They’ve managed to have a Great Crested Newt or 2 in one of the ponds. This threatened creature has suffered a massive decline and is now legally protected. It can be easily identified as it is our largest newt and the males have vivid breeding colours. Not that you can see those on my rather blurry photo, but I’m including it anyway as they are rare as rocking horse poo due to young boys back in the day hoying them out of the water and taking them home in a plastic bag, where of course they died.
So that’s the end of our flowerfest, but stay tooned for whatever comes next.
I’m not sure why it’s secret, it’s on a map and everything. Anyway it’s a great place for photography. Started in 1978 when Christine and her Hubby moved into Birkheads, and decided to become self sufficient. They grew organic vegetables, fruit, kept ducks & bees and saw how the wildlife were attracted to their land. In 1987 they started to to make an environmentally friendly garden on a site that had been surface mined (opencast) for coal. Most of the gardens have been created using recycled materials, paving, slates, wood etc. Garden features and sculptures are made from mainly recycled metal and driftwood, others have had a past life in some other place. They were one of the first Green Tourism Businesses to achieve a Gold Award.
Sophie and I love visiting here, there’s always something new to see and obviously different times of the year have different flowers and plants for us to focus our cameras on. So here we have it, The Flowerfest! 💐🌷🌸
We spotted some dragonflies gettin’ jiggy with it.
the gardens are potted with featured items amongst the flowers
I think that will do for this week, we’ll have a look at some more flowers and features next time, and there will be a film on friday post to accompany this series. Stay tooned!
After our inspection of St. John the Baptist church, we walked down the path to see the ruins of Edlingham Castle.
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
This one has been a bit of a nightmare, as researching Sir William Felton has lead to some confusing possible discrepancies, but I’ll do my best to sift through to the salient points.
Although a manor house of the 13th century is probably concealed beneath the later building, the earliest standing remains are those of the hall house, built in 1300 by Sir William Felton at a time when Northumberland was relatively peaceful.
William’s family had estates in Norfolk and Shropshire and was an important family, but William made his fortune independently through military service, royal favour and marriage to a Northumberland heiress, Constance de Pontrop. In about 1340–50 his son, also named William, of course, improved domestic comfort by building a magnificent solar tower, the best preserved part of the castle. The Pesky Scots were still at war with the Irksome English in this era, so Will 2 also strengthened the defences with a gate tower and stone curtain wall. Towards the end of the 14th century William’s grandson, Sir John, completed the enclosure walls and enlarged the gatehouse.
Later owners of the estate included the Hastings and Swinburne families. Sir Edmund Hastings married Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir John Felton, and in In 1514, George Swinburne, constable of Prudhoe, purchased Edlingham Castle from the Hastings family. Upon ownership by the wealthy Swinburne family, the purpose of the castle slowly changed from defense to comfort. Interestingly, ground floor rooms of the hall were converted to lodging for farm animals. Swinburne kin owned the castle until the 18th century at which time both solar tower and vaulting of the lower room began deteriorating. Further ruin and theft of stonework continued into the 20th century. In 1978, English Heritage began excavations of the castle, and a few years later in 1985, secured portions of masonry for safety purposes, as well as prevention of further structure collapse.
Some pictures then..
Two views of the castle from the road towards it.
This railway viaduct is located under half a mile north-east of Edlingham in Northumberland, and close to Edlingham Castle. It was built in c.1885 for the North Eastern Railway Company, as part of the former Alnwick to Coldstream (Cornhill) railway, which opened in 1887. Passenger services on the line were discontinued in 1930, although it was briefly in use during the Second World War, to serve RAF Milfield. The line continued to be used for freight, until finally closing in 1965. The track across the viaduct has been removed and the viaduct is now a Grade II site listed on the National Heritage List for England.
Inside the castle
One of the octogonal corners of the hall house.
Finally here’s a nice little drone take on the castle that I found on youtube, you can really see the shap of things from above.
That’s all this week, but stay tooned for a flowerfest next time when we visit Birkheads Secret Gardens.
