Prudhoe Castle remastered ~ May 2015 part 1.

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.

Prudhoe Castle & Mill pond, iPhone 6 panorama

Built in 1150, the Gatehouse also incorporated the chapel.

The Gatehouse

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 Outer Bailey and East tower.
Steps to the East Tower

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.

Inner Bailey

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.

Norman Tower stairs

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.

north west & south drum tower (iphone6 panorama)

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.

Lanercost Priory ~ 2014 ~ The Tombs

Following on from last weeks pictures of the priory HERE, 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.

Roly, photo by Purple Heather ~ 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.

Tomb of Sir Humphrey Dacre and his wife, Lady Mabel
Photo by PunkToad, Flickr ~ The tomb of Sir Hump and Lady Mabs. On the left are the de Vaux chequers; on the right, the Dacre scallops; and in the centre, Humphrey Dacre’s arms, with the Dacre (scallop), Vaux (chequers), Lancaster (lion above bars) and Morville (lattice with fleur-de-lys) family arms quartered
Side panel details see info under previous photo.

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.

Tommy and Lizzy

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.

John Crow & who knows who’s effigy.

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.

Li’l Lizzy

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.

Charlie and Rhoda.

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.

Old slab.

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.

Less old old slab.

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.

refs:-
https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/lanercost-priory/history/a-family-mausoleum/
wiki for all the Lords and Ladies

for wherever next.

📷😊

Lanercost Priory ~ June 2014

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 wealth and 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!

Entrance to the Priory Grounds
The Priory from the south.
East side
Some side or other
The Crypt
North Transept
Columns and tombs
More columns
The Church still in use.
Organic
Altar

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 😊

All pics clickable to embiggen.

Alnmouth Old Battery Gun Emplacement ~ November 2022

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.

going up
Don’t think the next invaders need to worry.
Needs some cleaning up I think.
gun port outside
gun port inside

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.

that’s my little car parked, just to the right of center.
more view
Alnmouth at sundown

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

refs-
Percy Volunteers
History of Alnmouth
Old Gun Battery
John Paul Jones
Eustace De Vescy


2022 retrospective thingy.

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.

Seaton Delaville

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.

Ralph & Lizzy
Edlingham Castle

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.

Delication

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.

Herterton House and Gardens

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.

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.

Mr.Blue

We learned about Pesky Scots and Robert the Bruce’s ancestor Robert de Brus, 1st Lord of Annandale, (1070–1141) on a visit to Guisborough Priory

Guisborough Priory

and caught some autumnal colour at Watergate Forest Park.

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.

View from the Old Gun Battery.

December took us to Bishop Auckland to the Spanish Gallery, and the Locomotion Museum and the following weekend to the Christmas Markets.

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!

📷 📱😊

Christmas Market North Shields ~ December 2022

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.

Helter Skelter
Runaway Train
Woolly Hats

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.

The Victorian Pantry.

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!

Sooooop!

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.

On the Tyne

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,

#itsnotchristmaswithoutabing

Merry Everything, and have a cool Yule!

Stay tooned 😎 🎄

Locomotion ~ December 2022

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.

Steam locomotive, Southern Railway, Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 No 34051 “Winston Churchill”, designed by O.V. Bulleid, built at Brighton in 1946, withdrawn in 1965.
After Winston Churchill’s state funeral on 30th January 1965 the locomotive hauled the funeral train. Thousands lined the trackside to watch as the train pass. More Info HERE
Diesel-electric locomotive, prototype English Electric 3300HP “Deltic”, 1955, BR number ‘DP1″ Deltic was withdrawn in March 1961 after failing in service. In April 1963 it was presented to the Science Museum and was then transferred to the National Railway Museum in 1993. Though this one’s a prototype 22 locomotives were built in 1961–2 to take over from steam on express trains such as The Flying Scotsman and to offer the first services regularly running at 100mph. More info HERE
Snow plough, North Eastern Railway, No DE900566, 1891. The first NER snowplough was built in 1887 and, despite an accident in 1888 where a plough train upended a locomotive at Annitsford, 23 more were made. All 24 were made of wood except the final two, which were metal.
Railway carriage, London & North Western Railway, Queen Alexandra’s Saloon, No 801, built in 1902.
Internally, the arrangments included a day saloon, two dressing rooms, a bedroom, lavatory, and two vestibules at each end. When the carriage was first built there were two beds, the second being for Queen Alexandra’s daughter the Princess Victoria.
Royal knobs.

