Our travel to England revolves around finding unusual places to stay within reach of castles, cathedrals and stately homes we want to visit. At the end of Week #1, we bid goodbye to the Russian Cottage on the Chatsworth Estate. From there, we drove north to Bamburgh Castle to stay in the Neville Tower, arranged through Crabtree and Crabtree.
The village of Bamburgh looks much like it has for hundreds of years. It boasts a butcher, a greengrocer, a few small hotels and a few pubs. Our self-catering flat had a very serviceable kitchen, so we combined eating in with a meal or two at the Lord Crewe Arms, where the food was excellent.
We had visited Bamburgh Castle for a day in 2013 and stopped in for a quick visit on our way to a night at The Cookie Jar near Alnwick Castle on our Family Trip in 2022. Both visits were brief; we were eager to stay in the castle and explore the area more.
Viewing the coastline from our sitting room at sunrise and sunset was incredible.
And to walk the beach at low tide—it’s incredible how far out the tide goes.
We were blessed with hot weather and loved visiting with all the dogs (and their owners) splashing in the waves.
Visiting Lindisfarne Priory was first on the agenda once we were settled. Timing is everything when driving over the causeway!
Duly noted. We made our way across as soon as it was safe, trying to maximize our time on the island.
Lindisfarne will get its own write-up, but here are a few shots to give you some idea. The site is run by English Heritage, who describes it thusly,
Cross the dramatic causeway to reach the island of Lindisfarne on a journey that will stay in your memory forever. Follow in the footsteps of the ancient monks who built their priory here nearly 1,400 years ago and explore the wild coastal beauty of Holy Island… Find out about a violent Viking raid, the miracles of St Cuthbert and the beautiful medieval Lindisfarne Gospels.
Lindisfarne is also known as Holy Island. In 635 AD, Irish Monks settled there, creating a monastery renowned for its sainted bishop, Cuthbert. The monks wrote the famous Lindisfarne Gospels during the 8th century. Viking readers destroyed the original monastery a few hundred years later. The monks fled, eventually ending up at Durham Cathedral. During the 12th century, a replacement priory arose on the same site, and it’s that structure whose ruins we see today.
Lindisfarne Castle is visible from the churchyard of the adjacent St Mary’s Church. Though I was itching to see it, Himself had inconsiderately fractured a bone in his foot before we set off on our trip, and we were a bit constrained on how much walking he could manage in one day. The nerve of the man! Ah, well, an excellent excuse for a return trip. (To everyone’s relief, dogs included, I am pleased to report that said fracture has healed, and he is back in full walking form.)
Leaving Bamburgh, our next destination was Beverley, a beautiful market town in northeast Yorkshire. Beverley Minster, or The Cathedral That Wasn’t, as I think of it, has been on my list of must-sees for a while.
Much more on that in its own post later, but take a look. Worth a visit, no?
On the way down to Beverley, we made two major stops, which is unusual for us. We usually adhere to a one-visit-a-day rule, but I wanted to revisit Durham Cathedral. (It was one of the earlier ones I had photographed, and I was eager to upgrade the quality of the photos.) It was well worth the visit. Some extremely helpful guides in the historical centre of town directed us down the towpath on the opposite side of the river to the Cathedral to get this shot.
As well, I was dying to see the Chapter House, which served as Professor McGonagall’s classroom in the Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Success! I was delighted—the Chapter House is hardly ever open, and we happened to hit it on a day that it was.
The Town of Durham is stunning, and I’d love to see more of it. Durham Castle, now home to part of Durham University, is open to viewing by guided tour. We enjoyed our walk on the towpath by the river, and there are several interesting-looking self-catering apartments to let further along the river from Durham Cathedral.
Glenn’s foot was holding up, so we pressed on to Whitby Abbey, the inspiration for the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. I took This final picture that day as the mist was whirling in. It makes an eerily perfect setting for a vampire novel.
Whitby Harbour is incredibly busy. My grandfather, who lived in Leeds, then Harrogate, before emigrating to Canada with my Grandmother in the 60s, was an artist, a Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army, and a Chartered Accountant. A Renaissance man, to the core, was Granddad. His paintings of Whitby Harbour are in the Impressionist style and very beautiful. I suspect he would scarcely recognize today’s bustling tourist town surrounding the harbour.
We were starving by this point, as it was mid-afternoon, so we found a fish and chip shop and dug in. Delicious!
Glenn then got us up to Whitby Abbey by dint of some skilful navigation around perverse construction-related road closures, the logic of which eluded both of us. Once on-site, he left me to it, and I spent a happy hour touring the ruined abbey. The only fly in the ointment was a group of four highly self-involved tourists determined to use the site as a backdrop for endless posed selfies. Yes, I understand a shot or two to remind you of your holiday. Thirty minutes donning various costumes in the most prominent spot? Just, NO. More to come on Whitby Abbey.
