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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Black Friars Distillery Plymouth

Black Friars Distillery, also known as the Plymouth Gin Distillery, is located in the Barbican neighbourhood of Plymouth in Devon. Black Friars has been in operation since 1793.

Black Friars Distillery Plymouth Devon.

The beautiful distillery building dates back to the early 1400's, with the most intact part of the complex - a medieval hall with a fine hull-shaped timber roof known as the Refectory Room - one of the oldest buildings in the city and formerly a Black Friars monastery. After Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries the buildings were used as a debtors' prison, a meeting hall and a reception centre for Huguenot refugees from France. The Pilgrim Fathers stayed here on their last night in England before setting sail for the New World in 1620.
Not surprisingly with this history, the Plymouth Gin distillery is the oldest working distillery in England.

Soon after Black Friars was established Plymouth Gin became a firm favourite in the numerous countries it was shipped to. The gin drinking of the Royal Navy considerably enhanced gin's prestige and Plymouth became popular across the world. In more recent times there has been an increase in the popularity of the distinctive sweeter and lighter but stronger Plymouth flavour, compared to the more usual London Dry Gin.

Black Friars Distillery Plymouth Devon.

Black Friars offers a range of tours, ranging in price from a 40-minute, £7 inspection through to an in-depth, 2.5-hour "Master Distiller's" outing (£40) where visitors get to create (and take away) their own bespoke gin. The distillery complex also has its own cocktail bar and brasserie.

Black Friars Distillery
60 Southside Street
The Barbican
Plymouth PL1 2LQ
Tel: 01752 665 292
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am to 5pm; Sunday 11am to 5pm

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Scapa Distillery Orkney

Scapa, the "artisanal" single malt Scotch whisky from the Orkney Islands, owned by Chivas Brothers, recently unveiled its first-ever distillery visitor centre as it seeks to educate malt connoisseurs about its unique production process, provenance and quality.

Scapa Distillery Orkney, Scotland.

The opening marks the first occasion that the Scapa facilities have been open to the public since the distillery began business back in 1885.

The Scapa whisky distillery had been distilling since long before, having been founded by Messrs. Macfarlane and Townsend in 1885. The little huddle of buildings lies just outside of Kirkwall at Scapa Bay, and the distillery draws its waters from the Lingro Burn. Scapa is unique for an island whisky as its malted barley is entirely unpeated - this produces an especially honey flavoured alcohol.

Scapa Distillery Orkney Scotland UK.

The Scapa distillery is the second most northerly distillery in Scotland (half a mile farther south than the nearby Highland Park distillery).

The new Scapa visitor centre and tour are open to adults seven days per week from April to September, and five days per week from September to November.

Scapa Distillery
Scapa Flow
KW15 1SE
Tel: 01856 876585

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway

The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is a one third sized railway that runs through Romney Marsh in East Kent, south east England.

Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

The RH&DR runs for 13 and a half miles from Hythe to Dungeness. There are stations at Hythe, Dymchurch, St. Mary's Bay, Romney Warren, New Romney, Romney Sands and Dungeness.

The RH&DR opened in 1927 and was the fulfillment of the dreams of two rich, model train enthusiasts of the day - Jack Howey and Count Louis Zborowski (the latter tragically killed in a motor racing accident before the railway opened).

Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Kent.

Check the website of the RH&DR for full information on fares and timetables.

New Romney Station

New Romney,
Kent TN28 8PL
Tel: 01797 362353

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hever Castle and Gardens

With its parapets, moat, ghosts, armour and gruesome torture devices, Hever Castle is what most people imagine a castle to be.

Hever Castle and Gardens, Kent.

The original Hever Castle was built in 1270. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Hever Castle was home to the powerful Boleyn family. Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. The marriage of Henry and Anne led to the King renouncing Catholicism and creating the Church of England.

Hever Castle was later owned by another of King Henry VIII's wives, Anne of Cleves.

Hever Castle and Gardens, Kent, UK.

