A Grand Interior……

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Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire.

To be truly accurate the above is actually called the Little Castle.  So before I take you inside, let me explain.

The Little Castle is really a tower within the walls of Bolsover Castle.  Bolsover Castle stands high above the north Derbyshire Countryside.  Built on the site of a Medieval Fortification, Bolsover Castle was the dream of Sir Charles Cavendish.  Construction started in the very early 1600’s, with work on the Little Castle commencing in 1621. Work halted and some damage done when the Castle was occupied by Parliamentarians in the English Civil Wars of 1642/51.

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It should be mentioned that the Castle was never intended as a Fortification.  After the Wars, it was restored and construction continued, to complete the Castle built for pleasure. So don’t be surprised at the sumptuous and lovingly restored interior of the Little Castle. So lets pop inside for a brief peak…

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Pleasure was not just limited to the Little Castle.  The main Castle complex is more substantial, in terms of size, rooms, terraces and galleries, all spread along the hillside.  Today much of these buildings are only shells, but still convey the enormous size and complexity of the Castle.

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Part of this complex was the concept of Sir William Cavendish who built a Riding School and Stables for the elegant horses he imported from as far afield as Turkey and North Africa. Today exhibitions of Cavalier Horsemanship is demonstrated for visitors.  Sadly I cannot illustrate this modern and exciting aspect as photography of the Demonstrations is not permitted.

I hope you have enjoyed our Saturday Tour…two castle in one cannot be bad.  Now don’t forget to shut the door when you leave 🙂

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Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

10th April

(C) David Oakes 2021

The Navigators……

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Padrao dos Descobrimentos

Lisbon, Portugal is a great Tourist destination.  There are Museums, Art Galleries, Churches and a great many Architectural Treasures recording and representing both Lisbon’s History, but also Portugal’s centuries of achievement.

One of Portugal’s most significant achievement, is perhaps, the period what was know as the Age of Discovery… the Age of Exploration  which ran across the 15th and 16th centuries.  A multitude of the adventures and stories are told in the Cities Museums and Galleries.

On the waterfront of Lisbon, overlooking the River Tagus, is a much more modern contribution to these achievements.  Created in 1960 and dedicated to recognise the five centuries since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, the expeditions he lead, and those that followed, resulted in the discovery of  countries and continents, creating a map of much of the world, a world that we would recognise today.

A symbolic Sailing Ship, surrounded by its crew of explores, map makers and religious evangelists headed by their leader Prince Henry.

There is indeed much to see on any visit to Lisbon.  But do make time to view this modern Sculptural Tribute to Portugal’s Maritime achievements.  It is a great contrast to the more traditional Museums, that also have to be visited.

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

3rd April

(C) David Oakes 2021

Saturday….. so lets go for a Day Out

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The Castle of Mey, Caithness, Scotland

As its a Saturday, I though we would have a virtual “Day Out”

On the wild north coast of Scotland, high on cliffs overlooking the Pentland Firth, some 6 miles from John O’ Groats, stands the rather fabulous Castle of Mey.

Built around 1566 by the then Earl of Caithness, and also known for many years as Barrogill Castle, it has a endured a rather chequered and neglected life.

That all changed when in 1952 (the late) Queen Elizabeth, the Queens Mother acquired the Castle.  It was I am told in a sorry state.  No electricity, no water.   But after much restoration plus some very sympathetic extensions to the building, it became the Queen Mothers much loved Holiday Haven, and the original name of Castle of Mey restored.

Despite its extreme wild location, the gardens  of Castle of Mey are as grand as the Castle its self. High hedges and wall protect it from the extremes, but even so it is a quite an achievement for this wild sea view location above the Pentland Firth.

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With a view to the Castles future, the Queen Mother established a Trust Foundation., which in turn passed to the Princess Trust to Administer. Following her death in 2002 the Castle has been opened  to the Public.  In those early days of public visits we were lucky enough to visit.  My wife Jean enjoyed a small intimate tour of the interior, a small glimpse of life at Castle Mey that the Queen Mother so much enjoyed but also much to show her love of her family.

Prince Charles  (known in Scotland as the Duke of Rothesay) has overseen the development of a Visitor Centre and Improved visitor facilities…….   Now a must on any Tour of the Highlands.

