Monday, October 08, 2007

Day 3: Coventry and Warwick

We left the hotel the next morning which took a little longer than we planned, as we waited while the staff debated whether or not they would accept our travellers' cheques. Then it was on to Coventry where we stopped to look at the cathedral - or rather, two cathedrals.

Coventry was heavily bombed in World War II and the old cathedral reduced to a shell, but it still has many interesting details surviving. A Litany of Reconciliation is said every Friday in the ruins.

Alongside was built the new cathedral, which was designed by architect Sir Basil Spence, who also designed New Zealand's Parliament Buildings - though I have heard that he didn't so much design the latter, as make a sketch on the back of an envelope and say "How about something like that?" I'm not sure if that story is true or not.

There are many beautiful art works both in the ruins and in the new cathedral. We didn't take photographs in the new cathedral as purchase of a photography permit is required (though as we put money in the donation box, we might just as well have used it to purchase our permits).

This is part of the glass screen at the entrance to the new cathdral, depicting saints and angels

And the statue of which this is a portion is on the outside wall of the new cathedral near the entrance. It's by Sir Jacob Epstein The title is "Saint Michael and the Devil" and it represents the triumph of good over evil.

It was a short distance on to Warwick where the castle sits on the hill - or rather, on a slight rise (the highest ground for quite some miles around). I'm not sure if we would have paid the very high entry fee if it wasn't included on our heritage passes - but there was so much to see and do here that you could easily spend the whole day - since we didn't arrive till afternoon, we only had about three hours.

We watched a demonstration of the long bow, culminating in a show of speed - archers were required to shoot twelve arrows per minute.

We climbed up a very narrow staircase

to the castle ramparts

and visited the extensive wax works in the basement of the main portion of the castle.

I just found out that this type of window (wide on the inside and narrow on the outside, for shooting arrows through) is called a "loophole"

This is part of the surrounding village.

Apparently what distinguishes genuine Tudor houses from the fake modern ones is the crookedness of the beams.

I couldn't resist this shot of our rental car, complete with reflections of foliage in the car park.

We ate a very late lunch in the car park and then headed across to the motorway (the M40, for those with maps), and south to our friends in a wee village on the edge of Henley-on-Thames, near Reading. B & M left New Zealand more than 25 years ago, planning on staying in England for two years while M studied singing. They are still there! We had a very pleasant time catching up, and an added delight was the squirrels running across the patio and up and down the trees in front of their windows. They were way too nimble for me to capture them with the camera - but don't worry - plenty of squirrel pictures will be forthcoming from later in the trip.

Next... prehistoric sites in Wiltshire and Somerset, and a more recent ancestral village ....


Deb R said...

The wax woman kind of creeped me out, but I loved the rest of these shots. The one of the leaves reflected in your rental car is awesome!

I'm so enjoying your travel posts!

Pip said...

I'm so envious of your travel stories. I really must start a savings fund specifically targeted at getting me back to Europe in a year or two. It's been nearly ten years...

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Catherine said...

Pip, don't be too envious, I'm in my fifties and this is the first (and maybe last) such trip I have ever made - I've never been further than Australia and the Cook Islands before. So there's plenty of time for you yet!

paris parfait said...

Isn't it wonderful that they have that reconciliation ceremony on a regular basis?