burlington Arcade has not changed in almost two centuries with the exception of a few shops in the north end, which were hit by a bomb during World War II, and the floor, www.britain-magazine.com
which is now sturdy stone but covers the original wooden version. Running down the centre of the floor is a 180-metre-long carpet designed by Linley (the design business founded by The Queen’s nephew) and installed last year to mark both Her Majesty’s Jubilee and the Olympic Games. It details some of the most famous buildings in the world, from the Taj Mahal to St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as famous fictional figures; the challenge is to find Mary Poppins, King Kong and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Royal warrant holders are in abundance when you stroll through all the arcades. Charbonnel et Walker welcomes you into the Royal Arcade and was one of the original tenants, while Penhaligon’s in Burlington has two royal warrants and supplies Prince Charles with his cologne. Hancocks Jewellers in Burlington was established in 1849 and is the supplier of the Victoria Cross to soldiers for their valour. Shopping in these arcades is about much more than just spending money, for it feels as if they are bridging a gap between museum and shop, and that you are wandering through a magical patch of history. britain
St Chad’S College St Chad’s College is set on a dramatic site in the shadow of Durham Cathedral in the centre of medieval Durham.
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Hotels From ghosts to glamour, we bring you 10 fascinating facts about London’s top hotels
The Savoy Hotel’s heritage dates back to 1246 when Count Peter of Savoy built a palace on land by the River Thames given to him by King Henry III – Henry’s wife Eleanor of Provence was Count Peter’s niece.
Hotels were rare in London before the 19th century. Wealthy people tended to stay in their own or rented townhouses while the less well off might stay in a coaching inn. The George Inn, Southwark, dates back to 1676 and was one of the many famous coaching inns in the days of Charles Dickens – he referred to it in Little Dorrit. It is now the only galleried inn left in London.
The advent of railways was the catalyst for growth in the hotels in London. Tourism boomed and the railway companies led the way when it came to accommodation, with huge hotels constructed at each major station. The Midland Grand at St Pancras station, for example, was one of many hotels at the forefront of early tourism in the city. It reopened in 2011 as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
The Goring Hotel opened in 1910 and was the first in the world to offer en-suite bathrooms with each bedroom. A room cost the equivalent of 37p a night. The Allied war effort was run from the Goring’s kitchen during WWI, and the hotel was subsequently home to Winston Churchill’s mother. It is now famous for being where the Duchess of Cambridge spent the night before her wedding.
Elizabeth Taylor received news that her $1 million contract request – a first for Hollywood – to star in Cleopatra had been accepted while she was staying in the Harlequin Suite at The Dorchester on Park Lane. The pink marble bathroom that was installed just for her in the early 1960s remains exactly as it was then.
The Langham, on Regent Street, is said to be one of the UK’s most haunted hotels with seven different ghosts sighted in the 148 years it has been running. Guests can request to stay in room 333, the location for most of the spooky sightings, which include a Victorian gentleman whose legs appear to be missing. The explanation for this is that the floors have been raised since Victorian times to make way for central heating.
The first successful telephone call ever made in Britain was at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, where inventor Alexander Graham Bell stayed in 1876. English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling also completed The Jungle Book here.
The Stafford Hotel in St James’s is connected to Buckingham Palace via underground passages. The secret warren begins in the hotel’s impressive 380-year-old wine cellar, which is also an intimate dining room. Although now blocked off for security reasons, the tunnels are said to have been a means of enabling illicit trysts between what was a private residence and the palace.
Despite being famous for its old-fashioned glamour, The Ritz on Piccadilly was always modern in its outlook: the hotel was the first in London that allowed young, unmarried women to visit without chaperones.
photos: © st pancras renaissance hoteL
The Georgian House Hotel in Victoria has had numerous reports of ghostly goings-on. Two children are believed to haunt the top floor of this former townhouse, having been both seen and heard on repeated occasions.
