Tuesday, June 24, 2014

St James' church, Burton in Kendal

St James
Burton in Kendal

There has been some suggestion by a few authors that the tower of Grade I listed St James at Burton in Kendal "may have been a pele" (to quote the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiqarian and Archaeological Society 1901) I've included a few photos of the tower here for reference. Though the tower, dating from the 12th century boasts walls some four feet thick in places, and no windows at ground floor level, it's very unlikely that this would have formed part of a fortified church, as at Great Salkeld for example. 

The tower and Nave are separated by a tall 12th century arch which would have meant that the Nave and tower would have had to have been part of the same fortified 'enclosure'. As the Nave shows no indications of defence at all, the tower is most likely a simple tower designed to hold a heavy peal of bells.

Above. Plan showing the tower and Nave.

Perriam and Robinson (The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria) reject the suggestion that this was a defensive or fortified building in any way and I'm inclined to believe them.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Castle Dairy, Kendal

Castle Dairy
Wildman Street

A visit today to the Castle Dairy for a fantastic Father's day lunch, revealed a set of draw bar slots in the left hand (unused) entrance in the restaurant. I'd never seen these before, despite numerous visits, and I'd certainly never read about them. I therefore thought it would be apt to add this building to the list of potential secure buildings....along the lines of Helsfell Hall in Kendal, and Wharton Rectory in Wharton. 

Above. Floor plan of the ground floor, showing the location of the draw bar slots, and remains of a spiral staircase. 

The draw bar slots still contain a draw bar, though there was some furniture stored in front of the door making it difficult to get decent photos. I'll have to go back and negotiate a clean up to get some better pictures. The documentation I've been reading today, also states that there is evidence of a further set of draw bar slots in the wall between the bedroom (containing the 16th century bed and aumbry) and the room that is traditionally thought to be the chapel.

Above. The exterior of the door that has retained its draw bar slots and draw bar.

Above. The right jamb of the door.

Above. The left jamb of the door.

This was the original entrance into the central hall block. The other door, now used as the main entrance into the restaurant, was added much later. It leads down a corridor with three sandstone arches to the left leading into the South West wing, and a single doorway to the right that leads into the central hall and onto the North East wing. The South West wing we see today probably dates from Anthony Garnett's tenure of Castle Dairy. It's therefore likely that there was an additional building to the South West of the central hall, access to which would have been through these three doors....all built during the 14th century.

Above. South West facing window in the first floor bedroom.

The documentation I've been checking today also makes mention of the small windows that the Castle Dairy is famous for, and seems to intimate that they may have been gun loops, or at the very least, watch-outs for looking North East and South West along Wildman Street......the main road into Kendal from Scotland for a long time.

Above. First floor window overlooking the original entrance.

Above. The same window from inside the hall.

Above. Splayed window looking South West along Wildman Street.

Above. Possibly the smallest window in Kendal in the South West wing looking North East along Wildman Street.

So from a 'look out' point of view, these tiny windows would provide good views along Wildman Street, North East towards traffic coming into town from Scotland, and South West towards Stramongate Bridge. The building would originally have been in open land, with very few buildings around it, so would have had clear views all around....not hemmed in like it is today. 

The difficulty comes in deciding whether this building was built with security or defence in mind. In my humble opinion, the features shown here are purely security. There's no evidence of a tower here, as there is at Dockray just up the river, and the Castle Dairy never appears as a fortification in any of the antiquarian maps of Kendal. The secret here could lie in the fact that the Garnet family, who owned the building from the early 1560s, were recusants, people who remained loyal to the Catholic faith at a time when the Church of England was moving away from Rome and establishing its own doctrine and practices. As a result of this, the Garnet family may have instigated the inclusion of certain aspects of security into their home; draw bar slots at the main entrance, small windows to keep watch on the comings and goings around them, and draw bar slots blocking entrance to the room supposedly used as an illegal chapel. In this respect, the Castle Dairy could be the same as Helsfell Hall....a simple home with additional security. 

The spiral staircase to the rear of the building, if indeed it was a spiral staircase, could just have been an extravagant addition to a home. 

More research is obviously required, and I'm sure that this intriguing building will be further investigated in the future.

Check out these articles for further information:

Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian newsletter, Summer 2011.

The Castle Dairy Archaeological Building Record.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

New link added to the 'interesting sites to visit' list.

It's been a while since I last updated the list of web sites worth visiting. So.....here's the latest and newest offering....Abarothsworld a superb collection of photo galleries of Castles and Towers, Abbeys and Priories, Churches and Cathedrals, Stately Homes, Pre-Roman sites and Roman Remains. It's good to find a web site where the author shares a passion for historical architecture and manages to take fantastic photos of these sites. Well worth a visit.....and don't forget to keep checking back as he's constantly updating the web site and adding new sites.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Long Marton, St Margaret and St James

St Margaret and St James
Long Marton

The Grade I listing text states that the nave's North and West walls, and possibly part of the South wall date from before 1066, but Mike Salter in his The Old Parish Churches of Cumbria, dates these portions of the church to the 12th century. The tower dates from the 12th century and contains a good set of draw bar slots on the doorway into the nave.

