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
They have rare books in locked glass cupboards as they have had a robbery in the past.
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.
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!
Here we are into March already, and this what the bumf is on this month.
Let’s see where March takes us. Will your photography change as the month progresses? Will you be more creative or inspired? Will your photography blossom with the buds? We lost all of our seasons in 2020 when our world turned upside down in March. I am hoping and praying that this March sees us coming out of our cocoon transformed. Will we look at things differently? Will we appreciate freedom and new growth. If 2020 was a metaphor for slowing down and noticing more, maybe 2021 will be a metaphor for transformation, appreciation and gratitude. Maybe we will appreciate the things we do have and grumble less? Something you might consider doing this year, if this is not your first 365 adventure, would be to compare monthly photographs from last year to this year and see if you notice a change in creativity or attitude. There may be a pattern, or not. You might actually find that your photographs were more creative when there was little else to do. Let’s see what our photography says about us this month. I believe it will be wonderful!
So positive these ladies who run the prompts. I am definitely coming out of the cocoon transformed ~ by about 5lbs extra and it’s not easy to shift it! I don’t expect I’ll grumble less though. So on with the show Fraggle!
Day 59 ~ We are back to self -portrait week, gah, and with reflection as the main theme, so the first one is our reflection. Well my reflection obviously, not yours.
Day 60 ~ Delight.Today you are encouraged to share a glimpse of your day with this month’s “Where I Stand” prompt. How can you be creative with your POV to show us where you stand today? Don’t forget to try include this week’s theme of reflection. What delightful place are you standing in today? Show us your world today!
Yet again thwarted by being at work all day. I was so busy I just didn’t get a chance to do the photo at work, so had to do it at home instead. Nothing I did turned out OK, and by the time I realised that, it was dark. I ended up sitting on my bed in front of the mirror and tickling Vinnie when he came to see what I was doing, I suppose Vinnie can be classed as a delight. This is such a s**t photo I’m embarassed to post it, but hey ho, warts and all. 🥴. I am beginning to hate selfie week, whereas before I just didn’t like it. 😔
Day 61~ Button. Figuratively? Button. Button Up. Button your lip. Button your mouth? Or… Literally? Buttons on your coat? Buttons on your pillows? A collection of buttons? I am working on buttoning my lip. Sometimes it’s more important to retain relationships than to speak your mind.
The lady who posted this prompt put an accompanying picture of herself with a button over her mouth. I had a total WTH am I doing here moment and nearly gave up there and then. Another work day but I got home knowing what I would do so managed to get a shot before the light went. My favourite button.
Day 62 ~ Exhilaration. ~ Exhilaration is defined as “a feeling of excitement, happiness, or elation.” As we continue thinking about reflection during this Picture You week, we can also approach reflection in the sense of how we see ourselves, i.e. personal reflection. What makes you feel excited or happy deep down inside? Look inside yourself today. Reflect on what brings you a feeling of excitement and happiness. Photograph what exhilaration looks like for you.
This one had me stymied, as getting exhilarated at work is really not an option. Luckily Morrison’s Supermarket came to the rescue again! I think it might be my muse! I found that Cadbury’s have re-launched their Old Jamaica Rum & Raisin Bournville Chocolate bars. It used to be my Mum’s favourite and she would share it with me. They stopped making it in 2010. My Mum died in 2004 ( not because of the chocolate) so seeing it on the shelves again made me think happy thoughts of her. I was so exhilarated I bought up all the bars on the shelf! 🤣. You might notice that I am not in the photo because it isn’t a literal reflection but a figuritive one, even though I’m still meant to be in it I think. Talking of literal, I have noticed that other people following the prompts don’t always do all of the prompt. Prompts come in 2 or 3 bits, the theme for the week, i.e self portrait, landscape etc etc, but each day has a different title, i.e Segment, Delight etc etc. Sometimes there’s added stuff like reflection this week on top of Selfie. The more enlightened just take what they want from the prompt, so long as a bit of it is in it seems to be fine. I’ve been taking the prompts prescriptively instead of using them as a guide, so I’m going to be a bit more free with my interpretations!
Day 63 ~ Street. It’s amazing how the simple name of a street can be a reflection of who you are, where you’ve been, and even where you are headed. Some of us have lived on too many streets to count, while others just a few. How is a street in your life a reflection of you? I’m looking forward to seeing the streets from around the world today!
