Thursday Doors – London
London was the first stop on our Europe trip. Amsterdam was the second stop. We bought the Europe land tour package from a travel company and purchased air tickets separately because we wanted a flexible flight schedule.
We arrived in London five days prior to the tour so that we could visit family and friends.
My childhood friend Shirley lives in London. Shirley and her husband took us to the cities outside of London. We went to Bath, Longleat House, and Stonehenge.
Bath is famous for its Roman-built baths. While in Bath, we visited the Jane Austen Centre. Jane Austen was living and writing in Bath from 1801 to 1806. While her most well-known novel Pride and Prejudice takes place in the countryside, her two books, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, are set in the historic city of Bath that captures a unique Georgian metropolis. They both have the spa town as a primary location. Our visit was after the BBC Masterpiece Theatre broadcasting the show Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth, the actor’s portrait was on canvas painting, stationery, CDs, and other souvenir items.
Longleat House is in Wiltshire, Somerset, 97 miles west of London. The house is set in 1,000 acres of parkland with 4,000 acres of farmland and 4,000 acres of woodland. It is not only a historic visitor attraction but also a residential home. The house is the best example of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain and one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public. The estate includes the first safari park outside Africa. This incredible estate was completed by Sir John Thynne in 1580 and has now been called home by 15 generations of the Thynne family.
We took a tour in the section open to the public. I saw a painting with Hurdle as the last name of the author. I pointed it out to my husband. He got a chuckle.
It was a cloudy and windy day when we visited Stonehenge. Lynton said during his two years in London, there was no fence around Stonehenge. He remembered going around and under the stones. Because of tourism and preservation of the historical site, there was a fence with signs prohibiting tourists from getting close to the stones.
Archaeologists believe England’s most iconic Stonehenge was built in several stages. The work started on this super stone circle around 5,000 years ago in the late Neolithic Age. It took over 1,000 years to build, in four long stages! The last changes were made around 1,500BC, in the early Bronze Age.
No one knows the purpose of the stones, but the stones themselves give the experts a few clues to many theories. But one thing is for sure Stonehenge was used as a cemetery. Experts estimate that about 200 people are buried on the grounds. They also think that important funeral ceremonies would have been performed at the site.
Lynton’s family is from England and moved to Australia. Before immigrating to the United States, his family went from Australia to London and lived with his grandmother for two years. After we arrived in London, his cousin picked us up from the hotel and took us to visit the house where his grandmother lived. We also visited the school he attended. There were two entrances to the school courtyard, with one marked Boys and the other one marked Girls. He bought some candy from his favorite store. Another cousin lived by a river and had a boat. He wanted to take us on a boat ride, but there was pouring rain. We had a barbeque in the rain and a pleasant visit, catching up with the latest news.