Tales From Northumberland (2013) Episode Scripts

N/A - Episode 6

I'm Robson Green.
And in this series, I'm experiencing a whole new side of somewhere I'm still very proud to call home.
An ancient county that's shaped the Britain we know today.
She is one bonny-looking lass.
Wow! You know.
We started that.
Goodness gracious.
I could be holding Hotspur's sword here.
These are my Tales From Northumberland.
Northumberland's many castlesruins and former battlefields provide a glimpse into our past.
But while some landmarks seem frozen in time, others have had to change and evolve.
Today, I'm going to discover how three local landmarks have been reinvented and re-imagined for the 21 st century, adding a new chapter to the county's history.
My journey begins in the heart of Northumberland, 30 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, at the market town of Alnwick.
I'm travelling to a castle that dates back to 600 AD and in medieval times was a key stronghold in defending England from Scottish invaders.
Since then, it's had a few makeovers.
Like many castles all over Britain, this ancient fortress has had to find a new role and identity to survive in the modern day.
Alnwick Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in Europe.
And it's been home to the Dukes and Earls of Northumberland since the 14th century.
It's also one of the region's most popular tourist attractions, thanks in no small part to its starring role in a certain film franchise.
Its Gothic architecture and dramatic setting made Alnwick Castle the perfect choice to be cast as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films.
Magic only happens here.
The castle's connection with the highest-grossing film series in history is said to have brought in nearly £10 million in revenue to the region.
Are you ready, then? Right.
As any Potter fan will know, this courtyard was where Harry and Ron had their first broomstick lesson.
- Broomstick.
- Broomstick.
No, not you! You! But I'm much more interested in Alnwick's other famous Harry.
And, like Master Potter, he was also battling dangerous foes while he was still in short trousers.
Alongside Alan Shearer, and the great engineer George Stephenson, Harry Hotspur has to be one of my favourite Northeastern heroes.
It was William Shakespeare who immortalised Hotspur in Henry IV Part One.
At the end of the play, just as in real life, the young warrior was killed during combat.
During his dying moments, Hotspur mourns his lost glory more than his own life.
And in his final speech he utters the words "Thou hast robbed me of my youth.
I'd best brook the loss of brittle life than those proud titles thou hast won of me.
They wound my thoughts worse than thy sword my flesh.
" He was as hard as nails.
Born in Alnwick in 1364, Henry Percy, to give Hotspur his real name, was the eldest son of the first Earl of Northumberland.
A skilled warrior, he spent most of his short life fearlessly defending England from the Scots.
Most of my knowledge of Hotspur comes from reading Shakespeare.
So I wanted to find out about the real man behind the legend.
If anyone can tell me, it's Chris Hunwick, Alnwick Castle's head archivist.
- Just unlock.
- I take it the public aren't allowed in this place? No.
You're seeing behind the scenes here.
No, this isn't the Hogwarts library.
It's the Records Tower, home to over 50,000 documents and artefacts containing clues to the castle's history over the past 1,000 years.
So, tell me, Chris.
When people come to Alnwick Castle, are they more interested in the Harry Hotspur story or the Harry Potter story? Well, I think at the moment, Harry Potter takes the edge.
But I think undeservedly so.
Harry Hotspur is one of the greatest medieval warriors.
- Shakespeare called him "the infant warrior".
- Yes.
How old was he when he went into battle? We know that he led his father's troops at the Siege of Berwick in 1378, when he was either 12 or 14.
Behave! - 12 to 14 years old? - Yeah, yeah.
Seriously? So he's fully trained and he's leading the troops into battle at that age.
Bad-tempered and impatient, Percy was known for his lightning quick strikes against the enemy.
So, why do you think Hotspur still is revered, still talked about and, in some cases, romanticised? Well, he was so famous at the time.
Now, you get buildings named after him, beers.
Tottenham Hotspur is named after Hotspur.
The founders of the football club were surrounded by Northumberland Street, Percy House.
They'd just been studying Shakespeare.
And they named themselves after Hotspur as a model of valour.
Oh, really? Where does the name Hotspur come from? - Why Harry Hotspur? - It was a nickname, given to Hotspur by his foe, the Scots.
Because he was so keen to spur into battle.
And in these scraps, what would he have at hand? Would he be fighting with a sword bill hook? Well, just behind you, while we're wearing these white gloves, just like Hotspur, erm this sword is said to be Hotspur's sword.
What, the one? He actually carried that? Found at the battle battlefield of Otterburn.
I mean, it was found in the 19th century on the battlefield.
So a loose connection.
Obviously, it's come to be known as Hotspur's sword.
Goodness gracious.
I could be holding Hotspur's sword here.
That's amazing.
There are many mysteries that still surround this Northumbrian hero, including that of his final resting place after he was killed at the age of 39.
But Chris believes he has finally found the answer in this ancient scroll.
