Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) was a prolific architect of the Victorian age. In fact he burned himself out through over work and died at the age of 41 having designed not only the exteriors but also the furnishings and fittings of countless churches not only in England, but also in Ireland and Australia. He converted to Catholicism and most of his ornate designs are for Roman Catholic churches and cathedrals. There is a long list of his architectural achievements at the end of his Wikipedia entry here. He is most notably connected with the building of the present Palace of Westminster. Continue reading
Other features of ancient Ireland are the stones – carvings and standing. We saw the carvings on the stones at Knowth but there are more carved stones scattered across the countryside. Or … maybe not scattered at all but strategically or symbolically placed monuments. There are wells dedicated to saints. There are ancient churches, cathedrals, monasteries and abbeys – the earliest religious foundations.
Some of these ancient sites I came across on my walks.
Lady Louisa’s Walk, Lismore
[Following description is from here.]
Lady Louisa’s walk is a gentle and picturesque walk which takes you, for the most part, on a woodland walk along the river bank. Continue reading
In June 2013 I wrote about my visit to Wentworth Castle Gardens mentioning that I hoped to return to inspect the completed restoration of the Victorian Glasshouse. Yesterday, at last, I managed to get back there and noticed that the trust, the employees, contractors and volunteers had made many further improvements and additions.
The Fully Restored Victorian Glasshouse
Dublin is a City of Words, a UNESCO City of Literature and a city with some great libraries. On my visits in May I managed to get to two of these. I’m looking forward to future trips when I may visit other literary locations across the city.
“For over 800 years Dublin Castle has been at the heart of Irish history. From the founding of the first Celtic settlement in the 1st century A.D. to every Presidential inauguration since the foundation of the state, the site has stood witness to some of the most pivotal events in the country’s history.” So it’s interesting enough just walking through the Castle precincts.
Chester Beatty (1875-1968) was an American mining engineer. He had been an avid collector since childhood – stamps, Chinese snuff bottles, rocks and minerals. During the first decades of the 20th century Beatty moved to Europe and began to collect European and Persian manuscripts and decorated copies of the Qur’an. He took an interest in Japan, the Orient and Egypt. He actually bought a house near the Pyramids.
He later bought modern editions but had very conservative taste. He preferred books where the text and image formed pleasing compositions. Such as here a Gregynog Press issue of The Fables of Esope, 1931.
No photography allowed but I found the above pictures here
He loved books for their own sake as opposed to having a love for literature. He was attracted to decorated books/illustrations/iluminations and fine bindings. He didn’t like modern art and avant garde book designers, illustrators and binders are not represented in his collection. His mantra was “quality, quality, quality”. He was probably the last of the great book collectors after J. Pierpoint Morgan and Henry E. Huntington. Beatty also appreciated the 18th and 19th century print cabinets essential to the gentleman’s library.
In 1950 Chester Beatty decided to move to Ireland and he built a library for his art collection on Shrewsbury Road which opened in 1954. Upon his death, the collection was bequeathed to a trust for the benefit of the public and his priceless collection lives on as a celebration of the spirit and generosity of Chester Beatty.
I enjoyed studying the short videos demonstrating print techniques : woodcuts, engraving, etching, lithography and chromolithography. And a trust fund allows the Library to continue buying works today which complement the original collection. It was during my visit to The Chester Beatty Library that I realised that I’m really much more interested in printed books and printing methods than in the beautiful and exquisite manuscripts.
Charles Beatty summed up his life “It has all been a great adventure”.
The Castle Grounds and Grass Maze
Moving on from the Chester Beatty Library I headed back through the Castle precincts and after a quick lunch in the lovely Avoca store found my way to The National Library of Ireland. A friend, and fellow member of the Leeds Library, recommended to me after a recent visit “YEATS: the life and works of William Butler Yeats” [1865-1939]. It’s an almost permanent exhibition (ongoing since 2006) but it is particularly relevant this year as 2015 is the 150th anniversary of Yeats’s birth.
The National Library of Ireland’s collection of Yeats manuscripts is the largest collection of Yeats material in a single institution anywhere in the world. This collection is at the heart of the exhibition which you can visit for yourselves here.
