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Tag Archives: History

Every British cathedral… that I’ve been to

The UK is a weird place. There are cities in this country that are about the size of a small town and large city sized towns which are not cities. Why is this? Well, city status in the UK relies on a few things. It helps if there’s a big cathedral in the area. There are many cathedral cities in the country- some are in big cities, others in small ones. I’ve only been to 6, but I hope to one day visit more- in particular, Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Beckett was assassinated in 1120 after disputes with Henry II and Leicester Cathedral, where Richard III is buried. But for now, here are the cathedrals I’ve visited-

  • Winchester

This cathedral is about 15 minutes away from where I live. I have been to Winchester countless times and the cathedral is one of the most impressive aspects of the city. The city is historically important as it was the capital of Wessex, one of the ancient kingdoms of what’s now known as England. King Alfred ruled Wessex from Winchester and his statue is still in the city. Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest in Europe, with the longest nave in Europe and it’s the burial place of Jane Austen. It also contains the bones of King William II, who was shot and killed in the New Forest and who was taken to Winchester Cathedral but never buried. There’s so much history behind the cathedral and it’s a very impressive sight, and I’m not just saying that out of bias. Next to the cathedral is Wolvesey Castle, a ruined castle which was the sight of a battle in the 12th century between Stephen and Matilda during the Anarchy.

  • Truro

Image by Steve Parker via Flickr

I visited this cathedral during my trip to Cornwall last year. It is one of the only cathedrals in the UK to have three spires and the first Bishop of Truro became Archbishop of Canterbury. When it was completed in 1910, it was the first cathedral to be built on new ground since Salisbury. The organ of the cathedral is often considered one of the best in the country. Truro itself is a very small, but interesting city. It’s the southermost city in the country and has a wide variety of shops and attractions. It’s got a great museum detailing the history of Cornwall. I recommend visiting Cornwall as it is a very interesting area of the country.

  • Salisbury

Another very large and very important cathedral, with the tallest spire in the UK and the largest cloister. It also has one of the four remaining copies of the original Magna Carta from 1215. The cathedral has been around since 1258 and has historical importance. When I visited there a few days ago, I learnt that the cathedral was built on marshland and the water from the marsh can be reached with a stick in a hole in the cathedral. The Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in the world, as it has been called the foundation of democracy. It was written by the barons of the country to control King John, who they believed had gone out of control. It was signed in 1215 in Runneymede (which I visited earlier this year) and some of the clauses of Magna Carta still exist, such as the freedom of the City of London (different from London. It’s complicated) and the right for anyone to have a free and fair trial. The copy of the Magna Carta is held in the Chapter House of Salisbury Cathedral.

  • St Paul’s

You all know this one. One of London’s most famous landmarks, St Paul’s is an icon of Britain and survived the Blitz. It has been around for over 300 years and even to this day buildings in London have to be built so the view of St Paul’s isn’t blocked. The original St Paul’s was destroyed in 1666 during the Great Fire of London and got rebuilt with the iconic dome structure afterwards by Christopher Wren. One of the most famous parts of St Paul’s is the Whispering Gallery, where any noise made against the wall can be heard at any other point around the gallery. If you visit London, visit St Paul’s Cathedral as it is well worth a visit. Doctor Who fans like myself will obviously recognise St Paul’s as the location of two Cybermen invasions in 1968 and 2014.

  • Sheffield

Image by Andreas Mortonus via Flickr

I went to Sheffield very recently as part of my holiday to the Peak District. My first taste of Yorkshire was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. The modern cathedral is a combination of many different time periods, with the oldest part being from the 13th century. The cathedral was large and very interesting and the city itself was very different to what I expected. It went through a major regeneration so there are lots of incredibly new areas and pieces of modern art. The Winter Garden, which is full of plants all around the world, was a highlight. There was also an indoor market that reminded me of the Fremantle markets in Australia. In conclusion, this was a great day trip, and the cathedral was a prominent part of that.

