Well, well well 1600-1700
Anglo-Saxon life at Bamburgh Castle
The following excerpts are from the account of the lives of George and Eleanor Ross, residents of Friars Farm Bamburgh till 1908. The account was written by a great great grandchild and reflects Bamburgh in the early 1800s, till George’s death in 1908, and Eleanor’s in 1912. George was a farmer and butcher in Bamburgh; both were devoted to St Aidan’s Church, where they were married in 1843. The account was given to our fabulous archivist Carol Griffiths. Unfortunately the passage of time means we’ve lost the name of the donator. If anybody has any ideas do get in touch.
“When Eleanor was born in 1817, the Vicar was Mr Andrew Sharp. It was when he married Miss Catherine Sharp (Niece of Dr John Sharp) he was said to have “Boult into the church and came out Sharp” (NB He obtained Royal licence to take his wife’s name, clearly hoping to continue the Sharp dynasty .But sadly no children…). The Vicar was away a lot as he also had a house near London called Clare Hall. As the journey by stage coach was tedious, he often took a little boat from Bamburgh beach, or Seahouses, to board a steam packet en route to London”
“With all the other children in the village and vicinity Eleanor was educated at the school in Bamburgh Castle, with its “boarders”, the well-known 30 girls who were educated and trained for domestic service by the liberality of Lord Crewe’s Trustees”
“Eleanor was married in 1843 when Mr Darnell was Vicar. She spent her honeymoon seeing the sights of Waren Bay, a few miles away, and was much pleased to see all the little ships displaying every piece of bunting they possessed. She and her worthy husband were even more pleased to learn the display was in their honour.
Shortly after their marriage, Grace Darling, who Eleanor knew very well, came to Bamburgh from her father’s lighthouse. During her long illness, Eleanor visited her many times. Grace frequently said she could not understand why people had made “such a fuss” about the rescue which she and her father affected when living at Longstone Lighthouse. Simple and unaffected, she wondered because she had only done what seemed to her an ordinary act of duty. No doubt her father thought the same. At her funeral, Eleanor was one of the eight young people who attended.
“The “Grove” in the village, at one time a quarry, was for a considerable time surrounded by a high wall in order to protect the young trees, and one of the customs of the Lord Crewe Trustees when coming into residence in the Castle-which they did in rotation-was to have the gates of the Grove opened so their carriage were driven through it. When this took place they were sure to have a smiling welcome from the inhabitants who stood expectant and deeply interested. All this Eleanor remembered well; the life at the Castle, the shop there with its provisions at cost price (“The Cheap Shop”), the people from as far as Newton with their donkeys to carry home their purchases”
“In George and Eleanor’s lifetime, Bamburgh was a lively little town. Although far away from the cities, there was a great deal of coming and going, for Bamburgh had a sea going population. The great event of the year was in September, when a Feast was held called The Fairings. Stalls lined the village Grove where gooseberries, gingerbread, nuts, oranges and sweetmeats were sold. Everyone kept open house for 3 days whilst the Fairings lasted and people came from all parts-even from the Cheviot Hills the shepherds set out to buy tar in barrels for marking their lambs, and the good people of Bamburgh welcomed all their families and friends”
A monumental inscription in memory of George and Eleanor stands in St Aidans Churchyard, and is in beautiful condition. It is close by the Crypt which is a most interesting feature of the church. Close by to their gravestone is a grave known locally as a pirate’s grave as the stone is carved with skull and crossbones”