A WELCOME SURPRISE!
Buried for Three Hundred and Fifty YearsAND NOW ONCE AGAIN SEEN
A Society’s Grand and Successful Task
350 years have elapsed since the great mass of outside walling of the noble Keep on the mound of Fotheringhay Castle was seen by mortal eye! For 350 years has a portion lain far down in the verdant pasture of the Castle’s tragic site at a spot bordering the meandering and rush-bound Nene, whilst the antiquarian world mourned that not a skerrick of the Castle walls remained to tell its tale and point its architectural features. True, a “shapeless mass” sturdy concrete was there – the only relic ‘twas thought, but which told no tale nor echoed no “sermon in stone”; was treasured merely as the only legendary piece the dread Castle where, alas was spilled in other and more cryptic days
The blood of beauty, wealth, and power,
The heart-blood of a Queen,
The noblest of the Stuart race.
The fairest earth had seen.
And as such, a national relic! Towards the preservation of this on purely antiquarian grounds remote from any personal or religious contentions for or against, the Peterborough Archaeological Society under influential patronage and support stood committed. Their work was to place a light railing around the relic. Dr Cane was the first Chairman of the Committee, and was succeeded by Mr G C W Fitzwilliam, with Mr. Frank Loomes as secretary. Amongst the subscribers to the railing Fund are Lady Wantage (the owner of Fotheringhay), Hon N C Rothschild, Mr Geo C W (President of the Committee), Earl Spencer, the late Earl Carysfort, Lord Lilford, Mr Leonard Brassey, MP, Dr Walker, Mr J H Beeby (Chairman of Peterborough Bench), und a host of others. Lady Wantage, Mr W E Southam (the tenant of the Farm on which the Castle stood) and Mr Dickson (Lady Wantage’s Agent), gave every facility for carrying out the Society’s intentions.
From the first there had been a rooted belief in the mind of the Hon Secretary that the sunken stonework raised would reveal a portion of the wall of the Castle Keep and, for years insisted upon this view and himself made private examinations with corroborative results. Upon his initiative the Committee decided to make drastic examination.
This was done on Monday, the presence of the Committee’s Architect, Mr. Alan Ruddle, and after ten hours’ strenuous labour by the contractor’s men (Mr Spencer, of Elton). The Hon Secretary’s forecast was more than confirmed.
The “shapeless” concrete mass was found to be simply the backing of a liberal breadth of worked Barnack ragstone including a more or less obtuse angle with plinth complete. And more than this, it was such that it fitted exactly into what can be imagined to be the design of the fetterlock Castle Keep as it joined the southern tower! This discovery gave the warmest satisfaction to the handful of experts and critics.
The antiquaries then proceeded gently and almost lovingly to raise those 20 tons of stone to the same vertical position as in the original building in days not far from Edward III (by the son of whom the Castle was re-built!). It was triumph of diligent, patient work, and the ancient stonework now becomes a thing that tells its own story volubly and for the first time for 350 years morel There is now a magnetism in the Fotheringhay relic never possessed since the days of James I, when the castle was dissolved! When the historic mass of stone – now appearing bigger than ever – has been allowed to settle, the concreting and enrailment will proceed. It is one of the finest strokes any Archaeological Society has done in the way elucidating and ennobling a national relic within its charge, and the greatest credit is due to Mr Ruddle, the architect, Mr. Fitzwilliam, to the insistent Hon. Secretary and others for the personal interest they have shown and for the triumph they have this week unitedly achieved.
Our photos show the ‘’shapeless mass” as it was and the substantial walling and angle as now it appears. The larger picture taken the day following by Mr Wright, of Oundle.
How the Discovery Came About!
“Well, it is simple to tell how it came about,” said Hon Secretary Loomes. “I was for years convinced in looking at the mass of crude concrete, all higgledy-piggledy so the stone in its old position revealed, that it was the backing of a wall and that the smooth corners of the wall itself would be found on the underside that was sunk in the ground.”
“And this fact you thought important?”
“Decidedly. As soon as I mentioned it to my committee they saw the reasonableness of my suggestion, and unanimously decided that, when funds came in, and with Lady Wantage’s sanction the mass should be lifted, and the walling shown in its normal position before enrailment.”
“And why was this so important?”
“From an archaeological standpoint it was everything. One