A Dickens Christmas 2016


Once again the Holiday season is upon us and it is time to for our annual visit to the little Dickens era town of Brighton. This year I've planned our arrival to be by ship so let's begin our voyage.

After our 2 hour voyage from London we are now approaching the Brighton harbor. Standing on the deck of HMS Britannia we can see the entrance to the harbor guarded by the tower bridge. The breakwater and the bridge have created a safe harbor and thus more ships are using this safe harbor for shelter and thus business is once again booming in the town of Brighton.
Inside the new sheltered harbor the old lighthouse still stand to guide ship to port and the harbor has room for multiple ships at the same time. From our view on the breakwater we can see HMS Britannia, lights aglow, heading back to sea.
From this angle we can get a full view of the harbor and the little shops that surround it. Let's walk around and see what is happening. We will have plenty of time before our dinner reservation at the Horse and Hounds, where they serve the best Indian curry you have ever tasted. Let's start our tour.
We will begin with the old tower. In centuries past the tower guarded these lands from viking raiders. the tower was built and maintained by Lord Shieffield who family still owns a manor house up on the hills above Brighton. We will have to wait a moment untilthe changing of the guard is complete. If you look across the roadway and behind the guards you can see the Raven Master caring for his ravens. He is responsible for the safety of the village as legend has it that as long as the ravens live in the tower no invader will even conquer the land. The master has six ravens under his care including Cedric the one he is holding.
Behind the tower is the old church, built in Norman times. Tonight the resident monks are singing carols while a few villagers had come to listen. The local glazier is not only making beautiful wondow but has been experimenting with making lit figures out of glass. He has donated a sculpted angel that can be seen standing next to the church.
After passing the church we come to the custom house where all merchandise entering the haarbor is storedand inventoried. The village wine seller is currently inspecting some fine new wines from France that have just recently arrived. Henry seems to be working overtime moving the ale barrels that will be delivered to the Melancholy Tavern.
Next to the Custom House is Burton and Sanders glass works. Thomas Burton is outside clearing the snow from the walkway.
Next to the glass works is the Plumstead Market. Villagers can be plenty of fresh produce here in the local market. Just to the right of the market you can see another of the glass sculpting done by Thomas Sanders. This one is a reindeer. I imagine soon people will be putting this sculpting in front of their homes.
Next to the market is the Gater's shelter. It stands next to the entrance to the tunnel entrance to Brighton. Just below the Gater's shelter is a waiting area where people wait for the traveling coach. Ted Holmes is waiting to take his son Harold to Edenburgh. It looks like the coach is just arriving now.
Just over the bridge from the coach waiting area is the old lighthouse. Jake Baskins has been spending his nights managing the lighthouse for the past 25 years. From the smile on his face that keg has been a long time companion for sure during those long dark nights.
From here we can see the coach arriving in Brighton. The trumpeter is just sounding the arrival. If you look above the tunnel there is a redshoulder hawk landing in the trees. If we keep our eyes open we should see a considerable amount of wildlife as we tour Brighton.
Neil Frasier can be seen here driving his hack. He makes his living taking travelers from the harbor to the Timbers Hotel and back the next day. On his land above the town he stables and cares for horses. The coach will change its team here in Brighton so caring for the livestock is an excellent second income for the family.
Portobello Road is the main road through Brighton. Under the road sign we can see Mr. Fraizer's Hack approaching and on the left there is the Wilson's sulky coming back from town as they head for home.
On the hills above Brighton's harbor stands Sheffield Manor. The old tower dates back to the founding of the town, about the same time as the tower we visited earlier was built. While the original tower has fallen into some disrepair the family had built a beautiful manor house into the ruins. The family has been living on this land for several centuries. Lord Sheffield likes to come out on pleasent evenings to read his paper or books. off to the left you can see a pair of raccoons foraging for their dinner.
While Lord Sheffield reads his paper, his two sons are giving their sister a ride in a sleigh.
Just down the hill from Sheffield Manor is Neil Fraizer's farm house and stable. His wife Mary is out with their daughter Lillian while his sone Lawrence is busy spreading hay for the horses in the stable.
Below Fraizer's stable Mill Pond. the pond is a great fishing hole in the warm weather but right now is seems to be serving as a water source for a visiting buck. In the foreground I can see a bottle of chanpagne on ice...
which seems to be chilling for the Henderson's late night toast. Sitting in front of their cottage they have a lovely view of the harbor below. The Henderson's run the mill that stands behind their cottage. All the grains raised on the lands behind the village are brought in for milling at this mill. Clearly the Hendersons are doing quite well financially..
The harbor area of Brighton is thriving this time of year. With the mill, glassworks and harbor for shipping the townsfolk will certainly have a prosperous new year. Let's continue our tour by continuing down Portobello Road into the old section of town.
The southern side of Brighton is built around an ancient fiord that is fed by waters from a highland river. In recent years the arch road has been completed and made travel around this section of town much easier. Let's continue our tour by following the Portobello road extension and travel over the new arch road. We can cross the river bridge over the fiord to return to the hotel after dinner.
From here we can see the Wilson's red sulky coing over the new arch road toward old Portobello. We also get a good view of the steep cliffs above which old town Brighton is built.
