Heritage Open Day 2021

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.

OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS

These remaining photographs were taken at various places in and around town during the day but do not belong in any specific section…

Long Weekend 7: Bamburgh

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.

HISTORY

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’sUhtred of Bebbanburg‘ series of historical novels, set in Anglo-Saxon times, and also features in Matthew Harffy’sBernicia 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).

THE CASTLE

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.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Bamburgh yielded some fine photographs:

A Long Weekend 6: Lindisfarne Castle

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.

LINDISFARNE CASTLE

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.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some pictures from the closing stages of our visit to Holy Island…

A Long Weekend 4: Arriving On Lindisfarne

The first pf several posts about Lindisfarne.

Welcome to the next post in my series on my long weekend away (14-17 August). This post is the first of several I shall be putting up about Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island. This remarkable islands sits just of the coast of Northumberland – it is linked to the mainland by a causeway which is usable for some of each day.

GETTING THERE

Coming from our location getting on to the approach to the causeway required getting across the A1, and the junction in question has no traffic lights, which means that it takes a considerable time to get across. We then had a further substantial wait before being able to cross the causeway.

STARTING TO EXPLORE

We started with some general stuff about the island, its history and the wildlife to which it is home. We then headed in the direction of the castle, which in its current incarnation is modern, having been redesigned by Lutyens. There is also a walled garden which was designed and laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some photographs from the early part of our explorations of this island:

Italy 2020 – Villa D’Este

A look at Villa D’Este as I continue my account of my Italian holiday.

Welcome to the latest post in the series I am doing about my recent Italian holiday (2-11 November). This post deals with the second part of the final Thursday, and will be dominated by photographs.

TIVOLI’S THIRD GREAT ATTRACTION

After being shown the hidden treasures of the Villa Sant’Antonio we headed into central Tivoli for a look at the Villa D’Este, the third major attraction in that part of the world (I featured Villa Adriana and Villa Gregoriana in earlier posts in this series). This villa is still in good c0ndition and also has extensive grounds, although I did not see much of those because I was worried about climbing back up from a longish descent. However, I saw enough to be extremely impressed.