Since we have the school holidays upon us, and since my health is (infuriatingly slowly) getting back to normal, the lad and I took a trip down to
only an hour and a bit down the road from here, and I haven’t been there for years
and years. Bamburgh
We managed to take the wet, wintry weather with us, so anyone in Northumberland who was enjoying the onset of Spring should have been warned of our coming, to be strictly fair. We loaded up our German refresher course on the car stereo and donned our arctic service underwear and off we went.
It was a good day out – I’m not going to attempt any sort of serious tourist review of Bamburgh – it was too cold for us to see everything on offer (we swerved the walk down to the sandhills – we can die of hypothermia doing that sort of thing at home).
There has been a fortification on this site for thousands of years, and it really is a terrific looking place, but somehow it doesn’t quite feel right for an ancient monument. It is a real place, with real history, but it has been destroyed a number of times – most notably by Edward the Kingmaker – and much of the rebuilding that has taken place has been aimed at making it a nice place to live. People still live there, for goodness sake, and the state rooms are in excellent condition. There was a hefty amount of refurbishment done in the 18th Century, and the Earls of Armstrong (that’s the engineering Armstrongs) made it an elegant and comfortable home from the 1880s onwards.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s an excellent place to visit, but it doesn’t give you the immediate step-back into history you might expect. It’s all very well maintained and very obviously has buildings from all sorts of periods. They have an interesting little museum for the Armstrongs – mostly of aviation and marine specimens – and the state rooms hold a wealth of examples of armour and weapons.
I believe that in the village church there is a monumental window for a young cavalry officer killed at
Waterloo, but we didn’t get that far. Too
cold. Nick liked the tea-room and the dungeons best (he took the photos) – I
think I liked the artillery pieces on the walls, which included a splendid
6-inch Georgian mortar and a carronade. Apparently the whole lot are about to
get sand-blasted and refinished, so this will remove 200 years of paint in
Nice castle – I liked it. It looks like a proper, kid’s idea of a castle, and it’s mostly in very good shape, which is why it has been used for so many films.