Last weekend Skipton Castle was once again defended by Colonel Sir John Mallory, as well as many well affected gentlemen, officers, soldiers and much of the populace of Skipton, as Commissary General Sydenham Poyntz’s besieging force set about surrounding the castle and building batteries for the artillery pieces expected to arrive any day.
Well, I say all those people were there … But the funny thing was Sir John could find none of them, not one soldier nor even his own manservant William Layton. It seemed to him, as he stood looking out over the little courtyard in the midst of the tower, that he may as well be on his own!
Luckily for him, great crowds of visitors soon arrived to swell the garrison, so he set about explaining the castle’s predicament and why they should not yet give up hope in the king’s cause. As the able bodied lads amongst the crowds could be put to good use defending the castle, he busied himself teaching them the art of war, such as the loading of a matchlock musket …
… as well as a pistol …
The time passed very quickly (at one point, when Sir John thought it must be about 1 o’clock, it turned out to be after 4 o’clock!) as he had the children act out stories from the last two years of the war at Skipton, asked the sneakiest looking children how many roundshot they could carry back into the castle that night so that they could be fired again the next day, as well as gleaning as much intelligence as he could concerning the ‘German game’ being played by Colonel Alured’s and Colonel Lambert’s men outside (which turned out to be very little.)
Whilst on the topic of being very little, Sir John failed to notice two things – one not so surprising, the other extraordinary. The first was that his little daughter Elizabeth, a girl of 3 years old, had sneaked in to listen to him wax lyrical about why he served the king so loyally. The second was the strange fact that his daughter looked just like a little boy! Admittedly a very handsome one, but a boy nevertheless.
It was a great weekend.
I am now preparing for the Autumn school term – from reading to sewing, from fashioning maps to buying spices. To see which of my characters you might like to visit your school, please take a look at my page of Characters. I hope to hear from you.