Bletchley Park – part 3

Here we are back at Bletchley Park, inside the mansion this time, as you can see from the hallway it’s very Victorian.

Bletchley Park Mansion entrance

There’s a lot of oak panelling in the library below, in fact there’s a lot of oak panelling all over the house.

Bletchley Park Mansion Library 1

I have no idea what happened to the original books, possibly they were sold off in the 1930s when the house became government property. The shelves have been filled with book club books and a lot of what I suppose can be called domestic fiction. No doubt it’s very down market compared with what was originally on the shelves but if these books had been for sale, I would have been very happy to give some of them a new home!

Mansion Library, Bletchley Park, codebreaking, WW2

Mansion Library  books, Bletchley Park, codebreaking, WW2

Bletchley Park Mansion Library 4

I think the room below is the brightest and prettiest room in the house, from what we were able to see anyway. It’s done out as an office but must have been a sitting room or drawing room when the house was a home.

Bletchley Park Mansion room & ceiling

There are quite a few very ornate ceilings in the Victorian style.

Bletchley Park, Mansion ornate ceiling

Including the lovely glass ceiling below in what must have been a garden room or consevatory.

Bletchley Park, Mansion glass ceiling

If I’m remembering correctly the room below was the ballroom with its linenfold panelling, not as large as I expected it to be, I calculated that you might be able to fit in four sets of Scottish country dancers for reels, with six people in each set, but it would be plenty big enough if dancers were just waltzing. Rather worryingly this room smelled of damp, I didn’t notice that anywhere else. I noticed in the news last night that Bletchley Park had been awarded over a million pounds, I know where some of it should be spent!

Bletchley Park, Mansion wood Panelling

Bletchley Park was a great day out.

Bletchley Park – part 2

Here we are back at Bletchley Park, the World War 2 codebreaking centre. The photo below is of a sentry box which would have been manned or maybe womanned I suppose (or maybe not) by some one asking you for your papers before you could get past the gate.

Bletchley Park Sentry Box

Below is a corner of Alan Turing’s office, all of the offices are very dark, I don’t think they had any windows which would make sense when you’re keeping things secret but must have made working there even more claustraphobic.

Alen Turing's Office, Bletchley Park, codebreaking, WW2

As ever, click the photos if you want to see them enlarged. I find it so sad that Alan Turing was so badly treated by the powers that be – after the war. He certainly didn’t get any thanks for his efforts at winning the war.

Alan Turing's Office, Bletchley Park, codebreaking, WW2

Below is a fairly recently made statute of Alan Turing, it seems to have been constructed using pieces of slate piled on top of each other, it’s quite effective though.

Alan Turing Statue, Bletchey Park

The main codebreakers seem to have lived in estate cottages close to the huts and the mansion house, you can’t see inside them but they look very cute from the outside.

Bletchley Park Cottages

Bletchley Park Cottages,

Bletchley Park Cottages

I like the design of the leaded glass windows, presumably this was the bathroom.

Bletchley Park Cottages window

At least they didn’t have to travel far after a long shift of calculations and code wrangling.

Bletchley Park Cottages

Bletchley Park

When we drove down south last week for our first time away from home since Covid appeared our first day was entirely taken up by a visit to Bletchley Park, the World War 2 codebreaking centre, it’s close to the new town of Milton Keynes. There was a lot to see. Below is a stitched photo of the country house the building of which began in 1883, originally owned by a financier and politician, by the time he died in the 1930s nobody in his family wanted the house and it was eventually acquired by the government and so became a centre for secret war work. The location was ideal as it has great transport links for London and there was plenty of space in the sprawling estate to accommodate the 8 or 9,000 people who ended up working there. The workers were mainly farmed out to any local people who had a spare bedroom – whether they wanted a lodger or not. The stars of the show though were given estate cottages to live in. At one point there was a queue of people at the right hand door, waiting to go in for their afternoon tea, sadly that had to be booked so we couldn’t partake. We made do with soup and bread from the cafe.

Bletchley Mansion Stitch

There are still lovely trees and a lake on the estate although obviously lots of the land was built on.

Bletchley  Park Lake

There are ‘huts’ and buildings all over the place, but there are loads more waiting to be refurbished. That’s not going to be cheap going by the amount of ‘danger asbestos’ signs we saw!

Bletchley Park Building

Inside the huts are spartan, I don’t think they would have been very comfortable to work in, I felt quite claustrophobic just walking through them for a short time.

