UK-London, Plymouth, Field House, Cardiff
25 May - 22 June 2011
LAUNCHED: 25 July 2011. LAST UPDATED: 6 August 2011
Accessed at least
times since 1 October 2010.
OVERVIEW: This trip combined several things:
1) chasing down copies of a certain Antarctic book;
2) seeking out 'low-latitude' Antarctic sites;
3) attending an Antarctic conference in Plymouth in celebration of the centenary of Scott's Last Expedition;
4) spending a week in a Landmark Trust house in the Cotswolds;
5) getting to Cardiff and attending the annual Captain Scott Society dinner;
6) and everything else I did.
You can scroll through and have a look at my entire trip or just go to the section that interests you:
Go to the LONDON (and on to York, Scotland, back to London, on to Plymouth) section to see what I did on my first few days and along the way.
Go to the PLYMOUTH section where I went for the Scott100 conference.
Go to the FIELD HOUSE section to see the Landmark Trust house in Minchinhampton where six of us stayed.
Go to the CARDIFF section to see what we saw on the way there and the annual Captain Scott dinner.
Go to the AURORA AUSTRALIS section to see me continue my quest for this book plus some other Antarctic book experiences.
Go to the LOW-LATITUDE ANTARCTIC GAZETTEER which highlights the Antarctic sites outside of the Antarctic that I visited.
LONDON (and on to York, Scotland, back to London, on to Plymouth)
Wednesday-Thursday 24-25 May 2011. I left my car in Salem, NH, at the state-owned bus terminal (free parking for 3 weeks!) and took the $8 Boston Express bus to Logan via South Station. Very convenient. Had an uneventful flight over, landing at Terminal 5, first time there. Tube to Waterloo and a few steps to the Union Jack Club, a great bargain at £62 a night.
The Union Jack Club. Out my window.
That afternoon I took the train down to Dulwich College where I inspected its copy of the Aurora Australis, with the help of Calista Lucy (see below).
At the end of the day I met Tom Sutherland at the Langham Hotel; we went off for a drink and caught up mostly about the ill-fated effort to get a Blue Plaque for Sir Clements Markham.
Then off to the Travellers Club in Pall Mall for dinner with John Bonham and Stuart Leggatt. What a great building…and what a great evening.
Friday 26 May 2011. The next morning I set out to Windsor by train and showed up at the Castle just before 10am for my appointment with Emma Stuart (see below). Afterwards, walked to Eton and had lunch at a pub. Then to Eton College. A quick look at the Captain Oates plaque in the Library (see below), then on to the Archives where I inspected Eton's copy of the Aurora Australis under the eye of Katie Flanagan (see below).
Back to London by train and to the National Art Library in the V&A. Was hoping to consult some old auction catalogues but there wasn't enough time as they need to be delivered from elsewhere.
Back to the Club. Had a beer and called it a night.
Saturday 27 May 2011. Off to visit Ann (Savours) Shirley
in Kent. Got a train at Victoria for Canterbury East, then a cab to Bridge, not too far away. Walked up the lane to Ann's house, Little Bridge Place. A lovely house deep in vegetation and absolutely filled with polar books, files, papers, etc. Ann's probably the number one polar historian in the world. She had prepared a very nice lunch for me and her grandson. We had some good conversation about this and that and later were joined by friends of her's, Maurice and Dorothy Raraty. We walked around the grounds. At the end of the day, Maurice and Dorothy dropped me off at the station and I headed back to London.
Ann and her dog Liffey.
Sunday 28 May 2011. Toured around London for most of the day. Visited and took photos yet again of the
Scott and Franklin statues in Waterloo Place.
Dropped by the British Travel Centre to pick up information on York, Scotland and Plymouth—all of which I'm heading for.
Took the bus to the London Zoo which I last visited in 1966. (Saw an item in the paper the day before about a new Penguin exhibit so had to check it out.) Was appalled at the admission charge—£23! There was a half-hour wait to get in and was very crowded once inside and not particularly appealing. But there were Penguins there! (see below)
Walked along the edge of Regents Park, eventually down to the British Library, where I checked e-mails; then wandered through the newly re-opened St Pancras Hotel which is just stunning (have a look at the photo gallery on this link).
