English Civil War

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth ascended to the English throne on the 17th November 1558 and crowned on the 15th January 1559, at Westminster.  She was the last Tudor monarch to sit upon the throne, and upon her death on the 24th March 1603, she had died, without an heir.

The English throne passed to her cousin; James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley.  On the 9th February 1567 Darnley was murdered and in the June Mary was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle.  Mary abdicated her crown, passing it to her son James, who was crowned King James VI of Scotland on the 29th July 1567.  In 1568 Mary escaped and fled across the border into England, expecting support from Queen Elizabeth.

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary, became Queen Elizabeth’s prisoner, and on the 25th October 1586, was sentenced to death for plotting against Queen Elizabeth’s life, and on the 8th February 1587 died at the hands of her executioner at Fotheringhay Castle.

King James I

King James I

King James VI of Scotland, ascended to the English throne on the 24th July 1603, and was crowned King James I of England at Westminster Abbey on the 25th July.

England, Scotland and Ireland, had become united, under a single monarch; King James I of England, of the Stuart dynasty.

James believed that Kings took their authority from God, but accepted his actions were subject to the laws of the land.  He was often in dispute with Parliament, over the royal finances, as his predecessors have been, before him.

King James I of England reigned for 22 years and as James VI of Scotland, reigned for 57 years, died on the 27th March 1625.

King Charles I

King Charles I

Charles I, son of King James I and Anne of Denmark ascended to the English throne on the 27th March 1625.  On the 1st May 1625 Charles had married Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV of France by proxy in front of Notre Dame in Paris.  On the 13th June 1625 Charles I of England married Henrietta Maria in Canterbury.  Charles I was crowned King of England on the  2nd February 1626 at Westminster Abbey, without his wife, his Queen at his side.  She being a Roman Catholic would not participate in a Protestant religious ceremony.

Charles had informed Parliament, that a marriage to a Roman Catholic would not change religious lifestyle of a Protestant England.  Saying that he added to the French treaty of marriage, that he promised to remove all restraints, upon Catholic subjects residing in England.

Charles I had delayed the opening of his first Parliament, until the marriage ceremony had taken place on English soil.

Charles believed, much as his father had before him, it was his divine right as King, to rule without interference from Parliament.

Charles forces through highly unpopular “Ship Money,” tax to raise funds without the consent of Parliament.  They replied in 1628 by presenting him with the Petition of Right a declaration of the “Rights and Liberties of the Subject,” which under pressure, he had no choice but to abide by its terms.

In 1629 Charles steps forward and dissolves Parliament, and opted to rule as he believes it is his divine right from 1629 – 1640.

The Short Parliament, met in April of 1640, and the main topic, led to their refusal to grant Charles funds, until grievances between the two sides had been ironed out.  A stale mate existed and Parliament was dissolved once again.

In November of 1640, the Long Parliament was assembled, and an Act was passed, preventing the dissolvement of Parliament without consent of all parties.

Charles and Parliament, could not work with each other, they were at odds with each other.  Charles failure of 4th January 1642, of arresting five parliamentary leaders, believed Parliament had become too Puritanical.

The King and Parliament were on different sides of the fence, and the English Civil War between Royalists and Parliamentarians, was a powder keg waiting to explode.

Charles I, felt he had no choice, and on the 22nd August 1642, withdrew from London, and declared war on Parliament, raising his standard at Nottingham.  The English Civil War of 1642-1648 had begun.

In October 1642, the Royalists won a tactical victory over Parliamentary forces at the “Battle of Edgehill.”

Henrietta Maria of France

Henrietta Maria of France

In 1643 Henrietta Maria, actively supported her husband, landing at Bridlington, Yorkshire, with a ship laden down with men and arms, to fight the Royalist cause.

In 1643 Royalists defeated Parliamentary forces at the “Battle of Chalgrove Field,” with the taking of Bristol.

Oliver Cromwell by History Heroes

Oliver Cromwell

On the 16th June 1645, Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army defeated Royalist forces.

In April of 1646, Charles barely escapes with his life from the “Siege of Oxford,” surrendering at Newark to the Scottish Army.

In January 1647, Scottish forces handed Charles I, over to Parliamentary forces, and in June Cromwell’s forces escorted him to Hampton Court Palace.  In the November he briefly escapes, and is recaptured and held at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

In January of 1649, a court of justice is convened by the House of Commons, to hear the case against King Charles I.  For, he has been accused of treason against England; pursuing his own objectives, rather than those of England.

