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The Almost Prime Meridian

Greenwich, Salisbury and the Henges


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & 2002 An English Narrowboat Holliday & 2002 Heart Attack at Shroud Key & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

July 21, 2002

After breakfast, got the bus to transfer to a bus that went to the Tower station (rode on the top all the way there) which was the one that I determined after considerable map study was the one to go to for the Docklands Light Rail. The streets were relatively quiet this early on Sunday morning. The light was dim so the cameras wanted to deploy the flash which made a hot spot in the photo
FE998309DEEC83651911246F33361E48.jpgFrom the top of the bus

From the top of the bus


After we got off the bus, we wended our way up and down and across to the Docklands Light Rail station to go out to Greenwich. None of the trains seemed to be going to that destination. But a non-USA English speaking guy (can't remember now if he was from England or Australia) told us that we'd have to get a train to another station and transfer. He was with a big group. So we did that. The ride was very interesting. It went across
The Isle of Dogs

The Isle of Dogs


The stop we wanted was the Cutty Sark stop, and it was listed as being zone 2/3,
x20020721-121865963_14.jpgCutty Sark from the light rail station

Cutty Sark from the light rail station


so I was a little worried that we might be in trouble as our weekend passes were only good for zone 1 and 2. But later I found information which indicated that either zone 2 OR zone 3 tickets were acceptable. I certainly didn't want to walk through the mile long tunnel under the river. I both didn't want to expend my limited energy in walking that far, and know that there's nothing to see in a tunnel.
Bow of Cutty Sark with end of tunnel dome

Bow of Cutty Sark with end of tunnel dome

Bow of Cutty Sark with Bob

Bow of Cutty Sark with Bob


When we arrived, We walked around the outside of the Cutty Sark, but Bob didn't think it was worth the admission fee of £3.50 to go on board.
Stern of Cutty Sark

Stern of Cutty Sark


We walked around the Gypsy Moth
Bob reading the Gypsy Moth information

Bob reading the Gypsy Moth information

896017-Gypsy_Moth_Greenwich.jpgGypsy Moth

Gypsy Moth


which Sir Francis C. did a solo circumnavigation in (and wrote a book about it) and Bob noted that the windlass was in an unusual place.
windlass

windlass


You can't go on board.
Observatory from the museum

Observatory from the museum


Then we went to the information building, and they told us we could take a shuttle bus (£1.50 each RT) up to the top of the hill to the observatory, so we did that. It is walkable, but for someone in better shape than I am. We walked from the parking lot to the observatory. We walked along the prime meridian and looked at the exhibits there. They had the standards for an English yard and two feet below a 24 hour clock
24 hour clock with length standards

24 hour clock with length standards


Bob at the Royal Observatory Entrance

Bob at the Royal Observatory Entrance

Prime Meridian between the two ladies

Prime Meridian between the two ladies

2065655-Prime_Meridian_Greater_London.jpgListing of places on the prime meridian (left film, right digital)

Listing of places on the prime meridian (left film, right digital)


We also looked at the garden shed where the Astronomer Royal did most of his observations because the observatory building wasn't in quite the right place.
20020721-114165963_12.jpg
It is a very small site and was a bit crowded. Because there are a lot of steps, only the ground floor of the observatory is wheelchair accessible.
Ceiling of the octagonal room

Ceiling of the octagonal room


259585992667302-Looking_down.._Greenwich.jpgThames from the observatory

Thames from the observatory


You can also see up and down the river, including the Millennium Dome. I saw a foreign sailboat sailing slowly up the river.
Then we bused back to the National Maritime Museum. (the bus driver let us off on the observatory side so we would have less of a walk),
Observatory side of the museum

Observatory side of the museum


and there we had lunch. I had 1/2 roast chicken, squash to drink and a peach thing for dessert. Bob had a sandwich, Sprite/lemonade, and rice pudding for £12.95 total. Squash was something I remember from previous trips, which I like, but this was the first time I'd seen it available. It's kind of a fruit drink.

