Archive for October, 2017

Greenwich Re-visited

Posted: October 31, 2017 in History, London, Ships, UK
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Model of Cutty Sark

Last Friday went to Greenwich with Steve Evans to see the Cutty Sark.



Greenwich Heritage Centre


Looking towards Canary Wharf and Docklands


Greenwich foot tunnel (under River Thames) with City in background


Old Royal Naval College (now University of Greenwich)









Lunching under the Keel


Keith and I entered the dockyard through the main gatehouse which dates from 1722.


Figurehead from HMS Wellesley, a 74 gun battleship launched in Bombay in 1815 and named after Marquis Wellesley, Governor General of India and brother of the Duke of Wellington


The Commissioners House was built in 1704 as a residence for the dockyard’s senior officer


The Destroyer HMS Cavalier was launched in 1944 and saw service with the Royal Navy till 1972. She is now berthed in the same dock where Chatham’s most famous ship HMS Victory was built.


Model of Chatham’s most famous ship HMS Victory


Old Dockyard Shops


One of the sheds houses the Royal National Lifeboat Institutions national collection. This is a Watson lifeboat which saw service at Margate in Kent from 1951-81.


Number 3 slip. Originally erected in 1838 as a place where large ships could be built under cover, The slipway was filled in during the early 20th century and used as a place to store boats out of the water


At the time the slipway was filled in this mezzanine floor was added to provide storage space for small boats taken from ships undergoing repairs in the dockyard


3 Slip today holds a collection of Dockyard equipment and machinery


Sir Walter Ralegh

Posted: October 27, 2017 in History, London, UK

Sir Walter Ralegh, alongside Sir Francis Drake, are the two best-known explorers of the Elizabethan era. Sunday marks the 399th anniversary of his death. He is reputed to have introduced Tabacco into this country and even if this is an exaggeration, he was certainly an avid smoker and so popularised it.


Sir Walter Ralegh by ‘H@ (National Portrait Gallery)

Ralegh was born in the West Country of England in 1554 to a landowning family. Little is known of his early years but he left England in 1569 to fight for the Huguenots in the French Civil War. Just a few years later he was back and studying at Oriel College Oxford, but shortly transferred to the Inns of Court in London where he was registered as a lawyer in 1575. However, he was later to claim that he had never been trained as a lawyer or practised law.

From 1579, he was part of the British Army fighting against Irish, Spanish and Italian forces in Ireland and as a result of these campaigns was given a very large land grant in Munster. In 1584 Queen Elizabeth the first granted him a charter to explore and colonise “remote, heathen and barbarous lands” and to establish a settlement there. There is no evidence that Ralegh himself took part in these expeditions, but the site chosen for the colony was Roanake island, which he placed under the command of John White. A second expedition was sent in 1587 to the colony and shortly afterwards White decided to return to England to obtain or supplies. His return was first delayed by the Spanish Armada and then by a decision to go back to the colony via Cuba in search of treasure. When they finally arrived back at the colony, they found it deserted and the fate of the settlers is still a mystery. This failure left Ralegh in debt to the Crown.


Map of Ralegh’s Roanoke expeditions from

In 1581, he commissioned the building of a new ship, which he called “Ark Raleigh”. However, because of his debt to the Crown, the ship was “purchased” by Queen Elizabeth the first in remittance of some of his debt. She renamed the ship “Ark Royal”. He also sold off his land holdings in Ireland.

10 years later, Ralegh was back in favour and was appointed the captain of the yeomen of the guard. However, this was not to last very long as the following year he was imprisoned in a tower following a relationship with one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, whom he later married. After three months he was released to lead a raid on the Spanish shipping lines, where he captured a large prize ship Madre de Deus. However this obvious he did not please the Queen enough as on his return to England he was immediately sent back to the Tower where he stayed for another six months. On his release, he retired to his Sherborne estate.

Only one year later he led an expedition to Guyana and eastern Venezuela in search of the lost golden city of El Dorado, but he was unable to find it. He was present at the Battle of Cadiz in 1596 and the Azores in 1597, before returning home to take his seat as the member of Parliament for Dorset. Four years later he was re-elected to the government, this time as the MP for Cornwall. During this time he also served as governor of the Channel Islands.

