Saltwell revisited ~ Part 2 ~ February 23

Part 1 here

Although the cherry blossom trees were not playing the game, there were other bits of coloured flora and the like, so we took photo’s of what we found. All these are taken with my Contax Aria and Cinestil 400 film.

purpley bluebells

These are called Glory-of-the-snow in English apparently, but in this case it was glory-of-the-rain

Scilla luciliae (Boiss,) Speta.

Daffodils were abundant, especially on this bank on the edge of the park where they were joined by bluebells


The white blossom trees were not being so tardy

Spring Cherry tree
Sour Cherry tree

I love the wiggles of this tree

Corkscrew Hazel

We had a wander over the road where there’s a large cemetery

Oak Tree I think

When I was a little girl I won a competition for growing a Hyacinth and had my picture in the local paper, the Huddersfield Examiner. Nothing to do with the outing here except this grave full of them reminded me of my moments of Warholian fame.

Hyacinthical Grave.

I like Grape Hyacinths too and there were some!

Grape Hyacinthical Grave

I do like this statue of the Madonna, which seems unusual to me. All the graves here are of the Crolla family, but try as I might I can’t find out much about these particular ones, but they are obviously of Italian origin and I did find out the following ~

Italians came to the Uk to escape poverty and starvation in Italy when their farming communities were tore apart by war and famine. Their journey was supposed to take them to America but they liked it just fine here so quite a few families stayed in the UK. The first wave of arrivals was in the early 1800’s the second wave around the early 1870’s. Upon arriving in London they worked their way up north using two trades usually selling ice cream in the summer and musicians in the winter when the ice cream trade was at a low.

Madonna and the Crollas

And that’s the end of our revisit, stay tooned for wherever we go next.

📷 🎞️ 😊

Saltwell Towers & Park revisited ~ February 2023.

Salty Towers is only 10 mins drive away for me, so I’ve been a few times, either with Sophie, or Phil & grandkids. I last did a post on it in 2017, 6 years ago now, and back then it was a gorgeous sunny day, spring blossoms were everywhere and Sophie and I took a lot of pictures. This time we were not so lucky with the weathery bits, it was cloudy and rained a couple of times, and the blossom hadn’t yet blossomed, nor all the flowers flowered, still, we are rarely thwarted from our mission of shooting stuff, so here is the stuff.

Firstly of course, a small history bit ☕️ 🍪

Saltwell Park is a Victorian park in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England. Opened in 1876, the park was designed by Edward Kemp and incorporates the mansion and associated grounds of the Saltwellgate estate owner, William Wailes, who sold his estate to Gateshead Council for £35,000. Upon opening, it became known as “The People’s Park”. It was expanded to 55 acres during the 1920’s but by the end of the 20th century, the park had fallen into disrepair. Between 1999 and 2005, it was subject to a £9.6 million restoration project, funded collaboratively by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Gateshead Council and is now host to around 2 million visitors per year.

Saltwell Towers, is the former home of the above mentioned William Wailes (1808–1881) or Willy of course to this blog, who grew up in Newcastle. He started out as a grocer and tea merchant.  However, his artistic talent and practical skills led him to set up a small kiln in the backyard of his premises. He made and fired small decorative enamels which were sold in his shop. In 1830 he went to Germany to study stained glass design and production. Back in the North East in 1838 he set up his own stained glass studio to design and manufacture windows and made a name for himself through the provision of windows for local churches. As his enterprise prospered, he employed more men until there were 76 employees, including in their number several designers who were to go on to establish their own factories. Willy was one of the twenty-five stained glass manufacturers that exhibited in the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851. In 1860 Willy bought the Saltwell Estate at Gateshead and set about improving it, building himself a decorative mansion and landscaping the grounds. Unfortunately, he ran into debt and 16 years later is when he sold up, which is quite sad really.

You can find his stained glass in many churches in England, and also Scotland, Mumbai, Sydney, and Philadelphia. The five high chancel windows in the First Presbyterian Church in Philly are apparently just glorious, but I can’t find a picture of them anywhere, though here is one from the Afghan Church in Mumbai that he did.

photo credit Ronakshah1990 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Anyways, enough of William, lets get on with my pictures. All were taken with my Contax Aria, Cinestill 400 and Portra 400 film.

As you enter the park from the carpark, the Towers are nicely framed by the wall arch, I must have taken this composition every time I visit!