The very spiffed-up St Pancras Hotel.
Went to the crypt at St Paul's to see the just-dedicated Antarctic plaque (see below); and when leaving I noticed what looked like the old Temple Bar (designed by Christopher Wren) across the way. It actually is the old Temple Bar. It originally stood in the Strand, was removed because of traffic concerns (1878), re-built two years later on an estate in Hertfordshire, and is now back in London. Beautifully done. (It was re-erected in 2004 in the vicinity of Paternoster Row which was the great center of publishing/bookselling in the past and pretty much obliterated during The Blitz.)
Temple Bar then and now. Welcome back!
That evening had a very nice dinner at a local Italian restaurant, Caprini, at 77 Waterloo Road. It's really a pleasure to encounter professional waiters…and good food, too.
Monday 29 May 2011. Bank Holiday. Left my main bag at the Club and took the tube to Kings Cross. Validated my five-day railpass and headed for the First Class lounge where I stocked up on biscuits and such for the day or two ahead. Boarded the 8am train for York, arriving right on time at 9:53.
Train north to York.
York seemed like a good place to spend the holiday. My first stop was the Tourist Office where I arranged a B&B for the night. Though it was rainy I did as much as I could during the rest of the day: A bus tour of the city; a walk along the city wall; a visit to the National Railway Museum; a walk through the York Art Gallery. The Yorkminster is an obvious attraction, but I never got inside. The doors were always locked, so I settled for admiring the exterior.
George Stephenson standing forth in the National Railway Museum. Sadly, no relation.
Walking the City Wall and wandering along The Shambles. (You can see the Yorkminster in the distance.)
This painting of fish caught my eye at the Art Gallery.
This model of Yorkminster and its surroundings was nicely done.
Tree Tops, my guesthouse at 21 St Mary's, a good central location.
Tuesday 31 May 2011. The rain was gone; a nice sunny day. I headed straight for the Royal Dragoon Guards Museum where I had an appointment to see some Oates items (see below). This took about an hour and I then picked up my bag and headed for the station where I caught the 10:53 to Edinburgh arriving in time to meet Jennifer Speirs for lunch at the National Library of Scotland. Jennifer, a travelling companion from African days, was putting me up at her flat in the New Town.
Jennifer Speirs, my Edinburgh hostess.
Jennifer's New Town address.
We had a bite together; she then headed back to work and I sought out John Bowles who showed me lots of Antarctic treasures in the Library's collections and sat me down with its copy of the Aurora Australis (see below).
That evening Jennifer and I walked up the hill a couple of blocks to
Bar Napoli, 75 Hanover Street, a lively Italian restaurant where we had a good dinner.
Wednesday 1 June 2011. Had an early start. Off to Waverley Station at 7 am and off to Dundee on the 7:36, arriving around 8:30. Discovery Point is a stone's throw away and soon I was there with Gill Poulter inspecting its Aurora (see below).
The Discovery in Dundee.
After that, and making a tour of the museum and going through the Discovery, I was off again by train, first to Perth where I changed, then north to Inverness.
A nice ride although rainy much of the time. Found a place to stay along the River Ness, Winston Guest House at 10 Ardross Terrace. Quite nice for £40.
The Winston Guesthouse.
Did a bit of sightseeing though the weather was rainy and foggy. That evening had a good meal at Spice Tandoori, an Indian restaurant across the river from my guesthouse. Had another walk around the town before calling it a day.
The River Ness
On the footbridge over the River Ness.
(You can just make it out in the distance in the previous image.)
Thursday 2 June 2011. Much better weather in the morning. After a full breakfast I went off on the local bus to Culloden, the site of the last battle fought on British soil (1746), and about 5 miles from the center of Inverness. The National Trust of Scotland has a new and impressive visitor center; and red and blue flags are set up on the large open battlefield to show the positions of the Jacobite and government armies.
A panorama of the Culloden battlefield.
