Goth Day’s Out: Feathered Flying Machines in The New Forest

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There are a great many things I love doing at the weekend. Most of which have deep historic backgrounds and usually Victorian somewhere along the line. Used for hunting relentlessly during the Victorian era when they weren’t being shot and stuffed, it wasn’t until more recent times that birds of prey became appreciated for their skill, grace and beauty.

Thankfully we tend to, on the whole, look after them a bit better, thanks to the RSPB and other conversation groups. The desire to have them shoved in glass cabinets with weird-looking eyes has died out.

For today’s post, I am in the mood for sharing some of my own beautiful images of these magnificent flying machines. The following pictures were taken at a recent visit to the Liberty’s Birds of Prey at their Owl, Reptile and Raptor centre in Ringwood, New Forest. A place I certainly recommend visiting, especially for their displays (but the tea room could do with a revamp….)

buzzard1buzzard2buzzard3kite1SONY DSCowl1owl2

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Curses, Destruction and Skulls of Kings – Welcome to Winchester Cathedral

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Voted the best place to live in Britain back in 2016, Winchester appears on the outside a sleepy yet historic market town. After all, Colin Firth comes from here, but though the town might be better known these days as the place of rest for Jane Austen, the cathedral which has housed her grave for the last 200 or so years has a very dark side.

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The great King and Queen burial mystery to be revealed

Some of you may be aware of the four wooden chests that are supposed to house the bones of the first kings and queens of England. In this, it is thought that the true identity of these bones will be at last uncovered.

Why are there so many early monarchs buried at Winchester? Because during Anglo-Saxon England, Winchester was the capital and hugely important. People travelled across the country to the Cathedral on pilgrimages to see the tomb of St Swithun, the Cathedral’s patron saint. When he was originally buried in the Old Minster, when the Cathedral which stands today was built, his tomb was moved inside the new building on the 15 July 971.

It then rained solidly for 40 days and nights (hence the curse, it is said now, that if it rains on the 15th July, it will rain for 40 days and nights thereafter.) A curse that may well have some proof after the smashing up of his shrine by King Henry VIII’s men in the middle of the night in 1538.

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Winchester Cathedral was, and still is, one of the largest Cathedral in Europe and the longest in its Gothic style. It is thought that it is also the burial-place for two of the four Danish Kings who once ruled England. Also, King Canute is thought to be there and his son Harthacanute. The last king to be buried at Winchester is thought to be William II in 1100.

I say’ thought’ because we are not entirely sure. During the destruction of the Cathedral during the Civil War in 1642, the Roundheads charged violently through the Cathedral smashing up everything in sight. They found the caskets housing the kings, queens and possibly, the bones of three bishops too, using the bones they found to smash the stained glass windows.

When the local people finally came back in to literally tidy up the mess, the bones had been scattered everywhere. Attempting to carefully place what bones they could find back in the caskets, it was later discovered that there were six skulls in one casket and a lot of leg and arm bones in another. The monarchs and their bishops had been completely mixed up!

It is hoped that this year, concluding the birth of the nation project, the University overseeing the carbon dating of the bones and identification may well announce to the world exactly who we have in the caskets. A very important announcement indeed when it does finally take place.

The deep-sea diver who spent almost six years in the dark to save the Cathedral from flooding

When cathedrals were built hundreds and hundreds of years ago, British builders, most of the time, weren’t the best in the business. Many buildings still around today from Norman times (and there aren’t that many) have been built on top of and extended far more than they were every supposed to take often resulting in either complete or partial collapse. Cathedrals, in the particular have played victim to such dilapidation and Winchester was no exception.

At the turn of the 20th century, cracks had started to appear where the river Itchen close by had started to make its way through the foundations of the building. Where some underpinning had been attempted in the past to stop the whole thing falling down, more damage appeared to have been the result.

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A naval trained deep-sea diver by the name of William Walker and a colleague were sent to do the job. Why a dead sea diver? Because the foundations were flooded full of silt and peat-dyed cold water. To hold the building up, concrete needed to be set under it and tonnes of it. What’s more, it had to be done by hand. There were no machines at the time which could do the job.

Every wall on both the south and east of the Cathedral needed to be underpinned or the whole place would collapse. No could get under the Cathedral to do the work without drowning. Walker’s colleague gave up after two weeks complaining that the job could not be done.

