Horse and Circus Brasses: Horse-brasses

//Horse and Circus Brasses: Horse-brasses

Horse and Circus Brasses: Horse-brasses

  • Perhaps never again will such a presentation of rare stamps and coins be assembled for the lover of English football; the sport that has become a tradition and source of national pride. The British studio that produces our coin sets is a leader in the field of nostalgic, commemorative and souvenir coin gifts. Using genuine pre-decimal coins, stamps and bank notes no longer in circulation, they produce the ideal British souvenir and original gift ideas. This Limited Edition collection of 1000  will not be offered after our inventory is depleated and will become a classic, providing a lasting a pride of ownership. It includes scarce original stamps and coins minted between 1900 and 1999, including the famous World Cup Winners stamp issued by the Royal Mint in 1966. This collection connects with famous footballers and football events and includes the Football Legends set of Royal Mail stamps. This prized collection is set in a beautiful black ash wood frame measuring approximately 18" X 13 1/4." and comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity. We have only nine left in our inventory.
  • A gold Gaelic harp with silver strings on a blue background has been Ireland's heraldic emblem since the 13th century. It is sometimes referred to as the harp of Brian Boru, High king of Ireland (who died about 400 years before it was made), also as the Trinity College harp, the oldest surviving Irish harp (late 14th century). The harp was selected as the state emblem on the establishment of the Free Irish State and was incorporated into the Great Seal of the Irish Free state. It continued to be the state emblem after the Constitution of Ireland was adopted and its image is used on coins, passports, official documents of the state, the official seals of the President and ministers of government. It now appears on the Royal Coat of Arms of the united Kingdom since the union of the crowns of Ireland, England to that of Scotland by James VI of Scotland in March 1603.
  • This military unit was raised originally in response to the Jacobite Rebellion in 1715 as Humphrey Gore's Regiment of Dragoons. Renamed 10th Royal Hussars, Prince Of Wales Own, in 1751 and in 1806, The Royal Hussars. "Dragoon" comes from the word "Dragon" and was used in the name as these were among the first cavalry regiments to use rifles rather than swords when entering the fight on horseback. They laid the rifle between the ears of their horse when galloping toward their enemy at full speed. The purpose was to create chaos in the ranks of the enemy, making it easier for the advancing foot soldiers to destroy their adversaries with minimal loss to their own warriors.
  • Born at Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819. Crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 28, 1838. Died at Osbourne House, Isl. of Wight on January 22, 1901 at the age of 81. Queen Victoria became Queen at the age of 18 and reigned for nearly 64 years, longer than any other sovereign in the history of England (1839-1901.) In 1839 she fell in love with her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and married him in spite of both Parliament's objections and the people of London who saw him as a bit "stuffy" and viewed by many as an impoverished German princeling on the "make." Victoria believed as Queen she could do as she pleased, genuinely loved her handsome and talented cousin and the wedding took place on February 10, 1840, at St. James Palace. They had 9 children. Prince Albert was an excellent choice for both the young Queen and Britain as he played a crucial active role in guiding Queen Victoria who had to learn to adapt her personality and private convictions to her new public role as sovereign of the British Empire during an age when Britain changed almost beyond recognition. After his death in 1861, she became so distraught that she went into seclusion and had to be coaxed back into public life by her Prime Minister in order to save the throne which had become disengaged from the people. Truly a marriage and partnership arranged in Heaven. When she died the nation went into deep mourning at the loss of a much loved monarch.
  • The name "Dragoon" comes from "Dragon" which was the nickname for a musket. The cavalry traditionally used swords in combat, but the dragoons were the first to introduce the musket which was leveled between the ears of the horse. This unit was raised in 1688 under the title of "Earl of Devonshire's Regiment of Horse," as all military units before the formation of a national army were named after the individual who recruited them from his own resources and led them into battle as a private army. The Colours (Standard/Flag) is 2' 6" square and includes the Coat of Arms of General Ligonier on one side and on the other, his crest and the motto "Quo Fata Vocant. The Standard narrowly escaped being captured during the battle of Dettingen (1743) when Cornet (rank changed to 2nd Lieutenant in 1871) Richardson, surrounded by the enemy and suffering from more than 30 wounds, held onto the the Colours at swords length until he and the flag could be rescued by reinforcements. The Flag remains unchanged today in his honour. The 4th and 7th were formed originally as mounted infantry. This meant they rode horses to the battlefield, but dismounted and fought on foot. They were later "promoted" to light cavalry status, being armed with a musket, sword, and pistol (hand-gonne) and began fighting on horseback. Today, the regiment serves as a Line Cavalry, assigned to the Royal Armoured Corps. The Colonel-in-Chief is HRH Prince of Wales.
