This is all that's left of Pendragon Castle - a romatic ruin close to the River Eden in Cumbria. Romantic not least because according to local folklore, it was built by Uther Pendragon, father of the legendary King Arthur.
This may be difficult to tally with the castle's twelfth century origins. There's nothing to suggest any pre-Norman fortification here, But since when did historical fact ever get in the way of the Arthurian myth.
The location of the castle is truly magical - a little south of Kirkby Stephen not far from the River Eden. It's said that Uther Pendragon tried and failed to divert the Eden to fill the castle moat.
The moat remains impressively deep in parts - and entirely dry.
In the distance above, on the far side of the Eden, you can see the dramatic outline of Wild Boar Fell, which at over 2,300 feet is one of the highest fells in the Yorkshire Dales.
Rather more reliable than the Arthurian angle is the fact that the sinister-sounding Sir Hugh de Morville, an owner of Pendragon Castle, was one of the four knights who murdered Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.
The castle suffered a couple of times at the hands of the harrying Scots but was still occupied in the 1670s. Now the only residents are the Dales sheep.
What a wonderful photograph! This is Milbury Ellen Crick outside the family shop in Dartmouth Park Hill, which is still known as Crick's Corner.
The photo was taken in the 1920s. It was very kindly sent to me by Colin Crick, Milbury Ellen's grandson, who found it among his father's papers. He found references to Crick's Corner on this blog, which is what prompoted him to get in touch.
Milbury Ellen Crick had three sons - including Albert, who went on to run the shop - and a daughter.
Crick's Corner is now an excellent coffee shop, and some of the old signage remains (see the last photo below, the sign is slowly becoming illegible). I've given a print out of the 1920s photo to the cafe and I do hope they put it on display.
I've always enjoyed eating at Dishoom, the offbeat chain of Indian restaurants based on Mumbai's old Parsee cafes. But I've never been in a branch of Dishoom quite as grand as that on Bridge Street in Manchester.
It's in a 1920s masonic hall, complete with all the original stained glass!
The restaurant is on the ground floor of Manchester Hall, designed in 1929 by Percy Scott Worthington and magnificently refurbished.
Manchester Masons still meet on the building's third floor - but the ground floor is now much more Mumbai than freemasons.
And just in case you're interested, I had what I can only call a Biriyani Wellington, a wonderful lamb biriyani covered in pastry. Gorgeous!
Tavistock Terrace in Upper Holloway is home to an awful lot of gnomes. There are dozens of them above front doors and ground floor windows. We'd venture a guess that the street's gnomes almost out-number the residents. It's a global assembly of gnomes.
But why? The short answer is no one knows.
'The gnomic figures are a source of constant discussion and we often see people looking up and pointing as they walk past', one long-standing resident of the street tells me. 'For a long time we assumed they were an image of the architect or builder but I’m afraid it’s probably more mundane than that.'
This fashionable street was built in around 1860 and builders were always trying to make their newly built des res's stand out. It may be that Tavistock Terrace's gnomes - or are they intended to be classical or mythical figures? - were a job lot from the local builders' yard.
Stylised heads are not uncommon on Victorian-era terraced houses. These with gnome-like features are unusual. And a whole street of Santa's helpers is distinctly, well, distinct.
But there are other examples in London. Manchester Street in Marylebone is a little older and grander, and its ornamental heads have a fuller beard, but there are in the gnomic style. Take a look:
On balance, I think I prefer the Tavistock Terrace heads - they are more cheerful and welcoming. And isn't it wonderful to have these perhaps frivolous but delightful architectural survivals from another era.
Of course, the uniform style suggests that Tavistock Terrace was built in one go by the same developer. And this at a time when speculative builders would often construct just a couple or a handful of houses, which is why so many North London streets consist of houses which, while similar, have minor architectural variations.
If anyone knows anything more about Upper Holloway's bucolic looking figures, or any stories about them, do please get in touch!
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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