Weekly Word – Tortuous

Weekly Word is a weekly post intended to illustrate the meaning and use of a single word. The chosen word will begin with a different letter each week, as Louise (my daughter) and I work our way through the alphabet.

Louise posts on her website:

An Enchanted Place

This week’s word begins with the letter  T:

Part of Speech:

Adjective

Meaning: 

1.  Having, or marked by, repeated turns or bends; winding or twisting.

2.  Not straightforward, or morally crooked – as in proceedings, methods, or policy; highly involved; lengthy and /or complex; deceitful; devious

Note: The word, tortuous is not to be confused with torturous. The latter is based on the word torture  which is painful and characterised by suffering.

Pronunciation:

tor-tu-ous   (tôr′cho͞o-əs)

Audio Link:

TORTUOUS

Related Word Forms:

tortuously (adverb)

tortuousness (noun)

Synonyms:  

1.  winding   meandering   meandrous   wandering   twisted   twisting   twisty   bent   zigzag   sinuous   curved    crooked   serpentine   snaky   labyrinthine   mazy   circuitous   anfractious    indirect  roundabout   convoluted   complicated   flexuous    involute

2.   convoluted    involved   misleading   deceptive   deceitful   ambiguous   tricky   devious

Antonyms:

Straight   straightforward   direct   linear   simple   easy   uncomplicated   uninvolved untwisted   rectilinear   undeviating   open   reliable   upright   honest

Word Origin:

Late Middle English (1350–1400) via Old French, from the Latin tortuosus from tortus meaning ‘twisting’ or ‘a twist’, from the Latin torquere ‘to twist’.

Use the Word:

1.  The road through the mountains wound tortuously down to the beach, its serpentine form graceful and smooth against the steep and craggy terrain.  Yet the beauty of the scene became somewhat marred as the inexperienced driver negotiated each sharp hairpin bend with evident unease.

2.  A collective sigh of relief filled the room as the conference drew to a close. After  over three hours of poorly delivered speeches, most of which were mix of ambiguity and tortuousness, no one in the audience was inclined to hide their displeasure from the speakers as they rose to leave.

 3.  Beneath the warm sun of the summer, when the corkscrew willow is in leaf, the line of each tortuous branch disappears from sight in pursuit of finding some cool place to rest behind the parasol of green…

But in winter all is laid bare and the tortuous route of each twisting, dragon’s claw can be clearly seen, notably when snowflakes break their fall on the tree’s labyrinthine form.

***

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Image  from Shutterstock

Promises Made – Flash Fiction

The auburn-haired girl cowered behind a rickety old fence, swallowing back whimpers that threatened to erupt. Dan was out there, scouring the land with his men; hunting her down like vermin to be exterminated. Though he’d loved her once, she repulsed him now.

She sniffed the night air, weighing her chances if she ran. She knew Dan’s scent so well; if he were close, she would know. But where she’d go and how she’d survive, she had no idea.

Strong hands suddenly grabbed her, yanking her to her feet and shaking her as a dog might do with a captured hare. Anger surged as she gasped for breath, promises to ignore her new-found powers forgotten.

Sharp claws emerged to tear at his eyes, while long white fangs sank into his neck. This man’s death would give Dan further evidence of her failure to control the changes – and of the need to terminate her.

She licked the blood from her hands, watching as they became the familiar red-furred forepaws. Her upper body dropped forward, and uttering a low whine at what she’d become, the red wolf loped away, heading for the heart of the forest, far away from the world of man.

Weekly Word – Sycophant

Weekly Word is a weekly post intended to illustrate the meaning and use of a single word. The chosen word will begin with a different letter each week, as Louise (my daughter) and I work our way through the alphabet.

Louise posts on her website:

An Enchanted Place

This week’s word begins with the letter  S:

Part of Speech:

Noun

Meaning: 

A person who attempts to gain advantage by flattering influential people or behaving in a servile manner, as if he has no self-respect; a self-seeking, fawning parasite.

Pronunciation:

sy-co-phant  (sy-co –fant)

sik –uh-fuhnt (sik – uh-fant)

Audio Link:

SYCOPHANT

Related Forms:

sycophants (plural noun)

sycophancy (n)   sycophantism (n)

sycophantic (adj)   sycophantically (adj)    sycophantish (adj)

sycophantical (adv)   sycophantishly (adv)

Synonyms:  

yes man   toady   fawner   suck-up   lickspittle   brown nose/noser   arse/ass-licker  arse/ass- kisser   groveller   apple polisher   backslapper   backscratcher   puppet   flatterer  lackey  crawler  leech minion   creep   flunkey   doormat   boot licker   truckler   sponge  sponger  parasite   kowtower   hanger-on   cringer   goody-goody   adulator   Uriah Heep

Antonyms:

honest   principled   unsubmissive   individualist   free-thinker   arrogant   unservile  imperious   impertinent   proud   boastful   high-handed   haughty   lordly

Word Origin:

Mid 16th century (1530-40) denoting an informer, from the French sycophante, or via Latin from the Greek sukophantes, also meaning informer, or slanderer (from sukon meaning ‘fig’ and phainein meaning ‘to show or reveal’).  This is perhaps in reference to making the insulting gesture of the ‘fig’ (yes, the fruit) i.e. sticking the thumb between two fingers to informers.

