England Travel Journal – Supplemental Reading List

Duke Humfrey’s Library, Oxford

I don’t think I have ever published a reading list after one of our study tours, but this trip merits a change in procedure.

You can find the pre-trip reading list here.

What we saw and learned during the trip led to more reading. Also, I forgot to mention in our previous reading list the most important book on which we relied for finding Alfred the Great sites.

So, here is the supplemental list:

King Alfred: A Man on the Move, by Paul Kelly. This is the most comprehensive book we could find on the sites in England related to Alfred the Great. Kelly also has a great blog devoted to the great man.

Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis, by George Sayer. I downloaded this book from Amazon after we visited Lewis’s home, and I couldn’t wait to read it each night before bed. Sayer was one of Lewis’s students and thereafter a friend. I found Sayer’s biography even more engaging than Lewis’s autobiography, Surprised by Joy, but that may have been in part because we had just been in Lewis’s home.

In the Eye of the Storm: A Biography of Gregory the Great, by Sigrid Grabner. I didn’t get to talk much about Gregory the Great in this travel blog, except to say he sent Augustine to Canterbury, but Gregory was truly great a man. If all the popes had been as humble and committed to the Lord, Catholic church history would have been very different.

Queen Bertha and Her Times, by Elizabeth Harriot Hudson. I become very interested in Bertha as I dug into the story of Augustine of Canterbury. Like Clotilde, wife of Clovis, she changed history by helping lead her husband, Aethelberht, King of Kent, to the Lord. I’m about a third of the way through this book, and it is an interesting read.

I sense we are not done with English kingdom history at the GSB blog. GS

England Travel Journal – Epilogue

Stained Glass, St. Andrews Church, Aller, just at the moment
the sun shone around Alfred’s head

On the flight home I watched a movie, Empire of Light. The movie takes place in a movie a theater in England. Early in the movie the projectionist explains the magic of movies, stating that there is a “flaw” in the eye that doesn’t see the dark spaces between the between the lighted frames. This, he says, creates the illusion of movement. It was a nice metaphor for the story line in the movie and for our trip.

There were some dark spaces between lighted frames I presented in the blog posts. There was the horrible service at the hotel in Brighton. They had no parking for us at the hotel the night we arrived but promised they had reserved a spot for us the following night. The following night they told us they didn’t have a spot for us, but assured us our name was now in the book and there would be a spot for us the following night. Wrong again.

Then there was the barking dog in the bar two night in a row. The same dog with the same customer. There is something incongruous about spending twenty dollars for a martini in a nice bar and sipping it to the sound of a dog barking twenty feet away. I told our server I felt like I was in a kennel. In stereotypical English understatement she replied, “It’s not ideal.”

And how could I not mention the shower at the same hotel that sprayed with such force it created a vacuum pulling the shower curtain into the shower to cling to one’s body? I tried to point the shower head at the curtain to keep it off of me, but water got all over the floor. Then I noticed the warped, water damaged door and realized I had not been the first to try this.

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England Travel Journal – Day 13

Bow Windows Book Shop, Lewes

The women wanted to go wine-tasting but didn’t want to take the double decker bus with the commoners. There was talk of hiring a private wine tour guide, but they could not find one.

So, I agreed to forget about what I wanted to do and offered to drive them around all day to the vineyards. I rarely drink wine anymore–not for religious reasons but gastrointestinal ones–and planned on just waiting in the car and finishing my book on Augustine of Canterbury.

The words of Jesus came to mind:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:12-13

Granted, my sacrifice was not on the scale of martyrdom, but it wasn’t nothing either. I have to admit too that in the back of my mind was the possibility that if they finished with the grape before 5 p.m., on the way back to Brighton we could stop in Lewes, where I had heard there was a great antiquarian book shop.

We left around 11 am and drove to Ridgeview Wine Estate. It was closed. Then we drove to Court Garden Farms. Closed. I then decided to save us a drive and check on Artelium Wine Estate (our next stop) on the internet. Closed. I sympathized with the rest of the team. I told them I was sorry because I knew how they were looking forward to the wine-tasting. The Wife then said, “Well, let’s just go to Lewes.”

No wine tasting today
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England Travel Journal – Day 12

Canterbury Cathedral-outside being renovated, inside the same

Canterbury is the Anglicans’ Rome, and it is where Christianity was reintroduced in 587 A.D. by Augustine (not of Hippo) and where it finally and permanently took root.

Between 450 A.D. and 597 A.D. Angles and Saxons from Europe invaded England, bringing their pagan beliefs. What was left of the Church in western England was separated from Rome.

Toward the end of the sixth century, Queen Bertha of Kent, wife of King Aethelberht, requested the church in Gaul send Christian leaders to evangelize their kingdom. Bertha, was a Christian; Aethelberht was not.

The church in Gaul sent no one, so Bertha made the same request of Pope Gregory in Rome.

In response, Gregory sent Augustine. Augustine got as far as Gaul when the rest of his group upon hearing of the brutality of the Angles and Saxons, rebelled and refused to go further. Augustine returned to Rome to meet with Pope Gregory to ask to abandon the mission. Gregory denied the request and encouraged Augustine to continue on to England. Augustine was obedient and did exactly that.

Although Aethelberht was initially reluctant, he became a Christian. Many of his leaders followed. Augustine then went into to oother surrounding towns and into the country making disciples. He also had a cathedral built in Canterbury, along with an abbey, and became the first Bishop of Canterbury.

Augustine’s obedience included a false start and may not have been perfect, but he did the will of the Lord in the end. We are still talking about Augustine of Canterbury. The church leaders in Gaul who did not respond to the call to make to disciples have been lost to history.

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England Travel Journal – Day 11

Rye Pottery–nothing to do with the theme of our tour

Our destination for the day was Rye. What is there in Rye related to the Christianization of England, you ask? Nothing, I say.

But certain members of the GSB team, having lost sight of our mission, wanted to visit the Rye Pottery factory, where they make collections of figurines based on themes like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the Bayou Tapestry. I conceded, hoping my example of self-sacrifice would encourage a return to our itinerary or at least would heap burning coals on their heads.

Rye, though small, is a beautiful town and draws tourists and many from the the surrounding countryside. Those who come will find many antique shops and a castle. Those who come looking for Christian history will find many antique shops and a castle.

Asserting the principle of “Driver’s Discretion”-an obscure rule first mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles stating the driver of the automobile has the right over passengers to choose the route–I chose to drive back to Brighton along the coast through a town called Eastbourne only to avoid the same route I had already driven three times.

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