Vol 2 – No. 19 – September, 1888 – The Lambton Worm & The Pensher Hill Monument

Pensher Monument

THE SIN.

It was the holy Sabbath, and — as some have told — Easter Day, the high Sabbath of the Christian year. The matin-bell was clanging in the old chapel by the Wear, where Lambtons, sire and son, for many a year had made their solemn vows. Here and there throughout the woodland all about troops of maidens with downcast eyes, or sprightly children, and sober matrons, and stout yeomen dressed in homespun, were seen wending their way to keep the feast of the resurrection with sacrament and psalm. The squire, leading his goodly dame, and his household gravely following, bent his steps to the sacred shrine. All his strong sons and daughters fair were in the train — all save one, and that, not then but afterwards, the heir of all his ancient lands and name. John was the spoiled laddie of the house, wayward and wild; nor recked he of good or evil, could he but come at all he wished. Vainly rang the bell for him, and the sweet strains of worship had no charm for him. He loved not to kneel in prayer, or to join in pious chant. Better far did he love the bright free air of the beauteous spring time, with the song of merry birds and the plash of leaping waters. And so when others passed to prayer he took his gay strong rod, and, sauntering down the rich green banks of the Wear, set himself down to fish. Long he sat and sore fretted that no silly trout would take his clever bait. Ill could he brook that he, forsooth, should toil and watch for nought; so it came at last that he cursed his luck, and cursed the fish, and cursed silvery water that yielded him no sport. Oaths were a bait that could not wholly fail. Did not the old wives tell him that “curses, like chickens, would come home to roost”? Perchance his would come again; he cared not so that none should mock him for his folly on the holy day. Once again he threw the line, when, lo! there was a tug, a strain, a catch. And such a catch! It pulled so hard he thought it was a salmon, or a bigger prize. But when it reached the water’s top, ah me! it was a little ugly worm — an eft, a thing of slime, and fearsome to look upon, with gaping mouth, and nine little months on each side its head besides. Wrenching it from his hook, the angry John flung it from him far away, and it alighted in the silent waters of a well on the river banks. To him came a stranger, old and worshipful, who bade him good morrow, and asked him what sport. To the which greeting John roughly answered, “I think I’ve catched the devil” — and so he had, though he believed not what he idly said. The aged stranger looked into the dear, bright waters of the well, and there espied the filthy newt, which seeing, he devoutly crossed himself and sighed for the woes the fish-fiend would surely bring upon the home and lands of Lambton.

THE CURSE.

The evil worm throve fast in the clear sweet water of the well, and it soon outgrew the bounds of its watery cradle, nor could its huge maw be staid with fluttering midge and lowly moss. It grew and grew most wondrously, and sought another resting place and other food. In the centre of the river was a peeping rook, grassy and moist. Thither by day the elfish worm would come, and, coiling itself round and round, basking in the sun, slumber to the music of the prattling stream. By nightfall it would wend its way to Pensher Hill, coiling its long length around until it circled the hill’s wide base. But, spirit of evil as it was, the night was its hour of going forth to seek its prey. And, ever as it grew, it roamed further afield to stay its hunger; and as it fed it grew in length and bulk, until there seemed no end to its devouring or its size. It drained the cows of their milky treasure, and worried the lambs in their play, seizing them, rending them, and crushing their tender bones in its now gigantic jaws. When it had laid desolate all the region on one bank of the river, it passed over to the other side, and made its way, eating all things as it went, towards Lambton Hall, where the old squire sat sullen and sad in the gloaming of his age, sorrowing for his four dead sons, but most of all for the living one who ere this had gone to the wars. Great was the terror of the squire’s household when the scaly dragon was seen making for the hall. The old steward gave counsels of peace, and at his bidding the great trough in the courtyard was filled with sweet new milk. The grim worm drew near to the trough, and shortly drained it to the last drop; thus his hunger and rage were soothed, and he crawled back to his rocky lair in the bed of the river. Sure as the morning was his return day by day; and if perchance there was shortness of milk the trough would hold the yield of nine cows he would suddenly rage with great fury, lashing his vast tail round tall trees, and tearing them up by the roots. Far and wide the bruit of the cursed worm went out, and many a gallant knight sought Lambton Hall, girt with right trusty lance or sword, bravely mounted and armed from head to foot; but the strong worm wound round and round the knights as erst around the trees, and crushed both horse and rider in its folds; or, if some true cut severed the loathsome carcass, the pieces came together quickly, and the worm was as before. Sadness and weeping were in Lambton Hall. All the land lay blighted, and the stricken folks could only groan and tell their beads, awaiting Heaven’s good will.

THE PENITENT’S RETURN.

It must be told that he who had brought this evil to pass had laid to heart his devious ways, and had gone to fight the Saracen in the Holy Land. Seven long years he wandered and fought, and then turned his footsteps hastening homeward. What woe is this. ‘Twere meet that the heir’s returning should be the beginning of gladness for those who had mourned him absent. Death had spared the old man only this one of his many sons: why then comes he not forth to welcome, as of old the father came to meet the trembling prodigal? Alas! grief upon grief had well-nigh wasted the last drop of oil in the old man’s lamp of life. Yet a father’s love was hidden beneath the ashes of a smitten heart, and knightly John was lovingly embraced. Strange tidings had that woeful sire to tell his son; and the son, learning of the fate so often dared and suffered by the knights who had so bravely sought to slay the impish worm, warily, as became a well-trained warrior, pondered the greatness of the peril — not that he shrank, but that he would win deliverance to his father’s house, and solace to his own most troubled heart, albeit he died in winning it. He had brought this curse on all he loved, and it was no meet atonement that he should simply die, and so add grief to the grief he fain would heal.

THE WITCH.

Now there dwelt in a lonely hut an aged wife, wrinkled and yellow, with matted locks and piercing eyes, and rugged, screaming voice. Her commune was with the dead and the lost, and the outer darkness whence come pestilence, devilry, despair, and death to the children of men. To her the troubled chieftain went, that he might know the dreadful truth of all this mischief, and perhaps also how the ill should be undone. The witch was crooning over her smouldering fire of stolen wood, humming the mystic chants of her darksome craft, as she dozed above the dying embers. Brave John had come to learn the worst and best, if any best there was, or worse than had been yet. The haggard wife lifted upon him her piercing eyes, and in hot breath as of the nether pit reproached him as the cause of all this death and grief. But when she read his true heart in the tear-dimmed eyes, and knew that he was ready to do all man might do in such a strait, she bade him tell the castle armourer to stud his coat of mail with spear heads, sharp-edged as well as pointed, that so the brute, enwinding itself about him, should, the more it pressed, the more hurt itself and waste its strength. Moreover she named the dreadful price of victory. He must vow to Heaven that the first living thing he met on his return from the encounter should be by him slain in sacrifice of thanks, for that, if he failed, the nine mouths of the dragon must needs be stopped, and so nine Lambtons, sire and son, should die by shock of accident or battle.

