Bishops Visit – Bothwell Castle

After resting in Perth, we had planned to visit Scone Palace on our way to York but as is often the case this time of the year it was closed for the winter so a quick change of plan and we visited Bothwell Castle.

Historic Bothwell Castle “is a large medieval castle sited on a high, steep bank, above a bend in the River Clyde, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is located between Bothwell and Uddingston, about 10 miles (16 km) south-east of Glasgow. Construction of the castle was begun in the 13th century by the ancestors of Clan Murray, to guard a strategic crossing point of the Clyde. Bothwell played a key role in Scotland’s Wars of Independence, changing hands several times.

The huge cylindrical donjon was built in the 13th century, but before the rest of the castle was completed it was severely damaged in a series of sieges. Rebuilding in the early 15th century enlarged the castle, but it was abandoned by the 18th century. The present ruin is rectangular, with the remains of the donjon to the west, and the later Great Hall to the east. The courtyard is enclosed by long curtain walls, with round towers at the south-east and south-west corners.” (source Wikipedia)


We had a little difficulty finding this site because of the surrounding residential development. However once you arrive it is immediately apparent that this edifice has had a tumultuous life. Parts of the former castle like the well and a watchtower – now only the footings remain, lie scattered in front of todays entrance  . Inside we met a very friendly and knowledgeable volunteer for the Scottish National Trust. We showed that we had some interest in the history and then he could not do enough for us right down to displaying for us chain mail, a two handed broad sword and the various arrow head used in the medieval period. If he had a trebuchet (early form of catapult) I am sure he would have rolled it out for us.

The main part of the remaining castle the donjon or keep was under maintenance so we could not go inside but we were able to tour around the court and our friendly custodian opened the basement so we could view a display of history cards and he told tales of the how the Scots prevented captured English Long Bow men from raising their fingers against Scotland ever again. They chopped them off (the bow fingers that is) giving a two fingered salute was how the English returned the compliment to the Scots and just as the salute is an insult today so it was in the 13th century sieges of Bothwell Castle.

Bishops Visit – York the city of the Viking – Evensong at York Minster

After Bothwell we travelled down to York where stayed at the Hotel Noir. A descent hotel, reasonable cost, with lots of character and an easy walk to the old city. We arrived in the late afternoon and made our way by cab (we did not know how close we were at this stage) through the traffic striving to get to York Minster for the Evensong service.

Evensong is different from Vespers but I don’t know how – it appeared very similar to Vespers we participated in at Lincoln cathedral. Anyway, we gained entry to the Minster just in time to witness the choir convening outside the chapel and singing before enter the chapel for the service. No photos allowed but a certain individual did not tell me that insisting that I take the photos appearing herein. I have done my penance for this blasphemy.

The service was enjoyable with a superb male choir chanting and singing us through the service. Once the service was completed we ventured out into the old city lit up from head to toe for Xmas.

Earlier we had wandered around soaking up the history of York. The schools were running a competition for the best nativity scene and they were featured in many of the shops around the town.

Walls of the City

Before taking to the walls we journeyed through “the Shambles” and down to the river to stroll along the bank. It was too bloody cold so we retreated to a coffee shop to reconsider visiting the Walls. Fortified we proceeded with our plan.

The old city of York is partly enclosed by the city walls. On a cold autumn evening we braved the walk on the walls giving different views of the cathedral and the city beyond.

After strolling the walls we returned to the Cathedral to meet Doug and Neri where we found them trying to hail a taxi to get out of the cold and back to the hotel.


Bishops Visit – Castle Howard

Castle Howard is a stately home in North Yorkshire, England, 15 miles (24 km) north of York. It is a private residence, the home of the Howard family for more than 300 years. Castle Howard is not a true castle, but this term is also used for English country houses erected on the site of a former military castle. It is the fictional “Brideshead”, of  Brideshead Revisited.


The house is surrounded by a large estate which, at one time, covered over 13,000 acres (5,300 ha) and included the villages of Welburn, Bulmer, Slingsby, Terrington and Coneysthorpe. In 1952, the house was opened to the public by then owner, George Howard, Baron Howard of Henderskelfe. It is currently owned by his son, the Honourable Simon Howard, who grew up at the castle.

A large part of the house was destroyed by a fire which broke out on 9 November 1940. The dome, the central hall, the dining room and the state rooms on the east side were entirely destroyed as well as valuable paintings and mirrors. Some of the devastated rooms have been restored over the following decades. In 1960–61 the dome was rebuilt and in the following couple of years, the frescos on the dome was recreated. The East Wing remains a shell, although it has been restored externally. Castle Howard is one of the largest country houses in England, with a total of 145 rooms.

Bishops Visit – York the city of the Viking – Jorvig Viking Centre and Barley Hall

The Jorvig Viking Centre is widely advertised in York as a must see. Despite its appearance as a commercial kids attraction, this is a serious historic/archaeological site and reconstruction of Viking life in York. Whilst the archaeological finds are there on display along with the work to uncover them, a ride through a reconstruction of an 890AD village is part of the experience. The ride takes you through the village at a time of change in the construction of their homes and there are real life smells sounds and visual effects. As you would expect no cameras allowed but you can see more at their web site: and it is worth the visit.

After visiting the Viking Centre we made our way (with some hiccups) to the Barley Hall. Named after Professor Maurice Barley who supervised the restoration of the hall, the Hall started life in 1114AD when Henry II established an Augustinian Priory for a community of hermits. In 1540 Henry VIII closed the Priory and confiscated the property. The hall was then used for multiple purposes thereafter and gradually is covered over with later development. In 1984 the building was due for demolition to make way for a new development, When a survey of the site is done the old building is rediscover and in 1987 it was purchased by York Archaeological Trust and restored and opened to the public by 1993.

On the ground floor, Barley Hall comprises a number of rooms. The store room, used as an admissions area, contains a large quantity of original 1360 woodwork, which leads onto a second store room, now called the Steward’s room. At the heart of the building is the Great Hall, a 1430 construction, decorated on the basis of equivalents elsewhere in the city of York. The building also includes a pantry and a buttery. On the first floor is the parlour, which overlooks the hall, a gallery and several bedchambers. These rooms now form a museum of medieval life in York. Rather gruesome and interesting at the same time. To read more I suggest a visit to