Newcastle's Dark History.....
Newcastle's Ghost Walk links the past, through some of the city’s oldest buildings, tourist attractions and murder.
What is an Assizes Court? Where did the name Gallow Gate come from? Was anyone hung, drawn and quartered? How many witches were hung on the Town Moor? Who was bastard Heron? Did Newcastle have pirates?Follow the Ghost walks and Haunted Pub Tours then ye will find the answers to these and many more questions.
Imagine being shackled to a wall in a roofless, cold and often flooded cell, overcrowded, with no segregation, no toilet, no water and no food.
This was the reality for prisoners in the Keep. From a fort to a court, the Castle Keep has a long and impressive history and also played a significant role in local justice. Described as one of the most disgraceful and primitive prisons by prison reformer John Howard, the Keep was being used as the County Gaol, and the Great Hall as an Assizes Court, for many years with some very infamous names held here.
By the late 1400’s, criminals wanted in Newcastle could also use the castle yard as a sanctuary to escape, as the castle was officially part of Northumberland and outside the jurisdiction of Newcastle town authorities. All of the prisoners held here had received severe sentences, often death by hanging, and many were sentenced to transportation. Other punishments included whipping – very common and harsh. On Assizes Sunday the prisoners were put on public display and for sixpence you could come and ridicule them.
Newcastle upon Tyne (usually shortened to Newcastle) is a large city in Tyne and Wear, England. It is located on the north bank of the River Tyne and was formerly the county town of Northumberland. The city was founded in Roman times under the name Pons Aelius. The medieval latin name is Novum Castrum super Tynum (Newcastle upon Tyne).
After the Roman withdrawal from Britain, Newcastle became part of the powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, and was known throughout this period as Monkchester. After a series of conflicts with the Danes and the devastation north of the River Tyne inflicted by Odo of Bayeux after the 1080 rebellion against the Normans, Monkchester was all but destroyed. Because of its strategic position, Robert Curthose, son of William the Conqueror, erected a wooden castle there in 1080 and the town was henceforth known as Novum Castellum or New Castle.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Newcastle was England's northern fortress. A stone wall 25 ft high was built around the town in the 13th century, to defend it from invaders during the Border war against Scotland. The Scots king William the Lion was imprisoned in Newcastle in 1174, and Edward I brought the Stone of Scone and William Wallace south through the town. Newcastle was successfully defended against the Scots three times during the 14th century, and around this time became a county corporate.
The Castle Keep of Newcastle Upon Tyne was built by Henry II between 1168-1178, it is one of the finest surviving examples of a Norman Keep in the country.
But this Keep and its Garth have a dark past filled with bloodshed and murder. The Ghost Walk will take you through the darkness of night where you will find yourself standing on bloodstained land as our tour guides tell tales of murder and suicide.
Within the last 800 years, the appearance of the Castle Garth has been greatly altered. The Old Moot Hall, on the east side of the yard, has been pulled down; an immense accumulation of ashes and dung, south of the jury-room, removed; and the curious building which surrounded this artificial hill, called the Half-Moon Battery, demolished. The latter place was divided into tenements, and contained a great number of families.
The upper rooms in front were reached by stairs, which communicated with wooden galleries, that led along each story of the building, and gave to the whole, when viewed from the bridge, a very curious appearance. This place was entered from the front area of the Garth by a narrow, dirty entry; but the whole is now covered with the County Courts, one of the most magnificent edifices of modern times. Adjoining to the east side of the Castle stood a range of houses, called the Clogger's Raw. (fn. 15) This, and a cluster of wretched tenements and pig-sties which faced the south and west sides of the Castle, have been pulled down; and that noble structure is now left insulated and open to view As pictured below.
The castle's winding steps home to some of Newcastle's most hidden secrets.
At the west side of the top of the Castle Stairs was a cluster of mean buildings, called Dowey's Corner, the abodes of wretchedness and prostitution. It was so named from a baker, named Dowey, who long resided here. The clearing away of these nasty tenements has exposed to view part of the outer wall of the ballium of the Castle. In one part of the wall, which is at present below the surface, there has been a door that is now walled up.
On the south side of the Castle there was an eminence, called The Mount, on the north and west side of which were tenements of various forms. The Mount was leveled, and the houses removed, in forming the commodious approach to the County Courts called Castle Street, the south side of which consists of a range of regular-built houses.
