BB1211:  Tony's Other Woman

Wednesday 21st March 2012

There is another woman in Tony’s life.

Fortunately, Pat has nothing to fear as the aforementioned lady has been dead for over 300 years.

Those who know him will realise immediately that I refer to the redoubtable Lady Anne Clifford.  Born at Skipton in 1590 and, as a child, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, she was disinherited by her father in favour of his brother.

It took two marriages and two widowings before she achieved the wealth and independence to which she believed herself entitled.

From then on, in her sixties, she had a profound effect on the north of England, particularly in the stretch from Penrith to Skipton.  

A Discover Eden booklet


Tony has long been an admirer of hers and as there were no other BOOTboys available this week, he suggested we went on the trail of Lady Anne Clifford.

On his motorbike, Tony could easily have covered The Lady Anne Clifford Heritage Trail in one outing but on foot that was far too much of a challenge.

Consequently, we decided to focus on those relevant sites just south of Penrith and in doing so chanced upon a Discover Eden trail covering much the same territory around Brougham.

Suspecting that we might also find the odd hostelry en-route, we decided that train was the favoured means of transport to the start at Penrith.  

That much of this report was written before we set off.  The rest I am writing on our return through something of an incaholic hoze (Shurely shome mishtake? Ed.)  How wise it was to travel by train.  How well I know Tony!

We started sedately enough.  A wander through Penrith, past the castle which disappointingly was unexpectedly closed. Tony discovered later it was because some idiot louts had set fire to the Castle Park Bowling Club- see Four Youths Arrested causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

And what will our justice system give them?  Transportation to Mars?  Removal of offending limbs?  Or a week's supply of Mars Bars?  Answers on a post card, please.

Penrith Castle


Penrith Market Square


Eamont Bridge

The castle, fortunately, was not our objective.  We passed through Penrith to the river at Eamont Bridge- an old village with many interesting doors- then followed the left bank, past the strange garden of a house for sale.  On the other side of the river we had our first view of Brougham Castle.


Swimming pool for sale


Brougham Castle

Our first target was Lady Anne's Countess Pillar, erected by her in memory of her mother Margaret Russell Clifford, Countess of Cumberland, on the site of their last parting in 1616.  On one face there is a sundial, on another the Clifford and Russell coats of arms.


Countess Margaret


Lady Anne



Comitibus : Lady Anne's Pillar

Next was Brougham Castle, described by Lady Anne as "verie ruinous and much in need of repair" so she set about restoring it in 1658.  It's time for her to start again!  In the distance, it looked quite splendid albeit ruined.  Unfortunately, it was closed midweek until Easter so we were unable to make a detailed investigation.

Brougham Castle

At this point we met a large group led by a young lady.  Engaging them in conversation, it transpired that they were injured firefighters and that there was a rehabilitation centre for them at Eamont Bridge.  They were on a "return to fitness" walk.


Fitness for firefighters

Brougham Hall was a total surprise.  I had expected a large, albeit historic, private house open to the public as a commercial venture.  It is variously described as "The Windsor of the North" and the "Playground of Princes".  It was a regular stopping over place for Princes and Kings, up to and including Edward VII.  It was also the place where Churchill met Roosevelt for a secret meeting during World War II and where some highly confidential military development had been taking place.

A further surprise was that until 1237 the land here was on the border with Scotland.

Brougham Hall

What was a total surprise was that this obviously fine building dating from the 14th century had, in the forty years following that meeting, dilapidated to such an extent that there had been a planning application to tear it down and build houses on the site.


Inside Brougham Hall Grounds

Fortunately a more enlightened view prevailed and the hall is very slowly being restored but our impression was that it needed more than a few well intended volunteers to make a go of the massive amount of work this historic site needs.

We had lunch in the structure shown below right which carries a plaque dedicated to:

The memory of the Officers and Men who served at Brougham Hall
between July 1942 and June 1944 on the development
of the then top secret canal defence light tank project in World War II.

The main entrance

The secret tank plaque

There is so much to see here, a lot of it still derelict but with many descriptive notices. Well worth a visit.  Entrance is free but a donation is requested.

Comitibus : Brougham Hall


Hall door knocker

The main entrance

Adjacent to the Hall is a small chapel, the Church of St Wilfred, but sadly it was closed. We were told that it belonged to an obscure Anglican sect and, despite requirements to make it more accessible, they only opened it to the public for 15 hours per year.  If, as we were told, it had not been opened for six months or so, it must be dilapidating fast which is a great shame.  Lady Anne pulled down the previous chapel and built this one in 1659. Soon it will need a modern day Lady Anne, if she exists.

Below the Hall is a field where the last pitched battle took place on English soil,  Often referred to as the battle of Clifton Moor, the two sides- those of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland, lined up to commence hostilities.

Our historical journey next went back some three thousand years.  Tony was aware of "King Arthur's Round Table"- a huge circular "henge" just outside Eamont Bridge but had never previously examined it.  It is half of a large double structure, the other part of which has disappeared under road and buildings.

King Arthur's Round Table

The Millennium  Stone

The Mayburgh Henge centre stone

Not far away, past the large Millennium Stone, is another an even older structure- the Mayburgh Henge, a large mounded circle with a central stone.  For some strange reason, Tony wanted us to hold hands and hug the stone to commune with mother nature.  As there were only two us, circling the stone was a bit of a problem.  I think he just wanted to hold my hand as a second best to Lady Anne.