“If Marilyn Manson would write a song that says, ‘Do your damn homework,’ it would make the world a better place, and it wouldn’t hurt him at all. And if he doesn’t like it, to hell with him. He can come fight us – by the bicycle racks”. ~ Gary Rossington
“It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels.” ~ Heinz Stucke, German former professional long-distance cyclist
“The city needs a car like a fish needs a bicycle” ~ Dean Kaman
“I never want to abandon my bike. I see my grandfather, now in his seventies and riding around everywhere. To me that is beautiful. And the bike must always remain a part of my life.” ~ Stephen Roche, Irish former professional cyclist.
“When I go biking I am mentally far, far away from civilisation. The world is breaking someone else’s heart.” ~ Diane Ackerman, American poet
“My father got a phone call to bring me in to meet with Spielberg for ‘E.T.,’ partially because they knew I was a physical kid, and I was known in the business somewhat as a stunt kid, and I could do all the bicycle riding”. ~ C.Thomas Howell (Tyler in E.T)
“Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.” ~ Lord Charles Beresford, late British admiral and MP
“Happiness is always the inaccessible castle which sinks in ruin when we set foot in it” ~ Arsene Houssaye
“Huge knots of sea-weed hung upon the jagged and pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and the green ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its own might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting and revelry.” ~ Charles Dickens
“You don’t need planning permission to build castles in the sky” ~ Banksy
“All British castles and old country homes are supposed to be haunted. It’s in the lease.” ~ Bob Hope
“We admire the castles, because we admire the security!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan
“Way back in the old days, say in Europe of the Middle Ages, you had an aristocracy, and they could afford to pay for musicians. The kings and queens had musicians in the castles, and that developed into symphony orchestras and what we call “Classical music” now.” ~ Pete Seeger
“The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house, whether cottage or castle; it stands for permanence and separation from the world.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir
“The narrow path had opened up suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.” ~ J. K. Rowling
“Nothing will turn a man’s home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a dachshund.” ~ Queen Victoria
“I passed under an arch out of that region of slabs and columns, and wandered through the open country; sometimes following the visible road, but sometimes leaving it curiously to tread across meadows where only occasional ruins bespoke the ancient presence of a forgotten road”. ~H.P. Lovecraft
“When we look at the ruins, we always get the same feeling: It’s as if the ruin will suddenly come alive and tell its own interesting story!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan
C’est finis! That’s all my castles curated, stay tooned for who knows what next time!
Chillingham Castle is still on top of the list of my favourite castles, though it does alternate with Raby and Bamburgh Castles depending on which one I’m visiting! Next to the castle is St.Peters Church, which we hadn’t visited when we went in 2016, which was remiss of us as it’s one of the best so far.
LONG POST ALERT
The History Bit☕️ 🍪
St. Peter’s as we see it today occupies the site of a 12th Century church, and retains some of its Norman stonework. The interior is an unusual mixture of old and new. Contrasting with its ancient stone work, there are 19th century boxed pews. The sanctuary was completely refurbished in 1967, and the large plain-glass east window remains controversial. There is a glorious view of the trees behind, where you might expect to see stained glass, although Storm Arwen wreaked violence on them. A millennium plaque recognises that Christian worship has been offered on this site for over a thousand years. The nave is C12th but the chancel is probably C13th. The roof was replaced in the C16th and the bell cote added in C18th. The porch is C19th, it’s been a work in progress for a long time!
The main thing about the church though is the splendid C15th alabaster tomb of the crusader knight Sir Ralph Grey and his wife, Elizabeth which you can’t see as you enter the church, as it’s contained in the south transept.
It’s been a hard slog to find out much at all about Sir Ralph, which seemed odd as he’s got this great monument to him. He doesn’t even rate his own page on wiki, still, there are many rabbit holes to find on the internet, which I went down, only to find there are quite a few Sir Ralphs about in this time period, and some of the websites I’ve visited attribute one Sir Ralphs doings to another Sir Ralph and so on, so it’s been a pig to sort out. Nevertheless this is what I found that I’m reasonably certain of.
He was born on 9 September 1406 at Chillingham Castle, the younger son of Sir Thomas Grey and Lady Alice Neville. Grandson of Sir Thomas Gray and Joan Mowbray, direct descendant of Magna Carta Baron William de Mowbray. Now Sir Thomas the Dad does get his own page because he was a traitorous ingrate. Having been favoured by King Henry IV in the kings early reign, by August 1404 he had been retained for life by Ralph Neville 1st Earl of Westmoreland, but by May 1408 was in the service of Henry, Prince of Wales. But then he went and cocked things up by conspiring with Richard, Earl of Cambridge, and Henry, the 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham (honestly this not a Monty Python sketch!) in what’s known as The Southampton Plot of 1415, which was a plot to assassinate King Henry V at Southampton before he sailed to France and to replace him with Edmund Mortimer, the 5th Earl of March. Anyhoo lets not digress too far, Thomas got beheaded and that was that. Shakespear dramatised the plot in his Henry V play if you want a longer version.
