Oh what a cliché eh? Sunsets and sunrises are 10 a penny, calendars, postcards, instagram and facebook’s dodgy phone shots. I have succumbed though, throughout the years of taking pictures. If I see a sunset or less often, a sunrise, I will raise the camera and attempt to capture the uncapturable. For remembering where I was and what I was doing at the time, for the swell of emotion I remember feeling as the colours intensify, change, and fade. For the beauty. This post is of sunsets and sunrises I’ve seen on my travels away from the UK.
In 2000 my friend Andy emigrated from Milton Keynes in the UK to Al Haurin El Grande near the southern coast of Spain, he hired a white van to take all his stuff in, and asked me to go with him so I could bring back the van, a road trip of nearly 1500 miles each way. I took Ben with me, and we drove all day and night to arrive in Spain at 7am.
“If I should capture the most beautiful sunrise, only then, will I stop capturing them.” ~ Danikelii
“You have to travel far and wide to see a lot of the world’s wonders, but sunsets can be appreciated in every corner of the earth.” ~ Kimmie Conner
“At sunrise, the blue sky paints herself with gold colors and joyfully dances to the music of a morning breeze.” ~ Debasish Mridha
“Let the sea breeze blow your hair, let the sunset bring tranquility to your heart, let the distant places you travel allow you to explore yourself.” ~ Somya Kedia
“Today was about chasing sun-rays, beach waves, & sunsets. All things beautiful that give you peace are worth chasing. Everything else isn’t.” ~ April Mae Monterrosa
“I just need you and some sunsets” ~ Atticus
“…At every sunset, the sky is a different shade. No cloud is ever in the same place. Each day is a new masterpiece. A new wonder. A new memory.” ~ Sanober Khan
“The redness had seeped from the day and night was arranging herself around us. Cooling things down, staining and dyeing the evening purple and blue black.” ~ Sue MonkKidd
“Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting.” ~ Richard Paul Evans
“Softly the evening came with the sunset.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
After our inspection of St. John the Baptist church, we walked down the path to see the ruins of Edlingham Castle.
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
This one has been a bit of a nightmare, as researching Sir William Felton has lead to some confusing possible discrepancies, but I’ll do my best to sift through to the salient points.
Although a manor house of the 13th century is probably concealed beneath the later building, the earliest standing remains are those of the hall house, built in 1300 by Sir William Felton at a time when Northumberland was relatively peaceful.
William’s family had estates in Norfolk and Shropshire and was an important family, but William made his fortune independently through military service, royal favour and marriage to a Northumberland heiress, Constance de Pontrop. In about 1340–50 his son, also named William, of course, improved domestic comfort by building a magnificent solar tower, the best preserved part of the castle. The Pesky Scots were still at war with the Irksome English in this era, so Will 2 also strengthened the defences with a gate tower and stone curtain wall. Towards the end of the 14th century William’s grandson, Sir John, completed the enclosure walls and enlarged the gatehouse.
Later owners of the estate included the Hastings and Swinburne families. Sir Edmund Hastings married Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir John Felton, and in In 1514, George Swinburne, constable of Prudhoe, purchased Edlingham Castle from the Hastings family. Upon ownership by the wealthy Swinburne family, the purpose of the castle slowly changed from defense to comfort. Interestingly, ground floor rooms of the hall were converted to lodging for farm animals. Swinburne kin owned the castle until the 18th century at which time both solar tower and vaulting of the lower room began deteriorating. Further ruin and theft of stonework continued into the 20th century. In 1978, English Heritage began excavations of the castle, and a few years later in 1985, secured portions of masonry for safety purposes, as well as prevention of further structure collapse.
Some pictures then..
Two views of the castle from the road towards it.
This railway viaduct is located under half a mile north-east of Edlingham in Northumberland, and close to Edlingham Castle. It was built in c.1885 for the North Eastern Railway Company, as part of the former Alnwick to Coldstream (Cornhill) railway, which opened in 1887. Passenger services on the line were discontinued in 1930, although it was briefly in use during the Second World War, to serve RAF Milfield. The line continued to be used for freight, until finally closing in 1965. The track across the viaduct has been removed and the viaduct is now a Grade II site listed on the National Heritage List for England.
Inside the castle
One of the octogonal corners of the hall house.
Finally here’s a nice little drone take on the castle that I found on youtube, you can really see the shap of things from above.
That’s all this week, but stay tooned for a flowerfest next time when we visit Birkheads Secret Gardens.
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!
