Monday, November 18, 2013

National Motor Museum and Beaulieu Abbey

Panorama of Beaulieu Abbey
After our day exploring Hever Castle and Chartwell we had a welcome reception at our hotel, Botley Park Hotel Southampton.  They called this a country style hotel which is a type of resort.  Our room looked out at the many golf carts lined up ready for a round of golf.

Outside our carts and parking lot.
 Our dinner was light, but ample and we finally had time to meet others on our tour.  We found out that there were a total of ten people from Ohio!  Others were from as far away as Thailand, Australia and Canada...and then various parts of the USA from Maine to Oklahoma, Texas, California, and Pennsylvania.  It was a fine evening but we all finally went to our rooms for some sleep.

The next morning we were greeted with another buffet...smaller than the one at Thistle Marble Arch...but plenty for a good breakfast.  I saw no eggs, so got cold cereal.  After we began eating we were served the traditional English breakfast.  It was way too much food, but I was able to find people at my table to eat the mushroom, sausage, bacon and tomato.

Then...we boarded the coach and had a beautiful drive through the woods and glades of the New Forest (which is really quite old).  It was established in 1079 by William the Conqueror as an area set aside for his hunting.  The area has such wildlife as deer, badger and foxes.  There are also ponies and cattle that have what is called a common right to graze on the pastures.  It reminded me of open range in western USA where there are no fences to keep cattle off the road. 

Ponies grazing by common right.

Soon we arrived at Beaulieu Abbey.  This was founded by the Cistercian Monks in 1204, but a lot of was destroyed during the reign of Henry the VIII.  There were three places to see here...The Abbey, the Palace House (home of Lord Montagu), and the National Motor Museum (Lord Montagu's collection of cars.)  We decided to check out the car museum first (me thinking that it would not take that long...I mean how long can you look at a bunch of cars?).  
Ah...but look what we saw...a Willy's Jeep from Toledo, OH!!!

Once in the museum I lost Ray...he happened to see that vehicles from James Bond movies were on display and headed there.  I spent time checking out the older cars, but decided to find Ray.  He was still in the Bond Display...eyes excited and snapping pictures from all angles.  He saw me and began telling me about how such and such a car was in such and such a movie....I did my best to dig up some excitement  to join his enthusiasm...but had to be satisfied with appreciating his.  I think I have seen one Bond movie...and not sure which one. (He just informed me that "Goldeneye" was the movie I saw.)  I surprised myself in that I became intrigued with all of these cars and we both lost track of time.  We would only have enough time to see The Abbey and not get to visit the Palace House. Here are just a few of his Bond pictures.
Aston Martin DBS from "Casino Royal"
Mustang Mach One from "Diamonds Are Forever"

Mercury Cougar from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
Parahawk from "The World Is Not Enough"

Crocodile Submarine from "Octopussy"  This one was interesting...but no way would I get inside.

Burial at Sea Bed from "You Only Live Twice"

Ray standing next to Rolls Royce from "Goldfinger

There are so many more car pictures...but I know I have probably posted too many...and there is still the Abbey to visit!  Beaulieu Abbey began in the 1200 as a gift from King John, and three hundred years later destroyed by King Henry the VIII. 

Beaulieu Abbey

Abbey church that had once been the Monk's refectory...the church was destroyed in the 16th century.

We knew we had not time to see the Palace House of Lord Montagu so we spent the rest of the time wandering the grounds.  We found a chestnut tree that had dropped hundreds of chestnuts...very much like our Ohio we collected a few to give to all of our fellow Buckeye travelers.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate to be late...and Ray is the we headed back to the coach, happy to find that there were only a few others there.  It was at this time that Ray and Bruce realized they needed some water and the supply on the bus was John (our tour director) and Ray went back to the café to get some.  There was still plenty of time.  John went to make sure that Ray would not have to pay to get past the gate.  Ray returned within minutes and soon after everyone had arrived except for John.  After quite a long time...he came running back concerned that he had lost Ray...then saw Ray and realized that Ray had gone out a different door at the café.  So John had been waiting the whole time.  Of course, Ray felt terrible and blamed himself for everyone having to wait for him.  The last thing we wanted was to be known as "that couple that is always late."

We boarded the bus and headed to our next destination: Salisbury.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chartwell: Winston Churchill's Home from 1922-1965

I must admit that I knew very little about Chartwell before our visit.  I knew that it was one of the places that Ray wanted to visit...and that Winston Churchill lived there.  When we arrived I was taken aback by the beauty of the grounds.  I hope the pictures show a fraction of the beauty.

Chartwell remains much like it was when Churchill lived there.  It felt like a home, unlike the museum atmosphere of Hever Castle (and all of the other castles we visited).  It would not have surprised me to have seen Winston, holding a cigar, sitting at his desk with a cat watching him work...or maybe painting another scene of this beautiful estate.

On Chartwell Grounds

Side View of Chartwell

Looking at Gardens from Patio Area

I think they said that people played croquet here.

Looking up from Patio

 Churchill liked animals...especially cats.  One special feline was Jock.  There was a sign that said to be on the lookout for Jock.  I did not see Jock roaming the house, but I sure did search for him.  When Churchill was 88, Sir John Colville (nick named Jock) gave him a marmalade cat.  Of course, the kitty was named, Jock.  It is said that there are pictures of Jock sitting on Churchill's lap at a number of family being his grandson's wedding.  Jock often sat on the bed next to Churchill and was there when he died at the age of 90.
I found this picture of Jock on Jock's Facebook!
Jock remained a family pet until he was 13 and was buried in the pet cemetery at Chartwell.  Chartwell was left to the government with the stipulation that a marmalade cat would always live there...and of course, its name would be Jock. 