Back into town and to the Museum and Art Gallery for a quick look before getting my train back back to Edinburgh. I'd be going through Dundee again but approaching it from a different, though longer, route via Aberdeen. Changed trains there and had a hour or so to kill so had a cab take me on a £10 tour of the city. A lot of beautiful stone buildings.
On the train back to Edinburgh, arriving at the end of the day. I walked to Jennifer's flat and relaxed a bit, then took a bus to Tollcross to meet up with her and her gaelic singers at Bennets Bar, a traditional pub. I had need to duck into the loo and passed up an opportunity to buy a whisky flavored condom!
McCondoms—who would have thought?
Those assembled sang a song or two as the drinks came forth, then Jennifer and I caught a cab back to her flat.
Friday 3 June 2011. Up even earlier still—6:45am—and walked rapidly to Waverley Station to get the train to London. But as I went, I took a photo of a building I had noticed before—the home of the Royal College of Physicians. Isn't it great?
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
This is going to be a long day: Edinburgh to London to Plymouth. Arrived at Kings Cross and got the tube to Waterloo, picked up my bag at the UJC, took the tube to Paddington and then the train to Penzance. Once settled, a relaxing trip. Arrived in Plymouth and noticed Max Jones there outside and we decided to share a cab, along with Brad Borkan, both who had been on the train, and get ourselves to Jury's Hotel.
Plymouth was the setting for Scott100 one of the largest non-science Antarctic gatherings in memory—from Friday 3 June through the evening of Monday 6 June: Scott's birthday. As some would say, all the usual suspects were there. Jury's Hotel and the University of Plymouth (just up the hill) were the main venues.
The view out the hotel window.
Friday night some of us wandered down to the nearby Sutton Harbour where we drank beer and wine and enjoyed dinner along the quay.
Seamus Taaffe, Jonathan Shackleton and Joe O'Farrell over from Ireland.
Max Jones & Bob Headland from Manchester and Cambridge, respectively.
On Saturday headed up the hill to the University and a full day of sessions. Lunch at a pub with Seamus, then nearby to the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. It has a small Antarctic exhibit (see below). At the end of the day we walked to the Council Chambers where the city put on a nice reception for us. This was followed by a banquet back at the hotel. Part of the festivities was a quiz that I prepared on Scott and the Terra Nova expedition.
Quiz winners—Meredith Hooper accepts the prize for her table.
Sunday, another day of conference sessions. Later, Jonathan Shackleton and I walked over to the Duke of Cornwall (see below), then to the harbour where we had a relaxing dinner at the Meze Grill.
On Monday, Joe O'Farrell, Seamus Taaffe, Jonathan and I drove out of Plymouth to the east, through lovely countryside, to Salcombe on the Kingsbridge Estuary. The town is quite picturesque. Joe and Seamus contented themselves with walking round Salcombe while Jonathan and I took the little pedestrian ferry across to East Portlemouth where we walked the short distance to the home of the Jephcotts where we enjoyed visiting for an hour or so and looking at come Antarctic books. We retraced our steps, met up with Joe and Seamus, and headed off for South Milton where we had been invited to Paul and Andrea Davies' house to socialize and look at some polar books. Several others from the Plymouth conference were there and we had an enjoyable time with terrific weather.
Some polar book people at the Davies in Kingsbridge. (Photo: Paul Davies)
We returned to Plymouth and just had time to drive to Mt Wise to see the Scott party memorial (see below) which overlooks the water on a commanding site.
Back to the hotel and we get dressed up for the dinner at HMS Drake, which despite the name is an imposing building at the Naval Base in Devonport. We are taken there by bus and deposited. A very organized event: drinks followed by a drum and bugle performance in the hall, then into dinner in a large room with ship models suspended from the ceiling. Some short words were said and a toast or two and a nice dinner. Learned later that on the head table was Sir Francis Drake's sword and one of his bowling balls (remember he had to finish his game of bowls before taking on the Spanish Armada). The port and madeira then went around.
HMS Drake. I was expecting an actual ship!
SOME OF THOSE AT THE CONFERENCE:
Michael and Barbara Smith. He wrote the book on Oates, Crean, Crozier, Wordie, et al.
David Wilson, the grand nephew of Dr Wilson who died with Scott.