Mayburgh Henge

By now, we were almost historied out (as I am sure you are, dear reader) so strolled back into Penrith, wondering how we might kill the couple of hours before the train arrived.

A visit to the parish church, St Andrew's, helped considerably.  

Yes, I know it's even more history but it is an interesting building with its two tiers of seating (although you are not allowed upstairs).

St Andrew's Church interior

Outside St Andrew's

Round the back was where Tony began to lead me astray,.  After a brief flirtation with The George, which was very old but far too smart for us, we went into a small old pub, The Woolpack, which would have been very pleasant had it not been for the two televisions blaring away different channels to the interest of nobody (there only being us, the barmaid and her friend there).  

Why must they do that?

It's bonkers.

Next was the Duke of Gloucester, possibly the oldest pub in Penrith, which had been recently renovated as far as possible given that, being a listed building, they were not allowed to do anything with the internal structure. A good thing as it retained its old appearance and character.  Plus a friendly, if slightly over-polite, barmaid.

The Duke of Gloucester

Not quite the Duke and Duchess

Time was getting tight so we moved closer to the station but not before we downed a swifty in The Agricultural Hotel.  On the train, we engaged in conversation with the adjacent couple.  We explained what we had been doing.  The man was fascinated.  It turned out that his surname was Clifford but he knew nothing about Lady Anne so I gave him my brochure.  What he did know was how to holiday.  He told us of the many exotic place they had visited and today they were off to the Cabo Verde islands off the coast of Africa. When he got older, he kindly said, he would like to explore the Lake District.

When these two old men arrived at the Station which, for those who do not know the area, is at Oxenholme, just outside Kendal, Tony phoned for his chauffeuse, Pat, to come and pick us up.

Sorry for any misunderstanding but I thought you would by now realise that the Station is a licensed premise quite close to the railway station and we just had time for another pint before he made the call!

The day had been a rather different experience to a normal BOOTboy outing- perhaps a forerunner of that to which we might have to become accustomed as limbs and other body parts refuse to perform sufficiently adequately to take us up the hills!

When she arrived to drive us home, I was able to reassure Pat that, despite his infatuation with Lady Anne, Tony was returning home with his virtue intact; a fact that I am sure would remain equally true had she (Lady Anne, that is) been born 300 years later!

Don, 21st March 2012

Eamont Bridge doors


The Great Picture

One day, we may follow more of the Lady Anne Clifford trail but meanwhile there is a remarkable tribute to her life to be seen in Kendal.

In the Abbot Hall art gallery hangs a triptych, known as The Great Picture which shows three phases of Lady Anne's life. Painted in 1646, probably by Jan van Belcamp, it hung for years at Appleby Castle but after the building fell into hands that are thought by some to be unsympathetic to the heritage, the painting was moved to the Abbot Hall in Kendal. For too long, the central part then lay unseen in the storage warehouse as it was too big to be brought into the building.  Thankfully, a  large window was temporarily removed, enabling the panel to be reunited with its side pieces and, for some of us, is now one of the main attractions in the gallery.

The Lady Anne Clifford Triptych

There is a wealth of detail in the picture referring to many aspects of her life.  For further information about the painting and her life, see The Great Picture.

There is also a detailed chapter dedicated to her life in Clement Jones' 1948 book:
A Tour in Westmorland.


Broom or Brock?

Hiow would you pronounce Brougham?

Brockham?  Bruffam? Brigham?  Or Broom?

Locally, Brougham is pronounced "broom".  

But its origin is the Roman word BROCAVUM meaning "the place of the badgers".  

And what is a common name for a badger?  Brock, of course.

So presumably once up on a time it was pronounced Brockham and over the centuries became abbreviated to Broom.


Light thrown on (and by) the Tank

It shows my ignorance.  I assumed that the refernce to canal defence light tank was to a an armoured vehicle that did not weigh very much!

John L, hoewever, was more enlightened and referred the Brougham Hall plaque which commemorated "the then top secret canal defence light tank project". to a former colleague of ours, the remarkable Dr Phil Judkins, amongst whose many talents is an expert knowledge of World War II technologies.

Phil responded:

Monty's Moonlight, as it was termed, arose from the use of powerful tank-mounted searchlights with the beams reflected off low cloud or mist (pretty common around rivers) to give the attackers a kind of moonlight in which to cross rivers; most famously, they were used in the crossing of the Rhine. Generally older tanks like Matildas etc were used to mount these lights, and one survives at the Tank Museum, Bovington.

A Canal Defence Light Tank

Lowther castle iilluminated by Light Tanks

There is quite a bit of info if you Google "CDL tank" as the search term. I came across the notice [about the CDL tank] when I was excavating a Roman graveyard near Brougham in the late 1960s, which stimulated me then to find out the above - but no Google then!

John then added from hias research:

There seems to be opposite views as to whether this 'funny' was a war winning device or a complete flop

It was nt just an indirect source of light  but also a weapon in its own right - although as it was classed as highly secret; the military commanders didn't know about it, so never used it

Lowther Castle was also used in this experiment.  Allegedly about £20m spent to create the biggest concrete caravan park in UK !

To find more, see Canal Defence Light and a for rather fuller account, refer to:
The CDL tanks at Lowther Castle




Wednesday 21st March 2012

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:


Wainwrights :


Other Features:

Brougham Castle, Brougham Hall
King Arthur's Round Table, Mayburgh Henge Penrith


Don, Tony



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