The Emotional Wheel

An interesting and useful tool for all writers to have to hand. Some words say so much more than others… Please leave likes and comments on MG’s post.



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Say ‘Hello’ to Henry VIII at Gainsborough Old Hall

On Sunday we decided to take a short drive up to Gainsborough Old Hall. We’d noticed some events advertised for this weekend and despite having lived only 15 miles from Gainsborough for many years, we’d never visited this lovely old manor. So we thought it was time to change things. But before I delve into the exhibition we enjoyed this weekend, I’ll say a few words about the town of Gainsborough and the Old Hall in general.

The town of Gainsborough is situated in the West Lindsey region of the county of Lincolnshire and is 18 miles north-west of the city of Lincoln. At one time Gainsborough was an important port with trade downstream to Hull on the Humber estuary and, at 55 miles from the sea, was the most important inland port in England.

Gainsborough Old Hall was built by the Burgh family around 1460 and is one of the best preserved timber-framed late-medieval manor houses in the UK. It has a wonderful great hall, a strong brick tower, and the original medieval kitchen. Not to mention a ghost corridor. Both Richard III and Henry VIII stayed at the Old Hall. It was sold to the Hickman family in 1596. Today the Hall holds a variety of events and exhibitions and an award-winning schools’ education programme. On the day we visited there were two distinct attractions to enjoy, in addition to being able to look round this wonderful old building.

The site of this Hall is a little different to many other manors and stately homes we’ve visited, in that it’s in the middle of the town and therefore surrounded by streets and buildings. It also means that there is little in the way of grounds – although that would have been different centuries ago. So we headed into the grounds at the back of the Hall and stopped to glance at the information board:

 As we had twenty minutes to spare before opening time, we strolled around the outside taking a few photos here and there…

By the time we’d got round to the front, the hall doors were opening and out came Henry VIII to greet his guests. Oh yes, Henry knew how to turn on the charm!

Then in we went, to be greeted by this cheery display:

Gainborough Old Hall is managed by both English Heritage and Lincolnshire County Council and as we’re members of English Heritage, we had nothing to pay. So we duly followed Henry to hear his first audience of the day.

In the following gallery, I’ve included photos of the Great Hall, where the audience took place, and a couple of photos of Henry still going strong at performances later on. He did six during the day, and I can only say he was brilliant! Not only did he look the part, but his booming voice resonated round the hall, rising and falling perfectly in order to place emphasis where it was needed. Despite his fearsome presence he knew where to add a touch of humour. There was nothing he didn’t know about Henry’s life and he answered questions at the end of sessions brilliantly. He performs this role at venues all over the country, including Windsor Castle. He was attended by a serving woman who added humour to the act as she popped in and out and insisted we all bowed or curtsied and addressed Henry correctly when we spoke to him. ‘Yes, your majesty…’

Following this excellent entertainment we wandered around the house just having a general look round. The original medieval kitchens with two huge hearths, bread ovens, storage areas and a servery was certainly interesting and gave real insight into cooking and meals of that time:

These photos are just some of the different areas of the Hall we photographed as we looked round. In 1541, Henry VIII really did visit Gainsborough Hall, with his fourth wife Catherine Howard, who naturally, still had her head in the right place at that time. (Henry’s tirade about her and several other wives during his audience was superb.)

The ghost, known as the Grey Lady, is thought to be the daughter of the Lord of the Manor who fell in love with a penniless soldier and planned to elope with him. On discovering the plan, her father locked her in the tower where she died of a broken heart. Legend holds that the girl’s spirit still wanders the tower waiting for her lover to come.

Unfortunately, the lady did not come out to say hello to us.

Eventually we arrived in the Upper Great Chamber to see the display of costumes from the TV drama, Wolf Hall, from the novel written by Hilary Mantel. I won’t go into detail regarding actors or their characters here as it would take too long! The exhibition runs from 29th April to 28th August. Many of the photos aren’t too good due to the glare through the large windows but the display itself was excellent.

