’13 Sep: London and the English Countryside

London, Salisbury, Stratford-Upon-Avon and many lovely places in between.

From Paddington Station I…

From Paddington Station I took the Underground to Tottenham Court Road Station and from there I made the five minute walk to the Rathbone Hotel.

It’s a nice place – the rooms are a bit small and the hotel is a bit expensive (not for London as it turns out) but we have a little table and two chairs on a great street in a neighborhood I know Windy is going to love when she gets here tomorrow.

Just a sample of the pubs. Windy was particularly looking forward to pub life and here are four in the traditional style within a block of the hotel. I ate a pretty not-very-good fish and chips lunch at one of these places today but there are many dozens of other restaurants from the world over.

And we’re a few…

And we’re a few blocks from the British Museum.

I went today because after Windy gets here we have so many things to do in the next three days that she’ll like better we might not have made it here.

There are more than 8 million objects in the collection and controversy has surrounded many of them over recent years. Countries want their stuff back.

LP: “Begun in 1753 with a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ bequeathed by Sir Hans Sloane to the nation on his death, the collection mushroomed over the ensuing years partly through plundering the empire.”

LP: “The Great Court…

LP: “The Great Court was restored and augmented by Norman Foster in 2000 and now has a spectacular glass-and-steel roof, making it one of the most impressive architectural spaces in the capital. In the center is the Reading Room, with its stunning blue-and-gold domed ceiling, where Karl Marx wrote the Manifesto of the Communist Party.”

Unfortunately the Reading Room was closed while they readied a new installation. Pity for me!

It was a very…

It was a very crowded Saturday at the height of the tourist season and even though you can’t see them in this picture, they were swarming and especially inside you could hardly approach a display without sharp elbows. But it’s so close and free to just wander in. Maybe we’ll try again during the week if there’s time.

Windy’s coming around noon…

September 2

Windy’s coming around noon so I went out for a little morning stroll.

This is one building in the University College London in the Bloomsbury neighborhood 10 minutes walk from the hotel. The school is most well known for science and there were two very cool looking museums associated with UCL that were closed today, Sunday, the Grant Museum of Zoology and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

Along with the statues…

Along with the statues of General Sir Charles James Napier, Major General Sir Henry Havelock, King George IV, we find to my great delight, “a bright blue cockerel symbolizing regeneration and strength… Titled Hahn/Cock, the 4.72m high piece is by German artist Katharina Fritsch and will be on display for 18 months.”

Since it’s only going to be here for 18 months you might miss it – but then they’ll put something else up there and it’ll be good too.

…followed by a FABulous…

…followed by a FABulous rehearsal of the choir here at St Martin-in-the-Fields and we stayed for a service because the sound in here is breathtaking.

I know it seems to me that whatever was the last of something was the best – but the 15 singers here doing their thing was utterly AWEsome aMAYzing. The music must have been written in 15 parts it was so huge and complex and so filled the room. Maybe it was the best ever…until next time.

Below we find a…

September 3

Below we find a few representative scenes from the Hop On-Hop Off bus ride and a stop at the Tate.

Our guide was charming and entertaining, so charming and entertaining that Windy decided to go with her tomorrow to see the Changing of the Guard while I go for my tour of street art.

The Wellington Arch, (or…

The Wellington Arch, (or Constitution Arch or (originally) the Green Park Arch in 1825). This is not the Arch’s original location nor is that the original sculpture on top.

What is there now arrived in 1912, by Adrian Jones, and depicts the angel of peace descending on the chariot of war. It’s a nice sentiment arriving as it did shortly before the outbreak of World War I.

Big Ben in the…

Big Ben in the distance.

But Big Ben is the name of the bell, not the name of the tower. The tower is now called Elizabeth Tower, renamed from Clock Tower in 2012 in honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.

“Horace Jones’ Temple Bar…

“Horace Jones’ Temple Bar marker topped by Charles Bell Birch’s heraldic Dragon.”

