Tag Archives: England

An Abbey and a house with something in common

 

April and May have been hectic months. Preparation and travels for Easter holidays, then more travels in May and I want to talk only about one of these experiences I have had.

England is rich in mansions, estate houses and abbeys open to the public and because we had to decide on the last minute what we will do with all the free time we had – 3 full free days – we stopped at a property known to us only from a friend’s recommendation – Audley End House.

I believe that many of you will think that this house is in Audley End, which is by the way a train stop away from both Cambridge and Stansted Airport, but the reality is that this house is in Saffron Walden.

Now that I have mentioned it, you can travel by car or if you have time and are in Cambridge you can take the bus 132 – from the train station stop no.3. The journey will take about 65-70 minutes, but it can take less than that.

Going back to the house we have visited. Originally on the same spot as the house was a Benedictine monastery. On King Henry VIII time, monasteries were closed and their possessions were given to noble families. The lands of this abbey were given to Lord Audley who was King’s chancellor. He, Lord Audley, is buried in a early classical, black touchstone tomb in St. Mary the Virgin Church, in Saffron Walden. We have been to the church but could not find his tomb.

20170528_113557.jpg

After Lord Audley’s death, the property was inherited by his grandson Thomas Howard, the 1st Earl of Suffolk and Lord Treasurer to James I and he built the house on the exact place where the abbey was and it was 3 times bigger than it is today.

One of the royal families came to visit Audley End and seeing how large and grand the property was, the king said that a such a house is not appropriate for the king, but perhaps for his treasurer is. Not long after this visit, the king asked the owner of the house to demonstrate the origins of all his founds to build and maintain such a house. As this request could not be fulfilled, the family was arrested but then let free on a condition to pay a fine.

I do not remember the names of all the owners of this house, but listening to it, it gave me the impression that the house is cursed. Families will have no children or only daughters in which case the house passed to some of the male cousins, or had sons but they all died at a young age.

During the WWII, the house was the headquarters of the Polish Section of the Special Operations Executive. Polish volunteers willing to join the Polish underground movement were trained here before being dropped into their occupied home country. After the war, the house returned to its legitimate owners, but because they could not cover the debts and pay the tax, the house was sold to the English Heritage Trust.

20170528_120453.jpg

The late owners of the Audley End’s house, Lord’s Braybrooke family now owns the Miniature Audley End Railway theme park just across Audley End’s house. More information about it here.

Today, you can visit the house, the gardens and the stables where you will see some of the horses and see the firefighters old machines.

People bring their own food and just sit on the beautifully maintained grass, in the shadow for a relaxed day. If you want to eat, there is a cafeteria in the main house and a coffee show just outside where the farm shop is – on the corner. The price for the food is reasonable and the quality is good too.

In the old kitchen, you will see some of the staff dressed like in the 19th century and in the nursery children have the chance to dress up and take pictures in some of the clothes provided – free of charge 🙂

If you fancy to read something or just relax on one of the sofas, then you can do so in the sitting room or the library. You are even allowed to read something from the collection – just ask.

20170528_141141.jpg

Besides its beautifully decorations, you will be pleasantly surprised of the rich collection of oil paintings (of which about 90% belong to the latest owners of the house) and the birds collection.

Take a day to fully enjoy the property and relax. It is worth your time and money.

There are more things to say about this beautiful house, but I believe that it is better to see than many times to hear about it. For more information about the house, click here.

Travel safe and wise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

En route … to a small but charming ancient English village

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Street in Bibury

In the UK there are 2 bank holidays in May. I have used one of these days to visit a village which was mentioned by a friend of mine.

This is a village in Gloucestershire, England, it is on both banks of the River Coln and it’s called Bibury.

It is a small village with a fish farm. You will think that there is nothing special to see, but if you happen to hold a British passport, then the inside cover picture depicts Arlington Row from Bibury. The cottages were built around 1380 as a monastic wool store to be converted into cottages for weavers in the seventeenth century. The area is a nationally notable architectural conservation and is one of six places in the country featured in Mini-Europe, in Brussels. On the Arlington (west) side of the village is Arlington Baptist Church, where a congregation has been meeting since the 1740’s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Swan Hotel’s garden

If you want to stay overnight, then there are 3 hotels which are ready to great their guests. I have seen the Swan Hotel and it looks very very nice. I am sure that the Old Farm Cottage and the Old Byre are equally nice and comfortable.

The predominant honey color of the seventeenth century stone cottages with steeply pitched roofs are another reason why people come here.  

While tourists are coming here from all over the world, Japanese tourists have a particular interest because of Emperor Hirohito, who had stayed in the village on his European tour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Someone’s garden

 

If you have watched Stardust or Bridget John’s Diary, then you will most probably remember the scenes from those movies.

You probably will find a lot of websites which will recommend you what to see and what to do, I have decided to recommend you just 3 of them:

 Images can tell substitute words, therefore, I let you admire the beauty and decide if this village will make it to your travel list 🙂

Visiting the city with the old English name – Escanceaster

 

Cathedral Close, Exeter

I am living in the UK for a bit of time. A bit means a real bit, since Christmas 2014 and I have been to several cities, one of which is called Excanceaster or Exeter.

I have to say that after Bracknell, Exeter looks very nice. Bright, with large streets and countless of shops. The most impressive part of the city lies in the old town. You have the cathedral and surrounding houses, witnesses of the old and glorious times intertwined with newer ones.

