Kenilworth Castle ruins
Beauchamp Chapel at St. Mary’s Church in Warwick, England
Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, and his second wife, Lettice Knollys Devereux Dudley, the Countess of Leicester
Kenilworth Gardens, designed for Queen Elizabeth I’s visit in 1575
On this day in 1588, my 14th great grandmother, Lettice Knollys Devereux Dudley, accompanied her second husband’s casket from their home at Kenilworth to the Beauchamp Chapel at St. Mary’s Church in Warwick. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a one-time paramour and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, married Lettice without the Queen’s permission ten years prior when Lettice became pregnant. Though married in secret, her father witnessed the ceremony to make sure it couldn’t be denied later. They had flirted with each other for years, so much so that there were rumors Robert poisoned Lettice’s first husband.
Although she was the daughter of one of Queen Elizabeth I’s dearest friends, Katherine Carey Knollys, and devoted servants, Francis Knollys, the Queen never forgave Lettice. She did, however forgive Robert. Lettice loved to flaunt her position as his wife, and though Robert’s loose relationship with money left their estate in massive debt upon his death, Lettice commissioned an elaborate tomb with effigies of them both. She was buried alongside him when she died in 1634, having outlived three husbands and all of her children.
On my last day in England I spent the morning at the Temple Church, ate a luxurious lunch at The Wolesley, and then spent the rest of the day laying in the grass, painting, and soaking in the warm sun and all that is beautiful about summer in two of London’s royal parks – St. James’s Park and Green Park. In the late 19th century these parks inspired Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, to design public spaces and park systems throughout the U.S. and in turn his work has inspired me. He crafted landscapes by teasing out their essence, and it is the essence of place that I’m on the trail to find. (Turn on your sound to get the full effect of this beautiful day and place)
As a landscape historian I’m intrigued by what communicates the sense of place. Earlier this year I spent three weeks traveling through England and Scotland researching, experiencing and trying to capture base layers of each place’s essence. The Cotswolds was one of the landscapes that resonated the most. I recorded its landscapes, sounds, colors and objects – historic and contemporary, sacred and profane. Here are some impressions from that study. (Make sure your sound is turned on to get the full effect.)
A great deal of thought went into the timing of my upcoming trip to Europe (which starts three weeks from today). Summer and Winter were out. Winter for obvious reasons and Summer because only fools leave Oregon during the summer. This is our best season and shouldn’t be missed!
So, it was really a toss up between Spring and Fall, but if I went with Spring I would have had to wait another six months and I’d already been waiting a few years. If my bout with cancer left any type of lasting impression it was to do it now – no matter what “it” is. You never know what’s right around the corner. So Fall it is for many reasons, let me count them down…
- I love this season and honestly think the weather is less volatile at that time of year. Knowing that a good part of my itinerary would be visiting landscapes that was a big consideration.
- I’ve found amazing deals. I was able to book my flight using only 40,000 miles for a round trip ticket to London and out of Madrid. Spring offers some similar options, but not as many in my experience.
- I’m taking advantage of a trip to New York where I’m speaking at a conference and launching my trip from there. Less time on the plane is always a good idea.
Four months from today I’ll be on a plane. That’s not atypical in a life filled with frequent travel, but this will be a special trip. Originally slated to coincide with my 40th birthday, but delayed due to life’s unplanned events (take that cancer), I’m heading to two countries I’ve never visited – England and Spain – for three weeks in the fall.
Though I typically start documenting a trip the day it starts, that doesn’t really tell the whole story, nor does it capture all the fun that goes into traveling. Mapping out the journey; reading about the places you will visit; making decisions about going east or west, north or south; determining what you’ll leave to chance and what you’ll plan ahead is one of my FAVORITE parts of traveling. It’s where the dreaming comes in, and who doesn’t LOVE to dream.
Plus I’m interested in your advice. I have some “can’t miss” places on my list, but there are still many holes. Perhaps you can help me fill in the gaps. Where would you go? What would you do if you had three weeks in two amazing countries.