Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

London Stone (on display in the Museum of London) May 2017

The London Stone is a city landmark which traditionally stood in a grilled alcove in a wall at 111  Cannon Street. It is the remains of ageing much larger limestone object, which seems to have stood on the site, or nearby, for many centuries.

A map of 1550  shows the stone located opposite St Swithern’s church in Candlewick Street (now known as Cannon Street). The first documented reference is in 1598, when the London historian John Stow, records ” a great stone called London Stone”. He claims it was listed in a bible from the reign of King Aethelstan (924-39) in a list of properties of Christchurch Canterbury ( a.k.a. Canterbury Cathedral) ”  being near to London Stone”. A further reference is found in documents of 1098 and 1108 of a man called “Eadwaker aet lundene stane” (Eadwacker at London Stone), who gives a property, or properties, to the Cathedral. It seems this use in names became fairly common as there are a number of mediaeval references, where people add the term ” of London’s stone”  to their names. Most notable of these is Ailwen of London Stone,  father of Henry Fitz-Alwen, Mayor of London from 1193 to 1212. It is known that the Fitz-Alwen house was located in Candlewick Street.

In 1540, the rebel Jack Cade made his way to the city stopping at the stone.  He struck the stone with his sword claiming to be the Lord of the city. It is unclear whether this is something he had made up or whether there was some ritual regarding city Lordship which he was imitating.

Jade Cade at London Stone. By editor: Howard Staunton; artist Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897) – Works of William Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1881) vol 8, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25663723

By Elizabethan times, the stone had become associated with King Lud, the legendary founder of the city of London. It is listed in Samuel Rowland’s ‘Sights of London‘ published in 1608. In 1671, members of the spectacle makers company confiscated a batch of spectacles from a shop in Cannon Street. These were taken to the Guildhall, where they were condemned as being of inferior quality and ordered to be smashed on the remains of the London Stone.

By 1742 the stone had become an obstruction to the passage of traffic and the remains were moved to the wall of  St Swithern’s church opposite.

St Swithern’s Church 1831.By artist: T. H. Shepherd; engraver: J. Tingle – original engraving, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25706799

 

The London Stone (1887). By Image extracted from page 559 of volume 1 of Old and New London, Illustrated, by Walter Thornbury. Original held and digitised by the British Library. , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32463347

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The church was destroyed by bombing in 1940, but the section of wall containing the stone remained standing. The remains of the church were actually not demolished until 1962 and were then replaced by an office building.

London Stone niche in the remaining walls of St Swithern’s Church Cannon St (1962). By David Wright, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13733522

The stone was relocated in a grilled niche in the wall of this building, the ground floor of which was used as a stationer and newsagents. This was not a very satisfying relocation as being at ground level it rather looked like a ventilation grill. I wonder how many people walked past it each day and didn’t even know it was there?

The rather unassuming location of the London Stone in the wall of WH Smiths in Cannon St. By John O’London – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25664002

This building, in turn, was scheduled for the demolition in 2016 and the stone was moved to the Museum of London,  where it is currently on display until it can be relocated when the new office building on the site is completed. It is hoped that the new location will show the stone off so it can once again become a tourist attraction – the heart of the City.

So what was this stone?

Over the years there have been many suggestions: a Roman milestone; a sacred city stone (as with the golden milestone in the forum at Rome); a talismanic stone (as in the Palladium in Troy); a prehistoric or a druidic sacred stone; a stone from the remains of the Roman praetorium or governors Palace,which is believed to lie under Cannon Street station; a mark stone of ley-lines or in a recent book, the stone from which King Arthur pulled Excalibur. No one knows, but it has clearly played a part in the history and conscience of the city of London for many centuries.

The original parish church of the port of Dartmouth in Devon was St Clements situated on the hill above the Estuary. When King Edward I visited the town in 1286 to review the fleet, he granted permission for the residents of the port area and the lower town to build their own church. However, the Bishop of Exeter and the Abbot of Torre, who between them controlled appointments to St Clement’s objected that they had not been consulted in the decision and the church was not consecrated until 1372. It was originally dedicated to ‘The Holy Trinity’ but for reasons not known by 1430 had become known as St Saviour’s.

 

One interesting person buried in the Church is John Hawley (1340 or 1350 -1408). Hawley was 14 times mayor of Dartmouth and 4 times a member of parliament. He was also a wealthy ship owner and privateer (state-licensed pirate) operating in the English Channel. He also was briefly the Deputy Admiral of the English Fleet.

