15. Jun, 2021

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We sat indoors and debated as to what to do, in the end we got the hell out of it before the security officer arrived, intending on finding somewhere else to park, and failing that we'd make our way to the campsite early, thus risking a beating behind the shower block.

We made our way back towards the village, and noticed a large public car park with about a dozen motorhome bays side by side. I swung in to take a look. Unfortunately they were all full, but having already cursed the local authority I had to take it all back, because they really had made an effort to support visiting motorhomers. Lady Luck shone upon us when we came across the overflow car park in a field right next door to St Aidan's Church where Grace Darling is buried.

So a bit about Bamburgh:

The village is notable for the nearby Bamburgh Castle, a castle which was the seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, and for its association with the Victorian era heroine Grace Darling, who is buried there.

The extensive beach by the village was awarded the Blue Flag rural beach award in 2005. The Bamburgh Dunes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, stand behind the beach. Bamburgh is popular with holidaymakers and is within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding natural Beauty.

The site now occupied by Bamburgh Castle was previously home to a fort of the Celtic Britons known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the Kingdom of Bernicia the realm of the Gododdin people, from the realm's foundation in c. 420 until 547, the year of the first written reference to the castle. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia (Beornice) and became Ida's seat.

Following the defeat of Northumbrian forces by the Viking Great Heathen Army, at York in 867, the United Kingdom of Northumbria disintegrated.

The late medieval village began to develop near the castle. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, property of the friars, including the castle, were seized on behalf of Henry VII.

Late medieval British author Thomas Malory identified Bamburgh Castle with Joyous Gard, the mythical castle home of Sir Lancelot in Arthurian legend.

Bamburgh is noted not only for its castle, for it was from here that Grace Darling rowed out with her father on September 7th 1838, to rescue nine crew members of the steamship Forfarshire, which was wrecked upon a rock. A small museum opposite St Aidan’s Church commemorates the heroic action, and contains the small fishing coble used in the rescue. Nearby, a plaque records Grace Darling’s birthplace, and her grave and a monument to her are in St Aidan’s. She died aged only 26 in a cottage, now next to a souvenir shop, beside the castle end of The Grove.

Here are some facts about Grace Darling, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter who was famous for her role in rescuing the survivors of the Forfarshire shipwreck in 1838.

Grace Darling was born on 24th November 1815 in Bamburgh, Northumberland.

William Darling, Grace’s father was the main keeper of the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands (a group of islands off the coast of Northumberland). Grace’s mother was called Thomasin.

Grace, her parents and her brothers and sisters, lived in the Longstone Lighthouse.

On 6th September 1838 a massive storm wrecked the SS Forfarshire about 3/4 of a mile from the Longstone Lighthouse. Early on 7th September, Grace’s father, William, assessed the situation and decided that he needed to try and rescue any survivors. His sons weren’t at the lighthouse, so he took Grace with him in their rowing boat. Between them, they managed to rescue nine survivors.

The Victorian newspapers loved the story of the rescue of the survivors of the SS Forfarshire shipwreck, and they made the most of Grace’s role and she became a celebrity.

Grace Darling received a personal letter from Queen Victoria and a reward of £50. She also got lots of fan-mail asking for locks of her hair or pieces of the dress she wore on 7th October 1838.

In Victorian England, it was possible to buy Grace Darling themed plates, postcards and even boxes of chocolates!

Grace Darling died of tuberculosis on 20th October 1842. She was buried in a family grave in St Aidan’s Churchyard, Bamburgh. A monument to her was built in St Aidan’s churchyard.

What a find, we parked up and then made our way to the church and then to visit Grace's grave which as it happened, was just in front of where we'd parked.