Walk and Hike Sustainably

History Hikers

With Cop 26 on in Glassgow, and the Eartshot Prize  launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020 , centred around five ‘Earthshots’ , sustainability is becoming more and more important.

Question we can ask is are all walking groups sustainable? What can we do to be more sustainable and how to walk and hike sustainably?

 

                                                                                                  Picture taken by a regular history hiker : Moni Varga

Here are some ideas:

Commute

When travelling to our hiking destination by using public transport or considering lift sharing we reduce our impact on the environment and parking spaces.

Group Size matters

Why should group sizes be small? If you walk through the landscape with a group of 30-40 the impact on the environment is greater. Consider walking in small groups.

Either stay on paths or well away from them – avoid walking on path verges as the most vulnerable areas are those immediately to the side of paths where users spreading out from the path can lead to increased wear and badly eroded paths developing. This year when visiting Painshill Park some of you might have noticed badly eroded paths as the park have received high number of visitors and people trying to social distance walked off the path causing erosion in the surrounding areas.

Wildlife

Consider when and where you hike or scrambles mas some areas are restricted during nesting season . Think of a bird’s nest and your mind will probably wander high up into the branches of a tree or hedgerow – but not all birds have such lofty ambitions. Many species nest on the ground, from coastal seabirds to wetland waders and the more familiar ‘farmland’ birds like lapwing and skylark. This strategy does present some obvious risks and the nests tend to be well camouflaged, so it’s always worth watching your step during the breeding season (March to September).

It can be tricky to see is the enigmatic nightjar, a nocturnal bird with such impressive camouflage that it is barely visible during the daytime. Nightjars begin nesting in May – although there isn’t actually a nest, and the eggs are laid straight onto bare ground.

Looking after footpaths

Did you know that long distance footpaths have to be maintained as well?  You can report a fallen tree or a badly eroded path to the relevant organisation who looks after the footpath.

Dogs :

Some of you have asked weather you can bring dogs on the walk. Some walks are dog friendly some not so much , depending on the season. You need to keep your dog on a short lead of no more than two metres between 1 March and 31 July each year to protect ground nesting birds, and at all times in the vicinity of livestock

Economy

Do everything you can to support the rural economy – shop locally, and when walking through villages consider the local population. Don’t peep through their windows or stand in crowds in front of their houses.

Leave no trace !

Do you know how long your litter will last ? Plastic bag 10-20 years, Plastic bottle 450 years, wine bottle is non biodegradable, food waste 2 years, paper bag 1month. Take your litter with you!

Wild camping

Useful to know that wild camping is not permitted by right on open access land in England and Wales without express permission of the landowner, but it is permitted in Scotland provided that you do so responsibly and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

 

Did you know that we are members of the Impact Travel Collective ?

We consider the 17 Goals to Transform Our World called SDGs set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly when creating our history hikes.

“The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.”

Impact Travel Collective                                                                 https://impacttravelcollective.com/member/ildi/

 

You can check out our upcoming history hikes on our website : www.historyhikers.co.uk 

meetup : https://www.meetup.com/history-hikers/

or why not join our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/historyhikers.co.uk

Follow us on Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/history_hikers/

 

 

Londoners and their steamy love affair with tea

In Britain, tea is always present in the background of everyone’s lives. It’s also intertwined with our history and politics. Did you know that on average the British drink three cups a day and it is acknowledged in Britain that a cup of tea can solve anything?

Take Me To London and Teasup have been friends for a long time and when chatting over a cuppa we came up with the idea of collaborating in creating a walking tour to tell you the story of Londoners and their steamy love affair. Tea played, and still plays, an important part in London life. It shaped the city’s architecture, economy, and the etiquette of socializing.

 

The walk takes about two hours and you will have the chance to taste some tea.

We will take you on a journey through time, starting at the old tea warehouses which line the River Thames and then proceeding deep into the heart of the City. You will find out who was the first monarch to have a cuppa and whether Charles Dickens’s heroes preferred tea or coffee. As a treat for completing the walk you will receive a complementary pack of Teasup tea to take home.

 

Teasup Breakfast Blend is our signature English Breakfast tea and the key is the speciality tea leaves. It features fine-plucked very high grown smallholder tea from the best planting districts around Mt Kenya, high grown tea from the the Gisovu Tea Estate in Rwanda and premium second flush Assam leaves from the Hunwal Tea Estate in India.The result is a rich, full-bodied tea with a clean, brisk taste and golden colour. Great with a splash of milk and a perfect way to start your day.

