The History Bit ( not too long but still worth a ☕️ & 🍪)
This time we’re all about Frank Green and The Treasurers House. York Minster, the whopping great Cathedral that I’ve yet to remaster the post on, first had a treasurer in 1091. Thats 932 yrs ago! Not surprisingly the original building is gone apart from an external wall from the 12th century. In 1547 The Reformation put paid (pun intended 🙂 ) to the job of treasurer and the house was given to The Archbishops of York. Thomas Young who was Archbishop between 1561 and 1568, and his descendants are responsible for the structure of Treasurer’s House as it is today. In the early 17th century the Young family added the symmetrical front and almost entirely rebuilt the house. The Treasurer’s House played host to royalty when Sir George Young entertained King James 1st in 1617. The house then passed through a number of private owners.
Frank Green was a wealthy collector, and owned Treasurer’s House between 1897 and 1930. He demolished the additions made to the building in the 19th century and restored the house to what he thought was its original shape. He turned Treasurer’s House into a stage for his collection, designing rooms of different periods to display his antique furniture. It was at this time that Treasurer’s House received a second royal visit, in June 1900. Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited as Prince and Princess of Wales along with their daughter Victoria. It was in their honour that the King’s Room, Queen’s Room and Princess Victoria’s Room were so named.
Frank Green was a very precise man, in both his own appearance and the way he ran his home. He was a bit of a ‘dandy’, neatly dressed and often seen wearing a floppy silk bow tie. He had studs fixed to the floor in the rooms of Treasurer’s House so the house maids knew exactly where furniture should stand. Frank was also careful about the state of his house; signs can be seen at Treasurer’s House with careful instructions to the staff. He left curt little notices dotted about the house – notices which are still there to this day. “All workmen are requested to wear slippers when working in this House. By order Frank Green,” says one.A former kitchen maid told how Frank would inspect the kitchen, turning out any drawers he thought were untidy. Frank Green retired to Somerset in 1930 and gave Treasurer’s House to the National Trust, complete with his vast collection. It was the first historic house acquired by the Trust with its contents complete.
Frank decorated the rooms to match the collected artworks that he had obtained on his work travels, but this hall was done in faux medieval style.
artwork in the hall,
This next room was all done out to match the painting of a lady in a blue dress. I think it was my favourite room, loved all the ornate furniture and oriental vases.
This marble topped table had intricately carved wooden legs, but they looked like metal.
we went upstairs through another hallway
more artwork on the way upstairs
Frank decorated for the King’s visit, and this is the bed Edward VII slept in, hope they changed the sheets.
Finally, this is something I read on wiki, made me smile 🙂
“In 1953 local 17-year-old apprentice plumber Harry Martindale, was repairing pipe work in the cellar, the National Trust having decided to remove the coal-fired central heating installed by Green. After about four hours of work at the top of his ladder Martindale became aware of a musical sound, resembling a series of repeated single trumpet-like notes. The sound grew in intensity until, just below his ladder, Martindale reported that said he saw a soldier wearing a plumed helmet emerge from the wall, followed by a cart horse and about nine or ten pairs of Roman Soldiers. He fell, terrified, from his ladder and stumbled into a corner to hide. The soldiers appeared to be armed legionaries, visible only from the knees up, in a marching formation, but were “scruffy”. They were distinctive in three ways: they carried round shields on their left arms, they carried some kind of daggers in scabbards on their right side and they wore green tunics. When they descended to the level of the Roman Road, on which Martindale had stood his ladders, he was able to see that they wore open sandals with leather straps to the knees.
The experience was so frightening for Martindale that he suffered a nervous breakdown for several months and never returned to his job as a plumber. Many years later excavations in the city revealed that the descriptions of the soldiers dress given by Martindale, at first dismissed as anomalous, in fact matched those of local reserve soldiers who took over the Roman Garrison when the regular soldiers began returning to Rome in the fifth century. During the course of his long life Martindale recounted his experience many times, but never changed any of the details and always refused any payment”.
You all will know, of course, of Barnard Castle, the place where a certain government advisor riddled with Covid, during lockdown, had a day out with his family and when caught said he was testing his eyesight for driving. But Barnard Castle is much more than a substitute optician, as you will find out in
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪 *Long post alert*
We’re going way back in time now, just after the the Norman Conquest (the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Norman, Breton, Flemish, and Pesky French troops—all led by the Duke of Normandy, later styled William the Conqueror, or Willy the Conk as he is known to this blog) so there are a fair few “probably” ‘s in this potted history.
As with many medieval castles, it occupies a site that had been strategically important for a few thousand years. The plateau on which the castle stands commands the crossing point over the river Tees of a major Roman road across the Pennines, and is still an important communications route today. The castle was probably first established by a Pesky Frenchman from Picardy called Guy de Balliol. He had supported King William II (Willy the Conk’s son) in the suppression of a rebellion in Normandy in the 1090s, and received estates in north-eastern England as a reward. This early castle, whose site is now occupied by the inner ward, contained a stone gatehouse, but was otherwise a timber structure.
Guy died in 1133 and it was his nephew Bernard de Balliol who succeeded him, and enlarged the castle to its present extent. He began to rebuild it in stone, and founded the town that surrounds the castle on its south and east sides ~. Castrum Bernardi, or Bernard’s Castle. Berny died somewhere between 1154 and 1159, and was succeeded by his son, another Guy, and almost immediately afterwards by his second son, Bernard II. Berny 2 oversaw the construction of most of the important buildings and may have over-reached himself financially as at the end of the 12th century the castle briefly passed into the hands of the Bishop of Durham as security for debt.
In 1205 Hugh de Balliol inherited the castle, being the son of a cousin of Berny 2. It was Hugh that continued the modernisation of the castle and probably from this period came the rebuilding in stone of the hall in the inner ward, and the addition of the great chamber and round tower at its northern end.
1216 was a busy year for the castle. We’ve come across King John the lecherous (as he’s known to this blog) many times in our History Bits and he makes an appearance at Barnard Castle in January 1216, after leading a military campaign against northern rebels. He died in October the same year and though his son Henry 3rd succeeded him he was only 9 years old at the time so many of the barons of the land were in open rebellion. Much of southern England had been invaded and occupied by the pesky French Army whilst at the other end of the country King Alexander II of pesky Scotland moved into northern England, supported by northern barons. A veritable Pesky sandwich!
Now, do you remember our lesson from Alnmouth a few weeks back when we learned about Eustace de Vesci, who thwarted King Johnny the Lech’s attempt to kidnap Eustace’s Missis by substituting a lady of the night for her? If not HERE is a reminder for you. Anyhoo, Eustace, being the brother-in-law of King Alex 2 was part of Alex’s incursion into the North. At Barnard Castle he sadly met his end when he got too close to the castle walls where he was shot by a crossbowman from the garrison, and died of his wounds. The loss of this champion at Barnard Castle set back the cause of the northern rebels. In the following year, the various invaders and rebels were routed by armies loyal to the new king, Henry III.
Throughout the 13th century the castle remained in the Balliol family which included John, 5th Baron de Balliol. He married Devorguilla of Galloway a pesky Scottish lady, who obviously went native and depeskified when she married John in 1223 aged 13, and moved into Barnard Castle. Gilly, as she is known to this blog, became very wealthy through family inheritances which allowed Balliol to play a prominent public role. On Henry III’s instructions he served as joint protector of the young king of the pesky Scots, Alexander III. He also served as one of Henry III’s leading counsellors between 1258 and 1265. Following a dispute with the Bishop of Durham, he agreed to provide funds for scholars studying at Oxford. Support for a house of students began in around 1263 with further endowments after his death by Gilly, resulting in the establishment of Balliol College. She established a permanent endowment for the College in 1282, as well as its first formal Statutes. The college still retains the name Balliol College where the history students’ society is called the Dervorguilla Society and an annual seminar series featuring women in academia is called the Dervorguilla Seminar Series.
