On my recent visit to Yorkshire in the UK and the trip to Skipton Castle, immersed in history started me thinking about Lady Anne Clifford. Now although this blog post isn’t about history in its dry sense of the word, I do feel that some of Lady Anne’s story must be told to make the feel of this post, ‘Touching the Past”.
Lady Anne was born in Skipton Castle on the 30th January 1590 and a very tenacious person she turned out to be. This is perhaps why I seem to like her so much. Her father died when she was 15 and left his considerable estate to his younger brother. Lady Anne from that moment onwards committed herself to regaining what was her rightful inheritance. It wasn’t until 1643 that her right to inherit was given. She wasn’t able to start work on her restoration of Skipton castle as Cromwell had ordered that the roofs be removed when the castle was surrendered, during the Civil War, but ten years later she won permission to re-roof the castle but only on the condition that the new roofs were not strong enough to bear a firing cannon.
Lady Anne died in1676 at the great age of 86 at Brougham Castle, although some say it was Skipton Castle, in the room where her father had been born. The records from this time are rather sketchy.
As I walked though the gatehouse with the family motto written for all to see, “Des or Mais”, translated to mean “Henceforth”, I wondered, as the shroud of history engulfed me, how many times did Lady Anne past through these portals, what was she wearing and was she walking, riding or being carried in a coach?
The steps know as Lady Anne steps, is the entrance to the castle and I could almost hear her footsteps as I climbed the stairs. My feet walking on the same stones that hers walked upon. My hands felt a comfortable cold stroking them, perhaps I fancied, her hand in mine?
How many times I wondered did she look out of these very windows and see a view, perhaps, not too dissimilar to the one I was gazing at. What I wondered, were her thoughts and were they very different from mine? That small cool breeze I felt on the back of my neck, was it her breath as she stood next to me looking at her view whilst I looked at mine?
In 1659 she planted the yew tree in the central courtyard to mark the Castle’s repair from its Civil War damage. The tree is still there and is now 9 feet in it’s girth, I looked up into into it’s branches and laid my hand onto it’s trunk, some 353 years after Lady Anne hands set it’s roots into the soil. Did our hands meet across the ocean of time?
Did the shade of Lady Anne walk beside me? If she did I was immensely comfortable with it and had the thrill of an honor bestowed.