Charles refused to plead, in the belief the court was unlawful, and that the monarch, had absolute authority of his kingdom, granted to him by God.

The court challenged the question of sovereign immunity, stating the King of England, was not a person, but an office to govern by the laws of the land.

On the 26th January 1649, the court had found him guilty, and sentenced him to death.  On Tuesday the 30th January 1649, King Charles I of England was beheaded in front of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London.

An act of Parliament was passed, on the 30th January 1649, forbidding the automatic succession of the son of Charles I.  On the 7th February, the office of the King had been abolished.

Main Battles of the English Civil War:

Battle of Edgehill: 23rd October 1642

The Earl of Essex commanded Parliamentarian forces, their aim to prevent King Charles and his army reaching London.  Parliamentarian and Royalist forces met at Edgehill mid-afternoon of the 23rd October.

Both armies faced each other in traditional battle formation; cavalry units and dragoons on the right, and left flanks, infantry to the middle.  The Parliamentarians had two cavalry regiments to the rear.

Prince Rupert led the Royalist army; leading his cavalry unit in a charge, which saw Parliamentarian cavalry and infantry flee the scene.  Royalist infantry forces advanced into battle, inflicting losses and causing panic and confusion to their opposing armies.  By night, the battle was all but over, neith side had won, but each claimed victory over the other.  The Royalists had their chance to capitalise against the Parliamentarian army, and bring the war to a quick end.

Battle of Marston Moor: 2nd July 1644

Parliamentarian and Scottish forces attacked York.  Royalist forces and the York garrison met their attackers on Marston Moor.

The battle started late in the day, Royalist cavalry advanced on Parliamentarian infantry causing high losses.  Then a surprise attack to the rear of the Royalists; Oliver Cromwell attacked with his cavalry, defeating the Royalists, and many surrendered.

The Parliamentarians had won the battle of Marston Moor.  York surrendered two weeks later.  The north was now effectively under the control of the Parliamentarians and Scottish forces.  Their decisive victory had almost wiped out the Royalist northern field army.  Oliver Cromwell was seen as an effective commander.  His strong leadership and the discipline of his men had played a crucial role in winning the battle.

Battle of Naesby: 14th June 1645

Sir Thomas Fairfax, commander of the Parliamentarian New Model Army had been ordered to break off his siege of Oxford.  The Royalist Army of King Charles I had taken the Parliamentarian garrison at Leicester.  The New Model Army marched north with orders to attack the Royalists.  King Charles marched south to aid Oxford.  At Daventry, King Charles discovered that Fairfax and the New Model Army were closing in on his army.

The Parliamentary forces had taken up position on the ridge, just outside Naseby.  The Royalists drew first blood.  The Parliamentarian infantry were forced back and some of their cavalry fled.  Prince Rupert and his cavalry units left the field and headed for the Parliamentarian baggage train at Naseby.  Oliver Cromwell, commander of the right flank of cavalry units successfully repelled a Royalist cavalry charge and then sent units to attack behind their lines, as Parliamentarian forces regrouped.  The Royalist infantry was defeated.  Some surrendered, whilst others fled.  Prince Rupert returned to the battlefield but his men refused to fight.  The New Model Army had won a decisive victory.

Naseby was the beginning of the end of the first English Civil War.  King Charles had lost his main Royal Army.  As well as the loss of his infantry, horses, field arms, artillery and gunpowder.  These resources of the King lost, and replacements would not be that easy…

Wikipedia Images

Source Material:
The English Civil War by Maurice Ashley                                          
Civil War by Taylor Downing & Maggie Millman                      
Warfare – Renaissance to Revolution by Jeremy Black                       
Short History of England by Simon Jenkins                                          
A History of Britain by Richard Dargie 

The Spanish Armada

Queen Mary I

Queen Mary I

Mary I married Prince Philip of Spain in 1554 at Winchester Cathedral.  Once crowned Queen of England, Mary burned many Protestants at the stake on charges of heresy, and restored Catholicism across England.

Philip spent little time in England, during their four years of marriage, for in 1556; he became King of Spain, and always considered himself King of England, until Mary’s death in 1558.

On the 17th November 1558, Elizabeth ascended to Queen of England, upon the death of Mary I, and restored the Protestant faith across her kingdom.

