A day out to visit Berkeley castle and the graveyard of ships on the River Severn

In these days of lockdown what else we can do to have a bit of joy and relax in England? 

Obviously hiking in nature can be the right answer to this difficult moment.

I started my day trip in the village of Berkeley … stop for a good coffee take away and a visit to the house of Dr Jenner, the scientist who changed the world discovering the smallpox vaccination, a terrible virus that has killed thousands of people worldwide included Kings and Queens.

A short break for lunch and time for some pictures at the castle of Berkeley now closed for the covid pandemic but still interesting for a photoshoot 

Berkely castle 

 The castle’s origins date back to the 11th century, and it has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.

The castle has remained within the Berkeley family since they reconstructed it in the 12th century, except for a period of royal ownership by the Tudors. It is traditionally believed to have been the scene of the murder of King Edward II in 1327 and because of it still haunted by his ghost.

Still, now the visitors can visit the dungeon where the king has horribly killed A deep dungeon in the old keep, into which were once thrown the rotting carcasses of animals, accompanied every so often, it is said, by the corpses of common people who had offended the powerful Lord Berkeley. The stench rising from this disease-ridden and malodorous pit must have been unbearable, but it also provided an exquisitely horrific way to punish those of noble birth who had incurred the wrath of the Berkeley family. A windowless cell can be seen close by. Here, unfortunate nobles would be locked away, with only the stinking air from the nearby dungeon to breathe. It provided a convenient method by which to dispose of those who could not be seen to have been murdered since few people could survive long in the dreadful and fetid atmosphere.

It was this living hell that Edward II found himself confined in 1327 after he was deposed by his wife, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. It was their intention that a few days in the dreadful chamber would bring about the king’s death. But his constitution surprised them. He did become ill, but he recovered and managed to survive five months in the loathsome cell. Clearly, a more direct approach was required, and so the queen instructed Edward’s jailers, Sir John Maltravers and Sir Thomas Gurney, to dispose of her husband as they saw fit.

And so on September 21, 1327, Edward II suffered the most horrible death of any British monarch. The two men seized Edward and pinned him face down to the bed, whereupon ‘a kind of horn or funnel was thrust into his fundament through which a red-hot spit was run up his bowels’. Such was the king’s agony that his screams are said to have been heard far beyond the castle walls, and have echoed down the centuries on the anniversary of his death ever since.

River Severn and the graveyard of its ships 

Tired of such cruelty I decide to relax with a walk along the River Severn 

10 minutes by car from Berkeley village and you are in an amazing naturalistic area. 

There is a dock to cross but it is interesting to notice that a few things have been changed from old postcards of 100 years ago.

After a short walk among a marina where you can see traditional narrowboats, you arrive at Purton Hulks

Purton Hulks 

These old boats were brought to the location from everywhere in England as a defence against the corrosion of the tide 

The stretch of canal from Sharpness to Purton runs very close to the river. At a high spring tyde , they were separated by little more than the width of the towpath. The canal also has no locks and owing to its width, not even any stop locks Any damage to the canal bank could thus render the entire canal unnavigable.

In 1909, following a collapse in the bank of the river, the canal company’s chief engineer Mr A. J. Cullis called for old vessels to be run aground along the bank of the Severn, near Purton, to create a makeshift tidal erosion barrier to reinforce the narrow strip of land between the river and canal. Barges, trows and schooners were hulked at high tide, by towing them from the dock at Sharpness and releasing them to be carried up the bank on the tide. Holes were then made in their hulls so that they filled with water, and over time silt has been laid down inside them.

More boats have been added, including the schooner Katherine Ellen which was impounded in 1921 for running guns to the Irish republican army, the Kennet Canal barge Harriett, and barges built during the second world war The last boat was beached in 1965. The ground level has built up over the years and some of the more recent additions are lying on top of those which had been beached earlier.

A relaxing walk of about 8 km far from everyday life enjoying a step into English history and the beautiful countryside 

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Published by lauraartist68

Artist, photographer ,model , blogger , creator and fashion designer based in Bristol . I live for art

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