The Actor’s Church- St. Paul’s Convent Garden

What church in London has a long history with the theatre and arts? Which church contains memorials to some famous actors and actresses? It is St. Paul’s in Convent Garden.

St. Paul’s has a long association with the theatre and arts community. Since about 1663 they have been associated with the theatre. Performances have been on their grounds. St. Paul’s has been home to its own in house professional theatre company since 2007. They also have an orchestra in residence.

The back courtyard of St. John’s in Convent Garden, London.

Some famous people are associated with the church. There are some famous people baptized at and St. Paul’s including Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan. Married at the church were Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale.

Memorials

There are memorials inside the church dedicated to famous actors including Charlie Chaplin. The memorials line the walls inside of the church. A few are pictured below.

Alec Clunes played numerous Shakespearian roles. He appeared in film playing Hastings to Olivier’s Richard III and in One of Our Planes is Missing, a WWII flick. He was the father of current actor, Martin Clunes.
Richard Wattis appeared in numerous films including Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang. See his IMB page for a complete list. Robert Atkins is known for Black Magic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Peg of Old Drury.
Vivien Leigh won two Academy Awards for Best Actress as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind and Blanche Dubois in Street Car Named Desire. She was primarily a stage performer playing roles such as Cleopatra, Juliet, and Lady MacBeth.
He appeared in the James Bond film to Russia With Love. He also appeared in The Sting and Jaws. He was a writer whose most notable work was the novel The Man in the Glass Booth.

If you are making a trip to Convent Garden, stop in to St. Paul’s. They have a great garden in the back and a unique history for a church. When I visited in July they also had a resident church cat.

Merry Maidens

When you think of stone circles in Great Britain what comes to mind? Stonehenge? The stone circle in Outlander? There are other stone circles you can see in England and Scotland.

The truth is there are many stone circles in Great Britain. It is said there are 316 stone circles in England, 508 in Scotland, and 81 in Wales.

Merry Maidens

Within the county of Cornwall in England there are 17 stone circles and this includes the Merry Maidens. Merry Maidens is made up of 19 granite stones. The circle is a diameter of 75 feet (24m). It is in a perfect circle with each stone about 3-4 meters apart. The tallest is 1.4 meters. The stones gradually diminish in size from SW to NE. This is believed to follow the cycle of the moon.

Tales Behind the Stones

The Cornish legend behind the monument is the stone circle was the petrified remains of a group of local girls who had been turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on the Sabbath. Further away in neighboring fields are three other stones. One is said to have been a fiddler and the two others were pipers. The story is they are further away because they heard the church bells ringing out at midnight and they attempted to flee because they realized they were breaking religious rules. They were caught as well and were turned to stone. This story was most likely started to turn people to the church and away from pagan practices.

Location

The stones are in a field next to the B3315 in the parish of St. Buryan in the West Penwith area. It has a small car park that can fit 4-5 cars.

If you are traveling to Cornwall and would like to see a stone circle up close and personal without the crowds of Stonehenge, then stop by this ancient group of stones. You will get to see something that could be over 3500 years old.

National Railway Museum

Where is the largest railway museum in the world? Where would a train enthusiast be on cloud nine? The location I am speaking of is the National Railway Museum in York, England.

What’s There

To say this museum is large is an understatement. It has over 6,000 objects on display including signage, model trains, posters, tickets, nameplates, clocks, furniture and other items. Signage catches my eye, so I will include images of some of these items. The museum is massive and I think its best to not spoil it too much.

Seating for one of the locations in the museum that serves food.

There are over 100 locomotives or rolling stock on display with other stock held elsewhere. It has the largest collection of train cars and locomotives held in what formally was the North York Locomotive Depot. On display are Queen Victoria’s railway carriage and other trains such as one used by Queen Elizabeth II. They also have international holdings such as a Japanese Bullet train and a Chinese locomotive. Train displays vary and they rotate displays with other museums.

Front of one of the Royal Trains
Inside of a Post Office sorting carriage
Visiting

They are open daily through out the year including bank holidays with the exception of 24-26 of December. Their hours are from 10-5 (10:00-17:00) most of the year, however, during the summer months they are open 10-6 (10:00-18:00).

If you are a train enthusiast, you could easily spend a blissful day at this museum. If you fancy trains, this museum should be on your bucket list. The historical aspect will appeal to others as well.

The Shambles

Would you like to see one of the best preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe? Are you a Harry Potter fan and are interested in seeing a street that is an inspiration for something in the novels? Then head to the Shambles in York, England.

Shamble is an old word for an open air slaughterhouse and meat market. The pavement is raised on both sides of the street to form a channel or ditch where butchers could wash away blood. The street was intentionally built narrow to keep sunlight from hitting the meat that was hung by hooks outside the shops. The buildings on the Shambles in York date back to between 1350-1475.