After a quick bite to eat in the Coffee Shop, we finished our visit with a look at the  Medieval Gardens. Although these cover quite a small area, they are interesting because the species of plants and flowers are mostly those that would have been grown in medieval times. A wall poster in the hall gave a list, which I photographed but it isn’t very clear unfortunately. If you click on it a couple of times it enlarges the flower and herb names across the bottom enough to be read:

Thankfully, the photos from outside are quite clear:

This is a rather long post (although most of it is photos) so I’ll finish off by saying that we had a fascinating trip back in time on Sunday. Now it’s back to 21st century reality.

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The Pathway Home – FFfAW

The Pathway Home

It had been a sacred place for as long as anyone could remember. The stones pulsed with an awesome, deep-rooted power. Some said the gods had blessed them; others believed the stones were cursed. Only Grainne knew the truth.

She knelt on the large flat stone, her heartbeat in unison with its rhythmic throb. Around her the forest trees shivered, anticipating something extraordinary…something their boughs would remember for generations to come.

‘Arawn,’ she whispered, pressing her brow to the cool, grey stone. ‘I’ve endured two hundred years in the world of humankind. Let me return…’

The stones rumbled but Grainne did not move. ‘I won’t go till you let me through! I never meant to hurt you. I still love you!’

The rocks groaned and shifted, creating a fissure in the earth below. Grainne dropped from the stone and into the widening gap.

‘Return to me, beloved,’ the god of the otherworld murmured. ‘You’ve paid the price for turning your back on our ways. Our people want their queen back…

And so do I.’


Word Count: 175

Note: After reading a couple of comments that made me smile, I’ve decided to fish out my judge’s wig and reconsider Grainne’s case…

On this occasion, I’ve decided to show lenience and reduce her sentence to 200 years. Even an immortal would probably go bonkers living with the dreaded humans for 2,000 years! 😀

This is my story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a story from a given photo prompt in 100-150 words, give or  take 25. If you’d like to join in, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday – Tuesday every week.

This week’s prompt was kindly provided by Pamela S. Canepa

To read other stories or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:


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A Look at Cornwall (6): Saint Michael’s Mount Part 2: The Terrace Gardens

The Terrace Gardens at St Michael’s Mount adorn the steep granite slopes on the south-eastern side of the island. Today the gardens attract 65 thousand visitors a year from April to September – the number of days they’re open being restricted to safeguard them from too much erosion. The gardens are carefully and lovingly tended by the head gardener, Lottie Allen and her team of three.

To many visitors, it may seem strange that these beautiful gardens exist at all in such a location. The steep granite cliffs, with the sea thrashing against the shore beneath and the brisk, salty winds and harsher gales – make it an unlikely place for any type of garden. Yet that is far from the truth. Gardens cover 12 of the island’s 21 acres.

The waters of the Gulf Stream moderate the climate so that frosts are rare and the granite rocks of the cliffs act like a great radiator, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it at night:

Bare granite cliffs of the isle

This creates a micro climate in which a variety of plants flourish. Abundant blooms and exotic plants have thrived here since 1780: aloes, agapanthus, puya, agave, rosemary, cornilla and lavender – amongst a whole host of others – fill the gardens with texture, shape and colour. Winding paths and stone steps lead visitors on a wonderful journey of exploration along which cameras continuously click. As did ours.

So how did these unusual gardens come about?

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post yesterday, the castle has been owned by the St Aubyn family since 1659. It is thought that, in 1780, the four Misses St Aubyn of that time initiated the building of the Walled Garden, a delightful and relatively sheltered space for the family to enjoy. Today it is positioned between the East and West Terraces, which were created during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The gardens as we see them today were designed in 1987 by Michael Paul Harvey along with Lord St Levan, who died in 2013. (Lord Levan was grandfather to the current castle resident, James St Aubyn.) The development of the gardens are still under the guidance of Michael Paul Harvey.

These are a few more of the dozens of photos we took that day.