So that was Dad. Mum was Lady Alice Neville, and she doesn’t get a page either as she is not the Lady Alice Neville who was great grandmother to Catherine Parr (Henry VIII’s last wife).
Sir Ralph’s wife, Elizabeth Fitzhugh, was the daughter of Sir Henry FitzHugh and Elizabeth de Grey, heiress to Sir Robert de Grey, and descendant of King John. They were married 01 July 1435 at Ravensworth, Yorkshire and had four sons. The eldest, named (of course) Ralph, also became a Sir, was Warden of Roxborough Castle. However he inherited the traitorous knob gene from his grandpa and was beheaded in 1464 for betraying Alnwick Castle to the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses. Our Sir Ralph died in France in 1443 and was buried at Chillingham. I am thinking, though can’t be certain, that he possibly died during The Siege of Dieppe (2 November 1442 – 14 August 1443) which took place during the Hundred Years War. The English forces led by John Talbort, Earl of Shrewsbury, besieged and failed to capture the French-held port of Dieppe in Normandy.
After her husband died in 1443, Elizabeth was sent out to France with other ladies of the English court to escort Margaret de Anjou, the intended wife of King Henry VI, to England. Elizabeth served Queen Margaret as an attendant and her name appears on the list of recipients of gifts of jewels from the queen. She remarried Edmund Montfort, son of Knight William and Joan Alderwich, but asked to buried with Sir Ralph at Chillingham after she died. Though she obviously didn’t ask it after she died, as she was dead, but made it known prior to conking out that that’s what she wanted. 🥴
Northumberland History is so very convoluted with the important families, Nevilles, Fitzhughes, Greys, Percys et al and they all have different branches but the same names! Drives me batty. Anyhoo, on with some pictures!
Now, just a bit more history 🙂 Lord Ford Grey was the 1st Earl of Tankerville, though he didn’t have much to do with Chillingham, but he’s an interesting catch ~ In 1682 Grey achieved notoriety for being found guilty of seducing his wife’s sister, Lady Henrietta Berkeley, for which he was arrested, tried and ultimately freed. In 1683 he was arrested for involvement in the Rye House Plot ( a plan to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother (and heir to the throne) James, Duke of York) but escaped from the Tower of London in July and fled with Lady Henrietta and her new husband to France. He later became one of the leaders of the Monmouth Rebellion, landing with Monmouth at Lyme Regis in June 1685. He was in command of the cavalry, and its defeat on two occasions may have been caused by his cowardice, possibly even by his treachery. He was taken prisoner and condemned for high treason, but he obtained a pardon by freely giving evidence against his former associates, and was restored to his honours in June 1686. Pfft, sounds like a right cad!
A couple of hundred years later Charles Bennet, the 6th Earl of Tankerville and styled Lord Ossulston entered Parliament as Member of Parliament for North Northumberland in 1832. He held this seat until 1859, when he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father’s barony of Ossulston. He succeeded his father in the earldom only a month later. On 8 March 1833, he was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Northumberland. He served under the Earl of Derby as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms from 1866to 1867 and under Derby and then Benjamin Disraeli as Lord Steward of the Household from 1867 to 1868. In 1866 he was sworn of the Privy Council. He died at the family seat of Chillingham Castle in December 1899, aged 89, which is bliddy good innings for those times!
Some of the medieval cross slab grave covers have been incorporated into the renovations
And so to the South Transept and the effigies of Ralph and Elizabeth. The remains of red and blue and black paint are still visible and it must have been stunning.
A couple of detail shots…
If you managed to get through all that, well done, you are my favourite reader!
So that’s it. Stay tooned for next weeks much shorter post (yay!) (on account of the church being shut 🙄) on St Peter & James Church.
After we had visitedSt.Maurice’s Church we drove up the road 15 minutes and turned down a narrow country lane to find the rather lovely Holy Trinity Church settled in a secluded glen.
