There are any number of ways of visiting the Houses of Parliament and it‘s best to visit the website to find out the latest times and prices, but if you’re a UK citizen you can arrange a tour through your local MP.
Entry is through the Cromwell Green visitor entrance where you will have to go through a series of airport-like security checks. There aren’t any luggage lockers and they recommend that you only carry a small bag. Continue reading →
When King Canute started to build a home for himself in Westminster back in 1016 I don’t suppose for one minute that he thought it would become a place known throughout the world a thousand years later, and in a way he would be right because there’s nothing left of what he, or his successor, Edward the Confessor, built.
London has 31 Boroughs, 1 City (The City of London), and Westminster, which is both a Borough and a City.
Whereas the City of London became the legal and financial powerhouse of London, Westminster became the religious, royal and political centre.
This is the home of Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament, but it’s also the place to come for entertainment, shopping and culture in places like Piccadilly Circus, Oxford St and Trafalgar Square. I guarantee that you’ll run out of time – or steam – or both, before you’ve even scratched the surface.Continue reading →
London was born almost 2,000 years ago, when the Romans set up a trading post on the banks of the River Thames called Londinium in 47 AD.
The wall that they built around their town corresponds roughly with the boundary of the City of London today.
It borders Westminster to the west, Tower Hamlets to the east, Camden, Islington and Hackney to the north, and the River Thames to the south.
The area covers just one square mile and has a population of less than 8,000, far fewer than any other borough in London. In fact, it’s not even a borough, but a city in its own right and is administered by the City of London Corporation.
It may be small in size and population, but it has always been one of the most important and influential areas of the city.
After the Romans left, the Anglo Saxons created their own community just to the west of the wall and the former Roman town became virtually uninhabited. However, the location of old Londinium still had its advantages for trading. The Thames being tidal, meant that boats could come up this far, and yet it was still narrow enough to be bridged.
It may seem hard to believe, but when the foundation stones were laid for Truro Cathedral on 20th May 1880 by the future King Edward VII, they were beginnings of the first Cathedral to be built in England since Salisbury in 1220.
Designed by John Loughborough Pearson it is built mainly of Cornish granite in the medieval Gothic style with the more decorative features made out of the softer Bath stone. Continue reading →
There’s a danger of boring people to death when describing museums, so forgive me if I don’t include everything that this museum has to offer.
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) was built in the Gothic style in the 1860s. It’s a handsome building, and with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a multi million pound re-development took place between 1999 and 2011. Continue reading →
Exeter’s Guildhall is claimed to be England’s oldest civic building still in use and you can’t fail to notice its elaborate Beer Stone frontage that protrudes onto the High Street.
Originally built around 1160, the Guildhall enforced standards for the various guilds that sprang up in the Middle Ages, although the building we see today largely stems from the fifteenth century.
It has seen a chequered history. On the one hand it has been used for entertaining some of the highest dignitaries in the land including Kings, but on the other, it has been used as a court passing the death sentence for many a minor crime. Even Judge Jeffreys carried out some of his Bloody Assizes here after the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth’s Glorious Revolution of 1685.
There’s been a cellar underneath the Guildhall since the fourteenth century which was known as the ‘Pytt of the Guyldhall’ where those sentenced to death would spend their last night before facing the gallows outside the following day. The last death sentence was delivered in 1952.
You enter the building via a fine carved Jacobean oak door that leads directly into the hall. Many of the Hall’s features have had a Victorian makeover, but the splendid oak roof is still medieval. Hanging from it is a large 18th century chandelier.
The building is free to enter, and as it won’t take up much of your time to visit, it would be a great shame if you didn’t pop in to see one of Exeter’s most historically important buildings.
The focal point of Exeter is undoubtedly the Cathedral and its adjacent Green.
It’s been at the heart of the city since Roman times, and somehow managed to escape serious damage during the air raids of 1942.
Surrounding the Green are some interesting and harmonious buildings that have been here for centuries.
At No.1 Cathedral Close is Mol’s Coffee House, built in the 16th century with original features inside, although the Dutch style gable wasn’t added until 1879. Look out for the coat of Arms of Elizabeth I dating from 1596.
No.5 Cathedral Close dates from 1700 and No.6 from 1770. Numbers 7, 8, and 9a were originally medieval courtyard houses and numbers 10 & 11 were the Archdeacon of Barnstaple’s residence.
The Cathedral Church of St. Peter, to give it its proper name, is without doubt Exeter’s crowning glory.
Built on the hill where the original Roman camp was established, it was conceived in its present form in 1114, but its history goes back even further to Saxon times when a Benedictine monastery and Minster was set up here around 670 AD. Continue reading →