  • This fighting unit was raised in 1715 as an individual fighting force during the Jacobite Rebellion;, the revolt of the Stuarts against King George I. They Started out as cavalry units, but in 1816 they were made into a lancer unit following the fine performance of French Lancer Regiments at the Battle of Waterloo. Lances had been found an effective weapon when used against the British by the Poles during battles in Spain. The Duke of Wellington's Army was prepared for hand to hand fighting, but not against the lances that gave the enemy an advantage of reach and again in the Battle of Waterloo where the British lost one third of their strength in just ten minutes due to their opponents use of the lance against the antiquated weaponry used by the British soldiers. The British decided to introduce the lance into their arsenal. These units saw action in India, playing a key role in the siege and fall of Delhi, earning the nickname "The Delhi Spearmen" and twelve Victoria Crosses for their outstanding performance. Both regiments fought in South Africa from 1899-1902 and on the Western Front during WWI, earning a Victoria Cross for "gallantry in action" for saving the guns of the 119 Battery Royal Field Artillery. During WWII Lord Gort wrote "without the Twelfth Lancers only a small part of the Army would have reached Dunkirk." when they covered the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Forces. They would then be called upon to serve with an armoured division in North Africa and were the first to link up with American units. A detachment of the units was given the task of guarding the Royal Family and members of the Cabinet during WWII. It has since served in Northern Ireland and in Cyprus as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force. On the horse brass, a pair of crossed lances with pennons flying outward are placed with the Prince of Wales's plume and the motto "Ich Dien" (I serve), while on the lower portion of the lances a scroll inscribed IX-XII.
  • Anne Hathaway's childhood was spent in a house in the small village of Shottery, just west of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. It is actually not a cottage, but a spacious twelve-room farmhouse with several bedrooms and multiple chimneys (each room had its own fireplace.) She married William Shakespeare when he was 18 and she was both pregnant and 26. We were told, during one of our trips to Stratford, that although there was rumor that her father arranged a shotgun wedding to save family face in the community, there is no conclusive proof. It was not uncommon for brides to be older than the groom during the 19th century, as young girls were often needed at home to help care for younger siblings and would not marry until their late twenties. Three children were born to Anne: Susanna (1583) and the twins Hamnet and Judith (1855). Much has not been recorded regarding their married life, leading to speculation that Shakespeare may have developed a disliking for his wife. For most of their married life, William lived in London where he wrote and performed his plays (Globe Theatre), while Anne stayed in Stratford. But London was where the greater audiences were and when Shakespeare retired from the theatre in 1613, he chose to return to his family in Stratford to spend his remaining years.
  • Queen Elizabeth II may consider Windsor Castle her second home, but the Queen Mother always looked forward to her stay at Balmoral, tucked away in Scotland. In the Middle Ages, a Drummond castle stood on this site between Ballater and Braemar, but by 1600 the castle and estate of Balmoral lay within the vast lands of the Earl of Mar. In the 17th and 18th centuries, ownership of Balmoral passed to the Farquharsons of Inverey and then on to the Earl of Fife until in the 1830's when it became the home of Sir Robert Gordon, brother of the Prime Minister, the Earl of Aberdeen. Balmoral is today best known as a royal residence. The favorite of the late Queen Mother and a summer retreat for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert rented it while looking for a permanent summer home in Scotland in 1848, then bought it for 30,000 pound sterling in 1852...but sold it after realizing it was too small for their needs, replacing it with the palace we see today. It served the Saxe-Coburgs well for the new Balmoral Castle could easily accommodate Victoria's growing family, as well as the entourage on ministers and secretaries needed for the smooth running of the state during the monarch's absence from London (when she was not in her favorite home on the Isle of Wight). Prince Albert liked the area as it was drier than most parts of the Highlands, which appealed to his advancing rheumatism. The rolling hills of Deeside also reminded him of his native homeland of Thuringia. Queen Victoria was taken with the views of Lochnagar to the south west of the castle. She knew Lord Byron's poem 'Dark Lochnagar and had doubtlessly heard Beethovan's arrangement of Byron's romantic hymn to this majestic mountain. It began as a home built in 1390 by Sir William Drummond, while the grounds belonged to King Robert II (1371-1390) who had a hunting lodge nearby. The estate occupies 65,000 acres of land, includes 100 buildings, is presently valued at 160 million pound sterling, and employs about 50 full time staff and 50-100 part time staff to maintain it and look after the animals as it is a full and working estate.
