The next trip with our lovely friends from Red Bus Days Out took me and my mum to Richmond in North Yorkshire, via Ripley where we made a comfort stop. As my regular readers will know, however, this is never very comforting for me as there are always red kites flying around there and I daren’t get out of Mum’s handbag in case they see me and think I’m a mouse.
Luckily we didn’t stop long this time and soon I could get out again and start looking out of the windows as we travelled north towards Ripon and then on to the A1, where – for the first time that either me or Mum can remember – there were absolutely no roadworks and not a single cone in sight.
Soon we reached the turn off for Richmond which took us past Catterick Garrison and the village of Hipswell. Although we didn’t stop there, Mum told me that John Wycliffe, who was greatly involved in the first translation of the complete Bible into English so that people who could read could understand it, was born there around 1325.
She pointed out the village church of St John the Evangelist whose churchyard contains 66 graves, looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and belonging to army personnel who died at the hospital at Catterick Garrison in the two World Wars. She also told me that a great battle, known as the Battle of Catraeth, took place nearby in the late sixth century – all of which adds up to a great deal of history for a small village.
Another three miles and we were crossing the bridge over the river Swale with its amazing view of Richmond Castle, perched high on a cliff above the river. Built in the late 11th century by Alan Rufus, it was one of the first castles in Britain to be built of stone from the start – others were built of wood and later rebuilt in stone – and was intended to subdue the unruly North of England after the Norman Conquest in 1066. However, by the 15th century it was abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin and by 1538 it was described as derelict and much of its stone was taken for local building work.
It came back into use in 1854 when barracks were built there for the local militia, then in World War I it became a base for the Non-Combatant Corps. This was made up of men who were conscripted into the armed forces, but for reasons of conscience refused to take up arms. Most of them were willing to serve in a non-combatant role, but some, known as absolutists, refused even to do this and were imprisoned in the castle’s cells, where their additions to the graffiti on the walls survive to this day and can be seen in a new exhibition which opens this month. Click on the link to visit English Heritage website for further information.
The most famous of these absolutists were sixteen men who were sent together from Richmond to France where they were sentenced to be shot for refusing to obey a military order. This sentence was then commuted to ten years’ hard labour, breaking stones at a granite quarry near Dyce in Scotland. Their stance is commemorated in the Cockpit Garden, a lovely area of peace and tranquillity within the walls of the castle.
As well as the flowers in the Cockpit Garden, there were lots of pretty flowers growing wild in the walls of the castle and on some of the grassed areas. Mum took lots of photos of them, as you can see.
And, while she was doing this, I decided to get some climbing practice in, just in case I ever get stuck in a castle and have to make my escape. Then I decided to let her take some photos of me as well.
After we’d explored the castle, we set off across the cobbled market place, which was busy that day with people buying fruit and veg, meat, cheese, fish and household items from the colourful stalls which were set out around a tall obelisk which replaced the original Market Cross in 1771. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for more than a quick glance, however, as we were on our way for a guided tour of the Georgian Theatre in nearby Victoria Road. But I’ll tell you about that in my next post…
Follow my next blog: 44. RICHMOND’S GEORGIAN THEATRE ROYAL AND OLD RAILWAY STATION