Category Archives: Top Westcountry

Salisbury Cathedral Pt 2 – The New Cathedral

The Nave

Salisbury Cathedral Pt 2 - The New Cathedral


Having explained how the new Cathedral came about in Salisbury Cathedral Pt 1, I’d like to talk a bit more about the building itself.

To start with I don’t suppose any building that’s been around for almost 800 years would have been untouched in any way, and of course Salisbury Cathedral is no exception, but the good news is that this remarkable church is still essentially the same as when it was built.

There have been a few hiccups along the way mind you including the removal of many of the stained-glass windows during the Reformation, and even some damage during the Civil War, but as was often the case, well-meaning restorers probably did the most amount of damage.

According to the official Salisbury Cathedral guidebook, the late 18th century saw James Wyatt clear the churchyard, demolish the Bell Tower, lime-wash the vaulting, cover medieval paintings, and remove even more medieval glass.

It wasn’t all bad news though. If you take a look at the West Front, you’ll find that there are 79 statues adorning the façade, and 72 of them have been added since the 19th century. George Gilbert Scott was responsible for most of them during his period of restoration between 1860 and 1876, and I reckon the West Front looks fantastic.

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The Cotehele Garland

The Cotehele Garland


The tradition of making a garland for the Tudor Hall at Cotehele House only started in the 1950s, but has since become a firm annual favourite at Christmastime.

People come from miles around to see this 18 metre (60 foot) long decoration that starts its life in the Cut Flower Garden at Cotehele. The seeds are sown in February, the flowers cut in the summer, and then hung in the potting shed to dry until the Autumn.

The aim is to get around 30,000 stems, but it will depend on the conditions which can vary from year to year.

In early November a 12mm diameter rope is laid out on the floor where bunches of evergreen pittosporum are attached and then hoisted up to the ceiling where it is hung in swags.
The flowers are then cut, sorted, and placed individually amongst the evergreen.

Apparently, the process from planting the seeds to the last flower being attached involves staff and volunteers working an equivalent number of hours to one full time employee a year.

The garland is usually on display from around the middle of November until the 12th night (Jan 6th), except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

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Wistman’s Wood

Wistman's Wood

Nowhere conjures up the spooky mood of Dartmoor more than Wistman’s Wood.

Legends abound about how this small remote wood of dwarf, stunted oak trees hanging with beards of lichen and moss have attracted ‘Wisht Hounds’ – a “pack of huge black dogs with blood red eyes, huge yellow fangs and an insatiable hunger for human flesh and souls” according to Legendary Dartmoor.

On a more down to earth level Wistman’s Wood is one of the highest oakwoods in Britain and is pretty difficult to walk through due to the clitter (granite boulders) that is scattered amongst the trees.

Although the wood is in a remote location it can be easily reached from Two Bridges via a well designated footpath which shouldn’t take any longer than half an hour.

On a summer’s day it’s a pleasant walk alongside the West Dart River, but even at this time of the year you need to keep your eyes open for adders (Britain’s only poisonous snake).

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The Mayflower Connection

The Mayflower Steps

The Mayflower Connection

Many ships carrying settlers and explorers have left Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour over the years, but The Pilgrim Fathers’ journey on the Mayflower in 1620 resonates with the city more than any other.

There’s a Mayflower St, Mayflower College and a Mayflower Centre. Plymouth Argyle, the local football club, has a Mayflower Stand and call themselves The Pilgrims, with Pilgrim Pete as their mascot. So what makes the Pilgrim Fathers and The Mayflower so special to Plymouth?

The story begins when a band of English nonconformists, who rejected the laws of the Church of England, decided to seek religious freedom elsewhere. The first part of their journey took them to Leiden in The Netherlands, but finding it difficult to settle there, they left Delfthavn (Rotterdam) on a boat called ‘The Speedwell’ for America. The Speedwell joined up with more English passengers in Southampton who were on board ‘The Mayflower’.

The Speedwell sprang a leak and both ships put in at Dartmouth to ensure they were ship-shape before attempting to cross the Atlantic. They didn’t get far before The Speedwell sprang another leak, and both ships turned back to Plymouth. It was just The Mayflower therefore that sailed out across the ocean looking for a new life.

Their intentions were to aim for North Virginia but were blown off course and eventually landed at Cape Cod (Massachusetts). They named their new settlement Plymouth, and although only half of them had survived by the time the first winter was over, the rest remained, and today Plymouth is regarded as the oldest permanent European settlement in the United States.
The survivors held a thanksgiving feast the following year which is commemorated by Americans every 4th Thursday in November.

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