Part 2, the village of Bampton, where many scenes from Downton Abbey are filmed...Tomorrow...Part 3, Oxford...

This is St. Mary's church in Bampton, known as Church of St. Michael of All Angels, as shown on the series, Downton Abbey, where Mary married Matthew, Edith was jilted at the alter and eventually Matthew was buried.

The front entrance to the church in Bampton where many scenes for Downton Abbey have been filmed.
After posting yesterday, we were anxious to post the remaining photos of the tour to Bampton, the village of the series Downton Abbey where many church and outdoor scenes are filmed.
Cemetery at the "real" church in Bampton, St. Mary's.
Having completed the Highclere Castle portion of the tour in Thursday's post, today we review the visit to the charming village of Bampton with its own story to tell.

The sequence of our 13 hour day was as follows with considerable driving in between:
10:45 -12:45 Village of Oxford
2:30 -  4:30   Highclere Castle, home of Downton Abbey TV series
5:30 -  6:30  The village of Bampton, village of Downton Abbey TV series

Tom, at the side entrance to the church,
Due to several traffic delays the events of the tour were changed when Highclere Castle was to be our last stop.  As a result when we finally arrived in Bampton, many of the sites we were scheduled to see were closed for the day.

The alter inside the church where the Mary and Matthew were married.
Leave it to tour guide Paul (pronounced "pool") he called the vicar of the church and the shop owner to ensure we'd gain access to both.  They both happily obliged.  Of course, all 60 of us were thrilled (as much as one can be thrilled in a group of 60).

The podium in the church was carved bird of prey.
Paul, our guide and Martin, our driver, both stated several times that such delays were unusual.  With diligent planning they made every effort, successfully, to get us to each venue for the time specified in the tour itinerary, although overall the day was longer than planned.

Stained glass window in the church.
We were baffled by the number of detours, roadblocks and accidents, resulting in hours of sitting on the bus in traffic, especially surprising in the countryside.

This is the Crawley house on the series where Matthew and Isobel (Matthew's mother) lived  here after the announcement that as to the real heir to the Earl of Grantham's estate after the death of Patrick Crowley on the Titanic.
With the amount of traffic we've witnessed in London, we both thought these delays may not have been unusual after all.  There's an ordinance in London called the Congestion Free for a vehicle entering certain boundaries of the city of London during weekdays of 11.60 pounds per day, (US $19.24).

The actual library in Bampton is used as a hospital in the series which now houses a gift shop.  The owner was notified we were in town and she rushed to open the shop for us.
A sophisticated digital system is in place that ensures no vehicle avoids paying these daily, weekday only, fees or serious penalties are imposed.  The traffic coupled with the Congestion Free is enough motivation for Londoners to avoid purchasing a car and use the comprehensive public transportation.

Sign outside the shop, which appears as a hospital on the series.
Our tour guide Paul explained that he's never driven a car in his life which apparently is not unusual in London.  People walk a lot here in London. We've heard on local news that rising prices for public transportation is creating an upheaval and public discord.

Several houses in Bampton have these thatched roofs some of which have been shown on
the series.
Originally, when we booked the upcoming cruise for Harwich, UK, leaving next Sunday, we'd hope to spend time in the UK, perhaps renting a house in the country for a few months.  After weeks of frustration we gave up the search when prices for even a modest country home were far beyond our budgetary guidelines.  The 15 day stay in a hotel was the only alternative.

Photo on display at the gift shop of Edith's wedding which never took place.
After all was said and done, we had a great day having learned more about this country, it's people, its history and its modern day lifestyle, in many ways not unlike the lives of citizens from all over the world.

Mr. Charles Carson, head butler at Downton Abbey and Dr. Richard Clarkson, the family physician in this photo at the gift shop.
Last night, we dined in another French bistro to disappointing meals for both of us.  Spending over US $72, 43 pounds (without beverages!) for a mushy burger and a bowl of soup for Tom and, a small chicken breast, a few greasy green beans and a side salad for me, we were sorely disappointed.

Photo of Mary at her wedding to Matthew, again on display in the gift shop.
Tightening our belts after three weeks of dining out, we've lost interest in dining out and will hit the more affordable spots where we won't spend over US $60, 36 pounds, for dinner without drinks. 

