name was recorded as Patrichesdale, meaning ‘Patrick’s Valley’, in 1184
is a local legend that the 'Patrick' of the place name refers to St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. He is said to have visited
north-west England in the 5th century and conducted baptisms at St Patrick’s
Well, a spring located a mile or so north of the present village (you can see it on the above map link).
as far as I know there is no evidence for this, and a simpler explanation may
be that the valley takes its name from a later Irish settler, perhaps one of
the inhabitants of Norse Dublin who moved to Cumbria in the 10th century.
However, it isn’t impossible that St Patrick may have had connections with the
valley. St Patrick says in his Confessio that he was born and brought
up in Britain at a place called Bannaven Taburniae, where his father was a
deacon and his grandfather was a priest. He was kidnapped by raiders as a
teenager and sold into slavery in Ireland.Some years later he escaped back to Britain, but later returned to
Ireland to preach Christianity to the land of his captors.
Taburniae has not been identified. Since Patrick was taken to Ireland, a
location on the west coast of Britain seems likely.On the basis of the name, it has been
suggested that it could be the Roman fort of Banna (now Birdoswald) on
Hadrian’s Wall) or the Roman fort at Glannoventa (now Ravenglass). Birdoswald was evidently occupied by someone
rich enough to build a succession of two timber feasting halls at some time in
the fifth or sixth century (see earlier posts on Birdoswald: Post-Roman activity and
Birdoswald: Dating the post-Roman halls).
Patrick was indeed from the region that is now Cumbria, it is not impossible
that he preached and baptised in the area, either before he set off on his
mission to Ireland, or a during a later visit.
present-day church of St Patrick was built in 1853, replacing a Tudor chapel.It is an attractive small church in a
beautiful setting, especially in spring when the churchyard is full of
Daffodils at St
Patrick’s Church, Patterdale
are some interior pictures here,
and some pictures of the embroidered wall hangings on the church website.
I was there, a pair of great tits were nesting in a crevice in the stonework in
the front wall, although, alas, they didn’t pose by the entrance for me to take
a photograph.This song thrush
prospecting for grubs in the churchyard was more obliging:
Songthrush in St Patrick’s Churchyard, Patterdale
it wouldn’t be spring in the Lake District without some adorably cute lambs.
R. Lake District place names. Dalesman, 1994. ISBN: 0-85206-814-X.
being a hardy vegetable crop, will stand in the ground all winter despite rain,
wind, frost and snow.This makes the
leek one of the most useful crops for the kitchen garden, since leeks can be
harvested fresh in March when not much else is growing. Leeks are versatile in
the kitchen, too.They can be sliced and
fried in butter as a hot vegetable, and I’ve previously posted recipes for Leek and turkey pie,
Stir-fried sweet and sour pork with leeks,
and Bean and vegetable pie.
leek and bacon pie pairs the mild onion flavour of leeks with smoked streaky
bacon (or smoked ham works equally well).It’s a sort of more substantial form of quiche, ideal for the cool days
of early spring.Here’s the recipe.
Leek and bacon pie (serves 2)
(approx 125 g) plain flour
(approx 25 g) lard
(approx 25 g) butter
(approx 250 g) leeks
(approx 50 g) smoked streaky bacon
fl. oz. (approx 70 ml) milk
a shallow heatproof pie dish.
the butter and lard into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
add cold water to mix to a soft dough. If the mix is floury, you need to add a
little more water; if it is sticky, you have added too much water and need to
add some more flour.
you can use ready-made shortcrust pastry if you prefer).
out about two-thirds of the pastry and line the bottom and sides of the pie
the other one-third of the pastry aside while you make the filling.
the leeks and wash them thoroughly.If
they are very gritty (which is likely by March if they are home-grown), cut a
vertical slash down the length of the green part and put them in cold water for
a few minutes so that the leaves can separate and any grit trapped between them
can fall out into the water.Cut the
leeks into thin slices.
the bacon into small pieces.
the bacon over a moderate heat in cooking oil for a few minutes until starting
to colour. Add the sliced leeks and continue frying for a few more minutes
until the leeks are starting to soften.
from the heat and season with salt and black pepper.
the leeks and bacon into the pie dish and spread out evenly.
the egg and milk together and pour over the leeks and bacon.
out the remaining one-third of the pastry to make a lid.Put it on top of the pie filling, trim off
any surplus, and seal the edges.
any surplus pastry to make decorations for the top of the pie, if wished.
the top of the pie with milk.
in a hot oven at about 200 C for about 30 minutes until the pie is golden
hot, with potatoes and vegetables of your choice.This pie goes very well with roast potatoes,
which need the same cooking temperature and about the same length of time and
so can share the oven with the pie.
in England and Normandy between 1130 and 1153, A Place Beyond Courage tells the story of John FitzGilbert or John
Marshal, his first wife Aline Pipard and his second wife Sybilla of Salisbury.
