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Coastal escapes Quirky seaside retreats, iconic landmarks and unique wildlife


The secret palace of George III


a lu week xury win e end Berk in Royal shire

The legend of KING ARTHUR

Hideaways of


HIGH SOCIETY Days out at Royal Ascot, the Proms and Henley Regatta

07 07 9 771757 973084 9 771757 973084

MAY/JUNE 2014 £4.25


EDITOR'S LETTER By the time you read this, spring will have sprung, so what better way to celebrate the shift in seasons than by heralding Britain’s great outdoors? Read all about the best places to spot British Wildlife Up Close (p35), take a tour of our iconic coastline and charming countryside in Natural Treasures (p43), or surrender to the Pull of the Sea (p50) for the ultimate coastal escape. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that this season marks another new beginning: me. I’ll be taking over from Jessica while she’s on maternity leave and I’m looking forward to bringing you untold stories of the people and places that make up our great nation. This issue I've been delving into the murky underworld of London in Tales of Smugglers (p15) and unearthing the truth behind Arthurian legend in The King Who Won't Die (p85). I also took a behind-the-scenes tour of Kew Palace, in Fit For a King-in-waiting (p27), to discover there's a lot more to King George III than his ‘mad’ tag. And this is what I love about Britain: just when you think you know everything, you learn something new.












Sally Coffey, Editor




Coastal escapes Quirky seaside retreats, iconic landmarks and unique wildlife


The secret palace of George III


a lux weeke ury win e nd Berkshin Royal ire

The legend of KING ARTHUR

Hideaways of


HIGH SOCIETY Days out at Royal Ascot, the Proms and Henley Regatta

07 07 9 771757 973084 9 771757 973084

MAY/JUNE 2014 £4.25

FINAL.indd 1

24/03/2014 11:49

Cover image: Port Navas © Christopher Nicholson/Alamy

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Queen Charlotte's Cottage was a favourite refuge of King George III

Home of the Brontë sisters, England's biggest county is in the spotlight again as it hosts the start of the prestigious Tour de France cycle race.


The taverns and inns of London were once frequented by criminals and smugglers. Discover more about London's murky past. Discover the secrets of the former home and school of ‘mad’ King George III. Britain's shores are home to an abundance of wildlife, from puffins and birds of prey, to basking sharks and more. Learn more about some of Britain's most fascinating natural wonders. BRITAIN 3





GREAT BRITONS: KINGDOM BRUNEL A look at the life of the man behind Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge and a host of other iconic British inventions.














Editor Sally Coffey Art Editor Rhian Colley Assistant Editor Josephine Price Sub Editor Ben Grafton Designer Alicia Fernandes Publisher Simon Temlett Digital Marketing Coordinator Holly Thacker Digital Product Manager Oliver Morley-Norris

Britain's best-loved personalities discuss their favourite rooms and what they mean to them. Every summer, British high society goes mad for classical concerts and horse racing. Don't forget the dress code, ladies and gentlemen...

Advertisement Manager Natasha Syed Client Development James Darnborough, Sales Executive Jack Shannon Managing Director Paul Dobson Deputy Managing Director Steve Ross Commercial Director Vicki Gavin Subscriptions Manager William Delmont

The truth behind the 'once and future' king.


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:

From snug cottages to secret coves and lighthouses, here are the best seaside retreats.


Weekend getaways, opera, air shows and parties in royal palaces: here’s our monthly guide to the best of Britain. Get in touch to tell us about your experiences in Britain or let us know what you think of the magazine. Win a luxury two-night break at the Vineyard Hotel, Newbury, in Berkshire. Founded in 1348, the Most Noble Order of the Garter is the highest honour for chivalry.





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Yorkshire's dramatic scenery stretches into the Peak District (pictured), the Dales and the North York Moors




Tour de


The Brontë sisters brought the romance of Yorkshire to literary life, and with this year’s Tour de France set to embark from those very same moors, the spotlight is once again on Britain’s largest county WORDS SALLY COFFEY



of the ghosts of its tangled past. York is often touted as a haunted city and among its spooky apparitions are a Roman army that has been spotted marching under The Treasurer’s House on the old Roman road, Via Decumana, and a ghostly Tudor lady who walks through walls at the King’s Manor, believed to be Queen Catherine Howard, who stayed here with her husband King Henry VIII shortly before he ordered her execution on grounds of adultery. Henry is also remembered in Yorkshire for his Dissolution of the Monasteries, during which the likes of Kirkham Priory surrendered to the Crown to pave the way for the King’s new role as Head of the Church of England. Indeed Yorkshire has had its fair share of power struggles over the years and we couldn’t blame the walled city of York if it were to have an identity crisis as its name has changed many times: the Romans knew it as Eboracum, the Saxons called it Eoforwic and the Vikings called it Jorvik. The modern day ‘York’ is an anglicised form of its Norse name. Archaeological finds suggest that Mesolithic people settled in York between 8000 and 7000 BC and by the time of the Roman conquest of Britain it was home to a tribe of people known as the Brigantes. The site of York Minster was once the headquarters of the Romans who occupied the city, but the cathedral as it stands today was consecrated in 1472 following a build time of 250 years. It contains what many consider to be Britain’s greatest concentration of medieval stained glass, including the Great East Window which may well be the largest area of stained glass in the world and which is currently undergoing a complete restoration. It is perhaps for its medieval connections that York is most known, and there are many well-preserved examples of medieval

Clockwise from top left: The Merchant Adventurers' Hall; Kirkham Priory, which was dissolved by Henry VIII; the family home of the Brontë sisters; West Nab, Holmfirth, in the Peak District. Facing page: York Minster was consecrated in 1472 after 250 years in build.




s the backdrop to Emily Brontë’s enduring novel on love, jealousy and vengefulness, Wuthering Heights, the sweeping moors of West Yorkshire provided at times romantic, but always dramatic scenery, which conjured up themes of isolation in this wild and barren landscape. Not to be outdone, her sister Charlotte was equally inspired by her upbringing in the ancient village of Haworth and the surrounding Pennines, which stretch all the way through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and which will form the backdrop for the first leg of this year’s Tour de France, which sets off from Leeds on 5 July. The name Dales refers to the 20-plus deep valleys that have been carved by rivers in the expansive hilly region, home to the millstone grit-capped Three Peaks, which stand over 2,300ft high. Meanwhile, in the south of the national park you’ll find a contrasting but nonetheless atmospheric craggy limestone terrain. At the gateway to the Dales stand the twin towers of Skipton Castle, which has stood guardian to the region for over 900 years and is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England: it also withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War. In addition to the unadulterated beauty of the Dales, Yorkshire is also home to sections of the Peak District National Park and the North York Moors National Park. However, while its landscape may be unspoiled, its history is tainted with the blood of the gruesome and unrelenting War of the Roses; a series of battles so fierce they almost toppled the country. You only need to walk the cobbled streets of York, traditionally recognised as the county town of Yorkshire, and where the second leg of the Tour de France will set off from on 6 July, to become aware




Clockwise, from above left: The Battle of Towton, part of the War of the Roses, is considered one of the bloodiest of all time; the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a slice of living history; weaving their way through York are medieval lanes such as Little Shambles; Clifford's Tower is the last remnant of William the Conqueror's York Castle





architecture to be found in the city, such as The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, the Guildhall, the Minster itself, and Barley Hall, a timber-framed hall house that dates back to the War of the Roses. The War of the Roses is the name given to a series of battles and civil wars fought between 1455 and 1487 as the opposing branches of the House of Plantagenet – the House of Lancaster and the House of York – fought over who should succeed to the throne following the death of Edward III. The ongoing battles were so named because of the emblems associated with each side; the red rose for the Lancastrians and the white rose for the House of York, but this name wasn’t given until many years later. Both houses were descendants of Edward III, although the throne had been in the hands of the Lancastrians since 1399. The House of York, however, buoyed on by the widespread civil unrest following The Hundred Years War, and what was considered by many to be the fecklessness and mad tendencies of Henry VI, decided the time was right to lay its claim. Following one extreme episode of madness of Henry VI in 1453, Richard, Duke of York, was installed as Protector of the Realm and so ensued a period of bloody war. The final victor was a relatively unknown Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor (Henry VII), who defeated King Richard III and married the daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, to unite the two houses. As a result the House of Tudor was formed, which ruled England and Wales until 1603. Despite its name, many of the battles took place outside Yorkshire and Lancashire, but two of the bloodiest battles spilled into the county: the Battle of Wakefield in December 1460, which took place near Sandal Castle, two miles south of Wakefield, in which the Duke of York was killed; and the Battle of Towton in March 1461, probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil, which was depicted in Shakespeare’s three-part play of Henry VI. Towton is still mainly farmland but a cross marks the site of the battle and it is a humbling spot to take in rural views. In the 18th century York was something of a weekend retreat for the wealthy elite and the Assembly Rooms, designed by Richard, Earl of Burlington in 1731 was one of the earliest examples of neo-classical architecture. Today you can visit the imposing minster, a stunning example of gothic architecture, and see for yourselves the new addition, the Orb: an elliptical treasure house of stained glass, showcasing examples of some of the world’s most important medieval art, the latest step in the £20 million York Minster Revealed project. By summer 2016, all 108 restored panels from the Great East Window will be reinstalled. You could also join one of the ghost walks around the city’s walls or drink in one of its haunted pubs.

Hidden History in yorksHire J overlooking the river swale and the town of richmond, richmond Castle is one of Britain's great norman fortresses. you should also visit nearby Middleham Castle, the favourite childhood home of king richard iii. J At 3.2 miles long, standedge tunnel, at Marsden, West yorkshire, built in 1811, is the longest canal tunnel in Britain. today you can take a fun boat ride through it to get a sense of what life was like for the ‘leggers' – the men who used to lie either side of the boat (12 men in total) with their feet on the wall of the tunnel, pushing the heavy boat through. J one of Britain's most notorious anarchists, Guy Fawkes, was born in york in 1570 and a hotel, the Guy Fawkes inn, now stands on the site of his birth.

To really get a sense of the history of York though you need to take a walk through the narrow lanes that weave their way through the city centre along roads called Coffee Yard, Swinegate, Grape Lane (formerly Grope Lane), Mad Alice Lane and the Shambles, one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. Of course, there is much more to the county than York and within minutes of leaving the city you are immersed in glorious countryside and there are some hidden gems tucked away in its acres. Clifford’s Tower, with its sweeping vistas over York and the surrounding countryside, is a reminder of the formidable force of England’s medieval kings. All that remains of York Castle, built by William the Conqueror to keep rebels of the north at bay, it burned down twice before being rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century. The tower is named after Roger de Clifford, hanged here in chains for treason against Edward II. For a more refined experience, visit the baroque-style Georgian mansion of Beningbrough Hall, north of York, home to a gallery and extensive grounds that include a Victorian walled garden and a labyrinth. Kiplin Hall, meanwhile, is a splendid country house, built by George Calvert, Secretary of State to King James I in the early 1620s as a hunting lodge. The walled garden, in particular, is a revelation, having been turned around artfully over the last couple of years into a thriving kitchen garden. Just a few miles outside York, Middlethorpe Hall and Spa is a wonderful example of a country house in disrepair being brought back to life. A William and Mary red brick country house built in

Clifford’s Tower, with its sweeping vistas, is a reminder of the formidable force of the medieval kings




Above: The Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 will set off from Leeds on 5 July and pass through some of Yorkshire's most historically significant places, from the ancient town of Addingham, which appeared in the Domesday Book, to the hometown of the Brontë sisters

1699, this exquisite venue is like being transported back to an earlier time. It all starts from the moment you drive up to the entrance to unload your luggage, which sort of feels like you’ve come to visit your rich aristocratic cousin for the weekend. Guests can choose between sumptuous bedrooms in the main house or a little more homeliness and privacy in one of the courtyard apartments down the lane. If you need to unwind further then you can make use of the spa facilities housed in two Edwardian properties opposite. For a real piece of living history, take a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which sets off from Pickering. Jump on board for a pleasant steam train ride through rural villages in its cosy wood-panelled carriages, or book a dining car for a more luxurious trip. Step off at one of the stations en route for a trek through wind-swept moors that the Brontë sisters would have approved of, or stay on all the way to the coast at Whitby to see an altogether different side of Yorkshire at the seaside town, which incidentally inspired Bram Stoker to write his epic novel Dracula. The Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 – the world’s largest annual sporting event – will race through the spectacular Yorkshire countryside on 5 and 6 July, with the first leg taking in much of the west and the north of the county and the second leg

setting off from York and racing through the Peak District. The race will weave some of the region’s biggest attractions, from Harewood House, a magnificent 18th century stately home that is the family residence of the Earl and Countess of Harewood, to the village of Addingham, which appeared in the Domesday Book as Ediham. This name may have meant ‘home of Edi’, in reference to the Earl Edwin of Bolton Abbey, one of the monasteries later dissolved by Henry VIII. Interestingly, the abbey is thought to be the inspiration behind William Wordsworth’s poem The White Doe of Rylstone. The historic spa town of Ilkley, part of the first day’s route, is where you’ll find some of Yorkshire’s finest tea rooms, while West Tanfield was famously sketched by Turner during his grand tour of Yorkshire in 1816. On the second day of the race the spotlight will deservedly be on the Peak District National Park, a magical land of meadows, leafy forests and pretty moorland. Langsett, known in medieval times as Penisale, is a pretty village in the heart of South Yorkshire, and the perfect place to take in the splendid views.


From the moment you arrive it feels as though you’ve come to stay with your rich, aristocratic cousin for the weekend



 Go to the BRITAIN website at to discover more about this fascinating region in the north of the country

The Dram Magazine Family Hotel of the Year 2013

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Run by six generations of the Clark family Award winning food and real ales • Locally sourced food served all day - every day Live music on every weekend. The Clark family have presided over the proceedings at the George hotel since 1860. Three generations, five, six and seven presently live at the hotel. It has the distinction of being the longest continuously run hotel in Scotland. The family influence is evident when you enter the premises. Hiding behind the black and white Georgian facade is a well maintained interior influenced by exposed walls, flagstone floors, antique furniture and four open fires on the ground floor. The Cocktail bar is a stunning design mixing Olde World with the modern demands of customers.

The hotel which has 17 quirky bedrooms is the ideal place to stay when visiting Inveraray and it’s castle, the Seat of the Clan Campbells, The Duke of Argyll resides in the castle.

