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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thomas Oken's House

The plaque on the building below reads: "Here lived Thomas Oken, a great benefactor to Warwick. He died here on the 29th July 1573."

At the time that Warwick was granted its town charter in 1545, Thomas Oken was a mercer and master of a guild. Oken may have been the richest man in Warwick; he made his fortune dealing in wool and woven fabrics. Later, when Henry VIII dissolved the guilds, Thomas Oken helped to transfer the assets of the guilds to the local corporation and various charities before they could be seized by the crown. Thomas Oken is remembered for his charitable actions, especially his provision of almshouses for Warwick's poor in the 16th Century.

Thomas Oken's House used to be Warwick's doll museum, but it closed in 2004. Visitors today will find that Thomas Oken's house has been turned into the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms. Thomas Oken's House remains a house worth visiting as it is a fine example of a timber-framed building.

Thomas Oken's House is located next to Warwick Castle.

Thomas Oken Tea Rooms
20 Castle Street
CV34 4BP
Tel: 01926 499307

© Britain-Visitor.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fred Perry's Birthplace

Despite the best efforts of such British tennis players as Roger Taylor, Tim Henman and more recently Andy Murray, Fred Perry (1909-1995) remained the last UK-born player to win a Grand Slam until Andy Murray won the US Open in 2012, his first win in five Grand Slam finals, and followed that success up by finally winning Wimbledon in 2013.

Fred Perry's Birthplace Stockport

Perry won eight Grand Slams in total including consecutive Wimbledon championships from 1934 to 1936 as well as the US and Australian titles. Perry was ostracised by the British tennis authorities after he turned professional following his final Wimbledon triumph in 1936.

Perry subsequently moved to the US and became a US citizen. Perry was World Table Tennis Champion before he took to playing tennis seriously and his success at tennis owed  much to his ability to take the ball on the rise on the forehand as well as his immense competitive spirit.

Fred Perry's Birthplace Stockport

Perry had a number of relationships with glamourous women in the 1930s including Marlene Dietrich and British actress Mary Lawson. He went on to found the Fred Perry clothing label and the Fred Perry shirt became an iconic fashion statement for many in the youth scene of the 1960s and 1970s.

Perry was born in Offerton, Stockport and his birthplace is marked with a blue plaque. Fred Perry Way in his hometown is named after the great man and is a walking path from Woodford to Reddish through Stockport including Vernon Park.

Stockport also boasts another fine tennis player, Liam Broady, who is still a junior but hoping to emulate the great Fred Perry.

Fred Perry Walk

Other places of interest in and around Stockport in Greater Manchester include Stockport Town Hall, St Mary's Church, Bramhall Hall, Stockport Market, the Air Raid Shelters, Woodbank Park, Vernon Park, the Viaduct and Stockport Hat Museum.

© Britain-Visitor

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eyam Stocks

The village of Eyam, pronounced (eem), in the Peak District of Derbyshire retains its wooden stocks on a grass verge outside Eyam Hall. Miscreants would be held in the stocks by their legs or arms and heads and pelted with stones and clods of earth or more smelly missiles such as offal and dung.

Eyam Stocks

The stocks were last used in the late 19th century in the UK and were a form of public humiliation, akin to the modern day orange jackets young rioters may be forced to wear as punishment for their recent looting spree in some of England's large cities. Surely a spell in the stocks would be a cheaper alternative than a less than productive stretch in one of HM's overcrowded prisons.

Eyam is famous as the Plague Village of the Black Death of 1665, when the villagers isolated themselves from the wider community to stop the spread of the deadly disease.
Eyam is a short drive from Buxton on the A623.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Clark's Bridge Grantham Canal

Clark's Bridge on the Grantham Canal running from the market town of Grantham to the River Trent is a fine example of late eighteenth century canal architecture.

Clark's Bridge is a Grade II listed structure and was built of handmade, red bricks, with restoration work carried out in 2006.

The bridge's number (32) is also hand painted and the latest restoration involved adding a bat box to encourage bats to breed, especially the rare Daubenton bat.

The Grantham Canal is no longer in use but is popular with anglers, hikers, canal towpath walkers and dog-walkers. Today we passed a pair of swans (a cob and pen) with their eight cygnets.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bramhall Hall

Bramhall Hall is a black and white timber-framed Tudor period Manor House located a short distance from the centre of Stockport. Mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, the manor of Bramhall passed to the Norman conquerors and the Massey family from its original Saxon lords. Subsequent owners over the years were the Davenport, De Bromales and Nevill families.

Parts of the house, which is open as a museum, date from the 14th, 16th and 19th centuries. Noteworthy features of Bramhall Hall include the impressive Great Hall, the oak-panelled Lesser Hall, a ballroom and chapel and a Banqueting Hall.

Bramhall Hall, Stockport

The house and the 70 acres of grounds, which include formal gardens and a lake are now owned by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council. The main hall can be leased for weddings, banquets and conferences.