Above, left to right: St Pancras station’s ticket hall in 1884; the former ticket hall is now the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel’s Booking Office Bar & Restaurant www.britain-magazine.com
photo: ÂŠ Jason hawkes/Corbis
Longleat House is set in more than 900 acres of parkland landscaped by Capability Brown
Longleat is one of the most unusual grand estates in the world. The house contains a wealth of treasures, while its parkland is full of African wildlife Words Martha alexander
t the heart of a huge Wiltshire estate of rolling hills, dense copses and landscaped gardens stands Longleat House. It is a stunning example of Elizabethan architecture, completed in 1580: a residence with no fewer than 365 windows and 99 chimneys. There is the Great Hall, a host of secret passageways and cavities, two dining rooms and a Minstrels’ Gallery. From the roof there are spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, which contains an enormous maze and a safari park where big cats, giraffes and rhinos roam. With so much bounty, it’s hard to imagine that Longleat was once a medieval priory with only 60 acres of land and a rabbit warren. Sir John Thynne (pronounced ‘thin’) purchased the lot for £53 in 1540. “He is the history of Longleat,” says Ruth Charles, Visitor Manager at Longleat House, pointing to a portrait of a noble-looking fellow in the Great Hall. “Thynne was a ruthless character who worked his way quickly up through the Tudor Court and married well, twice. It was very risky, because in Tudor times if you poked your head above the parapet too far someone chopped it off. He was in the Tower of London twice and lived to tell the tale.” The estate, in this green idyll near Warminster, is named after a man-made ditch www.britain-magazine.com
that helped fuel the watermill that was here when the site was a priory. The word for such a ditch was ‘leat’, hence Longleat was born. Since John Thynne built the house, it has hosted royalty and important dignitaries. All of the British monarchs since Queen Elizabeth I (who visited in 1574) have been to Longleat, with the exception of Queen Victoria, who famously never went anywhere after her beloved husband Albert died. Originally, the house was comprised of two wings, and people would have to move through each room to get from one end to the other. This was typical of Elizabethan architecture, where corridors didn’t exist. “This is why four-poster beds were so popular – for privacy,” explains Ruth. Corridors were installed in the 1800s and this altered the entire Elizabethan internal structure but made the house easier to navigate. The ante-library is distinctly Victorian in décor. Visitors have to look up to the ceiling to appreciate the full impact – it is decorated with ornate paintings surrounded by ostentatious detailing. This ceiling was installed as a result of the 4th Marquess’s adventures on The Grand Tour, a staple trip for aristocrats since the 17th century. He loved Italian Renaissance art and had Venetian paintings copied or even shipped over in the 1870s and 1880s to demonstrate how well-travelled he was. britain
The nursery here is an Edwardian delight – with children’s christening gowns laid out on twin beds. There is a collection of enormous doll’s houses on display too. Staff on the estate would build the houses and the children who lived at Longleat would make the furniture. One tiny chair is fashioned out of a playing card. Keen observers will see that the houses plainly tell the story of the ‘upstairs downstairs’ class systems that were so integral to stately service. All Elizabethan houses would have had long galleries, where exercise could be taken. Dresses in the 1500s were vast and cumbersome, designed for being admired and little else; ladies would not go for walks outside. The salon at Longleat was once such a space, but now it is filled with furniture as it became a grand reception room, demonstrating how social and recreational conventions changed over the years. The Great Hall can be observed from above in the Minstrels’ Gallery. Music players were servants, so they would be kept out of sight, but in a position where they could still be clearly heard.
photo: © longleat house
“That’s what houses like this are,” says Ruth. “Stately homes are status symbols.” The rooms are luxurious and opulent: there are 22-carat-gold-leaf ceilings and vast mirrors placed high up to reflect their rich colour mixed with warm candlelight. There are two formal dining rooms – one that includes a fully laid table of porcelain that was bought especially for a visit by King George III in 1789. The servants accessed these grand rooms via cleverly concealed doors leading to the rat-run of passages at the core of the house. The book collection at Longleat is significant: there are over 40,000 tomes here – most of which are in The Red Library. The collection includes important manuscripts such as the earliest known hand-drawn illustration of Titus Andronicus as well as a passage from the Shakespearean play. There is also a Chaucer manuscript – in 1532 Sir John Thynne’s uncle had been editor-in-chief of the first collected edition of the works of the author, who has been dubbed ‘the father of English literature’. Upstairs, visitors can see the north side of the house, which was added in the 1800s.