Gesture fist with thumb through fingers.  Author: User Jeremykemp on en.wikipedia Creative Commons

The Merriam Webster Dictionary once again adds a little  more information to this reference:

How did fig revealers become slanderers? One theory has to do with the taxes Greek farmers were required to pay on the figs they brought to market. Apparently, the farmers would sometimes try to avoid making the payments, but squealers—fig revealers—would fink on them, and they would be forced to pay. Another possible source is a sense of the word fig meaning “a gesture or sign of contempt” (as thrusting a thumb between two fingers). In any case, Latin retained the “slanderer” sense when it borrowed a version of sykophantēs, but by the time English speakers in the 16th century borrowed it as sycophant, the squealers had become flatterers.

Use the Word in a Sentence (or a paragraph or short story). 

 

The Sad Tale of King Fred

 

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

King Fred was a vain and conceited man and quite ineffectual as the ruler of Cleverland. Content to spend his days surrounded by fawning, sycophantic courtiers who constantly boosted his ego with insincere flattery, the kingdom would have long since ceased to function if not for the administrative ability of  Princess Gertrude, Fred’s beautiful and sagacious daughter.

One day, after listening to bucketloads of praise from the grovelling sycophants regarding Fred’s ability to perform any task he chose, a handsome young courtier named Luvstruk took his cue: ‘You are skilled in so many things, my king, and put the rest of us to shame. If we had a suitable vessel, I’m sure you could fly it to the moon! You could certainly outshine our most highly trained coach drivers if you desired, and make those horses gallop faster than ever.’

The sponging parasites cheered King Fred on with sycophantish zeal as he left the stable yard driving his own stately coach. Fred yelled and whooped at the two lusty horses, and thrashed with his whip and reins. Unused to this amateur hand, horses whinnied and sidled, then reared and shot off, leaving Fred hanging on for dear life. The resounding crash beyond the palace gates said it all.

The sycophants wept over the mangled body of the king who had plied them with wine and expensive gifts in exchange for their self-serving praise. Luvstruk grinned. If those toadies thought that Fred’s successor would be just as gullible, they could think again.

Luvstruk headed into the castle to report on a successful mission to the future queen. The thistles under the harnesses had done the trick. Gertrude would be a wise and diligent ruler, who would brook no sycophancy in her court, and the kingdom would prosper. Gertrude would also ensure that all those kowtowing sycophants would be seeking new employment in a kingdom far away from Cleverland.

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

***

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Image  from Shutterstock

An Outstanding ‘A’ in Maths – Flash Fiction (sort of…)

A short piece written without the use of the letter E

 Mrs Norris’ dark scowl told maths tutor, Frank Warrington, to approach this woman with caution.

‘Good day, Mrs Norris. Sit down, if you would. You wish to know if Jack’s monthly classwork is up to its usual standard?’

‘Our Jack’s got a good brain for maths,’ Mrs Norris said, plonking a rotund bottom on a chair. ‘As has his dad – and you know I’m right, so why didn’t you award him an A for last month’s work? It’s obvious that your brain is malfunctioning.’

Such insults would not disturb Frank Warrington. This woman couldn’t discuss a thing without slinging hurtful insults. ‘I don’t award As to all our pupils, you know.’

‘But my Jack’s not at all happy with a D! It’s so unfair and I’m not going to put up with it from you, or –’

‘All okay?’ Principal Norris’ words cut through Mrs Norris’ indignant mumbling. ‘I told you that I would ask Mr Warrington about our son’s work, Barbara… So, Frank, what is wrong with Jack’s maths?’

‘Nothing at all, Tom. As always, his work was a worthy A. I’m afraid to say that Jack unwittingly took Billy Burton’s work away thinking it was his own. And as you know, Billy is not at all good at maths.’

‘Why didn’t you say so, you fool?’ Barbara Norris’ scathing words rang out. ‘How could you allow us to think that Jack’s work was failing? No good tutor would do that.’

‘If  you had shut your mouth for a jiffy, Barbara, I…’

‘No slanging bouts now!’ Principal Tom Norris’ bark put a stop to an angry sibling row. ‘Billy Burton’s mum is fast approaching, grinning at us. I think you and I, Frank, must clarify that, as usual, Billy did not gain an outstanding A in maths.’

*

Over five years ago I participated in a Challenge titled Allergic to ‘E’ and came up with THIS little piece. It required a paragraph (three sentences) written without using the most common vowel in the English alphabet. It was fun to do, so I thought I’d have another go at the challenge of my own accord. This piece suddenly became even longer than my first one. I can’t spot any errant e’s in there but, as everyone knows, writers aren’t always good at spotting their own mistakes.

Weekly Word – Rigmarole

Weekly Word is a weekly post intended to illustrate the meaning and use of a single word. The chosen word will begin with a different letter each week, as Louise (my daughter) and I work our way through the alphabet.

