Belsay Hall & Castle~Oct 2020~ part 1

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 at Fragglefilm 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.

the manor
the Pillar Hall
wallpaper in the 1800s
fireplace tiles
the library
marble fireplace in library room.

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.

Stay tooned dear reader!

St. Wilfred’s Church & Kirkharle ~ Dec 2019 ~Part 2

Part 1 HERE is where you’ll find the history of the church and Kirkharle.

The church itself is quite small but has some interesting features.

Stones with mason’s marks

mason’s marks

Windows with reticulated tracery (the stonework fills the head of the arch with repeated forms creating the appearance of a net-like pattern- wiki) which you can see at in this shot of the interior taken from the entrance.

The font of course, which we originally came looking for, originally from All Saints church in Newcastle, it dates from late 15th or early 16th century, and was installed at St.Wilfreds by George Anderson in 1884 after the church’s restoration. It is eight sided and decorated with the shields of arms of old Newcastle families, including the Andersons.

There are several monuments/gravestones for the Lorain family, I liked this one but it came out a bit blurry sorry.

“Here lies the body of Richard Loraine esq. who was a proper handsome man, of good sense and behaviour; he dy’d a Batchelor of an Appoplexy walking in a green field, near London, October 26th 1738 in the 38th year of his age.”

There is a triple sedilia (seats, usually made of stone, found on the liturgical south side of an altar, often in the chancel, for use during Mass for the officiating priest and his assistants, the deacon and sub-deacon. The seat is often set back into the main wall of the church itself – wiki).

Always good to find medieval grave slabs in good condition

and some pretty non-reticulated windows, thanks Clare 😘

all pictures embiggenable with a click,

full album of photographs HERE

That was our last outing in 2019, but we still did a few more before the Corona virus hit, so stay tooned for our next adventure!

Preston Tower ~ Part 2 ~ Oct 2019

Part 1 HERE

As well as the tower, there is a house and some other buildings we had a look at.

The first house on the site was unfortunately burned down in 1781. The estate was then bought by Edmund Craster, who built the house you can see above, in 1802. In 1861 AJ Baker Creswell bought the house for his son Henry, who added an east wing and moved the front door to the north side in 1830, and when GG Baker Cresswell inherited the house he added an entrance hall in 1915. The Baker Cresswells have a long history in Northumberland, an early manuscript states that Sir Robert de Cresswell had possession of the estate in 1191, in the reign of Richard I. and they owned a vast area including Cresswell Hall. the ruins of which you can see in the link there.

There are walks in the grounds so off we went.

The beginning
Stairs to the woods
Wide tree
Tall tree
Crumble Tree
Autumn Leaves

After we finished we drove over to Alnwick Castle to take some pictures before the sun went down, so stay tooned for the next post!

refs: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~mwi/tynmouth.txt

https://www.prestontower.co.uk/

Full album HERE

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.

Bamburgh Castle ~ August 2019 ~ 3

Part 1 HERE . Part 2 HERE

Onwards into the castle itself.

The Library

The Library contains literature from the mid 17th and 18th century. And a billiard table of course.

Taking in the view

And again..

Built on the site of the medieval Great Hall, the Kings Hall is a Victorian masterpiece. The magnificent false hammer beam ceiling is made with teak from Thailand.

They were playing music in the Kings Hall, and we saw the lovely French man and his wife dancing to it

French dancers (photo by Sophie)

The Cross Hall, which crosses the Kings Hall, has a vast Tudor style fireplace and intricate stone carvings representing ship building across the ages along with large tapestries and a copy of Theodore Rombout’s The Card Players.

The Dining room has a good view

and a castle always should have a suit of armour or two

So that’s the lot for this visit to Bamburgh Castle. Stay tooned for next time when we take a trip to Newcastle.

all pictures clickable to embiggen

Bamburgh Castle Revisted ~ August 2019 ~ 2

Part 1 HERE

After a good wander around the grounds we went to visit the museums. The first museum we got to was the Armstrong & Aviation museum, which houses some of the stuff that Armstrong produced for WW2, and some stuff from WW1.

Big Gun

Mangled Aircraft Engines

I’m sorry to say I didn’t take notes or many photo’s in this museum, I’m not sure why it didn’t float my boat,  however there was a really nice vintage car that I liked.

Armstrong Siddeley 1936

We also visited the Archaeology Museum and saw some nice bling that they had dug up. The pieces were incredibly small, but beautifully decorated, and they were covered by a magnifying glass so you could see the detail. Not easy to shoot through 2 layers of glass so not the best shots ever, but you can see what I mean.

These date between 10th and 12th century A.D. It’s possible that metal work or scrap recycling was going on in the vicinity of where they were found, so could be dated earlier than the layer in which they were found.

The top piece was discovered in 1971 and has been named the Bambugh Beast. It is believed to date from AD 600-AD 700 and is reminiscent of Anglo-Celtic illuminated manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels. The lower piece was discovered in 2011, it is sheet gold, edged with beaded wire and decorated with small balls of gold.

There is also a Stones museum which we looked into.

