Crook House & Gardens~ November 2019

On a rather miserable showery day, Sophie and I went off to Framwellgate in County Durham, to visit Crook Hall. As always, I will edumacate you firstly with….

The History Bit ☕️ 🍪

Crook Hall was built around 1217 and is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Durham City. The oldest part is an open hall, built in sandstone and with a Welsh slate roof. In the 17th Century the hall was extended forming a Jacobean manor house, and in the 18th Century a large brick Georgian house was appended to the Jacobean part. A fair hotchpotch that.

Originally known as the Manor of Sydgate it was initially granted to the Archdeacon of Durham’s son Aimery, who, in 1286 passed it on to Peter del Croke, hence it’s new name, Crook Hall. (Not much difference between Croke and Crook I suppose). Peter died in 1320 when the hall passed to his son, also called Peter who died in 1343 and passed it to his son Richard. Here we are going to do a little shimmy and a side step because during Richard’s tenure, a chap called John de Coupland stayed at the hall, where he met and fell in love with Richard’s daughter Joan, whomst he later married.

John was a squire from Northumberland, and on his way to fight in the Battle of Neville’s Cross. Now, the Battle of Neville’s Cross was part of the 2nd Scottish Wars of Independence, (they still have not given up on that!) and on 17th October 1346, the Scottish King, David II brought his army of 12,000 pesky Scots half a mile to the west of Durham where they got absolutely mullered by 6-7,000 English chaps led by Lord Neville, Ralph to his pals. The Scots made their stand on a hill where stood an Anglo-Saxon stone cross, and after the battle Ralph paid to have a new one erected.

King David was badly wounded, having had two arrows to the face, and hid under a bridge over the River Browney, but his reflection in the water was noticed by a detachment of English soldiers, lead by our John, who promptly took the king prisoner. Mind you, the king knocked John’s teeth out in the process, he probably felt better for that. Edward III who was the English King at that time, ordered John to hand over King David, which he did, and was rewarded with a Knighthood and a yearly sum of £500 for life! £470,000 per year in 2020 terms, I’d give up a few teeth for that!

John continued in King Edwards service and became Constable of Roxburgh Castle and Sherriff of Roxburgshire, his other posts were Custodian of Berwick-on-Tweed from 1357-1362 with an interruption in 1362, then Escheater (someone who collects the assets of dead people who don’t have relatives) for the county of Northumberland 1354 & 1356, Sherriff of Northumberland in 1350, 1351, 1353, 1354, 1356 and had custody of David, who was imprisoned in England for 11 years, in 1351, 1352, 1353 and 1356 and Deputy Warden of East March-1359. There were gaps in his service, for unknown transgressions, but he was never publicly disgraced. After the war he had married Joan and lived at Crook House until about 1360. John was ruthless and ambitious in his aquisition of land, revenues and power in the North and made many enemies through being so inclined. In 1362 he was ambushed and killed while crossing Boldon Moor by nine lance holding chaps and eleven archers, and whilst the King had his murder investigated and found out who the perpetrators were, by then they’d scarpered over the border to Scotland and couldn’t be arrested.

So on to 1372. The Hall at this time had been owned by John de Coxhoe, the nephew of Joan De Coupland, having been given it by his dad William. A family called Billingham, descended from a man called John De Cowhird, lived at Billingham and had taken their surname from the place.  De Coxhoe granted them posession of the hall, and in they moved. Alan and Agnes were the first of a family that lived there for nearly 300 years, and passed through many generations. In 1426 Thomas Billingham was the first man to give Durham Market Place a water supply from a well on the Hall’s ground.

Then came Cuthbert Billingham who was a highly strung chap with a bad temper, often quarelling with his Mum and his sister, and he decided to cut off the water supply that Thomas had sorted, and redirected it to supply his own mill. Needless to say the fine citizens of Durham were in uproar, had him arrested and put in prison until he promised to put it back to rights! Apparently there is a ghost at the Hall, The White Lady, a neice of Cuthberts who, it is rumoured, he killed in a temper tantrum, but who knows? 🙂

The next family to take posession was the Mickletons. Christopher Mickleton (1612-1669), was attorney at law, of Mickleton, Yorkshire and had a flourishing practice in Durham. He moved into the hall in 1657 and was undersheriff and clerk of the peace. He was briefly deprived of his posts but was reinstated and became prothonotary of the Durham court of common pleas and deputy registrar of the Durham chancery court. After moving in he suffered again under the parliamentarian regime, becoming only deputy to his old post of prothonotary at the Restoration, and even that post he soon lost. However, his posts had given him access to many legal records and he began the family tradition of manuscript collecting. These manuscripts are from the later 13th century to 18th century, mostly later 17th century. Original manuscripts and transcripts relating particularly to the history of North-East England, with much of national interest, from the Middle Ages to the early 18th century. The collection includes substantial 17th century correspondence, and much material on the administration of the palatinate of Durham and the working of the palatinate courts. There are 103 volumes & 3 rolls in Latin and English, with occasional French and Greek held at Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections. Christopher passed the hall on to his son James as a wedding gift to him and his wife Francis, and it is they who built the Jacobean part in 1671. By 1720 it was in the hands of John Mickleton who had to sell the place to pay for his debts.

