Sophie and I went out for the day to visit Eggleston Hall, or rather the ruined church on it’s land, and Eggleston Abbey. We had been to the hall 11 years ago, but didn’t know about the abbey at the time. This time I took my Fuji X100F and my Contax with a roll of Cinestill 400 loaded. Not a lot to tell you about, (happy days eh? 😀 )but we still must have
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
If you read the website for Eggleston Hall, it will tell you that it is ‘a privately owned Grade II listed Georgian building, dating back to the 16th century’. Which it kind of is, but not really. Well it really is Grade II listed, but the 16th Century part is a tad misleading. The house was actually built in 1817 on the site of the original manor house at Eggleston. The original manor was owned by the Neville family, who we’ve come across frequently on this blog, and the last of the Nevilles to hold it was Charles, the 6th Earl of Westmorland, another familar chap to us, as we know being the leader, along with Thomas Percy, of the ill-fated rebellion, the ‘Rising of the North’, in support of Mary, the Pesky Queen of the Pesky Scots, in 1569. He fled to Holland where he died in poverty in 1601. Consequently the manor was confiscated by the Crown and granted to the City of London, which seems odd as it’s a long way away, but we will shrug our shoulders at that and move on.
The Hall passed through several hands until it was acquired by the Hutchinson family, a family of many Willys, early in the 18th century. By 1817 Timothy Hutchinson (1732-1810) owned the Manor of Eggleston and an existing house on the same site as the present Hall. This previous house was described in 1779 as being white with turrets. After his death his son William 1 (1763-1826) commissioned a design by the wonderfully named architect, Ignatius Bonomi to build the new house. The two-storey house has a recessed two-bayed central block flanked by projecting end bays connected by a Doric order colonnade.
The Hutchinsons hung on to the Hall for a good few years. Willy 1 and his wife Mary didn’t have any bloodsuckers children, so Willy’s bro George Peter Hutchinson (1767-1833) a major in the Queen’s Dragoons inherited the Hall. His two sons then inherited the hall after his demise, Willy 2, the firstborn, got it in 1833, but he snuffed it young, age 26, so his younger bro Timothy (1818-1904) then had the Hall. Timmy and his Missis Liz lived there for 62 years and passed the Hall to their son, Cecil~Willy 3, whomst on his death in 1917, passed it on to his son, Willy 4, though as he’s the last Hutchinson in this tale I’ll give him his full title of Captain William Regis Claude Hutchinson.
Willy 4 must have thought sod this for a game of soldiers, and 1919 he advertised the whole 10,000 acres for sale. Wouldn’t you know it, 2 more Willys ended up with it. Sir William Creswell Gray bought the Hall for his son, William. Willy the son was a Captain in the 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment in the Great War, which wasn’t really great but that’s what they call it, and was mentioned in despatches. He was wounded and became a POW, so it was a nice present from his Dad to come home to I think.
The house is still owned by the Gray family. It was used as a convalescent home during the Second World War and, since the 1970s, was been used for cookery and flower schools. Sir William (🙄) and Lady Juliette own it now whilst Rosemarie Gray, Willy’s Mum, owns the gardens, which did start out in the 16th century and are open to the public all year round. The house though is not, and according to their website can be hired for “any large group celebrations, wedding anniversaries to birthdays, yoga retreats or Christmas gatherings or simply for a relaxing holiday to unwind in an idyllic, luxurious location”.
HEREis a link to their site if you want to see pictures of the inside, or book your party! 🤣
On to the church now, our main reason for visiting. The chapel remained as a garden feature through the centuries. The building is [at least] late medieval, and the oldest gravestone dates to 1607. It was declared redundant in 1868 and over the next 120 years the building was allowed to decay into a romantic ruin after the roof was removed. Apparently the ruins have been planted with rare and unusual species of plants from around the world which thrive amongst them, but the outstanding thing is a bloody great tree growing out of the main part, which is not easy to photograph, but I gave it a go.
trying to get the chapel and it’s tree in a single shot was impossible, so I stitched a few shots together for this next one, not the best but it does give you an idea of the size of it.
in the other bit of the chapel there were plants, though I’m not sure if these are the unusual ones, and remnants of what used to be there.
The graveyard was covered in snowdrops, which we tried hard not to trample on in our search for interesting graves.
we didn’t see the 1607 grave (another visit needed for that!) but I did come across the Dowson family which gave me a few ponderings.
OK OK, I’ve digressed here and my History Bit just got longer. I’m going to hide it under the little arrow next to “details”, and if if you’re so inclined you’ll find Kings and Queens, pesky Scots and French all dancing through the years of Johns life.
John Dowson died aged 80 in 1722, which means he was born in 1642 when the first English Civil War kicked off, and Charles 1 was the King. By the time John was 10, Charles 1 had been executed and Oliver Cromwell was in charge. John had his 20th birthday when Charles 2 had taken back the throne after Cromwell died. Before John reached his 30th year England had siezed the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, changing its name to New York and that heralded the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. There had been outbreaks of plague and fire in London, and Thomas Blood was caught stealing the Crown Jewels. On John’s way through his 40’s James 2 was on the throne and the pesky Earl of Argyll in Scotland rebelled and tried to place the Duke of Monmouth, Charles II’s illegitimate son, on the throne. The rebellion was crushed and Argyll executed. Jimmy 2 set about restoring Catholicism in England, and set up a standing army of 13,000 troops at Hounslow to overawe nearby London and believing in his Divine Right as King, issues the Declaration of Indulgence to suspend all laws against Catholics and Non-Conformists and repeal the 1673 Test Act. He seeks to promote his Catholic supporters in Parliament and purge Tories and Anglican clergy .This results in The ‘Glorious Revolution’. William of Orange lands at Torbay with an army of 20,000 and advances on London. Many Protestant officers in Jimmys’ army including Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and Jimmys’ own daughter Anne defect to support William and his wife Mary so James abdicates and flees to exile in France.
By the time John’s 50th Birthday arrives King William III and Queen Mary II have been joint rulers for 3 years and at that time a Bill of Rights is passed by Parliament. It stipulates that no Catholic can succeed to the throne, and also limits the powers of the Royal prerogative. The King or Queen cannot withhold laws passed by Parliament or levy taxes without Parliamentary consent. But Jimmy 2 hadn’t given up and with the aid of Pesky Jacobites and the Pesky French, goes into battle at Killiekrankie, Dunkeld, and Londonderry. Willy defeats Jimmy and the French troops at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland and the Pesky Scottish Jacobites are defeated at Haughs of Cromdale. Willy offers the Pesky Highlanders a pardon for the Jacobite uprising if they sign allegiance to him, and this ends up a year later, in Johns birthday year on 13 February 1692. An estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by Scottish government forces, I think made up of the Campbell clan allegedly for failing to pledge allegiance to the new monarchs, this was and still is known as the Glencoe Massacre.
Queen Mary died during John’s 50’s and Willy ruled alone. Jimmy died in exile and the Pesky French King recognised Jimmy 2s’ son Jimmy 3 prompting Willy to form a grand alliance between England, Holland, and Austria in order to prevent the union of the French and Spanish crowns. But then Willy fell off his horse when it stumbled on a mole hill and died. Our John hits 60 not out, and Queen Anne, Willys’ sister-in-law takes the reigns of the realm.The first thing she does is to declare war on the Pesky French in the War of the Spanish Succession. Eleven years and a lot of battles later the Peskies are French Toast. And the English capture Gibralter from the Spanish just to rub it in. The Act of Union unites the kingdoms of England and Scotland and transfers the seat of Scottish government to London. They’re still trying to get out of that.
Anne vetoes a parliamentary bill to reorganize the Scottish militia, the last time a bill is vetoed by the sovereign and Jimmy 3 known as James Edward Stuart, or ‘The Old Pretender’, arrives in Scotland in an unsuccessful attempt to gain the throne. John makes it to 70 2 years before Anne dies and a year before The Treaty of Utrecht is signed by Britain and France, bringing to an end the War of the Spanish Succession.
