January 25, 2010

1 Skipton Castle is Only 20 Minutes Away

Saturday we drove over to Skipton to see Skipton Castle, the closest "real" castle.  It is at the head of the town and looks over the main street where the historic Skipton Market is set.  A Norman baron built a basic fort here around 1090, which was soon replaced with the stone castle.  This was the family home of the Cliffords from 1314-1676, and their banner still flies overhead.  The Cliffords made many improvements and repairs to the castle throughout their tenure.   It is a lovely estate and we were lucky to catch a rather fair weather day for late January.
I have the tour book which of course has fabulous pictures and plenty of historic information which I won't copy here, but should you ever come to visit it will be here for your viewing pleasure and we of course can drive over for a visit!

This is the entrance to the castle estate, the outer gate.  The word across the top is the Clifford family motto,
"Desormais" or "Henceforth".

This is a picture from the shell room in the east tower of the gatehouse.  It was created in the 1620s.  It's now where you buy your entry tickets.  On the walls amongst the shell decorations are four carvings, the deities Fire, Air, Water, and Earth.  This picture is Mother Earth, she looks rather porcine in the head and I thought the naked pig lady was funny.

This side of the castle is off limits to visitors- as it is currently private residences.  Paul would like to live here.

I am standing in the fireplace of the great hall, just to show you how large it is.  I thought the actual hall was kind of small, more the size of a large classroom than the great banquet hall often depicted in Hollywood.  Granted, this was a smaller castle and not one that the higher Nobles and royalty frequented.

This is the window to the courtyard from the master bedroom.  A lot of light, but a rather boring view especially before the yew tree was planted by Lady Anne Clifford in 1659.  (That tree is 350 years old!!)

One of the arrow slits.

When Lady Anne Clifford began to rebuild the castle after the Civil War the Cromwellian government required that the walls be weakened and the roof made unable to withstand cannon fire.  While this was country-wide enforcement, it was especially important at Skipton Castle, as the original 13 foot thick walls enabled the castle to be the last fortress in the North to holdout for King Charles.  Notice here how thick the walls originally were and how they were carved into.

The dungeon.  Dark, damp, not too stinky, though.  There was no light, behind where I am standing (not in the actual dungeon) there is a tiny chimney-type dig in the wall leading upwards, best guess by me is for some ventilation.  There was no torture here, the most restraint required were leg-irons.  One prisoner testified that he'd never eaten so well as when he was held here by Lord Clifford!

These "stairs" were blocked off for a reason- they were completely dark, so I used the camera flash to show them- I wouldn't want to walk up these!  Some of the steps still in use are quite worn, even down to just small curves that are very difficult to step on.

A view to the gatehouse from one of the windows, you can see the town beyond.

The sink from the curing room, adjacent to the "new" kitchen, built in the early 16th century. It faces the inner courtyard.

A crossbow slit.

The Chapel of St. John the Evangelist.  It was built in the 12th century, last used on record for a baptism in 1637. This window shown was recently restored in order to show how it originally looked.  All other stonework windows are broken.

The old wall is now a walking path.  Dogs are allowed everywhere except in the actual giftshop and tearoom, so we plan on coming back here on a warmer day and bringing Sloan and Max to stroll along this path- you can actually walk around the entire castle estate, which is quite a ways!  Paul and I chose to walk through  Skipton, which is a lovely small town, and we look forward to returning there soon.

1 comment:

  1. You're both looking good. Can't wait to see this when I come over. Funny that a conquering king can decree that "now all castles must be less fortified."


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