After a night of continual rain and some thunder we awoke to an overcast but warm day. We made our way into town (John walked) and bought our tickets into Canterbury Cathedral. It is an impressive edifice with a long and varied history beginning with the arrival of St Augustine in 597AD. In 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and so it became an important pilgrimage centre soon after when miracles were said to have taken place. Luckily it escaped Henry V111’s destruction period.
It is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and very much a living working church. Apparently it costs £13 a minute to keep it running…including the stonemasons, glass restorers, builders, guides etc who are needed to keep the restoration going.
At 11.00am each day they have a 10 minute prayer service to remember all those fallen in wars and to pray for peace, during which they turn a page of the book of remembrance. This takes place in the transept and we were in time to attend this.
Our tour took us into the crypt, the oldest part of the Cathedral dating back to the 1100s and the part that housed the tomb of Thomas from 1170 to 1290. There are also some very old wall paintings down there in St Gabriel’s chapel. The Martyrdom marks the place where Thomas Becket was murdered.
The Quire (choir) was rebuilt and extended after a fire in the 12thC and theTrinity chapel housed Thomas’ shrine from 1220 to 1538 when it was demolished and removed by order of…yes you guessed it…HenryV111.
There are also tombs of Henry 1V and Edward Prince of Wales known as the Black Prince along with various Bishops. We finished our visit in the cloisters and gardens.
After lunch we made our way to the Heritage museum and bought a double ticket which included the Roman museum. By 3 pm we were ready to head back to camp having had enough information and history for a week.
After an easy drive from Colchester to Canterbury via the Dartmoor bridge we found our campground and had lunch before walking into town. It is an easy 25 minute walk into town and just before the city walls is the site of St Augustine’s Abbey which is another heritage site so in we went. Founded in 597AD when Pope Gregory sent St Augustine to bring Christianity to England. It was a Benedictine Abbey and functioned as a monastery until 1538 when Henry V111 closed it during the Reformation. He’s got a lot to answer for that Henry! Following our visit there John and I walked on into the town and wandered the interesting and historical streets. Tomorrow we will visit the cathedral although the weather report does not look favourable and the skies are rather dark right now at 9 pm.
Today we took the bus into the city centre, making our way down the High street once we were off the bus, to the Castle area. Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded city dating from the 5thC BC. In AD43 the Romans came, saw, conquered and constructed their northern capital Camulodunum. It was razed by Boudica (Boadicea) 17 years later. In the 11thC the invading Normans built a mighty castle on the foundations of the Roman temple of Claudius. Over the centuries it has been a royal residence, a prison and a home to a witch finder General. There are several Roman pieces that are some of Britain’s most important archeological finds including the 3000yr old Sheepen Cauldron, the Colchester vase, the Fenwick treasure and the Roman Sphinx.
Although the museum was overrun with school groups we were still able to spend an interesting couple of hours there.
After lunch we walked to the ruins of St Botolph’s Priory and then back to the Dutch quarter where many Dutch immigrants fled religious persecution, via Lion’sgate lane which linked history to the writing of some of the best known nursery rhymes.
We also ventured into the old St Martin’s church which is English heritage and free before walking back to the Castle gardens. Back to High street and down another narrow lane towards the bus stop where we stopped for cream tea! Then back on the bus to camp. After yesterday’s heavy rain we enjoyed a fine warm day and were able to wear t shirts and leave umbrellas behind.
The last 4 nights we have spent with distant relatives we first met in 2007 in Bedford. We arrived on Thursday night and re-connected with Stephanie and Martin and their children Jake and Kady who are now 13 and 11. On Friday we were taken out by Stephanie to Anglesy Abbey. It is a Jacobean mansion. Lord Fairhaven bequested the property 50 years ago and it has a working mill which still makes flour that they sell to the public. We enjoyed our time there touring the house and gardens.
When Martin arrived home we had dinner and then they took us into the town and along the canal before rain forced us to head home.
Saturday was a quiet day at home which we needed before having dinner out.
