‘Tower of London’ ravens

Our tour group was assigned a Yeoman Warder (above), a lovely guy his humorous and fascinating tour lasted one hour and interestingly they are ALL serving soldiers in the British army…. if you wish to upset a Yeoman Warder lol call him or her a tour guide, being an entertaining story teller is a prerequisite and you know how children love tales of murder blood and intrigue! 

I wouldn’t imagine these photos taken during my 2018 summer visit to the Tower of London will be of terrifically great interest, but I feel passionately about the Tower’s 1000 year royal history and cherish the wonderful stories that it holds because I’m unashamedly proud to be British…. sometimes I wonder if I can admit such a ‘heresy’ within present day multi cultural Britain? Not to worry 😀 tonight’s post was as much an exercise in historical research for me, as well as an excuse to ‘show share’ my photos somewhere!

(Please note ALL the unpublished photographs below were taken by me.)

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Clear blue skies… I’d forgotten how lovely the day was.
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Raven facts written in many different languages for the benefit of tourists.
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A raven looking at the central White Tower which seems pretty apt for a Castle that’s recognised the world all over, an image that defines England and what it is to be English.
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Enjoying the warmth from a late afternoon sun.
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Perched precariously on one leg… now that’s what I call a clever raven.

Our Yeoman Warder Guide would pause at points of interest throughout the Tower grounds, address the assembled group of tourists with captivating facts and lurid tales of murder intrigue and English history anecdotes I’d last studied 40 years ago!

One of the many legends to have grown around the Tower of London, is that of the Tower ravens. The legend states that if the ravens, which can be seen dotted around the grounds or perched on walls, should ever leave then the iconic White Tower would fall along with the entire kingdom (happened 2016 after Brexit!), incidentally it’s said to be King Charles II (1660-1685) who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected. 

Long before the conquest, ravens had been a familiar sight in the streets of London, where they were welcomed as natural scavengers who carried away bones and edible refuse from the gutters. The legend of the ravens, and no one is quite sure by whom it was started, has become of such importance that for hundreds of years royal decrees have been issued protecting the birds…  our Yeoman Warder said they can never leave, they cannot fly away because a vet has clipped a single flight wing.

I guess the saying ‘better safe than sorry applies’!

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Apparently this is the brand new raven enclosure, housing 6 birds.

One Yeoman Warder is tasked with caring for the ravens and is termed ‘Raven Master’. Up until just recently 6+ birds were caged by the Wakefield Tower but have since been rehomed, and I guess rather than name the birds each Tower raven has a different coloured band on one leg, interestingly captive ravens in the Tower grounds have reached the age 40 years…… I imagine the lack of predators helps!

Click here I’ve been sightseeing in London again! (The Tower of London)to view ‘loads more’ gloriously colourful photographs.

A. Shepherdson 2020

Is your most prized possession IN FACT worthless?

I hope you’ve read my previous blog, linked here, lol if you haven’t not to worry it’s a very personal family tale written about an ancestor of mine who goes by the name of Matthew, to me a truly fascinating character. I’d love to have met him because I have a feeling we both have similar character traits, how do I know? Well I take after my father, he after his father and so on, we all have so much in common…………… everyone says I’m my father’s son and more so than I’d like to admit……. put it this way when growing up we had a difficult relationship as eldest sons often do!

My thoughts behind this evening’s post are both what value we place on possessions and I’ve decided to put memories of my family into electronic print (WordPress). I know I don’t have children but I have ‘little people’ for relations and who knows one day they maybe interested? Whether my memories are interesting to other readers is a totally different matter but I know several bloggers have been interested in the past, we’ll see 🙂 …………… and certainly different to the tale about a Romanian masseuse sticking her lubricated finger up my asshole and tickling my prostate gland, she wasn’t a doctor mind you, she was ‘milking me’ with her other hand! You haven’t heard my prostate massage tale?

Well lol you never will because it got deleted! 

Anyways not to worry tonight I’ll leave you with a question, what value do you put on your personal possessions? I’d guess the majority of you could do without possibly all your material possessions but I’d guess there will be several that mean the world to you, monetarily worthless however for very personal reasons they are priceless and irreplaceable.

I have two.

My home is overflowing with ‘clutter and stuff’ I’d guess your own is very similar, cupboards are crammed full of papers books, shelves groan under the weight of items I’ll never use again, but honestly speaking I have only two personal possessions that I value above all else. I’d be heartbroken if I ever lost them, you just don’t know how upset I’d be if they were mislaid forever.

And what two items am I referring to?

