Thursday, May 9, 2013
Today was an interesting day for us here in England, to say the least. We began our day by taking the train to Ludlow, whee there happened to be a market taking place in the town square. Several of us stopped to buy some delicious snacks. Julia, Eric, and I bought some warm white chocolate and pistachio welshcakes, where were amazing! We headed over to Ludlow Castle for Geoffrey's tour of the medieval structure. However, we learned that the castle was closed as there were people setting up for a beer festival this weekend.
Our Plan B involved a visit to the church of St. Laurence, where we were able to climb the two hundred step tower and have a bird's eye view of the town. We also could see the castle that we were supposed to tour. In groups of three, we explored the church and learned about its history and unique features using children's brochures as guides. The misericords, which are small wooden shelves on the underside of the choir chairs to allow the people standing for long periods of time the ability to rest, were decorated with fun characters.
The two aspects that stuck out for my group, which was Julia, Eric, and I, were the Jesse window and the flag from H.M.S. Ludlow. The Jesse window in the Lady Chapel depicted the family history of Jesus starting with Jesse and continuing up to Christ. The unique element of it was that Jesse was laying on his side and pictured so prominently in the window.
H.M.S. Ludlow, whose flag was hung in the church, originally was an American destroyer by the name of the U.S.S. Stockton. Built in 1917, she was used in World War I as an escort for the American Expeditionary Force across the Atlantic Ocean and part of the United States anti-submarine force in Ireland. In 1940, the U.S.S. Stockton was given to Great Britain as part of the fifty destroyers for bases deal and became the H.M.S. Ludlow. This took me back to Dr. Lindell's History of World War II class I took last May Term. Dr. Lindell, if you are reading this blog, this paragraph is for you.
Following the tour of St. Laurence, we went to lunch at DeGrey's Cafe where several of us had macaroni and cheese (I think we unconsciously are missing home/food in the States). We were happily surprised to find that the dish was topped with U.S.-style bacon, referred to as "crispy bacon," and not the regular U.K. bacon that is more like ham. My mom will be surprised to know, along with the rest of my family and friends back home, that I have developed a taste for tea. It has to have milk and sugar, though.
After buying snacks for DeGrey's for tea later in the afternoon, we hopped on another train to Craven Arms and saw Stokesay Castle. It is a medieval manor house. We experienced our first truly rainy day here in England, so it was nice to tour a structure that allowed us to be mostly inside. The ceiling in the Great Hall was special because the woodwork was done in a way that enabled it to stand without floor-to-ceiling pillars to support it. There were even peep holes that would enable women to watch what was going on from another room. The only time Stokesay Castle saw action was during the English Civil War, when it ironically was saved from destruction due to the surrender of the men defending it.
We ended our day with tea and snacks back at the hostel and enjoying our last night in Leomister. Some of us even decided to get creative and build various structures out of Legos. Tomorrow we are heading to Stratford-upon-Avon and will begin our tour of a couple Shakespeare sites. We hope everyone back home is having a great May!