On Sunday they took us to Audley House which also had a motor show on. We were blessed with fine weather and once again our English heritage saved us considerably. The house didn’t open until 12 so we spent some time wandering the rows of old cars and marvelling at the amazing restoration and condition of them. We then spent a considerable time in the house, beginning with the dairy, laundry, kitchen and other out buildings. We went up 3 floors beginning with the great hall, various dining areas, studies, bedrooms, library, bathrooms, coal room before finishing in the hands on nursery. We had probably only seen about one third of the house as some is private and some still under restoration.
We returned to the car and had a picnic lunch on the lawns before setting out again to walk around the house and gardens and then down to the fruit and vegetable garden which was extensive. I’ve never seen espaliered apple trees before. Some had been planted in 1780!!
By now we were leg weary so it was time to return to the car for the hour drive back.
After a lovely dinner we chatted for several hours before bed bidding Martin farewell and thanking him as he would be leaving early for work.
We were up in time to farewell Stephanie, Jake and Kady.
Today we drove to Colchester in very wet conditions. The drive took longer than expected as we had two traffic jams on the free way which held us up for about an hour in total.
We have spent the last 2 days in York, walking the walls, learning the history of Henry V11 and V111 and Richard 111, ( head hurting) perusing the Shambles which used to be the slaughterhouse area, visiting pubs…The Black Swan, The Royal Oak and Roman Bath. We have walked up and down cobbled streets marvelling at the old buildings, reading the information plaques dotted everywhere and going the wrong way a few times. Yesterday we visited the Barley Hall, the Monkgate and the Royal Theatre that had a display of medieval medicine. We finished the day eating in the Black Swan which is one of the oldest buildings in York. It is mind blowing to think it was there in the 1300s….well parts of it.
Today John walked into York and the plan was to meet him for lunch but he forgot his phone. Lucky I know how he thinks and just before Anne and I got there on the bus I said I wouldn’t be surprised if he is waiting at bus stop. Lucky I watched out for him cos there he was. We were going to go to Railway museum and drop off phone. We parted ways and Anne and I went to the Holy Trinity Church just off Goodramgate. What a gem this was with its wonky walls, 17thC box pews, 15thC stained glass windows and an old stone altar at the side with a angled stone window facing main altar so priest could say mass in time with priest at main altar…for the poor/lower class. From there we went to the Treasurer’s house again saving our entrance with our National trust from SA. By then John had finished and we met outside and then went to the Roman Bath pub for lunch.
Following lunch, more wall walking to the Micklegate Bar for the Henry V11 experience and then we continued along the wall to Clifford’s Tower…English Heritage. We are certainly making use of these passes. We had been to the Minster to see about attending a mystery play thinking we would kill two birds withe stone but no it doesn’t allow you to wander the Minster before hand blah…. So we declined. As much of it is scaffolded and the chapter house closed we think the price should be reduced but it is still £9 to get in…$19-00 for us.
After Clifford’s tower which once formed part of the York Castle we headed for the bus back to Stowgate and the Caravan Park. We have booked for another night and may do a bus trip to Scarborough.
Left The Vales of Pickering about 9-30 and drove the short distance to Pickering. We needed to kill some time before driving to York. Found a park and wandered in. As we did there was an information board about the local church St Peter and St Paul. It sounded very interesting so we headed up the steps but there was a service in progress so we headed back down and had morning tea until 11. Back up and in we went mingling with parishioners who were having morning tea in the pews. Originally it was a Saxon church and the Normans rebuilt it in the 11thC . The north aisle was added in the 12thC and the south aisle and tower in the 13thC. Chantry chapels were added in the 15thC and raising the roof meant that the wall paintings had to be renewed. These were eventually whitewashed over and not discovered again until 1851. These are the most complete series of wall paintings in an English church.
We took our time wandering and no one seemed to mind and then wandered back to the Motorhome to drive to Malton.
Stopped at Morissons to do food shopping. Had lunch in the van. Wandered the quiet streets for half an hour and then off to York. The receptionist was quite relieved when I said we had a booking. I think we got the last free site.