Archive for the ‘UK’ Category


The magnificent front of Peterborough Cathedral dominates the precincts


The entrance to the Bishop’s Palace. the room above the entrance is known as Knight’s chamber as it is reputed to be accommodation for Knights hosted by the Abbey on the order of the King.


The walls of the Abbey Gardens


The Beckett Chapel, built around 1320 to replace a building of 1170 which housed relics from St Thomas Beckett. In 1541 following the dissolution of the Abbey it became part of King’s school and in 1885 Peterborough Museum. It is now the tea room for visitors to the Cathedral.


The Gateway between the Abbey precinct and the town square

The exterior of the building has this very attractive black and white stonework

The Church has a number of chapels and altars, although not all these have been in continuous use as places of worship as church records indicate that at times they have been a printer’s shop and a blacksmith’s forge.


The Font                        The Martyrdom of St Bartholomew

The Entrance from the churchyard to Smithfield. Although this is now separated from the church by a long passage, this would originally have been at the east end of the original Priory church.

A spectacular sight

Posted: January 11, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, UK, Wales
Tags: ,

The sight of starlings gathering for an evening roost in winter, a murmuration, can be one of the most spectacular sights in nature as this post reports. I remember when there used to be one in Trafalgar Square in the centre of London. It was a fantastic way to finish a day’s visit to the city just watching those thousands of birds wheeling away in the sky before finding a place to spend the night. Sadly no more there, but there are still some magnificent places in the UK to see murmurations in action.

A sparkling frosty evening so we decided to give it a go and glad we did……masses upon masses of birds and early arrivals did put on a performance….Joy and myself were accompanied by Martin( skylark) and his neighbour Stuart….Stuart whom had never seen a murmuration before was well impressed by the sheer nos of birds…. […]

via Llandegley starling Roost this evening. — Radnor Bird Blog

Highlights of 2017:Barn Owl

Posted: January 10, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, Norfolk, UK

Continuing my highlights of 2017, I must include the wonderful opportunity I got to see and photograph Barn Owls whilst we were on holiday in Norfolk.

The Monastery of Peterborough was built in the 12th century and was closed in the dissolution of 1539. The buildings were demolished over the following centuries and little remains today, but it is still possible to see some of the remains incorporated into walls and buildings surrounding the Cathedral.


The remains of the walls of the cloisters are now the walls of a garden adjacent to the Cathedral. It is interesting to see the 3 different phases of the development of the cloister, starting with the original 12th century through two rebuilds to the final highly decorated version.


The other major remains are the building that contained the refectory and the dormitory.


Window of monastic building


For our first outing of the new year, Keith and I visited the London Wetland Centre with the prospect of adding Bittern and Jack Snipe, two elusive species, to our new year lists.

On the entrance lakes we witnessed a fight between 2 Moorhens, presumably males, which was a clear sign that although the year had only just turned, the birds were getting ready for the new breeding season. Their way of fighting was to lay on the backs in the water and engage there feet as weapons. Most unusual sight, but to be honest it was a bit like posturing and eventually one bird swam off and no harm seemed to have come to either.

Moorhens fighting


Moving on into the reserve, Keith spotted a female Goldeneye from the first hide.

Common Goldeneye (f)

The usual winter visitors were present including Geese (3 species) and good numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall. A single Common Pochard was seen along with a few Mallard and Tufted Ducks.

Eurasian Wigeon

Greylag Goose


Away from the waterbirds, the morning was quiet, we had no luck finding Bittern, Jack Snipe, Fieldfares, Redwing or Siskins that had been reported the previous day. A Coal Tit on the feeders as we headed back to the visitors’ centre for a warming drink, was a pleasing sighting.

Suitably refreshed we set out on the west arm of the reserve. From the Wildside hide we found 4 Fieldfare and a pair of Stonechats. On Reservoir lake there were a pair of Northern Pintail.

Fieldfare. Photo by Hdera Baltica (

With the light fading, we began to make our way back to the entrance stopping briefly at the Otter enclosure where the resident Grey Wagtail was present and very active. As we left the centre we saw a flock of birds alight in the top of a tree and closer inspection showed that this was the flock of Redwing.


We may not have seen our target species but a good enjoyable days birdwatching nether the less.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)

Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Fieldfare. Photo by Hdera Baltica (


The Entrance to St Bartholomew the Great

The Priory of St Bartholomew the Great was founded in 1123 by Rahere, an Augustinian friar and a Canon at nearby St Paul’s Cathedral. It is recorded that he undertook this task as a result of his recovery from a fever. The Priory included the Hospital of St Bartholomew, the forerunner of one of London’s major medical teaching hospitals. The Priory Church was named ‘the great’ to distinguish it from the church of St Bartholomew the Less (‘smaller’) which was situated within the hospital itself.


The original Priory Church suffered greatly in the dissolution of the monasteries in 1543. Much of the west end and nave were demolished, although the East End of the original church continued in use to serve the local population. It saw a brief re-emergence as a Priory Church from 1556 to 1559 when a Dominican house established here under the brief restoration of the monasteries instigated by Queen Mary.

After the great fire of 1666, it began to fall into disuse and at one point in the 18th century was occupied by squatters. There are records which indicate that parts of the church were often let out as workshops to local tradesmen. The late 19th-century saw major efforts to restore the church and it continues to serve today as the parish church of the local area. It is the Guild church to a number of livery companies in the city and has appeared as a venue in many films.

This memorial is to the members of the Camel Corps of the British Army who died in service. It is situated in Victoria Embankment Gardens, near Charing Cross Station.

The Camel Corps was formed in 1916 and in its short existence, it saw service in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine. The memorial records that the men of the Corps came from a number of Commonwealth Countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand and India. It was disbanded in 1919. The memorial is by Major Cecil Brown, himself an officer in the Camel Corps and was unveiled in 1921.

Edith Cavell By Bain (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Edith Cavell was born near Norwich in 1865. As a 19-year-old she attended Laurel Court school, adjacent to Peterborough Cathedral, as a pupil / teacher. Her skill at languages led to her being recommended for a post as a governess in Brussels, Belgium. She stayed for five years, before returning to the UK to nurse her sick father. This led her to consider a change in career and she trained as a nurse at the London Hospital in 1896. In 1907, she returned to Brussels as the matron of a nursing school and when World War I broke out she continued to nurse the sick at the hospitals attached to the school, even when Belgium was occupied by the Germans. She became involved in the resistance movement, helping Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to neutral Holland. In August 1915, she was arrested along with a number of others and after being interrogated and imprisoned for 10 weeks, she was executed on 12 October and buried in an unmarked grave. This harsh treatment of a woman and a nurse received multinational condemnation. In 1919, following the end of the war, her body was exhumed and reburied in Norwich Cathedral.

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The memorial to Edith Cavell in Peterborough Cathedral was set up by students and teachers of Laurel Court school.

The Edith Cavell memorial

In 2009, Princess Elizabeth de Croy, whose grandparents had run the escape network in Belgium, presented the cathedral with a lamp used by the resistance for signalling night-time meetings during World War I. It hangs above the Cavell memorial.

The WWI lamp presented in 2009

See also

This statue of a cordwainer, by Alma Boyes, was unveiled in 2002 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cordwainer ward club. It was originally in the courtyard of St Mary-le-Bow but was moved after a couple of years to Watling St by St Mary Aldermary Church.

A Cordwainer was a shoemaker and the ward was named in the middle ages because this area of London was a traditional area for shoemaking in the city.