Bramhall Hall, Stockport

Other places of interest in and around Stockport in Greater Manchester include Stockport Town Hall, St Mary's Church, Stockport Market, the Air Raid Shelters, Woodbank Park, Vernon Park, the Viaduct and Stockport Hat Museum.

Bramhall Hall
Hall Road
Tel: 0161 485 3708

Images of Bramhall Hall by Stephen Kenworthy

© Britain-Visitor

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Roman Amphitheatre Chester

The Roman Amphitheatre in Chester is the largest in Britain and was used for both civilian entertainment and training for the 20th legion that was based in Chester (Deva).

The Roman Amphitheatre in Chester was built in the first century AD and was excavated in the 1960s with further excavations taking place this century. Only around two fifths of the amphitheatre can be seen today including the north entrance and a temple dedicated to Nemesis. A mural on the back wall shows how the structure may have looked.

The Roman Amphitheatre in Chester is a short walk from the River Dee and is adjacent to St John's Church and a large Travelodge. Nearby attractions in Chester include the Rows, Chester Cathedral and the Cross.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chester Cathedral

Located in the heart of Chester, Chester Cathedral has a long history with the possibility that a Roman temple once stood on the site. A Christian church has indeed stood here since the 7th century and the present church dates from the Norman period when a great monastery was built in new red sandstone, becoming a cathedral after Henry VIII's dissolution of England's monasteries and the seizing of their lands and wealth.

The earlier monastery was remodelled over the ages until the 15th century and restoration work was carried out in the 19th century by the celebrated architect George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), who also designed the Albert Memorial across from the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Chester Cathedral is known for its fantastic stained glass windows, historic woodwork in the quire dating from 1380 and the only remaining ecclesiastical court in Britain.

Chester Cathedral
12 Abbey Square
Tel: 01244 324756

Other attractions in Chester include the Rows, the Roman Amphitheatre, the city walls, and the Meadows.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Anniversary of the Death of Astronomer William Herschel

The German-born astronomer and composer of 24 symphonies, William Herschel died on this day in 1822 aged 83. Herschel, best known as the discoverer of Uranus, died at Observatory House, Windsor Road, in Slough.

The William Herschel Museum

The William Herschel Museum in Bath, where Herschel spent part of his life is dedicated to Herschel and his sister Caroline Herschel, who is credited with the discovery of 8 comets.

The William Herschel Museum

William Herschel was also well-known as a designer and maker of telescopes, the one pictured below is on display in the museum.

The William Herschel Museum

The William Herschel Museum is located on New King Street in Bath.

Visitors to the museum may also want to visit Pulteney Bridge, Prior Park, Bath Abbey or the Assembly Rooms.

The Herschel Museum of Astronomy
19 New King Street
Tel: 01225 446865
The William Herschel Museum Map

© 2011 John Westby

Friday, August 19, 2011


Llandudno in North Wales became famous as a Victorian seaside resort in the mid-nineteenth century with the building of a railway into the area and has become Wales' largest holiday resort.

Llandudno Bay is a 2-mile stretch of sand and shingle between the headlands of the Great Orme and the Little Orme.

The Parade in Llandudno is a line of hotels, guest houses and shops parallel to the sea and was laid out in the Victorian period. Also situated on The Parade are the North Wales Theatre and The North Wales Conference Centre.

Llandudno's attractions include the Great Orme Tramway that runs up to the Great Orme for views over Llandudno Bay as far as Angelsey and its Grade II-listed pier. The town hosts a Victorian Festival over the May Bank Holiday.

Nearby attractions include Conway Castle and Caernarfon Castle. Llandudno is on the A546 and is a short drive from Colwyn Bay. From Chester follow the A55.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle (Castell Caernarfon) as seen today was begun in 1283 by the English King Edward I and completed in 1330. Caernarfon Castle is one of the finest and most historic of British castles.

Only the walls are still standing as the interior buildings fell into disrepair. Caernarfon Castle and the town of Caernarfon were sacked in 1294 during a Welsh rebellion lead by Madog ap Llywelyn.

Caernarfon became the administrative capital of North Wales and the castle was built as a palace as well as a fortress. The castle is close to the sea and the mouth of the Seiont River. Caernarfon Castle was the scene for the Investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales in 1969 - the stone circle in the image above marks the spot.

Conwy and Harlech castles are two other of Edward's great forts in North Wales. Caernarfon Castle is an easy journey from Llandudno.

Caernarfon Castle
Castle Ditch
LL55 2AY
Tel: 01286 677617

Caernarfon Castle, Wales.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Great Orme Tramway Llandudno

The Great Orme Tramway (Tramffordd y Gogarth) in Llandudno, North Wales first began operation in 1902 and is the only cable-hauled funicular tramway in Britain.

The Great Orme Tramway takes visitors to the coastal resort of Llandudno up to the 207m-high Great Orme from Llandudno Victoria Station to enjoy the views over Snowdonia and Anglesey on a clear day.