(Portra 400)

The first thing you come across is a Boer War memorial in the central section of the park around 100 metres south of Saltwell Towers. This consists of a bronze angel perched on a granite plinth and is dated 1905.

 (Portra 400)

I took a few views of the Towers along the way, this is the back, the picture at the very top is the entrance side. .

(cinestill 400)

The Charlton Memorial Drinking Fountain, a stone and granite fountain inscribed in memory of George Charlton, the mayor of Gateshead between 1874–75.

(cinestill 400)

Komatsu City Friendship Garden in Saltwell Park. “The garden is a gift from the people of Komatsu City to the people of Gateshead. It was constructed by gardeners from the Komatsu gardening association in 2009 in preparation for the celebration in 2011 of Komatsu City’s 20 years of friendship.”

(cinestill 400)

We visited the lake in the grounds, and came across a Pigeon Company on a route march led by Captain Duck.

(cinestill 400)

Around the back of the Towers is a pond and gardeny bit

(cinestill 400)

During the restoration of the park the maze was restored to its original design by William Wailes circa 1860, using 1,200 yew trees.

(portra 400)

There are a couple of bonkers artworks in the park, the first is called ‘Chrysalis’ by Sam Brewster who hails from Australia and lives and works in Hobart, Tasmania. According to Sam the artwork “alludes to the concepts of safe passage, transition, coupled with the emergence of wonder and beauty”. Lookos like a twizzle stick to me. 🤷‍♀️

(portra 400)

This one is called ‘Rise’ by Stephen Newby. Apparently people think it’s a dog bone, but I think it looks a bit like being on tip-toes.

(portra 400)

There were a couple of squirrels running up and down a big tree, I managed a shot.

(cinestill 400)

And that’s a wrap for this week, I have a few more photos from that outing so we’ll have a look at them next time, in the meantime,

📷 🎞️ 😊

Barnard Castle ~ February 2023

You all will know, of course, of Barnard Castle, the place where a certain government advisor riddled with Covid, during lockdown, had a day out with his family and when caught said he was testing his eyesight for driving. But Barnard Castle is much more than a substitute optician, as you will find out in

The History Bit ☕️ 🍪 *Long post alert*

We’re going way back in time now, just after the the Norman Conquest (the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Norman, Breton, Flemish, and Pesky French troops—all led by the Duke of Normandy, later styled William the Conqueror, or Willy the Conk as he is known to this blog) so there are a fair few “probably” ‘s in this potted history.

As with many medieval castles, it occupies a site that had been strategically important for a few thousand years. The plateau on which the castle stands commands the crossing point over the river Tees of a major Roman road across the Pennines, and is still an important communications route today. The castle was probably first established by a Pesky Frenchman from Picardy called Guy de Balliol. He had supported King William II (Willy the Conk’s son) in the suppression of a rebellion in Normandy in the 1090s, and received estates in north-eastern England as a reward. This early castle, whose site is now occupied by the inner ward, contained a stone gatehouse, but was otherwise a timber structure.

Guy died in 1133 and it was his nephew Bernard de Balliol who succeeded him, and enlarged the castle to its present extent. He began to rebuild it in stone, and founded the town that surrounds the castle on its south and east sides ~. Castrum Bernardi, or Bernard’s Castle.  Berny died somewhere between 1154 and 1159, and was succeeded by his son, another Guy, and almost immediately afterwards by his second son, Bernard II. Berny 2 oversaw the construction of most of the important buildings and may have over-reached himself financially as at the end of the 12th century the castle briefly passed into the hands of the Bishop of Durham as security for debt. 

In 1205 Hugh de Balliol inherited the castle, being the son of a cousin of Berny 2. It was Hugh that continued the modernisation of the castle and probably from this period came the rebuilding in stone of the hall in the inner ward, and the addition of the great chamber and round tower at its northern end. 

1216 was a busy year for the castle. We’ve come across King John the lecherous (as he’s known to this blog) many times in our History Bits and he makes an appearance at Barnard Castle in January 1216, after leading a military campaign against northern rebels. He died in October the same year and though his son Henry 3rd succeeded him he was only 9 years old at the time so many of the barons of the land were in open rebellion. Much of southern England had been invaded and occupied by the pesky French Army whilst at the other end of the country King Alexander II of pesky Scotland moved into northern England, supported by northern barons. A veritable Pesky sandwich!