A small digression. Gilly was one of the three daughters and heiresses of the Gaelic prince Alan, Lord of Galloway, and through her mother’s line was descended from the Kings of Scotland, including David I. On the death of her Dad she inherited lands which she bequeathed to her descendants, the Balliol and the Comyns. Her son, John of Scotland briefly became King of Scotland 1292-96. He was known as Toom Tabard which is how pesky Scots refer to a ‘puppet king’ as it’s literal translation is ’empty coat’. This is not surprising as he was chosen to be King by a bunch of noblemen lead by King Edward 1 ~’The Hammer of the Scots’. Eddy 1 managed to take the position of Lord Paramount of Scotland which made him the feudal superior of the realm and he used this position to steadily undermine Johnny’s authority, demanding homage to be paid towards himself, legal authority over the Scottish King in any disputes brought against him by his own subjects, contribution towards the costs for the defence of England, and military support was expected in his war against the Pesky French. He treated Scotland as a feudal vassal state and repeatedly humiliated the new king. Naturally the pesky Scots were not happy with this set up one bit, so the direction of affairs was taken out of Johnny’s hands by the leading men of the kingdom, who appointed a Council of Twelve—in practice, a new panel of Guardians—at Stirling in July 1295. They went on to conclude a treaty of mutual assistance with Pesky France—known in later years as the Auld Alliance. (Auld is how pesky Scottish people spell ‘old’. )
Now Eddy was not happy one bit and retaliated by invading Scotland, which kicked off the Scottish Wars of Independence, resulting in Johnny abdicating in July 1296 and where the arms of Scotland were formally torn from Johnny’s surcoat, resulting in the ’empty coat’ Toom Tabard moniker. Initially imprisoned in the Tower of London, he was allowed to go to France in July 1299. When they checked his baggage, they found he’d snaffled away the Royal Golden Crown and Seal of the Kingdom of Scotland, many vessels of gold and silver, and a considerable sum of money 🤣. They let him keep the money for his journey. They gave Johnny into the custody of Pope Boniface VIII and around the summer of 1301 he was released and lived the rest of his life on his family’s ancestral estates at Hélicourt in Picardy where he died in late 1314.
Back to the castle! With Johnny’s fall from power, Barnard Castle was seized first by Bishop Antony Bek of Durham, and in 1306 by King Eddy I. The following year, the dying king bequeathed the castle to Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, whose descendants held it for the next 164 years.
In 1315 the heir to to the Earldom was just a baby, so King Eddy 2 gave the castle to a pesky Irishman, John le Irreys to look after. John promptly raided the nearby Bowes Castle where Lady Matilda Clifford, a widowed and wealthy lady lived. He abducted her, took her to Barnard Castle and raped her. Eddy sent an army to rescue her and relieve le Irreys of his command. Matilda fell in love with one of her rescuers and married him. Sir Robert de Welle from Worcestershire was a knight but not necessarily a suitable husband for someone who held important political connections, lands and was a wealthy woman in her own right so Eddy was none too pleased and took Matilda’s dower lands and all the goods in them. They were returned following payment of a large fine (£100).
In 1329 Thomas de Beauchamp came of age to inherit the castle, and he held it for 40 years, modernising the great hall, which was by then over a century old, and improving the kitchens and other service buildings in the inner ward. But in 1446 the Beauchamp line had no males available to inherit the castle, so it passed into the hands of the Nevilles, namely Richard through the Beauchamp heiress Anne, to whomst he was married. Richard was known as ‘Warwick the King-maker’ because he swapped about his support of the Yorkist Edward IV and the Lancastrian Henry VI during the Wars of the Roses. Richard died at The Battle of Barnet in 1471 fighting for the Lancastrian side and his two daughters, Anne and Isabel inherited his estates. Anne then married the younger brother of King Eddy 4, Richard Plantaganet, who became Duke of Gloucester and then, in 1483, King Richard III. Dicky P owned the castle from From 1471 and undertook several repairs and alterations during his period of lordship until his death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, which marked the end of the Middle Ages in England.
Barnard Castle was given to the new Tudor king, Henry VII and was henceforth placed in the hands of keepers, notably members of the Bowes family. In 1536 whilst Sir Robert Bowes had the castle, there was a popular uprising against Henry VIII and ostensibly a protest against the Suppression of the Monasteries. Sir Bobby managed to support both sides by surrendering the castle to the rebels without a fight, becoming one of their leaders, after which he reverted to the king’s service and restored royal control in the neighbourhood.
We’ll move on 30 years now to 1596 when The Rising of the North happened. This was an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Pesky Scots. It concerned an 11-day siege of Barnard Castle in December, and was the last significant action in the castle’s history as a fortress. Sir George Bowes (1527–80) was keeper of the castle and resolved to hold it in support of Lizzy. His garrison held 7-800 men but the Catholic rebels sent 5000 to attack them. The rebels captured the outer bailey after six days, soon followed by the Town Ward, leaving the defenders confined to the inner ward. Sir George saw increasing numbers of his own men defect to the rebels, and risked running out of water after the rebels destroyed the pipes from a reservoir, so had to negotiate his surrender. He died in 1580 and was commemorated as ‘the surest pillar Her Majesty had in these parts’.
Another 30 years later the damage caused by the conflict still had not been repaired and in 1603, the castle passed out of the Crown’s control when James I granted it to his favourite, Robert Carr, later Earl of Somerset who doesn’t seem to have had much to do with it being too busy with intrigues and power struggles at court and an affaire de coeur with a married lady.
So now we get to Sir Henry Vane the Elder, Member of Parliament and important member of Charles I household, at first as his Governor and later his Treasurer. He purchasedRaby Castle, and Barnard Castle with it’s Estate for £18,000 round about 1640. He chose to make Raby his principal home and de-roofed and removed stone from Barnard Castle to repair and maintain Raby.
In October 1896, the ruins were badly damaged in a severe gale, prompting the latest owner Lord Barnard to organise repairs.
Finally, Between 1841 and 1845 a man called Frank Shields, who was short and with a bushy beard and had been an ostler (a person hired to look after horses) moved in to the round tower and declared himself a ‘recluse, antiquary and artist in painting’. He’d been inspired by the castle’s history and romantic associations and dressed up in a monk’s habit and guided visitors around the castle. He was evicted in 1859 after having a barney with a neighbour and took up at Egglestone Abbey ruins (which we’ll be visiting next time) instead. Sadly he became more and more obsessed with ghosts and was put in a lunatic assylum in 1874, where he died in 1881.
In 1952, Lord Barnard placed the ruins in the guardianship of the Ministry of Works, the predecessor of the Department of the Environment, and since 1984, English Heritage has run the site.
Well done if you made it through all that! And now some pictures. Sophie and I visited in February, the weather wasn’t too bad, and I had my Contax Aria loaded with Cinestill 400 and also my FujiX100F loaded with pixels. 😃
It is amazing wandering around York and seeing all the medieval old shops and churches. It’s quite staggering they remain standing, some of their walls are so wonky, I guess there’s an invisible army of restoration people who manage the upkeep of them.
Ray Lonsdale is a steel fabricator from Durham, and in 2002 began using steel for his sculptures. There are many of these sculptures dotted around the North East, I think at least 20. They are quite emotionally engaging, and fascinating to see up close and in their environment. I plotted a fair few on Google maps, and a couple of weeks ago Sophie and I set off to find some of them. I took the Contax with rolls of Cinestill 400T and Dubble Treat (which I didn’t much like the results of so converted them to Black and White mostly), and also my Fuji X100F, so there’s a combination of film and digital shots.
We started out with ‘Not Much to Ask’ a sculpt of a 1st World War soldier, situated in front of Aged Miners Homes in West Cornforth. The plinth he is standing on has all the names of the chaps from Cornforth who died in the war engraved on it.
Next on our list was ‘The Last Shift’, set in Wheatley Hill Cemetary in County Durham, and alluding to the closure of the Wheatley Hill Colliery.
