Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Postcard Of The Week : Naworth Castle



Plucked out of the box at random this week is an early colour postcard of Naworth Castle in Cumbria. The card features a small vignette of (I think) Geoffrey Howard MP who was the owner of the house during the early years of the twentieth century (the house is still owned by the Howard family today). The postcard is from the collection of Great Uncle Fowler, who was living nearby in Longtown at the time, and whilst it has not been postally used, there is an inscription on the reverse. This says :

"Naworth Castle the resident of Howards, is a famous old castle not many miles of the border of England and Scotland and must have been very notorious in days 'o old of conflict with the two countries. Mr Geoffrey Howard was returned to Parliament for East Cumberland 1906"

Old postcards represent wonderful starting points for a whole variety of potential journeys : so today let us briefly explore the political context of the card. Fowler Beanland was at the height of his postcard collecting activity in 1906 so we can assume that he acquired the card and added the inscription shortly after the General Election which was held between the 12th of January and the 8th of February 1906 (elections in Britain were at the time held over a period of time in order to manage the logistics of the operation). The election resulted in a Liberal landslide and the new government of Henry Campbell-Bannerman was able to introduce a series of major political reforms that were to radically change British society. Under the guidance of a new generation of political heavyweights such as David Lloyd-George, the new Government eventually forced through laws which saw the introduction of pensions, unemployment benefits and rudimentary health insurance.

Despite his somewhat severe look and his own personal castle, Geoffrey Howard was one of the new generation of reforming Liberal MPs. He remained a Member of Parliament - with a couple of short breaks - until 1924 and, for a brief period in 1910, he served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith. Much of his work must have been behind the scenes in the smoke-filled corridors of power as there are relatively few of his parliamentary speeches recorded in Hansard. What there are, tend to be limited to such things as campaigns in support of the provision of Temperance Rooms in army barracks!

Naworth Castle is still standing today. If it seems familiar it may be because it has been widely used as a location for film and television productions. These days, you can visit it, have your wedding there, or host a banquet within its ancient walls. You can also make use of the wonders of Google Earth and virtually drive along the little country lane that leads from the main A69 road and passes the gates to the castle. There are worse ways to spend a cold and rainy day.

16 comments:

  1. I love your blog. It's not just what you say, it's the way you say it.

    I left the UK a long time ago, but when I read you I feel like I just popped home.

    XXXX

    Sarah, Italy

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  2. Sarah, Thank you so much for this. Single-handedly you have transformed a grey, wet and cold day into Spring.

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  3. Might as well get in some quality bloggin' time, wot? Especially here. Don't have the G.E. but can still do the ground level walk-about with the "maps" part. And could be a while, as the rain just won't let up~~OY!

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  4. I wonder if the MPs of those days were as upstanding as they are today?

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  5. I might just have to go take a google tour...hello the house...er...castle!

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  6. Hi Alan! Just dropping by to say "Hi". I like this postcard. Lovely castle.

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  7. a couple saturdays ago my daughter emma and i visited an antique store in nearby akron ohio, we must have spent at least an hour reading the postcards that they had for sale....thought of you and your marvelous postcard of the week series, the messages and handwriting are such trips!!

    love it 'postally used' - you have such a gift when it comes to weaving words!!

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  8. How nice to have Tut-tut's musical selection of the day playing in the background as I read this!

    Also interesting that I am currently reading Alison Weir's book about The Princes in the Tower. There's some Howards in there, you bet!

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  9. My Grandma was upstairs maid to Lady Elizabeth Howard but I think she was in Kent or something. Fascinating stuff, have you traced your own geneaology Alan, you seem the type that might get a load of satisfaction from tracing your family history ...I love all the stately homes in England, one of the things we miss here with such a young history . . well European but then wanjini handprints on caves just don't do it for me.

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  10. Does this mean there is a Liberal hiding in every castle? -J

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  11. As you know- we Americans are obsessed with Castles- we do not have our own (Hearst Castle in California but it just isn't the same) so I love seeing your postcards...

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  12. Wonderful tale told from that postcard! Thanks.

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  13. Temperance Rooms in army barracks... !!! That One Really Caught On!

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  14. Alan,
    I love old castles and residences of celebrated people... as a little boy, I remember well the vaction trips we took as a family and stopping to see homes of yester years. This is a great post and makes me want to visit some old castles... I'm sure England would be such a great starting place... maybe someday!
    :) The Bach

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  15. I was going to say, I think i've seen that in movies before! Castles still hold such intrigue to us, don;t they?

    Wishing you a marvellous Easter weekend, Alan!

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  16. I like the new layout of your blog (especially the bosxd items in the right sidebar) and your tagline. Very clear and crisp!
    Evelyn in Montreal

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