Naturally, all visitors are advised regarding the safety aspects of visiting the gardens. As it says on the leaflet, ‘A guide to the Gardens‘:

There are steep drops from the lawns down to the rocks below as well as significant drops within the garden. The paths and steps are steep, rocky and uneven and in some places there are no handrails…. Sensible footwear is essential…. Please see that children are supervised at all times… Please do not handle the plants or pick the flowers as some may be hazardous to health… Dogs are not allowed in the garden… People with limited mobility or significant health problems will find the terrain challenging…

Much of that information may seem like common sense to most people, but I think the warnings are excellent and an important reminder to those about to embark on a walk round these wonderful gardens.

There is so much more I could have said about Saint Michael’s Mount, as even two posts haven’t really done it justice. All I can say is that we enjoyed our visit immensely and learned a lot about this lovely isle.

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A Look at Cornwall (6): Saint Michael’s Mount Part 1

On the third day of our week in Cornwall in June 2o16 we decided to visit Saint Michael’s Mount, which has been described as ‘the most famous of Cornwall’s landmarks’ (National Trust). I have to admit it’s a great place to visit. It’s a lovely walk up to the castle and there’s plenty to see inside it once you get there, with fabulous views out across Mount’s Bay from the roof terraces. The Church of St Michael and All Angels, built in 1135, also stands on the North Terrace. For visitors more interested in gardens, the terrace gardens that adorn the steep island slopes are a delight and full of colourful and exotic blooms.

From Newlyn (near Penzance) where we were staying we had a relatively short drive, compared to our drive up to Tintagel the previous day. That meant we could get there nice and early.

Wikipedia tells us that the Cornish name for St Michael’s Mount is Karrek Loos yn Koos, which means hoar rock in woodland, or literally the grey rock in a wood – an appropriate description for a granite crag that rises 221 feet above sea level (not including the buildings at the summit).Wikipedia also tells us that St Michael’s Mount is one of 43, unbridged, tidal islands that people can walk to around mainland Britain.

Located in Mount’s Bay, the isle is just 500 metres from the mainland and linked to the town of Marazion by a causeway which is passable between mid-tide and low-water. It is managed by the National Trust and the castle and chapel have been the home of the St Aubyn family since around 1650. The island also had a population of 35 in 2011. Part of the island was designated a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) in 1995 because of its geology.

We left the car at the car park in Marazion and headed along the beach path towards the causeway:

We had planned to walk across to the island, but if the tide had been in we’d have taken the boat. As it was, the tide was on the ebb, so we just had a short wait on the causeway until it went out. As to be expected, some people couldn’t resist paddling as the water became shallower but, not wanting to spend the rest of the morning in soggy jeans, we waited.

People wading across the Causeway before the tide was completely out.

Eventually, the tide ebbed and we approached the island.

The granite cobblestones/setts of the causeway continue along the pathway onto the island and up to the castle:

To greet visitors on the island are a number of buildings, including the Island Café…

… a couple of shops and of course, the loos. There is also a picnic area. This is a plan of the island, which can be enlarged by clicking on it: The black line from Point 9 (Ticket Office) is the pathway leading up to the castle:

There’s a lot of history to find out about on the island – from Neolithic and Bronze age times to the more recent medieval period, the Civil War in the mid 17th century and through Victorian times to the present day. It is possible that the isle may have been the site of a monastery in the 8th century, but we know that by the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066 it was in the possession of the monks of its sister isle in Normandy, Mont Saint Michel: another tidal island with a conical shape, similar, though smaller, to Mount Saint Michael:

Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. Public Domain

The church and priory at St Michael’s Mount were built in the 12th century but the priory was destroyed by an earthquake of 1275 and rebuilt in the late 14th century. The priory’s association with the abbey at Mont St Michel ended in the 15th century during the war in France in the reign of Henry V. The priory was later given to the Abbess and Convent of Syon in Middlesex and the building still forms the heart of the castle today.

There is also some fascinating folklore and legend connected to the island, including that of an 18 foot giant called Cormoran who lived in a cave at the top of the rock with his ill-gotten treasures and terrorised the people.