"The seventh Henry, his son, before him was dead At the Battle of Shrewsbury by misfortune slain This Henry is a noble in bookes as I read At the Battle of Homildon in the field plain He took the Earl Douglas, the Scots' chief captain He wedded the Earl of March's daughter, Elizabeth, heit she This Henry was no earl, in York Minster lyeth he" So, I think, you've seen it here first Hotspur lies buried in York Minster.
But the pavements have been changed in the 18th century.
Tombstones have been removed.
There's no marker.
He lies in an unmarked grave.
Often with history, the truth fails to live up to the legend.
Clearly, Harry Hotspur was every bit the fearless warrior that Shakespeare wrote about.
Eat your heart out, Harry Potter.
But he isn't the only member of the Percy family to have added to the castle's vibrant history.
Once nicknamed "the Kings of the North", the Percys have certainly had a colourful past.
They had a key role in The Hundred Years War, the War of the Roses, and were even accessories in the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot.
700 years since the Percys first bought Alnwick Castle, it remains their family home.
Ralph Percy became the 12th Duke of Northumberland in 1995, with his wife Jane becoming Duchess.
Under their watch, this medieval castle has been transformed into one of the most popular attractions in the north of England.
The castle gardens, which until recent times lay derelict, have undergone over £40 million worth of renovations.
When we moved to Alnwick, erm 19 years ago, my husband thought that I might need something to do.
So he gave me the Alnwick garden and said, "Why don't you do something with this?" And, like most men, who don't really listen to their wives, he assumed I might plant a bag of bulbs and stick in some rose bushes, and he had no idea that I was going to do what I've what I've done today.
And I often wonder how many times he regretted saying to me, "'Can you do something with the Alnwick garden?" The 24-acre garden is home to 16,000 plants.
And not all roses and daffodils, by the look of it.
And there's Britain's largest water feature, the Grand Cascade.
My aim was to create something which the Northeast could be really proud of, which erm you would find anywhere in the world.
The great thing was, it would be in Northumberland.
It wasn't going to be in the South.
And it had to be used by the community and loved by the community.
Not a bad back garden, is it? And their home's not bad, either.
It holds one of the finest private collections of art and furniture in the country, collected by generations of Earls and Dukes of Northumberland.
Helping to look after it all is collections assistant Kate Devlin.
Goodness gracious.
What a spectacular room.
- I take it it's the library.
- Yes, it is.
The family really enjoy using this room.
It still gets used when the family are living here.
- The family hang out in this room? - Yes.
So, you know If you look round, you can see some of their personal possessions, their television.
- They really enjoy using this room.
- It's not a small TV.
No, it's not.
Holding 14,000 books, the library was created in the 16th century by the 9th Earl - one of the largest libraries of its day.
The room was later renovated by Algernon, the 4th Duke.
A keen seafarer, he added the room's barometer, wind dial and clock.
The castle has 25 antique clocks.
And it's Kate's job to keep things ticking over.
See what I did there? This could be an accident waiting to happen.
Has anything ever gone horribly wrong, Kate? Erm I don't think so.
So this could be the first.
What we do first is stop the pendulum, so the clock's not running while we wind it.
- This is the winding key here.
- Goodness gracious! So, what I'm gonna get you to do is slot it onto here.
- OK.
- And then you just wind it to the left.
Like this.
OK? So, be gentle, but firm.
- Am I nearly there? - Nope.
Keep going.
- Oh, really? - You have to be gentle.
Not too hard.
Goodness gracious.
I mean, it is a beautiful piece of engineering.
How old is this clock? Dating around the 1860s, when this room was restored.
It's English.
It was made in London.
There you go.
You've reached the end there.
How many clocks do you have to wind up a day? There's about nine on the winding schedule.
There are more clocks.
- But we only wind nine.
- Where to next? Come on.
Time's ticking on.
Oh, gosh! Come on.
From ancient warriors to 21 st-century wizards, Alnwick Castle continues to evolve through changing times.
An incredible fortress which remains just as important to Northumberland's present as it was to its past.
There are vast stretches of Northumberland's coastline and wild rugged countryside that have remained untouched throughout the ages.
But its towns have had to adapt and adjust with the changing times.
Nowhere more so than the medieval market town of Alnwick.
As we've seen, it's home to one of Britain's most important castles.
But Alnwick could almost once boast one of the country's finest railway stations, too.
Built in 1887, the station's size and grandeur were designed to impress visiting royalty who came to visit the Dukes and Earls of Northumberland.
But over the course of time, it became difficult for this small market town to sustain its lavish train station.
The Beeching Report of the '60s heralded the decline of the railways, meaning it was the end of the line for Alnwick in 1967.
After the station closed, it became a dead place.
It was just being used for storage.
It was basically a white elephant.
The station was closed for 20 years until railway enthusiasts Stuart Manley and his American wife Mary came up with a plan to get this Victorian building back on track.
Originally set up as a place for keen readers to swap their collections, Barter Books has gone on to become one of largest second-hand bookshops in Britain.
Nobody liked the idea, really, except for Stuart.
One of our earliest customers came in and said, "I'll give it a month.
" - Well, 22 years later, we're still here.
