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" The History Society Autumn Trip to Carlisle "

Date & start time:    Wednesday 1st November 2017,  10.30 am.

Location of Start :   Carlisle Castle, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 395 567).

Places visited :         Carlisle Castle, The Cathedral and the Guildhall Museum.

Walk details :             Drove to Carlisle and then strolled about the city centre.

Highest point :          Delving into the history of the place.

Walked with :             Myself and fifteen members of the History Society.

Weather :                    Overcast but dry.

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An invitation to join the Lorton and Derwent Fells Local History Society on a visit to the city of Carlisle.

On the agenda, a visit to the Museum of Military Life inside the castle.

the Guildhall Museum in the main square and lunch in between, at the Fratry in Cathedral Close

Carlisle Castle from the dual carriageway through the centre of Carlisle.

- - - o o o - - -

I have passed the castle on numerous occasions

as have many who travel through the middle of the city

but I had never been through the gates

to discover what lay inside.

Today was a first for me.


The castle is in the care of English Heritage

and is thought to be the primary castle with the longest history

of continuous use by the English military.


Being located close to the Scottish border,

Carlisle is also thought to have been

the most besieged town in Britain.

- - - o o o - - -

We have permission to drive in and park inside.

The central keep, the most secure part of the old castle, even has its own internal moat.

Low level gun emplacements to stop invaders crossing the dry moat.

The oldest parts of the castle date from about 1092 AD.

Inside the grounds are several Regency-style Barracks buildings dating back to the 1870's.

This one, Alma, now houses the Military Museum and was built in 1932 as a Mess building

for feeding and entertaining the troops based here in the castle.  Until a few years ago the exhibition was located in the Keep itself.

Now in this new home they have been given space to expand.
Today Stuart, the Curator (with the red lanyard) is giving us a guided tour.

He outlines the theme of the exhibition . . . that is the " Story of Human Endeavour ".

It is the story of the local people and the various Cumberland and Westmorland Regiments over the last 300 years.

The exhibition is beautifully presented . . .
. . . and one can follow the course of history through the displays.

Too much to describe here so you must go and see for yourself if you can, but the cabinet above includes shoes provided to early soldiers.

They were symmetrical in manufacture . . . so there's no left or right foot shapes,

making them easier to manufacture and easy to match up pairs but more uncomfortable to wear!   Still it was better than no shoes.

A cabinet about the Boer War in South Africa . . . during Victorian times.
Here the Second World War, 1939 to 1945.

In the cabinet on the left, the small tins of chocolate were made by The Metal Box Company

and presented by the Queen to each person serving on the battlefield.

The red and green berets in the second display are some of the many thousands made by Kangol Ltd.  They continue to make hats through to the present day.

One exhibit was a WWII army jeep shown within the belly of an actual battlefield glider.

A large part of the frame of the glider was found on a Cumbrian farm and has been restored and displayed at the back of the museum.

A 'Japanese Proclamation' (Propaganda Notice) saying that the reason for the Japanese involvement in the second World War

was an attempt to get rid of the Anglo-American 'despots' and achieve a "Free India" by a land invasion via Southern Asia

They supported the 'provisional government' of Azad Hind and the Indian National Army.

After a brutal military campaign they failed . . . but India would achieve independence by agreement in 1947 anyway.

Home Forces and the Barrow Blitz 1941.
Military hardware, mementos and medals.
The sadness of lost lives . . . and military crosses.

After an interesting trip around, and time afterwards to browse and ask questions,

we assembled outside in order to walk into town for lunch.

A short walk across the Castle grounds and back out through the Gate House.

Carlisle Cathedral is undergoing repairs to the north wing but is still open for religious services and for visitors.

- - - o o o - - -


We walked around to the cafe behind the the Cathedral building

and enjoyed lunch in the vaulted rooms of the old Fratry.


( Photo from the Cathedral website )

- - - o o o - - -

The grand 14th Century East window from outside . . .
. . . and the same window from inside the Cathedral.

After lunch we had a little time to spare so several of us decided to visit the Cathedral itself and walk around the building.

Above us was a stunning blue vaulted roof.

The Choir Stalls, where daily worship has been held for 900 years.
The organ is protected from the dust of the current building work.

[ Rather irreverent I realise, but looking at the right hand picture reminds me that yesterday was Halloween ! ]

The paintings on the back of the stalls date back to the 15th Century . . .
. . . depicting the lives of the Saints and the Twelve Apostles.

One tells the story of Saint Cuthbert . . . who ended his days on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland.

- - - o o o - - -


In a below ground exhibition room was the Treasury

where some of the unique and valuable

silverware and relics that belong to the Churches of Cumbria

are stored for safe keeping.

They are on display and available for visitors to see

during the day.



The exhibition was opened

in these specially built rooms in 1990.

They tell the story of Christians of Cumbria

from Roman times to the present.


- - - o o o - - -

The century-by-century story boards behind . . . seen through the glass cabinets of the Treasury.

- - - o o o - - -

After our lunchtime explorations we all met up again in the central square of Carlisle.

The Tourist Information Centre occupies the building which was originally constructed as the Town Hall in 1717.

However we had planned a visit to an even older building just around the corner.

Today's History Society line-up in front of the Guildhall Museum

I think there's one person missing somewhere . . . I'm sure we were sixteen before lunch ?

- - - o o o - - -

The Carlisle Guildhall is a Grade 1 Ancient Monument,

and one of the four oldest buildings in the City.

One of the 'Jesters' that adorn the building.


No ideas on why they adorn the building

though they remind me of the statue of "Old Nick" which

was placed on a building in Swansea for malicious reasons.

These figurines seem a lot more benign.

- - - o o o - - -


Inside we were met and shown around

by another expert, a lady guide this time.

She explained the history of the old building

and the variety of uses during its history.


It was built in approximately 1407

as a shop and workshop

but was latterly home to the Trade Guilds

or Societies of the city.


It was a meeting place to discuss general trade,

to train apprentices and discuss other matters

that affected their livelihoods.

It was also a place to meet and celebrate

at significant times during the year.


- - - o o o - - -

The building was innovative for its day with strong oak beams and "wattle and daub" infill.

The fire proof nature of the structure served it well during several disastrous fires in the city during the times of the border disturbances.

On high days and holidays the Guilds used to hang their Trade Banners outside from the windows.

The City Chest used to hold the valuables that belonged to the Mayor and Council.

There are four clasps and four locks, each different, so that it needed all four key holders present to open the sturdy oak box.

Inside was found a manuscript dating back to the times of the Guilds and outlining the laws of the city.

Three of the four great locks.
Old standard 'weights and measures' used by the council.

- - - o o o - - -



The building was divided up

into smaller rooms internally,

each was dedicated to

a different Guild or trade.


This room was for the Weavers Guild

and now displays a very old hand loom.


- - - o o o - - -

This one was possibly the Bakers Guild

but just showed the idea that the rooms were used for wining and dining as well as discussing and practicing their trade.

A modern mural depicting the Guildhall in its heyday.

Guild Members were often the only ones who were able to vote on city matters

and so the politics of the time were important topics of conversation.

This display cabinet hints at the more modern aspects of voting in local and national politics.

After a good wander around the building, learning about its history and its uses,

our visit to Carlisle was at an end and we returned home to Loweswater.

Thanks to everyone who organised and contributed to our day in Carlisle.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix TZ60, or my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a guide to fill in the history and the context of the exhibits.

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Previous walk -  29th October 2017 - Happy New Year Gordon

A previous Local History Event - 20th October 2013 - Local History in 20 Objects

Next walk - 2nd November 2017 - St Bees Head and Fleswick Bay

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