Above The Blackgate back in the 1800s and Now. A woman has been seen standing on the balcany watching over the ghost tours by ghost walkers.
Above the Black Gate in the 1800s and now
Above the picture is looking down at the Castle from the old post office.
The Black Gate,. We explore the underside of the Black Gate where photos of orbs, voices and cries have all been heard, sitings of dark shapes and the ghost of a 7 year old girl supposedly haunts.
The Black Gate was the last part of the defenses of the castle of Newcastle upon Tyne, added 1247-1250, and formed an additional, projecting, gateway or barbican to the earlier north gate of the castle. The barbican consisted of a gatehouse flanked by two half-drum towers with a narrow high-walled passage to the rear, placed at an angle to the castle curtain walls thus making it vulnerable to fire from the defenders. There was a drawbridge to the front (west) and another to the rear, both now replaced by wooden footbridges. The gatehouse passage could be sealed by a portcullis, the grooves for which are still visible, and a double gate.
The height of the medieval building is unknown; the present upper floors, roof and false arch over the gateway were added in the early 17th century when the gatehouse was rebuilt by Alexander Stephenson, a court favourite of James I who was granted a lease of the whole castle. Later it was occupied by Patrick Black, a London merchant, and Barbara his wife. From whom the gatehouse acquired its present name.
In the 17th century houses were built along both sides of the defended passageway. A public house was opened in part of the Black Gate, run by John Pickells whose name and the date 1636, can still be seen high up on the south-west wall.
By the early 19th century the Black Gate had become a slum tenement, at one time housing 60 people. The Black Gate was leased to the Society of Antiquaries, who extensively restored it between 1883 and 1885, and have occupied the building as a meeting place and library to the present day.
For further information about the castle of which the Black Gate is a part, visit the home page of the Castle Keep of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The Castle Keep one of the most brutal prisons ever recorded in Newcastle Upon Tyne's history, here are some other tails of prison life from Newcastle.
There are some very interesting tales of prisoners who met their death on the Moor throughout the ages who spent the last days in bowls of the Castle keep. Walk with us as we paint a picture of old Newcastle and stand where the condemned would of mounted there coffin for the last ride to the gallows.
1592 - a Catholic priest was hanged, drawn and quartered and the gallows burned so that pieces could not be saved as holy relics of a martyr. 1593 - Edward Waterson was hanged, drawn and quartered. His bowels were cut out, his head removed and placed on a pole, his body cut into three pieces and displayed across the town. His crime? Attempted escape from Newgate Gaol by burning his cell door. He was born in London and brought up in the Protestant religion. In company with certain merchants he traveled to Turkey to see the East, and there a rich Turk, taking a fancy to him, offered him his daughter in marriage if he would renounce Christianity. Waterson, however, refused the proposal with horror, and taking Rome on his way homewards was instructed and reconciled to the Church. He was then admitted as a student at Rheims, and though he had but little learning, his zeal mastered all difficulties and he was ordained priest in Mid-Lent 1592 and sent to England. Shortly after his arrival he was apprehended and condemned on account of his priesthood. Catholic eye-witnesses relate that, as he was being drawn to his execution, the hurdle suddenly stood still, and the officers in vain flogged the horses to move it. Fresh animals were secured, but they broke the traces, and the hurdle remained fixed. Waterson had therefore to be led on foot to the gallows; there the ladder shook violently of itself till the martyr by the sign of the Cross made it still. He was then hung for been a Catholic. The Catholic religion thourght they had it but it is there religion that killed so many in the name of the god. ( See below)
1650 - 30 witches accused and 14 witches and one wizard hanged. The last hanging for witchcraft was of Alice Molland in 1686. There where 30 witches accused of dancing with the devil in total, but only 14 where hung. Where did the rest go? Follow our witchcraft trail and walk with a real witch and hear of Newcastle's witchcraft trials.
From murderous acts to witchcraft, the gallows on the Town Moor was the site of some gruesome hangings. Prisoners spent these two days in the dungeon of Newcastle Keep and on execution day were taken in public procession past Bailiff ’s Gate, Black Gate and then along Westgate Road to the gallows.
Not so surprising we get regular sightings of the walking dead when you look in to its history of hangings and death. Below is a true account of a murder on our ghost walk.
Patrick Forbes, an Irish labourer, hung for the murder of his wife. It’s a strange story and there was a graphic description of the execution in the Evening Chronicle.
