Rothbury town centre
Looking east along Town Foot
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Rothbury is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England. It is located on the River Coquet, 13.5 miles (21.7 km) northwest of Morpeth and 26 miles (42 km) north-northwest of Newcastle upon Tyne. At the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001, Rothbury had a population of 1,740, increasing to 2,107 at the 2011 Census.
Rothbury emerged as an important town in the historic district of Coquetdale because of its situation at a crossroads over a ford along the River Coquet. Turnpike roads leading to Newcastle upon Tyne, Alnwick, Hexham and Morpeth allowed for an influx of families and the enlargement of the settlement during the Middle Ages. Rothbury was chartered as a market town in 1291, and became a centre for dealing in cattle and wool for the surrounding villages well into the Early Modern Period.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Cragside
- 1.2 2010 Northumbria Police manhunt
- 2 Governance
- 3 Landmarks
- 4 Transport
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The first mention of Rothbury, according to a local history, was in around the year 1100, as Routhebiria, or "Routha's town" ("Hrotha", according to Beckensall). Fragments from an Anglo-Saxon cross, believed to be 8th century, are the only surviving relics pre-dating the Norman conquest. They are now in the town church and the University of Newcastle Museum. In 1201 King John signed the Rothbury Town Charter and visited Rothbury four years later.
The village was retained as a Crown possession after the conquest, being made over to the Lords of Warkworth in 1204. Rothbury was a relatively important village in Coquetdale, being a crossroads situated on a ford of the River Coquet, with turnpike roads leading to Newcastle upon Tyne, Alnwick, Hexham and Morpeth. It was chartered as a market town in 1291, and became a centre for dealing in cattle and wool for the surrounding villages. A market cross was erected in 1722, but demolished in 1827. In the 1760s, according to Bishop Pococke, the village also had a small craft industry, including hatters. At that time, the village's vicarage and living was in the gift of the Bishop of Carlisle, and worth £500 per year.
Rothbury has had a turbulent and bloody history. In the 15th and 16th centuries the Coquet Valley was a pillaging ground for bands of Reivers who attacked and burned the town with terrifying frequency. Near the town's All Saints' Parish Church stands the doorway and site of the 17th century Three Half Moons Inn, where the Earl of Derwentwater stayed with his followers in 1715 prior to marching into a heavy defeat at the Battle of Preston.
Hill farming has been a mainstay of the local economy for many generations. Names such as Armstrong, Charleton and Robson remain well represented in the farming community. Their forebears, members of the reiver 'clans', were in constant conflict with their Scots counterpart. The many fortified farms, known as bastle houses, are reminders of troubled times which lasted until the unification of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1603.
read main article Cragside
William Armstrong was born on 26 November 1810 in Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of a corn merchant. Trained as a solicitor, he moved to London before he was twenty. Returning to Newcastle, in 1835 he met and married Margaret Ramshaw, the daughter of a builder. A keen amateur scientist, Armstrong began to conduct experiments in both hydraulics and electricity. In 1847, he abandoned the law for manufacturing and established W. G. Armstrong and Company at a site at Elswick, outside Newcastle. By the 1850s, with his design for the Armstrong Gun, Armstrong laid the foundations for an armaments firm that would, before the end of the century, see Krupp as its only world rival. He established himself as a figure of national standing: his work supplying artillery to the British Army was seen as an important response to the failures of Britain's forces during the Crimean War. In 1859, he was knighted and made Engineer of Rifled Ordnance, becoming the principal supplier of armaments to both the Army and the Navy.[a]
Shooting box: 1862–1865
Armstrong had spent much of his childhood at Rothbury, escaping from industrial Newcastle for the benefit of his often poor health. He returned to the area in 1862, not having taken a holiday for over fifteen years. On a walk with friends, Armstrong was struck by the attractiveness of the site for a house. Returning to Newcastle, he bought a small parcel of land and decided to build a modest house on the side of a moorland crag. He intended a house of eight or ten rooms and a stable for a pair of horses. The house was completed in the mid-1860s by an unknown architect: a two-storey shooting box of little architectural distinction, it was nevertheless constructed and furnished to a high standard.
