South East

Places to visit in South East England.  South East England is the most densely populated, and most prosperous, region in Britain outside London.  It stretches from Kent in the east through East and West Sussex to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight along the coast and also includes Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.  There are two national parks, the South Downs and the New Forest, pretty villages and historic cities like Canterbury and Oxford.  Castles, stately homes and gardens are almost everywhere – Windsor Castle, Blenheim Palace and Wisley, for example – and theme parks like Legoland. Maritime Heritage can be found at the revived naval docks of Portsmouth and Chatham.  The weather is often good too.  The drawback to the south east is that it is busy – and can be expensive.

The bones of the king

Where are King Alfred's bones

King Alfred the Great is a national hero.  At least, he is to the English – though, to be fair, we have always been very generous about sharing our heroes with the rest of Britain and, at the slightest opportunity, with the rest of the world too.  Yet, somehow, we have managed to mislay King […]

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A walk in the Weald

The Weald, East Sussex

The Weald is an area of outstanding natural beauty in South East England that, broadly speaking, stretches through the counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent, between the chalk of the North and South Downs.  It is characterised by small farms and fields, sunken lanes, gentle hills, deep deciduous woods, pretty picture-box ridge-top villages and attractive

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The Hospital of St Cross

Hospital of St Cross

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, to give the institution its full name, is almost nine centuries old and said to be England’s oldest charitable body. Never heard of it? Neither had I – until reading about it in Ian Marchant’s delightful book, ‘The Longest Crawl’. This is an account of

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Domus Dei, a Portuguese princess and the Blitz

Portsmouth Garrison Church

My mother would love to walk from Point along Old Portsmouth’s walls, past the Sally Port, Square Tower and above Battery Row.  There was the Regency Grand Parade, scene of many ceremonial occasions in days gone by.  There was the statue of Nelson, who boarded HMS Victory nearby before the Battle of Trafalgar.  And below

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Walking around Oxford

All Souls Oxford

I’m not easily given to hyperbole; I’ve told you that a million times.  But it is genuinely hard to think of a British town that can be quite so achingly beautiful as Oxford. Perhaps I should qualify that by saying that I refer to the few square miles of the city centre where, quite frankly,

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Bletchley Park beyond Enigma

Bletchley Park

Part 2 – Lorenz and legacy Enigma was only part of the Bletchley Park story. As early as 1940, listening stations began to pick up enciphered teleprinter messages.  These worked in a completely different way to messages enciphered on an Enigma and utilised two main types of even more sophisticated enciphering machines, the Geheimschreiber (secret

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Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

Part 1 – Enigma and Ultra This is Bletchley Park.  To all intents and purposes, it’s a nondescript, somewhat ugly, large Victorian mansion and estate just north of London.  But what went on at Bletchley Park was extraordinary: it changed the course of the Second World War, and the world.  From 1939-46, this was the

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Molly visits Pevensey Castle, a Very Important Place

Pevensey Castle

We bowled up to Pevensey Castle on a blue-sky day in the company of Molly.  Molly, I should say, is a small dog of exceptional poise and dignity, but has no relevance whatsoever to our story.  She is mentioned merely in a cynical attempt to win the cute dog vote.  Sorry, Molly.  We have included

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Some corner of a foreign field that is forever Turkey

Turkish flag, Gosport

The small south coast town of Gosport is an interesting, rather than a pretty, place.  Optimistic residents may believe it was once known as ‘God’s port’, though the Oxford Dictionary of Place Names’ more prosaic and likely explanation is that the name derives from ‘Goose port’.  What we do know is that Gosport developed as

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The Needles – a tale of shipwrecks, Victorian forts and Cold War

The Needles, Old Battery, New Battery

The Needles, enormous 100-feet (30-metre) high chalk and flint stacks off the most westerly point of the Isle of Wight, are part of the Island’s iconography, and one of Britain’s most recognisable coastal features.  They are an exposed eroded section of a folded east-west band of chalk running through the Island, the remains of which

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HMS Victory, icon of empire

HMS Victory

HMS Victory, flagship of Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, has been one of Portsmouth’s icons for so long, it’s easy to forget what else she represents.  You could almost be forgiven for thinking she’s simply a beautiful old museum ship.  So, to be clear: HMS Victory was a terrifying floating

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