Monday, 12 September 2011

American History at Sulgrave Manor

Sulgrave Manor, near Banbury, was built by George Washington’s 5x Grandfather during Tudor times.  George’s direct ancestors, who all were influential men in their own right, lived there for less than 100 years, before John Washington, George’s Grandfather, emigrated to America.   They have an exhibition area on George Washington at their Brewhouse, but the emphasis on the house is more Tudor history than Washington history.   It’s a small, gentle place with a manor house and various gardens, and on select days children’s guided tours and Tudor dress up.  We visited a few years ago on Labor Day but it is the kind of place that I would go back to and enjoy again.  Open to the public, until end of October and reopening again in May. The best visiting times, being half term and weekends (11am-4pm), as midweek opening times are currently limited 2-4pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  They also have a Christmas Market and Yuletide Celebration and it is available for private hire. I would however recommend calling ahead (01295 760205) to make sure the children’s activities you are interested in are available for when you are planning your visit. 

Sunday, 11 September 2011


 As I was walking my youngest daughter from primary school on Friday, I overheard the conversation of a young British schoolgirl telling her mum about the September 11th attacks,  which they had discussed at school that day.  Today, as I remember that day, I am talking to my children about it too.  It has become history for everyone around the world, whether we want it or not.

Living as an ex-pat in England for the last 11 years, my exposure to it has been watered down over the years but today on the 10th anniversary, I will choose again to remember and feel, as much as the day it happened. My greatest connection to the event is that I am American, and I had been to the twin towers some 25 years ago.  They were unbelievable and enthralling and I can only imagine how exciting a place it must have been to work in and see those buildings every day.   Now, for the first time the general public can see the memorial and the partly constructed  ‘One World Trade Center ‘ (freedom tower) which is due to be completed 2013. The dedication ceremony will be today and it will start to be open to the public tomorrow.   Earlier in the week, the mayor of London unveiled a memorial sculpture in London made from wreckage.  66 UK citizens lost their lives in 9/11. Mixed reviews over this so far in the UK, as there isn’t an official memorial to the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London yet.
South Tower, viewing platform
The BBC are offering coverage of the 10th anniversary at the New York Memorial starting at 130pm today going on until 415pm, although the event in America will last until 11pm Eastern Time.  There will be moments of silence, tributes and tears in the new Manhattan skyline that has changed itself, changed the world, and changed us.  My youngest daughter just saw my old photos of the twin tower and said ‘ Wow and was it as tall as the Eiffel tower?’….and I said…’it was taller’. Some will say it is media overload and that they would rather forget. I am glad however that they are helping me and my family remember a little bit more this year.