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The gentleman standing in the doorway of his village butcher’s shop, is my Great Grandfather and according to everyone I’ve heard talk about him they all say he was lovely man. He was a Church elder, he gave meat to poor women in the village, one hundred flag bearers of the Royal British Legion stood at his graveside on the day of his funeral, and a fine upstanding gentleman who served his Country on the Western Front during World War One. He didn’t fight in the trenches but he was stationed very near Ypres though he was only a private and butchered meat to feed army soldiers. 🙂 An important job all the same.

Btw he never sold or ate offal, and a butcher’s opinion is good enough for me! 

He wasn’t Catholic by faith, making the decision Church of England was his personal path toward the Kingdom of God, however Catholicism is linked to my treasured possession, oh yes those two personal possessions my mind does tend to meander. My Great Grandfather wasn’t Catholic however for some unknown reason throughout 1917 and 1918 whilst stationed on the Western Front, he kept those Rosary Beads on the left of the photo with him throughout his time in France. We know he purchased them or was given them by someone in Bethune village because when you hold the Rosary up to the light, look through that tiny eye glass in the middle, you can actually see is different photographs of Bethune’s village Church!

Those Rosary Beads in the photo are the first possession I’d be heartbroken if I ever lost it, that he kept them with him throughout his tour of duty must have been for a very good reason? They obviously meant a lot to him perhaps an antidote to all the horrors going on about him, and although I’m very much a non believer (I truly wish I did believe in God btw) you could offer me any sum of money for my/his Rosary and I wouldn’t exchange.

I should add out of all his many Great Grandchildren for some reason my Grandma handed her father’s Rosary Beads to me for safe keeping and I know not why? Perhaps there’s a reason I’m not aware of but she considered them safest in my possession and another reason why they’re so valuable. Lol all my other Cousins were given monetarily valuable stamp albums and the like, and I have the Beads and Medal. 

Perhaps she somehow knew I’d be the one who coveted them above all else?

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An extra photo for you, My Great Grandfather’s WW1 Medal after serving on the Western Front

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The second item one or two of you may have already guessed, I have another Great Grandfather who was awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal for his Military service in the Second Boer War 1899-1902. It’s quite heavy, struck in solid silver and yes they sell for a considerable amount of money on eBay, but again appreciating the QSA medal was earned for Matthew’s military service and handed down to me means the world, it would never ever be sold however much I was offered. Link here for tales of my Great Grandfather Matthew.

©A. Shepherdson 2018

Follow me around OXFORD (pt1)

Photographs taken by myself 21/04/2018 apart from the 3 picture’s of pretty ladies wearing very little! You mean you don’t understand? Lol you’ll have to read on 😀 btw I’m NOT ‘click baiting’ readers, this post is ‘hopefully’ a blend of humour and historically serious………. in other words entertaining.

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St. Magdalen Church and Cemetery Bluebells

Towers and Churches (with a fun introduction) 

The UK has experienced an unseasonal no lush incredible! Mini heatwave, we’ve just had the hottest 3 days since written records began, sorry for droning on about our weather lol but if you have a friend who’s from England then you’ll understand our national obsession, no our number one pastime, is talking about our weather! No word of a lie I kid you not we can experience all 4 seasons in one day, three weeks ago we had snow (click link) this weekend we’ve had blue skies high humidity brilliant sunshine and 28+ degrees, I’ll return to sultry steamy temperatures in a second. AND please take note of the Cemetery photos with their Bluebells and Daffodils, these pictures were snapped by me a week or so ago.

Enough of English weather lol, oh yes where was I? Saturday’s clammy sweat inducing sticky humid air, so tiring to walk through you’d imagine we lived in the Everglades!

Lol after waking Saturday morning (a night in bed all alone ahh), I made breakfast gazed out the kitchen window and thought to myself ‘yes I’ve had a long tiring week at work, but jeeze staying at home today of all days would be criminal’, so I grabbed my camera and decided to visit Oxford and wander around my home City as a sightseer, join all the other tourists taking photos…………… perhaps write a blog post?

Hold on what’s that noise I hear at the window? No word of a lie it’s frigging raining, you see what I mean, summer could be over and done with already!

Returning to this past Saturday. (If you don’t wish to read my observations of today’s pretty ladies skip a paragraph!)

I absolutely adore English hot sunny weather, the muggier stickier airless the better, and some of you may already know what I’m about to say next! At the slightest hint of stifling soupy hot temperatures ladies lose all their modesty and abandon layers of clothes, omg sweet Jesus do their clothes ever come off! Winter coats are hung up until next Tuesday and they hit the summer tee shirt chest of draws HARD and the results are gorgeously spectacular!

