Hundreds of years ago someone imagined a life on hillside overlooking the River Fowey. Not content with the natural height provided, they scooped up the earth to build a motte and bailey design castle. The first structure appeared around 1100 in what would eventually become the stone remnants you now see in the photo above. Restormel Castle in Cornwall is considered one of the best remaining examples of a motte and bailey castle and according the English Heritage site, one of 70 remaining in Britain.
Fulfilling the dreams of others
When my best girlfriend Patrice came for a short visit in 2011, she had a list of things that she wanted to do while she and her partner Lisa were here for a few days. One of which was a visit to a castle.
I took them to Sunday services on St Michael’s Mount and later John walked with us through the attached castle, but I wanted more for her. I wanted her to see a remote castle with no furnishings and few people, a place where she might have a moment alone to think about her mother who had died a few years earlier without going on the ‘Castles of Europe’ tour she’d always imagined she’d see one day.
I remember Patrice telling me how she’d asked her mother if there was anything she wanted to do in the time she had left and how they had talked about castles before her mother began chemotherapy. Her mother died without going on that trip so this was more than just another tourist stop for Patrice, it had a special meaning and while she didn’t mind which castle she saw, I wanted it to be really special and I had a feeling that Restormel Castle might be that place.
When I see this photograph of Patrice, I can almost hear her saying, ‘I’m here, Mama’ as she pauses in the first entrance to the castle.
You can see a second entry point into the castle where the person in blue is walking under the arch. The gatehouse was originally three stories high but was partially dismantled during the Civil War. I found the history of this building style fascinating when I researched Restormel Castle. If you’d like to know more, I have done some of the work for you by providing the highlighted links above.
You can see the entrance to the chapel in the center of the photo above. The chapel projected out past the circular structure and had points of entry from smaller side doors.
Looking to the middle left of the photo above, you can a side entrance to the chapel as well as an arched entry leading directly into the sanctuary.
Here’s a shot looking mostly down into the space. I’m afraid these images are not my best work as it was wet and windy shooting that day, but perhaps you can still get a sense of the space.
From this angle so you can see how thick the walls are and get a glimpse of the lovely view from the castle walls.
There are stories about a dungeon, but I’m not sure they are more than stories.
There are stairs which lead to all kinds of hidden areas like this one with Patrice. I said she looked like a monk from a distance with her dark hood up to avoid the rain so she assumed a prayerful position at the end of a moss-covered passage way.
In this photo, you have a window in the center with an open space to the left where a fireplace once stood. There’s a matching window (not seen here) on the other side of the fireplace shell.
I wondered how many faces must have looked though these great stones windows over the last 800 or 900 years and thought about how the view must have changed along with the ownership of the castle. My imagination goes wild thinking about the lives of those privileged to have been able to stand or sit near the windows in a room with such an important function.
You can see how the windows and fireplace might have looked in the great hall by double clicking on this image of a plaque from the castle grounds.Here’s a last look at what the interior of the keep might have looked like. You can see the window outline and the fireplace off to the left in this photo of one of the English Heritage information plaques. I usually take a quick photo of these to use later as a reference when I want to do more research online at home. I thought these might be helpful for this post.
One more shot of Restormel Castle from a distance … the first and last photographs were taken during the last week and all others in September 2011.
It was good to help Patrice complete a goal that had been one of her mother’s dreams. Two castle visits may not have been the ‘Castles of Europe ‘ tour her mother dreamed of, but walking through Restormel Castle and St Michael’s Mount, I can’t help but think that Patrice’s mother would have had a little chuckle to see her daughter fulfilling a few of mom’s unfinished dreams.
I imagine most of us have something like that. There are so many places I see living in the UK that I know my dad would have loved to see himself, but the thing I feel most keenly is the connection he and I shared with writing and imagination.
My father left a fair amount of unpublished words and ideas and at least one story he wrote for his daughters. I know he would have been a big fan of my writing (being my dad) and would have encouraged me to go beyond the limitations of my blog. I hope to manage that one day and do something that he, like Patrice’s mom, never had a chance to do himself.
How about you? Are any of you secretly hoping to complete a dream desire that someone special to you can no longer do for themselves or maybe one like mine that you shared with a parent or other loved one?
