A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: irenevt

Southend - London's Seaside Playground.

Prittlewell Square. - Southend-on-Sea

Prittlewell Square. - Southend-on-Sea

Southend.

My husband is an obsessive Walsall F.C. supporter and every year when we return to the UK, he ends up going somewhere so that he can watch a match. If the somewhere is somewhere interesting, I tag along, we get a hotel room and see the town as well as the match. This year the somewhere Walsall were playing away from home was Southend. Neither of us had been to Southend before. It was a long journey to get there as we started out from Scotland. For the journey down we first travelled to Preston, overnighted there and then travelled down to London. We caught the train to Southend Victoria from Liverpool Street Station.

Busy beach on a sunny day. - Southend-on-Sea

Busy beach on a sunny day. - Southend-on-Sea

Southend on Sea is a seaside resort town in Essex. It is located on the north side of the Thames Estuary about forty miles east of central London. In the summer it is a popular day trip location for Londoners and its beaches can get pretty busy indeed. Southend was originally the "south end" of the village of Prittlewell which was home to Prittlewell Priory. The land at the priory's south end, on the sea, was home to poor fishermen and farmers. Southend remained fairly undeveloped until the nineteenth Century when railway links between it and London were developed. In the same period the town's pier was constructed and the Clifftown area was created. Southend began to be a popular holiday destination. I found Southend to be a very pleasant place with beautiful views over the water, clean, fresh sea air, lots of parks and some interesting historical buildings. It has seven miles of beaches. The area along the longest stretch of beach is bordered by many pubs, restaurants, amusement arcades, shops etc. Although I had never been to Southend before it still brought back memories of the kind of seaside holidays I would go on when I was a child.

Here's where we stayed:

The Westcliff Hotel: Quiet Location.

We stayed in this hotel for one night. We arrived a little bit early, but were allowed to check in without problem. The receptionists were pleasant and friendly. Our room looked out over the Thames Estuary a very lovely view. The bed was comfortable enough.Tea and coffee making facilities were provided. Everything was clean and the room was comfortable. We slept well here. The hotel is in a reasonably quiet location but within easy walk to the centre of Southend. Check out was fine and this hotel should have been heading for a very good review, but a few days after our stay booking.com contacted us to say they would be charging us as a no show for this hotel. Well we had showed up and we had paid, so this meant paying twice. We contacted booking.com and the hotel and eventually got this sorted out. I know mistakes happen but this sort of mistake creates a very bad impression. We received an apology from the hotel and it read 'We apologize for any incontinence caused.' This also did not make a good impression on us. Perhaps we can blame it on predictive texting!! Hotel Westcliff on Sea, Southend on Sea Essex, England. Address: 1820 Westcliff Parade, Southend on Sea, SS0 7QW.

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

Southend Pier.

Southend is famous for its pier which at 1.34 miles long is the longest pier in the world. Come on Dubai beat that! The pier was built to encourage visitors to come to Southend. Boats could not dock here at low tides, as the tide recedes more than a mile from the beach and so tourists bypassed Southend in favour of more accessible resorts, such as Margate. The pier allows ships to dock here in all tides. The earliest pier was made of wood, but this was later replaced by an iron pier. During the Second World War a royal navy ship, the SS Richard Montgommery, which was packed with explosives, sank near the pier. This ship is still visible at low tide and its cargo still poses a serious threat to passing ships and seafront areas. Southend Pier has suffered many calamities such as fires and being hit by passing ships. A train runs along the pier. We did not actually go on the pier due to lack of time, but apparently it has a museum, lifeboat station, cafe and gift shop.

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Cliff Gardens.

We walked along Southend Cliff Gardens from the pier in order to get to our hotel. These steep gardens rise up behind one of Southend's beaches. There are many seats in the gardens where you can sit down and enjoy the lovely views out over the water. The gardens are also home to a statue of Queen Victoria and a war memorial. Because of staying in a hotel right next to the Cliff Gardens, we walked through them several times. The views out over the Thames Estuary were beautiful and always different depending on the time of day and whether it was high tide or low tide. I could have happily sat here for hours and many people seemed to do exactly that. As well as the lovely views, the sea air here was marvellous.

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Southend Cliff Railway.

We noticed a rather dinky little funicular railway running between the Clifftop Gardens and the beach below. We did not have time to use it unfortunately. This railway is called the Southend Cliff Railway. It was constructed in 1912. It is currently owned and operated by the Museums Department of Southend. The funicular only has one cab which can carry twelve people at a time. The funicular is open daily during the summer months and runs between 10:00 and 17:00. It costs one pound return.

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Prittlewell Square.

Across the road from the Southend Cliff Gardens there is a lovely ornamental gardens known as Prittlewell Square. These are Southend's oldest surviving public gardens. As well as being filled with lots of colourful flowers, the gardens have a charming pond and fountain.

