Tuesday, 18 November 2014

UK Trip Summary - Part 1 (With Pictures)

Warning: This will be a longer than normal post. :)

We've just returned from over two weeks in the UK, with stops around England and a couple of days in Dublin. There were lots of stops at museums to see all kinds of stuff, so I'm going to try to capture some of the most interesting things I saw, with pictures where possible. This is part one of the post. Part two will capture the second half of the trip, which includes the Reenactor's Market and Dublin, among other things.

Eventually I'll probably post my artifact pictures somewhere (possibly on Pinterest), so I'll add an update here with a link when the whole collection is available.


We'd hit a lot of the major museum stuff in London the last time we were there, but it's London so there's no shortage of things to do. :) The V&A was a bit of a bust because we went on the night they were open late but almost all of the medieval galleries were closed, so we didn't see much. I did get a picture for Her Excellency Catherine of a woven towel with pelicans on it. Otherwise a lot of our time was shopping and such.

Item #487-1884 - Towel dated 1400-1600
from the V&A

The highlight for London from a history/museum perspective was probably the British Library. The collection of documents on display is epic! Sadly, no pictures are allowed but the British Library has an extensive online photo archive of the collection so that's OK. Scribes should definitely check it out.


Portsmouth and the Mary Rose museum were on the agenda last time but we missed it because of a flat tire. As a result, we were really excited to go there for a couple of nights this time.

The Mary Rose museum is awesome and one of the best designed museums I've been to. They actually have the remains of the ship as the heart of the museum, and you can watch people working on preserving the ship. The museum is then setup parallel to the ship so you are walking through what would have been at that section of the ship as you walk the various levels.

Of course, for me the highlight was seeing the Purser's section, and the stick-purse. But there were tons of other leather items as well, ranging from jerkins, to shoes to arm guards and knife/sword sheaths. The collection is really huge and a goldmine of items.

The remains of the stick-purse at the
Mary Rose museum (item 81A0806)

We also did a tour of the HMS Victory, which was Admiral Nelson's flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar. It's post-period for the SCA but very cool none-the-less.

HMS Victory at the Historic Dockyard
in Portsmouth

Weald & Downland Museum

After Portsmouth we drove to an open air museum near Chichester. This is where they filmed a large part of the Tudor Monastery Farm series, so it's really cool because you see what the living conditions and layout of various buildings might have been.

Lots of really neat things here. We learned about a period fruit crop I'd never heard of before. It's called a medlar and is related to the quince (Here's a nice web site reference about the medlar). We also had a lovely conversation with one of the volunteers named Tina, who showed us where they make all of the period garb they wear (and they are really hardcore about the accuracy of the details of their outfits).
Some of the medieval buildings
Merchant's shop (left-hand
building from previous picture)
Early 17th century craftsman's cottage
Early 15th century home. This is
the main hall.
So many ideas about stuff we could do here. It's incredible seeing some of this stuff, especially if you've watched the Tudor Farm series.


Oxford was probably one of our favourite cities on the trip (although Portsmouth was up there too). We were only there for a day so we had to squeeze some stuff in. On Mistress Keja's recommendation, we made a stop at the Ashmolean Museum, which was really good. Lots of pics of artifacts were taken, and we just happened to be there on November 5th, which meant it was particularly cool to see the lantern used by Guy Fawkes. 

Guy Fawkes' lantern,
as seen on the 5th of Nov
The other really neat thing they had was a major collection of fabric samples from the Middle East and India, which I'm sure a lot of people will find interesting.
India from the 13th - 15th century
(Ashmolean EA 1990.146).
We also stopped at Oxford's science museum, where we saw some period clocks and timepieces. But the highlight for me there was Einstein's chalk board. It's just a chalk board, but still.......

At the end of the night we took a guided tour of the Bodelian Library, which dates to the late 16th century.It's massive and epic and no pictures are allowed. :( But totally worth the stop, especially since we were the only people on the tour so we basically had a private tour guide.

After Oxford we drove off into the Midlands for our next stop, visiting with Robert the Blue and Lerthan and our trip to the Reenactor's Market. I'll capture the second half of the trip in my next post.

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