Saturday, February 6, 2010

300 Steps From Scones To A Medieval Priory

These steps are not the stone kind that you have to walk up ... no, they are footsteps.

I measured the walk from the Lanercost Tea Rooms (they serve great scones there!) to the front door of Lanercost Priory and it took me exactly 300 footsteps.

An incredible round number which, if nothing else, just shows how close you can be to medieval history when you're out for tea and scones!

Yes, there's a latte in the picture too - they serve a good one :)

** Watch a video clip of Lanercost Priory **

** Read about Lanercost holiday cottages **

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Lanercost Priory Video 4

Here is our 4th video clip on the subject of Lanercost Priory - a magnificent example of medieval monastic ruins currently looked after by English Heritage.


Lanercost Priory is the kind of place of interest to anyone with an interest in medieval history and medieval worship. With a history of close to 900 years it is a place that has seen some remarkable events - from King Edward I in Lanercost to the attacks of the legendary William Wallace and Robert The Bruce. There's also a whole history of connections to the local families of De Vaux, Dacre and Howard (Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn form part of the fascinating Howard ancestry). Remember you can now stay in a super Lanercost holiday cottage just a few hundred metres from the Priory. Self catering doesn't get more historic than that!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lanercost Priory Video 3

The 3rd clip in our mini series of videos on Lanercost Priory.


Interesting connection:
Lanercost Priory has had strong ties to Naworth Castle for many centuries. Naworth Castle itself was occupied for over 200 years by the powerful Dacre family with Thomas Dacre playing an important role at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The current owners of Naworth Castle have recently refurbished some of the buildings they own adjacent to the Lanercost Priory site, turning them into luxury holiday cottages - ideal for anyone interested in spending time in the Lanercost area, studying its medieval history and of course Hadrian's Wall which is close by. One of the 6 Lanercost cottages is very aptly called ... Dacre Cottage.

You can read more about the Dacre legacy in Cumbria by visiting our Dacre Castle page which is one of many haunted castles in England.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lanercost Priory Video 2 & Lanercost Cottages

Video clip 2 of the Lanercost Priory ruins in Cumbria. It was within the priory grounds that the notorious medieval English King Edward I stayed for 5 months during the winter of 1306-1307. Read more about medieval kings and queens on our website.


Next door to Lanercost Priory is a super tearoom with excellent homemade fare - we know, we've tasted it! So once you've made your tour around the medieval ruins it's a great place to stop off and contemplate all that you've just seen. If you wish to stay in the area longer you can always book one of the Lanercost cottages on the site. All luxury cottages, they carry names relating to Lanercost's history. The De Vaux cottage is one example - it was Robert De Vaux who founded Lanercost Priory around 1170.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lanercost Priory Video 1

If you have never visited Lanercost Priory then here is your chance to share in a few video clips we made especially for our castle blog readers.

Video 1 - filmed from within the grounds of the ruins


Planning to visit Lanercost? There are some fabulous self catering, luxury cottages to let ... just next door! Here is one of them - it's called Greystoke holiday cottage and is one of 6 Lanercost holiday cottages that opened in 2009.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Local Timeline Over 2 Millenia

On a visit to Lanercost Priory, a wonderful medieval church in a tiny Cumbrian village, I was intrigued to see a modern, sand blasted toughened glass panel on one of the inside walls. Called Lanercost 2000 it is a timeline of significant events related to local history from the birth of Christ right up to the present day.

The key period for many significant events appeared to be the Middle Ages and featured some of medieval Britains' key figures. It makes for fascinating reading!

1066 AD - Norman Conquest of Britain begins. This in turn led to the arrival in Cumbria of the de Vaux family who founded Lanercost Priory

1169 AD - Foundation of Lanercost Priory

1214 AD - Consecration of the Lanercost Cross (pictured)

1296 AD - William Wallace ransacked Lanercost

1306 AD - King Edward I arrived at Lanercost and stayed the winter, leaving in 1307

1311 AD - Robert The Bruce ransacked Lanercost

1346 AD - King David II of Scotland visited Lanercost

Read more about medieval churches in England.

Have you ever seen orbs in churches? Take a look at this photo taken at St Etheldreda's Church in London. Here is another of orbs in St Paul's Cathedral.

A series of short video clips of Lanercost Priory will follow in our next blog posts.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Carlisle Castle & Naworth Castle

Carlisle Castle
900 years of history in one building - that's a piece of architecture with a past!

Regarded by many as one of the most important fortresses in Britain, second only to the Tower Of London. Like the Tower of London it is reputed to be haunted.

