Photos © Ruud Leeuw Photos © Ruud Leeuw
Ever since the 1970s England has been a favourite destination for me; my interest in aviation brought me over for the first time, but soon I found my interest in history further developing and castles were included in the itinerary. The countryside is quite unique as well, the rolling hills and small country lanes. The people are very friendly, interested in their surroundings and more than keen on their pastimes, something I recognize in myself.

Burghley House
Burghley House

Burghley House is a grand 16th-century English country house near the town of Stamford in Lincolnshire, England. Its park was laid out by Capability Brown.
When one visits many of such manor houses and grand castles, the name Capability Brown is a a garantee for excellently shaped grounds and gardens.
Burghley was built for Sir William Cecil, later 1st Baron Burghley, who was Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587 and modelled on the privy lodgings of Richmond Palace. It was subsequently the residence of his descendants, the Earls and Marquesses of Exeter, and is now owned by a charitable trust established by the family. [Wikipedia, more..]

Churches, castles, manor homes: there is an abundance of links with the past. Many roads still follow the path thousands walked on in medieval times.

This little church can be found in Iffley (near Oxford) and is dedicated to "Saint Mary, the Virgin". It is a 12th Century Norman Romanesque Parish Church and was built by the Norman family of St.Remy during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189).
A friend showed it to us and I was amazed it was open, we could walk right in. I am sure the churches in my country are not open, during the week, for anyone who wanted to walk in (I have to admit I never tried !).


Friends of us lived in the central area of the UK, near Oxford. Over the years we undertook many scenic daytrips from their home. Oxford itself has many bookshops and we have spent a fortune at Blackwells.

The scenery in the immediate area of Oxford and Abingdon is very nice, this photo was taken on the banks of the river Thames.

Pitt Rivers Museum - Oxford

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is a remarkable museum; it cares for one of the world's great collections.
The Pitt Rivers Museum was founded in 1884 when Lt.-General Pitt Rivers, an influential figure in the development of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, gave his collection to the University. His two conditions were that a museum was built to house it and that someone should be appointed to lecture in anthropology.
The Museum displays archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world. The General's founding gift contained more than 18.000 objects but there are now over half a million. Many were donated by early anthropologists and explorers. The extensive photographic and sound archives contain early records of great importance.
Today the Museum is an active teaching department of the University of Oxford.
It is fascinating, enticing, captivating on the the first visit, the second visit and equally brilliant the third visit... [Website]

Pitt Rivers Museum - Oxford
I had a splendid revisit in 2013 - see MY REPORT

Donnington Castle was built by its original owner, Richard Abberbury the Elder, under a licence granted by Richard II in 1386 AD. The surviving castle gatehouse dates from this time.
The castle was subsequently bought by Thomas Chaucer, the son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, as a residence for his daughter Alice, who later became Duchess of Suffolk. This family later fell out with the Tudor monarchs, and the castle became a Royal property.
Both King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited Donnington Castle and the latter wanted to live there during her imprisonment by her sister, Queen Mary I, but this was not allowed.
Donnington Castle

By the time the English Civil War broke out, the castle was owned by the Parliamentarian Packer family but after the First Battle of Newbury it was taken for the King and held by Sir John Boys. Despite being besieged for most of the war, the castle succeeded in guarding the major routeways from London to the West Country and Oxford to Southampton, and during the Second Battle of Newbury, the castle was able to hold off the Parliamentary attackers. Finally, after an eighteen month siege, the garrison surrendered and were allowed to rejoin Royalist forces in Wallingford.
In 1646 Parliament voted to demolish the castle. All that remains of the castle today is the substantial four towered gatehouse, and the surrounding earthworks. [Wikipedia]

Historic Church
Avebury has a very nice church, but we actually came to visit even older remains nearby...

Prehistoric days ........!
Set out over the Marlborough Downs, near Avebury (Wiltshire), they represent a vast geometric pattern. Research has proved that these extraordinary patterns and alignments in the British landscape link ancient sites and - incredibly - seem to give a blue print of the same geometric patterning found in the Great Pyramid in Egypt ! A society with highly sophisticated astronomical, mathematical and surveying knowledge must have been living in Britain 3000 years b.C. These events correspond to the start of dynastic Egypt and to the beginning of the Mayan calendar.... The connection remains -as yet- a mystery...