Main St East, Inveraray, Argyll PA32 8TT Tel: +44 (0)1499 302111 • Email: •

Tales of


SMUGGLERS The taverns and inns of London once provided cover for the illicit dealings of the city's underworld WORDS CHRIS FAUTLEY

“Five and twenty ponies, TrotTing through the dark – Brandy for the Parson,


'BacCy for the Clerk”

Above: The Pool of London, depicted here by William Parrot in 1841, was a hive of illegal activity in the 19th century


udyard Kipling’s A Smuggler’s Song painted a romantic image: a ‘profession’ in which all classes of society indulged and of a ceaseless battle with the officers of the ‘Revenue.’ It was a world of moonlit flits across the English Channel and the landing of precious booty in isolated coves in the dead of night. London, however, was the warehouse of the world and the comings and goings of ships didn’t arouse suspicion – a perfect opportunity, therefore, to ‘import’ extra cargo not shown on the manifest. There was no shortage of merchandise that might qualify, either: at one stage in the 18th century, there were over 2,000 dutiable goods. Wapping, on the north bank of the Thames and slightly downstream from the Tower of London, has long had connections with the sea and seamen. At the hub of the Port of London, it was here in the part of the river known

as the Lower Pool that many vessels unloaded their cargoes; and it was in Wapping that some of the first docks were built. It was a natural place for seafarers to make their home. The lower ranks invariably comprised the dregs of society; Wapping became a place of squalor, filth, crime and deprivation; of rife poverty, dingy alleyways and tenements barely fit for human habitation. For many, the street itself was home. The Wapping that American author Jack London found in 1903 could easily have been that of 200 years earlier. He described it, and the surrounding district, as “helpless, hopeless, unrelieved and dirty,” its older inhabitants “steeped and stupefied in beer.” This observation was hardly surprising: there were plenty of alehouses willing to relieve seafarers of what little money they had, and also to invest in a little illicit merchandise. BRITAIN


The Prospect of Whitby claims to be London’s oldest riverside pub. Dating from 1520, it was originally known as the Devil’s Tavern – doubtless reflective of the clientele it attracted. Patrons of a more reputable disposition included Dickens, Pepys, and the artists Whistler and Turner. Many of its original features survive, including a pewter-topped bar and flagstone floor. No secret trapdoors for smugglers here. Or are there? The infamous Judge Jeffreys, known as the ‘hanging judge’ for his propensity for ordering public executions, is reputed to have dined here, although he had stronger connections with the Town of Ramsgate pub in Wapping High Street. Originally called The Red Cow – an impolite reference to one of its barmaids – its current name originates from the fishermen of the Kentish port who landed their catch at the adjacent Wapping Old Stairs. It was by these stairs that Jeffreys was apprehended as he attempted to flee the country following the downfall of King James II. The wood-panelled pub, meanwhile, has cellars that were once used to hold convicts awaiting transportation to Australia and, quite possibly, contraband. A small deck overlooks the water, a pleasant place to watch river life. Wapping New Stairs is a wave’s crest downstream, and is one of the closest places to what was known as

Patrons of the Prospect of Whitby – also known as The Devil’s Tavern – included Dickens, Pepys, Whistler and Turner Execution Dock. This was the traditional place of execution for those who partook in another long-established seafaring profession – piracy. Prior to 1700 all pirates were tried in London: it could be a long journey from their place of capture to almost certain death at Execution Dock. Few had the education or wherewithal to mount any sort of defence. It is said that on their way to the hangman’s noose, they were allowed one final quart of ale from another Wapping alehouse – the Turk’s Head (no longer extant). Hangings were very much a public spectacle, attracting crowds both on the riverbank and afloat. The gallows were erected at low water mark, and after the victim had succumbed to the noose it was tradition to let three tides wash over the body. The body was then cut down, occasionally covered with tar to preserve it, and invariably displayed as a warning to others. On 23 May 1701, one of Britain’s most infamous pirates was hanged here. It took two attempts to dispatch Captain William Kidd; the rope snapped on the first occasion. For many years his body was gibbeted downstream, at Tilbury. His memory survives principally in that his ‘treasure,’ if treasure there be, has never been found. Locally, Captain Kidd is commemorated by a Wapping pub of the same name; and the spectacle of




This photo: Public hangings at Execution Dock were common. Bottom left: The notorious Scottish pirate, Captain William Kidd, is depicted with his fabled treasure


Clockwise from top left: Captain William Kidd on trial in 1701; the Prospect of Whitby; unloading at West India Docks in 1810; The Gun, popular with smugglers and also where naval hero Nelson would meet his lover



The river was a busy highway, with lots of opportunities to ‘liberate’ goods, from ship to shore, and from the wharves little imagination required to picture The Angel’s patrons – smugglers among them. Today, though, Bermondsey is a pleasant riverside district, The Angel having some of south London’s finest river views. Prior to the building of London’s great enclosed docks, merchandise that could not be discharged at riverside wharves was unloaded midstream onto lighters (barges) and then taken ashore. Effectively, this was the vast majority: during the 18th century, more than 1,500 vessels could be moored in the Upper Pool at any one time. The river was a busy highway indeed. This presented a multitude of opportunities to ‘liberate’ goods – both between ship and shore, and from the wharves. Losses were thought to add up to more than £500,000 each year, an enormous sum, as well as a corresponding amount in duty. Such activity would have accounted for by far the greatest quantity of smuggling. For years the thieves and smugglers had played a game of cat and mouse with customs officials, or the ‘Revenue men’ as they were popularly called. They were sworn enemies and confrontations were frequently bloody, but increasing losses plainly meant that more needed to be done.




hangings at Execution Dock is marked by a replica gallows and noose on the foreshore close to the Town of Ramsgate. If Wapping was the centre of dubious maritime activity, it did not preclude such enterprising extending further downstream. The Gun, close to what was later to become the West India Docks, was founded during the 18th century. It was a popular spot for landing contraband, not least because it had a secret tunnel through which booty could be moved. There’s a concealed staircase too, complete with spyhole through which the officers of the Revenue might be observed. Nor was smuggling the only act of secrecy at The Gun: naval hero Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson used to meet his lover Lady Hamilton here. With a history reaching back to the 15th century, The Angel pub in Bermondsey on the South Bank must have been the scene of some dodgy deals. It extends on piles out across the river; it’s no surprise that there are trap doors too. Judge Jeffreys reputedly sat here watching the hangings at Execution Dock, opposite. Whistler, meanwhile, came for the River Thames views. This part of the riverside was one of London’s worst slums. For Dickens it was Jacob’s Island, where Bill Sikes, arch criminal of Oliver Twist met his death. The author described it as having, “every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage.” It made Wapping sound positively salubrious,


Facing page, top: Judge Jeffreys is captured despite his disguise. Bottom: Jeffreys watched hangings from The Angel. This page, clockwise from top: Enclosed docks began to restrict smuggling; postwar the East End improved for families; The Railway Tavern in Limehouse was a popular dockers' pub in the 1920s

STEP INTO SMUGGLERS' SHOES • Sailortown, at the Museum of London in Docklands, is a full-size, walk-through reconstruction of 19th century maritime Wapping – complete with alehouse, chandlery and other buildings. • The Thames River Police Museum tells the story of river policing in London, but as it is housed in the police station at Wapping you need to make an appointment to visit.

In 1798, the privately operated Marine Policing Establishment was formed. Its task was to police the river and it was based, appropriately, at Wapping where it remains to this day (it is now called the Marine Policing Unit). Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t popular with smugglers, interfering in a way of life that had thrived on the river for hundreds of years. In its first year alone it retrieved goods worth almost 30 times its set-up costs. By 1800, it was publicly owned. In latter years much of the contraband seized found its way to the ‘Queen’s Pipes’ – enormous ovens at London Docks – where it was incinerated. A second important move in the fight against smugglers and thieves came with the development of London’s enclosed docks. The West India Docks was the first of these, founded after the West India Dock Act was passed in 1799. Within 30 years, the East India, St Katharine and London Dock (Wapping) complexes had all been built. With walls up to 20ft high and almost



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Top left and right: A noose hangs close to the Town of Ramsgate, alleged haunt of Captain Kidd's ghost. This photo: The Pool of London in the 1950s

impenetrable warehouses, the newly constructed docks kept unwanted visitors out and merchandise in. Subsequently many of the dock companies recruited their own police forces – often heavily armed. The West India Dock Company was one of the first: the guardhouse and dock constables’ cottages may still be seen today. In 1909, these independent police forces were merged into one under the umbrella of the Port of London Authority. Today, London as a port has changed beyond recognition. Gone is the bustling activity of hundreds of vessels waiting to unload in The Pool. No longer do the great enclosed docks and warehouses pulsate with such a throbbing buzz of commerce. The slums of Bermondsey and Wapping with their dubious characters and illicit trade are no more. Perhaps the spirits of pirates, weather-wizened tars and smugglers still glide along the foreshore. It is said that Captain Kidd’s ghost can be seen around the Town of Ramsgate, and who knows what phantasmal forms might be encountered on a dark night in Wapping? Best, then, to heed Kipling’s words, and keep quiet.

“Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie – Watch the walL, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!”















FOOD & DRINK Call 0844 272 7000 quoting ‘Britain’ to book your stay or visit CHRISTCHURCH




What to do ● Where to go ● What to buy

With everything from weekend getaways, to opera concerts, air shows and parties in royal palaces, follow our guide to the best of britain

Party at the PaLace This June Hampton Court Palace will host live concerts in its historic Tudor courtyard. Van Morrison and The Beach Boys are among musicians performing at the venue from 11 to 25 June.

Long Weekend getaWays

urban gardening

the roof of London's Victoria & albert Museum has seen a swarm of activity recently. the London honey Company has been harvesting four beehives to help pollinate nearby plants and has produced over 400 jars of honey. it is being sold in the museum shop as part of the urban gardener range. get your hands on a pot for £7.50.

The month of May in Britain is both opened and closed with long weekends, which we tenderly call ‘bank holidays’. Make the most of the three-day breaks, or even elongate them, with a country escape. Oliver’s Travels has a range of unique properties where you can hide away, such as this charming cottage within the grounds of Inglethorpe Hall in Norfolk. britain


enigmatic art outdoors The southwest coast of England is an area of outstanding natural beauty so it only seems right that artists should gather there. Dorset Art Weeks Open Studio event is the country’s biggest showcase of its kind and this year hosts a quick draw event in the Sculpture by the Lakes park.



What to do ● Where to go ● What to buy

80 years of opera since 1934, glyndebourne Festival has entertained opera aficionados from around the world. originally a tribute to Mozart’s repertoire, the festival has expanded to cover composers from benjamin britten to giuseppe Verdi. to mark its 80th anniversary this year, the festival, which makes up part of the season (see page 75), will see special highlights such as the first ever production at glyndebourne of Mozart’s la finta giardiniera.

west side story on the big screen After gracing both Broadway and the West End, the classic romantic tragedy West Side Story is coming to the big screen in the opulent British setting of the Royal Albert Hall this July. The Leonard Bernstein score will be played out by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s film series, which pairs classic movies with a live ensemble.

royal childhood Swiss Cottage, the giant royal Wendy house, is opening to the public after a £1.65m makeover. In the grounds of Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, it was created by Prince Albert for his nine children.

photos: © Simon GudGeon/Charlotte Boulton/Jim holden/iwm

look to the skies

the imperial War Museum duxford, cambridge, will mark the 70th anniversary of d-day with a spectacular air show from 24 to 25 May. historic aircraft will take to the skies in memory of this decisive military campaign.

editor’s picks – essential reading Requisitioned: The British Country House in the Second World War by John Martin robinson (£25, amazon) tells the story of some of our favourite heritage properties. the role of country houses in

the second World War has often been overlooked by the history books but this delightful photographic narrative takes us through the houses requisitioned by churchill’s government to serve their country.

among the commemorations of the great War this year is the reprint of The Great War Cook Book by May byron (£9.99, amazon). First published in 1915, byron offered advice on how to eat healthily in wartime. it

features over 500 recipes that give a real flavour of life in the war. delve into the history of the much-loved routemaster

bus with London’s New Routemaster by tony lewin and thomas heatherwick (Merrell, £25), which tells the tale of how the old faithful has been replaced with a youthful successor. britain


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Royal London

KING-IN-WAITING Kew Palace was the childhood playground and school of King George III, and now a new exhibition shows a different side to the king often mocked in history books WORDS SALLY COFFEY

This picture: The 'Dutch House' is all that remains of Kew Palace today



Frederick, Prince of Wales, initiated a series of changes to the Kew estate – these were the early foundations of the Royal Botanic Gardens



Royal London

photoS: © GreGory Wrona/alamy/roBert harDInG pICtUre lIBrary ltD/royal BotanIC GarDenS KeW/hIStorIC royal palaCeS


estled in the glorious grounds of Kew Gardens, what remains of the once grand estate of Kew Palace is an elegant but rather understated red-brick villa, which is where the young Prince George, later to become King George III, received an elaborate and ambitious education. The house, originally known as the Dutch House due to its appearance, didn't start out as a royal home; it was built in 1631 by Samuel Fortrey, a successful Flemish merchant, on the site of the home of the former courtier of Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley. Samuel and his wife Catherine de Latfuer and their children made themselves a happy family home at Kew and the couple’s affection for each other is evident in the lovers’ knot carved over the front door to the house, which shows the initials ‘S’ and ‘C’ entwined. Perhaps there was something about the house that bred happiness as Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his wife Augusta spent many happy family times at Kew, as did their son King George III and his wife Charlotte years later when they used it as their country home. Royal associations with Kew began in 1728 when Queen Caroline leased the property for her and George II’s three eldest daughters Anne, the Princess Royal, and princesses Amelia and Caroline. In 1731 the princesses’ brother Frederick, the Prince of Wales, who had grown up in Hanover, took over the lease of the large building on the lawn opposite the palace, and employed architect William Kent to remodel it. Its subsequent white Palladian façade earned it the name the White House, but it is sadly no more. Following his marriage to Augusta of Saxe-Gotha in 1736, Frederick initiated a series of changes to Kew estate, including extensive landscaping of the grounds by the Earl of Bute, who was finishing tutor to Prince George. These were the early foundations of what would become the Royal Botanic Gardens. He also enlisted the expertise of another great builder, Sir William Chambers who also built the Orangery – today a café – and the pagoda. Frederick was immensely fond of his children – visitors to Buckingham Palace this summer can even read a letter written from the next in line to the throne to his son George, imparting some advice on how to be a king. In it he says: “Avoid war; don't trust flatterers, courtiers and ministers; and most importantly ‘retrieve the glory of the throne’...sent with the tenderest paternal affection.” The letter is just one of many personal effects on show across royal properties this summer to mark the 300th anniversary of the start of the Georgian era. BRITAIN magazine got an exclusive tour of the Glorious Georges exhibition at Kew, prior to opening, to learn more about the young King George III. When George was young the house was an auxiliary to the main White House, used primarily as a school where he could indulge in play, with an emphasis on learning – something he relished. An image on show at Kew depicts him playing with soldiers; especially poignant when you realise he would one day lead the British Army. Upstairs there was a laboratory – George was a keen scientist, introducing both the Royal Institution and the Royal Academy of Arts under his reign – while exhibits from his school days show accomplished doodles that demonstrate an aptitude for architecture. Not surprising considering Sir William Chambers taught him. Frederick’s influence on his son was huge. Among the collection at Kew are a sketch and a painting of Frederick playing the cello and this passion for music was passed on to his son, George. He regularly attended the opera and his Meissen porcelain flute is on show.