THE COMBAT.

By prayer and fasting, making his peace with Heaven, and donning his spear-studded suit of mail, brave John made ready for the fight; then sought his father’s benison. Then thought he of his vow, and, fearing much how it might be, he bade his father listen till he heard his bugle blast, then slip his favourite hound, that this, his faithful friend in life, might be the first of living things to meet the victor in the strife, and so become his victim for the vow. Then forth he went about the time the monster was on his way to gorge himself at the courtyard trough. Not long was the knight in espying the huge beast rolling over the mead in hungry haste; but what a monster, and how small the ugly eft he once had likened to the devil!  This wax the devil in good sooth —

Between his head and his tayle

Was xxii fote withouten fayle;

His body was liken a wine tonne.

He shone full bright agenst the sunne.

His eyes were bright as any glasse,

His scales were hard as any brasse.

The knight lifted his soul in prayer, then rushed upon the dragon, might and main, as he paused on the river bank. Fiercely he struck and smote, now here, now there, but naught availed. The serpent rose, and, seizing hold, wrapped the strong heir of Lambton in its deadly coils. Then was the witch’s wisdom seen. The more the serpent pressed, the more it cut those hard scales no sword in mortal hand could more than dint. Its pain fed its fury, and it clutched so hard that the razor like spears cut it in many a piece, and the severed masses floating down the blood-stained stream, were never seen or heard of more.

THE FATAL VOW.

The combat over, the victor dashed the throbbing head and loathsome tayle of the worm’s corse from off his path, and, hasting homewards, blew a blast upon his horn so loud and joyous, that the woods were filled with far resounding music. The father, waiting that welcome signal, forgot his part, and, leaving his hound in leash, himself ran forth to meet his victor boy. Not joy, but tears and heavy groans, returned the father’s greeting. Amazement and great sorrow seized upon the gallant warrior in the triumphal hour; for his vow, that dreadful vow, was falling like mist of death between the father and the son. And yet this dear old father must not, shall not die. What said the witch-wife with her shrill, screaming voice? That if the heir of Lambton failed him of his vow, nine heirs of Lambton, one for every one of those false mouths upon the dragon’s head, should die by force. Good, so let it be. This aged lord has borne the brunt of all these ills; spare him, just Heaven, and let nine heirs of Lambton pay the vow, in painful deaths away from couch and loving hands to tend them. Heaven heard and registered the vow. The eager hound was slipped from the thongs that held him; and on he rushed to the well-known bugle call, and when he reached his noble master’s feet, the hand that should have stroked his silken head drew forth a dagger and stabbed him to the heart. Alack-a-day, this too late offering served not to stave away the dreary fate from nine succeeding Lambton lords. Some in battle, others in hunting, each by some ill chance, met death, until the vow was redeemed, as Henry Lambton, member for the City of Durham, died in his carriage, on June 26, 1761, when crossing the new bridge in Lambton Park.

THE PENSHER HILL MONUMENT.

The foundation stone of the monument that adorns the hill around which the Lambton Worm is traditionally said to have coiled itself, was laid on Wednesday, August 28th, 1844, by Thomas, Earl of Zetland, Grand Master of the Free and Accepted Masons of England. The monument was erected to the memory of John George Lambton, Earl of Durham, who died at Cowes on the 28th of July, 1840, for “the distinguished services he rendered to his country, as an honest, able, and patriotic statesman, and as the enlightened and liberal friend to the improvement of the people in morals, education, and scientific acquirements.” Pensher Hill was chosen as the site, owing to its having been for many years connected with the property of the Lambton family. It was estimated at the time that no fewer than 30,000 persons congregated at Pensher to witness the ceremony of laying the foundation stone. The following inscription, which was placed on the lower stone, was tastefully engraved on a brass plate: —

This stone was laid by

Thomas, Earl of Zetland

Grand Master of the Free and Accepted Masons of

England, assisted by

The Brethren of the Provinces of Durham and North-

umberland, on the 28th of August, 1844,

Being the Foundation Stone of a Memorial to be erected

To the Memory of

John George, Earl of Durham,

who,

After representing the County of Durham in Parliament

For fifteen years,

Was raised to the Peerage,

And subsequently held the offices of

Lord Privy Seal, Ambassador Extraordinary and

Minister at the Court of St. Petersburgh, and

Govenor-General of Canada.

He died on the 28th of July, 1840, in the 49th year

of his age.

This Monument will be erected

By the private subscriptions of his fellow-countrymen.

Admirers of his distinguished talents

and Exemplary private Virtues.

John and Benjamin Green, Architects.  

The design of the monument is copied from the Temple of Theseus. The dimensions, however, are exactly double those of the original. Thus, the columns of the Temple of Theseus are 3 ft. 3 in. in diameter, while those of the Durham Memorial are 6 ft. 6 in. The total length of the structure is 100 ft., the width 53 ft., and the height from the ground 70 ft. at one end, and 62 ft. at the other. There are eighteen columns — four at each end, and seven at the flanks or sides, counting two of the end ones on each flank. The monument occupies so commanding and conspicuous a position that it can be seen from almost all parts of the district between the lower reaches of the Tyne and the Wear.

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Vol 4 – No. 39 – May, 1890 – The Elopement of John Scott and Bessie Surtees

Engraving based on the Oil Paining by Wilson Hepple
Engraving based on the Oil Paining by Wilson Hepple

Mr. WILSON HEPPLE showed at the late Bewick Club Exhibition in Newcastle a large oil painting, in which he undertook to represent on canvas one of the most romantic incidents connected with the history of Newcastle the elopement of John Scott and Bessie Surtees.

Full details of the affair are recorded in the Monthly Chronicle for June, 1888; but it may be briefly explained that Bessie Surtees was the daughter of Aubone Surtees, banker, Sandhill, Newcastle, and that John Scott was the son of William Scott, a respectable merchant and coalfitter, also of Newcastle. The young pair had become acquainted at Sedgefield, and the acquaintance ripened into friendship and love. Thus we arrive at that stage when the fair heroine, “in a moment of terrible indiscretion,” as one of the historians of Newcastle puts it, consented to leave her father’s house and join her fortunes with those of the merchant’s son. For a while the young couple had a hard struggle; but John Scott in no long time carved out his own fortunes. At first he studied for the Church, but his marriage debarred him from taking holy orders: so he turned his attention to the law. After distinguishing himself in several minor cases, he became in succession a King’s Counsel, a member of Parliament, Solicitor General, Attorney-General, Lord Chief Justice of Common Pleas, Baron Eldon, Lord High Chancellor, and Earl of Eldon.

Bessie Surtees House

Mr. Hepple has painted many North-Country subjects, but it may be doubted whether he has ever produced a work of so much interest as that which is engraved on the next page. The old-fashioned houses loom up in mysterious bulk; the moonlight effect is rendered with rare charm; and the general conception is excellent. In the foreground we have the lovers hurrying to the coach which is to carry them on their midnight journey. The ladder placed against the casement is sufficiently eloquent of its purpose. Scott’s willing helper, Wilkinson, the apprentice of Snow Clayton, a tradesman who occupied the premises below those of Surtees, is seen in an excited attitude, and evidently warning the lovers that caution is necessary. But even without the figures, the picture would have been a great achievement as a Newcastle street scene by night.

The artist claims that his picture is historically correct. He has studied many old woodcuts and engravings of houses that have been removed, and has consulted all the local records, including the Monthly Chronicle. Indeed, it was while reading the account of the famous elopement in this magazine that the idea struck him that it might be possible to realise it by the aid of the brush.

Vol 5 – No. 56 – October 1891 – Whitburn Village

 Whitburn Village

Whitburn Church

Many pleasant and interesting communities are to be found on our rocky North-East Coast; but few, if any, surpass the peaceful little village of Whitburn, situated between South Shields and Sunderland.

Whitburn might be said to have a double claim on the attention of the wayfarer who may pay it a visit. Its position on the coast renders it a desirable retreat for a summer holiday, while the village itself has an air of delightful rusticity about it which cannot fail to fascinate and charm. As we approach the east end of the village, the sobbing of the waves is heard as they beat against the rocks, licking the sandy beach in their course, while the marine prospect which greets the eye is of course of an attractive nature. The west end of the village presents a widely different aspect. No glimpse of the sea is to be had here, and its murmuring is inaudible to the ear. The eye alights, instead, upon a scene of real rural beauty. The whole neighbourhood is flooded with the melodies of

The meadow-lark and all the throng

That dwell in nests and have the gift of song.

It is this rather unusual combination of attractions the arcadian and the marine that constitutes Whitburn’s greatest charm.

Our view of Whitburn shows the quaintest and most interesting part of the village. The artist’s coign of vantage is in close proximity to the end of the road leading into Whitburn from South Shields and Cleadon. Some of the dwellings are white-washed structures, with an air of cleanliness about them which greatly adds to their quaint and interesting appearance. The fronts of the larger houses are covered with ivy, and here and there the view is made prettier by the presence of trees towering in many cases far above the eaves of the dwellings. But what makes this part of Whitburn specially fascinating to lovers of the picturesque are the uncommonly large strips of green on either side of the main road through the village. Indeed, what with grass and trees, the village in the leafy period presents quite an arcadian appearance. As we walk towards the east and more modern part of the village, the large residences on the left, with their fronts of artistic wood-work, and the trim, sloping lawn skirted with a line of stately trees, form a very pretty picture indeed.

Having taken our fill of the many attractions which a ramble through the village street affords, we proceed down the shady lane leading to the church. Whitburn Church is an old Gothic edifice, consisting of a nave and two regular aisles, each being formed by four round pillars. The chancel is separated from the nave by a wide pointed arch. The sacred structure, embosomed as it is in trees and shrubs, presents a truly neat appearance; and, as has been said respecting it, however the antiquary may deplore the raftered roof and the dim mullioned windows, it must be allowed that Whitburn is the the exemplar nitidiss of a comfortable parish church. The churchyard, though not by any means large, is as neat in appearance as the church itself. The graves are well tended, many being covered with flowers of every hue and description. Several of the ancestors of Sir Hedworth Williamson, formerly member of Parliament for North Durham, are buried in Whitburn churchyard.

In 1675 Whitburn rectory was enlarged and new fronted by Dr. Musgrave (“with £140 dilapidations received from his predecessor Speed”). The new rooms were added to the east of the late rectory in 1770 by Dr. Pye at an expense of £400. The same gentleman repaired the houses, barns, and offices. He took no money from his predecessor for dilapidation, however, excepting, as the historian says, “£5 worth of fixtures.” In 1816 the rectory was demolished, and in its place was erected a new parsonage built of freestone.

One of the rectors of Whitburn parish was the Rev. Thomas Triplet, M.A., who ministered from 1631 to 1662. During the Rebellion, he was ejected; but, after the Restoration, he was made prebendary of Westminster and D.D. He bequeathed £300 to the parishes of Woodhorn, Washington, and Whitburn, the interest of which sum he directed to be equally divided every year for the purpose of binding poor children apprentices.

Leaving the church, we make towards the little hamlet on the beach, known as The Bents; but not before we have had a peep at Whitburn Hall, the seat of Sir Hedworth Williamson. The Whitburn Cricket Club is indebted to Sir Hedworth for their ground, which is in juxtaposition to the hall. And splendid ground it is for cricketing purposes. The large stretch of sward is well rolled, and the trees and shrubs almost surrounding it render the place pleasing to the eye. Though Whitburn is known to be a fishing village, its palmy days are apparently almost over. At one time, so a fisherman at The Bents told us, the village possessed fourteen fishing boats; now, however, there are only about five; and whereas about forty-six persons earned their living by fishing in former years, the number at present so employed may be estimated at little over twenty.

The fine stretch of sandy beach extending from The Bents to Roker, is undoubtedly one of Whitburn’s principal attractions. Though the road leading to it is a little removed from the village proper, it is, as a matter of course, much frequented by visitors. Standing on the sward, a little to the south of The Bents, where the fishermen dry their nets, we note that the marine prospect is especially fine. The line of rocks away out to sea is known as Whitburn Steel once the scene of many shipwrecks. These were in some instances supposed to be caused by false lights which put vessels out of their course. Though strenuous efforts were made to solve the mystery surrounding the allegation, it remains a mystery to this day. But so numerous were the disasters that happened at the Steel that it was deemed absolutely necessary to replace the old lighthouse at Whitburn by the greatly improved lighthouse at Souter Point, which was accordingly erected in 1871. One of the present keepers of the lighthouse Mr. Robert Darling, formerly of the Coquet Island lighthouse is a nephew of the famous Grace Darling, and has occupied the position for eighteen years.