George I, the first Hanoverian King, succeeds Anne and a new Parliament is elected with a strong Whig majority led by Robert Walpole. The pesky Scots kick off again with another Jacobite Rising this time intending to place Jimmy 3 on the throne. The rebellion is defeated yet again, this time at Sheriffmuir.
And there we say goodbye to John, he’s an old, old man now. Lived a long time for this era, as did his wife Mary. He will die 8 years after George becomes King, his 6th monarch, and 3 years after his Mary, leaving a son and daughter to grieve and follow him 6 & 28 years later respectively. I wonder how much they were aware of, how they made their living, and how did all this history affect their lives.
It was so nice to see all the snowdrops, the first sign that Winter is on the way out and Spring is springing in. We noticed these small gravestones, and realised they were for beloved pets.
So that’s the end of our trip to Eggleston Hall, we’ll visit the Abbey next time. Well done if you got through either or both of the histories I appreciate your time 😊
It is amazing wandering around York and seeing all the medieval old shops and churches. It’s quite staggering they remain standing, some of their walls are so wonky, I guess there’s an invisible army of restoration people who manage the upkeep of them.
Back in 2015, Phil and I went off to York for a weekend away. I did a few posts on it but only Francis has seen them, so as I still haven’t got any new stuff sorted out, this will keep your Sunday History lesson going! 😊
The History Bit
York is ancient! Mesolithic items have shown up in digs around the area, that’s 7/8000 yrs BC to you and me, then the British tribes of the Brigantes & the Parisii before the Pesky Romans took it over after the conquest of Britain (Spaghetti Bolognese is still to this present day English people’s favourite meal to cook 😉 ) It was the Romans who really put it on the map. During the conquest the Brigantes became a Roman client state, but, when their leadership changed becoming more hostile to Rome, Roman General Cerialis led the 9th Legion north of the Humber River.
York was founded in 71 AD when Cerialis and the Ninth Legion constructed a military fortress on flat ground above the River Ouse near its junction with the River Foss. The fortress was later rebuilt in stone, covered an area of 50 acres, and was inhabited by 6,000 soldiers. I bet it was smelly! The earliest known mention of the Fort by name (Eboracum) is from a wooden tablet from the Roman fortress of Vindolanda along Hadrians Wall dated to c. 95–104 AD, where it is called Eburaci. Much of the Roman fortress lies under the foundations of York Minster, and excavations in the Minster’s undercroft have revealed some of the original walls, which you’ll see a bit of later.
Well all good things come to an end and the Romans buggered off in 410, not much is known about what happened for a while but definitely factions of Britons kept the place going. Then in early 5th century, the Angles came, and they were German. They founded several of the kingdoms of Anglo Saxon England, and their name is the root of the name England. The name comes from the district of Angeln an area located on the Baltic shore of what is now Schleswig Holstein the most northern state of Germany. However we didn’t really take to Brackwurst like we did Spaghetti Bolognese.
By the early 7th century, York was an important royal centre for the Northumbrian kings, for it was here that Paulinius of York (later St Paulinus) came to set up his wooden church, the precursor of York Minster, and it was here that King Edwin of Northumbria was baptised in 627. The first Minster is believed to have been built in 627, though give or take a couple of years by the sound of it.
So by the 8th century everything’s cushty, York was an active commercial centre with established trading links to other areas of England, Northern France, the Low Countries and the Rhineland.
Then wouldn’t you know it, the Pesky Vikings decide they want a piece of us!! In 867 a large army of Danish Pesky Vikings, called the “Great Heathen Army”, captured York. They had a bit of a fight, the Vikings won and put a puppet ruler in charge of York, then the Army toddled off and went on the rampage for 10 years, came back, and their leader Halfdan took it over.
In 1066 the Pesky French took their turn, and the Norman conquest happened. Now, as we know, there were many years of fighting and rebellion but the upshot was, the Normans eventually controlled England, 8000 of them settled here, and the Anglo Saxons skedaddled off to Scotland, Ireland & Scandinavia.
So that was that, and now we’re in Medieval times. York prospered in the later medieval years and is now a popular tourist attraction, with the Shambles, a street of timber framed shops originally occupied by butchers being top on the tourist list. Some retain the outdoor shelves and the hooks on which meat was displayed. They have overhanging upper floors and are now largely souvenir shops. Twenty medieval parish churches survive in whole or in part, though only eight of these are regularly used for worship. The medieval city walls, with their entrance gates, known as bars, encompassed virtually the entire city and survive to this day.
There you go, 9000 odd years of history in a couple of paragraphs, doncha wish your teacher was hot like me?
on to the pictures,
Will post some more York stuff when I have another gap, til then
Last weekwe looked at the history of the castle between sometime in the mid eleventh century up to 1398, when the castle changed hands. Out with the Umfravilles and in with the Percy’s. So on with the next
History ~ Bit ☕️ 🍪
Firstly though, there are several Henry Percys Earls of Northumberland in this post, we will begin with HP1 for Henry Percy 1st Earl of Northumberland then onwards from there.
And so, in 1398 Prudhoe Castle came into the hands of Henry Percy, the 4th Baron Percy and the 1st Earl of Northumberland. He added a great hall to the castle as soon as he took possession of it. A bit of yoyo~ing then occurred as HP1 rebelled against the King, at the time Henry IV, at the Battle of Shrewsbury. This resulted in him being attainted, which meant losing the castle and his lands in forfeit to the Crown in 1405. The King gave the castle and lands to his son John, the future Duke of Bedford, who hung on to it until he died in 1435.
The Percys were not happy about losing it, and after a prolongued legal battle, in 1440, they got it back. By this time HP3 was head honcho but then he went and fought in the Wars of the Roses for the Lancastrians and was killed at the Battle of Towton in 1461 which we learned about at Lanercost Priory the other week. Edward IV was King by then and in 1462 and he gave Prudhoe Castle to George, Duke of Clarence, who was his younger brother. That didn’t last long though and Eddy then gave it to John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu, the Nevilles being the Percy’s major regional rivals.
By 1470 the castle was yet again in the custody of the Percy’s this time HP4. The Percy’s principle gaff was and still is, (the 12th Duke lives there now) Alnwick Castle, so they rented Prudhoe out to tenants. However in 1528, HP6 was resident at the castle with his bro Sir Thomas Percy. These two were heavily involved in the rebellion of the North against Henery the Eighth’s break with the catholic church along with the dissolution of the lesser monasteries, and the policies of the King’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, as well as other specific political, social, and economic grievances. The revolt began in Yorkshire in 1536 and was known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. The upshot was that HP6 and Tommy were convicted of treason and executed. Yet again the castle was forfeited to the crown. At this point the castle was reported in August 1537 to have habitable houses and towers within its walls, although they were said to be somewhat decayed and in need of repairs estimated at £20, about £12,421.91 in today’s money.
Moving on to 1557 and yet again the Percys held the castle and this time HP7 was the one to go off cock and he took part in the Rising of The North, a rebellion of the Northern Catholic nobles to depose Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Pesky Scots. That went well didn’t it? HP7 was captured, escaped, recaptured and executed in 1572. The castle was let out then to many and various tenants, but not used as a residence after 1660. A hundred and so years down the line in 1776 it was reported to be a ruin.
But then, another Percy to the rescue, this time Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland. He carried out substantial repairs to the ancient fabric and replaced the old dwellings within the walls with a Georgian mansion adjoining the keep. In 1996 the castle was returned to the Crown, and now English Heritage are the custodians.
The Percys eh? A feisty lot to say the least. Let’s have a look at the First of the Feisties, Henry Percy 1st Earl of Northumberland, and his number one son, Henry ‘Hotspur’.