Who are we ?

Teasup

A family business based in South West London specialising in high quality, ethically sourced tea.  We seek out excellent quality whole leaf tea from top tea gardens across the globe.  Our tea is ethically sourced because we want the tea that we drink to be improving the lives of all those working in the tea industry. We are committed to being plastic free and to environmentally friendly packaging because we want to contribute to improving the environment in which we live. You can find out more about Teasup at www.teasup.co.uk.

Take me to London

Three qualified Blue Badge Tour Guides, Ildi, Jill and Jackie, three friends with passion for tea and London’s history. We do walking tours in London, guide in museums and galleries. We have the privilege of guiding at Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower. Among us we speak 6 languages.  You can find out more on www.takemetolondon.com

 

Ildi, Jackie and Jill

As guides we believe in sustainable tourism and we just love Teasup tea, so this partnership seemed to be a perfect match.

 

A bit of fun fact to take away :

The first English breakfast blend actually comes from America! In 1843, Richard Davies, an English apothecary from Hull who had founded a small tea company in New York, made a new mix of tea that he called “English Breakfast”, and the people loved it!

 

You can book here : http://www.takemetolondon.com/the-london-tea-walk/

 

Tea Walk Gift Box – Surprise a tea enthusiast in your life with a fine tea gift

What’s in it ?  A Gift voucher for our London Tea Walk for one person, -Teasup English Breakfast Blend tea ,Teasup Loose Leaf Tea Infuser : http://www.takemetolondon.com/product/tea-walk-gift-pack/http://www.takemetolondon.com/product/tea-walk-gift-pack/

 

We are looking forward to welcoming you on our walk.  We hope it’s your cup of tea!

3 Romantic locations in London

London is a wonderful, multicultural, buzzing city, where everyone is always rushing around yet many people have found love here. The city has also inspired writers, musicians, and film makers to write film and compose about love that sprang here. Here are some of my favourite romantic locations and their stories.

 

Waterloo Clock

Manufactured by Gents of Leicester and hanging high over the main concourse, Waterloo’s huge four-sided clock has been a popular meeting point for Londoners, especially those on a romantic rendezvous, since the early 1920s.

It might be that The Kinks had the clock in mind when they wrote their 1967 hit, Waterloo Sunset… which includes the lyric, “Terry meets Julie, Waterloo station every Friday night.”

It is where in the film Man Up (starring Simon Pegg and Lake Bell) Nancy and Jack meet under the clock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQYlEBjYFs0

 

Grave of Mary Wollstonecraft  

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin later known as Mary Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft who died 11 days after giving birth to her. She met Percy Shelley in March 1814. Percy was a fan of her father who had become a frequent visitor to the Godwin home. They immediately fell in love. Percy Shelley was married, and the tomb of Mary’s mother became their secret meeting place. It is here that they first declared their love for each other.

If you want to find out more about their story why not sign up for our love in Bloomsbury virtual tour on the 20th of February: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/love-in-bloomsbury-a-virtual-literary-walk-tickets-140962190707

Rosemead Garden

The romantic Rosemead Garden is part of the Ladbroke Estate. The area was farmland until the 1820s, with tenanted farms providing rental income for its owner. In 1819 James Weller Ladbroke inherited the land and began to develop it for housing. The result was a series of streets with attractive stucco or half stucco houses, carefully designed vistas and sixteen communal gardens designed by Thomas Allom.  The garden is only accessible for the residents and it is here where in the film Notting Hill, Anna and William break in at night (“Whoops a daisy!”), The bench on which Anna and William sat was simply a prop for the film.

If you want to visit the garden in future it is possible through open garden squares day : https://londongardenstrust.org/ogsw/2020/home/index.php

Oxford and His Dark Materials Film Locations

The second season of Philip Pullman’s His Dark material is starting on BBC this Sunday. 

His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of Northern Lights (published as The Golden Compass in North America), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes. Every character has a demon which is part of their personality. It changes forms during childhood and reaches its final form when one becomes an adult. Lyra fights against the powerful Magistrate and has a golden compass that helps her to discover the truth. What does the Magistrate represent? Is it the Church? Philip Pullman is against power in general.

