Category Archives: English history

Day 13: The Final Battle

So Richard became king. He had many supporters, but many enemies. One was his dead brother Edward’s widow Elizabeth Woodville—mother of the nephews in the tower, head of a family abruptly out of power. Another was Margaret Beaufort, great-great-granddaughter of Edward … Continue reading

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Day 12: A Day With King Richard

This rainy morning I walked to Leicester Cathedral. Far less grand than York’s, it was tastefully built in 1086 in a beautiful brown stone I hadn’t yet seen in England. I was here to see Richard. Decade by decade, the … Continue reading

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Day 11: A Day in the Country at Conisborough

Today we drove south into Yorkist country, and headed for Conisborough Castle. It sat on the sidelines during the Wars of the Roses, but it’s an architectural gem with a quirky history. The castle was built by William, Earl of … Continue reading

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Day 10: Castles & Walls

For our last day in this area, we drove south again, on England’s A1 motorway (essentially a modern version of the 500-year-old Great North Road between London and Edinburgh). An hour later, we arrived at a small hill studded with … Continue reading

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Day 9: York Cathedral, From Bottom to Top

I had a perfect day today at York Minster (Cathedral). I started below it, continued above it, and finished in the center of it. The first church on the site was built in 627CE. One big fire and a few … Continue reading

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Day 8, Part II: The Killing Fields of Towton

While I pondered the bustling day in York, John brought the car around and we drove a half-hour southwest to the enormous battlefield of Towton. It was here on March 29, 1461 that the Wars of the Roses continued. The … Continue reading

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Day 8: York’s Medieval Metropolis

York is halfway between London and Edinburgh. Occupied on and off for 10,000 years, the actual town was founded by the Roman IXth Legion in 71 BCE. When the Emperor died in 306CE, it was in York that Roman soldiers … Continue reading

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Day 6: Medieval Abbeys, Connected By a Steam Train

Fully rested (and fully windblown), I finally bid farewell to the little seaside town of Redcar and headed south along the coast to another little seaside town, Whitby. Except this town hosted a blockbuster attraction—Whitby Abbey. Whitby Abbey started as … Continue reading

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Day 3: South Into England: The Wars Begin

Historian John Sadler arrived in the morning to start our drive south. He spoke more or less non-stop the entire day, which was at times tiring. But he is so breathtakingly knowledgeable, I really couldn’t get enough of either his … Continue reading

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Day 2: Walking Tour of Edinburgh: Scotland Really Is A Separate Country

The place we now call Edinburgh has been continuously inhabited for 10,000 years. When the Romans arrived they found a thriving Celtic community. The area eventually passed to a fierce tribe of medieval Angles (as in Anglo-Saxon), who lost it … Continue reading

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Day 1: Edinburgh, Jewel of Scotland

Scotland and England have had an uneasy relationship for a thousand years. And no place in Scotland resonates with this history more than Edinburgh–which is where I found myself on day 1 of my trip. Windy, cloudy, warm, cold–I had … Continue reading

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Coming Up: The Wars of the Roses

The Wars of the Roses were a series of battles that took place across England between 1455-1485. Battling for the English crown, the civil war lasted through the reigns (and untimely deaths) of kings Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, … Continue reading

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Ending the U.K. Trip in Christchurch

My last day in England was spent in and around Oxford’s magnificent Christchurch College and Cathedral. To whet my appetite, we started the day at the Ashmolean museum. The airy, multi-story building has a bit of everything, from a full-size … Continue reading

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A Thousand Years of Oxford

Canterbury to London to Oxford by westbound trains, and here I am in another ancient English city. The Saxons settled it due to its strategic location on the Thames (oxford=a place where oxen could ford the river). A century later … Continue reading

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Magna Carta, Sandwich, & the Puritans

The town of Sandwich was already 300 years old when Richard The Lionheart came through on his way back from the Third Crusade in 1194.   A half-hour east of Canterbury, it was one of southeastern England’s Cinque (Five) Ports … Continue reading

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The Vikings Were Here—Along With Everyone Else

My flight left SFO 2 hours late. Late in first class is better than late in coach, but it’s still late. Better food, wine in glass glasses, but we were as late as the people in the very last row. … Continue reading

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