Richmond Castle & Easby Abbey ~ 2013

I am going back in time now, to places Sophie and I went before BWP (before wordpress) as we can’t go anywhere as yet. But back on a sunny day in August, 2013, we set off to visit Richmond Castle and Easby Abbey just down the road from the castle. My camera was a Nikon D700, a bit of a gorgeous beast, but my treatment of my photo’s was a bit on the bright side, nevermind, we all have to learn and grow!

But first, of course, we must do…

The History Bit 🍪 ☕️ (long post alert!)

Our Alan.

Richmond Castle stands overlooking the River Swale in a place originally called ‘Riche Mount’, meaning ‘the strong hill’. We are back in Norman Conquest times now gentle reader so everything gets a bit Frenchyfied. The Castle and subsequently the town of Richmond was built by a chap called Alan Rufus, (Alan the Red) which doesn’t sound very French but rest assured he was one of those Pesky French who played a large part in our history.

Alan was a Nobleman of Breton and companion to William the Conqueror who you may remember from our previous history post concerning Auckland Castle.

Born in 1040 his parents were Eozen Penteur, Count of Pentfiévre and Orguen Kernev known as Agnes of Cornouaille. Eozen was related to Willy Conk’s family and there’s a whole shed load of inter-related and married brothers and sisters, and Dukes this and that of here and there that I think we’ll skip over for sanity’s sake, suffice to say our Alan’s family were well heeled and connected in the upper eschelons of Royal society.

By 1060 our Al had properties in Rouen, and was Lord of Richemont in Upper Normandy prior to 1066. Willy Conk gifted Al a couple of churches therein, St-Ouen de Rouen of the church of Saint-Sauveur and the nearby church of Sainte Croix des Pelletiers. You will have clocked 1066 as the date when The Battle of Hastings happened, when the Pesky French wiped the floor with the English. Now, I don’t want to appear to be a bad loser here, but I’m going to point out that the battle took place on the 14th October, and started at 9am. It’s estimated the Pesky French under Willy Conk, had 10,000 men, cavalry and arches and infantry, whilst good ol’King Harold had 7000, mostly infantry. The English were outmanned and out techied, but held their ground, and by dusk of that day the Pesky French had not been able to break the English battle lines. So what did they do to win? They ran away, pretending to flee in panic, and then turned on their pursuers! It’s just not cricket!!

Anyway I digress. Our Al was with Willy Conk at the Battle, and apparently Al and his Breton men aquitted themselves very well, doing the English ‘great damage’. Later in 1066 Norman cavalry swept into Cambridgeshire and built a castle on the hill north of the river crossing and as Al’s first possessions in England were in Cambridgeshire, he possibly obtained them at this point. King Harold who died at the battle (legend has it he got an arrow through the eye, which is enough to kill most people) was married, (sort of) to a lady known as Edith the Fair, or Edith Swanneck, who held many land titles in Cambridge, and our Al aquired all but one of those. He also aquired Edith and Harold’s daughter Gunhild of Wessex as his mistress who abandoned her life as a nun in Wilton Abbey in order to live with him. She was hoping to marry him but that didn’t happen and after Al’s death she went on to live with his brother Alan Niger (Alan the Black), I suppose one brother is much like the next! Except one’s red and one’s black. Nomenclaturally speaking I mean. I think it was down to hair colour.

In January 1069 the rebellion of York kicked off and Willy Conk got his army together in the latter part of the year, putting down the rebellion and then going on to do the ‘harrying of the north’. As a reward to red Al for his help in the conquest, Willy bestowed what’s known as ‘The Honour of Richmond’ upon him. This ostensibly means a huge swathe of land previously owned by Edwin Earl of Mercia who was part of the rebellion in the North, and was killed trying to escape to Scotland. It was one of the most important fiefdoms in Norman England covering parts of eight English counties. Alan went on to become one of the most important, and wealthy men in England, owning land just about everywhere and being the third richest Baron. But that’s another herd of stuff that isn’t of import to Richmond so there we’ll leave it except to say he had a sudden and unexpected death in either 1089 or 1093, most likely 1093.

Our Al commenced the building of the castle in 1071, and the earliest surviving structures at the castle include long stretches of the stone curtain wall, the great archway in the ground floor of the keep, and Scolland’s Hall. No other castle in England can boast so much surviving 11th-century architecture and it is probably the best-preserved castle of this scale and age in the country. After Al’s death, his brother Al the Black took over and after his death another brother Stephen. By 1136 Stephen’s son, wouldn’t you know it, another Alan Niger (so Al the Black 2nd whomst we will call Alby 2) held the estates.