After a period of decline, William Waldorf Astor, a wealthy American, restored the castle. Astor built the Tudor Village, which is now called the Astor Wing as well as the gardens and a lake.

Hever Castle's panelled rooms contain fine furniture, tapestries, antiques and one of the UK's finest collection of Tudor portraits.

Hever Castle and Gardens, Kent, UK.

Hever Castle
Hever Rd
Kent TN8 7NG
Tel: 01732 865224

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deal Castle

Deal Castle in East Kent in the south east of England is along with nearby Walmer Castle, a major attraction of this part of the Kent coast.

Deal Castle, Kent, England.

Deal Castle was built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1540 as an artillery fortress to protect England from overseas invasion. This part of the English coastline would have been ideal for landing an invasion fleet and indeed, Julius Caesar had done just that way back in 55 BC. An earthwork or "fosse" was built to connect the three fortresses of Deal, Walmer and Sandown.

Deal Castle is constructed of brick and stone taken from religious buildings after Henry's dissolution of the monasteries. The fortress was strengthened during the time of the Napoleonic threat and was used as an Observation Post during World War II, when it was also bombed by the Germans. In 1951, Deal Castle was taken over by English Heritage.

Deal Castle
Marine Rd, Deal
Kent CT14 7BA
Tel: 0370 333 1181

Deal Castle is open every weekend 10am-4pm
Admission £5.40 (adults)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dreamland Margate

The Dreamland amusement park first opened in 1920, as holiday makers and day-trippers, mainly from London began to arrive in numbers to the East Kent coastal resort of Margate.

Dreamland Margate, UK.

After years of decline, however, many of Dreamland's big rides were dismantled in the 1990s, with the park finally closing in 2003.

After years of renovation, Dreamland finally reopened in June this year with beautifully restored retro-fitted rides and amusements taking visitors back to the golden age of the great British seaside holiday. The Dreamland Arcade for example is a classic British seaside arcade with modern and vintage games including Punch & Judy, pinball and retro roller skating.

The rides include a wooden Scenic Railway, the oldest roller coaster in Britain, a 1920's style Helter Skelter and a Wedgewood tea cups ride.

Dreamland Margate, Kent.

With Kent voted Europe's top family holiday destination by readers of Lonely Planet, there's no better time to take the children.

The food on offer ranges from fish and chips, of course to spicy Thai curries. The art deco ballroom hosts a variety of events throughout the year including Soulgate on Sea and Screamland at Halloween time.

Marine Terrace, Margate, CT9 1XJ
Tel: 01843 295887

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle in Northumberland in the north east of England, to the north of Newcastle, is one of England's most spectacular castles.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland.

The seat of the Duke of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle was first built following the Norman Conquest, in 1096. The castle was expanded and improved during the 14th century to serve as a strong fortress on the Anglo-Scottish border.

Rebuilding and reconstruction of the castle continued in the 18th and 19th centuries as the castle served as the family home of the dukes of Northumberland.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, UK.

Alnwick Castle is now open to the public throughout the summer and after Windsor Castle, just outside London, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England and one of the most visited, receiving around 800,000 visitors a year.

Public interest in Alnwick Castle has increased as it was used as a stand-in for the exterior and interior of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series of movies as well as in a number of other films and TV shows. The romantic architecture and dramatic setting of the castle has also drawn numerous artists to depict it including Caneletto, who painted the castle in the mid-18th century and J.M.W. Turner in the early 19th century.

Alnwick Castle by Caneletto, circa 1750.

The modern Alnwick Garden set around a cascading fountain is another major tourist draw.

Alnwick Castle
NE66 1NQ
Tel: 01665 511 100

Alnwick Castle is less than a mile off the A1 and can be reached by X15 and X18 bus from Haymarket in Newcastle.
East Coast mainline trains from London to Edinburgh in Scotland stop at Alnmouth, four miles (6km) from Alnwick. Take a taxi or the X18 bus from Alnmouth (10 minutes).

Alnwick Castle by Turner.

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