The Hopper family of Shincliffe took over the building in 1736, and added the Georgian west wing. Between 1834 and 1858 they leased the property to Canon James Raine, an antiquary and topographer. He married Margaret, the daughter of Reverend Thomas Peacock, in 1828 and they had three daughters and one son; a Reverend of the same name. James Raine the son was most famous for his controversial account of the excavations of 1827 of St. Cuthbert’s Shrine in Durham Cathedral (J. Raine, St. Cuthbert: with an account of the state in which his remains were found upon the opening of his tomb in Durham Cathedral, in the year 1827  (Durham, 1828)). He was frequently visited by the romantic poet Wordsworth and his wife, and also by John Ruskin,  a leading art critic, patron, draughtsman, watercolourist and philanthropist. James Raine died at Crook Hall in 1858.

In 1859 the Hall was lived in by James Fowler, his wife Mary and their children Hannah, Anne, Elizabeth, James, John and Matthew. He originally worked for his brother James as a sales representative, but after Mary died in 1862 John began his own business as an ale and porter merchant. As well as his flourishing beer bottling service he also had an additional venture selling animal feed in the Market. He did his beer bottling in the medieval hall, after knocking a hole in the north wall so the carts could deliver beer straight to the room. He died in 1888 and the house then went to Matthew as all the other kids had left home by then.

Matthew. 🙄 Sigh. Like any typical 28 year old unmarried male with a substantial inheritance, he partied and drank himself daft, and though he did take over Dad’s business, he lost more money than he made. Took him 2 years to drink himself to death. Matthew’s older brother James returned to Crook Hall with his family, and gave up Dad’s (ruined) business and instead dealt in milk and farming with his other brother, John. James lived there until 1922, when at the age of 68, he died, and his family couldn’t maintain the business, so The Fowlers left Crook Hall.

The Hall changed hands a good few times after the Fowlers left, there were The Pereiras in 1926 who levelled part of the garden to make it a tennis court, then the Hollidays in 1930 who sold it to John Cassells and his wife who developed a lot of the gardens. Then in 1976 Colin and Suzanne Redpath came along and modernised the Georgian wing.

In 1979 major restorations were carried out when  John and Mary Hawgood bought Crook Hall, and it was brought back to it’s former glory. Ian Curry, the Consultant Architect for Durham Cathedral, along with his associate Christopher Downs, directed the restoration of the medieval and Jacobean parts of the house with the work being carried out by Brian Nelson. The main work was to the medieval hall, and windows were restored and the north wall was rebuilt. The Jacobean part was returned to it’s original arrangement, and a new staircase was built in keeping with its medieval and Jacobean surroundings, whilst a turret was constructed to allow the old wooden stairs to be exhibited as a feature. The old Coach House was also restored and converted into a self-catering holiday flat in 1985.  English Heritage donated towards the costs of the restorations.

In 1995 Keith and Maggie Bell bought the Hall and still live there today. A year later they renovated the coach house, to use as their office, and also in 2018 the Coach House Appartment to rent out as a self catering holiday let. They bought the meadow next to it in 1996 and created a maze as a central feature of the gardens, and opened it up to the public. It’s been a great success and in 2015 added a new entrance and a cafe.

You reached the end of the history lesson, well done!! You really are my favourite visitor! 😘

Now on with the pictures!

First, the Hall

Entrance to the hall

We went in the medieval part first, it was cold in there!

From the hall you can see into the Jacobean part across a corridor

It was warmer and very cosy, the original staircase is on the right.

there was real fire on the go, it smelled lovely!

there are little details everywhere,

and a view of Durham Cathedral.

one of the Georgian Dining rooms next

We went upstairs to the Attic room

it had a great view of the Cathedral and overlooked the front garden.

Also upstairs is the Minstrels Gallery which overlooks the medieval hall

On the table we found one of Mrs.Bells scrapbook diaries, lovely to see and read.

So that’s all I got in the hall, next time we’ll have a look around the gardens, so stay tooned!

refs:-

http://crookhallgardens.co.uk/history/

Blood, Sweat and Scones: Two Decades at Crook Hallhttps://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QlY1DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA187&lpg=PA187&dq=Alan+and+AGnes+Billingham&source=bl&ots=n86XXnehzt&sig=ACfU3U2fTA5pOB6sWZxfd8C_RcjxkdlnaA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi2ovWeyuXoAhWhQhUIHf1gD2AQ6AEwAXoECAoQKQ#v=onepage&q=Alan%20and%20AGnes%20Billingham&f=false

Durham University Library Special Collections Catalogue

http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ark/32150_s1w37636792.xml#node.1.4.3.1

https://web.archive.org/web/20121009000019/http://www.crookhallgardens.co.uk/pages/history.htm

 

Tynemouth Castle & Priory ~ November 2019

A cold but sunny day had Sophie and I opt for a short outing nearby to Tynemouth Priory.