Bletchley Park Hut Corridor, WW2 codebreaking

Bletchley Park Hut Poster , WW2, codebreaking

Of course they not only had to break codes but also had to translate them from numerous languages such as Japanese as well as German.

Index Cards Japanese, Bletchley Park, codebreaking ,WW2

They managed to do that using the enigma machines such as the one below, it’s smaller than an old typewriter, there are lots of machines on display.

enigma machine, WW2, Bletchley Park, codebreaking

enigma machines, Bletchley Park, WW2 ,codebreaking

We took lots of photos but I’ll keep those for future posts. Almost more amazing than the work that went on in this area is the fact that the Germans never had an inkling of its existence which is incredible when you think of the thousands of people who worked here and all the people who lived nearby. It was all ‘hush hush’ and it stayed that way until someone wrote a book about it in 1974. There must have been no spies at the local electricity plant as the amount of power used here to work all the machinery must have been enormous. I can’t imagine people keeping ‘mum’ in that way nowadays.

Peterborough Cathedral, Cambridgeshire, England

Last week I scheduled a couple of blogposts prior to going down to England for four days. It was a delayed trip that we had planned to take way back at Easter but of course we were in strict lockdown then and only allowed to travel to get food. We swithered about leaving our area of Scotland which had had very low Coronavirus rates, journeying south seemed chancy. On the other hand the Peterborough area that we were travelling to also had fairly low infection rates so we decided to go, armed with masks and plenty of sanitiser.

We went to the big (mainly outdoor) antiques fair at Peterborough, but it was a bit of a disappointment as so many of the stallholders weren’t there, actually I was surprised that it hadn’t been cancelled. On the plus side I did manage to get some Christmas/birthday presents for Jack that I couldn’t have got elsewhere. My Christmas shopping is mainly finished!

This time around we made sure that we had plenty of time to visit Peterborough Cathedral. I wanted to visit where Katharine of Aragon was buried and the spot where Mary Queen of Scots had been buried, before her son the Scottish King James VI or James I (England) had her disinterred and reburied at Westminster Abbey in the Lady Chapel.

Peterborough Cathedral is interesting, has some wonderful ceilings and floors and has quite a warm and friendly atmosphere which you can’t say for all of these places. As ever I compared it with my favourite Saint Magnus Cathedral on Orkney – it’s still my favourite.

When Katharine of Aragon died she was at Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire. King Henry VIII had her buried at Peterborough Cathedral because it was closest and presumably the cheapest way of doing it, he was obviously glad to be rid of his first wife and was only interested in marrying Anne Boleyn as fast as possible.

Katharine's Tomb

Katharine’s personal emblem was a pomegranate which signified fertility, sadly she didn’t have much luck with her pregnancies, but I’m sure the fault lay with her husband. It’s quite touching that someone has laid a couple of pomegranates on her tomb.

Katharine of Aragon's Tomb

Mary, Queen of Scots was originally buried not far from Katharine but now there is just a stone memorial where she lay.

Above Mary's Former Tomb

Mary's Former Tomb

There’s also a much more modern memorial to the World War 1 nurse Edith Cavell who was executed by the Germans, they claimed she was a spy.

Edith Cavell, Peterborough Cathedral

The cathedral has lovely mosaic marble floors.

Patterned mosaic floor, Peterborough Cathedral

Below is the stained glass in a side chapel.

Stained Glass , side chapel, Peterborough Cathedral

Beautiful ceilings.

Stone Vaulting, Peterborough Cathedral

The main ceiling is painted wood which is very unusual I think.

Wood vaulting, Peterborough Cathedral

Stone altar, Peterborough Cathedral

Stone altar,Peterborough Cathedral

The photo below was taken two years ago when we first visited Peterborough, but that time we didn’t manage to see inside the cathedral as it was shut, as you can see though – it was a golden evening.

Peterborough Cathedral

Prior to going Peterborough we visted Bletchley Park, the WW2 codebreaking establishment which was strictly ‘hush hush’ until the 1970s when someone published a book on it which horrified so many who had worked there during the war as they were sworn to secrecy. But that’ll be another post – soonish.

St Giles’ Parish Church, Wrexham, Wales

St Giles Parish Church, Wrexham, Wales

When we were in Wales, about a year ago now we were drawn to what we thought must be a cathedral, you can see it for miles around, but it turned out to be St Giles’ Parish Church. Apparently it’s known as the ‘Wonder of Wales’ and I’m not surprised at that, we didn’t actually get inside it as there seemed to be something going on which we didn’t want to gatecrash, however you can see some fantastic internal photos of it here.