Fred Glueckstein's article: "Churchill's Feline Menagerie" is a fun read about his other cats, their names and personalities. Churchill's Feline Menagerie by Fred Glueckstein

Churchill's wife, Clementine, was concerned about the cost of the place and its renovation.  Walking through all of the rooms I could only imagine the cost and could understand her objection.  A few days later, when we toured Churchill's birthplace, I wondered...why was she concerned when she knew where he had spent his childhood?  (That will be another post.)

Ray at Chartwell

Another view of Chartwell

One of the docents told us that during Hitler's Blitz, it was known to not destroy Chartwell.  He intended to move there after he defeated Churchill.   Hitler knew how special this place was to Churchill.  It was his refuge, where he painted and wrote, and where he could be with his family.  It is so fortunate that it was not damaged during The Blitz.

Winston Churchill often sat beside this pond to meditate and feed his golden orfe'
Goldfish Pond

Churchill's Painting of Goldfish Pond
Morning Dew

I want to visit Chartwell again.  I now see Winston Churchill through different a family man, artist, lover of animals...especially his felines and of course, a great world leader.

Day Three: Hever Castle

CORRECTION!!!  I have just realized that Hever Castle was not the first place we visited on Day Three.  We first went to Winston Churchill's home, Chartwell.  But since I have already finished the writing about Hever Castle...I will do the Chartwell visit next.  I am just too lazy right now to write another post.

Day three:  This is the day we board the bus (coach) and begin our travels around England and a little bit of Scotland.  Our first stop is Hever Castle.  We left our packed bags in our rooms, ate our English Full Breakfast, and filed into the coach.  We found seats near the back.  Stephanie and Bruce  sat across from us.  During the trip we rotated seats each morning so that we ended up sitting in a variety of places throughout the trip.
I got this picture from on line:

This was the second time I had been to Hever Castle.  The first was when my sister, Linda, mother, Maxine and I came to visit my niece, Maggie while she was taking classes for a semester in London.
Linda is our genealogist and had traced our family back to John Cobham...our great, great....grandfather.  Not sure how many greats...but a lot.  Linda I will check with her.  Anyway...John Cobham had been the sheriff of Kent and lived in this castle and was buried in the nave of St. Peter's Church which is outside the grounds.  He sold this castle to the Boleyn family, so it has some interesting history to it.  They built on to make it a much larger castle.  This is where Anne Boleyn's family lived and Henry the VIII visited there many times.

 Linda, Maxine, Maggie and I decided to take the train from London and take the 'short' walk to the castle.  This was in 2002...Maxine was almost 83 years old, and beginning the signs of macular degeneration...but was determined to visit the castle.  We took the train to Edenbridge station, asked directions (just down the road a short distance), and began walking.   After an hour I began to wonder if this whole trek would be worth it.  I remembered driving and hiking miles in western USA to visit ghosts towns....only to find a shell of one building.  Was this going to happen to us in England?  Was Hever Castle going to be a lonely shell of a building?  We had been walking this narrow road in farm country with lots of sheep, but not many buildings.

We talked about turning back, but the thought of walking another hour without seeing the castle made us continue.  The terrain was hilly and we decided to walk up the next hill. It felt like the "Twilight Zone" in that we had seen very few cars during our walk...and no signs that there was any tourist attraction nearby.  As we walked over the crest of the hill we saw it...Hever Castle!  The parking lot was full of busses and an oasis in the fields of sheep.

Hever Castle from a Distance

I told that little story because I was amazed that Maxine, at almost 83 walked the three miles and then continued to tour the whole castle.  She was not about to miss any part of this trip.

Back to my tour with Ray, Stephanie and Bruce.  We did not have to hike the distance as I had before.  Our coach took us right to the parking lot.  The day was sunny with a bright blue sky.  The walkway to the castle was lined with topiaries.    

Walkway to Hever Castle

   The castle was full of Henry the VIII information.  We could take the narrow winding stairways to different levels.  The last room was near the top and where we found artifacts from the time of John Cobham.  I was prepared for this room as we were a bit taken aback when we first saw it in 2002.  The room was full of all types of equipment and devices that  a sheriff would have and or used.  It was all quite morbid with weapons and a variety of torture items.

It was a bit disappointing to think that an ancestor of ours could be part of torture and death.  But he did quit being a sheriff and opened a school....later buried at St. Peter's I hope the end of his life was spent helping people. 

St. Peter's Church where John Cobham is buried.

Looks like I slipped back to my trip in 2002.  I will let these pictures (We could not take pictures inside) tell the rest of the 2013 trip to Hever Castle.  It was not the largest or most impressive of the castles we saw during this tour...but Hever Castle is my favorite because of my small connection with it...and the memories it brings of how after walking three miles my mother toured the whole castle...even up the narrow stairs to the 'torture room' and throughout the gardens outside.

Moat at Hever Castle

This gate looks like something from the John Cobham time. :-)

Courtyard at Hever Castle

This is where Henry the VIII slept while at Hever Castle
Moat around Hever Castle

Here I am standing in front of our ancestor's home. :-)

Video of St. Peter's Church
Video of walk up to Hever Castle
Video of Hever Castle and Moat