Thursday, February 20, 2014

Buckland Abbey

A panorama of Buckland Abbey

A visit to Buckland Abbey was high on our list of  "Places to See in Devon", since Bill admires the exploits of Sir Francis Drake.  It was originally built in 1273, as a Cistercian Abbey by Amicia, the Dowager Countess of Devon after the death of her husband and the murder of her only son.  Her daughter Isabella, the new countess, provided the land.  Amicia is probably buried near the high altar.  There is a carved head of a lady above one of the abbey doors, that is traditionally said to represent her.

Map board showing the layout of the Abbey, gardens and great Barn.

In 1539, Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries and the abbey and its lands were sold to the Grenvilles, who over the course of 50 years, turned it into a family home.  Many of the monastic buildings were demolished in the process.
The front entrance to Buckland Abbey.

Sir Francis Drake moved to Buckland in 1582.  He was already a wealthy man at age 39, as well as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth.  On his death in 1596, having no children, Buckland passed to his brother Thomas.  It remained in the Drake family, passing to a nephew who modernized it in 1794.  The last Drake descendent to live here was Captian Richard Meyrick, a distant relative, who sold it to a local land owner, after a fire badly damaged the abbey in 1938.

Walking up to the Abbey, every thing was lush green.

The last owner was Captian Rodd, who donated the abbey and great barn to The National Trust.  Working with the City of Plymouth, they turned it into The Drake, Naval and West Country Folk Museum we visited today.
Inside of the great Barn, originally built by the Cistertian order.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pendennis Castle in Cornwall

The Barrack Block from 1901, now the gift shop and cafe.

The south coast of England has been heavily fortified since the time of Henry VIII, who had the original castle built to hold off potential invasions by the French and Spanish.  During WWII, the army took it over again to keep the bay safe from the Germans.  The only time it was ever used in a military battle, was during the Civil War, when both the royalist and the rebels wanted it.

An information board explaining the layout as well as the seige during the Civil War.

The Keep built by Henry VIII.

The place is quite massive, with a combination modern walls and the round keep from the 16th century.  It is fun to explore.  Inside the keep they have added a sound and action diorama on the gun deck, complete with gunfire and smoke from the canons.

A stairwell in the Keep.  Imagine running up and down these fully armed.

After hiking the entire castle, as well as up and down all the stairwells, we stopped for lunch in the tearoom, which is inside the Barrack Block from 1901.  The food was delicious.  I had wonderful bean soup with a crusty roll, while Bill enjoyed a sausage sandwich.  Both were washed down with a local cider.
The view toward Falmouth.

World War II gun emplacements looking out over the channel.

It was a beautiful day to be out and about in Cornwall; warm, sunny and not too many tourists.

Doune Castle

Doune Castle was rebuilt by Robert Stewart, the Duke of Albany, a man who was the power behind the throne as Regent for James I of Scotland,...