Thursday, December 21, 2017

Visit to Kiplin Hall,the Home of Lord Baltimore

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Visit to Kiplin Hall,the Home of Lord Baltimore

I planted a rose bush in the garden at Kiplin Hall, a gift from the City of Annapolis that was arranged by Annapolis resident David Fogle and Homestead Gardens. Forty years ago Kiplin was derelict and threatened with demolition. One woman, Bridgit Talbot struggled to save it. She succeeded. Residents in Annapolis and Maryland helped rescue the great Hall.

Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire England is the birthplace of Maryland. The fashionable estate was built in the 1620's by George Calvert. Born nearby in 1579, Calvert was Secretary of State to King James I. As Roman Catholics, the Calverts lost political influence in 1625 during the religious struggles of the time.

With respect for the families service to England, James named Calvert Baron of Baltimore in County Longford, Ireland. Later, on June 20,1632, King Charles I offered George a plot of land north of Virginia, to be called Terra Maria in honour of Queen Henrietta Maria. George's son Cecil became the first proprietor of Maryland and Leonard, his brother, the first governor.

In November 1633, the first 150 settlers left England in 2 small boats - The Ark (125 feet long) and The Dove (49 feet) with 50 sailors, food and fuel for a 5 month voyage and supplies, tools and items for trade. They arrived on March 25,1634 to settle the new land of Maryland.

Kiplin Hall is in the beautiful rolling countryside of North Yorkshire -hill and dale country near the River Swale, the village of Scorton and the court town of Richmond. Count Alan of Brittany, also the founder of Richmond, held this land in 1086. It was and is agricultural land and horse racing country( it was popularly known in the 1700's as the Newcastle of the North). A track still exists at nearby Catterick, a military barracks that dates back to Roman times. A grand stand erected in Richmond in 1775 was demolished in the 1900's for it's copper.

In 1942 during WWII the hall was requisitioned for use by the RAF. Afterwards, families could not afford to restore the damage done and many old estates were being demolished. Bridgit Talbot, owner of Kiplin, spent 40 years seeking to save the Calvert estate. When the National Trust rejected her bid in 1958, she enlisted help from Maryland. In 1968, a Kiplin Hall Trust was formed for the derelict house. Eventually, the Maryland Historical Society and other Americans donated money to begin the restoration of Kiplin.

In May 2001, it was re-opened for the public. Mrs Peyto Fowler, a descendant of George Calvert and Annapolis resident was on hand to unveil the full size portrait of George Calvert, which is a copy of the original she commisioned for the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. David Fogle of Annapolis, retired professor emeritus of the University of Maryland Historical Preservation Program initiated a student summer program at Kiplin. The Foundation for Kiplin Hall to support this effort was launched on the May 2001 opening.

So, the tall, compact fashionable red brick estate of Jacobean design, the home of Maryland's founder, survives. American students study at Kiplin, do restoration work and design exhibits to help tell the story of 400 years of gentry living. Among the many special events held at Kiplin is an annual celebration in June of Maryland Charter Day describing 17th Century Maryland.

The link between Maryland and Kiplin is strong. In fact, residents of the State of Maryland are vital to Kiplins future. The Friends of Kiplin Hall is a charity that accepts donations from anyone interested in helping to maintain birth home of the State of Maryland.

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Sister City, Rochefort, France, July 16, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sister City, Rochefort, France, July 16, 2007

Rochefort, France borders the meandering Charente River, 26 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Except for a decision of the King of France, Louis XIV, Rochefort might never have been. In 1661 with only 3 fit ships left from the powerful navy created by Richelieu, the King had to rebuild his Navy.

By 1666, the country side of Rochefort was selected as the best place to build a Navy dockyard. Resources of wood and seafaring men were plentiful. Most importantly, it offered safe haven from the English.

Within 3 years the largest naval arsenal in Europe with numerous workshops and houses for a new city was complete. An architectural masterpiece, the Royal Rope Making factory, was, at 400 feet, the longest factory in Europe. Inside were carders and spinners of hemp who for 200 years made the variety of ropes necessary for the sailing vessels of the time.