“Happiness is always the inaccessible castle which sinks in ruin when we set foot in it” ~ Arsene Houssaye
“Huge knots of sea-weed hung upon the jagged and pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and the green ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its own might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting and revelry.” ~ Charles Dickens
“You don’t need planning permission to build castles in the sky” ~ Banksy
“All British castles and old country homes are supposed to be haunted. It’s in the lease.” ~ Bob Hope
“We admire the castles, because we admire the security!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan
“Way back in the old days, say in Europe of the Middle Ages, you had an aristocracy, and they could afford to pay for musicians. The kings and queens had musicians in the castles, and that developed into symphony orchestras and what we call “Classical music” now.” ~ Pete Seeger
“The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house, whether cottage or castle; it stands for permanence and separation from the world.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir
“The narrow path had opened up suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.” ~ J. K. Rowling
“Nothing will turn a man’s home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a dachshund.” ~ Queen Victoria
“I passed under an arch out of that region of slabs and columns, and wandered through the open country; sometimes following the visible road, but sometimes leaving it curiously to tread across meadows where only occasional ruins bespoke the ancient presence of a forgotten road”. ~H.P. Lovecraft
“When we look at the ruins, we always get the same feeling: It’s as if the ruin will suddenly come alive and tell its own interesting story!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan
C’est finis! That’s all my castles curated, stay tooned for who knows what next time!
After we had visitedSt.Maurice’s Church we drove up the road 15 minutes and turned down a narrow country lane to find the rather lovely Holy Trinity Church settled in a secluded glen.
The History Bit 🍪 ☕️
( Actually a lot of this is supposedly, and apparently, so there’s history and a bit of lore.)
The oldest part of the mostly Norman Church is believed to be 12th century and built by the monks of Tynemouth after Queen Maud ~ (Matilda of Scotland who was the wife of the Henry I ) gave the Manor of Bewick toTynemouth Priory in 1107. She did so in memory of her royal father Malcolm Canmore (or Maol Chaluim mac Dhonnchaidh in his native tongue), King of Scotland, who was slain at the Battle of Alnwick in 1093 and buried at Tynemouth. He had snatched the crown of Scotland from Macbeth (the one from Shakespear) in 1054, and in 1091 brought an army south across the border, laying waste to much of Northumberland. Due to the ongoing battles with the pesky Scots in the late 13th century, the church was damaged but restored in the 14th century. There is a possibility that the restoration was done by the husband of a lady who’s effigy can be found in the chancel. She is wearing C14th century costume, and is thought to be the work of sculptors who had a workshop near Alnwick until about 1340. But it is also said to be of Matilda, aka Queen Maud!
A bell dated 1483 was found in the rubble of the vestry suggesting that at this time it had a tower or belfry. Inside the church and porch are several examples of C13th and C14th tomb slabs. Although the church went through more damage around 1640, Ralph Williamson, Lord of the Manor, restored the nave. However, early in the next century, the roof was blown off and the chapel fell to ruin although still used for burials. In 1866 Mr J C Langlands (whose monument stands at the end of the lane) had the church restored, and it opened for services in 1867.
As usual we went hunting for interesting gravestones and found a few..
Someone took the trouble to work this out!
“In the year of our Lord God 1720, here lieth the body of Roger, who departed this li(f)e at bueck (Bewick) mill race, muera (?died ~ possibly meant mori, latin or less possibly muerte, Spanish) 1720″.
This seemed sad,
Grand Master Burdon and his wife, the last surviving daughter of Major Thomas Packenham Vandeleur of Belfield, Co. Limerick.
The bushes behind the robin on a cross are not bushes, that’s a full length fallen tree courtesy of Storm Arwen, and a few of the headstones got battered.
Going inside there are both anglo saxon and Norman features
The church was re-roofed in Victorian times, thanks to Mr J.C. Langlands.
So that’s the end of our initial foray into the churches nearest our favourite café in Northumberland. The following week we did two more, and had lunch again 😊 and they’ll be up in the next couple of posts. I bet you’re all agog so stay tooned!
clickable pics for embiggerment.
Full album HERE for last week and this weeks posts.
It’s been a (long) while since I did a Fraggle Curated post, so as I have a spare day off this weekend I thought why not do an extra post and add to the other ones which, if you haven’t seen them before can be found HERE.
“Castles are Forrests of stones” ~ George Herbert
“Even castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.” ~ Jimmy Hendrix
“Don’t live in the castles; freedom is in the fields! But I can also say: Don’t live in the fields; security is in the castles!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan
“There is no castle so strong that it cannot be overthrownby money“. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
“A ruin should always be protected but never repaired – thus may we witness full the lingering legacies of the past.” ~ Walter Scott
“When we look at the ruins, we always get the same feeling: It’s as if the ruin will suddenly come alive and tell its own interesting story!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan
“It is as easy to create a castle as a button. It’s just a matter of whether you’re focused on a castle or a button” ~ Esther Hicks
“If you are delighted to be in ancient ruins, you are either a curious historian or a romantic person!”~ Mehmet Murat ildan
“The splendour falls on castle walls And snowy summits old in story: The long light shakes across the lakes, And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying”. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
The home to everyone is to him his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence, as for his repose. ~ Edward Coke
“Have fun storming the castle.” ~ William Goldman (The Princess Bride)
Sophie and I love pottering about in old churches, so much history can be found within and in their graveyards. We also love a certain café in Northumberland, and as lunch is also an important part of our day we decided to do a few churches around the area thus enabling our visitations to the aforementioned café.