So it was, Queen Elizabeth I of England and King Philip of Spain, never saw eye to eye with each other.  Things got worse in 1585, when Elizabeth sent aid to Dutch Protestants, fighting for Independence from Spanish rule.

Queen Elizabeth I.jpg

Queen Elizabeth I

Philip retaliated, and pushed forward plots to murder Queen Elizabeth I and replace her, with Mary, Queen of Scots, of Catholic faith … but these attempts failed.

In 1586, Mary, Queen of Scots was brought to trial on charges of treason, plotting against the life of Queen Elizabeth, and found guilty.

King Philip of Spain received the support of the Pope in 1586, for an invasion of England, and the removal of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, from the throne.

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary Queen of Scots

The final straw came, when Elizabeth signed the death warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots, to be executed, on charges of treason, notably plotting against the life of Elizabeth.  On the 8th February 1587, Mary was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle.

News reached the ears of Francis Drake, that the Spanish port of Cadiz was amassing ships and supplies, for an attack upon England.

Elizabeth sent Drake on a pre-emptive strike, to buy time for England.  In April of 1587, Drake rallied other ships for a raid, launching a surprise attack on Cadiz; destroying 24 Spanish ships and supplies.

By 1588, the Spanish had rebuilt their fleet, and the word was, they would sail first to the Netherlands to collect soldiers, and then attack London in force.

The English fleet was commanded by Lord Charles Howard and split into three forces, located at; Plymouth, Kent and Tilbury.

The Marquis de Santa Cruz, the intended choice to command the Spanish Armada, died in February 1588, to be replaced by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, but he lacked military and naval experience.

In July of 1588, 130 Spanish warships departed Lisbon, heading for Calais, and were first sighted on the 29th July, off the coast of Cornwall.  Southern coastal ports were notified, by fire beacons.

Drake playing bowls

Francis Drake Playing Bowls

According to legend, Francis Drake chose to finish his game of bowls, before setting sail from Plymouth, to engage the Spanish Armada.

Spanish Armada

Close Quarter Exchanges

Initially the English attempted to disable Spanish warships, with long range cannon fire, which only inflicted minor damage.  So they opted for repeated broadsides at close quarters, getting in and out quickly, resulting in many Spanish ships sunk.

Spanish Armada Fire Ships

English Fire Ships attack Spanish Ships

On the night of the 7th August 1588, eight fire ships, packed with explosives were pushed towards the Spanish fleet anchored between Dunkirk and Calais.  On the 8th August, English gunners crippled many Spanish ships as they tried to make their escape.

Fierce storms pushed remnants of the Spanish fleet northwards, and round the coast of Scotland.  King Philip’s attack upon England, and quest to remove Elizabeth from the throne, ended in disaster.

Both the Spanish and English ships flew flags displaying the Red Cross on white background.  The Spanish believed the Armada was a crusade to remove a heretic queen, and the English, because the cross of St.George had become England’s national emblem.

Wikipedia Images

English Crown = Norman Civil War

English Saxon Crown

England’s Anglo-Saxon Crown

1135 Stephen the grandson of William the Conqueror claimed the English throne on the death of Henry and was crowned King of England on the 26th December.  However, Henry’s choice of successor had been his daughter; Matilda.

1136 The Earl of Norfolk, a keen supporter of Matilda led a rebellion against Stephen.  Robert the Earl of Gloucester, an illegitimate son by birth of Henry I, once a supporter of Stephen, switched his allegiance to Matilda in 1138.  David I of Scotland, invades the English lands, showing support for Matilda, and her right to the English throne, but is defeated in battle at Northallerton.

In 1141 Matilda captures Stephen at the “Battle of Lincoln” and she proclaims herself Queen of England.”  What appeared to be a victory was scuppered as Robert the Earl of Gloucester is captured by Stephen’s forces, and Matilda is forced to exchange Stephen for his freedom.

1145 Stephen defeats Matilda at the “Battle of Farringdon.”

1147 Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet is called to England, and Stephen hopes that his presence would put an end to his mother’s right to the English throne.  In 1148 Matilda is forced to abandon her cause to become Queen of England, and leaves English soil.

1151 Geoffrey of Anjou, husband of Matilda dies, and so their son Henry Plantagenet, becomes the Count of Anjou.  In 1153 Henry the new Count of Anjou, lands his forces in England and gathers support, for war against Stephen.