The Nazis occupied and burned the ropery in 1944. The glory days of Rochefort had ended. The naval dockyards were abandoned, and weeds grew over the ancient buildings of Louis XIV.

In 1967 history took a turn. The Royal Rope Factory was declared an historic monument and was restored. The town that Louis the XIV challenged, “Let the creation of Rochefort be the largest and most beautiful the world has ever seen,” came back to life and is in the process of becoming a world heritage site.

The limestone houses with their ornate iron balconies made by the skilled artisans in the ancient naval yard remind one of New Orleans. Today, the world’s largest nursery for begonias-some 1500 varieties-discovered by an expedition with Mr. Begon, the town’s 17th century City Planner, is in Rochefort.

When I arrived, a most-welcoming Mayor Grasset was eager to share the specialness of this region. Once also the Mayor of La Rochelle, a 1000 year-old maritime city, where a street is named after his father, a French resistance fighter. I met with today’s Mayor, Maxim Bono, and together we discussed the challenges they face.

The rising value of real estate has put affordable housing at the top of the list for La Rochelle, along with preserving the ancient city, protecting the environment and managing growth. A popular sailing center-the Whitbread ended the around-the-world race here after leaving Annapolis-the city is increasing its public marina to accommodate 500 more boats. Boat slip demand here is like the demand for parking in Annapolis!

Rochefort, on the other hand, has housing available at affordable prices. The Bird Protection League and Nature reserves are in place. Restoration of the city’s heritage and economic diversification challenge its budget. Zodiac’s home office is here and France’s 9th largest spa, the begonia nursery, oyster farming and tourism are new industries important to the revival of Rochefort’s heritage.

The Marquis de Lafayette sailed to America in 1780 with 331 sailors aboard to join American’s in our fight for independence on the frigate Hermione, which was built in Rochefort. The Hermione is being reconstructed in the original dry dock and should sail to Boston in 2012. I hope to see the ship sail to the Chesapeake to commemorate the March 16, 1781 ceremony that announced the victory of the Chesapeake.

Life along the Charente River is dictated by ten-foot tides, unveiling islands in its broad bay adorned with old forts that assured the protection of the Rochefort Naval Base. These days, the islands are summer vacation retreats. The Mayor of Ile d’ Aix, where Napoleon spent his last night before exile, shared his concerns with accommodating the pressures of tourism…garbage collection, delivery of supplies and health care. The island is accessible only by boat, and, except for emergency vehicles, transportation is on foot, by bicycle or horse carriage. The challenges are many, as the population of 196 swells to 200,000 in the summer.

We were treated to excellent French cuisine, and the hollyhock, hydrangeas, swallows and doves were a treat for the eye and ear.

Oyster and mussel farms dot the mouth of the Charente estuary. They are smaller and saltier in taste than their Chesapeake cousins. Mayor Grasset is eager to share his new industry with us. When the tide is up, we motored back to Rochefort with J.F. Fountain aboard a catamaran that will soon sail the Atlantic in time for the Annapolis Boat Show.

I arrived in France during their celebration of Bastille Day. In Rochefort, I joined the Mayor, Ambassador and dignitaries to stand in review of the military parade-the small divisions of Navy, Army, Air Force and police are quite different from our 4th of July parades of politicians, community groups, dogs and high school bands.

I also attended FrancoFollies, a grand musical review on a stage area constructed between two ancient maritime towers in the oldest part of La Rochelle. Over 80,000 people stood in the open air auditorium and lined the harbor’s edge and sang the French National Anthem. After the fire works and as the crowd departed near midnight, I was impressed with the civility and orderliness of people of all ages…young couples holding hands, grandparents with grand children in strollers, teenagers walking or biking…faster, but still polite.

I learned much about the connections we have in common with our sister city-maritime and Navy, Marquis de Lafayette (without Frances declaration of war against England in 1778, our national destiny might have been quite different), cognac (it’s brewed here), begonias, oyster seeding, the preservation of our heritage, the challenges of tourism and growth, the Annapolis Boat Show and World War II.