Louise posts on her website:

An Enchanted Place

This week’s word begins with the letter R:

Part of Speech:

Noun

Meaning: 

1.  A confused rambling of pointless statements or incoherent discourse; nonsense; garbled nonsense.

2.  Any long, complicated, ritualistic or petty set of procedures; a particular course of action intended to achieve a result;  a foolishly involved, fussy or time-wasting procedure.

Pronunciation:

rig•ma•role

Audio Link:

RIGMAROLE

Related Forms:

RIgmaroles (Plural noun)

Rigamarole (Noun) Based on pronunciation in some areas

Synonyms:  

meaningless   nonsense   bunk   bunkum   hokum   gibberish   gobbledegook/gobbledygook  yarn   blather   claptrap   balderdash   poppycock   spiel   piffle   twaddle   malarkey  tommyrot   baloney   drivel   tomfoolery   garbage   hooey   bull   crap   bafflegab    blabbityblab   song and dance   farce   jargon   rubbish   flummery   hot air   mumbo jumbo   palaver  carry on   kerfuffle

Antonyms:

truth   sense   rationality   shrewdness

Word Origin:

Mid 18th century (1730-40) as the meaning defined in Sense 1. Apparently, it’s an alteration of the term, ragman roll, originally denoting a legal document recording a list of offences.

The story of this word originates in the 13th century with King Edward I of England’s dealings  with the Scots.  Follow the link to read a short article from Mental Floss (Arika Okrent) titled Where Does ‘Rigmarole’ Come From?  HERE.

In addition to the possible derivation(s) of the word Ragman suggested in the above article, it has also been suggested that the actual term, Ragman Rolls, is derived from the ribbons – or rags -attached to the seals on the parchment. But the name could also have come from an even earlier record compiled for the purposes of Papal taxation by a man called Ragimunde, whose name was corrupted to Ragman.

(So, nothing certain there, then…)

Use the Word in a Sentence (or a paragraph or short story). 

1.  It was said that all the rigmarole being bandied around about the old hotel being haunted was instigated by the local Council to stop anyone from buying it. They’d been eyeing the place up for another new supermarket – when the small town already had five and a sixth would be decidedly superfluous. Fortunately, as head of the biggest Property Agent in the county, with more than a sprinkling of ghost-hunting techniques to his credit, Martin was able to assure people that the Council was spouting a load of old twaddle. This house was no more haunted than Sainsbury’s on the High Street – and the resident ghosts in that establishment only came out to party after closing time.

2.  By the time we boarded the plane, we’d spent several wearisome hours at the airport. Not only did we have to stand for ages in the queue to have our passports checked, customs officials went through the whole malarkey of searching the contents of our luggage. To put the top hat on things, the metal inserted into my thigh at the hospital after a fall from a ladder set off the bleepers as we passed through the scanners, and I was called aside for a closer search and body scan. Just as if I’d be smuggling anything under my clothes! At my age… I ask you. I can tell you that forty winks during the flight is greatly needed after all this rigmarole – and next year, me and Vera will be driving no further than Blackpool for our holidays.

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Image  from Shutterstock

Kenilworth Castle Part 3: Decay and Restoration

This is the third and final part of my post about Kenilworth Castle (which I started with every intention of finishing in a single post!). So before I plough on, here is the map, showing where Kenilworth Castle is located in the U.K.

And this is the plan that shows the growth of the castle between the 11th and 16th centuries:

I finished Part 2 with the work completed by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in the 16th century, and in this post I intend to look at what happened to Dudley’s fabulous castle (plan below) in the years following his death until the present day.

Having no  legitimate heir, on Dudley’s death Kenilworth Castle passed to his brother, Ambrose. However, family wranglings over ownership gave James I the opportunity  to take the castle back into Crown hands in 1603. In 1611, King James’ son, Prince Henry, agreed to pay huge sum of £14,000 for full title to the castle. On his death the following year, Kenilworth passed to his brother, Charles: the future Charles I. The buildings were well maintained,  and several royal visits took place, until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642.

Following the Battle of Edgehill in October 1642, King Charles withdrew the Royalist garrison from Kenilworth. The castle was occupied by Parliamentarians and remained largely untouched for most of the Civil War. But the uprisings of 1648 and the imprisonment of Charles I, brought about a change in  Parliament’s attitude to all former Royalists strongholds.  In 1650 Kenilworth was slighted (cannoned) along with many other castles across the country. All buildings in the Inner Court were severely damaged leaving Leicester’s Gatehouse along the Outer Curtain Wall the only building to remain intact.

This photo of a reconstruction drawing shows the possible state of the castle between 1650-60 following the slighting. The mere was also drained at this time and the Inchford Brook returned to its natural course through a culvert in the dam. (A culvert is a tunnel carrying a stream or open drain under a road or railway.)

The castle and estate were acquired by Colonel Joseph Hawkesworth, the Parliamentarian who had overseen the slighting. He had Leicester’s Gatehouse turned into a residence for himself with a  farm in the Base Court. Fellow officers divided the estate into farms and pillaged the castle’s buildings in the Inner Court for their building materials. Hawkesworth had the passageway into which coaches would enter the building blocked and the space converted into a hall/dining room.  He also added a gabled extension, which became the kitchens and where the wooden stairs up to upper floors can be found. A classical porch was added to the west of the building, too.