This Civil War between Stephen and Matilda is resolved under the “Treaty of Westminster.”  Stephen remains King for life, and upon his death, Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou would become King Henry II of England.

1154 King Stephen of England dies, and was buried at Faversham in Kent.

1167 The rightful heir to the English throne according to the wishes of King Henry I, was that his daughter Matilda should have reigned… sadly that never happened, and after years of war between each other Matilda died on the 10th September at Rouen, and buried in the Rouen Cathedral in France.

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Plantagenet’s Land Seizure

Isabella of Gloucester

Isabella of Gloucester

Isabella, the Countess of Gloucester was born in 1173, to parents, William Fitz Robert, the 2nd Earl of Gloucester and his wife Hawise de Beaumont.  Hawise was the daughter of the Earl of Leicester, which made Isabella, the niece of the Earl of Leicester.

King Henry II sought the wealth of the Earl of Gloucester.  In 1176, an agreement was forged between the Earl and King, whereby John would inherit Gloucester’s wealth in return for marrying Isabella, making her a future Queen.  Isabella would be the sole heir of the Gloucester estate.

The Earl of Gloucester died in 1183, and John became heir in waiting to the Gloucester estate.  In 1189 King Henry II died, and Prince Richard (Richard the Lionheart) was crowned King of England.

On the 29th August 1189, Prince John married Isabella of Gloucester at Marlborough Castle.

Isabella and John’s grandfather was King Henry I, and as such a dispensation was required from the Vatican.  Pope Clement III granted a dispensation to marry, but sexual relations were forbidden.

In 1199 King Richard died and Prince John became King John of England.  It didn’t take him long, to divorce Isabella on the grounds it was an illegal marriage.

Isabella was divorced from John, but not free of him, for he wanted to keep control over her.  He made her his ward, thus maintaining total control of her property.

King John humiliated Isabella, making her chaperone to his new Queen.  In a final act of humiliation he sold her like a common slave for 20,000 marks to the Earl of Essex, and they were married on the 20th January 1214.

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Royal Scandal: Rules of Marriage

Lady Mary Grey

Lady Mary Grey

She crossed the class divide, and married below her status.  Lady Mary Grey, this woman of the Royal household, she caused a scandal in Tudor England.

Lady Mary Grey, daughter of Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, and maid of honour to her cousin Queen Elizabeth.

She knew she would never be in line of succession to the English throne, believing rules about marriage did not apply to her.

She married Thomas Keyes, Sergeant in charge of palace security, a widower with several children, without the Queen’s permission in July of 1565.

Queen Elizabeth, hearing of the wedding had Thomas Keyes arrested and thrown into prison, and Mary placed under house arrest… never the two would meet again.

In 1569, Keyes was released from Fleet Prison, and returned to Kent, where he died a few months later.

Mary was held under house arrest by relatives, until the Queen allowed her back to Court in the latter months of 1577, she tasted freedom for a few months, before she passed away in 1578.

Wikipedia Image

Building Blocks of London

Londons Roman City Wall

London: Roman Gateway

The last of the Roman soldiers left Britain around 410AD, the occupation by Rome was at an end.  Britain had been abandoned for the likes of the Saxons and Vikings to leave their mark on this land.

Our capital of England; London started out as open countryside, and in 43AD Roman Emperor Claudius led an invasion upon these lands, and by 50AD, a settlement had been built.  The Roman’s named our London; Londinium.

According to archaeological research and excavations of London, it is the considered opinion, that the Romans, were the first to build major structures in this area.

Londinium was destroyed around 60AD by Queen Boudicca and her forces, and rebuilt within ten years.  By the 2nd century Londinium had built temples, bath houses, basilica, amphitheatre and fort all in a Roman design.

They enhanced their city, their capital by constructing a wall around part of the city, located on the landward side.  It was a little under two miles in length, twenty feet high and eight feet thick warding off political attacks.  This wall survived some 1600 years.

Saxon pirates attacked Londinium on a number of occasions, which saw the Roman’s construct an additional wall along the river side of the city in 255AD.

The Roman’s built six gates to protect the city; Newgate, Aldersgate, Bishopgate, Aldgate, Cripplegate and Ludgate.  A seventh gate was built during Medieval times at Moorgate.