The History Bit 🍪 ☕️
( Actually a lot of this is supposedly, and apparently, so there’s history and a bit of lore.)
The oldest part of the mostly Norman Church is believed to be 12th century and built by the monks of Tynemouth after Queen Maud ~ (Matilda of Scotland who was the wife of the Henry I ) gave the Manor of Bewick toTynemouth Priory in 1107. She did so in memory of her royal father Malcolm Canmore (or Maol Chaluim mac Dhonnchaidh in his native tongue), King of Scotland, who was slain at the Battle of Alnwick in 1093 and buried at Tynemouth. He had snatched the crown of Scotland from Macbeth (the one from Shakespear) in 1054, and in 1091 brought an army south across the border, laying waste to much of Northumberland. Due to the ongoing battles with the pesky Scots in the late 13th century, the church was damaged but restored in the 14th century. There is a possibility that the restoration was done by the husband of a lady who’s effigy can be found in the chancel. She is wearing C14th century costume, and is thought to be the work of sculptors who had a workshop near Alnwick until about 1340. But it is also said to be of Matilda, aka Queen Maud!
A bell dated 1483 was found in the rubble of the vestry suggesting that at this time it had a tower or belfry. Inside the church and porch are several examples of C13th and C14th tomb slabs. Although the church went through more damage around 1640, Ralph Williamson, Lord of the Manor, restored the nave. However, early in the next century, the roof was blown off and the chapel fell to ruin although still used for burials. In 1866 Mr J C Langlands (whose monument stands at the end of the lane) had the church restored, and it opened for services in 1867.
As usual we went hunting for interesting gravestones and found a few..
Someone took the trouble to work this out!
“In the year of our Lord God 1720, here lieth the body of Roger, who departed this li(f)e at bueck (Bewick) mill race, muera (?died ~ possibly meant mori, latin or less possibly muerte, Spanish) 1720″.
This seemed sad,
Grand Master Burdon and his wife, the last surviving daughter of Major Thomas Packenham Vandeleur of Belfield, Co. Limerick.
The bushes behind the robin on a cross are not bushes, that’s a full length fallen tree courtesy of Storm Arwen, and a few of the headstones got battered.
Going inside there are both anglo saxon and Norman features
The church was re-roofed in Victorian times, thanks to Mr J.C. Langlands.
So that’s the end of our initial foray into the churches nearest our favourite café in Northumberland. The following week we did two more, and had lunch again 😊 and they’ll be up in the next couple of posts. I bet you’re all agog so stay tooned!
clickable pics for embiggerment.
Full album HERE for last week and this weeks posts.
It’s been a (long) while since I did a Fraggle Curated post, so as I have a spare day off this weekend I thought why not do an extra post and add to the other ones which, if you haven’t seen them before can be found HERE.
“Castles are Forrests of stones” ~ George Herbert
“Even castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.” ~ Jimmy Hendrix
“Don’t live in the castles; freedom is in the fields! But I can also say: Don’t live in the fields; security is in the castles!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan
“There is no castle so strong that it cannot be overthrownby money“. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
“A ruin should always be protected but never repaired – thus may we witness full the lingering legacies of the past.” ~ Walter Scott
“When we look at the ruins, we always get the same feeling: It’s as if the ruin will suddenly come alive and tell its own interesting story!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan
“It is as easy to create a castle as a button. It’s just a matter of whether you’re focused on a castle or a button” ~ Esther Hicks
“If you are delighted to be in ancient ruins, you are either a curious historian or a romantic person!”~ Mehmet Murat ildan
“The splendour falls on castle walls And snowy summits old in story: The long light shakes across the lakes, And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying”. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
The home to everyone is to him his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence, as for his repose. ~ Edward Coke
“Have fun storming the castle.” ~ William Goldman (The Princess Bride)
Sophie and I love pottering about in old churches, so much history can be found within and in their graveyards. We also love a certain café in Northumberland, and as lunch is also an important part of our day we decided to do a few churches around the area thus enabling our visitations to the aforementioned café.
Saint Maurice. This was a first for us, Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s churches are all over the shop up here, but this was the first time we heard of a Saint Maurice, you possibly have, but I’ll do a little bit on him in case you haven’t.