In November, 1822, part of a submarine forest was discovered about a mile to the south of Whitburn. On the removal of the sand one hundred yards seaward from high water mark, the stems of seven trees were brought to light. The largest of them is described as having been about six feet in diameter, and all were clearly in the situation in which they had grown. There was also a great quantity of vegetable matter leaves, nuts, and broken branches around the trees, and immediately below them a light blue clayey soil. From this discovery it would appear as if at some remote period what is now a sea beach was covered with vegetation.

Vol 5 – No.47 – January, 1891 – Sunderland Town Hall

Sunderland Town HallFew towns even in the North of England have made greater strides of late years than the important town at the mouth of the Wear. Its population has increased by leaps and bounds; its residential suburbs have grown in beauty year by year; and its public buildings have kept pace with the march of improvement and prosperity. The latest addition to the architectural attractions of Sunderland is the new Town Hall. This edifice, erected at a cost of about 50,000 from designs by Mr. Brightwen Binyon, of Ipswich, was opened with much ceremony on Nov. 6, 1890. The style of architecture is described as Italian renaissance. It will be seen from the accompanying engraving that the new building is really a handsome pile.

Vol 3 – No. 24 – February 1889 – Charles Dickens in the North

It is now more than eighteen years since Charles Dickens, “the most popular novelist of the century, and one of the greatest humourists that England has produced” passed away, amidst the deep sorrow and regret of the whole English nation, and indeed of almost every civilized people. Turning over the leaves of Forster’s life of the great writer the other day, I was struck with his evident liking for Newcastle and Newcastle people. That this liking was genuine, and not assumed to please his friend Forster, seems plain enough, for he gives many good reasons why he was so fond of North Country men.

But first a word about Dickens’s birthplace, and the house in which he died at Gad’s Hill. The great novelist was born in the end house at Mile End Terrace (a short terrace of six houses) in Commercial Road, Landport, Portsmouth. Curiously enough, the house was owned and occupied by a Newcastle gentleman, as he himself lately stated in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, for about fifteen years. It is now in the same state, and has the same appearance, as when Dickens first saw the light within its walls. Gad’s Hill Place, where Dickens died suddenly on the 9th of June, 1870, is famous also for its association with the exploits of Shakspeare’s Sir John Falstaff. Indeed, there is an inn near it bearing the name of the redoubtable knight. It was at this inn that a waiter lamented the death of Charles Dickens because “he used to have all his beer there.” The dining-room of Gad’s Hill Place is depicted in Fildes’s celebrated picture, “The Empty Chair.” Here it was that Dickens died. Seized with a fit during dinner, he was laid on a couch in a corner of the room, and never rose more.

The first time Charles Dickens visited Newcastle was at the end of August, 1852. Some little while before that it was proposed that a series of amateur dramatic performances should be given by the most eminent authors and artists in behalf of the “Guild of Literature and Art,” which had just been established for the benefit of poor members of those crafts who had been overtaken by sickness, old age, or misfortune. Sir Bulwer Lytton had written a comedy “Not so Bad as we Seem” for the amateurs, and this was first played at Devonshire House, her Majesty and the Prince Consort being present. Amongst the actors were Mark Lemon, John Forster, Wilkie Collins, Douglas Jerrold, Charles Knight, John Tenniel, Augustus Egg, &c. Stanfield, Maclise, Grieve, Telbin, and other eminent artists painted the scenery, and the distinguished company the most remarkable company of actors that ever “starred” through the provinces set out on their tour through the large provincial towns. Everywhere the enterprise was a big success. Whether the room was large or small they did not perform in a licensed theatre it was always packed from floor to ceiling.

Before the company arrived at Newcastle, John Forster had to return to London on some important business or other. This was a disappointment, and so was the absence of Douglas Jerrold, who, from some cause which I cannot make out, did not appear in Newcastle. The comedy was performed in the Assembly Rooms on the 27th August, 1852. “Into the room,” writes Dickens, “where Lord Carlisle was, by-the bye, they squeezed 600 people at 12s. 6d. into a space reasonably capable of holding 300.” Of the performance as a whole, the Newcastle Chronicle has a well-written criticism. After lamenting the absence of Forster and Jerrold, that paper goes on to say : “The play itself is loosely hung together, the plot is insufficient and meagre, and does not furnish adequate motives for the development of the conclusion; but with the aid of fine music, costly costumes, magnificent scenery, and really respectable acting, it went off exceedingly well, and was most enthusiastically applauded.” The Chronicle speaks very highly of the acting of Charles Dickens, especially in the farce, where, along with Mark Lemon, he kept the audience in a continual roar of laughter. The farce, I believe, was a new one, entitled “Mr. Nightingale’s Diary,” and was played for the first time at Newcastle. An unfortunate accident had occurred at the Central Station on the arrival of the company, a pair of runaway horses upsetting one of the vans containing the scenery, every atom of which was turned over. By good luck, however, there was no damage done.

The Guild of Literature and Art Company were at Sunderland, August 28, the night after the Newcastle performance. Writing from the Wear borough to Forster, Dickens says : “Last night, in a hall built like a theatre, with pit, boxes, and gallery, we had about 1,200 people I dare say more. They began with a round of applause when Coote’s white waistcoat appeared in the orchestra, and wound up the farce with three deafening cheers. I never saw such good fellows. Stanny (Stanfield) is their fellow-townsman, was born here, and they applauded his scenes as if it was himself.” Dickens had walked from Newcastle to Sunderland that morning.  The hall engaged by the amateurs at Sunderland was a perfectly new one, having, in fact, had the slates put on only overnight. As Dickens was manager of the company, and responsible for everything before and behind the curtain, his anxiety and “worrit” lest the place should prove unsafe, and an accident should happen to the immense audience assembled within its walls, nearly made him ill, and all but caused him to stop the performance. But Dickens always got fun out of the most serious difficulties, and we cannot help smiling at his own description of his dilemma, “I asked W..” he says, “what he thought, and he consolingly observed that his digestion was so bad that death had no terrors for him!” “The only comfort I had,” he continued, “was in stumbling at length on the builder, and finding him a plain, practical North Country man, with a foot rule in his pocket. I took him aside, and asked him should we, or could we, prop up any weak part of the place. He told me there wasn’t a stronger building in the world; that they had opened it on Thursday night to thousands of the working people, and induced them to sing and make every possible trial of the vibration.” This somewhat pacified Dickens; the performance took place, and, as we have seen, was a great success.

Mr. Dickens’s earliest public readings were given at Birmingham on behalf of a new literary institute there, and his services were of course gratuitous. This was in the middle of December, 1853. Although he insisted that a number of seats should be reserved for working men at threepence each, the institution was benefited by these readings to the extent of between 400 and 500. In the following year, for a similar purpose, he read at Bradford in a carpenter’s shop, with equally satisfactory results, the price of admission being 5s., though he again stipulated that a number of threepenny seats should be reserved for workmen. The natural result of Dickens’s kindness was to overwhelm him with applications from all parts of the kingdom to read (without pay, we may be sure) for all sorts of institutions and objects, which in self-defence he was obliged to decline. From the great interest taken in his readings, however, and the enthusiasm with which they were always received, he conceived the idea of paid readings for the benefit of Charles Dickens himself. It was not till after much doubt and hesitation that he came to this resolution; indeed, it took him years of anxious thought before he finally decided. In April, 1858, however, he began with a series of sixteen readings in London, and in August of the same year he took his first provincial tour.

He visited Newcastle in its turn on the 24th and 25th September, 1859, and gave three readings in the Town Hall. The first evening he read his “Christmas Carol”. On the following afternoon he read “Little Dombey,” and the “Trial” from “Pickwick”; and at night, the “Poor Traveller,” “Boots at the Holly Tree,” and “Mrs. Gamp.” I was present at the first reading, when the room was full, but by no means crowded. Dickens did not read from the orchestra platform, but from his own table, constructed for the purpose, which was placed on the floor at the organ end of the hall. Afterwards he expressed himself as being much pleased with his visit, both as regards the audience and the hearty way in which he was received.

In 1861 Dickens was again in Newcastle, and gave three readings in the Music Hall, Nelson Street, on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd November, “before an audience (said the Daily Chronicle) which any author, however distinguished, might feel proud to appear.” The people were packed as close almost as apples in a barrel, and the hall, which had just been enlarged and decorated, looked brilliant, fully one half of the audience being gaily dressed ladies. The readings were from “David Copperfield,” “Nicholas Nickleby,” “Little Dombey,” and the “Trial” from “Pickwick.” I cannot forbear quoting Dickens’s opinion of a Newcastle audience, which he gives in a letter to Forster : “At Newcastle, against the very heavy expenses, I made more than a hundred guineas profit. A finer audience there is not in England, and I suppose them to be a specially earnest people; for, while they can laugh till they shake the roof, they have a very unusual sympathy with what is pathetic or passionate.”

Bravo! Charles Dickens. I was myself present on the “Dombey” night, and could not help remarking how deeply affected the late Mr. Lockey Harle seemed to be when the reader came to the death of little Paul. He could not conceal his emotion, and indeed made no effort to do so. He was affected in quite another fashion however, when the “Trial” from “Pickwick” came to be read. No schoolboy at a pantomime could laugh more heartily at the eccentricities of clown or the mishaps of pantaloon than did Mr. Harle at the rich humour of the trial scene, and his merriment at times rose to a perfect shout at the turgid eloquence of Serjeant Buzfuz.

An accident, which might have been very serious, occurred on the second night, an account of which Dickens wrote, not only to Forster, but to his friends at home. I will give his own words : “An extraordinary thing occurred on the second night. The room was tremendously crowded, and my gas apparatus fell down. There was a terrible wave among the people for an instant, and God knows what destruction of life a rush to the stairs would have caused. Fortunately a lady in the front of the stalls ran out towards me, exactly in a place where I knew that the whole hall could see her. So I addressed her, laughing, and half asked and half ordered her to sit down again; and in a moment it was all over. It took five minutes to mend, and I looked on with my hands in my pockets.”

Early in March, 1867, Dickens was once more in Newcastle, and gave three readings in the Music Hall, which was again densely crowded. Writing to his friend Forster, he pays another high compliment to Newcastle people, which I think is worth giving: “The readings have made an universal effect in this place, and it is remarkable that, although the people are individually rough, collectively they are an unusually tender and sympathetic audience; while their comic perception is quite up to the high London standard.”

As far as I can discover, this was Charles Dickens’s fourth and last visit to Newcastle, and as I have only undertaken to give a brief account of his visits to the North of England, his future career, however interesting, has no place here. Everybody knows now that, although these readings were a splendid success, they undoubtedly shortened the life of the great novelist. There has been nothing like them, as regards their financial results, either before or since. Including America, the readings yielded him, in two years, the magnificent sum of thirty thousand pounds; but the earning of that large sum of money cost us the life of the most genial and popular writer that England has yet seen, or in all probability ever will see.

W. W. W.

Vol 4 – No. 43, September, 1890 – The Town and Port of Sunderland

Sunderland, a port of great renown, and amongst the Registrar General’s twenty largest towns, is, after all, if we are to speak strictly, one of the least of places. It covers no more than 219½ acres. Almost the whole of the great town popularly known as Sunderland is really Bishopwearmouth; but the municipal borough also includes the townships of Monkwearmouth and Monkwearmouth Shore, whilst the parliamentary boundary takes in the township of Southwick. To all this Sunderland proper bears but a very small proportion. Without seeking to be minutely accurate, it may suffice to say that the river Wear on the north, Sans Street and Numbers Garth on the west, Coronation Street and Adelaide Place on the south, and the sea on the east, are the boundaries of the ancient township of Sunderland. If it were possible to “beat the boundaries” which it is not, since they pass through many private houses and other inaccessible places the whole circuit could be traversed in a journey of about two miles. But whilst confining ourselves to the southern side of the river, we must include Bishopwearmouth in our present conception of Sunderland.

