Archive for July, 2018

Norwich Cathedral (4)

Posted: July 17, 2018 in History, Norfolk, UK

The14th-century altar panel in St Luke’s Chapel


The relic nitch situated beneath the Bishops seat

                Memorial to, and the tomb of, Bishop Herbert, first Bishop of Norwich                              and builder of the first Cathedral in Norwich.

Wonderful architecture and furnishings


The National Submarine War Memorial is situated on the Victoria Embankment. It was unveiled in 1922 to commemorate the submariners lost in WWI. In November 1959, a further list was added to commemorate those lost in WWII and a third panel was added in 1992 on the 70th anniversary of the original unveiling.


Posted: July 13, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

The Jay is a colourful member of the Crow family, yet it can be one of the most difficult to see. It is a shy bird of woodland and often all that is seen is the striking white rump as it crosses openings in the trees. It is resident across much of the UK, though absent in parts of the north of Scotland and west of Ireland and it is estimated that there are about 170,000 breeding pairs in this country.

It is best known for its habit of caching acorns in the autumn, which it will then retrieve during the winter months.

What a wonderful experience. Visited Vindolanda a couple of years ago – a great site

Stephen Liddell

I’ve been so busy with my tours that I haven’t had a day off since April 16th and so my blog posts are currently a bit shorter than usual.  Even last week when I would be walking for up to 11 hours a day, I still had to start and finish my day with what I call Admin Work.

One of the places I most enjoyed visiting last week was the old Roman site of Vindolanda.Vindolanda is one of Europe’s most important Roman archeological sites and every summer archeologists and volunteers from around the world descend on the place.

IMG_9628One photo can’t capture just how big a site Vindolanda is

The site itself comprises at least 8 successive forts of which several were occupied before Hadrian’s Wall was built.  Regiments from across the Empire were garrisoned here. The visible stone fort dates to the early third century and the impressive…

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Spencer Compton was one of the longest-serving government ministers in UK history and holds the unique record of 3 times being asked to form a government and 3 times refusing the offer.

He was born in 1833 and educated at Cambridge. He entered parliament as an MP in 1857 and by 1863 was part of the Liberal cabinet of William Gladstone, serving at the Admiralty and War Office before becoming Postmaster-General. In 1870 he became secretary of state for Ireland. With the election defeat of 1875 and the resignation of William Gladstone, he became the leader of the Liberal opposition. The Liberal party was victorious in 1880, but Compton declined to form a government serving instead as Secretary of State for India (1880-2) and Secretary of Stae for War (1882-5) in Gladstone’s second government. By 1886 Gladstone’s policy on Ireland had seen Compton leave the Liberal party to join the Liberal Unionists, who gained the balance of power in the election that year. Again Compton declined to form a government and also refused to serve in Gladstone’s third government which followed. He was again asked to form a government the following year but again refused, seeing his best role as having freedom of action to follow his own policies. In 1891 he became Duke of Devonshire, succeeding his Father and transferred to the House of Lords, where he continued to argue for the policies he had backed when an MP. From 1895-1902, he again served in the cabinet of Lord Salisbury’s government and for a short time under Arthur Balfour who succeeded Salisbury as Prime Minister. He resigned in 1903 and died in Cannes in 1908 as a result of pneumonia.

This statue stands in Whitehall close to the centre of UK Government.

Norwich Cathedral (3)

Posted: July 10, 2018 in History, Norfolk, UK

Some of my favourite things about Norwich Cathedral.


Most striking is the font. Originally a vessel from a local chocolate factory, it was presented to the Cathedral and converted into a font when the factory closed.


The medieval font

The Pulpit


Wall painting

Organ and Lectern

Water Vole

Posted: July 9, 2018 in London, Mammals, Natural History, UK, Uncategorized

During my IT downtime recently Keith and I visited the London Wetland Centre and I was fortunate enough to get these shots of a Water Vole hiding in the undergrowth. The Water Vole is an elusive and secretive mammal and this is only the second one I have ever seen.

A one-man Police Station?

Posted: July 6, 2018 in History, London, UK



In the years following WWI, the Police determined a need to oversee the demonstrations in Trafalgar Square. They originally wanted a normal police box but objections were raised to this and so the plan was drawn up to convert a granite column at the corner of the Square into an observation post for a single constable who had a phone link to a nearby station from whence he could summon help if required.


The corresponding pillar on the opposite side of the Square shows what it originally looked like.

The box passed out of use with the advent of mobile communications and is now used as a store by local authority cleaners.

On a calm, warm sunny evening earlier this week, I was fortunate to go on a guided walk of the Temple area of London.

The Temple is a secluded area to the west of the city which is known today for its connections with the legal profession. It comprises two of the four Inns of Court, the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple. To the north are situated the Royal Courts of Justice and a short walk east brings you to the Central Criminal Court.


The area is first recorded in the 12th century when the Knights Templars moved here from a site in Holborn to the west and built the Temple Church. Within the site were two Templar Halls, Inner and Middle Hall. Upon the dissolution of the order in 1312 the land was granted to the Knights Hospitallers, although it took them over 100 years to fully establish their control over the site. However, the Hospitallers already had a compound and hall in Clerkenwell and so were not interested in moving to this site. They leased it to a group of lawyers and so the long association began between this area and the law. The lands passed to the crown following the dissolution of the monasteries and the lawyers became Crown Tenants (annual rent £10 per year for each Inn). They were granted a charter by James I and the lawyers gained absolute title to the land.

Today, Temple houses many chambers of barristers along with other legal organisations and is governed by a committee of leading members.

The symbols of the Inner (Pegasus) and Middle Temples (Agnus Dei)

The Temple area suffered badly during the air raids of WWII and much had to be rebuilt. The original Templars church was badly damaged and much restoration was needed to return it to an image of its original self.

One building that did survive and remains a jewel in the crown was the Elizabethan hall in Middle Temple which we were fortunate enough to be able to visit. Completed in 1572 it is a wonderful building with a fantastic hammer-beam roof, argued to be the finest still existing in London.

A great way to spend a summer evening.

This statue of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington was erected in Norwich about a year after his death in 1852. It was originally situated near the castle but was moved in 1937, as the result of a new road layout, to a place in the Cathedral Grounds.

The Duke is shown on a plinth decorated with a coat of arms and regimental colours. The Norfolk Chronicle reported the unveiling ceremony in 1853:

The hero is represented in the identical boots, cloak, and some other portions of the dress actually worn at Waterloo, which were placed at the service of Mr Adams, the sculptor, when he was modelling the figure.’

The coat of arms shows the Duke’s insignia as knight of the garter, knight of the golden fleece and of the bath, resting on his four field marshal’s batons and framed by regimental colours.

The statue underwent restoration in 2014 and the names of Wellington’s battles recorded are now clearly legible.