Get your cuppa ready, here comes

The History Bit. *Long post alert* skimmers and those of you with short attention spans should move right along to the pictures 🙂

Firstly, as fabulous as I am, condensing 2000 years of convoluted Northumbrian history in one blog post is not an easy task, so bear with me and a potted version will have to suffice.

The Priory stands on a headland known by ancient Britains as Pen Bal Crag, the literal translation of that is, unsurprisingly ‘The head of the rampart on the rock’. It overlooks the North Sea and the River Tyne, and combined with Tynemouth Castle was once one of the largest fortified areas in England. The moated castle towers, gatehouse and keep are incorporated into the ruins of a Benedictine priory, where the early Kings of Northumbria were buried. Note for my Colonial brethren, before we were a United Kingdom, we were a few small kingdoms, a bit like Game of Thrones. Without the Dragons, although maybe…. but that’s a story for another day! Onwards McDuff….

Not much is known about it’s early origins, although some Roman stones were found at the site, there’s no other evidence to say they were in occupation there. So we have to start in the 7th century when Edwin of Northumbria possibly founded the priory.

Britain peoples circa 600

Edwin, (586 – 12 October 632/633) was King of Deira and Bernicia which you can see on the map there. They later became Northumbria, which still exists though the borders are different now, and the Priory is now in Tyne & Wear. He was King from 616 until he was killed by Penda, King of Mercia, and Cadwallon ap Cadfan, the pesky Welsh King of Gwynedd, in the Battle of Hatfield Chase, after which Edwin was venerated as a saint. He had converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627. He’s an interesting chap, but it’s only possible he founded the priory, so we’ll leave him there.

In 634 Oswald, son of the Bernician and later Deiran King Æthelfrith, came to the throne, and united the two into Northumbria after defeating Cadwallon in battle at Heavenfield near Hexam. He was also a Christian convert, and was according to Bede a good and saintly King. Unfortunatley his downfall came about at the hands of the pagan King of Mercia, Penda, who, in 642 defeated and killed Oswald at the Battle of Maserfield in Oswestry, where his body was dismembered and his head and limbs were placed on stakes. He’s a saint too now.

Oswine was next up, his Dad Osric was a cousin of Edwin and a King of Diera, and Oswine’s succession in 644 split Northumbria and they became Diera and Bernicia yet again, with Oswiu, son of Æthelfrith, becoming King in Bernicia. There were 7 years of peace between them, then Oswiu declared war on Oswine. Oswine didn’t want a fight so he scarpered off to his pal Earl Humwald who lived in North Yorkshire, but Humwald betrayed him and gave him over to Oswiu’s soldiers, who promptly killed him. Oswine was buried at Tynemouth, with his relics later being transferred to the Priory. And guess what, he’s another Saint! (In 1103 the Bishop of Durham, Ralph Flambard took the remains from the Priory chapel, which was in disrepair, and interred them in St.Albans Abbey, Hertfordshire. A long way from home).

Onwards to 789-790 when Osred II was King in Northumbria but for a very short time. He was deposed in favour of Æthelred and exiled to the Isle of Man. For some reason he returned in 792 when the Anglo Saxon Chronicle reports that he was “apprehended and slain on the eighteenth day before the calends ( 1st day of every month) of October. His body was deposited at Tynemouth Priory.

Cracking on to 800 and the pesky Danes plundered the Priory, after which the monks there fortified the place enough to deter the Danes next visit in 832. But 3 years later, back they came and massacred the Nuns of St.Hildas who had gone there for safety, and destroyed the church and monastery. They plundered the Priory again in 870, and destroyed it in 875, leaving only the small parish church of St.Marys.

On to the reign of King Edward the Confessor who ruled from 1042 – 1066 when Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumberland made Tynemouth his fortress. The priory by now was abandoned, and St. Oswine’s buriel place was forgotten. Now St.Oswine was fed up of being forgotten so he appeared to a hermit novice monk living at the priory and showed him where to find his tomb, so he was re-discovered in 1065. Tostig decided to re-found the Priory, but got himself killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 so that idea went tits up.

The third King to be buried at the Priory was Malcolm III, King of Scotland from  1058 to 1093.. After ravaging Northumberland in 1093, due to a dispute with King William Rufus ( “the Red”, king of the English (1087–1100) he was ambushed on his way back North by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, who was mightily naffed off that Malcolm had devastated his lands. The ambush occurred near Alnwick, on 13th November 1093, and Malcolm was slain by Arkil Morel, steward of Bambrough Castle. This became known as the Battle of Alnwick. Malcolm’s body was buried at Tynemouth Priory, but later sent North to Dunfermline Abbey when his son Alexander reigned. Shakespear based Malcolm in Macbeth on this King Malcolm.

Two years later and Robert de Mowbray took refuge in Tynemouth Castle after rebelling against King William II. The King beseiged it and Mowbray was dragged from there and imprisoned for life for treason. In 1110 a new church was completed on the site. It is thought that a castle consisting of earthen ramparts and a wooden stockade was already in place by 1095. The stone building we can see now didn’t happen until 1296 when the Prior applied for and was granted royal permission to surround the monastery with walls of stone, with a gatehouse and barbican being added on the landward side in 1390.

