A Roman Road : Walking The Appian Way

AA wall sign

A walk along the Appian Way was something I’d read about in my Quiet Rome book and in other guides so I’d added it to my ‘to-do’ list for when I was next in Rome. I studied various ways to approach the way and in the end booked the excursion ‘Catacombs and Roman Countryside Group’ with Enjoy Rome. I’ve written about the Catacombs and Aqueduct visits already. Now its the turn of The Appian Way. You’ll have noticed already that it was a rainy day but nevertheless we did manage a brief walk for a few hundred metres and now, maybe on a future visit, I feel confident to take public transport and do a further walk like the 90-Minute one described in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Guide.

cecilia metella

Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella

We were a small group of 15 and the half-day excursion included travel by minibus from the ER offices near Termini Station and back. From the Catacombs we bumped and jostled (I don’t recommend doing this by car!) along the Way and finally parked opposite the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella on the Third Mile Section.

wet way

A wet Appian Way

From here we took to the wet cobbles of the road which had been built to link Rome with Brindisi in southeast Italy. The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BC. It is a Roman standard 4 metres wide surfaced with ancient basalt flagstones and flanked on either side by private villas (many built upon the original Roman foundations), cypress trees and pines. Needless to say the basalt cobbles were rather slippery when wet.

AA Villa

Villa along the Way

AA Cafe

The Bar Caffe del Appia Antica

Refreshment stops along the Way are few and far between but this cafe hires out bikes in summer and is (apparently) near the bus stop for the 660 which would take you to Metro Station San Giovanni – but don’t take my word for it!!

St Nicholas church

St Nicholas Church on The Appian Way

After the excursion I took the Metro to the Piazza del Popolo, crossed it in the rain and took shelter at Canova to eat a five cheese lunch and watch the dripping brollies go by!

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza Del Popolo

Canova lunch

Five Cheeses and What looks like Jelly but tastes like Hot Mustard!

Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli : a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wednesday last week dawned bright and sunny and I knew this was the day to visit the UNESCO listed Hadrian’s Villa another vast area of building remains. Although extensive today it’s thought to have been even more so originally.

villa model

My notes here are mostly taken from the little map guide I bought. On arrival you follow a wide path up to a few modern buildings; one of which houses a model of the site as it might have looked to Hadrian. Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born in 76AD, probably in Italica (Seville). In 117AD on the death of Trajan he succeeded him at the head of the empire. He differed from previous emperors in that he tried to define the borders of the empire rather than fight to expand it. He was gifted with brilliant intelligence and a vast general knowledge but was not much liked by his contemporaries, as he was unpredictable and inconstant in character. He died in Baia in 138AD. And yes, he is the emperor in honour of whom the Wall was named.

Pecile

The Pecile Pool

the pecile

Beyond the initial modern buildings you pass through an arch in a high Roman wall into the park itself. In front is the Pecile formerly a courtyard with a pool at the centre. Then the choice of which direction to choose is yours. I headed first to the Palace and outbuildings which included the Golden Square, the Hospitalia, the Heliocaminus Baths, the Maritime Theatre (currently closed) and the Greek and Latin Libraries.

Heliocaminus

The Heliocaminus

The oldest bath complex on the site owing its name to the large circular room with a vaulted roof heated by the rays of the sun. In addition the floor was heated by the usual hot air system.

greek library

The Greek Library

hospitalia

The Hospitalia

hosp mosaics

osp mosaic

Mosaic Floors in Hospitalia Cells

golden square

The Golden Square (so called because of the richness of the archaeological finds made there)

Quadriportico

The Quadriportico

More or less in the middle of the site is the Triple Exedra Complex. According to the booklet this is nothing more than a grandiose entrance vestibule to the imperial residence.

triple exedra

The Triple Exedra

great baths

The Great Baths

small baths

The Formerly Luxurious Small Baths

Beyond this are the Great and Small Baths and finally at the far end of the site The Canopus. This was an attempt at a copy of the channel that led from Alexandria to Canopus, a town on the Nile delta. The long basin of water is Euripus and at the far end is The Serapeum where summer banquets were held.

canopus

The Canopus

neptune

goddesses

serapeum

The Serapeum

canopus from belvedere

The Canopus from the Belvedere

Finally I made my way to Rocca Bruna a belvedere with marvellous views over the surrounding countryside. Apparently, Hadrian had a great interest in astronomy and it is also thought that the tower could have been used as an astronomic observatory.

