Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
The King Edward I Monument: A History and Description by John Bargh, C3 Publications. £7
"At daybreak on 7th July, 1307, in his camp on the shore north of Burgh by Sands he was unable to go into battle again and while his attendants were raising him to give him food, his life expired." So died the mighty Edward I, Longshanks, looking out across the Solway, prepared, despite dysentery, old age and failing health, to make one last assault on the rebellious Scots. His body "lay in state" in Burgh by Sands church and then in Carlisle Cathedral before it made its long journey to Westminster abbey and its final resting place.
John Bargh writes: "In 1987 a memorandum appeared on my desk at the County Architect's Department. It expressed concern about the lean on the Edward I Monument." So began John's concern with the monument which was first erected by Henry Howard in 1685 on the site of Edward's death.
The monument was "a very fair, square pillar, nine yards and a half in height" and, according to William Hutchinson, it had been erected "to replace some great stones originally rolled upon the spot to preserve the king's memory".
In 1803 the monument collapsed and was rebuilt. The new pillar was in the red sandstone which survives to the present day, but its predecessor had been a buff freestone. The old stone had been uncovered during the restoration in 2000 and it bore graffiti, from the eighteenth century. On one corner, the dates 1742, 1751 and 1770 have been etched into the stone.
The official inscription on the south side stated briefly, in Latin, that the monument was to the eternal memory of Edward I. The far lengthier inscription on the east side explained that the monument was erected by "the most noble Prince Henry Howard" and proceeded to spell out all his many titles. On the west side it said briefly that Johannes Aglionby made the monument and on the north side the mason, Thomas Langstaffe was given his dues.
Thomas, born in 1655, was one of four sons of master mason John Langstaffe of Durham. They all in turn became masons. Thomas became sufficiently wealthy to purchase 48 acres of land "including mynes and quarries" near Bishop Auckland.
The stone would have been hewn by hand and "raised to the wall head using a four-handled winch with rope and a sling". The masons would have used axes, hammer axes and chisels and there are markings on the stones to suggest that they used a stone saw.
A drawing from 1793 by Mr J Norman of Kirkandrews shows the monument leaning very markedly to the west. It eventually collapsed on 4th March, 1795.
When the Lowthers rebuilt the monument in 1803 it was similar to the earlier construction, but stone steps were placed around the base to keep the cattle away. Henry Howard's inscription was not reinstated, but replaced by one which said, again in Latin, that the derelict column had been "replaced with love by Earl William Lowther".
The Earl of Lonsdale had the monument restored in 1876. In 1983 Cumbria County Council purchased it for a nominal sum and at the Millennium, John Bargh was in charge of its latest restoration. The cross and the entablature were removed and the pillar itself was carefully jacked into a vertical position. Worn stones were replaced and the structure was stabilised. The total cost of the work was £80,000.
As a building expert, John has a sharp eye for the details of construction and restoration and his book is a useful record of the preservation of one of Cumbria's most important monuments.