Belsay Hall & Castle~Oct 2021~The Castle

Coming out of the Quarry Garden we get a splendid view of the Castle.

Belsay Castle.

The Castle was built as an extension to a manor in 1390, modified in 1614 with a Jacobean range on the west side, with a further wing added in 1711 or thereabouts, and was abandoned in 1817. It’s had it’s ups and downs since then, but English Heritage are looking after it now.

Front door
It’s missing a floor or two


Spidey Window

There are stairs up to the roof top of the castle’s tower house, and up we went to see the views..

a green and pleasant land

There is a walled area in front of the castle and it has monkey puzzle trees in it..

and one of the walls of the castle has a carved face in the stonework. 😊

Smiler

Finally the rear view of the castle with the imposing tower house built in 1391 by John Middleton.

Stay tooned for next time and the return through the Quarry Garden.

all pictures embiggenable by clickeration.

Further history HERE.

Belsay Hall & Castle~October 2021~ The Quarry Garden.

The Quarry Garden is a dramatic sheltered garden created out of the quarry from which the stone was extracted in the early 19th century to build the Hall, Castle and grounds. They are now in the care of English Heritage, who restored the Quarry Garden in the mid-1990s to reveal the full height of the quarry cliffs and the monumental rock faces, in line with their original 1830s concept of ‘Awesome Nature’. (That was from the blurb on English Heritage website, not quite sure people in the 1800’s were using ‘awesome’ as a word. Especially not in Northumberland where they speak a kind of English/Viking language so you only make out 1 in 3 words. Anyhoo, I digress…. )

Inspired by Sir Charles Monck’s travels, the Quarry Garden has its own microclimate which means all sorts of exotic plants grow there. Sophie and I love walking through it, there is so much to point our cameras at.

So today’s post is our walk through the Quarry Garden to get to the Castle, and we’ll have another look at it on our way back from the castle too.

in we go..
Brazilian Giant Rhubarb. You could make a lot of pies from these I think!
I think these are rhododendrons.
Not many flowery bits at this time of year, but a pop of colour here and there.
portal to the next bit.
Stairway to nowhere
corner lighting
rootling down
Tree Top.

Next time we’ll be at the Castle so stay tooned!

All pictures are embiggenable by clickerating on them.

Belsay Hall & Castle ~ October 2021 ~ part 2

We leave Belsay Hall and start off to get to the quarry, but first we’ll have a look in the formal gardens of the Hall. The temperatures were milder than usual in October and November, and so butterflies were still about, which surprised us.

small tortoiseshell and buddlea
large white
red admiral

Still some flowers budding and blooming too.

japanese anemone
sevenbark (Hydrangea aborescens L.)

and some buggy things

hoverfly
webmaster.

There’s a manicured lawn within a walled garden

walled garden

And then on out to the path that leads you on to the quarry, through gorgeous autumn colours.

Katsura japonicum.
Katsura leaves.

Next time we’ll get to the exotic quarry walk so stay tooned!

Belsay Hall & Castle~Oct 2020~ part 1

As well as doing the 365 project last year, I did manage to get out and about with Sophie, and as I’ve posted over at Fragglefilm a few from our re-visit of Belsay Hall & Castle, I thought I’d do a post with the Fuji photo’s I took the same day. We last visited in February 2019 but haven’t been in Autumn so wanted to rectify that. I’m repeating the history bit for new followers, and forgetful old followers 🤣

The History Bit

Back in days of yore, the first fortification at Belsay was an Iron Age hillfort, set on a hilly spur known as Bantam Hill.  Not a lot of info on that as no records exist of how big it was, or how long it was occupied, but in 1270 Richard de Middleton, Lord Chancellor to King Henry III had a Manor built there. The Manor stayed in the Middleton family until 1317 when Gilbert de Middleton owned it. At this point in history, Robert The Bruce was on the rampage, and having won a great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was raiding into England with impunity. Gilbert raised himself a private army to counter the threat of The Bruce, but stupid Gilbert went a bit OTT and ended up raiding  Yorkshire and extorting money from the Bishop of Durham.  It didn’t take long until he was captured, hung, drawn and quartered, and his Manor confiscated. The Belsay estate was passed around a few people but ended up back in the Middleton clan in 1390, when John Middleton extended the manor and built the castle which is still there today. In 1614 the castle was modified by Thomas Middleton who added a Jacobean range on the west side, probably replacing the old manor. A further wing was added round about 1711, and a walled garden in front of the castle. In 1795 the castle passed into the hands of 6th Baronet Sir Charles Miles Lambert Monck who actually had the surname of Middleton but changed his name to that of his maternal grandfather Laurence Monck of Caenby Hall, Lincolnshire who died in 1798, in order to inherit his estate. Because you can never have enough halls and castles. Charlie had traveled to Greece for his honeymoon and became much enamored of Hellenic architecture, so with the help of John Dobson, the North’s most famous architect, he built a  new manor in the grounds of the castle in the Greek Revival style. He and his family moved into the new building in 1817 and just abandoned the castle. Of course, that fell into disrepair and by 1843 parts of the structure were ruinous.

Luckily Sir Arthur Middleton took it on in 1872 and the 1711 wing was demolished and the manorial house was partially rebuilt so it could be used as a dower house ~ a house intended as the residence of a widow, typically one near the main house on her late husband’s estate~whilst the tower itself was restored in 1897. During the 2nd World War, the military used the castle which led to further deterioration, and by 1945 when the Middleton family got it back, they lacked the funds to sort it out. By 1986 Sir Stephen Middleton owned the estate, but moved into a smaller house nearby, leaving the two properties empty. Both of these were transferred into State ownership in 1980 and the site is now in the care of English Heritage.