HP1 started out a follower of King Edward III and did well for position at a young age. He was made Warden of the March in 1362 with authority to negotiate with the Pesky Scottish Government and in February 1367 he was entrusted with the supervision of all castles and fortified places in the Scottish marches, where peskiness abounded. He got the Earlship (possibly earldom?) from Richard II on his coronation in 1337 and had the very important title Marshal of England which is a whole other thing which we won’t go into because he only had that for a short time. Between 1383 and 1384, he was appointed Admiral of the Northern Seas. But then he got miffed when King Dicky promoted HP’s rival Ralph Neville to be Earl of Westmoreland in 1397. So he and his son, another Henry who was known as Hotspur, joined a chap called (yet another 🙄) Henry Bolingbroke, the grandkid of King Eddy III, in his rebellion and usurption of the throne in 1399. He was crowned Henry IV. So many Henrys, 😮💨.
Henry IV was so chuffed with HP1 that on his coronation day he made him Constable of England, an even more important position than Marshal of England. Though I think Marshal sounds better than Constable, well I’d rather wear a stetson than a British bobby helmet anyhoo. HP was also given the Lordship of the Isle of Man. At this point the Pesky Welsh were doing the rebellion thingy, led by a chap called Owain Glyndŵr, who sounds like he should have been in Lord of the Rings, and King HIV ( 🙄 not the best initialism I’ve ever come up with) asked HP1 and Hotspur to go and sort it out. He wasn’t best pleased with their attempts to make peace though.
In 1402 HP1 and Hotspur took part in the Battle of Homildon Hill. Now that’s a whole nother post so we’ll just say the battle was against the Pesky Scots and resulted in the capture of very many Pesky Scottish Nobles. The policy back then was to ransom the nobles for money, but Henry IV was very worried that releasing all these captives back to Scotland would cause him future trouble so just wanted them kept imprisoned. Plus he was a bit broke. The Percy’s were not happy about this so they joined forces with Owain Glyndŵr and went into open rebellion. Hotspur defied the King and released all his prisoners anyway as he wasn’t going to get remuneration for them, and many of them joined him in the rebellion. A Pesky Scottish & Feisty English fusion no less! Happy Days!
Unfortunately it all fell apart at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Hotspur died whilst doing a charge to kill the king, reputedly shot in the face with an arrow when he opened his visor. Stupid boy. Anyhoo this battle was a bit all over the shop, no-one really won it, the King’s forces sustained greater losses than the rebels, and Henry IV very nearly lost both his life and his throne. But, that was that and King Henry prevailed.
Henry Hotspur was initially buried next to his maternal first cousin,with honours, but rumours soon spread that he was not really dead. In response the King had him disinterred. His body was salted, set up in Shrewsbury impaled on a spear between two millstones in the marketplace pillory, with an armed guard. Later it was quartered and put on display in Chester, London, Bristol and Newcastle Upon Tyne. His head was sent to York and impaled on the north gate, looking toward his own lands. In November his grisly remains were returned to his widow Elizabeth.
HP1 had not been directly involved with that rebellion so wasn’t tried for treason, though he did lose the Constable of England position. He did rebel though in 1405, signing The Tripartite Indenture which was an agreement made in February 1405 among Owain Glyndŵr, Edmund Mortimer VI, and himself, agreeing to divide England and Wales up among them at the expense of Henry IV. And again in 1405 he supported the Archbishop of York – Richard Scrope in the Northern Rising after which HP1 fled to Scotland, and his estates were confiscated by the king.
He still didn’t give up, our HP was nothing if not tenacious. In 1408 attempting one last time to seize the throne, he gathered together an army of lowland Scots and loyal Northumbrians and marched south once more toward York. At Bramham Moor, south of Wetherby, (which has an excellent service station on the A1 motorway), HP1’s army was met by a force of local Yorkshire levies and noble retinues which had been hastily assembled, led by the High Sheriff of Yorkshire Sir Thomas Rokeby. HP1was defeated, and he died fighting a furious rearguard action as his army was routed. Very few of his soldiers escaped the pursuit and returned to Scotland and surprise surprrise, HP1’s body was hanged, drawn, and quartered; his head was placed on London Bridge, with other parts of his anatomy displayed elsewhere.
Gone but not forgotten, you can find him in Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV, part 1, and Henry IV, part 2 and he inspired the character of Lord Percy Percy, heir to the duchy of Northumberland in the historical sitcom The Black Adder.
Phew! Well done if you actually read all through that, and I forgive you skimmers. 😊
Some Photos then! Last time we looked at the Castle itself and this time we’ll look at a few details
So that’s it for this time, but
for wherever next!
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.
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.
Built in 1150, the Gatehouse also incorporated the chapel.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 wealthand 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!
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 😊
Sophie and I do like a good ruin, and whilst not overly spectacular in comparison to Tynemouth PrioryLanercost Priory, or Mount Grace’s Priory, it’s still very much worth a visit. The best bit about it for me, is the history, which has a lot to do with the Pesky Scots, and we’re looking at the ancestry of the Peskiest Scott of all, Robert the Bruce, though he had nothing to do with the priory sadly.
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪 *Long post alert*
Guisborough Priory is a ruined Augustinian monastery founded in 1119 as the Priory of St.Mary by Robert de Brus, 1st Lord of Annandale, (1070–1141)a Norman feudal magnate, Lord of Skelton, and one of the largest landowners in the north, owning more than 40,000 acres in Yorkshire alone. The priory became one of the richest monastic foundations in England with grants from the crown and bequests from de Brus, other nobles and gentry and local people of more modest means. The Bruce clan, are all descended from our Bob the 1st.
The family name is derived from the place name Bruis, now Brix, Manche in the arrondissement of Valognes in the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy. Which means Bob was a Pesky Frenchman before his progeny became Pesky Scotts. Bob was mates with King Henry 1st and had been with him at The Battle of Tinchebray in Normandy, in 1106 which they won. He’s mentioned several times in historical surveys and documents witnessing charters from Lords to churches, and being gifted lands by an Earl and King Henry and it may bore you to death if I list them all but if you’re that way inclined you can click on the details arrow and see that.
What is known clearly is that this Robert de Brus is first mentioned during the period 1094 and 1100, as a witness to a charter of Hugh, Earl of Chester, granting the church of Flamborough, Yorkshire, to Whitby Abbey. Possibly the Earl of Chester in about 1100–1104 pledged Robert of certain portions of his Cleveland fee in Lofthouse, Upleatham, Barwick, Ingleby, and other places. Between 1103 and 1106 Robert de Brus attested with Ralph de Paynel and 16 others a charter of William, Count of Mortain, to the abbey of Marmoutier. In 1109 at a Council of all England held at Nottingham, he attested the charter of King Henry I confirming to the church of Durham certain possessions which the men of Northumberland had claimed. During the period 1109–1114 he appears in early charters in possession of numerous other manors and lands in Yorkshire, and in the same period he attested a charter of Henry I issued at Woodstock, Oxfordshire. He appears in the Lindsey Survey made 1115–1118 in possession of even further lands. There is a strong presumption that the King had given Robert his Yorkshire fee soon after the battle of Tinchebrai (28 September 1106). Robert was present at the great gathering of northern
magnates at Durham in 1121, and sometime during the period 1124–1130 he was with the King at Brampton. About 1131 he was in the retinue of Henry I at Lions, in Eure. At about the same time he attested with three of his personal knights a confirmation with Alan de Percy to the monks of Whitby. It is said that Robert had been given some 80 manors in Yorkshire by King Henry. It is evident that Robert kept up his connexions with other Normans too. A member of the Feugères family, of Feugères, Calvados, arr. Bayeux, canton of Isigny, witnessed charters of this Robert de Brus circa 1135 in Yorkshire.
So our Bob was doing very well for himself in England and France, hob nobbing with Lords and Earls and the King, but had also become a ‘companion in arms’ with a Scottish chappie, brother of the Scottish King Alexander, called David FitzMalcolm, who was in France with Bob and King Henry in 1120. Dave must have got on well with the King as Henry allotted him most of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. Our Dave then succeeded to the Scottish throne after Alex’s death in 1124, where upon he bestowed the Lordship of Annandale upon his good ol’ battle~pal Bob’s shoulders. There’s no evidence Bob ever lived there though, so he missed out on the Annandale Whisky Distillery and lovely scenery and hills with names such as Devil’s Beef Tub.