Now, do you remember our lesson from Alnmouth a few weeks back when we learned about Eustace de Vesci, who thwarted King Johnny the Lech’s attempt to kidnap Eustace’s Missis by substituting a lady of the night for her? If not HERE is a reminder for you. Anyhoo, Eustace, being the brother-in-law of King Alex 2 was part of Alex’s incursion into the North. At Barnard Castle he sadly met his end when he got too close to the castle walls where he was shot by a crossbowman from the garrison, and died of his wounds. The loss of this champion at Barnard Castle set back the cause of the northern rebels. In the following year, the various invaders and rebels were routed by armies loyal to the new king, Henry III.

Throughout the 13th century the castle remained in the Balliol family which included John, 5th Baron de Balliol. He married Devorguilla of Galloway a pesky Scottish lady, who obviously went native and depeskified when she married John in 1223 aged 13, and moved into Barnard Castle. Gilly, as she is known to this blog, became very wealthy through family inheritances which allowed Balliol to play a prominent public role. On Henry III’s instructions he served as joint protector of the young king of the pesky Scots, Alexander III. He also served as one of Henry III’s leading counsellors between 1258 and 1265. Following a dispute with the Bishop of Durham, he agreed to provide funds for scholars studying at Oxford. Support for a house of students began in around 1263 with further endowments after his death by Gilly, resulting in the establishment of Balliol College. She established a permanent endowment for the College in 1282, as well as its first formal Statutes. The college still retains the name Balliol College where the history students’ society is called the Dervorguilla Society and an annual seminar series featuring women in academia is called the Dervorguilla Seminar Series.

A small digression.
Gilly was one of the three daughters and heiresses of the Gaelic prince Alan, Lord of Galloway, and through her mother’s line was descended from the Kings of Scotland, including David I. On the death of her Dad she inherited lands which she bequeathed to her descendants, the Balliol and the Comyns. Her son, John of Scotland briefly became King of Scotland 1292-96. He was known as Toom Tabard which is how pesky Scots refer to a ‘puppet king’ as it’s literal translation is ’empty coat’. This is not surprising as he was chosen to be King by a bunch of noblemen lead by King Edward 1 ~’The Hammer of the Scots’.
Eddy 1 managed to take the position of Lord Paramount of Scotland which made him the feudal superior of the realm and he used this position to steadily undermine Johnny’s authority, demanding homage to be paid towards himself, legal authority over the Scottish King in any disputes brought against him by his own subjects, contribution towards the costs for the defence of England, and military support was expected in his war against the Pesky French. He treated Scotland as a feudal vassal state and repeatedly humiliated the new king. Naturally the pesky Scots were not happy with this set up one bit, so the direction of affairs was taken out of Johnny’s hands by the leading men of the kingdom, who appointed a Council of Twelve—in practice, a new panel of Guardians—at Stirling in July 1295. They went on to conclude a treaty of mutual assistance with Pesky France—known in later years as the Auld Alliance. (Auld is how pesky Scottish people spell ‘old’. )

Now Eddy was not happy one bit and retaliated by invading Scotland, which kicked off the Scottish Wars of Independence, resulting in Johnny abdicating in July 1296 and where the arms of Scotland were formally torn from Johnny’s surcoat, resulting in the ’empty coat’ Toom Tabard moniker. Initially imprisoned in the Tower of London, he was allowed to go to France in July 1299. When they checked his baggage, they found he’d snaffled away the Royal Golden Crown and Seal of the Kingdom of Scotland, many vessels of gold and silver, and a considerable sum of money 🤣. They let him keep the money for his journey. They gave Johnny into the custody of Pope Boniface VIII and around the summer of 1301 he was released and lived the rest of his life on his family’s ancestral estates at Hélicourt in Picardy where he died in late 1314.

Back to the castle!
With Johnny’s fall from power, Barnard Castle was seized first by Bishop Antony Bek of Durham, and in 1306 by King Eddy I. The following year, the dying king bequeathed the castle to Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, whose descendants held it for the next 164 years.

In 1315 the heir to to the Earldom was just a baby, so King Eddy 2 gave the castle to a pesky Irishman, John le Irreys to look after. John promptly raided the nearby Bowes Castle where Lady Matilda Clifford, a widowed and wealthy lady lived. He abducted her, took her to Barnard Castle and raped her. Eddy sent an army to rescue her and relieve le Irreys of his command. Matilda fell in love with one of her rescuers and married him. Sir Robert de Welle from Worcestershire was a knight but not necessarily a suitable husband for someone who held important political connections, lands and was a wealthy woman in her own right so Eddy was none too pleased and took Matilda’s dower lands and all the goods in them. They were returned following payment of a large fine (£100).

