Bamburgh Castle

Jan Leeming

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

BAMBURGH CASTLE

Date: 10th April 2014

BAMBURGH CASTLE

On our last trip up North, Sue and I were travelling back from Lindisfarne to our hotel near Alnwick. We had turned a corner of the road and been hit by the spectacular view of Bamburgh Castle. It was too late to visit and in the morning we had to commence our travels back down South so it was decided to leave it till next time so this time we did make the visit.

There’s very very little of the original Castle although the whole edifice has been reconstructed and, like Alnwick, well done but artificial. The one area which is authentic is the Keep which is placed, unusually, off centre. Keeps were usually sited in the middle of the Castle and was the last bastion of refuge from besiegers. However the lay out of Bamburgh is such that there are several areas of defence on the oval site and the Keep is pushed to one side.

Kate and Jen were excellent Assistants and very knowledgeable but the castle itself did disappoint as did Alnwick last year because there’s so little of the original. Although as reconstructions, you couldn’t fault them and at least it allows one to see what the originals might have looked like. However, if only for the setting, it is nevertheless worth a visit.

There are some very interesting artefacts and collections gathered together by members of the Armstrong family who’ve owned the Castle since 1894.

We were both interested in the Mortuary swords - produced at the time of a beheading or which were actually used in the beheading.  There's one very interesting exhibit which belonged to Sir John Fenwick - 'of all the Jacobites, the most desperate characters not excepted, he (Fenwick) was the only one for whom William III felt an intense personal aversion. Fenwick's hatred of the king is said to date from the time when he was serving in Holland, and was reprimanded by William, then Prince of Orange. A horse, White Sorrel, owned by Fenwick was among items of his estate confiscated by the Crown on his attainder and a fall from that horse was responsible for William's death. The horse purportedly stumbled when it stepped on a mole hill. In recognition of this, the Jacobites' secret toast was to 'The little Gentleman in Black Velvet.'

And the siting of the Castle can be second to none – it is stunning – set up high with a commanding view of an enormous expanse of beach – the beach which featured in the film Becket when the latter met Henry II. Their actual meeting wasn’t on a beach but it certainly added dramatic impact to the film. In fact the Castle has been used in many films – El Cid with Charlton Heston, Becket, The Devils and more recently in 1998 it was the setting for Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchet, Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes.
 

A fine model of the Castle showing the offset Keep

BAMBURGH CASTLE

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