I also learned that in Annapolis we rely far more on private contributions to support the simple things that bring pleasure in life like fireworks, gardens, art, celebrations like Charter 300 and major efforts in preservation. Public dollars are the major and sometimes only source of investment here. The after-shocks of World War II and family connections is still in the public conscience.

Mayor Grasset and the people he assembled to meet with me are eager to participate in our 2008 celebration. An exhibit that tells the stories of this international center of the sea is in the making for the Annapolis showcase. A visit with our new French friends has been set for early next year. Links with businesses in Annapolis for cuisine, flowers and oysters have been discovered-and for some we will meet again at the Annapolis Boat Show in just 2 months.



David Herron said...
It's good to see the Mayor of Annapolis promoting our fair city to the French!!!
Tara said...
I can't even begin to thank you for all the great information you have provided in this blog!

I'm not from Annapolis but it's clear that the fine citizens have a very informative mayor! I'm doing research on my family from France. My grandmother grew up in Rochefort and to this day I still have family there and in La Rochelle.

Thanks again for the great info, it's very useful!!!



Richmond. Yorkshire England- plans for a sister city

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Richmond. Yorkshire England- plans for a sister city

John Robinson, the Mayor of Richmond met with me on a Sunday morning in the town's hall. Built in the 1750's when Richmond was in it's heyday as an important and fashionable town. The hall is similar indesign to Annapolis City Hall and built about the same time.

Both halls feature a Common Hall or Assembly Room used for a variety of public interests. On this Sunday the room was being used for a church service. The Council Chamber originally described in our CityHall plan is separate from the Common Room. It is small in comparison with only one row of benches for the public.

The mayor is chosen by the 12 Alderman for 1 year. At all official functions he wears a beautiful gold chain of office made in 1872 by a Richmond goldsmith and paid for by subscription. The chain includes the Richmond Coat of Arms, Tudor roses, oak leaves and badges of the towns 13 medieval guilds. A gold torque, an iron age piece of jewelry discovered in Scorton Beck, was presented to Richmond by Bridgit Talbot of Kiplin Hall. An original portrait of Queen Elizabeth I is in the Council Chambers.

Richmond self-government goes back to at least 1304. As a court town recognised in town charters in 1441, 1576 and 1668 it is logical that the Calverts at Kiplin 5 miles distance would have done business in Richmond. Under the charter granted in 1668 its constitution provided for 12 Aldersmen and a Mayor later altered to include 24 Common Councilmen. Annapolis' own charter in 1708 provided for a board of Aldermen (appointed) who selected the mayor for 1 or 2 year terms and a common council re-elected by the populous. The history of Georgian Richmond and Annapolis parallel in government structure and when horse racing, fairs and market days made both towns social centres of culture.

The two cities share another important patron; Frances Nicholson. A brochure on Richmond's ancient customs-and there are many still observed today-states "another occasional event is the granting of the Honourary Freedom of Richmond to an individual or body held in high esteem." The first recorded granting of the freedom to an individual was in 1725 to Francis Nicholson, who had been born in Downholme and became a very important figure in the early history of America and laid out the town plan on Maryland's capital Annapolis."

The brochure does not state however why Francis Nicholson was so esteemed in Richmond in 1725.

Richmond, the "mother" of all Richmonds throughout the world is an historical town with a magnificent castle built by Alan Rufus in 1071-Count Alan of Brittany-who owned the land of Kiplin Hall. It sits high above the River Swale and houses the oldest Norman Great Hall in England.

Much of today's town radiates out from the cobblestone market square with hidden alleys and gardens around Georgian town houses. Millgate house built in 1720 has a Royal Horticultural Society award winning garden.

The town boasts one of Englands oldest extant theatres-Theatre Royal, 1788. The Kings Head on Market Place continues a long hotel tradition but it is the French gate restaurant and hotel a newly refurbished Georgian townhouse that heralds a new revitalisation taking place in the most ancient of Englands towns.

Richmond and Annapolis share much in common- the Calverts, Kiplin Hall , Francis Nicolson, great Georgian Architecture, a city hall similarly designed in the 1760's, a town of culture and fashion and now destination visitor centres-in many ways, we are sister cities.

