Berkshire Choral International

Several Steps Back in Time

Puccini: Messe di Gloria 
Gounod: St. Cecilia Mass

July 29-August 5, 2018
Concert: August 4, Durham Cathedral     
Conductor: Brian Kay 

Located in the North East of England on the banks of the River Tyne, Newcastle has undergone several transformations since it began life as a Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall in 122 AD.

One can almost literally follow that history through Newcastle and the surrounding villages at Roman temples, castles and an open-air museum that shows how life was lived from the 1820s to the 1940s.

Newcastle was originally a “vici” or civil settlement at the fort of Condercum. Its modern name dates to the Norman rule after 1066, when a new castle was in fact built.


Beamish Museum

Dr Frank Atkinson was inspired to build an open-air museum after visiting Scandinavian folk museums. In the 1950s, the region was losing touch with its coal mining, ship building and iron and steel manufacturing heritage. More important, the communities that supported the industrial identity were disappearing as well. Beamish includes a 1900s colliery, a 1940s farm complete with Land Girls who worked the farms when men were away fighting, a Tramway, and more.

Along Hadrian’s Wall

A World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall extends 73 miles from sea to sea. The Benwell Roman Temple in Newcastle is representative of the temples that were built along the Wall. Most significant about this temple is that it was dedicated to a Celtic god, Antenociticus, a very rare occurrence.

Castles, Castles, Castles 

There are castles galore to be seen between Newcastle and Durham. Two are Lambton Castle and Hylton Castle.

Hylton Castle is the older, built as a residence for Sir William Hylton around 1400. The impressive gatehouse tower is the only original part of the castle still standing. The property was sold and rebuilt after the last Hylton died in the mid-18th century. The front tower entrance displays royal and family heraldry, including Richard II's person emblem, the white hart badge.

Major General John Lambton (1710-1794) wanted his new home placed on the site of Harraton Hall on the north side of the River Wear. However, it was his son and grandson who carried out the vision. Italian architect Joseph Bonomi began the neo-classical design and, again, it was a son who completed the work, adding many Gothic features.

Alnwick Garden and The Treehouse

Adjacent to Alnwick Castle, behind brickwork and a Venetian gate dating back to the 18th century, was a 12-acre walled garden used in modern times as a tree nursery by England’s Forestry Department. In 1996, Jane 12th Duchess of Northumberland broached her vision for a four-season garden. Alnwick Garden is now a realm unto itself with adventures for the young and young-at heart, and features food pavilions, a cherry orchard, a bamboo labyrinth and more.

Possibly most unusual in the garden is The Treehouse, a magical dining experience with wooden walkways and twinkling lights set between trees on pilings. The menu features regional specialties, including local seafood and meats from Northumberland farms.