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion was located very close to our hotel so we had a look at it. Cliffs Pavillion is a theatre which seats 1,630 people. This theatre offers a wide range of variety acts. Construction of Cliffs Pavilion began in the1930s, but was halted after the outbreak of World War 11. The site remained boarded up after the war until 1959 when work began on the present Cliffs Pavilion, which opened in 1964. There was an interesting statue outside the building and some restaurants nearby.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Beaches.

Apparently Southend has around seven miles of beaches. We walked along Three Shells Beach which is the busiest beach as it is located next to the pier and Adventureland. It is also just across the road from cafes, bars, restaurants, amusement arcades and shops. We also walked along the slightly quieter Jubilee Beach which was near the Kursaal and Sealife Adenture. From our walk along Southend Cliff Gardens we overlooked Westcliff Beach. The weather was fairly sunny during our stay and the beaches were busy. I assume they are very popular with day trippers from London. It was nice to see so many people enjoying the seaside and a brave few venturing into the water.

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

The Kursaal.

Across from the beaches I noticed an interestingly shaped building called the kursaal. I assumed from its name, it had once been a health spa, but in fact it was one of the world's first purpose built amusement parks. This Grade II listed building first opened in1901 and originally contained a circus, a ballroom, an arcade, a dining hall and a billiard room. The Kursaal declined in the early 1970s. First the outdoor amusements closed, then the main building closed down all together in 1986. In 1998, after a multimillion pound redevelopment the main Kursaal building reopened. It now contains a bowling alley and a casino.

The Kursaal

The Kursaal

Southchurch Park.

Southchurch Park is a pleasant park with a large duck pond, rose gardens and a cricket ground. There was a cricket match taking place when I got there. I watched it for a while and later sat by the duck pond, letting the world pass me by. Very nice on a sunny afternoon.

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist.

I came across the Church of Saint John the Baptist as I was wandering around. It looked quite nice, but was not open. There was a large graveyard around it. This church was consecrated in 1842. Several famous people are buried here. Information about them is shown on the photo of the information plaque.

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

Southchurch Hall.

I love old buildings so was very keen to visit Southchurch Hall. Southchurch Hall is a Grade I Listed Medieval moated house. This building dates from the fourteenth century, though it was extended and altered in Tudor times and in the 1930s. The building was home to farming families and was still used as a family home till the 1920s. When we visited, the upstairs of the building was closed for restoration. Downstairs we could visit the kitchen, the main hall and two smaller rooms called the north and south solar. Entry to Southchurchall is free and there is a gift shop and toilets inside.

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall Park.

Southchurch Hall is surrounded by gardens which are now a public park. We just had a quick look at them as we had to go catch our train and leave. There was quite a large pond there filled with very attractive sunbathing turtles. The gardens would originally have been farmland.

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Southend was to go looking for the football ground so my husband could find it easily at match time. On our way there the first interesting site we passed was the Civic Centre and its fountain. This was designed by sculptor Bill Mitchell. For inspiration he used the Southend coat of arms and motto 'Per mare, per ecclesiam'. An inscription on the fountain reads: 'This is what it looks like when the figures in the Southend crest by the church and by the sea, take off their belts, put down their swords and fountains of water come out of their mouths. ' We found the coat of arms on the door of the nearby civic centre. I rather liked this fountain and the idea of reworking the coat of arms in such a playful way.

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Churchill Gardens.

A bit further on from the civic centre we came to the Churchill Gardens. These gardens were created by Mr Frank Scheerboom. He was the owner of the Express Laundry in Southend, and together with his wife lived in the laundry grounds. He bought the land behind his house which was originally a sand pit. Then in 1951 Mr Scheerboom called in landscape gardener, Ian Walker, to convert the sandpit into gardens. After ten happy years enjoying his gardens, Mr Scheerboom died in1961 and his widow carried on maintaining the laundry and the gardens. Then in 1964 she sold them to the Southend Corporation. The Scheerboom's house and laundry have been demolished, but the beautiful gardens remain open to the public. The gardens were officially opened on 4th May 1966 by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Sir John Ruggles Brise. We stopped here to eat our breakfast/lunch before continuing on our way. The gardens were peaceful and filled with lots of highly active squirrels.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin Prittlewell.

At the far end of the Churchill Gardens, just across the road, we saw the lovely Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Apparently there has been a church on this site for more than a thousand years. It is believed that a small chapel once stood on the site of the present church as far back as the seventh century. The church grew in size and importance over time. However, in the reign of Henry VIII, at the time of the Reformation, much of the church's income and assets were seized. During the Second World War, Saint Mary's suffered blast damage. We went inside the church only to find it was being prepared for a wedding. However, as the wedding had not started, we were able to look around. I was impressed by the church's stain glass windows. They were quite unusual, not all of them were religious some depicted local scenes. There is a well cared for graveyard around the outside of the church.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club's grounds are not far from St Mary's Church. Southend are known as the blues. I liked the sense of humour shown on the outside of the club. I did not go and watch the match. I explored Southend while Peter was at the football. Walsall won, so he was happy. There was a nice atmosphere at the match and some pubs on route had signs inviting Walsall fans in for a drink. A bit different from Wetherspoon's, Wolverhampton with its home supporters only sign at the door!