Above: The Orangery at Kew Gardens. Below: Young Queen Elizabeth II on a visit to celebrate Kew's bicentenery in 1959. Facing page: The imposing Pagoda in Kew's Royal Botanic Gardens was designed by Sir William Chambers

dIScoveR MoRe ABouT THe ‘MAd’ KInG Kew Palace is open from April until September. This exhibition, part of the Historic Royal Palaces season on Glorious Georges, focuses on the early life of King George III, a king who was passionate about music and the arts. You can also learn about the mental illness that lead to him being referred to as the 'Mad' King. Free with a ticket to the Royal Botanic Gardens.





Royal London

 For more information on exhibitions to celebrate the Georgian era, please go

Above: Frederick and his sisters at Kew in a painting by Phillip Mercier. Below: Flower beds at the Royal Botanic Gardens, also known as Kew Gardens. Facing page: Queen Charlotte's Cottage was a favourite place of King George III and Queen Charlotte

Queen ChaRLotte’s CottaGe photoS: © FINE ARt/hERItAGE pARtNERShIp LtD/ALAMY/bRItAIN oN vIEw/GEttY

Unfortunately Frederick died suddenly in 1751 of a lung injury, perhaps brought on by a cricket ball to the chest, and Prince George became heir apparent. Following Frederick’s death, King George II started to take more of an interest in his grandson, from whom he had been estranged, giving him the title of Prince of Wales (it was not automatically passed down). In 1760 George II also died and Prince George succeeded to the throne at the age of just 22. At the time George was unmarried and a wife was now hastily sought. Charlotte Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the woman chosen and a painting that hangs in the house shows her wearing a bracelet with George’s face on it, before they had even met, depicting her as an adoring fan. Although they did not meet until their wedding day, George and Charlotte had a very loving marriage and she bore him 15 children in just 21 years. The couple officially resided at Richmond Lodge while George’s mother Augusta lived in the White House, but Kew Palace was used as a way to isolate the younger princes when they developed whooping cough in 1764. By 1772 George’s sons had begun using the palace as a school, as their father had before them. Like his father, King George III and Queen Charlotte were keen on porcelain – it was the craft of the time and the two were known to start crazes within high society if their preferences were made public. A cultured leader and a proponent of all things British, George and his wife would visit factories to lend their support to British industry. Examples of ornate British porcelain owned by both George and his father are on show in the exhibit from the likes of Girl in a Swing Porcelain Factory and the Chelsea Porcelain Factory. George returned to Kew Palace during his later bouts of mental illness; he was brought here for the first time to convalesce in 1788, staying in the White House while his family remained in Kew Palace, and in 1801 Kew Palace was his sanatorium while Charlotte and the children remained in the White House. In 1802 the White House fell into disrepair so George pulled it down and work began on a new castellated palace, although it was never completed. George and Charlotte moved into Richmond Lodge but Kew Palace was still used for the children. Unfortunately for a couple who had once been so in love, George’s illness created distance between him and Charlotte as his behaviour became increasingly unpredictable. He lived in virtual isolation at Windsor from 1811. Queen Charlotte remained in Kew where she died on 17 November 1818, bringing to an end 90 years of royal residence at the palace. When they brought her body back to Windsor courtiers lay down straw on the pathway so as not to upset the king, should he hear the sound of the carriage arriving. In 1840 the Lord Steward’s Department transferred most of the gardens and park to the offices of the Woods and Forests and Kew Palace as it would be known was opened by Queen Victoria in 1898. Following a period of closure it reopened fully restored in 2006 and offers unique insight into the private lives of the royal family. As well as rolling exhibits there is a permanent exhibition, plus you can tour sections of the palace, including the Royal Kitchens where George was reportedly given back his knife and fork after his first bout of ‘madness’ on 6 February 1789.

Queen Charlotte’s Cottage (opposite) was built as a one-storey building between 1754 and 1771 within the grounds of Richmond Lodge, now part of Kew. King George III bestowed Richmond Lodge and estate to Charlotte when they married and the Queen kept kangaroos in its paddock. Despite it being a “favourite place”, George III didn't return to Kew after 1806 and the royal family stopped using the cottage in 1818. In 1898, Queen Victoria ceded the cottage and its grounds to Kew to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee. It has since been restored and opened to the public.

to the BRITAIN website at




Britain’s gardens

Visit one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s famous garden shows from anywhere in the UK with Titan’s VIP Home Departure Service®

Above: the ecover garden, winner of Best in show at the rHs Hampton Court Palace Flower show 2013; Facing page, downwards from top: the Water garden by Harry Levy, rHs Flower show tatton Park 2013; the Cottage garden, rHs garden rosemoor; Chelsea Pensioner, rHs Chelsea Flower show 2013; rHs garden Harlow Carr, Yorkshire


he RHS Garden Holidays, in partnership with Titan, brings you a range of horticulture-themed short breaks covering some of Britain’s finest flower shows, and visiting many of the most beautiful gardens in the country. The door-to-door service, from wherever you live in the UK, includes unmissable opportunities to experience the best of British horticulture. Visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show or the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, with fast-track access on Members’ Days, and get access to the finest gardens of Yorkshire and Cornwall – in some cases, private gardens not usually open to the public.



Whatever short break you choose, you’ll appreciate handpicked hotel accommodation, the experience and knowledge of enthusiastic guides and complimentary membership or membership renewal of the Royal Horticultural Society. By booking a tour you’ll receive exclusive experiences with unique expertise, fully escorted for your peace of mind, special offers for solo travellers and help transporting your plants and flowers home. Titan’s VIP Home Departure Service® considers the journey part of the overall romance and pleasure of the holiday experience. With this in mind Titan has dedicated itself to transporting you

from your front door to your destination, and back again in a VW Caravelle people carrier or a quality private hire vehicle. If you live in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, you’ll be picked up at home, flown to London from a convenient local airport and transferred to your hotel, all on a complimentary basis. You’ll also be able to book, safe in the knowledge that every booking made benefits the RHS, supporting its charitable activities. These include the Campaign for School Gardening, where the RHS introduces thousands of young people to the importance of horticulture, as well as its extensive environmental and scientific research programmes.


RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW A selection of four-day short breaks including a full day at the iconic RHS Chelsea Flower Show in combination with visits to Kew, the Savill Garden, RHS Garden Wisley and other superb gardens of the southeast. 4 days from £649 per person

RHS HAMPTON COURT PALACE FLOWER SHOW A range of four-day short breaks featuring the wonderfully located RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show along with breathtaking gardens such as Hatfield House, the Savill Garden and RHS Garden Hyde Hall. 4 days from £599 per person

RHS FLOWER SHOW TATTON PARK A choice of four-day short breaks, based in Cheshire, including a full day at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, ‘the North’s Greatest Garden Party’, and visits to Arley Hall and Bluebell Cottage Gardens. 4 days from £699 per person

GLORIOUS GARDENS OF YORKSHIRE Experience the horticultural treasures of Yorkshire, including Harewood House, Castle Howard, Mount St John and RHS Garden Harlow Carr, on an outstanding five-day short break based in a comfortable hotel in central York. 5 days from £849 per person

GREAT GARDENS OF CORNWALL AND RHS GARDEN ROSEMOOR The great gardens of the southwest are the focus of this magical five-day short break: the Lost Gardens of Heligan, and the Eden Project, along with lesser-known idylls such as Trebah and Penjerrick. 5 days from £999 per person

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The Great Outdoors

Britain’s wildlife

up close

In Britain you are never far from animals – you only have to look around you in the hedgerows, the sea and the sky. Follow our tour of the best places to spot wildlife so you can get a little bit closer to nature

photoS: © travel pictureS ltd

Words John Boyle

This picture: Long-eared owl perched in Scots pine, Cairngorms, Highlands, Scotland



This page: Roaming freely, a pony grazes in the New Forest, Hampshire



The Great Outdoors

photoS: © Steve vidler/corbiS/ dAvid tipliNG/chriS robbiNS/AlAmy/johN boyle


ritain is an island of hugely varied habitats with wildlife that has adapted to live in all environments. From mountains to marshes, moorland to forest, ocean to air, the creatures living here are often spectacular and always intriguing. In addition there are the migrants – those that come south to Britain to escape harsh Arctic winters, and those that fly north to Britain to breed before returning to their warmer southern homes. The seas around our coast also hold surprises; the planet’s largest turtle is a regular visitor, and research shows that the ocean’s second biggest shark lives in our seas all-year-round. Small offshore islands are breeding grounds for seabirds, while deer roam the forests and mountainsides. For those with patience there are also opportunities to spot rarer creatures such as otters, pine martens and golden eagles. Several species of whale are increasingly spotted offshore, and there are occasional surprises too...

New Forest The New Forest was designated a royal hunting ground in 1079 by King William I due to the area’s

plethora of deer. Today five species of deer can be found here: the majestic red and the much smaller roe – both of which are native to Britain – and the fallow, sika and muntjac deer. This quaint corner of the Hampshire countryside is also known for its pretty ponies that roam freely, but although they are descendants of wild ponies, they are now all privately owned – in fact they have recently been classed as a rare breed minority for the first time in their history. The New Forest is also home to all three species of Britain’s snakes; the adder is the only venomous one, often seen basking in the sunshine, but it only bites as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on. The grass snake and rare smooth snake are both harmless. Three species of lizard also live in the forest, including the slow worm – neither a worm nor a snake, but a legless lizard.

CorNwall In autumn, dark clouds begin to form in the sky above the reed beds of Marazion Marsh, but these are no ordinary clouds – they are starlings flocking, turning and swooping in unison to produce one of the UK’s most amazing wildlife spectacles:

Above, left to right: Deer in the New Forest, Hampshire; a starling murmuration such as this one in Cornwall is a sight to behold; seals are always a delight for coastal visitors

a starling murmuration. The best time to see them is just before dusk as they perform their aerial dance and choose their communal night-time shelter. The huge gatherings are at their largest in winter, as they are boosted by thousands of migrant birds visiting from Europe for Britain’s milder Atlantic climate. Starlings aren’t the only creatures that gather in large numbers here: the Cornish coast is one of the best places in Britain to spot dolphins, often seen in super pods numbering hundreds.

Isles oF sCIlly The grey seals of Scilly are a must-see for every visitor to this small archipelago off the tip of Cornwall. The resident population spend much of the day sunning themselves on the rocks, occasionally sliding into the water to go fishing. It’s actually possible to go snorkelling with them here, which is a magical experience. The adult seals are more wary, but their offspring just want to play, swimming close to you and staring with their puppy dog eyes. Growing up to 8ft in length, the seals are cumbersome and clumsy on land as they haul themselves around the rocks, but in the water britain


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The Great Outdoors they are transformed into graceful athletic swimmers as they glide effortlessly through the kelp fronds.

Skomer ISLAND Lying in the Irish Sea off the southwest tip of Wales, tiny Skomer Island, just one square mile, is home to the world’s largest colony of Manx Shearwaters – these seabirds number 130,000 breeding pairs. Arriving in March, they nest in burrows, laying just a single egg. In August they leave Skomer, making a migration of over 6,000 miles across the south Atlantic to winter off the coast of Brazil – a journey they complete in as little as two weeks. While adults return every year, young birds spend the first five years of their lives at sea before returning to nest within a few metres of where they hatched. These tiny birds have amazing life spans – one is known to have lived over 51 years and in that time must have flown over half a million miles on its migrations.

The PeAk DISTrIcT Britain has many legendary creatures, such as the Beast of Bodmin Moor, but one of the strangest British wildlife stories is based on fact: the tale of the Peak District wallabies. For nearly 70 years a colony of Bennett’s wallabies, whose natural home is Tasmania, hopped around the Peak District National Park, munching heather and breeding. They had been released from the private menagerie of a local landowner in 1940, after wartime regulations forced private zoos to close.

Above, left to right: Puffins in flight over cliffs on the Farne Islands, Northumberland; a pensive pine martin Below, left: The rare red squirrel

His five animals initially flourished in the wild, and the little-known colony expanded, reaching about 50. Sadly they were not equipped to deal with cold, snowy moorland winters, and they are now thought to have died out, the last reported sighting of a lone survivor being in 2009.