The Giant Cormoran circa 1820, Source: Victorian chapbook. Author unknown. Public Domain

The first building we came to after leaving the ticket office at the start of our trek uphill was the Victorian Dairy:

The next few photos were taken at various points on our way up to the top:

Inside the house there are several rooms to view, all with lots of history behind them. The Wars of the Roses and the Civil War feature strongly but there are pieces of furniture and a whole host of artefacts from various periods. I can’t possibly do justice to the many interesting pieces or the different rooms here so I’ll just share a few of the photos. The coat of arms is in the Entrance Hall.

I’ll finish this part of the post with a few photos taken on the North Terrace as we came out of the castle…

… and these from inside the Church of St Michael and All Angels:

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I’ll share some photos of the exotic terrace gardens in another post later on.

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The Lincoln Knights’ Trail 2017

On Sunday we headed into Lincoln to finish photographing the 37 models of mounted knights displayed around central areas of the city for people to find. The activity is primarily aimed at children and is basically the same idea as that of the Barons’ Trail of 2015. Participants collect an entry form and location map from the Information Centre near the castle. On locating each knight they must examine it to find the hidden green shield and identify the word written on it from the key given with the map. Completed entry forms are returned to the Information Centre in exchange for a prize. With the Barons’ Trail, the prize was a bag of chocolate ‘coins’. On this occasion the prize is a badge and a voucher to buy a copy of the specially commissioned book about the Battle of Lincoln for £1.50 instead of £3.50.

Well, needless to say, we didn’t bother looking for hidden shields but we saw lots of children enjoying the task:

The Knight’s Trail  is part of the celebrations of the 800th anniversaries of two events that took place in 1217: the Battle of Lincoln Fair and the Sealing of the Charter of the Forest by the nine-year-old king, Henry III (or more likely, his regent William Marshal). This hugely important charter is currently on display with the Magna Carta at the castle.

The Trail is a Wild in Art event and has been organised by Lincoln BIG (Business Improvement Group) in support of the Nomad Trust, a charity that “provides welfare services in the city of Lincoln for those who are homeless or otherwise in need”. The event is sponsored by different businesses and concerns and many of the knights are designed by local artists. Later this year the knights will be sold at auction to raise money for the Nomad Trust.

The knights are placed in both uphill and downhill locations, which – if the task is to be completed in one go – requires a nice, invigorating walk up Steep Hill. In fact, a few of  the knights are along Steep Hill. This hill may not look too steep in photos, but it is a fairly lengthy hill and I’ve seen lots of people stopping, out of breath and in need of a rest.

Lincoln is a city in two distinct parts: uphill and downhill. My first photo of this post shows a view from downhill Lincoln towards the cathedral uphill. The following photo is of the Brayford Pool, which is downhill (around which a few knights were lurking) with some of the university buildings in the background. So these knights were not exactly all in a cluster:

The following gallery shows the 35 knights just waiting to be found:

The missing two are numbers 10 – the Lincoln City Knight (referring to Lincoln City Football Club) –  and 37 (the Poet Laureate Knight, which is a miniature belonging to the University of Lincoln and is housed in the Uni’s Minerva Building). These two extras are simply classed as Bonus Knights.

As with the Barons’ Trail, miniature knights can be purchased for people to decorate themselves. We noticed a few already painted and displayed in shop windows.

It should be an interesting and busy summer around Lincoln. There are likely to be a lot more visitors than usual, especially during the time that the Charter of the Forest is displayed at the castle. I don’t think local businesses will complain a great deal…

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June is Bustin’ Out All Over…

To our eldest daughter, June is the loveliest month of the year. I’m inclined to agree with her – even though I don’t have a birthday this month as she does. But, to be fair, she made that comment taking lots of things into consideration. June is a very lovely month, so I decided to write a post about it. To start with here’s a sweet little poem, written by Nathaniel Parker Wills:

It is the month of June
The month of leaves and roses
When pleasant sights salute the eyes
And pleasant scents the noses.