Fairy palace: 1869–1900
Armstrong's architect for Cragside's expansion was the Scot R. Norman Shaw. Shaw had begun his career in the office of William Burn and had later studied under Anthony Salvin and George Edmund Street. Salvin had taught him the mastery of internal planning which was essential for the design of the large and highly variegated houses which the Victorian wealthy craved. Salvin and Street had taught him to understand the Gothic Revival. At only 24, he won the RIBA Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship. The connection between Armstrong and Shaw was made when Armstrong purchased a picture, Prince Hal taking the crown from his father's bedside by John Callcott Horsley, which proved too large to fit into his town house in Jesmond, Newcastle. Horsley, a friend of both, recommended that Shaw design an extension to the banqueting hall Armstrong had previously built in the grounds. When this was completed in 1869, Shaw was asked to propose enlargements and improvements to the shooting lodge Armstrong had had built at Rothbury some four years earlier. This was the genesis of the transformation of the house between 1869 and 1884. Over the next thirty years, Cragside became the centre of Armstrong's world; reminiscing years later, in his old age, he remarked, "had there been no Cragside, I shouldn't be talking to you today – for it has been my very life".
The architectural historian Andrew Saint records that Shaw sketched out the whole design for the "future fairy palace" in a single afternoon, while Armstrong and his guests were out on a shooting party. After this rapid initial design, Shaw worked on building the house for over 20 years. The long building period, and Armstrong's piecemeal, and changeable, approach to the development of the house, and his desire to retain the original shooting lodge at its core, occasionally led to tensions between client and architect, and to a building that lacks an overall unity. Armstrong changed the purpose of several rooms as his interests developed, and the German architectural historian Hermann Muthesius, writing just after Armstrong's death in 1900, noted that "the house did not find the unqualified favour with Shaw's followers that his previous works had done, nor did it entirely satisfy (Shaw)". Nevertheless, Shaw's abilities, as an architect and as a manager of difficult clients, ensured that Cragside was composed "with memorable force".
As well as being Armstrong's home, Cragside acted as an enormous display case for his ever-expanding art collection. The best of his pictures were hung in the drawing room, but Shaw also converted the museum into a top-lit picture gallery. Pride of place was given to John Everett Millais's Chill October, bought by Armstrong at the Samuel Mendel sale at Christie's in 1875. Armstrong also bought Millais' Jephthah's Daughter at the Mendel sale. Both were sold in the 1910 sale; Chill October is now in the private collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Jephthah's Daughter is held by the National Museum Cardiff.[b]
Cragside was also an important setting for Armstrong's commercial activities. The architectural writer Simon Jenkins records: "Japanese, Persian, Siamese and German dignitaries paid court to the man who equipped their armies and built their navies". In his 2005 book Landmarks of Britain Clive Aslet notes visits with the same purpose from the Crown Prince of Afghanistan and the Shah of Persia. The Shah Naser al-Din visited in July 1889, and the Afghan prince Nasrullah Khan in June 1895. Armstrong's biographer Henrietta Heald mentions two future Prime Ministers of Japan, Katō Takaaki and Saitō Makoto, among a steady stream of Japanese industrialists, naval officers, politicians and royalty who inscribed their names in the Cragside visitors' book. The Chinese diplomat Li Hung Chang visited in August 1896. King Chulalongkorn of Siam was staying in August 1897, when activity at the Elswick Works was disrupted by a bitter strike over pay and hours.
In August 1884 the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) made a three-day visit to Cragside; it was the peak of Armstrong's social career. The royal arrival at the house was illuminated by ten thousand lamps and a vast array of Chinese lanterns hung in the trees on the estate; fireworks were launched from six balloons, and a great bonfire was lit on the Simonside Hills. On the second day of their visit, the Prince and Princess travelled to Newcastle, to formally open the grounds of Armstrong's old house, Jesmond Dean, which he had by then donated to the city as a public park. Three years later, at the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, Armstrong was ennobled as Baron Armstrong of Cragside, and became the first engineer and the first scientist to be granted a peerage.[c] Among many other celebrations, he was awarded the freedom of the City of Newcastle. In his vote of thanks, the mayor noted that one in four of the entire population of the city was employed directly by Armstrong, or by companies over which he presided.