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
Maurice was an Egyptian military leader who headed the legendary Theban Legion of Rome in the 3rd century. Now right there I’m thinking really? Maurice n’est pas Français?? But apparently not. He was born in 250 AD in Thebes, Luxor as it now is and joined the Roman Army at some point when he grew up. He must have been a good soldier as he ended up commander of the Theban legion which meant he was boss of 1000 other soldiers. Somewhere along the line (I know, vague, but we are talking ancient times here peeps) he became a Christian, which wasn’t his best idea as Christianity was in it’s infancy and Rome considered it a great threat to their empire. Still, he wasn’t all holier than thou and was happy enough being pals with pagans as well. Anyhoo, his legion was sent to Gaul (a huge swathe of Western Europe) to assist Emperor Maximian defeat a revolt by the peasants.
Mo and his men,entirely composed of Christians, were sent off to clear the Great Saint Barnard Pass through the Swiss Alps, and before going into battle, they were instructed to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods and pay homage to the emperor. That didn’t go down well and whilst Mo pledged his men’s military allegiance to Rome, he also said service to God superseded all else, and that to engage in wanton slaughter was inconceivable to Christian soldiers. To cap it off he and his men refused to worship the Roman gods. When Emperor Maxi-boy ordered them to harass some local Christians, they refused that as well.
Not surprisingly Maxi-boy was well naffed off with Mo and his not so merry men, and ordered the unit to be punished. In Roman terms that meant the killing of every tenth soldier in the legion, which was known as Decimation. More orders got refused, and another decimation was carried out, and then Maxi got really naffed off and had the whole legion wiped out. This occurred in a place in Switzerland known then as Agaunum, and is now Saint~Maurice, and the Abbey of St.Maurice stands on the site.
So reads the earliest account of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion, contained in the public letter which Bishop Eucherius of Lyon (c. 434–450), addressed to his fellow bishop, Salvius.
Maurice is the patron saint of the Duchy of Savoy (France) and of the Valais (Switzerland) as well as of soldiers, swordsmiths, armies, and infantrymen. He is also the patron saint of weavers and dyers. Manresa (Spain), Piedmont (Italy), Montalbano Jonico (Italy), Schiavi di Abruzzo (Italy), Stadtsulza (Germany) and Coburg (Germany) have chosen St. Maurice as their patron saint as well. St Maurice is also the patron saint of the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a historical military order of unmarried merchants 😳 in present-day Estonia and Latvia. He is also the patron saint of the town of Coburg in Bavaria, Germany. He is shown there as a man of colour especially on manhole covers (strange) as well as on the city coat of arms. There he is called “Coburger Mohr” (“Coburg Moor”).
The picture up there is of a 13th century statue of him in Magdeburg Cathedral, Germany.
In the 12th century Ceolwulf, the Saxon king of Northumbria, granted the hamlet of Eglingham to the monastery at Lindisfarne. A church was built on the site of St.Maurice’s of which only the chancel arch remains today. In the 18th century restoration was carried out by John Green who built the Theatre Royal in Newcastle.
Firstly though we looked around the grave yard for old souls.
The west tower is 13th Century and two ancient bells occupy the belfry; one, formerly from Old Bewick Church, is dated 1489.
Inside there are some very old features,
The octagonal font at the back of the nave is perhaps the church’s oldest feature and thought to be the work of William Butement. It is dated 1663 with the initials C.R. (probably referring to Charles II). It bears several masons’ marks and inscriptions.
There are some nice stained glass windows, the East window is by William Wales, dated 1908 and depicts the transformation of Christ
and a memorial window for the Collingwood family.
Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood (26 September 1748 – 7 March 1810) was an admiral of the Royal Navy, notable as a partner with Lord Nelson in several of the British victories of the Napoleonic Wars, and frequently as Nelson’s successor in commands. He was born in Newcastle so there are statues and roads and buildings etc all over the shop up here, and any family association is up for grabs, especially as they’re all military chaps.
That will do I think. It is so peaceful to wander around these old churches, and marvelling at what they could accomplish architecturally speaking 3 or 4 hundred years ago. We love to see graves from the 1700’s and are amazed when someone is buried at an old age, as in William Shell above. Dying at age 84 was some feat for that time! More often we come across young people as in Mary Bickerford who only got to 13 yrs old.
stay tooned for next time when we’ll be popping up the road to Holy Trinity Church.