Well this one got me thinking about all the places I have lived, 7 counties, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Bedfordshire,Hertfordshire and Tyne & Wear, RAF camps x 2, apartments x 2 rented and bought houses, it’s been a bit of a journey! I got out my box of old photo’s and found some of the streets I lived on, and had a pleasant trog down memory lane (Pete will be impressed 🙂 ) for a couple of hours.
Day 64 ~ Positive. As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart – proverb. Positive thinking is when we consciously cultivate positivity in our minds so that we think we can get through anything. It’s been scientifically proven to improve your work life, physical and metal health, and relationships. The covid 19 pandemic has certainly caused us all to reflect. Sometimes it is hard to not choose negativity. Get outside today and see if you can find yourself in a reflection. Look at yourself in that reflection and find yourself. If you can’t get outside, find yourself in a mirror or a window. Have a look and make a positive comment to yourself because you are awesome!
I walked my awesome self up to the shop and looked for puddles along the way as we’ve had a fair bit of rain (surprise~not) lately. I found a really nice one so plopped the camera down, stuck it on a 10 second timer, ran to the end of the puddle and did a little happy dance of positivity and hoped no-one was looking out of their window, and if they were, a second hope they didn’t call for the men from the funny~farm. I took one shot and legged it. Shame about the wheely bin, but moving it may well have resulted in a disgruntled audience. Or the police 🤣
Day 65 ~ Hobby. Do you have a hobby? A favorite pastime? Something that you enjoy in your downtime? Something that helps you relax? A diversion just for fun? As we reflect on Picture You Week, show us what piques your interest when you have a little extra time to spare.
Well this was a bit of a gift for me. Time to show off the mosaics. Although Winnie got in on the act so no doubt she’ll get all the attention. 🙄😊
So that’s another week done! Stay tooned, ‘street’ photography is next week’s theme. That’s going to need a fair amount of outside-the-box interpretation!
We actually had a sunny day back in September last year, and Sophie wanted to go to an open day at All Saints Church in Newcastle. So off we went on the metro, but before we get to the pictures, we must do
The History Bit.
The current All Saints Church stands on the site of a previous medieval church called All Hallows, founded between 1150 and 1190. It is the only elliptical church building in England, a Grade 1 listed building, and the third tallest religious building in Newcastle. The original church was pulled down at the end of the 18th century after architects had reviewed the old church and found “That this decayed building cannot be repaired but at as much expense as building a new one. If one part is taken down the rest will follow. The south wall was in danger of falling by the pressure of the roof; one of the pillars of the steeple had considerably shrunk, and the steeple itself inclined to the south. The stone of the groined arches under the bells was decayed, the timber and bells in great danger of falling in, the stone in several windows decayed, the walls were rotten, and the lime had lost its cement and become almost dust”. David Stephenson, a renowned North East architect designed the new building, and after a couple of adaptations, the new building was completed in 1796, having cost £27,000. Unfortunately in demolishing the old church most of its old monuments, windows, and other interesting relics were not preserved; they either perished or were carried away during the operations.
Interesting factoid (1):- During the Civil Wars (1642–1651) when the Scots captured Newcastle, they commenced, in their fanatical zeal against Popery, to deface the religious monuments. They began at ST.Johns church and destroyed the font there, as fonts tend to be the first thing you come across in a church, and on seeing this, Cuthbert Maxwell a stonemason of Newcastle, got to both All Saints, and St.Nicholas and hid both the fonts before the Scots could get to them, replacing them after The Restoration. The one in St Nicholas is still there, but when the old All Saints Church was demolished the font there was given to given to Alderman Hugh Hornby, an enthusiastic collector of antiquities. It is now housed in St.Wilfreds church in Keilder. Will be going to photograph that at some point I think.
In January 1802, a 30 yard section of the churchyard wall collapsed. Coffins and their contents fell into Silver Street. Repairs to the wall and a nearby house cost £249, 12s and 1d (just over £8000). The church went through restorations in 1881, and remained a church until 1961, when it was deconsecrated.