 The fantasy elements in His Dark Materials also include witches and armoured polar bears; the trilogy also alludes to concepts from physics, philosophy and theology.

His Dark Materials film locations in Oxford 

Although the interiors of Jordan College were all shot at Bad Wolf Studios, the crew travelled to Oxford itself for the exterior shots, with New College moonlighting as Jordan. Other Oxford landmarks you can spot in the show include The Bridge of Sighs and The Botanical Gardens.

Port Meadow 

An ancient area of common land used for grazing animals. On the far side of Port Meadow is the Thames, which floods the grass seasonally and makes this a particularly magical landscape. Filled with birds, flowers, and wildlife, the meadow was an early site for landscape paintings by Turner, and in Pullman’s Northern Lights it is the location for the Gyptian horse fair. 

Godstow Abbey 

In Pullman’s fictional universe, the abbey has survived, and its nuns are the ones to take in Lyra as a baby.

Bodleian Library 

In La Belle Sauvage where it is the home to the Bodleian alethiometer, or golden compass.

Covered Market  

The Covered Market is mentioned in Northern Lights as a place that sells fish, but in our world it’s so much more than that.

Pitt Rivers Museum 

The main floor of the museum is packed with rows of curiosity cabinets, in which are displayed weapons, pottery, jewellery, masks, textiles, decorative thingummies and of course the shrunken heads for which it is famous. It is here that Lyra investigates the Tartar phenomenon of trepanned skulls in The Subtle Knife.

Jericho 

It is here where the Gyptians moor their narrowboats, and indeed the canal that meanders through Jericho is dotted with their moorings in real life.

Philip Pullman studied at Exeter College which was an inspiration for Jordan College in the novels. He was a schoolteacher when he started to write. His father was an RAF officer who he lost very young in a plane crash. The loss of his father and the fact that he was always away features in his works. As a child he shared a room with his younger brother and they made up stories as an entertainment. A fun fact! He is superstitious and only writes on lined and 2-holed paper.

Oxford boasts many fantasy writers. Philip Pullman says it’s not that fantasy writers come to Oxford it’s rather people become fantasy writers by coming to Oxford. 

Our Oxford, a River, a Treacle Well & Inspector Morse hiking tour also takes you to these film locations. Join Us !

A hidden gem near Salisbury – St. Peter’s Church Britford

A stone’s throw away from Salisbury lies a little, yet incredibly significant church, St Peter’s Britford.

I fell in love with the church as I was walking through its pretty gates, with seats on each side inviting you to sit and reflect. It made me instantly curious what the church hidden behind the trees was like.

 

The Church

Its nave is Saxon, built probably in the 9th Century. On each side of the nave you can clearly see a round-headed Saxon arch. In the 14th century the north and south transepts were added, making the church the cruciform building it is today.

As you walk through the door and look around you notice that the pews are cordoned off at the South Transept. They are the pews used by the family of the 9th Earl of Radnor. There is also a plaque dedicated to the 5th Earl of Radnor, William Pleydell-Bouverie.

 

Who was the first Earl of Radnor?

He was William Bouverie educated at University College in Oxford, later he became the recorder of Salisbury and was appointed a fellow of the Royal Society. He was created Earl of Radnor in 1765.

Bouverie? Hang on, that is a French name! How come?

The Huguenot, Laurens Des Bouverie fled from religious persecution and settled in London. He became a prosperous silk merchant and his descendants became wealthy landowners in England. The family was ennobled in 1747 with Sir Jacob Des Bouverie becoming First Viscount Folkestone. Then his son, William, was created an Earl. Longford Castle, a 30 minute walk from the church has been the Bouverie’s home for 300 years.

 

“Off with his head! So much for Buckingham!”

If you have seen Shakespeare’s Richard III, this phrase is familiar to you. Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham was the primary suspect in the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower of London.

It all happened during the War of the Roses. Edward IV suddenly died leaving his 12 year-old and eldest son, Edward heir to the throne, with his brother, Richard as Lord Protector until Edward came of age. Edward and his younger brother Richard were taken to the Tower of London, lodged at the Royal Apartments and preparation for the coronation ceremony began. It is Important to note that all ceremonies started at the Tower of London at the time. Suddenly, evidence appeared that Edward IV had a premarital contract, meaning he was married before to Elizabeth Woodville. This meant the boys were illegitimate. Parliament petitioned Richard Duke of Gloucester to take the Throne as he was next in line. He became Richard III.

