Gibside ~ November 2021 ~ part 2

Gibside is the childhood home of Mary Eleanor Bowes and I figured it would be nice to do her history. You may need a ☕️ and 🍪 if you’re going to wade through it!

The History Bit

Mary was born in Mayfair, London on 24 February 1749, the daughter and heiress of Sir George Bowes and and his second wife, Mary Gilbert. She spent her childhood at Gibside and at the age of 11 her father died, leaving her a vast fortune from his mining cartel. Mary became the wealthiest heiress in Britain. Taken to live in London by her Mum Mary became a bit of a flighty girl, batting her eyelashes at a fair few Dukes and Marquesses before getting engaged to an Earl at the age of 16, John Lyon the 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

A Scottish nobleman and peer famous for his appearance and known as “the beautiful Lord Strathmore”. He was described thusly by his friend the surgeon Jesse Foote ~ “The late Earl of Strathmore was not calculated to make even a good learned woman a pleasing husband. His Lordship’s pursuits were always innocent and without the smallest guile, but they were not those of science or any other splendid quality. A sincere friend, a hearty Scotchman and a good bottle companion were points of his character.”

As was stipulated in George’s will, Lyon had to get his surname changed to Bowes, which further down the line became Bowes-Lyon. They married on her 18th birthday in 1767. They had 5 children, the oldest son being John Bowes who became the 10th Earl and has his own history which you can read about in my post The Bowes Museum. Thanks to Mary Eleanor’s fortune, she and her hubby lived high on the hog. Hubby spent a lot of time and money restoring his family seat – Glamis Castle in Scotland, whilst Mary wrote a poetical drama entitled The Siege of Jerusalem in 1769 and got interested in botany, financing an expedition by explorer William Paterson to collect plants in the Cape of Good Hope. It wasn’t the happiest of marriages, they didn’t have much in common, and his family didn’t care much for her, John’s brother often insulted her in public. John got sick with tuberculosis and his Doctors advised him to go for treatment in Bath and Bristol, which he did for long periods of time. Mary stayed in London partying and having dalliances with young men of her aquaintance. On 7 March 1776, Lord Strathmore died at sea on his way to Portugal.

As a widow Mary regained control of her vast fortune, and paid off John’s debts of £145,000 without blinking an eye. Mary’s lover at the time was a chap called George Gray, a Scotsman but born in Calcutta in 1737 where his Dad worked as a surgeon for the East India Company, and Mary was pregnant by him. She didn’t want to get hitched as he’d proven a bit of a numpty by making and squandering a small fortune for the company as well as the considerable inheritance of his first Missis, resulting in him returning to England under a cloud in 1766. Really Mary, what were you thinking?? Anyway Mary induced an abortion by drinking some sort of “black, inky kind of medicine” according to her diary, (her candid account of these abortions is one of very few available first-person descriptions of secret abortions in the era before legalised abortion) but had to do the same again when she got pregnant again, and yet again. I can only eye roll.

On her 4th pregancy she decided she really should just marry the guy, and they got engaged in 1777.

But in that same summer of ’77, along came the charming and suave Anglo~Irish adventurer Andrew Robinson-Stoney, who seduced our lady and manipulated himself into her home and bed. The cad! He’d been a Lieutenant in the British Army but called himself ‘Captain’ Stoney. Stoney was a serial gold digger, and had started that career when he married Hannah Newton, a twenty-year-old heiress from County Durham. He married her, returned to the army, and convinced her to settle £5000 on him if perchance she died childless, and then proceeded to mistreat her, beating her up and starving her. She finally croaked during childbirth after several still-births, as did the baby.

He tricked our Mary good and proper by arranging a fake duel with the editor of a newspaper The Morning Post, the Reverend Sir Henry Bate Dudley, who had published scurrilous articles about Mary’s private life. But it was Stoney himself who wrote the articles both criticising and defending the countess. The duel was supposed to appeal to Mary’s romantic nature, and when he pretended to be mortally wounded, Stoney begged her to grant his dying wish – to marry her. Taken in by the ruse, she agreed.

I am quite staggered at Mary’s stupidity really, she had been well educated as a child, was reasonably intelligent and richer than God, but a complete nincompoop when it came to blokes. Anyway, I digress, and she suffered for her stupidity.