The conditions were so dark, cold and bleak that he had said that the job wasn’t going to ever be successful. Yet, Walker soldiered on, with bare hands, 20 foot down under the Cathedral, completing the job. It took him from Monday to Friday, every week, for six hours a day, for five and a half years. There is more to find at the Cathedral about its extraordinary history and the people who now lay within its walls. I recommend you go as soon as you can as it’s well worth the visit.

Goth points: 8 out of 10 – for its dark past and it’s beautiful leaning yet imposing and frightening architecture. Small children give this place a wide berth from the outside.

Goth day out? Yes, I recommend rocking up for one of the free tours – link below. The guides are a wealth of information about the place you won’t find anywhere else.

Ticket prices: £7 per adult and student concessions are available. Any ticket will get you free entry for the next 12 months from issue. We like these kind of tickets.

How to get there: Winchester is off the A34 in Hampshire. It can be found from the M3 too. Once you have parked (parking is fairly cheap in town and there are plenty of multi-storey car parks) all notable places of interest are sign posted on every street corner so you can’t get lost. Tourist information is in the Guild Hall which is also sign posted so you won’t miss that either.

Cool links if you want to find out more:

William Walker 

Guided tours are Winchester Cathedral

 

Goth posts and pages:

Must Visit Places If You’re A Goth: Bran Castle, Romania

Do’s and Don’t’s when buying a Vintage Pocket Watch

Fright Nights: Why I Still Watch Most Haunted

Goth Days Out: Fit For A Whipping Boy – The House Of 17th Century Dark Decadence

 

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Goth Days Out: Ally Pally Vintage And Antiques Fair 16/17 Feb 2019

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Not just a vintage fair full of flouncy dresses and zoot suits, the Ally Pally Vintage and Antiques Fair is a must for any one into any era, style, fashion and lifestyle.

Ally Pally vintage and antiques fair

Reasonably priced stalls (and jolly friendly stall holders) cover one part of the giant Palace (around 300 stalls) which includes cafe selling breakfasts and lunch. Plenty of space to mooch around the stalls allowing you to seek out dark Victoriana for your wardrobe and your home.

Open to the public in 1875, this beautiful Victorian building has been the home to international events, live performances and BBC broadcasting (including much-loved light entertainment in its heyday.) Even if you don’t find anything working taking home with you this weekend (which I doubt,) just hanging out at this extraordinary example of Victorian architecture is worth doing in itself.

Years ago, I would hang out regularly at this event whilst at The Vintage Eye Magazine, and despite entering the place with a firm grip on my purse, I never left the day without a few purchases. It’s hard not to find something worth dipping in your wallet for. One thing I do like about this event is that it’s friendly. There’s a nice, relaxed feel about it and even during the heat of the Summer, it never gets too busy in there. Nothing worse than trying to squeeze past crowds knee-deep at each stall.

Details are below: The best way to get there, if you can is by car. There is on site parking as all as an overflow car park within walking distance. By train is a pain (no poetry intended there) as the only way to get there is via Alexandra Palace overground then you have the long walk up the hill to get to the Pally. Buses, on the other hand are frequent and stop just outside the venue.

Hope to see you there!

 

Love and Absinthe

 

BB xx

 

Voted Best London Vintage Fair (an event not to be missed!)

Alexandra Palace Vintage Fair 

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Goth Days Out: Fit For A Whipping Boy – The House Of 17th Century Dark Decadence

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Ham House – Fashionable but Fierce

Leased to the childhood friend and whipping boy of Charles I, William Murray, Ham House in Richmond, Surrey, is said to be one of the very last examples of 17th century decadence and influence. Built for the luxurious to show off how loaded they were, it still stands today as proud as it was built to be in 1610.

Surrounded by wildly overgrown woods and romantic gardens, it peaks out between the bushes along the River Thames and intrigues passers-by on the water. Imposing and quite brutal close up, amongst the most popular of the National Trust’s collection, Ham House is a place I go back to again and again.

Ham House

Fit for a whipping boy

Murray had been (yes, you did read that right,) the favourite whipping boy of the young Charles and was given the slave’s role of being at the mercy of corporal punishment on behalf of the little prince when caught being naughty. Not a hugely fabulous job for a child. These days, more than shocking.

