England Sightseeing National
Eton College (London)
Eton College in Berkshire is one of the most famous public schools in the country, if not the world. It was founded in 1440 by Henry VI to educate young boys, who may not have had the opportunity previously. Initially the school taught just 100 boys, for 12 hours a day, six days a week in Latin, and only Latin. Mass would have been said ... up to eight times a day in the school's private chapel. Nowadays things are a bit different, and the 1300 boys aged between 13 and 18 study a much wider curriculum. Although scholarships are available, typical fees are £32,000 per year as well as passing a strict entrance exam. All boys are boarders.
I didn't know you could visit here until a meet-up group I am a member of organised it. The school is a ten minute walk from Windsor & Eton Riverside rail station, which in turn is just under an hour by train from London Waterloo. There is a visitor centre opposite which doubles as a gift shop as I understand. Our adult tickets cost £9 each. Tours are twice a day on days when the college is open (check the website as it gets quite complicated), but parties of 14 or more can pre-book a private tour, as we did. We were assigned a guide and we were very fortunate to be allocated an Old Etonian called James. The other guide was not a former student and I understand he was not as good at answering the questions posed.
You can view part of the chapel from outside, but to access it you need to go into the main complex with your guide. Bags will be searched.
Our first stop was the Eton Life Museum. Our guide informed us of much of the information as we were a big group, but I would have liked some free time to browse further. I was interested to see the section on famous old boys, some I knew had been here and some I didn't. Nineteen prime ministers have been here, including the first, Lord Walpole, and the current incumbent, David Cameron. Other politicians such as Boris Johnson and Oliver Letwin also attended. Sportsmen like Matthew Pinsent, writers such as Ian Fleming and actors such as Eddie Redmayne (he was in the same house as our guide, and a big success in the choir). Here you will also see a dummy in uniform, some instruments of punishment from the days of corporal punishment, info on the sports played and a 19th century room set, with an explanation to the old school tradition of fagging (nothing to do with the more recent interpretation of the word). You also see photographs of current accomodation and living quarters, although you don't get to visit any.
Back through the courtyard, to the old schoolroom. This was the original school room and would have been used from the beginning up until the 17th century. The upper and lower schools both would have studied in the same room and the shutters and desks are thoroughly carved with the names of the students with their pen knives (to sharpen their quills, modern students don't bring knives into the classroom!). Sadly we don't see a current classroom but James assured us it looks pretty much like any other school classroom.
Following on from here we visited the chapel and sadly you cannot take photos in here. It is a very impressive chapel, with a ceiling that reminds me of the one at Kings College, Cambridge. The organ is also stunning, with decorated pipes up to 12m in height. All pupils attend assemblies here, but students of other faiths can find spiritual guidance within the faculty - an imam and a rabbi are also here at the school, for example.
We had many questions for James, which he fully answered most patiently even though we ran over our allotted hour by a good fifteen minutes. I found the tour very interesting and recommend it is you can get here. I think it is best to check the website for tour availability, especially at weekends.
Read the complete review
Hampton Court Palace (Surrey)
As a member of the Historical Royal Palaces admission to Hampton Court Palace is free. If you are not a member you can expect to pay £17.60 for an adult, £8.80 for a child and £14.85 for students and OAPs. The Palace is open every day from 10am until 6pm. The Palace is five minutes walk from the mainline rail station of the same name, ... which can be accessed from London Waterloo. Trains run every thirty minutes.
As you arrive the ticket office and gift shop is on your left. You can also visit the Tiltyard Café without paying admission. There has been a property on this spot since the 14th century, but the earliest parts of the palace we see today were not built until 1494, although much of it was built when Cardinal Wolsey acquired it in the early 16th century. He expanded it in order to entertain his boss, King Henry VIII. When Wolsey failed to persuade the Pope to grant a Henry a divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon, his days were numbered, and Henry removed him and took over the palace. You enter into Base Court and from here you can access various exhibitions within the Palace. I recommend getting a guide book (£4.99) or an audio tour (I have not used the latter do cannot comment but they seem popular) to get the most out of your visit. Free maps and audio guides are available from the information room in the top left hand corner of Base Court.