Dame Maggie Smith play Lord Grantham's mother, Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Criowley
Tom purchased a liter bottle of cognac for US $30, 18 pounds and will have a drink in our room if he wants one as opposed to spending US $17, 10 pounds for a single cocktail in a restaurant.

Today, we're off to find a self service laundry which we'll visit again a week from today, boarding the ship with clean clothes.   The hotel's cost of laundering one pair of jeans is more than we'll spend on two full loads at the self serve.

Photo in the gift shop of camera crew actress from series.  We couldn't tell who it was.
Monday is our next full day of sightseeing when we'll see the highlights of London including changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and a boat ride of the Thames River.  (At this point we have little interest in the interior of yet another palace).

For now, we're experience a little of life in London, barring many of the comforts of our usual homes of the past.  We've decided living in a hotel in no way meets our criteria of living life in the world with simplicity and ease.  However, we'll never regret visiting Paris and London.

Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2013: 

No photos or story was posted on this date when the Internet was totally down in Boveglio, Italy.  At this point, we'd begun assessing and sorting our belonging to lighten the upcoming long flight to Kenya in only nine days.

Part 1, Downton Abbey Tour, Secret Garden, exquisite grounds...more tomorrow...

We held our breath as we approached Highclare Castle, home of the famed BBC Downton Abbey TV series.  No interior photos were allowed.  Please click here for interior photos of the house

When we planned the 10 hour tour which included a trip to the castle where the popular BBC TV series, Downton Abbey is filmed, we discovered the "real" name of the castle is actually Highclere Castle, which long before the show was a tourist attractive.

Please click here to enjoy the beautiful music from Downton Abbey while
perusing today's photos. 

With the production and popularity of the show, Downton Abbey, the increased tourism to the castle has been instrumental in it owners and occupants of the house, Earl and Lady Carnarvon to commence extensive much needed renovation.

The exquisite grounds were as equally appealing as the castle.
Earl and Lady Carnarvon stay out of sight during tours, often away at their summer home, although at times they have made an appearance during the 60 to 70 days a year it is open to the public. 

For the details and history of Highclere Castle, please click here

Tom was looking at the exterior condition of Highclere Castle as we wandered about the grounds.
Rather than retell the history and general facts regarding the castle with considerable information already online, we'll share our photos and experiences of the 13 hour outing, over a period of two days in Parts 1 and 2.

There's hardly a totally clear day in the UK including during our time at the castle.
Tomorrow, we'll share photos of the village of Bampton Oxfordshire, where most of the village filming transpires. 

Standing at the back of the castle, this is the view of the carriage house.
For devotees of the popular British TV series produced by the profoundly talented Julian Fellows and his creative staff today's post may off come appeal.  For those of you unfamiliar with the series, we can only suggest giving it a try for a delightful escape to another time and place, historically accurate, and robustly produced.

The back view of Highclere Castle.
We've watched the series since its first episode began on September 21, 2010, now rolling into its fifth season.  Our lively and knowledgeable tour guide, Paul explained that a week ago he'd seen the show in production at the town of village of Bamptonshire.  ("Shire" is included at the end of the names of villages and towns to indicate a division of land).

There is a huge field of wildflowers on the grounds of Highclere Castle.  We can only imagine how beautiful this would be in the spring in full bloom.
We had few expectation of yesterday's lengthy outing beginning at 7:30 am when we walked across the street to the Kensington Hotel to be picked up in a luxury coach for the two hour drive to Oxford which was the first leg of the tour.
We didn't actually arrive at Highclere Castle until 2:30 pm with a full two hours to explore on our own.

View of the castle as we walked along the path to the gardens.
We're sharing the separate areas we visited out of sequence, wrapping up the balance tomorrow.  We felt many of our readers were anxious to read about Downton Abbey first, when we'd mentioned it several times over the last week or so.

I recall seeing this bench under a tree in a scene in the series.
With 60 passengers in tow on the luxury coach where we spent several hours on the road, we all held our breath as we approached the Highclere Castle.

