Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Mind in Ruins - Sheriff Hutton Castle

Several years ago, I visited the ruins of Sheriff Hutton Castle in Yorkshire with my family. It was summer, but not a very warm day, and as we trekked along under steel-grey skies I had my fingers crossed that the inevitable rain would hold off a while yet. It was hard enough getting my family all together for a day out as it was and I wanted everyone to have a good time, although I'm not sure that any of them were as interested in the castle ruins as me! Any excuse, I thought, and they'll be heading back to the car and the nearest pub!
Naturally, my worst fears came to fruition. We hadn't been there long when the rain started. Everyone ran for cover - of which there was not much. I was extremely disappointed not to stay longer and I didn't care how hard the rain fell, but I was out-voted! My dramatic pleas to stay and wait out the rain were summarily dismissed. Ah, the hardship of being the youngest child! Someone mentioned a pub and something to eat. As if they might melt, my family dashed away with coats over their heads, racing for the almost empty car park, moving with more alacrity and team spirit than I rarely saw them exhibit in my presence.
And so we left the past behind us for cider and smoky bacon crisps.
But there had been so much to look at and take in. I could have stayed another few hours there, exploring those ruins and soaking up the atmosphere. Thankfully I got several photographs.

And the reason I'm telling you all this? Well, I think this is where my story began for the book I later wrote and called "Souls Dryft".

I was fascinated by the history held within those walls and, as I touched them, thinking about all the other hands that had been there before mine, I felt the first excited buzz that comes with an idea. It was several years later when I finally got around to putting the book together, but it started there under those bubbling rain clouds on one typically rainy day of an English Summer. The sort of day those castle ruins have existed under for centuries.
I was sad leaving them and I don't know whether I'll ever have the chance to go back, but the inspiration remains with me, because I'll never forget how I felt as I wandered around the ruins, my feet slipping about on the stone steps of a partial tower, where so many other feet before mine had worn them smooth.
Maybe Genny was there and she crept inside me to tell her story?
Nah. "Souls Dryft" is not in any way auto-biographical, although I would love to live in a place like that. I don't think I'd ever get tired of exploring. And imagining.

The History of Sheriff Hutton Castle
The name HUTTON is from the old English HOH - projecting piece of land, and TUN - farmstead. There are actually two castle ruins overlooking the Yorkshire village of Sheriff Hutton. One was a Norman motte and bailey structure built by Ansketil de Bulmer, who was given the land by William the Conqueror. The "Sheriff" part probably came from the twelfth century when Bertram de Bulmer was made Sheriff of York. Sadly, that castle is now mostly just mounds. The second castle was built by the Neville family in the fourteenth century. The property remained in their family until they died out and Sheriff Hutton castle became the possession of Richard, Duke of Gloucester (who later became King Richard III, of course).
Over the centuries, the castle has belonged to eight different monarchs, ending with Elizabeth I.
It is now in private ownership and was put on the market - according to my internet research - in 2007, but a 1.3 million pound deal eventually fell through, with the current owners deciding to keep it. I'm sure it's quite a responsibility to own a piece of history and apparently it's also very complicated to try and sell it! Very much like the ancient house in my book, Souls Dryft.
Hey, is that Genny, looking through an arrow slit? No, it's my sister moments before she ran for shelter!

Oh, and yes, there is a dungeon under one of the towers!

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.