Ham HouseYet the punishment was still meant for the littler master rather than the slave, as it was thought that as the boys had usually formed a strong and emotional bond.  The mere fact that their slave friend was being flogged for something they had done instead of him, was seen to be punishment enough and thus a deterrent to misbehaviours in future.

It wasn’t ever seen as a position of detriment but rather a role that the poorer classes would aspire to. It was a chance to get close to royal position and in some cases (only some mind) whipping boys were graciously provided for in later life, especially if the friendship had been strong between the boys and the little master became king. Hence Ham House was given to Murray for his ‘former employment.’

 

ham houseInterior of Ham House

One place where I do like to hang out the most inside the house is the great staircase where guests would be greeted from the main door.

You can imagine the family sweeping down the great darkly clad stairs to a fanfare of well… what ever you fancied. The heavily dusty black chandeliers swing in a ghost like manner from the centre of the stair well.

It is simply breathtaking and for a Goth, the ideal area to hang out for several hours at a time.

Second best place to hang out is the green room off from the long hall on the first floor of the building. The room is like a privy closet in Hampton Court full of deep green cladded walls decorated with miniatures of people you will recognise and those you won’t.

The room is tiny but ornate in gold leaf and detail. Another great place to hang out is the library which is usually the first place to close when there is a lack of volunteers so Spring or Summer is often better to see this room which is the master’s study.

Wander around the endless volumes of Victorian literature and guess how many copies you can find of Pickwick Papers while you’re at it…

Film and Television

The house both interior and exteriors have been used to depict other notable buildings on recent years. More recently, the exterior was used as one of the scene of Kensington Palace for Young Victoria (2009) and the interior used as the boarding school in the 2011 film, Never Let Me Go.

 

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The Library

Visiting Ham House

Ham House is one of the rare National Trust properties open all year round, although the opening times of the house do vary but to only a few daylight hours during the winter. The cafe is worth a visit, especially on a darkly Victorian day as it has an open fire in one of the upper floors where you can while away the afternoon surrounded by antique books on poetry and the occult.

 

Goth points: I am giving Ham House 7 out of 10 simply because I find the best time to visit is in the dead of winter when there are only a few brave dog walkers along the river path around.

Best to visit in the colder, darker days as because it is baron walking up to the gates of the house in the biting cold, I imagine it puts the less hardened visitors off. The National Trust volunteers stand outside looking blue in the biting wind that seems to howl relentlessly around the grounds. It is ideal for a wintry walk amongst the hundreds of aging trees and walled gardens.

Ham House

 

More information and visiting hours and access can be found HERE

 

Want to find out about more recommended Goth days out?

Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire

Wells Cathedral, Somerset

Hampton Court Palace, Surrey

More on Goth days out

Brilliantly Dark Gothic Places To Roam And Be Whistful – Salisbury Cathedral

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Salisbury Cathedral has got to be one of the most stunning Gothic places to visit in the West of the UK.

gothic places to visit in the UK

Massive, imposing and just about as creepy as they get, this beautiful Cathedral might not house the most Gothic of notables (although you will find the stone for Ted Heath here) yet this place with its medieval past and present needs to be a must on your Gothic trail.

You will find, four copies of the Magna Carta (one of which was almost successfully stolen in 2018) as well as one of the oldest surviving clocks in the world which has been ticking since 1386.

gothic places to visit in the UK

The world’s oldest clock (or at least one of them)

Having no hands or face (clocks didn’t have such things originally) it actually looks nothing like a clock, yet it’s endearing and it will have you staring at it for a long time! It has been moved a couple of times during renovations and the like, and even spent a few decades in the loft (if Cathedrals have lofts) until it was restored and brought back to the public in the 1950’s.

gothic places to visit in the UK

Salisbury hasn’t had the best of press in recent months (I shan’t go into detail here) and this historic and beautiful city has struggled to maintain its appeal. Christmas was unusually quiet for this giant market town and despite all efforts to keep up the free park and ride into town, the locals have seen a decline in the town’s popularity.