Bishopwearmouth emerges from the dim shades of antiquity in the will of King Athelstan, who died in 940. He says, “I give to St. Cuthbert (meaning thereby the bishop and monks then established at Chester-le Street), the delightful town of South Wearmouth, with its appendices, that is Weston (Westoe), Offerton, Silksworth, the two Ryhopes, Burden, Seaham, Seaton, Dalton, Dalden, and Heselden, which places the malignity of evil men long ago stole from St. Cuthbert. “That Sunderland is not mentioned in this enumeration of the appurtenances of Bishopwearmouth shows, I think, that it had then no distinct existence. Indeed, it is not till we reach the twelfth century that we meet with any certain mention of it, and possibly not by name even then. There is a Sunderland mentioned in Bishop Pudsey’s great survey the Boldon Buke, which, from a reference to a mill-dam, I am strongly disposed to identify with Sunderland-by-the-Bridge, near Croxdale. There also we may probably seek for that Sunderland wherein a woman, named Sierith, was freed from a fever which troubled her twice every day, by the good offices of the Saint of Finchale, as we are told in Reginald’s “Life and Miracles of St. Godric.” Even in the important charter granted by Pudsey, between 1163 and 1186, to the burgesses of Wearmouth, which implies in some of its grants the then existence of an important port. Sunderland is not mentioned. When, in the next century, we come to the charter of Henry III., we still find that Sunderland is not named. The earliest employment of the name Sunderland which I have met with that can with certainty be identified with the Wearside port occurs in a monetary account of the year 1311, wherein Bishop Bek’s receiver renders a statement of the sums he had received from the fee farms of the boroughs of Darlington, Auckland Gateshead, Wearmouth, Sunderland, and Stockton. In 1354 we find Bishop Hatfield leasing the borough of Sunderland, with its fisheries, to Richard de Hedworth for a period of twenty years, at an annual rent of 20s. A long series of similar leases follows.

During the civil wars of Charles I. Sunderland was a place of considerable importance. Whilst Newcastle was garrisoned by the Royalists, Sunderland was held by the Parliamentarians, whence they sallied forth to the battle of Boldon Hill. Surtees has preserved a fragment of what he calls “a genuine Sandgate ballad,” which evidently alludes to the opposing military attitudes of the great boroughs of the Tyne and Wear.

Ride through Sandgate both up and down,

There you’ll see the gallants fighting for the crown;

All the cull cuckolds in Sunderland town,

With all the bonny bluecaps, cannot pull them down.

Sunderland possesses few objects of antiquarian interest. The old church of Bishopwearmouth was almost totally destroyed in 1806, when the present edifice was built. Of the older structure the local historians tell us “the architecture was supposed to be as old as the days of Athelstan “; but such fragments as remain are not earlier than the thirteenth century, and from Hutchinson’s description it is clear that no part was much older. In the immediate vicinity of the church is a large open space, still known as “The Green.” Round this green the primitive vill of South Wearmouth gathered. The green was an indispensable feature of every village settlement; but in most cases, as the village developed into a town, this space became too valuable to be allowed to remain unoccupied. Bishopwearmouth is fortunate in still retaining this interesting remnant of its earliest times, which also, I rejoice to add, yet retains its greenness.  The parish church of Sunderland is neither an ancient nor a modern edifice. It was built in the days of Queen Anne, and is a genuine example of the church architecture of that period. It does not occupy the site of any earlier edifice, for Sunderland itself was only made a parish by Act of Parliament in 1719. It is a large brick structure, and retains almost all its original fittings, amongst which are the royal arms and those of Bishop Crewe. A more gloomy and depressing interior it would be hard to find.

The Town Moor of Sunderland must not be forgotten formerly an open green space, of about seventy acres, at the east end of the town, whereon the burgesses and stallingers had the privilege of stints, and whereon, too, at one time, annual races were held. The rights of the burgesses and stallingers were a repeated and fruitful cause of litigation. But the moor, at least so far as its stints are concerned, is now a thing of the past; and though a large part of it yet remains an open space the especial freehold of the juvenile footballers and cricketers of the neighbourhood scarcely a patch of grass is left.  Of modern Sunderland strangers are often led to form a very unfavourable impression. A guide book, which is generally considered authoritative, gives the following description: “Sunderland ranks high among British seaports, but the whole town is black and gloomy in the extreme, and the atmosphere is so filled with smoke that blue sky is seldom seen, especially in the lower part of the town, which consists for the most part of a mass of small, dingy houses, crowded together, intersected by lanes rather than streets. Dirt is the distinctive feature. Earth, air, and water are alike black and filthy.” It is needless for me to say that this account is libellous. Without claiming that Sunderland is in any sense Arcadian, or even that it is one of the most desirable places in England for residence, it is yet fair to say that sunshine penetrates its skies as frequently as it does those of most towns of its size, that some of its streets are broad, well formed, and clean, and that it has good shops, pleasant suburbs, and hundreds of excellent houses. Of other advantages I shall speak presently. Some years ago I was travelling to the North. One of the occupants of the same carriage was a Yorkshireman, whose home was in the West Riding. He was a victim of asthma. He was on his way to Sunderland, where, he told me, he had spent a few weeks in every year for many years past. The air of Sunderland did him more good, he assured me, than the air of Scarborough, Southport, or Buxton.

Upper High Street - Sunderland

Lower High Street - Sunderland

The principal street of Sunderland is the High Street, which stretches in a waved line from near the parish church of Bishopwearmouth, almost to the docks at the east end of the town a distance of more than a mile. It seems hard to realize that not more than a century ago part of this street was still a country road, bounded by green hedgerows. Hutchinson, writing about the year 1785, speaks of the ground which borders High Street being “now eagerly sought after by persons of opulence and trade, who have arranged handsome villas on each side of the road, so that in a few years the buildings of these places will meet.” Where are those handsome villas now? Two of our engravings are views in High Street. One of these, “Upper High Street,” shows the best and busiest part of the thoroughfare. The spectator is looking westward, and a little before him, on the right, Bridge Street branches off, leading by the famous Sunderland Bridge to the neighbouring town of Monkwearmouth, and to the roads to Shields and Newcastle. Our second view of the same street, “Lower High Street,” depicts a more shady neighbourhood, a neighbourhood which grows more shady still as we go forward in the direction in which we are looking. The building on our left, with the arcade of open arches, is the old Exchange, built in 1813, and now used as a Seamen’s Institute, whilst the street which branches off on the same side a little further away Bodlewell Lane leads down to a long, narrow, unsavoury thoroughfare, known, not inappropriately, as “Low Street.” Eastward this street terminates at the commencement of the Quay, parts of which used to be designated Custom House Quay, Ettrick’s Quay, and Bowes’s Quay, but the whole of which is now known generally as the “South Quay.” On the land side of the Quay there are a few quaint old buildings, and views may be got, looking seaward, which are worthy of the artist’s attention. A view of the Quay, as seen from the river, forms one of our illustrations.

South Quay Sunderland

Bodlewell Ferry - Sunderland

Our last engraving is a view of the stairs which lead down to the Bodlewell Ferry. Two ferries are still maintained at Sunderland, but they have lost their ancient importance. Before the erection of Sunderland Bridge they were of course the only means of transit across the river. We find, as early as 1153, the Bishop of Durham receiving a rent for a grant of the exclusive right of ferry over the river at Wearmouth. An unexpired lease of the same kind, held by one of the Ettricks of High Barnes, was purchased from the lessee by the commissioners of the new bridge in 1795.

