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British Heritage: OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 1998 Letters

Originally published by British Heritage magazine. Published Online: September 23, 1998 
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CONGRATULATIONS

to winners of our 1998 Win a Trip to Britain contest. We are pleased to announce that our Grand Prize winner was Gayle Meier of Atlanta, Georgia, who wins a place on the 1998 BRITISH HERITAGE/Lord Addison Travel Ltd. Reader Tour 'In Quest of Camelot'. Our First Prize winner, Pamela Nichols of Bellingham, Washington, wins a $1,000 shopping spree with Walker Metalsmiths. Our Second Prize winner, Karen R. Kronquest of Napa, California, wins a miniature 'Equatorial' Sundial compliments of the National Maritime Museum.

The correct identifications of the six photographs (April/May, page 20) are as follows: 1. Cadbury, 2. Tintagel Castle, 3. Looe Pool, 4. Badbury Rings, 5. Arthur's Seat 6. Arthur's Quoit. Thanks to all of our readers who participated and congratulations again to all our winners.

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TRAVELLERS CHOOSE …

As a regular reader, I enjoyed participating in your recent Travellers' Choice Awards (August/September, 1998, page 35). To select among some of my favourites was difficult. At the same time, I missed seeing other choices which would have been on my list–Bodiam, Caerphilly, Chepstow, and Conwy Castles, for instance, as well as Igtham Mote, Verulamium Museum, and Fishbourne Roman Palace.

Perhaps at some future time you can repeat these awards, with readers supplying their favorite choices. While I would not care to be the one to tally the ballots, that process might reveal interesting results.

Mary Loftin Grimes,
Jacksonville, Florida

I was intrigued by your Travellers' Choice nominees–and found it very difficult to narrow mine to just three in some categories.

'Churches and Cathedrals' were especially tough. How does one choose between magnificent St. Paul's, stately Durham, historic Westminster Abbey (or Winchester, York, or Canterbury?). One glaring omission was Lincoln Cathedral, which is usually esteemed, along with Wells and Durham, as one of Britain's choicest, best-preserved medieval great churches. Coventry is a special, inspiring site, and yet it seems a tad bit unfair to contrast it with others that represent a different era.

I've been to 11 of the 13 nominees in this category, the most of any of the grouping, and perhaps this is the root of my dilemma. Castles were challenging too, and Bamburgh's inclusion would have added to the difficulty of this selection.

R. P. Lamb

I was surprised and disappointed not to see St. Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire and the ancient Roman Verulamium ruins not listed in the ballot. I am a transplanted Brit and visited these sites many times before I came to the United States, and with my husband on vacations to the U.K. There is so much history associated with the Abbey, which dates back to A.D. 700, I believe.

Joy M. Imms,
Brookfield, Wisconsin

Editor's note: We have been overwhelmed by the response to our first Travellers' Choice Awards. We knew that we were giving readers a difficult job, and are very pleased with the amount of thought they have obviously put into their selections.

If readers found it tough to choose from the 13 nominees in each of our awards categories, imagine how difficult it was for the editors to narrow the field to just those few choices. Challenging as the task was, however, we felt that this method would produce the most meaningful results. Certainly, everyone has their own favourite corners of Britain, and many of these enticing places are not the ones featured most prominently in guidebooks. Our awards, however, are intended to recognize sites that have a broad appeal to readers with many different tastes and interests. By asking expert travel writers and tourist board officers to nominate the destinations, we attempted to focus on such sites of mass appeal. (These 'expert' recommendations were then voted on by a panel of 150 BRITISH HERITAGE readers to produce the nominee list that appeared on the final ballot.) Naturally, it was easier to reduce some categories to 13 nominees than others, and certainly some magnificent sites were eliminated in the process. This is not meant to detract in any way from any of the places that did not receive nominations. In the final analysis, the most crucial vote for each reader is his or her own personal opinion.

We have already begun planning our next Travellers' Choice awards selection, and are hoping to make this an annual event. In 1999 we will give readers more choices to make, as well as greater flexibility, by allowing them to vote on each destination's visitor facilities, accessibility, and other details of importance to travellers. At the same time, we invite further comments from readers regarding how we can make this feature more useful and informative.

One last thing–we're looking for 50 well-travelled readers to add to our Nominating Panel for the 2000 Travellers' Choice Awards. Please see our 'HELP WANTED' announcement on page 6 for more details.

THE HUNT FOR BISMARCK

The article on the Bismarck (June/July, page 11) brought back vivid memories of the sea chase. I was serving on board one of the cruisers escorting the new aircraft carrier Victorious. Our ship was pitching, rolling, and yawing–battling very high waves, which kept our upper deck awash. The Victorious was most times covered with spray. Watching the aircraft take off in the appalling weather was nerve-racking. When the aircraft returned after their attack on Bismarck their landing was even more nerve-racking.

We continued the chase in this gale force weather until we heard the Bismarck had been sunk. She now lies on the ocean bed at 13,400 feet below the surface. More than 1,400 men died on Hood and over 2,000 died on Bismarck. There was no jubilation, only sadness.

Thomas L. Ward,
Mission Viejo, California

Editor's note: Several readers pointed out the misspelling of the German battleship's name in the June/July article. The above version is correct.

YOU SAY MODRED, I SAY MORDRED …

The ad appearing on the bottom of page 19 in the August/September issue proclaims, by the title of the book it offers for sale, to know 'The Real King Arthur'. An author who titles his work in such a way must be a real authority on the subject–even if self-appointed. But even the ad appears to contain one gross inaccuracy.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Christopher Wren and Lord Tennyson have led me to believe that Arthur's nemesis was named Sir Modred, not Sir Mordred, as Mr. Tuner calls him. If this appeared in the editorial columns I would pass it off as a typographical error rampant in today's publications. But in an ad to sell a book, particularly one purported to be an authoritative study of historical lore, I can only assume the author didn't know the difference or was very careless in his proofing of the copy.

Robert E. Lewis,
Norwalk, Connecticut

Editor's note: I believe it was Coleridge who advised that when reading the work of a good author, you should always presume yourself ignorant of his understanding until you are absolutely certain that you understand his ignorance.

'Mordred' is just one of several widely accepted variations of the name of Arthur's opponent at the Battle of Camlann. Tennyson and Wren (the author of Beau Geste, not the famous architect) are relative late-comers to the Arthurian literary scene, and their version of the knight's name differs from that found in some earlier works–most significantly in Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, who wrote at great length about about the character he called 'Mordred'.

Those who insist on unwavering conformity would actually be forced to reject both versions. Modred/Mordred is based on an even earlier reference in the 10th-century Annales Cambriae, in which the name is spelled 'Medraut'. Most people, however, are less rigorous, and recognize all these alternatives as legitimate variations of the same name.

THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

The profile of Angela Lansbury (August/September, page 52) called to mind a personal experience. In the early 1930s I, along with several other youngsters went around the streets carrying a poster bearing a photo of George Lansbury, Angela's grandfather, when he ran for the British Labour Party in the District of Bromley-by-Bow, in the East End of London. I can recall singing a slogan that went:

Vote, vote, vote for Mr. Lansbury,
Punch old Godfrey in the eye.
If it wasn't for the King,
We would do the ______ in.
And we wouldn't need voting any more!

William Maloney,
Havelock, Ontario

 

CORRECTION

The recipe for Sultana Scones in our piece on Cream Teas (June/July, page 24) neglected to provide a baking temperature. The proper baking temperature is 425 degrees F. We apologize for the error.



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