Well that sums up a lot about this month, but I’d like to share a few facts about June that I found of interest. (There are dozens more, of course!)

    • June marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere it is the equivalent of the north’s December.
    • The month is named after the Roman goddess, Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of marriage. Hence, June was seen as the perfect month to get married:

      Roman statue Juno Sospita, Author: Shakko, Creative Commons.

    • June is one of the four months with a length of 30 days. The other three are September, April and November.
    • June is the month with the longest daylight hours of the year.
    • June’s birthstones are Alexandrite, the Moonstone and Pearl:
    • The Anglo Saxon name for June was Sera Monath.
    • The summer solstice and longest day is June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere (December 21st in the Southern Hemisphere). Many festivals and celebrations are associated with this date worldwide. In the UK, Stonehenge plays a big part in the Midsummer celebrations.
    • June’s birth flowers are the honeysuckle and the rose – both of which I’ve shown above – but here’s a nice quote from Robert Burns: Oh my luve’s like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June...
    • June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.
    • Gemini and Cancer are the astrological signs for June. Birthdays from June 1-2o are under the sign of Gemini while June 21-30 birthdays fall under the sign of Cancer:
    • Children’s Day in Britain is June 15th.
    • Fathers’ Day is in June. This year (2017) it falls on Sunday, June 18 in the UK.
    • Antony and Cleopatra and Henry IV Part 1 are the only Shakespeare plays that mention June
    • June was the 39th most popular name for a baby girl in 1925 in English-speaking countries but it dropped out of the top thousand in 1986. In the US, June was the most popular name for girls in 2009.
    • In the UK, the Queen’s birthday is June 13th, which is marked by the Trooping the Colours. This ceremony has marked the sovereign’s birthday since 1748.

      The Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colours. Horse guard’s Parade. London 2013. Author: Corporal Paul Shaw/MOD. Open Government Licence v 1.0

    • June is National Smiles Month in the UK:
  • June is a month when well dressing is prominent in towns and villages in Derbyshire and Staffordshire in the UK. This age-old custom draws many visitors, as the wells and springs look very beautiful decorated with flowers and plants – each with its own theme(s).

Well Dressing at Tissington. Author: User: Whaley Tim Creative Commons

Well, I think that’s enough facts…

Our garden is gradually losing the look of spring. The lilacs have died off and daffodils and other spring bulbs have long since disappeared. Instead, we have roses! June is definitely the month of roses here, although it’s a little too early for our Royal William and other standards. The climbers and ramblers are doing well, though. In fact, some have been flowering since mid-May and are looking rather worse for wear now:

The meadows and lanes around us are also taking on a different look, Dandelions have almost all gone and other species have taken their place:

Around the lanes today I also came across a little creature who thought he was safely hidden in his strange little nest. He probably is hidden from any predators, but I knew exactly what I was looking for – and I meant him no harm. This little nymph can be found in a frothy substance we call cuckoo spit:

The name, cuckoo spit, has nothing to do with the cuckoo bird, other than the fact that cuckoos are usually around at this time. The little creature that nestles inside this foam-like substance is a froghopper – the nymphal stage of the spittlebug. They’re so named because, although tiny, they are rather ‘frog-like’. I retrieved one from its spittle and attempted to photograph it on an old leaf:

The photo is quite useless in showing the shape of this little thing. so here’s one from good old Wiki. Definitely ‘frog-like’…

A spittlebug nymph on a blade of grass on the banks of the East Lyn River in Exmoor National Park, Devon, England. Author: Diliff. Creative Commons

And here are a few more quotes about June:

There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter. – Billy Connolly.

If a June night could talk it would probably boast it invented romance. – Bernard Williams.

It is better to be a young June bug than an old bird of paradise – Mark Twain (I couldn’t agree more. Mr Twain!)

