I visited Penmon Priory during the August 2020 bank holiday weekend. I knew it would be busy, but it was packed, with the car parks completely full. Parking was £3, even if you did not go down to Penmon Point. I only went to look at the historical ruins, yet I was charged £3 to park only to find the church and Dovecot closed. I understand that whoever runs the car parking at Penmon wants to make as much money as possible. However, they could at least ensure that places are open if they insist on charging.
I have made a video below of my visit for a look inside the ruins that were open.
The Holy Well is fed from a spring behind the church. The well is located in its own walled garden and is a very tranquil place. The waters were believed to have healing powers and would be visited by the sick in the hope to be cured by the waters.
The dates as to when the well was used seem unclear. However, the brick structure that surrounds the well dates from about 1710.
The 12th century stone church and tower date from around 1140 and is a fine example of Romanesque architecture.
You can see the derelict Flagstaff Quarry buildings from the road. However, getting to them is quite a trek. They are on private land and can only be viewed from the fence along the beach.
From the limited amount of information available online. It appears that there was a small quarry and pier at this location prior to 1874. However, in 1888, William Baird & Co commenced operations at the quarry, which supplied fluxing stone to their steelworks in Glasgow.
Today, parts of the old RAF base at Woodhall Spa make up the Thorpe Camp Visor Centre. However, if you look around the area, there are other hidden remains of the old base.
Before my visit, I found some blog posts and watched some YouTube videos on the derelict parts of the base. However, when I got to Woodhall Spa, some of them have now sadly been demolished (video below).
However, if you know where to look (some locals told me) there are still some buildings that remain.
Thorpe Camp, officially known as the Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre, is part of the former Royal Air Force barracks for RAF Woodhall Spa.
The buildings that today make up the Centre were formerly part of the No.1 Communal Site, which was built in 1940. In 1998, the camp was made into a visitor centre by the Thorpe Camp Preservation Group.
Woodhall Spa and the surrounding area has a long history connected to the RAF. The 97, 619, 617 (Dambusters) and 627 Squadrons were based at RAF Woodhall Spa.
For a more in-depth look around the Thorpe Camp, please watch my video below.
Thanks for reading.
Before you visit, check their website for opening days and times as these have changed due to COVID.
Monk Bretton has been closed since March due to COVID. Although it is a free site, sadly in the past, the ruin has been damaged by vandals and so the site can not remain open at all times. Despite the site being free entry, the gates get locked every day at 3pm and re-open at 10am.
It is unfortunate that Monk Bretton does not get the same protection as other English Heritage sites. Roche Abbey is similar in size and yet that is a staffed site. During my visit I witnessed an incredibly ignorant individual who was climbing up the ruin (I have made a video with a little more information and a picture of said individual below). As Monk Bretton is un-staffed, English Heritage rely on people using common sense and being respectful, clearly they cannot rely on this. I do think they need more signs that say ‘DO NOT CLIMB ON THE RUIN’. If this fails, I personally think that the gates should remain locked and only opened maybe once a month when it can be staffed.
From what I can gather, the volunteers of this site take care of it, rather than English Heritage that doesn’t seem to care much. The gatekeepers are volunteers, which makes it more upsetting when you see litter, graffiti and idiots climbing the ruins.
Monk Bretton was founded in about 1154, by a local landowner called Adam Fitzswaine. The priory served as a daughter house to the rich Cluniac priory at Pontefract. After 50 years of disagreements, Monk Bretton seceded from Cluniac Order in 1281 and became a Benedictine house.
The priory was quite substantial as it owned properties across South Yorkshire, with rights over five parish churches. It is also said that Monk Bretton worked coal and ironstone in the Barnsley area. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, Monk Bretton was closed and materials from the priory were used elsewhere.
The priory passed into the ownership of the Blithman family and then in 1589 the estate was bought by William Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. He converted the west range of the cloister into a country house for his son Henry.
Today, the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and now in the care of English Heritage/ volunteers.