I was particularly interested to discover more about the life of Ireland’s national poet. He came from a family of artists and creatives. He played a huge role in the establishment of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin which he founded along with Lady Augusta Gregory in 1904 with the main aim of promoting Irish writers and artists which is still incorporated in its charter today. He had a great interest in the occult and Celtic mysticism. Many of his poems are about places in Ireland, and elsewhere.
By coincidence during my trip in May HRH The Prince of Wales and his wife The Duchess of Cornwall also visited Ireland and planted a tree at the grave of William Butler Yeats at Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo.
One of my favourite kinds of walk is on well marked paths around estates such as Fountains Abbey, Endsleigh, Astley Castle and Hackfall with an interesting variety of landscapes and views and ‘eye-catcher’ structures to add to the interest.
Despite the rain this afternoon I set out on such a walk here at The Crom Estate in Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The estate comprises almost 2,000 acres of woodland, wetlands, farmland and parkland on the shores of Upper Lough Erne. According to the map leaflet it was laid out in 1838 and is one of the best preserved and most extensive landscapes designed by William Gilpin in the British Isles. Its unique character rests upon the scale and relationship of water, wetland, woods and parkland with its veteran trees. The Great Yew Tree is located at the Old Castle ruins and was nominated as one of 50 Great British Trees for the Queens Jubilee Year 2002.
The Ancient Yews in the Castle Ruins
There are many fine buildings on the estate walk. Crom Old Castle was built on the shore by Michael Balfour, Laird of Mountwhinney in 1610. It withstood two sieges in 1689 but was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1764. The yew trees within the ruins are reputed to be the oldest in Ireland.
Approaching the Castle Ruins
The Crichton Tower was built on Gad Island in 1848. Its architect is unknown.
The Boathouse is a complex structure with decorated bargeboards and battlements designed in 1841 by Edward Blore. For many years it was the Lough Erne Yacht Club and the social centre for the Victorian houses in the area.
The Summer House was built around 1880 out of the structure of an old school house on the site. It was built for Lady Florence who used it as a picturesque retreat. Rustic inside, it had a woven straw mat, a cupboard above the fireplace with cups and other teatime items, a round table and chairs and a box for firewood. The original boathouse of the demesne, later made into a folly, lies below the summer house.
The Summer House
View from The Summer House
A white iron bridge connects the mainland with Inisherk (Inis means island in Irish) and a track leads straight across to another small jetty. There are two cottages – Bridge and Gamekeeper’s – and the remains of a Walled Garden.
Gate to The Walled Garden
The Garden was completed in 1833 and included a hot house, potting sheds and a propagating house, built in later years. The Garden remained in use until the 1950s. Lately the Trust has carried out extensive repairs to the walls including the rebuilding of a large section of south wall.
The extensive Walled Garden
Returning over the bridge a track through woodland brought me to the Stable Yard (now NT Offices) and The Riding School (apparently never used as such as it was commandeered by the US Air Force for D-Day preparations/training).
Oak Sapling Commemorating the USAF Presence
“This oak tree was planted on 6th June 2014 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the United States forces stationed here in WWII”
Nearby are The Turf House, also designed by Blore and built with an adjacent pier in 1840 for peat fuel to be originally unloaded here for the castle later in the century a sawmill was established, and an Ice House.
Inside the Turf House today
From the Stable Yard area the track continues through woodland after which I joined a grassy path alongside the Deer Park fencing with views of Crom Castle itself which is still a private residence and not open to the public.
Crom Castle and Deer Park
And so back to dear Alder Cottage to dry off after a fascinating two hour walk.
What surprised us most and became ‘themes’ as we walked around on our recent visit to Colchester was the recycling of Roman bricks and (I’ve mentioned this before) the number of superlatives applied to buildings and monuments throughout the town.
Colchester Heritage Trail is an excellent guide to the historic centre of Colchester. We didn’t follow the Trail step by step but fitted it all in over the several days we were there. The Trail starts and finishes at the Castle/War Memorial and only includes the old centre of town. Much of the following text is taken or adapted from the Trail leaflet. Some places were difficult to photograph and one day it poured with rain but otherwise I was able to snap most buildings, plaques and monuments.