Also at Wheatley Hill is the ‘Bonny Pit Lad’, a tribute to the young men who worked in the colliery.
Our next sculpture is The Durham Angel, one of Mr.Lonsdale’s earliest works,and could be found overlooking a pond in Horn’s Garden Centre in Shotton where it arrived in 2004. This was also where we had a very nice lunch of cheese & ham panini’s! Most of the statues come with a little poignant poem attached, but I couldn’t see it here to photograph. This one reads:-
‘Horns’ ( Durham Angel) Do you live a good life that’s Hard to bear, for wings? Or take the easy route and get a monkey for your sins? The dilemma of what to wear on your back.
After Lunch we went to see ‘Relative Treats’ a life size sculpture of grandmother and granddaughter in South Hetton welfare park in Horden.
We then toddled off to see ‘Da said ”men don’t cry” ‘ at Hetton-le-Hole. There’s a plaque on the plinth that reads ‘Hetton Mining Heritage Statue. Remember where we came from. Life was very hard for this young child sent off by his father for his first shift at the pit. This statue is a tribute and a reminder of the hard life and sacrifice of all the men, women and children who built our coal mining community’.
Mr. Lonsdale’s workshop is just up the road from that statue in South Hetton and though it wasn’t open being a Sunday, we got a shot through the fence of this chap stood in the yard, which I think maybe is a work in progress, but am not sure.
Our last one for the day is also in South Hetton and called ‘And the Village Remains:The Last Tub’ and it stands next to a huge Mural on the wall of the Council offices.
And here is a map I made with all the locations that are in travelling distance for Sophie and I. There are some in Yorkshire too but too far for a day trip for us. We’ll be doing another set at some point though!
Last weekwe looked at the history of the castle between sometime in the mid eleventh century up to 1398, when the castle changed hands. Out with the Umfravilles and in with the Percy’s. So on with the next
History ~ Bit ☕️ 🍪
Firstly though, there are several Henry Percys Earls of Northumberland in this post, we will begin with HP1 for Henry Percy 1st Earl of Northumberland then onwards from there.
And so, in 1398 Prudhoe Castle came into the hands of Henry Percy, the 4th Baron Percy and the 1st Earl of Northumberland. He added a great hall to the castle as soon as he took possession of it. A bit of yoyo~ing then occurred as HP1 rebelled against the King, at the time Henry IV, at the Battle of Shrewsbury. This resulted in him being attainted, which meant losing the castle and his lands in forfeit to the Crown in 1405. The King gave the castle and lands to his son John, the future Duke of Bedford, who hung on to it until he died in 1435.
The Percys were not happy about losing it, and after a prolongued legal battle, in 1440, they got it back. By this time HP3 was head honcho but then he went and fought in the Wars of the Roses for the Lancastrians and was killed at the Battle of Towton in 1461 which we learned about at Lanercost Priory the other week. Edward IV was King by then and in 1462 and he gave Prudhoe Castle to George, Duke of Clarence, who was his younger brother. That didn’t last long though and Eddy then gave it to John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu, the Nevilles being the Percy’s major regional rivals.
By 1470 the castle was yet again in the custody of the Percy’s this time HP4. The Percy’s principle gaff was and still is, (the 12th Duke lives there now) Alnwick Castle, so they rented Prudhoe out to tenants. However in 1528, HP6 was resident at the castle with his bro Sir Thomas Percy. These two were heavily involved in the rebellion of the North against Henery the Eighth’s break with the catholic church along with the dissolution of the lesser monasteries, and the policies of the King’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, as well as other specific political, social, and economic grievances. The revolt began in Yorkshire in 1536 and was known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. The upshot was that HP6 and Tommy were convicted of treason and executed. Yet again the castle was forfeited to the crown. At this point the castle was reported in August 1537 to have habitable houses and towers within its walls, although they were said to be somewhat decayed and in need of repairs estimated at £20, about £12,421.91 in today’s money.
Moving on to 1557 and yet again the Percys held the castle and this time HP7 was the one to go off cock and he took part in the Rising of The North, a rebellion of the Northern Catholic nobles to depose Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Pesky Scots. That went well didn’t it? HP7 was captured, escaped, recaptured and executed in 1572. The castle was let out then to many and various tenants, but not used as a residence after 1660. A hundred and so years down the line in 1776 it was reported to be a ruin.
But then, another Percy to the rescue, this time Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland. He carried out substantial repairs to the ancient fabric and replaced the old dwellings within the walls with a Georgian mansion adjoining the keep. In 1996 the castle was returned to the Crown, and now English Heritage are the custodians.
The Percys eh? A feisty lot to say the least. Let’s have a look at the First of the Feisties, Henry Percy 1st Earl of Northumberland, and his number one son, Henry ‘Hotspur’.
HP1 started out a follower of King Edward III and did well for position at a young age. He was made Warden of the March in 1362 with authority to negotiate with the Pesky Scottish Government and in February 1367 he was entrusted with the supervision of all castles and fortified places in the Scottish marches, where peskiness abounded. He got the Earlship (possibly earldom?) from Richard II on his coronation in 1337 and had the very important title Marshal of England which is a whole other thing which we won’t go into because he only had that for a short time. Between 1383 and 1384, he was appointed Admiral of the Northern Seas. But then he got miffed when King Dicky promoted HP’s rival Ralph Neville to be Earl of Westmoreland in 1397. So he and his son, another Henry who was known as Hotspur, joined a chap called (yet another 🙄) Henry Bolingbroke, the grandkid of King Eddy III, in his rebellion and usurption of the throne in 1399. He was crowned Henry IV. So many Henrys, 😮💨.
Henry IV was so chuffed with HP1 that on his coronation day he made him Constable of England, an even more important position than Marshal of England. Though I think Marshal sounds better than Constable, well I’d rather wear a stetson than a British bobby helmet anyhoo. HP was also given the Lordship of the Isle of Man. At this point the Pesky Welsh were doing the rebellion thingy, led by a chap called Owain Glyndŵr, who sounds like he should have been in Lord of the Rings, and King HIV ( 🙄 not the best initialism I’ve ever come up with) asked HP1 and Hotspur to go and sort it out. He wasn’t best pleased with their attempts to make peace though.
In 1402 HP1 and Hotspur took part in the Battle of Homildon Hill. Now that’s a whole nother post so we’ll just say the battle was against the Pesky Scots and resulted in the capture of very many Pesky Scottish Nobles. The policy back then was to ransom the nobles for money, but Henry IV was very worried that releasing all these captives back to Scotland would cause him future trouble so just wanted them kept imprisoned. Plus he was a bit broke. The Percy’s were not happy about this so they joined forces with Owain Glyndŵr and went into open rebellion. Hotspur defied the King and released all his prisoners anyway as he wasn’t going to get remuneration for them, and many of them joined him in the rebellion. A Pesky Scottish & Feisty English fusion no less! Happy Days!
Unfortunately it all fell apart at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Hotspur died whilst doing a charge to kill the king, reputedly shot in the face with an arrow when he opened his visor. Stupid boy. Anyhoo this battle was a bit all over the shop, no-one really won it, the King’s forces sustained greater losses than the rebels, and Henry IV very nearly lost both his life and his throne. But, that was that and King Henry prevailed.
Henry Hotspur was initially buried next to his maternal first cousin,with honours, but rumours soon spread that he was not really dead. In response the King had him disinterred. His body was salted, set up in Shrewsbury impaled on a spear between two millstones in the marketplace pillory, with an armed guard. Later it was quartered and put on display in Chester, London, Bristol and Newcastle Upon Tyne. His head was sent to York and impaled on the north gate, looking toward his own lands. In November his grisly remains were returned to his widow Elizabeth.
HP1 had not been directly involved with that rebellion so wasn’t tried for treason, though he did lose the Constable of England position. He did rebel though in 1405, signing The Tripartite Indenture which was an agreement made in February 1405 among Owain Glyndŵr, Edmund Mortimer VI, and himself, agreeing to divide England and Wales up among them at the expense of Henry IV. And again in 1405 he supported the Archbishop of York – Richard Scrope in the Northern Rising after which HP1 fled to Scotland, and his estates were confiscated by the king.
