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The main Christmas customs were those that were common throughout

Morris Dancers

Morris Dancers

the country and which came from a time when farm labourers worked most days of the year, and often on Christmas Day morning. Mummers plays were a favourite and would normally be performed in the evenings in the big houses and farmhouses of the area. The performers would be rewarded with food and drink and, sometimes, with money. Most villages had a group of men who were the mummers and both words and actions of the play and costumes and props would be handed down from one generation to the next. Places from which mummers’ plays are remembered include, Stourton, Cricklade, Limpley Stoke, Amesbury, Maiden Bradley, Horningsham, Wootton Rivers, Woodford, Quidhampton, Stockton and Winterslow. Around Swindon in the 1830s, when it was still a small market town, they are recorded as going from door to door and, more especially, from pub to pub.

Carol singers were often groups of boys, or sometimes the church choir, who would visit the big houses of the neighbourhood collecting money. As with carol singers until the 1970s, these always gave good value by singing the full carol. At the larger houses they might sing two or three. There were some local carols, most of which have been lost, and some of these were original while others were adaptations of well known carols. At Berwick St. James it was the custom to wake up householders on Christmas morn by singing carols, which were learned by one generation from the preceding one.

An earlier tradition was wassail. Originally a fertility rite with live animals this later degenerated into processing around the streets, singing and collecting money in the wassail bowl. This happened at Cricklade where a live ox was once involved; by the 19yth century this had become a withey frame covered with a cured ox hide. In a few parts of the county, such as Everleigh, the parson organised a Christmas Ale for his parishioners, where instead of money being raised for the church the participants were provided with bread, cheese and beer. These seem to have died out in the early 17th century.

(Source: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getfaq.php?id=194 and http://www.wiltshirefolkarts.org.uk/wfmummers.htm, A Wiltshire Christmas, by John Chandler. Alan Sutton, The Folklore of Wiltshire, by Ralph Whitlock. Batsford)

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wesse

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Wanted to claryfy that we have not misspelt our tour company name. HisTOURies comes from two words  ‘history’ and ‘stories’ – clever eh?
We operate guided historical (hisTOURical) sightseeing tours of Britain.  Our expert guides (historians or hisTOURians) bring Britain’s rich history (hisTOURy) alive with tales’s and stoiries (sTOURys or sTOURies) of ancient England.
‘It is not spelt incorrectly.’
Hope thats clear (clear as mud)……………..
Our award winning tours can depart from London, Salisbury, Bath or Glastonbury.  Please visit our website:
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in British History (hisTOURy)

Histories (Herodotus)

The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known around the Mediterranean and Western Asia at that time. It is not an impartial record but it remains one of the West’s most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established without precedent the genre and study of history in the Western world, although historical records and chronicles existed beforehand.

Perhaps most importantly, it stands as one of the first, and surviving, accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, the events of, and causes for, the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other.

The Histories was at some point through the ages divided into the nine books of modern editions, conventionally named after the Muses.

Herodotus seems to have travelled extensively around the ancient world, conducting interviews and collecting stories for his book. At the beginning of The Histories, Herodotus sets out his reasons for writing it:

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK Stories in History

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Vandals have destroyed one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain and chopped down a tree said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, Somerset, is visited by thousands every year to pay homage and leave tokens of worship. Those visiting today were moved to tears on finding the tree cut to a stump.

The sacred tree is unique in that it blossoms twice a year – at Christmas and Easter – and sprigs taken from the thorn are sent to The Queen each year for the festive table.

the vandalised holy thorn tree Police tape surrounds the vandalised Holy Thorn tree on Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury as stunned locals look on. The branches were cut off overnight and a police investigation has been launched

 

The tree in all its glory before it was hacked apart. Legend says it sprang from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who helped Jesus of the cross. To the right of the tree, in the distance, is Glastonbury TorThe tree in all its glory before it was hacked apart. Legend says it sprang from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who helped Jesus of the cross. To the right of the tree, in the distance, is Glastonbury Tor

 

A member of the public gathers sprigs from the vandalised Holy Thorn tree that was cut down overnight
People come to say prayers over the vandalised remains of the hawthorn tree on Wearyall Hill

A member of the public gathers sprigs from the chopped branches while (right) onlookers cry and say prayers

BROUGHT TO LIFE BY JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, CHOPPED DOWN BY CROMWELL’S ROUNDHEADS, REBORN THANKS TO LOCALS

oliver cromwell

Christian legend dictates that Jesus’s great uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, came to Britain after the crucifixion 2,000 years ago bearing the Holy Grail – the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.