With the Roman’s gone, Londinium became a almost derelict city by the end of the 5th century.  Towards the end of the 5th century and the early part of the 6th century, Anglo-Saxon settlements, sprung up outside of Roman Londinium.

This new trading settlement was known as Lundenwic and located in the Strand, Aldwych and Trafalgar Square areas, along with a Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the Covent Garden area.

Early Anglo-Saxon’s known as Middle Saxon’s believed London was theirs, and the county of Middlesex is derived from: Middle Saxons.  By the early 7th century, the London areas were integrated into the kingdom of the East Saxon’s.

Houses of Parliament

Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament)

The Palace of Westminster:

The Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) sits proudly dominating the banks of the River Thames, a symbol of Great Britain’s power.

It is believed that the site, now occupied by the Palace of Westminster, was a former home of a Roman Temple to their God; Apollo.

In the 8th century a Saxon Church dedicated to St.Peter replaced the Roman Temple that had been destroyed by an earthquake, years earlier.  In the 10th century the Saxon Church became a Benedictine Abbey.  An Anglo-Saxon royal palace, was built upon the site, in the 11th century by the Danish King; Cnut.

Edward the Confessor, built his royal palace of residence in the early part of his reign, then in 1066, after the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror made it the major seat of his government.

During the reign of King Henry VIII, the palace was used as the centre of government, and for royal authority.

On the 16th October 1834, the Palace of Westminster was partly destroyed by fire.  It was rebuilt in a perpendicular Gothic Style incorporating surviving parts as designed by the architect Charles Barry.  The first stone was laid on the 27th August 1840; semi-coloured limestone from the Anston Quarry in Yorkshire.

The main facades of the building are adorned with some three-hundred statues of saints and sovereigns from Normans to Queen Victoria, commemorating the construction, during the reign of Victoria.

St.Pauls Cathedral

St.Paul’s Cathedral

St.Paul’s Cathedral:

The first Saxon cathedral built upon this site, was in 604AD by Mellitus a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England by Pope Gregory I in 601AD.  He became the first post-Roman Bishop of London.

The early cathedral was built out of wood, in the style of a chapel, and sat upon an old Roman Temple.  Its lifespan was short, as pagan successors are believed to have destroyed it, when Bishop Mellitus left London, to take up his new post as the third Archbishop of Canterbury.

The cathedral was rebuilt in 886AD, and destroyed by fire in 962AD, and rebuilt again the same year, where it housed the body of the Saxon King; Ethelred I, until its destruction in 1087.  St.Paul’s was rebuilt by the Normans, only to be partly destroyed by fire in 1136.

In 1240 the church was consecrated, and by 1256 improvements had started, then in 1300 it was consecrated and completed in 1314.

It became the third longest church in all Europe measuring 585 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 290 feet across the transepts, with a 489 feet spire bursting towards the heavens.

In 1538, Henry VIII was responsible for the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” leading to much destruction of cloisters, crypts, chapels and shrines.  Much of St.Paul’s building materials were used in the construction of Somerset House.

In 1561, lightning destroyed the spire, and in the 1630’s Inigo Jones added the West Front, and in the “Great Fire of London in 1666” St.Paul’s was gutted by fire.

On the 30th July 1669, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to build a new St.Paul’s Cathedral.  In June 1675 the first stone was laid, a design that resembled St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome, with saucer domes inspired by Francois Monsart’s Val-de-Grace.

The cathedral is built of Portland stone in a Renaissance style, representing an English Baroque building, rising 365 feet, dominating the skyline.  The inner dome rises 350 feet with three circular galleries.

The clock mechanism was built in 1893 by Smith’s of Derby.  The north-west and south-west hold a total of seventeen bells.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey:

Westminster Abbey stands upon the site of a former Benedictine Monastery built during the reign of Ling Edgar (959-975).

In 1042 King Edward (Edward the Confessor) enlarged the existing monastery, creating his own burial chamber.  He died on the 5th January 1066, just days after its consecration, and was entombed before the high altar.

On the 25th December 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned King of England.  Around 1161, Edward was re-located behind the high altar following his canonisation.

King Henry III modified the Abbey, in the style of a monastery, and Henry II added the Lady Chapel.  Henry VIII declared the Abbey would be a Cathedral Church in January 1540, and on the 29th March 1550 it became part of the London diocese.