Roche Abbey was founded in 1147 and housed Cistercian Monks. (The Order of Cistercians are a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that branched off from the Benedictines and follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. Also called ‘white monks’ due to their light colour robes).
At its peak in around 1175, there were approximately 50 monks, 100 lay brothers and servants. Roche Abbey was suppressed in 1538 when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
Today the site is managed by English Heritage. Entry is £5 for adults and £4.50 for concessions. As of August 2020, you must book online before visiting, this also includes EH members.
There is only one interpretation board on site. When staff scan your ticket, they ask if you want to buy a guide book for £4.50. I think this is a little bit wrong, I understand that the extra money goes towards the upkeep of the site. However, some more boards would be nice, rather than trying to get people to buy the book.
Whilst reading Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty by Catherine Bailey it occurred to me that I had not visited Elsecar Heritage Centre since I was a kid. I could only vaguely remember what it was like and so decided to take a trip over one sunny Friday afternoon.
As it was Friday, I assumed that it would be quiet. When I arrived, however, I was greeted by two almost full car parks. I can only imagine how busy it gets on a weekend. When I entered the heritage centre however, it was not overly busy. I assume most of the cars were people walking the Trans Pennine Trail.
Elsecar is a great example of a multi-use heritage site. It has a combination of shops, restaurants, a railway and visitor centre, all contained within the refurbished industrial buildings.
Elseacr was built by the 4th Earl of Fitzwilliam of the nearby Wentworth Estate. I do highly recommencement the book Black Diamonds if you are interested in finding out more about Wentworth, the Fitzwilliams and coal mining in the area.
The colliery at Elsecar was sunk in 1975. Ironstone was also mined nearby. A Beam Engine was built in order to extract water from the mine to allow deeper exploration. The Engine ran from 1795 to 1923, when it was replaced with electric pumps.
The workshops were built in 1850. After the nationalisation of the coal mines, the coal board took over the workshops in 1947. As the need for coal reduced and the pits were closed, there was also no requirement for the workshops and Beam Engine. The Department of Environment listed most of the buildings in 1986, as they were seen to be of special architectural or historic interest. In 1988 the Newcomen Beam Engine House and the workshops were purchased bu Barnsley Council who restored the buildings.
After doing some searching online for unusual free things in my area, I came across the Thurgoland Tunnels.
The 924ft long tunnels are located along the Trans Pennine Trail, a walking/ cycling path which runs along the old Sheffield, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Manchester railway line. The line opened in 1845 but closed in 1983.
Only one of the two tunnels is open, the other is blocked off. If you clap your hands or make sound whilst in the tunnel, you will hear an unusual reverberating sound due to the acoustics in the tunnel.
If you intend just to visit the tunnel, I would suggest parking under the bridge on Cote Lane if you travel by car. The entrance to the trail is marked and is located at the side of the bridge.
Tupholme Abbey was a Premonstratensian monastery, founded between 1155-65. It was relatively small, of up to 12 canons and had limited endowments in the county of Lincolnshire. Along with other Lincolnshire monastic sites, Tupholme was involved in the wool export trade.
From the time of St Augustine’s mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597, to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks, canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England.
The abbey was dissolved in 1536, after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. The property was granted to Sir Thomas Heneage of Hainton. Thereafter the site was occupied by a country house, demolished around the beginning of the 18th century and replaced in the 19th century by cottages and a farmhouse, which were also dismantled in 1986.
What remains today is a mixture of the abbey and the post-medieval buildings.
Skegness is the first of many British seaside towns that I intend to visit over the next year or so. I have not taken a holiday in my home country for many years. Even though there are some beautiful coastal areas, I usually like to travel overseas to spend my vacation time. However, as we can not travel at the moment, I decided to rediscover my own country and the many incredible and interesting places that it has to offer.