With the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, Hawkesworth was evicted and the castle restored to Charles’ mother, Henrietta Maria, and for a short time, the stewardship of the earls of Monmouth. It continued to pass through a  number of nobles over the next two hundred years until it came to Thomas Villiers who became Earl of Clarendon in 1776. Kenilworth remained with the earls Clarendon until 1937. Their tenants lived in Leicester’s Gatehouse using the buildings in the Base Court as a farmyard.

By the later 18th century, tourists had begun to take an interest in the ruins and the first guidebook was published in 1777.  But by the start of the 19th century, the buildings had been allowed to seriously decay, and in 1817, thirty tons of stone crashed down from the north-west turret of the Great Tower/Keep, making it a very unsafe place to visit.

The Great Tower today:

In 1821, Sir Walter Scott published a romantic novel titled, Kenilworth, which generated huge public interest in the castle. The novel tells of the sudden and suspicious death of Amy Robsart, Dudley’s first wife, against the backdrop of Queen Elizabeth’s famous visit to Kenilworth in 1575 – despite the fact that Amy died in 1560. After the book’s publication, Kenilworth Castle became a major tourist attraction and by the time Scott returned to the castle in 1828, he found it much better preserved and protected.

This 19th century photo (also used as my featured image) shows John of Gaunt’s Great Hall as a pictuesque, ivy-covered ruin. it is believed that the ivy was killing the deterioration of the medieval building.

This idyllic scene showing the whole castle as an ivy-covered ruin, was painted by James Ward in 1840:

Substantial clearance of rubble and some restoration work was done in 1860 and more in the late Victorian era, including the rebuilding of lost walls, but by the 1920s, the 6th Earl of Clarendon was finding it difficult to pay for all the maintenance. Fortunately, in 1937, the castle was purchased by Sir John Davenport Siddeley, a pioneer of the motor industry and later 1st Baron of Kenilworth. In 1938, he placed it in the hands of the State and gave a large sum of money towards the cost of repairs.  Since 1984, Kenilworth Castle has been managed by English Heritage.

Leicester’s Gatehouse was lived in until the 1930s and today’s visitors  can see the ground and first floors decorated and furnished as they would have been then. The top/third floor houses a display depicting Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and Queen Elizabeth’s last visit to Kenilworth in 1575. There are also information boards and photographs showing Siddley’s career and the vehicles produced by him from the early 20th century until his death in 1953.

There are two ground floor rooms, one being the dining room, the other the southern or south room. The rather blurry photo is of the dining room in the 1930s and the small gallery shows some of those same pieces of furniture that are still in the room today:

The southern room is approached through the wooden screen shown on the photo in the gallery above.  This room contains an alabaster fireplace and Elizabethan panelling that were relocated here from Leicester’s Building some time after 1650. The fireplace bears the initials ‘RL’ and the date 1571.

This photo from Wikipedia gives a close-up of the initials of Robert Dudley which are barely visible in my photo of the fireplace:

A marble fireplace in Leicester’s Gatehouse, Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, and the Ragged Staff heraldic badge used by the Earls of Warwick. Author: User miteyheroes (James Fishwick) on Flickr. Creative Commons

These are photos of the wooden stairs and first floor bedrooms:

Finally is the top/third floor of Leicester’s Gatehouse and a few photos from the information boards about Sir John Davenport Siddeley’s career and some of the vehicles produced by the Armstrong Siddeley Company over the years, which included aero engines and airframes. Sir John died in 1953 and car production ceased after 1960 but the aviation side of the business continued. I particularly like the last photo in the gallery which shows one of Siddley’s cars from 1925, with Kenilworth Castle in the background.

I set out to write a single post about Kenilworth Castle – and now there are three. I seem to have got a bit carried away but I enjoyed reminding myself about a lovely visit we had to Kenilworth in 2017 and of its amazing history. The restoration work done by English Heritage is wonderful and ongoing, and the Elizabethan Garden they created is lovely.

The photo below shows a plan of Kenilworth Castle as it appears today: an extremely interesting and safe environment for visitors.

Key to map:   1. Mortimer’s Tower  2. Old Stables (Cafe and Information)  3. Leicester’s Gatehouse  4. Base Court  5. Great Tower  6. Inner Court  7. Great Hall  8. Leicester’s Building

*

References:

English Heritage Guide Book: Kenilworth Castle

Information boards around the site

Various online sites including: English Heritage website, Historic UK and Wikipedia

Weekly Word – Quiescent

Weekly Word is a weekly post intended to illustrate the meaning and use of a single word. The chosen word will begin with a different letter each week, as Louise (my daughter) and I work our way through the alphabet.