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Prittlewell Priory.

A little further on from the football ground we reached Priory Park and Prittlewell Priory. Prittlewell Priory was founded in the twelfth century by monks from the Cluniac Priory of St Pancras. It was a small monastery only housing around 18 monks. The Cluniac Order were largely a silent order and developed sign language for communicating. In the sixteenth century, during the reformation and dissolution of the monasteries, much of the building was destroyed. After that time Prittlewell Priory became a private residence. The last family to live here were the Scrattons in the nineteenth century. When they lived here, the house had thirteen bedrooms. Some of their possessions and paintings are on display inside the priory. In 1917 the building was purchased by Robert A. Jones, a local jeweller and philanthropist. He donated it to the City Council and in May 1922 it opened as Southend's first museum. In 2011 the priory buildings were refurbished and the construction of a new Visitor Centre was begun. Entry to the priory is free. The building is a mixture of priory, private home and museum. Two of the downstairs rooms tell the story of the Scratton family. Also downstairs is the monks' refectory hall with displays about life in the priory. There is also part of an old cellar. Upstairs has displays about the wildlife found in Priory Park.

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Priory Park.

Priory Park was originally the grounds of Prittlewell Priory. It is now a lovely public park. To enter the park you pass through some rather ornate gates. There is a large grassy area in front of you and off to the right there are the priory's former fishing ponds which are still fished by local anglers today. As you near the priory, the gardens become very beautiful and flower filled. There is a rose garden and a flower filled walled garden which was a kitchen garden when the Scrattons occupied the house and a burial ground when the building was a priory.

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Graffitti.

As I was wandering I passed this derelict building with paintings on it. I recognize the scenes from Porridge with Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale, but I am not sure what the others are. No idea who painted them there or why.

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Sunsets.

As we walked back to our hotel after dinner, the sun was just beginning to set. It was peaceful and quite romantic down at the beach a far cry from the earlier crowds, though just across the road from the beach for many the party had just begun.

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

On our journey down too Southend on Sea we spent a night in Preston. Our hotel was close to the memorial below.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

We noticed this interesting monument in front of the corn exchange pub in Preston when we visited recently. It commemorates those who died during the Preston Strike and Lune Street Riot which took place in Preston on the 12th and 13th of August 1842. These riots were part of the 1842 General Strike which was prompted by the depression of 1841 to 1842. During that time cotton mill workers' wages were cut by more than twenty-­five percent. Preston officials, such as the Mayor Samuel Horrocks and several mill owners, together with 30 soldiers and members of the police confronted the rioters who began throwing stones at them. Mayor Samuel Horrocks read the Riot Act. When the crowd did not disperse, the military opened fire, shooting at least eight men. The rioters then fled. Four men were killed in the shooting: John Mercer, aged 27 of Ribbleton Lane, Preston, William Lancaster, aged 25 of Blackburn, George Sowerbutts, aged 19 of Chandler Street, Preston and Bernard McNamara, aged 17 of Birk Street, Preston. The public were shocked and outraged by the killings. A memorial in memory of the cotton workers was unveiled on Lune Street on 13th August 1992, the 150th anniversary of the shooting. The memorial was designed by the British artist Gordon Young.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

Posted by irenevt 07:15 Archived in England Comments (2)

Ride a cock horse to .... Banbury.

The fine lady statue. - Banbury

The fine lady statue. - Banbury

Beautiful Banbury.

I have passed through Banbury by bus quite a few times without ever really seeing it. Therefore, this summer since we were spending a couple of nights in Coventry, we decided to go through to Banbury for the day. We went there by train. Banbury is, of course, famous for the children's nursery rhyme 'Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse.' Naturally, we sought out the statue and cross commemorating this rhyme. We also visited a very beautiful church, walked through the colourful streets of the old town, ate Banbury cakes and had a look at the canal. All in all Banbury is a very pleasant and friendly town with quite a bit to go and see. Banbury is a market town situated on the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire. It has a population of around 47,000.

Banbury Cross.

We first headed across Banbury till we reached its famous cross where we had a look at the statue of a fine lady on horseback. She is mentioned in the famous children's rhyme:

Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.

The fine lady on the horse is sculpted to represent the Queen of the May and is covered with symbols of spring such as wild roses, daffodils, bluebells, frogs. Next to the fine lady statue in the middle of a busy roundabout is Banbury Cross itself. Banbury once had several crosses. This one was erected by the people of Banbury in 1859 to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter. There were hobbyhorses around this, because Banbury holds a Hobby Horse Festival on the first weekend of July. The Hobby Horse Festival involves a parade of Hobby Horse “beasts” through the town and Hobby Horse races in People’s Park which is close to the cross area.