Well dear reader now it all goes to ratshit. King Henry died and we get King Stephen who I’ve written of before but here it is again as I know you’ve forgotten him. -Stephen was the grandson of William the Conqueror, and when Willy Conk’s son King Henry 1st died leaving the succession to the throne open to challenge, Stephen hot footed it over the channel to England and with the help of Henry, Bishop of Winchester, took the throne, before Henry’s daughter Matilda got her little graspy hands on it.-
King David was not a fan of King Stephen but supported Matilda so he took advantage of the chaos in England due to the disputed succession there, and he took the chance to realise his son’s claim to Northumberland. Our Bob was very unhappy at this, and the friendship was over, with Bob bitterly renouncing his homage to David before taking part on the English side at The Battle of The Standard in North Yorkshire in 1138. Bob pleaded with Dave, asking him to remember how earlier he and other Normans had persuaded King Alexander to give part of the Scottish Kingdom to him. But to no avail. Bob’s family split, witih Bob and his eldest son Adam fighting for England, whilst his youngest son, Bob 2, with his eye on his Scottish inheritance, fought for Scotland. Though only for 3 1/2 hours as Henry’s forces won that one. Bob took Bob 2 prisoner!
Two years later, at the grand age of 71, Bob died whilst at Skelton Castle. As the founder of Gisborough Priory, he was buried inside the church, in the place of honour between the Canon’s stalls in the Quire. Priory histories record his death and his burial there. He was survived by his wife Agnes, and his children. Robert’s son, Adam de Brus, Second Lord of Skelton, would be buried there in 1143, and his son Robert, Second Lord of Annandale, would be buried there after his death in 1194. Both the Scottish and English sides of the family would be laid to rest there, the last being Robert de Brus, Fifth Lord of Annandale in 1295. Eventually a great Cenotaph would be placed there honoring the Brus Family and commemorating its most famous descendant King Robert Bruce of Scotland, Bob 5’s grandson,
It was a dry day with clouds coming and going and Sophie and I had a good wander around the grounds. Photos taken with my Contax Aria, loaded with a roll of Portra 400.
The priory and the community prospered, rebuilding the priory on a grand scale at the end of the 12th century and again after a catastrophic fire in 1289. Then Henry VIII happened and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, and Guisborough suffered. The priory buildings were demolished and the stone re-used in other buildings in Guisborough. The east end of the priory church was left standing with its great window forming a distinctive arch, a well-known landmark used as a symbol for Guisborough. It became part of the estate of the Chaloner family, who acquired it in 1550. The east window was preserved by them as part of a Romantic vista adjoining their seat, Gisborough Hall, from which the priory takes its name. It is owned by the Chaloners but is in the care of English Heritage as a scheduled monument
The priory buildings stood at the centre of a walled precinct arranged in two courts, inner and outer with gatehouses at the entrances to both; the remains of the great gate of the inner court are extant but the outer gatehouse no longer survives. The gate comprised an outer porch, an inner gatehall and a porter’s lodge on the ground floor with chambers above the arch. It survived intact into the early 18th century but only the outer porch remains.
Land immediately south of the priory was used by the Chaloners for formal gardens attached to Old Gisborough Hall. In the early 18th century they planted an oval-shaped double avenue of trees, the Monks’ Walk, where stonework recovered from mid-19th century excavations was deposited. In between the trees was a manicured lawn used to hold musical and theatrical productions. The Monks’ Walk fell into disuse and became overgrown but is under restoration by the Gisborough Priory Project.
There is an octagonal dovecote just to the west of the grounds, built in the 14th century, it was modified in the mid-18th century with the addition of a pyramidal roof tiled with Welsh slate and capped with an open-sided timber cupola. The original nesting boxes have been removed and the dovecote is used as a garden store.
Well done if you got through all that! Stay tooned for Part 2 next time.
Sophie has returned from Spain for a couple of weeks, so we have been on some outings at the weekends and our first visit was to Edlingham in Northumberland, where there are castle ruins, and yet another (guess what) medieval church worth exploring.
The History Bit 🍪 ☕️
The Church is set in a beautiful landscape in the tiny village of Edlingham, formerly Eadwulfingham, in Northumberland. There is evidence of a church on this site, a wooden structure which was granted by King Ceolwulf of Northumbria to the Lindisfarne Island monastery, when he abdicated his crown to become a monk there in 737AD. It was replaced by another wooden one and consecrated by Bishop Egred in 840AD.
The first stone church dates to about 1050AD and there are fragments of the late Saxon building which can be seen in the west wall of the nave. The rest of the church is mostly 12th century though the tower was added around 1300 and was more than probably built as a defence against the Pesky Scots, who were raiding along the borders between Northumberland and Scotland. There are slit windows in the tower for the use of archers. In the 17th century it was likely that the church was used to imprison Moss Troopers, these were disbanded Pesky Scottish soldiers turned brigands, and quite happy to attack Parliamentary troops and civilians alike, as well as raiding livestock along the borders.
Inside the church is the tomb of Sir William De Felton, and an arched tomb recess in the wall bearing the arms of Sir Will who died in 1358. We’ll delve into his history when we get to the castle next time, as it was himself who had the castle built. The niche would have held the effigy of Sir Will in full armour, but that was presumably removed after the Restoration. In the recess now are several pieces of stone, including part of the shaft of a stone cross believed to be 8th Century, which is probably the cross that originally stood in a socket outside the porch.
There is an unusual late 11th century south porch, with a barrel vault. The chancel arch is typically Norman in design dating back to the early 1100s. This is also the date of the chancel itself, which may have replaced an earlier and smaller structure attached to the church that was built in the 1050s.
The north aisle arcade is 12th century and the nave pillars feature scalloped capitals and nail head decoration.
At the east end of the aisle is an early cross slab, apparently dating from before the Norman Conquest. Another stone, dating back to the 1300s, and carved with a sword and a pair of shears, has been set into the floor immediately inside the door from the porch. That doesn’t seem like a great idea as people walking on it will wear it away, but I’m not in charge so that’s that.
Most of the current windows were installed during a restoration in 1902. The window at the east end of the chancel is a little older and is especially glorious. This was installed in 1864 in memory of Lewis-de-Crespigny Buckle, (which has to be our best found name ever!) who died when the S.S. Nemis was lost at sea. It carries the inscription “The sea gave up the dead which were in it”.
One of his relatives also has a wall memorial.
Edlingham is a lovely little hamlet mainly consisting of farm buildings and a couple of cottages and the church and castle are set in a beautiful landscape, but back in the eighth century it was one of four royal villages given to St.Cuthbert by King Ceolwulf, and had a population of 600. Nowadays there are more cows than people living there.
Sophie and I love these old churches I’ve been posting of late, and this is likely the last for a while as Sophie is back in Spain now, and we’ve done most of them over the past 12 years! We love the feel of them, being in one and reading the memorials, seeing the remnants of anglo saxon stonework, or Norman arches, it’s like walking through history.
William was born in 1675, when Charles II, the ‘Merry Monarch’ was King of England, and died in 1737 when King George II was on the throne, 5 monarchs later. When William was 10 years old, James II of England and VII of Scotland became King, he was really unpopular because of his persecution of the Protestant clergy and he was generally hated by the people. TheMonmouth Uprisingthe Bloody Assizes of Judge Jeffreys after when more than 200 rebels were hanged, drawn and quartered, and 800 transported to the West Indies to work on the sugar plantations all happened during his reign.
Parliament asked the Dutch prince, William of Orangeto take the throne and he did so in 1688 when our Will was 13. King Will landed 450 ships in Torbay in Devon, and with an army 20,000 strong, including many deserters from James’ army, he marched into London and effected the Glorious Revolution. William was married to James II’s protestant daughter Mary, and they ruled together until she died in 1694. James plotted to regain the throne and in 1689 landed in Ireland where William defeated James at the Battle of the Boyne and James fled again to France, as guest of Louis XIV.
