The penultimate post in my Pensthorpe series, dealing with the Explorer ride.
This is the fourth post in my series about my part in the West Norfolk Autism Group excursion to Pensthorpe on Saturday. This one looks at the trip on the explorer which showed as the stuff we could not get on foot.
AN INFORMATIVE JOURNEY
With the explorer due to leave at 12:00 I was ready for it by 11:50, and I got an excellent seat, at the front left of the trailer (most of the really interesting sights are off to the left as one travels, so sitting on the left side of the vehicle is a good idea). Our driver/guide gave us extraordinarily wide ranging information of everything from present arrangements at Pensthorpe, to the effects of WWII on the land (food shortages meant that every last ounce of crop had to be extracted from the land, which meant that the soil was hugely overworked and took a long time to recover), to the history of human settlement at Pensthorpe, to details of Pensthorpe’s position at the southern edge of the northern ice-sheet during the last era of glaciation and the effect that that had on the local landscape. There were also details about oak trees, and how the three survivors of the great storm of 1987 could be proven to be such (oaks don’t produce acorns until they are 40 years old or more, which means that an acorn bearing oak dates from 1983 at the earliest, and all three trees are acorn bearing), nesting boxes of various kinds (three different species of owl were catered for, plus bats (specifically pipistrelles, a tiny species about the size of a human thumb) whose boxes were organized in a group of three at different angles, as bats don’t like to be warm, so need to be able to move out of the sun), and other nesting platforms. The ecological importance of the Wensum, as a chalk river, was also stressed. One part of our route had once been a railway line, transporting goods (it never had a passenger service), which fell victim to Dr Beeching 60 years ago.
It was a cold journey due to the weather, which is one reason why I did not go round a second time, but it was very enjoyable in spite of the conditions.
Continuing my account of my visit to Pensthorpe with a look at the discovery centre and at the sculptures dotted around the place.
This is my third post in a mini-series about my part in a West Norfolk Autism Group excursion to Pensthorpe which took place on Saturday. It is a two part post, and represents the mid-point of the series – there will be two further posts afterwards.
PART ONE: DISCOVERY CENTRE
The discovery centre at Pensthorpe contains many features of interest, including a harvest mouse, a glass fronted beehive, a tank containing small water creatures, exhibits about bird evolution and giant birds, some woolly mammoth remains, dating back approximately 10,500 years to a time when Norfolk was at the southern edge of a massive ice sheet extending all the way from the north pole, and other stuff. It is also inside, which on day like Saturday gave it extra value – I made a total of three visits…
There are sculptures dotted around Pensthorpe, and they definitely enhance the experience. I have slightly extended the range of objects that would usually be described as sculptures by including a bench and also a mosaic. I did not specifically set myself a task of finding and imaging sculptures, I just imaged them when I happened to find them, but one could undoubtedly plan to identify and photograph every sculpture at Pensthorpe. I favour a freestyle approach to somewhere like Pensthorpe but some may prefer to be more regimented/ organized.
Continuing my account of my holiday in the channel islands with the first of two posts about the occupation museum.
Welcome to the latest post in my series about my holiday in the channel islands. This is the first post about the museum dedicated to the German occupation of Guernsey between 1940 and 1945.
THE OPENING VIDEO
The museum experience starts with a video about the occupation, which is well worth watching. There are then a set of rooms full of exhibits and then separated from them by the cafe is ‘Occupation Strasse’ – a reconstruction of a street in the time of the occupation. The short video sets the scene very nicely.
A LARGE COLLECTION OF GERMAN MILITARIA
The first exhibits are large quantities of German militaria. This stuff was all genuine (I work for an auctioneer, and German military is notorious for featuring a heavy preponderance of fakes, some convincing and others utterly blatant – I would go so far as to say that if you see German militaria listed in an auction catalogue regard it as fake until and unless proved otherwise).
Yesterday was Heritage Open Day 2021, and this is my account of the day as I experienced it.
Heritage Open Day in King’s Lynn happens on the second Sunday in September (except last year when for reasons not needing elaboration it did not happen at all), which this year was yesterday. This post describes the day as I experienced it, and is rather longer than my usual posts.
THE BEGINNING: TUESDAY MARKET PLACE
There is a classic car show in the Tuesday Market Place in conjunction with Heritage Open Day, and viewed as the museum pieces that such contraptions should become some of the specimens are seriously impressive…
THE CUSTOM HOUSE
The first building I visited this time round was The Custom House, one of the two most iconic buildings in Lynn (The Townhall/ Guildhall is the other). They have an excellent little display upstairs, and it was well worth venturing indoors to see it…
THE RED MOUNT CHAPEL
A favourite of mine, standing on its own in the middle of an area of parkland, with the bandstand visible through the trees and the ruins of the Guanock Gate about 100 yards away. There are actually two chapels, the upper chapel and the lower chapel, and the thick walls and small windows that the outside of the building features are testament to the need to guard against religious persecution in earlier times…
THE JEWISH CEMETERY
This is near the top end of Millfleet, and most of the year if one spots it one can glimspe through the gate and see some of it. It was fully open for Heritage Open Day, and with lots of extra information made available…
ST NICHOLAS CHAPEL
I know this place well, but was interested to see what might be happening there in Heritage Open Day, and have no regrets about having ventured in.
