Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Sun never sets... on our new friendships

(AJ Thompson)
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

Although it was only two weeks, I doubt that many of us will be able to forget the amazing times we had together. With an amazing amount to take in, in a short time- this class has been the highlight of most of our learning and memories. It has been an amazing time going from not knowing each other in the Pittsburgh Airport to tears and hugs about saying goodbye and to the memories we made together. From our "British accents", our "Carrie Heater" / Penguin huddle, Dr. Paradis being reunited with her luggage, the explorations of London, singing of London Bridge, meeting pen-pals, our nicknames for each other (BANBURY!), Baldwin time, and MUCH MUCH more... We've all grown to be a very tight group of friends and we look forward to spending more time together.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blenheim Palace: Victory Tapestries

by Nate Shaffer
Hooghstet, 13 August 1704 © By kind permission of Blenheim Palace
Surrender of Marshall Talland, French, to Churchill, Duke of Marlborough
Since Haley pretty much covered everything about Blenheim Palace in her post, I'll take it upon myself to talk about one particularly interesting thing: the tapestries. The series of ten tapestries follows the victories of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, during the Battle of Blenheim, to whom the palace was gifted to for his successes of the war. Many of the tapestries were custom fitted to the walls, even designed accordingly to where they would align into the corners of the rooms.
Siege of Bouchain, 13 September 1711 © By kind permission of Blenheim Palace
Siege of Bouchain, 1711
The tapestries are the palaces's most prized attribute, each depiction unique in every detail. They usually display the Duke as the center focus of the tapestry with many significant or symbolic figures and scenes around him. One tapestry that sticks out from the rest is of the Duke riding his horse with company, a man on the distant right being followed by a dog. While looking over the whole tapestry, everything seems to fit nicely together. But if you look closely at the dog following the Duke, you'll notice he has very odd legs; that is, odd in such that they are the legs of a horse.

Dog with horse legs and hoofs
What the tour guide explained was that the idea for the dog was an after thought, as up until then many of the animals depicted in anything were horses. Therefore, the original idea of the dog began as a horse, hence the hoofed feet, but eventually became a dog. It was most likely never corrected due to the time and money already tied up in the cost of the tapestry, considering the mistake was noticed near or shortly after its completion.

Formal Gardens and Architecture at Blenheim Palace

By: Haley Sefton

Blenheim Palace was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in an old English Baroque style. This particular style allowed the Palace to gain its World Heritage Site status in 1987. Vanbrugh was hired by the 1st Duke of Marlborough for the construction of the Palace. The first foundation stone was laid on June 18, 1705 and the palace was relatively complete around 1724. Blenheim is a little over 300 years old, but some aspects have been recently added and are 100 years old, making them Victorian. Vanbrugh planned Blenheim Palace in a perspective that is best viewed from a distance, such as driving towards the main gate. This magnificence over comfort atmosphere was intentional by the architect, because he wanted to create not only a home but a national monument. It was to reflect the power and prestige of the nation.
The magnificent gardens of Blenheim Palace consist of the legacy that is Lancelot 'Capability' Brown within 2000 acres of his parkland. It is with his designs that helped Blenheim Palace gain its World Heritage Site status. His landscape settings he devised in the 1760s provided harmony and beauty for every generation of the Marlborough family to enjoy. The glorious panoramic views can be observed as you walk out of the palace into the Naturalistic Versailles setting. The Formal Gardens owe much to the 9th Duke of Marlborough who in 1920, along with Achille DuchĂȘne, redesigned the gardens to provide the Palace with the formal majestic setting that visitors see today.There is five Formal Gardens on the grounds along with wonderful walkways and sites to visit on the grounds, for more information click here.
The Water Terraces
It took five years, from 1925 to 1930 for the Water Terraces to be built and involved an immense amount of planning. Today, these terraces are reminiscent of Versailles. It was here, during the summer of 1908, that Sir Winston Churchill proposed to Miss Clementine Hozier, who was to become Baroness Churchill.





The Italian Garden

This ornate garden is the current Duke's private garden. In the early 20th century the 9th Duke of Marlborough redesigned the Italian Garden on the advice of the French architect, Achille Duchene.



The Secret Garden

This newly renovated garden lies to the east of the South Lawn. In contrast to the formal gardens, because it has an informal style, and sweeping parkland. It also is a secluded area which leads you down paths over bridges and to the tranquil stream.


