Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Silent Witness to Our Turbulent Times

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Silent Witness to Our Turbulent Times

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Environment Editor Tony Henderson visits a site which paid the price for rebellion.

Perched high above the Devil's Water stand testaments to one of the most dramatic and tragic episodes in the region's history.

The ruins of Dilston Castle and the adjacent early 17th Century Catholic chapel make a romantic grouping overlooking the tributary of the Tyne near Corbridge.

Joined to the chapel by a short stretch of wall is a Jacobean archway.

Today, it leads nowhere. Once it was the gateway to a different world.

This was the entrance to the courtyard of Dilston Hall, the palatial mansion fashioned by James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater in the early 18th Century.

But, just over 50 years later, this magnificent mansion was swept away, leaving the castle ( a fortified tower house built around 1417 ( as a stark survivor.

The 3rd Earl, like his hall, did not survive. He was executed, aged 26, in February 1716 on Tower Hill in London.

James Radcliffe, and what should have been a happy life with his young family, fell victim to the turbulent politics of the times, which produced the Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1745 ( a movement which was eventually blown away on the battlefield at Culloden.

It had all started when the Catholic James II ( brother of Charles II ( fled to France in 1688 and was replaced on the throne by the protestant William of Orange and his wife Mary.

The supporters of the thus-exiled Stuarts were called Jacobites, from Jacobus, the Latin for James.

The Stuarts set up a court outside Paris. At the start of the 18th Century, the most prominent Jacobite family in the North-East was the Radcliffes. They had developed close links to the Stuarts, which were to prove disastrous to the 3rd Earl and the family in general.

James's father, Edward Radcliffe, had married into the Stuarts in 1688, by taking as his wife Lady Mary Tudor, daughter of Charles II and his mistress, the actress Moll Davis.

The arranged marriage ( the bride was 14 and her husband around 20 years older ( did not last.

But it did produce four children, one of whom, James Radcliffe, was sent at the age of 13 to the Stuart court in France as a companion for his cousin Prince James, on whom the hopes of the 1715 rebellion were to centre.

In 1710 James Radcliffe, who was by then aged 20 and had inherited the Derwentwater estates, left France to visit his lands in what is now Cumbria, and in Dilston where a Jacobean extension had been built on to the 15th Century tower house. James resolved to build his new mansion around the existing structures, and initially stayed at Beaufront, the home of his cousins the Erringtons, which overlooked Dilston.

There to meet him was another cousin, Sir William Swinburne, of Capheaton Hall. …

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