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Other Activities in England
Samuel Johnson, the 18th century English essayist, lexicographer, and critic is quoted as saying that a person who is tired of London is tired of life. While this still holds true it could also be said to apply to England as a whole. The following are a few suggestions of places worth visiting outside London.
Oxford and Cambridge......The universities at Oxford and Cambridge have existed since 1200’s. Scholars and students have lived in them in unbroken succession for some 800 years. Oxford, for example, has 39 colleges some existing since the very beginning and most all since the 16th century. They are made-up of one beautiful building after another and you can lose yourself among them and forget that there was a century after the 16th.
The Cotswolds ........The Cotswolds is a range of hills in west-central England and is sometimes called “The Heart of England”. An area of outstanding natural beauty, the Cotswolds is where every Londoner dreams of having a weekend cottage. It is noted for its attractive towns and villages built with Cotswold stone, a yellow limestone. In medieval times wool from the native Cotswold sheep was highly prized throughout Europe and the wealth generated from the wool trade enabled wealth merchants to build fine houses and wonderful churches, in prosperous villages which are to be seen to this day. A few of the manor houses have been converted into atmospheric country hotels, well worth a night’s stay.
Stratford-on-Avon ...... Stratford-on- Avon is located on the northern edge of the Cotswolds and while it probably England’s leading tourist destination, after London, it is very well done well worth visiting. For theater, there is also always something being performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Bath ......The Georgian city of Bath sits at the southern end of the Cotswolds. The city gets its name from the Roman baths that were built around natural warm springs found in the area. The city became a popular destination in the 18th century when London society went there “to take the waters”. The magnificent Georgian terraces are the most among the attractions of the city.
Kent......Located in the southeast corner of England, Kent is one of the “home counties”, as those bordering on London are called. Yet despite its closeness to London it has a rural beauty and is known as “The Garden of England” because of its extensive orchards and hop growing. It also is the location of Canterbury Cathedral, the first church of the Anglican community; Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s country home; and the White Cliffs of Dover.
Yorkshire........Located in the north of England, Yorkshire is the largest county in Great Britain and through history is has played an important role in English history. York was founded by the Romans and was visited by three Roman Emperors. It remained an important city throughout the middle ages and is the location for massive York Minster, the second most important cathedral in Britain. Its medieval wall is intact and they city can be still traversed. The Yorkshire countryside is varied and boasts three national parks and two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Castles and Stately Homes.........The English have always been great builders and England has outstanding architecture going back to Roman times. Roman remains are to be found in most parts of the country. It also has an incomparable collection of great medieval castles and cathedrals; Elizabethan, Baroque and Georgian stately homes. These range from 11th century Windsor Castle the largest residential castle in the world to Elizabethan Hatfield and Burghley Houses, baroque Blenheim Palace and Chatsworth House and the Georgian City of Bath.
Gardens.........It has been said that English landscape gardens of the 18th century are probably the country’s greatest contribution to the visual arts. Their layouts include not only statues and water but incorporate the surrounding land in manner devised by England’s most famous landscape architect, Lancelot “Capability” Brown, who designed over 170 parks, many of which still endure.
Horse Racing.......While horse racing has existed since the beginning of recorded time, horse racing as we know it today originated in England. In the early 18th century, three Arab stallions were imported to breed with local mares and these are the direct ancestors of all present day thoroughbred horses. The first Jockey Club was organized in England is 1750 to supervise the sport. British monarchs down to present queen have always been devotees of the sport hence the tag “sport of kings”. The English still take horse racing very seriously and horse races can be found in all parts of the country for 12 months of the year. Many of the leading races are considered and important part of the English social scene.