In 1603 Queen Elizabeth died and a few months later Ralegh was arrested for treason, the accusation being he had become involved in a plot to replace King James I. He was tried at Winchester Castle and found guilty. But the king spared him and sent him back to the tower where he was to stay for the next 13 years. During this time he wrote poetry, history and accounts of his voyages.

In 1617 he was pardoned and led a second expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado. One of the conditions of this pardon was that he should take no offensive action against Spanish interests, with whom Britain was now at peace. However, during this expedition, an attack was carried out on a Spanish colony, probably without Ralegh’s knowledge or authority. On his return to England, the Spanish ambassador insisted that this act breached the pardon that Ralegh had been given and that the king should reinstate the death sentence originally passed in 1603. James I had no choice but to agree. Ralegh was beheaded at Westminster on 29 October 1618. His body was initially buried in Beddington Surrey but was later relocated to a tomb in St Margaret’s Westminster.

Walter Ralegh was an amazing man. He showed an almost unique capacity for surviving calamities which would have finished the public career of many others, but finally, his luck ran out – ironically for something which he did not do and probably had no knowledge of, when it happened.

A few months back I had the opportunity to visit the Charterhouse in London.

The land on which it stands was outside of the original city and is first recorded in 1348 when it was used as a burial site for people who had died during the Black Death plague outbreak. In 1371 The Carthusian order founded a Monastery on the site.

Following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, it was used to house important visitors and for state and royal meetings and ceremonies. In 1611 it was sold to Thomas Sutton, a wealthy merchant, who founded an almshouse for 80 merchants, sailors and soldiers who had fallen on hard times and a school for the education of young men.

The school moved to a new site in Godalming, Surrey in 1872, but the almshouses remained on the London site. In 2016 the charterhouse was opened to the public allowing many people to see this fine Medieval building for the first time.


Posted: October 25, 2017 in Landscape, Natural History

What a wonderful Sunset

Photography Art Plus


Magical sunset on lake Sochagota, the way of the sun.

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Barn Owls

Posted: October 24, 2017 in Birds, Natural History

One of the highlights of our trip to Norfolk were the Barn Owls in the fields behind the Cottage.

Chatham Historic Dockyard

Posted: October 23, 2017 in History, Kent, UK

Keith and I made a visit recently to the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent.


It is not exactly known when Chatham first was used as a dockyard. The fleet used the Medway estuary as a mooring from the early 16th century and there is evidence of shore-based facilities surviving the fleet from around 1509. The first dry dock was built in 1581 and shipbuilding commenced on the site and the first ship, HMS Sunne, was launched five years later. Perhaps the most famous ship to be built here was HMS Victory, the flagship of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, which was launched in 1765.

A model showing Chatham dockyard in the mid-late 18th century, when its most famous ship, HMS VIctory was built here

At the beginning of the 20th century, the first submarine was produced in the dockyard, HMS C17, and this was to point the future for the Dockyard. The final ship, Okanagan, was launched in 1966 and the dry docks refitted for the task of submarine refits.

Models depicting Chatham in its role as Submarine building and refitting yard

However, this was to be short-lived and in 1981, the ministry of defence announced that the dockyard would close in 1984. In its 414 years of service, it produced over 500 ships and at its height employed over 10,000 skilled workers. The Dockyard site was passed into the hands of a charitable trust who now preserve the site as a historic monument and home to a number of Royal Navy and other seafaring collections and museums.

Norfolk Skies (2)

Posted: October 19, 2017 in Landscape, Natural History, Norfolk, UK


Some more cloudscapes from our recent trip to Norfolk

Norfolk Skies (1)

Posted: October 18, 2017 in Landscape, Natural History, Norfolk, UK



Regular readers will know I have a fascination with skies. On our recent trip to Norfolk, the mixed weather we encountered certainly gave me lots of opportunity for photographing the wonderful cloud formations

The pride of Formby

Posted: October 17, 2017 in Mammals, Natural History

Today I was back up at Formby to join a guided walk to discover some of the Fungi that can be found in the pine woods (But more of that later). After the walk I had time to walk round the local Squirrel Reserve. A few years ago the Red Squirrel population was decimated by […]

via Red Squirrels at Formby. — Crosbyman66

Another post from Crosbyman about Formby Nature reserve and its most noted resident – this is the only place in mainland England that Red Squirrel lives.