Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Justice in Northumberland.

This intriguing monument goes by the name of Winters gibbet and it can be found on a lonely moorland road near Elsdon in Northumberland. It is guaranteed to stop any passers by in their tracks. The story behind it is this. In 1791 William Winter and Jane & Eleanor Clark were executed at the Westgate in Newcastle for the murder of Margaret Crozier. Crozier was an old lady living alone miles from anywhere and an easy target for the traveller Winter and the Clark girls, a pair of tinkers, who accompanied him to rob and murder the old lady. They were soon caught and paid the price for their crime. Following the execution the bodies were disposed of in different ways: the females dispatched to the surgeon's hall for dissection whilst the body of William Winter was hung in chains on the gibbet a few miles south of Elsdon within sight of the scene of his crime.The stone at it's foot is the base of a saxon cross which marked the highest point of this ancient drove road down which cattle were driven from Scotland to the English markets. Winter's body remained on the gibbet as a sight for the passing curious until his clothes rotted. Eventually his body was cut down, the bones scattered, and the skull sent to Mr Darnell of Newcastle. In time the original gibbet decayed, partly due to natural processes and partly due to the quaint country practice of rubbing pieces on the gums to cure toothache. Around 1867 Sir Walter Travelyan of Wallington ordered a replica, complete with wooden body, to be erected on his land. In time the wooden body disappeared following its use for target practice, till only the head remained, giving rise to the 20th century custom of hanging a fibre glass head on the replica gibbet. By the way, they don't hang people in Northumberland anymore.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Remembering our last true Englisc King

Last Saturday (14.10.06) was the 940th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in which the last true Englisc king was killed along with his Huscaerls on Senlac hill which is located in the pretty little town of Battle, East Sussex. I along with my young Lion Cubs and the Mighty Bison of Suffolk with his cubs went down to watch the biggest re-enactment of the battle even seen on the actual battlefield. Over 3,500 took part in the battle with around 15,000 spectators present. It was an impresive sight with our lads taking their position along the ridge gathered around the fighting man banner of Harold Godwinson & the snail chompers facing them at the bottom of the hill supported by mounted knights. They then went on to demonstrate how the battle was fought on thet day 940 years ago on the very spot that it was fought.
The actual battle itself in 1066 A.D was a close run thing, closer than most people know but as you do know, the end result was that our King Harold was killed and his famous Huscaerls fought to the last man around his body. He was later buried in the grounds of Waltham Abbey in Essex. I have posted here some pics of the day which show the Saxon army gathered along the ridge infront of Battle Abbey (notice the red fighting man banner of Harold) , The Saxon line awaiting the Norman attack, The Normans attack with cavalry & My Lion cubs at the spot where Harold was killed. Finally a picture of Harold's resting place at waltham Abbey in Essex.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Resting place of Bede & Cuthbert

Here is my first entry, call me biased but this is the city in which I was born, my home and my heritage. I don't live here nowadays, I moved away 11 years ago but I visit once or twice a year to take my young Lion Cubs up to see the family. I am very proud of my city and the County it belongs to. In medieval times it was a semi independent state governed by Prince Bishops whom only answered to the King. It had it's own armies & currencies. Prior to that it belonged to the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. It is the only city outside of London who's mayor has a bodyguard, and it's Bishop has the honour of holding the monarchs left arm at coronations.

Today it is the home of England's third university, a first class cricket team and some beautiful wooded riverside walks with fantastic views of the castle & cathedral like those above , come visit historic Durham City and be captivated by it's majestic scenery.