Then we walked around looking at the exhibits. There were a lot of interactive ones - game type things where you shoot missiles, quiz type ones, and even stuff like a pretend corridor in a ship where they have a persons name and job on the doors (cabin steward, purser, captain) and you open the door and see the uniform that person would wear and hear a recorded message about them and their job.
Inside museum looking down from 1st floor

Inside museum looking down from 1st floor


They had model ships, and paintings, dioramas, including two family groups of emigrants with their luggage - one steerage and one-first class. There were also decorated royal barges, and the uniform Nelson wore when he was killed with bullet holes and blood. In the library, you can use interactive computers to look up specific exhibits or items of interest. We looked at a lot of the Explorers and the Seapower exhibits. Photography is forbidden in the museum. The maritime museum, the observatory and the Queens House had an admission charge at one time, but they are now free. We didn't get to the Queens House.
x20020721-141865963_18.jpgThe street in front of the museum

The street in front of the museum


At about 2, we left because I wanted to take a boat down to the Thames Barrier (which is to keep the Thames from flooding - it did it last in the early 50's and killed a whole bunch of people). But none of the boat ticket people would admit that it could be reached by boat (even though my Lonely Planet London Guidebook SAID it could), and I didn't want to try the bus, so I gave up and bought a boat ticket back to Westminster pier.

The first place I tried wouldn't accept a credit card for under £10.00 and the tickets would only have been about £8, so I went to City Cruises, where they accepted the credit card, but put a surcharge on it. We got a reduced rate because we were old people with a weekend travelcard, so the total bill was £7.80 ($12.40). The ticket says that a guidebook is available for £2 onboard. I didn't buy it.

Bob didn't want to sit outside as it was cold and windy and looked like rain, and he hadn't brought his coat. He had it Saturday and didn't need it. So we sat inside
x20020721-110165963_06.jpgStarting out

Starting out


and had a nice ride back up the river. Again I noted the large tides in the Thames. We saw Zodiac type boats hanging from davits what looked like about 12 feet above the river.
Tide mark and zodiac dinghy

Tide mark and zodiac dinghy


It was difficult to take pictures through the window because of the reflection. We went by
Limehouse Bridge

Limehouse Bridge


again and I started seeing more familiar river scenes including Tower Bridge and
Waterloo Station

Waterloo Station


ending up at the
x65965_38.jpgTower of London (from the boat)

Tower of London (from the boat)


We took the tube back to the hotel stop (the tube was VERY crowded even though it was Sunday), and looked for a restaurant (Mondari ?) had been recommended on Goodge St. We found it, but it was closed, either because it was Sunday or because it was too early in the evening. We ate at a pub called Finnegan's Wake. Bob had fish and chips and chocolate fudge cake and tea, and I had a half roast chicken, fruit crumble with custard and tea for £12.60 ($20.04). The food was quite good, although I was suspicious of the name and the place was nearly empty. Then we walked back to the hotel
F.C.U.K.: Not a Joke? Department stores on the way back to the hotel

F.C.U.K.: Not a Joke? Department stores on the way back to the hotel


The name of this chain of stores stands for French Connection UK. It created a furor when they tried to open a store in the US with that name. I'm not sure if they deliberately picked that name in order to rile up people's sensibilities or not. I suspect they did, otherwise, why not change it in the UK to F.C.G.B. or in the US to F.C.U.S.? Of course that wouldn't be as controversial.
Then we set about packing so we could leave the next day for Salisbury.

July 22nd, 2002
Out goals for this part of the trip were:
See Salisbury Cathedral
Visit Stonehenge
Stay with our daughter in Cheltenham
Go to Bath
But the main overriding idea for the trip was to rent a Narrowboat
So we went to the canal museum in Gloucester and traveled to Wales to see the aqueduct there first.

We checked out of our hotel and a bit after rush hour, we took the tube out to the last stop. Our daughter picked us up there (so she did not have to drive into London). We went to visit Salisbury Cathedral. I wanted to see the Salisbury cathedral (which is sort of on the way back to the house our daughter was renting in Cheltenham) because I remembered studying paintings of it when I was in school.
Capture3.jpgSalisbury Cathedral by Constable

Salisbury Cathedral by Constable


I had taken Bob to see the two paintings of it by Constable at the National Gallery while we were in London. Constable painted several of this cathedral from various view points. The cathedral rises out of the plain and is visible for miles away. And I also wanted to see the Magna Carta which was there. The one in the British Museum had been moved to the British Library.
Parking in the Cathedral Close

Parking in the Cathedral Close


Our daughter parked in the car park (it was £5.00 then) in the close - the price is for the whole day and includes handicapped parking. Which was expensive, but it was pretty close to the cathedral. The houses in the close date from the 13th to the 20th century. They were originally built to house the senior clergy but now there are only 5 members of the chapter resident. Most are now private residences but there are a few that are open to the public. And the walk enabled me to get additional pictures of the cathedral from a different perspective.
Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Scaffolding