To the left a image of Newgate Prison where Patrick was held be fore his execution
1850 August 30, Patrick Forbes an Irish Labourer murdered his wife Elizabeth March 29 1850, at their home in Cloggers Entry at the head of the Side they had spent the day drinking in Robertsons spirit shop and when they arrived home Elizabeth had been unable to walk up the stairs two neighbours Mrs. Elizabeth Dees and Mrs. Wheatly helped to get her up the stairs to her room Patrick and Elizabeth spent the night in their room their daughter Bridget had been in the room several times through the night for bread their son Thomas had been in the room sleeping all night, Bridget had heard snoring thought she did not know who it was. The next day when she went in the room there was a great deal of blood and Elizabeth was lying half out of the bed the quilt soaked in blood Bridget cried "Murder" and a nearby Policeman heard and entered the room there were no visible wounds on the body of Elizabeth but later at the inquest wounds had been found that could have been made with knives found in Patricks pockets. (Below a image of an old house on the Head of the side next to the blackgate)
The Last official statement of Forbes: - I loved my wife sincerely and on the 22 March I had no thought or intention of doing her any injury whatever on that night I was very drunk and am not conscious of myself having done anything to cause the death of my dear wife: but believing the deed not done by any other person I am willing to take the blame of it upon myself I am satisfied I had a fair trial before Judge and jury and submit willingly to the laws of the country etc. declaration made before Alderman George Thomas Dunn and Mr. Thomas Governor of the Gaol at Newcastle Upon Tyne 23 August 1850.
Strong wooden barriers were erected across Carliol Street and Carliol Square, police were in attendance as the workmen built the scaffold, and there was some concern about having the execution in the confines of the street as opposed to the usual open space of the Town Moor. By 11 O'clock Friday night a large crowd had gathered in the neighbour hood but by 2 O'clock in the morning the crowd did not exceed 100 people. In the Newcastle Arms however the only public house in the vicinity a large crowd had gathered, mostly males, smoking, drinking and singing. The house had been crowded throughout the day and the landlord had let the seats in the window for a considerable sum of money per head. Bets were laid on how many people would be present. About 5 O'clock Saturday morning the scaffold was erected at this time the crowd began to increase as workmen and labourers came for a brief inspection of the paraphernalia of death before they moved on the their places of work. The hangman had been to the scaffold several times through the night and had been jeered at and shouted at by the crowd, he was Howard of York 74 years old and had officiated as "Jack Ketch" on eighteen human beings several applications had been made to the authorities for the office of hangman Murdock of Glasgow had applied who had executed Mark Sherwood on the Town Moor, Welch and Mathews at Morpeth and Bennison at Edinburgh, but Mathews had been rejected because of a professional incapacity at Morpeth.
There were more men than women in the crowd a few of the men were well dressed but there were not many of this class. The atmosphere was one of a public holiday people were laughing and telling jokes people on holiday looking for some cheap excitement it was not a sombre affair something that would act as a deterrent. At 8 O'clock whistles and shouts of "Hats off" there was silence for a minuet or two then the clamour started again. Silence was partially restored when R. Dodds Esq. Sheriff and R.P.Phillipson Esq. Under Sheriff and the Gaoler entered. They were followed by two clergymen after whom came Patrick Forbes supported by two turnkeys Mr. Hatfield and Mr. Cromer, Forbes was unable to walk without assistance his face was pale and his demeanour was helpless and dejected praying with much fervour and repeatedly ejaculating "O Lord Jesus" "Saints pray for me." Mr Bentham read the benediction when the prisoner rose to his feet the Priest said "Now step forward like a man." but Forbes was apparently unable to do so and had to be lifted onto the drop he stood trembling and repeating "Mercy Jesus" while the hangman drew the cap over his face and adjusted the rope around his neck and secured both ankle straps, Forbes clasped his hands together in prayer, the hangman descended to the apparatus below. The sea of upturned faces presented a never to be forgotten sight every face had the same eager and expectant expression - every countenance was blenched with the same horrible excitement. When the signal was given the bolt was withdrawn and a thrill of horror and a suppressed scream ran through the crowd unfortunately Forbes did not fall correctly and fell partially on the scaffold and partly under the scaffold he was hastily drawn up and let fall again with a jerk after a minute Forbes was dead the body remained hanging for the usual amount of time when the body was cut down the body was buried in the confines of the prison ten yards from the body of Mark Sherwoods.
