Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sketching trip to England

Just over two weeks ago we were visiting Ireland and England. The Glastonbury Studios' sketching trip to England included a fun-filled time in the market town of Marlborough. We had five students.

A favorite of King John, Marlborough has roots dating back over 5,000 years. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conquerer spread his power and influence throughout England. One such places was in Marlborough where a motte and bailey castle was built--somewhat like a wood fort situated on a raised mound and surrounded by a ditch.

Rendering of what a motte and bailey castle looked like
Interestingly the mound on which this castle was built is actually a burial mound dating back to 2400 BC. There is a legend that Merlin was buried there and it was called Merlin's Borough, thus the name for Marlborough. 

The great part is that today the mound stands inside Marlborough College and we were able to climb it (64 feet high) and stand on top of nearly 5,000 years of history.

Along with its great history, Marlborough is a paradise of old relic buildings and pathways, a lovely river park, lots of shopping and great sketching opportunities. Just outside the town, you can find wonderful walking trails that can lead to the Ridgeway, built when England had a land bridge to the continent. 

One of many alleys that take you
into some quaint settings.
St. Peter and Paul, a favorite for King Charles.

Lots of shops and eateries.

Housing along the river and park.

As always, I hired a van to take us to the little village of Avebury. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Avebury is far better than its top "competitor," Stonehenge. For one, it's less crowded. Secondly you can walk right up to the massive stones and thirdly, it's far easier to sketch because you can get up so close and personal. Plus, there are sheep all over the grounds. But no matter what time of year we go to Avebury, it's always raining. So we always have to do a quick sketch and move on!

Those white dots aren't sheep, they're massive stones
set into a circle.

Lovely teacher's college

The gift shop that oozes with history.
Stone barn

If you want to sketch sheep, Avebury is the best place.
You won't see this at Stonehenge. 

Here's how tall these stones are. Compare the
students' height with the stone.

Of course, we had to jump on the local bus to take us to Chiseldon, where we usually stay in the Chiseldon House Hotel (no room in the inn this year because of a wedding). The interesting highlight of this trip was that we met a thatcher who was thatching a roof. We also went over to the hotel and they let us sketch their lovely courtyard.

Watching a thatcher work in real time. Fascinating.

The sketching gals hard at work.

Lacock and Castle Combe
Another day and onto the van again. This time to visit the old villages of Lacock and Castle Combe. Both of them do not have power lines or TV aerials on the streets/houses. So they are perfect places for films to be shot. Lacock has been home to Harry Potter and parts of Downtown Abbey. Castle Combe hosted Iron Horse, Dr. Doolittle, Stardust and parts for TV programs, such as Robin Hood and Poirot.

So there's a tale to tell on this day. We pretty much got to see most of each village, but really didn't have much time to sketch because of the rain.  So instead we were able to visit the Lacock's bakery, church and the oldest licensed pub in the kingdom. The George Inn. While warming up in the pub, we heard a story about the original fireplace (which my husband looked up and found to only be partially true) by the owner. All I can say is that it made for extra entertainment, while enjoying our warm drinks.

The tale told to us was partially true. It was how the
spit was turned in the fireplace--first by children, then by
small dogs.

I'm just in love with the stone work through this area.
Notice how worn the front stoop is.

A side shot of a typical Lacock house.

I read the living rooms had to be big enough to hold a loom. Lacock was a
cottage-industry town.

Village church.

Castle Combe

We only had a few minutes before it started to rain and I mean rain. Fortunately, we found a wonderful little inn  (above) that gave us shelter. Then they served us a scrumptious cream tea (tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam) in the lobby to warm our shivering bodies.

As you enter Castle Combe you do feel like you're entering
another era, especially when there are no cars!
14th century Market Cross
More charming houses

Houses along the river

Wow, I've been to Bath over a dozen times and I still see or experience something new! We got to the city by 9 a.m. and were able to grab a bench in the courtyard before the Roman Bath/Pump Room complex and the Bath Abbey. It was sort of like being in heaven. The crowds hadn't come in yet, the sun was shining on us (yay) and in the distance you could hear an opera singer whose voice drifted to where we were sitting to lift up our souls. Bath is known for street entertainers including sculptors, artist and dancers. Always something new!

We visited two spots. The courtyard and the Pulteney Bridge, which is similar to the Ponte Vecchio  (old bridge) in Florence, Italy. Built during our revolution, the bridge is populated with several small shops. My favorite being the Bath Stamp and Coin Shop. Back in 2000, we learned that the first stamp originated from Bath. We also were able to collect a goodly amount of old Roman coins (usually found on the old trails) and letters written, sent and delivered before stamps. While their inventory is limited these days, it was still a great place to stop to "ooh and aah. "

Amazing balancing act. He even had water pouring onto a cup.

Pulteney Bridge and River Avon

Another view of bridge and attached buildings

Here's another field trip that blows me away. About 30 miles south of Marlborough, the city of Salisbury has the tallest steeple in England, rising from the famous Salisbury Cathedral. An added bonus is that one of the original copies of the Magna Carta is on display in the chapter room. I still get the shivers when I see it.

The cathedral

One of the four entrances into the grounds
Market Cross

One of many carvings of the dearly departed. This one
attracts my attention to the detailed carving, especially the pillow.
So that covers a few of the many pictures we took and the places we visited. Next outing will be Boston to Quebec in September 2018.

What's coming up:

Next set of six-week classes begin the last week of October and end the second week of December (no class during Thanksgiving week). If you are intersted, please email: jjgoodell@gmail.com

Pencil to Brush
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project.
Every Tuesday morning*
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

Full (wait list)

The Morning Draw
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term
Full (wait list)

Pencil to Brush 
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project.
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term
For more information email:


Glastonbury Studios One-Day Workshops
All studio workshops are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Includes supplies and lunch. The cost is $85. Class size is limited to nine students. Pre-registration is required. Only payment reserves your seat.
For full description of workshops see: Workshop Catalog

Drawing using stippling and pointillism
with ink and markers

October 14 (Full--wait list)

Drawing Cats
November 4

Drawing in Pen and Ink
November 18 (Full--wait list)

Drawing in Realism
December 2

Register by email:


Upcoming 2018 Sketching Cruise

Sketching Fall Colors 
7-Day Sketching Cruise
New England and Canada

Friday, Sep 14 - 21, 2018

Cruise $799 (PPDO) plus fees & taxes*
Workshop Tuition: $700

*Rates subject to change.

For more information or to register please email:

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