He still didn’t give up, our HP was nothing if not tenacious. In 1408 attempting one last time to seize the throne, he gathered together an army of lowland Scots and loyal Northumbrians and marched south once more toward York. At Bramham Moor, south of Wetherby, (which has an excellent service station on the A1 motorway), HP1’s army was met by a force of local Yorkshire levies and noble retinues which had been hastily assembled, led by the High Sheriff of Yorkshire Sir Thomas Rokeby. HP1was defeated, and he died fighting a furious rearguard action as his army was routed. Very few of his soldiers escaped the pursuit and returned to Scotland and surprise surprrise, HP1’s body was hanged, drawn, and quartered; his head was placed on London Bridge, with other parts of his anatomy displayed elsewhere.
Gone but not forgotten, you can find him in Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV, part 1, and Henry IV, part 2 and he inspired the character of Lord Percy Percy, heir to the duchy of Northumberland in the historical sitcom The Black Adder.
Phew! Well done if you actually read all through that, and I forgive you skimmers. 😊
Some Photos then! Last time we looked at the Castle itself and this time we’ll look at a few details
So that’s it for this time, but
for wherever next!
No apostrophies were harmed in the making of this post, but some may have gone out to play, and others could be playing somewhere they’re not supposed to be.
Another delve into the archives, and this time I’m revamping a post that no-one who follows this blog has seen before, except Francis. Another outing with Sophie and the erstwhile Mike.
The castle is a ruined medieval English castle situated on the south bank of the River Tyne at Prudhoe, Northumberland, England. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building. That’s its credentials so let’s get on with
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
The castle started life as a Norman motte and bailey built somewhere about the middle of the 11th Century.
Small digression ~ Back in the medieval Duchy of Normandy, Pesky French, Pesky Gallic-Romans and Pesky Norse Vikings got all jiggy together and intermingley which resulted in an ethnic and cultural “Pesky Norman” identity in the first half of the 10th century, an identity which continued to evolve over the centuries.
The Norman Conquest, led by the Duke of Normandy who then became William the Conqueror (a man far beyond pesky) happened, and after all that malarkey the wonderfully named Umfraville family took control of the Castle. Robert d’Umfraville was formally granted the barony of Prudhoe by Henry I, but had probably been granted Prudhoe in the closing years of the 11th century. The Umfravilles (probably Bob) initially replaced the wooden palisade with a massive rampart of clay and stones and subsequently constructed a stone curtain wall and gatehouse.
Now Bob, whilst holding the lordships of Prudhoe and Redesdale for King Henry I, also acquired interests in Scotland. He seems to have been pals with King David I and his son Henry, and was granted lands in Stirlingshire. Bob died around 1145 and his son Odinel I succeeded him, also being active in Scotland and being all pally with King David and his grandson who went on to be King Malcolm IV.
We’ll skip a couple of unimportant Umfs and move along to 1173 which is when William the Lion of Scotland, (a Pesky lion at that) invaded the North East to claim the earldom of Northumbria. Sigh. By this time Odinell II is head honcho of the Umfs.
I feel we should digress here, and have a quick look at William the Lion, who was actually a bloke. Willy became King of Scotland in December 1165 aged 25 and reigned for 48 years until 1214, the second longest reign in Scottish history. On the whole it seems he was a conscientious and good King, but, and this is a big but, he was stupidly obsessed with Northumbria. And he was an argumentative sort of chap to boot. We have to turn the clock back a bit here, to 1113 when King Henry I gave a defunct Earldom, that of Northumbria, to David I, Willy’s grandfather. More on that shortly. Ish. Willy spent time at King Henry II’s court, but quarrelled with him and in 1168 arranged a treaty of Scottish alliance with France, the first ever between the Main Peskies. In 1173/4 a revolt against Henry kicked off with Henry’s three sons and their mother against him with short lived assistance from Le Pesky Louis VII. That went on for 18 months, to no avail, but our Willy was a key player in the revolt. At the Battle of Alnwick the daft bugger recklessly charged the English troops by himself, shouting, “Now we shall see which of us are good knights!” As you do. Anyway at that point Ranulf de Glanvill and his troops unhorsed and captured him, took him in chains to Newcastle, then Northampton, and then to Falais in Normandy. Henry then sent an army into Scotland and occupied it. As ransom and to regain his kingdom, Willy had to acknowledge Henry as his feudal superior and agree to pay for the cost of the English army’s occupation of Scotland by taxing the Scots. The cost was equal to 40,000 Scottish marks (£26,000). I can’t find out how much that is in todays money, but it’s quite a sum as it is! The church of Scotland was also subjected to that of England. William acknowledged this by signing the Treaty of Falaise, and was then allowed to return to Scotland. In 1175 he swore fealty to Henry II at York Castle. If only he’d just stayed in the line…🤷♀️
Back to Prudhoe and back to 1173, I presume prior to joining or during the revolt, Willy decided to invade Northumberland and reclaim the Earldom. He was a busy chap. Odinell II refused to support him and so Willy and his Scottish Army attacked Prudhoe Castle, but failed to take it as they were not prepared for a lengthy siege. The following year he tried again, but Ody was a canny chap and had strengthened his garrison. The Pesky Scots tried a siege, but gave up after 3 days, and Ody further improved the defences of the castle by adding a stone keep and a great hall. I mean, what was Willy thinking? I can vouch for Northumbrians not wanting to be Scottish, they don’t even want to be English! They have their own flag and everything! Ody died in 1182 and was succeeded by his son Richard. By this time King John the lecherous was in charge of everything and he wasn’t well liked. Dicky came under suspicion of treachery, and in 1212 had to hand over to the king his sons and his castle of Prudhoe.The Baronial revolt kicked off in 1215-17,and in 1216 our Dicky joined the rebels fighting John and so then his lands were forfeit as well. They remained forfeited until 1217, the year after King John’s death. He later made peace with the government of King Henry III and died in 1226. He was succeeded by his son Gilbert II,and he in turn was succeded by his son Gilbert III in 1245. Gill 3 inherited the title of Earl of Angus with vast estates in Scotland, but he continued to spend some of his time at Prudhoe. It is believed that he carried out further improvements to the castle.
We are back to the Scottish Wars of Independence now, which we left behind in Lanercost Castle a couple of weeks ago, and though Gill 3 was Earl of Angus, he actually fought on the English side in the first war until his death in 1308. His heir and second son Robert de Umfraville IV came next and he also sided with the English but ended up surrendering to the pesky King Bobby the Bruce during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. King Bobby did release Bob 4th who then treated with the Scots for peace with England. He was ultimately disinherited of his titles, no surprises there! In 1316 King Edward granted Bob 4th 700 marks to maintain a garrison of 40 men-at-arms and 80 light horsemen at Prudhoe. In 1325, Bob 4th died and his son another bliddy Gilbert IV took over the Barony, and was the last of the Umfravilles to do so. He’d married twice and had a son guess what they called him? hint- begins with R ends in T and has OBER in the middle. 🙄 Anyway, that Bob died, Gill didn’t have any more kids, and when he died in 1381 his 2nd wife remarried into the mighty Percy family, to Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, (will definitely be digressing him!)and when she died in 1398 Prudhoe Castle went to him. So we will say goodbye to the Umfravilles, whose dynasty continued, but without our castle.
Oh My Days! how bliddy confusing all the Gilberts and Roberts and Odinells I had to make sense of. More Umfravilles than you can shake an Englebert at! What a nightmare. Any hoo, I’m going to leave you hanging in 1398 now, until next week, because there’s still a few hundred years until we get to the end, and you’ll need another cup of tea and more biscuits for that! Bet you can’t wait!! 😃
On with the pictures!!
The view from the road as you walk up to the castle.
Built in 1150, the Gatehouse also incorporated the chapel.
