Monday, June 14, 2010

On the road (Europe 2010): Lyndhurst, HMS Victory, London

Slept last night in Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, at a nice little hotel called Whitemoor House. Having learned that the grave of Alice Liddell was in the nearby church of St. Michael & All Saints, we went to have a look. Apparently Alice got tired later in life of being known as Alice of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She was cremated when she died and asked that her grave be marked with her married name--Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves, but the spot today is marked with what looks like a recent stone that points out that she was the famous Alice. I hope she doesn't mind.

The grave itself is not much to see. Besides the marker, there is just a low stone enclosure overgrown with white roses. The church is rather more interesting. The pathway leading up to the building is paved with old headstones, which seemed a bit unfair to the people whose graves they once marked. I found it hard to walk on them, so I walked up the lawn beside the path. The Church of St. Michael & All Saints is Victorian, so not very old as English churches go, but I've never seen one quite like it. It has fine brickwork inside and out, excellent wooden carvings of angels in the interior, some good stained glass windows, and a beautiful vaulted ceiling of wood that looks like the hull of a boat. I know that wood from the New Forest was used in boat building. I wonder if the carpenters that worked on this church were influenced by that tradition? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is also buried nearby, but the village where his grave is supposed to be is so poorly marked that we failed to find it.

The afternoon was spent visiting HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, lanched in 1765 and still technically an active military vessel (the oldest in the world). I found it rather moving to stand on the spot where he was shot on the deck and, below, to walk on the original timbers of his famous ship (the timber of the upper decks has been replaced). The Victory is in many ways primitive, but it remains impressive for its sheer firepower (something like 110 guns) and the many devices and adaptations on the ship designed to make it a highly effective fighting machine. Visiting the HMS Warrior (of 1860) nearby made it doubly impressive as, 100 years later, the gun decks of the Warrior were essentially the same design as those of Victory.

By Evening, we were in London for a very brief stay. Had a simple but tasty Italian dinner at Ciao Bella, not far from the hotel, which is a short walk from Bloomsbury Square. Tomorrow, if time permits, I hope to see some of the British Museum and the National Gallery.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails