The purpose of this trip is to show the students how religion has flourished in the Britain and what we can learn from each site during a tour. This is a general guideline in how the tour will take across the southern part of Britain where most of our tour will take place. The free time is given to the students in each city by an hour or two to make sure the students observe the Britain itself as well with exception of London as the last days of tour will be mostly in London. Our trip to the Great Britain will start with the city of London, where many religious sites are concentrated in.
On the first day, upon arrival, the Temple church will be visited. The Temple church is a round church because it was how they believed the temple in Jerusalem was originally built. Inside the inner temple, Crusaders from 1091 to 1200 are buried. This church is important for the students because crusaders are the man of beliefs who fought to recapture the holy site of Jerusalem they believed in. Also without their sacrifice, the fate of Western Europe would have been decided by the Muslim armies and the Christianity would have been oppressed.
According to the Christian Traveler’s Guide to Great Britain, crusades were essentially defensive wars intended to protect Europe and Christian pilgrims. It is important to note this site not because of the myths around the Crusaders and the Da Vinci Code, but because to see how the belief in the religion, belief in what’s right has led these man to raise their sword. In Religious Studies a religious belief is often a form of commitment to a way of life and involves the acceptance of the DOGMA of a religious community. The temple church well represents how this religious belief was carried by the crusaders.
This will end our first day. On the second day, we will visit The Westminster cathedral. The cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic community in Britain and Wales and is the current seat of the Archbishop of Westminster. (“Westminster Cathedral”) The church is the largest in the Britain and Wales. It is constructed in the Byzantine style, which means that it has characteristic of geometric complexity, brick and plaster used in the construction in addition to stone in the decoration of structures. Mosaic and complex domes, and windows filtered light through thin sheets of alabaster to illuminate interiors. “Byzantine Architecture”) The Westminster cathedral represents the religious custom that has carried on in the Roman Catholic. The Archbishop of Westminster become cardinal in consistory and the mass of the catholic shows how the custom of a religion carries down. Custom is a habitual action what has been passed on from the past that underpins the social life. (Concise Dictionary of Religion, 59) This cathedral was visited to understand the tradition that has carried on in a mass as well as to understand the importance of rituals.
Ninian Smart, the professor who founded the first department of Religious Studies, has analyzed that all religions contain rituals. Ritual is one of the key features religion carry, and by acknowledging this we can fully understand how each religion operates in the society. We’ll end our second day in the London giving some free time for shopping and other activities after visiting the Cathedral. On our Third day we move to Peterborough, specifically Peterborough Cathedral.
Built between 1117 and 1217, it is said to be excellent example of British Romanesque architecture that is simple and unified, with the west front and the porch in the Gothic style. It is a beautiful church which has remained intact from 12th century despite extensions and restoration. (“Peterborough Cathedral”) Also Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon is buried in the north aisle. Originally she was married to the brother of Henry VIII, Arthur. However, she became widowed as Arthur lost his life to the sickness, and remarried to the Henry.
This remarriage depended on the Pope granting a dispensation and Pope has ruled that Catherine of Aragon may marry Henry. However, thing became complicated when Henry VIII fell in love with Ann Boleyn, and the son bore by Catherine died. Henry VIII saw the marriage as cursed since he has married the brother’s wife, and sought annulment from the Pope. When Pope denied his annulment, Henry VIII declared himself as the head of the church and divorced Catherine of Aragon. However even though the title of the Queen was denied until her death, most of Europe believed her to be the king’s only rightful wife and Queen of Britain.
With the beauty of the church, taking a look at the history of Britain makes this visit more interesting. After the Cathedral, we move to Stratford-Upon-Avon to pay respect the world’s most famous writer’s existence, William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare’s numerous works are steeped in Christian symbolism and deeply religious themes. (CTG) Through examining his work we can find how the relationship between God and other people has been treated. Shakespeare’s House Museum contains numerous items related to his life and work.