The Outer Bailey where lower service buildings and the great hall stood. The East Tower is to the right. People lived in it until the 1990’s!
The Inner Bailey was enclosed by the first stone curtain wall of the mid 12th century but had to be rebuilt in the 14th century after subsidence.
The Keep. The west wall of the keep shows the scar of the gable end of the Norman roof, indicating the great height of the open-roofed upper hall. Within the west wall a flight of stairs goes up to the battlement level walk. The south and east walls are no longer there so no other Norman features remain.
The remains of the base of the south drum tower (home to a huge conservatory in the early 1900s); and the north-west drum tower, which still dominates this end of the castle. The open grassy area to the south-west of the castle formed the pele yard, a service area for the castle which was also the site of St Mary’s Chapel, built in the 1200s but long gone.
So that’s it for this time, but we’ve more yet to see so
No apostrophies were harmed in the making of this post, but some may have gone out to play, and others could be playing somewhere they’re not supposed to be.
Following on from last weeks pictures of the prioryHERE, today we’re going to investigate the contents of the tombs within.
Hubert de Vaux’s eldest son Robert de Vaux was the founder of Lanercost Priory, and for centuries the de Vaux remained important benefactors of the priory. In the north transept, the oldest tomb of the priory is one of the Roland de Vaux lords from the fourteenth century. Unfortunately the knight’s effigy and tomb decorations are mostly now gone, but surviving fragments of the effigy from the top of the tomb are now in store.
I managed not to take a picture of Roly’s tomb, so asked permission to link to this one I found on Flickr.
Next up we have the first Dacre tomb, the tomb of Sir Humphrey (1424–85), 1st Baron Dacre, and his wife, Mabel Parr (d. 1510), stands in a chapel off the north transept. The visible sides are covered with heraldic imagery, showing the various families who had married into the Dacre line. This tomb was erected by their son Thomas. Sir Hump was a soldier, landowner in Cumbria, and peer, and stayed loyal to King Henry VI at The Battle of Towton during the War of the Roses. The battle took place in 1461 and was fought for ten hours between an estimated 50,000 soldiers in a snowstorm on Palm Sunday, with the Yorkist army achieving a decisive victory over their Lancastrian opponents. As a result, Edward IV deposed the Lancastrian Henry VI and secured the English throne. Our Hump was attainted, which meant he lost everything, his property and titles, but managed to keep his life.
He must have been a wiley old fox as he was later pardoned, regained the family estates, summoned to parliament as a baron, attended the coronation of Richard III, and was appointed Governor of Carlisle and Warden of the West Marches. His Missis, Mabs, was the great aunt to Catherine Parr, Ol’Henery the eighth’s last Missis, and the only one to survive marriage to him.
Thomas, 2nd Baron Dacre (1467–1525), and his wife, Elizabeth Greystoke (d.1516), are buried in the second large chest tomb, which stands in the south transept, under an early 19th-century stone canopy. The tomb was erected by Thomas during his lifetime. The arms of the Dacre and Greystoke families are set within garters, so the tomb must date from after 1518, when Thomas was made a Knight of the Garter.
Hump and Mabs, had 9 children, the eldest being Tommy who succeeded Hump as Baron Dacre of Gilsland. He too was a soldier but fought on the Yorkist side in the Battle of Bosworth, the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, which took place on August 22nd 1485. Dicky III was on the throne at this point, but was defeated and killed in the battle, with the Lancastrian Henry Tudor being the winner taking all. Like his Dad, Tommy managed to suck up to the victor and earned himself some kudos with Henry Tudor who had now ascended the throne as “King Henry VII of England” and who would continue to trust Tommy’s services for the remainder of his reign. Henry made Tommy a Knight of the Bath in 1503.
I think a small digression is worthy here, to explain that during the middle ages, knighthoods were often conferred with elaborate ceremonies. (Blokes!!🙄) The chap being Knighted would first have to have a bath and not the kind where you chill out in candlelight with nice smelling bubbles and a waterproof book, nope, instead he had senior Knights instructing him in his Knightly duties. I bet the water went cold. Then he’d be clothed in a special cloak and music would play whilst he was taken to a chapel to pull an all nighter vigil. At dawn he’d have to make a confession and go to mass, after which he was allowed to go to bed for a snooze until it was fully daylight. Lastly he was taken to see the King who instructed two senior Knights to strap spurs to the chaps heels, and then the King fastened a belt around the guy’s waist, and then smacked him on the neck with his hand or a sword. The chap was then a Knight. 🤷♀️ Nowadays the Monarch just has them visit Buckingham Palace and taps the persons shoulders with a sword, job done, no messing about with baths and spurs.
Our Tommy then declared loyalty to the next King, the Eighth Henry. He did well too and by 1509 was Lord of all The Marches. The Lord Warden of the Marches was an office in the governments of Scotland and England. The holders were responsible for the security of the border between the two nations, and often took part in military action. He had an illustrious military career, being in charge of the “Border Lancers” at the Battle of Flodden in 1513 where the invading army of James IV was crushingly defeated and its king killed. Tommy found him and transported him to Berwick on Tweed. Henery made Tommy a Knight of the Garter in 1518 and he was present, with all the other Garter Knights, at the meeting in 1520 between Henry VIII and the Pesky French King Francis I, you may know of it as The Field of The Cloth of Gold. Anyhoo, Tommy died on the borders on 24 October 1525, killed by a fall from his horse, a bit of an ignominius ending I feel,and was banged up in the tomb below.
I must mention he married Elizabeth Greystoke, 6th Baroness of Greystoke in her own right, and she was absolutely minted! Tommy abducted eloped with her at night from Brougham Castle where she’d been staying as a ward of the King in the custody of the Baron of Clifford. When they married the extensive lands held by the Greystokes passed to the Dacre family. These included Greystoke Castle and the barony of Greystoke, Morpeth Castle and the barony of Morpeth, along with the lost manor of Henderskelf, which is now the site of Castle Howard. Tommy and Liz had eight children who all became or married, Knights and Earls and Barons but am not sure which of them would have been the ancestor of Tarzan.
Although there were very few family buriels inside the church between the 16th and 18th centuries, in 1708, a 25yr old chap, John Crow of Longlands, died whilst falling trying to climb the ruins, stupid boy, and ended up buried in a re-used 14th Century chest tomb, previous incumbent unknown. ( Stop weeping April 🙂 ) The tomb effigy is the only complete medieval effigy to survive at Lanercost.
In the 19th Century the Priory was in the hands of the Howard family, George Howard (1843–1911), 9th Earl of Carlisle, revived the use of the church as a family mausoleum. His infant daughter Eizabeth died at the age of 4 months in 1883, and he had a terracotta effigy made of her by the famous sculptor Sir Edgar Boehm. George was quite the artist with many of his works in prestigious galleries and museums, the Tate and the Ashmolean being just two.
The Howards lived in London in Kensington, in a house at 1 Palace Green,built for them by Arts and Crafts architect Philip Webb in 1870,and at Naworth Castle. Among their visitors at Naworth were Robert Browning, William Ewart Gladstone, Lewis Carroll, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and many others. William Morris was an intimate friend, well that’s what it says but I think it means in the intellectual sense, and his wallpapers were used in Kensington, at Naworth Castle and at Castle Howard when George inherited it. With Morris and Webb he was one of the founding members of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
George’s eldest son Charles (8 March 1867 – 20 January 1912) became the 10th Earl of Carlisle when Dad expired in 1911 and was also known as Viscount of Morpeth from 1889 to 1911. Another soldier he was firstly a Captain in the 3rd Border Regiment, whereafter he retired from the regular army and went on to serve in the Boer War in South Africa as a Captain in the 5th militia Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own). After the war he became the MP for Birmingham South until he got his Earldom in 1911 and joined the house of Lords. He died age 44, and his wife Rhoda Ankaret L’Estrange, with whomst he got spliced in 1894, didn’t join him until 1957 45 years later. They they stuck her in the same tomb with him and she was the last person to be entombed in the priory.