MANTEGNA'S TRIUMPHS OF CAESAR
Part of the Royal Collection (the largest private art collection in the world), is this collection of nine paintings by Andrea Mantegna. Painted in the late 15th Century, and purchased by Charles I, these paintings show ...well... the triumphs of Caesar as understood in that period of time. They are (apparently) very famous, although I had not heard of them. They are situated in the Lower Orangery - follow the signs from the lower right hand side in Base Court. I don't think my visit was enhanced by seeing these paintings personally. There are many paintings in the palace itself, that I preferred.
There is a small exhibition of the early years of Henry VIII, newly married to his first wife, Katherine, and was happy with his chief administrator Wolsey. This area is known as the Wolsey Rooms, and would have been his private apartments in the early days of the palace. Across the other side of the Palace are the apartments that he would have used latterly. The Great Hall is an impressive room. Large, with ornate, carved high ceilings, rich tapestries and many animal horns on the walls, this would be where banquets and balls would have been held. In fact, the lower ranked staff would have eaten here when the room wasn't required for other purposes as Henry's retinue contained up to 600 staff (eat your heart out Justin Bieber). Beyond here was the Watching Chamber where Henry's guards controlled access to him. His personal rooms were also off of here, but were lost during subsequent re-modelling. We can visit the processional route (towards the chapel) whch is also known as the Haunted Gallery allegedly haunted by the ghost of Henry's 4th wife Katherine Howard whom he beheaded for adultery. Off of here is the council chamber where a number of key political decisions are likely to have been made.
THE CHAPEL ROYAL
Built by Wolsey in the early 16th century, the magnificent ceiling was later added by Henry VIII and subsequently refurbished by Queen Anne. The Chapel regularly holds services so is not open at all times, this is worth checking on arrival and planning your visit accordingly. On Sundays it is open 12.30-1.30pm and 4.45pm onwards. Sadly you cannot take photos in here. The Royal Family did not sit on the lower level but in the first floor gallery, accessed separately via the Henry's apartments. There is a replica crown on the upper level. You cannot take photos in any part of the chapel.
HENRY VIII'S KITCHENS
A large part of the original kitchens either no longer exist or are not accessible, there is still quite a bit to see. Personally, this was far from my favourite section. You enter the kitchens from the Master Carpenter's Court which can be accessed from the corner of Base Court. The kitchen area was made up of many different 'departments' and have been mocked up with fake meats/fish alongside real herbs and vegetables. The replica foods and utensils are based on research by food historians. You will see various preparation and food serving areas. As you come out of the kitchen area you will see some wine cellars, ultimately leading to a shop.
WILLIAM III'S APARTMENTS
These were very attractive and well worth a visit. You get here from Clock Court and walk up the amazing King's Staircase, where the wall and ceiling and painted in a bright mural. This part of the palace was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren. Beyond the staircase the first room you come to is the Guard Chamber, where the King's gunsmith created the décor using 2,850 pieces of armour and assorted weapons, making a number of patterns. Next is the spacious King's Presence Chamber, where the king would sit and greet visitors. If he wasn't there, people would greet an empty chair. From here you go through to the King's Eating Room where he may dine on formal occasions, followed by the Privy Chamber. The next room, the Withdrawing Room was more private and then you have the Great Bedchamber, where the king may receive senior courtiers and ministers. The Little Bedchamber is where he may have had some privacy. Beyond here are his actual private apartments where only a few favoured courtiers would have been admitted in order to assist the King with any personal business as well as dining with close friends. Here his windows overlooked his Privy garden. All through this part of the palace you will see a lot of paintings and decorated murals on the ceiling.