From Whitby, we drove to Beverley, at last at Broadgate Farm Cottages. Our friendly hostess, Elaine, greeted us, and we were soon settled in our self-catering cottage. It’s the one with the open door and the little red Mini parked beside it.
The weather continued to hold fair, and we were treated to another gorgeous sunset.
The route from Broadgate Farm to the town of Beverley runs through Beverley Westwood’s common land, onto which hundreds of cattle are released each spring to graze. Drivers are cautioned to beware of cattle crossing the unfenced roads running through the 500-acre pastures. The cattle have the right of way, similar to the ponies in the New Forest in southern England.
Even more remarkable is that Westwood also contains the public Beverley Golf Course, which has unique local rules for cattle and golfers sharing the course. One golfer described his experience playing the course (he loved it). As we drove—cautiously—we watched a golfer nudging a steer to one side while preparing to take his swing. There had to be a dozen cattle interspersed with the golfing foursome and many more dozen further off. It’s a huge herd.
Animals and humans live together quite companionably in Britain, which is one of the reasons we enjoy visiting so much. Dogs are welcome everywhere and, as a result, are incredibly well-behaved. No one turns a hair at having a dozen snoozing dogs tucked up beside their respective owners in a local pub. One dog owner at The Swan, where we dined in Broadway during an earlier visit, had three large golden retrievers with her, lying near the bar at the entrance. It was a treat to visit with them, as we always miss our crowd when we are away.
We continued past the cattle and on our way to Beverley Minster, more formally known as the Parish Church of Saint John and Saint Martin. It’s enormous—larger than one-third of all English cathedrals. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries its standing as a collegiate church (one not connected to a monastery) saved its bacon.
Henry VIII favoured its grandeur and placed it on the list of potential bishop’s seats in the newly constituted Church of England. It didn’t make the cut for whatever reason but survived as a (very large) parish church. During the destruction of the mid-16th century, Beverley Minster was fortunate to lose only its chapter house.
While photographing the interior, I ran afoul of a most officious set of individuals assembling the latest Gaia installation. We had just seen another version of the wretched thing at Durham Cathedral. The giant balloon is 7 metres (more than 50 feet) in diameter. It floats and revolves to a specially-composed soundtrack by Dan Jones.
The installers invariably locate it just inside the west doors, blocking any view of the cathedral from one end to the other. The Chief Gaia Installer was perched on a stepladder, hanging the deflated balloon. Eager to get the shot before the damned balloon was inflated, I had the temerity to move a chair. Said chair was in the centre of the aisle., a good 30 feet from the stepladder. Shot taken, I moved the chair back and worked my way down the nave to the altar.
One of the chief installer’s assistants came roaring up the aisle to admonish me severely. I had No Business Moving That Chair! It was specifically put there to Stop People Like Me from Interfering with their Installation. Did I have a Photography Permit??? I made soothing noises, and after spouting more along this line, he finally calmed down. It turned out that the very official Photography Permit was sold by the gift shop for £3. He chief installer’s assistant grudgingly acknowledged that the £20 I had put in the collection box might cover it. We concluded our conversation, and I walked away irritated and determined to leave the premises as quickly as possible.
Beverley Minster takes their environmental credentialing quite seriously. Their website gives top billing to Eco Church under What We Believe. Pastoral care as members of the Anglican Church is secondary.
Indeed, they even have an “Eco Creed”. How many other people wish organizations would stick to their purpose rather than banging on about political and environmental issues, I wonder? One might think that the Anglican Church of England has enough to do without exhorting their parishioners to acknowledge their “negligence and greed” and “repent” about climate. The air of zealotry about their Eco Creed is quite disturbing.
Our poor impression of Beverley was softened by the friendly choirmaster, who was setting out music for choir practice. His vibrant choir participates in multi-church events, in which hundreds of voices join together to spectacular effect. It did a lot to remove the terrible taste in our mouths. We then chatted with an enthusiastic guide who pointed out the still-leaning north wall of the north transept. Extensive restorations on the walls corrected a dangerous outward cant of four feet during the early 18th century, Over eleven days, a cradle and jacks were employed to return the wall to a semi-upright position gradually. More to come on Beverley Minster.
That evening, we had dinner at The Pipe and Glass, a Michelin-starred pub in nearby South Dalton. Formerly a coaching inn, it stands on the site of the original gatehouse to Dalton Park. Parts of the current building date back to the 17th century. The grounds include a field with – you guessed it – more cows! Belted Galloways this time, named for their broad band of white fur around their middles.
An excellent meal and convivial local company did much to dispel the unsavoury vestiges of the day. We drove back to our cottage in good spirits, careful to keep a weather eye out for roaming cows. The following day, we headed southward. Stay tuned for England Week 3 where we will visit Chichester and attend the Goodwood Revival. We will then travel to Bibury and visit both Gloucester Cathedral and Kelmscott Manor, William Morris’ country house.