28th March 2017

 

East Midlands

The East Midlands include the counties of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, the smallest county in England.

The East Midlands are not so much a coherent region.
They include historic towns like the Roman city of Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
Manufacturing towns are Northampton (footwear); Leicester (hosiery, knitwear, footwear, engineering); Nottingham (hosiery, lace, bicycles, pharmaceuticals, tobacco); and Derby (railway locomotives, a Rolls-Royce factory, fine porcelain ware).

The region includes some of the most productive coalfields and important ironstone mining, and, in broad swathes between the industrial towns, much of England's best farmland. Several canals in the region, including the Grand Junction and Trent and Mersey, were primarily used for commerce from the late 18th to the early 20th century. They are now being revived, mainly for recreational use.

Chatsworth House, Peak DistrictMost of the East Midlands is low-lying, although the region includes the dramatic landscape of the Peak District National Park and the rolling Lincolnshire Wolds. In the Peak District are many stately homes and historical houses, the most beautiful of which is Chatsworth House, home of the Duke of Devonshire (pictured). The Peak District is full of underground caves and caverns where you can hear strange echoes.

Part of the East Midlands are further north than some northern counties like Cheshire. Areas such as North Derbyshire are sometimes called North Midlands. This is Industrial Revolution country, the region which saw the birth of the first mass production factories in the 18th century. You can still see some of these old industrial buildings, part of the industrial archeological heritage of Britain. The first and oldest industrial building, Arkwright's Mill, is still standing at Cromford, near Matlock, a Derbyshire spa town close to the Peak District.

Matlock is in the picturesque Derbyshire Dales, river valleys surrounded by hills which are popular with walkers for their scenery.

The chalky Chiltern Hills, which start in the south of England, run along the southern edge of the East Midlands. North of these, in Northamptonshire, lies the valley of the river Nene, running between two ridges of higher ground. The rest of the East Midlands is low-lying, and much of it forms part of the fenland that still covers so much of eastern England. Further north, in Lincolnshire, the county consists of heathland, with wolds (low hills) to the east, and marshland over in the west running towards the North Sea. The river Trent, England's third largest river, runs through Nottinghamshire to join the river Ouse and form the Humber.

Lincolnshire is a large county along the East coast of England, bordered by the estuary of the river Humber in the north and the Wash, a wide inlet of the North Sea, in the south. Its county town is the historic cathedral city of Lincoln.

In South Lincolnshire is Boston, an attractive quaint town on the River Witham which played an important role in the founding of the American city of Boston, in Massachussets. The Pilgrim Fathers, the separatist exiles from England whose first attempt at fleeing to the Netherlands failed and who were later instrumental in laying the foundations of the American colonies, came from Boston and the surrounding area, along the corners formed by the counties of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. This area had a major religious role: the great 16th century churchman, theologian and martyrologist John Foxe, who influenced the Reformation, was born here in Boston. Boston itself was a centre of religious dissent. In 1612 John Cotton became the local Vicar of St Botolph's; he urged those who were unhappy with the lack of religious freedom in England to join the MassachusettBoston Stump, Lincolnshires Bay Company, and later contributed to the founding of the city of Boston, Massachusetts (1630) which he was influential in naming.

Boston's parish church (pictured right), dedicated to St Botolph, which was started in 1309 on the banks of the river Witham but it's now re-built, is called "The Boston Stump" because of its impressive belltower, the highest church tower in England, whose exceptional height reflected and was a symbol of the economic prosperity of the town. The richer Boston became, the taller the tower grew. The tower can be seen from miles around, in a predominantly flat surrounding countryside. Take a walk along the river bank and look up in awe at this magnificent construction.

The coastline of Lincolnshire is also flat and marshy, interrupted by many very long, wide, sandy beaches. I've been there on a sunny Easter break and I had absolutely no problem in finding car parking space everywhere as well as empty beaches. Everybody is in the amusements parks and arcades in Skegness, the area's major seaside resort, and elsewhere. Beaches here are not crowded but amusements parks are.

The leading physicist Sir Isaac Newton, who greatly contributed to the birth of modern science, was born on January 4th 1643 at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a Lincolnshire hamlet.

In North Lincolnshire is Grimsby, a port on the river Humber. The old port area has now become a Heritage Centre.

Other key attractions in the region include Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest, Leicester’s National Space Centre, Rutland Water, Chatsworth House, Alford Market Town. Interesting to visit is also The Canal Museum in Northampton.
The East Midlands are also the home of the Red Arrows which you can see practising in their skies. The Team is based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

 

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