Churches

Churches are places of Christian worship, of any denomination, that serve, or once served, a community of any description. Most of Britain’s parish churches are medieval in origin.

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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Adventures in Isurium

Isurium Brigantum

The ancient stones of little Aldborough village, less than twenty miles north of York, tell of Romans, Danes, Normans, Scots, corrupt politics, brave fliers and a trusting churchwarden. Not to mention the maypole. Before we go there, be sure you don’t confuse Aldborough with Aldbrough in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Aldbrough St John (also

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Ten things you really should do in Britain

Tiger Inn, East Dean

There’s no shortage of things to do and see in Britain.  But if you were visiting for the first time, what would you recommend?  Here are a few arbitrary suggestions, in no particular order, just to get the ball rolling: Get out of London Many visitors to Britain head straight for London.  It is one

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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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Sheriff Hutton in 30 minutes

Sheriff Hutton Castle

The Ryedale village of Sheriff Hutton is unlikely to be on most people’s tourist trails. Yet it is a reminder, if one is needed, that history, like love, is all around us.  Frankly, the first I heard of the place was when reading about the dreadful wars of the fifteenth century and learning that the

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Clifton, England’s last battle?

Jacobite Gardens, Rebel Tree, Clifton

18 December 1745, and a rebel Jacobite army arrives at the tiny village of Clifton, right at the top of the old county of Westmoreland in the north-west of England.  Maybe four and a half thousand armed men, trudging back to Scotland along rutted, wintry, roads with horses, artillery and baggage.  In November, Bonnie Prince

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Is this Britain’s finest Baroque church?

Great Witley Church, Baroque ceilings

It may come as a surprise that what might be the finest Baroque church in Britain will be found, not in some great city, but in rural Worcestershire. This is Great Witley Church.  It dates from 1735, when it replaced an earlier medieval parish church that had stood nearby. The new church was built by

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The time capsule of Culross

Culross and the Forth

It’s become something of a cliché, to describe a place as ‘being frozen in time’, or similar.  But in the case of Culross, a small village on the north bank of Firth of Forth in Fife (try saying that after too many sherbets), there’s an element of truth in the statement. Most of Culross manages

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Touching the lost past of Ninekirks

Ninekirks, St Ninian's, near Penrith

It’s hard to beat soaking up the atmosphere of an elegant historic house, or imagining life being restored to the grim ruins of a once-mighty castle. But there’s also a special kind of magic getting off the well-beaten tourist track to explore some less obvious aspect of our past, an attraction that isn’t widely advertised,

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A pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, the Holy Island

Lindisfarne

To visit Lindisfarne, a tidal island at the tip of north-east England, is to enter a different world.  It is a world of saltwater, seabirds and saints, a world of mudflats, mead and mystery that is still revealing its secrets. Our story begins in the shadow times before places like England, Scotland and Wales had

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St Leonard’s, Chapel-le-Dale

St Leonard's, Chapel-le-Dale

We stepped down the lane in the dappled sunlight of a still frosty winter afternoon.  It has an ancient, lived-in, feel to it, does the hamlet of Chapel-le-Dale.  Sitting astride a Roman road, evidence of long-vanished communities are shown on the Ordnance Survey map with the word ‘settlement’ printed over various places close-by, in old

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St Cyriac and the tour party

Lacock church, St Cyriac, Wiltshire

Had I led a better life, perhaps spending more time with saints than sinners, maybe I would have heard of St Cyriac before stumbling ignorantly into his church in Lacock.  For the benefit of anyone else who has somehow managed to cope thus far without this knowledge – and I’m sure there’s at least one

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Robert Burns, an’ a’ that

Tam o' Shanter

What is all the fuss about Robert Burns? Robert – Robbie or ‘Rabbie’ – Burns was a prolific poet and lyricist, who died more than 200 years ago.  He is Scotland’s favourite bard, still revered throughout the land, the world over by those of Scottish descent – and, in fact, by many non-Scots as well. 

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