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Now back to the real world of today, so wherever you are this Saturday….

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

27th March

(C) David Oakes 2021

It might have been very different….

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Charles Edward Stuart   —-   Bonnie Prince Charlie

Standing in the shadow of  Derby Cathedral*, is this statue to commemorate the visit to Derby of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.  I say visit, but really it was his Army’s Occupation (all be it briefly) of the Town of Derby.

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It was all to do with the Jacobite Uprising in Scotland in 1745….known simply as the 45.  It started in August at Glenfinnan, when Prince Charlie started  to amass a Jacobite Army in Scotland.  The plan was to march to London and retake the Crown of Britain for his Father Charles Francis Edward Stuart, who expressed Claim to the Throne.  Support was substantial and he marched south.  Taking Edinburgh, defeated English Troops at the Battle of Prestonpans.  Crossed the Scottish border into England secured Carlisle Castle and marched on south. Prince Charlie arrived in Derby on December 4th 1745.  Not a bad achievement for a large army that had to travel by foot.

It was here in Derby that things changed.  Many suggest that if Charlie had stuck to his plans the History of the British Throne could have been so much different.  But his pause at Derby allowed time for his advisors to gather up-to-date intelligence of what might lie ahead for the Jacobite Army.  True, the British Army was being organised and a fighting force built to repel the Jacobite’s.  Maybe Charlies advisors were correct in persuading him to rethink his plans, maybe if he had gone forward his Jacobite Army could have overcome that anticipated resistance. Who really knows what that outcome would have been.

What we do know is that 2 days later on the 6th December 1745, Prince Charlie made the decision to return to Scotland.

It was along slow return journey.  His army became demoralised.  The slow progress gave the British Army time to build and pursue the Jacobite’s.  They caught up with them at Culloden.  On April 16th 1746, The Duke of Cumberland engaged the Jacobite Army. It was by all accounts a massacre.  The British Army had superior numbers, they had Cannon Power and highly maneuverable Cavalry.  The Battle of Culloden was won by the stronger British Forces. The Jacobite Rebellion was over.

_DOI0577qqq Despite the bloody and crushing defeat, Charles Edward Stuart has remained in the hearts of many.  Despite the blood shed and failure the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie has been and still is romanticised…. folk lore, legend, tragedy and the real history all blending together… the lines of truth becoming blurred.

I say, romanticised as Bonnie Prince Charlie is immortalised in the famous Scottish Ballard… ‘The Skye Boat Song‘.

” Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye “

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So Charles Edward Stuart made his escape.  The British Army began building extensive defences across the Highlands to deter  a further uprising. Those tensions around identity continue today.

  •   I mentioned Derby Cathedral.But in 1745 it was called All Saints, Derby’s Parish Church.  All Saints was only made a Cathedral in 1927.

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

23rd February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday…….. Off to Church

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St. Michaels Chapel, Rame Head, Cornwall

Many years ago, when we were walking a part of the Cornish Coastal Path, we approached Rams Head.  It is a rocky outcrop that protrudes into the English Chanel and because of it high elevation also has a clear view down to Plymouth Sound.

As we approached we could see a Stone building at the highest vantage point.  We were to discover that this building was in fact called St. Michaels Chapel.

But the Chapel was not the first construction on this summit.  As far back as the Bronze and Iron Ages there has been a Hill Fort on this very spot. Not a bad strategic position, commanding expansive views  across both sea and land.  The building of the Chapel is ascribed to St. German and dates back to 981.

The weather and age has taken its toll on the Chapel, but I suspect it has always been very utilitarian building.  Apart from a place for prayer, I guess it was also a place of sanctuary for travellers and pilgrims providing basic shelter from the weather.

St. Michaels may not be the most imposing of buildings, but what cannot be denied is its spectacular location. It has proven to be an important vantage point.  During the 2nd World War it played an important roll, as a Coastal Lookout Point, in the efforts to safeguard  Plymouth Sound and its Navel base.  But it is also said, that it was from here, in 1588, that the first sightings of the Spanish Armada was made.  Warning were sent down to Sir Francis Drake, who legend tells, was playing Bowls on Plymouth Sound and despite the imminent challenge,  insisted on finishing his game. True or not,… its great yarn.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

31st January

(C) David Oakes 2021