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Uppsala, Sweden

By Charles Tanford & Jacqueline Reynolds

Uppsala, Sweden

Linnaeus Garden. Linnaeus was appointed Professor of Medicine at the University of Uppsala in 1741, after some rather undignified infighting among several candidates for the position. Botany was academically a part of medicine at the time because plant extracts were the most common form of medication, and renovation of the university’s neglected botanical garden (originally founded in 1655) was one of the new professor’s assigned tasks. A house adjacent to the garden came with the appointment and served as Linnaeus’s residence. Classically proportioned, with a red brick facade, it now serves as the garden museum, laid out and furnished much as it must have been in Linnaeus’s day.

The garden area itself has been beautifully restored-the layout is nearly the same as the original, modeled according to the prevailing style, with narrow parallel formal beds and three pools and an orangery at the back. Two symmetrical sections (parterres) contain beds for perennial and annual (or biennial) plants, respectively. Arrangement within the perennial parterre is strictly in the order of the Linnaeus classification, but there are 44 beds for the 24 classes, allowing more than one bed for some classes. The annual plants are also grouped together by class, but the order varies from year to year. The path between the two sections is bordered by showy ornamental plants, and the pools beyond have water plants. The orangery used to be divided into frigidarium, caldarium, and tepidarium, to provide for a range of indoor environments, but it is less elaborate aeus in Lapland costume, from a 1737 painting. The flower fastened to his tunic is the twin flower, Linnaea borealis, shown here in a separate photograph. It blooms only briefly, close to midsummer, so you may not see it in the garden when you visit. today. Parts of it now have non-botanical uses, such as choir practice for a local group. Two little shelters on top of high poles near the entrance used to house chained monkeys. Linnaeus was very fond of the monkeys and is reported as having been unashamedly grieved when one of his favourites died.

Linnaeus died at his garden residence and was buried in Uppsala Cathedral. There is a monument with a medallion portrait in a chapel off the north aisle. The tomb slab itself is in the floor, a little closer to the main entrance. The cathedral is the largest church in Scandinavia and parts of it date back to the thirteenth century.

In the outskirts of Uppsala we have Linnes Hammarby (6 miles [10 km] southeast), Linnaeus’s former summer residence, now a small state park. Linnaeus sometimes lectured here to students and large crowds of visitors. A little further out, toward the southwest, is Wiks Slott (Wik Castle), a fifteenth-century fortress with a fine park at the edge of a lake. Svante Arrhenius was born here in 1859, his father having been overseer of the estate at the same time as he was working for the university. (The university salary improved a year later, and the family was able to move into the city.) Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), just north of the modem city, is also worth a visit. It was the royal capital of the Svea kingdom 1,500 years ago and contains burial mounds and other antiquities.

Toledo, Spain

By Charles Tanford & Jacqueline Reynolds

Toledo Cathedra

Toledo stands in a loop of the Tagus (Tajo) River, on a site of unsurpassed beauty. An unforgettable view of the town, with brilliant blue Castilian sky in the background, is obtained from the Parador Conde de Orgaz, a state-owned hotel on the steep hills of the southern river bank. Toledo was “liberated” by Christian forces at an early stage of the wars to wrest control from the Muslims, even earlier than Cordoba, but its Castilian rulers were first tolerant and encouraged intermingling of the races, so that Moorish traditions of education and culture continued for some time. In the twelfth century Toledo was probably the most important Jewish town in all of Europe; Rabbi ben Ezra lived here during that period. In fact, the realization that there used to be close intermin- gling of Jewish and Islamic intellectuals is an important lesson to be learned from a visit here-the beautiful El Transito synagogue, built in the fourteenth century, has been recently restored. Nearby is the El Greco museum, commemorating the great artist from Crete who came to live and paint in Toledo at the invitation of Philip 11 in 1585. Many of his paintings may be seen in a gallery in Toledo’s cathedral.

Exeter’s Underground Passageways, England

By Deborah Palmer

Exeter's underground tunnels

Dating from the 14th century, Exeter’s medieval underground passages were built to house the lead pipes that brought fresh water from natural springs in fields outside the city wall into the city centre. The passages lie between 4 and 6 metres underground stretching 425 metres across the city centre. Amazingly 80% of the tunnel network survives and much of it can be explored with a travel guide. The pipes often sprang leaks and repairs could only be carried out by digging down. The solution was a vaulted network lined with stone which was big enough for workers to climb underground to carry out repairs. The first passage was built between 1346 and 1349 to serve the city’s cathedral. The water pipes ended at a fountain in Cathedral Close that supplied clean water to Exeter’s clergy.

Exeter was becoming quite wealthy and the cathedral was built in response to Salisbury Cathedral. The stonemasons who had been working on the cathedral were set the task of constructing the underground passages. The supply of clean water was inadequate for the city population and this resulted in the construction of a second tunnel between 1492 and 1497 – known as The City Passage. As the woollen trade developed, a number of wealthy merchants decided they wanted their own water supply. There were always political divisions between the city and the cathedral, and the merchants wanted to ensure they had a separate supply they could rely on. Only the wealthiest residents could afford to have the water piped directly to their homes.

For everyone else, water was dispensed through an ornate public fountain, called The Great Conduit, at the junction of South Street and the High Street. Sadly the fountain itself was demolished in the 18th Century. In the 1640s a section of The City Passage was blocked off during the English Civil War to prevent the tunnel being used as an entry point into the city. The lead pipes were removed for casting into bullets and the passage filled with rubble. However, the passage was repaired and the water supply restored after the war ended.

Historians of medicine will be interested in the fact that further changes were made following an outbreak of cholera in 1832 when a more healthy water supply was developed – fed from a treatment works at Pynes Hill. The Board of Health commissioned the engineer James Golsworthy to make some changes to the passages. He replaced the lead pipes with cast iron ones and lowered the floor level to improve the water flow. This meant that the pipes sprang leaks less often because the floor was more level. The passages continued to supply water to the city until 1857 when one of the wells was damaged by the building of a new railway cutting. By 1901 the passages had been virtually forgotten. During the Second World War part of the tunnel network was used as a shelter from German bombing raids – a place of safety for 300 city residents.

Guided tours have taken place since 1933. Originally there was no lighting and the tours were no more than a scramble through conduits that stretch out below the streets. The visitor experience has improved since then and a new interpretation centre, opened in 2007, tells the story of the passages, their innovative use of water and explores medieval life in the city. To book your tour contact 01392 665 887

Further information

Underground Passages Leaflet [pdf, 3.4Mb]