The fine lady statue. - Banbury

The fine lady statue. - Banbury

Banbury Cross with hobby horses. - Banbury

Banbury Cross with hobby horses. - Banbury

Banbury Cross - Banbury

Banbury Cross - Banbury

The fine lady upon a white horse. - Banbury

The fine lady upon a white horse. - Banbury

St Mary's Church.

Saint Mary's Church is close to Banbury Cross. It is an unusual looking building and it is very beautiful inside. The church is shared by the Church of England and the United Reformed Church. The present church building is late Georgian and was built in the last decade of the eighteenth Century and consecrated in September 1797. Jonathan Swift hints in the preface to his famous book 'Gulliver’s Travels' that he had taken the name of Gulliver from tombstones in the Churchyard at Banbury.

St Mary's Church - Banbury

St Mary's Church - Banbury

St Mary's Church - Banbury

St Mary's Church - Banbury

Banbury Old Town.

We had a wander around Banbury Old Town. Its streets are filled with shops and pubs. There is a big market square. It was pretty and a lot of the streets were decorated with banners. We passed 'Ye Olde Reine Deer' Banbury's oldest pub.

Banbury Old Town - Banbury

Banbury Old Town - Banbury

Banbury Old Town - Banbury

Banbury Old Town - Banbury

Banbury Old Town - Banbury

Banbury Old Town - Banbury

Street Art in the old town. - Banbury

Street Art in the old town. - Banbury

Banbury Town Hall. - Banbury

Banbury Town Hall. - Banbury

Castle Quay Shopping Centre.

Castle Quay Shopping Centre is located on the site of the old Banbury Castle on the banks of the Oxford Canal. Inside you will find Marks & Spencer, Gap, W H Smiths, Thorntons, River Island, Debenhams and HMV among others. The main entrance to Banbury Museum is in here, too.

Castle Quay Shopping Centre. - Banbury

Castle Quay Shopping Centre. - Banbury

The Oxford Canal.

When we exited the Castle Quay Shopping Centre, we found ourselves on the Oxford Canal. We strolled along it for a couple of minutes and came to Tooley's Historic Boatyard which is now a museum. We did not have time to visit this. The canal had lots of houseboats on it and was pleasant for a stroll. The Oxford Canal is a seventy-eight mile long canal, linking Oxford with Coventry via Banbury and Rugby.

The Oxford Canal - Banbury

The Oxford Canal - Banbury

The Oxford Canal - Banbury

The Oxford Canal - Banbury

The Oxford Canal. - Banbury

The Oxford Canal. - Banbury

Tooley's Historic Boatyard. - Banbury

Tooley's Historic Boatyard. - Banbury

Sun symbols.

Banbury has a sun on its coat of arms. We saw the sun symbol in many different places as we wandered around. For example on banks, plant holders, Banbury Cross, the old town. Banbury's motto is 'DOMINUS NOBIS SOL ET SCUTUM'. The Lord is our sun and shield.

The Banbury Sun. - Banbury

The Banbury Sun. - Banbury

The Banbury Sun. - Banbury

The Banbury Sun. - Banbury

Banbury Cakes.

While wandering around the old town we saw several bakeries selling Banbury cakes, so we had to try some. Banbury cake is a spiced, currant filled, flat oval pastry cake. Banbury cakes have been made in Banbury according to secret recipes since 1586. They were first made by Edward Welchman, whose shop was on Parsons Street. They were actually delicious. We bought some for family and friends and they all liked them.

Banbury Cakes. - Banbury

Banbury Cakes. - Banbury

Posted by irenevt 01:53 Archived in England Comments (0)

Stoke - Home of British Pottery.

Factory Scene From Museum - Stoke-upon-Trent

Factory Scene From Museum - Stoke-upon-Trent

Stoke on Trent .

Stoke on Trent is one of those British towns with an industrial past that has tried to reinvent itself. I liked it and enjoyed the way it celebrated its past. Stoke on Trent is famous for pottery and at one time made the finest pottery in Britain. It is actually made up of six towns: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton. We went there because my husband wanted to watch the Walsall/Port Vale game. He was originally just travelling down from Scotland to see the match and coming back the same day, but I persuaded him to take me with him and get a room for the night, so I could explore some of the pottery related sights.

We kept finding street pianos all over the UK. - Stoke-upon-Trent

We kept finding street pianos all over the UK. - Stoke-upon-Trent

I enjoyed everything I went to see but did not see that much as most of the museums etc closed early, so with just one day there I could not possibly visit everything. I started at the Stoke Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley which was excellent, then visited the Spode Pottery factory now a museum. I also visited Stoke Minster Cathedral and the park.