Of course, after marrying Mary in church, on a stretcher, mortally wounded, he made a fast and complete recovery. Attempting to take control of his wife’s fortune he discovered Mary had made a secret pre-nuptual agreement safeguarding the profits of her estate for her own use, but he forced her to sign a revocation handing control to him. He then went on to subject Mary to eight years of physical and mental abuse including confining her to her own house. He later took Mary and her daughter Anna Maria (the Earl’s daughter) off to Paris, whence they returned only after a writ had been served on him. He is also said to have raped the maids, invited prostitutes into the home and fathered numerous illegitimate children. A real nice guy.

In 1785 her loyal maids helped her escape Stoney’s custody and Mary filed for divorce through the ecclesiastical courts. But it didn’t end there, Stoney abducted Mary with the help of some accomplices and carried her off to the North Country. She later alleged that he threatened to rape and kill her, that he gagged and beat her and carried her around the countryside on horseback in one of the coldest spells of an unusually cold winter. The country was alerted; Stoney Bowes was eventually arrested, and Mary rescued.

The divorce trials were sensational and the talk of London. Although Mary initially won public sympathy, she didn’t do herself any favours by having an affair with the brother of one of her lawyers, which became public knowledge. Stoney made known other ‘salacious details’ of Mary’s past excesses and ensured the publication of the ‘confessions’ that she had earlier made in writing to him – he even purchased shares in a newspaper to publish these memoirs. There was also a general feeling that Mary had behaved badly in attempting to prevent her husband’s access to her fortune. Pfui!

Thankfully Stoney and his accomplices were found guilty of abduction and banged up for 3 years, should have been much longer IMHO! The divorce case continued and Stoney lost the battle to retain control of the Bowes fortune whilst the case was still ongoing, which was a nice interim judgement as the case was still not resolved by the time Mary died in 1800 when it became pointless for it to be continued. He was let out of prison on her death and had the effrontery to attempt to have her will invalidated. He lost that case (yay!) and was then sued by his own lawyers for their expenses. Unable to pay these debts, he came under prison jurisdiction (in that era, bankruptcy was punished with prison), although he lived outside the prison walls with his mistress, Mary ‘Polly’ Sutton. He died on 16 June 1810. And good riddance.

After 1792 Mary lived quietly in Hampshire, Purbrook Park firstly, and then Stourfield House, an isolated mansion on the edge of the village of Pokesdown, Christchurch. She took with her a full set of maids and servants including the maid who helped her escape from Stoney, Mary Morgan. When Morgan died in 1796 Mary gave up socialising all together and spent her time looking after her pets, which included a large number of dogs who had hot dinners cooked for them daily. The locals thought she was a bit bonkers, but she did reach out to them now and again, sending dinners and beers to the men working in the fields. Her three sons visited occasionally, not stopping long, but two of her daughters lived with her. In her will she left presents of dresses and other items to the community and an annuity for the widow Lockyer of Pokesdown Farm.

Mary died on 28 April 1800. Undertakers came from London with a hearse and three mourning carriages and transported her body to London. She can be found in Westminster Abbey, and her tombstone is in Poet’s Corner there.

Well done if you read this far, you are my favourite visitor! 😊

The mansion built by Sir William Blakiston in the 1600’s, became vacant in the 1920s after death duties forced the Bowes-Lyon family to scale back its lavish lifestyle and give up some of its great houses. The building was stripped of its fixtures and fittings, with many of the fireplaces and other items being transferred to Glamis Castle. 

Mary’s childhood home. Sadly not restored and cordoned off.

The orangery is Mary’s only original contribution to the buildings of Gibside. When she commissioned plant collector William Paterson to explore South Africa in search of rare and new species, the orangery – or green house – would have been home to this brilliant and diverse collection of unusual plants.

the orangery.
inside the orangery

The original layout of this space was into three rooms to the north, known as ’garden rooms’. There was also one large room to the south, purely for the display of plants. Especially in winter when the more exotic species were kept heated throughout the colder months.

The large south-west facing windows provided a huge amount of light and a heating system would have kept plants warm during the winter.

Mary requested that she be buried wearing her first wedding dress, and it has been painstakingly recreated and stands in the chapel at Gibside.