A little before then in 1312 King Edward II and his pet sycophant and possible boyfriend Piers Gaveston took refuge in the castle before fleeing to Scarborough Castle by sea. His  illegitimate son Adam Fitzroy was buried at the Priory on 30th September 1322.

Then along came Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries. Tynemouth Priory copped it in 1538 when a chap called Robert Blakeney would be the last Prior. There were 15 monks and 3 novices living there as well, but the Priory and it’s lands were taken over by Henry and gifted to Sir Thomas Hilton. The monastery was dismantled but the Prior’s house was left standing. Henry kept the castle though and in 1545 new artillery fortifications commenced with the advice from Sir Richard Lee, Henry’s military engineer, and two Italian engineers, Gian Tommaso Scala and Antonio da Bergamo. Gunports were put in place in the castle walls.

In 1564 when his father was guardian of the castle, Henry Percy, the 9th Earl of Northumberland was born in the castle. His Dad, the 8th Earl, was responsible for maintaining the navigation light, a coal fired brazier on top of one of the castle turrets. It’s not known when that practice began but is mentioned in a source in 1582. The Earl and his successors in that office were entitled to receive dues from passing ships in return. Unfortunately the stairs up to the turret collapsed in 1559 preventing the fire from being lit, so in 1665 the then Governor, Colonel Villiers obtained a grant of 1s toll from every English ship and 3s from every foreign ship for the maintenance of the light, and built a new lighthouse at the north-east corner of the Castle promontory. It was rebuilt in 1775 and by 1807 had upgraded from coal fire to a revolving red light via an oil fired argand light in 1802. It was demolished in 1898 having been superceded by St.Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay to the north.

So modern times now, we’re nearly at the end. (yay!) At the end of the 19th century new buildings and barracks had been added to the castle though many were removed after a fire in 1936. In WW2 it was used as a coastal defence installation to guard the mouth of the Tyne. Restored sections are open to the public. More recently the modern buildings of Her Majesty’s Coastguard were on site and opened by Prince Charles in 1990. The coastguard station was closed in 2001, being replaced by digital equipment at a Bridlington station that can monitor the sea from Berwick to the Humber Estuary. New technology sweeping away the past, but it was always thus.

And that’s the lot, it’s now managed by English Heritage.

Well done whoever got to the end, you are my very favourite visitor 😘

So here we go walking up to the site, and there’s the castle and walls directly ahead, looks imposing. Well I was imposed anyhoo.

Into the keep where there’s a little side room you get your ticket, or show your card if you’re a English Heritage member (I am).

A tantalising view of the Priory before you go through the iron gate

it looks so chunky and indestructable, even though it’s destructed!

then you go through the arch and to the left

to the right

and then through the arch you come to the KAPOW view, which I just had to do in B&W

there’s a little archway and door you can see at the bottom there

which leads to the 15th Century Oratory of St.Mary, or the Percy Chapel. It has a ceiling decorated with numerous coats of arms and other symbols, stained-glass side windows, and a small rose window in the east wall, above the altar.

This is the view of it looking back, you can see the little chapel all intact.

Interesting details on the boards around the monastery.

That will do I think, but there are more photo’s of the Priory HERE and this includes the restored gun battery and cannon.

All pics are embiggenable with a click.

refs:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tynemouth_Castle_and_Priory

https://www.twsitelines.info/SMR/730

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/tynemouth-priory-and-castle/

Preston Tower ~ October 2019

The history bit.

Built in 1392, Preston Tower was built in a time of warfare between England and Scotland. By the time of Agincourt in 1415, it was one of 78 Pele Towers and Tower Houses in the county. One of its owners, Sir Guiscard Harbottle was killed in hand to hand combat with King James IV at the battle of Flodden in 1513.

The Battle of Flodden, Flodden Field, or occasionally Branxton (Brainston Moor) was a battle fought on 9 September 1513 during the War of the League of Cambrai between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, resulting in an English victory. The battle was fought in Branxton in the county of Northumberland in northern England, between an invading Scots army under King James IV, who had taken advantage of the fact that Henry VIII was on a jolly in France, and an English army commanded by the Earl of Surrey. In terms of troop numbers, it was the largest battle fought between the two kingdoms. James IV was killed in the battle, becoming the last monarch from the British Isles to die in battle.

Although the rest of England enjoyed peace and prosperity in the 16th century, the border lands between the two countries were constantly under attack by raiders known as Reivers. So instead of comfortable Tudor manor houses, the seats of the Border families still had to have 7 foot thick walls and tunnel-vaulted rooms to defend their people and livestock. The main entrance was usually on the first floor in order to make it harder for the pesky Scots to break down the door. Eventually in 1603 the Union of Scotland and England came about under James I, and peace finally came to the Borders.

At this time half the tower was pulled down and the stone used for farm buildings on the estate, but the present Tower is the original structure. Now owned by GJ Baker Cresswell, the property is uninhabited but furnished as might have been in the 14th century. A later addition is a clock with two faces & an hourly strike audible from afar, with mechanism on view.