Above. View of the 12th century tower from the church yard.

Above. Carved tympana in the doorway of the tower\Nave.

The tympana shown above, are probably pre-conquest, and were discovered and set in their current position during the 19th century rebuild of the church. I originally missed this carving due to the darkness of the tower. Only afterwards did I realise that I'd managed to photograph it. See this link for more photos of these Norman carvings.

Above. Draw bar slot and rebates in the tower\Nave doorway.

There is also a set of heavy iron hinges on the wall within the tower indicating that there would have been a door separating the Nave from the tower at some point. For the draw bar slots to have been any use, there must have been a door within the thickness of the wall, but there are now no signs or remains of hinges.

Above. Draw bar slot and rebates in the tower\Nave doorway.

It's therefore obvious that the tower at Long Marton was designed to be a safe or secure location, but most likely, as Philip Davis has pointed out to me in the past, as security rather than defence. There are no signs of fireplaces on any of the floors of the tower, indicating that it was not designed as a place of refuge or as somewhere to live, though I was unable to gain access to the first floor of the tower. The staircase to this level is a later addition, as shown on Mike Salter's plans, and leads to the wooden gallery that looks out over the Nave towards the Chancel. Philp Davis interestingly points out that churches may have been permanently occupied, so there may have been instances where the church doors needed to be locked to prevent entry whilst business or services were conducted in private, or so that no one could 'sneak' in unnoticed to steal valuables. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crosby Ravensworth Hall and moat

Crosby Ravensworth Hall and moat
Crosby Ravensworth

I very nearly didn't bother trying to find this site....all the indications were that the moat was ploughed out and not visible any longer, and that the hall is mostly a modern building. Luckily I checked it out, and was rewarded with a very well defined part of one of the wet moats that would have surrounded the hall, and a very pleasing building next to it, still showing the Pickering's family crest above the front door.

Above. The South Western part of the moat.

The moat, which now measures 75 meters North to South, and 31 meters West to East, is but a shadow of its former self, but what remains is quite well defined and still has water flowing through it fed by what looks like a spring at the head of the field. The moat flows out into Lyvennet Beck, which may have acted as a secondary we moat when the hall was fully occupied as the home of the Threlkeld family in the 1300s.

Above. The surviving portion of the wet moat as it vanishes into Lyvennet Beck (to the right)

The moat is only about a foot deep, and has probably silted up over the years....it's a surprise therefore that it's survived at all. The moat is only half the story here though, as there was also a tower hall. In 1304, the hall and its estates were held by the Threlkeld family, specifically Henry de Threlkeld. There was a free standing solar tower, probably built in the 14th century, which was remodelled by the Pickering family sometime around 1550. Unfortunately for us though, the tower was demolished in 1750.

Above. The lower part of the moat as it enters Lyvennet Beck.

Above. Lyvennet Beck running in front of the hall and the church.

Above. The modern ford through the beck.

Above. Crosby Ravensworth Hall as it is today.

The hall is now Grade II listed, and most likely contains material from the tower demolished in 1750. The Pickering family arms are mounted over the front door, but whether this is the original mentioned in 1550 is impossible to say. 

Above. Another view of the hall from across Lyvennet Beck.

In 1286, the hall was the scene of a brutal murder, when John de Frauncey and Robert de Appleby murdered Nicholas de Hastings in the moat outside the gate. The original account of these events are as follows "On Whit Sunday of that year Richard le Fraunceys of Mauld's Meaburn sent William de Harcla, John le Fraunceys, Robert de Appleby and others to Crosby Ravensworth. There they found Nicholas de Hastings, leaning on his bow, outside the gate of his brother's house, and immediately they attacked him. John le Fraunceys struck him with a staff and pushed him in the breast and by pressing upon him with his horse thrust him into a ditch. Seeing this William de Harcla leapt at him with his sword drawn intending to run it into him but the sword fell from his hand and so he failed. Whereupon John le Fraunceys bade Robert de Appleby shoot him with an arrow and Robert did as he was asked and shot him in the breast and Nicholas very quickly died." After which the murderers returned in a body towards the manor house of Mauld's Meaburn. "At once the villagers of Crosby followed them with hue and cry and with intent to arrest and seize the felon, Robert, who shot the arrow. But John le Fraunceys and William de Harcla and the others drove them back and by use of weapons rescued Robert de Appleby and took him away into the manor house of Richard le Fraunceys, who sent them forth, at Mauld's Meaburn, shut the gates after them and allowed no one to go in. Thereon came Alice, wife of Nicholas de Hastings, the slain man, she climbed on to a wall and raised hue and cry and sought to obtain entrance for the people with her that they might arrest them, but those inside the manor house prevented anyone from gaining ingress." (Taken from the British History website.)

Above. Crosby Ravensworth Hall next to the church of St Lawrence.

