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United Kingdom & Ireland Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
England was populated in prehistoric times and many burial tombs, stone circles and hill forts remain. The Roman conquest of Britain started in 43AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius. They built roads, towns and villas in the countryside and the remains of many have been preserved. The medieval history is everywhere, in the castles and historic houses. The industrial revolution also left sites that are interesting to explore today. Designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)...
Framlingham is a small attractive market town dominated by its castle and church. It has a long history and Mary Tudor was at Framlingham when she was proclaimed Queen of England and began her fight to gain the crown from Lady Jane Grey. The castle was the stronghold of the Howard family, the Dukes of Norfolk and their magnificent tombs are in the church. The Royal Sovereign, the flagship of Charles II’s navy was built from oaks grown in the surrounding forests. And finally the town has two...
St Albans is one of the ‘newer' cathedrals, only becoming a cathedral in the C19th. It is less well known than the great cathedrals of Canterbury, York and Durham, but is equally as important and impressive. It is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in England and a church has been on this site since the 3rd century. It has the only C11th crossing tower still standing. As well as having the longest nave in England, there is the shrine of St Alban and the wooden watching loft...
Ely Cathedral is massive and dwarfs the city. Standing beside it, it is almost too big to take in and too big to photograph easily. It is best seen from a distance when the cathedral can be seen towering above the landscape, hence its affectionate nickname “The Ship of the Fens”. it has a long history stretching back over 1350 years. Etheldreda, daughter of the King of the East Angles established a double monastery here in the C7th. After her death she was made a saint and Ely became a...
An important Christian site since St Augustine, the site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket and the burial place of the Black Prince and Henry IV Not only is Canterbury Cathedral one of the oldest Christian Churches in England, it is architecturally one of the best. It has been at the heart of English Christianity for nearly fifteen centuries. It is a World Heritage site along with the nearby ruined St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church, the oldest church in England. The martyrdom...
The C18th and C19th were a time of great change in Britain. The Industrial Revolution was to change the landscape for ever from a small scale agrarian economy to a largely industrial one. Shropshire had good deposits of coal, iron ore, limestone and clay as well as timber and water. The River Severn also provided transport for raw materials and finished goods. Abraham Darby developed a method of producing iron using coal rather than charcoal and revolutionised iron making. Iron could be...
Shrewsbury set in a big loop of the River Severn has been an important town since Saxon times. The name comes from ‘Scrobbesbyrig’, derived from the words ‘scrub’ and ‘fortified place’ The area seems to have been first settled in the late C5th or C6th. By the C9th it was a fortified burgh, controlling the Severn river crossing. Old St Chad’s Church dates back to the C7th. Shrewsbury was part of the Kingdom of Mercia and has links with Aethelfled, daughter of Alfred the Great who was...
Cobblestones, higgledy piggledy houses and smugglers... Rye stands on a hill above the low lying expanse of Romney Marshes. A thousand years ago it was surrounded by sea and was an important harbour. It became a Royal Borough, running its own affairs raising taxes and operating its own judicial system. It was one of the Cinque Ports, responsible for supplying ships and men to defend the coast against French raiders. A fire following a devastating French raid on the town in 1377 destroyed...
The Stade Although it was one of the Cinque Ports, Hastings has never had a good harbour and has always been in danger of coastal erosion. Boats have traditionally been stored and launched from the beach, as can be seen in this photograph taken in 1870 . Fishing has always been an important part of the economy of Hastings. It still has the largest beach launched fishing fleet in the country, with over 25 boats based on the Stade. This comes from the Anglo Saxon meaning launching place...
Nearly everyone will have heard of Pevensey, where William the Conqueror landed in 1066 to claim the crown of England. Pevensey was once an important settlement, on the edge of the coast and guarded by an impressive Roman Fort and Medieval castle. By the C17th, changes in sea level, silting up of the waterways as well as flood protection schemes and land reclamation, left Pevensey a mile from the sea. Its importance dwindled and now it is little more than the one main street. It is still...
Eastbourne is a popular holiday resort on the South Coast and reputedly England’s sunniest spot. It was little more than a village until the tourist boom of the C19th. Its promenade lined with splendid hotels and pier still attract holiday makers as well as the conference trade. In 1752, Dr Richard Russel who lived in nearby Lewis, published a “dissertation on the use of sea water” emphasising the benefits of sea bathing as a cure for many disorders. It became fashionable to stay at the...