St Giles  Parish Church, Wrexham, Wales

You can read about St Giles’ history here. The tower dates from the 16th century which by comparison with my nearest church in Fife is actually quite modern as St Drostan’s tower dates from the 12th century, but St Giles is much more impressive although both churches were originally founded by the Celtic church, before Catholicism took over.

I am of course not the least bit religious but I’m interested in the buildings and the locations of old churches which are generally located on what had been places of worship for the Druids previously. I find their worship of nature more appealing, minus any human sacrifices, but that might just have been the Romans maligning a local religion!

The gates to St Giles’ from the town are fairly elaborate.

St Giles Parish Church Wrexham  gates, Wales

Falkland Palace Garden, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace , Fife, Scotland

Although we’re members of the Scottish National Trust we haven’t been able to visit any of their properties this year as they’ve obviously all been closed due to Covid. Some of the bigger castles have opened up again, such as Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, but last week we decided as it was a beautiful day we’d visit nearby Falkland Palace, just to walk in the garden, the palace wasn’t open. You can just walk in and there’s a box for donations.

Falkland Palace, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace was the hunting lodge of the Stuart kings and queens. Built in the 16th century by King James IV and his son James V and modelled in the French style it was also a favourite with Mary, Queen of Scots as it reminded her of the French chateaux of her childhood.

Falkland Palace , Fife, Scotland

Much of the palace is a romantic ruin, but in the 19th century the third Marquess of Bute had it partly rebuilt.

Falkland Palace, Fife, Scotland

We quite often just go for a wander around the gardens, there’s a pleasant orchard, although a lot of the trees have been fairly recently planted. In normal times you can have a nice wee sit down on a bench and admire the views, but I believe they’ve been removed due to Covid 19.

Falkland Palace Gardens, Fife, Scotland

Anyway, here are some of the photos I took while we wandered around.

Falkland Palace Gardens , Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace Gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace Gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace Gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace Gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace Steps, Fife, Scotland

The gate below is obviously modern, it leads through to the orchard some of which you can just see in the background. The apple crop was not nearly as good as usual due to the weather.

Falkland Palace Gate, Fife, Scotland

Although Falkland has always been popular with tourists it has become even more so in recent years as the village and palace have been used as a location for Outlander. Click on the photos if you want to see them enlarged.

Culross, Fife, Scotland

Culross

A lot of the wee houses in Culross are owned by the Scottish National Trust and were delapidated and uninhabited until they took them over and renovated them.

Culross street, Fife, Scotland

Then they rented them out to people, I’m not sure if the houses that I’ve photographed are some of those ones but I think they are. I wish they had kept one of them as a tourist attraction, it’s lovely to visit palaces and stately homes but it can be even more interesting to see how the ordinary people lived back in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Culross, Fife, Scotland

Culross, Fife, Scotland

It’s strange but looking back I remembered having a hard time picking my way over the stones and boulders that made up the roads but I now see that some of them were tarmacked. In the photo below you can get an idea of how rough some of the roads are. It looks like a great tower house and must have a lovely view over the River Forth.

Culross house, Fife, Scotland

It’s a pity about the wheelie bins in the photo below – ugly but necessary for the people who live there. Sometimes tourists forget that these are people’s homes and have a good old look through a window, nose pressed to glass. I know someone who did that thinking the house was a museum and got the shock of their life when she saw the woman of the house staring back – it wisnae me!

Culross house, Fife, Scotland

The merkat cross below is about halfway up the very steep hill that leads to Culross Abbey, it seems a strange place to hold a market, it can’t have been an easy haul up there for any stall holders or shoppers. Maybe they held the market elsewhere despite the merkat cross being here.

Culross Mercat Cross, Fife, Scotland

On the way back downhill it’s easiest either to walk down the gutter at the side or along the middle of the road where the boulders are bigger and flatter.

Culross lane, Fife, Scotland

Below is a photo that I took close to the top of the hill that leads up to the abbey, looking over to the Firth of Forth. I inadvertently got a cow’s backside in view too!

River Forth View, Culross, Fife

The beach isn’t the bonniest but apparently it’s very rich in food for seabirds which is the main thing. Culross is definitely worth a visit if you are in or close to Fife.

Culross, Firth of Forth,Fife

Culross Abbey, Fife, Scotland

Last Friday dawned dry and bright, the only dry day in the week, so we decided to drive to the very historic Fife village of Culross, which is pronounced Cooris. Although we’ve visited Culross Palace at least three times we had never tackled the very steep and stony road which leads to the Culross Abbey. It is now a ruin and a lot of the stones from it have been ‘robbed’ to build the nearby manse.

