Sunday, March 20, 2011
Dover Castle and Good Friends
Yesterday, we took the train to Dover - about an hour trip from Tonbridge. It was a crisp sunny day with lots of blue sky and sparkly sea. The huge castle was built by Henry II to offer hospitality and to impress pilgrms coming across from the continent to visit the shrine of Beckett at Canterbury. Was it was a form of political spin to detract from Henry's part in the martyrdom of Beckett? He was certainly a strong monarch and capable of such.
The castle was also used in the defense of England during WWII. There are many anti-aircraft gun turrets and bunkers for ammunition and soldiers. On such a clear day, we could see the coast of France and Flandesr across the Channel It was easy to envision German aircraft coming in to bomb London. We could also see the ferries coming and going to the continent from the port of Dover.
The castle sits atop a very high hill surrounded by a moat. The interior is furnished with modern-day replicas of furniture and hangings that one assumes are like the medieval originals. It was interesting to walk through the halls and climb to the tower. There were actors dressed in period costumes who spoke in the voices of historic characters. We chatted for quite some time with Henry II himself. Very interesting. I think he enjoyed holding forth for two Americans who knew something of English history and asked questions about Eleanor, Richard and John!
We got back to Tonbridge about 4:30, picked up a frozen beef and brandy casserole and an Eve pudding from Cook, a shop that does chef-prepared meals ready to "bung" in the oven and serve. It was delicious. Wendy and Rosie arrived right on time at 7:00 with a bottle of champagne and their own naturally good spirits. We had a wonderful time catching up and looking at the beautiful moon over the garden. They left this morning to go back to Wallington (London). It was so good to see them both. We are making plans to meet up at their place in Ibiza one day soon.