It is past 9:30 pm and we have just returned from a great day trip.
We had a car and a driver to take us to Lacock Village, Salisbury Cathedral, and to a special access at Stonehenge.
All of those places are far from London and a lot of driving was involved. Peter Ghesen was full of information and was good about sharing it. He did not confine himself to just the sites on the schedule, either.
But, as I noted in the first paragraph, it is late and you should consider this just a first pass with a more complete report to follow.
Lacock Village is a “preserved” site where all of the buildings remain as they were about 200 years ago. WE spent only a little time there but we did see St Cyriac’s church, which dates back about 800 years AND the house where the death of Harry Potter’s parents were murdered by Voldemort and Harry became the “Boy Who Lived.” We stopped at an old house on a corner which had honey and jams and fudge for sale. It is called the Stall on the Wall because everything is just lined up on the stone wall which surrounds the house.
From there, we went to Salisbury and the Salisbury Cathedral. The rain started about then, making us think that perhaps we were going to have a wet visit to Stonehenge. The cathedral was another wonder. The cathedral was begun in 1220 and finished in 1258—a remarkably short time to build a structure of this size. Its famous spire was added at the end of the 1320s. At 404 feet, the spire has been the highest in England since 1561. [What was higher before, I wonder.] There were very few other people in the cathedral while we were there which gave us the freedom to take our time and look around carefully. Much of the glass we saw was fairly modern and we’ll have to look at our pictures carefully to see if we can spot the old glass. The interior height (choir height) is 84 feet, but it looks much higher to me. As is typical of these old cathedrals, there are lots of memorials and tombs. One of the tombs belongs to William Longespée, who laid the foundation stone.
The cathedral houses one of the 4 surviving original copies of the Magna Carta—which we saw—and one of the oldest working clocks in the world. It doesn’t look anything like any clock I have seen but more like a meter or so cube that contains all sorts of gears clicking away. It appears to be driven by a hanging weight.
The spire in the picture doesn’t seem to show its true height. It is so high that the camera distorts its dimensions. The top can be seen from all over Salisbury.
From Salisbury, we were taken to Woodhenge, a place 2 miles or so from Stonehenge. Woodhenge pre-dates Stonehenge and a good-sized population lived there. Those were some of the people who actually build Stonehenge. The wooden posts which gave the place its name are gone now, of course, but they have been replaced by concrete posts so that we are able to get a sense of where their “houses” were placed. While we were there, it rained hard. The wind blew hard enough to turn a couple of our umbrellas inside out. And, once again very few people were around. In fact, for a while, were the only people there. Our hopes for a dry visit were fading with every raindrop and wind gust.
After a meal at the Stonehenge Inn (the locals understandably capitalize on the big draw) we headed for Stonehenge. It was not far and as we drove the rain slowed and the wind died. Our hopes rose. Since we had special access, we had to enter through a secure gate, where our names were to be checked off a list. That was fine—EXCEPT OUR NAMES WERE NOT ON THE LIST. [plummeting hopes] It took a few minutes, but we were finally cleared to get in.
We took a shuttle from the entrance/museum facility and spent an hour walking inside the stone circles of Stonehenge. Peter and a guide from National Heritage, Emily, gave short talks about the history of Stonehenge including the current understanding of how and why it was built and how it has changed over time. In the past, up until the early 1900s there was not much protection for the stones and gradually access to the interior parts has become more and more restricted. We were quite pleased that we could get in. I arranged our access in December of last year because the number of visitors is small and slots go quickly.
Oh, I should mention that the weather held while we were there. I had hoped to get some pictures of the sun framed by the sarsen stones (the tall ones) but is was still cloudy. Patricia kept saying the sun was going to break through, and it did: just as we were being herded back to the bus.
I will post more pictures in a day or two. For now, you will just have to make do with the ones in this post.
Here is Abby’s Contribution for the day…
Today was one of the best days yet! First, we went to Lacock Village. There was an adorable little stall selling jams, and I had to buy some lemon curd. After leaving Lacock, we went to Salisbury and visited a cathedral in it. I took a lot of photos, especially of the stained glass. I really liked seeing the tombs, they were really old and very intricate. We also got to see one of the surviving copies of the Magna Carta! We had talked about it a bit in class, but not much. I liked reading the translated version and seeing how much it affected America’s government. My favorite part was Stonehenge, though. There was a bit of a hassle at the gates, as our names were nowhere to be found on the list. I was happy to get in though. I took a bunch of pictures outside the ropes, and was shocked to be let in to the interior spots. I made sure not to touch any of the stones on accident, and I took so many pictures in there. It was truly magical. It’s tied between Westminster Abbey and here for my favorite part of the tour.
The map for today’s journey is below. We covered a lot of territory, so you will probably need to scroll and zoom.