Monday, 15 October 2018

Historical Feast – Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle is located in the village of Hever, Kent, near Edenbridge, 30 miles south-east of London, England. It began as a country house, built in the 13th century.

Hever castles history spans more than 700 years, and is rich and varied. The original medieval defensive castle, with its gatehouse and walled bailey, was built in 1270. 

In the 15th and 16th centuries it was the home of one of the most powerful families in the country, the Boleyns, who added the Tudor dwelling within the walls.

The Castle was to become the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, who became Queen of England for just 1,000 days. It was Henry’s love for Anne and her insistence that she became his wife rather than his mistress that led to the King renouncing Catholicism and creating the Church of England.

Hever later passed into the ownership of another of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleves, and from 1557 onwards it was owned by a number of families  but gradually it fell into decline before William Waldorf Astor invested time, money and imagination in restoring the Castle. He commissioned the ’Tudor Village’, now called the ‘Astor Wing’ and the construction of the magnificent gardens and lake. 

The castle is itself sits on a huge estate with various architectural buildings scattered around an amazing lake. This brings with it building styles ranging from French provincial,Italian renaissance  and even a Japanese summer house.

During my walk around the grounds i stumbled across an old Saracen light tank and a 25 pounder canon, only to be pleasantly surprised to then find I had  come across the Kent and County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) Museum.

The Kent and County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) unit was formed in 1961 as the  amalgamation of two yeomanry regiments, the 297 (Kent Yeomanry) Regiment, Royal Artillery and the 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters). It served initially as an armoured reconnaissance regiment until 1967 and the re-organisation of the TA, when it was disbanded and reconstituted as three separate units.


  • Seeing Anne Boleyn’s pocket bible which she took with her to the execution bench at the tower of London. Blood spills can be seen on the pages.
  • Beautiful Gardens well preserved and cared for over 300 years old.
  • King Henry VIII’s elaborate gold plated door locks on nearly all the stately rooms.
  • Secret personal prayer room hidden behind a wall
  • Tudor Windows and solid Oak beams (300 years old)
  • Local pub built in 1597. Loved the bitter
  • Ancient Tomb in the village parish 15th Century


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Battle of Britain airshow – Duxford , Cambridgshire

My special weekend had finally arrived, full of anticipation and excitement I had been building up to this event for just short of 12 months.  I departed from Manchester with a smile on my face, as my brother in law gratefully drove me 181 miles to Duxford…..

…..6.5 hours later we finally arrived. 
My God!! The traffic was hideous, the weather had turned bad and my poor brother in law had to drive back to Manchester that same night.  

It was mad to think that over the course of my 18 days in the UK the only two days of bad weather were? got it the Duxford airshow.

However shit happens, so you just have to make the most of it and despite the drizzle and overcast weather the venue and show was excellent and I would not hesitate to return again.

So let discuss Duxford, I don't need to get into too much detail because there are plenty of articles on the net, but for me one of the highlights had to be standing next to the original WW2 hangers used in the famous movie Battle of Britain from the 1960’s. 

I have watched this movie so many times and it gave me a real buzz to be able to stand in the actual spot the actor Susannah York, who played a WAAF,  just shortly after the scene where the Germans had bombed the airfield. said one of her famous lines... "Don't you yell at me Mr Warwick!!" classic

Duxford boasts several museum pieces, including but not limited to American Airborne museum, Land and Warfare museum and of course British aviation museum.

There are also a lot of other nice spots to visit in and around the airfield such as the captured V2 bomb complete with launch rail, The US airmen memorial , an original blast wall for testing post war jets, the war room and an original bouncing bomb on display just to name a few.

Lots to do and a full day is a minimum if you really want to digest the rich history on display.

Right back to the show. 
This year had a few extra highlights due to the RAF celebrating their 100th. I saw the final public appearance of the Tornado GR4 Jet which is being de-commissioned at the end of this year. 
This aircraft is a personal favorite of mine as i used to watch them train up and down the dales in the early 90's. Very versatile and will be sadly missed.
So to summaries here are my highlights

  • -          Seeing a Tornado GR4 do a fast flyby at 100m from the ground
  • -          Lancaster Bomber fly supported by Spitfire and Hurricane
  • -          Climbing on-board and through and experiencing the B17 Flying fortress.
  • -          22 Spitfires flyby in formation
  • -          The cold war legend a Vulcan Bomber
  • -          Red Arrows display team

So that’s enough rambling here are some of my best photos from a rather soggy and over cast weekend at Duxford 2018 Enjoy :)