VOLUNTEERING: HAMPTON COURT GARDEN
I was assigned the 2PM to 4PM shift at Hampton Court Garden, also referred to as the Secret Garden, because most of the time very few people are aware of it’s existence – the only clue from the street any time other than Heritage Open Day is a very ordinary looking navy blue door set into the wall, an even the passage providing direct access from the courtyard is one that you would only know as such if you had been told (the extreme lowness of the door into the garden that way means that it cannot be used on Heritage Open Day for Health and Safety reasons). There are at least three places called Hampton Court, the famous one in Surrey, another in Herefordshire, and this one (Wolsey’s former pad in Surrey is the parvenu of the three). This Hampton Court is named in honour of John Hampton who was responsible for the newest side of the courtyard, which actually made it a courtyard (even this, two centuries younger than anything else there, dates from the 17th century). He was a baker who made good use of being based at the heart of a town that was the third busiest port in England at the time – he specialized in ship’s biscuits, for which he had a captive market.
The part of Hampton Court visible from the garden dates from 1440 and started life as an arcade fronted warehouse facing directly onto the river (it is the last surviving example of such a frontage in England). The earliest part of Hampton Court dates from 1350, and the first expansion happened in 1400.
The warehouse lost its raison d’etre through two factors: ships got bigger, and the river silted up. A new quayside was constructed resulting in the relocation of the river to its current location fractionally east of Hampton Court, and this left the warehouse quite literally high and dry.
It was nearly lost forever in the mid 20th century, because in the 1930s Hampton Court was basically derelict. At one time the council intended to knock it down and replace it with a modern block of flats but then a very determined lady by the name of Mrs Lane came on the scene. She bought the place up bit by bit and renovation work started. From this the King’s Lynn Preservation Trust came into being, and they own the freehold on Hampton Court to this day, with the individual flats, which are all different from one another, being leasehold properties.
My chief responsibility in my stewarding role was take note of numbers of people coming to visit. These numbers were reassuringly high – by the end of the day the tally was in the region of 500 visitors, and there were many expression of surprise and delight from those to whom it was a new place.
These remaining photographs were taken at various places in and around town during the day but do not belong in any specific section…
Continuing the story of my long weekend away with an account of the visit to Bamburgh that brought Monday’s activities to a close.
Welcome to the latest post in my series about my long weekend away (14-17 August). The previous post in the series took us up to the end of our visit Holy Island. Today we conclude the Monday’s activities with an account of a brief visit to Bamburgh.
Bamburgh was originally known as Bebbanburg, and is still dominated by the castle (the current version is of course much newer, but there has been a castle there since at least the seventh century – it was an important fortress in Anglo-Saxon times. It is at the heart of Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Uhtred of Bebbanburg‘ series of historical novels, set in Anglo-Saxon times, and also features in Matthew Harffy’s ‘Bernicia Chronicles‘, set at a similar time. Cornwell claims to a be a direct descendant of the last family to have privately owned the castle.
ST AIDAN’S CHURCH
In my previous post I mentioned the importance of St Aidan to the religious history of the northeast of England, and it is entirely appropriate that the second most significant place in Bamburgh to the mighty castle that overshadows it is a large church dedicated to this saint. There is a very impressive monument to Grace Darling, who saved a group of Scottish sailors from death by drowning (like the RNLI today she concentrated on saving their lives, without unduly concerning herself with their background – some of the criticisms aimed at the RNLI because it strictly obeys the law of the sea disgust me), the church itself contains features of interest, and the crypt well repays a visit (there is a brief movie to watch while you are down there).
By the time we reached the base of the castle I was feeling very tired, and decided to sit on a bench, photographing the castle and other features of interest rather than climb up the hill for a really close look. Even from the width of cricket ground the castle is a massively impressive site, covering the entire summit of a quite substantial hill.
Completing my account of the visit to Holy Island, part of a series of posts I am doing about my long weekend of 14-17 August.
Welcome to this latest post in my series about my long weekend doing family things. In the previous post I covered up to the entrance to Lindisfarne Castle. In this post I take the story up to our departure from Holy Island.
Somewhat surprisingly for a castle, even one completely redesigned in the early 20th century, the rooms are all quite small. There are a couple of decent videos along the way round, and the views from the upper gun battery are stunning.
THE REST OF HOLY ISLAND
Having finished at the castle we walked back by way of some of the older remains, including the foundations of the earliest religious building on the island (dates from the seventh century – St Aidan, who arrived in that part of the world in the year 635 is credited with bringing Christianity to what is now the northeast of England – nb ‘Englaland’, the predecessor term to England, was not used before the early tenth century). We stopped for refreshments at The Manor House hotel, which served some good local beers. The chips were better than they originally looked, and the whitebait were excellent. After leaving Holy Island we headed for Bamburgh, which forms the subject of the next post in this series.
Here are some pictures from the closing stages of our visit to Holy Island…