The portcullis as you enter the castle takes your breath away!

Crenalated in 1335, this is a small privately owned medieval castle of great character. Tucked away in the Border region close to Hadrian's Wall and not from from both the Scottish and Northumberland borders, this is a 'chocolate box' country castle. Close to the historic Lanercost Priory which received visits from King Edward I, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce - no less!.

Not to be missed if you are travellling through Cumbria (though not open to the public other than for special events).

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Friday, July 17, 2009

A Great & Terrible Medieval King - Edward I

One relatively well known fact in Cumbria is that back in medieval times Lanercost Priory was, for a short time, the centre of government for the UK. However the circumstances around this are less well known. We have blogged about medieval Lanercost previously - see our Medieval Court In Cumbria post.

A book well worth reading to learn and understand more about the king's time at Lanercost is the biography of Edward I by Marc Morris "A great and terrible King" in which he tells of the events of 1306 and 1307 when the King was at the end of his life.

Having earned his nickname as the "Hammer of the Scots", August 1306 saw him travelling across Northumberland, staying at Hexham Abbey. From here progress westward was slow but eventually the retinue reached Lanercost where it stayed as 1306 turned into 1307. For more about that medieval winter in Cumbria read our previous Winter Home For A Medieval King post.

Reversals in the Scottish campaigns galvanized Edward I and by mid March 1307 he finally reached Carlisle. It was from here that he planned his next campaign. Even though seriously ill he rode out at the head of the hastily assembled army and headed for the Solway Firth. It took 10 days to cover 6 miles .... a truly sad indication of his health and on 6 July he stopped at Burgh by Sands. The next morning, a Friday and the Feast of St Thomas, he died.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Winter Home For A Medieval King - Lanercost Priory

Many medieval priories bear witness to a turbulent history and none more so than Lanercost Priory.

Dating from the mid 12th century, Lanercost was an Augustinian Priory built close to Hadrian's Wall. It was therefore en route from England to Scotland when King Edward I of England journeyed once again to do battle with the Scots, this time in 1306. Suffering from poor health and with a cold, bleak winter on the horizon, the King decided to make Lanercost Priory his home, and that of his 200 strong retinue, for several months. When he left in the Spring of 1307 he left behind him a rural community drained of resources which took a long time to recover. Ironically, after all they had done for their King, he died only 5 months later.

Just 5 years later it was another king, this time Robert The Bruce, King of Scotland who came to Lanercost Priory, leading an army up to its very doors.

Today Lanercost Priory is a beautiful church open to the public where services are still held. Its colourful history echoes in every piece of stone and even in the air as you walk around its grounds. However, if you cannot get there to see it for yourself, we have something that might help as the next best thing - a video of Lanercost Priory set to beautiful music (courtesy of Stephen Caudel).

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Medieval Court In Cumbria

Lanercost Priory is a fascinating place. Dating back to the late 12th century (1169 is the generally accepted year of construction of the Augustinian priory built by Robert de Vaux), it is a fine example of early medieval monastic architecture. Although the monks have long since left, it is still a place of worship today.

The Priory was visited no less than 3 times by King Edward I of England. During one stay which lasted for more than 5 months in 1306-1307, it became a 'royal palace' - something few monasteries could ever lay claim to. Edward brought the Seal with him to Lanercost and thus, for the duration of his stay, technically made this tiny Cumbrian village the centre of government for the whole of Britain. With the king came a large retinue of servants and although it benefited the local community by way of an increased demand for food, game, wine and fuel, it also brought great pressure to bear on the monks and others who were expected to serve without excuse or hesitation. One thing the king's stay did achieve, however, was to halt the previously commonplace attacks by the Scots raiding from across the border.

In 7 July 1307, after leaving the Priory and heading North towards Scotland, King Edward I took ill and died near Burgh by Sands in Cumbria (a large stone cross marking the spot can be seen there today).

His son became King Edward II but paid little attention to the North of his kingdom and, as a result, Scottish raids on the area around Lanercost became more frequent. This culminated in the attack on Lanercost Priory by Robert Bruce in 1311 and then later in 1346 by a large Scottish army which crossed the border and plundered the Priory. Although some rebuilding took place including a new roof over the Nave with further renovations continuing over the centuries, the Presbytery of Lanercost Priory still has no roof even today and remains open to the elements.


For those interested in medieval castles, King Edward I also owned Skipton Castle (built in 1090) and visited both Norham Castle (built 1160) and Chillingham Castle (en route to do battle with William Wallace).

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