Scaffolding


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The cathedral was built all at once over just 38 years in the 1200s- an incredibly short period of time (even for today). The site was prepared in the 1190s and between 1220-1258 the main body of Cathedral and free-standing bell tower (since demolished) was built in Early English style by 300 workers. This means that the entire cathedral is in a single architectural style. Most medieval cathedrals were the work of decades and various bits and pieces are in different styles.
1334701-West_Facade_of_the_Cathedral.jpg West Facade of the Cathedral

West Facade of the Cathedral


"The West Front was completed by 1255 with the statuary work in 1300. At least 24 medieval statues survived to the seventeenth century but only 10 now. 60 statues were added during the Victorian period. The statues conform to a carefully considered iconography based on the Te Deum: bishops and doctors, saints and martyrs, apostles and evangelists, prophets and patriarchs are ranged in ascending order below Christ in Majesty in the high gable. At the base of the west front was the ceremonial entrance to the cathedral. All the original wooden doors survive here. A book on the West Front (published 2000) and a West Front leaflet are available in the shop. New statues of two angels and St. Aldhelm carved by Jason Battle."

Inside-the-church are flying buttresses to stabilize the steeple which is 123 m tall, and is tilting 75 cm to the SW. This is because the original plans for the church only had 4 Purbeck 'marble' piers which were to support only a small lantern tower. The tower they ended up with is the tallest in England It was difficult to take pictures inside the cathedral and flash would not have helped because the area was too large to be illuminated in that way.
2770988-Salisbury_Cathedral.jpgSalisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral


"Gabrielle Loire from Chartres, France designed the Prisoners of Conscience window in 1980. The candle for Amnesty International and the details on the adopted prisoners of conscience are just below this striking blue glass window in the Trinity Chapel at the east end of the Cathedral."

I tried to take a picture of the way that they had dealt with the fact that the spire was tilted due to the original plans not having anticipated having to support such a high structure, but those pictures did not turn out. The tower has internal flying buttresses and even from the ground one can see the columns bending under the weight and see that the tower has tilted. The cathedral also has an old clock c. 1386 (which only strikes the hour - it has no face - it is supposed the oldest working clock in the world).

There is a tour one can take climbing 332 steps by narrow winding spiral staircases to reach to the foot of the spire 225 feet above ground level. I have not taken this tour as I have bad knees and do not do stairs. I understand that from here you can see up into the spire through the original medieval scaffold, and from the outside you can see over the city and surrounding countryside.
7658131-Towering_Towers_and_Scary_Stairs.jpgTowering Towers and Scary Stairs photos from the on-line tour video

Towering Towers and Scary Stairs photos from the on-line tour video


Main aisle. Tower tours cost £12.50 for adults, £8.00 for children and £30.00 family (2 adults + 3 children). Scheduled tours last approximately 90 minutes and run at least once a day for 12 months of the year (subject to daily conditions). The website says: "Children must be at least 4ft (120cm) tall and 5 years old. Each child aged 5-10 must be individually accompanied by a responsible adult... Some of the stone spiral staircases date back to the 13th century and have no hand rails"

This is in addition to the *required voluntary* charge for viewing the cathedral. (That seems like an oxymoron to me -Voluntary is a misnomer here unless it means something different in English English. You weren't getting in unless you ante up. The website says "If you are a UK taxpayer, please ask for a Gift Aid envelope. (Through Gift Aid we can reclaim from the government the tax you have already paid on this donation, which represents an additional 25% on top of what you give during your visit.)" The tours by volunteer guides are free. They give our grandson an animal hunt game to play while going through the cathedral.
1334280-Magna_Carta.jpgThe Cloisters

The Cloisters


were built later (1264-1270) in the English Gothic style. We went into the cloisters (this was never a residential abby), and into the chapter house. The chapter house (no photos allowed) has one of the four surviving original texts of the Magna Carta. (Two of the originals are in the British Library. One is at Lincoln Castle.) I did not have time to visit the British Library while I was in London so I was glad to see it here. In 2009 UNESCO entered the four copies of King John’s Magna Carta on the Memory of the World Register – the list of the world’s most important documents. This shows that a document that arose from an English conflict 800 years ago, and has influenced constitutional movements ever since. They had translations into various languages (the original is in Latin) on wooden paddles.
Magna Carta

Magna Carta


Part of the translation:

JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, .. to his archbishops, bishops.. servants, and to all his.. loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD...

(1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us... that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired...

TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted,..all the liberties written out below...

(13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs....

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood...

(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russett, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges...

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it...

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice...

(45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well...

Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness...

Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year began on 28 May).

The charter house also had a large display of antique silver. We found that there was a restaurant in the visitor's area on the site of the old Plumber’s yard. You can get a variety of meals, snacks and hot and cold drinks. Another good thing - the roof was made of glass so that you could look up and see the steeple.
Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral


Our lunch was about £18 for all 4 of us. I had minestrone and a big hard roll and a Pavlova (which I've always wanted to know what one tasted like), our daughter and grandson shared roast chicken, and Bob had an egg mayo and cress sandwich and apple and a Sprite.
xSaliscath10.jpg
After we walked around the gift shop, we went back to the car and started in the direction of Stonehenge and Avebury (which my daughter liked better than Stonehenge). We stopped at Old Sarum on the way where the original cathedral was located to look back at the 'new' cathedral. The site of Old Sarum is located one and a half miles north of the present town of Salisbury and about two miles from Stonehenge. This is an English Heritage site, which we did not visit except to look back at Salisbury plain.
Salisbury Cathedral from Old Sarum

Salisbury Cathedral from Old Sarum


Old Sarum is approached via an opening in two high Iron Age banks, which obscure the site from outside. The banks were begun almost 5000 years ago. In 1070, William the Conqueror paid off his army here and, in 1085, demanded loyalty from his nobles. A castle, palace and cathedral were built inside the earthwork. The Normans built a royal castle within the earthworks of an Iron Age hillfort. This fortification, named Sorviodunum in Roman times, was occupied successively by the Romans, the Saxons, the Danes. The original cathedral here was built after the Norman conquest. and was consecrated in 1092. Just five days later, a great storm came and the building was largely destroyed by lightning
Constable painting 1829 of Old Sarum

Constable painting 1829 of Old Sarum


During the twelfth century a great tower and palace were built in the inner bailey. The cathedral, begun in the late eleventh century, was constructed on the north side of the outer bailey. Because of infighting or because the site was too small to support a large cathedral, or because of the great distance from a secure water supply, the Salisbury cathedral was built down on the plain.
299431561335273-The_entrance.._Old_Sarum.jpgBob, daughter and grandson on the entrance path between the fort walls

Bob, daughter and grandson on the entrance path between the fort walls


After the move to lower ground, Old Sarum began to be reclaimed by nature and, by about 1500, was used only as pasture land. Today, the remains of the prehistoric fortress, of the Norman palace, castle and cathedral have been excavated. Even without going in, you can see the surrounding chalk downs, with many wild flowers.

On to the Henges
I had been to England and Scotland once before in 1950 when I was 12, and Stonehenge was one of my "must sees" because I didn't see it the first time I was there. Bob went to England courtesy of the US Navy in 1962 when our daughter was a baby. His ship came into Southampton, and he visited London and northern Ireland. But he hadn't been to Stonehenge either.

So our daughter took us here after we visited Salisbury. There weren't enough of the audio tours to go around. Some of them that were there didn't work because their batteries had run down or they had some other problems. We could only get one for the four of us. I walked out of the tunnel, and commandeered some of them from some kids who were leaving. And later I found one on one of the benches that someone had left. Our daughter and grandson had been before so they weren't quite as important for them.
Grandson lying on the grass at Stonehenge

Grandson lying on the grass at Stonehenge


I found the pace too slow for me, so Bob did the most listening.
Bob with audio tour next to unknown woman

Bob with audio tour next to unknown woman


The audio tours are included in the admission price. You don't have to pay for an additional guide.
Stonehenge showing 'ditch' around it

Stonehenge showing 'ditch' around it


Backlighted in strong sun

Backlighted in strong sun

2042510-1406_Stonehenge.jpg2611451-1416_Stonehenge.jpgShows road up to stones and barriers around them

Shows road up to stones and barriers around them


I took a couple of pictures (trying not to get people in them). This was difficult because there were a LOT of people there.
Site showing all the tourists

Site showing all the tourists


large_641625-Closeup_Stonehenge.jpg
Section of the circle

Section of the circle


The heel stone is called the Frog Stone. From the side it does look a little frog-like. It is off by itself but right next to the A344 road.
Heel Stone with the road behind it