Then came Anne, whose tenure started in 1702 when our Will was 27. She was the second daughter of James II and during her reign the United Kingdom of Great Britain was created by theUnion of England and Scotland. Probably Scottish people haven’t forgiven her.
After Anne’s death in 1714 when our Will was 39 yrs old the succession went to the nearest Protestant relative of the Stuart line. This was Sophia, daughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia, James I ‘s only daughter, but she died a few weeks before Anne and so the throne passed to her son George. He was 54 yrs old lived happily in Hanover, Germany. He turned up with 18 cooks and 2 mistresses and couldn’t speak a word of English. Sir Robert Walpole became Britain’s first Prime Minister and ran the country for him. A year later in 1715 the Jacobites (followers of James Stuart, son of James II) attempted to supplant George, but the attempt failed. George spent little time in England – he preferred his beloved Hanover.
George I died in 1727 and in came his son George II who at least could speak English, though Walpole still ran the country. Our Will was 52 by then and only had 10 years left to live, so he missed out on the second attempt by the Jacobites to restore a Stuart to the throne in 1745 when they had their Bonnie Prince Charlie moment and got slaughtered at Culloden Moor by the army under the Duke of Cumberland, known as ‘Butcher’ Cumberland.
Impossible of course, to know how the historic events affected our Will throughout his life, and the villagers, if at all. But that’s what happens when you’re walking through and looking at the past, you can’t help but wonder!
Next time we’ll have a look at the Castle, or what’s left of it!
Gibside is the childhood home of Mary Eleanor Bowes and I figured it would be nice to do her history. You may need a ☕️ and 🍪 if you’re going to wade through it!
The History Bit
Mary was born in Mayfair, London on 24 February 1749, the daughter and heiress of Sir George Bowes and and his second wife, Mary Gilbert. She spent her childhood at Gibside and at the age of 11 her father died, leaving her a vast fortune from his mining cartel. Mary became the wealthiest heiress in Britain. Taken to live in London by her Mum Mary became a bit of a flighty girl, batting her eyelashes at a fair few Dukes and Marquesses before getting engaged to an Earl at the age of 16, John Lyon the 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
A Scottish nobleman and peer famous for his appearance and known as “the beautiful Lord Strathmore”. He was described thusly by his friend the surgeon Jesse Foote ~ “The late Earl of Strathmore was not calculated to make even a good learned woman a pleasing husband. His Lordship’s pursuits were always innocent and without the smallest guile, but they were not those of science or any other splendid quality. A sincere friend, a hearty Scotchman and a good bottle companion were points of his character.”
As was stipulated in George’s will, Lyon had to get his surname changed to Bowes, which further down the line became Bowes-Lyon. They married on her 18th birthday in 1767. They had 5 children, the oldest son being John Bowes who became the 10th Earl and has his own history which you can read about in my post The Bowes Museum. Thanks to Mary Eleanor’s fortune, she and her hubby lived high on the hog. Hubby spent a lot of time and money restoring his family seat – Glamis Castle in Scotland, whilst Mary wrote a poetical drama entitled The Siege of Jerusalem in 1769 and got interested in botany, financing an expedition by explorer William Paterson to collect plants in the Cape of Good Hope. It wasn’t the happiest of marriages, they didn’t have much in common, and his family didn’t care much for her, John’s brother often insulted her in public. John got sick with tuberculosis and his Doctors advised him to go for treatment in Bath and Bristol, which he did for long periods of time. Mary stayed in London partying and having dalliances with young men of her aquaintance. On 7 March 1776, Lord Strathmore died at sea on his way to Portugal.
As a widow Mary regained control of her vast fortune, and paid off John’s debts of £145,000 without blinking an eye. Mary’s lover at the time was a chap called George Gray, a Scotsman but born in Calcutta in 1737 where his Dad worked as a surgeon for the East India Company, and Mary was pregnant by him. She didn’t want to get hitched as he’d proven a bit of a numpty by making and squandering a small fortune for the company as well as the considerable inheritance of his first Missis, resulting in him returning to England under a cloud in 1766. Really Mary, what were you thinking?? Anyway Mary induced an abortion by drinking some sort of “black, inky kind of medicine” according to her diary, (her candid account of these abortions is one of very few available first-person descriptions of secret abortions in the era before legalised abortion) but had to do the same again when she got pregnant again, and yet again. I can only eye roll.
On her 4th pregancy she decided she really should just marry the guy, and they got engaged in 1777.
But in that same summer of ’77, along came the charming and suave Anglo~Irish adventurer Andrew Robinson-Stoney, who seduced our lady and manipulated himself into her home and bed. The cad! He’d been a Lieutenant in the British Army but called himself ‘Captain’ Stoney. Stoney was a serial gold digger, and had started that career when he married Hannah Newton, a twenty-year-old heiress from County Durham. He married her, returned to the army, and convinced her to settle £5000 on him if perchance she died childless, and then proceeded to mistreat her, beating her up and starving her. She finally croaked during childbirth after several still-births, as did the baby.
He tricked our Mary good and proper by arranging a fake duel with the editor of a newspaper The Morning Post, the Reverend Sir Henry Bate Dudley, who had published scurrilous articles about Mary’s private life. But it was Stoney himself who wrote the articles both criticising and defending the countess. The duel was supposed to appeal to Mary’s romantic nature, and when he pretended to be mortally wounded, Stoney begged her to grant his dying wish – to marry her. Taken in by the ruse, she agreed.
I am quite staggered at Mary’s stupidity really, she had been well educated as a child, was reasonably intelligent and richer than God, but a complete nincompoop when it came to blokes. Anyway, I digress, and she suffered for her stupidity.
Of course, after marrying Mary in church, on a stretcher, mortally wounded, he made a fast and complete recovery. Attempting to take control of his wife’s fortune he discovered Mary had made a secret pre-nuptual agreement safeguarding the profits of her estate for her own use, but he forced her to sign a revocation handing control to him. He then went on to subject Mary to eight years of physical and mental abuse including confining her to her own house. He later took Mary and her daughter Anna Maria (the Earl’s daughter) off to Paris, whence they returned only after a writ had been served on him. He is also said to have raped the maids, invited prostitutes into the home and fathered numerous illegitimate children. A real nice guy.
In 1785 her loyal maids helped her escape Stoney’s custody and Mary filed for divorce through the ecclesiastical courts. But it didn’t end there, Stoney abducted Mary with the help of some accomplices and carried her off to the North Country. She later alleged that he threatened to rape and kill her, that he gagged and beat her and carried her around the countryside on horseback in one of the coldest spells of an unusually cold winter. The country was alerted; Stoney Bowes was eventually arrested, and Mary rescued.
The divorce trials were sensational and the talk of London. Although Mary initially won public sympathy, she didn’t do herself any favours by having an affair with the brother of one of her lawyers, which became public knowledge. Stoney made known other ‘salacious details’ of Mary’s past excesses and ensured the publication of the ‘confessions’ that she had earlier made in writing to him – he even purchased shares in a newspaper to publish these memoirs. There was also a general feeling that Mary had behaved badly in attempting to prevent her husband’s access to her fortune. Pfui!
Thankfully Stoney and his accomplices were found guilty of abduction and banged up for 3 years, should have been much longer IMHO! The divorce case continued and Stoney lost the battle to retain control of the Bowes fortune whilst the case was still ongoing, which was a nice interim judgement as the case was still not resolved by the time Mary died in 1800 when it became pointless for it to be continued. He was let out of prison on her death and had the effrontery to attempt to have her will invalidated. He lost that case (yay!) and was then sued by his own lawyers for their expenses. Unable to pay these debts, he came under prison jurisdiction (in that era, bankruptcy was punished with prison), although he lived outside the prison walls with his mistress, Mary ‘Polly’ Sutton. He died on 16 June 1810. And good riddance.