The vast array of color in the gardens was exquisite.

We were delighted to find many flowers blooming in the Secret Garden at Highclere Castle.
As is the case in many of these tours, one must prepare themselves for a letdown, when the anticipation has lingered for days or weeks.  But, disappointed...we were not!  It was all we expected and more. 

Anyone have an idea what this is?
The only disappointment was the fact that no photos are allowed anywhere inside the castle with respect for the privacy of Earl and Lady Carnaron since this is their personal home.

A simple white flowers amongst many.
In an odd way, once we entered the interior of the house,  I was fine not focusing on taking photos, instead able to pay attention to minute details, as we moved along the house's many rooms.   Please click here for interior photos of the house.

Beautiful blooms!
Standing in the familiar rooms was exciting while our minds perused various episodes of the series.  My favorite was the familiar dining room and Tom's was the library. An on site guide explained that there are approximately 200 rooms in the enormous castle with an estimated 120,000 square feet, 11,148 square meters.

A manicured path we followed in the Secret Garden.

Fortunately, we were allowed to take exterior photos which kept us busy during the second hour as we toured the extensive gardens. It wasn't crowded as shown in our photos many of which we were able to take with tourists in view.  The fact that we'd arrived in the afternoon appeared to have been a factor in the lessened crowds.

With the rose blooming season behind us, we enjoyed seeing this pink rose.

At 4:30, we again boarded the bus for the quaint village of Brampton where many of the village scenes are filmed.  Apparently, the townspeople are opposed to their new found notoriety due to the series with increased business in their few shops and one pub in town. 

Bess and butterflies were everywhere partaking of the sweet nectar of many varieties of clowers.

When filming commences, autos, TV antennae, power lines, and trash bins must be removed.  In addition, they production crew fills the streets with dirt and gravel over the tarred roads to create an appearance of a time long ago.

Another butterfly alights a pretty white flower.

At the end of each season's production the company holds a party for the entire village as well as providing donations to the city, making all the hoopla worthwhile to its citizens. 

We sat on a bench contemplating these unusual trimmings.

In the beginning of the tour, I'd considered that Tom had tagged along for my benefit.  However, as the day worn on, he was engaged and interested, particularly to the historical aspects of the castle and village.

Tom under a trimmed arch.

Having seen Highclere Castle we'll have an entirely new perspective when the new fifth season of Downton Abbey  begins in January.

Although the greenhouse doors were locked, we took this shot through a tiny opening.

 As the long day ended, the bus dropped us at the Kensington Station, a mere 15 minute walk back to our hotel.  Anxious to stop for dinner, we found a casual Italian restaurant on the way with good food which included a few items suitable for me.

The red in this flower close to the greenhouse, stood out among many.

Tomorrow, we'll be back with our visit to Bampton where the village shots for Downton Abbey are filmed and, also the historic village of Oxford, reeking of history dating back to 912 AD.  What an experience that was as well!  One could easily book a hotel in the fascinating town, staying for weeks to experience its many treasures.

Me, at the main entrance to the castle.
No, we don't love touring on a bus with 60 other tourists. However, this was the most affordable tours we could find at US $370, 223 pounds for both of us.  Its wise to book in advance if possible. 

One last peek before we departed Hghclere Castle, home of the Downton Abbey TV series.

We'll be tomorrow with Part 2 and many more photos!

Photo from one year ago today, August 21, 2013:

Little did we know how many geckos we'd find in houses while in Africa, at this point a year ago with only 10 days until we'd depart Italy for Kenya.  For details from that date. please click here

London doesn't disappoint...Victoria and Albert...

Tom is really getting used to visiting museums. In this case, we were at the Victoria and Albert Museum on London, walking distance from our hotel. 

Gee...Tom took a photo of me without it being too blurry.
Many times, we've mentioned our lack of interest in visiting big cities mainly due to the following; the noise, the crowds, the long lines, the traffic and the lack of vegetation and wildlife.  Then, there's the outrageous prices on literally everything that may be half the cost in more rural areas.

The entrance to Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Several special exhibits were highlighted during this period including "Disobedient Objects."