During our recent visit to Arita - a pottery town in Kyushu, Japan - our guide at the ceramics museum was very excited to learn that Peter came from near Stoke on Trent.

We stayed in the hotel below:

North Stafford Hotel: Pleasant Stay.

We stayed here for one night in August 2014. We read lots of negative reviews of the hotel before going here, but really found it fine. Our visit did not start well. We tried to check in about an hour early but could not, though they did offer to store our luggage for us. I was fearful the hotel would be noisy as there were two weddings on there during our stay, but our room was perfectly quiet. I guess it just depends which part of the hotel you are put in. The hotel is just opposite Stoke Station. There is a statue of Josiah Wedgewood in front of it. It is quite an interesting historic building. Our room was clean and comfortable. I am sure many people would describe it as dated. Personally that sort of thing does not bother me in the slightest. It was clean and our room was quiet. Tea and coffee was provided in the room. Free wifi only worked in the lobby and bar, not in the room. Checkout was fine. Staff were reasonably pleasant. We did not eat breakfast here. Stoke has lots of interesting museums, factory tours related to the potteries and we thought it was quite an interesting place. Address: Station Rd, Winton Square, Stoke on Trent.

Here are some of the sights I visited:

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery.

This museum is located in Hanley. Entry is free. On the ground floor among other things it has some of the items from the Staffordshire Hoard. Due to lack of time I did not visit this. I concentrated on the first floor which was all about pottery. The exhibits here were interesting with some sections devoted to particularly famous pottery producers such as Wedgewood, Spode, Minton. Other sections focused on particular types of items such as toby jugs, statues of famous figures. There was even a section on murderers. Apparently in the past people used to buy figures of famous murderers, their victims, the scene of the crime and sometimes even the place of execution of the guilty party. One section was a huge collection of cow shaped milk jugs. As well as pottery plates and figures, there were also tiles. I found the museum very interesting and would strongly recommend a visit there.

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Stoke Museum And Art Gallery

The Former Spode Factory.

The Former Spode Factory now houses a little museum and an exhibition gallery. I liked the fact it was set on a real former factory. As well as pottery items the museum contained pottery moulds and some machinery so you could get an idea of pottery techniques. Josiah Spode got this site on Church Street, Stoke in 1776 and built his factory here. Spode wares were made here continuously until as late as 2008. In the nineteenth Century this factory was one of the two largest potteries in Staffordshire. It had 22 bottle ovens and employed around a thousand people. I am very glad the site is still being used rather than being demolished as it is part of Stoke's heritage and used to make some of the finest pottery in the world. I noticed there were several members of the Spode Family buried in Stoke Minster Churchyard.

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

The Former Spode Factory

Stoke Minster Cathedral.

This looked like a lovely church, but as there was a wedding going on when I visited, I could not go inside. In the graveyard I found the tomb of Josiah Wedgewood near the arches of the old ruined church. There was also a burial plot for the Spode family, including the famous Josiah Spode. Stoke Minster Church is around 1,300 years old. As the official church site points out, it was founded around the time the Staffordshire Hoard was buried. The church still has its Anglo Saxon stone font and the remains of a carved Saxon preaching cross. Stoke Minster is dedicated to St. Peter in Chains.

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Stoke Minster Cathedral

Josiah Wedgewood.

Josiah Wedgewood's statue has pride of place outside Stoke Station in front of the North Stafford Hotel. Josiah Wedgewood lived from 1730 to 1795. He is credited with the industrialization of pottery. His factory stood in Etruria in Stoke. He was a staunch abolitionist against slavery. He created the "Am I Not a Man And a Brother?" anti-slavery medallion. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin.

Josiah Wedgewood

Josiah Wedgewood

Sculpture Trail.

Stoke has plenty of modern sculptures, too. From the station I picked up a sculpture trail leaflet, though I did not have time to follow it and only came across a few of them. Still given more time I like the idea of tracking them all down.

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

Posted by irenevt 00:51 Archived in England Comments (0)

Lichfield - The Field of Corpses.

Gargoyle, Lichfield Cathedral. - Lichfield

Gargoyle, Lichfield Cathedral. - Lichfield

Lichfield.

I first visited Lichfield many years ago when I was visiting my boyfriend, later to be husband, in the West Midlands. I remember thinking it was a lovely historical town and I remember visiting the birthplace of Samuel Johnson and Lichfield's magnificent cathedral. For years every time we went to Walsall I would say to my husband, we should visit Lichfield again. Well, I think it took us around twenty-eight years but at last in the summer of 2014, we finally made it. We visited Tudor Row, the Church of St Mary, the market, Samuel Johnson's birthplace, the cathedral and several parks. I still think it is a lovely city and don't intend to wait so long before my next visit.

St Mary's Church.