To finish, here’s a video from YouTube, uploaded  by cendrillon325 – which, hopefully, makes sense of my post’s title. It’s a song from the Rodger’s and Hammerstein 1956 film Carousel – aptly titled, June is Bustin’ Out all Over:

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The Battle of Lincoln Fair (2)

The Second Battle of Lincoln – or the Battle of Lincoln Fair– took place during the First Barons’ War on the 20th May 1217 at Lincoln Castle in Lincolnshire, England. As 2017 marks the battle’s 800th anniversary, it is being commemorated by reenactments of the battle itself together with accompanying activities for locals and visitors to enjoy. One of these extra attractions is the Knights’ Trail, which involves people finding 37 very colourfully painted models of mounted knights, all placed at prominent spots around central areas of the city.

Last Sunday (21st May) we went along to have a look at preparations for the battle and a general potter about at the castle. This Sunday (28th May) we headed off to watch the re-enactments of the different engagements involved. Needless to say the castle and surrounding areas were packed, particularly in the afternoon.

This was understandable for several reasons. Firstly, it was Bank Holiday weekend and the start of the half-term break for schools. Consequently, many families were out and about keeping children entertained as they usually are at such times. Secondly, people came to Lincoln over this particular weekend because the Domesday Book (compiled 1085-86) and Charter of the Forest (1217) were both on display along with the Magna Carta – which is resident there anyway, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral – inside the Old Prison which is in the castle bailey:

Both are incredibly important and precious documents, and although no photography was allowed, it was still wonderful to see them. The two documents will be in Lincoln throughout the summer.

The weather was pleasant with bursts of sunshine, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. We got there around 10.30 am and had a walk round the bailey, generally ‘having a look’ at the encampment of the reenactors and various items and activities going on before the first part of the battle began. These are a few photos from around the camp. Lots of knights were about at this point, too:

The events leading up to this battle are very much linked to King John, who had died the previous year (October 1216). John had been a very unpopular king for many reasons, most of which were based on his inability to rule wisely, as well as his questionable personality traits. When he died he left his son as king – the nine-year-old Henry – with the formidable William Marshal, the earl of Pembroke, as his regent.

Some of the barons who had rebelled against John during his reign and forced him to sign/seal the Magna Carta, had already taken steps to put the French Prince Louis (the future Louis VIII) on the English throne. On John’s death, a few of the barons returned to the loyalist side whilst others pushed on with their intentions of crowning Louis in order to stop John’s son from ruling. The kingdom was deeply divided over this.

Twenty-year-old Louis and his French armies had been in England since May 1216 and by May 1217, aided by the rebel barons, controlled half the country: only Lincoln and Dover castles had not surrendered. At the time of the battle at Lincoln Castle, the city itself was occupied by forces fighting for Louis, led by Thomas, the Comte du Perche. But the castle was steadfast. Lady Nicola de la Haye, the castellian, remained true to the royalist cause and was determined to keep this castle, with its strategic position, out of rebel hands.

Constable of Lincoln Castle, Lady Nicola de la Haye.

During the day, we watched three different events that took place at Lincoln. The first showed the arrival of the French at Lincoln and their attack on English defenders beneath the castle walls. The English are pushed back and those still alive flee up to the safety of the castle. The Comte du Perche, conspicuous with his shield displaying three chevrons, warns his men to be nice to the citizens of the city and pay for all their food and drink. It’s important to keep the people ‘on their side’!

The second reenactment showed the attack on the Lucy Tower/Lincoln Castle using two different siege engines. One of these was the perrier – one of the least complicated of medieval siege engines  It consisted of a simple frame with a huge 17 foot throwing arm with a sling. Some perriers are recorded as needing as many as 16 men to pull the ropes. It was the forerunner of the trebuchet, which has a large swinging arm to hurl missiles at the enemy and a counterweight to swing the arm. This very short clip shows the two siege engines being used on the day. The first we see is the trebuchet:

The Comte du Perche sees the bombardment as a great success, as parts of the castle walls begin to crumble.

