Saxon

Places, people or events associated with the Anglo-Saxons, or the Saxon period in Britain,

Coombes

Coombes Church, chancel arch

The tiny, downland, Church of Coombes is one of the most extraordinary English churches I have ever seen.  There are thousands of medieval churches in Britain, each one illuminating parts of our nation’s story.  Though not a religious man, I am a long-standing member of the “Oh Look, There’s a Church, Let’s Go in” Club […]

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Royal Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey Lady Chapel

Westminster Abbey is part of a World Heritage Site. It has been at the centre of English, and British, state occasions – coronations, weddings, funerals, services of commemoration – since William the Conqueror was crowned there on Christmas Day 1066.  In fact, its roots are pre-Conquest.  The powerful bishop, archbishop and later saint, Dunstan, established

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Rutupiae, gateway to Britain

Rutupiae, Richborough Roman Fort

Richborough has always fascinated me.  Caesar may have landed near Deal but it was at Richborough, a century later, that the story of Roman Britain really began.  It was in this corner of Kent that part of Emperor Claudius’ 40,000 strong invasion force landed in 43 AD.  They quickly established a beachhead, throwing up defensive

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St Martin’s and Rupert Bear

St Martin's, Canterbury

The Venerable Bede tells us that, in 597 AD (1425 years ago in 2022), St Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet, in Kent, with some forty companions.  Their purpose was to spread the news of eternal joy in heaven and an everlasting kingdom with the living and true God.  In those days, the most

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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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A visit to Whitby

Yorkshire coast

Whitby, one of Yorkshire’s go-to seaside towns, conjures up so many images: the ruined abbey, dominating the skyline and old harbour, tales of Captain Cook, Dracula, the semi-precious Whitby Jet, days by the seaside – and, of course, fish ‘n’ chips.  On the other hand, maybe you are familiar with the place from the evocative

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English Heritage or the National Trust?

English Heritage or National Trust

People often compare the relative merits of Britain’s two largest membership heritage organisations, the National Trust and English Heritage.  In fact, there are several heritage organisations in the United Kingdom that offer membership, the main ones being Cadw, Historic Houses, Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland – as well as English Heritage and

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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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Race relations and the place names of North West England

Lake District

I have recently wondered if there is a particular lesson for us in the old place names of North West England.  Now, the interpretation of place names can be a complicated, uncertain, business and it should be stressed that I am no toponymist.  That said, a lack of knowledge doesn’t deter anyone these days, and

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Ten of the best in the west

Polperro, Cornwall

South West England has two main draw-backs: it is popular and, as it’s on the west, it can suffer from wetness – particularly at its extremities.  Other than that, it has pretty much everything, including mystery, prehistory, history, cuteness, grand vistas, impressive buildings and plenty of things to do.  For an introduction, see A Bit

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An introduction to Ripon Cathedral

Ripon Cathedral

Ripon Cathedral has such publicly ancient roots that I was surprised to learn it only got promoted to cathedral as recently as 1836.  As a matter of fact, Ripon is a physical link with the earliest days of Christianity in Britain, and particularly associated with Wilfred – bishop, saint and builder of the 7th century

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