There is evidence that the boys were lodged in the Tower in September 1483, then they disappeared. Were they killed? It is still a mystery.

Bones of two boys were found under the stairs at the White Tower during the reign of Charles II and which were reburied at Westminster Abbey. Requests for DNA examinations were so far denied. Are they the bones of the princes? What happened to them?

How did Buckingham come into the picture?

Henry Stafford the Duke of Buckingham was the ally of Edward IV‘s younger brother Richard, and helped him succeed to the throne, in lieu of Edward’s living sons.

It’s interesting to note that Buckingham himself had a claim to the throne as, he himself, was a descendant of Edward III through John of Gaunt.

When he became dissatisfied with Richard, he joined with Henry Tudor and led an unsuccessful rebellion in his name. He was captured and executed for treason by Richard III on 2 November 1483 and beheaded in Salisbury Market Place. He is Buried in St. Peter’s Britford church and it is believed that his ghost can be seen sometimes at Salisbury Market place looking for his head.

If you would like to visit the Church and learn more about the story, sign up for our Harnham Hill, Britford and Salisbury tour.

A Real Steampunk Experience !

First of all what is Steampunk ?

It’s all about mixing old and new: fusing the usability of modern technology with the design aesthetic and philosophy of the Victorian age.

Steampunk in London ?? Where ?

One of London’s hidden secrets and a great fun day or evening out is the Midnight Apothecary cocktail bar at the Brunel Museum. The rooftop Garden bar is the perfect combination of Victorian engineering, design, the aesthetic of the garden and its philosophy.

It was Lottie Muir, the cocktail gardener, who transformed the scrubby wasteland into a magical potager garden above Brunel’s famous Thames Tunnel. The cocktails are infused and garnished with ingredients from the garden or foraged locally for Midnight Apothecary.

 

Apothecary and Victorians

Herbalism or botanical medicine is one of the oldest traditions around. The British Library has a copy of a ‘leech book’ – thought to date back as far as the 800s CE! Apothecaries were the ancestors of our modern-day GP. They sold wines, spices and herbs to physicians and the general public, as well as sharing their medical advice and knowledge.

It was during Victorian times, in 1843, that the National Association of Medical Herbalists was established, and as pharmacists were experimenting some great medical breakthroughs and advancements were made. Natural herbal remedies were an essential part of any Victorian lifestyle, as many could not afford a doctor. From the use of leeches, opium, and morphine, through to the more mellow herbs, plants and honey, these remedies often worked well.

Remedies were formulated on the Doctrine of Signatures, a theory by which the clues to an illness were said to be based on the colour or shape of a plant and clues were found in the parts of plants which closely resembled parts of the body.

Patent medicines were quack remedies created from secret formulas which included alcohol or opiates.

 

 

What is grown at the Midnight Apothecary?

Lavender, Hop, Lemon Verbena, Blackcurrant Sage, Chocolate Mint, Scented Geranium, Saliva Amistad, Bronze Fennel, Brazilian Vervain, Pineapple Sage, Borage, Sweet Cicely, Meadowsweet, Rhubarb, Lovage and many more herbs and plants.

For cocktail ideas you can buy The Book: Wild Cocktails from the Midnight Apothecary by LOTTIE MUIR in bookshops or online.

 

Who was Brunel?

Or better, who were the Brunels? Marc, the father, and Isambard, the son, were pioneering engineers who dug the first tunnel in the world under a navigable river. It was thought of as the eighth wonder of the world.

The construction was not easy. At some point during the works there was a collapse and the river burst through the half-excavated tunnel, killing six men. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, then a teenager, was washed so high up the shaft that he had to be dragged outside to safety. He survived this incident to build marvels including the Great Western Railway, the Clifton suspension bridge, and the SS Great Britain.

Today the entrance hall to Brunel’s 19th-century tunnel under the Thames has been turned into a unique auditorium, complete with the rumble of Tube trains.

Join our Rotherhithe walk to learn more of the story of the Tunnel and the Brunels! Discover lovely Rotherhithe’s fascinating history and have a delicious cocktail at the Midnight Apothecary !

By Ildi Pelikan

London Blue Badge Guide

In search of the Treacle Well

Join Our new Oxford historical hiking tour and discover the famous treacle well described in Alice in Wonderland.