So on with the pictures! It was a lovely autmn day, with a crisp blue sky when we visited.

Preston Tower

As you enter, the guard room and prison is on the left

Going up to the next floor, you can see the thickness of the stone walls

One of the windows on the 2nd floor, they don’t let arrows in!

The south window of the main hall, only 6 inches wide. If a man climbed up to it he couldn’t get in. If the raiders built a fire next to the tower wall to smoke out the residents (this was called ‘scumfishing’) the small window could easily be blocked.

Bedroom and living room on the first floor, furnished as they might have been around 1400

On the second floor there is the Flodden room, which is just an empty room with interesting extracts from border history fastened to the walls. For any medieval geeks reading this I’ll leave a link to the full album at the end of the posts so you can see them.

One can go up to the top of the tower, which is 200ft above sea level and there are magnificent views over the countryside.

Compass to show what you can see from the roof top.

So that’s the Tower, but stay tooned as next time we’ll have a look at the house and grounds.

Shrewsbury ~ November 2018 ~ part 1

A little break from our North Eastern adventures, as Phil and I went off to Shrewsbury to a model show Phil wanted to attend, and we took an extra day there for me to wander around Shrewsbury and take some photos of course.

Shrewsbury is a market town, on the River Severn, 9 miles from the border with Wales.It has a largely unspoilt medieval street plan and over 660 listed buildings, including several examples of timber framing from the 15th and 16th centuries, so I knew it would be a fab place to photograph.

The (potted) History Bit

Originally the capital of The Kingdom of Powys in the early middle ages, it has been the site of many conflicts between the English and Welsh, with The Angles, under King Offa of Mercia taking possession in 778.  William the Conqueror held off the Welsh hordes who besieged the town in 1069 and 5 years later William gave the town as a gift to Roger de Montgomery who built the castle in Shrewsbury.  Between 1135 and 1153 a civil war raged in England and Normandy, known as The Anarchy, by which time Empress Maud, who wanted to rule England, had installed her own man in the castle at Shrewsbury, William FitzAlan, a nobleman of Breton ancestry. He was a major landowner, a Marcher lord with large holdings in Shropshire, where he was the Lord of Oswestry, as well as in Norfolk and Sussex. However, King Stephen put paid to that as he had already claimed the throne and successfully besieged the castle during the war.

It was in the late Middle Ages (14th and 15th centuries) when the town was at its height of commercial importance. This success was mainly due to wool production, a major industry at the time, and the wool trade with the rest of Britain and Europe, with the River Severn and Watling Street acting as trading routes.

In the spring of 1349, The Black Death plague arrived and took a high toll on the population of Shrewsbury. Records suggest it was devastating. Examining the number of local church benefices falling vacant due to death, 1349 alone saw twice the vacancies as the previous ten years combined, suggesting a high death toll in Shrewsbury.

In 1403 the Battle of Shrewsbury was fought a few miles north of the town centre, at Battlefield; it was fought between King Henry IV and Henry Hotspur Percy, with the King emerging victorious, an event celebrated in William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act 5.

Well, that will do for historical bits, though of course, the town’s history is much more extensive.

We stayed in College Hill Guest House just outside the town centre, it’s a 16th-century dwelling.  Everything was higgledy-piggledy, the floors creaked with every step, the stairs and walls leaned, but you could feel the history.

College Hill Guest House

We made ourselves at home 🙂

So let’s have a wander around.

We came across this rather magnificent terracotta and red brick building

An Eye, ear and throat hospital opened in 1881, now converted into flats.

 

The next interesting edifice we came across was just around the corner.

Town Walls Tower

Town Walls Tower is evidence of Shrewsbury’s history as a strategically important settlement close to the border with Wales. It formed a key part of the defensive walls that once surrounded the town and is now the last surviving example of those defences. The building of Shrewsbury’s perimeter walls is dated to 1220 and 1242. Henry III issued a royal mandate urging the men of Salop to fortify the town, and grants for building walls were made during his reign. The king visited Shrewsbury on several occasions, pursuing his campaign against the Welsh. By the 14th century, the walls had fallen derelict, and Henry IV commissioned further rebuilding. Town Walls Tower was probably added during this time when the town was at risk from attack. A map of 1575 shows the town almost fully encircled by walls featuring several similar towers. They were a means to observe land around the town and river. All gone now except this one.

But today we’re going to walk through the alleyways of Shrewsbury.

 

 

 

 

 

Henry Tudor House is a restaurant and bar located in one of the most historic half-timbered buildings in Shrewsbury, believed to be the place where a beleaguered Henry Tudor sought refuge on his way to the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

 

The Golden Cross is reputed to be the oldest licensed public house in Shrewsbury and records show that it was used as an inn as far back as 1428, some years before the introduction of formal licensing.

Stay tooned and we’ll visit some more medieval buildings next time.