After 1792 Mary lived quietly in Hampshire, Purbrook Park firstly, and then Stourfield House, an isolated mansion on the edge of the village of Pokesdown, Christchurch. She took with her a full set of maids and servants including the maid who helped her escape from Stoney, Mary Morgan. When Morgan died in 1796 Mary gave up socialising all together and spent her time looking after her pets, which included a large number of dogs who had hot dinners cooked for them daily. The locals thought she was a bit bonkers, but she did reach out to them now and again, sending dinners and beers to the men working in the fields. Her three sons visited occasionally, not stopping long, but two of her daughters lived with her. In her will she left presents of dresses and other items to the community and an annuity for the widow Lockyer of Pokesdown Farm.
Mary died on 28 April 1800. Undertakers came from London with a hearse and three mourning carriages and transported her body to London. She can be found in Westminster Abbey, and her tombstone is in Poet’s Corner there.
Well done if you read this far, you are my favourite visitor! 😊
The mansion built by Sir William Blakiston in the 1600’s, became vacant in the 1920s after death duties forced the Bowes-Lyon family to scale back its lavish lifestyle and give up some of its great houses. The building was stripped of its fixtures and fittings, with many of the fireplaces and other items being transferred to Glamis Castle.
The orangery is Mary’s only original contribution to the buildings of Gibside. When she commissioned plant collector William Paterson to explore South Africa in search of rare and new species, the orangery – or green house – would have been home to this brilliant and diverse collection of unusual plants.
The original layout of this space was into three rooms to the north, known as ’garden rooms’. There was also one large room to the south, purely for the display of plants. Especially in winter when the more exotic species were kept heated throughout the colder months.
The large south-west facing windows provided a huge amount of light and a heating system would have kept plants warm during the winter.
Mary requested that she be buried wearing her first wedding dress, and it has been painstakingly recreated and stands in the chapel at Gibside.
And that’s the end of Mary’s story. Gibside is a lovely place to walk around, especially in autumn, so I’ll finish with a couple of random pictures!
That’s all folks! Stay tooned for next week and a visit to someotherwhere.
As well as doing the 365 project last year, I did manage to get out and about with Sophie, and as I’ve posted over atFragglefilm a few from our re-visit of Belsay Hall & Castle, I thought I’d do a post with the Fuji photo’s I took the same day. We last visited in February 2019 but haven’t been in Autumn so wanted to rectify that. I’m repeating the history bit for new followers, and forgetful old followers 🤣
The History Bit
Back in days of yore, the first fortification at Belsay was an Iron Age hillfort, set on a hilly spur known as Bantam Hill. Not a lot of info on that as no records exist of how big it was, or how long it was occupied, but in 1270 Richard de Middleton, Lord Chancellor to King Henry III had a Manor built there. The Manor stayed in the Middleton family until 1317 when Gilbert de Middleton owned it. At this point in history, Robert The Bruce was on the rampage, and having won a great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was raiding into England with impunity. Gilbert raised himself a private army to counter the threat of The Bruce, but stupid Gilbert went a bit OTT and ended up raiding Yorkshire and extorting money from the Bishop of Durham. It didn’t take long until he was captured, hung, drawn and quartered, and his Manor confiscated. The Belsay estate was passed around a few people but ended up back in the Middleton clan in 1390, when John Middleton extended the manor and built the castle which is still there today. In 1614 the castle was modified by Thomas Middleton who added a Jacobean range on the west side, probably replacing the old manor. A further wing was added round about 1711, and a walled garden in front of the castle. In 1795 the castle passed into the hands of 6th Baronet Sir Charles Miles Lambert Monck who actually had the surname of Middleton but changed his name to that of his maternal grandfather Laurence Monck of Caenby Hall, Lincolnshire who died in 1798, in order to inherit his estate. Because you can never have enough halls and castles. Charlie had traveled to Greece for his honeymoon and became much enamored of Hellenic architecture, so with the help of John Dobson, the North’s most famous architect, he built a new manor in the grounds of the castle in the Greek Revival style. He and his family moved into the new building in 1817 and just abandoned the castle. Of course, that fell into disrepair and by 1843 parts of the structure were ruinous.
Luckily Sir Arthur Middleton took it on in 1872 and the 1711 wing was demolished and the manorial house was partially rebuilt so it could be used as a dower house ~ a house intended as the residence of a widow, typically one near the main house on her late husband’s estate~whilst the tower itself was restored in 1897. During the 2nd World War, the military used the castle which led to further deterioration, and by 1945 when the Middleton family got it back, they lacked the funds to sort it out. By 1986 Sir Stephen Middleton owned the estate, but moved into a smaller house nearby, leaving the two properties empty. Both of these were transferred into State ownership in 1980 and the site is now in the care of English Heritage.
Although the castle and the manor are great to photograph, our favourite bit is the walk through the quarry that connects the two buildings. We went looking for Autumn colours and were not disappointed, and the weather was kind to us, always welcome!
Firstly though let’s have a look at the manor.
It’s a fair walk from the Manor to the Castle, through the lovely landscape and a quarry walk, so next time we’ll start out and see what there is to see.
Following on from our trip to Richmond Castle, Sophie and I went a mile and a half down the road to the ruins of Easby Abbey, and as you know, before we get to the pictures, we must first do
The History Bit 🍪 ☕️
Easby Abbey, or The Abbey of St.Agatha is one of the best preserved monsteries of the Premonstratensian order. Premonstratensian is a bit of a mouthful, and I’d never heard of it so in case I’m not the only one here’s a quick run down of what it was/is. It’s full title is The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as the Norbertines (sounds like a grunge pop group) and in Britain and Ireland the White Canons, on account of the canons wearing white habits.
Founded in 1120 by Norbert of Xanten (which is in Germany). Norbert has nothing to do with Easby Abbey per se, but he’s an interesting chap so lets dig a bit deeper into his history. Nobby’s Dad, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was a member of the high nobility of the Holy Roman Empire and related to the imperial house and also to the House of Lorraine. Because of the family connections, he was ordained as clergy to the church of St. Victor at Xanten, wherein his only job was to chant the Divine Office. Nobby wasn’t up for that so much and paid someone else a small fee to do it for him while he went off to become a councillor to the emperor Henry V in Cologne. The salaries he got from the Xanten church and the royal treasury allowed him to live in the style of the nobility of the times.
He quite liked living high on the hog for not so much work, and managed to avoid ordination as a priest and also turned down the chance to become a Bishop of Cambrai in 1113. But two years later, Nobby had a near death experience whilst riding his horse to Verdun. A thunderbolt from a storm struck near his horses feet, naturally the horse threw him and he lay unconscious for nearly an hour. Nobby saw this as a wake up call, gave up his posh life at court and returned to his church in Xanten to live a life of penance placing himself under the direction of Cono, Abbot of St Sigeberg. In gratitude to Cono Nobby founded the Abbey of Fürstenberg in 1115, endowed it with some of his property and gave it over to Cono and his Benedictine successors, which was jolly nice of him I think.
Nobby was 35 years old at this point and soon accepted ordination as a priest and became a great devotee of the Eucharist and Our Lady. He adopted a lifestyle of ascetism, (adopting a frugal lifestyle, characterised by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures, and also spending time fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters.) Unfortunately his ascetism was so fierce it killed his first three disciples. 🙄 He tried to reform the canons of Xanten, but in light of not wanting to starve to death, they declined and denounced him to some council or other, whereupon Nobby resigned his positions, and sold up his properties to give to the poor. Off he went to visit Pope Gelasius II who gave Nobby permission to wander as an itinerate preacher so he trundled around Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France, where he did some unspecified miracles. Along the way, in many settlements he visited he found a demoralised clergy, often lonely chaps, feeling abandoned by the official church, and practicing what’s known as concubinage, which means they were indulging in matters of bodily naughtiness with ladies they could not marry.
He also became acquainted with the Cistercian administrative system that created an international federation of monasteries with a fair amount of centralized power, though local houses had a certain amount of independence. These reforms, written up in their “Charter of Charity” would affect him significantly in his own future work. Nobby gained a lot of acolytes and founded houses of his order all over the shop, firstly in Premontre, as well as becoming the Apostle of Antwerp after combatting a heretical preacher called Tanchelm. He became the Archbishop of Magdeburg where he survived a few assassination attempts whilst reforming the lax discipline of his see. In 1126 and in his last years, he was chancellor and adviser to Lothair II, the Holy Roman Emperor, persuading him to lead an army in 1133 to Rome to restore Innocent to the papacy.