The Pleasure Gardens
This area is dedicated to families and can be reached by the miniature train from the Palace. It is a perfect place to enjoy the Butterfly House, or visit the Blenheim Bygones Exhibition. This is also the location of the famous Marlborough Maze and Adventure Play Area. The maze is the world’s second largest symbolic hedge maze, designed to reflect the history and architecture of the Palace. Within the maze area is a model of a Woodstock street, putting greens, as well as a giant chess and draughts set.



The Place We've Called 'Home'

The Place We've Called 'Home'

By Carrie Mae Hanrahan

Wroxton Abbey looks like a regular old building from the outside, bricks weathered by the elements and faded colors. This building and the surrounding areas have more to them than meet the eye!

The Grounds

The grounds of Wroxton are breathtaking. Looking directly out the back windows of the Abbey reveal lush rolling hills the same vibrant green as the picture of Wroxton above! Surrounding the Abbey is a dirt path the winds under trees and out of sight past the hills. By treading down these paths one can see rabbits and the occasional pheasant. Walking toward the back of the property, it suddenly opens up to reveal a pristine lake! On the surface are ducks and geese, with tadpoles and some other aquatic life just beneath the water. Following the path around the lake, a small manmade waterfall can be found nestled amongst the trees. Futher along the path are large gardens and even more hills surrounded by lush foliage.

The Interior
The beauty inside Wroxton Abbey is just as breath taking as the beauty outdoors. There are intricate wood carvings on the doors and plush red chairs in the reading room before the library. Squinting at a shelf of books, you can make out the entrace to a secret passage from long ago, sealed off against curious students (the nerve)! The ceilings are high and molded with various designs, some musical and others intricate without a theme. Wroxton is a big building and in the first few days it's almost like being a first year at Hogwarts. In some ways, Wroxton can feel a bit like a personal Hogwarts, without three headed dogs and the constant threat of a Dark Wizard trying to murder you! Plus the beds are comfortable and the building itself; with dark inviting wood feels warm and homely.

Our Group

In our two weeks here, we have documented many cases of our group bonding and getting together. In a magical place like Wroxton, how could you not make friends? Attempts were made to take group photos everywhere we went, but of course we did miss some places. The following assortment of photos conveys our last two weeks here on this trip, the fun times we have had, and the friends we have made. England is a cool country but it would not have been the same without the group travelling together.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Inns of Court and The Old Bailey

On our last day in London, Dr. Paradis took us on a walking tour of the Inns of Court and the Old Bailey. Before the Inns of Court were established law was taught by private tutors or usually a clergy. During the thirteenth century the government and laws were becoming more complex as the power begins to shift from the church to the government. This brought about a need for formal legal education and thus the Inns of Court were established. This photo below shows a building in the middle that does not quite belong anymore. This building is part of what is left of the original walls of London City. This is important for 2 reasons; In 1207 a Papal Bull prohibited the teaching of law by the clergy , Second, there was a decree from King Henry III that no formal legal education could occur within the city of London. This meant that any formal law education had to be taught outside of the city walls.
So, when you pass under this remaining gate you will find the four Inns of Court and the old courthouse called the Old Bailey.  The word Inn comes from the Latin word hospitium- a place of hospitality. People opened up their houses and estates to house lawyers and officials coming into the city for court.There were bout 20 Inns to start with; There are however four main Inns that are actually schools of law. These four Inns are the Lincoln Inn, the Gray Inn, as well as the Inner and Middle Temple Inns. These are all located outside the old city walls and are still in use for law school. 
The garden at the Middle Temple

The Middle Temple

We also visited the old courthouse called The Old Bailey. The courthouse was named after the street it was built on which follows the line of the original wall or "bailey" of the city. The original building burnt down in the great fire of London in 1666 but was rebuilt with some additions in 1673. It was also built next to Newgate Prison for easy transfer of prisoners to court. Our group was Lucky enough to see some of the original cells that are left from Newgate prison. These cells on the bottom right were holding cells. According to our tour guide, they would keep prisoners here awaiting sentencing or trial. It was not the cleanest place. There was a small hole in the roof that led to the city street and people would sometimes drop food down the hole for the prisoners. It was very interesting to see these places, some still in use and some preserved for  some years to come.
The Old Bailey 
Newgate Prison Holding Cells

