Thursday, 23 April 2009

Ravenglass in my travel diary

This is the highlight of our one week stay in Lake District. It has beautiful, spacious garden, which is perfect for wandering around in spring time.
ravenglass13
flower7
The location makes it perfect to see far to the opposite hillside. It has beautiful flower meadown on its valley that once covered with daffodils and bluebells.
ravenglass14
Even children will be fully entertained with playground, bird of prey feeding, and lots of other things.

It is nothing else than Muncaster Castle.
munchester
Muncaster Castle is a privately owned castle overlooking the Esk river, about a mile south of the west-coastal town of Ravenglass in Cumbria, England.Built on foundations dating to the Roman era, the site was originally selected by the Romans as the place from which to guard the Esk River ("Muncaster" contains the Latin word castra, meaning "encampment", or "fort").
munchester8
The castle was extended and enlarged on a number of occasions over the course of the centuries. Recent historical research (in the early 2000s) has uncovered records which indicate that in 1678 the castle had 14 chimneys; while a document relating to payment of Window Tax in 1746 recorded at that date it had 103 windows and 55 rooms and corridors. I wonder how kings or queens can come up with proposal or money to build that. Isn't that amazing? This is certainly something that very hard to do in democratic 21 century society.
flower5
munchester7
However, by the time of the ownership of Sir Joseph Pennington in the 1770s, the castle had fallen into serious decay. His son, Sir John Pennington, arriving to live at the castle after his wedding in 1778, wrote with despair of how a part of building collapsed even as he was inspecting it. The preservation of the castle to this day is due to the efforts of Sir John Pennington to rebuild and restore it; surviving records indicate that this cost him some six thousand pounds, an enormous sum of money for the late 18th century.
The recent historical research project mentioned on the Castle's official website has also revealed that the castle's north tower (which complements the pele tower to provide a symmetry to the castle's appearance) was constructed in the 1830s. Some previous literature on the north tower mistakenly attributes its construction to the architect Anthony Salvin, who was engaged to refurbish the castle by the fourth Lord Muncaster in 1862.

The castle contains a wealth of architectural features and artefacts from a wide span of English history, including a rare portrait of king Henry VI, an Elizabethan banqueting table, and also an impressive library containing approximately 6,000 books.

In August 2005, some archaeological investigation was conducted in the castle grounds and an Architectural Heritage Report was produced. It is planned to conduct a full architectural survey in the future, to examine the different phases of the building's construction.

However, the castle is not famous of its architecture nor beautiful garden...
ravenglass9
ravenglass4
ravenglass12
flower4
ravenglass11
Don't worry this canon does not work anymore, in case you are wondering.
munchester9
ravenglass3
But rather, its famous for ghost!
I am not a big fan of horror movies, or ghost in anyway. Muncaster Castle has also acquired a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in Britain, however this has only been since the 1990s, partly due to the investigations of Jason Braithwaite of Birmingham University into whether the alleged hauntings are down to environmental factors such as magnetic disturbances, and partly the drastic rebranding of the Muncaster Castle estates to tourists for more than merely its acclaimed gardens at the turn into the 21st Century in order to ensure it remained in Pennington hands (the financial situation was acute enough at one stage for them to admit in a BBC documentary that the estate was in danger of being sold as they could not afford much needed repairs to the roof).
munchester3
ravenglass18
And the myth followed on : Prior to the 21st Century, most ghost books that bothered to list Muncaster mentioned only two ghosts, that of Henry VI (who was sheltered at Muncaster after his defeat at the battle of Hexham) and the head carrying ghost of an apprentice carpenter who was decapitated whilst sleeping in the old stable block by jester Thomas Skelton (Tom The Fool) at the orders of Sir Ferdinand Pennington because of his love affair with his daughter Helwise.
ravenglass15
munchester4
However, visitors to the castle have long been informed by guides that as well as the above, the ghost of Skelton and the vengeful ghost in white of Mary Bragg - a foul-mouthed local girl who was murdered by being hanged from the Main Gate by drunken youths in the 19th Century after they'd kidnapped her for a joke: those responsible were never brought to justice. There were even tales that a lion shot by the last Lord Muncaster in Kenya, and whose skull is kept in the castle, was sometimes heard prowling (& gently growling) around at nightfall.
Guests may book a tour of the castle and an all-night vigil in a haunted bedroom known as the Tapestry Room, where guest report of paranormal phenomena include: hearing footsteps, seeing the door open of its own accord, hearing a crying child (allegedly Margaret Susan Pennington, who died of screaming fits in the 19th Century) and/or a singing woman, having their digital cameras turn off and on inexplicably, feeling themselves patted, experiencing changes of room temperature, chest pains, and even being inexplicably tossed out of the bed.

The way I take it : I don't care about ghost, as a born again Christian. It is either the work of Satan of the way the castle earn more money from conducting Ghost Tour.

Muncaster Castle estate in the early 20th century was around 23,000 acres (93 km²) in size. Today, the castle is surrounded by 77 acres (310,000 m2) of woodland gardens in a park of some 1,800 acres (7.3 km²). The gardens contain many rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas, and the castle's Plant Centre offers the largest collection of rhododendrons in the north of England.
The castle is not only the residence of the current owners, Peter Frost Pennington & family, but in common with many such ancient estates in the British Isles it operates as a function centre and a site where civil weddings may be held, has bookable accommodation for 24 guests, and is also the location of the headquarters of the World Owl Trust, a registered UK charity dedicated to the preservation of owls and their habitats.
The estate is situated in sparsely populated and scenic countryside, between the Irish Sea and Hardknott Pass, near England's tallest mountain, Scafell Pike.
munchester5
munchester6
ravenglass2
munchester2
ravenglass
We have a great day in Muncaster Castle, praise God for beautiful weather and a great time of family bonding.

5 comments:

hiPPo said...

i reali love the beautiful pics u took... they are simply breath-taking! and wat a lovely family u have.. enjoy motherhood and the beautiful love! =)

Char said...

gorgeous photographs and so informative. very interesting reading about the history.

Ling That's Me said...

the photos are awesome !!

btw, do you want to exchange links? :)

Liss said...

Thanks for showing me around this beautiful and interesting castle. My family could spend all day at a place like this. My favourite shots are your husband and son on the steps at the gates of the castle and your son playing in the daffodils.

J.H said...

@hippo:
you have a beautiful family yourself, and your princess.... she is so adorable!!!

@char:
thanks :-)

@ling:
yup, that's sounded like a good idea. Your link will appear soon on my right side nav bar.

@liss:
that's my fave too :-)