East Midlands

Visit the East Midlands of England and the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland.  Rub shoulders with the legend of Robin Hood, writer DH Lawrence, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Linconshire sausages and Stilton cheese.  Scramble or walk in the Peak District, Britain’s first national park, discover secret histories in pretty Northamptonshire villages, traipse over the battlefields at Bosworth or Naseby, visit Richard III in Leicester, have a pint in one of Britain’s oldest pubs carved into the sandstone under Nottingham Castle. Be awed by the castle and cathedral dominating the city of Lincoln, stunned by the opulence of Chatsworth, seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and charmed by England’s smallest county, Rutland.

IBCC – Recognition, Remembrance, Reconciliation

IBCC, Lincoln

In 2015, a rust-weathered steel spire was erected on the skyline above the City of Lincoln.  It is 102 feet, more than 31 metres, high – by no coincidence equivalent to the wingspan of a Second World War Lancaster bomber.  The spire is the dramatic centrepiece of The International Bomber Command Centre, which commemorates the […]

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Blessed Virgin Mary and St Leodegarius

The manor of Ashby St Ledger and the church of St Leodegarius

Someone on Twitter was talking about Ashby St Ledgers.  This is a small, attractive, village in Northamptonshire, famous for being home to the Catesby family and for its associations with the Gunpowder Plot.  Then I remembered a brief winter’s morning visit to the peaceful old church, and that it is dedicated to St Leodegarius.  Leodegarius

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Bess of Hardwick and her halls

Bess of Hardwick and Hardwick Hall

Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, was one of the characters of Elizabethan England.  Like the winner of a reality show, rising from relatively humble beginnings to rub shoulders with royalty, Bess is famous for being famous, a status assured through her cannily accumulated and managed wealth.  In her case, prosperity arrived by means of

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Paying homage to the BBMF

BBMF, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

It was the only time I ever saw our dour, ill-tempered, Polish foreman remotely happy. As a student one hot summer long ago, I had a labouring job on a new section of motorway. It stretched into the distance, an elegantly excavated scar across the land, punctuated with bridges and bright yellow vehicles. One day,

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Tales of Lincoln Cathedral

Eleanor of Castile, Lincoln Cathedral

I will never weary of wandering round medieval cathedrals.  The motivation and faith behind these places, as well as the financial and temporal power, is astonishing. I gaze in awe up at soaring arches, bathed in coloured sunlight, filtered through exquisite stained glass and dappling across old stones, absorb myself in the memorials and lap

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Crowland or Croyland

Crowland, Lincolnshire

Crowland, Lincolnshire, is one of those little towns that Britain does so well. It is appealing, has a couple of fascinating historic attractions (a splendid half-ruined abbey church and a unique three-way medieval bridge), at least one decent tea and bun shop and was once home to a famous hermit, Guthlac.  Well, really, what more

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Fotheringhay

Fotheringhay

Some places inspire a sense of curious awe.  Though the past is ubiquitous, shaping who and what we all are, there are particular spots on earth where the shades of great events and people gather, jostling for attention.  Visiting them is like walking across the hallowed pages of a giant book, catching tantalising glimpses of

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The search for King Richard III

Street names, medieval, Grey Friars

Attempting to write anything about Richard III is somewhat daunting. He was king of England for little over two years, from July 1483 until being slaughtered at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485, yet he is one of our most controversial monarchs, whose reputation and character still divide opinion more than five centuries

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The tale of the Bramley apple

Bramley Apples come from Southwell, Nottinghamshire

Here’s a story with a healthy bite.  There are thousands of varieties of apple, but just one that is generally considered to be the cook’s favourite in the UK – the Bramley.  Bramley apples are large and green, with a sharp taste that makes them unappetising to eat raw, but flavoursome when cooked, with the

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Thank God for Southwell Minster

Southwell Minster

There are so many reasons to visit Southwell Minster that it’s a good job someone decided to build it… A few miles north-west of Nottingham, in the English East Midlands, Southwell is neither on a major route to anywhere, nor in traditional tourist-land. So, for most people, going there is a premeditated act; it took

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The castle at Newark-on-Trent

Newark Castle, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

So far, England has only had one King John, and he was a bad ‘un.  However many times some historian suggests that this much-maligned monarch has been misrepresented, misunderstood, or was at least no worse than any other medieval king, another historian shouts out that John was as bad as they got. In fact, by

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Earls Barton, our finest Saxon church tower

All Saints church, Saxon, Earls Barton, Northamptonshire

There’s no need to hurry to see the unique Saxon church at earls Barton in Northamptonshire; it’s been there for a thousand years or more and will probably wait for you. There was probably a settlement at Earls Barton as early as the 6th century – possibly even a Celtic one before that.  By the

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Brixworth – All Saints’ church

Norman window, Saxon arch, Roman bricks. All Saints' church, Brixworth, Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire is blessed with some fine Saxon churches.  And the largest – in fact the largest Anglo-Saxon church in Britain – is at Brixworth.  Actually, a monastery was founded at Brixworth sometime before 675AD, more than 1300 years ago, when this part of the country was in the Kingdom of Mercia and England did not

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