200 years of Charles Darwin
It was at Down House that Charles Darwin worked on his scientific theories and wrote ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’, the book that shocked and revolutionized the Victorian world. Today the house remains as it was when Darwin lived here.
On February 13, 2009, Down House will reopen after a few months of conservation work with a new exhibition celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of ‘On the Origin of Species’. During a visit, you’ll enter the study where ‘On the Origins of Species’ was written, get a glimpse of family life in the ground-floor rooms, an audio tour narrated by Sir David Attenborough, and relax with a cup of tea or coffee. in the cozy tea room.
English Heritage has also restored the gardens to their appearance in Darwin’s time, where you’ll see bees at work in the fascinating hive observatory just as Darwin did almost 150 years ago. You’ll also follow in Darwin’s footsteps on his famous ‘The Sandwalk’ and marvel at the carnivorous plants in Darwin’s garden ‘laboratory’ and the unusual varieties of vegetables that grow in the garden.
Kennet’s 5000 Year Treasure Hunt
As you may not know where this area is, find Bath on your map and then head east to Chippenham, Devizes and Marlborough. It is a place where you can enter past centuries, visit ceremonial landscapes and hills steeped in mystery, myth and legend. Here you will find the World Heritage Site of Avebury, which was built around 3000 BC. Unlike Stonehenge, you can touch and feel the stones that surround this Neolithic place. If you have enough time, you can also receive instruction in the ancient art of dowsing, before or after a traditional ploughman’s lunch at the Red Lion pub which is INSIDE the ancient stone circle. It is also reputed to be one of the most haunted pubs in the South West with Florrie being its most well-known ghost. The well she was supposedly thrown into after being murdered can be seen inside the lounge bar, so don’t misbehave while you’re there! Proof that humanity has always had a need to make an impression can be seen in the White Horses that have been silhouetted in the chalk on the Wiltshire Downs. The story behind each one is fascinating. Another site of mystery and legend is West Kennet Longbarrow which is one of the largest Neolithic burial tombs in Britain and the nearby Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes houses the world famous Bronze Age collection from the burial mounds surrounding Stonehenge. and Avebury. The black swan on Market Place in Devizes dates back to the 16th century and has an interesting past and was featured on Living TV’s ‘Most Haunted’. With warning, he can roam basements and search for orbs in the dark, detecting energy and electromagnetic fields. If you’re looking for thrills of a different kind, there’s plenty of paranormal activity in the area. After a visit to the Back Swan, take a Ghost Walk through town. This is NOT for the faint of heart and you will need that drink at the end of the night…
Hastings Old Town
Just around the corner from the caves and the shoreline is Hastings Old Town, home to many notorious smuggling gangs, including Ruxley’s Crew and the Hastings Outlaws. They were a violent bunch and in 1768, 13 members of Ruxley’s gang were hanged for their part in the gruesome murder of a Dutch ship’s captain, off Beachy Head near Eastbourne.
The old town is full of narrow streets, shops and unusual buildings. Their smuggling legacy lives on with the annual bonfire celebrations during Hastings Week, where members of the bonfire society dress in the garb of smugglers or revenue officers tasked with catching them.
Explore the gardens of the England of England
Whether you are a keen gardener looking for inspiration or simply appreciate the beauty of English gardens, be sure to take the time to explore Shakespeare Country Gardens.
From early spring to late fall, discover a profusion of scents, colors, and creation as Shakespeare Country gardens bloom with trees, shrubs, and flowers. Even the winter months are exciting and you will often come across gardeners who are hard at work preparing their gardens for the coming seasons.
Shakespeare Country and the neighboring Cotswolds are home to some of England’s most enchanting gardens from nearly every period of English garden history. From landscapes to cottages, exotics to herbaria, the gardens are a delight to explore as they grow and change with the seasons and years.
Explore the gardens of the England of England, enjoy the color and tranquility, and remember where they are, as you will surely want to return.
On the Wales England border
A lesser known area of England is the county of Herefordshire, where England meets Wales. It has been the backdrop for several well-known films, including Shadowlands with Anthony Hopkins, which was filmed in the Wye Valley – visitors can follow the Shadowlands Trail. Most recently, filming took place in the Black and White Villages of North Herefordshire for a new film, “Unconditional Love”, starring Julie Andrews, Cathy Bates and Rupert Everett. The film was released in the fall of 2000. Literature has always been key to the county, Elizabeth Berrett Browning grew up in Ledbury and John Masefield was also born in this pretty market town. Poetry fans may like to visit Ledbury in July for the annual poetry festival.
Hatfield House – where Elizabethan history began
Henry VIII sent his children to live and be educated at Hatfield when Elizabeth was only three months old. Elizabeth spent most of her childhood in Hatfield, and it is said that she heard the news that she would become queen while sitting under an oak tree in the park. Elizabeth: The Golden Age starring Kate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Clive Owen was filmed at Hatfield House. The home of Mary Queen of Scots, Chartley Hall, was recreated in the Armory and other state rooms were used for the home of Sir Francis Walsingham. As Geoffrey Rush commented: “The first day of filming, for me, was the death scene and we recreated Walsingham’s bedroom at Hatfield House and we knew she had walked there some 450 years earlier. It just ups your game because you play in it.” with a heightened sense of pleasure.” Visitors can see the Banquet Hall of Old Hatfield Palace, where in November 1558 Elizabeth held her first Council of State and also see the site of the famous oak tree.
2008 marks the 450th anniversary of Elizabeth’s accession to the throne and as part of the celebrations there will be exciting new events for the whole family to enjoy. Experts on the time will talk about life in Elizabethan times in a new cycle of conferences. Documents from the Collection will be exhibited, along with the famous portraits of Elizabeth. For younger visitors, there is the opportunity to try on period armor and learn about life as a fighting knight. Banquets are held on Friday nights in the Old Palace. A sumptuous four-course dinner and excellent entertainment in wonderful surroundings. Throughout the evening, actors will entertain with period music, songs and drama from King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I and her courtiers, followed by dancing.