Romancing a castle, or is it romance in a castle? We are fascinated with the idea of a castle. Kids create sand castles, sculptors carve ice castles and street artists paint 3-D images of castles onto sidewalks. Castles were built for the Crusaders as protection–designed for strength, not beauty. Yet their massiveness and skillful masonry convey a sense of grandeur and of style. There is no mistaking the character of a Norman Keep at the top of a castle.
Durham Castle Keep exterior
Castles were designed to deal with weapons and tactics which changed slowly, and the availability of materials, manpower and skills was also influential. The shortage of timber in Palestine, for example, encouraged the use of more stone than in Europe.
For some centuries, the security of life in towns depended upon their fortifications, and the constricting girdle of walls and towers did much to shape the architecture of cities. As with the island of Manhattan, they encouraged high rather than wide building. Castles were fortified villages, sheltering people of every level of society and providing a store for grain against famine as well as imminent siege.
Durham Keep Terrace
Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England. In 1837, the castle was donated to the newly-formed University of Durham by Bishop Edward Maltby as accommodation for students. It was named University College. Architect Anthony Salvin rebuilt the dilapidated Keep from the original plans. Opened in 1840, the castle still houses over 100 students, most of whom are in the Keep.
Castle Keep details (Dover Castle)
Click the Keep above for the details.
The castle stands on top of a hill above the River Wear on Durham’s peninsula, opposite Durham Cathedral.The castle was originally built in the 11th century as a projection of the Norman king’s power in the north of England, as the population of England in the north remained “wild and fickle” following the disruption of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is an example of the early motte and bailey castles favored by the Normans. The holder of the office of the Bishop of Durham was a appointed by the King to exercise royal authority on his behalf, the castle was his seat.
Castle Bodiam moat
The design of castles has always been a subject worthy of princes. Château Gaillard is a ruined medieval castle, located 90 meters above the commune of Les Andelys overlooking the River Seine in the Upper Normandy region of northern France, one of the most original designs, was the personal achievement of Richard I of England. The owners of most castles played a large part in their design.
Chateau Gaillard, France
The evidence is scanty, but we can reasonably surmise there was a close working relationship between the princes and the peers who designed the castles and their usually anonymous master masons, who signed their work with their individual marks.
English: 12th century oak chest iron wrapped. Original purpose-to store alms from sinners seeking remission
The styles of this period are known as Romanesque and Norman (800-1150). After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the new king, William the Conqueror granted protection and repose to the conquered Saxon Thanes. Medieval homes were sparsely furnished by modern standards. The most common items were chests. They came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Besides serving as easily transportable storage containers, the chest also served as tables and for seating. Wood of the day was oak, or whatever local woods were available. A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, will give you a first hand look at this type of work.
Oak chest-iron wrapped
The seven Crusades that occurred between the years 1096 and 1270 were of great political, economic and artistic importance. The Crusades did not accomplish any lasting good so far as their original purpose was concerned. They brought, however, a great change in the thought and in the manner of living of the people of Europe that was first noticeable in the Gothic period. They awakened interest at home in the ancient civilizations of Greece, Asia Minor, and the highly developed culture of the Eastern Empire, and they developed a doubt concerning some of the doctrines of the established Roman church, that later formed the roots of the Renaissance.
Durham Castle is jointly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, a short distance across Palace Green.
Would you like to live in a castle? Hmm, well, experience living in one for a day, a week, a year?
Henry VIII Chateau. Tennis was played on the inside courts.
The word “Tennis” came into use in English in the mid-13th century from Old French, via the Anglo-Norman Term Tenez. By poet John Gower in his poem titled In Praise of Peace dedicated to King Henry IV and composed in 1400. “Of the tenetz to winne or lese a chase, Mai no lif wite er that the bal be ronne”. (Whether a chase is won or lost at tennis, Nobody can know until the ball is run).
Tennis in Newport, RI
Tennis is mentioned in literature as far back as the Middle Ages. In The Second Shepherd’s Play (c. 1500) shepherds gave three gifts, including a tennis ball, to the newborn Christ. it’s been said that the early tennis balls were made from wool. The Medieval form of tennis is termed as Real Tennis. Real tennis evolved over three centuries from an earlier ball game played around the 12th century in France.
King Henry VIII
Royal interest in England began with Henry V (1413–22).
Henry VIII (1509–47) made the biggest impact as a young monarch; playing the game with gusto at Hampton Court on a court he built in 1530. It is believed that his second wife Anne Boleyn was watching a game when she was arrested and that Henry was playing when news of her execution arrived. During the reign of James I (1603–25), London had 14 courts.
From the royal courts of England and France to centre court at Wimbledon, from Henry VIII to Federer the great, the game of tennis is steeped in history and tradition. The precise origins of tennis are disputed, with some historians dating it back to Ancient Egypt. According to the official website for “Royal Tennis,” the game was played in the fifth century Tuscany in Italy when villagers struck balls in the street with their bare hands. A more definable version was played by European monks, mostly in Italy and later France, in the 12th century, based around a closed courtyard. Francis I of France, who reigned from 1515-47, was reputedly an enthusiastic player and was responsible for the building of many courts and also promoted the sport among a wider cross section of people.
Federer the great
Yale bowl has tennis in New Haven this week. We had tickets and great seats through my good friend, Lorraine. We got there early, had a bite to eat, Ben and Jerry’s low fat Banana Peanut Butter frozen yogurt… OMG. Walked around picking up trinkets and freebies, when just as the matches were scheduled to begin at 7 pm, it began to rain.
The ticket holders held their breath. Will it stop raining?
Would they get to see tennis? We all stood huddled under the eaves. Finally… the rain stopped some. Wait again… finally… it stopped. A parade of high schoolers came out with squeegees and began drying the courts. Followed by fifteen leaf-blowers, controlled by fifteen high schoolers, finishing the job, when it began to rain again. This time they used towels as well as blowers to dry the courts. It was fascinating to watch this process. So the first match between Caroline Wazniacki of Denmark and Shuai Peng of China began around 9 pm. Shortly after, they announced the second match of the night was cancelled, and moved to the next day. Ms. Wasniacki was favored to win, but readily lost the first set 6-2. Wasniacki was ahead 3-0 in the second set when Peng called the trainer to her chair. We watched in horror while they took her blood pressure. We are big tennis buffs and had never seen this before. Something was very wrong. No… she got up and went back to play, She was serving, ran up, returned the ball, but bent over, possibly dizzy. She tried serving once more, and won her serve. Next thing we knew, she shook her head, called her opponent over, shook hands and retired from play. Peng announced she could not continue. So we spent about five hours in New Haven and watched less than an hour of tennis. Unexpected entertainment, fun of sorts, or was it sort of fun?
William the Conqueror, I wonder if he played tennis? He sure had enough castles to play in. Next week we’ll have a visit there. For now, here’s a fun video to watch if you have a few minutes. Tennis, watch Real Tennis for your enjoyment.
Do you play? What do you ‘love’ about tennis, besides a score of LOVE/40, yours?
Mark, a USPTA colleague, sat behind us at Yale…, it was fun to meet a fellow member United States Professional Tennis Association. The USPTA is the largest and most prestigious professional tennis teaching organization in the country. Teaching and playing tennis was a significant part of my life. They had asked me to execute a painting for their 75th Anniversary. It was wonderful to create the watercolor for them.
USPTA Houston, Texas. watercolor by Ingis Claus