So that’s it for tombs, but there’s a couple of interesting grave slabs to look at.
Firstly the one on the right in this next photograph is possibly from the late 12th century, with a small Maltese cross on the top surface. On its left side is a sword, and on the right are a pilgrim’s scrip (purse or satchel) and palm, suggesting the deceased had been on pilgrimage. Can’t make much out of all that except the palm and the sword.
The next one below is a fragment of a late 14th- or 15th-century floor slab or tomb chest, bearing a cross with fleur-de-lys terminals. On the left is a scallop, part of the Dacre family crest.
And that is the end of our history lesson today 😊
All images taken by me except where stated otherwise, and are clickable and embiggenable. The 2 from Flickr are links from those person’s albums and you can see more of their photos of Lanercost if you click through and scroll about.
No apostrophies were harmed in the making of this post, but some may have gone out to play, and others could be playing somewhere they’re not supposed to be.
Digging back into the archives today, and my visit to Lanercost Priory with Sophie, and our erstwhile companion Mike, in 2014. I did a couple of posts on it back in the day but no-one who follows this blog has seen those (except Stevie), plus I did a rubbishy history bit, so I’m starting over.
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪 *Long Post Alert*
We’re going back in time to 1169 or thereabouts, when a prominent 12th-century English noble called Robert de Vaux founded Lanercost Priory to house Augustinian Canons.
A little digression~ Canons are not Big Guns firing big stone balls, they were originally, back in the 8th century, clerics who lived together, so a bit like monks I guess. Later on in the 11thC some churches had it that these clerics also had to give up all their private wealthand then they became Augustinian Canons Regular. The ones who didn’t give up their wonga were known as secular canons.
Our Bob turned out to be a bit of a useless effort really. He had to pay scutage to Henry II as he didn’t join in the Norman Invasion of Ireland, which cost him 40 shillings, a lot back then. Then he was appointed Sherriff of Cumberland in 1174 and whilst he held Carlisle Castle when the Pesky Scots led by King William I of Scotland invaded Cumberland in 1173, he then surrendered it in 1174 when they came back and had another bash. In 1186 he was fined a hundred marks for a variety of offences including allowing prisoners to escape. Robert died around 1195 and was succeeded by his brother Ranulf as Bob and his Missis Ada only had one lad, and he died young.
Another digression ~ Scutage is a medieval English tax. Under feudalism the king, through his vassals, provided land to knights for their support. The knights owed the king military service in return. The knights were allowed to “buy out” of the military service by paying scutage (a term derived from Latin scutum, “shield”)
Most of the church building dates from the late 13th century, though there is evidence of earlier work. The Priory buildings were constructed, at least in part, from stones derived from Hadrians Wall, including a number of Roman inscriptions that were built into its fabric. Unfortunately the Priory was built close to the border with Scotland, and that determined a turbulent history as it was a target of the Pesky Scots’ attacks in retaliation for English raids.
When the Wars of Scottish Independence broke out in 1296 the Scottish army set fire to Hexam Abbey, then Lambley Nunnery before arriving at Lanercost and encamping there. Luckily they were chased off before they did too much damage. A chap called William Wallace, was one of the blokes in charge of the War, and he was well Pesky. If you’ve seen a movie called Braveheart you might have thought he was Australian, but nope, he was a Scottish Knight though little is definitely known of his family history or even his parentage, so who knows? Anyway he continued to attack and plunder the Priory which naffed off the English who called for reprisals.
I guess I should digress and talk a little about the Pesky Wallace, a revered man of great standing in Scotland (and possibly Australia). There’s statues of him and everything all over Scotland. As I say, no-one has come up with much evidence about his early life, the surname Wallace means he could even have Welsh ancestry. Anyhoo, he was good at War stuff. His first act was to kill William De Heselrig the English High Sheriff of Lanark, in May 1297. He then joined Lord Douglas in the Raid of Scone, one of several rebellions taking place across Scotland, including those of several Scottish nobles and in the north.
On 11 September 1297, an army jointly led by Willy and Andrew Moray won the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Although vastly outnumbered, the Scottish army routed the English army. John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey’s feudal army of 3,000 cavalry and 8,000 to 10,000 infantry met disaster as they crossed over to the north side of the river. It was a complete clusterf**k. The bridge the English were crossing was narrow so the Scots held back until half of them had passed and then killed the English as quickly as they could cross. Then one of Willy’s captains, caused some of the English soldiers to retreat as others pushed forward, and under the overwhelming weight, the bridge collapsed and many English soldiers drowned. Thus, the Pesky Scots won a significant victory, boosting the confidence of their army.Hugh de Cressingham, King Edward I’s treasurer in Scotland, died in the fighting and it is reputed that his body was subsequently flayed and the skin cut into small pieces as tokens of the victory. The Lanercost Chronicle records that Willy had “a broad strip [of Cressingham’s skin] … taken from the head to the heel, to make there with a baldrick for his sword”. (Don’t mess with Willy!! ) Afterwards they made Willy a Knight, and a Guardian of Scotland along with Moray.
After that he went on to cock up the Battle of Falkirk in April 1298 when the English totally pasted the Scots and many of them died, though Willy escaped. He resigned his Governership and went off to France to beg for assistance from the Pesky French King Philip IV, after which he returned to Scotland and got involved in some skirmishes, but in 1305 was captured by a Scottish Knight called John de Monteith, a turncoat who gave Willy up in return for lands and titles from King Eddy. Willy was put on trial for treason and for atrocities against civilians in war, and on August 23rd was dragged naked through London at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield where he was strangled by hanging, though let down whilst still alive, whereupon he had his specifically male appendages lopped off, followed by disembowelment – the contents of which were set fire to before his eyes. Finally he was beheaded, then his limbs were hacked off and displayed seperately in Newcastle, Berwick, Sterling and Perth. (Don’t mess with King Eddy!!)
OK, OK, hands up. King Eddy was a real bad guy and you can’t blame the Pesky Scots for wanting shot of him. Anyhoo back to the Priory….
In August 1311 the Peskiest Scot of all Robert Bruce, King of Scotland turned up and made his headquarters in the Priory for 3 days, “committing infinite evils” according to the Canons, some of whom he imprisoned, though later released. I won’t digress into King Bob’s life, he did what Willy couldn’t and fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent kingdom. He is now revered in Scotland as a National (pesky) Hero.
Although King Bob and King Eddy III had made a truce in 1328, King Bob died a year later, and later on Pesky King David II arrived in 1346 and he ransacked the conventual buildings and desecrated the church. Fresh from the overthrow of Liddel he and his army “entered the holy place with haughtiness, threw out the vessels of the temple, stole the treasures, broke the doors, took the jewels, and destroyed everything they could lay hands on”. Sigh. The fortunes of the priory were linked to the state of warfare and raids on the border. The priory was in relatively affluent circumstances before the outbreak of the war of Independence in 1296, and the annual revenue of the house was returned at £74 12s 6d in the 1291 valuation of Pope Nicholas IV. But by the taxation of 1318, the value had fallen almost to nothing.
Moving swiftly forward now (phew!) Old Henery the Eighth did his thing with the dissolution of everything churchy in 1538 and the conventual buildings were stripped of their roofs, excepting the church building which continued in use as the parish church. In the late 17th century, as the nave deteriorated, the congregation used just the north aisle which had been re-roofed. In 1747, the nave was re-roofed, but by 1847 the Priory was in a state of disrepair to the extent that the east end roof collapsed. However, by 1849, The church was in use again after a major restoration by Anthony Salvin and in the 1870s, there was further restoration by the Carlisle architect C.J. Ferguson.
At the Dissolution, ownership had passed to the Dacre family, and then in the early 18th century to the Howards. In 1929, the Priory ruins were put into public ownership, and today they are managed by English Heritage.
That’s it! Do you need a toilet break now? 🙂 Well done if you got through all that.
On with the pics!
