Welwyn Garden City is, as the name suggests, one of the Garden Cities created in the first half of the 20th century. The first was Letchworth, where we were staying for a few days. The idea, conceived by Ebenezer Howard, was to create a new town that took the best parts of the country and coupled them with the best parts of the city to create Garden Cities. Welwyn Garden City was the second of these, founded in 1920, and the model was adopted by many other countries. Much of Welwyn is built in Neo-Georgian style, including the Waterstones which has a light and airy feel.
The photo below illustrates the thinking behind the creation of the Garden Cities – The Three Magnets. The magnet at the bottom details a vision of utopia – I was rather amused by the suggestion of ‘No Sweating’!
The tree-lined streets around a central green area are a key component of Welwyn Garden City. Henry Moore’s statue Knife Edge has been loaned for the whole of 2020 in order to mark the centenary of the town.
After leaving Harpenden we decided to head to Welwyn Garden City for lunch, and on the way we briefly stopped at Hatfield, just to visit the Waterstones. Hatfield was a village, but when a new town in the area was proposed it was decided that rather than redevelop the village it would be created on the opposite side of the existing railway line – it was completed in the 1950s. The Waterstones in Hatfield is situated in the Galleria designer which opened in the 1980s. It has the feel of an airport terminal about it!
Harpenden is a hugely popular town in Hertfordshire, where property prices are more than twice the national average. The town centre has a village feel to it with plenty of independent shops and cafés alongside the more recognised chains. The Waterstones here is one of four that are styled to look like independent bookshops (the others being The Rye Bookshop, Southwold Books and The Blackheath Bookshop).
Park Hall is located near to the Harpenden sign on the south side of the town. It was a school between 1850 and 1897. It became council offices and was then used by the ARP during World War 2. It is now used as a community hall.
We decided to spend a few days in Hertfordshire, as this is not a part of the country either of us had stayed in before. We thought it would be good to stay in one of the ‘Garden Cities’, so we decided on Letchworth. On the way we stopped for lunch at Didcot in Oxfordshire. We hadn’t visited here before, but both knew Didcot for its power station cooling towers which were visible from the Paddington to Bath GWR train which we both used regularly – the towers have since been demolished. The Waterstones here is located in a modern shopping centre.
Didcot Cooling Towers
We stopped at Leighton Buzzard after leaving Didcot. Mary Norton, author of The Borrowers‘ series, and the books on which the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks was base lived here when she was a child. There is a blue plaque on her house, which is now a school.
Currently reading: The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn
The photo of Didcot Parkway station with the cooling towers in the background is used courtesy of Wurzeller under the Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, with thanks to him. It has been reduced in size from the original image.
The image of the market cross at Leighton Buzzard is used courtesy of M J Richardson with the attribution M J Richardson / 15 Century market cross, Leighton Buzzard / CC BY-SA 2.0, with thanks. It has bene reduced in size from the original image.
As Lockdown restrictions were partly lifted on 4th July, allowing hotels to open, we decided to book a couple of nights away in Worcester. Worcester is a city and also, as the name suggests, the county town of Worcestershire. It stands on the River Servern in the shadow of Worcester Cathedral, but unfortunately, due to visiting restrictions, we were unable to visit the Cathedral on this occasion. The city has varied architecture including several pretty timber-framed buildings in Friars’ Street and a wonderful Guildhall, built in 1721. It is well worth a visit, and entry is free (at the time of writing). The Waterstones is in a modern shopping centre.
The English composer was born near Worcester and his family moved to the city when he was two. He remained there for around 30 years before moving to London. He eventually moved back and died in the city in 1934 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. I love lots of Elgar’s works – I quite fancy having his ‘Nimrod’ from Enigma Variations played at my funeral (hopefully that’s many years away!).
Currently reading: Wednesday’s Child (Inspector Banks #6) by Peter Robinson and George Orwell’s Diaries.
I am a bit behind on entries as WordPress did an update and I found it quite tricky until someone sent me a video to show how to post using the Classic layout, so I have a bit of catching up to do. Unfortunately, it appears I am no longer able to justify the right margin, but that was the least of my worries!
