вторник, 25 мая 2010 г.

Britain's Top Ten Castles and Palaces

Explore the mysteries and secrets of Britain's stone walls. Learn about the rich history, battles, murders and possible ghosts that still haunt its castles and palaces to this day. Watch the video which will take you back to British History 101, to count down Britain's Top 10 Castles and Palaces.

1. The Tower of London

For over 1,000 years, the Tower of London has dominated the city's skyline. It has housed the royal family and the crown jewels, which have been on public display for 350 years. Over 2 million people visit the tower every year.

The Yeoman Warders, better known as Beefeaters, run the tower and tell stories of its past to eager listeners. The Tower of London has a dark past. Torture, murder and executions all took place at the tower at some time or another. Traitor's Gate, the entrance from the River Thames, is known for being the last stop for those on their way to their execution. Among the executed were 3 queens of England, including Ann Boleyn, wife of Henry the VIII.

2. Warwick Castle

Situated less than 100 miles from London, Warwick Castle is known for its beautiful interior and the medieval re-enactments that take place there. Until 25 years ago, generations of Earls of Warwick had resided in the castle. At the turn of the 20th century, Frances, Countess of Warwick, also known as Daisy, was known around England for her lavish, high-society parties. Some of her guests included Winston Churchill; Edward, Prince of Wales; and the future King Edward VII.

Six hundred years ago, Europe's most famous jousting champion was the Earl of Warwick. Each year, thousands of people arrive at Warwick Castle to watch re-enacted jousting competitions.

3. Tintagel Castle

Best known for King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, Tintagel Castle is situated in Cornwall, in the northwest corner of England. Tintagel Castle was built 800 years ago by the Earl of Cornwall, brother of the King of England. The earl was intrigued by the legends of King Arthur and his infamous Camelot. The castle was constructed to resemble the court where it's believed King Arthur reigned for so many years.

And what would make a castle complete? Like America, with its Civil War re-enactments, England has its King Arthur mock battles. Each summer, hundreds of enthusiasts come to relive the days of King Arthur and his knights.

4. Leeds Castle

At 900 years old, Leeds Castle sits 30 miles from central London. It was the home of Henry the VIII. Despite its British location, Leeds Castle has many American connections. Two families who owned the castle also owned large tracts of land in Culpepper and Fairfax, VA. Today, the castle's connection to the United States continues.

William Randolph Hearst (Hearst Corporation) almost purchased Leeds Castle, until he discovered the missing bathrooms, lack of electricity and that the servants' quarters had served as dungeons. Another American, however, did acquire the castle. After purchasing it in 1926, Lady Olive Baillie set about refurbishing the castle and installing all the necessary items.

5. Caernarfon Castle

Two hundred and fifty miles from London, on the Welsh coast, sits Caernarfon Castle. It was built 800 years ago, after King Edward I of England conquered North Wales. Edward I took the title of Prince of Wales from the Welsh. Since that time, the eldest son of the King or Queen of England has been known as the Prince of Wales. In 1969, during a ceremony at Caernarfon, Prince Charles was dubbed the 21st Prince of Wales by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

6. Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle, situated 450 miles from London, is a well-known symbol of Scotland. Just outside the walls of Stirling stands a monument to Scotland's great national hero, William Wallace, who led a small army against the English king, Edward I, at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Seven hundred-plus years later, the memorial for Wallace continues to remind people of the victory at Stirling.

Among the 8 centuries of battles and murders at Stirling, something very positive and enlightening did occur at this castle -- one of the first attempts at flight. Roughly 500 years ago, during the reign of King James IV in Scotland, scientist John Damian announced he would fly from Stirling Castle to France. Assembling strips of wood, chicken feathers and glue, Damian performed his brief flight by jumping off a stone wall and then gracefully flew straight down, dropping like a stone.

7. St. Michael's Mount
8. Edinburgh Castle
9. Hampton Court

Located a few miles from London, along the River Thames, this prestigious 1,000-room palace was once occupied by Henry the VIII, famous for having 6 wives and beheading 2 of them. Wife no. 5 was 15-year-old Katherine Howard. Accused of adultery, Howard was imprisoned but later escaped. She was caught and then tried for treason. When Howard was brought back to Hampton Court after trying to escape, she was dragged through a gallery that's now called the Haunted Gallery. Outside Hampton Court the grounds are brought to life by 60 acres filled with gardens, spectacular views of the River Thames, and a famous maze that has confused visitors for over 300 years.

10. Windsor Castle


понедельник, 24 мая 2010 г.


воскресенье, 25 апреля 2010 г.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, is the largest inhabited castle in the world and, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, is the oldest in continuous occupation. The castle's floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet (44,965 square metres).
Together with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, it is one of the principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining. Her other two residences, Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle, are the Royal Family's private homes.

Throughout its 900-year history, the design of Windsor Castle has changed and evolved according to the times, tastes, requirements and finances of successive Monarchs. Nevertheless, the positions of the main features have remained largely fixed and the modern plan below is a useful guide to locations. The castle today, for example, remains centred on the motte or artificial hill ("A" on the plan) on which William the Conqueror built the first wooden castle between 1070 and 1086 AD. The Castle was later rebuilt in stone, and grew in importance over the years. Henry II constructed the Round Tower and the original stone outer wall.
The highly visible landmark of the castle, the Round Tower ("A"), is in reality far from cylindrical, its shape being dictated by the irregular, but seemingly round, artificial hill on which it sits. The castle's layout dates back to the medieval fortifications. The Round Tower divides the castle into two distinct sections known as wards. The Lower Ward ("F") is home to St George's Chapel ("G"), while the upper ward ("B") contains the private Royal Apartments ("D") and the more formal state rooms ("C"), which include St George's Hall, a vast room which has a ceiling decorated with the coats of arms of past and present members of the Order of the Garter.

Key to plan
• A: The Round Tower
• B: The Upper Ward, The Quadrangle (as this courtyard is known)
• C: The State Apartments
• D: Private Apartments, overlooking the East terrace
• E: South Wing, overlooking The Long Walk
• F: Lower Ward
• G: St George's Chapel
• H: Horseshoe Cloister
• K: King Henry VIII Gate (principal entrance)
• L: The Long Walk
• M: Norman Gate
• N: North Terrace
• O: Edward III Tower
• T: The Curfew Tower


понедельник, 19 апреля 2010 г.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II, ostensibly to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years' War. Of quadrangular plan, Bodiam Castle has no keep, having its various chambers built around the outer defensive walls and inner courts. Its corners and entrance are marked by towers, and topped by crenellations. Its structure, details and situation in an artificial watery landscape indicate that display was an important aspect of the castle's design as well as defence. It was the home of the Dalyngrigge family and the centre of the manor of Bodiam.

The castle's location was ostensibly chosen to protect England's south coast from raids by the French.
The area surrounding Bodiam Castle was landscaped when the castle was built, to increase its aesthetic appeal.

A quadrangular castle, Bodiam is roughly square-shaped. This type of castle, with a central courtyard and buildings against the curtain wall, was characteristic of castle architecture in the 14th century. Bodiam Castle has been described by military historian Cathcart King as the most complete surviving example of a quadrangular castle.


понедельник, 29 марта 2010 г.

Edinburgh Castle


Edinburgh Castle is a castle fortress which dominates the sky-line of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. As one of the most important fortresses in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has been involved in many historical conflicts, from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, up to the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on several occasions. From the later 17th century, the castle became a military base, with a large garrison. Its importance as a historic monument was recognised from the 19th century, and various restoration programmes have been carried out since.