In 1329 Thomas de Beauchamp came of age to inherit the castle, and he held it for 40 years, modernising the great hall, which was by then over a century old, and improving the kitchens and other service buildings in the inner ward. But in 1446 the Beauchamp line had no males available to inherit the castle, so it passed into the hands of the Nevilles, namely Richard through the Beauchamp heiress Anne, to whomst he was married. Richard was known as ‘Warwick the King-maker’ because he swapped about his support of the Yorkist Edward IV and the Lancastrian Henry VI during the Wars of the Roses. Richard died at The Battle of Barnet in 1471 fighting for the Lancastrian side and his two daughters, Anne and Isabel inherited his estates. Anne then married the younger brother of King Eddy 4, Richard Plantaganet, who became Duke of Gloucester and then, in 1483, King Richard III. Dicky P owned the castle from From 1471 and undertook several repairs and alterations during his period of lordship until his death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, which marked the end of the Middle Ages in England.

Barnard Castle was given to the new Tudor king, Henry VII and was henceforth placed in the hands of keepers, notably members of the Bowes family. In 1536 whilst Sir Robert Bowes had the castle, there was a popular uprising against Henry VIII and ostensibly a protest against the Suppression of the Monasteries. Sir Bobby managed to support both sides by surrendering the castle to the rebels without a fight, becoming one of their leaders, after which he reverted to the king’s service and restored royal control in the neighbourhood.

We’ll move on 30 years now to 1596 when The Rising of the North happened. This was an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Pesky Scots. It concerned an 11-day siege of Barnard Castle in December, and was the last significant action in the castle’s history as a fortress. Sir George Bowes (1527–80) was keeper of the castle and resolved to hold it in support of Lizzy. His garrison held 7-800 men but the Catholic rebels sent 5000 to attack them. The rebels captured the outer bailey after six days, soon followed by the Town Ward, leaving the defenders confined to the inner ward. Sir George saw increasing numbers of his own men defect to the rebels, and risked running out of water after the rebels destroyed the pipes from a reservoir, so had to negotiate his surrender. He died in 1580 and was commemorated as ‘the surest pillar Her Majesty had in these parts’.

Another 30 years later the damage caused by the conflict still had not been repaired and in 1603, the castle passed out of the Crown’s control when James I granted it to his favourite, Robert Carr, later Earl of Somerset who doesn’t seem to have had much to do with it being too busy with intrigues and power struggles at court and an affaire de coeur with a married lady.

So now we get to Sir Henry Vane the Elder, Member of Parliament and important member of Charles I household, at first as his Governor and later his Treasurer. He purchased Raby Castle, and Barnard Castle with it’s Estate for £18,000 round about 1640. He chose to make Raby his principal home and de-roofed and removed stone from Barnard Castle to repair and maintain Raby.

In October 1896, the ruins were badly damaged in a severe gale, prompting the latest owner Lord Barnard to organise repairs.

Finally, Between 1841 and 1845 a man called Frank Shields, who was short and with a bushy beard and had been an ostler (a person hired to look after horses) moved in to the round tower and declared himself a ‘recluse, antiquary and artist in painting’. He’d been inspired by the castle’s history and romantic associations and dressed up in a monk’s habit and guided visitors around the castle. He was evicted in 1859 after having a barney with a neighbour and took up at Egglestone Abbey ruins (which we’ll be visiting next time) instead. Sadly he became more and more obsessed with ghosts and was put in a lunatic assylum in 1874, where he died in 1881.

In 1952, Lord Barnard placed the ruins in the guardianship of the Ministry of Works, the predecessor of the Department of the Environment, and since 1984, English Heritage has run the site.

Well done if you made it through all that! And now some pictures.
Sophie and I visited in February, the weather wasn’t too bad, and I had my Contax Aria loaded with Cinestill 400 and also my FujiX100F loaded with pixels. 😃

contax aria
Contax Aria
contax aria
fuji X100F
fuji X100F
contax aria
contax aria
contax aria
fuji X100F River Tees
contax aria

all pictures embiggenable with a click.

refs: ~ various pages

for wherever next! 📷 🎞️ 😊