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    Built by King John in 1204 in a pretty village at the head of the Beaulieu River in Hampshire, England. After the Dissolution of cathedrals, the Abbey fell into ruin with its stone walls being dismantled and used for the construction of coastal forts required by Henry V111. Only the foundation of what was the largest Cistercian abbey of the 13th century remains intact. The cloister has partly survived, along with the 13th century refectory, which has since been converted into a parish church. It's staircase leading to what was the lector's pulpit still stands. Eachof our horse brasses is handmade by a leading British foundry using only a first-run mix of ingot brass rich in copper for depth of colour and durability. It is then hand filed to remove any excess brass left from casting and hand polished to enhance the natural beauty of quality brass. Measurement Approximately 3.75" in diameter. www.
  • The origins of Parliament go back to the 12th century with the Magna Carta when nobles confronted King John, demanding a share in his power. The first Parliament was summoned by King Edward I in 1295. By the fourteenth century, two distinct houses, the House of Commons (involving elected representatives from counties, towns and cities) and the House of Lords (involving nobility who inherit their title and position in Parliament, and clergy) emerged. The Bill of Rights was drawn in 1689, establishing Parliament's authority over the monarch to pass and repeal laws. The 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland replaced the individual Parliaments of the two nations with a new Parliament of Great Britain. The 1800 Act of Union with Ireland, abolished the Dublin Parliament and Irish Members of Parliament and Lords were represented in the Westminster Parliament building which is located in London, within the City of Westminster, along the Thames River...near Buckingham Palace (the Monarch) and the centre of London (the Prime Minister). On the Southeast corner of the Houses of Parliament stands Big Ben which owes its existence to a fire in 1834 that destroyed most of the building in which Parliament met. A commission was set up to choose a new building design and the winning design, submitted by Charles Barry, included a clock tower. In 1848, the Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airey, and barrister (lawyer) Edmund Denison, who was also an amateur watchmaker, took charge of designing the clock and Edward Dent was given the job of building it. The "Great Clock" went into action in 1859. Although the Clock Tower is often called Big Ben, this is actually the nickname of the bell housed within the Clock Tower..and Big Ben's official name is the "Great Bell." It took a team of sixteen horses to pull the trolley on which the bell was placed, to the tower. No one knows the exact origins of the name "Big Ben" but it is thought that the bell inside the clock was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, a heavy set man and the First Commissioner of Works, who was known in the House of Commons as Big Ben.
  • Brackley Manor is the manor house in Brackley, Northamptonshire, which dates back as a living community to the Iron Age. Brackley's growth and prosperity is founded by its location on the main road from Northampton to Oxford. By the 13th century, it had become a staple town, sending representatives to meetings at Westminster in London. A castle was built for its protection and the town became the site for important meetings between barons and representatives of the King in 1215, the year of the Magna Carta. It is believed parts of the Magna Carta were drafted in the Manor House. Brackley sided with the Roundheads during the Civil War and attacked tired Royalist troops using the manor as a stopping place during their marches between Northampton and Oxford. Locals suddenly acquired horses from slain cavalry units and enjoyed the spoils of battle valued at between 6,000-7,000 British Pound Sterling which would amount to considerably more at todays value. The town was dominated by the Egerton family (the Earl of Ellesmmere and the Duke of Bridgewater) from the 17th century until the Reform Act of 1832. Brackley then lost its two Members of Parliament and its earlier importance, becoming a relatively quiet market town. It eventually lost its historic borough status it held for more than 700 years.
  • The Bronte Parsonage, located in Haworth, Yorkshire, is the English home of the famous Bronte sisters who spent most of their lives here writing their famous novels inspired by their natural surroundings. In 1820, their Irish born father Patrick Bronte, a published author of poetry and fiction, arrived in Haworth with his Cornish born wife Maria and their six children, taking residence in the local parsonage. Their mother, Maria, died of cancer in 1821 and in 1825 a sister died at the age of eleven. Ten year old Elizabeth died one month later. The surviving children remained at home in the parsonage where education played an important role in their life. Their father held a seat at Cambridge University and encouraged his children to read every book that came their way. Both Charlotte and Emily would later become teachers, but writing would remain their passion until their death: Emily at the age of thirty in 1848 (of tuberculosis) and Anne at the age of twenty-nine in Scarborough where she was receiving treatment in 1849. Charlotte died in March 1855, just three weeks before her thirty-ninth birthday. Their father continued living in the parsonage for the next six years being cared for by his son-in-law (husband of Charlotte) until he died at the age of eighty-four in 1861. Each of our brassware is handmade by a leading British foundry using only a first-run ingot brass mix rich in copper for depth of colour and durability. Each is then hand filed to remove any excess brass left from casting and hand polished to enhance the beauty of quality brass. Approximate measurement. 3.75" in diameter.