MARY II'S APARTMENTS
Part of Queen Mary's (wife of William) apartments have become a special exhibition entitled Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber. Again, these are accessed via an attractive staircase (although William's have the edge for me). Mary died suddenly and the apartments were not finished, Queen Anne made some subsequent alterations and put her own style, plus Queen Caroline (wife of George II) also put her stamp on it. After the exhibition (see below) you still get to see some of the apartments such as Queen Anne's Drawing Room and the Queen's bed chamber (in Queen Caroline's style). Although these are the actual rooms, much of them have been given over to the exhibition temporarily.
SECRETS OF THE ROYAL BEDCHAMBER
This special exhibition is running from March - November 2013 and takes over part of Queen Mary's apartments (above). The exhibition celebrates an era when the monarch ruled from his bedchamber. A short film about this is shown in the first room - on the ceiling - and you lay on piles of mattresses to watch it. Certainly a novel and comfortable way to watch a film! The concept of ruling from the bedchamber was brought over by Charles II from the French Court in 1660. However as the monarch became less powerful, and Parliament held the political power, this practice was redundant by the latter half of the 16th century. You can view some of these beds here, including the last Great State Bed of Queen Charlotte's which was never used. There was also a TV documentary about it back in the summer.
Much of these were shut in preparation for a 2014 exhibition, although you can access part near the Queen's staircase. Mainly it is galleries available currently.
Hampton Court is famous for its gardens and holds a flower show each summer. If you wish to visit just the gardens alone then there is a charge during the summer, otherwise it is included in your Palace ticket. They are beautiful and well worth spending time in if the weather is obliging. The Rose Garden and Wilderness garden are free, but you will have to pay to go into the maze if you don't have a Palace ticket. The first time I went into the maze (four years ago) we got into the centre straight away and were a bit disappointed. This time we did manage to get a bit lost and it was more fun. The maze is the oldest one in Britain.
The dramatic cone shaped yew trees offer plenty of shade on summer days and are pleasant to stroll amongst but I much prefer the ornate Privy Garden (based on how it looked in 1702) and the bright, colourful Pond Garden. Also in the gardens is the world largest vine, in a glass house down one end. There is a small garden exhibition next to the garden shop.
There are a number of shops here, mostly selling different things. The main shop is by the ticket office. Most will have general gifts, such a guide books and pencils, but they seem to have different pencils in each shop for example. For food related gifts and recipe books go to the shop near the wine cellar (as you come to Base Court from Clock Court on the right hand side). Garden related gifts can be purchased in the garden shop (by the East Gate).
Food wise there are some ice creams available in the gardens, a coffee shop by the Kitchens/wine cellar and the biggest restaurant is the Tiltyard Café, which is outside the palace in the grounds by The Rose Garden. Here they have a range of hot foods, sandwiches, cakes, drinks and snacks. I had a spinach cannelloni, which was quite nice, but a hard and dry at the bottom.
There are a number of public toilets, all those that we used were fine.
I think Hampton Court is well worth a visit. The leaflet says to allow three hours but we were here five and a half. The time you spend will vary according to your level of interest, and the weather will impact your exploration of the gardens. If you love history, palaces and stately homes then this really is a must visit destination.
Read the complete review
Sherborne Castle (Dorset)
When on holiday anywhere in England I feel it is essential to visit at least one castle whether it is an audacious and grandiose spectacle or pitiful ruins and thankfully I was able to find both in one place and that was at Sherborne Castle, rather unsurprisingly located in the town of Sherborne in Dorset. Getting to the castle (free car ... park) by road is pretty easy depending on your direction via the M5, A30, or A352 as it is very well signposted although you're going to want to follow the signs as SatNav will apparently lead you astray. By rail you should aim for the Sherborne station which is just a 10 minute walk away and buses also drop you off in Sherborne again a similar walk away so public transport should hopefully be pretty easy. Sherborne Castle is used for weddings; corporate events such as trade fairs, exhibitions, training days, charity events etc. and public events like country fairs, wine fairs, classic car rallies and fireworks displays so on your visit you may have to skirt around such events if you unluckily coincide with them (we arrived on a wedding day and nearly ended up slap bang in the wedding marquee which could have been embarrassing) but this doesn't affect the enjoyment of viewing the house or absorbing the magnificent grounds and lake. So, the first question that may spring to mind is why are there two castles in one place? Well if you can sit through a quick history lesson you'll find out...
