Glastonbury more than just a music festival

In a few weeks time, thousands of music lovers will again be descending on the small Somerset town of Glastonbury for the music festival. Local rumour has it that Paul McCartney might take to the pyramid stage this year. For a few days a huge tented city will appear and ageing hippies and others will be able to escape their everyday lives.

However today I am going to introduce you to the town of Glastonbury rather than Michael Eavis’s farm. Tickets to the festival sold out long ago and you can no longer gain entry to Worthy farm by climbing the fence. Continue reading “Glastonbury more than just a music festival”

Walking tour of Georgian Bath

I belong to a walk in the past, history walking group and last Sunday we explored Georgian  Bath.  Bath which is a UNESCO world heritage site still markets itself as a Georgian city.  In the 18th century  the aristocracy flocked here to take the waters, to gamble or to find a suitable spouse.   Jane Austen who lived in the city for a few years vividly described life in regency Bath  in books such as “Northanger Abbey” . Continue reading “Walking tour of Georgian Bath”

The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the past

The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the Past

I was a child of the baby boom generation born just after the war.  Growing up I remember large bomb sites in the centre of Bristol in particular the area around Castle Park  which was covered with grass and purple buddleia.  My husband who is older than me can even remember going into air raid shelters to escape the blitz and the big street parties which marked V.E. day in 1945.

However when I saw a walk advertised on the “Walk in the past” website “the Bristol Blitz,”  I realised I did not know very much about the actual details of the blitz itself.  My mother who was a teacher had taken evacuees to Cornwall and my father lived near Bath so they had not experienced it directly. Continue reading “The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the past”

Two National Trust properties to visit near Bath.

Bath a brief historyTwo of my favourite  National Trust properties near Bath.

My husband and I are members of the National trust.  For any one who is unfamiliar with the National Trust it is the organisation which looks after many stately homes and gardens as well as large swathes of countryside in England.  It is a charity and membership fees help pay for conservation and upkeep of the property and land.   It is also possible to pay an individual admission fee to each property.

I thought I would share two of my favourite local gardens for a relaxing afternoon walk . Continue reading “Two National Trust properties to visit near Bath.”

Roman Londinium: A London walk in the past

A bronze statue of the Emperor Trajan
A bronze statue of the Emperor Trajan by Tower Hill underground station.

A walk in the past Roman Londinium

I belong to a meetup  group called “A walk in the past “.  This combines two of my loves history which I studied at University and walking.   Normally we meet in Bristol or surrounding areas but last week I  ventured further afield to London in search of Roman Londinium.  I was able to combine this with a visit to see my son who was happy to join me on the walk.

Our group met  at a suitably classical location, Trajan’s statue by Tower Hill tube station.  This is close to a surviving section of Roman  town wall. Roman walls can often be spotted as they have a tile level every couple of feet.  We were able to follow the wall for some distance and I was surprised by how much survives. We even found one section in a car park  with the brown tile levels clearly visible.

A section of Roman wall found in a car park clearly showing the tile levels.
A section of Roman wall hiding in a car park.

Roman London is buried under modern London and much of it remained undiscovered for centuries.  However during the second world war the blitz destroyed many buildings revealing Roman  remains.  One such building is the London Mithraem, the remains of a temple to Mithras. It has been  lovingly preserved and  is now in the basement of the Bloomberg building, the European headquarters of the American corporation.  It is beautifully present with a sound and light show.  It can be visited for free by prior arrangement. The London Mythraem They also have an interesting display of Roman artefacts found at the site including part of a collection of over 400 wax writing tablets. Another important building in any Roman town was the amphitheatre.  The London amphitheatre remained hidden until 1988 when developers rebuilding the Guildhall discovered unusual curved walls.  The remains can now be seen for free in the basement of the Guildhall.

Originally Colchester was the capital of Roman Britain but Londinium soon became more important.  Boudica led the Iceni on a raid which resulted in many wooden building being destroyed and it was decided to build a fort and walls to strengthen the town. Londinium  became more important under the emperor Hadrian who used his own money to build civic buildings.    The Romans were able to build a bridge across the Thames near the site of the modern Tower Bridge and it became an important trading port.  Lead from the Mendips and copper and tin from Cornwall were traded for olive oil , wine and other luxury goods. I was  shown the site of the London arena, where soldiers would have trained which was discovered about forty years ago and the enormous forum basilica. which is now under Leadenhall market. We ended our walk by looking at Roman artefacts in the excellent museum of London.  This is also free and is well worth a visit.  I particularly liked the model of the original London bridge.

My book recommendation

 

If you want to find out more about a walk in the past:  A walk in the Past