He visited Glastonbury and thrust his staff into Wearyall Hill, just below the Tor, planting a seed for the original thorn tree.

Roundheads felled the tree during the English Civil War, when forces led by Oliver Cromwell (pictured) waged a vicious battle against the Crown.

However, locals salvaged the roots of the original tree, hiding it in secret locations around Glastonbury.

It was then replanted on the hill in 1951. Other cuttings were also grown and placed around the town – including its famous Glastonbury Abbey.

Experts had verified that the tree – known as the Crategus Monogyna Bi Flora – originated from the Middle East.

A sprig of holy thorns was taken from the Thorn tree by Glastonbury’s St Johns Church on Wednesday and sent to the Queen.

The 100-year-old tradition will see the thorns sit on Her Majesty’s dinner table on Christmas Day

Avon and Somerset Police have launched an investigation after locals found that vandals had hacked off the branches of the iconic tree. They were dumped next to the trunk which is protected by a metal cage.

Locals wept openly today at the foot of the tree, on the town’s Wearyall Hill opposite its world-famous Tor as they struggled to contain their emotion.

Katherine Gorbing, curator of Glastonbury Abbey, said: ‘The mindless vandals who have hacked down this tree have struck at the heart of Christianity.

‘It holds a very special significance all over the world and thousands follow in the footsteps of Joseph Arimathea, coming especially to see it.

‘It is the most significant of all the trees planted here and can be linked back to the origins of Christianity.

‘When I arrived at the Abbey this morning you could look over to the hill and see it was not there.

‘It’s a great shock to everyone in Glastonbury – the landscape of the town has changed overnight.’

Glastonbury Mayor John Coles rushed to the tree site after he heard the news.

Mr Coles, 66, said: ‘I’m stood on Wearyall Hill looking at a sad, sad, sight. The tree has been chopped down – someone has taken a saw to it.

‘Some of the main trunk is there but the branches have been sawn away. I am absolutely lost for words – I just do not know why people would want to do this.

‘This tree was visited by thousands of people each year and is one of the most important Christian sites. It is known all over the world.’

Deputy Mayor William Knight, 63, added: ‘This is absolutely mindless. We are all devastated.’

I lived in Glastonbury for many years and this is a sad day……………

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – King Arthur Tours

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Mid-winter festivals were observed in Britain long before Christianity reached our shores. In ancient Britain, the Winter Solstice (near December 22) was seen as a turning point in the cold dark months. Rituals were held to encourage the return of the sun and banish evil spirits believed to lurk in the bleakest days. On the last day of winter, called Yule, a huge log was added to a bonfire and people gathered round to summon the sun by singing and dancing. Houses were decorated with green plants, particularly mistletoe and holly, as a symbol of fertility and rebirth the new season would bring.
Victorian Christmas Celebration

Saturnalia, a very popular Roman festival, was held in mid-December. It was celebrated in countries across the Empire, including Britain which was occupied by the Romans from 43 to the early part of the fifth century. The week long party was held in honour of the Roman God Saturn. Revellers enjoyed feasting, visiting family and sharing gifts. The festival offered temporary social freedom for slaves who were excused from work and allowed privileges, such as the right to gamble.

In 596, St. Augustine undertook a mission to bring Christianity to the Anglo Saxons. He and his monks introduced the Christian calendar to Britain, including the Christmas date. The Christian church decreed Christ’s birthday be celebrated on December 25, a decision made by the Pope in 336. As Christianity spread across Britain, pagan celebrations were mainly engulfed by or assimilated in to Christmas ritual.

Varied Christmas activities were adopted across Britain.

In England, people ate frumenty (a type of porridge made from corn) on Christmas morning. The recipe changed over time and eggs, fruit, spice, lumps of meat and dried plums were added. The whole mixture was wrapped in a cloth and boiled. This is the origin of plum pudding.

Christmas festivities in Ireland last from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany on 6th January, which is referred to as Little Christmas. Many Irish women bake a seed cake for each person in the house. It is also Irish tradition to bake three puddings, one for each key day of the Epiphany – Christmas, New Year’s Day and the Twelfth Night.

In Scotland, Christmas has traditionally been celebrated very quietly because the Presbyterian Church places no great emphasis on the date. The season is however enjoyed by many Scots. A popular Scottish festive party involved the building of big bonfires which people could gather round for warmth, dancing and to play bagpipes. A time-honoured Scottish Christmas treat is Bannock cakes made of oatmeal.

