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Prepare for the ultimate historical adventure as over 2,000 costumed performers bring the story of England to life over one action-packed weekend14th – 15th July 2012

HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2012

Bringing over 2,000 years of history to life, Festival of History 2012 is packed full of spectacular battle re-enactments, awesome combat displays and celebrations of daily life through the ages.

MAIN ARENA

  • The 1066 Battle of Hastings (NEW!) – Sat & Sun, 12.30pm
    For the first time at Festival of History, re-live the atmosphere and tension of one of England’s most famous conflicts, and witness the making of the most famous date in our history.
  • The Battle of Stoke Field – Sat & Sun, 11am
    See the last bloody battle of the Wars of the Roses brought to life, as the Tudor age begins and Henry VII takes the English crown.
  • Drop Zone D-Day – Sat & Sun, 4pm
    We’ve a surprise in the skies to help our heroes on the ground in a World War Two battle re-enactment.
  • Prince Malik’s Lancers – Sat & Sun, 1pm
    A favourite with all the family, enjoy this truly spectacular show of unparalleled horsemanship and skill.

PARADE GROUND

  • The Roman Imperial Army – Sat & Sun, 12.15pm & 3pm
    Witness the might and power of the Roman Empire, with a trip back to the 1st century AD.
  • Medieval Joust Tournament – Sat & Sun, 2pm
    A firm favourite returning for 2012, cheer on your champion in the 15th century full-contact joust.
  • The War of 1812 (NEW!) – Sat & Sun, 11.30am
    In the year of the Bicentenary we remember the epic conflict, fought on land and sea between the new United States of America and the British Empire.
  • Victorian Gymkhana – Sat & Sun, 11am
    Watch in wonder as our elegant Ladies and Gentlemen dazzle you with displays of skill and bravery in this Victorian equestrian show

LIVING HISTORY

  • Gladiators! – Are you ready? With awesome hand-to-hand combat displays, our Gladiators keep the ferocious ancient sport alive. And there isn’t a ‘travelator’ in sight!
  • Edwardian Falconry – Marvel at the breathtaking speed and grace of falcons in flight, learn about the history of these magnificent birds of prey and their use throughout the Edwardian era.
  • First World War Music Hall (NEW!)- If the action in the main arena gets too much, escape for a good old sing song in the First World War Music Hall. (Please note that this will replace the Victorian Music Hall previously advertised.)
  • Second World War Vintage Fashion & Beauty (NEW!) – Fancy a new look? Pick up some wartime tricks and tips at these new demonstrations of fashion from the ’40s.

AND MUCH MORE!

  • First World War Trench Experience – Extended for 2012, experience what life would have been like in the Great War in the recreated First World War trench.
  • Festival of Historical Writing – Back by popular demand!
  • Family Zone – From creating giant historical street scenes in the Family Activity Tent to sandcastle building on the Victorian Beach, there’s plenty for all the family to enjoy together.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/foh-2012/

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After hunting for buried treasure for three decades – and not finding a great deal – even the most diligent of us might have given up.

But not Reg Mead and Richard Miles. The two amateur metal detectors kept up their search of the same area throughout the decades and have finally struck gold – or rather silver.

A coin in the hand: Archaeologists believe the hoard, found by two metal detectors, is worth about £10million

A coin in the hand: Archaeologists believe the hoard, found by two metal detectors, is worth about £10million

 

They have unearthed the largest hoard of Celtic coins ever found. Each one of the 30,000–50,000 coins is estimated to be worth around £200 each, putting the value of the haul at up to £10milion

  • Coins were buried to protect them from Julius Caesar
  • Three-quarter ton hoard estimated to be worth £10m
  • Two enthusiasts searched for three decades in field in Jersey

They are thought to be from the first century BC and were found buried 3ft deep under a hedge in a farmer’s field on Jersey.

Two thousand years ago the Channel Island – which remains a popular spot to stash large sums of money –  was a refuge for tribes fleeing what is now northern France from the invading Roman armies.