Newgate Prison

Buskers in Covent Garden by Brenda Buterbaugh

I'm sure you can remember back to your childhood watching the Disney movie Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins was set in the year 1910 in London. The movie opens up on Bert's one man band scene. In London , Bert was known as a Busker or a street performer. He played several instruments and entertained people on the streets several times throughout the movie. Street performers have been around for a very long time. According to the London Performers website, the term busker, for street performers came about in the 1860's. The word Busker actually comes from the Spanish verb Buscar which means to seek or wander. London street performers were known as Buskers because they sought a fortune and would wander from place to place. Busking became a way for people to do what they love and make some money. Today you will find many Buskers in tube or train stations in London. However, according to the London Performer's website and The Street's Got Talent website, the best place to find good Buskers is in Covent Garden. Covent Garden is a covered fruit and vegetable market that has been turned into a shopping district and tourist center. It is here that the best street performers come to entertain the large crowds. 

Gold Floating Man

In Covent Garden you will find performers or Buskers like these men in the pictures above. It is very hard to be a street performer in the Covent Garden. According to Streets Got Talent , first you have to audition and have some sort of liability insurance to be a performer. In order to get a permit, when you audition you must attract a large crowd during their audition.If you get a permit, you can then perform inside the market or outside. The performance usually lasts thirty minutes indoors and forty minutes outdoors. Usually there is a range of performers to see. Our group was lucky enough to see a magician/ comedian in the square. He told us street performing is very difficult and you definitely have to be able to connect with the crowd and bond quickly in order to have a good show. These people love what they do and were truly a great experience.

Churchill's War Rooms & Other Adventures

Winston Churchill in the bunker
By, Erin Zito


As a part of Britain’s Imperial War Museums, we got to see Churchill’s War Rooms.  These rooms give you an undercover look into what life was like living underground for most of Britain’s government during World War II during the Blitz- strategic bombing of the United Kingdom by the Germans. 

There were personal stories throughout the museum from people who were a part of Churchill’s government.  These people recalled life with Churchill and their life underground.  Some rooms were replicated to their exact look during the time underground.  In a sense, Churchill was running the country from tiny and dark, yet safe, bunker.
Importance of the Cabinet War Rooms
Large map in the Cabinet Room
One of the most interesting parts of the War Rooms were the War Cabinet Rooms and the Map Rooms.  These rooms were used as a meeting place for the people of the cabinet where Churchill and his inner circle plotted the war. You can see the chair in which Churchill presided over meetings and the scratch marks on the arms showing the intense pressure he was under at these times. Along with this is the map room, which was amazing to see.  Huge walls were covered in world maps with the original markings and notes that the cabinet used.  Even the original doodle of Hitler that some men drew was on the map in the museum.  The Imperial War Museum website says, “In the Map Room, the informational hub of the entire site, everything has remained exactly as it was when the lights were finally switched off on 16 August 1945”. 

Part of a map in the Map Room

Replica of the Cabinet Rooms

The Hitler doodle on the map

Churchill's Room

Right next door to the Map Room was Churchill’s own bedroom. Churchill only slept overnight in this room on three occasions, but he did make four of his wartime speeches from the desk here, including his September 11, 1940 speech warning of Hitler’s plan to wage a war of terror against the United Kingdom.

Inside the War Rooms was the Churchill Museum commemorating his life.  It showed his family history and look into a more personal side of Winston Churchill.  The museum was covered in a plethora of quotes and facts about Churchill that gave more insight into what kind of man he was.

Before our walking tour of London by the greatest tour guide Dr. Paradis, some of us visited Abbey Road, made famous by The Beatles!
The famous picture of The Beatles
Nathaniel crossing Abbey Road
Haley and Erin crossing Abbey Road

After a walking tour of the Inns of Court and other historic monuments in London (which Brenda will blog about later!), we ended the night with an exquisite performance of the play “War Horse” at the New London Theater.  This play told the story of Albert and his horse Joey who both eventually go off to fight in World War I through a series of unfortunate events.  During the play, they did a great job reenacting World War I historically and accurately in showing the horrors of war.  The phenomenal puppetry of the horses made this live show feel like a reality with the help of some exceptional actors.    After a tearful ending for some, “War Horse” showed the overall impact that World War I had on not only Great Britain, but France, Germany, and the world itself. 
Joey and Albert in "War Horse"
War scene in "War Horse"