The front entrance to Longleat House. Left: The Ante-Library with its ornate ceiling
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Left: Longleat Hedge Maze is the longest of its kind in the world. Below: The 7th Marquess of Bath lives in the private apartments at Longleat, which he has personally decorated
Tours of the roof of the house are available, offering fantastic views of the property from above. Having such a vantage point gives guests the chance to truly understand the building. It’s also a lovely place to appreciate the grounds, which were designed by influential 18th-century landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, famous for creating surroundings that suggested complete naturalness, rather than man-made symmetry. The grounds also include the
There are two dining rooms, one with a fully laid table of porcelain bought especially for a visit by King George III in 1789 which hangs in the largest bedroom) are filled with treasures. These were the best bedrooms in the house and given to guests. The Chinese Room is covered in beautifully painted oriental chinoiserie. “Room measurements would be sent to China and wallpaper would be sent back in panels that could be pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle,” explains Ruth. In the largest bedroom of the suite is a curious set of steps that are used to get into the gargantuan four-poster bed. On closer inspection, this Regency answer to the stepladder is revealed to contain a nighttime potty, a reminder that this huge house once stood with no running water or electricity. www.britain-magazine.com
Longleat Hedge Maze, added to the estate in 1975. Made out of more than 16,000 yews and comprising almost two miles of paths, it is the longest maze of its kind in the world. Centuries may have passed but Longleat is still run by the same family. It is home to Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, who adopted the current spelling of his surname in 1976. It was Lord Bath’s father, the 6th Marquess, who began to make Longleat’s recent history as unusual as its past. Private estates struggled to keep going after World War II and Longleat was no different. But the 6th Marquess of Bath was nothing if not enterprising. Longleat became the first stately home to welcome
Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath (1932-present) put his own personal touch on Longleat by painting murals relating to his psyche all over the family apartments. Lord Bath (pictured above) is not alone in being unconventional, however – Britain has been renowned throughout history for its eccentric aristocrats. Cherry Drummond, Baroness Strange (1928-2005) was a green-fingered peer, who would arrive at the House of Lords with armfuls of fruit and flowers from her garden. she changed her will on her deathbed, calling guests who were staying in her medieval scottish castle to act as witnesses: everything was left to her youngest daughter, cutting out her other five children. Sir George Sitwell, 4th Baronet of Renishaw, Derbyshire (1860-1943) was an inventor, whose creations included a small pistol for shooting wasps with, as well as a musical toothbrush. William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland (1800-1879) built a series of tunnels and apartments – which included a ballroom – underneath the family seat of Welbeck abbey, nottinghamshire, so that he could live reclusively and in a completely subterranean world. Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquess of Anglesey (1875-1905) was fabulously wealthy with flamboyant tastes. He spent millions of pounds on jewels and clothes, kept poodles with pink bows around their necks and had cars that expelled perfumed exhaust fumes. the chapel at the family home, Plas newydd, was converted into a theatre, the Gaiety, though the Marquess only performed for his staff. Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater (1756-1829) would give dinner parties for his dogs, each of which were dressed up, with tiny little shoes placed on their paws.
photoS: © adrian Sherratt/alamy/jaSon hawkeS
Directly across from the Minstrels’ Gallery is the Small Gallery: a doorway and balcony with dark wooden doors that open onto the Great Hall from the State Drawing Room. This unusual feature was created in 1663 after the English Civil War to honour a visit by the restored King Charles II. From here, he and his wife Queen Catherine could look down on everyone in the Great Hall. The Prince of Wales Suites (named because of a painting of King Charles I’s brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales,
Clockwise from top: A 1675 oil painting of Longleat by Jan Siberechts; guide books being given out to early visitors to Longleat in 1949; a 1960s poster, advertising the estate's animal residents
the public on a commercial basis, opening its doors to visitors on 1 April 1949. The decision was initially met with ridicule and horror by the upper classes, but soon large houses all over the county were following suit and inviting the public in. Longleat needed to raise its status once again and retain the monopoly on visiting public. Luckily the Marquess was friends with legendary circus master Jimmy Chipperfield, who helped him to establish Longleat as the fi rst safari park in the world outside of Africa in 1966. There is extensive newspaper coverage from that time detailing the terror of local residents who were convinced that there would be loose lions rampaging down Warminster High Street. In fact, the entire safari park is cocooned by a large band of private land (not to mention secure enclosures), so it feels completely remote. The move cemented Longleat’s status as one of the most extraordinary private houses in Britain. Touring the park in your car is a wonderful experience – even if monkeys do sometimes pull your windscreen wipers off. Alternatively you can book a VIP safari truck, driven by an expert ranger, to take you around. This means you’re allowed to go off the beaten track and can find yourself only a few metres away from lions and tigers.