In Wales, music was vital to the festive celebrations. Christmas morning between 3am and dawn men gathered at churches to sing carols until the cockerel crowed. This was called Plygrain.

Taffy making on Christmas Eve was one of the most important festive traditions of the Welsh. Taffy is a special kind of chewy toffee made from brown sugar and butter. It is boiled and then pulled until it becomes lovely and glossy.

Britain today is home to many different cultures and mid-winter is, as it always has been, a time for diverse cultural celebration.

Thankyou for all your Christmas wishes.  Have a wonderful Christmas from all the Histouries UK team.

External Links:
http://www.welcome2london.org.uk/christmas-xmas-festive-new-year-london-tours-uk.htm
http://www.visitlondon.com/events/christmas/
http://www.christmasinlondon.net/

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in British History

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Us Brits love Christmas. Our ancient streets come alive as thousands of shoppers and party-goers make their way past carol singers and chestnut vendors under a canopy of shimmering festive lights. The shops are overflowing with gifts, decorations and delicious food, and there are thousands of seasonal events from carol services to wild parties as the holiday spirit takes hold

Why is England a good place to visit at Christmas time?
Christmas is Britain’s most popular holiday and is characterised by traditions that date back hundreds of years. Many Christmas customs that originated in Britain have been adopted in the United States. There is nothing more magical than wandering through a British garden on a crisp, clear winter day: the sun, low in the sky, sparkling on elegant branches; the satisfying crunch of early morning frost underfoot; the delicate scent of winter-flowering shrubs. Holly berries bring a splash of colour to the festive season. Shortly after New Year, snowdrops poke their heads through the earth. Hints of spring arrive in late February as buds begin to appear on trees and the petals of early daffodils unfold.

Bath Christmas Market

Bath Christmas Market

 

1. Christmas Traditions • Pantomimes • Crackers • Dinner • Decorations • Mistletoe
2. Father Christmas
3. Queens Speech
4. Boxing Day

1: (Pantomines) In the UK, the word ‘Pantomine’ means a form of entertainment, generally performed during the Christmas season. Most cities throughout UK have a form of pantomine at this time of year. The origins of British pantomine, or ‘Panto’ as they are know as today, date back to the middle ages. Panto is generally aimed at children however adults from all ages thoughly enjoy this show. Pantos are based on childrens fairy tales and legends (Aladdin, Cinderalla, Jack and the Bean Stalk). It is traditional for the audience to join in with the panto – cheering the hero or heroine and hissing at the villains. Many phrases to be learnt before seeing a panto are “He’s behind you!” and “Oh yes he is!”, although this may seem strange to be reading all will become clear when watching a British pantomine.
(Cracker) The pulling of Christmas crackers often accompanies food on Christmas Day. Invented by a London baker in 1846, a cracker is a brightly coloured paper tube, twisted at both ends, which contains a party hat, riddle and toy or other trinket. When it is pulled by two people it gives out a crack as its contents are dispersed.
(Dinner) Christmas Day sees the opening of presents and many families attend Christmas services at church. Christmas dinner consists traditionally of a roast turkey, goose or chicken with stuffing and roast potatoes. This is followed by mince pies and Christmas pudding flaming with brandy, which might contain coins or lucky charms for children. (The pudding is usually prepared weeks beforehand and is customarily stirred by each member of the family as a wish is made.) Later in the day, a Christmas cake may be served – a rich baked fruit cake with marzipan, icing and sugar frosting.
(Decorations) Christmas decorations in general have early origins. Holly, ivy and mistletoe are associated with rituals going back beyond the Dark Ages. (The custom of kissing beneath a sprig of mistletoe is derived from an ancient pagan tradition.) The Christmas tree was popularised by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, who introduced one to the Royal Household in 1840. Since 1947, the country of Norway has presented Britain annually with a large Christmas tree which stands in Trafalgar Square in commemoration of Anglo-Norwegian cooperation during the Second World War.
(Mistletoe) Mistletoe, considered sacred by the British Druids, was believed to have many miraculous powers. Among the Romans, it was symbol of peace, and, it was said that when enemies met under it, they discarded their arms and declared a truce. From this comes our custom of kissing under the mistletoe. England was the first country to use it during the Christmas season. 2.
2. (Father Christmas) The English gift giver is called Father Christmas. He wears a long red or green robe, and leaves presents in stockings on Christmas Eve. However, the gifts are not usually opened until the following afternoon. Father Christmas delivers them during the night before Christmas. The Children leave an empty stocking or pillowcase hanging at the end of the bed. In the morning they hope it will be full of presents.
3. (Queens Speech) Another traditional feature of Christmas afternoon is the Queen’s Christmas Message to the nation, broadcast on radio and television. This normally occurs in the mid afternoon after most people have eaten their Christmas Dinner. The Queen summaries the events of the year past and looks to the future. 4. (Boxing Day) Christmas day is followed by Boxing day (26th December). which takes its name from a former custom of giving a Christmas Box – a gift of money or food inside a box – to the deliverymen and trades people who called regularly during the year. This tradition survives in the custom of tipping the milkman, postman, dustmen and other callers of good service at Christmas time normally on the run up to Christmas.

