Tom's Britain - Exploring places of interest and things to do in England, Wales & Scotland

30 January 2013

Tour the HMS Trincomalee

The centrepiece of Hartlepool's Maritime Experience, a themed recreation of the town in the 18th century, HMS Trincomalee was built in Bombay, India, in 1817 and is the oldest British warship still afloat, and is said to be the second oldest floating ship in the world. 

The boat sits in the town's Jackson Dock where she was brought in 1987 for 10 years of restoration following work as a training ship, and is now part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection.

For more, see
^Picture © Martyn Wright used under a Creative Commons license^

25 January 2013

Stay at Beverley friary

A truly beautiful Youth Hostel set in a 600 year old restored Dominican friary, Beverley friary sits close to the centre of the Yorkshire market town of Beverley and has been a youth hostel since the 1980s. Following a recent £340,000 refurbishment, the friary re-opened in October and the results are impressive. 

Whilst your author didn't meet the ghostly Dominican Friar who is said to live there he was thoroughly impressed with the amazing friary. It isn't often you get to spend a night in a place mentioned in the Canterbury Tales for a tenner, and explore your own medieval and Tudor wall paintings, high beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces. The friendly volunteer warden charged with greeting winter visitors was a particular pleasure, and the place was a fine example of the interesting buildings in which the YHA has hostels.

For more, see

24 January 2013

Visit Grimsby's Fishing Heritage Centre

Grimsby's Fishing Heritage Centre opened at Alexandra Dock in 1991, aiming to tell the story of the town's fishing heritage, with a particular focus on what was like for trawlermen and their families in the 1950s.  

The Museum offers the chance to climb aboard the Ross Tiger, a 1950's trawler acquired by the town in 1992 for £1, and moored beside the museum, with other highlights based around the recreation of '50s Grimsby.

For more, see

^Picture © Dave Hitchborne used under a Creative Commons license^

23 January 2013

See the Boston Stump

The parish church in the Lincolnshire town of Boston is one of the largest parish churches in England, known for its huge tower - visible for miles around in a particularly flat area of the Fens - which is affectionately referred to as the Boston Stump and used for navigation by everyone from 16th century farmers to Second World War bomber pilots. 

Construction of the church started in 1309, but the tower was not begun for another century, until 1450, with the church completed by 1510. The church is known for its library, founded in 1634 and regarded as one of the best parish libraries in the country.

For more, see

^Picture © The National Churches Trust used under a Creative Commons license^

22 January 2013

Walk on Skegness Pier

Opened in time for the summer season in 1881 and built by Head Wrightson of Stockton, Skegness Pier was designed to allow North Sea boat trips, which we are told ran as far as The Wash and Hunstanton in 1882. 

Despite various bumps and scrapes - from a ship in 1919, floods in 1953, demolition work in 1971 - the pier remained intact until severe gales caused damage in 1978, and further damage caused the pier to be partially dismantled in the 1980s. Whilst only 118 metres of the pier remain, it has since been refurbished and is still a popular spot for visitors.

For more, see

^Picture © foxolio used under a Creative Commons license^

21 January 2013

Spot birds on Frampton Marsh

A large nature reserve on the edge of the Wash in near Boston in Lincolnshire, RSPB is a coastal wetland reserve in one of Britain's most important feeding grounds for birds, particularly in winter. 

The winter season - we are told - brings Brent geese from Siberia to feed on the saltmarsh in their thousands, and also offers us the chance to seeflocks of lapwings and golden plovers.

For more, see

^Picture © Graham Horn used under a Creative Commons license^

14 January 2013

Visit Sutton Hoo

Though the treasures of the Sutton Hoo ship burial are now held by the British Museum, the 255 acre site on which they were found, beside the River Deben in Suffolk, is now in the care of the National Trust and is open to the public. 

The estate is home to cemeteries from the 6th and 7th centuries, in the fields of grassy mounds, inside one of which was the undisturbed 7th century ship burial - excavated in 1939 - which gave up the treasures now held in the British Museum. The site also has a visitors centre, which is open at weekends at this time of year.

