Archive for the ‘Post medieval history’ Category

Centuries prior to the building of the Norman castle, the Romans had built a legionary fortress on the hill overlooking the River Witham.

The Normans created a motte and bailey castle here in 1068. Stone castle walls were erected by the end of the 11th century, replacing the original wooden palisade and a stone keep was also added shortly afterwards.

In 1141, Lincoln was the site of a battle ‘The Joust of Lincoln’ in the war between Stephen and Matilda for the English throne. King Stephen was captured during the battle and was held for some months before being exchanged for Matilda’s half-brother. Stephen went on to win the war and established himself firmly as England’s King.

It was beseiged 1191 and again in 1217 during the troubles between King John and the Barons and the castle held on both occasions under the control of its formidable constable, Lady Nicola de la Haye. It was also beseiged in 1644 when it was held by Royalists against the Parliamentarian forces although on this occasion it was forced to surrender.

In 1788 a prison block was built within the castle holding both criminals and debtors. In 1826 a courthouse building was added to the castle interior and in 1848 the criminal part of the jail was demolished and a new prison was built to hold short term prisoners awaiting trial at the Lincoln courts. This prison was one of the first to use the ‘separate system’ in which prisoners had their own cells. However, due to the number of prisoners who needed to be housed this was soon abandoned. The prison closed in 1878, just 30 years after its opening.

Today the prison and the castle walls are open to the public. In a specially designed vault in the castle grounds, it is also possible to see a number of ancient documents including Lincoln’s copy of Magna Carta.

The Rijksmuseum is the national museum housing both a historical and art collection.

 

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The most famous painting in the museum is the Nightwatch by Rembrandt. But I chose the painting below as my favourite. It is a picture of the battle of Waterloo by Jan Willem Pienemann and shows the moment when the Duke of Wellington (the British Commander) hears that the Prussian army has arrived at Waterloo. This was the turning point of the battle which till then had been very even. Napoleon’s plan has relied on being able to keep the Prussians from making it to the battle before he had beaten the British and their allies but although it was a close run thing the French army failed to do this and the battle was lost.

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Michael Bass was born in 1799. His family owned a brewery in Burton-on Trent, which had been founded by his Grandfather. Michel’s father had expanded the business including developing a lucrative export trade to Russia. At the age of 18, Micael left school and joined the brewery. It was a difficult time for the brewery as exports to Russia had been severely disrupted because of the Napoleonic war. However, a new market soon opened up with the sale of Pale Ale to India and Southeast Asia (By 1833 this represented 40% of the companies business). Michael became the head of the company in 1827 and the arrival of the railway in Burton helped reduce the costs of transport and increase distribution. By 1870 Bass was the biggest Brewery in the UK.

Michael Bass became the member of Parliament for Derby in 1848 and continued in this post until 1883, just before his death. He advocated free trade, low taxes and an improved standard of living for the working class. He worked to abolish imprisonment for small debts. He was a philanthropist to both Burton and Derby providing libraries, schools, museums and recreational facilities. In his last years, he was offered a peerage but refused, saying that he wished to remain in the House of Commons (His son Michael, also an MP became Lord Burton in 1897).

There is evidence of Pre-historic occupation in the Derby area.

The Romans built a fort on the site in 50AD and a vicus (town) grew up around it. However when the Romans left Britain the site was abandoned.

There was possibly an Anglo-Saxon settlement in the area, but the Vikings founded a settlement in 873 which was captured by the Saxons in 917. It prospered and a mint and market are recorded in the 10th century.

Viking Sword

The Doomsday book (1086) records a population of 2000 (The average size of a village was about 100-150).  It received charters in 1154 and 1204 and a wool industry was established in the town. Despite outbreaks of the plague in 1636 and 1665, the town continued to grow. The UK’s first silk mill was opened in Derby in 1717.

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The city was occupied by the Jacobite Army in December 1745 and King George I visited in 1773 and warranted the change of name for the local china from Derby to Crown Derby (it later became Royal Crown Derby by permission of Queen Victoria). The Railway reached Derby in 1839 and the Midland Railway soon set up a depot for maintenance and construction of engines.

The Old Roundhouse from the Railway Works

In 1907 Rolls Royce opened a factory manufacturing cars and airoplane engines.

Keith and I were fortunate that as we were exploring the grounds of the church in Snodland, a lady kindly offered to open up the church so we could have a look inside.

There is a possibility that there was a church on this site from around 660 AD although the first written record is from around 1000. The church was rebuilt in stone around 1100 and there is evidence that some of this came from a near-by Roman Villa as tiles and other Roman masonry have been found in the walls and in the infill.

The church was enlarged a number of times in the 13th-15th centuries, probably due to its position at the place where the Pilgrims Way from London to the tomb of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury crosses the River Medway (originally there was a ferry).

The tower included a Priests room, although this seems to have been converted into a lock-up when a rectory was built nearby in the 17th century to house the priest. There was much renovation in the 19th century and a vestry was added to the south side at this time. There are only a few fragments of original medieval glass as a land mine fell nearby in 1942 and shattered the windows. Some 19th-century windows remain plus more modern replacements.