A Christmas Market Christmas Markets are loved by everyone – the little wooden chalets selling all sorts of goodies and the magical atmosphere created by special Christmas fragrances of pine branches and incense and of course the hot mulled wine to keep you warm! The stalls filled with wooden smoking men, Christmas pyramids, music boxes, straw stars, angels and all manner of wooden decorations. Then you have the stalls with the lebkuchen, stollen and fresh sugared almonds – tempting you with Christmas aromas. Friends and family meet up to enjoy the day together and everyone gets absorbed in the excitement of Christmas.

Bath Christmas Market – A very traditional style English Christmas Market will be runnning every day from December 2nd – 11th selling a a wide variety of original hand crafted gifts, decorations, cards and toys. With the famous Bath Abbey and Roman Baths providing an amazing backdrop to this event, you will know that the festive season has really arrived in Bath. You will have plenty of time on tour for some Christmas shopping!
Windsor Christmas Market – A traditional German market which will be running throughout December. There will be individual wooden chalets each offering a variety of hand-made goods or sumptuous fare! Perfect for Christmas shopping!

More historical Chrismas facts coming soon. 
External Links:
Welcome2London – Christmas in the Capital

Wiltshire Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours at Christmas time

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A gentleman’s disagreement

© Hulton Archive - Getty

The contest for cricket’s Ashes is being fought again. Mike Cronin and Richard Holt consider the place of the Bodyline Series, in the context of its times
 (see bottom of blog for ‘The rules of cricket)

This winter, cricket fans in Australia and in England will be captivated by cricketing battles between the two nations. While this current Ashes series will be tense, it will surely never equal the notorious Bodyline Series of 1932–33 for drama on the field and rancorous politics off it.

Why is it still so controversial? Why do books and films still ponder the ethics of a test series of 70 years ago in which the gentleman amateur Douglas Jardine, (ex-Winchester School and Oxford University), ordered his fearsome fast bowlers, Larwood and Voce, both working class professionals, to bowl at the upper body of the Australian batsmen. The theory was that they would either be caught out by a ring of close leg side fielders or be so intimidated they would lose confidence and give their wicket away. Contrary to widespread public perception, there was no intention to knock them out though that was clearly a serious risk.

The plan worked. England regained the Ashes with a 4–1 series victory. The bodyline tactic was aimed at the brilliant young Australian batsman, Don Bradman, who had destroyed England’s team on their home ground in 1930 with an astonishing series average of 139.14. Jardine came to believe Bradman could be intimidated and that it was legitimate to do so. It was not forbidden by the laws of the game and therefore in his view not against the code of sportsmanship by which Englishmen were supposed to live and the ethic of fair play through which the British supposedly governed their vast Empire.

It was precisely this sacred code which the Australians claimed that Jardine had broken and his methods were denounced in a mysteriously leaked telegram to Lord’s as “unsportsmanlike”. In a reversal of the established stereotypes, the English became ruthless win-at-all-costs Aussies and the Australians the decent English gents.

  Cricket– but not as we know it

 England’s cricketing authorities defended their captain during the series, only to distance themselves later and dangerous fast bowling from both ends. In fact, it was the declare bodyline bowling against the laws of the game. After a couple of years the moral order of the British Empire symbolised by cricket had been restored. The narrative that wrapped itself round the Bodyline Series was simple and monolithic. Douglas Jardine emerges as an upper class snob who despised the Australians.

His bowlers, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, are seen as honest but misdirected working class professionals who unquestioningly did the bidding of their fl awed captain. Set against the pantomime villain and his stooges there is Bill Woodfull, the brave Australian captain, and most famous victim of Larwood’s fast bowling onslaught, hit over the heart at Adelaide in the third test, and uttering the most famous words in the long history of the Ashes: “there are two teams out there. One is trying to play cricket and the other is not”.

