England Vacation 2009 -- August 18

We were ready for the bus a little early this morning so took some photos overlooking the bay and the grounds.

We did the easier hike today called Hills & Hollows from Shorwell (SZ456829) to Carisbrooke Castle. It was 9.5km (6miles) and 255m (825 ft) of ascent. By doing the easier hike, we had a few hours to go into Carisbrooke Castle and wander around.

The first stop was the Church of St. Peter in Shorwell. The church was founded in 1100. There is a mural of St. Christopher from 1440 over the doorway. It was covered over during Cromwell's time but uncovered when renovations were being done. During Tudor times, every town and village was required to have a cannon. Like many towns, Shorwell kept theirs at the church. The bricked up doorway is still visible.

In the church there are some old bibles and prayer books on display. One of the bibles is called the Vinegar Bible (1717). Its a King James bible. For some reason, the sub-heading for Luke 20:4-16 is “The parable of the vinegar” instead of the Vineyard. That's an improvement on the wicked bibles at the British museum I think.

From Shorwell we headed up to a field and eventually picked up the Shepherd's Trail.

Lunch was sitting up on top of a hill with a nice view of the coastline in the distance and a large clock tower which is part of Whitecroft Hospital in Newport. We went through Hollowpath and Darkpath. Both are hollow ways -- routes for transporting goods. Darkpath is well overgrown so on a hot sunny afternoon like today, it is very pleasant to walk in there. One theory is that early tribes made ditches along the borders of their lands with each group putting dirt up on their side, then planting trees and such on top. Over time, the ditches deepened and became the hollow ways. The last piece of the hike up to Carisbrooke was through a tunnel formed by a hedge.

Parts of Carisbrooke Castle are over 750 years old. The ruins on the left are from a mansion built in the 1580s. The main hall was built by Countess Isabella in the 13th century. The last resident was Princess Beatrice in the early 20th century. The chapel is St. Nicholas chapel, rebuilt in 1904. The chapel was originally founded about 1070 by William the Conqueror and has always been a soldiers chapel. When the monasteries were closed, the chapel was left untouched even though it belonged to a local abbey. King Charles I was held at Carisbrooke from 1647 - 1548. By 1856 the chapel was in ruins but was rebuilt in 1899.

When the castle was besieged by the French in 1377, an archer named Heynoe's went to his captain. He had observed the French commander coming to a specific spot every day and was confident he could hit the commander with an arrow. He was given permission and the next day shot the commander. The French forces went home. That was the last time the castle was besieged.

The castle's water supply is in a stone building form the 1580s. The water is about 37m down. A treadmill was originally used from 1292. Prisoners may have been used to move the treadmill at one point but, since 1696, donkeys have been used. When King Charles I was imprisoned at the castle, he signed the letters he had smuggled out as J. Tradition says that, since then, all the donkeys that live and work at the castle have names beginning with J. It takes a couple of years to train the donkeys to walk on the treadmill. We weren't able to see the display as the first showing was 15 minutes before the bus was due to leave.

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