Friday, 2 November 2012

Beeston Castle

Uneventful day in the garden yesterday: wood stacking, turning the compost bins, and tidying the garden porch. The compost bins are doing well: the right hand (mature compost) bin was half-full, having been taking compost for it for things like the new shrubs. The middle bay is now ready, so that I turned into the rightmost bay. It is writhing with worms, and looks excellent.

The left hand bay has been filled over the last few months, and hasn't really got very far. Hopefully turning and aerating it will have helped, but I must try to pour some water on to it, and see if that helps. Even though it wasn't well advanced, I had to turn it into the middle bay, as it was full, as was the compost bin in the porch, as was the compost crock in the kitchen. This was unsustainable.

Having come in, we had a more exciting evening, and made our Christmas cake. Took forever to cook, as normal—about four hours twenty, while the recipe suggests 3–3½ hours. It looks delicious, though: I'll water it a few times over the coming couple of months.

Today we travelled down to visit Molly in Ludlow, and called in at Beeston Castle. Liz went there many years ago (and has no recollection of it): it's a 13th century (read: proper Medieval) castle built by Ranulf of Chester in the 1220s on ancient bronze age earthworks. It was siezed by Henry III on the death of Ranulf's heir, and was a Royal castle until it was thought obsolete in the 16th century. Its inner ward is on a peak surrounded on three sides by sheer cliff; the fourth side, connecting with the outer ward, is protected by a deep ditch cut into the rock.

It's impossible to take by storm.

The (modern!) bridge and inner ward's gatehouse, Beeston Castle (© Ian 2012)

View of the inner ward from outside the outer ward (© Ian 2012)

The castle was the site of siege during the Civil War: it started in Parliamentarian hands, was taken by Royalists (by stealth and treachery), and then invested by the Roundheads. A year-long seige eventually ended in November 1645: the Royalist garrison managed to convince their besiegers that their supplies were stronger, and negotiated good terms for surrender. They marched out with colours flying and with their arms; they left practically no food (there's a secure well, 100m deep, in the inner ward).

The Parliamentary forces slighted the castle, to prevent its reuse, and it's been a ruin since.

Later, an extra 40 acre ring of land was enclosed by a Victorian wall, and exotic animals were kept as an attraction, and there are some natural sandstone caves in the grounds.

View of the gatehouse to the inner ward (© Ian 2012)

View from the inner ward across to Peckforton Castle (a Victorian conceit, not really a castle proper) (© Ian 2012)

View from the inner ward: you can see up to 30 miles, to Liverpool, Manchester, the Pennines, and the Welsh mountains (© Ian 2012)

The 40 acres of wooded grounds have numerous oaks of a significant size (© Ian 2012)

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