Louise posts on her website:

An Enchanted Place

This week’s word begins with the letter Q:

Part of Speech:

Adjective

Meaning: 

1.   Quiet, still, or in a state or period of inactivity or dormancy.

2.  An absence of upheaval or discord.

3.  Having little or no sunspot activity. (Astronomy)

4.  Asymptomatic (in Medicine) i.e. a condition or a person producing or showing no symptoms.

Pronunciation: 

qui -es -cent   [ kwee-esuhnt, kwahy-es-cent]

Audio Link:

QUIESCENT

Related Forms:

quiescence or quiescency (both nouns)

quiescently (adverb)

Synonyms:

still  calm  tranquil unagitated motionless  unmoving  immobile undisturbed  quiet  peaceful asleep  slumbering  resting  serene  passive  placid  silent inoperative  inactive  dormant latent deactivated  inert  in abeyance  stagnant

Antonyms:

Active  activated  agitated   awake alert

Word Origin:

17th century (1600-10) from Latin quiescere meaning to rest or to become quiet or still. It often suggests a temporary cessation of activity

Use the Word in a Sentence (or a paragraph or short story). 

1.   The news from London shocked Lady Margaret, rendering her quiescent for the first time in months. Her youngest son had run off with a barmaid, apparently preferring the girl’s company to listening to conversations in this magnificent hall that had been his home for the past nineteen years. Well, Margaret decided, she would endure his absence quiescently for the next few weeks, by which time he would have run out of money and be on his way home. James had evidently not yet realised that until his twenty-first birthday, his monetary allowance was limited, and did not lend itself to providing for a floozy. Still, James’ absence would bring a welcomed period of quiescence to the house for a while, which would please her husband, Lord Algernon, very well indeed.

2.   From the top level of the pagoda, Akitomo gazed at the beautiful vista before him. The majestic snow-capped mountain, Fujiyama – Fujisan to his people – reared tall and proud to dominate the island. It had been quiescent for over three hundred years and the people of Honshu had grown complacent, choosing to believe that the once vengeful volcano would remain in a state of silent quiescence for ever. It was said that to people of the past the volcano was a god, ever ready to wreak punishment on his errant children. Akitomo shook his head, knowing that to be no more than myth. Though Fuji appeared to be resting quiescently, in the chambers deep beneath, the raging magma was never still. Once the mounting pressure forced it to the surface, the majestic Fujisan would, indeed, seem like an angry god, and the towns that had developed at his feet would feel his wrath.

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Image  from Shutterstock

Kenilworth Castle: Part 2

In Part I of this post last week I took a brief look at the history of Kenilworth Castle from its origins in the 1120s to the 16th century when it was given to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester by Elizabeth I. In today’s post I want to bring Kenilworth’s history up its slighting in 1650 following the Civil War. To start with, here’s a reminder of the castle’s location in the county of Warwickshire…

Map created by Nilfanion using Ordnance Survey data.  Creative Commons. Annotations are my own.

… and the plan showing the various stages in the castle’s development and growth between the 12th and 16th centuries:

Before I plunge into describing the building works undertaken by Robert Dudley in the 16th century, I want to step back apace and take a look at the actual buildings added by John of Gaunt between 1373 and 1380. In the previous post, I simply mentioned that he’d transformed the fortified castle into a great palace – which is exactly what he did. His new buildings, shown in yellow on the above plan, replaced a succession of earlier ones that had stood on the site, including great halls.

John of Gaunt, the fourth son of Edward III, made certain that family and guests enjoyed comfort and luxury when residing at Kenilworth. His Great Hall was the centrepiece, flanked on the left by spectacular kitchens and the Strong Tower, and on the right by the Saintlowe Tower and State Apartments. The Great Hall was described as the architectural masterpiece of the inner court and was designed to show John of Gaunt’s regal status. This is a reconstruction illustration of what it might have looked like in its heyday:


Designed as a statement of hospitality and display, the Great Hall was where members of John of Gaunt’s family and a hundred and seventy male servants – mostly of aristocratic birth – took their meals. It had a high-pitched roof and very tall windows along the side walls, with six fireplaces. It probably had a raised minstrel’s gallery at the near end of the diagram above.

These are a few photos of the ruins of the Great Hall today. The last one shows part of the  Strong Tower to the right.

The kitchens would probably have been mostly timber framed, and have almost disappeared now, but they were twice the size of a normal aristocratic kitchen. It was a long rectangular hall, 66 feet x 28 feet, built against the earlier curtain wall, along which three  huge fireplaces are preserved. The room was top-lit, had a cobbled floor with  a drain in the centre for kitchen waste.

The diagram with the cauldron among the photos below shows a depiction of the kitchen at Windsor  Castle in the 19th century and gives a good idea of what the kitchen at Kenilworth would have looked like. The massive cauldron was used for boiling meat. The little lad in the last photo looks to be perched where an oven would have once been, with the space for the cauldron and steps up to it to his left.

The two towers and state apartment to either side of the hall are interesting to explore and views of surrounding countryside from both are excellent – some  areas of which which would have been part of the mere in John of Gaunt’s time.

I won’t show photos of the towers here, or this post will be far too long, so I’ll finish looking at John of Gaunt’s buildings by saying that his Great Hall must have been extremely impressive as it’s the only one of his buildings that was left unaltered by Robert Dudley 200 years later.

