Sunday, May 03, 2015

Breaking news: Gleaston Castle to be surveyed from the air

Breaking News!!

The North West Evening Mail website has reported that Gleaston Castle, placed on the 'At Risk Register' (compiled by English Heritage) and in a serious state of disrepair, is to be surveyed from the air. This survey has been made possible by the Castle Studies Trust, who have kindly granted £5000 towards the aerial photographic survey. 

Above. The keep, part of the curtain wall and a corner tower.

Gleaston Castle, a Grade I listed structure, is in such a poor state of repair that the public have been banned from the remains for a number of years due to the unsafe nature of the major parts of the castle still standing. The survey will be carried out by the Morecambe Bay Partnership, who were established to bring jobs to the area, celebrate heritage and to care for special places.

The brief news story can be found here.

The supporting text for the £5000 grant can be found here. The Castle Studies Trust hope that the grant will enable the castle to be properly surveyed from the air, and aid in creating a 3d model of the castle, which will enable us to better understand this ruined castle, and to help in the future conservation of the ruins. 

The Castle Studies Trust was created to assist in increasing the knowledge of castles in the UK and abroad.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Soulby Hall

Soulby Hall

Photographed by accident (if that's possible!!) on a visit to Soulby to photograph St Lukes (now flats) it's fortuitous that I did managed to grab this distant snap of the hall. Listed in Denis R. Perriam's and John Robinson's Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria as a "Hall site" it's probably not the case that there was a fortified building here, even before the house shown here. 

There are no ruins within the grounds of the present hall, no earthworks and sign of a moat (infilled or other) It is however a handsome addition to this collection of old buildings, displaying a reset date stone of 1682 above the door.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Morland, St Lawrence

St Lawrence

This is Cumbria's only surviving Saxon church tower, and as such is a unique addition to this collection. Built sometime during the 11th century, and therefore pre-conquest (imagine that!!) it represents a unique survivor of a period before the Normans invaded the British Isles when Saxon rule was dominant over much of the country. The lower two thirds of the tower are of original Saxon construction, whilst the upper third was added around 1588. The Saxon walls are around a meter and a half thick with small round headed windows well above ground level, in each wall.

Above. Looking at the West wall of the tower. Note the lack of a door in this wall.

The tower is thought to have been a free standing structure originally, and must have held some local importance as it was incorporated into the early Norman church that was built here. Michael Shapland (St Mary’s, Broughton, Lincolnshire: A Thegnly Tower–Nave in the Late Anglo-Saxon Landscape, 2009) sees the Church of St Lawrence at Morland as a surviving example of a Saxon tower nave....a high status structure that served both as a personal chapel and as the residence of a Saxon lord. As such, it's both possible and likely that these types of building would have contained elements of defence and security, being built of stone, with thick walls and small windows, representing a high status residence for someone of local importance.


Above. The tall narrow door into the tower, which characterises Saxon and early Norman church towers.

Although not seen when I visited the church, the doorway from the Nave into the Tower contains a good set of draw bar slots within the jambs. These features, if contemporaneous with the tower, could further suggest that the tower was built with elements of security (or defence) in mind. I have to be careful here as Philip Davis of the Gatehouse will no doubt question my reasoning...with good intentions of course!!!

Above. Ground plan of the church, showing the many periods of building that have taken place.

Upon the Norman invasion, the lands and parish were ceded to Ivo de Tailbois, who in turn granted the church to St Mary in York. Michael Shapland quite rightly states that the tower\church is not prominent in the stands neither on raised ground or amongst earthworks, but would have been visible from any approaches from North, South, East or West.

Oxford, St Michael at the North Gate

St Michael at the North Gate

The Saxon tower of St Michael at the North Gate is most likely Oxford's oldest building, rivalled perhaps by the tower of St George which is part of the castle complex. Whilst the church that was originally attached to the tower was built sometime between 1000 and 1050, the tower is thought to have been built about 1040. It's presence here on the Cumbrian Castle Listing, is owed to the fact that the tower and church originally formed part of Oxford's walls, and the North Gate (hence its full name) and also owing to recent research on Saxon church towers and their high status use as personal chapels and dwellings all housed within a tower of sufficiently thick walls as to offer an element of defence.

Above. The Saxon tower of St Michael.

Above. Sketch based on archaeological evidence.

