Thursday, October 30, 2014

Carlisle, Bishop's Tower

Bishop's Tower

The Bishop's Tower was thought to have stood at the West side of the Cathedral precincts, and was built sometime in the 14th century. There were a number of Bishops of Carlisle during the 14th century: John de Halton, William Ayremyn, John Ross, John Kirkby, John Horncastle, Gilbert Welton, Thomas Appleby, Robert Reed and Thomas Merke.....any one of which could have been responsible for the building of the tower.

Above. Site at the South West of the Cathedral precincts -  possibly the site of the long lost Bishop's Tower.

The tower was still standing in 1620, but was definitely gone by 1640, possibly demolished along with other redundant priory buildings. An inventory of Cathedral buildings dating from 1571, lists "for the Busshopp In the the Kytching and larder", a mention that Perriam and Robinson state, shows that the tower was in use at this time.

No archaeological investigations in the Cathedral precincts have located the exact position of this long lost tower.

Carlisle, Town Dyke

Town Dyke

Town Dyke runs parallel to the remains of Carlisle's West the name suggests, to the West of the City. The dyke has long since been filled in and built over, with the Town Dyke car park now occupying the site.

Above. Looking North along Court Square. 

The walls were built between 1122 and 1200, and it's possible that the dyke was constructed to aid the effectiveness of the walls along the West side of Carlisle. So, this side of the city had the River Caldew, the dyke and the wall protecting it, whilst the West side of the city had the walls interspersed with towers. This triple protection may have been in place to provide protection to the Cathedral, abbey and its attendant buildings.

Above. Looking North towards Backhouses Walk. 

Above. Looking North towards Backhouses Walk. 

Above. Looking South towards the walls and Sallyport Stairs.

Whilst not really classified as a separate defensive entity, the dyke was an essential part of the city's defences on the West side of Carlisle.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Levens Hall, Levens

Levens Hall

Levens Hall, along with Sizergh Castle, is one of the South Lakes area's most popular tourist attractions, and is world famous for its topiary gardens. From my point of view however, the hall is a fascinating collection of period buildings, based around not one, but probably two fortified towers, one highly visible whilst the second is hidden...incorporated into the core of the structure.

Above. View the Levens Hall looking South towards the 16th century tower.

Levens was traditionally the seat of the Redman family, who may have been in possession of the estates here at Levens from the 12th century right through to the mid 14th century, when Curwen speculates that the original fortified building was constructed. This original tower, with accompanying hall block and tunnel vaulted basement is now hidden within the confines of the wing to the rear or the East side of the building, shown in the photo below.

      Above. View of the East side of the hall, possibly incorporating a 14th century tower.

I have been on the tour of the interior of the Hall, but this was many years ago, so I unfortunately have no recollection of what was visible in this portion of the building. Next time I visit I'll make sure I check out the architecture here to try and establish what is left of what is rumoured to be the original fortified part of the building. Peter F Ryder in his review of the defensible buildings of South Lakeland seems fairly reticent about Curwen's suggestions about this earlier tower....he does agree with Curwen that the presence of the thick walls here could suggest an early tower, but doesn't fully commit himself.

 Above. View of the Hall through the gates.

The view above, shows the tower (the second bay from the right) which most likely dates from the 16th century, and is clearly shown in Machel's sketch from his travels during the 17th century. Peter F Ryder has contemplated that the tower may be earlier, possibly basing his assertions on the look of some of the architectural features that can still be seen. 

 Above. Close up of the tower, possibly dating from the mid 16th century.

Above. Machell's sketch of the hall as it would have appeared to him in the 17th century.

When all is said and done, it's plain to see that Levens is a complex structure, with each succeeding family adding to and changing the fabric of the hall and its attendant buildings. The Bellingham and Grahame families have all had input into the building, and their contributions over the years have only served to enlarge the site and further confuse us.

 Above. View of the hall from the gardens to the North.

 Above. Oblique view of the 16th century 'pele' tower.

 Above. The South side of the Hall.

Mike Salter, in his The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria surprisingly makes little mention of the hall, and his comments don't really contribute much to the discussion. 

When the Grahame family took ownership of Levens, in 1688, Colonel James Grahame brought a French gardener Guillaume Beaumont with him. Beaumont was responsible for the design of the gardens in 1694, as well as the long avenue of trees across the River Kent in 1701.

The Levens Hall website is well worth checking out.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Roman tile kiln, Scroggs Wood, Kendal

Roman tile kiln
Scroggs Wood

From the title of this new posting, you'll probably by now have worked out what this small indentation in the earth could be. By all accounts, it's a collapsed tile kiln, possibly Roman in origin, and more than likely connected with the Roman fort of Watercrook just across the River Kent nearby.

The kiln was discovered in 1814, but the fact that it is in the region of 2000 years old took a back seat, when two bodies were found buried within the collapsed remains. These bodies were not affected by the heat of the kiln, so it's likely that they were buried there after the kiln ceased to be used. Apparently one of the bricks recovered from the kiln is now in Kendal museum....I'll have to see if I can photograph it for this posting. The kiln may date from the last period of occupation of Watercrook fort (between 120 and 130 AD) and may have been part of the large civilian vicus that sprang up around the fort in its later years. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Kelter Well, Clifton

The Kelter Well

The Kelter Well can be found just to the side of the A6 on the Southern outskirts of Clifton. I guess the well was once a source of water for the residents of this small Eden village, but looks to have been turned into a memorial to those who died during the skirmish that took place here between the retreating army of Charles Stewart and the Duke of Cumberland's pursuing army in 1746.

The sandstone plaque to the rear of the small enclosure, reads "The Battle of Clifton Moor, 18th December 1745". Traditionally this is always stated as the last battle to have taken place on English soil. The skirmish, as it's probably better described as, involved the rear-guard of Charles Stewart's retreating army and the Duke of Cumberland's pursuing army. 

Above. Memorial to members of Bland's Regiment who died at Clifton.

It's thought the skirmish only lasted for a few hours but resulted in the deaths of around twelve Jacobite soldiers and around 15 English Dragoons. The outcome of this small engagement is widely thought to have been a minor victory for the Jacobite forces. The English Dragoons retreated a short distance, enabling Charles Stewart's forces to further retreat from England and back into Scotland.