Armstrong's heirs: 1900–present
Armstrong died at Cragside on 27 December 1900, aged 90, and was buried beside his wife in the churchyard at Rothbury. His gravestone carries an epitaph: His scientific attainments gained him a world wide celebrity and his great philanthropy the gratitude of the poor. Cragside, and Armstrong's fortune, were inherited by his great-nephew, William Watson-Armstrong. Watson-Armstrong lacked Armstrong's commercial acumen and a series of poor financial investments led to the sale of much of the great art collection in 1910. In 1972, the death of Watson-Armstrong's heir, William John Montagu Watson-Armstrong, saw the house and estate threatened by large-scale residential development, intended to raise the money to pay a large inheritance tax bill. In 1971, when advising the National Trust on the most important Victorian houses to be preserved for the nation in the event of their sale, Mark Girouard had identified Cragside as the top priority. A major campaign saw the house and grounds acquired by the Trust in 1977, with the aid of a grant from the National Land Fund.
In 2007, Cragside reopened after undergoing an 18-month refurbishment programme that included rewiring the whole house. It has become one of the most-visited sites in North East England, with some 227,062 visitors in 2016. The Trust continues restoration work, allowing more of the house to be displayed: Armstrong's electrical room, in which he conducted experiments on electrical charges towards the end of his life, was re-opened in 2016. The experiments had led to the publication in 1897 of Armstrong's last work, Electrical Movement in Air and Water, illustrated with remarkable early photographs by his friend John Worsnop.
The Trust continues the reconstruction of the wider estate, with plans to redevelop Armstrong's glasshouses, including the palm house, the ferneries and the orchid house.
2010 Northumbria Police manhunt
read main article 2010 Northumbria Police manhunt
Moat was released from Durham Prison on 1 July, and allegedly arrived in the early hours of 3 July 2010 at a house in Birtley where Stobbart and her new partner, 29-year-old karate instructor Chris Brown, were visiting. Brown had moved to the area from Windsor, Berkshire around six months previously. According to Moat, he crouched under the open window of the living room for an hour and a half, listening to Stobbart and Brown mocking him. At 2:40 am, Brown left the house to confront Moat but was shot at close range with a shotgun, and killed. Moat then fired through the living room window while Stobbart's mother was on the phone to the police. Stobbart was hit in the arm and abdomen, and was taken to hospital to undergo a liver operation and put under armed guard.
At 12:45 am on 4 July, Police Constable David Rathband was shot while sitting in his patrol car on the roundabout of the A1 and A69 roads near East Denton. Rathband was taken to Newcastle General Hospital in a critical condition with injuries to his head and upper body. The Guardian reported that Moat had called police 12 minutes before shooting PC Rathband to taunt them and tell them what he was about to do. He did so again some 50 minutes after the shooting, during which he showed little remorse and complained the police are "not taking me seriously enough".
During a press conference at 2 pm, police addressed comments directly to Moat, responding they were taking him seriously and that Brown had no connection to the police force. They urged him to hand himself in for the sake of his three children.
Letter, sightings and appeals
On 5 July, fearful of more shootings by Moat, police mounted a raid with armed officers, dogs and a helicopter on a house in North Kenton, and also detained a man from Sunderland, although neither action found Moat.
Northumbria Police confirmed they had received a 49-page letter, originally given by Moat to a friend late on 3 July, warning that they were "gonna pay for what they've done". The letter also stated that "The public need not fear me but the police should as I won't stop till I'm dead". In the letter, he stated that his children, freedom, house, then his ex-partner and their daughter, had all been taken from him. He admitted that he had issues and was running out of options, he said he was never violent towards his children.
The police relayed a message to Moat from Stobbart through the media which urged him not to continue if he still loved her and their child. Stobbart then admitted she had lied to him about seeing a police officer, because she was frightened. Sam Stobbart's half-sister, Kelly Stobbart, 27, reported that he had updated his Facebook status with a "hitlist" which included her and other family members. "He's said he will take out any police that get in his way".