The third engagement – the actual Battle of Lincoln Fair – followed the arrival of reinforcements for the English, led by the formidable, 70-year-old William Marshal, the earl of Pembroke and regent to the young King Henry III. This was him as he delivered his his speech about his life and duties to the Crown to the crowds earlier in the day:

Marshal had roused his loyal barons from across the country and ridden to Lincoln. The arrival of his army, together with the steadfast hold on Lincoln Castle by Lady Nicola, proved to be decisive factors in the defeat of the rebels – and the end of their attempt to put a French prince on the English throne.

We attempted several videos of this battle but, unfortunately, there were so many spectators (and we got there too late after lunch!) to grab a good spot for photography. I managed to squat on the grass near the front – until these to two delightful little boys with buckets on their heads  – in reality, replica battle helms – decided to take the space in front of me:

I eventually managed a few photos during this battle, some of which show Lady Nicola taking stock of events from the gateway of the Lucy Tower:

Nick managed to film part of the battle, before people walked in front of him. It’s not too wonderful ‘ He missed Marshals’  rallying speech to his army, and the film  had to be cut before the end, but it gives a general idea of events. The English come in from the left on this one, and William Marshal is on horseback.

Following this short clip, English soldiers come up behind the French. Caught between two attacking armies, the rebels are soon overwhelmed. Thomas, Comte du Perche, is shown being cut down in the arena – contrary to the 13th century drawing by Matthew Paris which shows him being shot down by a crossbowman as he fled from the castle. But, whatever happened, the comte obviously died that day.

Following the battle, Marshal’s soldiers ransacked the city that had welcomed and supported the French. Most Lincoln people had hated King John and welcomed the possibility of a new king from France. Marshal’s army used that as an excuse to pillage at will as they celebrated their triumph over the combined armies of the French and rebel English barons.

And thus we have the name of The Battle of Lincoln Fair: a celebratory post-battle ‘free for all’ for William Marshal’s victorious army.

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The Battle of Lincoln Fair (1): Preparations

I’ve written a few posts about visits and events connected to Lincoln Castle over the past couple of years, including the wonderful, German-style Christmas Market held annually in the castle grounds. But perhaps the most important events of recent years were in 2015, which focused on the 800 year anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runneymede in 1215.

19th century coloured wood engraving of king John signing the Magna Carta. Public Domain

That Lincoln should become so involved with the Magna Carta anniversary is understandable, since one of only four of the remaining original documents from Runneymede is held at Lincoln Castle – on loan from Lincoln Cathedral. Two are held at the British Library and one at Salisbury Cathedral.

The Magna Carta anniversary involved lots of events throughout the summer in Lincoln, including the Barons’ Trail and the amazing sand sculptures displayed in the castle bailey. They all did wonders for tourism in the city and gave everything a very holiday feel.

This year, Lincoln is celebrating another anniversary, that of the Battle of Lincoln Fair (also known as the Second Battle of Lincoln) which took place in and around Lincoln Castle in 1217. This event is also linked to the infamous King John, even though he’d died the previous year.

This event is being held over two separate weekends and we went along to the first part  yesterday, Sunday May 21. This one was held in the castle bailey and presented the  preparations for battle. The second part, the actual reenactment of the battle itself, will be next weekend from Saturday to Monday, May 27-29 (Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK).

As with the Barons’ Trail of 2015, this anniversary is made fun for the city and its many visitors by having a Knights’ Trail throughout the central areas of the city. It’s a great activity for kiddies (and adults!) to hunt all 37 of the knights out. The knights are already in place, and we started photographing them yesterday. I hope to do a post about them all soon. The photo of Nicola de la Haye (or Nicholaa de la Haye, according to some sources) at the top of this post is one of them.

I don’t intend to do a full post about Lincoln Castle itself here: that’s set for a future date. But I’ll just say a little about it before I show photos of the event.

Lincoln Castle was built in 1068 on the orders of William the Conquerer. It stand on the site of the Roman fortress and settlement of Lindum Colonia (which dates from around AD60) in ‘uphill Lincoln’. This elevated position ensures the castle has commanding views of the surrounding countryside and can also be seen for miles  – as can the nearby Cathedral. It is probable that, prior to the Roman fort, a Celtic settlement once occupied the site, which I’ll discuss another time.