Nobby died in 1134, and initially buried in Magdeburg. The abbot of Strahov in Prague was able to claim the body after a few problems such as Magdeburg turning protestant and military fisticuffs and such like. He is now buried there in a glass fronted tomb and was canonised by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, so is now Saint Nobby.
So back to Easby and it is listed in the Domesday survey of 1086 as ‘Asebi’, which was held by Enisan Murdac, an important local landowner who was a vassal of Alan le Roux or ‘the Red’, Earl of Richmond (c 1040–1093) whomst you may remember from the History Bit re: Richmond Castle.
The abbey of St Agatha at Easby was founded in about 1152 by Roald, constable or principal officer of Richmond. It’s thought he was the son of Hasculfus Musard, lord of Tansor in Northamptonshire and of estates in Oxfordshire. He established Easby as a Premonstratensian monastery, only the third such house to be founded in England. In the process, the existing minster community was probably absorbed into the new abbey.
Roald endowed a modest bit of land to Easby which rose slowly, over the centuries and there are over 100 charters documenting it’s rise. Sheep farming seems to have been their main income. Not much is known about the early buildings of the monstery, but there is a re-used 12th century doorway in the west range of the cloister, and surviving fragments of the abbey church probably dating from 1170 or 80. In the 12th and 13th centuries the monastery prospered, with the increase of more Canons and the replacing of the original buildings on a grand scale. In 1198 Egglestone Abbey in nearby Teesdale was founded as Easby’s only daughter house.
During this time Roald’s descendents kept hold of the constableship of Richmond going all lah-de-dah and styling themselves De Burton or De Richmond, but then in the late 13th and 14th centuries they started to sell off their estates for unknown reasons.
In come the Scropes of Bolton, a family from Wensleydale, and landowners of knightly rank. They made the abbey their buriel place and it’s most likely they paid for an extension to the chancel in the 14th century. In 1392 Sir Richard Scrope the 1st Baron of Bolton granted land to the Abbey and it was substantially enlarged. Sir Richard served King Richard II and also fought in the Battle of Crécy under the Black Prince, (Richard II’s Daddy). He had been made Lord Chancellor in 1378, trying to stop Richard II spending all the treasury dosh on wars against the Pesky French, but resigned in 1380 when the government collapsed after all the military failures in France. He regained the position after the Peasants Revolt that had started then, but was sacked by King Richard for non-cooperation in 1382, so went off back to Bolton and rebuilt his castle there. He had a 4 year long dispute with Sir Robert Grosvenor over his armorial bearings for the right for his shield to be emblazoned “Azure, a bend Or.” A court of chivalry decided in his favour, with Geoffrey Chaucer gave evidence in his favour. Although his son William had been executed by King Henry IV for supporting the deposed King Richard, Henry held Sir Richard in high regard and allowed him to keep his lands and titles. He died in 1403 and was buried at Easby Abbey.
A good deal is known about the abbey between 1478 and 1500 when the abbey was subject to inspections on the state of it’s community. Richard Redman the Abbot of Shap and later the Bishop of Ely was the principal of the Premonstratensians in England and he recorded any goings on. In 1482 he discovered a canon called John Nym had run away after being accused of improper bodily naughtiness with a widow, Elizabeth Swales. Redman wanted him found and to face a tribunal, which he was and he did, where he was exonerated. By 1494 he was the Abbot in charge. Redman also observed that although the Abbey was in debt, the buildings were well maintained and food was provided.
In the 16th century little is known about the abbey, but in 1535 the then Abbot, Robert Bampton, drew up a document restating the rights of the Scropes as patrons. Round about this time there were rumours that Englands monasteries would be suppressed and it’s thought he issued this document to obtain the Scropes support for keeping the monastery intact.
That was a vain hope in the end, as the year after Easby Abbey was closed. Their were only 11 canons left by then, so the abbey and it’s lands were let to Lord Scrope of Bolton for £300. Also by this time Richmond was taking a major part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, whereby the north rose up in support of the monasteries. That went tit’s up and by Springtime 1537 the leaders of the uprising had missed the opportunity to defeat the Crown’s forces. It was, of course, Henry VIII in charge at this time, and he was well miffed about the uprising. His pal the Duke of Norfolk was tasked with crushing the rebels, and Henry wrote to him saying “at your repair to … St Agatha and such other places as have made resistance … you shall without pity or circumstance … cause the monks to be tied up [hanged] without further delay. Vengeance was a thing with Henry.
The Abbey was returned to the Scropes but by 1538 most of the buildings had been demolished and the lead roofing stripped. The Scropes gave up the lease in 1550 and the abbey and estates went through several pairs of hands before another Lord Scrope, Henry, bought it back in 1579. There’s no evidence of any repairs being done to the Abbey between the 16th and 18th centuries and an engraving of it in 1721 sees it not much different from it’s present state.
The Scropes passed it on through the family until the death of Lord Emmanuel Scrope in 1630. His daughter Annabel married John Grubham Howe and so the estate passed into the Howe family. In 1700 Sir Scrope Howe (way to go combining the names!) sold it to Bartholomew Burton and then it passed through several different hands until 1816 when Robert Jaques bought it.
Late 18th century and 19th the abbey became known for being a romantic ruin and was painted by several artists including JMW Turner between 1816-18. Then in the 19th century it became the plaything of antiquarians, and Sir William St John Hope partially excavated it in 1885-6. It was still owned by the Jaques family up until 1930 when it was taken over by the Ministry of Works.
I am going back in time now, to places Sophie and I went before BWP (before wordpress) as we can’t go anywhere as yet. But back on a sunny day in August, 2013, we set off to visit Richmond Castle and Easby Abbey just down the road from the castle. My camera was a Nikon D700, a bit of a gorgeous beast, but my treatment of my photo’s was a bit on the bright side, nevermind, we all have to learn and grow!
But first, of course, we must do…
The History Bit 🍪 ☕️ (long post alert!)
Richmond Castle stands overlooking the River Swale in a place originally called ‘Riche Mount’, meaning ‘the strong hill’. We are back in Norman Conquest times now gentle reader so everything gets a bit Frenchyfied. The Castle and subsequently the town of Richmond was built by a chap called Alan Rufus, (Alan the Red) which doesn’t sound very French but rest assured he was one of those Pesky French who played a large part in our history.
Alan was a Nobleman of Breton and companion to William the Conqueror who you may remember from our previous history post concerning Auckland Castle.
Born in 1040 his parents were Eozen Penteur, Count of Pentfiévre and Orguen Kernev known as Agnes of Cornouaille. Eozen was related to Willy Conk’s family and there’s a whole shed load of inter-related and married brothers and sisters, and Dukes this and that of here and there that I think we’ll skip over for sanity’s sake, suffice to say our Alan’s family were well heeled and connected in the upper eschelons of Royal society.
By 1060 our Al had properties in Rouen, and was Lord of Richemont in Upper Normandy prior to 1066. Willy Conk gifted Al a couple of churches therein, St-Ouen de Rouen of the church of Saint-Sauveur and the nearby church of Sainte Croix des Pelletiers. You will have clocked 1066 as the date when The Battle of Hastings happened, when the Pesky French wiped the floor with the English. Now, I don’t want to appear to be a bad loser here, but I’m going to point out that the battle took place on the 14th October, and started at 9am. It’s estimated the Pesky French under Willy Conk, had 10,000 men, cavalry and arches and infantry, whilst good ol’King Harold had 7000, mostly infantry. The English were outmanned and out techied, but held their ground, and by dusk of that day the Pesky French had not been able to break the English battle lines. So what did they do to win? They ran away, pretending to flee in panic, and then turned on their pursuers! It’s just not cricket!!