While the established narrative of bodyline makes a nice moral tale – essentially a battle of good against evil – this history of the event is far too simple. Jardine is branded as the instigator of intimidating batsmen with dangerous fast bowling from both ends. In fact it was the massive Warwick Armstrong who started this in 1920 when he led the Australians to the only 5–0 whitewash of England in Ashes history. Armstrong used his fearsome pace attack of Jack Gregory and Ted Macdonald to terrify batsmen both in Australia and on the return trip to England in 1921 where one batsman after another was injured by the captain’s ruthless tactics.

Perhaps the 1932–3 Australians got things out of proportion.Warwick Armstrong, by then a journalist, thought so. Here the economic and political context come in, as the game was played against a background of world depression. Trade and constitutional disputes were aggravating the painful memories of the First World War, in which many Australians felt their lives were sacrificed because of the arrogance of the British public school officer class – the Jardine type, the colonial ruling class so many Australians had left Britain to escape.

As Brett Hutchins (author of a book on Don Bradman) noted, the whole series, for the Australians at least, spoke of “a transcendent nationalism represented by Bradman, ‘the legend’, is squared off against the English enemy”. In a similar vein, one writer in the Sydney Morning Herald noted “the Bodyline Series of 1932/3 had special significance. It was not only the Old Country determined to win in a way that was not cricket; it was young Australia coming to maturity and a new sense of independence. Leading the resistance, striking blows for Australia, was ‘our Don Bradman’. The Bradman legend was created by bodyline bowling”.

It’s war out there

 That Australia had its own national agenda tends to be forgotten in all the furore over bodyline. Another factor was that the British public was largely unaware of what was happening. Reports from the English press in Australia that arrived in England one or two days late largely ignored Australian reactions to Jardine’s tactics. Similarly newsreel footage didn’t make its way into English cinema until three or four weeks after the event. By the time the English team arrived home, in May 1933, what mattered to the public was not how Jardine had played the game, but the fact that England had won back the greatest prize in cricket. Despite his rejection by the gentlemanly establishment, Larwood remained popular with most fans, especially in the north.

As English supporters watch the Ashes unfold this winter they must decide what kind of captain they want. A man like Jardine who persevered, used everything in his cricketing arsenal and brought the Ashes home, or a captain who plays to the spirit of the game before he plays to win? Significantly neither England nor Australia seem to ask this question now.

The old cultural bond of sportsmanship has largely gone as the links between the two countries have been loosened by the nationalism on both sides. In the 2005 Ashes series, Australian batsman Ricky Ponting’s treatment at the hands of Steve Harmison and the refusal of the England captain, Vaughan, to show any concern for Ponting’s injuries (he had been hit in the face) prompted the other Australian batsman, Justin Langer, to remark “This really is war out here, isn’t it?” Like it or not, far from being the outcasts of English cricket, perhaps Jardine and Larwood have turned out to be its inspiration.


Jardine – the contemporary hero

 Born in India in October 1900, Jardine was very much a son of empire. He was not an aristocrat but the son of a solicitor and as such perhaps even more conscious of his status as a gentleman and more active in asserting it. Narrowly missing the First World War, he volunteered for the Second despite being past the normal age for active service. Between the wars he fought his own battles on the cricket field. He was aloof, superior, stern and commanding; he was also loyal, fiercely protective of his players and mellowed somewhat with the years, hardly the monster depicted in the Australian press. He left no autobiography and his deeper psychological motivations remain obscure.

His upbringing and education were rooted in Victorian certainties of class and behaviour, Britain’s role as an imperial power, and the superior place of Wykehamists (pupils from Winchester) within that society. But the First World War shook these certainties. The amateur ideal of sacrifice was challenged by a new emphasis on the popular hero as a winner.

The heroic ideal became more ambivalent, still influenced by imperial and Victorian visions but subtly transformed by the advent of the mass media, especially popular reconfigurations of the hero such as Bulldog Drummond, Sexton Blake, Tarzan and Biggles, who moved quickly from the pages of comics and novels into radio and cinema. These fictional heroes were accompanied by real life heroes such as Egyptologist Howard Carter, Everest climber George Mallory and world water speed record holder Sir Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave.

