Tag Archives: history

A Primer on the Geo-Political and Religious History of the British Isles

As an avid Anglophile and current resident of England, it irks me to no end when I hear otherwise intelligent, well-read, astute people fumble their way through British political history, religious history, and geography, and the current political and religious climate in the region.

If you have ever wondered what the difference is between Ireland and Scotland, or what the heck Wales is, or what religion is most prevalent in England—or if you have ever talked (or thought) about a “British” accent, then this post is for you!

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Visiting the Churchill War Rooms in London

I visited the War Rooms a few months back and sadly did not take the time to write up a full review at that time. It’s been long enough now that I remember very little of it. So I will simply say …

If you are interested in Winston Churchill or World War II, or if you are detail-driven and studious, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time here. The Churchill Museum, an installation about the life of Winston Churchill that’s located inside the War Rooms, is thoroughly fascinating. It is highly detailed, interactive, and enthralling, and an interested person could easily spend 2–3 hours on that alone, let alone the War Rooms.

Early Medieval Derbyshire

One of the primary reasons I decided to come to England for my PhD was so that I could live in the country where the people I study lived. As a student of Anglo-Saxon language and literature, I’m thrilled anytime I can find a remnant of that society still in this country, as are my fellow students and our supervising faculty members. Last summer (around July 2015), some of them got together to plan a trip around Derbyshire to look at Anglo-Saxon artifacts still extant. Other than manuscripts (which you don’t normally find by the side of the road), these mainly consist of stone carvings and are often preserved in or near churches. This gallery, then, is a collection of photos I took during that trip—though not all of them are of specifically Anglo-Saxon items.

Visiting Warwick Castle

This post is embarrassingly late—it’s been at least three weeks now since I actually made this visit. But better late than never, right?

My flatmate’s former flatmate came to visit in January, and they made plans to visit all kinds of historical sites throughout the Midlands, graciously inviting me to come along to any of them I wanted to. I was trying to get some actual work done that week, so I didn’t feel that I could spend too much time away, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of Warwick Castle, which I had heard praised over and over since I’ve been here. (Note: Although there are two W’s in “Warwick,” only the first is pronounced. It should sound like “Warrick.”) So, off we went to Warwick!

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Visiting Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall stands in the center of Wollaton Park, the remnant of the estate of Sir Francis Willoughby. It was originally built in 1580–1588, Sir Francis’ reaction to Queen Elizabeth I’s disapproval of his former house. Sir Francis was the younger son of the family and had therefore not been educated to take on the position he inherited, and he eagerness to show the world that he really did know what he was doing is evident in every part of the house that still stands. The hall underwent major renovations in the 19th century by Henry Willoughy, 6th Baron Middleton (and yes, Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is related). It now houses a museum with a collection of fine art, which is open to the public for free. The grounds are also open to the public and are a popular destination for picnics in Nottingham. Continue reading Visiting Wollaton Hall

Nottingham’s City of Caves

For centuries, residents and newcomers to Nottingham would carve caves out of the soft sandstone the city is founded on, using them for all kinds of purposes, from wine cellars to secret meeting-spaces to homes to tanneries. During World War II, when Nottingham was heavily bombed by the Germans, the caves were even used as bomb shelters, protecting around 800,000 of the city’s residents.

While most of these caves have been abandoned and disused for about a century, there are a few places where they are still used (local pubs) and where they can be accessed by the public. The most easily-accessible is the City of Caves exhibit, beneath the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre.

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Visiting Chatsworth at Christmas

Chatsworth House is a historic house in the Peak District of Derbyshire. The house is open most of the year for tours, but at Christmas-time the state rooms are closed for conservation, and instead the large reception rooms are lavishly decorated in a festive theme for visitors to enjoy.

Should You Go?

Visiting Chatsworth can be a bit expensive (£20 for an adult), and it might be out of the way to get there. So here are my thoughts about whether you should visit, and in particular whether you should bother going during the Christmas season.

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