Friday 14 June 2024

Castles (23) : Oxford

Construction of Oxford castle began just a couple of years after the Norman conquest, by the Norman baron Robert D'Oyly. The castle uses a stream of the Thames as part of it's defences. The stream was diverted to provide the castle's moat. The original castle was a motte and bailey type, originally made of wood but with stone replacing the original walls and buildings in the 12th and 13th centuries. The surviving St George's tower may pre-date the rest of the castle and be of Saxon origin.

The castle saw action in the 12 and 13th centuries including during the Baron's War. The castle lost it's military role in the late 14th century and began to decay. However, it was bought back into action during the Civil War. This was the last time the castle was used in war, though it did have a later role as Oxford prison! It continued in this role until 1996 though much of the castle structure was lost over the years including the keep in the 18th century.

Tuesday 11 June 2024

The City of London

On Saturday i headed down to London, but not by train! I had a voucher for a Flix Bus coach so used that instead. It was a fine enough experience though i do prefer rail of course. I wanted to do some proper exploring in the old City of London and visit as many churches as possible. In the end i managed twenty, plus St Pauls cathedral as well! You can see my photos here.

Monday 10 June 2024

Tube Ends (3) : Metropolitan Line (Chesham to Aldgate)

The Metropolitan Line has it's origin in the Metropolitan Railway which in 1863 became the first underground railway in the world (which is why many later underground railways are called "metros"!) The underground section of the Metropolitan was between Paddington and Farringdon, as with nowadays most of the Metropolitan was above ground. Unlike the later proper "tube" lines which were tunnels dug deeper underground, the Metropolitan was built in a deep trench which was then covered over.

Chesham in Buckinghamshire is the furthest station on the Underground from central London, a little further away than the other north western terminus Amersham (though the Metropolitan used to go to Aylesbury and beyond!) The Metropolitan heads towards London through Buckinghamshire and then Hertfordshire at places such as Rickmansworth. The building of the Metropolitan to the north west of London in the late nineteenth century spurred much house building and expansion of existing towns and villages, creating the commuter demand which the Metropolitan (and later the Underground) grew successful on.

The Metropolitan passes through north west London including Wembley and Camden before arriving at the major interchange of Baker Street. Now the Metropolitan is under the London streets as it continues through Moorgate and terminating at Aldgate in the City of London.



Finchley Road


Friday 7 June 2024

Castles (22) : Caergwrle

Caergwrle castle in Flintshire, near the English border was built in the late 13th century by the Prince of Wales Dafydd ap Gruffydd for King Edward I. However, Dafydd rebelled against the king in 1282, the castle was attacked and sabotaged by a retreating Dafydd. Edward gave the castle to his wife Eleanor of Castile. Unfortunately a fire broke out at the castle the following year.

Plans to repair the castle and build a town around it were abandoned and the castle gradually fell into disrepair, the Black Prince noted it was in ruins when he inherited the castle in the late 14th century. A great deal of the castle no longer exists including the west curtain wall and most of the south tower. Much of this stone may have been looted to make millstones.