Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Landmarks of Britain

A new book presents an overview of British history in a novel and extremely interesting way.

Landmarks of Britain”, by Clive Aslet, is subtitled “The Five Hundred Places That Made Our History”.

The country is split into regions, and under each region there is a selection of articles, in alphabetical order of the town, city or village. Each article presents a historical happening which could fairly be said to have had an effect on our national history.

One of the first entries refers to the coronation of King Edgar at Bath Abbey, in a ceremony devised by St. Dunstan and essentially still used in coronations today.

Under Canterbury Cathedral, we learn some of the background to Henry II’s selection of his friend Thomas a Becket as Archbishop, leading to Becket’s outrageous murder, which in turn led to an upsurge of mediaeval tourism to Canterbury.

The Cenotaph in Whitehall in London, a focus of Remembrance every year, was designed by Edwin Lutyens. A Cenotaph is a monument to a dead person who is buried elsewhere, and this most famous example simply has the words “The Glorious Dead”.

Blenheim Palace was created for the Duke of Marlborough at the wishes of Queen Anne, an intimate friend of Marlborough’s wife Sarah. Marlborough was without a doubt one of our most successful generals. Sarah favoured the elderly Sir Christopher Wren as architect, but unusually she was overruled in favour of the playwright-architect Sir John Vanbrugh.

Waltham Abbey is generally believed to be the burial place of Harold II, who had refounded the Abbey, after his defeat and death at Hastings. Earlier, a miraculous cross had been brought there in Canute’s reign.

Cardinal Wolsey‘s fall from grace came to a head when he was arrested near York, of which city he was the Archbishop. He was taken towards London under guard, but only reached Leicester Abbey, where he died and was buried.

“Landmarks of Britain” can be bought at all good bookshops.