`Once upon a time there were three little sisters,’ the Dormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well—’

And so these three little sisters—they were learning to draw, you know—’

You can draw water out of a water-well,’ said the Hatter; `so I should think you could draw treacle out of a treacle-well-eh, stupid?’
`But they were in the well,’ Alice said to the Dormouse, not choosing to notice this last remark.
`Of course they were’, said the Dormouse; `—well in.

(Lewis Carol – Alice in Wonderland)

 

Binsey and the Church

 My rambling took me on the Thames Path around Oxford. I took a bit of detour and walked to Binsey. As I approached, the first thing I found was a charming 12th century church. The Church of St Margaret of Antioch stands on the site of one of the original monasteries of St Frideswide.

According to legend St Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford who lived in the 7th century, escaped to Binsey to avoid marrying the Mercian prince Algar. The prince was blinded by lightning while looking for her, her prayers brought forth a healing spring here, and she cured his blindness with its water. She didn’t marry and founded  a monastery here and became an abbess.

The well

The well outside the church was famed for its healing properties, and many pilgrimages were made to Binsey in the middle ages. There were crutches of cured cripples adorning the church in the past.

This is the well that inspired Lewis Carroll, and it is described as a treacle well in Alice in Wonderland.

Do you know what treacle means ?  It is an old English word for medicine, and was also used to describe dark coloured undrinkable water, which from its foul palate was associated with the commonly held taste of medicine.

Binsey and its farmlands belonged to St Frideswide’s Priory during the 14th and 15th centuries, after the dissolution it was incorporated into Christ Church, a college of Oxford University, which now owns all of the buildings in Binsey.

 

If you enjoy walks and would like to see the church and the famous well. Join Our new Historic hike around Oxford. The first date is 12th of September.

Responsible tourism with Take Me to London

The current worldwide situation made us realise that responsible and sustainable tourism is the Future.

Suddenly people became more aware of nature, we can hear the birds singing, we notice the wildlife more and – when we start travelling again – venturing outdoors will be a safer option. We also realised the importance of the community, and we know that supporting small local business should be a priority.

I have always loved the outdoors and have been hiking for many years. This little project I am about to tell you about has been on my mind for quite some while.

                 (On the Pilgrims way recce walk  with Jill who is one of my ‘ partner in crime ‘ when it comes to hiking )

 

I have been a member of a hiking group for years. Their hikes vary between 14-18 miles. I enjoy their trips very much, however as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide and history buff, I always wanted to know the history of the places where we were hiking and to have some time to take pictures. These are things that hiking groups normally lack.

Having this in mind, I signed up for a Hill and Moorland Leader Award Training Course. It consisted of 3 very intensive days surrounded by beautiful scenery in the Peak District.  It was both fun and a challenge. I successfully completed the course and the forced break from work gave me time to think and create new tours combining two of my passions, guiding and hiking.

The trips created are all day trips from London. We will be travelling by train and the walking distance will not be more than 10 miles, to historic locations allowing you to take in beautiful scenery, familiarise yourself with the English countryside and learn about the history of the places. The locations chosen will be interesting for both international and domestic markets. Public tours for the domestic market are launched on ‘Meetup’ under the name ‘London Historic Walkers’;    and there will be walks which adventurous international travellers can book on our website. Groups will be small, thus enhancing the experience. For private group bookings please get in touch with us.

 

 

Our first tour from Dover to Deal was a great success. Stunning scenery combined with historical sites of the First and Second World Wars, Roman Invasions, Henry VIII, Smugglers, Boatmen, Swimmers and more.

Why hike with us?  It will be a lovely walk, easy terrain, charming English Countryside accompanied by many stories and a great deal of history. The hikes will be led by a Blue Badge Tourist Guide who has both successfully completed the Hill and Moorland Leader Award Training Course and is a member of the British Mountaineering Council.

Initially we are offering 4 tours – with more to come:

Runnymede and Windsor Historic Hike 

White Cliffs and Castles Historic Hike

Pilgrim for a Day Historic Hike 

Sissinghurst Circular Walk 

 

Check out our website for more and sign up for our newsletter so we may advise you when the tours will be starting : www.takemetolondon.com

by Ildi 

Runnymede and the Magna Carta

The Story of the Magna Carta

 

Monday 15 June marked 805 years since King John sealed Magna Carta at Runnymede.

