As we seem to be fitting more in to each day than planned, we decide we can find time to visit the archives at Berwick on Tweed, as advised by our friend from Norham. This has to be today as they only open twice a week. Typically the weather is better today than any we’ve had so far. Although tiny, Berwick archives ranks up there with the best I’ve been to, certainly in terms of the helpfulness of the staff. The tithe schedule suggests Norham mill was not on the site of 95 year old Bill’s house but on the opposite side of Norham’s main street. I can still not be certain if this was the mill associated with Peter Eadington. I manage to find reference to Peter in some manorial records and in the 1798 Land Tax, now available on ancestry. We exhaust the possibilities of the archives in good time and plan to return south down the coast road. We then realise that we have time to visit Holy Island today, instead of leaving it until later in the week.
I was imagining something akin to St. Michael’s Mount but Holy Island is much larger, with dwellings and shops, more like one of the smaller Scilly Isles. We drive across the causeway, park up and walk to the Tudor castle, another link in the chain of border defences. Following the union of the crowns it had less significance. It is sunny at last and I am very taken with the panoramic views and clear skies here in Northumberland, not dissimilar in some ways to Australia. The Castle too is unexpected, much more like a residence, having been converted to a holiday home in 1902 by Edwin Lutyens. The kitchen has a high backed curved settle that takes my fancy. It even incorporates a useful cupboard in the back, originally for hanging bacon. I wonder if anyone will notice if I take it home with me. I haven’t worked out how I would get it through my front door but that’s probably the least of my worries. There is an exhibition of tiny cotton bound figures, clothed in Fimo, by Laura Johnson, scattered throughout the castle’s rooms.
We walk across to look at the walled garden, designed by Gertrude Jekyll, which is about 500m from the castle. This was formerly the vegetable garden for the garrison. Apparently, having a garden a distance away from the house is not unusual in this area. Chris examines the cobles and other boats in the harbour. There are several upturned hulls that have been turned into sheds. The priory is next on the list. Of course Lindisfarne had a very important role to play in the establishment of Christianity in Britain; Aiden arriving from Iona in 635. The present priory was built in the C12th on the spot where St. Cuthbert had been buried before his body was taken with the monks fleeing Viking raids. At the height of the wars with the Scots, the priory was embattled. It fell into ruin about two hundred years ago.