The sketch shown above, shows the nave to the South of the tower and situated on Ship Street, with the tower forming part of the gateway into Oxford. The Saxon city wall (built to protect the ancient Saxon Burgh) ran to the North of the church. As far as I'm aware this is a unique arrangement where the presence of a sturdy church tower has been incorporated into the city's defensive ring of walls and ditches. It has been suggested that there may have been another tower to its West, though no archaeological evidence has yet been found of this additional building.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Guildhall, Carlisle

The Guildhall,

Carlisle Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall

Prince Charles' lodgings, Carlisle

Prince Charle's lodgings,

Above. Marks and Spencers department store on Scotch Street. 

Above. The memorial high up on the Marks and Spencers building.

Above. Charlies Bar in Kendal. 

Above. Kendal Civic Society memorial plaque on Charlies Bar.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Curse of Carlisle, and the Cursing Stone

The Curse of Carlisle and the Cursing Stone

In the underpass that runs beneath the dual carriageway near to Tullie House museum and Carlisle Castle, a large 14 tonne polished granite stone, inscribed with a 1069 word curse has been placed. The curse was first uttered by the Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, in 1525, and was aimed at the various families that made up the infamous Border Reivers, who ravaged and terrorised the English and the Scottish sides of the borders.

Archbishop Dunbar wrote the curse, now known as the The Monition of Cursing, in order that it should be read out in all the churches on the Scottish side of the border, as a warning to the Reiving families. It cursed them to the fires of Hell if they didn't return to the church and cease their thieving ways. Dunbar's curse wasn't the first to be issued against the Reiving 1498, the Bishop of Durham, Richard Fox denounced the Reivers of Tynedale in Northumberland and forbade any ministers from admitting them to church.

Carlisle's Cursing Stone was installed in 2000 as part of the Millennium celebrations, but drew almost instant criticism from a Christian minority who took the stone and the curse as a slur against Christianity. They demanded that not only should the stone be removed, but that it should be destroyed. Luckily common sense won the day and the stone survives.

Carved on the floor around the stone, are the surnames of the most prominent of the Border Reiver families;

Johnstone, Johnston, Bromfield, Harden, Brisco, Tailor, Batey, Jameson, Jamieson, Irving, Gilchrist, Croser, Young, Milburn. Hedley, Jardine, Stokoe, Turner, Little, Thomson, Rutherford, Crichton, Eliot, Noble, Davison, Douglas, Hetherington, Charlton, Anderson, Simpson, Bell, Chamberlain, Irvine, Hodgson.

Each one of these family names represents the human side of the violence that was meted out to the Border areas for around 400 years. Each of these family names was hated and loathed by Archbishop Dunbar when he uttered his curse. There are other names of course, but the ones that are listed here are some of the more well known families. They wrought havoc on both sides of the border, against English and Scottish victims, and poured scorn and ridicule on the rule of the Wardens of the Marches. Carlisle Castle was the headquarters of the Western Marches, and was used on a number of occasions to imprison captured Reivers, so the link between the Curse stone and the castle of Carlisle and the Reivers is a long a violent one.

The text of the curse:
"I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain (innermost thoughts), their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their leggs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without."

"I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home; I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house; I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds. I (bring ill wishes upon) their crops, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock. I (bring ill wishes upon) their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare."

"May all the malevolent wishes and curses ever known, since the beginning of the world, to this hour, light on them. May the malediction of God, that fell upon Lucifer and all his fellows, that cast them from the high Heaven to the deep hell, light upon them."

"May the fire and the sword that stopped Adam from the gates of Paradise, stop them from the glory of Heaven, until they forebear, and make amends."

"May the evil that fell upon cursed Cain, when he slew his brother Abel, needlessly, fall on them for the needless slaughter that they commit daily."

"May the malediction that fell upon all the world, man and beast, and all that ever took life, when all were drowned by the flood of Noah, except Noah and his ark, fall upon them and drown them, man and beast, and make this realm free of them, for their wicked sins."

"May the thunder and lightning which rained down upon Sodom and Gomorra and all the lands surrounding them, and burned them for their vile sins, rain down upon them and burn them for their open sins. May the evil and confusion that fell on the Gigantis for their opression and pride in building the Tower of Babylon, confound them and all their works, for their open callous disregard and opression."