As the legions of Julius Ceasar drew closer, the treasure is thought to have been buried by a Celtic tribe called the Coriosolitae, in the hope it could be dug up once the danger had passed.

And there the coins – packed in clay and weighing a ton – have remained undisturbed until last week.

The men who discovered them, Mr Mead, 70, and Mr Miles, a customs officer in his 40s, suspected treasure was in the area three decades ago, when they heard rumours a farmer had found some silver pieces on his land. After a series of largely unsuccessful forays in the area, they unearthed a stash of 120 coins in February.

Mr Mead, a grandfather who lives with wife Ruth in St Clement, Jersey, said: ‘Richard found the first one and it was amazing – when you see him raising his hand above his head (saying) “got one”.’

The pair used a powerful metal detector known as a deepseeker to search for more treasure in the field and struck lucky last week

‘The machine picked up a really strong signal – so we immediately got in touch with professional archaeologists,’ Mr Mead said. ‘They started digging and we could not believe how many coins there were.

‘All of them were stuck together. I have been searching for things like this since 1959 and never found anything on this scale before.

‘We had been searching that land for 30 years.’

After four days of careful digging the hoard was hauled to the surface by crane. It will now be subject of an inquest to determine ownership rights

Mr Mead added: ‘I am absolutely numb at the moment. To find one haul of coins in a lifetime is rare, but to find two is just unheard of.’

The location of the find is being kept secret.

Neil Mahrer of Jersey Heritage Museum, who helped to excavate the money, said: ‘This is the biggest Celtic coin hoard ever found which is tremendously exciting.’

The previous record find was in 1935 at La Marquanderie in Jersey when more than 11,000 were discovered.

Mr Mahrer added that the coins, which are called staters and quarter staters, weigh as much as a 50p piece.

‘All the coins are silver and a common theme is a picture of a man or god’s head on one side of the coin and a horse on the other,’ he said. ‘They are covered in green corrosion because the silver is mixed with copper and copper corrodes. But they should come up again in a good condition.’

Dr Philip de Jersey, a former Celtic coin expert at Oxford University, said: ‘The find is very significant. It will add a huge amount of new information, not just about the coins themselves, but the people who were using them.’

Article by By COLIN FERNANDEZ – Daily Mail

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More than 30,000 Roman coins were found by archaeologists working in Bath in 2007, it has been revealed.

The silver coins are believed to date from 270AD and have been described as the fifth largest UK hoard ever found.

The coins were found close to the Roman Baths

The coins were found close to the Roman Baths

The coins are fused together and were sent to the British Museum. Conservators are expected to take at least a year to work through them.

A campaign has now been started at the Roman Baths to try to raise £150,000 to acquire and display them.

The size of the find is not as large as the Frome Hoard in April 2010 when more than 53,500 coins were discovered by metal detectorist Dave Crisp near Frome in Somerset.

The coins found in this hoard date from a similar time and are thought to be the largest ever discovered in a Roman town in the UK.

Roman Baths spokesman Stephen Clews said: “We’ve put in a request for a formal valuation and then hope to buy the coins to display them at the baths.

“At the time there was a lot of unrest in the Roman Empire so there may be some explanation for why the coins were hidden away.

“The find is also unusual as it was discovered by professional archaeologists as opposed to an amateur using a metal detector,” he added.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-17480016

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For a 200-year-old literary figure, Charles Dickens has much to say about the issues of today.

So believes Queen’s University English Prof. Robert Morrison, who says Dickens — born Feb. 7, 1812 — was both a man of his times and a forward-thinker.

In his many novels — including such classics as “A Christmas Carol,” “David Copperfield” and “Oliver Twist” — Dickens wrote about issues that still resonate today.

Morrison says Dickens brought attention to child poverty, over-population, environmental degradation and greed.

The popular storyteller’s 200th birthday is being celebrated Tuesday by admirers around the world.

Morrison says Dickens, who visited Canada briefly while on a reading tour, was the most popular author of his day and known world-wide.

“He is a man of his time but … he does map in a lot of what still preoccupies us today.”

“One of the things that I find really compelling about Dickens is his discussion of and sympathy for the vulnerable in society, especially children.”