Just when I was being cynical … and thinking that I’m soooo bored with blogs — same old/same old — I revisit yours and am rewarded and refreshed with these gorgeous images and stories that I cannot find anywhere else, certainly not in this country… Thank you, Elizabeth. The experiences you are sharing are truly beautiful and unique!
Aww … Cindy, thanks so much for your comment. I’ve been a bit off lately as my lack of posts suggest and it is such a treat to have your comment be the first on this one. I must have at least ten recent half-written posts that I’ve left incomplete and unpublished because I thought they might only be interesting to me and I’m so pleased that you found my words and images refreshing and different. Thank you!
Now *that* is what I’d call a castle. Considering your average serf was in a one room stone, mud or Twig built hovel in England’s green and pleasant land, although make no mistake folks, life then was pretty tough and not very long.
Fantastic and evocative scenery Elizabeth, I am sure Patrice was thrilled with her visit in the wide open country side although the castle on the mount has its own amazing views. I keep thinking of the comparison between this one and Versailles and just can’t help giggling. EAch impressive in its own way.
The castle i most loved to visit is still being used is a relatively small one in Scotland – Cawdor, of MacBeth fame. It was the first time I ever went to a Castle or stately home and really felt like I was in someone’s house, very cosy. Hope you can visit there one day if you’ve not seen it yet.
I’m going to have to see Cawdor now, Mariellen thanks to your description. I’m always up for a trip to Scotland too. As for comfort, John and I were just talking yesterday about the cold and how as much as I’ve been whinging about it, it must have been very uncomfortable for people just a hundred years ago.
What an amazing place! It just went up on my list of places to go. And no, I can´t say that I harbour any dreams of others, or share ones, like Patrice did. But I think it a lovely thing, a sign of a special bond, indeed.
There are some gorgeous places here, Viktoria and I’ll bet you have some lovely places to see where you live too, perhaps we should swap houses for a week? 🙂
Great posting and excellent pictures Elizabeth, hope you and John and family are well.
Regards Tony and Jacquie Sanders.
Thanks, Tony … glad you like the post. We’re doing well considering and still happy that the worst part of our accident was mostly inconvenience and a bit of unexpected expense. My shoulder is on the mend too so we feel pretty lucky. Thanks for your good thoughts.
What a gift your posts are to me. I would imagine they would sell in book form.
I’m so pleased that my posts resonate with you, Wayne. Thanks so much for your kind comment and it’s nice to see you here. 🙂
Thank you E, for helping me do things on bucket lists of mine and my mother’s. When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I asked if there a was anything she had wanted to do before she died, other than spending time with family. She told me a castle tour was the only thing she had not done. When I told her I would take her, she smiled, laughed out loud, and said “oh honey, don’t worry, I’ll see it from heaven”.
It was my pleasure, Patrice. xo
The pictures, the story, the inspiration…….all wonderful. I have no doubt you will realize your own castle of dreams Elizabeth 🙂
Thanks, Winsomebella. I hope so too.
What a lovely post Elizabeth. I have a deep love for old stone buildings….castles included….and like you I find myself pulled back in time as I walk where thousands have trodden before me. The feeling of connecting back to ancestors, I don’t mean personal ones, but collective ones, stirs something deep for me. I love to imagine their lives, and although the possessions and technology have changed so much over time, human nature, feelings and emotions I suspect are eternal 🙂 do keep writing as I love history with emotional connection 🙂
Thank you, Seonaid. Your blog is filled with so many gorgeous photographs that your love of the ancient everywhere. I’m so glad I found your blog and I’m looking forward to following more of your journey.
Wow! what a castle !
It is very special, Jill. I can’t wait for Easter weekend when it will be open to visitors again.
I have visited 3 castles while visiting England but your castle reminds me of pictures of one that my daughter used to take her young daughter to play in. Bethany would tell me that her Mommy was the queen, she was the princess and her daddy was the peasant, except she said present!
Beautiful post, Elizabeth. I love old castles too. Hope you are fine. I’m trying to get back to my old blogging friends again. Thanks for this post, I loved it.