More "Disobedient Objects."
London, unlike Paris, provides us with the ability to freely communicate, the sense of safety in this beautiful area of Kensington (which feels more as a suburb than the city), and the overall friendliness of its people.  Even the tourists seem more dignified, not pushing as they walk on the busy streets.

The theme was a little vague when mostly the items were trendy from 20th century.

This decorated was from the 70's.
We had no doubt we'd like the UK.  We've spent the last year watching news on BBC (one of the few English speaking news channels that have been available).

We moved from "Disobedient Objects" to historical fashion which we both found fascinating.

Most of the clothing was from the 19th and 20th century.

Some of the items were radical attire and others were everyday wear.
We've found several BBC TV series exceedingly entertaining such as: Downton Abbey, Luther, What Remains and Broadchurch, having downloaded and watched each episode during those quiet evenings after dinner.

These brought back memories to the 50's and 60's.

Whoever had such a tiny waist? We don't see this in today's world.

How did they sit in these wide dresses?
As we explore this area, we find the most current technology and systems in place in every environment from the most modern ATMs to the self checkout in the grocery stores, fast and simple to use.  

Every era has had its "frumpy" period.

These were small appearing to be clothing for children.

I'd wear that if I'd fit into it!
London, a city of art and culture, leaves nothing behind on the world stage of entertainment, as we peruse posters and billboards of upcoming events.  With no charge to enter museums the appreciation of the UK's and the world's history and artifacts was evident when on Monday, we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, a 20 minute walk from our hotel.

This appears to be a dress that may have been worn in a dance hall.

Late 1800's.

The intricate detail on this hand woven fan drew quite an audience.
With three museums located next to one another in the same city block, our intention has been to visit each museum on a separate day.  Today, we'd hoped to enter the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum

Women today can't wait to get out of their bras after a long day.  Can we imagine how women felt wearing these types of corsets all day.

A typical hoop from the 1800's.

Elegant wear of the wealthy was also displayed.
However, when we arrived at each of the museums there were no less than 2000 people in line at each location which would take from one to two hours of standing in potentially rainy weather.

Another exquisite fan.           

Wigs and gloves worn by men in the 1700's.

The undergarments necessary to wear such a dress.
We've decided to return other days, to try to get inside the two other museums, perhaps early before they open or later in the day hopefully finding shorter lines.  Few venues are worthy of two hours in line to either of us particularly if there's a possibility of rain.

The more tailored 20th century.

After leaving the fashion area we wandered to sculptures from around the world during many eras.  This work was Caesar attacking the British.

Neptune and Triton by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1622-1623.
Instead, we walked further down the road to the Victoria and Albert Museum which had not waiting to enter although was not disappointing by any means with a diverse array of interesting artifacts we found fascinating.  
The large garden area of the museum was packed with visitors.

Children were playing in the wading pool.

Late in the summer for many flowers, we spotted a few in the museum's garden.
Thus, we share a series of diverse photos today.  Many areas of the museum were entirely unrelated to one another, a scenario which some may find unsettling.

Back inside the museum we encountered another permanent exhibit.

Beautiful wall sculpture in pleasing colors.

A sculpted alter.
With both of us possessing short attention spans, this was ideal, as we flitted from one arena to another happily snapping away while conversing over the various items. 

Priest's garments.

Colorful sculpture.

For a moment I touched the top of this slab of marble and a guard warned me to take my hand off of it.  Embarrassed, I quickly removed my hand.  In reading the description I read this was made in the 16th century.  Yes, I suppose one shouldn't touch!
Its would be disappointing if we are unable to eventually see the other two nearby museums.  But, we understand with no entrance fees, they provide a huge attraction to tourists and local alike.

We sat for a few minutes taking in our surroundings in an area where a church had be replicated using centuries old artifacts.

This intricate pagoda was on display in the Asian art area. 

This handmade boat was also in the Asian art area.
Today, as we mentioned above, we off on a 10 hour tour to Downton Abbey and Oxford University.  We'll be back tomorrow with hopefully lots of interesting new photos. 

Have a happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 20, 2013:
The internet was down all day on this date one year ago and we weren't ever able to post.  Please check back tomorrow.