ISLe of mAN In the summer months the Isle of Man is one of the best places in Britain to see the planet’s second biggest shark – the basking shark. Growing up to 30ft long, on calm

ReVIVAL of the Red SquIRReL

photoS: © travel pictureS ltd/BritiSh WildliFe ceNtre SurreY

the first grey squirrel was released in Britain in 1876, quite why no one knows. Perhaps the Victorians’ passions for collecting and the exotic were behind the decision, but they couldn’t have known that their actions would lead to the extinction of our native red squirrel in all but a few strongholds. Greys don’t attack reds but they do carry a disease that kills them. Greys are also

prolific breeders and compete for the same food as the reds. In Cornwall, landowner Sir ferrers Vyvyan, whose family have lived on the trelowarren estate for over 600 years, has controversial plans to reintroduce the red squirrel to the Lizard Peninsula: he'll create a ‘cordon sanitaire’ preventing greys getting onto the peninsula, and will cull each grey squirrel. once they are gone he'll reintroduce reds.

days these harmless giants can be spotted cruising at the surface, huge dorsal fins cutting through the water, mouths open as they filter plankton. Satellite tagging has now established that these sharks are permanent residents of our seas, diving deep to follow plankton in winter. Basking sharks aren’t the only ocean giants off these shores, either. Leatherbacks, the largest species of turtle, are occasionally seen, feeding on the jellyfish that proliferate in the Irish Sea. One leatherback that washed ashore was almost 10ft long. Regular sightings of rare Risso’s dolphins, porpoises, minke whales and bottlenose dolphins have led to the seas around the Isle of Man being described as one of the most cetacean-diverse areas of Britain.

cAIrNgormS The Cairngorms National Park covers an area one and a half times the size of Luxembourg. Its high mountains, ancient forests, fields and moorlands are home to 25 per cent of Britain’s threatened species. There are wildcats, capercaillie, and pine martens in the woods; osprey fishing the lochs; deer and badger roaming the hillsides; ptarmigan on the mountain slopes, and golden eagles britain


The Great Outdoors

Orkney ISLAnDS These wild islands off the northern tip of Scotland are full of surprises. In 2013 a walrus was spotted on a beach here and shortly after a bearded seal was seen in the Shetland Isles – both are normally found in the Arctic. Orkney is a wonderful place to spot wildlife and is home to some very rare species. Among them is the Orkney vole, larger than those found elsewhere and prey for the short-eared owls and hen harriers who hunt them. One of Britain’s most elusive animals, the Eurasian otter, is also found here. Brown hare are common and can often be seen running across farmland, while blue mountain hare live in the hills and moors of Hoy and are brown in summer, white in winter. The islands are the wintering grounds of several species of duck, including over 30,000 wigeon and Orkney is a great place to see the eider duck, Britain’s heaviest, fastest-flying duck. Rarely found away from coasts, eiders are highly gregarious and usually stay close

Below, left to right: The capercaille, also known as the wood grouse, is found in the Cairngorms; otters are among our most elusive animals

The magpie myTh in Britain, seeing a single magpie is regarded as bad luck. Depending on where you live, though, there are ways of warding off the negative karma. in Scotland people salute and ask after the health of mrs magpie – lone birds are always believed to be male. in parts of england people wave or doff their hats. in Devon they spit three times to avert bad luck, while in Cornwall if you see a magpie, you spit on your little finger. Scots believe that a lone magpie near a house window signals an impending death, because magpies are believed to carry a drop of the devil’s blood under their tongues. Others believe magpies are weather predictors: “a single magpie in spring, foul weather will bring". But it’s only lone magpies that signal doom; multiple magpies can bring all manner of good fortune. There’s even a rhyme that many children learn at school: One for sorrow Two for joy Three for a girl And four for a boy Five for silver Six for gold Seven for a secret Never to be told

inshore, riding the swell in a sandy bay or strung out in long lines beyond the breaking waves. Known locally as ‘dunters’ they are widespread in Orkney as a breeding species, particularly on uninhabited islands. Orkney is also home to butterflies and moths, and is one of the last habitats of the great yellow bumblebee.

FArne ISLAnDS The iconic bird of the Farne Islands is the puffin. Over 40,000 breeding pairs of these endearing, almost comical seabirds arrive on the island in mid-April. They nest in burrows, which is essential to protect eggs and chicks from marauding gulls. Unlike most birds that regurgitate food for their chicks, adult puffins waddle into their burrows with up to a dozen sand eels in their coloured bills. Over 20 other species of birds nest on the islands, as well as a colony of seals. Boat trips from the mainland to the Farnes mean you’ll be as close to the birds here as anywhere in the country.

nOrFOLk BrOADS The waterways, marshlands and reed beds of the Norfolk Broads may well be the birdwatching capital of Britain. Common birds range from ghostly barn owls cruising along field edges, to the bright flashes of kingfishers hunting along a river. The reed beds are home to the intriguingly-named booming bitterns and bearded tits. On the water look out for great crested grebes, swans and geese, and watch the skies for the stunning marsh harriers. You might also see osprey, spoonbill, avocet and common cranes, which nest here. The mud banks and salt marshes of The Wash offer breathtaking spectacles such as flights of up to 50,000 wading birds. Watch the winter migrants on the coast, or the raptors coming in to roost in the Broads; listen to dawn chorus in the spring in ancient woodlands, or in summer marvel at nesting peregrines on the Norman cathedral right in the heart of Norwich.

WaTCh our exClusive video showing some of Britain’s amazing wildlife in their natural habitat along our coastline at




soaring over the mountain peaks. The eagles pair for life and there’s nothing more thrilling than watching one hover and then dive to strike a mountain hare, their favourite prey.

CJ_BritMag_Half_PgAd_3.11.14_Layout 1 3/11/14 3:28 PM Page 1



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It’s fun exciting and pure adventure, sharing our passion for all wildlife It’s a little known fact that it’s possible to go whale and dolphin watching in Cornwall. Wildlife watching cruises also allow you to take in some stunning scenery along the Cornish coast. Providers of Cornish wildlife watching tours is AK Wildlife Cruises, one of the top Whale and Dolphin tour operators in England who specialise in small parties with their well appointed ‘Free Spirit’ boat. During the summer months we run all day pelagic trips we also support The Sea Watch Foundation “national whale and dolphin watch week” where we head out to sea looking for cetaceans. With highly experienced crew we pride ourselves in really taking care of our clients providing them with a fun and exciting experience. Based in Falmouth, Cornwall, discounts are available for families and every trip has knowledgeable naturists on board.

For more information visit or and Whether you’re hoping to spot whales, dolphins or sea birds taking a boat trip out to sea can be a rewarding experience. Photographer Simon White


ABTA No. Y2846

The Great Outdoors

Natural treasures In the third part of our series on National Trust jewels, we bring you the best of the nation's coast and countryside Words Sally Coffey

photoS: Š Loop ImageS Ltd/aLamy

This picture: Old Harry Rocks on the Jurassic Coast at dawn, seen from Handfast Point, Swanage, Dorset



This picture: Brave the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, but be sure to hold on tight



The Great Outdoors


any visitors to Britain come for our sense of history, our elaborate architecture, and our deep-rooted culture. But what many people don’t realise is that these attributes are not confined to our towns and cities. Step away from the bright lights and visit our open spaces where you’ll find landscapes and natural wonders so evocative that they will, (quite literally at times), take your breath away. As an island nation, it’s inevitable that the shores that surround us have dramatically shaped our history and

Ireland, as well as 250,000 hectares of land of outstanding natural beauty, including some of the oldest woodland in the UK. So as spring has sprung, we decided to get outside and explore the great outdoors. “There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover” sang Vera Lynn in 1942 with her rendition of the popular wartime song, and although there are no bluebirds in Dover (they are not indigenous to Britain) the song’s American lyricist, Nat Burton, did not know this and little did it matter. The inaccuracy did nothing to quell the popularity of the

photo: © ChRIS hILL/GEttY IMAGES

For many Britons, early memories include building sandcastles on the beach, rolling down sand dunes or splashing in the sea

our sense of belonging. For many Britons, early memories include building sandcastles on the beach, rolling down sand dunes or splashing in the sea, and thanks to the Enterprise Neptune project launched in 1965, the National Trust has been able to protect and care for some of the most beautiful, environmentally significant and historically valuable stretches of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The National Trust owns and manages over 750 miles of coastline across England, Wales and Northern

song during the Second World War when it, and indeed the cliffs became symbolic of the determination of the Allied Forces to protect Britain from German invasion. The best way to see the high white chalk cliffs that look out across the English Channel to France is to take the two-mile clifftop walk towards South Foreland Lighthouse; a marvel of Victorian engineering itself. From here you’ll be able to see the cliffs and also the grassland that’s home to so many unusual plants and insects, like the pyramidal orchid and the britain


DILLINGTON HOUSE The perfect place for your vacation or business trip

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Shetland Lighthouse Holidays

Self catering accommodation at the edge of the world For further information and booking contact: Shetland Amenity Trust, Garthspool, Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0NY Tel: 01595 694688 Lighthouse_ad_18_04_14.indd 1

46 britain

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18/03/2014 09:24:02

The Great Outdoors



Castle Drogo, Devon The ‘last castle to be built in England' is undergoing major restoration work to ensure it doesn’t fall into disrepair but it will remain open throughout. Discover the beautiful Lutyens-designed terraced garden, the highest of the National Trust, with dramatic views of Dartmoor. Below the castle you can follow the winding paths into the sheltered Teign Valley, an ancient gorge, teeming with wildlife along the roaring river. attingham Park, shroPshire A story of love and neglect lies at the heart of this 18th-century mansion and estate.

Attingham Park was built for the 1st Lord Berwick in 1785 and was in continuous ownership by the family for more than 160 years. As their fortunes rose and fell they proved themselves to be spenders, savers and saviours. Don't miss the atmospheric dining room set for an evening banquet that reflects its Regency splendour, or the delicate decorative scheme in the Boudoir. Work is currently ongoing to restore the stunning Nash roof that covers the Picture Gallery, and a highlight of any visit to the mansion is learning more about this fascinating task. DunwiCh heath, suffolk Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, the peaceful, colourful heathland of the Dunwich Heath nature reserve (pictured) with the shingle and sand beach is rich with wildlife and ideal for birdwatchers, nature lovers, walkers, and family days out. goDrevy beaCh, Cornwall Enjoy miles of spectacular walks over coastal grasslands and heathland, exploring places such as Hell's Mouth and the North Cliffs. Go seal watching or see guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and cormorants, which nest on the steep cliffs.

Above: The Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland , is a cryptic natural wonder. Below, left: Dunwich Heath in Suffolk has a sand and shingle beach

Chalkhill blue butterfly. Reminders of the role of the cliffs in both world wars are also evident, such as the slit trenches and tunnels dug by soldiers to the concrete remains of the range finding station. Further along the south coast you’ll find England’s only natural World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast an area of 95 miles of unspoiled cliffs and beaches, stretching from Exmouth in east Devon to Studland in Dorset, which traces 185 million years of the Earth’s history. Popular with would-be archaeologists, this region is rich in fossils, with rocks dating from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. When you have finished dinosaur hunting you can visit the town of Studland, the inspiration behind Toytown in Enid Blyton’s Noddy, the nature reserve of Brownsea Island, or Corfe Castle. Across the Irish Sea lies another of Britain’s coastal delights, Carrick-a-Rede in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Here you can take an exhilarating walk across the rope bridge, which hangs precariously over a deep drop (it is safe, but hold on) to visit Carrick-a-Rede Island, a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’. britain


The Great Outdoors



north Devon coasts. It’s atmospheric here, too: at low tide you can still see the remains of the vessel Helvetia, shipwrecked in 1887 and a haunting sight to behold. Not all of Britain’s outdoor attractions are natural though, and Hill Top, in Cumbria, is a perfect example. This 17th-century farmhouse is the beloved home of popular children’s author Beatrix Potter and offers a time capsule of her life, almost as though she had just

Elsewhere you can visit the family home and garden of Sir Winston Churchill at Chartwell House in Kent. The rooms at Chartwell remain much as they were when the wartime prime minister lived here. Pictures, paintings, books and personal mementoes evoke the career and wealth of interests of a great statesman, writer, painter and father. There are also rolling exhibitions exploring different sides to Churchill’s character and the hillside gardens

Above: Wreck of Helvetia, Rhossili Bay, Gower, West Glamorgan , south Wales

Beatrix Potter’s home offers a time capsule of her life while her cottage garden is a haphazard mix of flowers, herbs and vegetables stepped out for a walk. In each room you’ll find reminders or hints of some of her charming tales and the lovely cottage garden is a haphazard mix of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Potter bought the house in 1905 with the proceeds from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and it is thought to have inspired many of her future tales.

include the lakes he created, the kitchen garden and the Marycot, a playhouse designed for his youngest daughter Mary. There are also woodland walks and nature play areas; testaments to Churchill’s own appreciation of nature.

photoS: © the photolibrary WaleS/alamy

If you’re here then you must take the short drive along the coast to the Giant’s Causeway, a magnificent and cryptic place that baffles and wonders in equal measures and is steeped in mythology. Visit the award-winning new visitor centre to unlock the secrets of the basalt columns, which have fired up imaginations for generations. According to legend the blocks are left over from a causeway built by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) after the Scottish giant Benandonner challenged him to a fight. The story goes that Fionn’s wife Oonagh disguised him as a baby, and upon seeing him and imagining the size of the baby’s father, Benandonner rushed back to Scotland destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish Isle of Staffa, which is perhaps what influenced the story. Back on mainland Britain, the Gower Peninsula in Wales is one of the most overlooked and under-visited beauty spots in the UK. Rhossili Bay is a stunning sprawling beach, which offers views of both the Welsh and

 Go to coastandcountryside to see more photos.

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britain 49

The pull of the sea Stay in a snug cottage overlooking a secret cove or in a lone lighthouse on the edge of the country for the ultimate coastal getaway WORDS CAROL DAVIS





s an island nation, Britain regards the sea as a constant source of inspiration; painters, poets and writers have long flocked to the coast to capture the ever-changing scenes, from the lapping of gentle waves on the seashore to shimmering sunsets and cooling sea breezes. Seafaring explorers and fishermen have launched from these shores, and Britain’s coastline is dotted with historic harbours, lighthouses and forts, which tell the tale of sea life. From cottages overlooking smugglers’ coves in Cornwall, to huge stone built forts and observatories, and simple fishermen’s cottages in remote areas, coastal getaways provide the perfect vista for watching the changing moods of our seas; home to dolphins, seals, puffins, gannets and shoals of salmon and herring. Choosing a coastal getaway can mean entering another world of sea, sky, cloudscapes and the rhythmic surge of waves. In Cornwall, visitors to St Anthony’s Lighthouse on the stunning Roseland Peninsula, journey along narrowing overgrown lanes as the light clears to glimmering pinks and aquamarines. A steep path leads from its National Trust car park to the very tip of the headland where the landmark

lighthouse was built in 1835 to guide seafarers safely past the treacherous Manacle Rocks, which have caused many shipwrecks. Although the lighthouse keepers who once kept the eight oil lamps burning have long gone, since coastal lighthouses became automated, visitors can still stay in total privacy in the adjoining Sally Port Cottage and watch the restless glittering sea. As the sun sets, the cottage and grounds fill with luminous colour and light. On the shore below, waves lap over rocks and a short walk through flower-filled meadows, reveals tiny

private coves; inviting places to swim and search rock pools. Cormorants dive for fish here from craggy rocks, and peregrine falcons nest nearby. Further along the coast is wonderful St Ives, where the painter Turner and writer Virginia Woolf strolled the winding streets down to the beach and harbour, and walked the coastal paths that meander past seal colonies and tiny coves. And close at hand, the visionary glass dome covered gardens of the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan blossom in Cornwall’s warm west-facing climate.

The Great Outdoors This picture: Clavell Tower, Dorset, built in 1830, has been painstakingly restored after falling into disrepair

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The Great Outdoors


This picture: St Anthony's Lighthouse, Cornwall, on the spectacular Roseland Peninsula

Further east, the landmark Clavell Tower on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset inspired the writer Thomas Hardy, whose illustration of the tower was the frontispiece for his Wessex Poems – rumour has it that he courted the local coastguard’s daughter here. It has also provided inspiration to another famous writer, PD James (see page 67). Standing four storeys high with wonderful sea views, this observatory and folly was built in 1830, but as coastal erosion threatened, conservationists moved the tower back stone by stone to a safer vantage point on the headland. Used for centuries as a seafarer’s landmark, the tower now has a first floor bedroom with encircling balcony and 360-degree views over this part of the Jurassic Coast, where fossils litter the beaches that emerge from eroding cliffs. At the heart of Britain’s first natural World Heritage Site, the South West Coast Path is a great way to explore this region. High on the famous White Cliffs of Dover, magnificent Dover Castle has stood proud since Henry II began construction in 1180. Standing over the shortest crossing point from England to the Continent, these towering cliffs have been key to England’s security for centuries, from the days when the nearby Roman lighthouse – among the best preserved in Britain – kept this coastline safe. Added by Henry III in the 13th century, the enigmatic Peverell’s Tower was once an extra line of defence, later a prison, and is now a characterful and comfortable holiday home for two with spectacular views all the way to



1. SALLY PORT COTTAGE Book for: haunting isolation and panoramic views across the sea. From £86 per person per night 2. CLAVELL TOWER Book for: a wonderful sea and sky vista in this characterful folly. From £52 per person per night 3. PEVERELL’S TOWER Book for: unique insight into the history of Britain’s castles. From £649 for a week's stay for two 4. CLEY WINDMILL Book for: a stay in a charming rural setting, which evokes the past. From £80 per person per night 5. THE SHORE COTTAGES Book for: the wave-lapped peace and tranquility of Berriedale's lovely bay. From £14 per person per night 6. TY ROWND Book for: a stay in a fairytale thatched cottage close to the sea in one of the prettiest harbour towns in Britain. From £380 per week



The Great Outdoors

France on a clear day. Wandering around the castle grounds when its day visitors have gone is a magical experience; lean over weathered walls to watch boats chugging back to harbour and seals basking far below as seagulls swoop and screech around the castle. Visitors can explore the medieval tunnels as well as those dug deep below the castle during the war, where the Dunkirk evacuation was masterminded. The story is told with historic footage and the recorded voices of those who fought that day. Although the silting up of the harbour in Cley next the Sea in Norfolk means this once busy port is now still, the magnificent early 18th century Cley Windmill still has enthralling sunlit views over salt marshes to Blakeney Point. As a local landmark set in an area

where families fished herring and the more lucrative salmon, launching from the bay in small, open boats to bring back the prized catch. Today this row of whitewashed cottages stands stark in its simplicity. The remote bay is accessed by footbridge and sheltered by towering rocky cliffs. Little has changed from the days when whole fishing families lived and sheltered by the shore. Home to gannets, seals, kittiwakes and puffins, the tiny bay is a great place to watch clouds swirl over the sea, and walk along the gloriously deserted headlands to the ruinous 14th century Berriedale Castle. Further afield, Inverness and Loch Ness, with its tales of the elusive Loch Ness monster, are within easy reach. In west Wales, a riverside stroll from the glorious harbour at Aberaeron is the tiny and impossibly


Lights twinkle around the bay and the first stars begin to appear: it’s easy to share Britain’s enduring love affair with the sea of outstanding natural beauty, Cley Windmill has drawn visitors for decades, forming the backdrop in the Elizabeth Taylor film Conspirator and drawing poets like Rupert Brooke who heard of the outbreak of the First World War in Cley. Staying in the Miller’s Room, Wheat Chamber, Barley Bin or self-contained Dovecote evokes the mill’s past, when wooden carts once laden with wheat and barley would creak down the lanes, bringing their load for grinding between the stones powered by the mill’s huge sails. Yet for some, living close to the sea meant a more gruelling existence. Driven from the Highlands in Scotland in the late 18th century by changing agricultural practices and sheep farming, the crofters who once scratched a living from the uplands began to turn to the sea. Nestled in an idyllic cove in Berriedale, north of Inverness, is their row of simple fishermen’s cottages. Visitors can stay in the simple dwellings of the Shore Cottages, from

romantic Ty Rownd – the only thatched cottage in town – which dates from the early 18th century. Painted a warm pink and still as cosy as when it was first built, the eaves of the thatched cottage are just visible to passers by. With a log burning stove, cosy mezzanine bedroom and outhouse with hot tub, this historic cottage is a great base for exploring the picturesque harbour town of Aberaeron. A riverside walk leads to the harbour; dangle your feet over the harbour wall while feasting on fresh fish and chips or try the best Cardigan Bay seafood in its annual July festival. Seagulls wheel over the bay and as the lights twinkle around the bay, the first stars begin to appear over the Llyn Peninsula to the north. Gazing out from Wales – or Cornwall, Scotland or the heights of Dover Castle – it is easy to share Britain’s enduring love affair with the sea.

Right: Whitby Lighthouse. Facing page, top: Shore Cottages of Berriedale. Facing page, bottom: Cley Windmill, Norfolk


YELLOW SUBMARINE, LIVERPOOL: Moored at the Albert Dock in the heart of the city, the Yellow Submarine has walls lined with Beatles gold discs. Sleeps five people. THE PLAICE, SEAHOUSES, NORTHUMBERLAND: With views over the busy harbour and an idyllic balcony, this fisherman’s cottage is light and airy. Sleeps six. MOJO HOUSEBOAT B&B, MERSEA ISLAND, ESSEX: Stunning skies and glorious beaches in a spectacular setting, and delicious cream tea on arrival. Sleeps two, plus children. WHITBY LIGHTHOUSE, YORKSHIRE: Hidden up narrow single track lanes and perched high above sea and harbours, this spectacular landmark has two lighthouse keeper's cottages sleeping up to six. KINGSWEAR CASTLE, DARTMOUTH: Spend the evening on the battlements watching the stars in this 16th century castle right on the water’s edge, and saluting passing ships. Sleeps four. GREAT ORME LIGHTHOUSE, LLANDUDNO, NORTH WALES: This impressive lighthouse perched high on a cliff has spectacular 280-degree views from its Telegraph Room and Lamp Room. Each room sleeps two.

8 Go to coastandcountryside to see more photos. BRITAIN


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Great Britons This picture: Brunel's magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge is now an icon of Bristol

BRIDGING THE GAP The brains behind the first transatlantic steamship, the world's longest railway tunnel and its widest bridge, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's pioneering work changed the face of British industry forever WORDS CHRIS MUGGAN





Great Britons



ully deserving of his nomination as the second greatest Briton of all time in a BBC poll (he lost out on the top prize to Sir Winston Churchill) Isambard Kingdom Brunel was instrumental not only in pushing the boundaries of how we crossed rivers, oceans and hills, but he also devised innovations that cemented Britain’s status as an unrivalled superpower. In short, he was a true British hero. Brunel’s timing was impeccable: in the early 19th century, steam was becoming accepted as an ideal form of transport over road and canals, though heavy locomotives and trains created new technical challenges. The perfect opportunity, then, for an ambitious, driven young engineer to prove himself. Brunel was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, in 1806, the son of a French civil engineer, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, and Sophia Kingdom. A French royalist sympathiser, Brunel’s father had fled his native country at the height of its revolutionary fervour in 1793, first to the United States. In the US Marc applied his skills to canal-building before heading to England to design a machine for the Royal Navy, which automated production. He married Sophia, an English orphan, and in 1808 Marc moved his family into an attractive Chelsea residence, Lindsey House. As the only son, with two older sisters, Brunel was marked early on as his father’s protégé, learning from him geometry and drawing before he turned eight, after which he was sent to a boarding school in Hove. At age 14 Brunel continued his education in France, first in Normandy, then in Paris. Thus, he missed out on his father’s humiliating spell in debtors’ prison. Marc often lost money on schemes or struggled to secure payment and in 1821 was sent to King’s Bench Prison in Southwark, where Sophia joined him. With no hope of release Marc offered to work for Tsar Alexander I of Russia, causing the Duke of Wellington to successfully demand Parliament clear Marc’s debts in order to retain his services. The importance of such support was a lesson not lost on Isambard when it came to securing the job of building the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Isambard joined the project that would make his name following work on his father’s own groundbreaking legacy: the first tunnel under a navigable river, allowing east London’s pedestrians to cross the Thames. It was while working on this project in 1828, that 21-year-old Isambard narrowly avoided drowning through inundation when a worker broke down a door to rescue him. The Thames Tunnel now carries the London Overground railway, and its former South Bank engine house is home to the Brunel Museum. Brunel was recovering just outside Bristol when he heard of a competition to bridge the Avon Gorge; a huge challenge as the Admiralty insisted any bridge between Bristol and the sea be 100ft above water to allow masted ships access to its harbour. Brunel submitted four designs for an iron suspension bridge in a high-profile contest that saw all entries rejected by the distinguished engineer Thomas Telford, who insisted only an expensive three-span design with supports in the river would suffice.

Above: Royal Albert Bridge. Facing page, left to right: Marc Brunel was a huge influence on his son; Brunel's first ocean liner ss Great Britain; Brunel's drawing instruments; Steam – Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon; Brunel in 1857; Brunel beside the Great Eastern; screw propeller on the ss Great Britain; Saltash Bridge; Box Tunnel

Brunel argued a cheaper, suspended bridge could work and he was eventually declared the winner in 1831. Writing to his brother-in-law, he said: “Of all the wonderful feats I have performed […], I think yesterday I performed the most wonderful. I produced unanimity among 15 men who were all quarrelling about that most ticklish subject – taste.” The Clifton Suspension Bridge, then the longest in the world, with its soaring, Egyptian-inspired towers is today a symbol of Bristol. Although work began in his lifetime, it was only completed after Brunel’s death due to financial difficulties, though he had proved his visionary expertise. With Bristolian merchants keen to fight off competition for the position of Britain’s second port from Liverpool – which already had a railway under construction – and vie for American trade, the founders of the Great Western Railway (GWR) saw Brunel as their chance to reach new standards in 1835 when the company was incorporated by an Act of Parliament. Brunel took a keen interest in the GWR’s rolling stock, selecting the then quiet market town of Swindon as the site for its works. Against prevailing trends, he also decreed an especially wide track over 7ft that would allow wheels to spread out from the carriages and give smoother rides at high speeds. In 1846, however, the government settled the fierce ‘Battle of the Gauges’ by choosing George Stephenson’s standard gauge over Brunel’s broad gauge as the national measure and by 1892 Brunel’s gauge was eliminated. britain


Great Britons

Left, top to bottom: Bow of the ss Great Britain in Bristol Harbour; Bristol International Balloon Fiesta display over Clifton Suspension Bridge; statue of Brunel at Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales

photoS: © Liquid Light/daugirdaS tomaS racyS/Stephen dorey/aLamy

By now Brunel was a family man, having married Mary Elizabeth Horsley, the daughter of composer William Horsley, in 1836. The couple had three children and although Brunel was a workaholic he still found time to entertain his kids with conjuring tricks – on one occasion he swallowed a half sovereign that could have choked him to death, but inventor that he was, he knocked up a board pivoted between two uprights, spun himself round and expelled the coin by centrifugal force. Among his other engineering accomplishments were a brick-arch bridge over the River Thames at Maidenhead – considered the widest and flattest of its kind at the time – and suspension bridges suitable for trains, first at Chepstow, then across the River Tamar in Cornwall. The Royal Albert Bridge is still a stunning sight. A less eye-catching, though just as great feat was his Box Tunnel under the hill between Chippenham and Bath. Opened in 1841, completing the GWR, it was the longest railway tunnel ever built. Even before this, Brunel was planning to extend the railway across the Atlantic by means of steamship. Despite the successful launch of his paddle-driven Great Western in 1838, Brunel became convinced screws were superior. Thus, Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the first iron-built, screw-propeller driven, ocean-going ship, as well as the largest ship of its time. Due to the economics of the time, it was not a huge success, but proved the efficacy of new technologies and set the direction of shipping well into the 20th century. Great Britain now rests in Bristol Harbour, a symbol of when the country it is named after ruled the waves. In 1853 the Eastern Steam Navigation Company employed Brunel to build the Great Eastern. The huge ship was designed to carry 4,000 passengers and was technologically advanced but the stress of the work has often been attributed to Brunel’s untimely death. He died on 15 September 1859, aged 53, following news of an explosion on board the Great Eastern during her sea trials. He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London. His fame is memorialised in statues from Swindon to London, to Pembrokeshire, where the Great Western Railway reached in 1853, and his name graces a London university, though his greatest memorial remains the tunnel and bridges that continue to carry God’s Own Railway.

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information !!  !!  ! !!and  !!  ! For further bookings Tel: 01271 863636

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Mount Stuart

Mount Stuart

Isle of Bute

isle of Bute

enjoy Island lIfe

Discover one of the worlD’s finest houses

for a short or long stay holIday stay in one of six highly individual properties, each exuding charm and character, refurbished to provide a high standard of self-catering accommodation in fabulous locations.

explore this wondrous victorian Gothic structure and its labyrinth of gardens set in 300 acres - you won’t fail to be impressed! House │ Gardens │ Visitor Centre Restaurant Gift Shop │ Tea Rooms │ Events & Weddings Adventure Play Area │ Fine Art Collection contemporary visual Arts exhibition

each house provides a perfect base to explore the Isle of Bute, offering immaculate and comfortable living space for family holidays, wedding parties and relaxing breaks – from a cosy cottage for 2 to stunning coastal farmsteads for 16.

Just 90 minutes from Glasgow with frequent rail and ferry services daily to the most accessible scottish island.

for further information, please visit our website.

seasonal opening - see website for details. t: +44 (0) 1700 503877

t: +44 (0) 1700 503877





Unlock London wITh RAIlbOOKeRS

From its historic landmarks and cultural heritage to its contemporary skyscrapers and cool neighbourhoods, England’s capital is a city just waiting to be discovered


he history of London reads like an epic novel of monarchy, war, plague, commerce, invention and derring-do. Founded as Londinium around 50 AD, the city flourished and waned under the Romans, before experiencing a resurgence under the Saxons and Vikings. After his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror marched into the city and built the Tower of London as a symbol of his crushing power. He was crowned king at Westminster Abbey, thus setting a precedent for all succeeding British monarchs. Buildings like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey still exist as compelling illustrations of London’s unique biography. You can still visit the palace at Greenwich where Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I were both born. You can see the house where Christopher Wren lived while building St Paul’s Cathedral just across the Thames and you can have a drink at the pub in the West India Docks where Lord Nelson regularly arranged secret trysts with Lady Hamilton.