The guide told some interesting stories as we circled this round-about. The pillar guards the spot that divides Fleet Street, London from Strand, Westminster. The name Temple Bar is relevant in the story somewhere, and there are traditions and ceremonies involved that I don’t remember. Bad tourist.

A street scene. …

A street scene. It’s interesting to note how universally the inhabitants of London use public transportation.

The Underground is a massive system. What you see on the street are bicycles and plenty of them with rental stations plentiful, a huuuge number of double-decker buses, taxis of course, and a few private cars most of them in the luxury category with what seem like professional drivers.

The Tate Modern, located…

The Tate Modern, located in the repurposed Bankside Power Station.

They have lots of pictures in here but .. “When the gallery opened in 2000, the collections were not displayed in chronological order but were rather arranged thematically into four broad groups .. ostensibly because a chronological survey of the story of modern art along the lines of the Museum of Modern Art in New York would expose the large gaps in the collections, the result of the Tate’s conservative acquisitions policy for the first half of the 20th century.”

They have done a couple of ‘rehangs’ since opening in 2000 but still in categories and not in any chronological sense.

Don’t worry! Windy…

Don’t worry! Windy had injured her knee several weeks before coming out to London so we are trying to save her steps whenever possible. I wheeled her round the Tate Museum and it was great.

Isn’t this something – the smallest Serra piece I’ve ever seen. I wonder if it’s the smallest thing he’s ever made?

I went on a…

I went on a street art walking tour of Shoreditch this morning. We met at this traffic circle outside the Old Street Underground Station.

The guide arrived and pointed up – look there’s an artist active these recent weeks putting those mushrooms in unexpected places…

…and then he pointed…

…and then he pointed down. Here is the work of Chewing Gum Man Ben Wilson. He finds blobs of chewing gum on the street and through a surprisingly long process including heating it until it melts, paints intricate designs as inspired by the location, and turns the blob into an art piece.

He sprays the finished product with some material to make it last, for a while anyway.

These are not mine,…

These are not mine, I got them off the internet but I wanted to show more.

One thing though, he’s gotten way famous now with gallery representation and traveling exhibitions which might put me off him.

Now I know one important part of why I love street art – it’s when the work is specific to its site. Take it away from it’s place on the wall in the neighborhood and it’s something different, and less appealing to me.

I also want it to have something to say, which can be a lot of poTAYto poTAHto but at least I want it to say something to me.

(internet pix)

The guide said this…

The guide said this one popped up two days ago. It’s done by a well-known Australian (I think) artist (whose name I can’t find) and it’s about immigration.

There’s a Banksy piece under that plywood structure which they are protecting, to keep for the new construction when this building comes down.

This is Shepard Fairey’s…

This is Shepard Fairey’s work, the guy with the Andre the Giant OBEY series and the guy who did, to much acclaim and long-running law suits, the Obama Hope poster.

One of the artists Claude had just been talking about walked by and they greeted each other. You could tell Claude was thrown off his stride, but he recovered soon and went on with his tour.

The two on the…

The two on the bottom are Bansky works held in a private courtyard under Plexiglas. People are prying the Banksy pieces off their walls and selling them at auction for serious dough.

There’s just a peek of a Thierry Noir piece outside the gate.

Me reflected in a…

Me reflected in a window in front of one of the colorful walls that might have been a commissioned piece. Check it out for all the body parts…

There seem to be three ways these works get up. 1) there are many many commission pieces around. 2) the building is set for demolition or the owners are absentee and work on these walls is overlooked by the authorities. 3) the gorilla strikers.

Our HOHO bus ticket…

September 4, afternoon on the river Thames

Our HOHO bus ticket from yesterday included a little river cruise so we decided sure why not.

Here are three interesting bridges. The London Millennium Footbridge which, quite majestically and poetically, links St Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate Modern.

