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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Yesterday we braved the typical bank holiday weather (i.e. rain) and visited Roche Abbey, which lies close to Rotherham in South Yorkshire just off the M18. A small site tucked into a sheltered valley, Roche was the first ‘romantic ruin’ to be ‘enhanced’ by Capability Brown in the 18th century.


The inner (great) gatehouse with medieval road beneath

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This month we’re in the beautiful border county of Shropshire. Here’s one of my favourite non-Yorkshire monastic buildings, Wenlock Priory, which belonged to the Cluniac order.

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This month we’re visiting Jervaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire. Jervaulx is one of the few privately-owned Cistercian monasteries in the UK, and it’s one of those places you stumble over on a random Sunday afternoon drive. The abbey ruins are slap-bang in the middle of a field for grazing sheep, and the effect is very picturesque—which was the intention of Jervaulx’s 19th century owners, the Earls of Ailesbury. The first earl imagined the ruins as the setting for a romantic (and indeed Romantic) garden, and the proliferation of undergrowth climbing over the stonework has actually preserved rather than damaged it over the years.


The lay brothers’ night doorway into the church. This is the oldest part of the abbey, dating from the mid-12th century.

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For my post this month I thought I’d share some pictures* of that most British of pastimes, the New Year Hunt. Traditionally, the hunting season runs from November to April, with Boxing Day or New Year being one of the calendar highlights.

Fox hunting has been illegal in the UK (but not in Northern Ireland) since an Act of Parliament in 2004. The Act has been hotly protested by the pro-hunt lobby—indeed, Otis Ferry, son of the Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry, wrote an article in the Sunday Times on the subject last week, while the anti-hunt lobby claims that, since the ban, more foxes are slaughtered by illegal hunting than ever before.

Hunts now follow a false scent trail (called drag hunting) and are (meant to be) strictly monitored. While I love foxes, I also love tradition, so for me at least it’s wonderful to be able to see a hunt, even a false one.


The arrival of the hounds, accompanied by the Whipper-In (on the white horse) and the Master of the Hounds (red coat, brown horse).

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This month we’re visiting Croxden Abbey in Staffordshire. It’s not far from Lichfield and played a very minor role in one of the Brother Cadfael books – though for the life of me I can’t remember which one!

Though it’s not the most glamorous of the ruined abbeys, Croxden has a quiet charm. The pictures were taken in what my brother likes to call ‘a slight precipitation’.

[randomly, the pictures show up larger than they actually are on my screen, but if you refresh the page, they go back to their normal size!]


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This is the first in what I hope will be an occasional history-and-picture series of posts relating to interesting places to visit within the UK. As a historian, and as someone who loves religious history, most of my posts will be about ruined abbeys or ancient churches, and as I’m based in Yorkshire, I’m going to be pretty partisan! However I’m aiming for a broad range of sites that might be of interest.

First up: Spofforth Castle.


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Grass!

Talking of the green, green grass of Wimbledon, there’s a fascinating blog post about lawns, their history and their uses at Mark Easton’s blog on the BBC Website.  It seemed too appropriate not to pass it on!

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