But despite these anchors to the past, London is a city that is ever changing. New architecture like the already-iconic Shard and the Olympic Aquatics Centre in Stratford jostle for position with ancient churches and Georgian townhouses, resulting in a dynamic, stunning cityscape. From fascinating new exhibitions at the British Museum to the latest pop-up bar on the Southbank, there is always an exciting combination of new and old. Why not visit London on a tailor-made holiday with Railbookers? With offices in London, Sydney, Los Angeles and Auckland, Railbookers are tailor-made rail holiday experts. They offer London holiday inspiration, from a two-night stay and a tour of the sites associated with the Second World War, to a four-night holiday with stops in London and the Scottish capital Edinburgh and a scenic rail journey in-between. If you’d like to head beyond the UK, they can help there too, with hand-picked hotels all over Europe and beyond. Tailor-made travel allows you to choose a holiday that not only fits in with your available time and

budget, but also gives you the scope to plot your own course and get exactly what you want from your journey. Start in one place and return from another, enjoy a round-trip taking in your own personal list of must-see places, head straight for the coast or take the slow route and incorporate some fantastic scenery along the way. Once you have your perfect holiday or city break planned, you can just sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that everything has been arranged just for you. Make the journey an essential part of your holiday to Great Britain in 2014 with Railbookers.

 For more information please visit the Railbookers website at or call 1888 829 3040 from the US, 1300 938 534 from Australia, 0800 000 554 from New Zealand, or 020 3327 3550 from the UK.



We’ve selected and approved 50 of the best independently owned luxury Hotels All you have to do is enjoy them!

SLEEPING WITH BOOKS Ensuite accommodation and home cooked food in the UK’s only Prime Ministerial Library “A bookworm’s paradise” (Stylist Magazine) “One of the most picturesque spots in Wales” (Sunday Times)

Discover them all call 0800 089 3929 to request your free directory or visit

The Mark of Quality

7538 Pride of Britain - Britain Magazine 129x99.indd 1

Gladstone’s Library, Church Lane, Hawarden CH5 3DF. / 01244 532350

20/03/2014 11:45:34



To book tickets please call 0844 847 1672 (UK) or +44 161 425 8677 (outside UK) or visit For tours information go to

Visitor service ad S&S_202x129_Mar2014.indd 1


11/03/2014 17:54:16

A room

People and places

like no other

photoS: © derry moore: An engliSh room

Distinguished Britons – from actor Benedict Cumberbatch to prize-winning authors and the aristocracy – share the stories behind their favourite English places

Benedict cumBerBatch, actor The Library, The Garrick Club, London on home soil cumberbatch may be best known for his enigmatic portrayal of Sherlock holmes, but with his recent turn in 12 Years a Slave he is now set to become part of hollywood royalty. “i was at school when i first visited the Garrick club; my father took me to the library. in my memory it featured as an enormous room, very grand and impressive. Visiting it now, it appears quite small. it still retains though an aura which i sensed on my first visit. as an actor accustomed to reading scripts of photocopied pages roughly bound together, it’s a luxury to be able to read those same

scripts in beautiful, early editions printed on heavy paper and in generous type. there’s a special thrill handling a book that might have been held by irving, Forbes-robertson or Beerbohm tree. this place is an oasis of quiet: a stone’s throw from charing cross and the theatre district on one side, and from covent Garden on the other. it is possible to sit here in silence, surrounded by volumes full of original playbills – [actor] edmund Kean in Richard III or Othello. it enables one to touch, as it were, the past of the magic world of theatre.” britain


GAVIn STAMP, wrITer/HISTorIAn Grand Staircase, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London Gavin Stamp is a writer and architectural historian, who promotes both modern constructions and the conservation of Britain’s building heritage, and contributes to a range of magazines. “The Grand Staircase in what used to be the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station is one of the most spectacular interior spaces in London. It goes up and up, rising and dividing, supported on decorative iron beams and enclosed by richly-decorated walls below a star-spangled Gothic rib vault. It is a triumph of the great Victorian endeavour to make the Middle Ages modern and a masterpiece of its creator, the architect Sir Gilbert Scott. I first saw it, and walked up it, almost half a century ago and I still find it thrilling. The miracle is that we can still enjoy it since the whole building was very nearly demolished. In this photograph, Derry Moore captures me, pensive and alone, on the Grand Staircase (standing on the splendid new carpet rewoven to the original design), but it is good that others can now enjoy it – along with the bars and restaurants in the carefully-restored original rooms.”



People and places

PD James, author Clavell Tower, Isle of Purbeck, Dorset Phyllis Dorothy James White, known as PD James, is an author of 20 books, many of which have been made into television programmes. most recently she is known for her novel Death Comes to Pemberley in which she weaves the characters of Jane austen’s Pride and Prejudice into one of her tales. “I first saw Clavell tower in spring 1971; a blustery day with the tide running strongly, crashing over the black rocks and the friable cliff. I remember circling the tower, touching the time-weathered bricks, recalling having read that thomas hardy trudged up the

narrow pathway with his first love eliza Nicholls, surely one of the many couples who have made their tryst at this beloved landmark. the old tower, and Purbeck itself, were the inspiration for my sixth novel, The Black Tower, where the blackness was symbolic. my visit to the renewed and beautiful tower inspired four happy lines of verse: How sweet the air on field and hill, How calm this blessed land, And England will be England still While Clavell Tower shall stand.” britain


Felicity Kendal cBe, actress The Gielgud Theatre, London Felicity Kendal is a renowned actress of the stage and television. the role that has endured in the hearts of the British public, however, is that of Barbara Good in The Good Life. “the theatre has always been very lucky for me. as well as holding so many happy memories, it’s also where i had my first two West end hits. i was first on this stage as a green young actress in 1971 opposite alan Badel, who played Kean in the show of that name. alan belonged to the tradition of 19th-century actors whose personalities were as large and as eccentric as some of the parts that they played. i was cast opposite him as anne danby, a young woman who is in love with Kean. For some reason over the years, this theatre has been a charmed one for me and i hold it dear. Moving into the dressing rooms before a run is like coming home, and the stage is a perfect space to work on. it’s a beautiful, classical theatre i am proud to say that i have worked in many times with great joy.”



People and places

The Duke of BeauforT The Hall, Badminton House, Gloucestershire The Duke and his family are descendants from the house of Plantagenet through John of Gaunt and edward III, and the Badminton estate has been the family home since the 17th century. “I first visited Badminton at the end of the Second World War, when I was 15. I remember having tea in the housekeeper’s sitting room but have no recollection of this room – most of the house was shut up and barely lived in. That’s because Queen Mary, who had spent most of the war at Badminton had on her departure taken the retinue, including virtually all the servants, leaving my cousin’s wife with a rather decrepit butler to look after her and the entire house. Badminton, at that time, seemed to me a cold and grim house. after that first visit, I frequently used to spend the weekends at Badminton, the main attraction being the hunting. In retrospect, it must have been dreadful for my cousin and his wife when this rather gormless teenager arrived, but they were always kindness itself. In 1950 I married and my wife and I spent most weekends at Badminton. We bought a house in Badminton village in 1960 and after the Duke’s death in 1984, we moved into the big house. We decorated most of it, but never touched the hall, which remains much as when it was designed by William kent in the early 18th century. Despite this, it served as a drawing room which must have been icy cold as there was no central heating. It’s the only room in the house entirely designed by kent, who also designed the furniture.”


An Englishman's home is his castle, as the saying goes. In An English Room by Derry Moore (£29.99 from Prestel Publishing), some of the country's most revered figures reveal which English rooms make them feel at home. They also discuss what being English truly entails, taking us on a tour of their favourite country homes, chapels, libraries and artist's studios. Contributors to the book include Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, P D James and fashion designer Paul Smith. It's a fascinating insight into the minds of some of Britain's beloved personalities.



Photo: Ron Rutten

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.

Ensuite and Standard B&B accommodation is available in historic buildings which are far older than their Georgian frontages suggest.

18 North Bailey, Durham DH1 3RH Tel: 0191 334 3358 • email:

Faulty towers the Dining experience Info, FAQ and tickets: ChArIng Cross hotel, the strAnd, london, WC2n 5hX t: +44 (0)845 154 4145 e:


asil, Sybil and Manuel serve a 3-course meal with a dollop of mayhem and all the best gags in a ’2-hour eat, drink and laugh sensation’ (Daily Telegraph). This is the same 5* West End show that tours the world, taking in major arts festivals and even Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall! Highly improvised and fully immersive, it’s ‘deliciously entertaining from start to finish, and not to be missed.’ (What’s on London). Booking is essential.

InFormAtIon: Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is performed evenings and matinées Friday to sunday at the 4* Charing Cross hotel. tickets from £47; all tickets include a 3-course meal and 2-hour show. special hotel rates available.

Chatsworth Peak District

70 britain

Over To You


Get in touch with your views about the country, your travels and the magazine


OUR FAVOURITE LETTER I always know when Shakespeare was born. In 1964 I was 12-years-old and in my final year of primary school. We learned about Britain that year, taught by our enthusiastic Anglophile teacher, Mrs Quinn. Throughout that year a family friend gave me copies of the magazine Coming Events in Britain, which was celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s birth. I devoured the magazines, did well with my studies and promised myself that one day I would walk where Shakespeare had walked. Of course study, girls, cars and a career got in the way and my first trip to the land of the great playwright had to wait until 1992; I have been back a number of times since. The years that have transformed a young schoolboy into an ageing man have also seen the

magazine go through many changes to become BRITAIN. Imagine the reminiscent delight I felt when I received the latest issue in the mail and discovered a lovely celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare. Where did all those years go? Fortunately the course of true love did run smooth for me and for well over half of those 50 years I have shared my adventures with my wonderful spouse, Christine. Together we are planning another visit to Britain next year. I’m always a bit smug when the year of Shakespeare’s birth comes up at trivia night. David Crouch, Victoria, Australia

BRITAIN REPLIES: We are so pleased to have

triggered some wonderful memories for you and glad to come across such a loyal reader. If you like Shakespeare (and who doesn’t) then go to for more on the Bard’s 450th birthday.

Our favourite letter wins a copy of the beautiful book An English Room with photography from Derry Moore. In it famous Britons talk about places that enthral them and what it means to be British (see page 65). •


One of the best places to soak up the culture of Britain is in a pub (Here’s to the Perfect Pub, Vol 82, Issue 1). I visited numerous pubs when I lived near Cambridge for a couple of years in the mid-80s and revisited England, Scotland and Wales 13 years ago. There’s no place that I’ve discovered other than the UK that knows instinctively how to showcase a warm and inviting place to eat and drink with the locals, where hospitality is the norm. The essence of pub food is more than the traditional fish and chips. I’ve indulged in a ploughman’s lunch, oxtail soup and mushy peas; a pleasant offering to the taste buds that’s incomparable. J.D. Marckmann, Missouri, USA 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: Follow us on Twitter at @BritainMagazine or like our Facebook page at

BOWLED OVER What? No mention of bowls (A Question of Sport, Vol 82, Issue 1)? Are you not aware of the legend of Sir Francis Drake insisting on completing his game of bowls before going off to face the Spanish Armada? Or that the World Bowls HQ is in Scotland? James Dunlevey, Menifee, CA, USA

@RoyalObsessed Latest issue of @BritainMagazine has so many of the greatest things in Britain I don't know what's left for future issues.

8 COMPETITION WINNER Congratulations to Leigh Hatts from London who has won a weekend in Richmond upon Thames.



Advertisement Feature

Wirral - the perfect short break Wirral Peninsula is a timeless oasis with a Viking past, ideally situated between the two cities of Chester and Liverpool. Enjoy stunning views over the Welsh Hills and the River Dee on one side, with the spectacular Liverpool skyline and the River Mersey on the other. Encounter breathtaking coastline, lush countryside, a delicious range of eateries and welcoming places to stay. Well connected to the rest of the country, it is a great base for an action-packed break or a leisurely long weekend. Uncover Wirral’s beauty and charm for all you could wish; coast, countryside and city all in close proximity.

A Taste of Wirral Discover historic Birkenhead Park; the inspiration for New York’s Central Park, before journeying to Oxton Village, home to Wirral Event of the Year - Secret Gardens of Oxton each May, and to many gastro delights. Fraiche; one such delight, is an established Michelin star restaurant, named in the top 10 of the Sunday Times List and in the top 25 UK restaurants within the Which Good Food Guide. Heading to the eastern side of Wirral Peninsula, explore North Wirral Coastal Park, with Britain’s oldest brick lighthouse Leasowe Lighthouse, and the reenergised seaside town of New Brighton. The promenade is home to Wirral Attraction of the Year - the Floral Pavilion Theatre, the Light cinema, and Championship Adventure Golf, along with water sports, and places to eat and stay. Award winning Caffe Cream is a ‘must visit’. Choose from one of the many unique ice cream flavours produced on site, and enjoy views of New Brighton Lighthouse with Liverpool as its backdrop.

Welcoming Stays Dell Bridge in Port Sunlight

Culture Vulture Wake up at the delightful, 5 Star Gold, Mere Brook House - Wirral Accommodation of the Year two years on the run, mentioned in the Michelin Guide and Wirral Taste Award winner. This Edwardian guesthouse in Thornton Hough, offers a warm welcome in luxurious surroundings. Then begin the day at Port Sunlight to receive an absorbing insight into a 19th Century model village. Marvel at award winning gardens, the art gallery, and uniquely designed houses. Just across the village unwind at the Leverhulme Hotel, an art-deco boutique resting place with its two AA Rosette restaurant named in the Michelin Guide. Step back in time at the museum before visiting nearby Claremont Farm, home to the Wirral Farm Feast each May. Try one of the cooking courses here or visit the superb farm shop. Later ferry across the Mersey with Europe’s highly celebrated and oldest ferry service, departing from Seacombe and Woodside. Follow this with a quality real ale at Gallagher’s Pub & Barbers, named Wirral CAMRA Pub three years in a row, and get a hot towel shave while there!

The stunning Grade II listed Hillbark Hotel & Spa is an idyllic place to stay and Merseyside’s first 5 star hotel. Set in beautiful parkland, you can indulge here in 3 AA Rosette fine dining and be pampered in the sumptuous spa. Revitalised, explore Royden Park and ride the model railway ideal for kids. In nearby West Kirby, enjoy some retail therapy at the boutique shops before strolling along the promenade or beach, and take in amazing views of Wales and Wirral’s treasured Hilbre Islands. Walk or take a boat to the islands and see a variety of wildlife, followed by more adventure with the water sports at the Marine Lake. Emerge shaken not stirred at The Wro Bar, Lounge & Loft; Best Bar in Merseyside two years

The Lawns at Thornton Hall Hotel

View from 42, Caldy Road

running and Wirral Team of the Year. For rest and relaxation with stunning views, book into the welcoming 5 star guest house, 42, Caldy Road, before taking a short hop to Hoylake, childhood home of James Bond actor, Daniel Craig. Here choose from quality eating places including the award winning Portrait House. Around the corner is Royal Liverpool Golf Club host to the biggest event in the golfing calendar - The 2014 British Open Championship this July! Wirral is a golfer’s paradise; with 14 spectacular courses, and the Wirral Golf Classic - an amateur golf tournament, taking place every September.

