BB1140 : The Castle and the Priory

Thursday 29th December 2011

Which day to go out for our final outing of the year?  In the end the decision was settled for us by the death of Percy Duff whose memorial service is tomorrow.

Percy Duff

Percy was a man of many interests and talents.

Perhaps of most relevance to those BOOTboys who did not know him is that he took over from Alfred Wainwright as Kendal Borough Council Treasurer in 1967, retiring from what became SLDC in 1982 but continuing as treasurer of Kendal Town Council until 1998.  He was an honorary Citizen of the town and an MBE.

Visitors to the area may have seen his four books about Kendal or some of the many old time photographs collected by him and his late wife, Margaret.

I knew him mainly through the Kendal Green Investment Club of which he was the senior member.

Others may have known Percy through his motorcycling interests. A young Tony delivered his papers and later had motorcycle road safety lessons from him.  The Barbon Hill Climb is now named after Percy.  

He was also a keen follower of Kendal rugby club and involved with many other local societies.  

Percy's death is a sad loss to the town.

I thought we might have a nostalgic Percy moment as we drove down past Barbon and on to the White Scar Caves.  However, the plan changed when the cave management were a bit dismissive of the awful weather forecasts but couldn't comment on whether the caves were likely to be open until after 10 a.m. on the day.

Having more faith in the Met Office and the Mountain Weather Information Service, we decided to abort the mission and, instead, caught the train south. 

The plan was to visit Lancaster Castle, once regarded as the most secure prison in England and one of the few with direct access from the cells to the courtroom, hence the trial there of IRA bombers, not to mention the Pendle witches.

Did you know that you are not allowed to take photographs on railway stations anymore?

Apparently it is an arrestable offence, so that terrorists can't identify the 9:23 from Oxenholme.  From the bridge is OK, however.  I couldn't help thinking of an adaptation of an old student song:

train at station by photographer, all unknown!

Whilst the train is in the station
Please refrain from graphication
Have regard for railway propriety 

If a engine you would photo
From the platform you must go to 
A place that's not on Railtrack property

Yes, I know that Railtrack was superceded by Network Rail but that does't scan as well!

The train ran to time and we arrived at the castle at a quarter to ten, only to find a sign saying "closed".  We hoped this referred to the previous day but there was no sign of anyone, prisoner or otherwise.  Not too deterred as we were a little early, we crossed over the green to the church or, to be more precise, the Priory Church of St Mary.

Inside we found a very helpful verger, Tom Barnish, who showed us several features of interest, in particular the misericords which, without his help, I doubt we would have found as they are carvings underneath the choir seats.

Although parts of the church are 15th century, these are 13th century and are thought to have been brought from a quite different site.

It seems that quite a lot of the Priory has been materially altered over the years.

Of particular interest was the addition of a special chapel dedicated to the Lancashire Regiment which featured battle flags and other military memorabilia.

Half an hour soon passed before we once again tried to gain entrance to the castle.

Still locked and nobody to be seen.  We returned to the church porch, mentally drafting a letter of complaint as the website had clearly implied that the Castle would be open from 10 a.m. albeit only for guided tours starting at 10:30.  

Just as we reached the "Yours, more in sorrow than in anger" line, we were paradoxically disappointed to realise that this effort was in vain and that someone had just gone through the castle door.  Again we crossed the green and banged on the door.  An apologetic guide opened it and explained that, whilst the guides had arrived, the castle janitor was no where to be found. Fortunately, this guide had a key and was able to open up for us and an handful of other hopefuls.

We were then allocated a different guide, a young lady called Naomi who was very knowledgeable about the building and its history, much more so than you often find in such places.

Unfortunately for the purposes of this report, photography is not permitted by law anywhere in a court building, even in the public rooms.

Consequently, I have had to borrow a few pictures.

In each case, clicking on the image takes you to the relevant website.

If I have infringed copyright, I hope that the holders will forgive me due to this bit of extra publicity they will receive in return.

The tour was very interesting even though it only covers some 20% of the building.  The rest, although no longer used as a prison, is still owned by the prison authorities and there are no known plans of what the now deteriorating building is to become.

We saw the civil court (where some of us have attended Heritage Operas productions) and the criminal court (to which no one admitted having been summoned).  This, at one time, was extremely busy, serving much of Lancashire and pronouncing frequent executions. These were held just outside the building and opposite the Priory Church where the vicar would charge the wealthy to climb up onto the roof for a better view.  A good hanging could attract a crowd of up to 6,000.  Not all on the roof, of course!

There were several other rooms of real interest including the dungeons where prisoners awaited their fate.  As on my last visit, aged about 8, we were shut in with the lights switched off.

Tony was worried about being transported to Van Diemen's Land.  
Others of us were wishing.....!
I couldn't judge where Alex, his son, stood on this point.

Talking of judging, we had hoped that the visit would include the Judges Lodging but, unfortunately, that is operated separately and is closed from November until Easter.

After the tour, we were intending to drop down to the river and see the Maritime Museum but it was only 11:45 and the leaflet said that it opened at 12:30.  The helpful young lady in the castle phoned ahead but could get no reply.  Nevertheless, we set off towards the museum, inspecting the Roman baths on the way, then down the slippery steps to the riverside road.  There's a nice bit of alliteration!

The Roman Baths

Comitibus:  Slippery Steps

Should we turn left of the museum and risk it still not being open or turn right to visit the oldest pub in Lancaster, the 800 year old Three Mariners?