- Yeah.
We were able to restore and to make it come alive, in a way, very much as it once was, as a railway station.
Signs of this building's former life are everywhere.
In decades past, passengers would have enjoyed a cup of tea in this old station buffet or passed the time in this former waiting room.
And where once there was a chilly station platform, today the people of Alnwick can browse rare first-edition books and antique collectibles.
It is a wonderful building and we've actually taken a great delight in restoring as much of it as we could back to how it was, and the people like it, too, it's just got a lovely feel to it.
But this isn't the only piece of British history to be brought back to life here.
In 2001, a secret find surfaced after 50 years, hidden on a dusty shelf.
It is just one of those funny things in life where things happen and obviously, at the time of discovery, we had no idea it would become, as it has become, a worldwide icon.
That icon was this poster- Keep Calm And Carry On.
Yes, you might have seen it around.
In 1939, the Ministry Of Information commissioned a set of propaganda posters aimed at keeping British spirits up during the Second World War.
One of these posters was held back, ready to tell the nation not to panic if Britain was invaded.
But Britain soldiered on, and the poster was locked away in the archives.
Until a box of old books bought at an auction arrived in Stuart and Mary's office.
Folded up at the bottom was this little poster, Keep Calm And Carry On, and it just hit me the moment I saw it.
I showed it to Mary and it hit her as well.
So, Mary had it framed, put it up in the shop, and the rest is history.
This simple wartime message seemed to resonate with our chaotic modern lives.
Soon the world went Keep Calm And Carry On mad, spreading to homes and offices across the globe.
70 years after the poster was created, it's become an unlikely icon of the 21 st century.
Now, when we do go away on holiday, go to New York, and you see Keep Calm stuff all over the place, you think, "Wow, we started that!" Amazing.
The story of Keep Calm And Carry On shows how a piece of history can be brought back to life in a completely different way.
But it's nothing on the scale of the next stop on my journey, that takes me by helicopter 30 miles south of Alnwick.
I'm travelling to one of Northumberland's newest landmarks, and it's sprung up in the most surprising of places.
When you have a bird's-eye view like this of Northumberland, you get a real sense of how remote and diverse the landscape is.
Behind me, we've got the beautiful Northumbrian coastline.
To my right, we've got the Cheviot Hills.
But there is one particular landmark that I'm off to see.
Believe it or not, I have a hot date with a very special lady.
She stands more than 100 feet tall, a quarter of a mile in length and took two-and-a-half years to build.
And there she is! Northumberlandia.
And it's believed that the Lady of the North is the largest sculpture of the female form in the world.
And she's right here on my doorstep.
Just off the A1 near the town of Cramlington, Northumberlandia is one of the first things many people see as they enter the county, a bold symbol of modern Northumberland.
This most southern part of Northumberland was once the beating heart of industrial Britain, and it was all thanks to the black rock that shaped both the landscape and identity of this part of the county - coal.
In the mid-1900s, Northumberland was home to hundreds of coalmines.
My dad and granddad were both miners at the nearby colliery in Ashington.
But the demise of the coal industry in the '80s and '90s saw the closure of all but a few of the region's pits.
One that does remain is Shotton open-cast mine on the estate of Blagdon Hall.
Not everyone likes the effect open-cast mining has on the landscape, but in 2005, Blagdon's owner came up with a radical way of recycling the tons of waste rock.
You don't wake up in the night and say, "I want to build the biggest woman in the world," on a whim.
That wasn't the way it came about.
We had this idea of doing something really special and artistically and aesthetically beautiful, as well as being a sort of useful park to people, and pay tribute to the role of mining in the history of Northumberland.
To translate this vision into art, Matthew hired American land sculptor Charles Jencks.
I want to know why he chose to put a nude figure on this empty wasteland.
So why choose a naked lady? Why a woman? Well, partly because we respond more to a woman's body with its curves - and the curves are like the landscape - than a man's bony body, unless you are talking about rocks.
So, I thought, "Let's have the woman, who undulates in her forms.
" Why she is Northumberlandia is that she's of the land, she's made out of the land and she relates to this great tradition in Northumberland of land art, which you've had for 5,000 years.
There are more examples of prehistoric rock art in Northumberland than any other part of Britain, some dating back to the Bronze Age.
From the stone circle of Duddo, to the rock carvings of Ketley Crag, these ancient works of art continue to baffle and intrigue us.
Maybe in the same way, centuries from now, people who come to Northumberlandia will try and find new meaning and significance in this mystical land sculpture.
How does it make you feel to know you've created an iconic landmark in the region of Northumberland that will be enjoyed for hundreds of years by millions of people? Well, of course, I'm delighted and really proud of having done this, and you can see in the lines, if it's really working, the pathways, they take us out into the landscape, that's what excites me.
So many places in Northumberland tell you about its past.
But today I've discovered that parts of its rich heritage are also being reimagined and transformed in the most unexpected ways.
The Lady of the North's legacy will be enjoyed by millions of people from all over the world for years to come.
I think I'm falling in love with her.