  • Lichfield

Image by Mark Ellam via Flickr

We visited Lichfield on the way back from the Peak District. We needed somewhere to stop and rest so Lichfield it was. This is another cathedral city where the city itself is very small, much like Winchester. The cathedral is huge and looks awesome. There’s statues of various kings and bishops on the ledges of the building and it’s the only cathedral built in medieval times with three spires. During the English Civil War, the cathedral was heavily damaged by several sieges on both sides, which resulted in the stained glass, roof and spires being destroyed. A major restoration project took place in the 19th century to rebuild the cathedral. The buildings around the cathedral are known as the Cathedral Close and are some of the most complete in the country. This trip was a pleasant surprise.

That’s only 6 cathedrals compared to the many, many cathedrals scattered around the country. Most of these cathedrals are ancient and stand as a reminder of the history of the country. I love visiting new places and exploring the history of this country through cathedrals and other areas is always a highlight of trips.

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My Cornish holiday

This week, I had a holiday in Cornwall. It was a great and unique experience which I really enjoyed. Cornwall is a very interesting place with some complex history linking back to the Celts, and I loved learning about it and experiencing Cornish life.

We stayed in a B&B near Par, a small village near the largest town, St Austell. On the first evening, the village seemed pretty lifeless and quite deserted, with no nightlife to speak of. This was probably because it was early evening when we arrived. We never spent much time in Par, as we went to other towns around Cornwall. Read the rest of this entry

My Belgium history trip – Ypres and chocolate

This weekend I got back from a school trip to Ypres in Belgium. It was a very tiring two days but it was well worth it to explore a different country and culture. I was there for a history trip to look at the history of Ypres and its importance in WWI. It was a very insightful trip into how the war’s legacy has affected the country.

The first trip was to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Literally hundreds of graves from British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand soldiers were there, with different countries marking the graves differently. Hundreds more names were on the walls. The whole area is massive and it truly shows the scale of the fighting and how many people died.

Tyne Cot

Tyne Cot Cemetery Memorial

Tyne Cot cemetery

Tyne Cot cemetery

Another highlight of the trip was the gigantic Menin Gate in the centre of Ypres. This was unveiled in 1927 and a daily service of remembrance takes place there every single night. The Gate also has a giant garden of sorts to the side where there are even more names on the side. The inside of the gate is full of names of people who were missing in battle or unidentified after the war. We attended the service of remembrance and there were hundreds of people there. It’s astonishing how the ceremony has survived since the 20s and it truly shows how much the war affected Belgium.

Menin Gate

Menin Gate

Menin Gate

Menin Gate

Menin Gate garden

The Menin Gate Garden

Menin gates names

Hundreds of names on the wall

The following day we went to a chocolate shop, so naturally I was eager to get a hold of a lot of it. I got two bags of marzipan, two white chocolate bars (white chocolate is the best, no question) and a bag of marshmallows. Belgium chocolate is out of this world, in fact Belgian food is great all round. I had a pancake and a hot dog for lunch, both of which were excellent. For dinner on the first night I had chicken, which was delicious and very filling.

The In Flanders Fields museum was very informative and engaging. It told the whole story of Belgium’s involvement in the war, from before 1914 to the aftermath. There were hundreds of items from British, French, German and American soldiers and items from the battlefield. There was also an interactive wristband which contained a story about someone linked with the war. The museum is huge and has lots of information and models.

In Flanders Field museum, Belgium.

In Flanders Fields Museum, Belgium.

Flanders Fields museum

Outside the museum

The final part of the trip was exploring a real life trench. It was very muddy but I had good boots so fortunately I didn’t get muddy. It must have been chaotic in the trenches during the fighting, and I’m glad the weather was decent when I walked in the trench!

Walking in the trenches

Walking in the trenches

Trenches

Trenches

Overall, this was a fantastic trip. I loved visiting Belgium (and a bit of France) and seeing the history behind the war was eye-opening. It improved my awareness of the war, and I’m now more aware of the global impact of the war. While seeing lots of Australian graves, I was reminded of the exhibits which I saw last summer in the Western Australian Museum in Perth. Many Australians died in the war and the graves in Tyne Cot showed respect to them and the whole Commonwealth.

