Tag Archives: Sudeley Castle

For Halloween: These Are a Few of My Favorite Tombs

Since Halloween is historically about honoring the souls of the departed, I’m paying a virtual visit to some of the most memorable resting places I’ve seen on my travels. Above is the tomb of Catherine Parr, the only one of Henry VIII’s wives who managed to outlive him. She rests in St. Mary’s Church on the grounds of Sudeley Castle, where she lived part of her turbulent life. Previous posts about Catherine are at:

https://castlesandcoffeehouses.com/2013/08/12/visiting-sudeley-castle/

https://castlesandcoffeehouses.com/2013/08/05/sudeley-castle-home-of-three-queens/

Here’s the churchyard of Eyam Parish Church in Derbyshire, England.  Eyam was a remote village when the bubonic plague struck in 1665. Everybody know the disease was contagious, but nobody knew exactly how it spread. (Much later, it turned out it spread via fleas that fed on rats). Under the leadership of the rector, Reverend William Mompesson and the Puritan minister, Thomas Stanley, the villagers chose to quarantine themselves for the fourteen months of the outbreak.  Only about 80 of the villagers survived out of the 350 who lived there. Geraldine Brooks wrote a wonderful historical novel about the plague village, “Year of Wonders,” 2001.

Haddon Hall is a well-preserved medieval house in Derbyshire. Its St. Nicholas chapel dates from the 1400s or earlier. The chapel contains one of the most beautiful and touching memorials I’ve ever seen, a marble effigy of young Lord Haddon, who died in 1894 at the age of 9.

His mother, Violet, Duchess of Rutland, designed it in his memory.

A nobleman whose name is lost to me has one of the best resting places I know of. His tomb is in a side chapel of the Augustinian Church in Vienna. It’s the parish church of the Hapsburg royal family, connected directly to their Hofburg Palace. The tomb’s occupant has his own personal perpetual mourner to keep him company when things are quiet.

But for November and December, he has plenty of company. The church ladies run a charming little Christmas market with handcrafted items. And they serve homemade cakes and coffee. It’s a cheerful resting place.

https://castlesandcoffeehouses.com/2014/04/11/a-cheerful-resting-place/

Where I live in the mountains of Colorado, Halloween is a weeklong party. Everybody in town takes every opportunity to dress up as somebody else.

But November 1 is All Saints’ Day, celebrated in many churches as a day to remember “all saints, known and unknown” who are no longer with us. Sadly, we also need to honor all those lost in the senseless violence in our country and elsewhere. Wishing one and all a Halloween full of laughter and an All Saints’ Day full of remembrance.

First Day of Spring

I think spring is coming late to England this year. I’ll be there soon, and I’m thinking there might still be snow in the ground. Or flooded spring rivers. Still, I’m hoping for tulips. They were spectacular a couple of years ago.

These were in the gardens of Ann Hathaway’s thatched-roof cottage near Stratford-on-Avon.

The tulips and daffodils were in bloom at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, where Richard III’s banqueting hall lies in picturesque ruins, sheltering a Tudor Knot Garden (planted much later, using Tudor designs).

Fruit trees blossomed overhead…

…and in St. Mary’s Church on the castle grounds, angels hovered over the Victorian tomb of Queen Catherine Parr, the last wife of King Henry VIII. (Her coffin was lost for a few centuries following the English Civil War, when the castle was “slighted” by Cromwell’s troops).

I was on the lookout for bluebells in all the woodsy places.

We should have been on the lookout for hidden springtime potholes too. This one caused not one but two flat tires on our rental car. Country roads are narrow, we’re driving on the “wrong side,” and sometimes we have to swerve.

Where I live in the mountains of Colorado, it’s still winter. The moose are finding tender branches to chomp, though.

In the dead of winter, I admired a painting by Fritz Syberg, from 1892. It’s called simply “Spring.”

Birds sing, rivers flow, and trees bud.

The young girl’s face is oddly melancholy. Or maybe she is just thoughtful.

Art should make us think. Travel makes us think too, about the past, about being present in the moment (even if the moment involves flat tires), and about the future. I’m anxious to be off again!

Why I Love England: A Garden is More Than a Garden

 

 

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It seems that anyone in England who owns a patch of ground, large or small, is compelled to make it into a thing of beauty or an expression of taste. English gardeners use flowers as a painter uses color.

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And an English garden is more than just pretty flowers.  It’s also a place to display the imagination and wit of the gardener. Do you have an unsightly stump with a horizontal lean to it? Turn it into a six-foot earthworm to greet your guests. This one is at the entrance to The Vyne, a National Trust house from the Tudor era. I’m pretty sure the earthworm was a modern gardener’s idea.

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Maybe your stump is more vertical. The Queen turned one of hers into a giant squirrel at Sandringham, the private country estate of the Royal Family near King’s Lynn. The squirrel stands about eight feet tall.  Do children climb on it? There’s nothing to stop them except decorum–maybe the Queen will walk by.

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Do you have a boring expanse of lawn?  How about a creepy-crawly spider? This one, about a thousand times larger than life-size, is at Sudeley Castle.

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Sometimes garden ornaments touchingly describe history. Sudeley Castle has exquisite ivy garden sculptures depicting Queen Catherine Parr and her younger relative Lady Jane Grey, two queens who lived at Sudeley together for a time. Later, Lady Jane reigned as Queen for only nine days. The political machinations that put her on the throne brought her down quickly and she lost her head. Queen Catherine was the only wife to survive Henry VIII. She is buried in the nearby chapel where she and Lady Jane went daily to pray.

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History is everywhere in English gardens. At Sudeley, antique roses are lovingly cultivated outside the castle where the 15-year-old Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I, once had to fend off the advances of Thomas Seymour. Baron Seymour, always on the lookout for the main chance, eventually married Queen Catherine Parr after Henry VIII died.  Sadly, Baron Seymour’s ambition proved his undoing and he was later executed for treason. It seems that Elizabeth wisely avoided him after Catherine died. Elizabeth had suitors enough without this particular bad boy.


If your brother was the fabulously rich Baron de Rothschild and he built himself a French chateau in the English countryside, then put you in charge of the grounds, what would you come up with?

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Baron de Rothschild’s sister Alice invented “vertical gardening” at Waddesdon Manor. This bird, studded with colored plants in early spring, is about 8 feet tall. Like her mega-rich brother, Alice liked to do things in a big way.

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I’d love to be wandering in an English garden right now, looking for discoveries through the next garden gate. Join me next time for more explorations in the art and history of Europe and the British Isles!