Interesting factoid (2):- In July 1854, John Alderson, the Beadle of the church, was found guilty of opening graves and stealing the lead from the coffins. According to the Newcastle Guardian and Tyne Mercury, Alderson broke open “no less than five vaults”, reporting that “nine leaden coffins enclosing shells in which dead bodies were deposited had been forcibly removed”. Alderson, along with his wife and mother, faced 18 months imprisonment. His bell-ringer and accomplice, Hewison Marshall, received 12 months. Alderson became known as “Jack, the bad Beadle”. (thanks to Icy Sedgewick)
In 1983-84 it was turned into offices/auditorium as the Town Teacher initiative. Following that, it was used by the Royal Northern Sinfonia before their move to The Sage, Gateshead in 2004. The Church of Saint Willibrord with All Saints used it for a while and it has also hosted musical events. Over the winters of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 flood damage was caused by blocked roof drains leaving the building in a state of semi-disrepair. In 2015 it was placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. In 2019, the local congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales signed a 150-year lease for All Saints. After a comprehensive restoration project, worship services as All Saints Presbyterian Church began in October, 2019.
When we arrived at the heritage open day in September we were, or at least Sophie was, thinking we would see the restoration complete, and would have a tour of the whole place. But it didn’t happen that way. We got there and waited for the first group to be taken round, and then a gentleman gathered those of us waiting our turn and off we went. The outside of the building had a lot of scaffolding and fencing around it, not very photogenic so I took a picture of this couple waiting with us instead
and the young church people helping out.
Inside we stood in the main auditorium and were talked to by one of the Presbyterian people about what they were doing. I took some pictures of the interior.
And that was that. Had the talk, walked through the lower part and shown out the rear exit. Quite disappointing really. It must be all finished now as they started doing services the following month.
So onwards ever onwards, Sophie had spotted an interesting building roof whilst travelling on a train at some point and we went off to find it, it couldn’t be far she thought. We’ll pause here, but stay tooned for our intrepid travels through Newcastle next time.
After our washed out morning at Dunston Staiths,we crossed the River and went to visit St.Johns Cemetary. We came across some Chinese tombstones, not a usual find when we’re traipsing through graveyards. So I did a little research…..
Back we go to the late 1800’s and to the later part of the Qing dynasty, which, as I’m sure you all know, was presided over by the Empress Dowager Cixi, a formidable and capable lady who had a fascinating life, having started out as a lowly concubine, but ending up as head Missis to the Emperor. The Chinese had four modernized navies during this period, and the Beiyang Fleet dated back to 1871, when four ships from the southern provinces were shifted north to patrol the northern waters. Initially considered to be the weakest of the four navies, that all changed when one of the most trusted vassals of the Empress, a chap named Li Hongzhang, decided to allot the majority of naval funds to the Beiyang Fleet thereby making it the largest of China’s navies.
What has all this got to do with Newcastle I hear you ask, so I shall tell you. You may remember my visit to Cragside last year, which was built by the engineer William Armstrong. You can read about him on that post HERE for it was he who had built a shipyard at Elswick in Newcastle, on the River Tyne, and Li Hongzhang populated his new navy with ships from Germany and Britain. Two of these were built at the Elswick yard, steel protected cruisers, fast and with big guns, the Zhiyuan, and the Jingyuan.
A delegation was sent to Newcastle from the Beiyang Navy. Sadly, 5 of the sailors died of an unspecified illness, whilst waiting to sail the ships back to their base in China. Yuan Peifu, Gu Shizhong, Lian Jinyuan, Chen Shoufu and Chen Chengkui. They were buried in St Johns Cemetery in Elswick, and over the past 100 years or so their tombstones had deteriorated, collapsed, and sunk into the ground.
In 2016 a student from the Royal College of Art in London posted photos of the cracked tombstones online and quickly attracted the attention of the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation, a nonprofit organization. The president of the foundation, Li Xiaojie launched a global crowdfunding thingy and raised the money to pay for the tombstones to be restored.
Zhang Rong was the engineer sent by the Foundation to fix the tombs. He flew to Newcastle and met with the council to have a conflab on how to go about it. “We went through each item line by line, trying to find common ground and iron out any differences,” Zhang said. “It was worth the time because we learned so much during the process, especially about improving our standards.” In China, repairing tombstones is quite basic, glue the pieces back together, whereas in Britain, you also have to insert steel rods to make sure they keep standing and don’t fall over on top of people.
Together with Joseph Richmond & Son Memorials, Zhang and his team completed the restoration of the tombstones in December 2018. The graves were originally purchased by the Chinese Government for £5 each, (equivalent to £5000 nowadays). The Chinese didn’t have much foreign cash at the time, and this would have been a great sacrifice for them.