I can’t wait for my history trip to Berlin next year.

Southampton SeaCity Museum

This half term I went to Southampton and the SeaCity Museum. The museum is mostly about the Titanic, but there are other areas worth visiting. I’ve been to the museum twice now, and there were new things I noticed the second time I went there. So here I’m going to go through why the SeaCity Museum is worth a visit.

SeaCity Museum Southampton location Read the rest of this entry

Why does no one remember the 5th of November?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. My annual late October post where I write a cynical post about Halloween (though in my defence last year’s post wasn’t that cynical). But this year I thought I wanted to write about the other significant date around this time – Bonfire Night. While I have written about it before, this time I aim to go in depth and talk about why I believe November the 5th should be remembered this time of year instead of Halloween. Before that, let’s look at things more important than Halloween today.

So with that out of the way, let’s talk about Bonfire Night. Everyone knows the story of Guy Fawkes and the plot to bomb Parliament so I won’t discuss the events in detail. Nowadays the day is celebrated with fireworks and burning guys on a fire. But I don’t think that enough is being done to celebrate the event. Far more is done commercially in Halloween, a “holiday” which has no relevance to British history or culture. Read the rest of this entry

Summer Holiday Round-Up

Now I’m back in England, after 5 weeks of revisiting old places, visiting new places and going to a new country. Of course there are things to look forward to back home: Doctor Who, a bunch of awesome films, and the return of normality.

There’s something about this holiday that I have really enjoyed. So, without further ado, here are the 10 activities I enjoyed most this holiday, in no particular order – Read the rest of this entry

Singapore Part 4: Ubin Island – Singapore’s time portal

On Saturday, I went to Pulau Ubin, off the coast of Singapore. The island is almost entirely forest, and the only people there lived in traditional kampungs, which were once the main style of house in Singapore. The villages are very old fashioned and the people rent bikes to travellers.

We went there with a university student from Hong Kong, and Singapore’s local historian KL Lee, who also took us to the Changi museum a week before. We walked approximately 12 kilometres for five hours across a third of the whole of Ubin island, and saw many interesting features on the island. Read the rest of this entry

Singapore Part 3: Marina Bay Sands

Thanks to my uncle’s generosity, I’ve now spent the night in Singapore’s most famous building, Marina Bay Sands Hotel. We were lucky to have VIP Tower 1. The hotel had 57 floors, with the top floor being the Infinity Pool, the world’s largest rooftop pool which is 150-metre long. The hotel has three towels (I mean towers, whoops) and the top is in the shape of a boat, so it is a unique building to look at.
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Singapore Part 2: Diving into Singapore’s past

So here I am back in Singapore. Thankfully my multi-media system on Singapore Airlines worked again so I watched Skyfall for the THIRD time (I needed something to quench my James Bond fatigue).

Singapore Zoo

My first trip was the Singapore Zoo and the River Safari. The River Safari was the new exhibit which I had never been to before, but I was not disappointed. There was a massive tank with many animals, including manatees and arapaimas. There were many different sections from many rivers around the world, including the Ganges, the Amazon, the Nile and the Mekong. Read the rest of this entry

Australia Part 1: Close encounters of the KANGAROO kind – in Perth!

Here I am in Australia, or more precisely Perth, the most isolated big city in the world. For a city with this distinction, it seems pretty alive and it’s hard to believe that the city is surrounded by miles of water of Indian Ocean and miles of desert on all sides.

The flight from Singapore itself was eventful, as my multi-media console was severed for some strange reason. Thankfully I had a bunch of comics from Singapore to keep me entertained. I was given 75 dollars compensation to spend at the airline shop. My parents will probably buy something expensive with it to bring back

Perth itself is a very laid back city. The one downside is that it is in the middle of construction works, so there is noise everywhere, and we could hear them from our hotel room, and get woken up by the digging sound every morning (from about 7:00 clock). The city centre was mostly unaffected though, which is good as the shopping here is amazing!
Read the rest of this entry