The tower of the abbey church which is in use today stands in what was the middle of the original abbey. It was founded in 1217 by Malcolm, 3rd Earl of Fife. It was home to Cistercian monks who wore white habits.

Culross Tower, Fife, Scotland

The metal stairs are very steep, I went down backwards.

Culross Abbey Vault

Culross Abbey Ruins, Fife, Scotland

Culross Abbey Wall, Tower, Fife, Scotland

Culross Abbey Ruins , Fife, Scotland

And parts of the original abbey can be seen in the manse garden. What a wonderful feature to have in your garden!

Culross Abbey Ruins,River  Forth

The ‘modern’ Abbey Church is still in use, it’s a shame it was closed when we were there, it looks like it would be very interesting internally. I did have a good old mooch around the graveyard though.

Culross Abbey church  graveyard

I know it isn’t everyone’s idea of a good afternoon out but it hit the spot for me!

Culross graveyard , Fife, Scotland

If you don’t mind walking up a very steep hill on at times a painfully uneven surface this is an interesting place to visit, as much for the lovely wee houses on the way up as for the grand but ruined abbey. A lot of the houses in the village are now owned and rented out by the Scottish National Trust, they were ruins before they took them over and refurbished them, but I’ll keep the photos of the houses for another blogpost.

You can see more images of the abbey here.

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews, Fife, Shore and Castle

St Andrews in Fife is one of my favourite places to visit, but because of the lockdown we hadn’t been there for months, actually possibly we hadn’t been there at all this year. So on Saturday we took the opportunity to pay the town a visit. It was a bit daft doing it on a Saturday as it was bound to be busy but we were visiting family further along the coast so we killed two birds with one stone.

It looks a bit grey and cool but it was really quite a hot day, by Scottish standards. The queue for the ice cream shop was too long for us to stand in. The beach was packed, but we just sat on a bench (wearing our masks) and didn’t bother going on to the sands, we just people and dog watched, the dogs were more entertaining, chasing the waves.

St Andrews, sea, Fife

It was strange to see the gates around the cathedral closeed and padlocked, I had to tale photos through the railings.

St Andrews Cathedra, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

The archway below is over the road that leads down to the beach, down a steep road. If you want to read a bit more about the town then have a look here, there are some great photos.
St Andrews Archway, Fife, Scotland

If you are looking for tips on what to do around St Andrews have a look at My Voyage Scotland here.

Armchair Travelling – Lindisfarne / Holy Island, near Berwick on Tweed – part 2

If you are visiting Lindisfarne Castle you should be warned that you have to be fairly fit to get up to it, there’s a very steep hill and the pathway has been made with rounded cobblestones which aren’t that easy to walk on, even if you’re wearing trainers or completely flat shoes. The priory is much easier to get around though, and that bit interested me most – I do love a good ruin.

Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, National Trust

These ruins date from the 12th century and they are looked after by English Heritage.
Strangely the graveyard seems still to be in use with some fairly modern headstones, presumably the villagers can be buried there.

Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, National Trust

Irish monks settled on Lindisfarne in AD 635 which is the time of the Northumbrian king Oswald. He asked a monk from the Scottish island of Iona to settle at Lindisfarne and founded the monastery. In the 670s Cuthbert went there as a monk and he eventually became the most important saint in northern England.

Lindisfarne Priory,Holy Island, National Trust

Lindisfarne became an important centre of Christian learning, but where there was Christianity there was silver and gold – those pilgrims have always meant good business for churches, so the Vikings were drawn to such places for the easy pickings. On the 8th of June 793 the Vikings made a raid on the island, the first of such in western Europe but certainly not the last.

Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, English Heritage

It was murder and mayhem and Saint Cuthbert hadn’t helped them so it was psycholgiclly devastating to the believers and most of the survivors ended up leaving Lindisfarne, taking Cuthbert’s body with them and settling inland. The modern sculpture below is of Saint Cuthbert, it’s not really to my taste.

Lindisfarne Priory,St Cuthbert

You might have heard of the Lindisfarne Gospels – an illuminated book of the four gospels which was created on Lindisfarne around the year AD 700. If you click the link and then click on the image you can see 21 photos of some of the pages.

Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, English Heritage

I really enjoyed seeing the ruins, it’s quite easy to imagine how it must have been in its glory – and the visitations of the Vikings too!