Alas, we could not be out in the cool morning air and simply return to sit around on our bums in the flat until Joe arrived. So we set out down the road, walking along the seaside as far as Cullercoats, where we poked around their cathedral a bit. A very lackadaisical Internet search reveals that it is 19th Century, despite Gothic architecture. (Just like you said, atanwende! ;) Returning to the flat, we met up with Joe and left for Raby.
Raby Castle is located in Durham. We wanted to see two things in Durham: the castle and the cathedral.
Here's a map of our journey so far.
It was a fairly long drive, and we took a couple of wrong turns in the traffic circles before I glanced out my window and saw a hugely impressive castle mounted on the hill above us. I gave Bobby and nudge ... we had arrived!
Raby Castle is one of those strange castles (strange to my American perception anyhow) that continues to function as a family home. It's a bit difficult--though hardly unpleasant!--for me to imagine going home at night ... to the family castle. The castle is inhabited by Lord Barnard and his family, and when they are not residing in it, it is open for guided public tours. We arrived just in time to miss the next tour and so wandered outside for quite a bit, Bobby and I with our jaws around our knees. The Nevills built Raby Castle in the 14th century, and it has undergone additions and changes pretty much constantly since then. It's an impressive place; the best way I can think to describe it is that it looks like the stereotypical castle from a child's picture book: thick and squarish with towers at the corners and crenelated walls. It sits on a vast grounds and also has an extensive garden.
Because it is a private family home, pictures are not allowed inside the castle, though Bobby and I made up for it by snapping almost one hundred of the outside alone.
As I noted earlier, the castle has undergone successive renovations from its medieval origins. As we toured the castle, I found myself growing increasingly annoyed with those residents in the 18th and 19th centuries, who often found the medieval construction unsuited to their tastes and so completely redid things, often demolishing entirely the older structures. Bobby and I--of course--were less interested in gilded ceilings and silken furnishings than we were the rooms and structures as they would have been in the medieval period, but we were satisfied by the occasional room left mostly untouched or an iota of information alluding to the castle's medieval past.
For example, the Baron's Hall once purportedly held 700 knights plotting the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth; upon discovery of this plot, she promptly repossessed the castle from the Nevills. The room has been extensively remodeled since then, but it is still thrilling to stand and close one's eyes and imagine the profundity of the history that occurred right there, beneath one's feet. The servant's dining room and kitchen were original, leading us to marvel over the thickness of the walls (which I estimated at about four feet thick, or 1.3 meters); as Bobby said, you often read of the thickness of the walls in medieval castles, but it's not until you try to look out a window and truly experience this that it really makes sense.
After the tour, we walked through the garden to the tearoom for afternoon tea and, of course, a turn through the shop. ;)
This was our last evening in England before departing for Scotland, so that night's supper was at the local pub, and then home to pack up for the next leg of our journey.
I know that no one really looks at these posts for the writing. ;) As I noted earlier, Bobby and I took over one hundred pictures this day; this is, obviously, only a small representation. I will be opening this Photobucket album to the public shortly for those who are interested in seeing the full array.
Cullercoats Cathedral (19th Century)
Looking down the street to Cullercoats:
Looking up the street into Tynemouth:
The Angel of the North
My sister-in-law Kirsty (linwe_ancalime) hates this thing. It apparently sits in Gateshead but is consistently associated with Newcastle ... and I will agree that it is rather odd. It does resemble a bald lady with airplane wings, and it does look rusty. Joe assures us that it looked like that when it was put up. Anyway, we took this photo to irritate Kirsty.
Detail of the ceiling in the passageway leading to the courtyard and tour entrance:
The coats of arms over the entranceway:
For those who don't know us, Bobby and me!
This door was intriguing because it was so small! I am in the picture to provide scale:
Raby Gardens and Grounds
The most enormous hedges I've ever seen!
One of the castle's longhorns that roam at will over the grounds: