Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Wicked Queen's Castle

We have had quite a few beautiful days in a row here, all strung together like blue and green beads on a necklace. Sunday was gorgeous, and so Lee and I took advantage of it by hopping in the car and taking a pleasant drive out to Castle Rising Castle, another of the English Heritage sites that we now get into for free 'cause we're members. So here it is:

This is another 12th century castle, but as it was built around 1140 it slightly predates Orford Castle.

There's not a lot left of the gatehouse and wall that went around the castle, but the earthworks are still pretty huge and impressive. The hillside around the keep is pretty steep (I'm a poet) and it reminded me of The Princess Bride when Buttercup pushes the Man in Black down the hill and then goes after him, right before they enter the Fire Swamp. (That is one of my favorite movies ever!) We walked on top of the earthworks all the way around the keep before we went inside.

Lee's artsy shot of the castle through the archway at the gate house.

To the left of the castle are some teeny ruins of a large kitchen and some other outbuildings; on the other side is the ruin of a Norman church that predates the castle itself (the castle has a chapel {I'm a poet again} inside it, so when the castle was built they quit using the original church).

Lee and I had a mock-argument over camera rights so we took quite a few pictures on Sunday and then I couldn't decide which ones I liked best so I'm posting like 15.

Oh, you can see the church ruins to the right in this picture. Anyway, Castle Rising Castle is one of the most famous 12th century keeps (really, how many are there?) because of its most famous resident, Queen Isabella. Isabella was French royalty and married King Edward II of England, but he was *ahem* rumored to prefer male companionship, so it was a rocky marriage to say the least (they still had four children together, though). Eventually Isabella found herself a lover, Roger Mortimer, and together they schemed (successfully) to depose Edward. Edward was murdered (Isabella was widely suspected to have something to do with his death, but nothing was proven), and Isabella and Mortimer ruled for a few years before Mortimer was killed in turn and Edward II and Isabella's son Edward III came to power. Edward III was fond of his mother despite her scheming, so instead of punishing her severely, he set her up to live at Castle Rising Castle for the remainder of her days. She wasn't totally confined to the keep, but it was her primary residence, and she had a pretty substantial income to live on though she was no longer at the center of the English court.

Castle shown actual size ;)

The castle is intact for the most part, except for the fact that it's missing a roof and the floor of the Great Hall collapsed in the 15th or 16th century. The photo above was taken in the basement, which is now open to the sky.

This is a fireplace which was added in later where the original main door used to be. There's a protective plastic screen over the tiles to keep people from messing with them, but you could see they've got designs stamped into them.

Main staircase leading up into the keep; you can see the murder hole in the middle of the archway. That was put in place so if an enemy did breach the keep, then the defenders could drop boiling water or rocks or other unpleasantness onto the enemies' heads.

One of the interior rooms with no floor ;)

This used to be the Great Hall 'till the floor collapsed and the roof went bye-bye. The passageway to the right (you can see the three arches) was hacked out of the outer wall so that the kitchen could be accessed after the floor caved in. Bet that would have been an exciting banquet for all the wrong reasons when the floor went! Anyway, the kitchen is in the far corner, and on the left is where the garderobe is (only one for the entire castle). Call me crazy, I don't like having the bathrooms right next to the kitchens, but maybe that's just me.

Ceiling joist in the little chapel. Queen Isabella was said to have spent many hours in the chapel, praying, confessing to the priest, and contemplating her role in her husband's death.

This photo was taken from inside the chapel, which must have been extremely dark when it did have a roof. They said in the audio guide that the walls would have been hung with tapestries, which would have made a huge difference in what the rooms looked like (although it still would have been much too dark for my tastes).

I think this little dude is contemplating Queen Isabella's deeds too :) So there you have it, our second visit to an English castle. This isn't too far away from Sandringham, which is I think one of the Queen's vacation homes, so we'll have to go visit that sometime as well (even though it's not part of English Heritage so we'd have to pay to get in...ah well!) It only took us about a half hour or so to get to Castle Rising, and it was a beautiful drive. We went to one more place before we came home for the day, so I'll have more pictures in a few days.


Amber Hight said...

Ooooo....ahhh!!!! I love Castles!! Okay, couple points...

a) I'm totally going to watch The Princess Bride again, and scrap, pretending your sitting right next to me quoting the movie word for word.
2) You guys are GIANTS next to that castle!
D) How do you keep track of all these details? I forget the name of a street sign when I pass it!
10) I miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CCsMom said...

OK, aren't you glad your mama isn't like that?!!! Wow, that's something. I'd hate to be King just because you never know who you can't trust. Something else. Can't wait to get there and see some of these things for myself! Love all the information.

Thoughts by B and M said...

Like Amber...I LOVE CASTLES - especially old ones! You'll love traveling to Scotland & Germany to see some amazing castles! And to think you're so close to these!!!! SO JEALOUS!

Giffysk8s said...

Love all of the details in the pics! Not sure who had the camera rights for this trip, but whomever it was took some pretty fantastic shots!

I totally LOL at your kitchen/bathroom comment. Our main floor does, indeed, have a bathroom right next to the kitchen. It's the only feature if this house that I hate. I hope it won't keep you from visiting me. :(

Christy Lynn said...

Oh, the Blue Loo in our current house is right next to the kitchen, and while it is definitely convenient to have a bathroom downstairs I wish it wasn't where it is. So that had better not keep YOU from visiting ME, Miss Vicki! Hope you had a great cruise and welcome back! Inspired by you I finally got a teeny start on scrapbooking the cruise Lee and I took for our seven years ago...

Thoughts by B and M said...

BTW - Bennet said "Godzirras!" when he saw the picture of you guys in front of the one castle (where you guys look big"