rocca bruna

Rocca Bruna Tower

tivoli from rb

View towards Tivoli from the Tower

mtns view rb

Mountain View From the Tower

Water, water everywhere: The Caracalla Baths and The Claudio Aqueduct

The trip to The Protestant Cemetery took less time than I had envisaged and I’d booked the Appian Way walk so, as a friend had recommended seeing the Baths of Caracalla and they were just one Metro stop away, I decided to spend a couple of hours there, even though it started to drizzle with rain.

aerial view

Aerial View of the Baths

impression

Artist’s Impression of Caracalla

Now, Colchester may be full of Roman superlatives but, as you probably know, Rome knocks every other place that was part of the Roman Empire, into a cocked hat when it comes to remains. The Caracalla Baths are HUGE. The walls tower over you and the scale of everything was (and still is) vast.

Caracalla 1

caracalla 2

These, the largest and best preserved thermal baths, were entirely built by Emperor Caracalla since AD212. Apparently 9,000 workers were employed daily for approximately five years to create a huge platform 337m x 328m. Water was brought to the bath house by aqueduct and the whole place was abandoned after the siege of Rome when the Goths destroyed the aqueduct and cut of the supply of water to the city.

mosaic

Many of the decorations and works of art were removed from the site over the centuries. There is a particularly fine collection in the Vatican Museum since several popes were involved with excavations. Some mosaics remain roughly in situ but otherwise there are few artefacts remaining. There had been bronze statues in niches, fountains, marble floors and columns and painted frescoes.

mosaic pavement

mosaic close up

Romans enjoyed board games and a tabula lusoria has been preserved here. Many such gaming boards were carved into floors and, as here, round the edges of pools. The game involved getting a walnut (or marble or knucklebone) into the holes.

natatio

The Natatio was a huge Olympic size swimming pool – the board game is alongside – is 50m x 22m and the walls are 20m high. It was not very deep and certainly not suitable for diving.

the natatio

The Pool Today

original baths

Artist’s Impression of the Pool in its Heyday

cypress trees in gardens

The Gardens – Cypress Trees – at Caracalla

Following our visit to the Catacombs and walking along the Appian Way our Enjoy Rome Tour included a visit to the extensive remains of the Claudio Aqueduct. The aqueduct was one of several that supplied Roman Rome with its water.

Claudio Aqueduct

The Claudio Aqueduct

The Parco degli Acquedotti is a public park about 8 kilometres from the city. It is part of the Appian Way Regional Park and is of approximately 15 ha. The park is named after the aqueducts that go through it. My guess is that it’s not easy to reach by public transport but I was glad to have seen it as I had no idea of its existence before.

approaching aqueduct

Approaching the Aqueduct

Next up is a report of my visit to Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli where there is even more Roman water!

Death in Rome : The Protestant Cemetery and The Catacombs of San Callisto

One visit I had promised myself on this trip to Rome was pay to a call at the Cimitero Acattolico or, as usually known in English, The Protestant Cemetery at Rome.

pyramid

“The cemetery is an open space among ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death, to think one should be buried in so sweet a place”

Percy Bysshe Shelley: Adonais: an elegy on the death of John Keats (1821)

I checked the website carefully before leaving home and made extra sure that Saturday 14 March was not a holiday and so after taking the train from Tivoli to Rome I made my way to the cemetery. When you emerge from the Pyramide Metro Station you can’t miss the huge Pyramid to Gaius Cestius and the cemetery is right next door: but you risk life and limb when crossing the roads to get to it!

Thomas Hardy wrote a poem entitled

“Rome at the Pyramid of Cestius Near the Graves of Shelley and Keats (1887)”

Who, then, was Cestius,
And what is he to me? –
Amid thick thoughts and memories multitudinous
One thought alone brings he.

I can recall no word
Of anything he did;
For me he is a man who died and was interred
To leave a pyramid

Whose purpose was exprest
Not with its first design,
Nor till, far down in Time, beside it found their rest
Two countrymen of mine.

Cestius in life, maybe,
Slew, breathed out threatening;
I know not. This I know: in death all silently
He does a kindlier thing,

In beckoning pilgrim feet
With marble finger high
To where, by shadowy wall and history-haunted street,
Those matchless singers lie . . .

