England: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath

Enormous monoliths

Enormous monoliths


A couple from Tennessee sitting next to us on our flight to London mentioned taking tours to other areas while in London and put the same idea in me. Among the various tours we could book via our hotel, we decided on two: Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath with Premium Tours and Oxford, Buford and Stratford upon Avon with Golden Tours. Both companies sent out buses to bring customers from various hotels back to their main stations where we boarded larger buses for the outings.

Windsor Castle

A royal fortress turned castle that has been continuously occupied since William the Conqueror, Windsor Castle is located in town of Windsor and county of Berkshire, about 20 miles west of London. The largest and oldest inhabited castle is expansive and grand. We spent the majority of our time in the upper ward (the section on the east end). The interior, including State Apartments, Private Apartments and an immense and stunning banquet hall, are opulent and palatial. Among other collections on display, the family heraldry and a set of exquisitely beautiful dolls collected by Queen Victoria stuck with me. Photos are not allowed inside, and we did not have time to get to the delightful Long Walk south of the Upper Ward and St George’s Chapel. The following web site has a great aerial view of the entire site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windsor_Castle.

Queen Victoria statue outside Windsor Castle

Queen Victoria statue outside Windsor Castle

Visitor entrance

Visitor entrance

Towers of the Castle

Towers of the Castle

Round Tower in the center dividing the castle into upper and lower wards

Round Tower in the center dividing the castle into upper and lower wards

Equestrian statue and a guard on duty at Quadrangle Court

Equestrian statue and a guard on duty at Quadrangle Court

Walking through the Lower Ward to catch up with our group

Walking through the Lower Ward to catch up with our group

Road side bloom seen on the ride to lunch

Road side bloom seen on the ride to lunch

This restaurant with thatched roof was where we had lunch after Windsor Castle

This restaurant with thatched roof was where we had lunch after Windsor Castle

We had a hearty English meal (just right for that chilly day) of flavorful and tender Roast Pork, boiled veggies and English Muffins that are different from muffins back home

We had a hearty English meal (just right for that chilly day) of flavorful and tender Roast Pork, boiled veggies and English Muffins that are different from muffins back home

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is situated in county of Wiltshire, about 60 miles west of Windsor and 80 miles west of London. This famous megalithic, prehistoric monument from 3100BC, and an UNESCO site, draws fans from all over the world into its aura of mystique. Was it an astronomical observatory or a sepulchral area or a sanctuary? We might never know for sure. Whatever the functions, its astronomical alignments with solstices and equinoxes and seemingly deployed mathematical sophistication and engineering ability inspire awe and heighten our curiosity.

It is featured in Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel, Tess of d’urbervilles. In Thomas Hardy’s days, Stonehenge was believed to be a Pagan Temple.

Enormous monoliths

Enormous monoliths

View from further away

View from further away

Blue stones between 2-4 tons were believed to be added during 3rd phase of construction (2300BC)

Blue stones between 2-4 tons were believed to be added during 3rd phase of construction (2300BC)

Bath

Approximately another 20 miles westward from Stonehenge, we reached the city of Bath in Somerset County. Bath is situated in the beautiful valley of River Avon and among its surrounding hills. Boasting the only natural hot spring of England, it attracted Romans as early as 40 AD. It deserves much more time than the short few hours we could afford on a day tour. After Bath Abbey and Roman Baths Bath, we barely had time left. It would be very nice to go back to Bath someday to see more of the city, Jane Austen’s Center and the delightful countryside on the city’s outskirt.

Road side pasture on our way to Bath

Road side pasture on our way to Bath

Bath Abbey and Roman Baths next to each other

Bath Abbey and Roman Baths next to each other

West front of Bath Abbey

West front of Bath Abbey


Bath Abbey, a building of Gothic architecture, is a magnificent church and its splendor gives no clue to its periods of decline, disrepair and almost ruin. The church standing today was the result of the attempt to rebuild, at a smaller scale, the former Norman Cathedral (1090 to 15th century) which was a massive church built on the site of an older Anglo-Saxon Abbey Church (757 to 1066) but fell into ruin due to the loss of its cathedral status. Occupying only the nave area of the former Norman cathedral, the present Bath Abbey was completed in the 1530s. It was ravaged after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1959 but restored to its original grandeur in 1611 by the order of Queen Elizabeth I. Bath Abbey is an active church and its office website is: http://www.bathabbey.org/.
Vaulted ceiling

Vaulted ceiling

Apse

Apse

Stain glass

Stain glass

Grand entrance to The Roman Baths and Pump Room (a restaurant now) side by side

Grand entrance to The Roman Baths and Pump Room (a restaurant now) side by side


Both the entrance hall and Pump room were built in the 18th century. The ancient Roman Baths complex is below the present day street level. The complex, that had mostly fell into ruin, includes the hot spring, a Roman temple next to the spring and the bath house of cold, warm and hot pools and etc. The Roman temple dedicated to Goddess Sulis Minerva was from 60-70 AD and the rest of complex was built over the following 3 centuries. Prior to Roman invasion, the Celts had discovered the spring and used it as a curative source and sacred shrine dedicated to Goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. This is the official site of Roman Baths Bath: http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/.

Great Bath of the Roman Baths is now open to the sky

Great Bath of the Roman Baths is now open to the sky


The original bath house was contained in a barrel vaulted building and the current structures above the pillar bases were reconstructed.
Round pool of the Roman Baths

Round pool of the Roman Baths

Famous Royal Crescent- Epitome of the many Georgian buildings in Bath

Famous Royal Crescent- Epitome of the many Georgian buildings in Bath

Riding through city of Bath on our bus

Riding through city of Bath on our bus

Houses we passed by

Houses we passed by

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2 Responses

  1. I want to visit Stonehenge someday. The closest I’ve gotten is a 4 foot replica by my dentists office.

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