The Jolly Fisherman
The Jolly Fisherman
Previous Landlords of the Jolly Fisherman
The Village owes its name to the Craster Family who
have lived at the site of Craster Tower for almost a millennium. The
existing fortified tower was built in 1450 with a much later Georgian
addition. The name "Craster" is derived from "Craucestr",
meaning "an old fortification with crows", which once stood
on the site of Craster Tower.
Craster was once a thriving fishing village and years ago when the North Sea Swarmed with herring and other fish, some 20 boats the four herring/kipper yards in the village. Robson's yard is dated 1856 and was the first smokehouse. During the season crews of herring-girls each split and gutted 2000 fish a day. Barrels of salt herring were exported to Germany and Russia, and fresh kippers were sent to Billingsgate Market.
Today only one "Smokehouse" in the village remains, but the fish are still smoked in the traditional way, over fires of oak sawdust so the quality and taste of the "Famous Craster Kippers" remains unchanged.
Craster also prospered from the stone that came from it's quarry, which is now the car park. Whinstone - a hard blue/grey stone which gives the shape to the local landscape was quarried to make building stone "setts", and stones were shipped off to London to become kerbstones. When tarmacadam was invented, the stone was ground into chips and mixed with tar. The stone was taken down to the harbour by an overhead rail system of wires and buckets to be tipped into wooden bins on the south pier and then loaded onto the boats at high tide. These bins were taken down at the beginning of the 2nd World War, as they thought they could be used as landmarks for enemy planes. The quarry closed in 1939, briefly re-opening during World War 2. Part of it is now the "Arnold Nature Reserve" which is under the protection of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust.
If you follow the coastal footpath North from Craster for about 1 1/2 miles you arrive at the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle (See Below)
Leaving Craster on the coastal footpath heading south
you will pass Cullernose Point which is a popular fishing spot, the
"Bathing House" built by the 2nd Earl Grey for the family
to use when they went to the beach and as this Earl had 16 children
it would be put to good use! and the small secluded cove of "Howick
Haven" where you can see the "rumbling Kern" an enclosed
cavern through which the sea gurgles. A walk inland then takes you to
Howick Hall, home of the Grey Family since 1319. The grounds, which
are open to the public during summer months host a magnificent flower
display of azaleas, rhododendrons and "Silver Wood", created
in 1931 to commemorate the 5th Earl Grey's Silver wedding anniversary.
For more excellent pictures of Old Craster - we recommend www.bygonecraster.co.uk
It was Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, the richest man in England after the King, who ordered the massive castle to be built in 1313 when he was leading a great baronial revolt against Edward II (reigned 1307-27). Although the Scots were raiding the north, the sheer scale of the castle suggests the Earl wanted to warn the King of his political and military might.
The castle was protected by high curtain walls with a wall walk, and great turrets and towers. Cliffs and the sea added further protection to the east and the north, and a ditch protected the west. The entrance on the south side was defended by an imposing four towered gatehouse (this became the keep when John of Gaunt made extensive alterations in the 1380s). Many of these wall defenses remain, including the Constable's Tower with its range of rooms for the commanding officer and his staff.
Under John of Gaunt's ownership the castle was overhauled, perhaps to increase accommodation for his large retinues, and to rival the castles of the Percy family (Earls of Northumberland) at nearby Warkworth and Alnwick. He built a new heavily fortified gatehouse and self-contained inner ward where there are remains of lodgings, a large oven which baked bread for the garrison, and a well. The outline of a large outer ward can also be traced. It contained barns for storing grain and fodder from the Duchy's extensive estates, and in times of danger and border raids local people and livestock could also take refuge here.
©The Jolly Fisherman 2000 - 2003