Another of the biggest draws at Longleat are the rather eccentric private apartments of Lord Bath, where visitors can look at his personal artwork and mosaics, which have covered the ceilings and walls since the 1960s. His style is incredibly bright and modern, attracting scorn from traditionalists. Looking into the Disco Room, which has dancing scenes all over the walls and a golden mosaic depicting can-can legs on the ceiling, it’s certainly a far cry from the historic magnificence of the opposite wing. Lord Bath’s personal touch is absolutely everywhere, which is overwhelming, but must be considered part of this building’s evolution. “When you tell visitors that he painted the old chapel bright pink and yellow it can be hard for them to understand,” admits Ruth. “But he is part of a comprehensive story.” He has certainly made his mark on an already extraordinary place, ensuring thousands of visitors descend on Longleat each day to envelop themselves in a tale that dates back hundreds of years and will continue to be told for many more to come.
8 For more on Longleat please visit the BRITAIN website at www.britain-magazine.com www.britain-magazine.com
PHOTOS: © LONGLEAT ESTATE/WIKIPEDIA
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Experience up to 5,000 years of British history and culture including pre-history, castles, grand houses, battlefields, Roman Britain, architecture, industrial history, scenery, gardens, Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Cotswolds, Lake District, Whisky Tours and much more. Private tours arranged by an experienced and bonded tour guide, self-drive tours also available. Tel: +44 (0)141 638 5500 Website: www.catswhiskerstours.co.uk Blog: www.catswhiskerstours.com Direct e-mail: email@example.com
The pleasures and perils of England’s Royalty
Finding Henry VIII Henry VIII: Defender of the Realm
or A Royal Progress Your personal itinerary created for individuals or family groups plus Other historic period tours available that will excite and inspire
Call 01765 608888 for details nationaltrust.org.uk/fountainsabbey
Six Wives of One King
Elizabeth I: The Child, Lover and Warrior Queen
Come back to...
Join our programmed tours
Tudor Women: Royal Wives, Children and Courtiers
Enjoy breathtaking views and over 800 years of history at this World Heritage Site in North Yorkshire.
Small group guided tours for the history enthusiast Conflict, Intrigue, Tempestuous love affairs and Majesty Journey with us to experience the sights, sounds, touch and taste of historic England
Tel:+44 (0)845 408 4012 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.tudorhistorytours.com Photographer: John Freeman The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Land Only . $460 Single Supp
“When a man is tired of London he is tired of life itself...”
Join our famous “Off Season” Show & Shopping Tour
¬ Airport/Hotel transfers in London ¬ 6 nts Tavistock Hotel, with cont. b/fasts ¬ Panoramic Sight Seeing Tour with Blue Badge Guide on day of arrival ¬ 7 day London Travel Card, zones 1 & 2 ¬ 1 west end show & 3 course dinner ¬ all hotel taxes & service charges ¬ London maps and info package
rture D Nov 6 th, 1 ates Feb 19 3th, & 27th, 2 th & 2 6th, 20 013, 14
UNBEATABLE VALUE! Air Available from all US cities - ask us!
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Tour DH 1-888-597-3519
London London & & U.K. U.K.Specialists
313-2289 Fairview St, Burlington, ON L7R 2E3
1-888-597-3519 905-639-9954 email@example.com www.dhgrouptours.com
TICO # 50012768
Jane Austen The Dancing Years
Book direct with Timberbush & get 10% OFF your tour, quote code VB10
Explore Jane Austen’s early life with Hampshire Ambassador, Phil Howe. Discover the villages, churches, country houses and trace the people she describes in her letters. Tours can include a visit to the Jane Austen House Museum, and the village of Chawton. Enjoy lunch at a Hampshire country inn. An ideal half-day or one-day tour.