The history of Exeter began as settlements on a dry ridge ending in a spur overlooking a navigable river Exe. The discovery of coins from the Hellenistic Kingdom is an evidence of a settlement trading with the Mediterranean in the 250 bc.

Locals, as well as visitors, can see and touch a portion of Exeter’s city wall, formed of both Roman and medieval stones. The wall is one of the few constructions to be preserved by this date in Exeter and it was part of the fort built on 42 acres. The Roman fort had a surprising impact on the local communities, locals started to move around the fort where they have formed, with Roman soldiers, an unplanned civilian community.
The Exeter Cathedral had launched a bid to restore the baths and open an underground centre for visitors if you can and want to donate some money to this beautiful cause. More information about the Foundation Project, you will find here.
Some other ruins which, can be seen today in Exeter, are the ones of the Rougemont Castle and the medieval Exe Bridge, built around 1200. The Rougemont Castle was built by King William. A lot more information about its history and events to be held here. If you’re a foodie and love to explore new things and try new foods, then save 21st of April for a day trip to Exeter. On this day, a food festival will be held and you do not want to miss it. 🙂
More details about this festival, the castle and many more you can find here.
If you’re not into food but you’re definitely a fan of Elton John, then 19th of June should be high in your agenda. Check Viagogo website for tickets, venue and prices.
Another good source of information is Heart of Devon website. You’ll find the latest news about the city, events and other useful information.
That’s it for now 🙂
Travel safe and wise!

One of the coziest and coolest cities in the UK

I’m in the UK since Christmas and I find this country charming. The best thing of all is the fact that I understand everything and I can make myself understood without any particular effort. It is a while since I was longing for something like this 🙂

After living in the Netherlands for 2 years, I see this new country as a fresh an exciting beginning. So, what is this post about?

Some days ago I decided that on weekend I’ll go to visit one particular city, where (accodring to some belifs) only the offsprings of the most privileged members of our society have the luck to live and study – Cambridge.

Last weekend the weather was very nice, sunny and almost no wind, BUT the sun lost the fight with the cold air, I am afraid. Was freezing and on Saturday morning it was snowing for a very brief time. I was happy like a child and wanted to run out from the dinning room to catch some snow flakes, to let them fall in my hair and to taste the winter. I had only a thin sweater and this stopped me from going outside.

One of the libraries in Cambridge
One of the libraries in Cambridge

The host was a wery welcoming lady, called Sue. Me and my boyfriend were lucky to have her as our host. Sue is running a BB in Royston, a town at just ~22km away from Cambridge. You can book a room or simply read about this place here and here.

So, what so nice about Cambridge and why are there so many tourists?

First things first. From the train station to the city center it’s a walking distance (you can also take the bus if you don’t like to walk).

On the way to the downtown there are few interesting sites, such as: Mary’s chatholic church, various restauants and shops and universities.

From Monday to Sunday, in the old market square you’ll find an open market with lots and lots of great produce. There you will find Thai noodles, Caraibean bread and sweets, high quality fruits, local meats and cheese and artisan bread. I love bread. I can eat it all the time, with almost everything, that’s why we bought some. More information about this market, go here.

Outdoor market in Cambridge
Outdoor market in Cambridge

Besides various shops and restaurants, one stands out – Jamie Oliver Italian restautant. If you would expect it to be expensive, then you;ll be surprised that actually is not (based on UK prices) and instead of having a hot dog and a Cambridge crepe or Costa, Starbucks coffee and pastry, better have a very nice meal or tea time at JO.

Walking along the streets, you can admire the old buildings that are one more beautiful than other.These buildings are where those privileged students are spending their time and where many other dream of becoming a student. I think that it’s understandable the high fees that one must pay to study there. It is not only about the place, but it is also about the quality of studies, facilities and other services that one student here will get. Not to mention the prestige and the easiness with each a graduate here will build his/her career.

Corpus Christi College in Cambridge
Corpus Christi College in Cambridge

There are several Tourist Information Centres, but apparently they do no offer a free map. Therefore, you can buy one for 1,95 pounds or use your mobile to guide you to the most interesting places in the city. On the banks of the river Cam you will see some of the most beautiful college and universities buildings. To mention some: Great Saint Mary’s, Trinity College, King’s college and Queen’s college, King’s Parade, punting and the Round church. For more suggestions, visit Lonely Planet website and Virtual Tourist website as well.

Trinity College
Trinity College

I know that this was only my first trip there and many will follow….I am waiting for some warmer days to come 🙂 Until then, I will try to explore more of the surroundings I am staying now and will keep writing about it 😉

Round Church
Round Church

Travel safe and wise!

IMG_2338 IMG_2340 IMG_2345 IMG_2352 IMG_2353 IMG_2354

Sedgwick Museum of Geology
Sedgwick Museum of Geology
Cambridge city Hall
Cambridge city Hall
King's Parade
King’s Parade
King's college
King’s college
Corpus Christi College in Cambridge
Corpus Christi College in Cambridge
Queen's College, Cambridge
Queen’s College, Cambridge
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College, Chapel
Trinity College, Chapel
Trinity College, Chapel
Trinity College, Chapel

IMG_2362 IMG_2364 IMG_2365 IMG_2370 IMG_2371 IMG_2373 IMG_2395 IMG_2397 IMG_2399 IMG_2404 IMG_2432 IMG_2435 IMG_2441 IMG_2442 IMG_2444 IMG_2446 IMG_2447 IMG_2450