  • This abbey was built by King Canute in 1018 in Buckfast, Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor. Like so many early cathedrals and abbeys it fell into ruin after the Dissolution. In 1882 it was refurbished by a small group of French Benedictine monks. All the labor of reconstruction (completed in 1938) was provided by the monks who paid for all the materials with donations they collected. Each of our horse brasses is handmade by a leading British foundry using only a first-run ingot brass mix rich in copper for depth of colour and durability. Each is then hand filed to remove any excess brass then hand polished to enhance the natural beauty of quality brass. Approximate measurement: 3.75" diameter.
  • Buckingham Palace was originally a townhouse (known as Buckingham House); owned by Dukes of Buckingham from the beginning of the 18th century to 1826 when work began in converting it into a palace intended for George IV. King George passed away before moving in. Queen Victoria became the first monarch to occupy the palace shortly after she came to the throne in 1837. It has remained the official London residence (with 775 rooms) of Britain's sovereigns. Although the Palace is used for many official events and receptions, certain areas have been open to the public since 1993 to raise money for repairs to fire damaged Windsor Castle. My first visit to London (1962) was for a job interview and I was not familiar with the city. I disembarked from the train at Paddington Station, rode the underground then took a short-cut that would lead to Westminster Bridge, near where my interview was to take place. I walked through an open gate, into what appeared to be a park, around this magnificent building, and was saluted by guards who stood at attention for me as I walked out the front entrance onto the street. I told my wife (we were living in Datchet) what happened upon my return home that evening, only to find out that I had walked through the grounds of Buckingham Palace. At that time, it was not open to the public. I was very impressed and yes, I did land the job in London and have visited Buckingham Palace a number of times since...but not through back gates.
  • Caernarvon, Conway and Harlech Castles are graceful giants built to the orders of Edward I (1272-1307) to keep the conquered Welsh under his thumb. These magnificent stone achievements were designed in England and influenced by the archetectual expansion of the Tower of London. Caernarfon is located in Gwynedd and is one of the most famous castles in Wales. It was never completed, but it was the grandest of Edward's Welsh structures. It is positioned on the banks of the River Sciont where it flows into the Menai Strait...below the ruins of the Roman fort, Segontium, which was built on top of a hill in the year 78 AD. Legend has it that the first Chritian Emperor of Rome, Constatine The Great, was born here in 280. Castle building began in 1283, but the castle was taken by the Welsh in 1294 during the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn, only to be regained by the English in 1295. It has served as a seat of government for North Wales and home of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum with exhibits tracing the history of The Prince Of Wales. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
  • Canterbury Cathedral was built on the old Roman road from Dover to London and serves as the spiritual home of the Church of England. It was originally built by St. Augustine on the ruins of an earlier Anglo-Saxon cathedral, but was later destroyed by fire in 1067. It was replaced by a larger building by the first Norman Archbishop Lanfranc in 1070. Archbishop Anselm replaced the choir, but this was also destroyed by fire in 1174, four years after Archbishop Thomas Becket's murder. The Trinity Chapel was added to entomb Becket's remains and the cathedral became one of Christendom's chief places for pilgrimage until the Dissolution (1536-1549). It houses perhaps the most beautiful large stain-glass windows of any cathedral anywhere in the world. On my first visit, the city of Canterbury was a walled city with an arched entrance on both the north and south side of the wall and one could drive through the city centre toward London or the southeast country. Today, automobiles are not permitted in the city proper. A companion horse brass in our collection is the rare "Thomas Beckets Token" which is a brass replica of the token the Archbishop gave Pilgrims who made the long journey to the Cathedral.  Each of our horse brasses is handmade by a leading British foundry using a first-run ingot brass mix rich in copper for depth of colour and durability. When cooled each is removed from its mold, shot blasted to remove any excess material, then filed and hand polished to enhance the natural beauty of quality brass. Approximate measurement: 3.75" in diameter.
  • A replica of a small brooch excavated in 1867 from beneath a street in the centre of Canterbury where churches have stood since the 6th century; along the path used by Roman invaders from Dover. The brooch has a Saxon design with a circle around the cross and dates back to 850 A.D. It is cast in bronze. It has a triangular pattern in each of the four arms and each panel is incised with "triquetra" (three cornered knot pattern symbolizing the Holy Trinity). In Canterbury Cathedral, a replica has been carved in stone and mounted on the wall at the west end of the south aisle. Replicas have been sent around the world to twelve other Anglican Cathedrals, providing a visual reminder of the link with the "Mother Church" in Canterbury.