In the previous post, I got as far as describing the changes Henry VIII made to the castle and how, in 1363,  his daughter Elizabeth I, had given it to her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of  Leicester. The Stables -now the Cafe and Information Centre, which are also shown in Part 1 – already stood in the Base Court, having been built on the orders of Robert’s father, John Dudley, in the early 1500s.

So after that brief step back in time, I’ll continue with the changes made to Kenilworth by Robert Dudley himself. As shown in the plan above, Dudley’s building works are shown in blue, including his father’s stables. Dudley – or Leicester as he is often called – constructed two fabulous buildings around 1571-2, known as Leicester’s Gatehouse and Leicester’s Building. He also made changes to various other buildings, including the Great Tower/Keep and created the colourful new Elizabethan Gardens.

This photo shows three new, large Tudor-style windows added to the Great Tower to replace the small 12th century ones:

One of his main reasons for such elaborate works was to create a castle fit to receive  Elizabeth I and her entourage in suitable style. The Gatehouse was intended to provide an imposing first view of the castle from the Coventry Road and his magnificent new lodgings, i.e. Leicester’s Building, were simply to impress Elizabeth and provide for her comfort.

Leicester’s Gatehouse straddled the medieval curtain wall and featured an entrance passage at ground level wide enough for carriages to pass through, with two floors of lodgings above. The corner turrets were originally battlemented, a symbolic rather than a defensive structure, as was common with Tudor buildings.

Similarly, the passage was not defended in any way other than by a pair of gates and on both facades there are extensive windows. In 1650, at the end of the Civil War, Leicester’s Gatehouse was a part of the castle that wasn’t slighted and was converted into a private house by Colonel Joseph Hawkesworth, the Parliamentarian who had overseen the castle’s slighting. It remained a private residence for the next 300 years, lived in by a succession of gentlemen farmers. Most rooms in the Gatehouse today are furnished to reflect the style of the 1930s when it was last lived in – which I’ll look at in the third and final part of this  post.

Leicester’s Building was, unfortunately, badly damaged/slighted following the Civil War, but in its day it was an elaborate structure, the size of a compact country house, and it extended beyond the curtain wall. It was four storeys high, but because it’s on the slope of the hill and out over the former ditch, the ground floor and basement were below the principal floor level.

Leicester’s Building was designed to mirror the 12th century Great Tower and Leicester was determined it would equal the old tower in magnificence. He ordered an upper floor to be added to make them similar in height. The ground floor consisted of bed chambers for the queen’s ladies-in-waiting and on the first floor was Elizabeth’s own bed chamber plus outer and inner rooms in which she might meet with her advisors. It is thought that the top floor was a long gallery, where Elizabeth could walk or rest and was possibly used as a dancing gallery. It had huge windows with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. The first of the two diagrams below shows what the second and third floors might have looked like and the second one gives a closer look at the queen’s bed chamber with her bed against a lost partition wall:

These are a few photos taken at various places around the ruin of Leicester’s Building, many showing views of the surrounding countryside or of other parts of the castle:

Many of Leicester’s new and updated buildings were ready for Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1572. By the time of her last visit in 1575, Leicester had also created a fashionable Privy Garden to the north of the Keep. It was rumoured that during Elizabeth’s final and lengthy nineteen-day visit (July 9-27) he made his last attempt to win her hand. It was a sumptuous affair that ‘took pageantry to its limits’ with no expense spared on feasts and staged mock battles, plays and other performances, tilting, bear-baiting, ceremonial gunfire, water fetes and, of course, dancing. This famous painting from around 1580 reputedly shows Queen Elizabeth dancing La Volta with Lord Leicester at Kenilworth:

It is well known that in the early days of her reign, Elizabeth was strongly attracted to Robert Dudley and he to her. But the death of his wife, Amy Robsart, in suspicious circumstances in 1560, cooled the affair. (Amy was found at the botttom of a short flight of stairs at Cunnor Place in Oxfordshire with a broken neck and two wounds on her head. Suspicion fell on Dudley, not surprisingly due to his infatuation with Elizabeth – and his desire for more power was well known.) 

To finish with, here are a few photos of the (recreated*) Elizabethan Garden / Queen’s Privy Garden that Dudley had created. It was situated on the northern side of the Great Tower with a raised terrace running across the bottom of the building. It is divided into four quarters, each with an obelisk in the middle and colourful and fragrant with herbs and flowers with grassy pathways between. A fountain of white, Tuscany marble stands in the centre of the garden. It depicts two ‘Athlants’ i.e. Atlantis figures, joined together and holding up the sky. The ‘boll’ discharges jets of water. There are also arbours and an aviary. 

* The Elizabethan Garden we see today was recreated by English Heritage in 2009 from an eyewitness account written by Robert Langham, a minor official, in a letter to a friend. 

…and this is a photo showing what Kenilworth Castle might have looked like around 1575-80 after all Leicester’s work, including the Elizabethan Garden:

*

References are listed on Part 1 of this post.

