Several years ago, Neal and I traveled to England with the greatest anticipation of beautiful landmarks and gorgeous sights. Downton Abbey was in its second season, and I, like the rest of the world, was enamored with England. The glory of Buckingham Palace was completely overwhelming, and the sites of the typical tourist destinations just delighted us.
We traveled with our friends Joan and Gary. Now Gary was our official tour planner and guide. One of our most amazing stops was Liverpool—and yes, we took the Beatles tour. By the end, I could sing all the songs and not miss a word.
Tucked away in this little town was the most beautiful and worshipful Liverpool Cathedral. This was an unplanned stop but proved to be amazing. When we walked in, I could hear the glorious pipe organ playing. I play the organ and piano, so any type of organ music immediately captures my attention. When I looked up into the choir loft, there was the huge console, but no one was playing this glorious music. When I turned around I realized there were two consoles, one up in the loft and one on the main floor. This incredible instrument could be played from either place.
As we listened, the gentleman playing the organ came to us and apologized that he was not the regular organist but was substituting for a community service that evening. As splendid conversation continued, he told us that this organ was the largest pipe organ in the UK. Construction started on the organ in 1923 and was completed in 1926, and today it remains the largest musical instrument ever conceived.
Sometimes it’s the little things—or in this case a not so little thing—that take our breath away. This unplanned stop on our journey was one of the highlights of our trip. I will never forget that beautiful day and the delightful experience of hearing that majestic instrument.
Have you been to England? What do you love about England and the UK?
Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of visiting England but quite anxious to someday visit… All you ladies have such lively things to say about England and without visiting I always knew I would be intrigued with this country…. Some FYI I receive a wonderful magazine called The English Home it is my second best to Victoria!! You will all enjoy I’am sure!
I love your newsletters, and have been reading ‘Victoria’ right from its very first issue. I did chuckle to hear Liverpool being referred to as a”little town” with a ‘tucked-away’ cathedral! Liverpool has for centuries been a major port, and is listed as a world heritage site. It is also the home of both the Cunard and White Star Line (of ‘Titanic’ fame). The massive Anglican cathedral which you visited dominates the skyline of the city, and is visible from the coast of North Wales. I believe that Liverpool is the only city in the UK to boast two cathedrals – the other is the Roman Catholic one, known because of its iconic architecture as ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’! The city has also more Georgian buildings than the city of Bath, and is well worth a visit. (As a native of Manchester, this pains me greatly to praise our great rival city!)
Should you visit Liverpool again, might I suggest you stay at the newly converted White Star headquarters, which has been furnished in the style of the ‘Titanic’. Gorgeous!
It is so refreshing to hear that tourists venture out from the usual destinations of London and Stratford, and I believe that the beautiful British features in ‘Victoria’ have certainly encouraged more people to explore England further.
Having been born and raised in Liverpool, I know how you felt walking into that cathedral, I can still remember the wonder of those organs and that beautiful cathedral,
I have always been an Anglophile, but my “visit” to England was an afternoon and night spent there as a stopover on our return trip from Israel. I have always wanted to return. I would certainly go to cathedrals in hopes of hearing the magnificent organ. I am organist at a church in our town, and very much enjoy playing it. It, too, is a pipe organ (though the piano will always be my instrument of choice!). Did you know that the largest organ ever built is right here in the US in Atlantic City? It’s the Midmer-Losh organ. You can find information about it by googling it. It is an amazing instrument.
I love your articles and magazines. You are a talented lady.
My husband and I lived in London in the early ’70s and we have just returned from a recent visit to Devon, Cornwall and London. We started our visit at Salisbury Cathedral which was amazing and continued each day through Devon and parts of Cornwall visiting a different National Trust house each day. The houses and gardens were simply amazing and the volunteer guides were so friendly and full of information. Previous trips have seen us visit Buckingham Palace with a fond memory of standing outside the Palace to catch a glimpse of Princess Anne on the Balcony on her wedding day! and The Victoria and Albert Museum. This visit we enjoyed true British humour while attending the play ’39 Steps’ at Piccadilly Circus and sat in amazement as we listened to an organ recital in Westminister Abby surrounded by all that history. On a previous trip we visited the National Trust house ‘Ham House’ just outside Richmond, an easy day trip from central London, which I would recommend as it is full of textile treasures.
I, too, love England and have visited several times. After my first visit, I mentioned to my aunt how I felt so at home there. She told me that our ancestors through her mom came from Worchester England. No wonder it felt so right! I remember walking through the cathedrals seeing the stain glass windows and architecture, visiting Kew Gardens seeing beautiful flowers and buildings. As an designer, I find architecture fascinating as I do historic houses and museums: Leighton House, Albert & Victoria and so much more. I would love to go again! On our last trip we stayed in a B & B in Chiswick. Our host was the best, he would pick up exotic fruits for breakfast and even joined us at the neighborhood pub for a meal. He made us feel so at home. England is a magically place!
We visited England in the 70’s, when our daughter was 16 and son 14. We stayed with my husband’s family who live in Burnley. We toured the area from Cornwall to Wales and Scotland. Waited for hours to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Our trip was so interesting, meeting family we had never met before and seeing sights we had read about was really super! The best was meeting my husband’s father’s brother who told us all about WWII and gave our daughter his Mother’s Loving Cup. He gave our son all his medals from WWII, wonderful family and lovely friends.
We hope to visit again soon.