The information sign says: “This carved panel displays two ‘Celtic’ heads carved into the front face with long, drooping moustaches. Carved heads are common in Western Europe from the Iron Age to Medieval date. These figures are more suggestive of Irish or French origin than the north of England and will be the subject of further research.”

An anglo-saxon well can also be seen there.

The Victorian Well head on the well dug in Anglo Saxon times. First described by Simeon of Durham in 774, there was originally a church on top of this hill with a spring which was “sweet to the taste and most pure … that has been excavated with astonishing labour.” The well is 44 metres deep and 2 metres in diameter and is located in the bottom of the keep of the castle.

Of course the castle rooms are all home to interesting bits of history

 

17th century Flemish Crossbow

There’s a nice little keepsake of Queen Mary’s signature from a vist she made there in 1924

Stay tooned for part 3 when we visit the state rooms.

Bamburgh Castle Revisted ~ August 2019 2019 ~1

Sophie and I last visited Bamburgh on a rainy day in June 2016, when our planned boat trip to the Farne Islands got called off due to the rotten weather, and it was the nearest place to hand. In summer this year Sophie’s chap came over from Spain and he got to choose our destination, so back we went to Bamburgh and spent a sunny day there. For readers who were not followers back then, here is the history of the castle, the rest of you can scroll down 🙂

THE HISTORY BIT, mostly from wiki with added extras

There is archaeological evidence of people living in this are from 10,000BC, along with Bronze Age (2,400 -700BC) burials nearby and bits of pottery dating to the Iron Age (700 BC – 43AD). Built on a dolerite outcrop, the location was previously home to a fort of the native Britons known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the British kingdom of the region from the realm’s foundation in c.420 until 547, the year of the first written reference to the castle. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia (Beornice) and became Ida’s seat. It was briefly retaken by the Britons from his son Hussa during the war of 590 before being relieved later the same year.

His grandson Æðelfriþ (I mean, who thought up these names!!??) passed it on to his wife Bebba, from whom the early name Bebbanburgh was derived. The Vikings destroyed the original fortification in 993.

The Normans built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one. William II (a badass old bugger) unsuccessfully besieged it in 1095 during a revolt supported by its owner, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria. After Robert was captured, his wife (a bit of a girl by all accounts),continued the defence until coerced to surrender by the king’s threat to blind her husband.

Bamburgh then became the property of the reigning English monarch. Henry II probably built the keep. (The Castles own website says the keep is Norman) As an important English outpost, the castle was the target of occasional raids from the pesky Scots. During the civil wars at the end of King John’s reign, it was under the control of Philip of Oldcoates. In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, it became the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery, at the end of a nine-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

The Forster family of Northumberland provided the Crown with twelve successive governors of the castle for some 400 years until the Crown granted ownership to Sir John Forster. The family retained ownership until Sir William Forster (d. 1700) was posthumously declared bankrupt, and his estates, including the castle, were sold to Lord Crew, Bishop of Durham (husband of his sister Dorothy) under an Act of Parliament to settle the debts.

The castle deteriorated but was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, who completed the restoration.

The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is opened to the public. It also hosts weddings and corporate events. It has been used as a film location since the 1920s, featuring in films such as Ivanhoe (1982), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Elizabeth (1998) and both the 1971 and 2015 adaptions of Macbeth.

So on with the pictures.

We had a wander around the grounds this time,

The Armstrong Museum is in the modern additions to the castle.

Repelling the Vikings, or someone in a boat anyways.

Might need to get a man in..

In the foreground, archeological digs.

Bamburgh Village Fete

A very nice French gentleman who let me pet his dogs 🙂

The space in front of Monsieur is where St.Peters Chapel once stood, and the chapel bell is placed within it

in the apse, where the altar and the relics of King Oswald once were held.

The Keep is the oldest part of the castle and the walls are 11ft thick to the front and 9 ft wide elsewhere, and it sits on top of a massive plinth so attackers can’t burrow under it. Safe as houses in that!

Stay tooned for next time when we’ll visit the museums in the castle.

 

Aln Valley Railway – July 2019 – part 3

Part 1 HERE   Part 2 HERE

There was plenty of interesting train and WW2 paraphenalia to look at and photograph

 

I thought this would make a nice biscuit tin!

in the library

There was also a concert and these ladies were called the Seatones and did a cracking job of singing 40’s songs

This chap was a bit of a character

and I had to get a shot of the rear parcel shelf of his car

Who??

So that’s the end of our day out at the Aln Valley Railway.

All pictures by me and embiggenable with a click.

Full album can be viewed HERE

Stay tooned for our next adventure,  when we visited Dunston Staiths.

Aln Valley Railway – July 2019 – Part 2

Part 1 HERE

After we rode on the train, Sophie and I photographed the WW2 re-enactors and bits and bobs around the station.

On guard duty

Taking a break

having a natter

East meets West

Captain Mainwaring

Airborn

Hearts and minds

Dad’s Army

 

Red Star

 

Relaxing Russkies

Sophie gets behatted

Catch!

Stay tooned for Part 3!