St Mary's Church is located in the historic centre of Lichfield next to the market. The current church dates from 1870 though there have been other churches on this site since the twelfth century. In the 1980s this church took on a variety of new roles as a tourist information centre, a cafe, a heritage museum. The church still holds religious services in a small chapel at its northern end. This chapel has lovely stain glass windows and beautiful paintings.

St Mary's Church. - Lichfield

St Mary's Church. - Lichfield

The Annunciation. - Lichfield

The Annunciation. - Lichfield

Market and Statues.

There is a bustling market next to St Mary's Church in Lichfield. Personally, I especially liked the pottery stall. Market Square is right next to the birthplace of Samuel Johnson and contains a statue of Johnson and a statue of his lifelong friend and biographer James Boswell.

Samuel Johnson visits the market. - Lichfield

Samuel Johnson visits the market. - Lichfield

James Boswell in front of St Mary's Church. - Lichfield

James Boswell in front of St Mary's Church. - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson.

Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield in 1709. His father, Michael Johnson, was a book seller and the ground floor of the house Johnson was born in was his father's bookshop. Now the whole house is a free entry museum. It covers five floors. There is a kitchen in the basement, a bookshop and display rooms on the ground floor. One of the rooms upstairs plays a video about Johnson's life. There is the room Johnson was born in and the room where he created his famous dictionary. Johnson's 'A Dictionary of the English Language' was published in 1755. It took Johnson nine years to compile it and it was hugely influential. Johnson lived in this house for the first twenty-seven years of his life and frequently returned here until his death in 1784.

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

The Birthplace of Samuel Johnson - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral.

The most famous building in Lichfield is Lichfield Cathedral. Lichfield Cathedral is an extremely beautiful building with three distinctive spires. The facade of the building is covered with images of saints and fearsome gargoyles and even a statue of King Charles II. Lichfield Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Chad. Chad became Bishop of Mercia in 669 and moved his See to Lichfield. After Chad's death in 672 many pilgrims began to come to his shrine. In 700 Bishop Hedda built a new church to house Chad's bones. Over time this church was continually changing. First from a Saxon church to a Norman Cathedral. Then from a Norman Cathedral to a Gothic one. Lichfield Cathedral was severely damaged during the English Civil War. In the 1660s it was restored by Bishop Hacket. Later Sir George Gilbert Scott restored the cathedral between 1855 and 1878. The cathedral has wonderful stain glass windows and beautiful carvings. In its treasury you can find some items from the Staffordshire hoard and the beautiful Lichfield Angel.

The Lichfield Angel was discovered in 2003 when the cathedral floor was being dug up. It is one half of a carved limestone panel, and has been dated to around 800 A.D. The angel is believed to be the Archangel Gabriel and is thought to be part of an annunciation scene. The missing half would show the Virgin Mary. The panel is likely to have been part of the Shrine of Saint Chad.

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest stache of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. It contains of over 3,500 items, most of them military in nature. The hoard dates from the seventh century. It was found in a field near Lichfield in 2009. It is on display in several different museums and cathedrals.

Lichfield Cathedral's distinctive three spires. - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral's distinctive three spires. - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral - Lichfield

Gargoyle, Lichfield Cathedral. - Lichfield

Gargoyle, Lichfield Cathedral. - Lichfield

The Lichfield Angel - Lichfield

The Lichfield Angel - Lichfield

Stowe Pool.

Stowe Pool is not far from the cathedral. Stowe Pool dates from the 11th century when a dam and mill were constructed across Leamonsley Brook. Nowadays Stowe Pool is a pleasant place for a stroll. The Church of St Chad is located on the pool. This church dates from the twelfth century.

Stowe Pool. - Lichfield

Stowe Pool. - Lichfield

St Chad's Church - Lichfield

St Chad's Church - Lichfield

Minster Pool.

Minster Pool is a pretty pond near Lichfield Cathedral. At one end of it you can find speakers' corner. There are views towards the spires of the cathedral from here.

Minster Pool - Lichfield

Minster Pool - Lichfield

Minster Pool - Lichfield

Minster Pool - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance.

This is a very pleasant garden with an attractive war memorial and excellent views of the cathedral. It is next to Minster Pond.

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The Garden of Remembrance - Lichfield

The House of Erasmus Darwin.

Erasmus Darwin House is close to Lichfield Cathedral. It is now a museum and herb garden. Dr Erasmus Darwin was a scientist, doctor, inventor, poet, botanist. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin.

House of Erasmus Darwin. - Lichfield

House of Erasmus Darwin. - Lichfield

Museum Gardens.

Museum Gardens opened as a public park in 1859. It is a pretty park with a fountain - Chancellor Law's Fountain and several interesting statues. The statues include Erasmus Darwin, John Smith the Captain of the Titanic and King Edward VII.

Edward John Smith, RD was born on 27th January 1850 in Hanley, Staffordshire. He was a British naval officer who served as master on several White Star Line vessels. He was captain of the ill-fated RMS Titanic which sank on its maiden voyage. He went down with his ship and died on 15th April 1912.