Kenilworth Castle. I like these castles, half in ruins... Seems I can better picture the battles it was involved in.
It is located in Warwickshire, a little north of Oxford.
The castle is thought to have existed in the reign of King Arthur (should he has existed..), and in Saxon times a castle stood upon a hill called Hom. The structure was probably demolished during the wars between King Edmund and Canute II King of the Danes, and rebuilt about a century later.
After the Norman Conquest, Kenilworth remained with the crown until 1129 when King Henry I gave it to his Chamberlain, a Norman named Geoffrey de Clinton. Clinton was Treasurer and Chief Justice of England. He built it to strength and had the moat added.
It was completed during the reign of King John ("John Lackland", 1166-1216). The castle suffered a long siege by King Henry III and his oldest son Prince Edward in 1266. Edward was to become King Edward I. The castle was given to Edward's son Edmund Crouchback, who was created Earl of Lancaster. His nickname “Crouchback,” or crossed back, refers only to the fact that he went on crusade to Palestine in 1271 and, hence, was entitled to wear the cross.
Other famous names connected with this castle are Simon the Montfort (Earl of Leicester, considered to be the founder of democracy in England), John of Gaunt and Robert Dudley. Queen Elizabeth I visited Robert Dudley at Kenilworth Castle in the years 1566, 1568, and 1575. No expense was spared during this final trip, which lasted for 19 days in mid July and cost Dudley £1000 per day. The splendour of the pageantry eclipsed anything that had been seen before in the whole of England.

Sudeley Castle.

This castle is located in the west of England, among a large concentration of Castles near the border of Wales.
Its layout, around 2 large courtyards, was determined around 1398 by owner Ralph Boteler. In 1469 it was passed on to Richard of Gloucester (later King Richard III), who the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, which had ruled England since 1154. Richard was the last English king to die on the battlefield; his death in 1485 is generally accepted between the medieval and modern ages in England. And he is credited with the responsibility for several murders: Henry VI , Henry's son Edward, his brother Clarence, and his nephews Edward and Richard. Quite a character, eh ?
I find it spellbinding to walk among such history and sit and read about what has taken place during all those passed centuries, in this very place.

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle is sited on a slope overlooking the river Avon, near the edge of a very charming Georgian town. The site knew of a castle being built in 914, when Danish invasion threatened and , Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, ordered the building of a 'burh' or an earthen rampart to protect the small hill top settlement of Warwick.

In 1068 William the Conqueror established a motte and bailey fort, consisting of a large earth mound with a timber stockade around both the top and base. Around 1260 the woodwork was replaced by stone. In 1264 Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester and leader of the rebellious barons, attacked the Castle. Over many years and generations that follow, vast improvements were made. It saw battles and it is also known to house a ghost. Queen Elizabeth 1 stayed at the castle in 1572.
Famous Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was commisioned to landscape the gardens in 1750.

I particularly found the Great Hall very beautiful; it is the largest room in the castle and throughout history has been the heart of Warwick Castle; straw and dirt covered the floor in medieval times and burning in the center of the room would have been a large fire, its smoke turning the air acrid. The only natural light filtered through narrow lancet windows.
Here it was that the nobility ate, drank and even slept.

Hampton Court Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south west London; it has not been lived in by the British royal family since the 18th century. The palace is located 11.7 miles (18.8 km) south west of Charing Cross and upstream of Central London on the River Thames. It was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514; in 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the palace was passed to the King, who enlarged it.
The following century, William III's massive rebuilding and expansion project intended to rival Versailles was begun. Work halted in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque.

The palace houses many works of art and furnishings from the Royal Collection, mainly dating from the two principal periods of the palace's construction, the early Tudor (Renaissance) and late Stuart to Early Georgian period.
The single most important works are Mantegna's Triumphs of Caesar housed in the Lower Orangery. The palace once housed the Raphael Cartoons now kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Their former home, the Cartoon Galley on the south side of the Fountain Court, was designed by Christopher Wren; copies painted in the 1690s by a minor artist, Henry Cooke, are now displayed in their place.
Also on display are important collections of ceramics, including numerous pieces of blue and white porcelain collected by Queen Mary II, both Chinese imports and Delftware. [Wikipedia, more..]

Punkers on History
Never realized young punkers could have a taste for history as well !
They seem impressed.

Royal clothes..
There was a display of periodic costumes, as worn in the series
"By The Sword Divided"

Map -click for larger image
This will give you an idea of the locations


Campsite near Sheerness
A very quiet campsite near Sheerness, heading for the Olau Line ferry, heading for home.

Over the years we travelled this ferry at least a dozen times but unfortunately it was closed down at some point during the 1990s.
We never actually explored Sheerness, nor the Isle of Sheppey, but it was nice to read about its Dutch link in history: 'Sheerness was the focus of an attack by the Dutch navy in June 1667, when 72 hostile ships compelled the little "sandspit fort" there to surrender and landed a force which for a short while occupied the town. Samuel Pepys at Gravesend remarked in his diary "we do plainly at this time hear the guns play" and in fear departed to Brampton in Huntingdonshire.' [Wikipedia]


External links of historical interest:
History of Medieval England

Kenilworth Castle
Warwick Castle




Created: 9-12-03 Updated: 14-12-03