Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

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”

Henry Fawcett was born in Salisbury in August 1833. He was educated at Kings College School and the University of Cambridge. In 1856 he became a fellow of Trinity Hall. Two years later he was blinded in a shooting accident, but this did not stop him applying to Lincoln’s Inn to study Law, although after a years study he withdrew preferring to concentrate on his study of economics.

He was a defender of Darwin’s theory of evolution and spoke in favour at a number of meetings. In 1863, he was appointed Professor of Political economy at Cambridge. He wrote a number of influential books on economics and in 1883 he was elected rector of Glasgow University.

Fawcett combined his academic career with one in politics. After a number of defeats he was elected as MP for Brighton in 1865 and he held the seat until 1874, when he was elected as MP for Hackney in London a seat which he held until his death 10 years later.

In 1880 Fawcett was appointed Postmaster-General and introduced Post Office Savings Stamps, which allowed people to save at a penny a time. He was also responsible for the introduction of parcel post and postal orders. He was a strong supporter of Women’s Suffrage. He died in November 1884 following an illness and was buried in Cambridge.

This statue can be found in the Market Square in Salisbury

Salisbury

Posted: February 27, 2020 in History, UK, Wiltshire
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The city of Salisbury in Wiltshire is one of the latest in the UK to be founded. The original settlement of Old Sarum was 3 miles to the north and had been occupied since c 600 BC. The Normans built a new castle and a cathedral on this site, completed in 1092.

Salisbury seen from the site of Old Sarum.
Photo by Edward Nicholl (https://www.flickr.com/photos/grey-panther/)

There are a number of stories as to why the settlement moved. One says that the castle and its settlement fell into disrepair following the civil war in the late 12th century. Another says that the Bishop and monks wanted to get away from living in the settlement, which was really just an expanded castle and where the military forces held command. There is also a legend that an archer fired an arrow from Old Sarum and the cathedral was built where it landed, but as this is 3 miles this seems unlikely. A variant of this legend suggests that the arrow hit a deer and that this then ran 3 miles before falling down dead.

Bishop Richard Poore set about building a new cathedral on land he owned in the valley of the River Avon, south of Old Sarum. At first, it was called New Sarum, but eventually became known as Salisburies, after the land on which it was built. Work began in 1221 and was completed in 1259. King Henry III had given the new city a charter in 1227 and by the 14th century, it was the largest settlement in Wiltshire.

In 1450, riots over the decline of the cloth trade resulted in the murder of Bishop Ayscough. In 1483 Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham revolted against King Richard III and was eventually executed at Salisbury. In 1665, Charles II, having left London because of the Great Plague, held his court at Salisbury Cathedral. In 1688, James II mustered his army at Salisbury to counter the Glorious Revolution led by William of Orange, later William III. But after 7 days and a number of defections he retreated to London, before eventually fleeing the country.

Salisbury remains a delightful medieval city and a lovely place to visit with many medieval buildings still in use.

Walter Raleigh was born in Devon in 1552 (or 1554). Little is known of his life. He took part in the French religious wars on the side of the Huguenots, studied for a year at Oxford and joined the Middle Temple (later in his life it was stated he had never actually studied law). At the age of 20, he was in the army that suppressed the Desmond rebellion in Ireland and came into the ownership of some property confiscated from the rebels. He was granted a royal charter to explore the Americas and led two expeditions to South America and also organised the expedition that founded the colony at Roanoke in North America, although he did not personally accompany it. In 1585 he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and Vice -Admiral. He was a member of Parliament for Devon in 1585 and 1586. In 1591 he was made Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard and received a number of gifts of property from Queen Elizabeth I. However in June 1592, he was imprisoned on her orders as it was discovered he had secretly married one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting without royal permission. In August he was released to lead a raid on Spain and although he captured an incredibly rich prize, he was put back in the Tower on his return to England. He was finally released early in 1593 and resumed his place in parliament, this time representing Cornwall. He spent much of his time on his estate in Sherborne with his family. In 1594, he travelled to Guiana in search of a fabled golden city, but by 1596 he was back in royal service at the capture of Cadiz, where he was wounded. In 1597 he led a raid on the Azores and was involved in the defeat of the Armada. The same year he was elected as MP for Devon and 4 years later for Cornwall. From 1600-1603 he was Governor of Jersey.

Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and Raleigh was arrested in July, accused on being involved in a plot against James I, who had succeeded Elizabeth to the English throne. He was tried and convicted, but King James spared him execution. He remained in the Tower until 1616, when King James granted him a charter to return to Guiana in search of the golden city. Unfortunately, a group of soldiers disobeyed Raleigh’s command not to attack any Spanish forces they encountered. On his return to England, the Spanish ambassador demanded the death sentence originally passed on Raleigh in 1603 be reinstated (It had been part of the terms of his release that he undertook no offensive action against Spanish interests). King James had little option but to agree to the ambassador’s demands. Walter Raleigh was executed at the Palace of Westminster on 29th October 1618.

This statue of Raleigh can be found in the grounds of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

I can see clearly now

Posted: February 13, 2020 in History, London, UK
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I recently had the opportunity to visit the British Optical Museum at the College of Optometrists near Charing Cross in London. The College is the regulatory authority for all professions to do with eyes except for surgery.

The museum was founded in 1901 by the British Optical Association and moved around London as they moved headquarters. It opened to the public in 1914. In 1980 the collection passed to the College of Optometrists and the current museum, which occupies the college basement, opened in 2003.

A depiction of Early Chinese glasses

According to legend spectacles were used in China as early as the time of Confucius (c500BC) and Marco Polo reported their use there in the 13th century AD. They began to appear in Europe around the 14th century.

The collection covers the history of spectacles and eye tests and also the more wacky and outrageous things that have been developed or proposed.

The museum is open to the public most week-days by pre-arrangement with the college and is well worth a visit.

Following the blow through by Storm Brendan mk2, the following day again dawned bright and sunny and we had one last full day before heading back to London.

So we went to the RSPB reserve at Arne, situated on a peninsula which projects into Poole Harbour. At the visitor’s centre, we spent some time watching the feeders with Great Spotted Woodpecker and Coal Tits being the highlights. After a wonderful breakfast in the reserve cafe, Sue and I set out for Shipstall point. At the hide overlooking the channel, we saw a party of 20 Eurasian Spoonbills, a large group of Eurasian Curlew plus Avocets and Common Redshanks. A variety of Duck were also present including Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal and Shelduck. A Peregrine Falcon flew over the marsh before heading in the direction of Poole and on our way back to the centre we flushed a male Sparrowhawk.

Our next stop was at the Boating Lake at Poole Park where a Great Northern Diver had been reported earlier in the day. We spent sometime looking but could not see it. However, Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye were present on the pool.