Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Birds of the Tarn

Posted: May 19, 2020 in Birds, London, Natural History, UK
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The walking Madonna by Elisabeth Frink was initially installed as a temporary exhibit in October 1981 on the lawns just outside Salisbury cathedral but remains there nearly 40 years later.

She is shown walking purposefully away from the cathedral ‘moving out from the worship to where human needs are to be met, not just in Salisbury, but in the whole world’ as the then Dean of Salisbury commented.

At the end of the 12th century, relations between the military and the clergy, whose cathedral church was sited within the castle defences, at Sarum, just north of the city were bad. So early in the 13th century the clergy decided to move to a new site in the river valley a few miles to the south. The foundation stone was laid in April 1220 and the cathedral buildings were finished by 1260. The iconic tower and spire were added in the 14th century – when the spire at Lincoln cathedral collapsed in 1549, it became the tallest spire in the country. However, it has taken a lot of rebuilding work over the centuries to prevent it from going the way of many of its contemporaries and collapsing.

Salisbury Museum

Posted: April 2, 2020 in History, UK, Wiltshire
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On my last trip to Salisbury, I had the opportunity to visit the museum, which is situated in The King’s House, which is on Cathedral Green, opposite the entrance to Salisbury Cathedral.

It focuses on the history of Salisbury and also a collection of works of art

A small but interesting museum, I found the galleries on the city’s history very interesting.

This church was built within the walls of Portchester Castle around 1130. Originally it was intended to be part of an Augustinian Priory within the walls of the castle. There is evidence of a cloister and some domestic buildings present on the site, but shortly after it was completed the Canons moved to Southwick, perhaps because they lacked space to expand their monastery within the confines of the castle. The church was damaged by a fire set by Dutch prisoners of war in the castle in 1653 and was repaired in 1706 and further restored in 1888.

Adjacent to the church is a lovely cafe, which is highly recommended as a place to stop for a drink or lunch.

A military installation at Portchester dates back to Roman times. Excavations have revealed what was probably a base for the Classis Britannica, the Roman fleet based in the UK. It probably dates from 285-290 AD. The remains of the curtain wall of this base can be seen at Portchester today.

The fort continued in use after the Romans left Britain, as evidenced by the presence of a 10th century Anglo-Saxon hall within the walls and in 904 records show the castle passed into the ownership of the crown. The castle as we see it today dates from the 11th century and was built by William Maudit. He sought where possible to include as much as possible of the still-standing Roman walls within his construction. In 1154 the castle passed to King Henry II and it would remain in royal control for almost 500 years. King Henry and King John were recorded as visitors and it was used to house important prisoners. In 1216, Portchester surrendered to Prince Louis of France, who commanded the French forces supporting the Barons rebelling against King John. It was recaptured by John’s son, Henry III the following year and eventually, the French forces left Britain a few months later. Portchester was important as it was an embarkation point for troops going to France to defend the royal lands there.

The castle was refortified by Edward II in the fourteenth century and it continued to be used by armies campaigning on the continent. Queen Elizabeth, I visited the castle in 1603.

In 1632 Charles I sold the castle to Sir William Uvedale. It was used as a prison, often with prisoners of war from the Anglo-Dutch war (1665-1667), the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1712) and the Napoleonic Wars (19th century).

The morning dawned bright and sunny and I made my way to the north west side of Portsmouth harbour and the town of Portchester. I started my walk just south of the town and walked south towards the castle.

Portchester Castle

There were Redwings in the trees surrounding the water meadows plus a single Blackcap, presumably an overwintering bird rather than an early migrant.

On the mudflats were Oysercatchers, Redshank, Curlew and a single Greenshank.

Deeper water remained further out into the harbour and here there were Red-Breasted Merganser, a Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver.

Slavonian Grebe.
Photo by Anthony Pope (https://www.flickr.com/photos/4gyp/
Red-Breasted Merganser
Photo by JP Newell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpnewell/)

As I retraced my steps towards Portchester a Common Kestrel eyed me from its perch before flying off.

Common Kestrel

A few days in Portsmouth and a chance to explore the large natural harbours that are found in this area of southern England.

Arriving in Portsmouth in the early afternoon I made my way to Southsea seafront.

On the rocks below Southsea Castle, there is a winter roost of Purple Sandpiper, an uncommon wader which is a winter visitor to the UK and is only found in a few places in Southern England.

The waves are battering the rocks, but I manage to find 2 Purple Sandpipers braving the waves (there have been up to 12 there this winter).

The memorial, which stands in front of the Guildhall in the Market square in Salisbury was dedicated in February 1922 as a memorial to the citizens of the city who had lost their lives in the First World War.

A panel was added after world war II dedicated to those who lost their lives in the “Second World war and all conflicts since”