Raby Castle -August 2018 – Exterior ~part 1

Raby Castle was one of the highlights of Sophie & I’s outings with cameras. There’ll be a few posts as there’s lots to see, but first

The History Bit

** LONG POST ALERT**. ** LONG ATTENTION SPAN REQUIRED ** ** GET A CUPPA FIRST ALERT**

Raby castle has been around for about 1000 years, and to be honest, it’s history and that of the Nevill family who are integral to it is BLOODY HUGE quite daunting, though also quite fascinating. This then is a VERY skimmed potted version, which leaves out much and much more.  Any proper historians out there feel free to correct me or add to it in the comments!

Ra-bi is actually two Danish words, Boundary & Settlement and the reason it started out with a Danish name is because King Cnut II the Great (as he was known) owned the place back in the 11th century.  The Viking King probably built a manor house on the site where the castle now stands, but it was the Nevills who built the 14th-century castle we see now.  The Nevills were a noble house of early medieval origin and a leading force in English politics in the later Middle Ages.

It started out back in 1131 when the Prior of Durham granted the manor of Raby to a chap called Dolfin (yes really! 🐬) who was the son of Uchtred (and descendant of Malcolm II, King of Scots). Dolfin married Adelicia, niece of Bishop Flambard, who built Durham Cathedral. Dolf and Licia got it on and had a son Maldred, who then had a son called Robert who married Isabel Nevill, a great Norman heiress. She eventually inherited the Manors of Sheriff Hutton near York and Brancepeth, together with lesser lands and manors. Bob & Belle in turn, produced a son called Geoffrey, who took his mother’s last name and was the first Nevill owner of Raby. It continued in the possession of this family, at one time the most powerful in England, until 1569.

Geoff’s son Robert held high office and supported the king during Henry II’s war with the Barons, of Bamburgh, Scarborough and Newcastle. The Nevilles also held administrative office under the prince-bishops of Durham, so they were really going up in the world. Robert died in 1282 and his grandson Ranulf took over the reins at Raby. He was one of the founding members of the Peerage of England, being summoned to sit in the House of Lords at its establishment in 1295, and thus initiating the line of Barons Neville de Raby. It wasn’t long before he too succumbed to the grim reaper and in 1331 was succeeded by his 2nd son Ralph. Why didn’t his first son get it? Because he was a bit of a rogue ~ Robert Nevill, known as the Peacock of the North, was slain at Berwick in 1319 by the Black Douglas. (If you want to know more about Black Douglas, here’s a LINKRalph, who was at the same battle didn’t get killed but was captured by the Black Douglas in the same fray. He was ransomed and fought in further campaigns against the Scots and was the victor of the Battle of Neville’s Cross at which he took  David II, King of Scotland prisoner.  Much kudos from the King. He was a great benefactor of the Church, and when he died in 1367, was the first layman to be buried in Durham Cathedral.

Next up was Ralph’s eldest son John, 3rd Baron Nevill who completed the building of the present castle, having obtained a license to crenelate in 1378, although this probably meant adding fortifications to an existing building. He was a great captain, being appointed Governor of Aquitaine, 1378-81, Lord Warden of the Marches and Joint Commissioner for treating for peace with Scotland. He died in 1388 and was buried in the Nevill Chantry in Durham Cathedral, where his tomb was much mutilated by naffed off Scottish prisoners during the Civil War in 1650.

Now don’t get confused, but English Lordy types are forever naming their kids all after each other, so next to take over at Raby was John’s son Ralph. We’ll call him Ralph(2)! Ralph(2) got a bit of celeb status as he was mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry V. Anyway, a moot point, on with the history. Ralph(2) was created the 1st Earl of Westmoreland by King Richard III, but rather ungratefully I thought, he joined the Lancastrians and was instrumental in placing his brother-in-law, Henry IV, on the throne. King Henry then created him Earl of Richmond, a Knight of the Garter and Earl Marshal of England, which I suppose trumps Earl of Westmoreland by a country mile. His first wife was Lady Margaret Stafford, by whom he had seven children, and his second Lady Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt, by whom he had a further fourteen children. That poor woman! Still, his kids did quite well for themselves, at least his youngest daughter Cecily did. Known as ‘The Rose of Raby’ (yes really! 🌹) she married Richard, Duke of York, and was the mother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III. Her granddaughter went on to become Elizabeth of York, Queen of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII.

Ralph(2)’s double marriage caused a few problems after he died in 1425, as the kids of both wives wanted to be boss of everything.  His successor, grandson, Ralph(3!), 2nd Earl of Westmorland, engaged in inconclusive private warfare with his uncles of the Earl’s second marriage, over the Middleham Estates, which had been left to them through the influence of their mother, until both sides were commanded by Henry VI to keep the peace. Ralph(3) kicked the bucket in 1484.

Guess what the next successor was called!! Ralph (4) was Ralph (3)’s nephew whose father was killed fighting for the Red Rose (Lancastrians) at the Battle of Towton, 1461.  Nephew Ralph(4)fought in Scotland against Perkin Warbeck, died in 1523, and again was succeeded by a grandson, also Ralph, (AARRGGHH)another energetic warrior against the Scots. He was present at the Field of the Cloth Gold, and was a signatory to the letter of Pope Clement asking for the divorce of Queen Catherine of Aragon from our Henery the Eighth.  Before his death in 1549, the Earl was created a Knight of the Garter. His successor, Henry, (at least he’s not a Ralph) the 5th Earl, as a boy took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. He was a staunch supporter of Queen Mary Tudor and under her held high office.