Dickens was able to depict 19th-century Britain as a powerful country at the forefront of progress and technology, Morrison said.

But as Dickens so cleverly put it: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of wealth and there are a whole bunch of people who are not sharing in any of it,” said Morrison.

“That alienation and sadness in the lower classes among poor people, Dickens gives these people an incredibly powerful voice.”

While a master at creating entertaining stories, comical characters and biting caricatures, the 19th-century writer also had his finger on the pulse of his times, says Morrison.

“Dickens represents alienation and poverty with a vividness and a chillingness that is remarkable. He really is very socially minded.”

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca

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A medieval barn described by the poet John Betjeman as the ‘cathedral of Middlesex’ has been rescued from decay and neglect for the nation, English Heritage said today.

Grade I-listed Harmondsworth Barn in west London joins the likes of Stonehenge, Osborne House and parts of Hadrian’s Wall in the national collection of historic sites and monuments under the guardianship of English Heritage.

Historic: The exquisite oak structure was created by skilled carpenters, whose signature marks can still be seen, in the 15th Century

Historic: The exquisite oak structure was created by skilled carpenters, whose signature marks can still be seen, in the 15th Century

Built by Winchester College in 1426, the barn would have been used to store grain from the surrounding manor, owned by the Bishop of Winchester, with profits from the produce used to pay for the school

The structure resembles the nave of a large church, standing at nearly 60 metres (200ft) long, 12 metres (40ft) wide, and 11 metres (36ft) high, with 13 huge oak trusses resting on stone blocks holding up the roof.

While it has had some repairs over the years, most recently by English Heritage to make it weather-proof and keep out pigeons, the structure is largely as it was built, with the timber and stones still bearing original carpenter and mason marks.

The oak-framed barn, which the heritage agency said ranks alongside the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace for its historic value, was used up until the 1970s but fell into disrepair in the ownership of an offshore company which had bought it in 2006

It is thought the purchase by a Gibraltar-based company for £1 was a speculative one, as the barn stands just metres from where Heathrow’s third runway – had it gone ahead – would have been built.

In 2009, English Heritage became concerned about the barn’s deteriorating condition and issued an urgent works notice for emergency repairs to keep it water and wind-tight.

The barn became known as “Cathedral of Middlesex”

A dispute over payment for the emergency works led to English Heritage buying the barn, which lies between the M25 and M4 motorways, for £20,000.

The barn’s precarious state was publicised in 2009 when building-preservation journal Cornerstone published an article on the gaping holes and disrepair.

Michael Dunn, historic buildings inspector for English Heritage, said the building was the best preserved and largest surviving medieval timber barn in England, probably in Europe.

It is the ninth largest in Europe he said, adding that ‘for its size , and its state of preservation, it is unique.’

‘This is high status, this is the finest timber, and a very confident carpenter. This is as good as it gets,’ he said.

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: ‘Harmondsworth Barn is one of the greatest medieval buildings in Britain, built by the same skilled carpenters who worked on our magnificent medieval cathedrals.

‘Its rescue is at the heart of what English Heritage does – protecting this nation’s architectural treasures and helping people discover our national story through them.

‘We will complete the repair of this masterpiece and, working with local people, will open it to the public to enjoy.’

A local group, the Friends of the Great Barn at Harmondsworth, formed around six years ago and have been dedicated to preserving the building, researching its history and keeping up the interest in its future, opening it each year to around 400-500 visitors during the Open House weekend.

The barn will now be open for free two Sundays a month between April and October, staffed by volunteers, with plans to open it every Sunday from next year.

Phil Rumsey, chairman of the group, said: ‘After working to save the barn over the last six years, it is wonderful that English Heritage have rescued this much-loved building. It will provide a great lift to the community.’