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.

The North British Railway, one of Scotland’s major railways, operated the branch extending from Carlisle to Silloth and its sub-branch to Port Carlisle. Freight services on the latter branch were discontinued as early as 1899, but a horse-drawn passenger service instituted in 1863 remained until early 1914, when it was finally superseded by steam. Known as Dandy Cars, this one was made in 1856 and designed like a stagecoach. First and second class travellers would sit inside, and third class passengers would sit on the benches outside. 😳
Steam locomotive, remains of Timothy Hackworth’s 0-4-0 locomotive “Sans Pareil”. More info HERE
Fire Engine 1880 ~ Gateshead Railway Works

Royal Mail carriage.

 

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!

Stay tooned peeps!

😊

Alnwick November 2022

On Sophies first weekend back from Spain, we decided to organise our photography trip around our favourite café, regular readers will know we love The Rocking Horse Café up in the Alnwick area of Northumberland. Before lunch though we went to visit Barter Books on the outskirts of Alnwick town.

A l’il History Bit

Alnwick Railway Station is a Victorian building designed by William Bell and opened in 1887. In 1991, after the closure of the branch line to Alnwick 10 years before, it reopened as a second~hand book shop having been bought by Stuart and Mary Manley who also run it. 350,000 people a year come to visit it, 140,000 of those from outside the area according to Wiki, but that isn’t surprising, Alnwick isn’t THAT big! Anyway it’s one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Europe, and is notable for using a barter system (hence the name) whereby customers can exchange their books for credit against future purchases, but you can also just buy books like in a shop.

It’s also quite famous, as in 2000, the owner discovered a box of old books bought at auction and in it was a WW2 poster from 1939 that hadn’t seen the light of day until then. I see you wondering why that made it famous, doesn’t sound like much, but you might have seen what became of the poster.

On to some pictures I took inside

Everything is only order and beauty, quiet luxury and peace.
Where no Storms Come
Paranormal Beauty
Luxury, peace and pleasure.

They have rare books in locked glass cupboards as they have had a robbery in the past.

The Pied Piper
Flowers from Leonard Cohen 🤷‍♀️
To Posterity and Beyond! ~ Books Lightyear. I made a joke. 🥴

After having a good old wander through the sections, we both purchased a couple of books each, and then we went off to Rock, for lunch at The Rocking Horse. Check out the menu, yum!

It’s a dog friendly café and there are 3 resident border collies.

doggies.

After lunch we drove down the coast to Alnmouth an visited the Old Gun Battery Emplacement ruin, as you do, so stay tooned for next week!

📷 😊

On The Road 1 ~ Spain 2001

In lieu of any outings, with the weather being pants and Sophie away, I’m digging down into the archives for another episode of Fraggle Curated.

I’ve always loved driving, and had many cars in my life I especially love a good road trip and driving in other lands. Of course it’s not easy to take photos and drive simultaneously, and more than probably not the safest manoeuvre to pull off, but I have parked up and got out to take the odd road picture, and I especially like being a front seat passenger when I can do drive by shooting. It’s also good to have a passenger who I can direct what and where to shoot with my camera or iPhone. I have quite a few so there’ll be more than one episode of these!

In 2001, my friend Andy moved from Milton Keynes to Alhaurìn El Grande, in southern Spain. He hired a van, packed up all his gear and I went up to drive him down, through France and Spain, a 3000 mile round trip. I took Ben with me and we made some memories. Ben took nearly all the pictures here.

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ben and Andy, Ford Transit, just got to France on an overnight Ferry.

“Roads are a record of those who have gone before.” ~ Rebecca Solnit

Travelling down through Spain

“Wherever you get to is better than where you started. To stay on the road is a massive achievement.” ~ Anthony Joshua

Sunrise over Alhaurìn El Grande, we’ve arrived!
The trusty Transit.

All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination. ~ Earl Nightingale

We delivered Andy to his Mum’s Villa, from where he was embarking upon his new life, and Ben and I had a day and overnight stop there before setting off back to Old Blighty the next morning.

Chilling at the Villa

“No matter who you are or where you are, instinct tells you to go home.” ~ Laura Marney

Rocky Mountain Road ~ Spain, the journey home.

“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.” ~ Jack Kerouac

Me by Ben, family tradition- stick tongue out when being photographed 🙂

“Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.” ~ Byrd Baggett

Foresting work.

