Tuesday 18 March 2014

Eastbourne Part 2......

Our second full day in Eastbourne dawned sunny and warm again and after a lovely breakfast we met up with our fellow travellers for that day's excursion which took us first to Beachy Head, a chalk headland close to Eastbourne. The cliff there is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising to 162 metres (531 ft) above sea level. The peak allows views of the south east coast from Dungeness in the east, to Selsey Bill in the west. Its height has also made it one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world.  

The name Beachy Head appears as 'Beauchef' in 1274, and was 'Beaucheif' in 1317, becoming consistently Beachy Head by 1724, and has nothing to do with beach. Instead it is a corruption of the original French words meaning "beautiful headland" (beau chef).   We walked up the hill (me not as far as MWM) to take some photos of the views.

MWM discovered this Compass Rose, if you click on the pic and zoom in you should be able to read the inscription.

There is also this World War II memorial. Beachy Head was the major operational route outbound from the UK for the airmen of the RAF Bomber Command.

The next stop was Arundel, famous for it's medieval castle.

The castle was established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. Roger became the first to hold the Earldom of Arundel by the graces of William the Conqueror. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War and then restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.

From the 11th century onward, the castle has served as a hereditary stately home and has been in the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years. It is still the principal seat of the Norfolk family and is a Grade I listed building.
 We found these interesting ruins as we walked into the town, Blackfriars Dominican Priory.

A nice view of the River Arun.

Time for lunch, so off we went to Chichester.

The area around Chichester is believed to have played a significant part during the Roman Invasion of A.D 43, as confirmed by evidence of military storage structures in the area of the nearby Fishbourne Roman Palace. The city centre stands on the foundations of the Romano-British city of Noviomagnus Reginorum, capital of the Civitas Reginorum.

The Chichester Cross, according to the inscription upon it,was built by Edward Story, Bishop of Chichester from 1477 to 1503; but little is known for certain and the style and ornaments of the building suggest that it may date from the reign of Edward IV (1442 - 1483). It was built so that the poor people would have somewhere to sell their wares, and as a meeting point. An earlier wooden cross had been erected on the same site by Bishop Rede (1369-1385).

After some lunch we made our way to the Cathedral
Founded as a cathedral in 1075, when the seat of the bishop was moved from Selsey it has fine architecture in both the Norman and Gothic styles, and has been called "the most typical English Cathedral". Despite this, Chichester has two architectural features that are unique among England's medieval cathedrals—a free-standing medieval bell tower (or campanile)

and double aisles. The cathedral contains two rare medieval sculptures, and many modern art works including tapestries and stained glass.

There are also lists and pictures of all the Bishops of Chichester adorning the walls.

 I found the story behind this Gothic "Arundel Tomb" fascinating

It shows the recumbent Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel (1313–1376), holding hands with his second wife, Eleanor of Lancaster (1318–1372), who by his will were buried together.  The armour and dress suggest a date near 1375.  The knight's attitude is typical of the time but the lady's crossed legs, giving the effect of a turn towards her husband are rare. The joined hands were thought to be due to restoration, but recent research has shown the feature to be original. If so this monument must be one of the earliest showing this concession to affection where the husband was a knight rather than a civilian. How romantic is that?

Another interesting feature was this glass topped tabled, which allowed one to take a photograph of the ceiling above,
 and this is a photograph looking up at the ceiling.

If you ever find yourself in Chichester do go visit the Cathedral, it has a lot of history and interesting features.

By the time we exited the cathedral we had to make our way back to meet the coach to return to the hotel.   We made it back with just enough time for a short rest before getting changed for dinner.

Please join me next time for Eastbourne Part 3, when I will show you Eastbourne itself.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Eastbourne Part 1.....

Interrupting my Canada travelogue to report on our week away in Eastbourne last week.  We left home at 8a.m. Monday 3rd March for the long journey by coach to our destination, stopping off at Banbury for some lunch on the way.  We arrived at our hotel at 6p.m., which gave us time to unpack and freshen up before dinner.

Here's our coaches outside the hotel where we stayed, right on the seafront in Eastbourne, on the first morning, waiting to take us on our first excursion.

Here I am on the short walk down to the seafront right opposite the hotel.
 The promenade
and with friends taking in the sea air before boarding the coaches.

After a hearty breakfast we headed into Battle!    Our journey took us through nearby Pevensey.  Pevensey Bay was where William the Conquerer  invaded England in 1066.   King Harold and his army were fighting further north when the invasion took place, as soon as word got through Harold and his army headed south to meet the invaders who were marching north.   They met at a place called Battle.   Contrary to popular belief the Battle of Hastings did not actually take place in Hastings but in Battle!

We arrived in Battle and took a walk through the town until we came to the Abbey.

Battle Abbey was founded to commemorate the battle, and dedicated in 1095. The high altar of the Abbey church was reputedly on the spot where Harold died. The Abbey gateway is still the dominant feature of the south end of the main street, although little remains of the rest of the Abbey buildings. The remaining cloisters, part of the west range, were leased to Battle Abbey School shortly after World War I, and the school remains in occupancy to this day.  The town of Battle was gradually built around the Abbey, and later developed a reputation for the quality of the gunpowder produced in the area. In the mid 18th century, the town supported five watchmakers in the High Street. Today, Battle is known as a tourist destination. Unfortunately we couldn't go in the Abbey as it was closed to the public until the end of March.

Battle is a lovely little town with quaint buildings,

and an interesting church.

St. Mary the Virgin, which has been at the centre of Christian life in Battle for nearly 900 years.  This beautiful Parish Church was founded by Abbot Ralph circa. A.D.1115. The Benedictine Abbey of St. Martin was built on the battlefield of the Norman conquest and established St. Mary's to serve the community which had grown up around the monastery. The church is a haven of peace and worship built on the battlefield where in 1066 both Norman and Saxon died and history was made.

As you can see from the photos it was a lovely day weatherwise, we headed back towards where the coaches were parked having a cup of coffee at a nearby cafe before enjoying the sunshine in a small square,

where crocus and daffodils were blooming.  Our next destination was Royal Tunbridge Wells for lunch.  The town came into being as a spa in Georgian times and had its heyday as a tourist resort under Beau Nash when the Pantiles, a Georgian colonnade formerly known as The Walks and the (Royal) Parade, it leads from the well that gave the town its name. The area was created following the discovery of a chalybeate spring in the early 17th century and is now a popular tourist attraction.   Chalybeate water was said to have health-giving properties and many people have promoted its qualities.  Dudley North, 3rd Baron North discovered the chalybeate spring at Tunbridge Wells in 1606.  Dudley North's physician claimed that the waters contained 'vitriol' and the waters of Tunbridge Wells could cure:
"the colic, the melancholy, and the vapours; it made the lean fat, the fat lean; it killed flat worms in the belly, loosened the clammy humours of the body, and dried the over-moist brain."
He also apparently said, in verse:
"These waters youth in age renew
Strength to the weak and sickly add
Give the pale cheek a rosy hue
And cheerful spirits to the sad."
The English physician Thomas Sydenham prescribed chalybeate waters for hysteria.  A cure-all apparently!

The above photo was taken as we walked back through the Pantiles after walking the length of the main street in the town and having lunch.    I don't know why but we didn't take any more photos in Tunbridge,  there were lots of antique shops in the Pantiles and little cafes and restaurants, and a pub which we just had to call in to sample the beer!

Unfortunately it was time to board our coach to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.   I hope you enjoyed reading about our venture into Battle, join me next time for Eastbourne Part 2 to see the legendary Beachy Head.