Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Prudhoe Castle

Helen was up from Manchester one weekend and proposed we meet up at Prudhoe Castle. Apparently this was a favourite haunt in Bill's previous life, when his children were young. I'd never been.

Prudhoe Castle is part of English Heritage, which mainly manages ruins. I'm not generally as interested in ruins as I am in stately homes, which is why we belong to the National Trust instead.

Charlotte is growing by leaps and bounds, as children do. She seemed much more comfortable around us, not nearly as shy. 

I didn't read the sign that described the castle, I just snapped a photo. No idea if I took pictures of the pertinent bits mentioned.

"This 12th century stronghold of the D'Umfravilles and Percys was the seat of the barony of Prudhoe. It has a turbulent history and is famous as the only castle in the north never to be taken by the Scots.

It has moat, a fine gateway and a Georgian manor house built on the site of the medieval buildings. 

The chapel

The chapel above the gateway contains the earliest known oriel window in England.

Georgian manor house

Northumberland tenant yeomanry were based at the castle and ammunition kept there until 1814. 

Inside the chapel...nope I missed that oriel window!

During the Napoleonic wars the house was occupied by William Laws who was the southern commissioner for the Duke of Northumberland. 

I love stairs that go nowhere.

At about this time the house was rebuilt by the architect David Stephenson (teacher of the great Newcastle architect John Dobson) and became the Georgian Manor house you can see today.

The other end of the chapel

The road to your right leads you to an old bridge which has on one side a rounded arch and on the other side a pointed arch. 

Ahead of you lies Orchard Hill, for centuries the castle's orchard. In 1174 King William of Scotland invaded England and having failed to capture the castle wreaked vengeance by laying waste to the surrounding area and even stripping the bark from the apple trees.

In front of you are the ruins of the last mill building on this site, as depicted in the painting opposite. It has a date stone which reads 1752.

The old millhouse

Water powered the mill wheel, flowing in a controlled stream from the millpond to your right. Using a series of smaller wheels or gears, the power from the mill wheel was used to turn the mill stones which would grind grain to make flour. An example of a mill stone is propped up against the wall and is dated 1786.

The villagers of Prudhoe all used the castle mill to grind their grain and paid for the use with a portion of their flour. Mills were valuable to the owners of the castle. When the lord of Prudhoe, Gilbert Umfraville, died in 1303 he owned two watermills which brought in £5 each year. This compares to the income he received from his 120 acres (49 ha) of farmland which brought in £3 each year. 

Painting from the 18th century showing the roof of the mill to the right of the castle."

After touring all the corners of the castle and manor house, we followed the outside path which led to a wonderful view of Prudhoe's leading employer, a toilet paper factory. I'm serious. I've even been inside to see how it's done. They in fact use recycled paper; the day I was visiting there were stacks of unused paper bags that were supposed to have contained sugar, but this was their fate instead. I think something about the juxtaposition of TP factory and castle may be one of the reasons I'd never visited.

It was a very pleasant afternoon out and as we parted Helen surprised me with a card and a gift for my upcoming birthday. A lovely surprise indeed.

1 comment:

Indigo Dragonfly said...

This sounds lovely - I tend to like ruins, probably because they are always so much older than anything I've seen stateside. Even the TP factory sounds interesting, when you get past the use of the end product & think about "how do they make that?"

The photos are lovely!
And early (I hope) happy birthday!