I think that will do for this week, next time we’ll have a look at some of the tombs and effigies in the Priory and learn about who is buried inside them 😊
Christmas caught up with me before I could get this post done, so here is the last outing Sophie and I had at the end of November, on the same day as my previous post on Alnwick. We parked up at the beach at Alnmouth and walked up the hill to see this legacy of wars. I think first though we’ll have
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪 * Long post Alert *
Alnmouth has had a bit of bother with the Pesky Scots and the Pesky French over the past 871 years, though it seems calm and peaceful now. It was established by a Norman Nobleman, William de Vesci, in 1152, but it was his son Eustace who, in 1207 or 8 was given royal permission to turn it into a port and have a Wednesday fish market going on, and by 1306 is shown to be a port of call by a Crown request for the supply of a boat to assist in a military campaign to Gascony.
But let’s digress here a little, whilst Eustace has nothing to do with our gun battery, there’s a cool history of him in The Baronage of England by Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686.) a bit of which I’ll paraphrase as it’s all in olde worlde English. This bit happened in 1211 when King John was on the way to Wales to invade it. One evening, at the dinner table, King John, (who was a bit of a lech to say the least) found out that Eustace’s missis, Margaret of Scotland, (King Alex 2nd’s sister) was thought to be very beautiful. He pretended to admire Eustace’s ring, and borrowed it to have one like it made for himself. But the cad! He was fibbing, and instead sent the ring to Maggie pretending Eustace had sent it, begging her to come and see him if she wanted to see him alive! A cad and a bounder! As luck would have it, as Maggie, unaware of the King’s ruse, was hot hoofing it to see her dearly beloved, Eustace was having a leisurely ride out and about and the two met up. Now that folks, is what we call serendipity! Anyway, Eustace, once he understood how they had both been deluded, resolved to hire a lady of the night, dress her in clothes his Missis would wear, and send her off to dally with the King. All that was accomplished, and the King was soon bragging to Eustace about how lovely his Missis was and how naughty they had been, whereupon our Eustace put him right. The King was mighty peed off at being thusly thwarted and tricked and threatened to kill Eustace, and wisely our man skedaddled North toot~sweet!
So, back to Alnmouth in 1336 or forwards now really 🙄 and the Pesky Scots came a’calling, and whilst in 1296, twenty-eight people had been listed as being liable to pay tax; in 1336 this fell to just one after the Pesky Scots had finished with the place. The Black Death, (bubonic plague) arrived and added to the woes of anyone left living there, and as always in this part of Northumberland Pesky Scottish Border Reivers constantly raided the place. In the 15th and 16th centuries the place was in pretty poor order, but nothing lasts forever, and in the 17th and 18thC’s things were looking up. Trade flourished from the port, exporting grain everywhere, coal, eggs, pork and pickled salmon to London, wool to Yorkshire for the weaving industry and then importing bat guano from Peru as you do, blue slate from Scotland, and timber from Holland and Scandinavia. The port had a modest shipbuilding centre and at it’s peak around 1750, up to 18 vessels might be seen in the harbour at any one time.
And then in August 1779 two Pesky French Privateer ships (sovereign backed pirates basically) had a contre~temps for 2 hours with a British Man Of War ship off the coast of Alnmouth. I couldn’t find out who won the battle. To cap that, a month later a chap called John Paul Jones (NOT the sublime bass player of Led Zeppelin) turned up in a ship and fired a cannonball at Alnmouth Church in support of the American War of Independence. What the heck he hoped to achieve with one cannonball in Alnmouth is beyond me, but it didn’t do much damage, missed the church and landed on a farm house roof.
I think a little digression is worthwhile here, as John Paul Jones is an interesting chappy. He was the United States’ first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War. He made many friends among U.S political elites (including John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin) as well as enemies (who accused him of piracy), and his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation that persists to this day. As such, he is sometimes referred to as the “Father of the American Navy” (a nickname he shares with John Barry and John Adams). He has a very long and illustrious naval history, served with the Americans, the French and the Russians, winning medals from them all. The Institution du Mérite Militaire from France, the Congressional Gold Medal from the USA and the Order of St. Anne from Russia. His history, albeit fascinating is too long for my little blog post, my digression here is just to point out that he wasn’t American in the slightest. Nope! He was born in Arbigland in Southern Scotland! A Pesky Scot no less!!As well as his pot shot at Alnmouth, he raided Whitehaven on the West coast and in 1999 Jones was given a posthumous honorary pardon by the port of Whitehaven for his raid on the town, in the presence of Lieutenant Steve Lyons representing the U.S. Naval Attaché to the UK, and Yuri Fokine the Russian Ambassador to the UK. The U.S. Navy was also awarded the Freedom of the Port of Whitehaven, the only time the honour has been granted in its 400-year history. He didn’t get a pardon from Alnmouth, and quite right too, the traitorous Bunty.
Bear with me, we’re getting there! The Napoleonic Wars from 1803 ~1815 affected the trade of the port and the fear of further invasions carried on throughout the century. In 1799 the Volunteer Movement had come into being, and militia’s were setting up all over the shop. The Armed Association of the Percy Tenancy Volunteers was raised by the Duke of Northumberland, Hugh, in 1798, and operated between 1805 and 1814. In 1859, the 2nd Northumberland (Percy) Volunteers Artillery was established, with the next Duke of Northumberland, Algernon, being the Commanding Officer. He is the chap who had the gun battery at Alnmouth built. It was completed on 12th March 1881. When WW2 kicked off, invasion fears arose again and more defences were added to Alnmouth, anti-tank cubes, an anti-tank ditch, pill-boxes, reinforcement of the gun battery, and firing slits built into the walls of the Church Hill guano shed. We may need another outing to Alnmouth!
Enough edumacation, lets have the pictures! These are all taken with my Contax Aria, loaded with Cinestil 800T.
It was late in the afternoon when we got to it. Well not really late, but afternoons end at 3.30-4pm in winter here, so we didn’t have too much time to photograph and it was a bit of a hike from the carpark next to the beach up to the battery.
It didn’t take long to shoot the battery, but we hung about watching a lovely gentle sunset, and the view from where the battery sits is worth a few moments.
All pictures embiggenable with a click.
And that is the end of my posts for 2022 outings, I’m pretty sure there’ll be more in 23 so
Photography outings with Sophie have been more sporadic, and not as many as previous years, as pandemic year saw Sophie end up moving to Spain, although she returns in University term times to teach, and we get to see each other then. I thought it would be nice this week to look back on where we’ve been this year and choose a photo to go with the memory.
Our first outing was in February, and we went to visit Seaton Delaville Hall. I didn’t do a post as I’d already covered it extensively in 2019 but there was a cool installation in the main hall which I took a shot of with my phone.
In March we visited a few medieval churches up in Northumberland, we learned about Saint Maurice, Queen Maud , Charles Bozanquet but my favourite was coming across the C15th alabaster tomb of the crusader knight Sir Ralph Grey and his wife, Elizabeth, which we found in St.Peter’s Church in Chillingham.
Sophie was in Spain for most of April but we got back together in May and went to visit Edlingham where there’s a (guess what?) medieval church and a castle ruin. I love this shot of the castle, incongruous in the rustic, peaceful landscape, its bovine companions unimpressed by its presence.
Spring happened, eventually, it was late this year here, and still in May we visited Birkhead Gardens for some flower photography, there was a riot of colour. Strange phrase that, maybe, a multitude of colourful flowers would be a better one. Anyhow, this is one of my favourites of the day.
In June Sophie was in Spain and I spent a week down south with my grandson, so it was July when we next went out, and this time we went to Morpeth in Northumberland, and learned about Emily Wilding Davison, 1972-1913, a suffragette who chucked herself under the King’s racehorse in protest, and consquently died. Also that day we visited Herterton Gardens where Marjorie and Frank Lawley, who we met, had spent a lifetime renovating a rundown cottage and landscaping the area around it.
August saw Sophie’s hubby Mentat come over for a visit, and we took him to Raby Castle, which we’ve photographed many times before, so I didn’t do very much, but got a shot of Sir Deer.