"May all the plagues that fell upon Pharoah and his people of Egypt, their lands, crops and cattle, fall upon them, their equipment, their places, their lands, their crops and livestock."
"May the waters of the Tweed and other waters which they use, drown them, as the Red Sea drowned King Pharoah and the people of Egypt, preserving God's people of Israel."

"May the earth open, split and cleave, and swallow them straight to hell, as it swallowed cursed Dathan and Abiron, who disobeyed Moses and the command of God."

"May the wild fire that reduced Thore and his followers to two-hundred-fifty in number, and others from 14,000 to 7,000 at anys, usurping against Moses and Aaron, servants of God, suddenly burn and consume them daily, for opposing the commands of God and Holy Church."

"May the malediction that suddenly fell upon fair Absolom, riding through the wood against his father, King David, when the branches of a tree knocked him from his horse and hanged him by the hair, fall upon these untrue Scotsmen and hang them the same way, that all the world may see."
"May the malediction that fell upon Nebuchadnezzar's lieutenant, Olifernus, making war and savagery upon true christian men; the malediction that fell upon Judas, Pilate, Herod, and the Jews that crucified Our Lord; and all the plagues and troubles that fell on the city of Jerusalem therefore, and upon Simon Magus for his treachery, bloody Nero, Ditius Magcensius, Olibrius, Julianus Apostita and the rest of the cruel tyrants who slew and murdered Christ's holy servants, fall upon them for their cruel tyranny and murder of Christian people."

"And may all the vengeance that ever was taken since the world began, for open sins, and all the plagues and pestilence that ever fell on man or beast, fall on them for their openly evil ways, senseless slaughter and shedding of innocent blood."

"I sever and part them from the church of God, and deliver them immediately to the devil of hell, as the Apostle Paul delivered Corinth. I bar the entrance of all places they come to, for divine service and ministration of the sacraments of holy church, except the sacrament of infant baptism, only; and I forbid all churchmen to hear their confession or to absolve them of their sins, until they are first humbled / subjugated by this curse."

"I forbid all christian men or women to have any company with them, eating, drinking, speaking, praying, lying, going, standing, or in any other deed-doing, under the pain of deadly sin."

"I discharge all bonds, acts, contracts, oaths, made to them by any persons, out of loyalty, kindness, or personal duty, so long as they sustain this cursing, by which no man will be bound to them, and this will be binding on all men."
"I take from them, and cast down all the good deeds that ever they did, or shall do, until they rise from this cursing."

"I declare them excluded from all matins, masses, evening prayers, funerals or other prayers, on book or bead (rosary); of all pigrimages and alms deeds done, or to be done in holy church or be christian people, while this curse is in effect."

"And, finally, I condemn them perpetually to the deep pit of hell, there to remain with Lucifer and all his fellows, and their bodies to the gallows of Burrow moor, first to be hanged, then ripped and torn by dogs, swine, and other wild beasts, abominable to all the world. And their candle (light of their life) goes from your sight, as may their souls go from the face of God, and their good reputation from the world, until they forebear their open sins, aforesaid, and rise from this terrible cursing and make satisfaction and penance."

Monday, November 03, 2014

Carlisle, Franciscan Friary of Carlisle

Franciscan Friary of Carlisle (site of)

Records dating from 1534, state that the Franciscan Friary of Carlisle was being used to store munitions and military ordnance. Indeed, there was a friary here from at least the 1330s, as other historical records show that Edward Balliol, claimant and short lived holder of the Scottish throne (1332 to 1336) lodged here on a number of occasions. 

Above. Modern day Fisher Street, the site of the Franciscan Friary of Carlisle.

C.J.Brooke, in his book "Safe Sanctuaries" includes the Friary in his list of ecclesiastical buildings with indications of defence built in....however, it's more likely, given the importance of the items being stored there in the 1530s, and the importance of the frequent lodger, Edward Balliol in the 1330s, that the friary was a building with elements of 'security' rather than 'defence', a subtle difference demonstrated in a number of buildings on this blog....Castle Dairy in Kendal and Helsfell Hall to quote two examples. 

It's a shame that I've not been able to find any images of this building, but if any turns up, I'll update this post.

