The Cotswolds
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The Cotswold's is one of the most picturesque regions of Britain.  At one time, it was a major sheep growing region.  The area lies about two hours west of London.  Here are maps showing where the Cotswolds lie in England, and then a close up map showing the cities in that region.

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On one trip to London, I signed on for a guided bus tour covering one area of The Cotswolds, and I enjoyed the narration our guide provided.  We visited three towns in the region on that particular tour.  I am going to let the pictures I took speak for themselves.  Most buildings and houses are of honey-colored limestone.  (Notice the little guy sticking his head out the window in the last picture.  He was shooting his play gun at us, then ducking when someone looked up.)

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Our last stop in this beautiful area was at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.  Here is the exterior of the building, the courtyard, and then some of the extensive gardens behind the palace. 

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Here is where Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife, Clementine.

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And here is the "Secret Garden"

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On another visit to London, I took a second bus tour into The Cotswolds region, this time to Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle.  The first stop was the castle, called Britain's greatest medieval experience.  The beginnings of Warwick Castle go back to 1088, and William the Conqueror. Some interesting tidbits - in 1431, Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, supervised Joan of Arc's trial for supposed heresy, and her subsequent execution by burning in the market place at Rouen in northern France.  In 1604, James I presented the now dilapidated castle to Sir Fulke Greville.  But in 1628, Greville was murdered by a discontented manservant. His ghost is said to haunt the tower in which he lodged.  Then, in 1938, The 7th Greville Earl, Charles Guy, (1928-84), using the stage name of Michael Brooke, tried his hand at breaking into Hollywood films. His career peaked with a supporting role in Dawn Patrol (1938) starring Errol Flynn and David Niven.  Quite an interesting history, don't you think?

Here are my photos.  I took quite a few.  First, part of the castle and grounds.

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Next, the gardens, complete with peacock displaying his plumage.

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Down a long flight of damp, musty stone stairs, "Ye Olde Dungeon and Torture Chamber."  The plaque refers to the delightful punishment shown in the second picture, a hole in the floor barely large enough to hold a person, and the iron grate that covers it.  Not pleasant, methinks.

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Things are considerably more genteel inside the living quarters.  Early 20th Century?

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Back outside, showing the oldest part of the castle, and the stocks.  I'm told these are used today for misbehaving children of the tourists.

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Our tour proceeded to Stratford-upon-Avon, but I was there in 2001, and my photos of that delightful town are on my pages devoted to the Ireland-Britain tour.  Our last stop was at Oxford, home of the oldest university in the English-speaking world.  There is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.  

Oxford is a collegiate university, with 39 self-governing colleges related to the University in a type of federal system. There are also seven Permanent Private Halls, founded by different Christian denominations. Thirty colleges and all halls admit students for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Seven other colleges are for graduates only; one has Fellows only, and one specializes in part-time and continuing education.  There are 18,000 students there now, representing 120 countries.

We stopped at Christ Church College, one of the largest of the schools that make up Oxford. Christ Church was originally founded by Cardinal Wolsey as Cardinal's College in 1524.  Here are my photos.

Lewis Carroll lived here for awhile, and years later he used the wall and green gate he could see from his quarters in his famous Alice in Wonderland.  That wall and gate can be seen in the last photo in the top row.

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The Christ Church College dining hall, seen below, was the inspiration for the Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter films.  The last picture in the top row shows a plate from a place setting.  You can see the cardinal's hat symbol that goes back to the college's founder, Cardinal Wolsey.

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A few last photos outside.

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That's all for the Cotswolds, for now, anyway.  If you want to learn more about the Cotswold's region, go to this web site:

 

The next page is devoted to The Tower of London, and Greenwich, home of the famous observatory.  Shall we proceed?

 

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