April 3, 2010

0 Knaresborough Castle Maundy Festival

Apparently back in 1210 King John (I think) gave out the first Maundy alms to deserving citizens of Knaresborough and this year they decided to have a festival celebrating the 800th anniversary.   I read about it in the NY Times, the North Yorkshire monthly paper that we get (for free).  Paul and I thought we'd check it out.

The festival was at the Knaresborough Castle, which we hadn't been to yet.  Built in the 1100s, it has a sordid history including being the hideout of Hugh de Moreville, the head of the knights who murdered Thomas Beckett.  It was also a royal residence for Queen Philippa and Edward III back in the mid-1300s, given to her as part of her marriage agreement.  She loved the area (me too!) and spent most summers here with her children.  The castle continued as a part of the royal progress until the civil war and Cromwell's order of destruction of most royalist castles, and it was officially dismantled in 1648.

This is the garderobe, the medieval privy.  The "seat" opened to a chute that emptied below. According to the sign there, the main reason for the royal progress was not just to maintain contact throughout the kingdom but also because the royal households were so large that  they would eat all of the food in an area and "fill" the castle's garderobe- when the castle started to smell, they moved.  Interesting...

On the stairs down to the dungeon there are these carvings, believed to be done by knights bored while guarding the dungeon.  Even if it's not true, I'll believe it!

These are mason's marks on the stones.  These were used not just to showcase each mason's work and abilities but also as proof of labor for payment. 

Paul checking out the dungeon.  It was actually pretty roomy.  Some people said they saw tick marks on the walls like someone was counting days.  The arches are beautiful.  

Some guys were dancing some dance.  I don't know the meaning, but it involved swords.

There was a falconry demonstration with several birds of prey.  These ravens had a lady who told old raven legends.  The other birds were in a tent while some falconers (?) demo-ed their abilities. 

Overall, it was as cool visit.  There's a museum there too, that has actual Tudor courthouse furniture and other remnants of the past.  It also describes major events in Knaresborough's history.

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