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'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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Millom Castle on the At Risk Register

At long last, it looks as though Millom Castle may finally be getting some consolidation work done on its ruins. The North West Evening Mail reports that a list of works has been draw up that would hopefully secure the castle ruins for future generations.

Check the link for the full North West At Risk Register.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pooley Bridge, Dunmallard Hill

Dunmallard Hill
Near Pooley Bridge

From the summit of Hallin Fell some three and a half miles to the South, Dunmallard Hill can clearly be seen at the Northern tip of Ullswater. This is a spectacular tree covered multivallate hill fort with an enclosure at the very top. This defended enclosure measures around 92 by 39 metres, and is surrounded by a stone faced bank some three metres high and nine metres wide.There is also a ditch, one metre deep and nine metres wide.

Above. Close up of Dunmallard Hill from Hallin Fell. 

There are records regarding a tower somewhere in the vicinity of Dunmallard Hill, but there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that this tower, dated from around 1317, would have been situated at the summit of this hill fort.

Above. Dunmallard Hill at the Northern tip of Ullswater.

Above. Thomas Machell's sketch of the hill and tower.

J.F. Curwen considered the summit of the mound to be the site of the tower, and gave the licence to crenellate as that granted to William de Dacre in 1307. He also considered that this site was eventually abandoned by the Dacres in favour of the castle at Dacre, a few miles to the North. 

The tower is mentioned in the Wardrobe Accounts of Edward II "assigned to the same (William de Dacre) by Antony Persaigne on the King's behalf to guard the peel of Dunmallok with ten men at arms  and ten hobelars and to receive yearly as his fee by that agreement for the custody £160.5s " 

Check this link for some photos of the fort and Maiden Castle.

And of course, some information and photos from Julian Copes' The Modern Antiquarian.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Balmangan Tower, Nr Borgue

Balmangan Tower
Near Borgue
Dumfries and Galloway

My first new site since visiting Scarborough Castle back in May of this year, this was a real treat. Balmangan Tower sits in the garden of a farm house, and probably dates from the late 15th or early 16th century. 

All we have left today, is what looks like the lower portions, the ground floor, of a rectangular tower, measuring some 20 by 16 feet, with walls at this level, of 4 feet thick.

Traditionally the home of the McLellans of Bombie, it may have been abandoned in favour of more comfortable accommodation across the Dee estuary in Kirkcudbright. The door way visible in the facing wall, gives way to a vaulted basement, which in turn leads onto a wheel stair in the North East corner of the remains. There is also the remains of a single dumb bell shaped gun look in the South West wall. The tower can be viewed from the road that runs along the front of the house.

Borgue Old House, Borgue

Borgue Old House
Dumfries and Galloway

Situated less than a quarter of a mile the East of the tiny village of Borgue, the ruins of this once great house can be viewed easily from the adjacent road, the B727. 

Research on the internet appears to show that the house has been on the Buildings At Risk Register  since about 1992. There seems to have been promises of consolidation work by the owners, but a 2011 inspection of this ruined building, appeared to show that little or nothing had been done to slow down its slow demise or repair any seriously damaged parts of the building.

A date stone originally from the house suggests a build date of 1680. It is basically an E shaped structure, with the original hall flanked by two wings at the South East and South West angles. A third wing was added at a later date containing a wooden staircase. Check out this link for some great aerial photos of the site.

More information will be posted here as and when it comes to light.