The rededication ceremony was in June 2019, with Chinese and Newcastlese dignitaries and the like all saying nice things about each other, which is kind of sweet.
“The five sailors can rest peacefully knowing that even after all these years, people back home still care about them. This is a project full of human warmth and love.” said Li Xiaojie.
When China take over the world we up here will be alright I think 😊
On a wet day in July Sophie and I went to the outdoor market held once a month on Dunston Staiths.
The History Bit
The Staiths are believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe, maybe the world, but who knows? It is also a Grade II listed scheduled monument and is owned by registered charity Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT). The structure is made of North American pitch pine timber, no longer available, from the once unlimited forest. Most of the timber used was 20 metres long, 14 inches deep and 14 inches wide. The total weight of timber is 3,200 tons. The Staithes are 526 metres long with 4 railway tracks, 6 loading berths (3 on each side), with two chutes to each berth.
The North East Railway Company opened the Staiths in 1893, and it’s purpose was to facilitate the loading of large quantities of coal from the Durham coal fields onto the waiting coal ships, (known as colliers) which then transported the coal to London and abroad. At it’s peak, the coal industry moved 5.5 million tons of coal each year from the staiths. Waggonways were used to transport the coal from the North Durham coal-fields, of which there were quite a few. The coal waggons were pushed by steam engines up the gradient, to the Staithes. It was a very skilled job to shunt the wagons onto the Staithes, as the driver worked “blind” from behind, and had to make sure they were on the right track. The men had their own signals, maybe a touch of a cap, or some other gesture, but there was nothing written down, so the driver had to depend on them. If he didn’t gauge the end of the track just right, the trucks could fall over the edge.
Once on the Staithes, and at the berths, the “teamers” and “trimmers” were waiting in the colliers to level the coal, as it came down the chutes, to keep the ship level. The empty wagons rolled back to the Railway siding by gravity. It was not a pleasant place to work, as it was noisy, oily and very, very, dirty. There were occasionally some very serious accidents, because of the poor lighting. They worked by candlelight until electricity arrived in 1930. Some of the men lost their limbs, some were crushed between the ship and the Staithes, however, it was still considered a privilege to work there. Trimmer’s and teamer’s jobs were nearly always handed down from father to son, or some-one in the family. They were the “elite” of the Staithes, very well paid, as in 1930 they earned around £8 to £10 per week, I don’t think anyone knew how much they really earned, (not even the Tax Man).
Interesting factoid:- In 1912, a dug-out canoe was found at the West Dunston Staiths, it dated back to Neolithic times, (New Stone Age circa 5000 BC). Not sure where that ended up.
The coal industry declined at the end of the 19th century, and so too did the staiths, no longer needed, it fell into disrepair. In 1990 though, the Newcastle Garden Festival was held and extensive restoration work carried out, with the Staiths taking a leading role as a key installation with performance space and an art gallery. But then a fire broke out in 2003 damaging the Staiths extensively, and it was put on English Heritages ‘at risk’ list. It has been subject to a few arson attacks too sadly. Somehow the TWBPT raised the funds to recommence the restoration, which is still ongoing, and the Staiths is once more a visitor attracton, with a Saturday Market open once a month on a Saturday, which is when we visited.
So on with the show!
Firstly, on the menu..
who doesn’t love a Carpathian sausage?? 🙂
The structure is quite amazing
We went topside to see what the view was like. Looking back towards Newcastle the fire damage was evident and that part was cordoned off.
Looking the other way, a sea fret was rolling up the river
It passed over, we got wet and then we got a better view.
It was a good spot for people watching
and it was a perfect day for umbrellas
We didn’t stay very long as the weather just kept getting worse, but did go and visit St James Cemetary nearby in the afternoon, which has some interesting gravestones. So stay tooned for that 🙂
all pictures by moi and you can embiggen them with a click.
So we’ve had a little rest and Sophie decides we’ll cross back over the bridge and walk along the upper paths to see if there are any bluebells there.
To get to the upper pathways at the top of Staward Gorge, there are stairs in the side of the bank.
