One of the fascinating things about England is that it’s so rich in history. I love the beautiful architecture, weathered stone buildings and stories about the cities and people from the days of old.
Shortly after arriving in London, after a few days up north in ye olde York, I booked an all day coach tour to explore Oxford, Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon and a scenic drive through the Cotswolds.
Our first stop was the city of Oxford where we walked past famous colleges dating back to the 13th century, the Bodlein Library – Oxford University’s first library – and the Ashmolean Museum.
I sensed an air of poshness about this scholarly city. Perhaps it was the proper English accents, how immaculate the streets were or the calmness of the students as they cycled past, their black academic gowns flapping in the wind.
There is much to be impressed by in Oxford including the meticulously maintained lush green lawns of the college courtyards (which are strangely not for walking on), the intricate woodwork on big, heavy entrance doors and the large stone heads set on pillars outside The Sheldonian Theatre.
As I had recently returned from Italy, one of my favourite Oxford landmarks was Hertford Bridge – an overhead walkway and a replica of the Rialto Bridge in Venice.
After a scenic drive through the Cotswolds in the English countryside – past villages, thatched cottages, tea shops and ancient inns – we came to our next stop, Stratford upon Avon.
The biggest attraction in this town is the house where the great William Shakespeare was born and grew up, a home he returned to for the first five years of his married life with Anne Hathaway.
For me the modest family kitchen was most interesting and set to appear as if it was time to sit down and eat – a large black pot hung over the fireplace and a long table displayed baked goods and metal dinnerware.
Our final stop was Warwick Castle, an impressive medieval walled building with a thousand-year history dating back to William the Conqueror.
With only a short time at the Castle I headed straight for the opulent Great Hall and State Rooms. I particularly enjoyed the convincing recreation of a ‘Royal Weekend Party’ in the late 1800’s.
In this attraction, you walk through a number of rooms that are furnished and decorated as they would have been all those years ago, featuring wax figurines and audio playing overhead with the voices of the characters, bringing life to each scene.
In only two short visits to England, I’ve only seen a very small portion of its grand monuments. I certainly plan to see a lot more in the years to come!
Do tell friends, what is your favourite English historic landmark?
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