Saint Maurice. This was a first for us, Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s churches are all over the shop up here, but this was the first time we heard of a Saint Maurice, you possibly have, but I’ll do a little bit on him in case you haven’t.
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
Maurice was an Egyptian military leader who headed the legendary Theban Legion of Rome in the 3rd century. Now right there I’m thinking really? Maurice n’est pas Français?? But apparently not. He was born in 250 AD in Thebes, Luxor as it now is and joined the Roman Army at some point when he grew up. He must have been a good soldier as he ended up commander of the Theban legion which meant he was boss of 1000 other soldiers. Somewhere along the line (I know, vague, but we are talking ancient times here peeps) he became a Christian, which wasn’t his best idea as Christianity was in it’s infancy and Rome considered it a great threat to their empire. Still, he wasn’t all holier than thou and was happy enough being pals with pagans as well. Anyhoo, his legion was sent to Gaul (a huge swathe of Western Europe) to assist Emperor Maximian defeat a revolt by the peasants.
Mo and his men,entirely composed of Christians, were sent off to clear the Great Saint Barnard Pass through the Swiss Alps, and before going into battle, they were instructed to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods and pay homage to the emperor. That didn’t go down well and whilst Mo pledged his men’s military allegiance to Rome, he also said service to God superseded all else, and that to engage in wanton slaughter was inconceivable to Christian soldiers. To cap it off he and his men refused to worship the Roman gods. When Emperor Maxi-boy ordered them to harass some local Christians, they refused that as well.
Not surprisingly Maxi-boy was well naffed off with Mo and his not so merry men, and ordered the unit to be punished. In Roman terms that meant the killing of every tenth soldier in the legion, which was known as Decimation. More orders got refused, and another decimation was carried out, and then Maxi got really naffed off and had the whole legion wiped out. This occurred in a place in Switzerland known then as Agaunum, and is now Saint~Maurice, and the Abbey of St.Maurice stands on the site.
So reads the earliest account of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion, contained in the public letter which Bishop Eucherius of Lyon (c. 434–450), addressed to his fellow bishop, Salvius.
Maurice is the patron saint of the Duchy of Savoy (France) and of the Valais (Switzerland) as well as of soldiers, swordsmiths, armies, and infantrymen. He is also the patron saint of weavers and dyers. Manresa (Spain), Piedmont (Italy), Montalbano Jonico (Italy), Schiavi di Abruzzo (Italy), Stadtsulza (Germany) and Coburg (Germany) have chosen St. Maurice as their patron saint as well. St Maurice is also the patron saint of the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a historical military order of unmarried merchants 😳 in present-day Estonia and Latvia. He is also the patron saint of the town of Coburg in Bavaria, Germany. He is shown there as a man of colour especially on manhole covers (strange) as well as on the city coat of arms. There he is called “Coburger Mohr” (“Coburg Moor”).
The picture up there is of a 13th century statue of him in Magdeburg Cathedral, Germany.
In the 12th century Ceolwulf, the Saxon king of Northumbria, granted the hamlet of Eglingham to the monastery at Lindisfarne. A church was built on the site of St.Maurice’s of which only the chancel arch remains today. In the 18th century restoration was carried out by John Green who built the Theatre Royal in Newcastle.
Firstly though we looked around the grave yard for old souls.
The west tower is 13th Century and two ancient bells occupy the belfry; one, formerly from Old Bewick Church, is dated 1489.
Inside there are some very old features,
The octagonal font at the back of the nave is perhaps the church’s oldest feature and thought to be the work of William Butement. It is dated 1663 with the initials C.R. (probably referring to Charles II). It bears several masons’ marks and inscriptions.
There are some nice stained glass windows, the East window is by William Wales, dated 1908 and depicts the transformation of Christ
and a memorial window for the Collingwood family.
Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood (26 September 1748 – 7 March 1810) was an admiral of the Royal Navy, notable as a partner with Lord Nelson in several of the British victories of the Napoleonic Wars, and frequently as Nelson’s successor in commands. He was born in Newcastle so there are statues and roads and buildings etc all over the shop up here, and any family association is up for grabs, especially as they’re all military chaps.
That will do I think. It is so peaceful to wander around these old churches, and marvelling at what they could accomplish architecturally speaking 3 or 4 hundred years ago. We love to see graves from the 1700’s and are amazed when someone is buried at an old age, as in William Shell above. Dying at age 84 was some feat for that time! More often we come across young people as in Mary Bickerford who only got to 13 yrs old.
stay tooned for next time when we’ll be popping up the road to Holy Trinity Church.
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.