I do
I did

And that’s the end of Mary’s story. Gibside is a lovely place to walk around, especially in autumn, so I’ll finish with a couple of random pictures!

in the walled garden
all done.
hanging on

That’s all folks! Stay tooned for next week and a visit to someotherwhere.

all pictures clickable to embiggen.

refs:-
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside
https://professorhedgehogsjournal.uk/2020/08/07/the-unhappy-countess/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Bowes,_Countess_of_Strathmore_and_Kinghorne
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibside

Full album HERE

Wallington Hall Estate ~ Oct 2020 ~ part 2

There are a few ponds/lakes nestled in the woodlands of the estate, and our favourite is the one with the boathouse.

boathouse pond.

As always, there are ducks.

quacks

The glass house is set in a formal garden so we had a wander around there first.

It was nice to see some flowers still going strong.

flower pot

The glass house is on a tier above the garden

glass house

and there’s a nice view when you get up there.

England’s green and pleasant land.

Inside the glass house there were plenty of blooms and leaves,

fuchsia magellanica white & pink
fuchsia magellanica pink & purple
chinese-lantern (abutilon pictum)
lotsa leaves

The glass house is being propped up with wooden buttresses as it’s very old and rickety, hopefully the National Trust will spend a few bob to repair it. You can just see them through the window here.

window scenery

Our last stop was at the bird hide, where we were excited to see a couple of deer, though I couldn’t get the head of the deer at the back.

2 deer.

And of course took some photo’s of birds

Blue tit
coal tit
robin

and that’s the end of our visit to Wallington in 2020.

all pictures are embiggenable by clickeration.

A few more pictures can be found HERE

Wallington Hall Estate ~ October 2021

Sophie and I go to Wallington Hall quite often, the grounds are extensive and there’s always lots to point a camera at. I’ve done a few blog posts from there, in 2018 and 19, but missed 20 for obvious reasons.

You can click on the little arrow below to read the history bit if you are interested and it will expand for you. If you are a philistine however, you can just look at the pictures 🤣.