Weekly Word – Pellucid

Weekly Word is a weekly post intended to illustrate the meaning and use of a single word. The chosen word will begin with a different letter each week, as Louise (my daughter) and I work our way through the alphabet.

Louise posts on her website:

An Enchanted Place

This week’s word begins with the letter P:

Part of Speech:

Adjective

Meaning: 

1.  Admitting maximum passage of light without diffusion or distortion; reflecting light evenly from all surfaces

2 . Extremely clear in style or meaning; easy to understand

Pronunciation:

pel·lu·cid  (pə-lo͞o′sĭd)  / pə-ˈlü-səd

Audio Link:

PELLUCID

Related Forms:

pellucidity; pellucidness (both nouns)

pellucidly (adverb)

Synonyms:

1. clear  crystal clear  crystalline  transparent  translucent  limpid  see-through  glassy  bright

2.  perspicuous  comprehensible  unambiguous  straightforward  plain  clear  transparent translucent  explicit  simple

Antonyms:

cloudy  opaque  unclear  turbid  obscure  confused ambiguous

Word Origin:

Early 17th century (1610s): from the Latin pellucidus, from perlucere, meaning  ‘shine through’.

As with last week’s word, the Merriam Webster dictionary gives this extra piece of information about the origins of pellucid (including an interesting snippet about the name for the devil):

“Pellucid is formed from Latin per (“through”) plus lucidus—a word meaning “lucid, clear” that ultimately derives from the verb lucēre, meaning “to shine.” Lucēre has many shining relatives in English. Among them are translucent (essentially, “clear enough to allow light to pass through”), elucidate (“to make clear, explain”), lucent (“luminous” or “clear”), and of course lucid itself (which can mean “shining,” “mentally sound,” or “easily understood”). Another related word is Lucifer (a name for the devil that literally means “light-bearer”). Other relatives—such as lackluster (“lacking brightness”) illustrate (originally, “to make bright”), and lustrous (“shining” or “radiant”)—trace from the related Latin verb lustrare (“to brighten”). Clearly, pellucid is just one of a family of brilliant terms.”

Use the Word in a Sentence: 

1.  The small island appeared deserted as we dropped anchor, and observing the pellucid waters that lapped its golden shores we could only wonder why. Setting up camp here for a few days to do a spot of hunting and fishing, and filling our hold with the island’s fruitful produce, seemed an excellent idea. The appearance of half a dozen canoes full of painted warriors rounding the island and chanting their war cry put paid to our plans. Even thoughts of swimming in the limpid waters could not prevent us from weighing anchor and putting out to sea, fast.

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels

2.  A train passed through the village on its way to the city some ten miles away, the regular clickety-clacking of its wheels on the track momentarily masking the pellucidity of a church bell ringing across the valley.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

3.  The new science tutor’s lecture on mitosis and meiosis was not delivered as pellucidly as Janie was used to from the recently retired Professor Roberts and she could make neither head nor tail of her notes.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

***

shutterstock_558169333
Image  from Shutterstock

Kenilworth Castle: Part 1

Kenilworth Castle is one of two fabulous castles in Warwickshire we’ve visited several times – the other being Warwick Castle. Although Kenilworth’s fortifications were dismantled (slighted) by parliamentary forces at the end of the Civil War of 1642-49, it is still one of England’s most spectacular castles and is located in the town of Kenilworth in the county of Warwickshire, UK.

The location of Kenilworth Castle within Warwickshire, UK. Base map of Warwickshire from Nilfanion at Wikipedia.

It is thought that a castle has stood at Kenilworth since Saxon times, though the original structure was destroyed during the wars between the Saxon King Edmund and Cnut/Canute, King of the Danes (who ruled England 1018–1035). Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, Kenilworth became the property of the crown and was a royal residence from the 12th to the 17th century.  During that time it was owned by a succession of well-known historical figures. Each of these played a part in increasing the size and changing the shape of the castle as well as improving its defences and value as a residential home. Unfortunately, the Civil War of 1642-49 put an end to further growth – although it was by no means totally abandoned.

The following plan of Kenilworth Castle was on an information board near to the Entrance and Ticket Office (above). It shows the castle as it stands today. The key to the numbers is beneath it:

From the ticket office and shop, the castle is approached along the Tiltyard Dam, the long path up to the ruins of Mortimer’s Tower, as shown on the plan above. Once inside the Outer Curtain Wall, to the  right can be seen the former Stables, now the Cafe and Exhibition Centre, an important place for all visitors when in need of a drink and/or a snack, or a lunchtime meal, especially if you intend to stay for the day, as when events are held. It is also a good idea to view the introductory exhibition set up inside before heading off to investigate the various parts of the castle.

Kenilworth is a wonderful castle, constructed from local red sandstone and the result of almost five hundred years of continuous development and expansion. The years following its slighting in 1650 saw some restoration and, unfortunately, also some years of neglect.  The plan below shows the stages of development and growth over those first 500 years:

The first part of the castle to be built is shown in red/pink – the Great Tower or Keep.