1,2 & 3 day Highland Tours From Edinburgh & Glasgow, daily, all year
A gift to share with friends and family. Trip Advisor Excellence Award
For more information Phone: +44 (0)1256 814222 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hiddenbritaintours.co.uk
Call: 0131 226 6066 (07:00 - 22:00 daily)
Call: 0141 226 8882 (07:00 - 22:00 daily)
m a rt i n r a n d a l l t r av e l The
A selection of tours in Britain Charles Dickens Talks and readings by Andrew Sanders, author of Charles Dickens’s London, throughout the tour. Stay in central London and on the seafront in Portsmouth • 5–9 April 2014
Great Houses of the East Country houses in East Anglia and the East Midlands, examples from the end of the Middle Ages to the Victorian era • 4–12 June 2014
Northumbria Wide-ranging exploration of the natural and man-made beauties of one of the most interesting but least visited regions of England • 18–26 June 2014
The Victorian Achievement Rochester, engraving 1896.
For more detailed information or a brochure: +44 (0)20 8742 3355
Studies the social history, industrial archaeology, architecture and art of the reign of Queen Victoria, a period when Great Britain led the world in trade, industry and ideas • 4–11 August 2014
Royal Residences Visits ten palaces and homes, half of which are still in use by the Royal Family • 19–23 August 2014
To book space call Natasha +44 (0)207 349 3732
Garrison Sergeant Major Mott GSM William Mott OBE, MVO, Welsh Guards, has served in the British Army since 1979. He holds one of the most senior appointments in the Army, and has ceremonial responsibility for occasions such as Trooping the Colour and the funeral of former prime minister, Baroness Thatcher
wanted to join the Army from about 12 years old. It was always going to be the Welsh Guards that I joined. My family is military and I had three cousins who were in the regiment. One was a coffin bearer for The Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII, and was involved in the investiture of The Prince of Wales. I work in Horse Guards, between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade, in central London. In the summer season when we have the spectacular Trooping the Colour ceremony to celebrate The Queen’s official birthday, we have a number of rehearsals, so my morning starts early when I’m marking the Parade Square ready for the troops to arrive at 8:45am. There is a daily 11am parade at Horse Guards, called the Queen’s Life Guard Mount, involving the Household Cavalry, Life Guards and the Blues & Royals. There is also the 11:30am Queen’s Guard Mount at Buckingham Palace, but only every other day in the summer. Horse Guards is the headquarters of two major Army commands, the London District and the Household Cavalry, and in my opinion is the best building in London. The Guards Memorial that I see every morning when I look out of the window is something that is very special to me. It has been an honour to serve with thousands of wonderful men and women and a lot of that sense of honour is related to this building, which is home to any guardsman. Horse Guards is iconic and full of history, built upon what was once King Henry VIII’s tiltyard, where jousting tournaments took place. When it was used in the Olympics last
Above: GSM William Mott in front of one of the many posters of himself at Heathrow Airport
year for the beach volleyball I knew it would be brilliant, and it was. On a normal working day I’ll wear either ‘working dress operational’, which is the combat style for if I’m in an operational environment, or ‘working dress ceremonial’, which is smarter – it’s barrack dress. In the household division we also have ‘full dress’ of tunic and bearskin. As well as buttons distinguishing regiment, there is a regimentally linked badge – the Welsh Guards wear a leek. One of the best parts of my job is the mystique involved: markings, signals, preparations, coordinations. At Margaret
Thatcher’s funeral I was organising the troops, orchestrating how and when they deployed from the barracks to their holding areas. I was in the bearer party for the funeral along with my brother; we are Falklands veterans and are two of only a small number still serving. The part of my job that I most enjoy is the result. When I’m standing in the background overseeing things it’s lovely to be able to watch a big ceremonial event materialise. I live in the south-east of London. It’s a necessity for me to live fairly near where I work, but I like being anonymous. In Horse Guards you bump into police and politicians all the time. If I’m wearing jeans – devil’s cloth I call them – and someone sees me they will question why I’m not in collar and tie. I grew up in a small town called Ellesmere Port, which is in The Wirral, near North Wales. If I could live anywhere in England it would be here. However I do hope to emigrate to America to start a new chapter at some stage. I’ll miss days out like going to Talacre Beach, between Flint and Prestatyn, where I used to go when I was a child. I’ve just done a charity walk there with my two brothers and sister in aid of Welsh Guardsmen who have been killed in combat. I am very proud of what I do: from the members of the Royal Family to the youngest men and women in our forces, when you see smiles on their faces you know you’ve done it right. But we have so many wonderful people in our forces so my hero is just simply the British soldier who is willing to risk his or her life for someone else.
8 For an extended interview with GSM Mott, visit the BRITAIN website at www.britain-magazine.com www.britain-magazine.com
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