Wallington is a country house and gardens located about 12 miles west of Morpeth, Northumberland, England, near the village of Cambo. It has been owned by the National Trust since 1942 after it was donated complete with the estate and farms by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, the first donation of its kind. It is a Grade I listed building. The estate was originally owned by the Fenwick family back in 1475. The Fenwick Baronetcy, of Fenwick in the County of Northumberland, was a title in the Baronetage of England. It was created on 9 June 1628 for Sir John Fenwick, of Wallington Hall, Northumberland. He sat as Member of Parliament for Northumberland and Cockermouth. The second and third Baronets also represented Northumberland in Parliament. The title became extinct when the third Baronet was executed for treason on 27 January 1697. The third Baronet, also a Sir John, was a Jacobite conspirator. I’m not going into Jacobitism here as it’s a very diverse and quite complicated political movement but basically a whole bunch of Brits aimed to restore the House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. You can google it for further info. Back to Sir John. He had succeeded his father to become an MP, and also later got to be a Major General in the army in 1688. He was a strong supporter of King James 2nd, the last Roman Catholic King of England, who was deposed in what was called the Glorious Revolution in 1688, and succeeded by William 3rd, or William of Orange, as he was known, a staunch Protestant. Our Sir John remained in England when William came to the throne, but had money troubles which led him to sell Wallington Hall to the Blackett family. Then Sir John decided to plot against William, insulted Williams Missis, Queen Mary, and was involved in a couple of assassination attempts on William. Eventually he was nabbed, and was beheaded in London on 28 January 1697. So on to the Blacketts. Also given a Baronetcy, they were a wealthy Newcastle family of mine owners and shipping magnates. They shared the Fenwick’s love of parties and Jacobite sympathies, but the Blacketts managed to avoid both financial ruin and treasonable activities. Sir William Blackett (1657-1705) bought Wallington in 1688 as a country retreat from the family’s main home at Anderson place in Newcastle, and knocked down the medieval house and pele tower that the Fenwicks had built, though he converted the ground floor into cellars, which still remain. The new building was quite basic, it consisted of four ranges built around an open central courtyard. The upper floor was reached by ladders and had no internal dividing walls. It wasn’t meant to be a permanent home, but a residence for when the family wanted to have shooting parties for their poshknob pals. The Fenwicks had also been known for their parties and hospitality, and the Blacketts followed the tradition. Sir William’s son took it to excess and employed six men simply to carry him and his drunken guests to bed after their grand parties. Upon his death he left debts of £77,000 and an illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth Ord. Wallington passed to his nephew Walter Calverley on condition that Walter married Elizabeth and adopted the family name. Walter agreed to this and in 1728 Wallington passed to the 21-year-old Sir Walter Calverley Blackett (1707-77). Surprisingly, and fortunately Sir Walter proved a better household manager than his uncle had. He had the house completely remodeled, adding staircases and partitioning the upper floor into rooms. The gardens and grounds were extensively redesigned with the introduction of pleasure grounds, the planting of many trees, and the digging of watercourses and ponds. Sir Walter also built the clock tower which dominates Wallington’s courtyard. Amongst the many figures involved in the recreation of Wallington was Capability Brown who may have contributed to the work in the East and West Woods and was certainly responsible for designing the pleasure grounds at Rothley Lake. Sir Walter’s children died before him, so Wallington passed to his sister’s son: Sir John Trevelyan. The Trevelyans were Baronets as well, and Wallington stayed in their family until 1942. The family includes authors, artists, MP’s and their history is far too long for a little blog post, but also quite fascinating. Sir Charles, the 3rd Baronet was the last to live there. He was first a Liberal and later a Labour MP. He served under H. H. Asquith as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education between 1908 and 1914, when, as an opponent of British entry into the First World War, he resigned from the government. In 1914, also, he founded the Union of Democratic Control an all-party organisation rallying opposition to the war. In the 1918 general election, he lost his Elland seat, running as an Independent Labour candidate, but won Newcastle Central for Labour in 1922 and held it until 1931. In early 1939, following Stafford Cripps and with Aneurin Bevan among others, Trevelyan was briefly expelled from the Labour Party for persisting with support for a “popular front” (involving co-operation with the Liberal Party and Communist Party) against the National Government. He was the last surviving member of the first British Labour cabinet. He had 6 kids, the eldest being Sir George, the 4th Baronet. He was effectively disinherited when his Dad gave Wallington to the National Trust. In 1925, George went to read history at Trinity College, Cambridge, in accordance with family tradition. Whilst there he began his 42-year-long association with the famous ‘Trevelyan Man Hunt’, an extraordinary annual event which involved a chase on foot over the wild Lakeland fells, with human ‘hunters’ hunting after human ‘hares’. This energetic event was started in 1898 by Trevelyan’s historian uncle G. M. Trevelyan and the Wynthrop Youngs, and still continues today, as a kind of hide and seek game without dogs or weapons. He also became an educational pioneer and a founding father of the New Age Movement. Not sure why Dad didn’t pass on the Hall to George, perhaps George was just too busy to look after the place, another fascinating chap.

After morning rain it turned out to be a lovely Autumnal day, the sun was mostly out and the sky that wintery pallid blue that contrasts so nicely with the greens and oranges of the landscape. We didn’t bother with the hall this time, but instead headed for the lake and the glass house.

Love these Japanese katsura trees, beautiful colours in autumn and their heart shaped leaves.

♥️ katsura leaves

On the way we walked through woodlands and I got a couple more shots for my mushroom collection.

possibly Piptoporus betulinus, Birch Polypore or Razor Strop Fungus
probably Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum) also at the top on the right Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes)
Woodland Inkcap, (Coprinellus silvaticus.)

Always weird to see butterflies in October, this one was on it’s last days I think, missing an antenna thingy and looking a bit ragged

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

and still quite a few flowers about too, with stupid names.

Black Eyed Susan (rudbeckia fulgida)
Kiss-me-over-the- garden-gate 🙄 (persicaria orientalis)
no idea about this one!

So that will do for this time round, we’ll get to the lake and the glass house next time so stay tooned!

📷 😊

Bolam Lake ~ Oct 2021 ~ part 2

Following on from part 1, we’re still photographing swans, because , well you can’t have enough magnificent swan pictures really. 🙂

The familiar pose with neck curved back and wings half raised, known as busking, is a threat display. Both feet are paddled in unison during this display, resulting in a more jerky movement. The swans may also use the busking posture for wind-assisted transportation over several hundred meters, so-called windsurfing.

windsurfer

The mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds. In several studies from Great Britain, males (known as cobs) were found to average from about 10.6 to 11.87 kg (23.4 to 26.2 lb), with a weight range of 9.2–14.3 kg (20–32 lb) while the slightly smaller females (known as pens) averaged about 8.5 to 9.67 kg (18.7 to 21.3 lb), with a weight range of 7.6–10.6 kg (17–23 lb). The most familiar sound associated with mute swans is the vibrant throbbing of the wings in flight which is unique to the species, and can be heard from a range of 1 to 2 km (0.6 to 1 mi), indicating its value as a contact sound between birds in flight.

lift off

We often come across other people walking around the lake and now and again I can sneak in a people picture, in this case a little people picture’

girls

and two couples, people and swans,

two pairs

but rarely do we come across people in or on the lake, so this lot gave us a nice surprise.