What the fictional and real life heroes shared with Jardine was a degree of selfishness. None of them were particularly interested, as their Victorian counterparts had been, in ideas of service, team spirit and the common good, but were driven by a desire for mastery, success and recognition.

These were modern themes which challenged the established rules of society. Jardine, acting as he did in pushing the rules of cricket and seemingly caring little for the general good of the imperial game, challenged the committee men of cricket and pursued selfish victory whatever the cost. In that, he was a thoroughly modern and contemporary hero.
 Further reading

 Stiff Upper Lips and Baggy Green Caps: a Sledger’s History of the Ashes by Simon Briggs (Quercus 2006);

Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith (Aurum 2002);

Don Bradman. Challenging the Myth by Brett Hutchins (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

External Link: http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/

Overseas visitors keep asking me about the rules of Cricket, here we go:

The Rules of Cricket

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.

Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.

When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

Hope that helps…………………………

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – Bespoke Tours of Britain

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— Prince William is engaged to long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton, spokesmen for the monarchy announced Tuesday.

Royal engagement: Prince William proposes to Kate Middleton

Royal engagement: Prince William proposes to Kate Middleton

The pair will marry in the spring or summer of 2011, a statement from Clarence House, the prince’s official residence, said.

The price, second in line to the throne, proposed during an October vacation to Kenya, the statement said.

“Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family,” the statement said. “Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton’s father.”

After they’re married, the couple will live in north Wales, where Prince William is currently serving with the Royal Air Force.

Royal wedding coin

Royal wedding coin

The Royal Mint has made preparations to begin production of a commemorative coin to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, fuelling speculation that they are poised to announce their engagement.

The project is so secret that staff at the Royal Mint’s plant at Llantrisant have been banned from talking about the coin, but insiders have confirmed that the initial design work has been done.

One source said: ‘I have seen the plaster model from which they will cast the die. They are ready to go. All they are waiting for is the date.’

Last night Clarence House said it was unaware that the Royal Mint had prepared for production of the coin.
Full story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1321225/Prince-William-Kate-Middletons-wedding-What-does-royal-mint-know-dont.html

The British Monarchy website
http://www.royal.gov.uk/
http://www.britishroyalwedding.com/category/royal-engagement/

I assume it will be in Westminster……………
Great news, just what England needs during these difficult times

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in British History

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Your Journey begins here…

If you are visiting Wiltshire as an independant tourist, you will find a

Wiltshire Tourist Brochure Download
Wiltshire Tourist Brochure Click to Download

great selection of tourist information links from various online sources I have put together for you.
Wiltshire, England – a county of contrasts and diversity. Steeped in history, yet alive to the present – Wiltshire repays the time you spend here with interest.

Explore lively market towns, rolling open scenery, stately homes and magnificent gardens plus experiencing the bustling city culture of Swindon and Salisbury.

VisitWiltshire offers a great range of quality assured accommodation with splendid Wiltshire hotels, friendly B&Bs, self-catering cottages, camping and caravan sites.

There are attractions galore – including iconic Stonehenge, and Avebury. Famous sites such Salisbury Cathedral, Longleat,Wiltshire’s White Horses, Stourhead, and the Kennet & Avon Canal combine with lesser known gems such as Lacock and STEAM.

Here you’ll find interestingly different local shops, quaint tea rooms, gastro pubs, restaurants and events throughout the year.

Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, in front of a roaring fire, walking or cycling, Wiltshire is waiting to welcome you, . . again, and again.

A Taste of Wiltshire

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Britain’s finest 13th century cathedral with the tallest spire in Britain. Discover nearly 800 years of history, including the world’s…

Avebury Stone Circle

Avebury Stone Circle

Originally erected 4,500 years ago, Avebury is the largest stone circle in the world. many of the stones were re-erected…

Around Wiltshire

Wiltshire is a beautiful county of great diversity. With a population of nearly 430,000 and with much of the county designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wiltshire is the perfect destination for a relaxing break at any time of the year. Visit the World Heritage Sites of Stonehenge and Avebury, admire the beauty of our gardens and country houses; walk the White Horse Trail to see our eight white horses carved into the hillsides; meander along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal or take a leisurely wander through our market towns and pick up the real flavour of country life.

To help you plan your break to this special part of England, find out more about the towns and villages of Wiltshire, the bustling town of Swindon and the cathedral city of Salisbury.

When you’ve decided where you want to go, you can plan your journey using our Travel page and if you need more information you will find a list of Tourist Information Centres with contact details.