Sunderland is as well abreast of the spirit of modern progress as any town in the North. It has not only a public park, a public conservatory, and a public library, but also a well kept and well arranged public museum and art gallery. It has even stolen a march upon the city of the Tyne and got a new Town Hall. But Sunderland has one advantage which Newcastle can never attain. Scarcely more than a mile from the bridge is the charming little sea-side village of Roker, with promenade and sands and park of its own. There, after his day’s labour is over, the artizan can spend his summer’s evening with his children. Roker is, of course, a delightful resort for the whole populace of Sunderland and the district, but I always think of it as especially a blessing for the toilers and the poor.

J. R. Boyle, F.S.A.

Vol 2 – No. 15 – May, 1888 – A Bit of Old Newcastle

A Bit of Old Newcastle

The little sketch here printed shows an interesting bit of old Newcastle. Known as Union Street, the group of ancient houses occupied the site of the Bigg Market end of the Town Hall. Our engraving is made from an original drawing which was long in the possession of a venerable lady, Mrs. Humble, who resided in one of the houses.

Union Street is mainly notable for the fact that the Newcastle Chronicle was first printed there. The paper was established by Mr. Thomas Slack* in 1764. Mr. Slack was an enterprising man, and in addition to printing the Chronicle, and carrying on the business of a general printer, he was the publisher of a large number of school books. In this work he was greatly assisted by his wife. From Mr. Slack’s printing establishment a large number of the books in circulation among schools in the North of England were issued. Amongst the best remembered, perhaps, is Tinwell’s Arithmetic, although several of the works compiled by Mr. and Mrs. Slack was for many years very popular. One of the earliest and most distinguished contributors to the Chronicle was Mr. John Cunningham, the poet, of whom a memoir and portrait appeared in the Monthly Chronicle Vol 1, page 277. Mr. Slack’s daughter married Mr. Solomon Hodgson, and Mr. Hodgson conducted the paper with great enterprise and success from the death of Mr. Slack in 1784 to 1800. After Mr. Hodgson’s death, in the latter year, the publication of the Chronicle was continued by his widow, Mrs. Sarah Hodgson, until her decease in 1822. The paper then became the property of her sons, Thomas and James Hodgson, Thomas taking charge of the editorial department, and James that of the commercial department. The Chronicle remained in their hands until the beginning of 1850, when it was sold to Mr. Mark William Lambert, Mr. Thomas Bourne, and Mr. John Bailey Langhome (Town Clerk of Richmond, Yorkshire). The printing office was removed, on the 24th of May in that year, from Union Street to Mr. Lambert and Partners’ establishment in Grey Street. The machinery was driven by hydraulic power erected by W. G. Armstrong and Co., now the great Elswick firm. Mr. Lambert and Partners owned the paper from 1850 until 1860, when it passed into the hands of the present proprietor. The office was removed in 1863 to St Nicholas’ Buildings, near the High Level Bridge. These premises being found to be too small, the Chronicle establishment was removed in 1866 to the present premises in Westgate Road.

The first house which is shown on the right of our sketch, and which stood nearly opposite Pudding Chare, was in the occupation of Thomas Humble, basket maker, whose widow was living till within the last few years. Next to Mr. Humble’s was the Bee Hive Inn, carried on half a century ago by a man named Coulson, but afterwards by Thomas Grearson, who was for many years a porter in the Chronicle Office. A barber named Todd and a plasterer named Wallace (related in some way to the late Town Surveyor of that name) were the tenants of the next two shops. Further down the street, one of the tall houses seen in our sketch was the original Chronicle Office. The site it occupied fronted the present shop of Mr. Pumphrey, grocer, Cloth Market, the premises extending back to the Groat Market, opposite what was known as Hell’s Kitchen. Towering over the old buildings is seen the beautiful lantern of St. Nicholas. Among the other persons who had business premises in Union Street were Joseph Stappard, innkeeper; J. A. Weir, chemist; Henry Kichardson, grocer; Timothy Oliver, grocer; Daniel Oliver, grocer; Alex. Bertram, cheesemonger; John Bell, land surveyor; Archer, hairdresser; Jacob Yellowley, fruiterer; Thomas Robinson (late Mayor), wine merchant; and Ward and Company, tobacco manufacturers.

*This may be a miss spelling as Wikipedia states Mr. Thomas Stack.

Vol 1 – No. 3 – May 1887 – The Norman Keep, Newcastle

Castle Keep, 1810Castle Keep, 1887The first Norman Castle at Newcastle-on-Tyne was built by Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, and was probably a mere wooden fort, raised upon an earthen mound. Robert’s brother, William Rufus, built a more substantial fortress on or about the same site, and from it the town received its present name. This latter fortress was improved upon, if not entirely rebuilt, by Henry II, who in 1172 erected the Keep, which still survives as restored in the beginning of the present century.

The history of the Keep for many years preceding this restoration is a history of dilapidation and decay. In the reign of James I (to go no further back), an inquisition which was held complained that the great square tower was full of chinks and crannies; that one-third of it was almost taken away; and that all the lead and coverings which it had of old were embezzled and carried off, so that “the prisoners of the county of Northumberland were most miserably lodged by reason of the showers of rain falling upon them. “Some repairs were made; but the Keep got gradually worse, so that when Bourne wrote his “History of Newcastle” (published in 1736) it was roofless, while all the floors had fallen in, except the 6rst floor, which formed the roof of the gaol in the basement.

In 1780, the chapel of the Castle was used as a beer cellar by the landlord of the Three Bulls’ Heads public house; in other parts of the Keep there was an ice-house, as well as a currier’s workshop; and on the top of the walls (which were thirteen feet thick) was a cabbage garden. The lessee of the building in 1782, one Mr. John Chrichloe Turner, did his best to complete the degradation of the Castle by advertising it to be let as a windmill! The advertisement ran as follows: “To be let, the OLD CASTLE in the Castle Garth, upon which with the greatest convenience and advantage may be erected a Wind Mill for the purpose of grinding Corn and Bolting’ Flour, or making Oil, &c. There is an exceeding-‘y good Spring of Water within the Castle, which renders it a very eligible situation for a Brewery, or any Manufactory that requires a constant supply of water. The proprietor, upon proper terms, will be at a considerable part of the expense. Enquire of Mr. Fryer, in Westgate Street, Newcastle.”