I would strongly encourage to visit this gem of a city. Goth or non-Goth alike. The cobbled streets and dainty Victorian shop fronts mixed in with streets of Tudor buildings, you will be pushed on what to step back and wonder at first.

gothic places to visit in the UK

There is so much to see in the town or Salisbury, but for the purposes of this blog post, let’s stick to the ever so Goth Cathedral…

The initial stones were layed in 1220 and the whole building took 38 year to complete into pretty much what you see today.

 

Who is buried there?

If you are like me and love nothing better than wistfully gazing across the graves of darkly romantic and tortured historic figures, you might be a little disappointed with Salisbury Cathedral as apart from a Prime Minister who resided not far from the Cathedral itself, there are very few interesting people buried here, unless you love Bishops.

The only interesting character here (and most interested tomb) is that of Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford who might not strike any bells with you so far, but was the nephew of the doomed Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII.

Apart from being the nephew of the King’s favourite wife, he was probably best remembered for whipping up the displeasure of Queen Elizabeth I’s because he kept marrying his wives in secret.

His first wife was Lady Catherine Grey, the pretty and younger sister of the infamous Lady Jane Grey who met her death being beheaded after only being

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on the throne for 9 days.

Seymour spent his far share in the Tower of London also during his life but avoided any grizzly endings unlike those of the people around him.

He and his male relatives spent most of their lives dodging persecution and arrest of one level or another for many years.

Goth Points: I love that the cathedral is open to the public 365 days a year. Like all cathedrals should be (with a cafe in the walls of the place open too.) So I’m giving it 8 out of 10.

Opening times: can be found HERE. I strongly recommend checking the site before you go. Due to the fact that it’s 800 years old and holds the Magna Carta, opening times to the public might be restricted because of tours.

Wells Cathedral, Somerset – Beautiful Gothic Places To Visit

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WELLS CATHEDRALWells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset

Goth points: 5 out of 10.

Free to visit but you can donate a fiver if you want to. You will feel the need to.

Great if you have a dog – I have never been to a Cathedral which was dog friendly before, but in Wells, everyone loves dogs. Your dog will be happy to be here and be welcomed everywhere!

What’s it like? It is supposed to be the earliest example of Gothic church architecture in the UK. A truly Gothic place to visit, quite literally! Built between 12th and the 15th century, it may not have the grimness that many London Gothic places to visit will have, but it is set in a mysterious part of the country which you will want to come back to again and again. Although you will rather get the impression that the place might only have been built in the last 10 years, especially when you’re met by the scissors archway towards the altar. You’ll be scratching your head at it, yet this marvel of a structure has been there for several hundred years. It’s cool.  Dark areas? Not so many but you will love creeping up the warped stone staircase towards the

Medieval village and streets are wistful to walk around, especially on a warm summer’s evening or in the late Autumn. Best bits: Go to Vicar’s Close – the oldest habitual street in the world (or at least, Europe!) Cobbled and full of mystery it was originally built for the choir of the cathedral so that they would have a short walk to their place of worship without being distracted by the outside world!

Next reads: Gothic Places to Vist – Hampton Court Palace

 

 

Hampton Court, Surrey

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Home of Henry VIII (once Cardinal Wolsey was out-of-the-way) and venue for his marriage to Katherine Parr on the morning of the 12 July 1543. As the sixth wife of the aging King, she made a shrewd move to marry the monarch. encouraging the King to make peace with Mary and Elizabeth, his daughters, Katherine proved herself every bit of the doting Queen required by her Lord and country.

Goth points:

Hampton Court gets a sturdy 7 out of 10. Arrive here after dark (last entry is as late at 4.15pm) on a miserable stormy day and you get the full effect of impending darkness which cloaks the dimly lit palace in each of the royal rooms. Sadly Henry’s quarters are no more, but you can still enjoy a Gothy wander around the richly dressed private rooms of William and Mary.

Price:

Best bet is to buy yourself a Historic Royal Palaces membership card so you can get in for nothing as many times as you like throughout the year or as a one off visit, you are likely to buy an adult ticket for just less than £20. The members card will get you into events like the Food Festival (second weekend in December) where you can enjoy a 16th Century market of food and wares.

Best times to visit:

On a miserable wet November afternoon when it is likely to be empty. For the full 16th Century experience, go towards the end of November and beginning of December when the Palace is decked out in candles, orange peel, cinnamon sticks and pine cones. It’s beautiful.

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