Anyway I digress. Our Al was with Willy Conk at the Battle, and apparently Al and his Breton men aquitted themselves very well, doing the English ‘great damage’. Later in 1066 Norman cavalry swept into Cambridgeshire and built a castle on the hill north of the river crossing and as Al’s first possessions in England were in Cambridgeshire, he possibly obtained them at this point. King Harold who died at the battle (legend has it he got an arrow through the eye, which is enough to kill most people) was married, (sort of) to a lady known as Edith the Fair, or Edith Swanneck, who held many land titles in Cambridge, and our Al aquired all but one of those. He also aquired Edith and Harold’s daughter Gunhild of Wessex as his mistress who abandoned her life as a nun in Wilton Abbey in order to live with him. She was hoping to marry him but that didn’t happen and after Al’s death she went on to live with his brother Alan Niger (Alan the Black), I suppose one brother is much like the next! Except one’s red and one’s black. Nomenclaturally speaking I mean. I think it was down to hair colour.
In January 1069 the rebellion of York kicked off and Willy Conk got his army together in the latter part of the year, putting down the rebellion and then going on to do the ‘harrying of the north’. As a reward to red Al for his help in the conquest, Willy bestowed what’s known as ‘The Honour of Richmond’ upon him. This ostensibly means a huge swathe of land previously owned by Edwin Earl of Mercia who was part of the rebellion in the North, and was killed trying to escape to Scotland. It was one of the most important fiefdoms in Norman England covering parts of eight English counties. Alan went on to become one of the most important, and wealthy men in England, owning land just about everywhere and being the third richest Baron. But that’s another herd of stuff that isn’t of import to Richmond so there we’ll leave it except to say he had a sudden and unexpected death in either 1089 or 1093, most likely 1093.
Our Al commenced the building of the castle in 1071, and the earliest surviving structures at the castle include long stretches of the stone curtain wall, the great archway in the ground floor of the keep, and Scolland’s Hall. No other castle in England can boast so much surviving 11th-century architecture and it is probably the best-preserved castle of this scale and age in the country. After Al’s death, his brother Al the Black took over and after his death another brother Stephen. By 1136 Stephen’s son, wouldn’t you know it, another Alan Niger (so Al the Black 2nd whomst we will call Alby 2) held the estates.
The King at this point was King Stephen, known as Stephen Le Blois, who we never hear much about, so I’ll digress a little to tell you he was the grandson of Willy Conk, and when Conk’s son King Henry 1st died leaving the succession to the throne open to challenge, Stephen hot footed it over the channel to England and with the help of Henry, Bishop of Winchester, took the throne, before Henry’s daughter Matilda got her little graspy hands on it. Alby 2 had a mint built in the castle that issued coins in support of King Stephen, as his reign was muchly embattled with rebellions and the like.
Alby 2 had married Bertha, the heiress to the Duke of Brittany and they had a son named Conan, (not the Destroyer, nor the Barbarian) and he eventually inherited the Duchy of Brittany and the Earldom of Richmond, thereby becoming subject to both the King of England and the King of France. He began to assert control over his English lands from 1154 and during the next 10 years spent a lot of time at Richmond, commencing the building of the castle keep, a statement of his vast power and wealth. The 100 feet (30m) high keep was built of honey coloured sandstone and it’s walls were 11 foot (3-4m) thick.
Henry II was our King at this time, and in 1166 after getting help from Henry to put down rebellions in his lands in France Conan betrothed his daughter Constance to Henry’s 4th son Geoffrey ceding the duchy of Brittany to the king as part of the agreement. Constance was only 9 years old when Dad died in 1171 so Henry took control of Richmond castle, and held the guardianship of Brittany until Geoffrey and Constance could marry. Royal accounts list several buildings as objects of repair or new work under Henry II, including the tower and houses of the castle (1171–4) and the ‘king’s house’ (1186–7), probably a reference to Scolland’s Hall.
Although Geoff and Connie did marry in 1181, the castle remained in royal hands until the end of King John’s reign in 1261, though there’s no evidence that he did any building works at the castle.
Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries Alby 2’s combination of the French Duchy of Brittany with the English Earldom of Richmond caused a long running international dynastic dispute. The French and English Kings were often having fisticuffs, so the incumbent at Richmond castle had dual allegiances, never really works that does it? As a result the Honour and castle were confiscated from time to time and held by either the English Crown or a royal favourite. Finally in 1372 the castle was surrendered to the Crown.
The Dukes who intermittently ruled Richmond in this period continued to invest in it. In 1278 Duke John II entered into an agreement with Egglestone Abbey to provide six canons (priests, not implements of war- they have an extra ‘n’) for the castle’s Great Chapel so they could spend their time praying for the soul of his late wife Beatrice. Beatrice must have been really bad to need that many prayers I think. The chapel isn’t standing now, so the prayers probably didn’t work too well.
By the end of the 14th century the castle was not in good nick anymore and surveys in 1538 had it ‘derelict’, and in 1609 ‘decayed’ but parts of the castle were still being used. At some point in the 16th century expensive glass was imported from Europe to refurbish the Robin Hood tower’s chapel, and at another point that was abandoned too.
The castle remained in this condition for another 300 years with ownership passing back to the Dukes of Richmond in 1675. These lot were not the Pesky French but started with the extramarital son of King Charles II, probably better keeping it in the family. Every one of the Dukes was called Charles Lennox, Charles Gordon Lennox, Charles Henry Gordon Lennox or Frederick Charles Gordon Lennox. My eyerolling knows no bounds gentle reader. There are 11 of them and apart from one nephew all are sons of the fathers. At least the 3rd Duke made some repairs to the castle keep, but other than that, it stands a ruin. In the 18th and 19th centuries artists including JMW Turner painted the castle in the landscape which encouraged admiration of the castle as a romantic ruin, and the town became a fashionable place for tourists to visit.
In 1854 the North York Militia leased the castle for it’s headquarters and built a barrack block against the west curtain wall. They adapted the keep as a depot and built a range beside the main castle gate, intended as a reserve armoury for the militia. Then in 1908 it became the headquarters of the Northern Territorial Army commanded by Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts until 1910 when the army handed over the historic fabric of the castle to the Ministry of Works, but retained control of the buildings.
When World War 1 happened the Northern Non-Combatent Corps occupied the building. They were a military unit of chaps who had asked to be exempt from going to war but would contribute to the war effort in some other way. However there were a few chaps who didn’t want anything to do with the war at all as it was against their fundamental beliefs and in 1916 some of them were detained in cells at the castle. The tiny rooms where they were held still have the graffiti on the walls that the objectors drew.
Some of these conscientious objectors, who became known as the Richmond Sixteen, were sent to France in May 1916, where they were court martialled for refusing to obey orders. They were given a death sentence, but it was commuted to 10 years penal servitude. Their transportation to France, trial and sentencing have become notorious in the history of conscientious objection.
After the war, from 1920-28 the barracks were used by Richmond Council to help alleviate the shortage of housing in the town and the block was demolished in 1931. In the 2nd World War the roof of the keep was used as a lookout post against enemy activity, and the keep was used as a daylight air raid shelter. In 1940 the cell block was once again used to detain prisoners, although these were soldiers rather than conscientious objectors. Many of them also pencilled drawings and inscriptions on the cell walls.
In 1987 English Heritage became the guardians of the Castle, and now we are bang up to date! That was a long read and I salute you gentle reader for staying to the end, you are still my favourite 🙂 .
So let’s have a look at the castle.
Built by John Yorke as a feature in the park surrounding his mansion, The Green, which was demolished in the 1820s in the 19th century it was known as the Cumberland Tower, or Temple. It was built on, or close to, the site of an earlier peel tower but an exact date has not yet been discovered. It must however be between 1732 – as it bears the arms of Anne Darcy who Yorke married in that year – and 1749 when it is described as a ‘Gothick Tower on an eminence’. The Culloden Tower fell into disrepair in the 1970s and was rescued by The Landmark Trust which completed an exemplary restoration in 1982.
Well that will do for today, you must have finished your cuppa tea by now, but stay tooned, next week we’ll have a look at the town and the river.
All the pictures are embiggenable with a click if you like.
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