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Fairbanks House
Dedham,
Massachusetts,
United States of America

It’s the oldest surviving timber structure house of North America. Jonathan Fairbank commissioned a master mason and carpenter to construct this farm house for his wife Grace and their six children between 1637 and 1641. Jonathan Fairbanks (1594-1668) was born in Yorkshire, England. The family immigrated to Dedham, Massachusetts in 1633. It was the ancestral home for the family for eighteen generations spanning 268 years. During this period the site grew from 12 acres to just under 200 acres. It was in the early 1800s that owner Ebenezer Jr Fairbank descended into financial crises. It wasn’t helped either with his younger brother, Jason (1780-1801) was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Elizabeth Fales and was sentenced to be hanged. He managed to escape Dedham Jail with help from his family but was recaptured near Skenesboro (now Whitehall, New York) and was sent to Boston Jail. Under the supervision of two Calvary armies and a unit from the volunteer militia and in front of 10,000 people, James Fairbanks was hanged on the 10th September 1801. Ebenezer Jr died in 1832, his wife Mary lived in the house until her death in 1843. Their daughters, Prudence (1781-1871), Sally (1790-1877) and Nancy (1794-1879) never married and so when Nancy died, the last surviving sister, the house was left to her niece Rebecca (1827-1908). In 1904, Rebecca left the building. For over a hundred years now the house has been a museum and thanks to the organization, Fairbanks Family in America.

Niddry Street Vaults
Edinburgh,
Scotland

Nestled in Scotland’s capital city, the Edinburgh Vaults or South Bridge Vaults are an arrangement of chambers formed from arches of the South Bridge. Completed in 1788, it served to link Old Town to the Southside, extending the cities development. The concealed arches had extra floors added to them, principally for the purpose of business. Niddry Street Vaults is one of three vaults now underneath the city. Taverns, where alcohol is sold and drunk, and Cobbler Workshops, a place for where shoes were made or repaired were customarily found within the vaults. The rushed erection of the bridge came a failure to seal water from the uppermost part of the overpass, leading to the vaults being flooded. By 1795, businesses started to steadily desert the vaults. As the population grew in Edinburgh, the vaults became the home to the poorest of people, living in squalor and disease, with as many as ten people living in each room. Due to lack of sanitation, clean running water, no sunlight and dire circulated air, the death rate in the vaults was disturbingly high. Criminal activity shot up with illegal gambling and manufacturing of spirits but major offences such as robbery and murder began to soar. The notorious body snatchers Burke and Hare accused of sixteen murders in 1828 are suspected of using the vaults to find helpless persons or store corpses for money to Robert Knox (1791 -1862) to use in dissection for teaching university students in his anatomy classes. The vaults were closed between 1835 and 1875. 

Bran Castle
Bran,
Transylvania,
Romania

Bran Castle sits on a steep rock face on the Transylvanian side of the former border of Wallachia. The surrounding Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountains embrace what is known outside of Romania as Dracula’s Castle. The Teutonic knights, a German Catholic religious order built a fortress in Bran before they were forced to leave in 1226. On November 19th 1377 permission was granted by Hungarian King Louis the Great (1326-1382) for the Saxons of Transylvania to build Bran Castle – by 1388 construction was completed. It served as a customs point, for the transfer of stock going in/out of the area, in addition to stopping the growth of the Ottoman Empire. The Transylvanian Saxon lands were attacked by the Ottomans in 1438. John Hunyadi (1406-1456) a leading Hungarian military and political figure defeated Ottoman armed forces in the Battle of Hermannstadt (22nd March 1442). Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler, Vlad III Dracula) voivode (ruler) of Wallachia passed through Bran with his army in 1459 to settle a dispute with the Saxons. He plundered villages, and captured people whom he would later impale. Although it is thought Vlad never set foot in Bran Castle, there is a claim that he was imprisoned at the castle in 1462.  It became the property of Queen Marie (1875-1938); who sought help from architect Karen Liman in renovating the castle. When Queen Marie died the castle was passed onto her daughter Princess Ileana (1909-1991), the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and of Tsar Alexander II.