In September Sophie was back to Spain, but October saw us out every weekend bar one. The Owl Centre gave us Mr.Blue, a most popular chap on that post.
November was cold but we still went out, first to Barter Books in Alnwick followed by lunch at the Rockinghorse Café in Rock, and a trog up to the Old Gun Battery at Alnmouth. I haven’t posted yet about the Gun Battery as those pictures will all be on Film Friday, but here’s a panorama of the view from there, taken with my phone.
And that’s been it for 2022. Sophie will be back from Spain at the end of January, so we can start finding new places to go and things to see in 2023.
Lastly but by no means leastly, a big THANKS to anyone who follows any of my blogs, especially those who comment, it’s good to parlais with y’all. Special thanks to those I follow, who recommend movies and books, you’ve embiggened my entertainment and cost me a fair few quid along the way. Special thanks to the inspirational artists and photographers I follow, keep it up! Special thanks to the teachers and writers of history, I love the fascinating stuff you come up with. And a big shout out to the other members of the WP4, thanks for making me laugh, a lot.
My best wishes to all and Happy New Year! Bring it on!
Not sure if anyone will be popping in here as it’s Christmas Day, but if you do, my very heartfelt Best Wishes for a lovely day for you, wherever and however you are. Sundays are my post days here, and not even Christmas prevents that, so here’s a short one, that is at least apt for the day.
On our last outing together before Sophie’s return to Spain, we decided to visit the Christmas Market in North Shields. There were many, many stalls selling all sorts of produce, arts, crafts, clothes. All the usual stuff, and the place was heaving with people, it you stood still you got knocked into. Not really conducive to taking photographs. So we didn’t, we sauntered around trying to peek through people to see the stalls. I know Sophie was looking at a hat stall for a Christmas present but not sure if she bought one in the end as I’d wandered off to look at something else, and I bought three scotch eggs of different flavours as Phil likes them, but mostly we didn’t buy anything.
They had some fairground rides for the kids, so we went and photographed those instead. They’d kind of given it a Christmas feel, candy canes, penguins, Mickey Mouse dressed as Santa.
It was nice for the Mums and their little kids I guess, and I realise I still prefer fairgrounds empty.
On the way back to the car I spotted a man parked on the corner of a road, or his car was anyway, and he was underneath it, I think he’d broken down and was trying to fix it.
Anyway the afternoon would be drawing in soon enough so we went over the river to South Shields Christmas Market, which we took one look at and decided it was not in the same league as the one we’d been to, so we went to lunch instead. On the way to where we thought we were going we spotted a sign outside the library building advertising the café within, so a snap decision was made and we went in. Not the best photo but I was trying to be unobtrusive (sneaky really) and fluffed it.
It was so lush to be in from the cold for a while. We both had a home made vegetable soup and I had a ham sandwich with mine. The sandwich was nothing special, but the soup was glorious. I don’t do ‘food at the dinner table’ pics really, not a fan, but I had to remember this one! Made it myself last week, so yum!
The evenings arrive so quickly up North here at this time of year, you just finish lunch to find the sun beginning to set. And so it was as we walked back to the car, and we could see it was going to be a lovely sunset and if we were sharp I could drive us up the coast to get some nice shots. So I did, and we did.
I had my Contax on the go too, still waiting for those to come back, so the iPhone was enlisted for this post, don’t usually bother but they look much better clicked through to, especially the last two. Anyhow enough of me,
I know last week I said I’d be posting the photos of the old gun battery which Sophie and I visited after Alnwick, but I’m saving them for Film Friday as they were all taken on the Contax. Instead, ths week I’m posting our trip to a train museum called Locomotion, in Shildon, which we visited after going to the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland. I did take pictures at the gallery too though struggled with the lighting, and it was cool to see the Salvador Dali Christ of Saint John of the Cross, on loan from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Glasgow, in the same room as El Greco’s Christ on a cross. If you really are interested in 16/7th C Spanish art and religious iconography, there’s my gallery of less than great photos in the link HERE.
And so, Choo~choo! on with the trains!
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
Shildon. An unassuming little town, (pop. about 9,900) I’ve visited a few times in the past for hearing aid purposes, and never knew that in the 1820s, the new Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) chose the town for its engineering headquarters. Shildon became known as the ‘Cradle of the Railways’ and the world’s first true railway town, when on 27 September 1825 George Stephenson’s Locomotion set off from outside the Mason’s Arms public house, hauling the first passenger train to Stockton.You could say that the Mason’s Arms could be classified as the world’s first railway station. In the early stages of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, tickets were sold at the bar. Between 1833 and 1841 the company hired a room in the pub for use as a booking office.
A chap from Shildon, Timothy Hackworth, was recruited by George Stephenson in 1824 and put in charge of building locomotives for the company, becoming superintendant in 1825. He also established his own company, the Soho Locomotive Building Company, and worked alongside the S&DR. In 1855, Hackworth having gone to the Great Railway Station in the Sky, the Soho Works were bought by the S& DR, merging with the North Eastern Railway in 1863. Locomotive production was shifted to their North Road Works in Darlington. The Shildon Works continued but focus was shifted to the construction of waggons.
It did suffer from industrial action when a strike in 1911 kicked off. The Govt sent in the Army (a bad habit they’ve got as they’re still using them to break strikes today) A driver of a mineral train was stoned and dragged from his engine then pursued by an angry mob and had to be rescued by soldiers so maybe he was happy they were there. Mineral wagons had their bottom doors undone and the contents allowed to fall out. Wagons in the sidings had their brakes undone and freewheeled for miles, railway signal cables were damaged and the cavalry had to be called. At one stage soldiers had to mount a Bayonet charge to clear a bridge. They certainly knew how to strike back then, none of this namby pamby placard carrying outside the workplace!
By 1926 and at its height, the Shildon Wagon Works was the largest in Europe and the massive infrastructure of sidings that supported the works was the largest in the world employing 2,600 people. But all good things come to an end, and in the 1930’s the London and North Eastern Railway Company had decided to concentrate their operations to Darlington. The Soho works laid derelict since the 1940s and were scheduled for demolition in the 1970s, however, the buildings were saved when they were restored and opened to the public as part of the Timothy Hackworth Museum.
The Locomotion Museum, incorporating the existing Timothy Hackworth Museum and part of the National Railway Museum in York, was opened on Friday 22 October 2004. The new museum came about as part of a £70 million government funding arrangement for museums across the country. The project received £2 million from the European Regional Development Fund along with grant aid from a number of groups. The museum hoped to attract 60,000 visitors in the first year but had 70,000 visitors in the first two months
Lastly, an inspired piece of journalism from The Northern Echo newspaper on the advent of the 50th anniverary of the railway in 1855, that made me laugh ~ ‘Shildon is one of the ugliest places on the earth’s fair surface. It was once a swamp, the malaria from which laid many of its early inhabitants low with fever. It is now a hideous congerie of houses, growing like fungus on either side of a network of rails. A huge colliery rears its ungainly head close to the rails, and the noise of its working ceases not for ever. Engines are plying about with restless activity, like spiders running along the threads of their nets seeking for hapless flies’.
They don’t write’em like that anymore!
OK, edumacation over, let’s do some pics.
You are not allowed to go inside so the first 2 were taken with my iPhone stuck on the window, the website lets you use their shots so here are 2 of the inside, taken inside.
Those are the highlights, more trains and details in my album HERE for any ferroequinologists out there and the Locomotion Website can be accessed HERE.
It’s a nicely done museum, free to get in though they do like a donation if you can. The café is fine, usual stuff, hot and cold drinks, soup and roll, jacket potato, pasties, toasties, paninis at reasonable prices. We would have liked to go inside the Royal Train, but that doesn’t ever happen, and I do understand, everyone would want to get in and everyone mostly had little kids with them! There were lots of information boards and videos and we really enjoyed it and learned a lot, in spite of neither of us being really interested in trains!
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