Places to Visit in Wiltshire,

A relatively sparsely populated county with grassy uplands and vast rolling plains, sleepy picture box villages like Castle Combe near Chippenham which has one several awards for being the prettiest village in England and Bradford-on Avon in the west close to Bath.

Wiltshire is the gateway to the West Country but also meets Cotswold country in the northern part of the county. It is also surrounded by the extremely picturesque counties of Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Much of the county is agricultural and a very large part is devoted to pasture land.

Salisbury, the county town, is particularly beautiful and dominated by its Cathedral and spire. This is the tallest in England and rises majestically over the plain.

Wiltshire is also the home of some historic attractions – Splendid Longleat in Warminster, Bowood, the magnificent family home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, Corsham Court, Wilton House, Stourhead and there can be no monument in Britain more steeped in legend and mystery than Stonehenge.

External Links
The official tourism website for Wiltshire
http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk

Wiltshire Tourist Guide
http://www.wiltshiretouristguide.com/

Enjoy Wiltshire!

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours of Wiltshire

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If websites like TripAdvisor are riddled with fake reviews, where will the traveller go for authentic advice ?

TripAdvisor
Bravo TripAdvisor

A report by the travel website, Travolution, this month, confirmed my suspicions that tour operators are being approached by companies promising to post positive reviews on websites in return for monthly fees or discounts on their services. The report claims that such companies can avoid the protection measures that websites have put in place, by posting the reviews from different locations around the world. The report even claimed that one tour company had received a number of reviews before it had even started operating tours.

 To be fair to TripAdvisor it has already begun imposing disclaimers. It admits that it is aware of several companies offering paid-for positive reviews and claims that they have been penalised appropriately.

But I fear that if it was possible to unearth all the fake reviews, there might not be enough red pen to go around. Like drug users in sport, the people committing the offences are nearly always one step ahead of those trying to catch them.

“In fact, all that is required to upload these travel “truths” is an anonymous username and email address (which can easily be faked).”

“TripAdvisor’s successful business model appears to be based upon a minimum of checks, an arrogant disregard for accuracy and truthfulness, and a customer-service regime that is virtually non-existent. It is too easy for tour companies to write their own reviews, or pay others to write them. It is too easy for reviewers to post untruthful or damaging reviews, or for travel companies to ‘sabotage’ their competitors”

“Why should the fate of a business be controlled by “anonymous” users who don’t even have to verify or validate their actual visit? ”

  Several travel companies have embraced these user-generated websites, employing staff to contact clients after they have completed their tour (to right any wrongs and encourage positive feedback). The bigger operators and some smaller ones (you know who you are) send out emails encouraging clients to post reviews; tourist boards, such as VisitScotland and VisitLondon, include TripAdvisor ratings on their websites.

TripAdvisor has taken steps to counter fake reviews. Last year disclaimers began appearing when reviews came under suspicion of being fake. The company said that it uses specialist software and algorithms to screen reviews and has a team of moderators to investigate suspicious postings.

“Advisor has turned into a whining fest where unhappy powerless people can become powerful…kind of like the kid that got picked on in school. “

Users are aware that little tricks – adding an element of critique to a glowing review, saying something positive before you slate a particular tour, using different email addresses and computers, reviewing other operators to establish a track record – can help them get around the detectors. Many UK tour operators are very active with this technique.

There are even websites to help you circumvent the rules. “Writing fake reviews is a great option for almost any business,” said Bob McClain of Wordsmithbob.com, a site that offers a masterclass in the craft.

www.ihateTripAdvisor.org.uk
http://www.Wordsmithbob.com
http://www.independent.ie/travel/travel-advice/tripadvisor-can-we-trust-it-2382242.html
http://tripadvisorwatch.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/tripadvisor-pay-review-fake/
http://www.travolution.co.uk/articles/2010/01/22/3184/exclusive-fake-review-firms-are-not-an-issue-says-tripadvisor.html
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Fortunatly we have only great reviews on tripadvsor (not sure after this article is published  though?) However if I could easily manipulate tripadvisor reviews anyone could  – you have been warned!
Do more research, use your common sense and do not rely on Tripadvisor – dont believe everthing you read, good or Bad!

External Links

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK The Best Tours in History

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A project to find the 100 events and places that played the most significant role in shaping the English language has been launched.

King Alfred of Wessex, the first person to call the language 'English'
King Alfred of Wessex, the first person to call the language ‘English’

 

From the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the fifth century to modern-day waves of immigration, the English language has been shaped by countless episodes in history.