The King at this point was King Stephen, known as Stephen Le Blois, who we never hear much about, so I’ll digress a little to tell you he was the grandson of Willy Conk, and when Conk’s son King Henry 1st died leaving the succession to the throne open to challenge, Stephen hot footed it over the channel to England and with the help of Henry, Bishop of Winchester, took the throne, before Henry’s daughter Matilda got her little graspy hands on it. Alby 2 had a mint built in the castle that issued coins in support of King Stephen, as his reign was muchly embattled with rebellions and the like.

Alby 2 had married Bertha, the heiress to the Duke of Brittany and they had a son named Conan, (not the Destroyer, nor the Barbarian) and he eventually inherited the Duchy of Brittany and the Earldom of Richmond, thereby becoming subject to both the King of England and the King of France. He began to assert control over his English lands from 1154 and during the next 10 years spent a lot of time at Richmond, commencing the building of the castle keep, a statement of his vast power and wealth. The 100 feet (30m) high keep was built of honey coloured sandstone and it’s walls were 11 foot (3-4m) thick.

Henry II was our King at this time, and in 1166 after getting help from Henry to put down rebellions in his lands in France Conan betrothed his daughter Constance to Henry’s 4th son Geoffrey ceding the duchy of Brittany to the king as part of the agreement. Constance was only 9 years old when Dad died in 1171 so Henry took control of Richmond castle, and held the guardianship of Brittany until Geoffrey and Constance could marry. Royal accounts list several buildings as objects of repair or new work under Henry II, including the tower and houses of the castle (1171–4) and the ‘king’s house’ (1186–7), probably a reference to Scolland’s Hall.

Although Geoff and Connie did marry in 1181, the castle remained in royal hands until the end of King John’s reign in 1261, though there’s no evidence that he did any building works at the castle.

Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries Alby 2’s combination of the French Duchy of Brittany with the English Earldom of Richmond caused a long running international dynastic dispute. The French and English Kings were often having fisticuffs, so the incumbent at Richmond castle had dual allegiances, never really works that does it? As a result the Honour and castle were confiscated from time to time and held by either the English Crown or a royal favourite. Finally in 1372 the castle was surrendered to the Crown.

The Dukes who intermittently ruled Richmond in this period continued to invest in it. In 1278 Duke John II entered into an agreement with Egglestone Abbey to provide six canons (priests, not implements of war- they have an extra ‘n’) for the castle’s Great Chapel so they could spend their time praying for the soul of his late wife Beatrice. Beatrice must have been really bad to need that many prayers I think. The chapel isn’t standing now, so the prayers probably didn’t work too well.

By the end of the 14th century the castle was not in good nick anymore and surveys in 1538 had it ‘derelict’, and in 1609 ‘decayed’ but parts of the castle were still being used. At some point in the 16th century expensive glass was imported from Europe to refurbish the Robin Hood tower’s chapel, and at another point that was abandoned too.

The castle remained in this condition for another 300 years with ownership passing back to the Dukes of Richmond in 1675. These lot were not the Pesky French but started with the extramarital son of King Charles II, probably better keeping it in the family. Every one of the Dukes was called Charles Lennox, Charles Gordon Lennox, Charles Henry Gordon Lennox or Frederick Charles Gordon Lennox. My eyerolling knows no bounds gentle reader. There are 11 of them and apart from one nephew all are sons of the fathers. At least the 3rd Duke made some repairs to the castle keep, but other than that, it stands a ruin. In the 18th and 19th centuries artists including JMW Turner painted the castle in the landscape which encouraged admiration of the castle as a romantic ruin, and the town became a fashionable place for tourists to visit.

In 1854 the North York Militia leased the castle for it’s headquarters and built a barrack block against the west curtain wall. They adapted the keep as a depot and built a range beside the main castle gate, intended as a reserve armoury for the militia. Then in 1908 it became the headquarters of the Northern Territorial Army commanded by Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts until 1910 when the army handed over the historic fabric of the castle to the Ministry of Works, but retained control of the buildings.

When World War 1 happened the Northern Non-Combatent Corps occupied the building. They were a military unit of chaps who had asked to be exempt from going to war but would contribute to the war effort in some other way. However there were a few chaps who didn’t want anything to do with the war at all as it was against their fundamental beliefs and in 1916 some of them were detained in cells at the castle. The tiny rooms where they were held still have the graffiti on the walls that the objectors drew.

Some of these conscientious objectors, who became known as the Richmond Sixteen, were sent to France in May 1916, where they were court martialled for refusing to obey orders. They were given a death sentence, but it was commuted to 10 years penal servitude. Their transportation to France, trial and sentencing have become notorious in the history of conscientious objection.

After the war, from 1920-28 the barracks were used by Richmond Council to help alleviate the shortage of housing in the town and the block was demolished in 1931. In the 2nd World War the roof of the keep was used as a lookout post against enemy activity, and the keep was used as a daylight air raid shelter. In 1940 the cell block was once again used to detain prisoners, although these were soldiers rather than conscientious objectors. Many of them also pencilled drawings and inscriptions on the cell walls.