Carlisle, The English Gate\Bochard Gate

The English Gate\Bochard Gate

It was widely thought that the Bochard and the English gates were one and the simply replacing the other....however research has now shown that the two were completely separate entities. Both gates were synonymous with the Citadel; the Bochard Gate was the original portal into the city, providing access at the Southern end of the walls, the English Gate, never really a gate in the true sense of the word, was probably more of a sally port, and is strongly associated with the building of the Citadel.

Above. Modern view of the site of the Bochard Gate.

The view above, looking between the West and East towers of the Citadel, represents the site of the Bochard Gate, mentioned in Pipe Rolls dating from 1210. Before the Citadel was built in 1542, the Bochard Gate was the only entrance into the city of Carlisle from the South. 

The Bochard Gate was almost completely gone by 1805. A pencil drawing of this period shows at least one wall of the gate still standing. However all traces were removed in 1808, when the new Court Houses were erected, incorporating one tower of the original Citadel. The stone from the demolished tower and the gate, was used to fill in the ditch that existed outside the city walls. Any deep excavations in this area for the road that now runs between the two towers, regularly turns up large chunks of masonry.

Above. Etching showing the Bochard gate sandwiched between the artillery towers of the Citadel.

The etching shown above, shows the remains of the Bochard Gate sandwiched between the two towers of the Citadel, bricked up and no longer in use as an access point. At this point in time, the English Gate would have been in existence, enabling access to the city in the South Eastern corner of the walls. 

Above. The only image I could find of the English Gate.

Judging by the image above, the English Gate had neither a tower or a wall walk over was simply a gateway through the walls, albeit heavily defended within the proximity of the Citadel. The English Gate was demolished 1811, with the buried foundations removed in 1817. 

Above. Plan view of the English Gate.

The English Gate appears to have a small vestigial barbican, strangely built within the walls, more likely providing support for hefty gates. 

Carlisle, The Irish Gate\Caldew Gate

The Irish Gate\Caldew Gate

The Irish Gate is today represented by the curving footbridge that spans the A595 that cuts through the North of Carlisle. Also referred to as the Caldew Gate, it stood at the North West end of Carlisle, and opened out onto the bridge over the River Caldew. 

Above. View of the castle and Tile Tower from the site of the Irish Gate.

It's interesting to  note that the stone stair way at the South end of the gate contains little pockets of what could be original stone work....I'm only guessing though. From the footbridge, great views of the castle and Carlisle can be had, including a view up Abbey Street towards Prior Slees Abbey gatehouse.

Above. The site of the Irish Gate as seen today.

Above. The stump of curtain wall that would have abutted the Irish Gate.

The photo above shows the stump where the Castle curtain wall used to continue onto the Irish Gate and then onto the West Walls. The gate was probably demolished in 1811. On the 27th of July 1315, the Scots besieged Carlisle in the wake of their crushing victory against the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. The Irish Gate came under direct attack according to the Lanercost Chronicle when the Scots "erected an engine and continually threw great stones towards the Caldew Gate, but did no injury." Some of the stones hurled at the gate were found in 1878 during building work on Annetwell Street.

Above. Panoramic view of Carlisle from the East of the city.

Above. Old map showing the Irish Gate in relation to the Castle and its curtain walls.

Above. Old etching showing the bridge crossing the River Caldew, connecting the Irish Gate.

Above. Plan view of the Irish Gate.

In 1385, it was reported to the Crown that the gates of the Irish Gate would not shut properly. Records suggest that it wasn't until 1428, 43 years later, that a grant of £80 was made for the repair of the gate and the adjacent walls. Again, this time in 1563, the gate was recorded as being in a poor state of repair. When Wolsty Castle near Allonby was demolished, Colonel Thomas Fitch, Governor of Carlisle, ordered that the doors from the castle be hung in Irish Gate, and other materials be used to repair the walls. As demonstrated in the plan view shown above, the Irish gate had a small barbican structure that covered a draw bridge that spanned the city ditch, possibly the same ditch that extended as far South as the Town Dyke car park near the Cathedral. The gate was in good repair when Nathaniel Buck visited in 1738 to draw the walls and gates of Carlisle.

In 1963 it was suggested that the Irish Gate should be reconstructed, allowing for the dual carriageway, but it wasn't until 1970 that proposals for a footbridge on the site were put forward. It would be another 30 years before the Irish Gate was reborn however, appearing as the sweeping curved structure that we see today.