Now The English Project, a charity dedicated to promoting the language, is compiling a list of the 100 most important events and locations which have made English what it is today

The journey starts in Lakenheath in Suffolk, where the Undley Bracteate medallion was found, dated to 475 and bearing the first evidence of written English.

Then in 731 the Venerable Bede completed his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear – the first text to speak of the English language and the English people.

And by 871 King Alfred of Wessex, the first person to call the language “English”, was ordering translations from Latin into West Saxon, a dialect of Old English.

In recent times the language has adapted again and again, on its way to becoming the common tongue of 1.8 billion people worldwide.

The charity has already compiled a list of 20 of the most important events in the history of the language, and wants the public to help produce the final list of 100 crucial events
Bill Lucas, a trustee of the English Project and professor of learning at the University of Winchester, said: “This is a wonderful way of engaging people in a wider conversation about the English Language.

“We want to get the nation really thinking about the stories behind our evolving language.

“How, for example, do you rate the relative significance of Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, versus London’s part in the birth of the world wide web?

“English has now become the lingua franca of the world. It is the most exciting and exotic language partly because of its capacity to incorporate so many elements of other languages, and somehow to make these dynamic, descriptive and always exciting.

“The history of Britain and the history of the English language are also very closely intertwined.

“We’re excited about hearing people’s ideas about the places and events they think have shaped the language.”

Submit your suggestions on the charity’s website, www.englishproject.org

The 20 events and places nominated so far:

Date: 475

Lakenheath, Suffolk

The Undley Bracteate medallion, found at Lakenheath, has been dated to 475 and provides the first evidence of written English

Date: 731

Jarrow, Tyne and Wear

The Venerable Bede completed his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum. Although writing in Latin, he was the first person to speak of the English language and the English people.

Date: 871

Winchester, Hampshire

Translations from Latin into the West Saxon dialect of Old English were commissioned by King Alfred of Wessex between 871 and 899. He is the first person known to have called the language “English”.

Date: 1066

Hastings, Sussex

William the Conqueror and his Norman army defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, bringing with them a language that transformed English over the next 300 years.

Date: 1171

Waterford, Ireland

King Henry II of England landed in Waterford, beginning the worldwide exportation of English beyond the island of Great Britain – even though he himself mainly spoke French.

Date: 1362

Westminster, London

On October 13 the Chancellor of England opened Parliament with a speech in English rather than French for the first time.

Date: 1400

Westminster Abbey, London

Geoffrey Chaucer was buried in the Abbey. In 1556 he was moved into a more splendid tomb, beginning the tradition of burying great writers in Poets’ Corner.

Date: 1476

Westminster, London

William Caxton introduced printing to England, which became a huge force in the spread of English language literature.

Date: 1564

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

William Shakespeare, regarded by many as the greatest writer in the English language, is born.

Date: 1604

Hampton Court, Surrey

King James’s Hampton Court Conference set a translation team working on what came to be known as the King James Bible, published in 1611.

Date: 1665

Oxford

The first newspaper in English was the London Gazette, first published in Oxford in 1665 as the Oxford Gazette.

Date: 1709

Lichfield, Staffordshire

The birthplace of Samuel Johnson, creator of A Dictionary of the English Language. Published in 1755, it set new standards for the writing of English prose.

Date: 1847

South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh

The birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone in 1876, initiating a major stage in worldwide communication.

Date: 1901

Poldhu, Cornwall

In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi sent the first radio transmission to St John’s, Newfoundland. North American and British English began to converge again after 300 years of separation.

Date: 1922

Portland Place, London

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) begins transmission, influencing dramatically the way English language is used and spoken.

Date: 1945

Menlove Avenue, Liverpool

John Lennon lived here from the age of five. With his fellow Beatles, he revolutionised popular song.

Date: 1955

London

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, is born. English is the dominant language of the internet, and the net is a major factor in the globalisation of English.

Date: 1988

Plumstead, London

Patrick Chukwuem Okogwu, also known as rap artist Tinie Tempah, is born. Rap music shows the English language at its flexible best.

Date: 1997

Nicolson Street, Edinburgh

JK Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Nicolson’s Café. Published in June 1997, the series of books started a worldwide reading phenomenon.

Date: 2003

UK

On Valentine’s Day, mobile phone usage was so widespread that for the first time, more people said “I luv u” by text than said “I love you” by post. Text English is a new and thriving form of the language.

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Besy Tours in British History

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