Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Between the Ruins and the Runes

This year is the centenary of the passing of the Ancient Monuments Act which, "recognised for the first time that there are physical remains of the nation's history which are so special and so significant that the state has a duty to ensure their continued survival." (English Heritage). The story of how that came about was recently told on UK TV in a series of programmes which charted the disasters and delights of the last century of preservation. It's quite a complicated and detailed story and I'm not going to repeat it all here, but I hope to get your interest sufficiently piqued so that you will investigate further. Clips are still available here for those in UK or with a VPNUK.

Sepia Saturday this week has an old photo of Conway Castle as the picture prompt. My family album is stuffed with pictures of us tramping over various ruins and admiring ancient monuments around the British Isles. I'd have a hard time choosing for today's post; so instead I'm going to begin with the one that led to the making of that landmark 1913 Act.

The above image is courtesy of The Library of Congress via Flickr Commons, where, if you click here you will see an interesting little thread about the misspelling of the monument. It's actually Tatershall Castle, Lincolnshire, and is very well known to my family as from Christmas 1984 to July 1987, we lived nearby in Tattershall village, and then in Coningsby, where my husband was serving in the RAF.  The story of how the castle was saved in the nick of time from being dismantled and taken to America, is told on the English Heritage website here. It's a story of detective work and determination on behalf of the then Lord Curzon, former Viceroy of India and restorer of the Taj Mahal. It's worth reading just for the description of the castle's fireplaces being restored to their rightful place, in great triumph, on horse-drawn carriages, draped with Union Jacks.

Tattershall Castle has been described as 'the finest piece of Medieval brickwork in England' as the original fortified manor house was rebuilt and expanded with brick by Ralph, Third Lord Cromwell, Treasurer of England, between 1430 and 1450. It is the 130 foot High Tower and moat which still remain and ensure that the building stands out in the flat Lincolnshire landscape. In the picture above you can see the church, also built by Cromwell, which, along with a row of almshouses, still stands today. You can find out more about the castle, which is now maintained by The National Trust, by clicking here. But there are a couple of 'Did You Know?' snippets to share first. Did you know that the current Lord of the Manor of Tattershall and Thorpe is Julian Fellowes, creator and writer of Downton Abbey? Did you know that the church holds the grave of Tom Thumb and his house is in the village?



I'm amazed that I can find no pictures in our family albums of the children running around the castle. Perhaps, as we lived nearby and the children even attended Tattershall Primary School, we took it for granted. We certainly visited but any record of those visits is lost.






There's a slim possibility that there may be some in my parents' albums, which I don't have. My father certainly painted it; perhaps that picture of him in my post, 'We All Shine On' a couple of weeks ago, sitting at his easel with a peacock at his feet, was taken there, as peacocks certainly roam the castle grounds.  I'm going to say that it was, so that we can imagine that the view he was painting was Tattershall Castle.

Tattershall Castle is relatively modern when compared with the Neolithic stone circles of 2,600 years B.C. Once again, living near Salisbury for so many years, we were fortunate to be surrounded by landscape and buildings steeped in history. So, in the absence of pictures of castles, here are my children visiting the stone circles of Wiltshire.




My daughter in 1978, being kept on a tight rein by her Dad, when we visited Stonehenge with a group of friends, about ten years before we moved to the area. When we did we had no idea how often we'd be driving past this iconic site. Controversial plans are now afoot to divert roads away from the circle and make it accessible only by a low-key visitor transport system.










Here's my daughter again, in 1989, accompanied by her brother, and perched atop a Neolithic stone which is part of the Avebury Circle. This Neolithic henge contains the largest stone circle in Europe and is situated in the Wiltshire village of Avebury. Owned and maintained by the National Trust, the site is open to the public, as a scheduled Ancient Monument and a World Heritage Site. It has a huge significance for pagan, and in particular Druid groups, as well as New Age believers, who frequent the site with dowsing rods in search of psychic emanations.

So whether you're into reading the runes or researching the ruins, why not visit this week's Sepia Saturday and see what others have made of the picture prompt below. If you join our facebook page


29 comments:

  1. What an amazing post Marilyn. First, your father's painting of it is so lovely! I like that name, Tattershall! I can see why places you visited often became lost without photos but packed with memories of it! We've done the same thing too. I did not know about the Downton Abbey or Tom Thumb connection, good to know. I like your Stonehenge photo, and when we finally got to go there for the first time, I was most excited to see the surroundings of the area. It also features another rock that I took many photos of, but never see over here. The fields with green grass and sheep was stunning to see too. My daughter took a course over the summer one year from the U of Minnesota, that involved the study of Stonehenge and they stayed in Bath, another wonderful place we saw as well. (Thanks to her studies over there my hubby and a good friend of mine flew over to see her!) Only one regret, from your post. That they never did pack up and send that castle to America, because we are a very poor country in the number of true castles.

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  2. I guess I shall have to coose another castle now. Karen S had recently commented that she would like to see more of 'my' haunted castles. I was going to do Tattershall's glimmering White Lady who is seen drifting round the battlements when darkness falls.