The Paddle Family

they were having a grand time!

there’s always one

and swans are not the only birds at the lake though these are in a dead tree.

Dead Tree Birds

And that’s about it for Bolam Lake. Next time we’re popping around the corner to revisit St.Andrews Church so stay tooned for that!

Bolam Lake ~ October 2021~ part 1

Sophie and I were making the best of Autumn and so the weekend after visiting Belsay, we went off to look for more Autumnal colour and to see the swans et al at Bolam Lake. We last visited 4 years ago in September 2017 – ah, the good old pre-plague days! Looking back at those photo’s there was more autumn colours in September 17 than there was in Oct 21 🤷‍♀️.

Bolam lake was constructed c.1817 for Lord Decies of Bolam. John Dobson was commissioned to lay out the grounds in 1816, including the 25-acre artificial lake and woodland. Northumberland County Council purchased the lake and some of the surrounding woodland in 1972 for use as a Country Park.

Bolam Lake

The weather was a bit pants, but the swans didn’t seem to care. Bolam has a herd of Mute Swans, though they are not entirely mute, as they’ll hiss or snort if feeling threatened. But they are quiet in comparison with other types of swans, and in spite of that are quite beligerent with the male swans highly territorial. They will threaten intruders, striking an aggressive pose with wings arched over their back, before charging at them to chase them off. 

these two were quite friendly..we had birdseed 😊

There are many collective nouns for a group of swans, they can be a bevy, a gaggle, a whiteness, or a wedge, but only when in flight. Herd is OK too which suits me fine.

a bevy/gaggle/whiteness herd.

Since the 12th century, the Queen has had the right to claim ownership to all unmarked mute swans in the country swimming in open waters, and there is a traditional swan upping ceremony, an annual ceremony that has taken place for hundreds of years and takes five days. It’s held every July on the river Thames at Caversham. In the ceremony, a flotilla of Thames rowing skiffs, manned by “Swan Uppers” make their way along the river led by The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber. The cygnets are marked as being either part of the Vintners or the Dyers livery companies. This is determined by their parentage. All Crown birds are left unmarked. Although it’s a tradition it also helps with conservation. Anyway, it only happens on the Thames and the rest of the country’s Mute swans can go about their business unaware that they are Royal swans, although they always look regal, so maybe they are.

passing by

There is more to see than swans though, so let’s move on. The ground was damp, and shady so we came across a few mushrooms and fungi, I love finding ones I haven’t seen before.

not sure which type of mushroom this is, think it’s one of the Grisettes, didn’t munch on it just in case.
Orange grisette
Trametes versicolor (turkey tail )
Fomes fomentarius (Hoof fungus, Tinder bracket)
Evernia prunastri – Oakmoss Lichen

my last photo today is of a dear little dog, a collie I think, who was undergoing some training with her owner. I hope it’s a girl dog!

Dog in pink.

That’s it for this week. As you read this I’ll be driving 250 miles down south, takes about 5 hours, to visit with my son and grandson, so will be late answering comments today.

Stay tooned for next time, there’s more to see at the lake 🙂 .

all photos are embiggenable by clickeration.

Belsay Hall & Castle ~ Oct 2021 ~ The Quarry (again)

After doing the rounds of the Castle it was time to walk back through the quarry and avail ourselves of the tearoom located in the original kitchen of the hall. So a few more pictures from this amazing garden and that will be the end of our day out.

rhododendron

hanging on

The trees on top of the quarry send their roots down over the edge, and the big ones split the rock as they travel down.

leg!
splitting asunder
rootlings

We took notice of the little things too

lichen
shrooms

We spotted some autumn colours

treeful

and then through the exit and away we go.

leaving

So that’s the end of our day out to Belsay. Stay tooned for next time, when we’ll visit Bolam Lake.

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!