–Say, then, he lived and died
That stones which bear his name
Should mark, through Time, where two immortal Shades abide;
It is an ample fame.

cemetery

I was not disappointed. It’s truly an oasis of peace and tranquility. It’s divided into sections pre- and post- 1821; which is why Shelley’s ashes are not buried near Keats’s grave.

keats and severn

The Graves of Keats and Severn (and Severn’s son)

‘Here Lies One Whose Name Was Writ in Water’ [The only words Keats wished to be on his gravestone]

‘This Grave contains all that was mortal, of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET, who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his heart, at the Malicious Power of his enemies, desired these words to be Engraven on his Tomb Stone’ [Words added by his friends Joseph Severn and Charles Brown]

To Shelley's

shelley's

‘Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange’

From Shakespeare’s The Tempest [Shelley was drowned and only his ashes are buried here]

There is an especially good chapter about the cemetery in Peter Stanford’s “How to read a graveyard“.

shop and info

There’s a small bookshop and information office (above) near the entrance and the English guide helped me to pinpoint the grave of a little-known Australian author whose books I enjoy : Martin Boyd.

MB grave

His best-known book is “Lucinda Brayford” but I’ve enjoyed reading his Langton tetralogy lately :

The Langton tetralogy which, though not published as a series during his lifetime, is now referred to as a collective:
The Cardboard Crown (London, England: Cresset Press, 1952.)
A Difficult Young Man (London, England : Cresset Press, 1955.)
Outbreak of Love (London, England: John Murray, 1957.)
When Blackbirds Sing (London, England: Abelard-Schuman, 1962.)

MB headstone

Martin Boyd’s Headstone

Even though the Protestant Cemetery was high on my list this visit I also hoped to walk some of the famous Appian Way, the Roman road that connects Rome with Brindisi in southeast Italy. I read in my guidebooks how to get there and which were the best parts to see then noticed in small inset box this note : Enjoy Rome offers a 3-hour bus and walking tour of the Appia Antica … Call for tour times.

At Catacomb

At the Catacombs

I discovered that the Enjoy Rome office is very near to Termini Station so I bought a ticket for the Tuesday 10am departure. The first stop of the excursion is at The Catacombs of San Callisto. We were able to descend into a maze of tunnels and see various types of burial chambers with and without mural decorations.

entrance

“Ancient Roman law forbade burials, regardless of religion, inside the city walls. San Callisto is one of the most famous of over 60 catacombs in the city area. There are multiple levels of 1900 year old hand-dug corridors, past a mind-boggling number of tomb niches. Christian-themed inscriptions and frescoes, often endearingly simplistic but carrying strong messages of faith, are everywhere in the catacombs.” [Adapted from Frommer’s Rome Day-By-Day] Several Popes were entombed here.

“The Crypt of St. Cecilia: the popular patron saint of music. Of a noble Roman family, she was martyred in the 3rd c. and entombed where the statue now lies. She was venerated in this crypt for at least five centuries. In 821 her relics were transferred to Trastevere, in the basilica dedicated to her.

St Cecilia pc

The statue of St. Cecilia is a copy of the celebrated work sculptured by Stefano Maderno in 1599.
The crypt was all covered with mosaics and paintings (beginning of the IX Century). On the wall, near the statue, we see an ancient painting of St. Cecilia in an attitude of prayer; lower down, in a small niche, is a fresco representing Christ holding a Gospel. On the right side is the figure of St.Urban. On the wall of the shaft is the painting of three martyrs: Polycamus, Sebastian and Quirinus.” [Source]

No photography is allowed in the catacombs but I snapped a couple of postcards showing what it’s like down in the depths!

what it's like inside

Back at the Cemetery the cats are looked after by volunteers and even have their own website.

i gatti

empty cat basket

Empty Basket – Where can they be?

cat 1

cat 2

cat 3

At Horace’s House : Sant’ Antonio, Tivoli

Sant' Antonio

In the summer of 2013 I had the great good luck to be offered a room and to stay with fellow Landmarkers in the Italian countryside near Tivoli, about 20 miles northeast of Rome. I leapt at the chance and finally last week the trip became a reality. I have just spent a fabulous week at Sant’ Antonio and made a few excursions too when I could manage to drag myself away from this wonderful old house.