  • One of my favorites. With its turreted central tower, moat and drawbridge, Cawdor Castle, the home of Shakespeare's Macbeth, has become one of the most romantic stately homes in the Highlands of Scotland. The ancient holly tree preserved in the vaults is the one under which in 1372, Thane William's donkey, laden with gold, stopped for a rest while its master searched for a place to build a fortress. According to legend this is how the site for the castle was chosen...the castle was built around the tree which still stands in the castle dungeons. Unfortunately, the donkey was no military architect and Cawdor's site offers few defensive advantages, so the castle was surrounded with a moat and given walls so thick that they housed a secret pit prison. Like many Highland fortresses, Cawdor fell into Campbell hands. In 1499 the Earl of Argyll was given powers of wardship over the infant heiress Muriel. As the Campbell troops came to collect the child and carry her to the West, her mother burned her with a red hot key and bit off the tip of her finger so she could be identified at a later time. Muriel's later marriage to Sir John Campbell was a happy and fruitful one. After 600 years of continuous occupation,it remains the home of the Thanes of Cawdor and a perfect mixture of late medieval fortress and Jacobian home. It is believed to house three ghosts; a lady in blue, the shadow of Sir John and a Campbell maiden whose father amputated her hands in an attempt to impose some distance between the girl and her unsuitable lover. A visit to the website www.cawdorcastle.com is worth your while.
  • The cross has been the central emblem of Christian faith since the beginning of Christianity. It may take many forms in heraldry or on brasses, but wherever it appears its meaning is understood. The anchor, for example, is similar to the Egyptian symbol of life (like the letter "T" with a small circle on top) deliberately combining a pagan idea with a Christian idea. The anchor may also combine a cross with a crescent. In Christian terms the symbolism represents the cross borne by Mary, who is symbolized by the crescent moon. The "Latin cross" (crux ordinaria) has from very early times also been called "God's mark") with the four spaces representing the four seasons of the year.
  • The wheel was seen as the solar image of cosmic momentum; ceaseless change and cyclic repetition. Also of power and dominion. It has been linked with the progress of mankind and a Hindu and Buddhist emblem of reincarnation. In western tradition, it serves as an image of fortune and fate. The "wheel" is known as the "sun" which is an emblem of glory, brilliance and authority. It represents happiness, life and spirituality. In this horse-brass, the centre ("axle") represents earth, the "hub" around the axle represents the oceans of the world, the outer ring represents heaven and the "spokes" represent the rays of sunlight that connect the earth with heaven. Where the rays connect with heaven, the number "7" is formed and since the beginning of civilization, the number seven has been looked upon as the lucky number.
  • The Lady Diana Frances Spencer was born 19 July 1961, married Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor, Prince of Wales, in St. Paul's Cathedral in London on 29 July 1981 and died at the age of 36 in a car accident 31 August 1997. Her funeral was held in Westminster Abbey and she was buried on an island known as Round Oval, located in Althorp Gardens, her family home. Prince Charles once said " I couldn't have married any other kind of woman." A coroner's inquest concluded in 2008 that Lady Diana had been unlawfully killed by the driver of her car (who was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash) and the following paparazzi that was pursuing her car at the time of the accident. Princess Diana was popular throughout the world for her charm and dedication to her charities and genuine concern for the sick and diseased of the world.
  • Known as the "Lady Killer" due to his sensuous mouth and wild social life. Born at St. James Palace on May 29, 1630. Crowned at Westminster Abbey on April 23, 1661 and reigned for 25 years before dying at Whitehall at the age of 55 on February 6, 1685. Buried in Westminster Abbey. He inherited a hornets nest and unfortunately for England was a weak king, dividing his time between devious diplomatic endeavors in foreign affairs (as he was always short of money due in part to inept advisers) and a full sensuous life devoted to his own pleasure. He was intelligent, tolerant and interested in scientific developments. He married Portuguese Catherine of Braganza in 1662, taking advantage of her dowry of 300,000 British Pound Sterling and of her naval bases of Tangier and Bombay, but he was also "a bit of a lad" with thirteen known mistresses during his marriage to Catherine. During his tenure, The Great Plague struck London in 1665 and in 1666 the Great Fire of London raged for four days and three nights, before bringing an end to the Plague.
  • The old Roman city of Chester is a shoppers delight that will never be forgotten; with different store fronts available on two separate levels.Chester Cathedral is a very popular destination for travelers from around the world. It was built within a "walled Roman city" on the northern border between England and Wales. Visitors are able to walk on the wall that circles the city with its white half-timbered 14th century buildings that have been beautifully preserved. The cathedral is located near a Roman fortress built on the River Dee, north of town. This Norman abbey was replaced between 1250 and 1540 by the present sandstone building, which has since been carefully restored with many of the original abbey structures still standing. The refectory is still in use and the Roman wall that surrounds the old city still stands today. This Roman city remains a "must visit" for anyone visiting England. Each of our horse brasses is handmade by a leading British foundry using a first-run ingot brass mix rich in copper for depth of colour and durability. Each is hand filed and hand polished to enhance the natural beauty of quality brass. Approximate measurement: 3.75" diameter.