The CTG mentions that Shakespeare’s personal belief is unknown to us, but how he connects biblical stories to his writings are interesting. Famous example would be quote from Hamlet, “O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven; … primal eldest curse upon’t, A brother’s murder,” (Act 3. Scene 3) (“Religious Quotes”) where Hamlet indicates the story of Cain and Abel. In religious studies Symbol is defined as a tool of definition for a word like Myth which is impossible to define. Not as religious, but paying visit to the world’s greatest poet and writer should be okay when we’re here. On the Fourth day, we’re moving to Litchfield cathedral.
Cathedral itself dominates the town and is considered one of the finest medieval buildings in Britain. It is the only British cathedral with three spires; it was once damaged during English civil war but restored and renovated back to its original form in the 19th century. The magnificent gothic architecture and the Lady Chapel’s series of stained glass windows make it unique and good sight to see. Also it is important to note that the chapter house contains the rare 8th century Litchfield Gospels, which are illuminated manuscripts illustrating the gospels of Matthew and mark and fragments of Luke’s gospel.
The religious document like the holy bible is present in almost all religions, guiding people toward the salvation. It is to remind the students that the religious documents best represents the religion’s characteristic and the lifestyle of people believing the religion. After visit at Litchfield we turn our way to the Cardiff. The important site in Cardiff is LLandaff Cathedral is sight to see. LLandaff Cathedral’s full name is the church of saints Peter and Paul, Dyfrig, Teilo, and Euddogwy. The reason of this site’s importance comes with the last three names.
They were three early welsh missionaries in the 5th and 6th century. The cathedral’s coat of arms bears three crowns, representing these three men. Missionary is defined in Concise Dictionary of Religion as a person who propagates a religion, and their mission was to convert people into the arms of Christianity with the belief that their action of propagating a religion has a message which is vital to all people. This movement was largely seen in the 19th century where many European nations started out to conquer the new world.
We’ll conclude our Fourth day with the visit of the cathedral. Starting of Fifth day we visit Bristol. Bristol cathedral, Baptist college, and Wesley college carries religious importance in the city. Bristol Cathedral used to be an abbey church where St. Augustine of Canterbury met with representatives of the ancient Celtic church in 603 for mutual concerns and differences in religious practice. It became cathedral by Henry VIII following the reformation. The site carries unique 14th century vaulted ceiling that is the earliest of this kind.
Also in the South Transept we can find unique Saxon coffin with carvings depicting the harrowing of hell. After visit at the church, we’ll visit Bristol Baptist College for the original copy of William Tyndale’s New Testament. Sacred scriptures such as this New Testament are regarded as holy because it was inspired by God. How it is being treated in the college itself emphasizes that it is regarded as important for its historic value and its position as sacred scripture. This will conclude our fourth day. Our sixth day starts with the visit to Wesley College.
Built in 1790, it allows us to view the quality of living and lifestyles of the wealthy merchants from the 18th century. Also it was the place where the two poets, William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, met to launch the Romantic Movement in the Britain. Romanticism has flourished in the 18th century and gained its strength in expressing strong emotions. It was reaction against the scientific rationalization which resulted from the industrial revolution and the age of enlightenment. (“Romanticism”) The concentration to the emotion has swept across the Europe and these two poets carried this movement into the Britain.
After visit at the Wesley College, we’ll also visit St Mary Redcliffe, Grand Anglican Parish Church that is often mistaken for a cathedral, and Wesley’s New Room, which is the first Methodist chapel in the country. These look at the church different from the Catholic Church provides the sight of how one religion can be translated differently with different thoughts, and take us into how each of the different religion takes different view in the meaning of religion. We’ll start off our seventh day with a visit to the Bath abbey. This is the last pre-Reformation church that was constructed in England.
It is an eye catching structure with distinctive flying buttresses and stained glass windows. A nunnery was here and became a Benedictine monastery under King Edgar. Outside the abbey, we are able to find a churchyard which is a piazza. (“CTG”) After visit at the abbey, we are heading to the Stonehenge. Stonehenge is defined in the Concise Dictionary of Religion as a circle of standing stones in Southern England, the purpose of which is unknown although it was probably used in some religious Ritual and a source of inspiration to various Neo-Pagan groups.
