Morpeth ~ July 2022

Sophie is back in Blighty and available for a couple of weekends outings with our cameras, so last Sunday we had a trip northwards to visit Morpeth, ostensibly Carlisle Park in Morpeth which has stuff of interest to photograph.

A (very) potted History Bit.

Morpeth is a historic market town in Northumberland, North East England, lying on the River Wansbeck. It’s spelling has been all over the shop, Morthpeth meaning “myriad”, Morthpath meaning “gateway”, Morthpaeth meaning “fodder”. Who the heck knows what’s that about. 🤷‍♀️ It could have been inhabited during the Neolithic era as a stone axe was found there but that’s about it. No Roman remains have turned up though they were about in Northumberland. It was first referenced in 1080 when William de Merlay was rewarded with “the Barony of Morthpeth stretching from the Tyne to the Coquet” for his part in suppressing the rebellion of Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland against the King, William II.
By 1095 Wills had built a motte & bailey castle and in 1138 Will’s son Ranulf de Merlay, lord of Morpeth founded Newminster Abbey (now a grade 2 listed site ~ there’s not much of it left) along with his Missis Juliana.
In 1200 King John granted a market charter for the town to Roger de Merlay and by the mid 1700s It became one of the main markets in Northern England, and by the mid 18th century was one of the key cattle markets in England selling cattle driven by drovers over the border from Scotland. There’s still a general market there on a Wednesday, and a Farmer’s market one Saturday a month, but I don’t think a bunch of Pesky Scottish drovers with herds of cattle get to it. In 1215 the First Barons War kicked off, this was a civil war where the major landholders (know as barons) of England rebelled against King John (who was a knob) and Morpeth got torched by the barons to block King John’s military ops.
It’s commonly said that John burnt down the motte and bailey castle and a new castle was later built south of the old one in the 13thC by his son Ranulf, but there’s no evidence for that and an alternative report is that the second William de Merlay (Ranulf’s son) completed the second castle in 1170, the same year he died.
For some months in 1515–16, Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) who was the Queen Consort of Scotland (James IV’s widow), had laid ill in Morpeth Castle, having been brought there from Harbottle Castle.
During the 1543–51 we have the war of the ‘Rough Wooing’, when Morpeth was occupied by a garrison of Italian mercenaries, who “pestered such a little street standing in the highway” by killing deer and withholding payment for food. Rough Wooing was originally known as the Eight Years War and was part of the wars of the 16th century between England and the Pesky Scots. The historian William Ferguson contrasted this jocular nickname with the savagery and devastation of the war: English policy was simply to pulverise Scotland, to beat her either into acquiescence or out of existence, and Hertford’s campaigns resemble nothing so much as Nazi total warfare; “blitzkrieg”, reign of terror, extermination of all resisters, the encouragement of collaborators, and so on. This was all down to Henry VIII being a knob. In fact most of our Kings were knobs.

Morpeth has what is reputed to be the tightest curve (17 chains or 340 metres radius) of any main railway line in Britain. The track turns approximately 98° from a northwesterly to an easterly direction immediately west of Morpeth Station on an otherwise fast section of the East Coast Main Line railway. This was a major factor in three serious derailments between 1969 and 1994 when the drivers took the curve at 80miles per hour. The curve has a permanent speed restriction of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h). I’d still advise you to travel by car to visit though! 😊

That’s most of the good stuff, so cracking on with some pictures now!

After we got the car parked, we headed straight for Carlisle Park. The park has the William Turner Garden, an aviary, a paddling pool, an ancient woodland, tennis courts, several bowling greens and a skate park. The park has one of the only four floral clocks in England, which was restored in 2018. In 2018, a statue of Emily Wilding Davison was erected in Carlisle Park, to commemorate 100 years since women were given the right to vote. The park has been awarded the Green Flag Award,the Love Parks Award in 2017, and ‘Best Park’ in Northumbria’s in bloom competition in 2018.

Carlisle Park.

Emily Wilding Davison (11 October 1872 – 8 June 1913) was an English suffragette who fought for votes for women in Britain in the early twentieth century. A member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and a militant fighter for her cause, she was arrested on nine occasions, went on hunger strike seven times and was force-fed on forty-nine occasions. She died after being hit by King George V’s horse Anmer at the 1913 Derby when she walked onto the track during the race.

Emily

Next to Emily’s bit there is an aviary and though they had some plain perspex panels it wasn’t easy to photograph the birds as the panels were a bit mucky, but I got a couple of shots.

No idea what edition this one is.
a budgie. I think.

Sophie decided we needed to climb the steep hill that leads to Morpeth Castle, I hate hills but did it anyway 😄

There are only remnants left of the castle walls

but the original gatehouse is still intact, though much altered. The one great military event in the castle’s history was in 1644 when a garrison of 500 Lowland Scots held it for Parliament for 20 days against 2,700 Royalists. The castle was held by and passed by the female line through several illustrious families; de Merlay, Greystoke, Dacre and Howard, none of whom resided there for any long period. In about 1860 the gatehouse was restored and converted to provide a staff residence. The Castle was rented on a long-term arrangement to the Landmark Trust in 1988 which undertook a complete refurbishment in 1990, restoring many of the gatehouse’s original historic features and removing the modern extensions and swimming pool. The gatehouse is now available to rent from the Landmark Trust as holiday accommodation.

Morpeth Castle Gatehouse.

The Castle isn’t open usually but they did have an open day at one point and i found a short video of the inside of it;

The park runs along side the river Wansbeck so we had a wander along.

heron

There are boats you can hire for a pootle on the river

family fun

it’s a tranquil place to read a book too.

So that’s it for this week, next time we’ll have a look at a few bits in the town itself.

Stay tooned!

📷 🙂

57 thoughts on “Morpeth ~ July 2022

  1. That video was only 3minutes long! How do you expect me to skip it in good conscience at only 3min? Next time, please put up a 20min one, thanks.

    I can guess the context of “pootle”, but I’ve not heard that word before, so does it have an actual meaning, or is it just slang?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah no 20 min videos here Booky, life’s too short. Pootle is actually a real word meaning ‘to move somewhere slowly with no real purpose’ which is what this lot were doing on the river. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Too bad. I’ll continue to lament the lack of 20min videos every chance I get then. Count on it 😉

        Interesting. I say this a lot, but this is why I like blogging. It’s so international that you learn lots of things all the time without even trying!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Fascinating place and great history (and pics). I’ve been reading about King John recently and had no idea just how bad he was…..constantly meeting the French and striking treasonous deals!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I went to Morpeth once, 1973 I think. It was for work though, so I didn’t get to see much of the town. I love how they used the Suffragette colours in Emily’s garden, and I want to live in the castle!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This looks like a wonderful place to visit! And good for you to climb those hills. It will come in handy if you need to flee those Pesky Scots!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. looks like a most pleasant park in which to hang out

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    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the historical bits you share Fraggle, along with the stunning photography! “In fact most of our Kings were knobs,” and yet they became kings? History just seems to repeat itself and there we are left with the ruins. Hugs, C

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is how it works, the knobs rise to the top, the underknobs cowtow to the knobs, the ‘intelligentsia’ moan and tweet, and the rest of us pick our way through the ruins and either survive well or badly depending on what colour you are and your postcode. Oops went all serious on you, 😐 but thanks for loving the history 🤣🤣 and my photos 😘

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Right – – it’s rather obscure – will explain it all in an email later. Meanwhile what I was trying to sat was that I love the photo of the book reader among the trees – – beautiful, calm, atmospheric.

    Liked by 1 person

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