Heritage Open Days

Six word Saturday

Where will I be next year?

It’s been a hectic week and I have so much to share, but I’m running out of time.  Next weekend our move to the Algarve begins.  Newcastle is just one of many places I’ll miss.  I visited the city for the Heritage Open Day event and the star of the show was undoubtedly Trinity House.  Photos inside were not permitted for security reasons, but you can, and should, book a tour. Former law courts, the Guildhall, were impressive too.

But who’d have thought that after all these years I’d find an area of Newcastle I really didn’t know?  I followed the Tyne out to Ouseburn, whose arty vibe and grungy, graffiti covered streets were a revelation.  Even on such a grey day, my spirits were lifted.

This may be my last ever Six Word Saturday and I’m very grateful to Debbie for indulging and entertaining me so beautifully over the years.  One thing’s for sure.  I’ll not stop exploring and following my nose.  I just can’t help myself.  🙂

Wishing you all a happy Saturday!

For the love of Brancepeth

I had not intended to share another castle with you today, in the midst of my castle trilogy of walks, but the owners of Brancepeth Castle touched me deeply.  How can such a monumental castle remain so unknown?  And how much more effort can a man and wife put into the preservation of their home?  Had it not been for the Heritage Open Day events, I should never have known this story.

Brancepeth is a tiny and delightful village, just 5 miles south-west of Durham City.  A Norman castle was built here, on a fine lookout point across the valley.  It was rebuilt by the Neville family in the late 14th century, then confiscated by the Crown, in 1569, for their involvement in the Rising of the North.  A succession of owners followed, the last major restoration at the hands of the architect Anthony Salvin in the mid-19th century.  The castle has never seen conflict, but in 1939 became the headquarters of the Durham Light Infantry.  They left in 1962.  And then the current poignant phase of the castle’s history began.

In 1978, Margaret Dobson, wife of publisher Dennis Dobson, bought the castle to store the company’s stock of books, the lease on their Notting Hill property having expired.  Her husband died before the move north, but she and her 7 children inhabited the castle.  Mrs. Dobson did much to restore fabric and interiors but, you can imagine, such a property is a money pit.  The lead roof had been stripped by a previous tenant.  The resourceful lady refurbished the main function rooms to generate income from craft fairs and auctions.  Shakespearean plays were staged in the courtyard, and rooms let to students at Durham University.  Since her death, aged 86, in October 2014, family have carried on the work as best they can.  Her daughter, who led the tour, explained that metal supports had been used in the most recent restoration.  The rusting of these necessitated rebuilding, at the cost of £86,000 for just one of the vital towers.

The building is astounding. Everything from the huge chapel to original medieval vaults below ground.  The contrast between the beauty I’ve shown you, and the incredible amount of work still to be done couldn’t be greater.  Ceilings and paintwork peel, draughty corridors and flights of stairs proliferate.  But the building is loved, and nurtured, by a couple no longer young, but dedicated.  I wish them well.  Please go and attend one of their events, if you can.

The cause must have its champions up and down the country, but none is more committed than Becky.  As another Heritage Open Day weekend begins, join her In the Pink, and then get yourself out and find something interesting in your area.

Six word Saturday

The eccentricity of an English summer

Last Sunday we attended a charity event in the magnificent grounds of Aske Hall, in North Yorkshire.  Situated in beautiful countryside, near the village of West Gilling, we had no idea of the high jinks in store.  Meet the cast!

The view down to the lake.  It’s quite a place, and incidentally, was open for the Heritage Open Days this week.  One of many, isn’t it, Becky?  Just three pink squares this week.  Did you spot them?  I’m worn out with climbing all the stairs, but Debbie’s having great fun.  Hope you’ve got your Six Words ready?  Have a happy Saturday, everyone!