Magna Carta, meaning the Great Charter, held the King accountable to the rule of law, just as it did his subjects. In total it was made up of 63 clauses, covering law, liberty, and the church.

The most famous and important of these clauses is :

‘No man shall be arrested or imprisoned except by the judgment of their equals and by the law of the land.’

To  no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

It was implemented through a council of 25 barons. It was the origin of parliament and democracy.’

 

What led him to sign the great charter?

King John was a highly unpopular King. He was a womaniser, he was always trying to put people in their place, fought expensive wars with France and lost lands, He imposed heavy taxes on the barons, had taken away their castles, their lands and, above all, he had established a new kind of law court presided over by the King, to which business – that previously had gone to the courts of the barons – now went.The barons rebelled, captured London, met with King John at Runnymede on the 15th of June 1215 and forced him to sign the Great Charter.

And although Magna Carta was intended to create peace between King John and his rebellious barons, England was plunged into civil war after the Pope declared the Charter invalid.

When King John died in 1216, nine year old Henry III took to the throne. To keep the peace, Magna Carta was reissued several times during the 13th century, until it was finally made part of English law.

In the 1600s, English lawyers used Magna Carta to challenge King Charles I. At this time, the King could ignore parliament and imprison anyone who opposed him. Inspired by Magna Carta, Sir Edward Coke wrote the Petition of Right, which set out to limit the King’s powers.

Magna Carta was taken overseas to America by the first British settlers. Many American colonies based their own laws on Magna Carta. During the American Independence war Magna Carta became a symbol of American liberty, and its principles were echoed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

In the 1800s the Chartists, inspired by Magna Carta, created a ‘People’s Charta’ to fight for all men to have the vote.

Nelson Mandela declared his admiration for Magna Carta and for Western democracy, which he contrasted with the oppressive South African regime.

Perhaps the most significant influence of Magna Carta today is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Written after the atrocities of World War II, the declaration states that people around the world are protected by fundamental human rights, regardless of their citizenship, race, gender or beliefs.

 

Let’s look at some of the memorials at Runnymede

Writ In Water

Designed by Mark Wallinger, this lovely artwork is based on Clause 39 of Magna Carta, and inspired perhaps by the inscription on John Keats’ grave monument. It combines sky, light and water creating a space for reflection both physically and contemplatively. I find this monument very peaceful, it is a lovely spot to sit down, observe and reflect.

 

Magna Carta Memorial

Designed by Edward Maufe and erected in 1957 by the American Bar Association.  It contains a pillar of English granite on which is inscribed “To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom Under Law”.

 

Steps of Individuality and JFK Memorial

The steps lead up the hill to the JFK memorial designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. The theme is Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and the notion of life, death and spirit. The Pilgrim, an ordinary person, travels from his hometown representing this world to the top of Mount Zion and heaven. Visitors reach the memorial by treading a steep path of irregular granite steps, intended to symbolise a pilgrimage. There are 50 steps in total, representing the 50 States of USA.  Each step is different from all others, with the entire flight made from 60,000 hand-cut granite setts.

 

The Jurors

The Jurors artwork was commissioned to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. The sculptor Hew Locke created 12 bronze chairs each of which is decorated with symbols of past and present struggles for freedom, equality and the rule of law. The artist invites participants to sit, reflect upon and discuss the themes represented.

Chair 1: Lillie Lenton, wearing medals and bandages relating to the imprisonment and activism of suffragettes, Lenton’s image is derived from a 1912 surveillance photograph taken in Holloway Prison. In the early 1900s the Suffragettes used Magna Carta to argue that all women should also have the right to vote.

Chair 9: On the back of the ninth chair we find representations of ‘The Golden Rule’ which states you should treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. Versions of this concept are found in all major world religions and philosophies and the phrase is expressed on The Jurors in 14 different languages.

 

 

Chair 5 : On the back of the fifth chair is a portrait of poet Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman (1773)

 

 

Where can you see the Magna carta ?

There are four surviving copies of Magna Carta that were dispatched within the month to various bishops, and possibly sheriffs, throughout the Kingdom. The British Library has 2, there is one each in Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.

If you would like to find out more and visit Runnymede, join us on our historical hiking tour from Runnymede to Windsor or get in touch with us for private tours.

The Last Kingdom and where to go in search of Alfred the Great

The Battle of Edington took place 1142 years ago in 878 AD between 6-12th of May.