According to the History Album Sant’ Antonio was built around 100 BC.  The upper parts were rebuilt in the late 16th and early 17th centuries: the monastery between 1583 and 1590; the east wing about 1625 and the church in 1647. It was acquired for preservation by Frederick Searle in 1879. The present owner, Vicomte Roger de Brisis, is his descendant but Sant’ Antonio has been managed by The Landmark Trust since 1995. It consists of a medieval monastery grafted onto a Roman villa of the time of Caesar Augustus, or maybe even before. It was rescued from abandon in 1879 by an Englishman newly returned from West Indies.

vesta temple

Temple of Vesta, Tivoli

A well-founded belief is that a frequent guest, if not an early owner, was the poet Horace. Across the ravine thunders the water of Anio, with temples of Vesta and the Sibyl poised above it. All these on the outskirts of Tivoli, the Roman Tibur, and you are approaching something very near the heart of the civilisation that has moulded Europe for two millennia.

It is fitting that the revival of this place should have fallen to an Englishman, because those two names – Horace and Tivoli have a particular resonance for his countrymen. From the Middle Ages , English boys learned their reading and writing by means of Horace’s Odes and Satires, along with the works of Virgil and other writers of the Augustan Age. Only in the late 20th century has academic education ceased to be built on these cornerstones.

In the 17th century Englishmen first began to visit Italy in large numbers and carried its influence home in the most direct manner, in their paintings, and their buildings and their gardens. The dramatic influence of Tivoli appealed strongly to painters, notably the great French creators of an ideal classical world: Claud Lorrain and Gaspard Dughet. The English imitators eg Richard Wilson, followed them here. Writers like Joseph Addison sought the places which the best paintings might be composed and the. Murmured to themselves of “Tivoli’s delightful shades and Anio rolling in cascades.”

In 1879 Frederick Searle was searching for a place to sketch the waterfall when he first saw Sant’ Antonio – “La casa di Orazio”. He made it his home; spent 20 years renovating and repairing it and encouraged scholars and archaeologists to share his discoveries. His daughter Georgina and her husband George Hallam and then her great-niece Lucy d’Aihaud de Brisis continued the tradition. In this generation Count Roger de Brisis took on the care of Sant’ Atonio and with Landmark’s help has made it possible for guests to stay here. Sant’ Antonio has long enjoyed the soubriquet ‘Horace’s Villa’ . There are several schools of thought relating to whether Horace lived here or not. It is known through the writings of Suetonius that Horace lived in Tibur (Tivoli).

The Sant’ Antonio History Album goes on to give various scholars’ opinions on the exact location of Horace’s Villa but I like to think that it was Sant’ Antonio and unless some future academic gives me proof to the contrary I will stick with this theory and the celebrity link with the house.

The Franciscan Friars took over the remains of a Roman villa – it had continued operating as a villa farm – with ample storage spaces, good water supply and fertile terraces. By becoming a monastery its survival was ensured for a further five centuries. Sant’ Antonio was a monastery complex of the lesser kind; common in the mountains of central Italy. The little church of this monastery is still an object of devotion for the many Catholics of the town. The feast day of St Anthony is 13 June.

Having read details of the architectural plans of the monastery it would appear that the arrangement of the rooms and their various uses has changed little over the centuries. We dined in the Refectory, cooked in the kitchen, slept in the monks’ cells (the numbers still painted on the doors) off long wide corridors decorated with church ornaments, crucifixes and reliquaries. Our sitting rooms – a range of three – occupy a northeast projecting wing. The main floors are of rectangular terracotta bricks laid in coursed and herringbone patterns with borders, a technique common to Italy. The small casement windows are a rare feature to have lasted so long in Italy, the details of the dark unpainted wood, the panes of glass and their fixings, and the modest catches all being precious survivals.

Welcome to Sant’ Antonio – come and have a look inside.

Refectory

The Refectory

kitchen

The Kitchen

Roman wall in kitchen

Roman Wall in the Kitchen

a dble room

A Double Bedroom with Herringbone Pattern Floor

Twin bedroom

A Twin Room with Sitting Area

Upper floor

Upper Corridor

lower floor

Lower Corridor

reliquary

One of the Reliquaries

sitting room

The Sitting Room

a reading corner

A Quiet Reading Corner

sitting rm

Three Sitting Rooms

Anio falls and window

The “Anio Rolling In Cascades” seen through a Casement Window

SA Garden

Former Main Entrance now Rear Door into the Garden

Main Entrance

Today’s Entrance Approached from the Main Road

Constable Country : Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

We’d planned to make one excursion from Colchester and that was to nearby Constable Country to Dedham in Essex and Flatford in Suffolk. On our first visit to the Tourist Information Office we picked up a lovely little brochure “A Visitor’s Guide to Constable Country in the Dedham Vale”. Across the centre fold is a sketch map of the area showing footpaths and locations where John Constable (1776-1837) painted scenes.