The Temple Foundations
Colchester Castle itself was constructed mainly of brick and stone recycled from the old Roman town. It was built in 1076 over the foundations of the Temple of Claudius which itself was erected after his death in AD 54. John Weeley bought the redundant Castle in 1683 and removed parts of the upper floors to reclaim the building material so the original height of the fortress is unknown.
St Martin’s Church, West Stockwell Street
St Martin’s Church is cared for the Churches Conservation Trust which protects historic churches. We were very pleased to find the church open last Wednesday.
The tower is Norman although the rest of the church is medieval. The tower also stands no higher than the nave as a result of damage caused by cannon fire during the Siege of Colchester (1648). Colchester was besieged by the Parliamentary army for 11 weeks. The townspeople starved and many buildings were badly damaged. The Siege also crops several times along the Trail.
“Note the recycled Roman bricks in the tower structure.”
The Chancel, St Martin’s Church
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was responsible for uncovering the fine wagon roof in the chancel in the late nineteenth century.
The Balkerne Gateway is the oldest surviving Roman gateway in Britain. It was the main entrance to the town. The best preserved section of the Roman wall extends from the gateway remains. The wall is 2.5m thick and stands near to its former height. It was built almost entirely from fragments of Roman brick and septaria stone but only on the inner and outer surfaces. The core of the wall is filled with rubble and hardcore.
Best Roman Wall Remains
St Mary’s at The Walls
St Mary’s was one of many buildings damaged during the Siege. Both the church and graveyard were used as a fort by the Royalist defenders who managed to raise a small cannon to the top of the tower. It was targeted by the Parliamentarians and this caused severe damage to the building and the demise of the canon and its marksman. The church was rebuilt in the early 18th century but the chancel and nave are Victorian.
Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity is the town’s only Saxon monument. It dates from 1000 AD and incorporates an arrow-head doorway composed entirely of re-used Roman bricks.
St Botolph’s Priory was founded around 1100 and was the first house of Augustinian Canons in England. All that remains today, however, is part of the original western front, with its superbly carved Norman archway, and a section of the nave.
Splendid Norman Archway
Note the liberal use of Roman brick in the Priory construction
There’s lots more to Colchester than re-used Roman bricks – nursery rhymes, a water tower, a theatre and lovely black and white Tudor buildings plus another trail. All coming up in the next post.
After a 16 month closure and a budget of £4.2 million Colchester Castle Museum reopened last summer (2014). With Art Fund membership cards we gained free admission and spent over two hours inspecting and admiring the amazing contents – here are quality and quantity – a magnificent collection of Roman and other antiquities.
Welcome to Colchester Castle – come on in!
Built on top of the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius you can read about the castle (the largest Norman castle keep in Europe) and its contents elsewhere so here I’ve just selected a few of the contents that particularly impressed me.
The Castle was Built on the Temple Foundations
You follow the preferred route proposed on a plan : Castle hub then upstairs to Iron Age, through the Roman invasion, and its heyday and decline to Saxon/Norman, medieval, the Civil War siege and finally a bit of modern thrown in (and a sit-down too) to watch video extracts of interviews with present day serving and ex soldiers from the Colchester Garrison and hearing plans for the future for the garrison and the organisation of British armed forces in general.
Roman Face Pot : Type of pot associated with military burials
Mosaic Floor : Assembled from fragments of a fine 2nd century AD Roman mosaic floor found in a garden in North Hill in 1865. Research indicates that the components of the mosaic have been re-arranged.
Tombstone of Marcus Favonius Facilis : the earliest Roman sculpture in Britain, and the finest. Facilis was a Centurion officer in the twentieth legion one of the regiments based at Colchester. He died a few years after the 43AD invasion of Britain and was buried in a cemetery along the main road to London. The style of sculpture represented by the tombstone developed in what is now the Rhineland area of Germany where the 20th legion had been based.
