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Discover Britain December/January 2020

Celebrating the best of our nation, every issue of Discover Britain is packed with features from history to travel. Read about the events that changed history, as well as British traditions and their origins, or be inspired for your next trip with great ideas for where to go and what to see. Whether you’re planning a weekend city break or an escape to the countryside, Discover Britain is your essential guide to getting the most out of your stay.

United Kingdom
Chelsea Magazine
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min

As it is getting increasingly colder outside, it is time to put your feet up and enjoy this new edition of Discover Britain. We have a bit of a theme of relaxation, beginning with our Relax like a Roman feature (p10). It is a little-known fact that it took Emperor Claudius’s invasion of 43 AD before we as a nation learned to unwind and developed a taste for spas, theatres and other lazy pursuits. Elsewhere in the issue, Martha Alexander goes in search of peace, quiet and local histories as she seeks out six of Britain’s most fascinating and forgotten small islands (p40), plus we have chosen five great wintry escapes (p84) – hotels and B&Bs that you will just love to hibernate in. If you have a favourite place in Britain…

2 min

Crowning glory I was interested to see your brief mention of Bardsey Island in your last issue. One odd, little-known fact is that the islanders would elect their own king and queen and several islanders had this distinction. As the population dwindled this custom died away and the crown that was used has, apparently, ended up in Storiel Bangor museum – it was made of tin and decorated with “precious” stones! I happened to know about this as my mother’s family was originally from Wales and one of her ancestors held this office. The island has a long history as a place of pilgrimage. JV Corriden, via email Wonders for Wales Congratulations on the beautiful pictures and great write-up on Wales [Issue 211]. You did more for Wales than the tourist board in my opinion…

2 min
wish you were here...

Greenwich, London New photos of Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel are revealed Conceived more than 300 years ago to advertise Britain’s naval power, The Painted Hall inside Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College remains one of the most dazzling interiors in London, following an extensive restoration project over the last six years. Those unable to make the journey to see Sir James Thornhill’s masterpiece in person can now enjoy the fruits of the conservation project in a new book published by Merrell. The Painted Hall features new photographs of the ornate friezes that took Thornhill 19 years to paint, including this stunning view from the vestibule into the Lower Hall. www.merrellpublishers.com CAPE WRATH, SUTHERLAND Surveyor of lighthouses selects Britain’s best There are more than 600 lighthouses around the British coastline and author Sarah Kerr visited them…

8 min
relax like a roman

It was one of the architectural wonders of the Roman Empire and a spa resort unique in Britain with its thermal spring gushing forth sacred healing waters, a sophisticated series of baths and a temple. Everyone came – locals, soldiers, travellers from across Europe – seeking physical and spiritual wellbeing. The Roman Baths at Bath offers vicarious pleasures of a soothingly historical kind Even now the Roman Baths at Bath impress and, while today you need to visit the modern Thermae Bath Spa nearby to immerse yourself in the World Heritage City’s famous naturally warm waters, a wander around the ancient religious leisure site offers vicarious pleasures of a soothingly historical kind. You can natter to the likes of the travelling merchant Peregrinus or the stonemason Sulinus; costumed guides based on real…

7 min
healing waters

LOOK DIE BILDAGENTUR DER It was Thomas Guidott, a Hampshire-born, Oxford-educated physician of Italian descent, who we have to thank for helping popularise the concept of spa towns. As our previous article recounts, even the Romans were convinced of the healing properties of hot spring waters, yet it wasn’t until Guidott’s rigorous (for the 17th century, at least) studies that the public bought into the science behind it and towns with natural springs began to promote themselves as a wellness destination and build an infrastructure around it. Despite engaging in a seemingly gentle endeavour, Guidott met with plenty of opposition to his studies after setting up his practice in Bath in 1668. As historian John Britton brilliantly noted, the physician had “a most thorough contempt for quackery” and refused to shy away…

2 min
my britain

“When we went on holiday abroad... I knew we’d have had a better time in Warwickshire” I am the lead in Warwick Castle’s debut falconry performance. I play Hobby, a man of humble stock who, against all odds, achieves the post of Master Falconer to the Earl of Warwick. Historically, the earl would have commissioned falconers to train birds to hunt for his dinner: rabbit, squirrel and partridge were luxurious additions to a 15th-century menu. The Mill and Engine House is my favourite spot at the castle. In 1894 Francis Greville, the forward-thinking 5th Earl of Warwick, used the 14th-century mill to house electric dynamos and batteries that would power the castle – and his flashy electric car and boat. I was fascinated with wildlife as a child. I remember being bitten by…