Heel Stone with the road behind it


It is unworked sarsen (hard sandstone). One of the mysteries of Stonehenge is that the nearest source for these stones is on the Marlborough Downs, about 30km (18mi) to the NE. The heaviest of them weighs about 45 tons- so were they transported on some type of sledge? I didn't think it looked so much like a frog. To me it looked more like the face of a moray eel. The lips and snout of the eel are facing you, the big crack is the mouth, and you can see a hole that looks like an eye on the right of the picture. But I guess the original namers of the stone didn't know moray eels

We left here and went to Avebury which my daughter and grandson preferred because you can get right up to the stones and there aren't so many people. But I preferred this because it was easier for me to navigate and see, even if there were a gazillion people here getting in the way of pictures. I had never heard of Avebury until our daughter said she wanted to take us to visit it. It is one of our grandson's favorite places. The stones are in a much larger circle which is all the way around the village of Avebury. They are not all there, and missing ones are indicated with cement markers. I think they are doing some excavation work there now but there was no evidence of it in 2002. I was surprised to be able to see crop circles from Avebury. (The picture was taken in July.)
Crop Circles

Crop Circles


I'm not sure if they are visible except in the summer and I don't know who or what is responsible for them. Parking in the tourist lot is free. There was also an ice cream truck in the parking lot. My daughter was concerned that I would not be able to walk from the lot to Avebury, but actually it wasn't a bad walk.
Sheep on walk from the parking lot

Sheep on walk from the parking lot


I did not go around the stone circle though, because walking on uneven surfaces is hard for me. I just looked from afar. Actually I was much closer to the stones at Stonehenge than I was to the ones at Avebury
Stones from the road

Stones from the road


The story goes that while returning from a day's hunting one winter's evening in 1648, John Aubrey had an epiphany - the earthworks and stones in Avebury were an ancient Druid temple. William Stukeley in the early 18th century saw the distressing destruction of numerous stones by farmers intent on clearing the land for fields. In 1743, he published "Abury, a Temple of the British Druids". This book mapped all the stones surviving at that time. The Avebury complex covers about 28 acres partially overlapped by the village and dates to around 2500 BC.
Big ring

Big ring


There is a huge circular earthwork ditch, originally about 30 feet deep, and bank about a quarter of a mile in diameter which encloses an outer circle of standing stones. Within this outer circle are two inner circles, both about 340 feet in diameter. The northern inner circle only has a few stones remaining. Bob and our daughter and grandson walked around to the closest stones, and I walked up through town. I went into one of the souvenir shops along the street. My family was more interested in the stones than the village, and I did not know anything about the village at the time, except that there was no place for me to sit and rest - a serious shortcoming as far as I am concerned.
Main street of the village

Main street of the village


However, I found a website on Avebury which says:

"The village itself holds much of interest including the church of St. James which has a long history going back to Saxon times. It also contains a notable font believed to date from the 12th Century which is adorned with some interesting carvings. There is also a fine Manor House alongside which is The Alexander Keiller Museum. This contains detailed information relating to the archaeology of the monuments and has many fascinating artifacts from the area on display. Supplementing the Keiller museum is the Barn Gallery which also contains some interesting "hands on" exhibits and other information supplied by The National Trust under whose care the monuments now fall."
PwRr.jpg
I would have liked to have seen the museum when I was there. Visitors who would have difficulty walking the 150m from High Street car park may park near the Barn by prior arrangement

Avebury is particularly busy at the summer solstice. If you go then, it might be a good idea to use the regular bus services that operate to Avebury from Swindon, Marlborough and Salisbury. Otherwise be careful to park only in legal places or the police will give you a ticket and maybe tow you away. You can get a pamphlet with six walks around Avebury from the National Trust. The "Walking around Avebury" guide features six local walks (£2.50 plus 50 stamp)

After this we went to our daughter's house. We did not stop at another nearby site Woodhenge. But we did stop where there was a beautiful overlook of Cheltenham
large_xcheltviewers2.jpgBob, daughter and grandson at overlook

Bob, daughter and grandson at overlook

Posted by greatgrandmaR 17:17 Archived in England Tagged salisbury tower stonehenge greenwich avebury magna_carta cutty_sark

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Comments

Glad you enjoyed Greenwich - it's one of my favourite parts of London. Just a note - the Maritime Museum is still free, though the Observatory is quite expensive.

You have some great photos of Stonehenge here. Like your daughter though, I prefer Avebury because it tends to be less busy

by ToonSarah

Some of the photos are duplicates as I used them on VT twice or 3 times- I entered them and then I went back last night to organize. I'm going to do the photos over again.

by greatgrandmaR

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