Ann Shirley—the doyen of polar history.
Heather Lane, Librarian of Scott Polar Reserarch Institute
Emma Stuart, the Assistant Bibliographer at Windsor Castle
Lucy Martin, Pictures Library Manager at SPRI.
The descendants of members of Scott's two expeditions assembled. (Photo: Paul Davies)
Tuesday 7 June 2011: Joe and I head off from Plymouth for Field House, a Landmark Trust property where he and I and four others will stay until the following Monday. Our first stop along the way is in East Lyng to visit George Marston's grave (see below). Just outside of Shepton Mallet we stop at the Downside Inn on the Bath Road for lunch. Our next stop is the village of Holcombe where the Scott family went when they left Plymouth. Scott's father took over the management of a brewery. The house they lived in still stands on Brewery Lane. Another mile or so took us to St Andrews Old Church where there is a Scott grave and marker in the churchyard (see below). We continued on, going through portions of Bath, past Malmsbury, to Tetbury, a lovely town famous for its charm. We stop here for coffee at the The Snooty Fox, a nice pub despite the name. We can't resist going into an antiquarian bookshop and picking up a few things.
Not long after, with a bit of difficulty, we found Field House. Our fellow Fieldians—John, Christine and Madeleine Rumely and Conrad Paulus—soon arrive from their excursions of the day. They came the day before and everything was well organized by the time we got there.
Conrad and Joe and the Rumelys.
FIELD HOUSE EXTERIOR:
Walkthrough to garden.
Beach chairs all set up and waiting.
INSIDE FIELD HOUSE:
The two Lounges.
Joe and Christine in kitchen.
Conrad's special salmon dinner.
Our entry in the Log Book.
DURING THE WEEK:
During our time at Field House we stayed in most nights with each of us cooking a meal: Conrad did a delicious salmon; Christine did a couple of chicken dishes; I did Boeuf Bourguignon; and Joe conjured up a couple of super Irish fry-ups. Joe, Conrad and I did a trip back to Tetbury for market day (that's where the salmon came from) and we had a look at the church. We continued on to Malmesbury where I tried to track down the owner of a certain book (no success), then to Minchinhampton, the closest village to Field House. We had a late lunch at The Kitchen on the main road. We also visited the church not far away.
The Kitchen behind the yellow car is where we had lunch.
All week we seemed to keep ending in Stroud or going through it. Not the easiest place to figure out. It does have a nice Waitrose, though. This same day—Wednesday the 8th—saw the Rumelys going to Blenheim Palace.
Joe, Conrad and I did another day excursion to Cheltenham on Thursday the 9th. We dropped Conrad off in the center of town, and Joe and I went to Cheltenham College where we had an appointment with Jill Barlow who kindly showed us several of the Dr Wilson sites at the College (see below). We met up again with Conrad and had lunch at a Cafe Rouge, sitting outside and wondering when the street musician (trumpet no less) would move on.
Joe had a hankering to see the Cheltenham Racecourse so we headed there and had a look around. We were befriended by a workman there who got us into the clubhouse to have a panoramic view of the course.
Spurring on our steeds at Cheltenham.
Our next stop was the church in Leckhampton to locate the Wilson family gravesite; we eventually were successful (see below).
The next day we were off to Northleach to visit Julia Bradford, a friend of many years standing. On the way we stopped at The Swan in Bibury for morning coffee and to wait out some rain.
At Julia's was briefly reunited with 'Stick,' my necessary companion on many walks over many years on many continents; he (it) has lived with Julia in London and now resides in Northleach.
Julia, Rob and 'Stick.'
We went out to lunch with Julia at The Inn for All Seasons in Burford, and then drove cross-country to Snowshill Manor
near Broadway. This National Trust property shows what can happen when a bachelor with a lot of money starts collecting!
Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property, we found interesting and eclectic. One room had a collection of bicycles; another, Japanese armor.
That night we had fun singing Show Tunes.