In 1556 Queen Mary I restores it to a Benedictine Monastery, then Queen Elizabeth I comes to the throne in 1558, and it is all change back to a Cathedral Church.

The West Towers were built in a Gothic style between 1722-1745, then in the 19th century restoration of entrance hall at the West Front was undertaken.

In 1255, the Abbey had five bells, and by the 1970’s had been increased to ten bells, which rung can be heard around the city.

Tower of London.jpg

The Tower of London

The Tower of London:

The Tower of London, is located on the north bank of the River Thames, consisting of a number of buildings, built in three main phases, with the first foundation stone being laid in 1078.

Kentish rag-stone became the main building material along with Caen stone, imported from France for the tower’s facing.  However, most of the early stone works have been replaced in the 17th and 18th centuries with Portland stone.

The original structure had been one of timber and stone, with a ditch and palisade (fence made of stakes, driven into the ground) running along the north and west sides… Later this would become a stone castle.

  • The White Tower (The Castle’s Keep) was built during the reign of William the Conqueror (1066-1087). It measured some 118 feet by 105 feet and 15 feet thick, and rose some 90 feet at its battlements, and was three storey’s high.
  • This was encircled to the north, east and west by an inner section built during the reign of Richard the Lionheart (1189-1199).
  • The final section which encompasses the castle was built during the reign of Edward I (1272-1307).

There are some twenty plus towers within the castle, like the “Bloody Tower” remembered where the two young princes “Edward and Richard” were murdered in 1483.  In 1603 Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned here amongst other’s.

The “Cradle Tower” built during the reign of Edward III (1348-1355) as a Watergate, his personal access to the castle by water, defended by a drawbridge and two portcullises (a suspended iron grating).

The “Constable Tower” built during the reign of Henry III (1239-1241) and used to house prisoners.

The “Bell Tower” built during the 13th century.  The bell would ring, when the drawbridge, portcullises were raised or lowered and gates were opened or shut, a call to arms.

The first Royal Observatory was located in the turret of the White Tower.

A Tudor Chapel: The Chapel Royal of St.Peter ad Vincula, home to three English Queens; Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey former wives of Henry VIII executed on Tower Green, along with Thomas More a Catholic Saint.

At least six ravens are kept at the “Tower of London” at all times, in accordance with the belief that if they were absent the kingdom would fall.

Over the centuries it has served as a Prison – Armoury – Royal Mint – Public Records Office – and home of the Crown Jewels.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge:

Tower Bridge was built between 1886-1894 to straddle the River Thames.  Its design was revolutionary at the time, allowing pedestrians and vehicles across the river, and shipping pass through, using a Bascule (see-saw action) Bridge.  With its steam powered pump engines controlling the hydraulics, giving instant power to raise the bridge.

The bridge consists of two pillars, weighing some 70,000 tons sunk into the river bed, with which to hold the 11,000 tons of steel framework.  The bridge is clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone with a Victorian Gothic style facade to fit in with the Tower of London.

The bridge is 800 feet in length, with two towers, 213 feet high and built upon piers.  The central span measures 200 feet, split in two equal bascules, each weighing in excess of 1,000 tons, which can be raised to allow river traffic to pass.

The two side sections are of suspension bridge design, measuring 270 feet each with suspension rods.  The pedestrian walkways are 143 feet above the river, when viewed at high tide.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace:

The history of Buckingham Palace dates back to the reign of James I (1603-1625), when used as a former mulberry garden, for rearing of silkworms.  By 1698, John Sheffield, the Duke of Buckingham having acquired the land, built a modest house by today’s building; undertaken by William Talman, William Winde and John Fitch in 1703, and named Buckingham House.

The house was acquired by George III in 1761 as the family residence for his wife; Queen Charlotte and their children … and known as “The Queen’s House.”

In 1762 William Chambers modernised the house, with ceilings by Robert Adam and painted by Giovanni Battista Cipriani, which took four years to complete.

King George IV an extravagant monarch upgraded the house to that of a palace, a building fit for a King, and appointed John Nash as his architect.  The newly finished building was renamed as “Buckingham Palace.”

The Palace remained empty until February 1837, when Queen Victoria had a new wing and central balcony added to her official residence.  The work was carried out by Edward Blore and paid for by selling Brighton Pavilion in 1846.  Electricity was installed between 1883-1887.

In 1913, Blore’s facade was replaced with a Portland Stone frontage as designed by Aston Webb.