I have not taken a course in Photoshop or Lightroom yet. I think removing the van is beyond what I know. Even though this street is pedestrian only and I was there about an hour that van was sitting there the entire time. So I never viewed the street without it.
Film Location

The Shambles is thought to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films. Today there are a few shops related to Harry Potter on the Shambles, one of which is The Shop That Must Not Be Named.

The Shambles doubled for 18th century London in Knifeman. It also appeared in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Are you interested in medieval architecture? Do you fancy visiting Harry Potter filming locations and scene inspirations? Visit York and see The Shambles.

Milky Way Over St. Michael’s Mount

Are there some places you would like to go to or things you would like to do, but haven’t because you want to do them with another adventurous person? One such experience I tried this summer was getting a photo of the Milky Way over St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, England.

St. Michael’s Mount at low tide.

St. Michael’s Mount is an island that can be reached at low tide by foot. There is a castle and medieval church on the island. The site is maintained by the National Trust. During the day time, one can walk over and see some of the rooms inside the castle. At high tide there are boats that can ferry you across. The St. Aubyn family live in the castle.

Tour

I would never never attempted to do this alone, even if I had stayed in Marazion, the Cornish town on the other side of the causeway. Instead I completed a day tour with Photograph West Cornwall. Ken Whalley took me to scenic spots on the Cornish coast by day, then later at night we attempted to get these shots at St. Michael’s Mount. Ken is a outstanding landscape photographer who leads tours in Cornwall in villages south of Port Isaac. He is knowledgeable about the time tables for tides, events in the sky, and weather. He informed me long before I arrived this may be a possibility if the sky cooperated. The added bonus was Ken and his wife treated me like an old friend.

If you are interested in seeing Cornwall south of Port Isaac through the eyes of a landscape photographer, book a tour with Ken Whalley and Photograph West Cornwall.

For more information look here: http://photographwestcornwall.com

To see some of his work, this is the Facebook page for his business: https://www.facebook.com/Photographwestcornwall/?eid=ARDnpqg1FH1Z_9FJl7n9hpMLWiY1rwqqq6cJbdlM_GAms6Yy_R9fC8WNOgHeg07My1ngT6Tow8kFVluQ&timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=100004050793544&fref=tag

York City Wall

What location has the longest medieval town walls in England? What place has gorgeous views from those walls? If you answered York, you would be correct.

In some sections one side does not have a railing. I believe this was from the area of the train station looking towards York Minster.
One view of York Minster from the wall with also some lovely back garden views.

York has an old section of town that is surrounded by the remains of the old city walls. You can walk around most of this section of the city on top of the wall. You will have some nice views of York Minster and other parts of the old city from the wall.

History

The original walls were built by the Romans in AD 71. However, the walls you see now were the upgrade to stone built in 1226. They are the longest Medieval town walls in England at 3.4 kilometers (about 2 miles) and are very well maintained.

Another view of York Minster from the wall
A sentry on the wall
The wall is just too narrow in many spots, so dogs are not allowed.
Visiting

It is open daily 8 a.m. to dusk. It is closed on Christmas and any days that the conditions are icy or slippery. As it is an old wall, it is not handicap accessible. Also, dogs are not allowed on the wall as most of it is narrow. Some areas do not have high ledges or railing on one side, so one has to take care. Someone with a fear of heights may not enjoy this walk.

If you are visiting York, hiking on the old city walls is a must to get another perspective on this lovely city.

One of the gates through the wall into the old section of York.

Wayside Cross

Wayside (edge of road) crosses are one type of Christian Cross that could be erected in Medieval times (5th-15th century). What do you think was its purpose?

Locations

In England there are over 350 wayside crosses. They are mostly found in Southwest England in Cornwall and on Dartmor. They can also be found on the North Yorkshire Moors. Very few are found elsewhere. Other forms of Wayside crosses can be found in other European countries such as Germany and Ireland.

Function

One function of a wayside cross was to reinforce the Christian faith amongst those who traveled past the cross. It was meant to reassure the traveler. In addition, they were way markers. They helped mark the areas that were generally unmarked routes.

Boskenna Cross

This wayside cross is at the junction of B 3315 and Rectory Rd in Cornwall. It is near the Merry Maidens Stone Circle in Cornwall, England. The head of the Boskenna Cross is circular. On one side of the head is a cross. On the opposite side is a figure of Christ with his arms up stretched and his feet pointing outwards. Some other wayside markers in Cornwall are said to have rounded heads with a cross on one side and different carvings on the other side.

This side faces someone property. It has a cross clearly visible on it.
This is the side facing the road. It is said to have a carving of Jesus on it with his arms outstretched. If you able able to see it in person you can barely make it out.

Wayside crosses are unique to Europe and the type found in Cornwall seems to be unique to Cornwall. If you visit Cornwall, see if you can spot one of these ancient monuments that has stood the test of time.