The next day—Saturday 11 June—was lovely and I stayed put the whole day while the others went into Stroud. Mary Cavanagh, an African fellow traveller arrived from Bishops Stortford for the weekend. That afternoon we held our traditional "Garden Party" and a vast crowd showed up: three including Mary! The other two—Nikki and Elliott Starks. (Nikki is Captain Scott's granddaughter and she and Elliott live nearby in Cheltenham.) Our near neighbor, Princess Anne, failed to appear.
Our Garden Party—Nikki, John, Joe, Elliott, Conrad, Mary.
At the party I was made to pay up £1 to Joe on a bet of the night before (the composer of the theme music from The Magnificant Seven—I said Dimitri Tiomkin, Joe said Elmer Bernstein. He was right.)
Rob pays up.
The party turned into dinner, then spirited conversation afterwards.
The next day—Sunday the 12th—saw John and Christine on their way. A pretty dismal, rainy day so we stayed at the house most of the day, venturing out for Sunday lunch at The Ragged Cot pub nearby.
Monday 13 June 2011: We're up early and bid farewell to Field House. We dropped Conrad off at the rail station in Stroud and started on our way to Cardiff with some stops along the way. The first was Tewkesbury where we paused for coffee. But our purpose being there was to see a sledge (see below) that's at Tewkesbury School a sledge donated by Raymond Priestley who was on Scott's Last Expedition. We were successful in that—thanks to John Reilly—and also in finding his family gravesite in the cemetery (see below). We also found the school that Priestley attended (see below). We then walked along the river to our final attraction Tewkesbury which I knew nothing about but found it well worth the visit.
Along the Avon in Tewkesbury.
For a lunch stop we decided on the picturesque market town of Ledbury, known for its black and white timber framed buildings. Thanks to a local woman, we found an excellent traditional pub in Church Lane—The Prince of Wales—and I finally got to enjoy fish and chips.
Looking up Church Lane in Ledbury.
We continued on, through Ross and along the Wye to Tintern Abbey where we stopped for a visit.
Tintern Abbey. Photo: Joe O'Farrell
On into Wales, stopping at Newport to visit the grave of Perce Blackborow, one on Shackleton's men (see below).
By the end of the day were were in Cardiff and after some difficulties found a parking garage and checked into the Royal Hotel, site of the Captain Scott Society annual dinner that evening. Had time for a beer and a glass of wine at the corner pub, then changed into our formal clothes and enjoyed the evening. Lots of frivolity, toasts and a few songs. I sat next to the Peter Beck, HM Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan; what a voice (both in English and Welsh)!
The Royal Hotel in Cardiff. The view out our window.
Scott dinner. (That's the Lord Lieutenant next to me belting out the songs.)
Tuesday 14 June 2011: Joe and I had breakfast across the road in a McDonalds, allowing me to catch up on e-mails. Not long after we checked out of the Royal Hotel (I with a piece of the Terra Nova sticking out of my backpack—a long story best kept for another time), and Joe dropped me off at the rail station and he was off to get the ferry back to Ireland from Fishguard.
I got the 10:25 to Paddington and was soon back at the Union Jack Club. Had a bite to eat, then spent much of the afternoon at the British Library checking some auction records. That evening I met up with John and Christine Rumely and we went to Caprini, the Italian restaurant that I enjoyed earlier in the trip.
Wednesday 15 June 2011: After breakfast I headed off to the Royal Geographical Society to check some things in the archives; then to my bank to make a deposit, and from there to Maggs, the booksellers in Berkeley Square, where I chatted with Hugh Betts and Mark Tewfik and admired some polar items. On to Hatchards where I failed to find a book by John Thomson. Back to Waterloo to pick up my bag, then off to Heathrow to get my 6:05pm flight back to Boston. Uneventful, and was in Boston in time to get the 9:25pm bus to Salem. My car had survived the three-weeks sitting in the car park. Back in Jaffrey by midnight.
The Aurora Australis is the first and probably the only book written, illustrated, printed, bound and issued in the Antarctic. This happened during Shackleton's Nimrod expedition in 1907-09. More than you will ever want to know about this book is on my Antarctic website.