Although The Newcastle Chronicle had reported this murder and execution in such detail they had printed an article on the 23 August 1850 asking people not to attend the execution and appealed to employers not to let their workers have time off to watch as they thought a public hanging was not the deterrent it was supposed to be and would instead harden and brutalize the people who watched.
Moot Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne: Below, Bottom right "The foreground shows some of the old houses facing onto the Sandhill, while behind to the left stands the Moot Hall and the Castle. The beautiful spire of St. Nicholas' Cathedral is seen in the centre"
Built in 1810 in an area known as Castle Garth, Moot Hall was used as the County Court and Assizes and sometimes the Quarter Assizes (Crown Court). Moot is the old English word for meeting. These were held in the Grand Hall. As there were few written laws in the early days, justice was delivered through the meetings and was based on local custom. The ground floor housed county prisoners before they were sent to Morpeth Gaol. Justices of the Peace, or JPs, were first introduced in the 14th Century to keep order. They would sit four times a year. The word Assizes comes from the French word “sitting” - hence the name Quarter Assizes. Why French? The common language of courts for nearly 300 years up until 1362 was French, rather than English. There were very few JPs prior to the 16th Century - about 18 per county. Over time they have grown and their powers increased. These courts have now been replaced by Crown Courts. Moot Hall is still in use although the main bulk of work is now done at Newcastle Crown Court on the Quayside.
( The Guildhall to the left )
Criminals who met their death by hanging were tried at the Guildhall, used as an Assizes Court, Borough Sessions and Quarter Sessions. It was also used for Newcastle Assizes Week along with Moot Hall. Built by Robert Trollope from 1655 to 1658, a new façade was added in 1809. In June 1740, the Guildhall was attacked by rioters in what was described as the worst breakdown of civil disorder in the history of Newcastle. As a result, 27 men and women were tried at the Assizes. Seven were found guilty and transported for life, all where from the Castle Garth. The Guildhall has a dark passed pressed in its many faces. The look of the building has changed dramatically of the years. The Guildhall had its good and bad sides, look at it from a nagging wife’s point of view and she may say they places was run by devils, after all they had the Scolds bridal housed here. The Guildhall would have been the last place men, woman and gordy children would of stood on old English land before boarding a ship set to transport prisoners to Australia accused of been highwaymen, smugglers, house-breakers, murderers, forgers, larcenists, arsonists, rustlers, deserters, pirates, smugglers and escaped convicts. Detailed descriptions are given of shops’ goods that have been looted, possessions taken from houses, clothes that have been taken from unfortunate travellers, and horses and cattle stolen from farmers boats bored and men killed.
(Above Vagrants boarding a transportation ship)
Newcastle’s link with the sea will be with us forever as this fine city has a sea faring heritage that goes back to the beginning of time. But what about Pirates and Smugglers, Wreckers and Wenches. There are reports of acts of piracy. Ship would set sail to Australia the hull full with convicts in the worst of living states, originally it could take up to one year for the convicts to reach there final destination, most would die on the ship due to poor heath or killer infections. (Below inside a transportation ship )
The crimes committed seam to come from the transporters them self, such as bringing back goods from there travels that they had stolen of pilfered from other sources.
Although never recognized as pirates we find in today’s research that this went on.
The History of Famous Pirates dates back over many hundreds of years. The Golden Age of European pirates saw many seamen, who had served in merchant or naval ships, turning to the lucrative, but dangerous occupation of a pirate. But the pirate crews were treated much better than the navy crews who were subjected to harsh, rules, treatment and punishment and low wages - many were press-ganged into service. The pirate ships were governed by their own laws, called Articles, which were agreed between the pirate crew and the captain - these articles also agreed how the prize money from their raids and captures would be shared out. The history of pirates was based on money - the potential wealth which could be made in a pirate's life. And lifestyle..
Edward Robinson The Newcastle Pirate
Edward Robinson, a man, a lover, a pirate..