The trams run every 20 minutes, 7 days a week between late March and late October. There have been a few accidents on the line including ones in 2000 and 2009 and a fatal incident in 1932.

Great Orme Tramway
Victoria Station, Church Walks
LL30 2NB
Tel: 01492 879306

Monday, August 15, 2011

Foxgloves on Dartmoor

These foxgloves (digitalis) are seen flowering on Dartmoor in May. Perennials, foxgloves, usually flower in April and May in the UK and colors range from purple to pink or white.

Some species of the digitalis plant are toxic and should not be consumed.

© Britain-Visitor

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blenheim Palace Butterfly House

The Butterfly House at Blenheim Palace is located in the Pleasure Gardens. Visitors can view the full life cycle of the butterflies there, and they may pick up a passenger as seen below.

Blenheim Palace Butterfly House

There is a good variety of butterflies in the Butterfly House, but the signage is insufficient to identify all the varieties in question.

Blenheim Palace Butterfly House

Butterflies at the Butterfly House can often be spotted on the ceiling of the enclosure as seen below.

Blenheim Palace Butterfly House

One variety of butterfly that this visitor could identify was the Tree Nymph (see below).

Blenheim Palace Butterfly House

Butterflies are not the only winged inhabitants of the Butterfly House. Visitors can also see birds like the one below.

Blenheim Palace Butterfly House

Blenheim Palace is situated just off the A44 in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. The palace is open daily until Sunday 30 Oct. and then from Wednesday to Sunday between 2 Nov. and 16 Dec. in 2011. Visitors to Blenheim Palace may also want to visit nearby Burford, Christ Church College or Christ Church Cathedral.

Blenheim Palace map

Blenheim Palace
Woodstock, Oxfordshire
OX20 1PX
Tel: 01993 811091

© 2011 John Westby

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

St Mary's Church Stockport

St. Mary's Church at the heart of Stockport Market is the oldest parish church in this northern town and a Grade 1 listed building.

St Mary's Church Stockport

A church has stood on this spot from 1190 and the original oratory still remains along with a 14th century chancel. Around 1310 a new church was built and only its chancel The present church dates from the early 19th century and was designed by Lewis Wyatt. Stockport Market dates back to the 15th century.

St Mary's Church Stockport

The interior of the church has various memorials to local, historical figures and the church gateway drinking fountain are Grade II listed structures. A number of large gravestones lie at the foot of the church (see below).

St Mary's Church Stockport

Locate St Mary's Church Stockport map

Other places of interest in Stockport, include Stockport Town Hall, the Air Raid Shelters, Woodbank Park, Vernon Park, the Viaduct and Stockport Hat Museum.

© Britain-Visitor

Monday, August 8, 2011

Borough Gardens Dorchester

Borough Gardens in Dorchester, Dorset, opened in 1896 and retains much of its Victorian grandeur and feel.

Borough Gardens includes an ornamental fountain, bandstand and this cast-iron clock tower donated by Charles Hansford in 1905.

Borough Gardens also has tennis courts, a cafe, a bowling green and ornamental flower beds. The gardens are a short walk from Dorchester city centre.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bodkin House Cotswolds

Bodkin House is a 17th century former coaching inn. The earliest parts of Bodkin House date from a 12th century priory which was destroyed by Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries.

The current building began life in the mid 17th century as a coaching inn which served the Bath-Gloucester route. Bodkin House was extended and upgraded in the Georgian period.

Many famous people (including Jane Austen who came as a child and later mentioned her visits in her novel Northanger Abbey) have visited Bodkin House.

Bodkin House

Bodkin House is located on the edge of the beautiful Cotswolds and is conveniently located between the M4 and M5 motorways, the location offers close proximity to Bath and Bristol as well.

Bodkin House Hotel
Petty France, Badminton
South Gloucestershire
Tel: 01454 238310

Bodkin House map

© Britain-Visitor.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

The 33rd Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will be held 11-14th August this year at Ashton Court in Bristol.

Image © Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)

This year's Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will feature a fly over by the world famous Red Devils, mass balloon launches, nightglows, an Arts and Crafts Pavilion, fireworks displays and other entertainments.

Over 500,000 are expected to attend this year's Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.


Driving from the north, exit the M5 motorway at Junction 19 then take the A369 towards Bristol city centre.

From the south, exit the M5 Junction 21, then take the A370 towards Bristol.

Driving from the east or west, exit the M4 at Junction 20, then take the M5 southbound, exiting at Junction 19 for the A369 for Bristol city centre.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Monday, August 1, 2011

Old Barn On Dartmoor

The photos show an old barn on Dartmoor surrounded by field of bluebells. Bluebells are generally a woodland flower and these are probably left over from when Dartmoor was covered in woods.

These images were taken on Dartmoor in May. Bluebells are a spring-flowering, perennial and a protected species in the UK.

© Britain-Visitor.com