A formal ceremony- what the English calls twinning- await us.

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Friday, July 20, 2007


I came into Paris by Eurostar, the high speed train that is also high on comfort. It makes our trains seem like antiques. Paris is the transfer place for trains heading South to Rochefort and on to London and the tour of our United Kingdom Sister Cities.

Paris is a city of grand architectural splendor. A center of art and culture with breathtaking gardens and narrow streets and grand Boulevards. Centuries of history abound.

It is also a city of small delights...street musicians, small birds eating bread from a child’s hand, students seated by the Seine with a book, a 200 year old window framing a brilliant mixture of flowers.

A magical city of startling pleasures when the road along the Seine is turned into a sunny beach and the Plaza before City Hall also becomes sand for barefoot volleyball for a month each summer.

Paris is a walking city with a focus on people. Monuments, museums, gardens and cafés are easily reached by foot. Cobblestones and marble halls do take their tolls on legs and feet.


Well then, try another way to move around. There are any number to chose from.

In principal visitor areas bicycles are lined up – your charge card in a pay-for-display system unlocks the bike for use.

And then there is the River Seine winding through the City Center. The public batteau bus (literally, "boat bus") stops at 8 locations. An all day pass takes you wherever you choose.

Then continue on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, a connecting to coherent subway or a car parked unseen in an underground garage- no Taj Mahal garages here.

Taxi pick up sites are well marked. Line up as at a bus stop also well marked.

Smart cars-those tiny fuel efficient cars not yet approved in the USA- are prominent.

Motorcycles (not noisy) are parked everywhere in designated sidewalk areas by employees and students who navigate the narrow streets quite skillfully.

Paris is, of course, a huge city – one of the most visited in the world. Annapolis, quite small.

Even though the scale is different, we do share many things in common.

History, cultural center, flowers, a walking city, bicycle rentals, water.

Smart cars, motorbikes without noise, a regular scheduled water taxi service, underground parking, are services we don’t have that might, if available, reduce our perceived car problem.

Make no mistake, there are plenty of cars in Paris, but Paris starts with the premise that the best way to experience the city is by foot, and pedestrian mobility is front and center stage.

There is a wide variety of modes of transportation in Paris, and the city has done a great job of integrating them all into a convenient and understandable system.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sister Cities

Sister Cities choose each other on the basis of one or more similar demographic, characteristic, or historical ties and agree by ordinance to participate. They look to each other for assistance and advice on matters including governance, healthcare, housing, and just about anything else facing a city today. The City of Annapolis, Maryland, is proud to take part in this program, partnering with fifteen international cities.

Annapolis first began as a Sister City in 1980, partnering with Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. Since then, Annapolis has twinned with many other cities, including Wexford, Ireland; Dumfries, Scotland; Tallin, Estonia; Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rochefort, France; and Newport, Wales, as well as cities in South Korea, Sweden, Italy, Gambia, and Russia. In addition, Annapolis has letters of interest with the cities of Changsha, China and Tangier, Medina in Morocco, as well Hamilton, Bermuda.

Recently visiting several of Annapolis’ Sister Cities, Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer called the program “cultural mentoring,” and was surprised to find that affordable housing was a common issue. Her visits to each country are an important part of
reaching out and personally showing support and a willingness to learn about each Sister City.

With over twenty years as a Sister City, Annapolis, Maryland proves the value of international partnerships through exchanges of cultural, educational, and historical knowledge and first-hand experiences. Annapolis will continue to strengthen its ties to its fifteen global partners through mutual visits, events, and exchanges of ideas and information. Through these bonds Annapolis will further its Sister City mission of creating a force for international cooperation and understanding through community involvement and people-to-people relationships.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Enjoy Wexford, Ireland

A statue of Commodore John Barry faces the harbor of Wexford, Ireland near the very place where-at age 12-he entered the Navy as a cabin boy.

Mayor George Lawlor’s grandfather unveiled the statue. Mayor Lawlor wonders why Annapolis doesn’t do more to recognize this Naval hero.