How the tombstone would have looked originally
The Colchester Vase is the most famous pot from Roman Britain. It was found in a grave dated between AD 175 and AD 200 at West Lodge in Colchester. The pot is decorated with detailed scenes showing a fight between two gladiators, a man beating a bear with a whip and a hunting dog in hot pursuit of two stags and a hare. The inscription scratched around the rim of the pot tells us the names of the people represented in the scenes and gives some details of their lives.
The Colchester Sphinx is a sculpture from an elaborate Roman tomb. It was found where the Essex County Hospital on Lexden Road stands today. This mythological creature is associated with death: she has the body of a winged lion and the face, arms and breasts of a woman. She was carved in the early Roman period AD 43-75. Here she represents the triumph of death over life. She is shown crouched over a pile of bones, clutching the head of the deceased in her claws.
Another Face Pot (contains cremated bones)
The Colchester Mercury is one of the finest statues from Roman Britain. It was found at Gosbecks, an area of countryside outside Colchester where there was a theatre and temple. This bronze statue was made in the northern part of the Roman Empire in the second century AD. Mercury was the messanger of the gods and can be recognised by the wings on his head. He was also the god of movement which made him popular with travellers, traders and even thieves.
Inside Views of the Keep
We already realised that Colchester is not just the first recorded town in Britain it has a wealth of history and superlatives – first, largest, best, oldest, finest.
The Wednesday dawned grey and misty but not deterred we met at the hotel car park and swanned off in her car to Launceston in nearby Cornwall. “We be in Cornwall now” declared Lynne in authentic Cornish accent as we crossed the Tamar bridge that separates it from Devon. During the short journey Lynne pointed out landmarks such as the church at Milton Abbot and other Endsleigh cottages lived in by Horace Adams.
Launceston : ‘a real Cornish town’ says the tourist leaflet picked up at the TIC our first stop in the town. Interestingly, and isn’t always the same when you live somewhere? Lynne had thought she had never been to the Castle; at least not in the last few decades, maybe when the children were very small.
Welcome to Launceston Castle
“The town is notable for its impressive castle built by Brian de Bretagne, the first Norman Earl of Cornwall. It has never been besieged or captured.” Well, I’m not surprised it’s a short, steep climb up the mound to the keep and the the walls are several feet thick. In fact the steps up to the battlements are built within the thickness of the walls.
The castle is now in the care of English Heritage who have created a small exhibition with displays and information boards that set the scene.
The Approach to Launceston Castle – on a dull day
As with all climbs, it was worth the effort for the views from the top. On a good day they would have been exceptional but on this day we could really only study the town in the foreground.
The View NW from the Battlements – in the foreground on the right is Castle Street. Sir John Betjeman called it “the most perfect collection of 18th century townhouses in Cornwall” the tourist leaflet declares. In the middle in the distance is the location of the Cowslip Workshops which we visited later.
Looking west from the castle to a very misty Cornwall: the Earl’s hunting park stretched towards Bodmin Moor
East of the castle is the Church of St Mary Magdalene
In fact the Church was our next port-of-call.
A striking brass with inscription commemorating an unidentified 16th century lady
A rather disturbing memorial
The Altar Triptych : The Nativity of Our Lord; The Adoration of the Magi; The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (sorry photo doesn’t do it justice)
The poet Charles Causley was born in Launceston in 1917 and spent most of his life there. I discovered the Causley Society website which includes his biography and a Causley trail around the town. He wrote a poem about St Mary Magdalene which is available on a little leaflet from the church.
Mary Magdalene Poem :
Mary, Mary Magdalene
Lying on the wall
I throw a pebble on your back
Will it lie or fall?
A relief of Mary Magdalene is to be found on the east wall of St Mary Magdalene church. It is said that a stone lodged on her back will bring good luck.
The Mary Magdalene Stained Glass Window
By this time we were ready for something to eat and Lynne drove us out of town to the Cowslip Workshops.
View of Launceston from the Cowslip Workshops
Anyone, even the least artistic person, would find something to interest here. The Workshops are based at a very working farm, there’s a café, where we had soup for lunch, sewing classes, a fabric shop which also sells pottery by Nicholas Mossse, a gallery, and a farmhouse/kitchen garden. On a good day there will also be distant views!