At a press conference on the evening of 5 July, police revealed that they believed Moat had kidnapped two men at the time of the shootings. They also requested this information be subject to a media blackout. Around 10:50 pm, a fish and chip shop at Seaton Delaval was the scene of an armed robbery by a man resembling Moat. In a press conference on the morning of 6 July, the police said they believed they had been dealing with a "complex, fast-moving hostage situation".
Cordon of Rothbury
Following an appeal for sightings of a black Lexus believed to have been used by Moat, the car was found near Rothbury. A 5 miles (8.0 km), 5,000-foot air exclusion zone and a 2 miles (3.2 km) ground exclusion zone was set up by police, and two men were found walking along a road and were initially thought to be the hostages, but were later arrested.
Police also said that officers from six forces had been called into the area, a large number of armed response officers were in their ranks. Armed officers and dogs stormed buildings on a disused farm called Pike House after a tip off from the landowners, who said that one of the boards on the windows of the derelict building had been removed, but no suspect was found. The police repeated an appeal to Moat to give himself up, and urged him not to leave his children with distressing memories of their father.
Armed officers were deployed to schools across the area and pupils were kept under temporary lockdown for fear that Moat might be close by; children were eventually allowed home yet all were under armed guard. The cordon around Rothbury was lifted at approximately 9 pm while armed patrols continued throughout the village, and vehicles were subjected to road checks whilst entering and leaving.
Further appeals and reward
In another press conference on the morning of 7 July, the police said they believed that Moat was still at large mostly likely hiding in the surrounding countryside in the Rothbury area. Within a tent thought to have been used by Moat at a secluded spot in Cartington, an eight-page letter to Sam Stobbart from Moat was found. In it, Moat continued to assert that Brown was connected to the police, again denied by Detective Chief Superintendent Adamson. The police called in TV survival expert Ray Mears to help track Moat's movements.
At the later press conference, the police confirmed the 5 July chip shop robbery was a positive sighting of Moat. Northumbria Police offered a £10,000 reward for information that would lead to Moat's arrest. During the day, Paul Stobbart, the father of Samantha, released a video appealing to Moat to turn himself in.
The police announced on 8 July that two more men were arrested in Rothbury the previous day. Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Adamson of Northumbria Police said they considered Moat a wider threat to the public than previously thought, but would not comment further. It had been previously reported that Moat was targeting only the police, and not the public, after his initial note stating that he would not stop killing police until he was dead. Following Moat's death, it was revealed that police asked the media to dampen the reporting on aspects of Moat's private life, as he had threatened to kill a member of the public every time there was an inaccurate report.
Stand-off with police and death
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On 9 July, a cordon was set up around the National Trust's Cragside estate in the parish of Cartington. Northumbria Police reported they had recovered three mobile phones used by Moat in recent days.
In the early evening of 9 July, residents of Rothbury were told to stay indoors because a major security operation was taking place. News agencies reported that an individual resembling Moat had been surrounded by police, and was holding a gun to his head. With a 110 yards (100 m) cordon established on the north bank of the River Coquet, close to a rainwater culvert which runs under the village, police negotiated with the suspect, who was holding a sawn-off shotgun to his neck. Food and water were reportedly brought to Moat during the confrontation, and his best friend Tony Laidler was escorted to the scene by authorities in an attempt to persuade him to surrender. At one stage, former England footballer Paul Gascoigne arrived at the crime scene, wearing a dressing-gown, claiming to know Moat and promising him "chicken and lager" if he gave himself up, but he was denied access to the fugitive.
At approximately 1:15 am on 10 July, news agencies reported that at least one shot had been fired in the vicinity of the stand-off. At 1:34 am, a police spokesman stated that "a shot or shots" had been fired and the suspect had a gunshot wound. It was reported by multiple sources that police jumped on the suspect, and that police and an ambulance were seen moving toward the site. A statement from Northumbria Police said that no shots were fired by police officers and that the suspect had shot himself; no officers were injured in the stand-off. Moat was transferred to an ambulance and taken to Newcastle General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:20 am, shortly after arrival.
Rothbury's Anglican parish church building – All Saints' Church – dates from circa 1850, largely replacing but in parts incorporating the fabric of a former Saxon edifice, including the chancel, the east wall of the south transept and the chancel arch. The church has a font with a stem or pedestal using a section of the Anglo-Saxon cross shaft, showing what is reputed to be the earliest carved representation in Great Britain of the Ascension of Christ.