Edward Robinson a pirate born and bred her in then dark Hart of Newcastle he murder and wrecked his way through life. Committing crime and killing any one that stud in his way, Its said that Robinson grow up in the Close on the Newcastle Quayside now where many pubs and restaurants stand. Edward Robinson killed his first victim in a pub called the White hart Inn which stood where chase night club not stands. Robinson was said to have sliced the man's throat and pushed him in the river. now visit the locations he grow up in as a young boy and the place he murdered his first victim, then here how he became part of the Infamous pirates Crew, Captained by Stede Bonnet and sailed with Blackbeard and pillaged and killed more men before he was eventually caught and hung! (to the left Bonnet been hung)
By most accounts, Robins was with Blackbeard during his famous siege of Charles Town in May of 1718 and the return to Ocracoke, North Carolina. Some how Robinson ended up with Stede Bonnet's crew. Stede Bonnet In June of 1718, was then swindled out of his share of any loot when Blackbeard convinced him to go receive a pardon from Governor Eden in Bath Town; Blackbeard meanwhile sailed from Ocracoke inlet with the goods the men never met agian.
Stede Bonnet, Edward Robinsons Captain changed his name to Captain Edwards (and then Captain Thomas) and his sloop to the 'Royal James', as he apparently intended to sail to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and become a privateer after his pardon. He was sidetracked by a short pursuit of Blackbeard, and once again chose piracy. Some would say that he paid attention while under Blackbeard's care, for he captured as many as ten vessels off the coast of Virginia before returning to the Cape Fear Inlet for repairs in September 1718.
Stede Bonnet's next big mistake was to release the crew of a ship that he took for its wood; the released went to Charles Town. From then on, Bonnet-Edwards-Thomas was swallowed up in the storm caused by pirates like Charles Vane and Blackbeard.
In Charles Town, Governor Johnson and the local authorities sent Colonel William Rhett in the 'Henry' and the 'Sea Nymph' to capture Charles Vane and others like him. Rhett arrived in the Cape Fear River inlet after chasing a rabbit trail south that Vane had created, and on September 27, 1718, Bonnet surrendered after a protracted time of manoeuvring and battle.
Everyone aboard the 'Royal James' were caught and taken to Charles Town to be placed under guard except for Bonnet and Edward. As gentleman, They where placed in better quarters in the Marshall's house, joined later by two officers who turned state's evidence. While awaiting trial, he sent letters to the governor begging for forgiveness and pledging reform, but all hopes for a pardon were dashed after he escaped and had to be retaken 14 days later. See a more detailed account below.
The trial of his crew yielded an unsurprising conviction, and they were hanged on November 8, 1718, to be later buried at the low water mark according to Admiralty tradition. Stede Bonnet lost his desperate appeals for him and his crew and was hung on December 10. He was buried next to Edward Robinson and his Crew. (Below the marker in Carolina)
Now Edward Robinson has come back from the dead to haunt some of his old hang outs, on the haunted pub tours. This tour will take you through smuggling, wrecking, piracy murder and some spine chilling ghost stories. Book the tour now 0191 44 00078 or see our haunted pub tours page.
Death by hanging in old Newcastle...
Death by hanging in the 18th and 19th Centuries was a brutal experience and many convicts were also subjected to drawing and quartering. Whilst still alive they had their genitals cut off, their intestines and internal organs cut out and burned in front of them, their heads removed and, finally, their body quartered. This punishment was invented in 1305 by Edward the First as a punishment for William Wallace of Scotland.
After his death, parts of his body were thought to have been displayed across Newcastle. Women were spared this ordeal because it was considered indecent. Instead, many were burned at the stake after hanging, often while still alive. The bodies of those not burned were dissected to improve medical knowledge. In the early 1700’s, half the convicted thieves at Quarter Session courts received a year in jail as punishment. Many of those jailed were women - men were more likely to receive a public whipping, followed by a short custodial sentence with hard labour.
(To the left The 3 Bulls head)
Home to some of Newcastle's worst criminals. There has been many pubs and Inns in the Castle Garth over the years, but the 3 bulls head was classed as one of the worst pubs in Newcastle with its reputation for murders and ladies of the night. The 3 bulls heads no longer stands but the archway of the train viaduct where the building once stud is said to be haunted by long gone men and woman still enjoying a tipple or two.
From a modern city to a old land of mugging and prostitutes, crime, poverty.
In Corbridge's plan of Newcastle, 1723, this is called "Dog Loop." Loup is an ancient word, signifying to leap. 13A little above the foot of the Dog-Loup Stairs, on the opposite side, was a descent, by a small flight of steps, into a short, narrow lane, which communicated, by another dark lane.
From: 'The present state of Newcastle: Streets within the walls', Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827), pp. 160-182.
