EXCURSIONS FROM LONDON
HAMPTON COURT PALACE: 15 miles from London. Take a frequent train from Waterloo Station to Hampton Court … or Green Bus #718 from Victoria Station. The trip takes about 40 minutes. Daily 9:30-5. Hampton Court was built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1515 and was taken over by Henry VIII. It is a mammoth Tudor structure and contains THE STATE APARARTMENTS, an indoor kitchen where an entire ox could be roasted, and beautiful gardens with the famous MAZE. Hampton Court is England’s Versailles … and a highly recommended excursion.
WINDSOR CASTLE: 25 miles from London. Take the train from Waterloo or from Paddington Station … or Green Bus #704, #705 from Victoria Station. Open daily 10:30-5, Sunday 1:30-5. This is the largest inhabited palace in the world and is open to visitors even when the queen is in residence. Windsor has been the country residence of royalty for over 850 years. The charming village of Windsor is a Victorian town with lots of brick buildings. From the station it’s a 5-minute walk to he castle:
STATE APARTMENTS: …contain many works of art, porcelain, armor, and furniture. The KING’S DRAWING ROOM has paintings by Rubens, and in the Dressing Room are a Durer and a Rembrandt. The GRAND RECEPTION ROOM is the most spectacular.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: …held daily at 10:30 except on Sunday. Some think this is more impressive than in London. Here, the guard marches through the town of Windsor, stopping traffic as it moves to the castle to the tune of a full regimental band. When the queen is not in residence, there’s a drum and pipe band.
OLD MASTER DRAWINGS: …The Royal Family possesses a rare collection at Windsor of drawings by the Old Masters…notably a large collection by da Vinci. Some of the drawings are always on view. 10:30-5.
QUEEN MARY’S DOLLHOUSE: …is just about the greatest dollhouse in the world. Presented to the late queen as a gift, it is a remarkable achievement of what a great royal mansion of the 1920’s looked like. Everything is done with exacting detail – even the Champagne bottles in the wine cellar contain vintage wine of the era. There’s a toothbrush suitable for an ant, and a tiny electric iron, which really works.
GEORGE’S CHAPEL: …is a gem of the Perpendicular style. It shares with Westminster Abbey the distinction of being a pantheon of English monarchs. The present chapel was founded in the late 15th century. One enters the nave first with its fan vaulting. Here are the tombs of George V and Queen Mary. Off the nave in URSWICH CHAPEL is the Princess Charlotte memorial. In the center is the vault of the beheaded Charles I, along with Henry VIII and Jane Seymore. There’s also a memorial to Prince Albert. 10-4 PM.
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON: 121 miles and 2 hours by train from Paddington Station. There are many Elizabethan buildings in this colorful town. One ticket will admit you to see the most important sights. All major sights are open from 9-6 PM. Allow yourself time to explore the village because it has a great deal of charm:
SHAKESPEAR’S BIRTHPLACE : …on Henley Street. Shakespeare was born here April 23, 1564 and died 52 years later on the same day. The home is filled with memorabilia, including a portrait, and furnishings of the writer’s time. The building is a typical half-timbered structure dating from the early years of the 16th century. See the oak-beamed living room, the bedroom where Shakespeare was born, and the full kitchen. Walk through the garden out back.
ANNE HATHAWAY’S COTTAGE: …located 1 mile from Stratford at SHOTTERY…really too far to walk. The thatched, wattle-and-daub cottage is where Anne lived before her marriage to Will. In sheer charm, it is one of the most interesting buildings in the area. The Hathaway’s were farmers and their home provides insight into family life during this period. Much of the furniture and accessories are original. Shakespeare was only 18 when he married the much older Anne.
NEW PLACE: …This building, on Chapel Street, is where Shakespeare retired to in 1610. He died here 6 years later. The current house is a reconstruction. The KNOTT GARDEN, which adjoins the house, is worth a visit.
MARY ARDEN HOUSE: …where Shakespeare’s mother lived. It’s a half-timbered house 3 miles from Stratford. Mary, too, was from a family of farmers. The barn here is now a museum.
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH: This lovely parish church of Stratford is distinguished because Shakespeare is buried in the Chapel. A contribution is requested to see his tomb.
HARVARD HOUSE: Home of Katherine Rogers, the mother of John Harvard, who was the founder of Harvard University. It’s a fine example of an Elizabethan town house from 1596. The present furniture is from the original period.
AN ELIZABETH SHOW: The New Heritage Theatre continuously presents an Elizabethan pageant, which tries to recreate the time of Shakespeare. The current pageant is an outgrowth of one from 1575.
ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE: This is the famous theatre where Britain’s foremost actors perform during the “season”.
LOUIS TUSSAUD’S WAXWORKS: 60 Henley Street. The comedies, tragedies, and histories of all Shakespeare’s plays are illustrated with wax figures.
STONEHENGE and SALISBURY: Take the train to Salisbury from Waterloo station. Upon arrival a Hauts and Dorset bus will meet you and take you to the Stonehenge Ruins and get you back to the station in time for a return train to London.
STONEHENGE is Britain’s most important pre-historic monument. This huge oval of lintels and pillars is believed to date from 3500 to 4000 years ago. Some tourists are disappointed because the size is not as great as expected, but they still represent an amazing engineering feat. Many of the stones were moved from miles away to this site. The generally accepted view is that Stonehenge was the work of the DRUIDS, but this appears to be without foundation. The boulders, many weighing several tons, predate the arrival in Britain of the Druids. And recent excavations continue to bring new evidence to bear on the origins and purpose of Stonehenge. Some now think this monument was used as an astronomical observatory, capable of predicting eclipses. Others say it may have been used as a burial gound – for sun worshipping – for human sacrifices…etc. Unfortunately it has become necessary to now fence-off these ancient stones. Visitors can no longer walk among them. One is allowed to only walk around them in a roped-off circle.
SALISBURY: …lies in the valley of the Avon River and is filled with Tudor inns and tearooms. Long before you reach the village, its most famous sight will come into view…the 400-foot tower of Salisbury Cathedral. This early English and Gothic Cathedral is the tallest in England. It looks just as the English artist Constable painted it so many times. Construction began in 1220 and took 38 years. That was very fast in those days. The graceful spire began soaring at the end of the 13th century. Note the fine sculpture on the octagonal Chapter House. The library contains one of the four copies of the Magna Carta.
BATH: In 1702 Queen Anne made the 115-mile trip from London to the Mineral springs of BATH. This launched a fad that was to make the city the most celebrated spas in England. Actually, Bath had two lives. It was built by the early Romans and known as AQUAE SULIS. These early Romans visited the baths to ease their rheumatism. In addition to the major sights here, do notice the buildings, the squares and especially the ROYAL CRESCENT, which is an elegant half-moon row of town houses.
ROMAN BATHS AND PUMP ROOM: Founded in AD 75 by the Romans, the baths were dedicated to the goddess Sol Minerva. In their day they were an engineering feat, and still today, are considered among the finest Roman remains in England. They are still fed by the only hot springs in Britain. Visit the excavations, the museum have coffee in the PUMP ROOM.
BATH ABBEY: Built on the site of a much larger Norman Cathedral, the abbey is a fine example of the late style. The west front is the dream of a 15th century bishop. The abbey is called ‘LANTERN OF THE WEST’ because of its many windows.
ASSEMBLY ROOMS AT BATH: These rooms were originally designed by John Wood in 1769. Today they house a costume museum featuring 300 years of fashion.