Once again, I've had to work during the latter part of this week, which in itself has brought one or two garden related problems. Alongside this, I had decided that the time had come to make some sort of decision regarding Facebook, and am also having certain faith based issues at the moment. All rather personal, but more about all of those things in the next post though, as they are probably somewhat depressing. For now, a little adventure that we took at the beginning of the week to Corfe Castle, as Amanda had been itching to take some shots of the place for a couple of weeks now.
About a twenty minute drive around Poole Harbour takes you there, via the very old town of Wareham (the place where our favourite old world cinema is!). To park, we drive through Corfe and into the car park on the southernmost part of the village, and are immediately met with this view on getting out of the van.
The small cemetary is some distance from the church, on a piece of sanctifed ground with fabulous views and very peaceful indeed, even in the height of the summer when the tourist trade kicks off.
On looking at the stones, one becomes aware of how very ancient some of them are, and how brand new others are. We read of a baby less than a month when she died, and on another how a wife had been finally buried with her husband nearly fifty years after his death in his mid twenties. Too many thoughts went through my head about this, and I still feel so unsettled about it.
The castle ruins stand high up on the top of a hill created by two streams cutting their way through the purbeck hills. Once a majestic and strong fortress, it was however ordered by parliament in 1646 to be blown up. The original first stages of the castle were built by William the Conqueror.
The framework is still there, and when walking around, one can't help but wonder who walked here before.
We started this visit as everyone does, by going through the main gate in the bailey wall, and coming face to face with this view......wow!!
This was looking back at the village from the same spot.
The outer bailey is now covered in grass, but during the castles construction, and subsequent work by future nobility, this whole area would have been massed with tents, small buildings, stables, soldiers practicing their skills, stonemasons, blacksmiths, people selling food and ale, fires, horse and carts throughout the day and night and so on, very much the hub of life at the castle.
Looking back at the outer bailey wall, the damage from the demolition is obvious, with whole chunks of the wall blasted into contorted and tilted angles. I am never quite sure why people in power decide to do this sort of thing, rather than just keep it for themselves.
Looking down across the outer bailey to the main gate.
A bridge takes us across the moat and through the first keep gate, also having suffered from the blasting. Notice how the left side has dropped so low, that the archers cross shaped window is almost down out of view! The blasting that took place was extremely dangerous work, as gunpowder had to be packed in large quantities into holes dug under the stone, and there are apparently the remains of two bodies (probably only a rib or two after all this time I would think) under the left tower.
The keep itself is quite high, and being on top of a hill makes it feel even higher. In a later picture, you will see the lower left hand window with me sat in it, taken from the inside the keep.......very unsettling to lean back I can tell you!
There are images and information giving a hint at what life was like, and from the picture below, one can get a good idea of how, what is now a ruin, was once the scene of opulence and power. I could tell so much about the history of this extraordinary place, but firstly you may want to come and find out for yourself, or secondly, you could look it up on the internet and read at your leisure. I would recommend either, although if you came to visit, then I could perhaps enjoy a little of your company whilst walking around with you?
This was part of the north wall, and more precisely the North Tower, in the west bailey. It was around here that if you were unlucky, then you would be thrown down into the Oubliette.
Nothing complicated, just a stone hole, no doors or windows, and a long drop, down which you would be left to starve, go mad and rot. Over time, the bodies, both just alive and long dead, would build up, making things unbearable.
An Oubliette 'hatch'
Once again, it was a bitterly cold day, but as in days gone by, the castle walls brought peace and refuge, even to two lonesome visitors. The western bailey was a lovely sun trap, and Amanda couldn't resist doing a bit of January sunbathing!
Walking past the main keep for now, and we come to what remains of the gloriette. Once a large and lavish building, where kings and noblemen would entertain and carry out business, it was added by King John after the main keep was built.
Me looking through a window on the eastern side of the gloriette.
From the gloriette, one enters the main keep up a small flight of stone steps, and takes in the view on the way.
The tall, square tower of the keep was built by Henry I, after he was crowned in 1100, and as with the gloriette later, was used by the king during his visits, to conduct business, hold meetings, provide lavish dinners and entertainment, and address any matters of law arising. Royalty rarely came to castles such as these, and so at other times, noblemen would be appointed by the king of the time, to carry out the same duties. Quite a nice, if responsible job!
The steps up into the lower level of the keep.
I mentioned at the beginning that Amanda took a picture of me sitting in the window way up high in the keep.....here it is!
Below is what remains of the covered stairway that once allowed people to travel between the keep and the gatehouse. You can see how it would have looked in the diagram further back.
This was just one of the 'arty' shots that I took, looking up at the keep wall.
We eventually came out of the castle after more than two hours, and took the path that goes around the base of the hill. It's from down here that it's possible to see some of what were known as 'death hatches'. Large square and sloping openings high up in the wall, through which were thrown hot ashes, boiling water, arrows, rocks, toilet waste and rotting animals onto any attacker. To try to fend off this, along with archers arrows and other weaponry must have been pretty awful eh?
It was lovely and quiet, with just the gurgling of the small stream.
And reaching the other side there was of course the obligatory road.........and sheep!
It's no secret here that I love cats, and Amanda laughs and wonders at the strange connection that I seem to have with them. This ginger one was busy catching the late afternoon sun, until I made a selection of the appropriate noises, a little like Dr.Doolittle I like to think.
We shared a moment of love together, before he decided that it was time to go back into his castle and attend to more important matters!
We had a cup of tea and a beer before drawing the day to a close, and had a quick look in the church before going back to the van. Corfe is a wonderful place, full of history and stories, and I could make this post go on and on,as I have only just scratched the surface. If you would like to know just a little more, you can click here: CORFE
I hope you enjoyed going here with me, and now I think it's time to check out some of your posts before going to bed. Good night.