Saturday, 22 August 2009

Clitheroe Castle

Today I had a trip out to Clitheroe. There aren't many castles in Lancashire, but Clitheroe has a little one, just the Keep still standing on the top of a hill. Clitheroe is in the middle of the Ribble plain, and the ground around is largely flat, so the castle stands out well. The closest hill is Pendle, which you can see in this photo which I took from the castle. The village of Pendle is on the other side of the hill and this area is the location of the famous Pendle witch trials of the 17th century. And yes, you can buy broomsticks and other such things in Pendle!
Here's the castle - there is a bit more of the keep hidden by the perspective but basically it's just a tower. The castle and park around it have recently been revamped, with a new museum and cafe too, hence the visit. In the foreground is the war memorial - a feature of most towns and villages, but this is a particularly fine one, of a soldier leaning on his rifle.
Here it is again, from the side. The beds are filled with massed geraniums, red and pale pink, with a planting of pale purple violas too. I love geraniums, but can't keep them over winter in our climate.

We visited the new museum in which I learned, among other things, that hippopotami used to splash around in Clitheroe many, many years ago before the last ice age! Of course every small town museum is obliged to have a display about its famous sons and Clitheroe tries hard to do this. Unfortunately, no-one really famous has ever been born there so they give a list of tenuous connections; the painter Turner visited (he visited just about everywhere in the country, so this isn't news), so did Lord Nelson, and Tolkien "loved the Clitheroe area". What that means is he couldn't stand industrial Clitheroe, but he did stay at Stonyhurst college up the road. To be fair, it is true he wrote some of Lord of the Rings at Stonyhurst and the gentle rural landscape of the Ribble plain is said to be the inspiration for his vision of Middle Earth. I'm not entirely sure hobbits still live in Lancashire, though!

But the museum is pretty good for a small town, and is placed in the Steward's house by the castle. They have recreated the original Victorian kitchen and in it is the biggest sink I have ever seen. Handily they had put this tub in it for scale - the double sink is huge and carved out of one piece of stone. No wonder no-one ever wanted to remove it!
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