You don't need to ask.

The Three Mariners

Comitibus:  Six BOOTboys in the Three Mariners

It was almost reminiscent of that time in Menton (BB0836) when we dropped down off the mountains for a swift pint only for it to turn into an unplanned session.  Fortunately, in this respect, Bryan was not with us today so we were able to settle for a modest two pints and, as they did not serve food, headed off to find somewhere that did.

We settled on the Sun Inn and resumed our previous activity coupled with a rather long wait for the sausage ciabattas and chips to arrive.  They were good but it left us just a little bit short of time to return to the station comfortably. Nevertheless, we overcame the challenge of the climb back to catch the train home.

To round off this account and the BOOTboys' year with an adaptation of the seasonal favourite, please join me in wassailing:

The Castle and the Priory
When both you are shown round
Of all the buildings in the neighbourhood
'Tis the Castle wears the crown

Oh, the rising of the Red Rose
And the running of the Lune
This saga of our merry visit
Like the BOOTboys' year, ends soon

But before it ends, there is one more thing I want to say and that is Thank You.  

This has been a rather different year for me, healthwise, to that which I had anticipated and I am so grateful for the comradeship and support that Margaret and I have received from the BOOTboys and all our other friends and relations.

Thank You All and Happy New Year!

Don, Thursday 29th December 2011


The Stats

llnesses and aging had its effect on this year's statistics.

The number of outings fell back from last year's record (46) to the norm of 40.

The total mileage (excluding the two non walk reports) was 348 with an average of 8.9  whilst total height climbed was well down at 52,814 (average only 1,320).

On the other hand, the number of participants rose by 3 to 22, even if two of them were ladies (not a precedent, it has happened before including last year).  Average BBs per outing rose from 3.9 to 4.75, probably reflecting in part the less challenging terrain covered.

Irrespective of fhe statistics, it feels like it was a good year but it would be nice to get back to some of our outings being a bit more challenging next year. 


Hit Him, John!

The BB1139 tale of the ancient visit to the Old Dungeon Gill prompted John S, who was there and the one implied to have threatened the Landlord, wrote to correct the record.

See Hit Him, John!


What a Grey Day?

BOOTboys follower and exile from north of the border, Henry McC sought to correct the record in BB1139 regarding my use of a Scottish term.  

Judge for yourself at What a Grey Day.




Thursday 29th December 2011


Lancaster Castle, St Mary's Priory


Alex, Don, John L, Stan, Tony, Roger B



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2011 Outings

BB1101 :
Wansfell Revisited
Tuseday 11th January

BB1102 :
Recuperation Scar!
Thursday 17th February

BB1103 :
A Promenade of Pensioners
Thursday 24th February

BB1104 :
The B Team
Thursday 3rd March

BB1105 :
  A Little Bit Of Wind
Thursday 10th March

BB1106 :
A Linthwaite Round
Thursday 17th March

BB1107 :
Home From The Pulpit
Thursday 24th March

BB1108 :
Taking The Brunt
Thursday 31st March

BB1109 :
Up The Spout
Wednesday 6th April

BB1110 :
Not The Royal Wedding
Friday 29th April

BB1111 :
Kentmere Parts 1 & 2
Thurs 5th, Saturday 7th May

BB1112 :
Five Unknown Tarns
Wednesday 11th May

BB1113 :
Gurnal Dubbs Revisited
Thursday 19th May

BB1114 :
A March Through The Mist
Wednesday 1st June

BB1115 :
Brief Encounter
Wednesday 8th June

BB1116 :
Extraordinary and
Lesser Mortals
Wednesday 15th June

BB1117 :
Farewell David Daw
Wednesday 29th June

BB1118 :
West Side Story
Thursday 7th July

BB1119 :
st Side Story
Wednesday 13th July

 BB1120 :
All The Way From Barrow
Wednesday 20th July

 BB1121 :
Suitable For The Guests!
Thursday 28th July

BB1122 :
Graylings In Flagrante
Wednesday 3rd August

BB1123 :
The First Indecision Outing
Wednesday 24th August

BB1124 :
The Second Indecision Outing
Thursday 25th August

BB1125 :
The Tale of Tony's Triumph
Wednesday 31st August

BB1126 :
The Gunpowder Trail
Wednesday 7th September

BB1127 :
Four Lords a-Leaping
Thursday 15th September

BB1128 :
Heversham Head and Mhor
Thursday 22nd September

BB1129 :
Training For The Himalayas
Wednesday 28th September

BB1130 :
Turn Again, Whittington
Thursday 13th October

BB1131 :
The Windermere Three Peaks
Thursday 20th October

BB1132 :
Perfect Pies
Wednesday 26th October

BB1133 :
Ol' Men Rovin' 
Wednesday 9th November

BB1134 :
Erotic, Erratic, Improbable
Or What?
Thursday 17th November

BB1135 :
The Princess, the King
and the Tower
Wednesday 23rd November

BB1136 :
The Leck Beck Trek
Wednesday 30th November

BB1137 :
The Wild Wet Show
Thursday 8th December

BB1138 :
Of Mice and Men
Thursday 15th December

BB1139 :
The Old Stink
Wednesday 21st December

BB1140 :
The Castle and The Priory
Thursday 29th December


The Way Of The Roses
12th - 14th September


 Click on the photos
for an enlargement
or related large picture.


To see which Wainwright
top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights
have been done by which BOOT
boy in the"modern" era, i.e. since the advent
click on BB Log