The Grove; Bamburgh’s idyllic Village Green. Or is it?
Today, thousands of visitors each year admire, walk through, and sit in The Grove, the wooded green area in the heart of the Village. If ever there was an idyllic vantage point to view the splendour of the Castle, this is it. It must have been here forever, surely?
In fact, this has not always been the centre and focus of the village. In the Middle Ages, the main street of the village was the Spittalgate, the sunken medieval path now running through fields and neglected orchards, past the medieval Dove cote or “Duckett”. The Spittalgate road must have once led up to the Castle, and came out opposite today’s Mizen Head Hotel, with the road running up to Burton and Glororum. And the area now so familiar as The Grove, was the village quarry.
So was the Keep built with stone from Bamburgh’s own quarry? It is believed that the stone used to build the Norman Keep was in fact quarried at Sunderland; originally “Southern lands” just south of the Castle, only called North Sunderland from 1804 to distinguish it from the upstart new town Sunderland further down the coast. The stone was brought to the Castle crag on packhorses. Could it have come from the old quarries near Quarryfields in today’s Seahouses? Who now knows?
But stone from the Bamburgh Quarry was certainly used for the 18thC restoration of the Castle, under the Trusteeship of Dr John Sharp, thanks to the munificence of Lord Crewe’s Will leaving most of his fortune to Charity work to be established at the Castle. Dr Sharp’s foreman was George Hall, and he wrote at length whenever Dr Sharp was away from the Castle.
1779 This week Robson has been in yr quarry the Reason of him being there is this I intend Next week to have the dung led into the Well Close and the Carts will Bring a Load stones from the quarry
The Robsons are yet dressing stones for the Chaple and old Wilson is winning stones for them the bottom of the quarry turns out as fine stones as ever.
The quarry was starting to be exhausted and efforts were made to locate new seams:
1790 I have consulted John Robson and Elliot about the quarry Robson advises to make another trial in Elliots Close a Little to the westward where we have now made the trial but that is very much against my opinion Elliot cannot advise any place there is three places I wish to try if agreeable to you the first is betwixt Mrs Hastings and James Elliot the second is in the winding Loin to work into Mr Greys field the other is west of the garden wall in Mr Humbles field but before I begin with any of them will want your answer which of them you would wish to begin with.
But by 1783 there was concern about safety in the vicinity of the Quarry, and at the Manor Court that year it was decided:
It is presented and ordered by the Homage that although the Quarry in the Towngate or Street of Bamburgh is fenced with a railing of wood…and may be sufficient to prevent Mischief to Cattle and horses yet the quarry is not sufficiently fenced to prevent mischief or misfortune to Inhabitants of Bamburgh their children..and as the quarry is not duly and properly fenced by the mistake of the person employed to fence the same, It is presented and ordered by the Homage that the Quarry be sufficiently with all reasonable expedition..in the following way,…by paling the same round with wood, each pale not being distant from each other more than six inches and each pale to be at least three foot high from the earth.
Perhaps this was the start of the infilling of the old quarry and the creation of the Grove…