Farnham is a picturesque market town in Surrey which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. When it was documented in 1086 it showed a population of 89 households which made it one of the largest settlements recorded. The Waterstones is located in Lion & Lamb Yard. The open-air shopping centre was named after a hotel that used to be located on the High Street on the front of the site, and was also the location of a grocer’s warehouse owned by William Kingham & Sons. The sculpture, which is made of teak, was made in 1986 by Edwin Russell.
These attractive Almshouses were funded by Andrew Windsor, a landed gentleman, who intended them for local tradesmen who had fallen on hard times. Opened in 1619 they are still used for this purpose today.
We had come to Kent for a funeral and decided to tag a couple of extra nights on to meet up with various friends (as we’re both from Kent originally). On the Friday we had the day free, so we hopped on a train and headed to Blackheath village. Blackheath is located on the outskirts of London, and is a trendy area with lots of independent businesses. The Heath itself is the starting point of the London Marathon. The Waterstones, which is styled as “The Blackheath Bookshop”, is located in the former Blackheath Gallery in the centre of the village. After leaving the shop we walked across the Heath to Greenwich Park, and then down into Greenwich for lunch.
Greenwich Park – The Wilderness Deer Park
Greenwich Park – looking towards the National Maritime Museum
Currently reading: Thicker than Water (DCI Logan #2) by JD Kirk and Circe by Madeline Miller
Next up was Lewes – we arrived late morning and climbed the steep hill up to the town in search of somewhere to eat. We didn’t know anything about Lewes when we decided to head there for lunch – what we found was a beautiful and quaint town, crammed with pretty historical houses and even a medieval castle built in the 11th Century. We spent a long time here, but it wasn’t long enough and we will definitely go back at some stage. The Waterstones here is located in a Grade 2 listed building in the High Street in the centre of the town. The sundial at the top of the building has the Latin phrase Nosce Tempus – “Know the Time.”
Bull House which was built in the 15th century and stands in the High Street. Between the years of 1768 and 1774 it was the home of Thomas Paine the writer, some of whose works heavily influenced American independence. Lewes Town Hall was formerly the Star Inn but was converted in 1893.
Lewes Castle, and the adjacent priory were built by William de Warenne between the years of 1068 and 1070. It is managed by Sussex Archaeological Society.
Lewes Town Hall
The building opened in 1893 in premises converted from the former Star Inn
The River Ouse
Below, clockwise from top left: Lewes Crown Court, Keere Street, 15th Century House (now a book shop), St Michael in Lewes Church (photos 4-6)
On Sunday we hopped on the train from Brighton to Eastbourne, specifically to visit the Waterstones store, but as it was a lovely day we decided to head down to the beach for a walk along the front and to visit the pier. Eastbourne’s pier was officially opened in 1870 although construction wasn’t actually completed for another two years! During WW2 the pier was used as a defence against enemy invasion. As it was a Sunday and we had a second destination planned for lunch we didn’t have time to explore the rest of the town having spent longer than intended visiting the sea front.
Eastbourne Pier and Seafront
The pictures above include the Claremont Hotel, a listed building that was ravaged by fire in November 2019 and then damaged further by storms. It was a listed building, but sadly had to be demolished as it was dangerous and beyond repair.
Brighton is bigger than its sister town of Hove, and whilst it still has that carefree, laidback feel it is also a town with a party atmosphere, so it comes as no surprise that Brighton was the location of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 when Abba won with their song, Waterloo! Two of Brighton’s biggest landmarks are the Pier and the Royal Pavilion. Having walked back from Hove we stopped off at the Waterstones, which is located in an old building that was originally a Burton’s clothing store – the name is etched into the top of the building.
Brighton Palace Pier
The Brighton Palace Pier, which dates from 1899, was the third pier to be constructed in Brighton. It was built to replace the Chain Pier, which had collapsed in 1896 during construction! The Palace Pier is now the only functioning pier in Brighton since the third one, the Brighton West Pier, was destroyed by fire in 2003.
The West Pier
Brighton Royal Pavilion
Brighton Royal Pavilion was built as a pleasure palace between 1787 and 1822 for the then Prince Regent, George IV, and after his death both William IV and then Queen Victoria lived there, but it wasn’t really to Victoria’s taste and so was sold to the town of Brighton for £50,000 in 1850. I don’t know whether it is lit up all year round, or whether it was just for Christmas, but the building looks stunning at night!