The Farmhouse Garden
Inside the Fabric Shop
Much as we were tempted by the cakes and pastries in the cafe we knew that very soon we would be back at Pond Cottage and tucking in to Bettys Yorkshire treats as Lynne came back with me for tea and to meet my friends. Thanks again, for showing me your local area, Lynne. What a lovely part of the country you live in!
Kirkby Stephen and Eden Viaducts Classic – 7mi Medium
Kirkby Stephen station – Tommy Road – Lammerside Castle – Nateby – Eden Viaducts – Kirkby Stephen. Alight (11.22) and return Kirkby Stephen. Connects with 09.47 train from Leeds. Return on vintage bus from Kirkby Stephen Town to Station or visit the Classic Vehicle Rally at Brough by vintage bus after the walk. (JD/DW)
Leaders and walkers (and dogs) assemble at Kirkby Stephen Station
This was my plan for Easter Saturday to join the walk organised and led by volunteers of The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line. Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria is, so far, the furthest that I have travelled up the line for a day out walking.
Kirkby Stephen Station
As at Dent Station it is possible to stay at Kirkby Stephen Station and you have a choice of accommodations :
Platform Cottage or Booking Office Cottage
Or at The Station Master’s House at Ribblehead Station
The whole day was well worthwhile despite the delayed return home. The train journey alone up the Pennine Chain is incredibly beautiful and the emptiness and remoteness of the landscape never ceases to amaze.
Mallerstang Common from near Tommy Road
Wild Boar Fell from our path near Tommy Road
Our path under the railway line
Turning off Tommy Road (before you ask, no-one seems to know why it is called Tommy Road) we headed under the Settle-Carlisle Railway line and on to our picnic lunch spot Lammerside Castle.
Lammerside Castle with Mallerstang behind
The ruined castle is on private land by the public footpath/bridleway passes alongside. The website [below] also shows an interesting aerial photograph of the site.
“Lammerside Castle is a 12th century building which was rebuilt and strengthened in the 14th century as a Pele tower, to provide protection against Scots raiders. It is situated on the bridle path between Pendragon Castle and Wharton Hall.
The ruins include the upstanding remains of a C14 tower or wing which originally formed part of the building’s central core, together with the earthwork remains of buildings to the north and south of the tower and a barmkin wall which enclosed a yard to the west of the tower.
The castle was occupied by a branch of the Wharton family, but is thought to have been abandoned in C17, when the family moved to the fortified manor house, Wharton Hall, near Kirkby Stephen.
The tower is constructed of coursed, squared rubble, measures 14m by 11m, with a barrel-vaulted ground floor, and survives to two storeys high.” [Website]
From the Castle ruins after lunch our route took us past Wharton Hall itself described here on the Visit Cumbria website.
“[Wharton Hall] is a very impressive 14th century tower house with a gatehouse, internal courtyard and out buildings dating up to the 17th century. The gatehouse, although ruined is very solid, and together with the curtain wall, completely surrounds the medieval courtyard.“
Crossing the River Eden and passing close by the village of Nateby we later arrived at our next point of interest – The Eden Viaducts.
The Northern Viaduct Trust acquired part of the old Stainmore Railway track and several walks have been developed in the area connecting with the trackbed of the former railway.
“Just above and to the south of Kirkby Stephen ran the long forgotten and scenically majestic Stainmore Railway. For a 100 years it linked Darlington with Tebay and Penrith, a 60-mile steam- worked railway across some spectacularly engineered viaducts.” [From Leaflet]
Abandoned Platelayers’ Hut now provides Information
Information boards are provided in the Platelayers’ Huts along the former track and there is some overlap with a Poetry Path around Kirkby Stephen town. Read here also about Thomas Bouch the engineer responsible for this dramatic railway and his ill-fated Tay Railway Bridge.
Poetry Stone on the Poetry Path
Poetry Stone close-up
Today’s Ruins of a Signal Box and the Box in better days
Leaving the Viaducts behind us we joined the Coast-to-Coast Long Distance Footpath for the final leg of the walk into Kirkby Stephen where everyone was having a fun time at the street stalls, fairground rides and viewing and riding on the vintage vehicles.