For more, see

^Picture © p_a_h used under a Creative Commons license^

7 January 2013

Drink at the Ship Inn, Blaxhall

Your author recently spent a agreeable evening at the Ship Inn in Blaxhall, a historic Suffolk pub known for its folk and traditional music and traditional Suffolk step dancing. 

A Grade II listed, 17th century pub in rural Suffolk which claims to include smugglers, shepherds, seafarers, pilots, tourists and locals among its previous customers, the Ship offers bed and breakfast and is also located conveniently close to a hostel run by the YHA, offering a choice of where to lay your head after an evenings step dancing.

For more, see

^Picture © Chris Holifield used under a Creative Commons license^

6 January 2013

See David Shrigley's HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

Your author popped in to see David Shrigley's HOW ARE YOU FEELING? at the Cornerhouse in Manchester yesterday and as ever thoroughly enjoyed the amusing and thoughtful works of the Glasgow artist. The exhibition - which has its final day today - features a mix of Shrigley's trademark small drawings alongside some larger interactive pieces. 

The strategically-placed napping mattresses for those overcome with fatigue during their visits were particularly appealing, as was the opportunity to sound a huge gong and whilst your author didn't attempt to draw a naked humanoid figure designed by Shrigley in the third floor gallery or act out a play by the artist, both were well-executed and typically thoughtful.

For more, see

^Picture © Karen Cropper used under a Creative Commons license^

5 January 2013

Join the Waldron Wassail

The last gasps of the Christmas season are fading away and Wassailing season is upon us, the time of year when apple trees are blessed to ensure a good harvest later in the year. The Waldron Wassail takes place this evening at Waldron in Sussex, with Long Man Morris, Old Star Morris and Winter Solstice Mummers gathering at the Star Inn for a Wassail.

Those visiting are told to expect Morris dancing at the village war memorial and a mummers play, followed by the wassailing in the garden. As the events take place outside, visitors are advised to dress warmly and prepare to join in.

For more, see

^Picture © Paul Farmer, used under a Creative Commons license^

4 January 2013

See the site of a Viking Invasion

In 991 AD, after sacking the town of Ipswich, a huge Viking fleet sailed down the coast and landed at Northey Island in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, preparing to take Maldon. Here as they waited for the tide to fall, they were trapped on the island by the East Saxon forces of Æthelred the Unready, led by Earl Byrhtnoth and his forces. 

When the Viking forces requested payment to leave, Byrhtnoth refused and challenged them to battle, but as the high tide prevented proper battle, the Vikings were allowed onto the mainland and the Battle of Maldon commenced, ending in defeat for the Anglo-Saxons. Today, the site is remembered as the oldest recorded battlefield in Britain. Today the island, which is in the care of the National Trust, can be visited by prior arrangement.

For more, see

^Picture © terry joyce used under a Creative Commons license^

3 January 2013

Walk to the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall

One of the oldest intact churches in England, it is believed that there has been a chapel on the site of St Peter-on-the-Wall at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex since around 653 AD when St Cedd arrived from Lindisfarne at the invitation of Sigeberht the Good, then King of the East Saxons. Though the current chapel probably dates from around 660 AD, it is remarkable that it has survived so well. 

The chapel was built using bricks from the Roman fortress which once stood on the same site and is built against the wall of the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona, and takes its name from this. Today, it stands at the end of a long distance path from Chipping Ongar called the St Peter's Way, which makes a lovely if tiring walk over a few days.

For more, see

2 January 2013

Walk in Hadleigh Country Park, Essex

Whilst many might dismiss the area around Southend on Sea, your author finds the tidal creeks between Benfleet and Leigh-on-Sea particularly beautiful, and the stretch beneath Hadleigh Castle - itself am impressive 13th century construction refortified during the Hundred Years War and open for free by English Heritage - is this part of the world at its best. 

Between the castle and the creekside, Hadleigh Country Park offers more than 350 acres of parkland, with a mix of woodland, grassland and marsh, with a nearby bridge - just outside the park - enabling walkers to cross to the Essex Wildlife Trust's nature reserve at Two Tree Island.

For more, see

^Picture © Edward Clack used under a Creative Commons license^