  • The Church of St. Mary and All Saints was dedicated in the year 1234 as the largest church in Derbyshire. Causes for its famous "Crooked Spire" vary from blaming the Devil to lightning strikes. One "expert" even blamed the weight of the bell ringing over the years. The truth is a little harder to find, but perhaps the lead tiles covering the wooden Spire weighing 32 tons may be a contributing factor. The church was built on top of an old Roman site which in turn was built over an ancient Iron Age fort. Each brass is handmade by a leading British foundry using a first-run ingot brass mix rich in copper for depth of colour and durability. Each piece is hand filed to remove any excess brass left from casting. then hand polished to enhance the natural beauty of quality brass. Approximate measurement: 3.75"
  • The official seal of the city of Westminster. London is truly a city of great character, but it did not start out as a city, it was originally a collection of small villages that grew until they merged into one. A walking tour of the East End is a walk back in history. Hand operated water pumps where the locals used to get their water are still anchored in the sidewalk. An old pub along the south bank of the River Thames (in Dickens neighborhood) still sports a sawdust floor and nearby stands Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. On the north side of the river, one can trace the steps and events of Jack The Ripper (I recommend you take your walk during the day). Westminster is the city in the centre of the larger city of London. Home of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Whitehall and Number 10 Downing Street, home of the Prime Ministers since 1732. Trafalger Square is just up the road, not far from Buckingham Palace. The Cabinet War Rooms where Churchill and his War Cabinet met during WWII remains open to the public and Soho (renowned for pleasures of the table, the flesh and the intellect since the 17th century), awaits the artist, musician, and writer. Covent Garden with its open market and theatre district awaits those seeking selective shopping and entertainment. The home of the world famous Chelsea Soccer Club (stadium at Stamford Bridge)) is only a few minutes to the west by underground, as is Hyde Park with its famous Speakers Corner where, on Sundays, one will be entertained by joining the crowd and listening to people "letting off steam" while standing on their "soap boxes." Everything is there, even a boat to take you down the river Thames from Westminster Bridge to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London which is not far from St. Paul's Cathedral. What more can you ask for? Westminster is where you want to begin your London experience.
  • Conwy Castle guards one of the best preserved medieval fortified towns in Britain; located in the north central coastal area of Wales. Building began in 1283 and the castle was completed by 1287 at the cost of 20,000 pounds sterling, (forced labor on a massive scale was necessary to complete work in such a short period of time) making it the most expensive castle built in Wales between the years of 1277 and 1304. Upon its completion, Edward I was presented with an almost perfect structure of turretry in Great Britain, tailored to fit the rock site chosen to guard the entrance to the River Conwy. The towers are massive (70 feet tall and 33 feet in diameter) and the walls 13 feet thick. The castle was part of an impressive walled town with its walls guarded by 21 towers and three twin-towered gatehouses. It represented all that Edward stood for... strength, terror, dominion and permanence. The Welsh hated it, yet it was not besieged until the Civil War. It was finally taken by Owain Glyndur's supporters in 1401. After the 14th century, it was left to decay and by 1699 it was described as "utterly decayed," left as an impressive shell. It is now a World Heritage Site and one of Britain's most impressive ruins.www.conwy.com and Conwytic@virgin.net
  • Corfe is the Old English word for "gap" or "pass." Corfe Castle is located on a hillside in Corfe, Dorset and was the site of a royal residence long before the Norman Conquest. On March 18, 978 the young King Edward "The Martyr:" was murdered at the instigation of his stepmother Elfrida, in order to put his half-brother Ethelred "The Unready" on the throne. This murder is still commemorated by the massive, twin tower gateway known as the "Martyr's Gate, built by William I on the site where the murder took place. In the 12th century the castle was unsuccessfully besieged by King Stephen in the wars of the Anarchy and became the favourite castle of King John who starved 22 French nobles who had advocated his overthrow to death and hung a local prophet, Peter the Hermit, forecasting the downfall of John. The castle survived the War of the Roses and was prepared to meet the Spanish Armada crisis if necessary. Its finest hour, however, was its magnificent defense in the Civil War between August 1644-February 1646...holding out against two sieges by Parliamentarians...capitulation forced only because of treachery in 1646...leading to the virtual destruction of what must have been one of Britain's most fascinating castles. When the siege began, it was the only remaining Royalist stronghold between London and Exeter and stands today as one of the few castles never been successfully taken by assault. Corfe lost its royal status in the 16th century when Elizabeth I sold it to Sir John Banks. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
  • The Christians have their Cross, the Jews have their Star of David, and the Muslims have the crescent moon (although many Muslims reject the symbol since the faith of Islam has historically had no symbol and many refuse to accept what is essentially thought an ancient pagan icon of Central Asia and Siberia). Lets look at some facts. The city of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) adopted the crescent moon as its symbol and featured it on their flag before the birth of Christ. Perhaps in honour of the goddess Diana, or perhaps the battle in which the Romans defeated the Goths on the first day of a lunar month. When the Ottoman Empire (Turks) conquered Constantinople in 1453, they adopted the city's flag and symbol as their own, then ruled the Muslim world. Legend has it that the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman, had a dream in which the crescent moon stretched from one end of the earth to the other. Taking this as a good omen, he decided to keep the crescent as a symbol of his dynasty. There is speculation that the five points on the star represent the five pillars of Islam, although this is not known as fact. After centuries of fighting with Christian Europe, it is understandable how the symbols of this empire became linked in people's minds with the faith of Islam as a whole. Returning European Crusaders brought crescent moon amulets back from their battles in the Middle east, introducing the symbols to European cultures and eventually designed into our horse brasses as an artifact of history, symbol of a great religion, and protection from ancient fears of the unknown that may have followed them from the battle fields.
