Sunday, April 6, 2008

Letter 4: Norman Castle Hotel, Canterbury

Norman Castle Hotel
October 11, 1932

Letter 4

Dear Folks,

The diary which Marcus writes daily is the only complete record of our doings. That valuable record is in one of the four bags which this morning were shipped, registered, to Paris. We have only one bag with us, my movie camera and this machine. My report therefore will only mention the main events.

We took in an afternoon n
on-stop magic performance in London which was by far the finest we had ever seen. Marcus had a thrilling time. When the conjurer called for a gentleman to come up and examine his equipment, Marcus and another little chap went up and, well-- the man even shook hands with them. Think of it! Later a lady magician needed help and the two chaps nearly had a fight over the privilege of assisting the fair one. She asked Marcus right off how he liked Coney Island. How do they know? It's no mystery.

Another headliner was our visit to
Windsor Castle. This is about an hour and forty minutes out of London by bus. As the busses have fine leather seats, the ride is restful, rather than tiresome. Well, it took 45 minutes to be shown all through the State Apartments, the residence (at times) of the present King and Queen. Of course the grounds, as at Hampton Court, were in marvellous condition. The furnishings of the rooms were sumptuous, and many of the pieces were of historic interest. Words are weak things, especially when one is trying to be brief; but the throne room with its immense height, its large and masterly paintings and the ceiling decorated with the gilded shields of over 800 Knights of the Garter, was a sight never to be forgotten.

Our afternoon visit to the
Tower of London provided more thrills. We saw the Crown Jewels, including the King's crown, his sceptre and other regalia, worth many fortunes. The Tower is full of historic relics, the most wonderful armor and the site of the murder of the two princes at the instigation of their uncle.* Here also was the dungeon in which Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned. We saw the history which he wrote.

Inns and dwellings of the quaintest kinds were on every little street in
Stratford-on-Avon, which we visited in order to see not only Shakespeare's birthplace but a little of the English country. Our two and one-half hour trip revealed the most lovely vistas. It was all like a series of charming gardens. In all that time I sw only one piece of paper and not one dump heap, nor one bill-board. Imagine, not one advertising sign on a fence or barn. Of course we visited Shakespeare's birthplace and Marcus sat in the great poet's chair. We were the only callers and the proctors explained everything. In the summer some 700 people pay a shilling apiece daily.

Yom Kippur was so different here. We spent it quietly. That was yesterday. This morning we started for Canterbury, and have just been through the Cathedral, built in 1220. We're feeling fine. My first two reels of movies came out very well. Tomorrow we leave for Dover, then Calais and Paris, arriving Wednesday, 6:30 P.M.



P.S. This little hotel is built right on the walls of an old Norman castle. The town is full of twisted little streets, many with sidewalks only a yard wide. We enjoyed walking through them this afternoon. We are stopping overnight.

William Henry Vipan, a retired well-to-do surgeon owned Castle House, 37 Castle Street, which later became Norman Castle Hotel.

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