Tuesday, 11 November 2014
another year adds a bit more history
This year we celebrated my birthday in a castle.
Langley Castle was originally built in 1350 during the reign of Edward III, but then got caught up in a scuffle with Henry IV in 1405. He was not too happy with the Barons of Tynedale and in Henry's campaign against the Percys his troops set fire to it. Henry Percy lived to fight another rebellion, but his land had been confiscated and after the second rebellion failed Percy's head was put on a pole on London Bridge.
The castle was mainly a shell for the next few hundred years even when the the Earls of Derwentwater and Viscount Langley took over the estate. They sided with the Jacobite rising in 1715. It didn't do them much good either as they were carted off to the Tower of London where they were executed.
There's a large stone cross by the roadside nearby which says: In memory of James and Charles Viscounts Langley. Beheaded on Tower Hill 24th Feb 1716 and 8th Dec 1746. For Loyalty to their Lawful Sovereign.
They were trying to get James VII of Scotland back onto the British throne instead of Queen Mary II and that Dutchman, William of Orange.
After the executions, the Crown confiscated the estate and took away the titles. Curiously, the estate's administration passed to the Royal Naval Hospital in Greenwich, some 300 miles away. It may explain why the nearby pub is called the Anchor.
The castle remained a ruin until a local historian bought it in 1882. His name was Cadwalladar Bates and he decided to restore it to its original 14th Century look, admittedly with a Victorian twist. Because it had been left as a ruin for the previous 400 years, it didn't suffer from the kinds of modifications that affected many castles. Cadwalladar and his wife Josephine worked on the castle for many years, and after Cadwallader's death, his wife continued the restoration until her own death in 1933.
The building was then used as a barracks in World War II, then as a girls' school, before being bought by another local businessperson, who converted it to its current use as a rather desirable place to stay. I somehow managed to stay in the actual Cadwalladar room, complete with its 7 foot thick stone walls.
To keep things moving along, the castle as a business is now owned by MIT Professor Dr Stuart Madnick, who is a well-known computer scientist, and author or co-author of hundreds of computing books.
For us, it provided a very suitable place for a bit of a celebration, although I notice there's quite an updraft from the quantity of birthday candles.
No wonder the staff looked edgy, they didn't want a repeat of what happened in 1405.