Each copy of this book—less than 100 were produced—is unique, mainly because they were bound in the boards from the packing cases and the original stenciling is almost always present. So copies are referred to as the Butter copy or the Oatmeal copy. Over the years I have worked on a census of copies. So far I have seen and inspected 39 copies in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, England and Scotland.
On this trip I managed to see and inspect six copies (the links will take you to my Antarctic site for information on each copy):
• Royal Collections, Windsor Castle
• Eton College
• Dulwich College
• National Library of Scotland
• Dundee Heritage Trust, Discovery Point, Dundee
• Private collection in Devon
LOW-LATITUDE ANTARCTIC GAZETTEER
For years I've been "collecting" low-latitude Antarctic sites. What are they? Places outside the Antarctic that have some Antarctic connection. These can be plaques, statues, houses, graves, pubs, almost anything. At the moment I have over 1,000 sites around the world in my database. (These are documented to one extent or another at http://www.antarctic-circle.org/llag.htm)
I've had a lot of enjoyment tracking these down—met many interesting people and found myself in many interesting places.
Ones I saw mostly for the first time on this trip include (site number in brackets):
L.E.G. Oates (who died with Scott) went to Eton. In the library (entrance to the left) is a plaque commemorating Oates.
It was sculpted by Kathleen Scott and was unveiled on 23 May 1914. 
The day I arrived in London I noticed in the newspaper that Penguin Beach had just opened at the London Zoo. I had to have a look. 
Just before my trip a slate plaque commemorating "those who lost their lives in Antarctica in pursiuit of science" was unveiled in the Crypt of St Paul's.
When I visited it there was no access but a kindly guard made an exception for me. 
The Royal Dragoon Guards Museum in York has an exhibit on L.E.G. Oates.
There was a temporary exhibit in front of it, but Meredydd were kind enough to disassemble it so I could see it. That's Oates' formal waistcoat. 
Just behind where our conference was held at the University of Plymouth stands Scott Hall, named for you-know-who. 
> The Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Milbay Road, Plymouth, was where Shackleton stayed before seeing off the Endurance.
Jonathan Shackleton and I went there and had a beer. No one there knew of the Shackleton connection. 
When in Plymouth, by chance, the yacht Saunterer was visiting. This recently restored boat was owned by L.E.G. Oates. 
The Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, across from where the conference was held, has a alcove devoted to matters Antarctic, including items associated with Scott, Hodgson, Dailey, Keohane, Nelson, at al. 
Joe O'Farrell, myself, and Jonathan Shackleton at the national memorial to the polar party atop Mt Wise in Devonport in Plymouth.
The bas relief panels are powerful. 
Here I am photographing George Marston's grave in the churchyard of the St Bartholomew's in East Lyng near Taunton. 
Outside Holcombe in Somerset, beside the lovely St Andrews Old Church, is the Scott family grave.
Buried here are Scott's mother, father and brother. Captain Scott's name appears on the marker though, of course, he's not buried here. 
Joe O'Farrell and I had a tour round Cheltenham College which Edward Wilson attended. There's a beautiful memorial window in the Chapel. 
On another College building is a plaque commemorating Wilson. 
And in the faculty common room there hangs a large painting of Wilson. 
Close to the College, at 91 Montpellier Terrace, stands the house where Wilson was born. 
Kathleen Scott sculpted this statue of Edward Wilson that stands on The Promenade in Cheltenham. 
Not far outside Cheltenham, in Leckhampton, there is an inscribed cross in St. Peter's churchyard that marks the grave of Edward Wilson's father and mother, but also included is the wording: "Also his son Edward A. Wilson M.A.M.B. who died with Capt. Scott after reaching the South Pole 12th March 1912." Joe O'Farrell and me at the cross. 
In a stairway in the Humanities Building of Tewkesbury School in Gloucestershire there hangs a sledge that was donated by Raymond Priestley who was from Tewkesbury. (Photo by Joe O'Farrell) 
In Priestley's day, the school was at another location. It is now boarded up. 
Although he's not buried there himself, Priestley's name appears on the family crypt at the Tewkesbury Cemetery. 
In St Woolos Cemetery in Newport, Wales—Britain's largest cemetery—is the grave of Perce Blackborow who was with Shackleton on the Endurance.