It is important to note the Primal Religion at this site. In religious studies, Primal religion was associated with the worship of the nature and it was essentially oral traditions. Ritual figure existed who connected this world with ancestors. The key difference that it does not have sacred documents should be acknowledged to the students. After the visit to the Stonehenge, we move to Oxford and conclude the day. Oxford is the city known as the “city of dreaming spires,” for its beautiful architecture and aspiring student population.
Oxford is also home to the oldest university in the English-Speaking world as well as many important sites in the history of English Christianity. (“Oxford”) We’ll start our tour today with Bodleian Library. It is one of the world’s great libraries carrying as many as 150,000 rare manuscripts. The exhibition room and former divinity school are only open to the public but nonetheless we will recognize how human’s ability to write and record has made us advance to the present world. Learning from the past is important when we take a step forward the future.
After the tour in the Library we head to the Ashmolean museum. It originated as the private collection of John Tradescant, who was King James I’s gardener at Hatfield House. The museum claims to be the oldest public museum in the world. In the Tradescant room, on the first floor, is Oliver Cromwell’s death mask and the lantern used by the Roman Catholic assassin Guy Fawkes during his abortive attempt to blow up the Protestant Parliament in 1605. It also contains the famous Powhatan mantle, which is the earliest surviving example of clothing made by North American natives.
Both the first and second floor displays various works of art, including paintings by van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and a host of other artists. (“CTG”) This concludes our eighth day. Ninth day, we’ll start with the Christ Church College hall which holds numerous amount of portrays of people by different British artists. Many British prime ministers were once members of this college including the Christian politician William Gladstone and Sir Philip Sidney, William Penn, John Locke, and Charles Wesley. Then we’ll move to the Merton College which is the oldest college in Oxford, built in 1264.
It houses beautiful building but its main beauty comes with its long history. It is the first college to be provided with statutes, and also the first to be conceived as a community of scholars working to achieve academic ends. In Religious studies, we have learned that the university meant a community of students and masters. College is lesser in terms of academic reputation, but it is also important institution that provided the present advancement in technology. We have also learned that the study of universities have stemmed from the study of the religion.
This also shows in the founder Walter de Merton. His stated purpose for the foundation was to make return in honor of God’s name for the abundance of his bounty towards me in this life. ” (“Merton College”) After we’ll move to Glastonbury and end our day. On tenth day, we’ll first observe the Glastonbury Thorn at the Glastonbury Abbey. Near the abbey entrance, there is a thorn tree that flowers around December 25. This tree was believed to have miraculous qualities and was taken here during Reformation.
The legend says that the Joseph of Arimathea who came here after fleeing Jerusalem following the death of Christ to pray was praying when the root of this tree began blossoming, this made them assume it was a sign from God to build a church here. Traditionally A spray of horn from the tree was sent to the Sovereign each Christmas and it is still continued today. Also there is a tomb of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in the abbey. King Arthur and the knights of round table is famous myth in the world. The existence of Avalon is unknown but many people in medieval time were inspired by the story.
In the religious studies, the myth was defined as a story with culturally formative power that functions to direct the life and thought of individuals, groups or societies. We also learned that the story of King Arthur was politically used to argue for the rights to rule the kingdom in the Britain in medieval times. Today the story of King Arthur is treated as semi-myth as scholars believe there was warlord named Arthur ruled in the time. After visiting the Glastonbury, we’ll head to London for the remainder of tour.
On the eleventh day, we’ll dedicate whole day to the British museum. British Museum is the place where many priceless artifacts remain, also how the students can learn more about primal religions and other religions through the look at the items that vividly illustrate the biblical story such as treasures from Babylonia, Egypt, and Palestine. Most importantly The Rosetta Stone, which enabled us reading of Egyptian documents, is in the British Museum as well. The museum carries many valuable scriptures and statues that it will take whole day to tour the site.
From the Day twelve to fourteen, the tour will take places in London giving students free time to visit other sites or revisit the sites as well. The remainder of tour will take places such as Wesley’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, Temple of Mithras, St Bartholomew the Great, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Neasden Temple, Regent’s Park Mosque etc, (“London”) which will conclude our tour of Great Britain. London has many sites left worth seeing and times will be put into each students to see if the purpose of the tour was well met to the students.