The castle at Lincoln was one of the finest Norman castles in the country. It consists of an outer curtain wall (with an excellent Wall Walk along the top) along which are two gates – the East and West Gates, the former having a barbican, or fortified entrance. Three towers stand along the walls, two of them built on top of mottes (mounds or small hills, often man-made for the purpose). The two towers sitting on mottes are the Lucy Tower and the Observatory Tower, the one without a motte is Cobb Hall, at the north-east corner of the wall.

Inside the curtain wall is a large bailey (courtyard) in which there are three buildings of more recent origins. The first part of the Old Prison dates from 1788 and was completed in 1848. The Court House, which is still used today, dates from 1826, and the Heritage Skills Centre is a real baby, having only been officially opened in 2013. It’s  the only new building within the castle walls for 150 years. It lies immediately behind the Law Courts:

Here are a few more photos of the castle, most taken from the Wall Walk. Some look down at the bailey, one or two at places beyond the castle, others along the wall itself:

I’ll save the detail and views inside the different towers for another time.

Tents and stalls were set up in the bailey for this event. Some of the attractions included ‘having a go’ at archery and instruction on the use and importance of  the crossbow. A  number of stalls showed foods and weapons of the time and there were birds of prey trained for hunting on display. We missed the actual presentation of the different birds of prey as we were up on top of the wall at the time. Still, we heard the falconer announce that he couldn’t allow the birds to fly at present because of the peregrines nesting on the cathedral – who would see his birds as competition and we could end up witnessing an airborne battle!

Here are a few photos of attractions and displays from around the Bailey, from ground level:

And here are a few of two of the demonstrations we watched. The fist was of knights (comically) preparing for battle.

The second was of three mounted knights displaying their skills in attacking their opponents – one of the ‘opponents’ being a cabbage, which represented the head of a Norman knight. 😀 The smaller of the three horses was included to demonstrate the type of horse/pony used prior to Norman times. It’s the type that was used by the Vikings and is the only breed to be found in Iceland today.

Finally, here are a few photos of Nicola de la Haye (the constable of the castle) and an episode with a French envoy who had come to persuade her to surrender the castle to the French invaders who intended to put their own Prince Louis on the English throne. In doing that, they would simply depose the son of King John – the nine-year-old Henry III. The French were supported in this by the barons who had rebelled against King John. Nicola adamantly refuses and, as the French have already landed in England, she prepares the castle garrison for forthcoming battle:

And absolutely lastly, the Battle of Lincoln Fair was named from the festivities that followed in Lincoln after the French were defeated in the battle. This drawing, by Matthew Paris in the 13th century, shows the death of the French commander as the French flee from the castle. It also shows the importance of the crossbow.

Image from Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain


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Time to Leave – FFfAW

Time to Leave

Amber sensed his presence before she opened the door. The air had that familiar chill and she sighed, knowing it was time to leave. The old man had come to replace her and change people’s lives for a while. They’d basked in her warmth and colour for long enough.

He entered the hut with an icy blast and she donned her russet cloak. ‘I am ready to go, Old Man,’ she said, tossing her auburn curls. ‘I’ll return when folks weary of the next summer’s heat and long for mellowing days.’

The old man smiled, tiny cracks patterning his glacial face, and swept through the room, turning all to white with his icy breath. Amber smiled in return, knowing he would delight folks with his tricks. Who else but he could order the snowflakes to fall, creating a paradise of white? Who else could style playgrounds of ice over lakes and ponds?

Old Man Winter raised icicle fingers and bowed his silvery head. ‘Your task was done well, kind Autumnus. Rest now, until next year.’

Word Count: 175


This is my story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a story from a given photo prompt in 100-150 words, give or  take 25. If you’d like to join in, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday – Tuesday every week.

This week’s prompt was kindly provided by Ioniangraphics.


To read other stories or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:


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