Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Fotheringhay, Birth Place of Richard III

Main Street, Fotheringhay
© Copyright Ian Yarham
Fotheringhay is a sleepy, picturesque little village in Northamptonshire, with a population of less than 200. Hard to believe then that it was not only the birth place of Richard III  (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485), but also where Mary, Queen of Scots (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587) was tried and beheaded.

The reason for the village's illustrious past is Fotheringhay Castle, which stood near the River Nene just outside the village and was at one time the home of the Dukes of York. With Richard III's death on Bosworth Field, the York line of kings came to an end and shortly after Mary's execution (in the castle's Great Hall), the castle began to fall into disrepair. It was eventually pulled down in 1627 and all that remains today is the motte (raised earthwork) on which it was built and a small piece of masonry. The site is freely accessible to the public.
Fotheringhay church and castle mound
© Copyright Martin Richardson

Richard III's birthday is commemorated annually by the Richard III Society by the placing of white roses in the parish church - St Mary's & All Saints - which dates back to the fifteenth century.

The Nene Way long distance footpath runs through the village.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Bethlehem in Wales

Bethlehem in Wales
© Copyright Alan Bowring
Yes, we have a Bethlehem in Britain. It's a hamlet in south-west Wales and gets its name from the non-conformist chapel there. Not surprisingly it attracts a lot of tourists at Christmas time, all eager to get a Bethlehem postmark on their Christmas cards! Every year, a Christmas market is held in the hamlet.

Good walking country
The path up Carn Goch, hear Bethlehem in Wales
The path up Carn Goch near Bethlehem
© Copyright Jeremy Bolwell
The terrain of the Welsh Bethlehem could not be more different from that of its Middle East counterpart. It lies in one of the remotest parts of the Brecon Beacons, a range of old red sandstone peaks to the south of Brecon (in Carmarthenshire). It's an area that is very popular with walkers. The hamlet itself is overlooked by Carn Goch, an iron-age hill fort, which sits on open access land and is therefore freely accessible to the public.

The Beacons Waywhich starts in Bethlehem, runs west-east over the hill.

Posted by Louise Lambert

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Braemar: The Coldest Place in Britain

Braemar, the coldest place in Great Britain
Braemar, the coldest place in Britain
© Copyright Paul Chapman
We don't get really cold weather in Britain - not compared to other places around the world. But we do get 'big freezes' from time to time. Scotland usually sees the worst of the snow and ice, and the small town of Braemar in the Scottish Highlands has twice recorded the lowest ever temperature anywhere in Britain of 27.2 degrees C. By our standards that's pretty freezing and way below our usual winter lows. Braemar is also the coldest place overall in Britain with an average annual temperature of just 6.5 degrees C.  

Braemar is one of the highest towns in Britain at 1112 ft (339 m), and lies within the Cairngorms National Park. This is one of the most remote areas of the country and it's here that you'll find our highest mountains, also known as 'Munros', the name given to mountains over 3000 ft (914.4 m).

Glenshee Ski Centre, a 10 minute drive from Braemar, is Scotland's largest winter resort. The area is also popular with rock climbers. And every year on the first Saturday in September tourists and locals alike flock to the Braemar Gathering to watch the annual highland games. Members of the British Royal family have been attending 'The Games' (as the gathering is known), for generations.

To read more about skiing in Scotland click here

Photograph licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Walking Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall, Northern England
Hadrian's Wall
© Copyright David Dixon
Back in AD 122, when much of Britain was part of the Roman Empire, Emperor Hadrian ordered his soldiers to build a wall to keep the people of Scotland out. The wall stretched from the Tyne on the east coast to the Solway Firth in the west and was 80 Roman miles (about 73 modern miles) long, 8-10 feet wide, and 15 feet high. Small forts called milecastles were also built every Roman mile along the wall's length, with towers every 1/3 mile. Sixteen larger forts holding from 500 to 1000 troops were built into the wall, with large gates on the north face. To the south of the wall the Romans dug a wide ditch, (vallum), with six foot high earth banks. The entire construction took around six years to complete.

Birdoswalk Fort, Hadrian's Wall, Northern England
Birdoswald Fort, Hadrian's Wall
© Copyright David Dixon
Hadrian's Wall today
Thanks to extensive preservation and restoration work, a significant portion of the wall still exists and in 1987 it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. English Heritage, a government organisation in charge of managing the historic environment of England, describes it as 'the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain'. It is now a very popular tourist attraction and can be followed for much of its length on foot (along Hadrian's Wall Path) or by cycle (on National Cycle Route 72).

Hadrian’s Wall Path
So called because it follows Hadrian's Wall for most of its length, this long distance path  (135 km / 84 miles) runs from Wallsend on the east coast of England to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast. The walking is relatively easy, that is to say more or less flat, although muddy in places. The highest point on the path is only 345 metres (1130 feet) high. Though most of the Wall runs through remote countryside featuring rolling fields and rugged moorland, there are sections which pass through the cities and suburbs of Newcastle and Carlisle. The section between Chollerford and Walton is the highest and wildest part of the path; it is also where the Wall is most visible, and includes several important Roman forts.

The path is well signposted and there are many interesting places to visit along the way.

For more information about Hadrian's Wall, click here.

The photographs used in this post are licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Sandringham House: A Royal Retreat

Sandringham House
© Elwyn Thomas Roddick
Sandringham House, in Norfolk, has been privately owned by the British Royal Family for four generations. Built in 1870 by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), it lies within the Royal Sandringham Estate - 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of land near the village of Sandringham.

Sandringham House is a regular and favourite country retreat of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who spend every Christmas there surrounded by other members of the royal family. On Christmas morning hundreds of royal fans gather to get a glimpse of the family members as they attend the service at the small church that lies on the estate. Last Christmas (2011) was the first Christmas together as a married couple for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Prince William and Kate Middleton) - see picture below.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Christmas Day 2011
Christmas Day 2011
© Richard Humphrey
In 1968 part of the Sandringham Estate was designated a Country Park. Today nearly 243 hectares are freely open to the public

The Sandringham House gardens were opened to the public by King Edward VII in 1908, and the Museum (which has displays of royal life and the estate's history) by King George V in 1930. Sandringham House itself was opened to the public at the Queen's wish in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year.

The Royal Sandringham Estate lies within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

For more information about Sandringham House and the Sandingham Estate click here

The photographs used in this blog licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence