Life at the end of the road

February 3, 2013

Back to Bamburgh :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, shed/house, South Shields — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:55 pm

Were was I ??? in the car park beneath the basalt outcrop that supports the castle at Bamburgh methinks


File:Bamburgh 2006 closeup.jpg

Though I have to confess at lifting that picture from Wikipedia, all mine were taken around the other side and not half as good Smile Anyway, being well after lunchtime and me wanting to get back to the B&B before dark I decided to give the castle a miss. Choosing instead the far cheaper and older option up the road.

 St Aidan's Church, Bamburgh

Saint Aidan’s church that is, and once more this isn’t one of my pictures, I have to thank for that. There’s been a church here since the seventh century but most parts of this one only go back as far as the twelfth and  thirteenth Smile Is that all !!!!


635 At the request of King Oswald, Aidan comes to Northumbria from Iona and causes the first church to be built, probably on the site of the present church. Tradition has it that the only relic of this first church is the beam over the font. It serves no structural function and is believed to have supported the awning under which Aidan died. Mention of this beam is made by Bede in his chronicles.

1121 By the grant of Henry I Bamburgh Church and Parish were attached to Nostell near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, where there was a religious establishment of the Augustinian Canons.

1170 to 1230 The greater part of the present day church was built. Few traces of the Norman church remain but several authorities state that these are to be found in the window in the east wall of the north transept, which has a round-headed internal splay the exterior of which has been altered to a lancet.

1190 The first extension of the Norman church was the addition of the north aisle in 1190 and the enlargement of the north transept. The arch into the north aisle was rebuilt to its present style and size, and at the same time those into the chancel and south transept were similarly altered.

1230 Construction of the chancel, built to supersede the previous Norman chancel, when the Augustinian Canons came into full possession of their Bamburgh property. The chancel is unusually long – 60 ft. by 21 ft. – in relation to the nave. Within the chancel today are the recumbent effigy of a knight, reputed to be called Sir Lancelot du Lake, dating from 1320 or later and the helmet, breastplate, sword and gauntlets of Ferdinando Forster who was killed in Newcastle in 1701.

14th century Both transepts were lengthened to provide accommodation for the new altars. The north transept was made into a chantry chapel and for many years was known as the Fowberry Porch; today it is known as St. Oswald’s chapel.

16th century With the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII Bamburgh church and its lands were sold to Sir John Forster and thereafter was neglected. In 1611 it was recorded that “the steeple was only half covered with lead and the other half utterly decayed and open. The church was thatched and indecently kept and defiled with doves. The windows thereof not sufficiently glassed..”

A short extract from the Church website which makes interesting reading.

After wandering around outside and having a look at Grace Darlings tomb


I made my way into the church itself and was staggered by the amount of flowers in bloom that I saw, it was after all February the 2nd and not the end of March.


026  030

Snowdrops and gorse came as no surprise,


027 028 


but these, whatever they are



and a rose!!!!!! I’m no gardener but methinks that Saint Aidan’s church is a bit special Smile




I’m not religious but it’s hard not to feel a sense of something, if not just awe when in a place like this with almost a thousand years of history within its confines.


This forked beam reputedly stood outside the original wood and thatch church in the seventh century and is the one that Saint Aidan himself died by in 651. Whether it was or was not, it sure is a very old bit of wood Smile

Aidan was an Irish monk who was part of St Columba’s community on Iona.

When Oswald was exiled from his kingdom, he had contact with this community of Columba – perhaps living on or near Iona and became a Christian. When King Oswald was restored to his kingdom, uniting the sub-kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, he sent to Iona for monks to establish – or in fact re-establish – Christianity throughout his land.

After a false start led by the monk Corman, Aidan volunteered to come to Oswald of Northumbria and established both a Church at Bamburgh and, with 12 other missionary monks from Iona, a Columban style Community on the island of Lindisfarne. This was in the year 635.  Again lifted from the Churches website.




You just can’t help but admire that carpentry and masonry Smile


This is actually the original stone carving from the top of Grace Darling’s tomb but the soft stone was being weathered at an alarming rate, so when a storm damaged the canopy in 1893 it was replaced by one made of a harder stone for the princely sum of £100, the original being less than ten years old!!!!

Grace Darling

I’m rattling away on here about Grace Darling as if everyone should know who she was because I’ve known about her since I was a wee boy, but for those who don’t here’s a brief outline.

Grace was the daughter of the lighthouse keeper on the Farne islands, the seventh of nine children (or something like that) born in Bamburgh she was out on the light at three weeks of age with her parents. At the age of just 22 and with a storm blowing she and her father rowed a 21’ boat for a mile to rescue survivors from the SS Forfarshire that was wrecked on Big Harcar, a rock of the Farnes.


File:SS Forfarshire c1835.jpg

The story is one of epic heroism and the stuff of legend, with only Grace, her father William and mother Thomasin at home that night the story is related below.

The Rescue​​
September 7th, 1838​

William Brooks, the youngest Darling living at home, was away fishing at Seahouses when the shipwreck occurred. This meant that only Grace and her parents were in the lighthouse, at the mercy of a dreadful storm.

In the early hours William woke Grace to help him tie up everything including the coble, their large wooden open fishing boat, the weather was so severe. The tide was high and the sea was nearly up at the boathouse. They secured everything they could and went back to bed.

Her sleep disturbed, Grace, through her third storey window, was watching the storm and saw a large black shape on Big Harcar Rock. It was a wreck! Grace woke her father and with a telescope they studied the wreck for signs of life. They saw none. Grace watched and watched. As daylight crept in around 7.00am Grace saw movement on the rock. There were indeed survivors of the wreck; two or three perhaps. William thought the sea too rough for the Seahouses boat to set out, or, if it did, that it might not reach the rock. So he pondered. He knew the rocks and he knew the tides. Grace pleaded with her father that they both take out the coble to rescue them. Thomasin feared they would both be lost but Grace was already down at the coble, William knew he could not go out alone, so at the right moment they pushed the twenty-foot boat out into the sea. Thomasin watched, with dread from the lantern. At first she couldn’t see the coble and feared the worst.

William had decided a southerly course to Big Harcar would see them benefit from some little shelter or else the coble would be at the mercy of the storm. This meant going the long way round. The route they took from Sunderland Hole on Longstone took them through the passage called Crafords Gut, down to Blue Caps then towards Harker. Nearly a mile in distance. Defying the wind, the swell of the sea, the spray, the noise and the physical effort involved they eventually made towards the wreck and could see on the rock more survivors than they expected – nine or ten. William realised immediately that two trips were now required.

William and Grace managed to manoeuvre the coble near enough to the rock to enable William to leap across to the survivors. Grace now had to steady the coble on her own for some time, until her father could gather the weak survivors and attempt to transfer them into the boat. He would have had to be strong-willed in deciding who to take back and who to leave on the rock. There would have been distress, arguments, shouting over the noise of the storm. Mrs Dawson had her two small children clutched to her breast. They were dead and had to be left behind, for now.  The extent of her anguish can only be imagined as, at William’s insistence, she had to leave her children, lifeless, on the rock and be helped down to the coble.

An injured man was next; but William needed strong men to help, so he took two of the crew members, John Tulloch and John Nicholson. This left Daniel Donovan and three others on the rock, plus the bodies
of Reverend Robb and Mrs Dawson’s children.
The crew members would have helped with the oars; Grace would have helped comfort the grieving mother and reassure the injured man as best she could. What a mixture of emotions William and Grace must have experienced. Exhausted, having hardly slept that night; joyous that lives had been saved; sorrow for the mother’s loss; fear of the dangers of a necessary return trip in the storm.​
They arrived safely at Longstone and William returned with the two crewmen to collect the remaining survivors. The three bodies were left, to collect when it was safer to do so. The whole rescue took two hours, from 7.00am to 9.00am.​


After my long perusal of the church I wandered across the road to the RNLI’s Grace Darling museum and spent the rest of the afternoon in there.



The museum is full of Grace’s clothes, artefacts from the wreck


and even has the very boat she and her father used for the rescue. At 21’ long it must have been quite a feat to have launched it then rowed out to the wreck and back.

The SS Forfarshire was, in her time ‘state of the art’ Victorian technology, in fact I believe she was considered so safe that Lloyds gave her cheap insurance. Carrying wealthy passengers along with a cargo of calico, soap and copper bars little remains of her now, I dived on her in the eighties but found little other that rusty spars.


There is fantastic diving around the Farnes with wrecks like the St Andre, Britannia  and Abyssinia to explore but I always preferred the quiet an clearer waters of the west coast of Scotland myself Smile



After a most enjoyable jaunt I returned to my B&B and a bottle of Jacob’s Creek Smile 

More house work

Sunday had me up at 9:00 for breakfast,



which was a rather special affair presented by Dave, involving poached eggs, salad bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes Smile He and Susan are really looking after me here at

After that I went to a museum, fell asleep in the car park and came back to the Clifton without seeing anything Sad smile To be honest I was a little glum, that was until wifey sent me these Smile



house 002



house 003


house 004

complete with my son Smile


house 005

house 007

Well, after that, I just had to celebrate,


and I knew just the place, in fact I could see it from my bedroom window Smile



Squid and chips, divine, and not only that it came with a quiz.


Buried under the calamari was this Smile cod, vinegar and haddock was about as far as I got though Smile Smile Smile



  1. The Dude had his eyes closed, probably a brief prayer that Dad would be home soon. Or else he was visualizing the stone wall he was about to start setting. Or maybe he was just taking a brief nap, like his dad at the museum.

    Comment by drgeo — February 3, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

  2. Hi Paul, I may be running a post or two late but the idea of a wood fired boiler in the outhouse/shed seems like a great idea. Wood burners in the house are fine, even romantic (the salesmen say) but having just left a house with a wood stove my memories are of dust, bits of bark on the floor and taking the ash can through the house to be met with a Skye gale at the front door – you can guess the rest. Having said that, I do miss the Morso c/w back boiler, – it was pretty cheap to run and the house was always warm/hot.
    Now I’m just waiting to see the results of the fish+chips quiz – a challenge for your many followers – I’m sure there’s more than a few will have a go, but who will win?????

    I’ll give it a miss, I’m goin’ to bed, up at 0600 for work Monday morning Cheers for now Arthur

    Comment by Arthur — February 3, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

    • Yes Arthur, we agonized for many a long night over the stove but decided against it for all the reasons you suggest plus one more. In the words of a good friend ” A chimney is the ‘mother of all thermal bridges’ ” 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

      • Nice dvd video of a roaring fire ought to do it.

        Comment by drgeo — February 4, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  3. Thats some progress on the new abode, well impressed with lachie and angus. Those boys must be the fastest builders in the western isles, mind you, once the house becomes watertight, things seem to slow down a tad. All because the work becomes unseen, inside…
    All the first fix, plumbing, heating, boarding out, plastering, flooring, kitchens, bathrooms the list goes on. Looking forward to seeing the build evolve over the next few months…

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — February 3, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

  4. those amazingly doughty scots girls, i hope to be able to afford and read this book about the shetland island women — running the place as the men were at sea — one of these days. unbelievable.

    your homey dr. kate davies has written how the shetland women were exploited for their labor — paid for exquisite knits in tea.

    anyway thanks for the tale of doughty grace darling and other news. love it when you go for a walkabout.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — February 4, 2013 @ 12:58 am

    • speaking of doughty grrrrlz, delighted to see miss mollie and mrs. LOTEOTR supervising the construction site while papi is away at sea. excellent job, ladies.