 

A bright sunny day and a chance to do the weekly butterfly and dragonfly survey on my home patch. It has been a somewhat slow start to the year with sporadic butterflies and just two records so far of Large Red Damselfly (two weeks ago – which was an early date for this site) and nothing since. As I made my way down to the Tarn I found a female Brimstone and then by the pool a Holly Blue.

Holly Blue

 

Approx 6-8 Large Red Damselflies were on the pool and 2 pairs were busily laying eggs. A single Azure damselfly was also present.

Large Red Damselfly

Azure damselfly

 

 

 

 

 

This was to be the highlight as the remainder of the walk only yielded a single Green-veined White and a second Brimstone.

Green-veined White (1st brood Female)

The nesting season for birds is well underway and today there were young Coots, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Mallard around the Tarn.

Coot and young

Greylag Geese and young

Canada Goose and young

Mallard and young

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

 

 

 

Japanese Garden, Dartmouth

Dartmouth, situated at the mouth of the river Dart in Devon is a town which has long-standing naval links. It was recorded in 1147 and 1190 as a departure port for the crusades and was twice raided and sacked during the Hundred Years War. This led to the practice of closing the estuary each night by stretching a chain across from Dartmouth to Kingswear on the other side.

Dartmouth Railway Station. Built in preparation for a railway connection to the South Devon line. Unfortunately, the Railway never reached the Town.

Naval references are found everywhere in the town.

Lots of little lanes ascend the hillside.

The town has many buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and Tudor periods.

The cherub public house, probably the oldest building in Dartmouth. Dating back to c 1380 it was originally the house of a townsman or merchant.

Inside The Cherub

It is home to the Royal Brittania Naval College, founded in 1863 and housed in an impressive hillside building overlooking the town, completed in 1905.

Britannia Royal Naval Academy

Our journey on the Emirates Cable car was certainly a unique experience.

O2 Arena

Tall Ships seen from cable Car

 

Weeting Heath

A day on the Suffolk / Norfolk border with one of my local RSPB groups saw a bright and early start at the Weeting Heath reserve just over the Norfolk border. The highlight of this reserve is breeding Stone Curlews, a rare bird in the UK limited to just 2 areas (here in Breckland and on Salisbury Plain).

Stone Curlew. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Our arrival is greeted by some bad news. There are no nests in the area in front of the observation hides – in fact, there are very few nests on the reserve at all! A later talk with the warden revealed that this is true for many of the usual Breckland breeding sites and that some have no breeding birds at all. This is possibly due to a decrease in the number of adult birds who have made it to the UK this year (We are right on the northern edge of the breeding range), an increase in predators and a decrease in Rabbits (who keep the grass short, which the Stone Curlews like). The warden kindly offered to take us to a viewpoint where he can show us some birds and eventually we all got to see them through a telescope. They are very good at camouflage and can be very hard to see even when you know where they are.

Stone Curlews – can you see them?. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

With that successfully achieved, there is time to walk through the reserve’s woodland and Spotted Flycatcher and Coal Tit were good sightings.

Spotted Flycatcher. Photo by Nick Goodrum (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrgoodrum/)

Then it’s onto the nearby RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen.

The view from the Washland Viewpoint, RSPB Lakenheath

On arrival, most of us head off to the Washland viewpoint to see the Glossy Ibis, which has been here for a few weeks. This eastern European bird is being more frequently seen in the UK and birds seem content to stay once they arrived at a suitable habitat.

Glossy Ibis. Photo by Duncan McCaskill (https://www.flickr.com/photos/148286771@N02/)

This achieved I head off to New Fen to look for Butterflies and Dragonflies and their accompanying predator, the Eurasian Hobby.  In all, I recorded 6 species of Butterfly and 4 species of Dragonfly including my first even definite sighting of Variable Damselfly.

Fenland reedbeds

Variable Damselfly. Photo by AJC1 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/)

Eurasian Hobby. Photo by Nick Goodrum (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrgoodrum/)

Two hobbies hunt over the reedbed and give great views and an excellent display of aerobatic flying. A male Western Marsh Harrier drifts lazily across the Fen and a male Bearded tit does a quick fly-past as it travels from one area of reeds to another. A male Yellowhammer is another good sighting.

An excellent day for wildlife although few good photographic opportunities – still you can’t have everything!