Archaeologist Justine Bayley told The Guardian: ‘If we had a pound for everyone who walks in here and says “wow!” we could have re-roofed the building twice over. It’s really the only appropriate response.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093598/Medieval-barn-described-cathedral-Middlesex-joins-Stonehenge-national-collection-historical-sites.html#ixzz1kxEY35Ci

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VisitWiltshire has launched a new handy sized Wiltshire Downs & Market Towns pocket guide and map, offering helpful information as part of an on-going campaign to attract and retain visitors to the county.
Wilsthire White Horse

The 24-page pocket guide details a host of attractions and activities to suit all ages, with information about events and festivals, food and drink, history and heritage, and the great outdoors.

David Andrews Chief Executive of VisitWiltshire highlighted the need for the guide: “This new guide is all part of the work we’re doing to celebrate the diversity of the county’s tourism product and to raise the profile of Wiltshire as a must-see holiday destination.  This is a new title for us and I’m particularly pleased that we’ve had such strong support in producing this guide from the local travel industry.”

The Wiltshire Downs are home to some of the UK’s most exciting and iconic attractions including:

The White Horses cut into the chalk hillside
The Ridgeway long distance path, which has been called the oldest road in Britain
Crofton Pumping Station, which houses the oldest working beam engine in the world
Caen Hill locks, arguably the most impressive flight of locks in the UK
Avebury, one of the most important Megalithic monuments in Europe consisting of 200 standing stones in two great circles.  This is combined with a massive bank and ditch which covers more than 28 acres
The new guide is split into clear sections making it easy for visitors to find just what they are looking for.  Amongst the highlights are events listings, suggestions for days out and plenty of pages dedicated to food and drink.  There is also a map showing the location of each individual attraction and activity.

David Dawson, Chair of Devizes Area Tourism Partnership and Director of Wiltshire Heritage Museum said, “We are delighted that VisitWiltshire has produced this timely new Wiltshire Towns & Market Towns Pocket Guide.  Given all the changes to tourism in Devizes lately it’s fantastic to see VisitWiltshire proactively targeting new visitors in this way, informing them of the best to see and do in the area.  Many of our attractions are now acting as mini tourist information centres and will be stocking the guide for anyone to use.”

As well as local circulation, the print run of 30,000 copies will be distributed proactively as part of VisitWiltshire’s marketing drive to bring additional visitors to the county.  Additional content is available to visitors online at www.visitwiltshire.co.uk.

Copies of the free ‘Pocket Guide and Map’ are available from VisitWiltshire by calling 0845 602 7323 or can be downloaded from the internet by visiting www.visitwiltshire.co.uk.

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Penelope Keith hosts To The Manor Reborn at AveburyA manor house in Wiltshire is to be completely restored for a new BBC One series presented by Penelope Keith.

Avebury Manor House

Avebury Manor House

The four hour-long episodes will see the National Trust property Avebury Manor refurbished by a team of historians, experts, and volunteers.

Keith, who played snobbish aristocrat Audrey fforbes-Hamilton in the sitcom To The Manor Born, will be joined by Flog It! presenter Paul Martin.

To the Manor Reborn will be broadcast later in the year.

The series will follow the refurbishment of the 500-year-old property in Avebury as it is brought back to life.

Teams of craftsmen, furniture makers and interior design experts will restore the interior of the Grade I listed house to reflect its long history.

‘Push the boundaries’

BBC One controller Danny Cohen said: “Our partnership with the National Trust on this ambitious project encapsulates so many of the BBC’s ambitions.

“The channel aims to keep engaging audiences in new ways and this series offers them the chance to follow the story on screen, and to experience it first hand.”

Sarah Staniforth, the museums and collections director for the National Trust, said: “It is not only a unique opportunity to engage viewers in the history of interior design and architecture but is also a way for the trust to push the boundaries in bringing properties to life.”

Among the guests on To The Manor Reborn will be architectural expert Dan Cruickshank and gardener David Howard.

Avebury Manor will be closed for much of the year while the series is being filmed. It will be reopened as an “immersive experience” in the autumn.

Avebury Manor and Garden

An establishment of monastic origins, the present buildings dates from early 16th century with Queen Anne alterations and Edwardian renovations. The gardens are of an Edwardian style and features much topiary.

Link: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-avebury/w-visit-avebury_filming-at-avebury-manor.htm

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