Approaching Kirkby Stephen along the Coast-to-Coast path
Coast-to-Coast Path Sign at Frank’s Bridge, Kirkby Stephen
Kirkby Stephen on Easter Saturday
Our walk officially ended in Kirkby Stephen but there were plenty of free vintage buses to take us the final one and a half miles up to the railway station. I caught the number 134 Routemaster London Double-Decker (diverted from it’s Highgate Route). Unfortunately at the station I had a very long wait – I had just missed the 15.22, the 16.39 was cancelled and the 17.14 was running over an hour late. But it was such an interesting walk and the train had brought us so high up that we could enjoy wonderful extensive views with very little climbing effort. Even the delays in getting home didn’t take the shine off the day.
My Vintage Red London Bus at Kirkby Stephen Station
What a difference a day makes! Well, most of the day anyway. Sunday’s walk was with The Dalesbus Ramblers again. It was another visit to Nidderdale but much lower down the dale and just a short bus journey from Harrogate. For most of the day we had blue sky and sunshine but after lunch we walked through a brief snowfall.
“SUNDAY 23rd MARCH: VILLAGES & CHURCHES OF LOWER NIDDERDALE
Learn some of the history of the villages of Lower Nidderdale.
Start: Hampsthwaite: 11:25
Finish: Ripley: Approx. 15.30
Distance/Grading: 7 miles / Moderate
TRAVEL: Outward: Bus 24 from Harrogate (11.05). Connections on bus 36 from Leeds (09.45) to Harrogate or from Ripon (10.45) to Killinghall.
Return: Bus 36 to Ripon, or Harrogate and Leeds.
Walk Leaders: Duncan & Brenda”
St Thomas a Becket Church in the large village of Hampsthwaite has a long history probably dating back to Saxon times. It has connections with the murder of St Thomas of Canterbury.
“The first known church to be built here was probably completed about 1180 and is believed to have been constructed by Hugh de Morville the then Constable of Knaresborough Castle and one of the four knights responsible for the murder at Canterbury in 1170 of Archbishop Becket. The knights were later pardoned for their crime by the Pope who (it is thought) required the building and dedication of the church as part of the penance imposed upon Hugh de Morville. The church is believed to be one of only two churches in the Church of England to currently enjoy that dedication to St. Thomas a Becket.”
“The Lychgate …
The lychgate at the entrance to the church is the work of Robert Thompson of Kilburn. It was given by Lady Aykroyd and was erected in 1938 in memory of her parents, Sir James Roberts Bt. and Lady Elizabeth Roberts. Sadly, in comparatively recent years the original four-legged Thompson mice have been damaged.
… and the War Memorial
Nearby, is the War Memorial, which commemorates the men from the village who died in the two world wars. It takes the form of a Celtic cross on a stone plinth and lies in direct line with the cross on the altar in the church. This was stipulated by Canon Peck and the churchwardens in their application for a faculty from the Diocese.”
A church service was in progress so we began our walk out of Hampsthwaite towards Ripley along the tracks of the Nidderdale Way which we followed for the best part of the day’s walk.
Looking back to Hampsthwaite after a steep climb out of the village.
After a couple of miles of broad track, much of it through woodland, we approached the Castle and village of Ripley. Ripley Castle also has a long and fascinating history with connections to the Gunpowder Plot. It is a great visitor attraction and popular local wedding venue. The village of Ripley itself, where we stopped for our lunch break, has a unique style and history. It was rebuilt in the 19th century and modelled on a village in Alsace, France, complete with a Hotel de Ville-style town hall.
Approaching Ripley we had a glimpse of the Castle and grounds
Ripley All Saints Church
Ripley Village Square
Typical Ripley Houses
From Ripley we took The Nidderdale Way to add a loop to our walk via Cayton Gill meadows and woodland returning to Ripley for the bus back to Harrogate.
On my recent rambling forays I have been made more and more aware of the fact that The Tour France ‘Grand Départ’ will be staged on two days in Yorkshire in July this year.
Le Grand Départ will pass through Ripley. Signs at The Boars Head Hotel