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Stone-curlew [sp] (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

All that remains of the Medieval Franciscan Monastery in London, or the famous school which occupied the same site, are two blue plaques on the wall of a London office building.

The friary was founded in Stinking Lane, part of the Butchers quarter, in 1225. The land was donated by merchants, the timber by King Henry III and the church building was financed by the Mayor of London. It was a prestigious foundation and rapidly expanded -within 20 years it housed 80 friars. The church was expanded again in the 13th century to have 11 chapels and amongst those buried there are 3 queens of England – Eleanor of Provence (Henry III); Margaret (Edward I) and  Isabella (Edward II).

Greyfriars-site-map in early 16th century By Peter Damian – The Grey Friars of London by C.L. Kingsbury, Public Domain, https/commons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=12313224

It continued on the site until it was closed down in 1538 on the orders of Henry VIII as part of his dissolution of the monasteries.  The building passed to the City of London and the church continued to be used for worship. Henry’s son, Edward VI founded Christ’s hospital, a school for Orphans, in the friary buildings in 1552.

The church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and became known as Christchurch.

Remains of Christchurch

For more details on Christchurch go to

( https://petesfavouritethings.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/london-churches-christchurch-greyfriars/ ).

View of Greyfriars site 1895 = Public Domain, httpsen.wikipedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=27356487

Christ’s Hospital school remained on the site until 1902 when it relocated to Horsham in Sussex. The site was redeveloped and now houses the offices of Merrill Lynch International.

 

Views Of Kingswear

Posted: May 11, 2017 in Devon, UK
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Looking across the river from Kingswear towards Dartmouth

 

Some images of the town of Kingswear, which is situated on the estuary of the River Dart in Devon.

Old Road sign

Kingswear Church

Kingswear Church

Royal Dart Hotel

 

 

There is a wonderful story about the Royal Dart Hotel  in KIngswear. During the second world war, it was used by the British Navy as offices and was code-named HMS Cicala. Imagine the surprise of the workers one morning when they awoke to reports on German radio that HMS Cicala had been sunk during the night!

Memorial to a local hero

Road-side wishing well

Osprey nest

Some more photos from our excellent trip to Rutland water last weekend

Osprey

Osprey in flight (Keith)

Orange Tip

Rutland Water

Sedge Warbler

Treecreeper (Keith)

Rutland Water

Perhaps one of the strangest named churches in the city of London, St Vedast-alias-Foster lies within the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. Its dedication is to Vedast, a sixth century Bishop of Arras in France, who had restored Christianity to that area by the conversion of King Clovis of the Franks. It is an unusual dedication in England and only two others are known – one in Tathwell in Lincolnshire and the other is in Norwich (the church no longer exists and is only remembered in a road name). There are a number of possibilities as to how a  parish in central London came to be named after such a little-known French saint. One is that St Vedast was particularly venerated by the Augustinian Friars and that this may have been how the dedication arrived in London. Alternatively, it may have been set up by the Flemish community living in London. A third possibility is that we know that one Ralph d’Arras was the Sheriff of London around 1275 and he may have brought the dedication from his hometown. Although there is some indication of a church on this site stretching back possibly as far as  1170, there was certainly a church on the site by the end of the 13th century. The ‘alias-Foster’ in the title refers to its position in Foster Lane, although if there was only one church with this dedication in London why did the location have to be added. Maybe there is another church yet to be discovered?

Entrance to St Vedast

The church was expanded in the 15th and 16th centuries, but as with many City churches succumbed to the great Fire of London in 1666. it would appear that although the church was gutted, the damage was not too severe as St Vedast appears to have continued in use form shortly afterwards. However in the 1690s, it became clear that the structural damage from the fire would need to be addressed and the church was rebuilt under the guidance of Sir  Christopher Wren, who completed the work in 1699. Again in keeping with many City churches, St Vedast was burnt out following the bombing raid of 29 December 1940. Plans for rebuilding were laid in 1947, but work on the restoration did not begin until 1953.

Font

Pulpit

Stained Glass above main altar

Secluded courtyard garden entered through St Vedast church

St Vedast, as it stands today, is a haven of peace and quiet in one of the busiest parts of the city. In addition to its architecture, the church also has a  collection of church silverware which include some pieces from before the Commonwealth period. This is quite unusual as most of these were destroyed by the Commonwealth inspectors.

Elizabethan Chalice and Paten.