We arrived in Salisbury…

September 5 morning

We arrived in Salisbury late afternoon yesterday and didn’t do much because today is a big day.

In the morning we did a city walking tour, although ‘city’ is a bit extreme, more like a town walking tour. But they have a fine cathedral with one of the four copies of the Magna Carta.

We’ve heard several times…

We’ve heard several times now why there are so many rivers around here called Avon, rivers that are not connected in any way all called the river Avon.

The reason: Afon is the Welsh word for river and when the Romans came around they asked people ‘what’s the name of this place’ and the answer was always ‘afon’ .. river.

My pictures of Salisbury…

My pictures of Salisbury Cathedral are not worth showing except this one is a little interesting to see the height of the main aisle.

And then we saw the Magna Carta!

Is this the ‘real’ Magna Carta? Someone else asked the internet and the internet replied: “Lots of copies where made and only 4 survive today, they are located at: Dover castle, Lincoln castle, Salisbury cathedral and houses of parliament.”

In the afternoon we…

In the afternoon we joined the Stonehenge Special Access Tour with Pat Shelley meaning we got to go inside and walk among the stones.

But first! we have a few hours of touring around The Landscape as Pat calls it.

We saw many interesting features as we hauled ourselves two miles across this wavy terrain…

What was the purpose…

What was the purpose of Stonehenge?

Our guide Pat replies with his favorite expression: “Ceremonial and ritual purposes”. According to Pat “Ceremonial and ritual purposes” is Archeologist-speak for “We have no idea”.

Carbon dating puts the…

Carbon dating puts the earliest part of the construction here at 3100BC, with some post holes nearby indicating the beginnings of a ritual site from 8000BC.

There have been a number of restorations here over the years. You can see a picture of the site in 1877 on wikipedia to get a feeling for the amount of work done.

We are off on…

September 6

We are off on our quest for evidence of our father’s father’s father and mother – our great-grandparents are supposed to be buried here in the St Andrews Church in the teeny-tiny village of Fontmell Magna.

It took us three buses to get here.

We got directions to…

We got directions to the church from the lovely staff at the handsome and upscale Fontwell pub.

Go out the door, turn right, walk to the gossip tree in the middle of the roundabout, keep to the right and it’s there on the left.

In the village there…

In the village there is the pub and guest house from the first picture, the church with our great-grandparents, another chapel, and a little shop. That’s pretty much Fontmell Magna.

At the shop we saw our great-grandfather mentioned in a book(!) with a date of 1841, evidence of his residence in Fontmell Magna. We asked the woman there if she knew how we could get in touch with whomever was in charge of the church.

Go see John Enderby she said, in the little house across from the church set back from the road, because he knows everything.

And he did know…

And he did know everything. After inviting us in he soon retreated to his study and returned with a list to confirm that yes our relatives were there and yes the stone had been removed.

We had such an fantastic time. That’s his river, and the spot where he drinks gin, and his daughter…

The burial site of…

The burial site of William and Dinah (Myall) Hunt.

Windy’s favorite story: John said, about our grandfather Walter, “oh, he’s famous around here. When he was a young rapscallion he stole a neighbor’s plow and hauled it to the top of the church tower.” In John’s book recording the deaths in the village, beside the neighbor’s name and date of death was the comment ‘the man who had his plow stolen’.

From the History of…

From the History of Macoupin County, Illinois, 1911. Please feel free to skip right by all this – I’ve just copied it in because neither I nor my little sister knew 1/100th of what’s in here. We never met this grandfather since he died in 1942, well before either of us were born.

“WALTER G. HUNT, organizer and manager of the Brighton Mutual Telephone Company, also prominently identified with other lines of business, is numbered among the enterprising and successful men of Macoupin County. His life is a practical demonstration of what may be attained by a man of energy and determination, actuated by a worthy ambition to accomplish honorable aims.

