Silent Sunday….. Off to Church


Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire

The Abbey Church of St. Mary the Virgin is the buildings  official name today……  but will always be known as Tewkesbury Abbey. It was once a Benedictine Monastery, dating back to the 12th century.   Like so many of our old religious buildings it was built on a even earlier site of religious worship.

Tewkesbury Abbey is a fine example of Norman Architecture, in particular the Cross Transept Tower is claimed  to be the biggest in Europe.   With Tewkesbury standing  on the flood plain of Severn and Avon, its tall tower is a clear landmark for many miles.

Like all our old religious buildings Tewkesbury Abbey has seen some violent and testing times over the centuries.  During the “War of The Roses” ( 1455 -1487) witnessed this violent period of English history at close hand.  After the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 the Abbey provided sanctuary for the Lancastrian forces.  Then it had to overcome the challenges of the Dissolution of the Monasteries  that occurred by Royal Order between 1536 & 41.  It was at this time that the Abbey became the Parish Church.

Apart from being the Parish Church, Tewkesbury Abbey is also a major tourist attraction, the centre of a equally attractive Town in an equally attractive location. Tewkesbury nestles below the  higher ground of the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire’s rather fabulous countryside.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

9th August

(C) David Oakes 2020

When is a Castle not a Castle ?



Floors Castle, Kelso, Roxburghshire,  The Sottish Borders

High above the famous River Tweed, on the fringe of the Scottish Border town of Kelso, stands the rather fine Scottish Floors Castle. It is an imposing building in an equally imposing location of gardens and a wider Country Estate.

But this is not a traditional Scottish Castle.  Built in 1721, for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe, to a design by the architect William Adam, it was in fact  designed as a rather fine ‘Country House’.  Those castle like features of Turrets and Battlements were added later in the 19th century., but it was never designed as a fortress.  No matter it is still a rather grand building.  Today I am told that Floors Castle is the largest inhabited ‘castle’ in Scotland.   It is also the  family home of the  11th Duke of Roxburghe.

The name Floors is rather intriguing.  I was told of two possible meanings.  Floors being the adaption of the French word  Fleurs  or flowers.  Todays  magnificent gardens would be a fitting tribute to that name.   The other possibility is the interpretation that Floors means Terraces, and Floors Castle is certainly built on  a high terrace above the Tweed.

The Scottish Borders are rich in history.  Nor can you travel far without tripping over a Castle or Abbey all in great scenery.  All well worth exploring …. if you do take a tour put Floors Castle on the top of your list.

As always….

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

7th August

(C) David Oakes 2020

Silent Sunday…… So off to Church


Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire

At first glance you could be fooled into thinking Southwell Minster was a relatively modern building….those twin spires are very contemporary in style.  In some ways you would be correct and others very wrong.  There was a religious building here in Anglo Saxon times.  Records of a building date to 627 and possibly earlier.  Then in 1108  the Norman’s started a reconstruction programme. I guess the main structure is very much part of that.  But history was to see many other changes and disasters at Southwell.


You do need to google the full history, but in a very simple outline here are some key facts.  In the English Civil War the Minster was much abused, with the nave being used as stabling and other parts of the building as soldier accommodation.  Charles 1st was also capture in Southwell.  Just as the Minster was being restored in 1711, one of the Spires was hit by lightening, the resulting fire caused extensive damage.

1720 repairs again were started,  some suggest that these repairs were very poor.  A new programme of change was started and in 1805   the spires were removed in.  Extensive restoration and architectural changes followed..  The Barrel Vaulting to the nave was added and the then in 1879 the twin spires were erected…… the spires that make Southwell’s exterior so distinctive.

Much of the restoration over the years has maintained its traditional original style, but   sympathetically adding,  a mix of the ancient with a slightly more modern look. All in all Southwell Minster is well worth a visit, as is a serious dig back into its rather troublesome history…… but here is a taster.

The Minster has many great glass windows.  One of the most dramatic windows is one of those more modern additions.   It is known as the Angel Window (or maybe that should be window’s).  Installed in 1996 it is the work of Artist Patrick Reyntiens.   I said dramatic…..  but maybe awe inspiring in design and craftsmanship would be a more fitting  description.


Maybe another location for your bucket list for when times are easier.

In the meantime…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

14th June

(C) David Oakes 2020

Looking for Shade……



The Plaza de Espana, Seville, Andalusia, Spain

It was a hot day in Seville, the thermometer hovered over 40c.  The magnificent Plaza with its tall buildings trapped the heat.  So for awhile we enjoyed the shade of the canopied entrance.  Always felt sorry for the magnificent Andalusian Horses tirelessly working as scenic taxis.

We lingered, perhaps longer than planned, listening to a rather good Busker…..  playing his Spanish guitar of course….  🙂


Memories are made up of all the small moments of any vacation.

Remembering is as much fun as the journey…but right now…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

8th June

(C) David Oakes 2020