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  • Widespread symbol of salvation, transformation and love. Emblem of Christ as savior. In ancient Greek mythology, it is the bearer of the gods, savior of heroes and carrier of souls to the islands of the Blessed. Attribute of Poseidon, Aphrodite (union of the masculine, solar world and the feminine, watery world), Eros, Demeter and Dionysus. The dolphin's Greek name, "delphis," is related to "delphys," womb, after which the sacred site of Delphi is named.. In many Native American cultures, the dolphin is both a divine messenger and a form of the Great Spirit. The seafaring Nabataean Arabs believed that dolphins accompanied the souls of the dead to the underworld. Entwined with an anchor, it can symbolize prudence. The ancient Greeks also linked the dolphin with Apollo, his gifts of wisdom and prophecy, and with the water-born goddess of love.
  • Scotland is blessed with many natural fortresses, and of these, Edinburgh is the greatest. There has been a fort upon the extinct volcanic plug of Din Eidyn since the beginning of recorded time. Archeological evidence shows that the local native tribe, the Votadini, sheltered there in Roman times. The castle enters written history in 600 AD in the epic poem "Gododdin" which tells how 300 British warriors rode out from Din Eidyn's fort on a doomed raid against the Angles of Catreath or Catterick. The powerful Angles of Northumbria were not to be stopped, however, and they took Din Eidyn in 638, holding it for seven hundred years and bequeathing its English name of Edinburgh. The castle was built on a solid basalt foundation during the early 12th century,about 400 feet above sea level. It was built as a fortress overlooking the city of Edinburgh and protecting the fertile plains of Lothian and the Firth of Forth from all invaders from the south. Edward Plantagenet realized its importance to the Scots, so in 1296 he took the castle and left an extraordinarily large garrison of 350 knights. It took the skill and audacity of the Earl of Moray to win it back for Scotland. In the spring of 1314, he led thirty of his men, all skilled climbers and silent killers, up the steep north cliff that was thought un-scaleable. The overconfident English garrison was asleep and soon slaughtered in their bed. The castle had to be won back from the English again in 1341. In order to enter the well defended fortress, Sir William Douglas disguised his men as merchants and blocked the castle gates with wagons before the defenders realized they were under assault. The defenders were decapitated and their bodies flung over the walls to the city dogs. It remains one of the few castles that still houses a military garrison: Home of the Royal Scots and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards museum and headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and 52 Infantry Brigade. In addition, it is the location for the yearly Edinburgh Military Tattoo which takes place in August..a parade of bagpipes and drums of the Scottish regiments. The evening ends with the sound of a lone piper in honour of dead comrades in arms, from the castle battlements, followed by massed marching bands joining in a medley of Scotland's national tunes. At precisely 1PM the "One O'Clock Gun" from the castle Half Moon Battery has been fired daily since 1861, so that everyone can check their clocks and watches. The gun can be heard two miles away.