Although the castle and the manor are great to photograph, our favourite bit is the walk through the quarry that connects the two buildings. We went looking for Autumn colours and were not disappointed, and the weather was kind to us, always welcome!

Firstly though let’s have a look at the manor.

the manor
the Pillar Hall
wallpaper in the 1800s
fireplace tiles
the library
marble fireplace in library room.

It’s a fair walk from the Manor to the Castle, through the lovely landscape and a quarry walk, so next time we’ll start out and see what there is to see.

Stay tooned dear reader!

The Sunday Fraggle Post

It is traditional to do a review of the blogging year on the 1st January each year, but that was inconveniently a Saturday so I’m a day late.

As you know dear reader, in 2021, after a 2020 that didn’t inspire me to do much photographically, I got inspired by the amazingly talented Connie and started a 365 (one photo a day)challenge. I joined the site Connie was using, which gave you a prompt everyday to achieve. The site was run by some nice ladies most of whomst live in the USA, with each lady doing a different prompt each day through the week. Each month had 4 sections, ‘Picture More’ which was a technique theme, i.e leading lines, framing, repetition etc, ‘Picture Style’ i.e landscape, food, still life etc, ‘Picture Colour’, and ‘Picture You’ which meant a week of self portraiture, which had I realised, would have put me right off doing it in the first place.

The prompts have ranged from easy – impossible, and a fair amount of them have been downright bonkers, and quite a lot of them have been frustrating either a) to understand or b) to accomplish. The ladies are sweet but also mostly bonkers. The whole thing was very laissez faire, and you could omit doing the prompt and do some other photo instead if you fancied, and do your picture one or two days beforehand if you felt like it, took me a while to get over thinking that was cheating, but I kind of did.

Instagram is the platform the group use so I posted there for a few months, but I found it too time consuming (all that tagging and commenting!) what with the blog, work and other bits of life, so gave that up and just backed up my photo’s on Smugmug & Flickr and of course wrote this blog to accompany the pictures.

Did I learn anything from this challenge? Not really anything much about photography as I’ve been doing it a few years, though it was cool to revisit a couple of techniques I’ve tried before and discarded because I don’t really need them. I was quite enthusiastic as I started the challenge but soon enough found myself getting annoyed or frustrated more often than not. Even worse, everyone doing it in the instagram were doing works of art whilst I was either doing a quick snap after work or clueless as to what to shoot, so was miserable at my crappiness (another good reason to get off the Gram). There were times of despondancy! So that’s mostly the ‘bad’ stuff, but it’s not important considering the state of the world.

There was good stuff! Honest! It was great to be doing it in tandem with Connie, and we’ve moaned about it together and had a laugh about it too and that kept me going really, I’m not sure I’d have stayed with it had I been on my own. Also Phil, who although was ready to divorce me if I started another one, has been a star whenever I needed help to accomplish a shot. I also loved it when I could find an excuse to include Winnie and Lord Vincent. I hate being in photos so am quite proud of myself for getting on the other side of the camera, even if it was only a thumb or finger sometimes. For all the frustration I’m glad I did it and got through to the end. It’s the 4th 365 I’ve done, but the first time I’ve had someone else dictating the days shot. It’ll be the last time I have that constraint, but I may yet do another 365 on my own, further down the line.

Not this year though as I’m all fired up to do more film photography. My Christmas present to myself, pah! who am I kidding, it’s an October present! to myself is a rather gorgeous Contax Aria, and it’s a dream to use. I’ll be posting on my Fraggle Film blog which is https://fragglefilm.com/ so click on that and follow there, I don’t post too often on there so it won’t take much of your time up!

Other than photography life has gone on in much the same way in our strange new bug~ridden world. Still working 3 days a week, still wearing a mask and gloves etc to do my job. I can’t imagine doing it without them now. Phil’s eyes are all better which is good for him, but I was looking forward to getting a seeing-eye doggy so that’s disappointing. 😉 Inspite of working in high-risk venues both of us have avoided having the plague so far, though Phil’s kids and grandkids have all succumbed but survived OK. I’ve visited my son Ben and grandson Lewis twice which was both traumatic and wonderful simultaneously, so am dreading/looking forward to going to visit again in February this year if plague factors don’t get in the way.

Hoping also to have a lot of photo trips out with Sophie this year, but who knows what’s going to happen? It seems hard to plan anything anymore and we just have to live day by day more or less. A great lesson in Zen for us all.

So that’s my review of 2021 such as it was. I’m supposed to do my best pictures from the year but to be honest I’m not really impressed with any of them, but I have a couple of favourites so here they are. –

From ‘Picture Colour’ ~ red. This was Phils favourite so it became mine too just because he liked it so much.

uplift

From ‘Picture More’ ~ marble. Trying to herd marbles was funny.

marble

From ‘Picture Style’ ~ 7 O’Clock. ~ I like making up story photos, and downloaded a copy of a 3rd class ticket for the Titanic ship for this one.

7 O’Clock

Also from ‘Style’ ~ broken, love the fogginess.

broken

From ‘Picture You’ ~ positive. I had fun dickying about doing this one.

Day 64
positive

My favourite of Phil ~

My favourite of Winnie ~

Winnie

and Lord Vincent ~

Lord Vincent

So what to do in ’22? Like I’ve said, it’s quite hard to make plans per se, but vaguely am definitely using the Contax more for photography over on Fragglefilm, will resume Fraggle Curated on this blog maybe once a month and maybe do a few movie review again and general chitchat over on Fraggles Other Place, so I’ll still be popping up now and then, and I’ll still be lowering the tone of the comments sections of everyone’s blogs that I follow. Especially those of the WP4. 🤣

WP4