The first turn off of Arch Road takes us down to Scrooge Landing. In ancient times, when invasions were frequent the landing was protected by the old tower and partial wall. Today these features simply sesrve to break the spray coming from the waves that crash on the low rocks. Here we can see the counting house of Scrooge and Marley and even at this late time of night Scrooge can be seen hard at work on his books. Bob Cratchet and his son Tim are in front of their home admiring the snowman that was built earlier today. Mr. Farley, one of the village sweeps seems to be admiring the snowman as well while poor old Fezziwig is working late on deliveries for Scrooge.
Just past the turn off for Scrooge Landing arethe stairs leading to the Tibers Hotel and the Melancholy Tavern. The old hotel dates from the early 19th century and served to house the scientists who came to work at the Observatory and the crews of the ships that sheltered inthe harbor to avoid bad weather. The holtel features fireplaces in every room and the most amazing goose down quilts. A night in this hotel will be a journey back in time. Tomorrow morning we can have an early breakfast at the Melancholy Tavern where they serve flatcakes, eggs and bangers. You can have coffee, but I'll be having their special hot chocolate. The tavern serves locally made gin and a few patrons are standig out front sampling the drink.
Step lively to get out of the way of the ale wagon. Mr. Burns is deliverying ale to the Horse and Hounds . As cold as it is tonight the ale should be chilled by the tie we get there for dinner.
If you look over the edge of the arch you will see Mr. Wilkins making his nightly check of the fiord. While he has to keep the waterway clear it looks like he is doing extra duty tonight by bringing a Christmas tree to the Cratchet house. Tiny Tim will be quite surprized on Christmas morning. when he sees this beautiful fir tree all decked out.
Near the end of the Arch Road and heading into old town is the Welbourn Brothers Lamp Shop. Brother William is out tonight hawking his wears. It would seem he has gained the interest of at least one shopper this evening.
Right next to the lampshop is the Horse and Hounds Pub. As promised earlier we will have a wonderful curried chicken dinner, with sticky toffee pudding for desert. Remember there will be chilled ale fresh from the delivery wagon. I have reserved a room upstairs so we can have a view of the fiord and village lights while we dine.
As we leavethe pub take a look over the hedges to see the river that feeds the fiord. From here we can see the falls as the tumble to the sea. We can get a better view of just the fall from the bridge when we cross in a few minutes on our way back to the Timbers.
As we continue up the lane from the pub we next come to Tipler's Wine and Spirits. We saw his sone Henry back at the custom house checking out the new shipment of wines. Now in from of his shop Mr. Tipler is trying to interest a customer in some of the new German White Wines that are the rage this season. It is the Christmas season and many establishments are burnig Yule Logs as is the tradition. Sadly these heavy logs create lots of ash and thus chimneys need regular cleaning. Fortunately it keeps the village chimney sweeps employed during the holiday season. I see a father and son preparing the clean the chimney at the Curiosity Shop at the end of the lane. London has passed a law prohibiting boys under twelve from being a sweep, Mr. Dobbs son Eric has just turned twelve so he has plenty of work to do.
From the Curiosity Shop we can cross the footbridge toward the booksellers shop, don't forget to check the view of the falls as we cross the bridge. From the plaza in front of the bookseller we can enter the courtyard of St. Martin's Church. The courtyard has lovely gardens and a fountain. Church goers often spen time after the service sitting and enjoying these gardens.
Back at the bookseller's courtyard we continue toward the Timbers Hotel. We first cross over a runooff cascade and then can take the stairs up to the Old Observatory. Watch you step on the stairs they are quite steep. Fortunately the groundskeeper is removing the snow so we won't slip on our way up. We should wait for the couple coming down before we start our climb.
The Observatory was built during the reign of King James. This site was chosen because of the distence from other cities thus offering the darkest skies to allow viewing of the stars. From here on a clear night the Milky Way can easily be observed.
The lights are still on in the Observatory so we may get a chance to use their telescopes. The observatory is a great place to take children to start them developing an interest in the night sky. Lots of travelers bring their young children her for just that purpose.
From this angle we can look down on the entire Old Town of Brighton. Below us are the roof tops of the Horse and Hounds (far right) We can see the footbridge over the river and the Arch Road over the fiord. To the left we get a bird's eye view of the church courtyard and fountains. In front of the entrance gate to the church we can see the bookseller's courtyard and shop (note the very bright light in the center). The upper left reveals a view of the stairs to the observatory and right behind the bookseller is the Timbers Hotel. On the far right in the upper right corner is Scrooge Landing and we can also get a view of Arch Road as it circles to the right around Scrooge Landing. My thanks to Phileas Fogg for the use of his balloon to capture this photograph.

Well, we have completed our tour of Brighton for this years. After coming down from the ballon ride the hotel and those goosedown quilts await us. Hope you enjoyed the tour and photographs. I'll leave you this year with a last view of Mr. Fezziwig and his delivery wagon as a reminder of the season. Although, as I look at old Fezziwig, shown here by lamp light, I have to wonder if it might not just be the Jolly Old Elf himself making his Christmas Night deliveries. While it snowed in Brighton this year, I'm not sure there is enough accumulation for the sleigh. Maybe this year he needed alternate transportation. Have a great Holiday.

Thanks for stopping by this year for the annual Christmas tour. Be sure to stop by next fall for Hauntsville. Since I'll be retired I'll get the village up early next year.

Please sign my Guestbook by clicking View my Guestbook
Free Guestbooks by Bravenet.com