It was a decisive battle between Alfred the Great and the Danes and it features in the Netflix series The Last Kingdom. A friend of mine, who worked as an extra, told me about the series and I got absolutely hooked on it.  The shows are based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories series of novels which are historical fiction, but many characters did exist.Let us look at them and their real story, where the series was filmed and where to go in search of Alfred the Great.

My friend as a Mercian soldier Series 4 Episode 8

Alfred – King of Wessex from 871 to c.  886 and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c.  886 to 899, a defender against Viking invasion and a social reformer; just few of the reasons why he is the only English monarch to be known as “the Great. He oversaw the conversion of Guthrum to Christianity which was also featured in the series.

Uhtred ‘s character was inspired on Uthred the Bold who was an existing person, however, he did not live during the reign of King Alfred. He was the ealdorman of all Northumbria from 1006 to 1016.  His ancient family ruled from the castle of Bamburgh on the Northumbrian coast.

Athelflaed – daughter of Alfred, Lady of Mercia. She was given the same education as her brothers, and the crises of her childhood must have given her a schooling in the realities of politics and war. It was Alfred who stopped the Vikings, but it was Aethelflaed and Edward who retook much of England. At the Battle of Wednesfield, probably near Tettenhall in the West Midlands, the northern Vikings were annihilated, shifting the balance of power. Aethelred her husband, Lord of Mercia, was much older than her unlike in the series. When he died probably in 911, the nobles accepted his wife as sole ruler, the Lady of the Mercians.

Aethelstan king of anglo-saxons, Edward’s son from his first marriage. As a child, Athelstan had been brought up in the care of his aunt, Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia. He conquered the last Viking kingdom, York, and is regarded as the first true King of England.

Hild  – Her character was inspired by the Abbess of Hild of Whitby who lived between 614–680. In 664 Hild’s monastery hosted the Synod of Whitby, which set the course for the future of Christianity in England.

Cnut – There was a Cnut ruler of Northumbria from around 900 until 905, succeeding Siefredus and we believe he might have been the inspiration for Cnut in the series who is killed by Breda after the battle of Tettenhall.   You might also have heard of Cnut The Great, son of Sweyn Forkbeard who in the autumn of 1016, successfully invaded England.

Was it filmed in England? 

No. The series is filmed primarily in Hungary, with most scenes at the eight acres near Budapest owned by Korda Studios with its Medieval Village Set and surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes.

Sets recreating 10th century Winchester, the ancient capital of Wessex, and the Mercian city of Aegelsburg – now Aylesbury – were built in two places. The external sets were built near the village of Göböljárás, just over 30km west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest, with interiors created a few miles north of Budapest near the banks of the Danube bend. The locations for battles were near Budapest. There are no hedges to divide land and it has a sense of wildness. Welsh hills were the hills near Esztergom. The set of the medieval village which was used for the filming of the World Without End miniseries based on Ken Follett novel was extended and a Castle was added.

You can now visit the film set in Etyek at Korda Film Park  which opened on the 3rd of June 2020

www.kordafilmpark.hu

 

Where to go in Search of Alfred?

British Library – You can see The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great.

Ashmolian Museum in Oxford where you can see Alfred’s Jewel as once attached to the base of a rod, probably made of wood. Its function was to be the handle for a pointer stick for following words when reading a book. In Series 2 Alfred hands it to his nephew Aethelwold for his travels through Mercia to Northumbria.

Winchester

It was Alfred who established the city as the Capital of Wessex and turned it into the most important centre of art and learning. The stretch along the banks of the River Itchen is one of my favourite places in England.

Alfred’s remains are known to have been moved several times since he was buried in Winchester’s Old Minster in 899. They were moved in 904 to a new church to be alongside his wife and children, before being moved again to Hyde Abbey in 1110.The abbey was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 and studies indicate the tomb was robbed.

It is believed some bones were put on display in the 19th Century before being buried at St Bartholomew Church. The bones were exhumed in 2013 and examined but were found to belong to later centuries. Then in 2014 a section of human pelvis, carbon-dated to within the lifetimes of Alfred the Great and his son Edward the Elder, was found in Winchester in a cardboard box kept at Winchester Museum, having been excavated from the abbey site in 1999. Is it Alfred?  Who knows? It will always remain a mystery.

 

                          Get in touch with us if you fancy a guided tour in Winchester to learn more!