  • Born in Richmond, Surrey, on June 23, 1894 to George V and May of Teck. Acceded the throne on January 20, 1936 and abdicated in December of the same year. He died in Paris, France on May 28, 1972 at the age of 77 and is buried in Windsor. Edward VIII is often referred to as "The King Who Never Was." His father, George V, passed away at Sandringham, Norfolk, in January, 1936 with Edward next in line. But Edward was in love with the twice-divorced American Mrs. Wallis Simpson, whom he married in spite of resistance from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister. Opposition to the marriage was not over the fact that she was an American or that she was a commoner, but because she was a divorcee. Her family possessed old aristocratic connections, but since the King is "Supreme Governor" of the Church of England, marrying a divorcee would be unacceptable. He chose "the woman I love," renouncing the throne for himself and his descendants by abdicating. He went into voluntary exile and moved to France where he married his bride at the French chateau of Conde in June 1937. His brother became King as George VI. Upon his death, Edwards body was returned to England. Upon the death of his wife, after considerable debate, her body was brought back to England where she was laid to rest by his side.
  • The most photographed castle in the world; Scotland's most romantic and recognizable castle. The name Eilean Donan, or island of Donan, is named after the 6th century Irish saint, Bishop Donan, who came to Scotland about 580 AD and was executed after being allowed to finish Mass in 618 AD. Robert the Bruce was given shelter by the Clan Mackinzie, the owners of the castle, after his defeat in 1306. It became the center of European history in 1709 when the Spanish Crown tried to restore the House of Stuart by sending a detachment of 300 soldiers to garrison Eilean Donan, making it a Jacobite stronghold during their struggle with the British. As a result, three English frigates sailed into the loch in 1719 and pulverized the castle. It laid in ruin until it was restored some 200 years later. Eilean-Donan Castle is located on a scenic island in Loch Duich Scotland (about 9 miles east of Kyle of Lochalsh by the A87 motorway), with mountains as a backdrop. It is now linked to the shore by a bridge which was added when the castle was restored in the 19th century. From the ramparts, one has a magnificent view of three nearby lochs. Two rooms, filled with Jacobite relics and momentoes relating to the Macraes (the guardians of the castle and hereditary bodyguards to the MacKenzies), are open to the public.
  • Born in 1533 and crowned Queen of England in 1559 in Westminster Abbey upon death of her half-sister Mary. Mary always suspected Elizabeth of conspiracy and had her imprisoned in the Tower Of London where she would no longer be a threat. Her incarceration made her a "survivor" and prepared her for the difficulties that lie ahead. Her father would have been proud of her as he had thought only males were strong enough to rule during difficult times...that women were too weak to handle national problems. When Elizabeth became Queen, England was in bad shape. Catholics had been massacred under one monarch and Protestants under another. The Treasury was broke; Calais, Englands last foothold on the continent, was lost. Scotland and Ireland maintained strong militaries and enjoyed financial ties with France....all would be collectively were against England. Many doubted the legitimacy of Elizabeth's right to the throne as her mother, Anne Boleyn, was pregnant with her before she married Henry VIII and the marriage itself was not recognized by the church as the wedding was held in secrecy; the church recognized Henry as still married to Catherine, his first wife. Thus, Elizabeth could have been thought of as illegitimate which would make her ineligible for the line of succession to the throne. Elizabeth served her country well and was both popular with the people and became a proven strong leader. Under her stewardship, the Spanish Armada was destroyed, Drake sailed around the world in the Golden Hind, and Sir Walter Raleigh made his first expedition to the South American continent. Fortunately for England she was a master politician (survival skills learned while in the Tower). She refused to back down when confronted by Parliament and used her talents in the best interest of the country. She "encouraged" Protestant Scottish businessmen to move to Northern Ireland (Ulster) to break the long-standing hold by the Catholic Church and establishing a strong presence for a Protestant England ...something her father was unable to accomplish during his reign. She died at Richmond Palace (Surrey) on March 24, 1603 at the age of 70 after serving her country for 45 years. She is buried at Westminster Abbey.
  • Why would England select the rose as its national flower? Because it is a symbol of the heart, centre of the cosmic wheel, hope and joy. It is the first among flowers and expresses beauty, grace and perfection. A red blossom is a symbol of martyrdom and the passion of Christ; the white, an expression of love and faith in Christian symbolism. The white rose represents purity and the yellow rose is a symbol of absolute achievement. The conventional form of a heraldic rose has five displayed petals that mimic the look of a wild rose on a hedgerow. The famous Wars of Roses brought a series of civil wars to England and lasted from 1455 to 1487. The House of Lancaster (represented by the red rose in their family badges) fought against the House of York (represented by the white rose), with members of the aristocracy and private armies of feudal Lords, taking sides. It all started over who should become king after the overthrow of Richard II by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster in 1399. Both Houses were branches of the Plantagenet royal house, each tracing their descent from Edward III. It ended with an eventual Lancasterian victory at the Battle of Stoke Field on June 16, 1487. After the war, the heraldic rose developed a double row of petals which was obviously an effort to combine the two rival emblems into a theme of national unity as a means of bringing all the people together once again.
  • See Elizabeth II.