Train, City, Cathedral, Swans, And A Spanish Princess

We were out and about on Saturday with friends from Bristol. One had never been to Peterborough. We told him, well, he ain’t lived until he had seen Peterborough.

Off we went. To get to Peterborough – which is about a 45 minute drive north of us – we decided to drive up to catch the Nene Valley Railway, an old-fashioned steam train run mostly by train enthusiasts. We boarded at Wansford…

[Wansford station. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

…and on the classic “1950s” train, we traveled the few miles into Peterborough…

[Wansford station. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

Worth noting: “James Bond” has been at Wansford:

[“James Bond” at Wansford. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

Specifically, you see in 1982 a scene from Octopussy was filmed at the station.

The producers had in that film clearly been looking for an “old” station… and found it here.

The train’s Petersborough station – the end of the line – is a ten minute walk to the center of the city. To reach it, there is a footbridge from the station. The bridge crosses the River Nene:

[Swans in the Nene. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

…and the river is often full of swans.

Once in the city center, we went into Peterborough Cathedral:

[Outside Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

I have been into Peterborough many times. For some reason, I had not walked to the Cathedral. It is a seriously impressive medieval building and grounds…

[Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

…and the inside is rather spectacular, too:

[Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

Inside it among other grave markers scattered here and there is found the tomb of one Katharine of Aragon.

Yes, that Katharine of Aragon:

[At Katharine of Aragon’s grave in Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

She is best known to us as “the Spanish Princess” – the first wife of King Henry… that Crazy Sonafabitch… sorry, sorry Henry VIII.

[Katharine of Aragon’s grave in Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

I had not thought of this until I stood there and looked at her tomb. She was the daughter of their “Most Catholic Majesties” Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, who had sponsored Columbus’s journey to Asia, when on the way he and his three tiny ships bumped into an entire continent – actually, two – no one in Europe, Africa, or Asia (other than perhaps a few Vikings, who had never wanted anyone else from the east to “discover” it possibly because there was great fishing off the coast of what is today Newfoundland) had known was there.

Interestingly, this cathedral, which had been a Roman Catholic cathedral, became Protestant during the Reformation. Katharine died a devout Catholic not far from here. Yet she rests forever in a now Protestant place of worship.

I noticed as well several of the lesser known people buried in the cathedral. These two in particular struck me. First:

[Mary Pratt grave. Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

Ms. Pratt, who would have been Miss Pratt had she died unmarried in 1825, lived to 84. That’s a “good age.” Indeed there have always been those who have lived long lives.

Then I saw her:

[Levine Fowler’s and her infant son’s grave. Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

Mrs. Fowler died at 36 in 1790. Her infant Charles is buried here with her. We know nothing more of the circumstances of their deaths other than what we see on that stone.

Worth bearing in mind is this. Yes, some have always lived to ages like “84.” However, prior to the appearance of “modern medicine” as we today would understand it – somehere around a century or so ago – people dying young as she did was a far more common experience than it is today. Women dying in childbirth and/or due to complications from it, in particular, was MUCH MORE common than now…

…in case we actually want to ask ourselves why our ancestors were on the whole apparently so much more religious than we are today… or mock them for that.

History, history…

To a far lighter matter. Or, well, perhaps, well, not that light:

[Deluxe hot chocolate. Cafe outside Peterborough Cathedral. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

In the Cathedral’s cafe, which is a separate building next to the entrance to the grounds, I had a deluxe hot chocolate.

“Enjoy your dessert,” the server laughed as he handed it to me.

Also at Wansford Station, I grabbed two other “lighthearted” pics. First:

[“Hogwarts” sign at Wansford Station. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

The Wansford staff obviously could not resist making a “Hogwarts” reference.

[“Thomas the Tank Engine.” Wansford station. Photo by me, October 23, 2021.]

And “Thomas the Tank Engine” is here, too.

There you have it. There is always a first time. You have just seen Peterborough Cathedral, “James Bond,” Katharine of Aragon, “Hogwarts,” and “Thomas the Tank Engine” all mentioned in the same blog post. LOL!

Have a good Monday, wherever you are. 🙂

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