==Quick history lesson==
The original Sherborne castle (known as Sherborne Old Castle) came in to existence in the 12th Century for the Chancellor of England Roger de Caen who was the Bishop of Salisbury. He used this castle/palace to oversee the western part of his diocese and by Tudor times the succeeding Bishops decided to build a small Hunting Lodge in the deer park attached to this castle to observe the chase. So, what was that about God's creatures all being sacred and stuff, hmmm? It was in 1592 that Walter Raleigh bought the Old Castle and at first he tried to refurbish it, but then just decided to build a new four storey rectangular house to later include hexagonal turrets to make it look a bit more castle-y on the site of the Hunting Lodge. In 1617 Sir John Digby took over the house and extended it further. The Old Castle underwent two sieges in the civil war (the Digbys were Royalists) and the Parliamentarian army succeeded in destroying it in 1645 and it was left as battle scarred ruins. This was when the house became known as "Sherborne Castle". This castle has remained in the Digby family ever since and has been remodelled over the generations as styles and latest fashions dictated notably with an extension to the west side of the house to provide more bedrooms and better staff accommodation. In the First World War Sherborne Castle was transformed into a Red Cross hospital and was also used by the army in the Second World War.
Sherborne Castle, New Road, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5NR
Tel. 01935 812072
==Prices & Opening Times (2013)==
The castle is open from 30th March - 31st October every day apart from Mondays and Fridays (Bank Holidays are open) between 11am and 4:30pm (the shop and castle interior open at 2pm on Saturdays).
Children (0-15 years) - FREE
Annual Season tickets - £50
===Castle and Gardens: ===
Adults - £10
Senior - £9.50
Children (0-15 years) - FREE
Party Rate (groups of 15) - Adults - £8.50 each, Children - £3.50
Party Rate (groups of 15 with introductory talk) - Adults - £10.50 each
Private Views (groups of 15) - Adults - £12 each, Children - £6
Annual Season tickets - £60
So, after purchasing your tickets at the castle itself you have the option to explore the gardens and surrounding grounds first or plough on through the castle interior. There are a lot of rooms to see, so if you're pushed for time I'd recommend doing the house first as the sheer amount of antiquities such as suits of armour, clocks or stuffed animals to name a few; art and tapestries; furniture; panelling, and the general décor to view steeped in a rich history dating back to even before the English Civil War is a must see. Each room has a steward on hand to answer questions and if they are otherwise engaged there are information sheets to explain about each room and to identify every important item in the room, typically the paintings or special furniture with bit of blurb about their origins etc. Buying a guidebook is useful, but not essential as the room guides seem a friendly lot all more than willing to impart their expertise and if anything you'll probably learn a lot more from them. So the array of rooms in all their sparkling splendour is impressive from bedrooms to boudoirs, a library to dining and drawing rooms and the quality is dazzling and brilliantly maintained with exquisite wallpaper and wooden panelling, carpets and rugs, art and tapestries, ornate fireplaces and intricate ceilings.
There is in fact so much to learn about I'm not convinced you'd be able to absorb it all in one visit, my brain certainly cannot add that much information to my internal database without a transactional failure, so I think this place certainly allows for repeat visits if you are interested enough in the history to want to take it all in, but if you simply want to soak in the atmosphere one visit should suffice. The more interesting things I discovered were about some of the people linked to the castle, one little taster being Jeffrey Hudson who was a very famous 17th Century dwarf of normal proportions who was considered one of the "wonders of the age" due to being, rather dubiously one might suspect, only 18 inches tall. He found a place in the court of Queen Henrietta Maria until it all went wrong when he killed a man in a duel and was exiled before being captured and enslaved for 25 years by Barbary pirates during which time he apparently grew in size to 45 inches if the stories are to be believed. Plenty more stories like those available around the castle. Once you've finished with the rooms of the house you move on to the kitchen and then a little exhibition area on the lower floor filled with old cooking equipment and archaeological finds like coins, weapons and fossils again probably only interesting if you enjoy history.