The family stuck firmly to the Old Faith, and his son Charles, 6th and last Nevill Earl of Westmorland, was leader, with Thomas Percy, of the ill-fated rebellion, the ‘Rising of the North’, in support of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1569. He fled to Holland where he died in poverty in 1601.  An ignominius end really for such a glorious family history.

Last but not least.

Thus ended the Nevill ownership of Raby, which had lasted for nearly four hundred years. The Castle was held by the Crown until 1626 when it was purchased by Sir Henry Vane the Elder.

That’s enough for now, we’ll do the Vane history next time (betcha can’t wait!)

Some pictures then.. mostly with my FujiX-T2 but also some film shots included.

Entrancing entrance

 

We decided to do the gardens first, so more butterflies and flowers shortly, but the castle was always in sight

Raby Castle

 

Bonkers Hedge. (Olympus XA, Kodak portra 400 film)

 

Being August everything was in bloom and the butterflies and bees were out in force

 

a comma butterfly on buddleia (butterfly bush)

 

Green veined white butterfly

 

Mahoosive Buddleia (olympus XA & kodak portra 400 film}

 

Jack Reacher 🙂

 

Garden & fountain, (olympus XA & kodak portra 400 film)

 

Fountain over petrified alien(?)

So that will do for today, well done those of you who read it all, you are all my favourites 🙂 ♥️

To those of you who skimmed/bypassed and just looked at the pictures, beware the perils of passing up free edumacation. 🤣

Stay tooned, I’ll be back with more from Raby Castle.

The Newcastle Castle report ~ part 1

You may remember, or not, a couple of weeks ago I posted mine & Sophie’s outings to Mog on the Tyne and  Newcastle Cathedral.  We also visited Newcastle Castle & The Black Gate that day, so I thought I’d get part 1 done, as there’s still lots of Newcastle photo’s to come, I love it there.

As always, buckle up..it’s

The History Bit

The castle is a medieval fortification, built on the original site of a Roman Fort (Pons Aelius (dat’s latin 🙂 ) guarding a bridge over the River Tyne. The most prominent remaining structures on the site are the Castle Keep, the castle’s main fortified stone tower, and the Black Gate, its fortified gatehouse. Now, Pons Aelius means Bridge of Aelius, and Aelius was the family name of that great Emperor Hadrian who also built a wall across the North of England to keep the pesky Scottish people at bay.

The anglo-saxons named the place Monkchester, (week! sounds too much like Manchester to me!) and then later on in 1080 the Norman king William 1st’s son Robert Curthose came charging up to defend us from those wee scots, and when he’d sorted them out he moved to Monkchester and started building a New Castle (geddit? 🙂 ) n 1095, the Earl of Northumbria, Robert de Mowbray, rose up against William Rufus and Rufus sent an army north to crush the revolt and to capture the castle. From then on the castle became crown property and was an important base from which the king could control the northern barons. It was a motte & bailey castle so didn’t last that long I guess.

So Henry II replaced it with a rectangular stone keep, which was built between 1172 and 1177 at a cost of £1,444. A stone bailey, in the form of a triangle, replaced the previous wooden one. The master mason or architect, Maurice, also built Dover Castle. The great outer gateway to the castle, called ‘the Black Gate’, was built later, between 1247 and 1250, in the reign of Henry III.

In 1643, during the English civil war, the Royalist Mayor of Newcastle, Sir John Marley, repaired the keep and probably also refortified the castle. In 1644 the Scottish army crossed the border in support of the Parliamentarians and the Scottish troops besieged Newcastle for three months until the garrison surrendered. But we get on well with the Scots for all that. Except at footy matches. The town walls were extensively damaged and the final forces to surrender on 19 October 1644 did so from the Castle keep.

During the 16th to the 18th century, the keep was used as a prison. During the siege, the Scots bombarded the walls with their artillery. The Scottish commander threatened to destroy the steeple of St Nicholas Church nearby by gunfire if the mayor, Sir John Marley, did not surrender the town. The mayor responded by placing Scottish prisoners that they had captured in the steeple, so saving it from destruction. Take that!

The “Black Gate” was added to Newcastle Castle between 1247 and 1250, forming an additional barbican in front of the earlier north gate of the castle. It consisted of two towers with a passage running between them. On either side of the passage was a vaulted guardroom. There was a drawbridge at the front (facing west) and another at the rear. There was also a portcullis which could be raised and lowered to seal the entrance passage.

In 1618 James 1 leased the gatehouse to a courtier, Alexander Stephenson. Stephenson substantially altered the gatehouse, rebuilding the upper floors. Stephenson then let the Black Gate out to various tenants, one of whom was a merchant, named Patrick Black. It was he who gave his name to the Black Gate.