Brochure

That evening we noticed this at the bottom of the page :

“Take the Train…
Did you know it only takes 40 minutes to walk from Manningtree Station to Flatford, and around
40 more from Flatford to Dedham? Avoid the traffic and enjoy a relaxing day out by train.”

Manningtree

The perfect way to go, we thought. The next day we travelled to Manningtree and the walk began well along a country lane until we reached the first actual footpath. Horror! It was a mud bath. We managed to manoeuvre ourselves along the overgrown edge but it soon became impossible. In addition, all the footpath signs after leaving the station were broken off. A sad state of affairs. In the end we took a raised path, still very muddy in places, alongside the River Stour to the A137. Luckily there’s a pavement along the road back to the railway station.

River Stour 1

River Stour 2

River Stour

Our second attempt was more successful. We decided to take a short detour from our route up to Norwich.

Dedham main st

First stop was the pretty, large village of Dedham, still in Essex. The main street is lined with Georgian buildings. We did a little shopping and had lunch in the Arts and Craft Centre which occupies a former historic church on the edge of the village.

Dedham church

Dedham Parish Church – Dedicated to St Mary the Virgin in 1492

The main parish church is well worth a visit. An excellent colour guide indicates the main points of interest. The modern pew ends are a particular feature of the church. They have distinctive carvings and inscriptions and dedications. They were made by Mabbitts of Colchester over more than a decade.

Dedham pews

Musical

moon pew

These insets commemorate the first Moon Landing

Sherman window

At the top of the window are fragments of 17th century glass.

Dedham window

In the apex of the window above the Webbe Tomb are some fragments of old glass showing the initials E.S. commemorating Edmund Sherman who, at his death in December 1600, left his house opposite the church to the Governors of the Free Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth for a school to teach boys to ‘read, write and cast accounts’, that is to become local tradesmen rather than aspire to enter university or a profession.

Edmund Sherman, with his elder brother Henry and their father – also Henry, were named as Governors of the Grammar School when it was endowed in 1571 and were also nominated in the Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth four years later.

At least eleven descendants of old Henry and these two sons, Henry and Edmund are known to have emigrated to New England between 1633 and 1640. They and their descendants included a co-founder of Rhode Island; a signer of the Declaration of Independence and framer of the Constitution of the United States; the famous General W.T. Sherman of Civil War fame and his brother, Secretary to the US Treasury; a Vice-President of the USA 1908 to 1912; and two famous Admirals in the Second World War, one of whom later became Chief of Naval Operations for the USA.” [source]

Dedham Constable

The church displays a Constable painting “The Ascension” originally commissioned for Manningtree church and currently on loan from the Constable Trust.

The church tower is particularly fine and very high – over 40m: perhaps the largest medieval flint tower ever built. It appears in many of Constable’s paintings including his ‘Dedham Mill Lock’. It was completed in 1519 and is unusual because it has an archway underneath it. This is sometimes called a ‘Galilee’ to remind worshippers of how Christ led his disciples into Galilee after His resurrection. If it had been a summer weekend we’d have climbed the 132 steps to the recently completed viewing platform.

Dedham church twr

Dedham arch

The ‘Galilee’ with Tudor heraldic symbols on the ceiling

Before leaving Dedham for Flatford we walked to Dedham Mill the scene of one his paintings.

dedham-lock-and-mill-1820

Constable’s Dedham Mill (1820) – and there is the church, too [source]

Here is the much-expanded and changed Mill today :

Dedham Mill 1

Dedham Mill 2

Dedham Mill Today – now prestigious flats

Dedham Lock today

Dedham Lock today

Flatford, just in Suffolk, is now owned and managed by the National Trust. It wasn’t ‘open’ on the day of our visit but there were a lot of staff and volunteers around probably preparing for the new ‘season’ which was to begin the following week (i.e. this week).

There’s a path/lane from the car park to Willy Lott’s House and the site of Constable’s famous painting ‘The Hay Wain’. I could vaguely recognise it as it is much less changed than Dedham Mill.

The Hay Wain

The Hay Wain, by John Constable

Hay Wain scene

The Hay Wain scene last week

Flatford Willy Lotts

The house on the left hand side of the painting and photo is Willy Lott’s House.