      Comment by jeannettesmyth — February 4, 2013 @ 1:02 am

  5. Morning Paul, not long to go. Just in case you missed this, Leo

    Comment by anoldtractorinasmallwood — February 4, 2013 @ 8:14 am

    • Nice link Leo, I’d love to see them all. Easter’s early this year 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

  6. My, Paul, your lad is looking quite the young man! I have just been looking at a pic of him, along with some of the other lads who are now well grown up, in the 2003 Raasay School history booklet written by the pupils. Time certainly flies – and your house is flying up, too!

    Not long now – hope the rest of the time in exile goes well.



    Comment by Sue — February 4, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    • Hi Sue, he’ll probably have left home by the time we move into the house 🙂 Just spoke to wifey to confirm that she has NOT drunk all that special wine you sent 🙂 I can’t wait to see for myself 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

  7. Squid and chips looks great.Certainly worth celebrating looking at the progress pics.

    Comment by Andy — February 4, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

  8. Hi Paul
    I knew the Grace story from old I have got an Victorian book about 140 years old Heros of Great Britain so I took it down and read the chapter concerning Grace Darling and quiet facinating it was too, it seems that her Grandfather was in charge of the lighthouse on Staple island that must have been about the 1790s when he saw a freak wave well out at sea grabed his child and with his wife fled too higher ground the wave swept over the sourthern corner of the island carrying away the light house and his house. It seems later he was in charge of another lighthouse in the Farne island and his son William Darling Graces Dad who was then 14 had climbed to the top of the lighthouse some 80 feet above the ground when he slipped and fell landing on some wood protruding out. His dad had to get him down more dead than alive.
    What I found fasinating is how well educated she was considering she had only recieved the most rudimentary education from her parents they have got a facimile of one of her letters in the book and it is beautiflul example of penmanship beautiful flowing cursive letters and not even a spelling mistake. I was also surprised to find out that she was dead at 28, most likely TB



    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — February 5, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    • Hi Dave,

      a magnificent tale indeed hey, what made me smile was Grace’s fathers letter to the commissioners at Trinity house, talk about understatement 🙂


      Not only that but the poor girl was only 22 and died four years later, as you say of TB but only 26 years old.!rescue/c18fy The website is well worth a visit, there are a few letters on there, and like you say beautifully written.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 5, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

  9. Dear Paul,
    If my memory serves me correct you have got SMA sunny boy invertor I dare say you have been on the site and I know you are interested in PV and I was sniffing around on there site a couple of days back when I came across this

    It shows you the amount of electicity being produced by PV in Germany at that particular moment, you can even go back through the date over the last couple of years. it is quite interesting. They have got 32 GWs which is an enormous amount when you think about it. It the equivalent too 32 super large powerstations and even in the winter they are knocking out 5 GW which is more than all the PV in Britian.

    Comment by Yorkshire — February 7, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

  10. Hi Paul,
    I hope we hear from you this weekend. You should be back home marveling at your new house! I hope all’s well with you.
    I am glad that here in Maryland we are missing the several feet of snow in the blizzard just north of us.
    Best wishes,

    Comment by Flora — February 8, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

  11. When I was a lad in the Sunny South (in the 50s and 60s) Grace Darling was still being held out as an heroic example…so whilst she sadly died so young, and (from us) so far away, she was far from being forgotten…

    Comment by Cogidubnus — February 9, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

    • Same here Cog but wifey has never heard of her 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 10, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

  12. Paul,

    I was wondering where you had been for the past few days, then reading the replies here guessed that being back on Raasay there is much more important work to undertake than to type on the blog. I hope all is well and that the work Lachie has completed thus far has brought a smile to your face.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — February 9, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

    • Yes, glad you are back home. Bet there are a few chores to do.

      Comment by drgeo — February 9, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

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