Look I understand I’m getting side tracked, the churches can wait I’m in free flow sharing my love of women!

The centre of my Town lies 10 minutes away, well after leaving home a hundred yards in I pass by the recreational Park and wow there stand’s a young mother wearing only a string vest with an oh so visible black bra underneath! A hundred yards further and I’m watching a mature lady approaching wearing a crisp white blouse, and the closer she gets I see she’s braless with unrestrained bundles of fun bouncing happily together, well I had to stop by the river’s bridge just to let my pulse slow down! Finally I arrive at the bus stop to Oxford and a petite very pretty young woman saunters past wearing beige HIGH cut hot pants with both buttocks hanging out!! Incredible, and I don’t know if her father had checked her dress code as she left her home? Afraid to say I hardened and twitched for a second or two 😉

These Googled images below remind me of today and all day, lol I shouldn’t share them should I but this is my blog and all that, you get the idea! 😦 We’ll be wearing winter coats by next Tuesday and sunny days of no bras and bouncing boobs will be but a memory 😦

😀 enough of sexy young women (and note sexy mature as well) let us quickly move on.

Part 1, today’s published Post, feature 2 Churches a Saxon Tower also Martyrs Memorial, I will try to be brief and to the point else this post will read as a history lesson, I DON’T want that either, you’ll have to visit Wikipedia and sift through the Fake posts for a history lesson.

Having said that, whilst wandering around Oxford’s busy Street’s alongside decanted bus loads of Japanese Tourists I suddenly thought to myself I pass these two Churches below every single day of my working week! Twice if you count in the times I pass by at 4.30pm on my way home (questioning myself ‘am I happy in my work?’ or do these feelings of discontentment plague every person who’s hit middle age?’)

Anyways enough of that silliness!

Returning to my bolt of lighting moment of revelation I did honestly realise I pass by these ancient landmarks each day, yet I know absolutely not a jot about their historical significance :/ both a sobering and rather awful admission. So this Post was a history lesson for myself as much as you lol!

Btw between both Churches lies a strip of tarmaced road, on this site a Fair comes to Oxford every year and has done for the past 400 years!

The Saxon Tower at St. Michael at the North Gate, the Tower is one of the oldest Buildings in Britain no less, and these Churches are 12th Century so we’re talking OLD!

I wonder how many people you’d have to stop in the Street before someone could describe the history behind this this ancient Saxon Tower? (They don’t allow anyone to walk to the top anymore, Why? Because people keep jumping from tall buildings in Oxford!)

Originally built around 1000–1050, with the tower from 1040 still in existence, the church is Oxford’s oldest building. It was constructed of Coral Rag and until yesterday I’d never looked closely and yes there is coral in the mix!

The Oxford Martyrs were imprisoned in the Bocardo Prison before they were burnt at the stake in what is now Broad Street nearby 1555, at that time immediately outside the city and the cell door can be seen on display in the tower.

Saint Magdalene Church

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This fascinating historic Church stands isolated on a traffic island at the south end of St Giles, near the Martyr’s Memorial. The first Church was built in the Saxon period and stood just outside the city walls replacing a timber church destroyed when Vikings attacked and burned most of Oxford down in 1010 and 1013.

  • The church was burnt down again in 1074, 
  • In 1194 Saint Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, had the Church rebuilt. Work of that period survives in the east wall of the chancel wall and in the south aisle, and the altar is dedicated to St Thomas Becket.
  • By 1235 the church had an altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The chancel was rebuilt late in the 13th century. A century later the scholars of newly founded Balliol College had an oratory dedicated to St Catherine in the present North aisle.
  • In 1320 the Carmelites founded a chapel in the south aisle, which survives as the present Lady Chapel.
  • The west tower was built between 1511 and 1531 with stone taken from the dissolved Oxford’s Cistercian Monastery.

Saint Giles Church

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Built 12th 13th Century St. Giles Church lies 500 metres North of Oxford’s old city wall, standing in open fields with no other buildings between it and the city wall. As I said earlier that’s where the North Gate Church and Saxon Tower stands. Interestingly only about a thousand people lived within the walls of Oxford at this time, you should see outer Oxford now! 

Damaged during the English Civil War when the Parliamentarian army besieged the Royalist force then defending Charles. John Goad, vicar from 1644 until 1646, is said to have led services in St. Giles during Parliamentary artillery bombardments in 1645.

Martyrs Memorial

Victorian gothic built to remember martyrs killed at the sight of execution virtually on the same spot! In 1840 when constructed it replaced tottering wooden house. 

 

Photographs by A. Shepherdson April 2018