Boat Building at Flatford

Another Flatford scene Constable painted in the open air was ‘Boat Building at Flatford‘. Many Constables also owned Flatford Mill. There’s an article on the NT website about the Mill ownership and the Constable family here.

K at F Mil

Flatford Mill

Before leaving we walked over the bridge to join the footpath we should have arrived by on the Wednesday. We definitely made the right decision!

A Further Selection of Colchester Landmarks

There is, of course, more to Colchester than just recycled Roman bricks. Peake’s House is in the Dutch Quarter which was named after the Flemish weavers who settled here during the 16th century.

Heritage route

 Heritage Trail Route

St Helen’s (just a few steps from East Stockwell Street) was first recorded in 1097 but its history goes back to the 3rd century AD. It was founded by Empress Helena (St Helena is Colchester’s patron saint). She was the daughter of King Coel (of Old King Cole nursery rhyme fame) and mother of Emperor Constantine the Great who was born in Colchester.

St helen's Chapel

Since 2000 AD the chapel has been a Greek Orthodox parish church of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Inside the tiny church the walls are hung with icons to the various saints including Saint Helena and Saint Barbara.

Saint Barbara

Next to the chapel on one side is a former Quaker burial ground and on the other a line of black bricks leads slightly uphill to a window through which you can see some of the remains of a vast Roman theatre that had been capable of seating 3,500 people. A mural on the wall shows an artist’s impression of the theatre when it was in use.

Theatre and reflection

The Roman Theatre Foundations – a Reflections of the Street

Roman theatre

Plan of the Roman Theatre superimposed onto a modern street map

Nearby, on West Stockwell Street, is the former home of Jane and Ann Taylor who were famous for writing verse. Jane Taylor wrote the nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ in 1806.

Twinkle house

Home of Jane and Ann Taylor

about taylors

We read about the Taylors in Colchester Museum

Twinkle twinkle

Colchester Town Hall on the High Street has an impressive tower designed by John Belcher and opened in 1902. It rises 50m above the street and is surmounted by a statue of St Helena and other historical figures connected with Colchester including Queen Boudicea of the Iceni. She led a rebellion against the Romans in 60 AD.

Town Hall

Colchester Town Hall

We sought out Tymperleys the former home of Dr William Gilberd a scientist and physician to Queen Elizabeth I. It’s now a tea room and until very recently had housed a large collection of Colchester-made clocks. Bernard Mason who had collected the clocks and lived at Tymperleys left the entire collection and the house to the borough. Now only a very small selection may be seen in the Colchester Museum.

Tymperleys

Tymperleys

You can’t miss Jumbo! It’s a huge brick water tower built in 1882 and named for a famous elephant at London Zoo. The Rev John Irvine who lived in his rectory on the site of the present Mercury Theatre was not happy about the giant structure erected at the bottom of his garden and described the monstrosity as a Jumbo. The name stuck and the builders added a brass elephant to the weathervane as a reminder to the unhappy clergyman.

Jumbo and theatre Balkerne

Jumbo and the Mercury Theatre seen through Balkerne Gate

In addition to the Heritage Trail we also followed the Town to Sea Trail : Colchester and its historic port, the Hythe. “A unique art trail, designed for walkers and cyclists, follows the tidal River Colne through some lesser known areas of Colchester”.  We followed the whole of the 2 mile trail from its start at firstsite, an arts centre near the castle, to the end at the Hythe, a mixture of deserted or renovated quayside warehouses and modern out of town flats and shopping centre. We had a coffee in B&Q at Colne Causeway.

Firstsight

firstsite

oyster shells

oysters

Information Board : Colchester Oysters are the best!

R Colne in its heyday

The River Colne in its Heyday

The Hythe

The Hythe today

Tidal river colne today

The Tidal River Colne Today

The highlight of the walk, but on a slight detour, was the Church of St Leonard at the Hythe; preserved by the Churches Conservation Trust its opening hours are limited but we were lucky again.

St leonard

St Leonard-at-the-Hythe

Interior

Interior : Early 20th Century Wall Paintings above the Arch once covered the whole Church

Windows St leon.

Early 20th Century Stained Glass : Sts Osyth, Helena and Ethelburga

Door musket holes

The Medieval door of this old port church still bears the holes made by troops to put muskets through during the English Civil War.

“Perhaps it is little known that Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star actually consists of 5 verses, with the fifth verse rarely sung. Here’s the complete 5 verses, taken from the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (2nd edition, 1997), with the repetition of the first two lines added to fit the melody.” [source]

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark,—
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!