These stairs are just the first section, and there were many more to climb, twisting and turning up the gorge. I have to confess that a) I’m not fit enough for this shit, and b) I whinged the whole way up. Sophie, of course, is used to me and my aversion to going uphill so just ‘there there’ ‘d me until we got to the top. 🙂
The views were worth the pain
and in the distance we could just see Ridley Hall, to which these woodlands once belonged
Originally a 16th century house, owned by the Ridley family, it was acquired by the Lowes family in the late 17th century and was replaced in 1743 with a new Georgian Mansion. In 1830 it was purchased by John Davidson (High Sheriff in 1839), a cousin and beneficiary of the will of William Cornforth Lowes. He made substantial improvements to it and married Susan (see part 1) who landscaped the estate. It’s now a conference and residential centre.
We came across a victorian summerhouse on the upper path
which had four viewing angles when inside it- this one was my favourite as you can see for miles right across the Gorge.
it had a cute roof too
This looked like a really old boy,
And finally, we found some blubells!
To be honest we were not that impressed, I think the bluebell woodsin Durham last year spoiled us for anywhere else! 🙂
So we finished our walk and went off to the nearby hamlet of Bardon Mill
and there we stopped for lunch.
After lunch I took Sophie to see a hidden Norman church, so stay tooned for that next time!
Sophie and I are both members of English Heritage and the National Trust (saves a heap of money as we visit so many of their places) and so we receive emails from both advising us of events and so forth. Consequently we were quite excited to get an email from NT exhorting us to visit Embleton Bay and see the bluebells that festoon the dunes there. Wow, we thought, bluebells next to the sea, how cool, lets go! So off we went on a sunny spring day to shoot the flowers.
To get to the bay you drive past the village and up to Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club where there’s a free car park. You then walk past some sheep in a field and then across the golf course.
We are noticing Northumberland flags everywhere we go this year, this is a new thing!
A little trout stream, known as the Embleton Burn, begins in the inland moors, makes its way through an area of the old barony, woody denes, and channels, before reaching the centre of the bay.
We were not the only ones out with our cameras, and we stopped and had a nice chat on with this lady who had come over from the west coast to shoot Dunstanburgh Castle. But she wasn’t happy that there were no clouds so the sky was too boring.
Found some interesting seaweed that wouldn’t look out of place in a sc-fi/horror movie!
A couple of lovey dovies
The bay itself is really long and beautiful.
Those little dark boulders at the bottom of the photo above are whinstone. Whinstone is a term used in the quarrying industry to describe any hard dark-coloured rock. Examples include the igneous rocks, basalt and dolerite, as well as the sedimentary rock, chert. There is also a whinstone reef which you can’t see as it’s under the sea 🙂
Looking south there is the rear side of Dunstanburgh Castle,
Apparently there is a large sandstone rock known as ‘The Vanishing Rock’. As the tides come and go and the sands shift to and fro, so this feature moves into and out of view, as befitting its name. Nothing unusual in that, you may think; but this particular rock has the name “Andra Barton” chiselled into its surface, in rough but distinct lettering. Sir Andrew Barton was High Admiral of Scotland around the turn of the 16th century, who, acting under the protection and in the name of the Scottish Crown, made something of a nuisance of himself to the Portuguese and the English upon the high seas. In short, he was considered a pirate by non-Scots, or a privateer, at best. He was defeated in battle with the English in 1511 – some reports have him slain in the fight, others that he was captured and beheaded. The loss of Barton did not go down well with the Scots – one of many grievances which led, eventually to the clash at Flodden in 1513. I have no idea why his name is on the rock.
However the rock was last seen in 1974 and it didn’t reappear this day!
You may have registered that the last three photos are taken from a high point of view, and that’s because we were walking the length of the dunes looking for damned bluebells which had also vanished, if they ever existed.
We did see other things of interest though.
Some of the dunes were really steep, this chaps two mates had run down before him whooping and hollering, but he made a right meal of it!
Sophie and I went the long way round 🙂
Apart from the disappointing lack of bluebells it was nice to be beside the seaside 🙂 . We only did an hours walk but then went off to see Embleton Church which has some interesting features and we’ll visit that next time, so stay tooned peeps!
After Sophie and I had finished looking around Souter Lighthouse we decided to go and have a look around Cleadon Village, but before we do lets have a quick look at the Lime Kilns just across the road from the Lighthouse.