The current Buckingham Palace is 108 metres long, 120 metres deep and 24 metres high.  There are a total of 775 rooms including 19 state rooms, 1,514 doors and 760 windows.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace:

When one looks at Hampton Court Palace, we see just the one, but history tells us differently:  The first palace was of Tudor design, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, adviser to Henry VIII, built upon a 14th century house belonging to the Knights Hospitaller of St.John.

Wolsey fell from grace, was arrested and charged with treason, for failing to obtain a divorce between Henry and Katherine of Aragon.  He died prior to the trial and Hampton Court passed to Henry, who created an ornate palace for himself and his Queens.

The second palace was of Baroque design, a commission from William and Mary to Sir Christopher Wren, enclosed by formal gardens.

The building is built around Base Court, Clock Court and Fountain Court courtyards.  Entrance to the palace is by way of a vaulted gatehouse, built in 1521.

Chapel Royal, built during its early construction, with a vaulted ceiling and later Henry VIII lavished it with paintings and gilded pendants.  The altar is framed by an oak reredos in the Baroque style, a carving by Grinling Gibbons, carried out during the reign of Queen Anne.

The Tudor Gatehouse; Anne Boleyn’s Gate led to an inner court, was adorned with an astronomical clock built by Nicholas Oursian around 1540.  Along with two Renaissance bas reliefs located in the brickwork by Giovanni di Maiano.

A well known addition to the palace grounds has to be the “Hampton Court Maze” planted in the 1690’s by George London and Henry Wise for William III of Orange.

The ghosts of Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard are said to roam the corridors of this once majestic building to this day.

Hampton Court Palace oozed the wealth of most monarchs through its long history, each wanting to improve on its design, each wanting to leave its mark for future generations.

Big Ben

Big Ben

Big Ben:

Big Ben Clock Tower was designed by Augustus Pugin to compliment the Palace of Westminster in 1844.

The name Big Ben refers to the bell inside the tower, weighing thirteen tons, named after Sir Benjamin Hall, Commissioner of Works in 1858, at the time of casting.

The clock tower rises 316 feet into the skyline, becoming one of London’s most ionic landmarks, standing at the north end of the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).

The faces of the four clocks, measure twenty-three feet in diameter, consisting of 312 pieces of glass in each clock face dial.

Latin words under the clock face: Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Victoriam Primam (O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First).

I hope you enjoyed reading this, as much as I enjoyed writing it … For history has no end, and these fine old buildings have their own history to tell…

Battle of Mons Graupius

Roman Navy at war

Roman Naval Ships

The Romans landed in Britain in 43AD, and conquered this land, defeating the uprising led by Boudicca.  Britain was now under Roman rule.  Scotland’s inhabitants new they be at risk, from Roman forces, but had no intention of bowing down to the will of Rome.

In the year 79AD, a Roman fleet surveyed Scotland’s coastline, looking for weak points.  By 83AD, Roman forces had conquered parts of southern Scotland.  Scotland’s Caledonian forces faced an imminent invasion.  The Caledonian went on the attack against Roman forts and legions.  One surprise night attack by the Caledonian’s against the Roman’s nearly wiped out the 9th legion, but was saved by Agricola’s cavalry.

In the summer of 84AD, Agricola advanced into Caledonian territory in the north-east, hoping to force a battle.

Battle of Mons Graupius

Battle of Mons Graupius

“The Battle of Mons Graupius.”

Everything depended on this encounter.  Some 30,000 Caledonian’s faced a Roman army half its size, and they had the advantage of holding higher ground, it looked a foregone conclusion, it should have been a victory to the Caledonian’s.  What the Caledonian’s lacked was organisation and military tactics, as used by the Roman’s.

The Romans were tightly disciplined and relied on a short stabbing sword for combat.  Their front line was made up of Germanic auxiliary troops from Holland and Belgium, with the Roman legionaries following up at the rear.  At one point the Caledonians, using their greater numbers, outflanked the Romans only to meet hidden Roman cavalry suddenly closing on them.

Any hopes of a Caledonian victory soon vanished.  In a merciless bloodbath 10,000 were slaughtered.  Many fought valiantly to the end, others fled into the surrounding woods and hills, burning their houses in fear of Roman reprisals.

The following day… an awful silence reigned; the hills were deserted, houses smoking in the distance…

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