Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Griffons in search of Arthur

What follows is a field report from intrepid adventurer and raconteur, Professor C. J. Jeney (pictured in the Tower of London--with horses--where she belongs):

The English 361 Literature on Site: Tales & Legends of King Arthur class has returned from their overseas quest to find a legendary king!

The group departed from KCI on March 10, 2011 for London, and began our journey of wonder with a sightseeing tour of the city, led by the fearless David Jagger, our favorite tour guide. This was followed up by an evening jaunt to Picadilly Circus led by the equally fearless Margaret Easter (we had aimed for Leicester Square, but it is walled off, getting ready for the Olympic festivities in 2012--as is much of the city). After that, the whirlwind quest began. Keep up with us, if you can!

Tower of London -- built by William I (the Conqueror) on site of former Roman stronghold.London Museum -- home of London's greatest collection of Roman and Medieval artifacts on displayStonehenge -- Giants' Dance, grave of Ambrosius Aurelianus, re-erected by Merlin, site of MysteryOld Sarum -- Iron Age hil fort, Roman stronghold, Norman castle: home of the famous "Domesday Book"Salisbury Cathedral -- trubute to medieval church-building; soaring vaulted ceiling, magnificent spire; Magna Carta on display (and well guarded) in the chapter house.Roman Baths (Bath) -- Vacation Central for the occupying Roman forces, the baths have been excavated and partially restored for visitors ever since the 19th Century. Hail Caesar (and pass the soap!)Tintagel Castle (pictured left), Cornwall -- legendary birthplace of King Arthur.Newquay (pronounced "New'-kee") -- overnight stay in beachfront hotel; surfing Mecca for Princes William and Harry.Glastonbury Abbey -- final resting place of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere; excavated in 1191, a grave site marked with a lead cross: Hic jacet sepultus inclitus rex Arthurus in insula Avalonia ("Here lies interred the famous King Arthur on the Isle of Avalon").Chalice Well & Gardens -- site visited by Joseph of Arimathea after the death of Christ; the stories tell of a Grail hidden by Joseph in the sacred Well. Glastonbury Tor -- In the region of Avalon, surrounded by the Summer Country, the Isle of Glass rose above the misty waters. Romans sailed to its base; Meleagant carried off Guinevere; the Lady of the Lake looked down upon the Monks of Glastonbury... or was it all just stories?Leeds Castle -- dating its history back to the 9th Century, the castle at Leeds in Kent is still a working visitor destination, available for weddings, conferences, and other events.Dover -- White cliffs. Too hazy to see France. Canterbury Cathedral -- Est. 597 by Saint Augustine; site of the murder of St. Thomas Beckett; destination of pilgrims, place of worship, place of peace.Her Majesty's Theatre (optional) -- Now Playing: Phantom of the Opera! Open Day: -- Dr. Jeney treks to Hampton Court Palace, the famed residence of Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII (whose armor is pictured right); half of the palace was re-done in the Baroque style by William & Mary in 1689, thus creating the impression of visiting two palaces for the price of one. Sarah Spiers' pilgrimage to Colchester, the Land of Boudicca is a glorious, Roman-battling success. Leah Cotton experiences the joys of London Bus Tours, journeying in and around London, takes a ride on the London Eye, and meets up with friends in the city. Margaret Easter, Sofia Pierson, Deborah Becker, and Danyel Becker make a day of it in the British Museum.

During the trip, we paused to watch reports of the disastrous earthquake/tsunami in Japan. There were protesters in the streets of London with signs supporting Libyan resistance, and the entire town is all a-buzz about the 2012 Olympic Games and of course, the wedding of their darling Prince William to Catherine Middleton.

Some of us bought too many books. Some of us hunted for "Will and Kate" commemorative souvenirs. One acquired a tasteful replica of the Rosetta Stone (the actual stone, not the language software) in a BM gift shop. One person took altogether too many pictures of Tintagel Castle and forgot to click pics at Her Majesty's Theatre. Two people launched spontaneously into verses of Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot." One person walked barefoot in the healing waters at the Chalice Wells. Two people cried at Phantom. Four people hiked to the top of Glastonbury Tor (pictured left).

In the end, the group found King Arthur in the mists, the lore, the stories, and the forgotten ancient past of the Isle of Britain.


Dante L said...

Out of the four who hiked up the Tor, did any of them get pushed into the mud by faeries?

Boudicca Gruaim said...

No mud this time Dante.