These mahousive kilns were built in the 1870’s. Limestone from the quarry and coal from the colliery were fed into the top of the kilns and heated to produce lime for use in agriculture and in the steel & chemical industries. The lime was loaded onto railway wagons known as the Marsden Rattler, and transported to the docks at South Shields. They are a scheduled monument now.
So off to Cleadon then!
Cleadon is a village on the outskirts of South Shields, and it’s where all the posh people live 🙂 . There’s been a village there for over a thousand years and it has a village pond that is a remnant of an ice age lake and dates to Roman times (as do most things!) so we went to see it.
We also wanted to see Cleadon Grotto (just because there are no other grotto’s we know of 🙂 ) and went off to Cleadon Park where we thought it was. Except we wandered around the huge park for ages and couldn’t find it.
But the park was nice to walk in, here are a few shots of it
I’d told Phil we were going to Cleadon and he said to look out for a huge rock in the park.
Sophie resorted to Lord Google and found out we were in the wrong park to see the grotto 🙄🤭 so back in the car and finally found it.
An 18th century garden ornament that originally overlooked a formal pond in the grounds of Cleadon House. There isn’t a house there now, nor a pond.
And here it is..
Not very enthralling I admit, but still a little slice of history.
Stay tooned for next time when we’re off to Embleton Bay.
On the coast near the village of Marsden on the outskirts of South Shields, stands the rather magnificent looking Souter Lighthouse. This lighthouse was the first in the world to be designed and built specifically to use AC (alternating electric current) and was the most technically advanced lighthouse of its day. Opening in 1871 it was described as ‘without doubt one of the most powerful lights in the world’. Originally planned to be built on Souter Point, from where it gets its name, it ended up being built on Lizard Point which had higher cliffs and therefore better visibility. As there was already a Lizard Lighthouse in Cornwall, they didn’t bother to rename it.
The lighthouse was definitely needed by the time it was up and running. Prior to that there had been several shipwrecks at Whitburn Steel, (the name of that bit of coast) due to the underlying dangerous reef. In 1860 alone 20 wrecks had occurred, and it was known as the most dangerous coastline in the country, with an average of 44 wrecks for each mile.
The lighthouse didn’t use incandescent bulbs, but instead used carbon arcs, and the 800,000 candle power light could be seen for 26 miles. The main lens array consisted of a third-order fixed catadioptric optic surrounded by a revolving assembly of eight vertical condensing-prisms which produced one flash every minute. There was extra light to highlight hazardous rocks to the south which was powered using light diverted (through a set of mirrors and lenses) from the landward side of the main arc lamp.
In 1914 it was decided to give up the pioneering electric light and it was converted to more conventional oil lamps with a new, much larger bi-form first-order catadioptric revolving optic, which is still there today. Then in 1952 it was converted back to mains electricity and the revolving optic was run by electrically run clockwork until 1983. Sadly the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988, but continued to serve as a radio navigation beacon up until 1999 when it was finally closed. No need for lighthouses now what with GPS and satellite navigation taking their place.
Souter Lighthouse was never automated and remains much in its original operational state, apart from maintenance and updates to its electrical apparatus and lanterns.
The grassed area north of Souter was once a thriving community of 700 people. Built as a mining village in 1874 to house the workers at the new Whitburn Colliery. The best coal seams in the North East extend out into the North Sea here and Whitburn Coal Company sunk two shafts south of the lighthouse between 1874 – 1877 with the first coal brought out in 1881. By 1898 it was producing 2,600 tons of coal per day. The colliery finally closed in 1968. The reclaimed land is now Whitburn Coastal Park.
The Lighthouse is owned by the National Trust now and you can go and have a look around inside and climb the top. The engine room, light tower and keeper’s living quarters are all on view. Two of the former lighthouse keepers’ cottages are used as National Trust holiday cottages. The lighthouse is said to be haunted, and has even featured on British TV’s Most Haunted ghost-hunting programme. 🙄
We went first to look around the inside of the lighthouse, there’s a lot of gubbins!
One of the volunteers was there when we were, and was twiddling knobs and handles to build up the air pressure that drives the foghorn, which still works.
When the pressure was right the Mr.Foghorn told us to follow him so we could set off the foghorn.
Sophie hit the button and the foghorn nearly blew my ears off!
We saw the keepers living quarters.
After that we climbed the very steep spiral staircase to get to the top, the last section was just a ladder! But the views were great!