John Barry served with George Washington in our war for independence and was listed as #1 in the American Navy. The competition between the Scots-John Paul Jones is considered by some to be a pirate- and the Irish hero, John Barry, emerges.

Mayor Lawlor, dressed in official red robe and gold chains, welcomed me to the official town chambers. The Chambers are much like a board room with little space for public participation. Pictures of past Mayors line the walls. A photo of former Maryland Senator Gerald Winegrad’s visit to these chambers is included. The Mayor of New Ross, Ingrid O'Brien and Speaker in Parliament, Brendan Howlin, joined as hosts.

Wexford is a town founded by the Vikings. After they plundered the sea coast in the 8th century, Ireland’s rich supply of wood for ship-building attracted the Vikings for permanent settlement. Wexford was a major trading center, exchanging cowhides and agricultural products for luxury goods, wine, figs and olives.

The harbor was a magnet for others expanding their territory. The Normans came in the 12th century. The town's earliest fortifications date to 1169. At the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford, home sites reproduce the way people lived over a 9,000 year period of time. The son of Pat Collins, Wexford Administrator, explained stone age, bronze age and the 1600 year Celtic early Christian age sites.

In the 1840's, a potato blight forever changed life in Ireland. Over 3 million people died or emigrated to a strange country hoping to survive. One of them was Patrick Kennedy, the great - grandfather of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He arrived destitute in Boston in 1848. The Homestead, a simple farm still owned by the family, still exists and is open to the public. John F. Kennedy returned to this homestead in Wexford County in August, 1963. Videos and pictures of the visit 44 years ago are proudly on display in Wexford shops.

In the town of New Ross, a reproduction of the Dunbrody famine ship supported by the JFK Trust tells the stories of those leaving their homeland for America. Many died of the famine and the ships earned the macabre nickname of "coffin ships." On the voyage researched for the Dunbrody, 8 people out of 300 died en route, including the parents of 5 children. Nothing is known of their fate when they reached Boston. While the Dunbrody carried twice its capacity, the mortality rate from fever and dysentery was low.

During WWI, German U-Boat activity created a grave yard of ships off the Wexford coast. The Lusitania, a Cunard cruise ship, was one of the victims. In 1918, the US Navy established a seaplane base at Wexford Harbor and broke the back of the U-Boat operations. Nothing remains of this important complex today.

Nearby is Duncannon Fort, a fortress for over a 1,000 years. The fort is now owned by the County of Wexford. Duncannon is also the name given to the race horse who won the first Jockey Club Trophy, the Annapolis Subscription Plate, in Annapolis in 1745.

On the Southwest Coast of Ireland, 100 miles from Wexford, the town of Kinsale was hosting Regatta Week. Twinned with Newport, Rhode Island, the Mayor and Council members of this American city were on hand to officially open the 10 day regatta event.

Kinsale and Wexford boast Ireland’s best places to dine. Wexford enjoys the country’s #1 Light Opera Company. Mayor Lawlor is a member- another voice to join with our singing troupe during our Annapolis Alive/Charter 300 Celebration in 2008.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dumfries, Scotland - Our Sister City since 1987

My Scotish heritage on my mother’s side originated in the 14th century in Dumfries. Asmall clan, MacClish, was related to the MacQuillias and to the MacPheron (at least according to what I read in Anderson’s Kilt Shop). The fight against Bonnie Prince Charles and the defeat at the Battle of Culloden in the 1730’s seems to have eliminated most of them.

Dumfries is a border town where hundreds of years of British history can be explored. It was in Dumfries where Robert the Bruce met and killed John Comyn at Grey Friars Church and declared himself King of Scotland in 1306. Contested and embattled “Good King Robert” prevailed and Scotland became the First Nation State in Europe.

This is a region of haunting rolling hills crisscrossed by rubble stone fences and farm fields dotted white with sheep. Castles and Abbeys stand in ruins, not destroyed during World War II, but ordered dismantled in the 1400's by King Henry VIII in his struggle against the Catholic Church and its wealthy land holdings. Iron Age remains of Roman Forts are still visible and present remarkable archeological dig sites.

