Friday, 6 January 2017

New Year Sunrise - Hadleigh Castle



I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine seemed to pass very quickly as we were busy with family and friends visiting. It was lovely to see people and spend time with them.

But I also went out walking when I could on some bright, frosty mornings. I can't stay indoors for very long! On the day after New Year, just as the sun was coming up, David and I decided to get plenty of fresh air by visiting Hadleigh Castle, once a medieval stronghold, and now a ruin high up on a hill with stunning views of the Thames estuary.


As it was a bank holiday, it was very quiet and still, with no traffic on the nearby roads, and no other visitors. It was the perfect time to wander around the site and make the most of those views.



Hadleigh Castle was built by Hubert de Burgh after King John granted him the land here in 1215. Hubert de Burgh was a military hero who became a powerful baron. He fell out of favour in the 1230s and the castle was seized by the king. It wasn't really occupied again, though, until the 1300s. Edward II started to take an interest in it, but it was Edward III who really made improvements here. Below is a sketch (from one of the display boards) of how the castle probably looked in 1370.

After Edward III, the castle wasn't used very much. It's built on London clay and suffers from subsidence (the castle itself is made from Kentish ragstone with mortar containing cockleshells from the estuary). The Tudor noble Richard Rich acquired the castle in the mid 1500s and after he began to rob it for its stone, it fell into disrepair. It was later used by Georgian revenue men to watch for smugglers on the estuary, but was never lived in again, It had become a romantic ruin, and as such, was famously painted by Constable in 1829.

Image result for constable hadleigh castle images
There is the sound of starlings everywhere here, so I wonder if they roost in the ruins. Below the castle, in the estuary, is Two Tree Island, a nature reserve. I've not visited there yet, but it's supposed to be a good site for butterflies. It's on my list to visit this summer.

Back home, I feed the animals around dawn, and as we've had some frosty mornings recently, the sheep have been given extra food.  They come up to be fed with frost on their thick coats...


All the water troughs freeze overnight, and so the ice has to be broken...

The wild birds are ready for food. David made a new bird table (it attaches to an existing pole) over the holidays, and the birds found it at once...


I'm always hoping to see some rarer birds here, such as a brambling. I keep checking the little flocks of finches for them.


Spring seems a long way off on mornings like these, although I have noticed a little extra daylight in the afternoons this week. It's great to see the change, isn't it?

Happy New Year!


33 comments:

  1. I love the way the morning light infuses everything with rosiness. And I'm impressed by the branch bench in the enclosure with the frosted sheep. We too are beginning to notice a bit of lingering afternoon light as the days get longer.

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    1. The early morning light is often beautiful, isn't it? Especially on a frosty or snowy morning. David made the seat out of hazel about 4 years ago. We kept it in the barn for a while and used it but now the barn has been converted to our home it's outside.

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  2. Happy New Year Wendy - love your photos of the sun rising behind Hadleigh Castle - it never ceases to amaze me how animals can remain outdoors in the cold with no ill effects - I too am an extra daylight watcher.

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    1. The sheep have a large shelter now (we made it much bigger over Christmas) but they only go in for heavy rain, snow or shade. Frost doesn't seem to concern them.
      I watch the daylight closely. I always note February 1st because it'll be light at 5pm - an important date in my 'waiting for spring' calendar!

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    2. 5pm what a lovely thought♡

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  3. The ruined castle does look wonderful in the winter sunshine. I remember the name Richard Rich from the play A Man for All Seasons which we did at school for A level. Your photo of the frosty sheep is wonderful and the new bird table is a great addition:)

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    1. Richard Rich was an important figure in my part of the world during the mid 16th century. He acquired lots of land and founded buildings here. In some novels I've read in recent years he's been portrayed as a real villain - I'm not sure how true that is!

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  4. Happy New Year's to you to. I enjoyed my walk with you and the history of the castle.

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    1. Thank you - Happy New Year, too!

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  5. Stunning photo of the sunrise behind the castle! Happy New Year to you and all your animals!

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    1. Happy New Year - the animals are all loving the extra treats they're getting at the moment to compensate for the cold weather and frosty ground.

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  6. Happy New Year Wendy! I so enjoyed your post - the history of the castle is so interesting and the photos wonderful. Great to see your sheep and new bird table - fingers crossed you get Bramblings :)

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    1. I would so love to see bramblings - I have my camera ready! Hopefully the new bird table will lure in the bullfinches, too. I last saw them around the house months ago - but I'm sure they're still around.

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  7. Brilliant photographs of the sunrise and an interesting looking castle.A lovely post - great to see the sheep and geese. Happy New Year. Those few extra minutes of light in the afternoon were really noticeable here today. Roll on spring

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    1. Happy New Year Sue! I don't want to wish time away - but it is lovely to look forward to spring, isn't it?

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  8. All your images are wonderful, watching the sunrise behind Hadleigh castle must have been so magical. First thing in the morning is always my favourite time of day. Sarah x

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I completely agree with you about first thing in the morning, the quality of the light is often beautiful

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  9. How lovely! It must have been very special watching the sun come up in the castle. Happy New Year.

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  10. Happy New Year Wendy. Superb scenes you have taken.

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  11. Wonderful photographs and interesting information about the castle.

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  12. Happy New Year Wendy! What marvelous pictures, especially the dawn at Hadleigh castle, two tree island does sound a good place to visit. I enjoyed seeing your sheep, poor you having to get up at dawn on these cold frosty mornings!xxx

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    1. Happy New Year! There's never any chance of a lie on a cold morning, that's for sure! I'm not looking forward to looking after the animals in the snow, and I think we're due some later. Thanks Dina

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  13. Nice place for a walk and lovely photos, I too would be rather out than in, poor dog gets dragged round even on the dullest days. But we both feel better for it.
    Amanda xx

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    1. I do miss walking Harry, my own border terrier (he's too old) Although I still go out walking it's not twice a day anymore and you're right, even when the weather wasn't great we'd both feel much better for the walk.

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  14. Happy New Year Wendy. Such beautiful pictures, lovely sunrises.

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  15. Glorious set of photos. The castle looks amazing in the info board and beautiful in your pictures. No bramblings here either, or waxwing. I live in hope :o).

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    1. I was hoping the cold January would bring these birds into the garden, but no luck. Thanks CT

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  16. Better late than never! In case I haven't said so, Happy New Year! Love the photos of the castle, it looks like an interesting site and you really must visit the nature reserve with the butterflies. Yes I know the feeling about the frosty mornings and iced up water..... will be glad to have some milder weather even though it means the end of the beautiful sunny days.

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    1. Happy New Year! I'm hoping for a mild spell with some sun - but I expect that's too much to ask!

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