Up the hill: a weekend at Lincoln Cathedral

Neither of us had visited Lincoln for a long time (I had once, at university) and had forgotten quite how stunning it is. Perched up the appropriately-named ‘Steep Hill’, the cathedral looks out over the city.

As John Ruskin said, “I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles.” [And I whole-heartedly agree with him.]

Inside Lincoln Cathedral

Building started in 1088, under William the Conqueror’s instruction, and in heavy Norman style, opposite the castle he had already built across the city. Around 100 years later, a fire and an earthquake between them caused extensive damage to the great building, and parts were rebuilt in the Gothic style, which included the use of flying buttressing to enable huge stained glass windows, and pointed arches replacing the original rounded ones.

Rose window at Lincoln Cathedral

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Below London – a trip to the Clapham South deep-level shelter

You know when you book tickets for something and forget you did…? This happened to us, when we looked at our calendars and realised that we had tickets for a Clapham South subterranean shelter tour, run as part of London Transport Museum‘s Hidden London. So, we headed along one night after work and congregated at the entrance to Clapham South Underground. But this wasn’t a tube tour – instead, it took us down to the tube level, 36.5m below street level, but into huge, cavernous tunnels built during World War Two, as a response to heavy civilian bombing during the Blitz.

Our surroundings seemed [remarkably] modern and sleek, with some incredibly well thought-through details considering the rush in which they were built. One of our favourite features was the double helix staircase so that people could descend twice as quickly in the event of a raid.

Clapham South Deep Level Shelter

Although ten of these shelters were planned, ultimately eight were built, by the London Passenger Transport Board and the Ministry for Home Security between 1941 and 1942. They were a response to the inadequacy of tube stations as refuges from bombing raids, after 111 people were killed at Bank station. The tube stations were often not sufficiently deep, and in addition were liable to flooding if a water main was hit. Although not built quickly enough for the Blitz, they were used during all the bombing that followed by V1 and V2 bombs, and were also a temporary solution for those who had lost their homes through Blitz attacks.

Clapham South Deep Level Shelter

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Return to Kenwood House

OK, so we’ve been to Kenwood House before. But with such a beautiful place nearby, it’s difficult not to… While last time was a fleeting visit on the blog, this trip we decided to look at things a little more closely.

Remodelled by Robert Adam in 1770 (you know by now how much we love good old Adam!), Kenwood sits in 74 acres next to Hampstead Heath, with views across to the City of London. The house is run by English Heritage but remains free entry to the public, thanks to the Iveagh Bequest. This was a gift of art from the 1st Earl of Iveagh in 1920, and comprises internationally-significant Old Master and British paintings by artists including Vermeer, Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Reynolds. Indeed, it is the finest collection of Old Master paintings given to the British nation in the 20th century.

Kenwood House

There is also a fine collection of furniture in the house, either designed by Adam or brought in sympathetically. We liked this tiny lion:

Table at Kenwood House

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The ashes of Clandon Park

Today we’re coming to you with a bit of a different post. You know how we love our days out to National Trust houses; beautiful furniture, textiles, cups of tea in the café and walking amongst gorgeous gardens. But this time we made a pilgrimage to a place that, very recently, had all the above. Now, however, it has none.

On 29th April, 2015, Clandon Park was struck down by a devastating fire, which moved through the house more quickly than anyone thought possible. The fire destroyed the entire interior of the house; walls, floors, staircases, leaving a shell.

Clandon Park

The fire spread from the basement, and is thought to be an electrical fire, although no-one is entirely certain. One room in the house survived relatively intact; there are no photos online, and we were unable to get that close, but miraculously it looks to be nearly as it was (save extensive water damage from the hoses).

Clandon Park

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Blink and it’s gone – the Bloodhound SSC

I was very fortunate last week to be able to see the Bloodhound SSC (Super-Sonic Car) make its world debut in London. By pure chance I had the afternoon off work for something else later in the evening, and happened to hear about the two-day event that was happening in the East Wintergarden venue in Canary Wharf. So, with my last-minute ticket in hand, I headed over to check it out… [I had to work, on the other hand, so couldn’t go. Pity. Fortunately there were about 300 photos of cars for me to look at… However, they actually turned out to be fairly amazing, so do keep reading even if you’re not an engineering fan!]

Canary Wharf tube

For those who haven’t heard of it before, the Bloodhound SSC is a British engineering project to break the land speed record (which is already held by the same team, headed by Richard Noble), with the ultimate aim being to travel at over 1,000mph. The car being unveiled today is the “product of eight years of research, design and manufacturing, involving over 350 companies and universities”. Jaguar are one of the key sponsors, and have provided many vehicles for research: the car below was used to test the use of parachutes as a braking system, a method that was eventually abandoned in favour of air brakes.

Jaguar test car for Bloodhound SSC

But I’m teasing you – it’s time I actually showed you pictures of the beast itself! [I can hardly wait.] And here she is:

Bloodhound SSC

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