Local History Fair and Conisbrough
Sep 18, 2010
|I forgot to mention that, with my decision to stay on in Doncaster, I also had to find another place to stay as the Caribbean Hotel is booked. Fortunately, I found Windsor House Hotel, which had been on my original list of places to stay, was available and only 4 blocks further along Thorne Road and then 1 block down Windsor Street.
On checking in, I asked Enid (the manageress) for a pen to borrow, since mine had run out of ink. "Well, we normally give out pens when you check out, so I’ll just give you yours now!" Another piece of good timing. I really like that things just fall into place sometimes, with people and things (even pens) showing up at the right time.
On my walk to Windsor House, I noted that, as in Canada, the one side of the street has even-numbered houses, and the other side has odd-numbered houses. HOWEVER, there are 2 differences here in England. First, they use ALL the numbers (well, almost always). So the Caribbean Hotel was 79-81 Thorne Road as it was using 2 attached homes. This also means that 1 block might be only numbers 1 to 10 or 12, whereas in Canada it is normally numbered by the hundreds. The other thing is that the numbers get "out of sync". Opposite number 89 on Thorne Road is number 62, with numbers 76 and 78 2 blocks further down. So you can’t really depend on seeing an address and knowing how far you will have to walk to get there. Just another confusing thing for tourists.
After checking in at Windsor House, I walked back past a VERY large park to the Doncaster Local History Fair at the Museum and Art Gallery on Chequer Road. I spent a few hours talking up all the people at the different tables, and picking up WAY too many books and pamphlets about the history of Thorne, Tickhill and other areas. I also picked up a couple of CDs of baptism records (Fishlake and Cantley), although I can’t check and see what’s there until I get home (my little Netbook doesn’t have a built-in CD drive). Lots of very interesting people, all wanting to help. The person from Tickhill suggested that I go back down "if you have time" and see the head person at the Tickhill Library. The woman from the Doncaster Family History Society highly recommended that I view newspapers at the Central Library. Also, she said that I would undoubtedly benefit from joining their society (which I will do when I get home). I wish that I had another week here and another large suitcase! But I managed to contain myself, and decided that since I was unable to spend Monday afternoon at the Archives, I would try and at least get back down to Tickhill Library.
There were so many nice people there, and all wanted to chat about what surnames were in my tree and where the Kendalls lived. I get the idea that genealogy has finally taken off in England. This is probably due to the TV series "Who Do You Think You Are?", which is shown at least a couple of times a week and has been shown for a number of years now. A couple of people also wanted to talk about BC and 1 man came up to me and said "Cache Creek! I’ve been there, have you?" I didn’t think I’d hear those words in Doncaster (and yes, I’ve been there recently on a bike trip with Bob). Also, 1 man commented that it was ironic that my family came from Tickhill and now lives "by the sea". He said that whenever someone from the Doncaster area is asked for directions by somebody and they want to get them lost, they say "Go to Tickhill and take a right at the sea!" Even though the Kendalls didn't originally emigrate to the seaside in Canada, it must have been pre-ordained that they would eventually take that "right" turn. :)
My mind filled with many more bits of information and possibilities, I decided to take advantage of the sunny afternoon and head to Conisbrough Castle.
The name of the town of Conisbrough is older than the establishment of the present castle. It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "Cyningesburh" -- "the defended burh of the King", suggesting that the area belonged to 1 or other of the Anglo-Saxon kings, before the Norman Conquest. In a document dating to about 1000 AD, it was noted that lands around "Kyningesburgh" were granted to a Saxon nobleman. At this date, the Conisbrough estates extended up to the fisheries of Hatfield (near Thorne). In the Domesday survey, the estate held 28 small townships, mostly in the Doncaster district.
St. Peter’s Church in Conisbrough is the oldest building in South Yorkshire, parts dating back to about 750 AD. It has some amazing features, including very old stained glass windows, a Romanesque tomb chest and two squints. The squints were added about 1200 AD and allowed congregants in the corners of the chapel to see the priest at the altar (Aha! Another way that we got a common word!).
Conisbrough Castle was originally a Saxon structure and now boasts the finest circular Norman keep tower in the UK. It was built during the 1180s by the fifth Earl of Surrey, Hamelin Plantagenet, who was half-brother of Henry II. It passed from hand to hand during the Middle Ages and gradually fell into disrepair. By the time of a survey carried out about 1537, a section of the outer wall, the gatehouse and 1 of the floors of the keep had all fallen.
By the time of the English Civil War in the 1640s, the castle was pronounced to be indefensible by the Parliamentary forces of Oliver Cromwell, thereby escaping the destruction that awaited so many of England's finest castles (including Nottingham and Tickhill castles). Since that time, little had been done to preserve the castle until the middle of the 1900s. Now in the care of English Heritage, it attracts over 30,000 visitors per year.
After taking the bus back to Doncaster, I stopped once again at Troy Restaurant for dinner. This time I had some mezes -- feta and olives, calamari and houmous. The Saturday night crowds are gathering on the streets for another hard night of partying in the city. Women in too tight, too short, too low-cut dresses, with too much makeup. The men don’t dress up at all, it appears. The other fashion statement that I have seen here is lots of Uggs -- uggh!
There is also a pink stretch limo that continually circles the main streets. Must be the only limo in this part of the country, and is a strange sight as the roads around here are definitely not built for that size of vehicle.