Empress Matilda, King Stephen, Henry FitzEmpress (the future Henry II) and
various members of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy appear as important secondary
characters. And John and Sybilla’s son William Marshal, whose story was told in
the author’s previous novels The Greatest
Knight (reviewed here earlier)
and The Scarlet Lion, makes a
memorable appearance as a young child.
FitzGilbert holds the important official post of Marshal at the court of King
Henry I, responsible for the complex logistics of supply and transport required
to keep the court functioning and to move it from place to place on its
frequent travels. John obtained the post partly through inheritance from his
father, partly through martial prowess (he and his father once fought a duel to
retain it against a challenger), and partly through his own formidable
competence. A minor lord, he has no great lands of his own, and his power and
wealth depend largely on his role as the royal Marshal. When Henry I dies
suddenly, leaving a daughter and a nephew as rivals for the throne of England,
the aristocracy divides into factions and England descends into a brutal civil
war. This was a cruel period of English history, ‘when Christ and his saints
slept’ according to a contemporary chronicler, when arbitrary violence ruled
and there was little to check the excesses of local tyrants. For the ambitious
and able John Marshal, the chaos presents both opportunity and danger.If he judges every situation accurately, he
stands not only to survive but to gain lands and influence.But a single wrong step could cost him – and
his family – everything.
common with the other novels by Elizabeth Chadwick that I’ve read, such as The Time of Singing,
The Greatest Knight and To Defy a King,
A Place Beyond Courage concentrates
on the characters and the relationships between them. The political and
military events of the day form a context that shapes the relationships and a
background against which they develop. So the conflict between Stephen and
Matilda provides an opportunity for John Marshal’s ambition, military skill,
ruthlessness and calculating brinkmanship to come to the fore. It also puts an
intolerable strain on the meek and timid Aline Pipard, who is utterly unsuited
to life in high politics and on the front line of a war. John’s opportunism
brings him into conflict with his powerful neighbour Patrick of Salisbury, and
this conflict in turn provides the context for his second marriage to Patrick’s
sister Sybilla. And the ongoing war, combined with John’s ambition and refusal
to back down, puts not only John and Sybilla at risk but also their young son
novel focuses mainly on John Marshal, Aline and Sybilla – although
five-year-old William Marshal comes close to stealing the show when he makes
his appearance.John Marshal is the
central figure, shaping events in war and politics as well as in his personal and
domestic life. Able, charismatic, resourceful and pragmatic to the point of
ruthlessness, he is a hard man living in hard times. To survive, he has to be
able to assess any situation and face it without flinching, from his desperate
last stand at Wherwell Abbey and subsequent escape by walking miles across
hostile country with a terrible face wound, to calling King Stephen’s bluff at
the siege of Newbury.
is the more obviously appealing of the two lead female characters. Forthright
and confident, she is described as having a natural warmth that charms many of
the other characters – even including the stern Empress Matilda – and will
probably charm most readers as well. She makes good company for her share of
the novel. Aline is less obviously attractive, although I have a good deal of
sympathy for her. Having lived a sheltered life with her widowed mother in a
quiet backwater, it should be no surprise to find that she is completely
unprepared when marriage to John pitches her into politics and war.I can see why the decisive and fearless John
Marshal is irritated by Aline’s timidity and passivity – she is the kind of
woman who would have been called a ‘drip’ when I was at school – but his
disappointment is largely his own fault, since he married Aline for her lands
on the grounds that she was the best bargain available to him at the time (I
told you he was pragmatic). Poor Aline had no choice in the matter.
secondary characters are also boldly drawn, even if they make only a brief appearance,
from King Stephen as a tired man finding that the crown he grabbed so eagerly
is rather more than he can handle, to the thuggish mercenary with a vulgar
predilection for purple silk underpants (!), to the kindly Flemish washerwoman
and her soldier husband. Pride of place among the secondary characters goes to
young William Marshal, who runs away with the novel towards the end. The famous
‘hammers and anvils’ scene at King Stephen’s siege camp at Newbury* is
recounted mainly from William’s point of view, and is beautifully done.
Author’s Note at the end of the book outlines the historical background and
there is a list of further reading for those who want to explore further. Maps
at the front are useful for following the campaigns for readers who may be
unfamiliar with the geography of Wiltshire and Berkshire, where much of the
portrayal of the ambitious and resourceful John Marshal, and his rise to power
during the wars between King Stephen and Empress Matilda in turbulent twelfth-century
you found your way here, you probably know all about that, but if not I won’t
spoil the suspense of the novel by describing what happens.
I'm a scientist with an interest in history, particularly the history of Britain in the 5th-10th centuries AD (i.e. between the departure of Rome and the Norman invasion).
I write scientific journal articles, for which I get paid, and historical and fantasy fiction, for which I don't. I'm a keen hillwalker, though I live in the flatlands of East Anglia.
I'm a devotee of BBC Radio 4, the network that justifies the license fee all by itself.
Carla Nayland is a pen name.