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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison.1793 - 1860. He wasn't born at Lanercost and never lived there but over time this eminent Victorian physician has come to be associated with Lanercost as, arguably, its most famous son.

His family had farmed around Lanercost and Maryholme since at least 1684 when the register books at the Parish started but his father, being a younger son, was forced to seek work over in Newcastle and it was here that his second son, Thomas, was born.

He attended infants school at Killingworth where one of his classmates would have been Robert Stephenson of railway fame. Subsequently he studied at the Royal Grammar school and then Edinburgh University medical school.

It was at Guy's hospital that he found his true vocation as a great practical physician. He joined Guy's as assistant physician and within 3 years was appointed lecturer in Materia Medica.

In 1849 he became president of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society and in his inaugural address described a previously unnoticed disease now known as pernicious anaemia. This marked beginning of the study of endocrinology.

His elder brother was living at Banks house and Addison was a frequent visitor to Lanercost. It was here that he met and married his wife in 1847.

His last visit to Lanercost was in September 1859 when, looking over the wooded banks of the river Irthing he said

" What can be more heavenly than this?"

However his health was deteriorating and he suffered from depression. On 29th June 1860 he passed away following a failed attempt at suicide.

His grave in the cemetery at Lanercost lies beneath two ancient yews and the epitaph is simple and says nothing about his medical discoveries and the people he taught and helped over the years.

The tombstone for Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison - grave

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Housty Bastle house

Hunting Bastle houses is one of our favourite occupations. These old fortified houses often date back to the early 17th century or earlier. They are peculiar to the Anglo Scottish borders and are a reminder of the Border Reiver days and how the people living here had to protect their possessions and very often their lives.

The more traditional farm house had tended to be the house itself and then alongside a byre for the animals. With a Bastle house this changed. The animals lived on a ground floor and the people above.

Typically there would be no stairway to the first floor, just a trapdoor and a ladder which could be pulled up. The Walls and door would be very strong.

Housty Bastle house lies in the Allendale valley. Technically this is a little further south than would be expected but in reality the only restrictions on the range of Bastle houses was the area which was terrorised by the Border Reivers.

Housty itself has been dated back to 1625.

Other references

Housty Bastle house. More pictures.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Nine Dargues Bastle house

One of the distinguishing features of a Bastle house is the substantial stone lintels and door posts used for their great strength. This is particularly seen at Nine Dargues bastle house. Look at the size of the stones used in the semi circular megalithic lintel over the byre doorway below

Then this tunnel for the draw bar.

Unfortunately Bastle houses are rarely well reserved and for Nine dargues the roof and the upper story have collapsed.

The Bastle house has been dated to the late 16th or early 17th century. The walls are just under 1 metre thick and although it is little more than a ruin now it was in fact inhabited up and into the 20th century.

Other sources:-

Nine Dargues - more photographs

Lanercost & Hadrians Wall Cottages

About 4 miles to the south of milecastle 54 on Hadrians Wall lies the 12th century priory at Lanercost. A historic location in the valley of the River Irthing, this is as peaceful and tranquil a spot as any you might find so close to the Wall.

The farm buildings adjacent to the priory have been tastefully converted into what is now one of the best quality tea rooms in the area plus six luxury holiday cottages which carry the top Enjoy England 4 star rating. So anyone looking for Hadrians Wall cottages at the west end of the wall which afford a high level of comfort alongside quality facilities, this an ideal option.

For those of you have explored Hadrians Wall to the west of Chollerford this marks the boundary of limestone as the bedrock. A geological fault just to the west of the priory means that the more dramatic sections of the wall will now be left behind as you head west towards the Solway.