The Anglo-Saxon cross is not to be confused with the market cross near the church, the current version of which was erected in 1902 and is known as "St Armstrong's Cross" as it was paid for by Lady Armstrong, widow of Lord Armstrong of Cragside. Until 1965, Rothbury was the location of a racecourse, which staged only one meeting per year, in April.
Lordenshaw Hill has the largest concentration of rock carvings in Northumberland. Over 100 panels have been recorded on the hill, the adjacent Whitton Burn and Garleigh Moor, in an area which covers less than 620 acres. The carved panels range from single cup-marked boulders to complex panels. There are many other interesting archaeological sites in this area, including a ditched Iron Age enclosure and an Early Bronze Age cairn.
The town was the terminus of a branch line from Scotsgap railway station on the North British Railway line from Morpeth to Reedsmouth. The last passenger trains ran on 15 September 1952 and the line closed completely on 9 November 1963. The site of the former railway station is located to the south of the River Coquet and the old Station Hotel still stands near this site, now known as The Coquetvale Hotel.
The town is now served by an Arriva bus service which runs via Longframlington, Longhorsley, Morpeth and continues to Newcastle upon Tyne, the nearest city. PCL Travel, a local bus company, operates infrequent services to Alnwick. It also runs services roughly three times a day to Morpeth via Longframlington and Longhorsley.
- Britain's military deficiencies had been exposed in the Crimean War. At the time, Britain, in common with other European powers, had a nationalised gun-making industry. Armstrong's appointment in 1858 as Engineer of Rifled Ordnance saw the almost complete transfer of responsibility for production to his private Elswick Ordnance Company and the development of the first breech-loading gun. Commercial rivalries and governmental in-fighting saw the cancellation of all of Armstrong's contracts in 1862, and in 1863 he resigned his post, merging the EOC with his other engineering concerns to form Sir W G Armstrong and Co.
- There are conflicting views as to the price Armstrong paid for the paintings. His 2012 biographer Henrietta Heald quotes Armstrong in a letter to his wife: "I have bought Chill October and Jephthah for 900 guineas – a big price but much less than they were expected to bring". Hugh Dixon, in the 2007 guidebook to Cragside, records that Armstrong paid 3,800 guineas for Jephthah's Daughter alone, "one of (his) most expensive purchases". The art historian Gerald Reitlinger gives the following prices in his definitive guide: Chill October, £3,255 and Jephthah's Daughter, £3,990 (that is, 3,100 guineas and 3,800 guineas respectively). Their relative values had changed substantially by 1910: Chill October realised £5,040 but Jephthah only £1,260 (4,800 and 1,200 guineas).
- Others have claimed the honour of the first scientific peerage for the physicist Lord Kelvin whose barony, awarded in 1892, was granted entirely in recognition of his scientific achievements.
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- Historic England (25 August 1987). "Monument to First Lord Armstrong, Rothbury – 1371120". Retrieved 14 September 2017.
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- Schmitz, Sarah; Rawson, Caroline (2006). "Cragside: Rewiring a Temple to High Victorian Technology". The Building Conservation Directory. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Thorpe, Vanessa (31 March 2007). "Restored: the world's first hydroelectric house". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
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- Henderson, Tony (2 August 2016). "The Cragside room which indulged Lord Armstrong's lifelong fascination with electricity". Chronicle Live. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
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- "Father of murdered Chris Brown tells of shock". ChronicleLive. Newcastle. 5 July 2010.
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- "Raoul Moat: timeline of gun rampage". The Daily Telegraph. London. 7 July 2010.
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- "Raoul Moat shot as stand-off ends". Daily Express. London. 10 July 2010.
- Carter, Helen; Townsend, Mark (10 July 2010). "Raoul Moat dead after single gunshot ends standoff with police". The Guardian. London.
- "Gunman Raoul Moat kills himself". BBC News UK. 10 July 2010.
- "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- [permanent dead link]; see also 
- Know your parish Archived 26 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Whitton Tower". Pastscape. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- "Walking With Rock Art – 7. Lordenshaw" at rockart.ncl.ac.uk Archived 15 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
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