Regency Bling at its best The Royal Pavilion with its flamboyant architecture, is one of the highlights of a trip to Brighton. It is a testament to George IV’s Regency dream. Brighton was developing rapidly as fashionable seaside resort and the patronage of the Prince of Wales (as he then was) really put Brighton on the map. The population was growing rapidly and work on the Royal Pavilion provided work for local tradesmen, labourers and craftsmen. The presence of the royal court as well...
In the Middle Ages there were dozens of churches in York. Some still survive as churches, others were declared redundant and put to new use. Still more were demolished. This article covers some of the Medieval churches in the centre of York, beginning with the Minster. The rest of the churches are covered in alphabetical order. #12 All Saints' Church, North Street #14 All Saints' Church, Pavement #15 Bar Convent, Blossom Street #16 Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate #17 Holy Trinity Church...
A virtually unchanged fortified manor house and a much loved family home of the Manners family Haddon Hall is one of the nicest stately homes we have visited. It is only a short distance from Chatsworth House, but is completely different. Set high on a cliff overlooking the River Wye, it is a virtually unchanged medieval fortified manor house. It is one of the seats of the Dukes of Rutland. Between 1700-1912, they lived in Belvoir Castle and Haddon was left unlived in and untouched. In...
For many people their first view of Bolsover Castle is from the M1, on top of a hill dominating the surrounding landscape. It was a display of wealth which was meant to be seen and to impress. Although it appears at first sight to be a medieval castle, it is in fact a C17th rich man’s extravagance, built for show rather than defence. Entry through the grand gateway takes you into a grassy area with a massive old copper beech tree in the centre. To the left is the Riding School, with the...
The Settle to Carlisle Railway is a wonderful trip across the Pennines on a railway that nearly wasn’t built, managed to survive the Beeching cuts of the 1960s and closure in the 1980s. Some history By the mid C18th, railway lines between England and Scotland had been built along both the east and west coast. The Midland Railway Company had no direct link to Scotland and was dependent on gaining access to its rivals tracks. The Midland Railway built a line as far as Ingleton where it...
Chester was an important Roman settlement and the museum has an excellent collection of Roman artefacts The Grosvenor Museum is a flamboyant brick building built in 1885 to house the collections of the Chester Archaeological Society and the Chester Society of Natural Science, Literature and Art. It is almost too large to photograph. It is named after Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, Ist Duke of Westminster who owned most of the land in Chester and donated the land and paid part of the building...
The longest aqueduct in the British Isles and the highest in the world This is an impressive sight both from above and below. It is exhilarating either to cross on foot or by boat. The late C18th was a time of peak building of canals, needed to carry raw materials and finished goods across the country. A canal was proposed to carry cargoes from the mineral rich coalfields of North East Wales. This was an ambitious project across difficult terrain. William Jessop and Thomas Telford were...
Llangollen is an attractive market town on the banks of the River Dee, and is surrounded by the Berwyns and Clywdian mountains. It is overlooked by the ruins of the Welsh stronghold, Castell Dinas Bran. The name comes from the C7th monk, St Collen who founded a church here, although the present building is C15th. The town grew up to the north of the river, where there was more flat land. The railway and canal are on the south bank. The Dee Bridge across the river was built in 1345 and was...
Llandudno is dominated by the massive limestone headland of the Great Orme rising nearly 700’ above the town and bay. It is impressive seen from below. Seen from above, as can be seen from this photograph from the Visit Conwy website, really shows just how big and impressive it is. It is equally as impressive when seen from the town. One of the best ways to appreciate its bulk is from the Marine Drive, cut out of the side of the cliffs.
Mold is a small and attractive town on the River Alyn , overlooked by the Clwydian Hills. It used to be one of the main routes to North Wales, but is now bypassed. It is still a thriving market town for the area with a lot of independent shops in the town centre which have survived the arrival of the out of town supermarkets A motte and bailey castle was built here in the late C11th and was one of the early castles built by the Normans to consolidate their hold on Wales. A town grew...

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