William de Threlkeld received permission to empark around 700 acres of land in the vicinity in 1336, and in 1350 built his pele tower here. The Threlkeld family married into the Pickering family in about 1550, and it was about this time that a hall was built up against the pele tower.

The hall and its moat can be seen over the wall next to the road. There are stepping stones across Lyvennet beck and a narrow foot path running between beck and wall. Next door is the beautiful church of St Lawrence, no doubt well connected with the Threlked family and well worth a visit.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

News - Update - Lowther Castle, Lowther

Lowther Castle

It's been a while now since Lowther Castle opened its doors to the public. In 2010, the castle was leased to the Lowther Castle and Gardens Trust, secured funding for transforming the building and gardens, and in 2011 work started on consolidating the castle and dragging the gardens back to their former glory.

Above. Lowther Castle as it appeared back in April 2007.

Check out their website, Lowther Castle and their fantastic Facebook page for loads of information about the great work being done there, including the history of the site and visiting details. And of course.....another visit is due shortly so that I can take some more photos of the castle, especially now as the scaffolding has finally been removed. 

NEWS - Appleby Castle now open for tours

NEWS - Appleby Castle now open for tours.

Appleby Castle has, after a long period of seclusion and anonymity, opened its doors to the public. (Check the website for more information) Appleby Castle

Closed for years due to a falling out with English Heritage, the owners seemed to have had a change of mind, and at long last, the only major castle in Cumbria I've not yet visited, is finally on my list for a visit. Photos and a write up to follow as soon as possible.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Seymour Tower, Jersey

Seymour Tower

Seymour Tower is unique on Jersey, as being the only square built tower on an island of round Conway and Martello towers. It was one of General Conway's planned thirty towers. Seymour tower was built in 1782 after the Battle of Jersey, an attack on the British in Jersey by the French, in an attempt to remove the danger the British posed to French and American shipping. Ultimately, the British won this small battle, and as a result, a number of towers, including Seymour Tower, were hurriedly completed to help fend off any further attacks. 

The tower is situated off the South East coast of Jersey, about one and a quarter miles off the coast. It is thought that this Conway tower replaced an earlier tower. 

A few miles to the West of Seymour tower, and also built some distance from the coast, is Icho Tower, one of the earliest Martello towers on Jersey.

Photos courtesy of Martin Russell.

Fliquet Tower, Jersey

Fliquet Tower

Fliquet tower is a Conway Tower....a tower built to designs and concepts by General Conway, Governor of Jersey. Conway was responsible for the design and construction of thirty towers around the island, though from the inception of their design in 1778 to Conway's death in 1795, only 22 towers were actually built. What made these towers so radically different from the later Martello towers, was that they were equipped with machicoulis, stone built devices at the roof line of the towers, designed to allow defenders to drop or fire missiles onto the heads of attackers. Fliquet Tower had its machicoulis removed so does not look like many of its surviving contemporaries.

The tower can be found on the North Eastern tip of the island, and, apart from having the top level removed, is in excellent condition. Check this link for an excellent old photo of the tower.

Photo courtesy of Martin Russell.

Archirondel Tower, Jersey

Archirondel Tower

Archirondel Tower was another of General Conway's towers, started in 1793 and finished eighteen months later. It was the twenty second tower to be completed by Conway, and too much longer than his other towers to complete, possibly owing to its location. The tower can be found offshore on a rocky bank in the sea off the East coast of Jersey. 

Archirondel Tower was the first tower on Jersey to be built with a gun platform at its base, and can probably be viewed as a prototype for La Rocco Tower off the West coaset. Archirondel Tower has three huge sets of machicoulis at its summit.

Mont Orgueil - WWII German additions, Jersey

Mont Orgueil\Gorey Castle -  WWII German additions
St Martin

Jersey was occupied by the Germans from the 1st of July 1940, until the 9th of May 1945. During this period of occupation, the Germans constructed huge amounts of fortifications using captured Soviet manpower. The Channel Islands were some of the last parts of Europe to be liberated from German occupation.

The fortifications on Jersey, formed part of the German's immense Atlantic Wall, a line of fortifications that ran all along the coast of Scandinavia and Western Europe.....a defensive line meant to prevent or slow down an anticipated Allied invasion of mainland Europe. The castle of Orgueil, also known as Gorey Castle, over looks the harbour of Gorey, and was constructed in 1204. The castle was almost impregnable until the introduction of gunpowder. Nearby Mont Saint Nicholas overlooks the castle from the West and rendered the castle useless. Between 1548 and 1549, the castle was updated and brought into line with many fortifications in Europe with the construction of artillery platforms. 

During the German occupation, many fortifications were added to the castle to enhance it's defensive position. The Germans managed to blend their concrete additions into the fabric of the castle, leaving us with the building we see today.

These days the castle is a huge tourist attraction. See the Jersey Heritage web site.

Mont Orgueil\Gorey Castle, Jersey

Mont Orgueil\Gorey Castle
Saint Martin

Mont Orgueil at the Jersey Heritage web site.

Photographs courtesy of Martin Russell