March 2019





4th March


On a recent trip to the lovely historic market town of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, hubcap and I enjoyed a visit to the spectacularly-situated ruins of its Norman castle.


Knaresborough Castle stands on a cliff above the River Nidd, and the earliest phase of its construction dates to c. 1100. Further works were carried out there by kings Henry I and John; it was subsequently rebuilt by Edward I, and finished (with the addition of a magnificent keep) by Edward II, who gifted it to his ill-fated favourite Piers Gaveston. In 1331, Edward III’s queen Phi1ippa of Hainault took possession of the castle and often spent her summers there; then in 1372, it was acquired by their son John of Gaunt, who added it to the holdings of the Duchy of Lancaster.


Knaresborough remained a royal castle until the English Civil War, when it was taken by Parliamentarian troops, and largely destroyed in 1648 by an order from Parliament to dismantle all Royalist castles (many buildings in Knaresborough town centre are made from ‘castle stone’). The ruins now consist mainly of a pair of towers forming the main gate, and the remnant of what was originally a tall five-sided keep (pictured) with a vaulted basement and at least three upper stories, which served as the lord’s residence; bullet scars from the Civil War siege can be seen in some places on the stonework.


Some foundations of the buildings of the inner and outer baileys have also survived, along with the later Tudor Courthouse containing a museum with furniture from the original court, plus exhibits about the castle and town.


If you would like to visit, (and it's well worth it if only for the views!), the Castle and Courthouse Museum will re-open on Monday 8 April to Sunday 22 September inclusive, plus Monday 28 October to Friday 1 November at 11am until 4pm Monday to Sunday; the grounds, with their magnificent views over the town and river (pictured) are open all year round, 24 hours a day.


Admission charges are £3.50 for adults, £2.00 for children, £2.50 for concessions, and

£10.00 for a family ticket for two adults and three children. You can also buy

child, adult, concession and family season tickets for Knaresborough Castle and the Royal Pump Room Museum in nearby Harrogate; prices range from £6.70 - £20.00 for as many visits as you like for one year – contact [email protected] for further information. Enjoy!

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17th March


It's great to see that Spring has sprung at Beckside! When we went this morning to collect some firewood, we found daffodils and primroses in full bloom, catkins and buds on the trees, Hubcap's favourite red flowering currant looking glorious - and everything covered in busy bees from our three hives. I was particularly pleased to see that our tiny pond is full of frog-spawn - which means we have at least one breeding pair of frogs using it! I do hope plenty of the eggs will turn into tadpoles, and that they in turn will live to swell the population and inhabit the much larger pond we plan to dig on the lowest land near the beck; frogs and toads used to abound in this area when Hubcap was a lad, but are comparatively rare now, so it's nice to think we're doing our bit to help them survive and thrive.


The past week has also seen us pass another landmark at the site: at long last, Mick has started to put up the stock fencing in preparation for us to further increase biodiversity by getting some grazing

animals. (The picture shows him with one of the newly driven in fence posts). However, the jury is still out in terms of exactly what species/breed said animals will be (sheep, goats, or a mixture thereof), whether we'll raise them from babies or get more mature stock, and whether (gulp) we'll end up having them slaughtered for meat. Luckily we've still got a long way to go, and a lot of learning to do, before we're ready to introduce livestock, (by which time we should have made up our minds!).


Meanwhile, I'm very pleased to say that I've been invited to contribute an article on the 'Things I Can't Live Without' at Beckside to Country Smallholding magazine, as a result of an application I sent to them last November; it should appear in a few months' time. So I've now adapted the application into an illustrated article on how Hubcap and I became smallholders back in 2014 - and if you'd like to read it, you'll find it at the top of the Articles page. Enjoy!