Coast & Countryside Visit Ness Botanic Gardens, to discover an exquisite educational environment and outstanding collections of plants and flowers, along with a visitor centre, nature trails and a café. Close-by is Inglewood Manor, Wirral Accommodation of the Year. This country house hotel retains all the charm of a lavish Edwardian family home and is surrounded by 38 acres of exquisite grounds. Later explore Wirral Country Park in Thurstaston; the first Country Park in Britain. It is home to the Wirral Way, a 12-mile former railway line tracing the Dee Estuary coast and offering an environmental oasis for walkers, cyclists and horse enthusiasts, as well as breathtaking views from the dramatic cliffs, across the Estuary. Finally relax at award winning Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa in the quaint Thornton Hough Village. For a perfect end to your visit, treat yourself to a 3 AA Rosette fine dining experience here in its Lawns Restaurant with panoramic views of the beautiful grounds or afternoon tea out on The Lawns. Don’t miss out. To plan your break & follow @visit_wirral

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British culture

The SeaSon

As spring ends, there is a veritable frisson in the British air as hats are ordered and diaries fill up. It can only mean one thing: it’s the start of the Season

photoS: © ChriS JaCkSon/Getty imaGeS

Words Josephine price


ike many British traditions, the Season was established with the British Monarchy in mind; historically it was the period in which the Royal Family was in residence in London. As society usually follows those in the upper echelons, the aristocracy and members of the ruling classes tended to reside in London at the same time as the Royal Family. The summer season from April to July was peak time to be in London as it was before the start of shooting season when people would retire back to their country homes. And so a programme of social events was established in the 18th century to keep everyone entertained. Originally, the Season began with debutante balls and court presentations as younger generations were introduced into society and married off. However, this was only mildly interesting for those not looking to marry so

events soon grew to include sporting galas and concerts, keeping high society busy during their time in the capital. The events brought together country home-owners in the most fabulous fashion, offering everybody a chance to socialise – even politicians, while Parliament was still sitting. All events were and still are either held in the capital or the surrounding counties, with attendees arriving by train from London, by helicopter or from further afield. Events in the Season are horticultural, equestrian, sporting and artistic, though horse racing takes precedence due to the Royal Family’s passion for the sport. Gatherings are arranged over set weekends so that those with the desire – and the stamina – to take part in them all can do so. The Season is bursting with dress codes, etiquette and eccentricities. Read on for some of our favourites.

Above: Racegoers sport their designer hats on the first day of Royal Ascot, in Berkshire, held every June



Wimbledon Championships London

23 June – 6 July 2014 it was 11 years after the all england lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1868 that the first Wimbledon Championships were played at a small club on Worple Road in southwest london. The modest meeting featured 22 male players, with 200 spectators attending the final – humble beginnings for what is now considered the greatest tennis tournament in the world. Today, the tennis event has grown with all the grandeur associated with british summertime; 486,898 people attended the world-class 13-day tournament in 2013. it is the refined summer sporting venue where smart attendees quaff pimm's by the gallon and tradition dictates that you consume strawberries and cream while taking in a match. Centre Court is where the best action takes place, both on court and in the stands, with the Royal box garnering almost as much attention as the players – it is certainly a london event to be seen at. For those not lucky enough to make it into Centre Court, the hill behind the courts makes for perfect viewing and is traditionally named after the nation’s favourite players: ‘henman hill’ in the late 1990s, and more recently ‘murray’s mount’, after current champion andy murray. players must wear white, and the club also issued a dress code to its members for the first time in 2012 to ensure sartorial elegance is maintained.

Tip: Unlike other events throughout the season, ladies are asked to refrain from wearing hats – especially in the Royal box so as not to obscure the vision of those seated behind them.

The bbC pRoms

18 July – 13 September 2014 The proms, short for ‘promenade concerts’, is one of two musical extravaganzas (the other one being Glyndebourne) that feature throughout the season. Founded in 1895, the eight-week summer programme of concerts was originally held at Queen’s hall in langham place, london. but after it was destroyed in the london blitz in 1941, the event moved to the Royal albert hall as the founders henry Wood and Robert newman were keen to continue providing a range of music to the people, whatever their circumstances. Concerts now take place in musical halls and parks across the country, culminating in the last night of the proms, which finishes the musical season in a spectacular fashion and is always a sought-after event. To attend the last night of the proms, one must have attended at least five of the concerts in the same season. The strict dress codes and formalities of other events in the season are not as prevalent during the proms; the idea was for them to be relaxed where people could enjoy music with a garden party ambience.

Tip: Those attending the proms are affectionately known as ‘prommers’. Try not to be the first to clap – some prommers get upset with those who clap in between movements. hold back and follow the crowd in applauding – and remember to wave your Union Jack wildly during the traditional rendition of edward elgar’s patriotic song Land of Hope and Glory.



photoS: © Ben RadfoRd/coRBiS/ Yui Mok/pa iMageS/ daRRen StapLeS

London and various locations

British culture This page: The Queen arrives at Royal Ascot. Facing page, from top: The English summer drink of Pimm's; flag-waving at the Last Night of the Proms

Royal ascot Berkshire

17 – 21 June 2014 since the first race meeting in 1711, Royal ascot has been a focal point of the British season. on discovering the flat lands near Windsor castle, Queen anne ordered a racecourse be built on ascot Heath and it has delighted guests in British summertime ever since. the Royal ascot meeting is pivotal in the horse-racing season and the highlight of this event is the Royal Procession, which each day marks the arrival of the Monarchy – a tradition that was started by King

George IV in 1825. the Royal Enclosure, where the Queen is seated with her entourage, is the most prestigious enclosure at the meeting and both entry and dress code are strictly regulated. the elaborate millinery creations at the event are well documented and the competition between guests is encouraged as a quintessential British tradition.

Tip: observe the dress codes. For ladies, bare shoulders are not allowed in the Royal Enclosure or Grandstand, but hats are a must. Fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure.

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British culture

GloriouS GoodWood


West Sussex

29 July – 2 August 2014 edward Vii once famously described the races at Goodwood as “a garden party with racing tacked on.” perched high on top of the Sussex downs, the five-day horse-racing event on the Goodwood estate began over 200 years ago. the beautiful surroundings of the undulating Sussex downs set the scene for the refined country estate – fitting for a summer event for the upper classes; it is often referred to as the most beautiful racecourse in the world. the 3rd duke of richmond created the course at Goodwood House in 1802 in order to race with his Sussex militia. it has since developed into a delightful summer affair with pimm’s and parasols aplenty. Glorious Goodwood is a stylish event – it has even had a designer range named after it to epitomise the sartorial elegance witnessed in its environs each year. the renowned milliner Cozmo Jenks created the collection, which features beautiful panamas that have become synonymous with the racecourse event.

Tip: Men often don the traditional panama hat as made popular by King edward Vii and ladies are discouraged from wearing stiletto heels due to the terrain.

VeuVe CliCquot Gold Cup polo West Sussex


24 June – 20 July 2014 Britain has entertained a love for this horseback sport since British tea planters in india began playing it in 1862. the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup polo event is the highlight of the polo season at Cowdray park in the South downs National park of West Sussex and is an essential component of the British Season. polo games have been played on the Viscount Cowdray’s 16,500-acre estate for the last 100 years, with the first competitive tournaments being recorded in 1910. By the 1920s a range of competitions with cups and trophies was established, although the Second World War brought an end to competitions. polo reaffirmed itself as a major sporting event of the Season in 1953 as the Coronation Cup, attended by the queen and the duke of edinburgh, with a crowd of 10,000 spectators attending the final. today the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup remains an integral event in the polo season as it decides the British open polo Championships and is known as one of the highest quality polo contests in the world. each summer the lawns at Cowdray are strewn with beautiful picnic hampers brought in by aficionados, aristocrats and celebrities alike. Summer style is encouraged and men are permitted to wear lounge suits. With approximately 450 polo matches played during the summer, fans have plenty of chances to enjoy a game while soaking up some english sun.

Tip: ladies are advised to wear low heels or flat shoes if they would like to participate in the tradition of ‘treading in the divots’ (the turf kicked up by the ponies), a particularly sociable and fun tradition.



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British culture

Henley Royal Regatta River Thames, Oxfordshire

photoS: Š Steve parSonS /pa imageS/ Ben radford/corBiS

2 July – 6 July 2014 It is 175 years since the first rowing regatta took place in the riverside village of Henley-on-thames in 1839. aside from pausing for each of the two world wars, the event has been an annual source of entertainment ever since. originally curated as a town fair by the Mayor of Henley, the event grew to accommodate both the crowds that flocked to Henley in the summer, and those who wanted to concentrate on the competitive amateur-rowing contest itself. the event has had royal links since 1851 when Prince albert became the first Royal Patron and the reigning monarch has undertaken this duty ever since. the 200 races take place over a five-day period, with gentlemen required to wear lounge suits and strongly encouraged to wear rowing club colours. Boater hats must be acquired from a school rowing team or a rowing club. For ladies hemlines must be below the knee but hats, although welcomed, are not a necessity. the event has a very english feel, with guests lounging in deckchairs along the riverbanks or frolicking on the lawns, Champagne in hand.

Tip: Mobile phones are banned in the Steward’s enclosure and men are also required to wear a tie. Unless you are the guest of a private club or residence, the best place to view the regatta is from the Berkshire side of the River thames.



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Arthurian legend

THE KING wh o won 't die The legend of King Arthur and his knights lives on in modern times. But who was Arthur and how did his tale unfold?



Above, left to right: The Marriage of King Arthur and Guinevere, illustration from The Gateway to Tennyson (1910); Tintagel Castle of Arthurian legend


ing Arthur, departing for the mysterious Isle of Avalon after being wounded in combat with his wicked nephew Mordred, promises to return whenever his people need him. Ever since, it has been claimed that the legendary ‘once and future king’ and his knights slumber, awaiting their call to action, in a cave beneath the Eildon Hills in the Scottish Borders, the Welsh mountains of Snowdonia, Glastonbury Tor in Somerset – and many other evocative landscapes around Britain.

The king may not yet have returned physically, but the idea of a heroic, all-conquering 5th-century warrior uniting his native followers against a common foe, has provided constant inspiration to poets, artists, musicians, moviemakers and even royalty down the ages. Most recently there’s news that Guy Ritchie is in talks to direct a series of Warner Bros. films on Arthur and there’s no shortage of material to explore. Arthur, the peerless warrior who fights human and supernatural enemies appears in early Welsh tales, BRITAIN


There are dozens of places with Arthurian associations across Britain, yet so elaborate have the stories become he’s a surprisingly elusive figure to pin down

Clockwise from top left: Roman Amphitheatre Caerleon, Wales; some say Arthur slumbers beneath the Eildon Hills on the Scottish Borders; the Round Table, reproduced from a 14th century miniature



including those in the Mabinogion collection. But it was the chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fanciful 12th-century History of the Kings of Britain that popularised the Arthurian myth to a wider audience. The late 12th century poetry of Chrétien de Troyes, Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, written at the end of the 15th century, and the 19th century Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson, all embellished the tale to suit the social and political mood of their times. And so the familiar motifs and characters evolved: only Arthur, the true and rightful king, is able to draw the sword from the stone that the wizard Merlin has implanted and he reigns over the glorious court of Camelot, peopled by chivalrous Knights of the Round Table where each man sits as equal. Plot lines like

the Quest for the Holy Grail held particular appeal when knights went on Crusade, while the introduction of Sir Lancelot’s affair with Arthur’s Queen Guinevere perfectly chimed with the fashion for medieval romances. But did Arthur really exist? There are dozens of places with Arthurian associations across Britain, yet so elaborate have the stories surrounding him become that despite (or because of) his ubiquity, he’s a surprisingly elusive figure to pin down. Scholars remain fascinated and many plausible, if conflicting arguments have been put forward for the identity of the historical Arthur (see panel opposite). One popular view is that an Arthur figure lived at the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries and was, so the 8th-century chronicler Nennius tells us, a dux bellorum or warlord, not a king. Following the withdrawal of the

Arthurian legend

Wh o was Arth ur?


Many scholars today argue that King Arthur is a semi-mythical figure based on one or more historical people. So who are some of the candidates? • Owain Ddantgwyn, King of Powys circa AD 500 led successful campaigns by Britons against Angles, Saxons and Picts. Arthur is said to have been his battle nickname, from ‘arth’, the Welsh word for ‘bear’. His falling out with his nephew Maglocunas prompts comparison with legendary Arthur’s strife with Mordred (King Arthur:

Roman legions from Britannia, the natives had been left to fend for themselves and Arthur, champion of the Christian Celts, united resistance against heathen Saxon invaders. A decisive victory at the Battle of Mount Badon sometime around AD 500, also described by the 6th-century historian Gildas (without naming Arthur), marked a major watershed: halting the advance of the Saxons – though in time they would eventually prevail. Many believe the battle took place near Bath, possibly at Little Solsbury Hill where an Iron Age fort (pre-dating the fight and now in the hands of the National Trust) offers a superb vantage point for modern walkers to look down on today’s World Heritage city. “The warrior Arthur, with the soldiers and kings of Britain… was twelve times leader in war, and victor in all battles,” Nennius said. There were hostile Picts and Scots to be kept at bay in the north, and Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that Arthur established an empire over Britain, Ireland, Iceland, the Orkneys, Norway and Gaul. As to tracing places later associated with Arthur, south Wales stakes a claim with Caerleon, where Malory says the king was crowned and Geoffrey says he held court. The Roman amphitheatre here has been suggested as the site of the Round Table and it would certainly have offered

The True Story, by Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman). • Athrwys ap Meurig, also known as Arthmael (Bear Prince), a 6th/7th-century hereditary king of the Silures in southeast Wales. A great war leader, he fell from power during a revolution (A Guidebook to Arthurian Caerleon, by Chris Barber). • Aurelius Ambrosius/Ambrosius Aurelianus, a Romano-Briton dux bellorum who led the Britons against the Saxons and may have commanded at the Battle of Mount Badon. • Riothamus, a late 5th-century Romano-Briton who led an army of Britons against the Goths, but was betrayed, defeated and killed. Geoffrey of Monmouth has Arthur fighting in Gaul, as Riothamus did; the last recorded whereabouts of Riothamus was near Avallon in France (Burgundy). • Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig of Welsh tales), a Roman commander in Britain who repelled invading Picts in the north of England and became Western Roman Emperor, AD 383-388.