“The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”  ~ Alain de Botton

Sundown

The sun went down as we reached the border between Spain and France, and I pulled off when we saw a motel to stay the night and rest up for the next day’s journey.

“When you go on a road trip, the trip itself becomes part of the story.” ~ Steve Rushin

Ben watching CSI dubbed in Spanish

Back in France

“If you’re not lost, you’re not much of an explorer.” ~ John Perry Barlow

Driving over one of the rivers that run through Bordeaux, where I got totally lost.

“In life, it’s not where you go – it’s who you travel with.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

Finally arrived at Calais, Ben checking the map before we get on the Ferry.
Duty Frees!!

That was the first really long road trip I ever did, but not the last. I know the photos are not all that, but Ben was only 12, the camera was a 1MP point and shoot, and I knew sweet fanny adams about photography. It doesn’t matter to me though, these are wonderful memories of me and my boy, and memories are why I got into photography in the first place.

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” ~ Aaron Siskind

Watergate Forest Park ~ October 2022

Sophie and I had our last outing for a while at the end of October, and we went to visit a park in Gateshead to see some Autumn colour, hopefully at least.

The Watergate Colliery pictured at the top there, started out in the 1800’s, and was finally shutdown in 1917. Unlike Washington, which as we saw last week got it’s own museum, Watergate was left alone until reclamation work began in the 1990’s, and the site was transformed into a recreational park having a series of trails and paths that take you through woodland, around the lake and through wildflower meadows.

It was a bit chilly, but still a nice day with some sunshine now and again, and we did get some autumn colours. I had my Fuji and my contax with me but have yet to finish the roll on that, so here are the few I took with the Fuji.

Details of a memorial to the miners.
a deer on the edge of the forest
Sunshine and doomcloud!
“Dancing of the autumn leaves on a surface of a lake is a dream we see when we are awake.” Mehmet Murat Ildan
fluffybum
“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been.” Percy Bysshe Shelly
“Autumn mornings: sunshine and crisp air, birds and calmness, year’s end and day’s beginnings.” Terri Guillemets

Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath. Michael Caine

“Look with open eyes, and you will see the beauty of the waterfall.” Anthony Hincks
How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days. – John Burroughs

So there we are. Not sure if Autumn has gone and Winter arrived yet, I can’t tell because of all the bliddy rain we’re having, and the forecast is for 2 weeks of it!

Stay tooned dear reader!

📷 😊

The Washington ‘F’pit museum ~ October 2022

So much of the North East is dedicated to its industrial past, none more so than the mining industry, and my regular reader will have seen various memorials along my photographic journies recorded here. The Washington ‘F’ mine pit has been restored so you can see it in action, and as Sophie was in Spain when it had an open day, I dragged Phil along with me and let him use my fuji XT2 whilst I did the iPhone shots and a couple of videos.

First though, as always,

The History Bit. ☕️ 🍪

In December 1775, a banking and mining tycoon from Sunderland called William Russell, leased all the coal underneath the village of Washington. There were two other leasers, those being the Lords of the Manor of Washington, one of whomst was Robert Shafto. Appropriate name thought I. Shafto ~ mine-shafts, you see? Robert Shafto was a member of parliament who used an old British (possibly Irish) folk song in his election campaign ~

Bobby Shafto’s gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He’ll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shafto!

Anyhoo, I digress. A series of pits were sunk in the leased area, known as “the royalty”, and imaginatively labelled A to I, and they would comprise the New Washington Colliery.

They started hoying out the coal in March 1778 and transported it to Sunderland by waggonway; a horse-drawn railway. By 1786 another waggonway ran to the Tyne, meaning Washington coal could be exported by ships on both the Wear and the Tyne. The ‘F’ pit was sunk about 1777 but got flooded in 1786 after an explosion, and so was abandoned. Roll on 1820 and it reopened, presumably after the water had soaked in, and in 1856 it was deepened 660 feet, (200 meters) to reach the Hutton seam and it became the most productive of Washington Colliery’s nine pits. Seams were given names with a bit more pzazz than the pits. In 1954 it was deepened again this time to reach seam ‘Busty’ 🤷‍♀️. By the 1960’s new owners had taken over and modernised the colliery, and also by then a Labour government had nationalised the coal industry. The colliery was no longer owned privately, but by the National Coal Board (NCB).

By the mid-1960s it was annually producing 486,000 tons of saleable coal and had a workforce of over 1,500. But it was to be the pit’s last hurrah.

