Pomp and Magic - England: Part I
I know my soul lived in England lifetimes ago. As a third grader, I remember our classroom teacher’s aide, Miss McCarthy, telling me about her summer in England and I remember being instantly enthralled and intrigued!
When I moved to The Valley (San Fernando Valley) for college, my apartment manager became like my second mother because I was far from home and we would share tea and sympathy together. Since I can remember, my soul has yearned for England.
England is a county full of history. It is inevitable to marvel at the many structures (manor homes, castles, and churches) and traditions that exists in this magnificent land. I was fortunate enough to stay at New Hall in Sutton Coldfield, which is now a hotel and spa, but is boasted as the oldest continuously occupied moated manor house in England, and dates back to the 12th century. Wandering the grounds of this 26 acre garden estate was like stepping back into history. My time there was truly as majestic as it was magical. After I stepped off the plane and an extremely turbulent flight, I arrived at New Hall after their kitchen closed. With no cooks on site, the porter brought me a sandwich he made himself. That was my first encounter of the quintessential English gentleman I had only heard about from across the Big Pond. The days that followed at New Hall were equally as wonderful and I was treated like royalty by the staff.
I was also able to visit Warwick Castle in the town of Warwick, located at the bend of the River Avon. It is one of the few castles in England that remained relatively in tact during the World Wars. Originally, castles were not built as grand mansions for royalty to live in luxury. They were built as fortresses with defenses to protect rulers of the land and their families. Manor homes were the landed estates where nobility lived in leisure. Built in medieval times, Warwick (pronounced War-rick) Castle has gone through many transformations, which has resulted in its current incarnation. There is entertainment provided, such as birds of prey, knights and damsels walking the grounds, archery, and for an additional price, you can tour the dungeon, which is a must! However, for me, my visit to the castle was not about entertainment, but history. It truly felt ancient and I appreciated how architects of long ago thought deeply about how to design a castle that could best protect a sovereign.
My holiday in England was not entirely prim and proper. One thing that surprised me is pubs in the United Kingdom are not necessarily watering holes or what we call dive bars in the US. Pubs in the UK can also be posh, such as Bacchus Bar, located on a street built in 1398. This is not your “common” bar. The edifice has an intriguing history and Bacchus definitely dims the light for mood, but provides a vibrant and extravagant atmosphere. It appropriately stands as a shrine to the Greek God of wine and intoxicatingly beautiful mayhem.
I cannot wait to return to storm another castle (or two or three) and partake in the magic that is England!
New Hall Hotel and Spa: www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/newhall
Warwick Castle: www.warwick-castle.com
Bacchus Bar Birmingham: