Cowdray House in Midhurst, West Sussex, was a Tudor nobleman’s grand mansion, built around 1520 and 1542. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I visited and stayed there, no doubt hunting in the local hazel wood forest. The house was a near copy of Hampton Court, although not quite as big. No one was permitted to have a house bigger than the king, although Cowdray did have a bigger Bay Window, much to Henry’s envy!
In 1793 a double tragedy happened. The house caught fire and gutting all the wooden interiors, priceless paintings, furniture and hammerbeam roof. Also, the current owner, the 8th Viscount Monatgue and his intended brother in law drowned in a boating accident in Germany. As a consequence the house was left in a state of ruin as no one knew quite what to do with it.
In time the house became an attraction in its own right, particularly with the Victorians after the railways arrived in Midhurst. It still is, but these days it is run by the Cowdray Heritage Trust and manned by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers. It is definitely a Vobes recommended place to visit.
A few years ago I took my family to the 17th Century living museum and village Little Woodham, near Gosport in Hampshire. I met there James Hodgeson, or master John from the village as he prefers to be known.
In the April of 1642 the King of England, Charles Stuart and his Parliament stood on the eve of Civil War. The momentous events of that year unfold as the autumn approaches. Using extensively researched local events and people the villagers link their families and their lives to national and international events.
I feel quite silly posting this very naive audio walk around the country town of Shropshire. I recorded this quite a few years ago when I first met my friend Harriet and together we took a stroll around the town. I now know so much more about Shrewsbury, its history, its people, the coaching inns, the castle and abbey. The second Bald Explorer video episode was shot there, although not really about the town as such. I do want to produce a more comprehensive video, episode and guide to the fascinating town. History oozes from the pavement in this place with its Elizabethan timber framed houses and grand Georgian parades.
Shropshire as a county is definitely worth exploring in more detail. It is one of those places that people have heard of but cannot always pinpoint. It is on the border with Wales in the west Midlands. Shrewsbury is only 15 miles from the Welsh hills and at one point in its history was considered to be the unofficial capital of Wales. The town had many skirmishes with either its neighbours or with the English people. The Battle of Shrewsbury (1403) took place just outside the town walls and was result of an uprising against the King, Henry IV and Harry Hotspur. It is where Prince Henry, of later Agincourt fame, received a wound on the cheek from an imbedded arrow head.
Author Ellis Peters based her famous detective monk, Cadfael, here at the Abbey. Charles Dickens stayed many times in the town at the Lion Hotel. Charles Darwin grew up here and much hated and despised Judge Jefferies went to school at what is now the town library.
Anyway, this is an early recording and one that introduced me to the town. I will be exploring more, of that I am certain.
Recently, Harriet, my walking friend and I, took a trip to Hay on Wye to explore the town and its famous bookshops. Before we got there, we decided to take have a walk over the famous Black Mountains and record a podcast.
I couldn’t find a reason way this range of hills as so known, other than that John Leland made reference to them and used this name back in the 16th century. I figured it had something to do with the fact that as the sun passes to the south of them, if you were standing in the Midlands in England, the silhouette so caused would make them seem black. It is not a convincing argument, but it is all I have to offer.
The mountain range itself is part of the Brecon Beacons area in Wales, above Monmouthshire in Powys and close to the border with England and the county of Herefordshire. It is a beautiful spot to escape the pressures and stresses of life and if you like to climb up to get views of fabulous British countryside, then this is as good as any that I could recommend.
Work had cause to take me up north for some video productions and I took the opportunity to meet up with a fellow video producer who like me interested in walking. He enjoys both disciplines so much that he decided to combine the two into one and now produces the excellent Walks Around Britain website. He claims to run the only walking videos website in the UK and it is worth checking out if you love great landscapes and enjoy the British countryside.
Andrew and I met up the other day and decided to have a stroll around a wonderful country mansion close to Doncaster called Cusworth Hall. To make the event a little more memorable we decided to record a podcast in which we discuss our love of walking, history, film making and more. If you have an hour, why not join us and find out all about Andrew and his walking videos and the elegant Georgian mansion and it’s three lakes sculpted by the infamous Lancelot Capability Brown.
Bignor Roman Villa is situated in the centre of the designated South Downs National Park, only metres from the Downs themselves. The site commands unrivalled views of the Downs to South, East and West with instant access to miles of beautiful footpaths heading in all directions.
Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman courtyard villa which has been excavated and put on public display on the Bignor estate in the English county of West Sussex. It is well-known for its high quality mosaic floors, which are some of the most complete and intricate in the country.
I popped down there a few years ago to find out all about the Roman’s and the remains they left behind. Listen to the podcast and see what you think.