Our illustrations are interesting as enabling us at a glance to contrast the present aspect of this venerable Norman work with that it presented before it was restored, and when it was at its lowest point of decay. Our smaller view is from Sir Walter Scott’s “Border Antiquities,” for which work it was painted by that famous Newcastle artist, Luke Clennell, and engraved by John Greig. The “Border Antiquities” was published in 1814, and the sketch must have been made before or during 1810, as alterations in the Castle-yard were begun in the latter year. The earthen heap in the foreground of Clennell’s picture is “The Mound,” which stood about 25 yards south west of the Keep, and may have been the site of the original fort of Robert Curthose. The square mass of masonry on the left is part of the Old Baillie Gate of the Castle, which stood facing the end of the street now called Bailiff Gate. The house on the right of the picture is now removed, and the door next it, with the ladder leading up to it, is now reached by a flight of stone stairs. The lower steps of these can be seen on the left hand side of our larger illustration, which shows the Keep as it stands at present.

The old Keep was purchased by the Corporation of Newcastle for £600. It was, says Mackenzie, renovated in 1812. Alderman Forster was the moving spirit in this work. Many have found fault with him for adding the battlemented top, which is quite out of character with the architecture of the Keep; but Newcastle folks may well overlook the incongruity in gratitude for the preservation of a rare relic of antiquity from utter ruin and destruction.

R. J. 0.

Vol 1 – No. 2 – April 1887 – The Black Gate

The Black Gate in 1877

The Black Gate in 1887The Black Gate, the principal entrance to the Castle of Newcastle-on Tyne, was built by King Henry III. in 1248, about seventy years after the completion of the keep and other parts of the fortress by Henry II. It still stands, at least the lower part of it, a splendid specimen of the beautiful architecture of the age which produced it. The upper portion, the work of later times, is scarcely less interesting, telling, as it dues, the story of the varied fortunes of the gateway after the close of its military career. In its original condition it must have formed a noble spectacle, as pleasing to the eyes of its friends as it was formidable to those of its foes.

Around the platform of the castle, an area of three acres, the enclosing curtain wall was drawn, with gates and posterns at various points, and here, at the northern angle, towered up the massive form of the main gateway, known in later days as the Black Gate. Outside the wall on this side was a fosse or moat, and access to the gate was by a drawbridge, defended by a barbican, impregnable we may well consider this entrance to have been. Say that an enemy had forced the barbican, driving back its defenders, and had crossed with them the drawbridge before it could be hoisted, there were the two portcullises of the main gate to bar his further way, while the defenders hurled down upon him, through the openings for the purpose in the vaulted arch above, the heavy missiles or molten lead held in reserve for such emergency. Even could he have passed the portcullises, and penetrated the curved way, with high massive walls on either side, he would have come upon another gateway to be carried before he found himself within the castle yard.

This second gateway stood at the further end of the present narrow curved street within the Black Gate the street is commonly called the Castle Garth but no trace of the gateway now exists. On either side of it stood one of the castle prisons. That on the north-east side was called the “Great Pit”; that on the opposite side the “Heron Pit” There is some interesting information concerning the prices of material and the wages of working men of the period in the accounts of repairs to these prisons in the reign of Edward III. Candles, we learn, were 1½d. per pound; “trees of great timber,” for joists, were 2s.; and great trees of 44ft., for sills, were 3s. 4d. each. “Estlandbord” (Baltic timber), for flooring, was 3d. per piece. The blacksmith received (id. per stone for working Spanish iron, bought of Adam Kirkharle, into bolts, bands, crooks, staples, manacles, and fittings for the stocks. Carpenters’ and masons’ wages were 2s. 6d. per week in November, reduced to 2s. Id. in March; labourers received 1s. 9d. per week in the former, reduced to 1s. 6d. in the latter month. The timber was bought of John Wodseller, and was landed at Gaolegrip (now the Javel Group) in the Close. Sand was brought from the Sandgate, and lime from the “lyme-kilnes,” and both were led by “Adam the lym-leder.”

After the completion of this work, there is very little mention in history of the Black Gate until the reign of James I. By this time the whole castle had fallen into a miserable state of dilapidation. The only houses in the castle yard were a herald’s house, the gaoler’s house, and two houses near the Black Gate. The keep was used as a prison, “wherein,” as a grant of King James puts it, “is kept the sons of Belial.” One Master Alexander Stevenson, a page of the king’s bedchamber and “a Scottish man,” we are told, “begged the castle of the king,” and obtained a lease of it, with the exception of the keep and Moot Hall, for fifty years at forty shillings rent. He began to build, upon the ruins of the Black Gate, the upper portion with the square mullioned windows still to be seen, and the building was completed by one Pickle, who kept a tavern in the Gate House. Jordan, a Scotchman, and a sword-slipper to trade, built a house on the south side of the gate, and Thomas Reed, a Scotch pedlar, took a shop on the north side. Soon the vicinity of the Castle Garth became a thriving business place, principally inhabited by tailors and shoemakers, as it continued down to quite recent days. On Stevenson’s death, his uncompleted lease came into the possession of one Patrick Black, and it is from him that the gateway probably derives its name.

In 1732, the Black Gate had again fallen into a state of great decay, caused by the neglect of the Newcastle Corporation, which had, after many attempts, obtained a lease of the Castle Garth. This lease came to an end in the year named, and another was granted to Colonel George Liddell, afterwards Lord; Ravensworth. In 1739, part of Stevenson’s work, on the eastern side of the gate, fell with a great crash, and was re-built in a mean way with brickwork. From this time the building seems to have been let off in tenements, and to have gradually fallen into the wretched state in which it remained until 1884, when the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries restored it and adapted it for use as a museum. Our illustrations show it as it appeared before and after this restoration.

A visit to the Black Gate is a rare treat to those who delight in relics of past times. The outside aspect of the ancient tower is full of interest. There before us we still see the work of Edward III; then above that the portions added by Masters Stevenson and Pickle the whole surmounted by the red-tiled roof so judiciously added by the Antiquaries. Under the archway we see the beautiful trefoil arcades, and the vaulted chamber on either side. Then, inside, there is glorious store of antique wealth. Relics of all periods, from the Stone Age to the age of tinder boxes and sulphur matches, are here gathered together. Roman altars and inscribed stones, with which, by means of drawings, scholars in all parts of the world are familiar, and which they would sacrifice much to look upon in their reality, stand here, close by the very doors of the people of Newcastle. Verily the Black Gate is “rich, with the spoils of time”.

R. J. C.