an imposing meeting chamber. Maybe, too, Merlin slumbers at Merlin’s Hill near Carmarthen and the Holy Grail is hidden under the hill fort and stark ruins of Castell Dinas Brân, Llangollen. Largely thanks to Geoffrey’s mythmaking, it’s the West Country and Cornwall where most people hunt, however. At Tintagel Castle on the north Cornish coast, Merlin disguises Uther Pendragon as Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, so that Uther might seduce the duke’s wife Igraine, leading to the birth of Arthur. Today’s castle remains, clinging to the sea-lashed headland, date from the 1230s, but excavations and finds of Mediterranean pottery have revealed that a prosperous community was based there in the 5th to 7th centuries. Sadly, the discovery in 1998 of a slate fragment bearing the 6th-century inscription ‘Artognou’ did not pass muster as evidence that an Arthur was among them. In Tintagel, King Arthur’s Great Halls, built by a custard millionaire in the 1930s and dedicated to the legend, are worth a visit, not least for the glorious stained glass windows that bring the story to life. A popular contender for Arthur’s Camelot is Cadbury Castle, Somerset; 16th-century antiquary John Leland called it “Camallate… sumtyme a famose town or castelle.” BRITAIN


Arthurian legend This picture: Looking up at Glastonbury Tor and St Michael's Tower, an area that would have been surrounded by marshland in the 5th and 6th centuries



Arthurian legend


Glastonbury Tor was surrounded by marshland and in 1191 the monks of Glastonbury Abbey announced they had found the tomb of Arthur and Guinevere

Scramble up the grassy Iron Age hill fort today and you might feel a little disappointed – it’s a far cry from any romanticised Arthurian court of literature. However, investigations have shown that it was re-fortified at the time that Arthur is claimed to have roamed, and excavated pottery pieces indicate a degree of luxury living. It’s back to Cornwall for the Battle of Camlann circa AD 537-542 at which Arthur slays his treacherous nephew Mordred, but is mortally wounded in the process. Geoffrey locates the fatal encounter beside the River Camel where nowadays The Arthurian Centre, at Slaughterbridge near Camelford, takes up the story with a ‘Land of Arthur’ exhibition. You can walk through the valley to the battlefield and view the intriguing 6th-century memorial known as King Arthur’s Stone. A Discovery Trail available from the centre points to further Arthurian locations in Cornwall, including Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor where, at Arthur’s request, Sir Bedivere tosses the king’s magical sword Excalibur and sees it grasped by an arm (presumably of the Lady of the Lake) rising from the water. As for the Isle of Avalon, where Arthur is ferried to have his wounds healed, Glastonbury in Somerset is most suggested. In the 5th and 6th centuries, Glastonbury Tor would have been surrounded by marshland and in 1191 the monks of Glastonbury Abbey announced they had found the tomb of Arthur and Guinevere. Almost certainly a ploy to drum up pilgrim trade, it worked and still does so to this day, though any royal remains have long since disappeared and now only a modest notice board marks the spot of Arthur’s alleged final resting place. Over the centuries, British royalty has plundered the Arthurian myth too, including King Edward III and the Tudor dynasty which, to strengthen its grasp on the Crown, claimed a common Welsh ancestry with Arthur that bypassed intervening rulers. Not for nothing did Henry VII name his first (short-lived) son Arthur, while the Tudor painting of King Arthur added to the 13thcentury Round Table in Winchester’s Great Hall bears a sneaky resemblance to Henry VIII. Perhaps in the end the key to the enduring appeal of Arthurian myth, aside from its rich adventures and romance, is its malleability. The once and future king is a symbol of chivalry, bravery and hope whenever he is needed, galloping to us down the ages via poetry, theatre and, now, films. Arthur and his knights merely sleep, awaiting the call to inspire and rescue us at any time.

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Anglesey is many things. Anglesey is a place to be discovered. Anglesey is a place to get out and do. Anglesey is a place to experience. Anglesey is a place to Visit. Have you packed for Anglesey? Your walking boots Your camera A picnic

#packedforwales @visitanglesey

To book space call Natasha +44 (0)207 349 3732

© National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra. Registered Charity Number 205846.

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BRITAIN’S CHOICE – discover fascinating heritage attractions

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal

escaping the everyday

A place of contrasts and surprises. Discover the spirit of a great abbey and the elegance of a Georgian water garden at this World Heritage Site.


OPEN: 1st April-28th September 2014 OPEN: OPEN: 29th 29th March March –– 29th 29th September September 2013 2013 Tuesdays to Sundays, plus bank Tuesdays to Sundays, plus bank holidays Tuesdays to Sundays, plus bank holidays holidays Open in & Open seven days in seven July &days August 11am - 5.30pm Open seven days in July July & August August 11am 5.30pm 11am 5.30pm (House(House opens 12 noon for tours only) (House opens opens 12 12 noon noon for for tours tours only) only)

Members and under 5s go free. 01765 608888 Information Hotline: 0845 4504 068 Information Information Hotline: Hotline: 0845 0845 4504 4504 068 068

Newby Newby Hall Hall & Gardens & Gardens




It’s an enchanting adventure, a nostalgic journey and a great day out for the whole family Seven galleries • Over 50 vehicles Original enamel signs • Motoring curiosities TV’s superhero car, Brum Toy collection • Gift shop


An unusually complete range of medieval buildings with a varied history of Norman Fortress, Fortified Palace, Administrative Centre and finally the romantic ruin it is today in the heart of Shropshire. Experience a complete shopping experience within the castle walls at the Castle Shop, Castle Gallery and The Art Room plus Tea Rooms serving Traditional English Teas.



call 01451 821255 visit

Castle House, the last grand mansion built in Ludlow, was sympathetically restored in 2006 and provides a number of 5* self catering apartments for 3, 4 and 7 night stays. Also there are fine function rooms for weddings and function hire. For further information and availability visit Tel: 01584 874 465


Open 1st April to 30th September 2014 Contact Info Line 01367 240932 or for opening times

Take a trip to 673 years ago and discover the beauty and tranquillity of this family home in Kent. Home to one of the finest medieval halls in England and with intimate Tudor walled Gardens, there is fun for all with an Adventure Playground, Toy Museum and much more. With many events throughout the season this is a day trip that really brings history to life.

Friday 8th & Saturday 9th August 2014


Discover the history, legends and spirit of one of England’s most important and fascinating abbeys. Discover the history, legends and spirit of one of Renowned as the legendary burial place of England’s most important and fascinating abbeys. King Arthur and the earliest Christian Renownedfoundation as the legendary burial place of in Britain. King Arthur and the earliest Christian Ancient Ruins foundation in Britain. The Abbot’s Kitchen Ancient Ruins The Holy Thorn The Abbot’s Kitchen St Patrick’s Chapel The Holy Thorn Museum & Exhibitions St Patrick’s Chapel Costumed Guides (March - October) Museum & Exhibitions 36 Acres of Beautiful Parkland Costumed Guides (March - October) Gift Shop 36 Acres of Beautiful Parkland Outdoor summer café Gift Shop Disabled Access Outdoor summer café We welcome dogs on short leads Disabled Access

The Centenary of the 1914

‘Show That Never Was’ Owing to the start of The Great War

Stunning Floral Displays by Top National Nurseries & Growers Gardening advice from expert Pippa Greenwood and demonstrations by NAFAs Entertainment from

Celebrity Chef Tom Kerridge Johnny Flynn (Friday) • Red Hot Chilli Pipers (Saturday) Military Bands & Choirs • Grade A Show Jumping

Keep up-to-date for Events 2014 at

We welcome dogs on short leads or follow us


Keep up-to-date for Events 2014 at Registered Charity No. 1129263 No: 6873912 or Company followRegus @glastonburyabbe

Shropshire Horticultural Society Charity Number: 501564

Information 0844 4144976


Registered Charity No. 1129263 Company Reg No: 6873912

To book space call Natasha +44 (0)207 349 3732

Tours Tours Through Through Time Time UK UK Short Short Breaks Breaks

West Somerset Railway Steam Trains Between Bishops Lydeard (nr Taunton) & Minehead

Just Just make make your your way way to to the the hotel hotel and and then then relax relax and and Just your way to the hotel and then relax let us take you on a journey of discovery Just make make your way to the hotel and then relax and and let us take you on a journey of discovery let let us us take take you you on on a a journey journey of of discovery discovery • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Plus our new - Heritage Hunter App. DOWNLOAD FOR FREE

Introductory Introductory talk talk or or subject subject lecture lecture Introductory talk or Half board board hotel hotel Introductory talk accommodation or subject subject lecture lecture(3 Half accommodation (3 & & 4*) 4*) Half accommodation Professional guides Half board board hotel hotel accommodation (3 (3 & & 4*) 4*) Professional guides Professional guides Executive coaching Professional guides Executive coaching Executive Meticulously planned Executive coaching coaching Meticulously planned Meticulously planned Imaginative itineraries Meticulouslyitineraries planned Imaginative Imaginative itineraries The option to extend Imaginative itineraries The option to extend your your hotel hotel stay stay The The option option to to extend extend your your hotel hotel stay stay

Regular Steam trains from February to December Save 10% - Buy Day Rovers in advance. Steam and Diesel Galas

Discover Discover towering towering castles, castles, forts, forts, churches churches and and abbeys, abbeys, Discover towering castles, forts, churches and abbeys, historic battlefields, cultural cities, stately homes and Discover towering castles, forts, churches abbeys, historic battlefields, cultural cities, statelyand homes and historic battlefields, cultural cities, stately homes and some private properties not always open to the public. historic battlefields, cultural cities, stately homes and some private properties not always open to the public. some private properties not always open to the public. Brookland Travel also organise short breaks to The Isles some private properties not always open to the public. Brookland Travel also organise short breaks to The Isles of of Brookland Travel also organise short breaks to Isles Scilly Guernsey, garden tours and themed Brookland also UK organise short breaks to The The Isles of of Scilly and and Travel Guernsey, UK garden tours and other other themed Scilly and Guernsey, UK garden tours and other themed breaks to explore our built and natural heritage. Scilly and Guernsey, UK garden tours and other themed breaks to explore our built and natural heritage. breaks breaks to to explore explore our our built built and and natural natural heritage. heritage. Call 0845 1212863 for further information quoting Ref: Ref: BM14 BM14 Call 0845 1212863 for further information quoting Call further information quoting Ref: BM14 Or visit our website(s):Call 0845 0845 1212863 1212863 for for further information quoting Ref: BM14 Or visit our website(s):Or Or visit visit our our website(s):website(s) Established since 1999 Established since 1999 Established since 1999 Established since 1999 0123 0123 BROOKLAND BROOKLAND ADVERT ADVERT TTT TTT 92X124mm 92X124mm ad.indd ad.indd 0123 BROOKLAND ADVERT TTT 92X124mm ad.indd 0123 BROOKLAND ADVERT TTT 92X124mm ad.indd

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Day Out With Thomas, Family Meet & Greet Days including Peppa Pig & Wallace & Gromit & more. Dining Train & Murder Mystery Specials

ss pre x E & tle Cas esday r e t n s Dun ry Wed day r e ev Satu or call 01643 704996

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Cornwall’s Premier Steam Railway

Discover the excitement and nostalgia of steam travel with a journey back in time on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway Cornwall's only full size railway still operated by steam locomotives.

Tel: +44 (0)1955 611 353

01208 73555 |

ENJOY A RIDE ON A STEAM TRAIN For a leaflet showing railways near your home or holiday destination contact: The Heritage Railway Association 10 Hurdeswell, Long Hanborough, Witney, Oxfordshire. OX29 8DH. Email:

To book space call Natasha +44 (0)207 349 3732

British Traditions

Order of the Garter Founded by King edward III in 1348, and chosen by the Queen, the most Noble Order of the garter is the oldest and most prestigious honour for chivalry in the realm WoRds nEiL JOnES

PHOTO: © V&A ImAges/AlAmy


ven in a land dripping Over time, a range of insignia with royal pageantry, the worn by knights on ceremonial and annual procession and other special occasions developed, service for the Most Noble Order from a garter and badge depicting of the Garter at Windsor Castle in the Order’s patron St George and the June stands out: a glorious vision dragon, to a gold collar, enamelled of knights in blue velvet robes and star and kingfisher-blue riband. white-plumed black velvet hats, The origin of the garter emblem glittering insignia and excited, and the motto it bears, ‘Honi soit qui cheering crowds. mal y pense’ (‘shame upon him who Founded by King Edward III in thinks evil of it’), is much debated. 1348, the Garter is the most One story says King Edward senior and oldest British Order of retrieved a garter accidentally Chivalry. It seems the king was dropped by the Countess of Salisbury originally inspired by Arthurian and, to save her blushes, bound it legend to create an Order of the around his knee while rebuking Round Table but plans changed gawping onlookers with the phrase. and Edward established the Order More likely is that the emblem of the Garter, joining together derived from straps used to fasten monarch and powerful senior armour and symbolised the binding knights in fellowship. together of members in the Order. In modern times Knights of the The motto could have been a riposte Above: In this photo taken by Cecil Beaton in 1953, the newly crowned Queen Garter are chosen personally by to critics of Edward’s disputed claim Elizabeth II wears order of the Garter insignia the Queen to honour those who to the French throne. have held public office, contributed to national life or served the If there are vacancies in the Order of the Garter, appointments are sovereign. The number of knights is limited to 24 at any one time, announced on St George’s Day, 23 April. Then on Garter Day, the plus royal knights and ladies, including some foreign monarchs. Monday of Royal Ascot Week (16 June 2014), the Queen formally In 2008 Prince William became the 1,000th knight in the register. invests new knights with the insignia in the Throne Room at The Queen, who is Sovereign of the Order, also decided in 1987 Windsor Castle. They are ‘installed’ during a service in St George’s that women should be eligible for the Garter in the same way as Chapel, where each knight is required to display a banner of his men and in 2005 Lady Soames, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill, arms, a helmet, crest and sword, plus enamelled stallplate. was so honoured. In medieval times ladies could only be associated, Ticket applications to watch the procession to St George’s Chapel without full membership, and from 1509 until 1901 it was from a prime position within the castle precincts should be made exclusively male, with the exception of reigning queens. Churchill between 1 January and 1 March each year. To apply, send an email himself, of course, had been a Garter knight, just as numerous to: other former prime ministers have been entitled to add ‘KG’ (‘LG’ for women) after their names, including Sir John Major  For more information on British traditions and celebrations visit the BRITAIN and the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher. magazine website at



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Profile for The Chelsea Magazine Company

BRITAIN May/June 2014  

BRITAIN May/June 2014