In 1987 English Heritage became the guardians of the Castle, and now we are bang up to date! That was a long read and I salute you gentle reader for staying to the end, you are still my favourite 🙂 .

So let’s have a look at the castle.

Starting off on the walk around the outside of the castle, and the 11th-century curtain wall.
View over the River Swale from the east wall.
View of Culloden Tower from the East wall.

Built by John Yorke as a feature in the park surrounding his mansion, The Green, which was demolished in the 1820s in the 19th century it was known as the Cumberland Tower, or Temple. It was built on, or close to, the site of an earlier peel tower but an exact date has not yet been discovered. It must however be between 1732 – as it bears the arms of Anne Darcy who Yorke married in that year – and 1749 when it is described as a ‘Gothick Tower on an eminence’. The Culloden Tower fell into disrepair in the 1970s and was rescued by The Landmark Trust which completed an exemplary restoration in 1982.

The Gold Hole Tower
This is where the barrack demolished in 1931 stood.
The keep
The keep and to the right of it the 1865 barrack block where the conscientious objectors were stored and where the graffiti can be seen.
View over Richmond from the top of the Keep.

Well that will do for today, you must have finished your cuppa tea by now, but stay tooned, next week we’ll have a look at the town and the river.

All the pictures are embiggenable with a click if you like.

refs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Rufus

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/richmond-castle/history-and-stories/history/

https://thefollyflaneuse.com/culloden-tower-richmond-north-yorkshire/

Bishopwearmouth Cemetery ~ March 2020

This was Sophie’s and my last outing this year, just after the keep 2 meters apart advice and just prior to the total lockdown. Because we couldn’t go anywhere in the car, we met up near where Sophie lives, at the Bishopwearmouth Cemetary. A quite appropriate visit for the time, as we will see in

The History Bit. ☕️ 🍪

Between 1817 and 1860 the world had 3 cholera pandemics, but for our purposes we are looking at the 2nd one. After dying down by 1824, historians believe the first pandemic hung about in Indonesia and the Phillipines having started out along the Ganges Delta in India. From there it spread along trade routes and reached China by 1828, with Iran being overtaken with it from it’s route through Afghanistan in 1829. Also in ’29 it reached the Ural Mountains, and the first case in Orenburg, Russia. There were 3500 cases including 865 fatal ones in Orenburg province.

 By 1831, the epidemic had infiltrated Russia’s main cities and towns. 250,000 cases of cholera and 100,000 deaths were reported in Russia. Russian soldiers then took the disease to Poland during the Polish-Russian war (1830-1831). Between 16 May and 20 August 1831 4,734 people fell ill and 2,524 died in Warsaw alone. The epidemic reached Great Britain in 1831 when a passenger ship from the Baltic brought it to Sunderland, then Gateshead, Newcastle, and on to London where the first cases occurred on the river, mostly on colliers from the Tyne. On it went to Paris, 20,000 died (out of a population of 650,000), with about 100,000 deaths in all of France. By 1832 it had reached Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in Canada and Detroit and New York City in the USA, getting to the Pacific coast by 1834.

The British Government had issued quarantine orders for ships sailing from Russia to British ports and issued orders recommending the burning of “decayed articles, such as rags, cordage, papers, old clothes, hangings…filth of every description removed, clothing and furniture should be submitted to copious effusions of water, and boiled in a strong ley (lye); drains and privies thoroughly cleansed by streams of water and chloride of lime…free and continued admission of fresh air to all parts of the house and furniture should be enjoined for at least a week” as preventive action. However the ship arriving at Sunderland was allowed to dock because the port authorities objected to, and therefore ignored, instructions from the government. Well that’s Mackem’s for you.

Bishopwearmouth Cemetery was built as a direct result of the epidemic, as the subsequent overcrowding in churchyards became untenable. It opened at the same time as another new cemetary, Mere Knowles (which you may remember from a previous post, but probably not! 🙂 ) in 1856. Bishopwearmouth Cemetery soon became Sunderland’s main buriel site and separate areas were allocated for all religious denominations. It has been extended a couple of times and now covers 80 acres.

So on with some pictures!

Quaker Buriel Ground
In 1850 the ‘Society of Friends’ agreed for the first time to place stones over the graves of their brethren, with names in full with the date of their death inscribed on them, as prior to 1850 grave markers were not deemed necessary by strict Quaker doctrine.
‘Erected in loving remembrance of Gunner James William Rutherford Trench Mortar Battery Royal Horse Artillery. The beloved son of Thomas and Marie Rutherford who died at Rouen August 1st 1916 from the result of wounds received at Delville Wood.