Chancellor Law’s Fountain was donated in 1871 by J.T. Law, the diocesan Chancellor. The figures of the lions round the fountain were given by Sir Richard Cooper, a city alderman in the late 1880's.

The statue of Kind Edward VII was presented in 1908 by Robert Bridgeman, Sheriff of Lichfield. It represents the city’s loyalty to Kind Edward VII .

Captain of the Titanic - Lichfield

Captain of the Titanic - Lichfield

Fountain - Lichfield

Fountain - Lichfield

The fountain - Lichfield

The fountain - Lichfield

King Edward VII and library - Lichfield

King Edward VII and library - Lichfield

Beacon Park.

Beacon Park is a huge green expanse near museum gardens with a lot of sporting facilities. It was a popular place to visit on a sunny day. One of the things we visited there was the Martys' Plaque. in the fourth century A.D. during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Diocletion, large numbers of Christians were massacred by a Roman army in a field near present day Lichfield. Their bodies were left unburied in a place that would become known as the ‘Field of Corpses.’ Lichfield may mean 'Field of the Dead.'

Beacon Park - Lichfield

Beacon Park - Lichfield

Beacon Park - Lichfield

Beacon Park - Lichfield

Beacon Park - Lichfield

Beacon Park - Lichfield

Cathedral from park. - Lichfield

Cathedral from park. - Lichfield

Beacon Park, Martyr's Plaque - Lichfield

Beacon Park, Martyr's Plaque - Lichfield

Beacon Park - Martyr's Plaque Seal - Lichfield

Beacon Park - Martyr's Plaque Seal - Lichfield

The Garrick Theatre.

The Garrick Theatre in Lichfield is called after famous British actor David Garrick, who lived in Lichfield and for a time studied there as a pupil of Samuel Johnson. It is modern theatre with a 530 seats auditorium and a 140 seat studio. It offers a wide variety of different performances. There is also a cafe inside.

The Garrick Theatre. - Lichfield

The Garrick Theatre. - Lichfield

Tudor Row.

Tudor Row is an attractive shopping street which links Bore Street to Wade Street and thus links Lichfield's old and new towns. Tudor Row was very colourful and all decorated with bunting during our visit.

Tudor Row - Lichfield

Tudor Row - Lichfield

Tudor Row - Lichfield

Tudor Row - Lichfield

Tudor Row - Lichfield

Tudor Row - Lichfield

Posted by irenevt 23:41 Archived in England Comments (0)

Walsall - Hubbie's Home Town.

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

Walsall.

I certainly cannot be accused of going to the most scenic parts of Britain when I return home from Hong Kong. Our trips home are, of course, about visiting family and friends rather than sightseeing and are therefore spent in Clydebank, Scotland where I am from and in Walsall, the West Midlands, England where my husband is from. Neither of my husband's parents were actually from Walsall. His dad was from County Durham; his mum was from Vienna and his parents met in Vienna in the aftermath of World War II. Eventually they settled in Walsall which is where my husband was born. Walsall is the town my husband and I got married in almost thirty-one years ago.

Walsall was, and indeed is, a market town. It was also famous for leather making and there is a Museum of Leather there today. A lot of the leather was used in the production of saddles, so the local football team, Walsall F.C. are known as the Saddlers. There is also a Saddlers Centre shopping arcade in the town and a statue of a saddle on Bradford Place. My husband is a huge fan of Walsall F.C. travelling all the way back from far flung parts of the globe to see them play and generally lose to boot.

On our second ever holiday together when Peter and I were travelling back from Helsinki, where we met, to the UK by train, we stopped for a few days in Copenhagen. I dragged my reluctant husband along to the world famous Tivoli Gardens and he kept saying "It's not as good as the Arboretum". The Arboretum is a large park located in Walsall. It has a very pretty lake which was once the site of a limestone quarry. As a joke nowadays no matter where we go in the world: the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the Temples of Angkor Wat, my husband always says:"It's not as good as the Arboretum."

As well as the Arboretum, Walsall has a beautiful church called Saint Matthews, a museum to Jerome K Jerome - author of "Three Men in a Boat" who came from Walsall, a statue to Sister Dora and a relatively new museum and art gallery with a wonderful collection of Jacob Epstein sculptures.

Walsall is not a pretty place, nor does it attract tourists. It has one or two sites as mentioned above and quite a lot of shops as well as the market in the town centre and the Sunday market near Bescot Stadium.

The Arboretum.

The Arboretum is without a doubt the prettiest part of Walsall. It is a big park not far from the city centre. It has a lake formed when an old quarry site was left abandoned and filled up with water. At one time it was possible to hire row boats here, but not any more. Years ago every September the park would be lit up during the Walsall illuminations.

