Although I’d visited Warkworth Castle before, I had no idea about the Hermitage until I saw it on Robson Green’s Tales of Northumberland TV series (which was brilliant by the way!). Now really you need to know a little bit about the place, so here’s a brief history.
The Hermitage is part of the Warkworth Castle grounds, and was built as a chantry chapel in the period 1332-49, by Henry Percy II, son of the first Percy, Lord of Alnwick, although some of it was built at a later date. Hermits were employed by the Lords of the land in those days, and paid to say prayers for the Lord and his family, and there are records of 4 different Hermits living at Warkworth Hermitage concurrently from 1471 until the last one in 1531. Fuller history Here.
The more romantic legend found in “Ghosts and Legends of Northumbria” …….
There are several versions of the legend, one of which tells of Sir Bertram of Bothal one of the Earl Percyʼs knights who was betrothed to the Lady Isabel, the daughter of Lord Widdrington. Badly wounded in a fierce and bloody battle when the Earl Percy led his knights to attack the Earl Douglas, Sir Bertram sent a message to Isabel begging her to come to his side. However, he waited in vain for her to arrive and as soon as he was able to ride, he set out with his brother to Isabelʼs home. There he was dismayed to learn that she had left immediately she received the message, and must have been kidnapped.
Sir Bertram and his brother set off in different directions to find her. Wandering through the countryside, often in disguise, Sir Bertram eventually heard about a beautiful princess held captive in the tower of a remote castle. Arriving at the castle he was unable to gain admittance and, keeping watch in a nearby cave, he eventually saw Isabel framed in the window of the tower. Exhausted he fell into a deep sleep.
Awoken by strange noises, he saw Isabel being helped down a rope ladder, by a figure in Highland costume. Brandishing his sword, Sir Bertram ran to the attack and dealt his opponent a terrible blow. The terrified Isabel, recognising Sir Bertramʼs voice, rushed between the two men shrieking, “Stop, wait, itʼs your own brother”. But it was too late. The next huge blow from Bertramʼs sword killed them both.
Returning to Warkworth, Bertram gave all his lands and wealth away to the poor, and built the tiny Hermitage, where he lived in solitude for the rest of his life. In the chapel he built an altar-tomb with the effigy of a beautiful lady, her hands raised in prayer. At her feet kneels the figure of a hermit, his left hand pressed to his heart, as if in sorrow. Over the doorway he carved an inscription, which translated reads: “My tears have been my meat night and day”.
I like that version best 🙂
A few people have been here before of course, the trees tell us so, and the whole place is covered in wild garlic plants, which perfume the air 😉
as you walk down the river, you get a glimpse of the ferry that crosses over to the Hermitage
When you get to the landing area you wait until the ferryman comes back for you, and then he helps you onto the boat, and tells you the tales of the legends, and some of the history. Also where to get a glimpse of red squirrels and kingfishers, but we didn’t see any sadly.
Once over, it’s a little walk to the Hermitage, and this is what you see when you get there..
Depending on what you want to believe, these next 2 shots are either a nativity scene, or the effigy’s of Isobel & Bertram
It was lovely,quiet and peaceful there, and I can see how it would be cool to live in such a secluded but beautiful place, but keeping warm in winter would not have been easy, and where would you plug the hair straighteners in??
It was very dark inside the caves and difficult to get any decent shots really, even with flash, so I concentrated on the outside. When we’d finished, the Ferryman took us back over and Sophie and I walked into town along the river path.
and we were lucky enough to see 2 herons fishing at different places along the river, now without a long zoom at the minute until Fuji get there finger out and produce one, I had to make do with my 55mm end of the little zoom, but still, you can see the Heron, just about!
So next time we’ll have a look around Warkworth the village, and then on to York.
My holiday nearly over now, but still another outing yesterday to the Wetlands at Washington with Cal & Phil, and tomorrow I’m off out with Sophie again to see some more medieval ruins, betcha can’t wait! 😉
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