“He was born in Dorsetshire, England, May 27, 1865, a son of William and Dinah (Myall) Hunt. The parents died in the old country, the mother, however, having spent three years with her children in America.

“Mr. Hunt of this review was educated in the common schools and as he grew to maturity applied himself to the cabinet-maker’s trade. At the age of nineteen he emigrated to the United States and proceeded direct to Golden City, Barton county, Missouri, the home of a brother, Albert, who had arrived in this country two years previously. He found employment under his brother in the contracting and building business, continuing with him for a year, and then was engaged in other lines for three years. In 1888 he removed to Kemper, Jersey county, Illinois, and applied himself to railroad work, painting, carpentering, farming or any other honorable occupation that was available.

“At the age of twenty-five he was married and took up his residence with his bride upon a farm known as the old Hart place, of which he had been the owner for two or three years. In March, 1893, he traded his farm for a furniture and undertaking establishment at Brighton and removed to this city, which he has since made his home. He applied himself diligently to his business, and it has since largely increased under his effective management.

“In 1902 he organized the Brighton Mutual Telephone Company, of which he has since been the head. He also associated with others in the organization of the First National Bank at Brighton in April, 1909, and is a member of the board of directors of that institution. He has been very active in local affairs and was one of the leaders in effecting the organization of the volunteer fire company of Brighton and has had charge of the engine ever since it was purchased. The funds for the fire bell were secured by popular subscription but there was no money in the treasury for the erection of a tower. Mr. Hunt suggested a voting contest as to the most popular young lady in the city, and the money for the tower was soon forthcoming.

“The tower was dedicated by a picnic which was called the Betsey Ann picnic and has since been held annually, being recognized as one of the noted events of this section. Mr. Hunt served as president of the Betsey Ann society for about six years after its organization. His energy has also found expression in the establishment of a picture show at Brighton, being associated in this undertaking with W. H. Robings.

“On the 29th of November, 1890, Mr. Hunt was married, at Piasa, Illinois, to Mrs. Mary E. Denny, whose maiden name was Mary E. Reynolds, and to this union eight children have been born, five of whom survive, Gladys, Dorothy, Walter G., Paul, and Marcella. All of the children are living at home.

“Politically Mr. Hunt is an adherent of the republican party, of which he is an earnest supporter, being at the present time a member of the county central committee. He has served with general acceptance to the people as tax collector of Brighton, member of the town board and township clerk, and is now filling the office of clerk of the school board of the township. Fraternally he is identified with Brighton Lodge, No. 366, I.O.O.F., and has passed through all the chairs in that organization. He is also a member of the Rebakahs and of Brighton Camp, No. 1688, M.W.A. He and his family are connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a man of unusual business capacity and accomplishes with apparent ease what would appear to be impossible to many of less resourceful mind.

“He is one of the foremost citizens of Brighton, and justly deserves the high regard in which he is held by a large and growing circle of friends and associates.”

John told us he…

John told us he was for sure, he said, without a doubt 100% that this is our great-grandfather’s house.

Water George Hunt, Sr, our grandfather, was born here in 1865 and had told a member of the family that the house he was born in was 200 years old at the time making this house from the mid-1600s.

On the train ride…

September 7

On the train ride to Bath, so exciting to see!

“The origin of the Westbury White Horse is obscure. It is often claimed to commemorate King Alfred’s victory at the Battle of E?andun in 878, and while this is not impossible… However, there is at present no documentary or other evidence for the existence of a chalk horse at Westbury before the year 1742.”

There are many of these huge horses where the sod is cut out to reveal the chalk hills made throughout the centuries and maintained for equally as long.

We had tours!…

We had tours!

-Shakespeare’s Birthplace;
-the home where Shakespeare died and where his granddaughter lived out her life;
-the house where Shakespeare’s eldest daughter and her rich husband lived;
-Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the place where Shakespeare’s wife grew up;
-and Mary Arden’s House and Countryside Museum, home of Shakespeare’s grandparents.

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