Eventually houses were built along both sides of the passageway, and one part of the building became a public house. By the early part of the nineteenth century, the Black Gate had become a slum tenement, housing up to sixty people. Info from wiki.

So now you are edumacated, lets do the pics.

The Black Gate plaque
The Black Gate plaque

The Black Gate
The Black Gate

Looking at the castle from the Black Gate
Looking at the castle from the Black Gate

Stones of History
Stones of History

Ncle Cast-13
armour

This next shot got me thinking.. if you had legs long enough to take those giant steps, how would you get out of that window??

a conundrum
a conundrum

The Chapel
The Chapel

This is the entrance to the Royal Chapel of the castle and is one of the finest surviving examples of Norman decorative stone carving in England. This chapel was reserved for royalty, & when the king wasn’t in residence, the priest would pray for the souls of the Royal Family.

Norman stone carving, ceiling
Norman stone carving, ceiling

Ncle Cast-15

a WTF?
a WTF? for historians.

windows and walls
windows and walls

It always amazes me how thick they built the walls.

NC13

Graffiti prisoners
Graffiti prisoner ~ Thomas Cuthbert

When the Scottish prisoners were held in the castle, some of them carved their names into the walls. Thomas Cuthbert’s name, still easy to see after 372 years. Wonder if he got put in the steeple? 🙂

So part 2 to follow soon, but that’s enough for now,

laters gaters

;

 

The York report 3 ~going medieval

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.

Medieval church, not sure which one :(
Medieval church, not sure which one 😦

detail from previous shot
detail from previous church

HW-19
Gert & Henry’s

The Shambles Tea Rooms
The Shambles Tea Rooms

this next shot drove me crazy looking at it, verticals and horizontals and none on the same plane!

window to the past
window to the past 

In this one, you can see the buildings either side of Jones are more modern, and straight and true, god knows how Jones is not collapsing in on itself.

where  the hell are health & safety??
where the hell are health & safety??

HW-26
ancient & modern,but not as modern as you think.

That one you might think is a sad reflection on our times, but our medieval ancestors gambled just as much as people do today. There were many different sorts of dice games. Among the favorites were raffle, where the winner had to throw all three dice alike or the highest pair, and hazard, which seems to have been aptly named because it had the worst reputation. It was most often played in taverns, and it attracted cheaters, who if caught could be led to the pillory and made to wear their false dice around their necks. And in my searches have also found out medieval recipes cover a wide range of possible pastry uses, from wide, flat open tarts to the great raised meat and fruit pies with a pastry lid. “Flat tarts and flans may well have been meant for complete consumption, cut in slices in very much the modern fashion,the more substantial pies, on the other hand, often have a fairly liquid filling, and it is perfectly possible that the pies were designed to have the lid lifted so that diners could spoon out the stew-like innards. In addition, elaborate subtleties such as Chastletes  require free-standing pastry as castle walls, to which use a tender pastry will not really be appropriate”.  So all in all I think Betfred and Greggs are strangely appropriate.

HW-34
symmetry, sort of.

If you look closely at this next shot you can see that one of the upholding beams on the right hand side by the 2 adboards (click on picture to see it better) seems to be in dire need of repair. I was worried for the chap sitting under the building!

Still standing~just
Still standing~just

 

Bar
Monk  Bar

The gates of York are known as ‘bars’ this is Monk Bar, it is the largest and most ornate of the bars, it dates from the early 14th century. It was a self-contained fortress, with each floor capable of being defended.  On the front of the bar is an arch supporting a gallery, including ‘murder-holes’ through which missiles and boiling water could be rained down upon attackers. A formidable structure even now.

In this next shot we were just awestruck by the skill of the guy who made the window frames for this place.

Gold medal window making.
Gold medal window making.

HW-52
St Williams College

St William’s College was built in 1465 for York Minster’s Chantry Priests, a community of around 24, known as fellows, who received advance payments for praying for the souls of their deceased benefactors. The fellows’ behaviour, which often included drunkenness, had previously brought embarrassment for the Archbishop of York and he deemed they should have their own residence. Over the centuries the building changed ownership and usage many times; it became home to the Royal Printing Press during the Civil War, a private house – having several changes and rebuilds, windows were added to the street frontage in the 1800s and finally the beautiful medieval building contained nothing more than slum dwellings resulting in its disrepair. In the late 19th century Francis Green, owner of the nearby Treasurer’s House,(which you’re going to get a whole blog post on) rescued St William’s from ruin, buying it and subsequently selling it back to the City Council at no personal profit thereby allowing the council to restore it to its former glory around 1902. It then came under the care of the Dean and Chapter of York Minster. Can’t wait to tell you about Francis Green!

 

And finally, here is Phil looking at the menu in this 17th century inn, which Phil had been to before and rated really good, so we were planning on dining here, but the place has changed hands, and the menu didn’t impress Phil, so I never got to dine in a medieval building. Next time though 🙂

reject
reject

Thats it for this York post, still more to come, y’all will be experts on medieval English History by the end,

references

St Williams

Monk Bar

Gambling

Pies

laters gaters

😉