Lockerbie, where the sabotaged flight of Pan American 747 crashed in 1988 is in Dumfries/Galloway. 270 people, mostly students from Syracuse University were killed in this tragedy. A memorial center is maintained in the cemetery and a memorial window is installed in the Town Hall. Each year 2 senior pupils of Lockerbie Academy receive a year’s scholarship at Syracuse.

This is mournful country yet with a haunting beauty that inspired J. M. Barrie’s Fantasy Story Peter Pan and the songs and poems of Robert Burns. Robert Burns is the Heart and Soul of Dumfries. The simple sand stone house where he lived and died in 1796, at the young age of 37, is a museum.

Some years after this death, the citizens of Scotland took up a subscription to raise money for a proper mausoleum. The elaborate white grave site sits among ancient 5-foot high red stone markers of Dumfries citizens in St. Michael’s, the oldest church in Dumfries.

The Church itself was built in 1741 on the foundations of previous churches spanning 1300 years of time. During the last reconstruction, metal lead for the roof was purchased by the citizens of Dumfries to make shot to protect them from Bonnie Prince Charles. The Prince spent 3 days in Dumfries among the citizenry of non-supporters, but no shot was fired. A common grave marks the site for visitors of cholera epidemics in 1832 and 1848. The first use of anesthetic was in this city.

The Globe Inn, where he ate and drank, and is still a place to eat and drink, is filled with memorabilia and the spirit of Scotland’s National Bard who gave us Auld Lang Syne, Tam O’Shanter, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose and 100's more.

Dumfries/Galloway borders the Solway Firth - a huge estuary that separates Scotland from England and anoints Dumfries as the “Riviera of the South”. It is on this coast that John Paul Jones was born, raised and learned about the sea to become an Admiral and the Father of the American Navy. I visited the Church in Kirkbeon , a 12th century village, that he attended and the cottage where he grew up. The cottage built in 1740 is now a museum thanks to the vision and work of Admiral Jerauld Wright, USN. Supported by a charitable trust, the site was opened in 1991, thirty years after Admiral Wright began his restoration effort. John Paul Jones is buried at the U. S. Naval Academy in a crypt beneath the Chapel. A battle with Ranger, a ship under his command, is featured in Art Walk at Prince George and Craig Street.

Ken Cameron, past Provost (Mayor) introduced Dumfries to Annapolis in 1987 when we became Sister Cities. Over the twenty years, delegations from Dumfries have visited Annapolis several times. We have not been so visible.

The delegation welcoming me could not have been more gracious. David Lockwood, Robert Thom, Alfred Hannay were just a few who spent hours of time introducing me to Dumfries/Galloway. We talked about challenges--affordable housing, the economy, seagulls.

Like us, Dumfries is a city of small shops, but too many young people leave town to find a job. We discussed ways to strengthen our ties, small business opportunities. I immediately thought of the sheep everywhere in view and of woolen goods. But despite all the sheep, Ivor Hyslop, councilman and farmer, says it costs more to shear sheep than to sell the wool-an industry in decline.

Dumfries is, of course, a center for anyone interested in exploring history to visit. The Iron Age, Romans, early Christians, battles with England, religious struggles-the stories are all here.

In 2009 Scotland is promoting a special year for those of Scottish heritage to explore this homeland. A Navy town, Annapolis and Dumfries are forever linked with John Paul Jones, the father of America’s Navy. Friends of John Paul Jones Charity are under the Naval Historical Foundation.

My stay in Dumfries was concluded with a Scottish Dance and a group of students from a sister city in Germany were learning the folk dances similar to our square dances. I wanted to bring this fun to Annapolis. Councilman Jack Groom agreed to come to Annapolis to sing with Tony Spencer and Ray Weaver. Janice Hawkins, who arranged the events, agreed to come and teach the dances. Alfie and Robert wanted to play golf. And so we agreed as we shook hands good-bye that during 2008, Annapolis’ Charter Celebration year, Dumfries and Annapolis will join in a special event to showcase the history we share.