The NCB had a programme of modernisation which didn’t include Washington. All of its remaining pits including ‘F’ closed on Friday, June 21, 1968. Following closure the NCB presented the pit’s winding house (the building containing the huge coil of steel rope that raised and lowered the lift) and headgear to the people of Washington to honour their mining heritage. I’m sure they all appreciated that when they were queuing up at the dole. (The dole:- Unemployed and in receipt of state benefit.)

In the 1970s the Washington Development Corporation took up restoration of the steam engine. It’s recognised as a unique example of 19th century mining machinery: a twin-cylinder horizontal type Simplex for one of the earliest colliery shafts in England. In April 2013 Sunderland City Council took over the Grade II-listed building. Visitors can see the steam engine used to wind the lift up and down. It was once steam operated, but now works from an electric motor for demonstration purposes.

On with a few photo’s and a couple of short videos.

artwork in the entrance.
I have no idea what it does.
the huge coil of steel rope that raised and lowered the lift

the flux capacitor
Automatic Expansion Gear
shiny metal bits
more shiny things and the flux capacitor.

Two very short videos of what it looks and sounds like. The twin-cylinder horizontal type Simplex steam engine.

Mining was, is, such a hard and dangerous job even now, I wouldn’t want to spend all day 600 feet underground digging stuff!

All photos can be embiggened with a click.

Anyways that’s it, stay tooned for wherever next!

📷 😊

Guisborough Priory ~ part 2 ~ Oct 2022

As I mentioned in PART 1 the priory was home to the De Brus family cenotaph. That has since been removed and placed in St.Nicholas Church just by the priory. After we’d been around the priory Sophie and I toddled off to the church and were hugely disappointed to find that it was closed. I think that’s a first for us, so far all our church visits have had open doors. I suppose that’s because they’re mostly rural, so no-one around much whereas St. Nicholas is in a town. So we decided instead to go to lunch and I took a few pictures on our walk to the café.

This early 18th century building was a hotel called The Buck (hence the deer on top of it’s porch) before the Solicitors moved in.

The Buck

Formed in 1849 The Zetland Masonic Lodge is still going strong today. I was never sure what Freemasons are all about but learnt a fair bit from Fred and Barney 🤣

Zetland Masonic Lodge

Smokin’ Joe’s cocktail bar only opens at 4pm sadly, or I’d have been in like Flynn.

Smokin!

We had lunch outside by what I think was a rivulet coming out from under the road and going through a channel next to a footpath, I should have taken a picture but it was a bit grim, and after a nifty panini and cappuccino went back to the car to head for the Owl Center . As I drove down the road past the church I noticed the front door was open. Luckily there were a couple of parking spaces right by the church so I quickly parked up and Sophie and I hot footed it to the church. We met a chap inside and found out he was an electrician fixing something and the church wasn’t really open. I gave him the googly sad eyes thing and explained we’d come a long way to see the cenotaph and he said we could stay a little bit to photograph it. Which was cool, but we didn’t have time to explore the church.

The De Brus Cenotaph was possibly erected by Margaret Tudor, the Queen of Scotland, to mark the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Gisborough Priory. It was erected inside the priory church in memory of the De Brus family of Annandale and Skelton. Made of marble quarried at Egglestone, it takes the form of a Renaissance altar table, with exquisitely carved sides.

The north face of the cenotaph is carved with five figures of De Brus family members from Skelton, separated by the Four Doctors from the Bible; Jerome, Gregory, Ambrose, and Augustine. In spite of a childhood where Sundays were church~school days, I can’t remember ever hearing of the four doctors. I think maybe they were Catholics and we didn’t do them. So I’ve looked them up and in early Western christianity they were not Doctors of medicine or surgery, but rather great teachers of faith. (Edit:- the Doctors were not in the bible -thanks April- so that’s why I don’t remember them!)

North

The south face shows five de Brus family members of Annandale, separated by the Four evangelists; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I do remember them, just about.

South

The east end shows a prior with kneeling canons. The west end has been damaged, and I couldn’t get round to photogrpah it, but historians think it may have depicted a king, possibly King Robert Bruce of Scotland.

East

On the floor next to the cenotaph is a collection of medieval mosaic floor tiles found in the grounds of Guisborough Priory. 

And that is the end of our day out in Guisborough. Stay tooned for wherever we go next!

(photographs taken in Guisborough with my Contax Aria loaded with Portra 400, photographs in the church taken with my fuji XT2.)