Photography and trespassing...
North Carter Moor
Just returned from a fabulous afternoon with the camera up in Ponteland.
We resolved to try and photograph as many of the places as we could which had links to the family research and the places mentioned in Catching the Eagle.
As Robbie Burns would say: The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley,...'
The first problem came at the beautiful North Carter Moor Farmhouse, the birthplace of Jamie Charlton and the home of three generations of his family (1720 - 1817.) North Carter Moor is not easy to find and it is guarded by a herd of extremely curious young cows, who clearly wanted to play with me as I scurried out of the car to open and close the gate. Chris, being the perfect gentleman, steadfastly remained in the driver's seat. Armed with a copy of the family tree as proof that we were not there to case the joint (well, you never can tell with us Charltons, can you?) I knocked on the farm door to ask if we could take a few pictures of our family's 18th century home. Sadly, no one was in.
Side view of North carter Moor
We waited a while, and then decided to be cheeky and take a few photographs any way. Extremely conscious that somebody, somewhere, would have seen us and would report our curious behaviour back to the present owners, I scribbled an explanatory note and shoved it through the letter box. I'm guessing that this could now go one of two ways: the current owners of North Carter Moor may choose to log on here and and enjoy discovering some more about the history about their home; or, they may instruct their solicitor to sue us for trespass, breach of privacy and disturbing the peace of their cows. Watch this space...
Front view of North Carter Moor - once home to a Charlton generation with ten children.
St. Mary's church, Ponteland
Next we went to St. Mary's church, Ponteland where the records tell us, many of Chris' ancestors are buried. Sadly, it would seem that if they are buried there, then the sexton just dug a hole and dropped them in - we couldn't find any of them. As the family's fortunes dwindled, it is possible that they just reused old family graves. No doubt they always intended to come back later, when they had more money and add a headstone...and then forgot (or got themselves transported.) Any gravestones which did once 'mark the spot' are now either absent or so badly eroded they are unreadable. I suspect that several have been removed on health and safety grounds - including that of James (1700-1770) and Isabel. The monumental inscription records for St. Mary's, tell us that it was 'on it's side by the wall' years ago. It has now either collapsed face down or been taken away.
One gravestone of interest which we did find was that of Jane Nimmo (1799-1841.)
The full inscription reads: 'Sacred to the memory of Jane Nimmo who died April 22nd 1841 aged 42 years.'
This lady had to be related to Priscilla (Cilla) Charlton in some way. Nimmo was her maiden name and Nimmos were as rare in that part of Northumberland as a teetotal Charlton. More research beckons, methinks...
The Seven Stars', otherwise known as 'Ma Shotton's'
Photographing the Ponteland public houses frequented by Jamie Charlton also proved a bit disappointing. The Newhamm Edge coaching inn, now known as The Highlander, where Jamie was drinking on the night of the Kirkley Hall robbery, is surrounded by scaffolding and bright blue tarpaulin. In addition to that, The Seven Stars - constantly referred to as 'Ma Shotton's' in the court case documents, was closed and up for sale.
However, there was a consolation prize weaiting for us on Ponteland High street - the old Toll House. This was the workplace of one Robert Wilson - keeper of the the Turnpike gate in Ponteland. He was also witness against Jamie in the trial, and in the novel is the man who eventually succeeds in 'catching the eagle.' If you look hard enough, you may just be able to make out the words 'Toll House' across the door lintel.
All in all, a very enjoyable day out in Ponteland - and if we can avoid being sued by the owners of North Carter Moor, then I think we can class it as a success!