Having reached the Head of the Side, we turn to the left, and enter a narrow, short passage, called King Street, on the south side of which is the grand entrance to the Castle, very properly named the Black Gate. Within this strong and gloomy gateway is a narrow, awkward street, leading into an open area before the Castle. After the Union, the Castle Garth seems to have been much neglected; and, by a survey taken in the year 1649, consisted of small gardens and waste grounds, with a few tenements interspersed. But it being within the county of Northumberland, Scotch-men and other strangers gradually increased its population, though much persecuted by the frivolous and vexatious suits of the corporation, who claimed a jurisdiction within the liberties of the Castle.
Archaeological Excavations, a summary:
Archaeologist John Nolan uncovering an Anglian grave.
Few archaeological sites in British cities can rival the scientific interest and symbolic importance of the Castle at Newcastle upon Tyne. Some eighteen centuries of human occupation have left remains of great complexity above and below ground. Beginning in 1960 the recent excavations at the Castle were directed by Barbara Harbottle and later Margaret Ellison (starting 1976) and John Nolan (1984-1992). (Snape, M and Bidwell, P. (2002) The Roman Fort at Newcastle Upon Tyne, Archaeologia Aeliana 5th Series, Vol XXX1. Pages 1-3.
Excavations at the Castle Garth were to discover evidence of: prehistoric activity, the famous Roman fort Pons Aelius, the Anglian cemetery of Monkchester, and the first phase of the Castle - built in the mott and bailey style by Robert Curthose eldest son of William the Conqueror.
The Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne, built in 1091 but had a wood parish on the site before this time. it is not like other northern cathedrals such as Durham and Carlisle.
There were also witch trials in Newcastle in the mid-17th Century, led by a Scottish witch finder called Cuthbert Nicholson, who would push a pin under suspected witches' clothing to pierce their skin. If they did not bleed they were declared witches. "The Newcastle bellman invited people to report suspected witches," . "Nicholson was later executed in Scotland for trickery. He confessed responsibility for the deaths of 220 women. He had been paid 20 shillings for each witch captured."
The Cathedral is probably one of the most unusual buildings to have played a part in Newcastle’s criminal past. It has been a court house (Assizes Court) trying serious crimes, some resulting in the death penalty, and its bells have tolled to signify amnesties for criminals entering Newcastle. Judges known as the King’s Justices, arriving in Gateshead to open Assizes Week, would always visit St Nicholas’ Cathedral on the first Saturday of the week. They would raise funds for Newcastle Infirmary before retiring to the pleasures of Newgate Street inns. In 1362, and was also used as the Assizes Court for two years when the Old Assembly Rooms were demolished in 1810. Its bell became known as the “Thief and Reiver Bell” and rang out to herald the start of the festivals of St Luke and Lammas on 29 March and 12 August, offering immunity to criminals entering Newcastle! When the bell was heard it signified the start of the two festivals and an amnesty for “king’s outlaws or any traitors or any malefactor”.
It has never had either a monastic cloister or a cathedral close separating the church from the town around it. It has spent most of its life as a humble parish church, albeit the fourth largest in England, only becoming a cathedral on 25th July 1882.
“Among the more important churches erected in the period of which we treat, that of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne holds an honourable place (Fig. 1052). It crowns a bold eminence, and forms from every point of view the chief ornament of the town. The founder was St. Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury; the time, the reign of William Rufus. Henry I gave the church to the canons of Carlisle. It was burned in 1216, and rebuilt, as supposed, about 1359. The most remarkable feature is the steeple, two hundred and one feet high, erected in the reign of Henry VI., which is of the most elegant character, in the form of an imperial crown; the tall pinnacle is hollow, the stones only four inches broad; indeed, of such airy construction is the whole tower, that is has been observed, a man could carry with ease under his arm the largest stone contained in it.
During a siege in 1644, a Scottish general threatened to destroy this steeple, unless the keys of the town were delivered to him. The people of Newcastle were sadly distressed between such alternatives, until their mayor ordered that some Scotch prisoners, who had been taken in the struggle for the mastery of the town, should be sent to the top of the steeple: “And then,” said he, “our enemies shall either preserve it, or e buried in its ruins.” There was no more talk of annihilating the steeple.” (p. 303)
The church became a cathedral in 1882. The tower is said to be 200 feet high. Here are some modern pictures of St. Nicholas’ Cathedral.
Note: I am using UK county boundaries as of 1907; Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is now in Tyneside.
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