Following the Norman Conquest, the Kenilworth Estate became the property of the Crown. In 1129, King Henry I gave it to his  chamberlain, a Norman noble named Geoffrey de Clinton, who was Treasurer and Chief Justice of England at the time. The new Norman castle  was built on a low sandstone hill at the crossroads of two ancient trackways. De Clinton built most of the Great Tower/Keep (shown below) and also founded Kenilworth Priory nearby.

The following illustration shows the extent of the early castle, built around the Norman Great Tower started by de Clinton in the 1120s and finished by Henry II in the 1170s.

Around 1210-15, the castle was significantly enlarged by King John, who inherited it from his father, Henry II. John spent enormous sums of money in transforming it into a powerful fortress with two concentric walls. The outer curtain wall had defensive towers at intervals and at the entrance were two stout towers, together called Mortimer’s Tower (a peachy colour in the plan):

King John also surrounded the castle by huge water defences, created by damming local streams. The economic benefits of the mere/lake came in the ready supplies of fish and waterfowl for the castle kitchens, and it also afforded scenic and recreational benefits. But the resulting level of defence provided by the building works and mere together was exceptional, and sufficient to withstand assault by land and water. This was proven in 1266 during the reign of King John’s son, Henry III:

In 1264, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, led the barons in revolt against Henry III’s tyrannical rule. They seized Kenilworth Castle and laid siege for six months – the longest siege in English medieval history. It ended when disease and famine forced the barons to surrender. It is thought likely that it was de Montfort who had the defensive outwork known as The Brays constructed (far left in the illustration) some time before 1265.

The flat surface of the dam built to hold back the mere is likely to have have been used as a tiltyard – a place where jousting tournaments took place – as far back as the 13th century. Edward I attended such an event in 1279, along with 100 knights and their ladies. In the late 16th century, during Elizabeth I’s reign, the dam at Kenilworth was walled both sides in stone and specifically called a tiltyard. By then, tournaments could be viewed from the Gallery Tower, which stood near to where the ticket office is today. The last jousting tournaments in England were held a year before the death of James I in 1624

The next major changes to Kenilworth came in 1362 when the dukedom of Lancaster passed to John of Gaunt, the fourth son of Edward III. In the 1370s, John of Gaunt began to transform the castle into a magnificent royal palace, building the Great Hall and lavish apartments – as shown in this rather shadowy photo of the reconstruction diagram. It also shows the Collegiate Chapel, a private chapel close to the outer curtain wall, built between 1314-22 during the reign of his grandfather, Edward II, and probably demolished around 1524.

The Lancastrian king, Henry V (reign 1413-22) even built a retreat called the ‘Pleasance in the Marsh’ in celebration of his famous victory at Agincourt. The Pleasance was a luxurious, moated residence at the far north-western side of the lake, hidden from the castle by a spur. As the name Pleasance suggests, the mansion was for pleasure and relaxation. According to a castle surveyor of 1563, ‘kings would  go in a boat out of the castle to banquet there’. Henry VII also visited the castle often with his queen, and in the 149os he had a tennis court built.

But in 1524 Henry VIII ordered the Pleasance and its surrounding structures and gardens to be taken down. Henry VIII not only removed the Pleasance; during the years of his Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-39) the priory built by Geoffrey de Clinton was pulled down. By this time the priory had become a flourishing abbey, and evidently, Henry decided it had to go!

However, Henry VIII loved Kenilworth Castle as a place of leisure and retreat as much as his father had done, being particularly drawn to the fine hunting in the well-stocked park. He spent £460 on building works around the castle – a huge sum of money in those days – notably on a range of timber-framed lodgings for family and guests between the keep and John of Gaunt’s  state apartments. He also had a timber-framed building set up in the outer court, probably using materials from the dismantled Pleasance in the Marsh. It can be seen in the reconstruction illustration below, which shows the extent of the castle by about 1540.

In 1563, Queen Elizabeth granted Kenilworth Castle to Lord Robert Dudley, her favourite. The following year she made him Earl of Leicester and Baron of Denbighshire. For a short time in the early 1550s, Leicester’s father, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland, had held the castle. He made a few new additions, including the building of the impressive Stable, which stands along the outer curtain wall and is used today as a cafe.

A cut away reconstruction showing the possible arrangement of the stables in the 16th century.

The ground floor contained boxes for 30 horses and 20 geldings, while the floor above was a storage place for straw and hay and possibly accommodation for the grooms. Nowadays, only a single storey, the great ceiling can be seen. It was restored in the 1970s.

In the foreground of the stables today are the foundations of the Collegiate Chapel mentioned earlier in connection to John of Gaunt. It was possibly demolished around the same time as the Pleasance and the materials of both used in Henry in VIII’s  new timber-framed building that was later removed by Leicester.

Robert Dudley made many changes/improvements to the castle, including the erection of two brand new buildings. In Part 2 of this post, I’ll finish off the story of Kenilworth Castle, starting with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester – and how his relationship with Queen Elizabeth will always be linked with this castle. Elizabeth and Dudley are shown below:

***

References:
Guide Book purchased at Kenilworth Castle
Various information boards around the site
English Heritage
Historic UK
Base map for location of Kenilworth Castle from Wikipedia .My own annotations.