I have never been to England. I am interested in the country because my mother’s ancestors came from England and France.
I do love most everything about The United Kingdom and Ireland. There are many things that stand out to me during my travels there but I guess the ‘one’ that took my heart away was when wandering into one of the cathedrals and hearing a local school choir singing… sounded like angels, brought tears to my eyes!
I visited London in the ’60s and so want to tour all of England. My favorite thing encompasses a lot…the history.
My husband and I have toured the British Isles on seven different occasions. I love that feeling of permanence that I feel only when I am there. I love the people and the architecture and the food (of course).There is nothing that I do not like. It’s always fun when tourists stop us for directions. We have blended in! I can truly say that my heart is there. This year (with a touch of homesickness) , our trip will take us to Holland, Belgium and France. However, in 2017, we have scheduled a trip with our twin nieces back to the British Isles. Home again!
We toured the Cotswolds for a week and I cried when we had to leave. I felt such a compelling connection to the ancient and achingly beautiful countryside and to the gracious and friendly people we met along the way. Maybe I lived there in a previous life? Can’t wait to return one day.
I definitely get it. I felt it too. You have to experience it yourself to understand. Want to go again and again.
My Mother and I went to the Chelsea flower show and also the Autumn flower show. At the Autumn show a Dahlia vendor’s name was the same as Mama’s maiden name. They began talking and he gave the award he had won to her. A beautiful memory, from a wonderful trip to a wonderful country
It’s hard to say what I love the most or why. I must have some English heritage as I always feel so “at home” there. I shall never forget my first visit to Westminster Abbey for evensong. A wonderful evening for my husband and I. My daughter and I are planning another trip soon. I love to travel and we plan to do as much as possible while I still feel up to enjoying it. I have not visited Liverpool so must put that on my list as I would love the cathedral.
I have a dear friend who is an organist and a retired dean of music at a prestigious music school. We went to Philadelphia once especially to hear him play the Wanamaker organ. It was a delight.. I must ask if he has ever played this in Liverpool.
What a joy is must have been to visit the cathedral in Liverpool and see the fabulous organ there. Joe and I had a too-short trip to London in 1972 while he was attending an International Conference on Hospice in Oxford at St Edmund’s. I spent my days in book stores and grave yards where I got rubbings from grave stones. The banquet at St Edmund’s was a rare privilege to attend as all the dignitaries were in robes at the high table and we had a standing Latin blessing. When Joe finished the Hospice conference and we returned home he became the founding Medical Director of Montclair Baptist Hospice, the first fully staffed, hospital connected hospice in Alabama. Our trip was in April so we missed all of the storied flowering and greenery, but were much entertained despite the cold and rain.
My two daughters their daddy and I were fortunate to be in York on Easter Sunday. As our taxi dropped us at yorkminster the bells started to ring. A glorious and majestic sound to herald the spirit of the tomb being opened. It made for goosebumps and inside the church the people were kind gracious and welcoming. A memory to never be forgotten
The Victoria and Albert Museum is amazing with its wonderful collection of needlework and so much more. The Chelsea Flower Show is always beautiful. My heritage is English and two years ago my distant relatives from England came to Edenton, NC, for a “Family Gathering.” In 2016 we will have a “Family Gathering” in Cheshire, UK and I am so looking forward to that event. Tours are planned that include our heritage as far back as c. 12th century. I always enjoy your Victoria Magazine “British” edition.
Will never forget the day we visited Westminister Abby. The boys choir was practicing. I lost myself in that most wonderful sound and stayed until the end. I think my husband thought we would never leave and believe me when I say, I would have stayed indefinitely listening to the heavenly voices of those precious youths. The organ music was so thrilling, reminding me of the music our organist played in the church I attended that was across the street from my home. If I noticed she was there practicing, I would go over and listen. My favorite was Londonderry Aire. She would play that sometimes during the offering and there was hardly a dry eye when she finished. Wonderful memories!
Phyllis, my husband and I were in Liverpool this August. We were amazed at the city with its museums, and of course, the Beatles’ history. We visited the cathedral and captured photos of its beauty and the remarkable organ! Blessings, Pam
How wonderful an experience! My brief stay in 2010 has me anxious for more..
What I love most about England is that it gave me my husband, in-laws (or “outlaws” as they like to be known!) and all my extended family! Although I’ve been to the UK many times, I always discover new things & love my time over there. In fact, we are leaving tomorrow for 2.5 weeks in Old Blighty! Cant wait!
Our last trip had an interesting detour as well. We stayed in a different B&B every two nights and traveled in between. Our host sang in a church choir and they were broadcasting their Evensong for the BBC the day we were with them. We went and the biggest treat was seeing and hearing their boys’ choir. They were amazing and we were there with very few spectators just absorbing all of that celestial music. The boys try out and the practices are daily. Quite a commitment with soccer, cricket and school. It is one of my fondest memories.
I love England. When our son in law studied in Aberdeen, Scotland for his PhD. in Biblical studies, our family spent a wonderful two weeks in England and Scotland. Aside from the beautiful countryside, my personal favorite moment was attending a mass in the cathedral in Cambridge. Since it was one of a few that day, on a weekday, attendance was not high, and they allowed me to sit in the very first nave of the cathedral. I’ll never forget it. There was something so special about it, glorifying God in that was built between 1083 – 1375. There are many things to love in the UK, the beautiful churches are amongst my very favorites.