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

My husband in the Arboretum. - Walsall

My husband in the Arboretum. - Walsall

The Walsall Arboretum. - Walsall

The Walsall Arboretum. - Walsall

The Leather Museum.

The leather making industry was a very important industry in Walsall in the past. Walsall specialized in making saddles, hense why the local football team are known as the Saddlers. The Leather Museum occupies a former leather industry workshop in Littleton Street. The museum explores the history of leather making in Walsall and explains how leather was made. Entrance is free.

The Leather Museum

The Leather Museum

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

I'll have to take and add a photo of this site later. Jerome K Jerome was born in Walsall in 1859. He is famous for writing the humorous novel "Three Men in a Boat". The museum to him is located in his former home in Bradford Place. The museum is only open between midday and 2pm on Saturdays or by prior arrangement. Admission is free. The museum displays photos, books and letters belonging to or related to Jerome K Jerome.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

Sister Dora.

There is a statue in Walsall town centre depicting Sister Dora. In St Matthew's Parish Church she is commemorated in a stain glass window. Sister Dora is Walsall's answer to Florence Nightingale. Sister Dora's real name was Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison. She was born in Yorkshire in 1832. In 1864 Sister Dora began work as a nurse in Walsall's new Cottage Hospital in Bridge Street. Walsall was an industrial town and safety standards in industry in those days were very poor. In 1872 Sister Dora was on hand when twenty-two men were trapped underground in the Pelsall Hall Colliery Disaster. In 1875 she tended the wounded following an explosion at the Green Lane Iron Works. She also worked in an isolation hospital in Walsall caring tirelessly for the victims of smallpox. When Sister Dora died of breast cancer on Christmas Eve, 1878 the whole of Walsall turned out for her funeral.

Sister Dora

Sister Dora

St Matthew's Church.

There has been a church on the hill dominating the town of Walsall for the last 700 years. At one time the Church was known as the Church of All Saints. St Matthew's became known as St Matthew's in the eighteenth century. It is an attractive building, well worth a visit. One of its stain glass windows represents the life of Sister Dora.

St Matthew's Church

St Matthew's Church

The New Art Gallery.

The New Art Gallery, Walsall was officially opened in May, 2000. It is located near the wharf in the centre of Walsall. Peter Jenkinson, who became the first director of the museum, was instrumental in creating the museum. The gallery has five floors. One of which includes a restaurant. The gallery's most famous exhibits are a collection of the sculptures of Jacob Epstein donated to the people of Walsall by his wife Kathleen Garman and her artist friend, Sally Ryan. The gallery has lots of hands-on activities for kids and makes an interesting place to spend a few hours. Admission is free.

The New Art Gallery

The New Art Gallery

The Walsall Museum and Art Gallery. - Walsall

The Walsall Museum and Art Gallery. - Walsall

The Hippo Sculpture.

There are several sculptures in Walsall town centre. One is a stone hippo statue. It was the idea of Tony Harrington, a Walsall architect with a seat on Walsall Council. It was created by sculptor John Wood and assistant Keith Jones and completed in 1972. It is a strange, squat sculpture. What does the hippo have to do with Walsall?

Actually I researched a bit into the statue's origins. The sculpture is situated on Bridge Street on top of an underground river, so it is a hippo on a river bank. There are claims that it is associated with the protection of Children. Tarewet was the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. She had a hippo head.

In 1979 the ‘Hippo Leaping World Championships' took place here. The winner was 16-year-old John Simpkiss, who represented Goscote Boys Club,and managed 1,111 leaps. The event raised £300 towards Walsall’s summer festival from people being sponsored to jump over the Hippo including Lord Mayor Counceller Wilf Clarke.

The Hippo Sculpture

The Hippo Sculpture

The Saddle Sculpture.

Walsall was once a centre for leather production. Saddles were made here, so it is not surprising to find a saddle sculpture here. The local football team, with whom my husband is obsessed, are even known as the saddlers.

The Saddle Sculpture

The Saddle Sculpture

When we are visiting Walsall, we often go through to nearby Wolverhampton for shopping. Wolverhampton is also not a scenic place, but it does have one very beautiful old church.

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton.

As my husband is originally from the West Midlands, we often visit there but seldom visit tourist sights. With this sight we were glad we did. St Peter's Collegiate Church is right in the centre of Wolverhampton and it is a beautiful building both inside and out. On the outside of the church there are gardens with some interesting things to look at. At the front of the church there is a war memorial and a statue of Lady Wulfrun. There is also the shaft of an old cross. The cross itself is missing. There is also an old stone (possibly an old gargoyle) with a hole in the middle. People used to shake hands through the hole when they had completed a business deal. Inside the church there is a huge organ, wonderful stain glass windows, interesting tombs and an old weathercock which used to sit on the church roof. Entrance to the church is free though you can make a donation to its upkeep. The church is extremely beautiful inside and well worth a visit.

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

Posted by irenevt 22:05 Archived in England Comments (2)

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