It only takes a morning to do the lighthouse, so in the afternoon we went off to Cleadon, which apart from being where the posh people live, has an ice~age duck pond and a gothic grotto. So stay tooned for that!
The Domesday Book, is a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. Both Ormesby Hall, and St Cuthbert’s church, are mentioned in this record and listed as belonging to ‘Orme’, to whose name the suffix ‘by’ (the Viking word for habitation or dwelling place) was added to make Ormesby. There has been then, a church on this site for at least 933 years, maybe more. Unfortunately the church as it stands today has been largely rebuilt between 1875 and 1907 to designs in the Decorated Style (gothic) by architects W. S. & W.L. Hicks. What was interesting to Sophie and me was that they incorporated the Anglo-Saxon foundations, carved work and re-dressed masonry from the 12th-century church into the building.
Of course we can’t possibly be steeped in North East ancient history without St. Cuthbert getting in on the act (hence the amount of St.Cuthbert churches up here), and according to the church’s own web site ‘It is said that St Cuthbert’s body rested here during the movement of his body about Northumbria in the 9th Century.’ St Cuthbert sure got around a lot after he died in 687!
You can read my history of St Cuthbert’s post-death journey here.
On with the pictures now.
There are some elaborate crosses in the church yard, decorated in a medieval style.
A path runs through the churchyard and the bottom entrance has an oak lych gate.
We came across a chap digging a hole, so I asked if he was digging a grave, but he was just doing upkeep of the grounds, and planting things.
Mister Digger was very nice and chatted on to us about the church yard. We were quite excited when he told us there was an Anglo-Saxon grave in the grounds, and we asked to see it.
He explained that they’ve allowed it to get overgrown, and keep it that way, as some people are not averse to sticking their hands through cracks in the stonework to steal bones. 🙄 The headstone is top right in this picture. So a bit disappointing we couldn’t make much of it out.
There were of course less old but still old graves,
I’ve tried researching the name Damars or Damarts, which is what it looks like to me, but think it’s actually meant to be Damaris, which is a girls name used here in the 1700’s, and is still in use in the USA. It is the name of a woman mentioned in a single verse in Acts of the Apostles (17:34) as one of those present when Paul of Tarsus preached in Athens in front of the Athenian Areopagus in c. AD 55. Together with Dionysius the Areopagite she embraced the Christian faith following Paul’s speech. I think biblical names were a thing back then.
I’ll finish up with some pictures of the 12th century stones incorporated into the rebuilt church.
There were several christenings going on in the church so we didn’t intrude, but would have loved to see what they had on the inside!
Most of the Stately Homes we visit have well-appointed kitchens which I duly photograph, and Ormesby Hall is no exception.
But it’s much of a muchness and we’ve seen similar in previous posts. What was unusual at Ormesby was a fully kitted out laundry, so that’s what we’ll look at today.
There’s no need for me to explain anything as that was done brilliantly by the info sheets in there.
Love that they call it WEE BEN, 🙂
so that was a nice surprise for Sophie and me as laundries are usually not given this much attention, and mainly consist of sinks and drainage channels. Good to see how it was all done back in the day, and I remember when I was a kid mangles were still in use in Yorkshire. Possibly still are! 😀
all pictures can be embiggened if you clickety-click on them.
Next time we’ll visit St.Cuthberts Church just across the road from the hall so stay tooned folks!
This week we are going to have a wander around the house. Sophie and I thought it was a bit like a tardis, as it seemed to have far more rooms than the outside appearance would have you think.
You can see examples of bold Palladian plasterwork and the more delicate neo-classical plasterwork ceilings in the drawing and dining rooms.
Firstly the padded doorway. This was installed by James Stovin Pennyman (1830-96) to help prevent the sounds of conversation disturbing the household – he worked in York Lunatic Asylum so it’s possibly where he got that idea from.
Lots of ceramics on display in the dining room
and a nice view of one of the formal gardens
upstairs is also quite ornate with the plasterwork everywhere
and every bedroom has a four poster
Loved this corner cupboard from the Netherlands circa 1770 – 1800
More art on the walls
because who wouldn’t want a parrot and dead birds on the wall??
Ruth Pennyman lived here and in this room, till her end.
and clearly liked her nylon stockings
Them wer’t days.
Enough for this week, and I’ll be back next Thursday with a bit more from the hall.