Wednesday Wander – Caernarfon Castle, Wales

I’ve been to Caernarfon, located on the picturesque North Wales coast, a few times. But my most memorable visit took place quite a few years ago, when a friend and I were travelling through Wales together. We managed to find, on our meagre budget, a guesthouse with a view of the famous castle, a genial host named Norm, and a very generous breakfast (we may even have taken some extra packets of cereal with us for later in the day – very small travelling budget, as mentioned).

I don’t know whether Norm’s Place, as we affectionately dubbed our guesthouse, is still there, but the castle undoubtedly is. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1986, Caernarfon Castle was built in 1283 by Edward I, on the site of an earlier Norman fortress. It was one of a series of castles built by Edward after his defeat of the Welsh, to impose English rule on the land. Edward and his queen visited the castle in 1294 when, it is said, Edward II was born, and was designated the first Prince of Wales. Since that time, the title has traditionally been held by the eldest son of the British monarch, with Prince Charles, the current Prince of Wales, receiving his investiture at Caernarfon Castle in 1969.

The castle, despite its auspicious beginnings, has had a turbulent history. Sacked and set aflame by Madog ap Llewellyn during the Welsh uprising in 1295, the castle was recaptured and rebuilt by the English a year later. In the early 1400s it was besieged by Owain Glydwr, with support from the French – later that century, the Welsh Tudors took over the British throne and tensions eased, but the castle, which had been damaged over the years, fell into disrepair.

Despite being a Royalist base during the Civil War, the castle escaped destruction, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that repairs began. In 1911, the first modern Prince of Wales was named there, when Prince Edward (later Edward VIII) was invested by his father, George V.

Image: Manfred Heyde, Wikimedia Commons

Nowadays the castle, dreaming by the water, looks like something from a fairytale, a fortress from a vanished time. It is a popular tourist attraction, with almost 200,000 visitors in 2015, and is also home to the Royal Welsh Fusilliers Museum. It’s well worth a visit due to its wonderful state of preservation and its huge scale – you can see, looking at the size of the people in the photographs, how large it is. It must have been quite imposing in its day. In fact, it still is.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


Oak and Mist, the first book in The Ambeth Chronicles, is on sale for 99c/99p until January 31st! Get your copy here

And donโ€™t forget to get your Bloggers Bash tickets โ€“ follow this link to join the fun ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Thursday Doors – Keepers Cottage, Berkhamsted Castle

This rather lovely front door belongs to a cottage built within the ancient walls of Berkhamsted Castle, not far from where I live.

The castle is Norman, motte and bailey, and has an important part in the history of Britain. It was a Saxon holding before William the Conqueror arrived in 1066, and is the place where he accepted the surrender of the Saxon nobles before heading to London and the crown.

The Norman castle building commenced in the same year, as Berkhamsted lay on a key route from London into the Midlands, and so was seen as vitally strategic. It was a royal castle for centuries, and eventually formed part of the holdings of the Duchy of Cornwall. It remained so until 1930, when what remained of the castle was gifted to English Heritage, who manage the place to this day.

The castle, as you can see, has been plundered over the years, with much of the stone being taken for use elsewhere after it fell into ruin and was abandoned in 1495. In the mid 1800s, it narrowly escaped complete destruction – the new London Birmingham railway was being constructed, with the optimum route seen as being directly through the castle grounds. Luckily, there was a growing movement to preserve ancient buildings and so, when the railway route was sanctioned, the castle was protected, the first building to be protected from development in this way. Nonetheless, the railway route still ran through the outer fortifications, destroying the gatehouse and ditches in the process.

The Keepers cottage sits in the grounds and is occupied still – I think it must be completely wonderful to wake up and look out at a nearly one-thousand year old castle in your back garden, especially one with such an illustrious history. And so that takes us back to the little white door.

This is my response to Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors challenge. For more doors, or to add one of your own, head over to Norm’s blog and click the link.


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,ย  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Thursday Doors – The Tower Of London

I will be doing a post (or two!) at some point about the Tower of London, but as it’s Thursday I thought I’d share a selection of doors from inside the fortress.

The Tower, one of London’s most recognisable landmarks, is almost a thousand years old. It’s built on older Roman foundations, so there are layers upon layers of history.

And there are quite a variety of doors as well, from elegant panelled affairs to hulking great hobnailed beasts, designed to keep people out.. or in.

To be honest, even though we were there for several hours, we didn’t see everything (although we did see the Crown Jewels). So I imagine I’ll be taking a trip back to the White Tower again soon.