This then takes you through to the gift shop filled with the usual assortment of tourist knickknacks like books, castle related stationery, confectionary, little trinkets and ornaments, plus lots aimed at kids such as replica bow and arrows. Outside leads to a nice little courtyard wherein lies the teashop where you can get all the usual suspects such as tea and coffee, light lunches like salads, soups and sandwiches and of course the obligatory cakes and naughty treats. There are lots of nice places to sit and eat as well in the actual courtyard terrace or down on the Gingko lawn so is a lovely, relaxing place to gets some refreshment and have a quick break. An exploration of the grounds can then occur and you can take in the beautiful flower borders and lovely architecture of the house with its hexagonal towers, pale stone walls and see if you can spot which were the newer wings, before strolling round the massive lake which will afford you the chance to find the ruins of the old castle. The lake is very large and we decided not to try to circumnavigate the whole thing due to excessive levels of tiredness so plumped for just visiting the old castle and then make a U-turn.
The whole area that we covered is beautiful with so much greenery, trees and sweeping landscapes (much of it designed by Capability Brown) that the Green Party would weep with joy and lots of fun little things to spot like Raleigh's Seat (a viewing point), a cascade, an icehouse, a boathouse and pier and a Turkish field gun so keep your eyes peeled. Once you arrive at the old ruins you can only gander from afar, so if you want to actually walk around them you must do so via a different entrance run by the English Heritage but we didn't try to find it so I don't know how easy this is to get to from the Sherborne estate itself. There is also a folly to find, a fake tower built in the 18th century to beautify the old ruins somewhat before either attempting to walk around the whole lake which would take you towards Earl Henry's Bridge but I fear would also take quite some time and energy or returning back to the new castle where you can view the orangery and some stables if you missed them. So there you have it, a trip to Sherborne Castle will easily take a whole day to do justice with some brilliant history and impressive sights within the new castle and an equally wonderful estate to explore which should have something for both adults and kids to enjoy, at a very reasonable price especially considering kids are free.
* There are two sets of toilets, one at the foot of the castle and the other in the Castle Yard which has wheelchair accessibility and baby changing facilities.
* There is a picnic area beyond the castle for packed lunches.
* Dogs are welcome in the grounds, but not the Castle, Shop or Tearoom.
* Baby backpack carriers are not allowed in the Castle due to risk from low doorways, steps and arches, and pushchairs are only allowed in at the discretion of the staff. Front sling carriers are permitted so if you are bringing a baby it may be wise to check first how accessible everything is.
* There is a free quiz available for children at the front desk.
*Photography (and mobile phones) is not allowed inside the Castle.
* Helpers get in free.
* Only the ground floor of the castle is available for wheelchair/scooter users but there is a slide show giving information of all the inaccessible rooms.
* There is a Braille version of the guidebook for the blind.
* The gardens and grounds offer some accessibility to wheelchair/scooter users with smooth gravel paths for the majority. The Castle courtyard however does have lots of ancient and uneven cobblestones so may pose a problem.
* There are lots of benches dotted around to offer respite from long walks.
Read the complete review
England Sightseeing National
Sightseeing National / St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmund's, Suffolk.
Address: Louden Road / Sightseeing National / Cromer NR27 9EF
Sightseeing National / Annual air show held at RAF Waddington in Lincoln.
Sightseeing National /
Address: Acton Scott Hall / Sightseeing National / Acton Scott / Church Stretton / Shropshire SY6 6QQ, England
Sightseeing National / Thomas Bewick's birthplace in Stocksfield, Northumberland.
Address: Wylam / Sightseeing National / Northumberland / NE41 8BP
Address: St. Nicholas Churchyard / Sightseeing National / Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 1PF
Address: Jersey Road / Sightseeing National / Isleworth / TW7 4RB
Sightseeing National /
|England Sightseeing National Recommendations 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... back next|
|dooyoo Results 41 - 50 of 970|