MGB 81

Posted: March 1, 2019 in History, Post medieval history
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Motor gunboat 81 was built for the Royal Navy in 1942. It is believed to be the only gunboat in World War II restored to her original condition. These gunboats were fast with speeds up to 45 knots and were designed for the protection of shipping in UK coastal waters, particularly to guard against the threat of German E-boats, groups of which would cross over the Channel and attack merchant shipping.

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In 1945 MGB 81 passed into private ownership. It was involved in a smuggling operation in 1958 and was subsequently sold for scrap, but ended up as a permanent mooring in the sailing school. In 1968 it was bought by a boat preservation trust and restored to its wartime condition.

MGB 81 is currently berthed at the Portsmouth historic dockyard.

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The launch of HMS Trafalgar

HMS Trafalgar was a 120 gun ship of the Line built at Woolwich in 1840-41. In an age of great change for the Royal Navy she was the last ship of her type to be built. She was launced by a neice of Admiral Lord Nelson in the presence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert using a bottle of wine taken from the stores of HMS Victory at the time of the battle of Trafalgar. 100 Trafalger veterns were on the ship for the launch. She took part in the bombardment of Sebastapol in the Crimean war in 1854. She was converted to screw propulsion in 1859 and retired from active service in 1873. She was renamed HMS Boscawan and sent to Portland Harbour to act as a training vessel. She was retired in 1906 when the training school moved to a land base in East Anglia.

Figurehead from HMS Trafalgar (Admiral Lord Nelson). Now in Historic Dockyard Portsmouth

Figurehead from HMS Trafalgar (Admiral Lord Nelson). Now in Historic Dockyard Portsmouth

York Castle Prison

Posted: September 13, 2018 in History, Post medieval history, UK, York
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Following its demise as a military base, York castle was used a prison. New buildings were added throughout the 18th century including a county prison, a new courthouse and a female prison. The last civilian prisoners were transferred out in 1900 although it continued to be used as a military prison until 1929.

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Prisoner Graffiti

Prisoner Graffiti

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Exercise Yard

Exercise Yard

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The courthouse remains in use as the headquarters of York Crown Court, but the prison buildings were transfered for use as a museum and today house The York castle Museum.

The most famous prisoner to be held in York was the Highwayman Dick Turpin, who had fled from Essex to Yorkshire when it became likely he would be arrested. He lived under the assumed name of John Palmer. However some local magistrates were suspicious of how he funded his lifestyle and he was arrested in 1737 on suspicion of horse theft. His true identity became clear when he made the mistake of writing to his brother in law from prison and the letter was read by the local magistrates. He was tried at York in March 1739 and executed the following month.

HERE LAYS - DICK TURPIN
Photo by Carl Spencer (http://www.flickr.com/photos/82887550@N00/)

Dick Turpin's Gravestone
Photo by Xerones (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xerones/)

 

Perhaps the most famous memorial in the Cathedral is to William Shakespeare, who performed many of his plays at the Globe Theatre, a few hundred yards from the Cathedral.

The Shakespeare memorial and window which contains characters from his plays

The organ, the font and some roof bosses from the 15th-century wooden roof

In the SW corner are a fragment of the original Norman church and the memorial to the Marchioness Tragedy in 1989, which happened on the river not far from the Cathedral

Medieval tombs in the Cathedral

 

Last night Sue and I did an evening tour of Southwark Cathedral.

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Southwark Cathedral sits at the south end of London Bridge. Its pre-Norman origins are mostly legends with very little historical proof. It has been claimed that its foundation as a church was in 606, but this seems highly unlikely. Another story claims there was a nunnery here in pre-Norman times and also a college of priests founded by a noble lady called Swithene. Some historians have actually suggested that a more likely founder was actually Bishop Swithern of Winchester, who held office from 852 to 863. Certainly, there must’ve been an established church here as the Domesday book (1086) records the ‘Minster at Southwark’, controlled by Bishop Odo of the Bayeaux, the half-brother of William the Conqueror. However, it was the Bishop of Winchester who founded a Priory dedicated to the Virgin Mary on this site, close to his London Palace, in 1106. Its actual dedication is to St Mary Overie (St Mary over the water) to distinguish itself from the churches of St Mary in the city of London on the other side of London Bridge.

The Priory was damaged by fire in 1212 and 1390 and in 1496 the stone ceiling of the nave collapsed and was replaced by a wooden one. However, despite all of these calamities, repairs were carried out and in 1520 Bishop Fox installed a new altar screen, which is still present today, at the west end. The Priory closed in 1540, as part of the dissolution of the monasteries, and the church was first leased to, and later granted to, the people of Southwark for use as a parish church. It seems however that the cost of upkeep was beyond the parish and by the 19th century, much of the church was in a bad state with only the west end in use. A major effort was made to restore the church to its former glory and much effort to ensure that the Victorian rebuilding was done in the style of the Medieval original. Thus today when you look at it, there is a continuity between the 13th-century elements and those added by the Victorian rebuilders. In 1905, with the expansion of population south of the river, a new diocese in the Church of England was created and the church was redesignated as The Cathedral Church of St Mary Overie and St Saviour.