This has been my response to Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge. For more doors, or to add one of your own, head over to Norm’s site and click the link.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,ย  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

 

Wednesday Wander – Tenby, South Wales

This week I’m wandering to the pastel picture-postcard town of Tenby, in the south of Wales. Set on a beautiful stretch of coastline, the oldest part of the town is enclosed by a medieval stone wall, built for defense after repeated successful sackings of the then-Norman town by Welsh forces.

There is thought to have been a settlement here as early as the 9th century, and the current town features architecture from a variety of periods. It’s well known for the pastel colours many of the old town houses are painted, making for a colourful photograph even on a dull day.

The town has seen its fortunes change several times over the centuries, from a being an important medieval town to becoming almost a ruin in the 17th century, after it declared for Parliament during the Civil War and was consequently overrun and sacked. A plague ten weeks later wiped out much of the remaining population, and it sank into disrepair. However, the late eighteenth century passion for sea-bathing restored its fortunes, and investment led to new building, creating much of the town you see today.

Nowadays Tenby, with its golden beaches and colourful houses, is a popular holiday destination, tourists coming to discover sea, sunshine and history down its curving alleyways. The annual Wales Ironman competition is also held there, a rousing end to the summer season. I don’t know about you, but I would love to live in a pastel coloured house by the sea, watching the waves and sky change colour. Perhaps I’ll get to, one day…ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,ย  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Thursday Doors – St Margaret’s Church, Wolston

IMG_2028

This is the doorway to the church of St Margaret, in Wolston, England. It’s a typical Norman-style church doorway – the church was built in 1186 – with a simple wooden door. Yet the colours of the stones, the simple shapes and worn lines, give it beauty, as do the fresh flowers and shrubs in tubs around the door, evidence of a church still well-used and part of the community.

IMG_2021

Despite its simplicity, this door is very special to me, and I have several photographs of it. In one, my paternal grandfather, smiling and in his vicar’s robes, is greeting my maternal grandfather and my mother. My mother is dressed in silk and lace, her father in top hat and tails, and they are on their way into the church when my father is waiting, along with the wedding guests. In another photo, a very small version of me is coming out of the church, accompanied by other small children, all of us dressed in costumes for a festival.

My grandfather was vicar of this church until 1979, when he sadly passed away, and there is a memorial chair to him inside. He is buried in the churchyard, along with my grandmother, great-grandmother and great-aunt, so it is a place that holds many memories. In fact, I blogged about some of them here.

IMG_2027

And this is another reason I think this is a special church. I rather liked this poster. It seemed to me to embody what religion should be – open to anyone and accepting of all. It’s how I always remember it being when I used to come here, so it’s nice to see that nothing has changed.

This is my entry to this week’s Thursday Doors Challenge, courtesy of Norm 2.0. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s blog and click the link.

Thursday Doors – St Mary’s Church

IMG_1225

This is one of the entrance doors into St Mary’s Church, Hemel Hempstead. I love the colour of the wood and the curling ironwork hinges, reminiscent of the more ornate doors at Notre Dame, Paris.

St Mary’s Church is in Hemel Hempstead, England. It is a Norman building, built between 1140 and 1180, and has a wonderful 14th century spire, one of the tallest in Europe. The Church is still in use – friends of mine were married there, and you can hire out the adjacent Church Hall for parties. It’s located in the Old Town, and there are plenty of stories about Henry VIII rampaging through these parts, chasing after Anne Boleyn. I wonder if they ever visited the Church? ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_1224

————————————————————————————————————This is my entry for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge – to see more doors, or add one of your own, visit his blog and click on the link.

Thursday Doors – Abbots Langley

IMG_1162

This is the tower door of the Church of St Lawrence in Abbots Langley. While it’s believed there was originally a Saxon church on the site, the current church was built around 1150 AD, just four years before Nicholas Breakspeare, a resident of the parish, became the first and only English Pope, Adrian IV.

IMG_1164

The church is a lovely Norman building of local flint, with a square tower and timber lych gate. The graveyard is huge, following the irregular curved shape characteristic of Saxon enclosures, hinting at an earlier history. It also boasts some very large trees, including this rather spectacular redwood.

IMG_1160

There are so many stories to be found in old churchyards, the gravestone inscriptions telling tales of love, loss and family.ย  So today when I was in the village I decided to make a quick visit, as it the weather was so nice. And I’m glad that I did.

IMG_1159

Thus ends my entry into this week’s Thursday Doors Challenge, courtesy of Norm 2.0 – pop on over and check out some more doors, or add one of your own.