I decided on British seaside towns as they remind me of my childhood, but they are also something that is distinctly British. Most of us Brits have had fish and chips and ice cream during a day out at the coast. For me, the seaside represents nostalgia, family, being young and carefree. If you have seaside memories, please leave them in the comments as I would love to hear them. Anyway, a little bit about Skegness.
The name Skegness comes from the old Norse words ‘skegg’ meaning beard and ‘nes’ meaning a headland or promontory. The area is one of the places where the Vikings landed in the 9th century. The town developed as a harbour, trading in timber and other merchandise.
By the 1850s the village still had less than 400 inhabitants. Most residents worked as fishermen or farm labourers as the surrounding Lincolnshire land was some of the richest grazing lands in the country (and still is).
In the 19th century, the local gentry used to take their families to Skegness to indulge in the fashionable practice of sea-bathing during the summer months, but it was not until the railway reached Skegness in 1873, that working-class leisure trippers started to visit the town in large numbers.
Most of the land around Skegness belonged to the Earl of Scarbrough. He envisaged that the seaside would become a popular leisure pursuit and so he employed an architect to plan a model Victorian ‘watering place’ as they were known back then. A park, pier, shopping street, church, gardens and tree-lined streets promenades were all built in the late 1870s.
In 1881, a new pier was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. At the time, it was the fourth-longest in Britain. In 1919, the pier was damaged by the schooner Europa. It was repaired and survived until 1978 when another storm damaged a large part of it. The 1000 seat theatre survived but was burnt down in a fire in 1985. The modern pier was built in the 1990s, the deck was refurbished in the early 2000s, and further improvements were made in 2016–17.
In the 1920s and ’30s, Skegness was popular with caravan camps, but after the war, they expanded on a huge scale to make making the East Coast of England the most popular caravan coast in the country. In 1929, Billy Butlins opened a large amusement park by the pier and in 1935–6, he opened the Butlins Holiday Camp, boasting that it was the “largest hotel in the world”, containing around 20,000 beds.
Through the Edwardian years, Skegness continued to grow, attracting more and more visitors. In 1938, Parliament passed the Holidays with Pay Act. However, the implementation was delayed until the late 1940s due to the war. During the war years, Skegness suffered heavy bombing, it was also used to house the armed forces. In the late 1940s, the wartime damage was repaired and extra housing was constructed for the newly returned servicemen, and an industrial estate was built to attract year-round jobs.
In the 1950s, car ownership increased, which meant that visitors flocked to the coast under their own power instead of on the train. An improved road system was built to facilitate the increasing volume of motor vehicles.
There doesn’t seem to be much info regarding the 1960s onward, I presume it continued to develop as a seaside town. I do know that caravan ownership increased significantly in the area, If you visit today, you cannot miss the thousands of static caravans that are scattered across the landscape. I remember visiting Skegness in the 1980s as a child, usually for day trips as it was only a 2 or so hour drive from our home.
When I visited, in June of 2020, the UK was just emerging from the lockdown and many of the businesses were still closed. There were a few tourists about, nothing like the normal numbers that you would usually see in June. Hopefully, small seaside towns like Skegness can recover from the issued caused by Coronavirus, I believe many businesses are able to re-open with safety measures in place from the 4th of July 2020.
Thanks for reading. Please share your memories of Skegness in the comments.
Bolingbroke Castle was one of three castles built by Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln, in the 1220s after his return from the Crusades (the others being Beeston Castle, Cheshire, and Chartley, Staffordshire). After Blundeville’s death, the castle remained in the ownership of the Earls of Lincoln and was later inherited through marriage by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
During the English Civil War (1642–8), the castle became a defensible base for a Royalist garrison and was surrounded by armed Parliamentarian forces in 1643. The Royalists surrendered that winter, and the entire castle was destroyed. The remains of the castle gradually deteriorated and in 1815 the last remaining structure fell. The site was a bumpy field until archaeologists excavated the site in the 1960s and 1970s.
Today, the castle is managed by English Heritage, entry is free and it is open year round and is easily accessible from the road. There isn’t much parking as it is located in a small village.