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  3. Really enjoyed this post, Nell. Entertaining and informative as ever.

    I know what you mean about taking such things for granted. As a very young schoolboy, I walked past the palace ruins in Bishops Waltham every day, but they were little more than a familiar backdrop as far as I was concerned. I photographed them a couple of years ago and was amazed at the how special the site really is.

    Must take the camera along to Avebury sometime, too.

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  4. Beautiful castle, it reminds me a bit of the Tower of London. Why are the Stonehenge plans controversial? I watched the video and I think they make sense. I could not believe my eyes when I first learned that Stonehenge was encircled by two highways.

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  5. Interesting tour!!
    Nice that you included your father's work.
    I may be no druid,
    but I'd love to visit those circles.
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  6. Not only a spectacular castle, but the image you have chosen does it proud. This kind of glass plate negative is typical of those produced in the late 19th and early 20th Century for postcard views - so much more thought about the composition went into them than in modern postcard views.

    Your National Trust does an amazing job looking after so many important sites in the UK. I'm a member of the Historic nPlaces Trust here in New Zealand which has a similar role, but they don't have access to anything like the same degree of funding, sadly.

    I've been to Stonehenge, and was disappointed at how close by the main road runs. I'm sure there are many factirs which influence such decisions, but in my view it will only add to the value of the place.

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  7. So glad to see many historical sites on your post! And you got to run around castle grounds as a child! Lucky you. I'd love to come visit those stone circles sometime. In the 70's I had at least one of my sons on a similar rig for his running around and not getting too far...wonder if it has had a psychological impact on him! It sure helped me. I think the history of Britain is so great, everywhere you go there are layers of it.

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  8. Very interesting Marilyn! You brought us through a wonderful historical journey that is unique. Love this!

    Hank

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  9. I remember going around the castle, but not whether Marilyn was with me. Wooden floors had been re-inserted, so the building consisted of three or four large, well lit chambers. The Stonehenge photo dates from the late 70s where, as you can see, one could still walk among the trilithions. A little later, when we lived in the area, we could be contacted by asking the telephone operator for Stonehenge xxxxxx!

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  10. Fascinating from beginning to end. I learned so much!

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  11. That's very interesting, thank you. I feel somewhat embarrassed now having made my tongue in cheek report about Conway Castle being exported to the USA, in this weeks submission !

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  12. I have never seen a real castle. That one looks unusual to me because it is taller than it is wide.

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  13. England is so old that it is surprising that it took so long to declare the need to preserve history. Very little from the 1700s even exists in the US because everything was built of wood, and a lot of brick was soft. I imagine castles are hard to maintain.

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  14. Very interesting post. I loved seeing your father's painting. He was really, really good. I hope you have a lot of his paintings in your possession. Such treasures.
    Nancy

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  15. A very interesting post. I love to watch BBC's archaeological programs and loved to read about the druids. History's finds good and bad, so varied, today with carbon dating and more are quite accurate. Castles are a wonderful part of history, England is certainly not short of those. I like the painting your father made.

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  16. I think I would have loved growing up with castles nearby. Very interesting post and I like your father's pointing. What a treasure!

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  17. I look forward to visiting UK in future and seeing some of these iconic sites.

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  18. So much history in just one small area Marilyn. Now we just need the Time Team to have a look at what is under the surface.

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  19. Nice post, great photos and good to see that you could once visit quite close to Stonehenge.
    Gill

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  20. Thank you for introducing me to Tattershall Castle - new to me. I liked your title of Ruins and Runes and also the trivia facts which always appeal to me.

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  21. Tatershall Castle is wonderful looking. You were fortunate to live nearby.

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  22. That's a lovely painting and interesting to read the history of saving Tatershall Castle. Too true that we often take what's nearby for granted.

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    1. I wish I'd gone to Avebury. I saw Stonehenge was greatly impressed...until the busload of tourists showed up on their short time leash. I was told I should have gone to Avebury.

      That's a lovely castle. Castles still sort of boggle my mind.

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  23. I visited Stonehenge in the late 1960's when you could still walk right among the stones and even touch them. Then went again a few years ago with Nancy and her daughter and they were roped off. A guide showed us around and showed us how dowsing rods worked (or didn't). How wonderful to live near so much ancient history.
    Barbara

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  24. How wonderful to live near so much ancient history.
    I visited Stonehenge in the late 60's when you could still walk among the stones and even touch them. Went again fairly recently and they were roped off. A guide showed us around and showed us how dowsing rods worked (or didn't).
    Barbara

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  25. I used to drive past Stonehenge regularly for a while, too, and I have family photos of the days when you could touch it. If they upgrade the road to reduce the terrible traffic, I have no problem with the diversion.

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  26. It must have been something to be able to climb on and touch the stones, although I imagine it would damage them.

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  27. The picture reminds me of old "once upon a time" stories I was read when I was a little girl.

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