“Half memoir, half travel, A Yank Back to England...is an absolutely wonderful book, not only about going home again but also about love and family and tradition and the passage of the years.”
—Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic (Washington
To see the entire quote, click here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A toasted Sandwich

We asked Cousin Kevin to take some piccies in Sandwich, that wonderful medieval town we discovered on our travels, almost by accident. He came up trumps with this weird and wonderful structure we vaguely recalled seeing near the river’s edge, but we could not quite remember its purpose. It looked like one of those cages naughty villeins were put in to rot! So Kevin put us to rights: It was a pole beacon.
The structure was filled with wood, rags, and kindling, all to be set ablaze as an ancient first alert system. Prior to the arrival of the mighty Spanish Armada, these pole beacons were built, set up, and made ready all along the southern coast of England. When the invasion fleet was sighted in 1588 the beacons were lit, one after the other.
This amazing sight of crackling fire and billowing smoke was the signal for all mannish men to assemble at their local church, armed and ready, and await instructions. The incident is recalled in history books of the time: “Sir Walter Raleigh sailed out to engage the dastardly Spanish in the Channel and Kicked their Arse.”
Cousin Kevin adds, “And that’s why we all speak English today! See... I was listening during history lesson at school, instead of staring out the window.” And we are pleased you were paying attention, old chap!


A Brit in Tennessee said...

A superb alert system, and it worked ....
Thankfully ;)

Daffycat said...

I remember a facinating in-depth study of the Spanish Armada in my freshman year of high school...I came away with a love of history.

How I would love to see those pole beacons!

parTea lady said...

Nice photo and interesting info on the pole beacon. I've never seen one of these and I bet they were very impressive when set alight.

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Jo--I'm with you, what would we do without our charming accents?
Sharon--How wonderful! History was my best subject in school--hope Kate gets the bug too, so fascinating.
parTea lady--I bet they were pretty spectacular indeed; actually we saw Elizabeth (the Golden Age, I think) recently and they used these, and we knew what they were!

Amber said...

Hmm, all this English. My kind of blog. So lovely to have this peek into others lives and ways of living. thank you for the ticket!

Emm said...

I must try make it out to Sandwich. It sounds nice!