Martini Maccomo has been recorded as coming from Angola, or the West Indies, or Liverpool, and was also described as a Zulu! His age is also not set in stone. Whatever, it is known that he joined William Manders’ Grand National Mammoth Menagerie in late 1857 at the Greenwich Fair in South East London. Maccomo was advertised as ‘the African Wild Beast Tamer’, ‘Angola’s Mighty Czar of All Lion Tamers’, ‘the Black Diamond of Manders’ Menagerie’,’the Dark Pearl of Great Price’, ‘the most talented and renowned Sable Artiste in Christendom’ and ‘The Hero of a Thousand Combats’. For all those great sobriquets I am not sure he was actually very good at his job! In 1860, at a performance in Great Yarmouth a lion attacked Maccomo and his pistol was accidentally fired into the audience, resulting in a piece of wadding becoming lodged in the eye of a local carpenter named Gillings. In the resulting case of Gillings v. Manders, the plaintiff was awarded £150 in damages. Then in Liverpool in 1861 he got his hand stuck in the mouth of a Bengal Tigress, who wouldn’t let go until an assistant pressed a hot iron bar against her teeth. The following year in Norwich a lion bit his hand and dragged him along the floor, and he lost part of a finger. Finally, in Sunderland in 1869 a lion called Wallace had had enough of him and also attacked him, apparently Maccomo used whips, pistols and knuckledusters during his act. Maccomo contracted rheumatic fever and died in the Palatine Hotel in 1871, where he was staying. Four years later Wallace died too, and is now displayed to this day in Sunderland Museum. Mackem’s I tell you! 🙄

Our days begin with trouble here
our life is but a span
and cruel death is always near
so frail a thing is man.

Cheery little epitaph, and I was disappointed the gravestone didn’t have a carved lion on it!

Thomas Scott Turnbull, the son of saddler John Turnbull, was born in Newcastle on October 28, 1825. After being educated at St Mary’s School, Newcastle, he went to work for “Dunn and Bainbridge” – then the largest drapery firm in Newcastle. Turnbull soon rose to a high position, later gaining further experience of the trade by working in several large commercial houses in London before moving to Sunderland in 1850 and starting his own business. He was extremely forward-thinking, introducing a system of “small profits and quick returns” at a time when established drapers gave long credit. From humble beginnings, he built up his Sunderland-based business “Albion House” into one of the largest drapery houses in Northern England. At his death, it occupied 122-126 High Street West, Sunderland, and the premises included sleeping and dining accommodation for 160 assistants, plus a library of nearly 2,500 volumes for their use. He went into politics as a Liberal and became Mayor of Sunderland in November 1880, but died of Typhoid Fever the following year.

‘A short and painful illness’
I forgot to remember whose grave this was, but it’s beautiful.

I found a few graves with mosaic inlays, so I had to do them of course!

This one intrigued me as it has an ornate carved panel, which I think must have been of brass, bronze or copper, as it was covered in verdigris

This is the detail shot, would be nice to know the story behind it.

The cemetery is nicely looked after, lots of daffodils lining the paths,

There are memorials on trees, and you can see there is a section for commonwealth war graves behind this one.

and a section for children’s graves, always sad.

The chapels are cordoned off for safety and. haven’t been in use for a long time.

So that is the last outing for Sophie and me, who knows when the next one will be. Still, Sunday history lessons will continue, so stay tooned! 🙂

refs: http://www.historyhome.co.uk ~ Cholera comes to Britain.

http://www.wikipedia. ~ Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, Martini Maccomo. Cholera Epidemic.

Bishop Auckland ~ part 3 ~ February 2020

Last week we had a look at the viewing tower, and this is the inside of it.

There are some stone carvings from the time of Bishop Beks Great Hall in the 13th Century.

Monk’s Head
Dragon

and more views from the viewing platforms.

The outside of the castle

So that’s the end of our visit to Bishop Auckland and it’s castle.

Bishop Auckland on film, February 2020

Following on from last weeks post, this week on Fragglefilm.

fragglefilm

The first part of our trip to Bishop Auckland and the historycan be found HERE.

As well as the fuji I had my Canon EOS 1000FN loaded with some kodak portra so shot a few frames around the castle and town.

Entrance to the castle.

The walk to the deer park

Below the windows of the castle just before the entrance there are coats of arms carved in stone, one is for Bishop Ruthall and the other for Bishop Tunstall, both of whom were Prince Bishops during Henry VIII reign. Not sure which is which. If you embiggen the first one with a click you can see carved skulls above the main design.

You may remember that Bishop Lightfoot had the oak panelling installed in ST Peter’s Chapel, this is one of the stained glass windows he also had installed with lots of bishops portrayed, that’s him in the…

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