The Bride of Lammermoor


A review and synopsis of a novel by Sir Walter Scott, first published 1819. A tragic love story set in Scotland in the early 18th century, the storyline the basis for Donizetti's 1835 opera, Lucia di Lammermoor.

Main Characters
Edgar, Master of Ravenswood, the dispossessed heir to the Ravenswood title and estate.
Caleb Balderstone, his extremely proud, loyal and surprisingly resourceful butler in their difficult reduced circumstances.
Mysie, Caleb's wife.
Sir William Ashton, Lord Keeper.
Lady Margaret Ashton, his wife and villain of the piece.
Colonel Sholto Douglas Ashton, their elder son.
Henry Ashton, their younger son, not yet in his teens.
Lucy Ashton, their daughter.
Mr Lockhard, The Ashton's butler.
Francis Hayston, Laird of Bucklow, the unwise and impetuous young heir to the estate of his aunt Lady Girnington.
Captain Craigengelt, Bucklow's incorrigible sidekick.
Others, including Lady Blenkinsop, Alice the ex-servant of the Ravenswood family, Mr Bide-the-Bent a minister, John Girder a cooper and his wife, John Mortsheugh the sexton, and The Marquis of A_____.

This is the story of a tragic romance between Edgar, Master of Ravenswood and Lucy Ashton, the daughter of his mortal enemy, Lord Keeper, Sir William Ashton, and his wife Lady Ashton. Sir William's ruthless political ambitions and machinations have led to the ruin of Ravenswood's father and forfeiture of his title and estate, which are now in the ownership of the Ashtons, injustice which the proud and resentful Edgar has vowed to avenge. The story is set in the south eastern borders of Scotland at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The Ashtons are living at Ravenswood Castle now in their possession along with the rest of the Ravenwood estate whilst Edgar lives with his father and a small retinue of faithful retainers in relative poverty at Wolfs Crag, a fortress on a coastal headland, the family's only remaining property.

       picWhilst out walking in the vicinity of their home, Lucy and her father are crossing a field where wild cattle are grazing, for some reason not exactly clear, the bull accompanying the herd becomes enraged by the human intrusion and charges. Fearing for their lives, they vainly seek refuge but with little likelihood of escape, Lucy faints and her father is transfixed by the terror of their situation, when a shot rings out and the bull falls to the floor within feet of them. The Master of Ravenswood is in the area and has seen the life threatening situation unfolding and taken aim to save the would be victims. Because of the history between the two families an awkward situation develops, when the gratitude of the unfortunate couple is apparently rebuffed in the most unfriendly terms by the haughty and unsmiling Master of Ravenswood. Lucy gradually recovers consciousness and although still in a state of shock also expresses her appreciation of his prompt life saving action. Ravenswood is smitten by her beauty but considering the contempt in which he holds her father, any romantic ideas fly out of the window, but it does cause Edgar to soften his tone towards them. Not unaware of the effect his daughter has had on The Master of Ravenswood, and with an eye on his own future welfare and status in the light of changing political circumstances, The Lord Keeper, tries to make friendly overtures to express his gratitude for Edgar's prompt action in their hour of need and to offer to discuss ways of improving relations. An unexpected olive branch, but Edgar refuses to discuss his father's treatment at the hands of the Lord Keeper but feels his bitterness against the family slightly ameliorated by the encounter with Lucy as he rides home to Wolfs Crag after promising to visit the Ashtons later at Ravenswood Castle his former home.
       At this time in Scottish history the Presbyterians hold sway and the Episcopalian Church has been outlawed, so when Edgar's father subsequently dies the funeral arrangements would need to be in accordance with the Presbyterian tradition. However sticking to their own Episcopalian practices The Master, strictly speaking, is breaking the law and when an officer tries to stop the funeral Edgar defies and threatens the enforcer and goes ahead anyway. The Lord Keeper having subsequently received the law officer's report about the illegal funeral and the threats to his authority, decides to tone down the nature of the offence to justify taking a more lenient view of the incident, and provide him with more leverage to lower the tensions between Ravenswood and himself, thus reducing the likelyhood of any vengeful acts.
       About this time, with Lady Ashton away from home in Edinburgh and subsequently London, Ravenswood has arranged a meeting with the hot headed Francis Hayston Laird of Bucklow and his Machiavellian co-conspiritor Captain Craigengelt with a view to taking his revenge on Sir William Ashton and escaping to exile in Europe. However since the incident with the raging wild bull, Ravenswood has softened his line, torn between his conflicting feelings, warm attraction to Lucy and animosity towards her father. Consequently when the meeting takes place The Master is rather lukewarm to going ahead with the plan and backs off. Edgar subsequently arranges to visit the Ashtons at Ravenswood Castle taking up the invitation to discuss their differences, at the same time requesting the presence of his kinsman the Marquis of A____ as advocate and conciliator, the Marquis, having previously suggested putting Edgars allegations of injustice in front of the English House of Lords. During Edgars prolonged stay at Ravenswood the romance between himself and Lucy blossoms and they exchange love tokens and become engaged, Lucy wearing hers around her neck fixed to a ribbon. Sir William seems to encourage the relationship, no doubt it suits his purposes, but someone is about to throw a massive great spanner into the works.
       Francis Hayston also has designs to marry Lucy and when his aunt Lady Girnington dies he becomes a very eligible choice, inheriting her considerable estate and wealth. He also knows that Lady Ashton expects her daughter to marry someone of her choice, a titled gentleman of some standing and would reject out of hand the claim of a penniless pauper who has fallen from grace. He therefore dispatches Craigengelt to London to surreptitiously let it be known to Lady Ashton that Lucy has formed a relationship with Ravenswood under her own roof, with the apparent blessing of Sir William. She of course is rather indignant and heads for home with great urgency to put an end to this ill favoured relationship. It's her ladyship that wears the trousers in this house and she will have her way. Arriving at Ravenswood Castle at the same time as the Marquis of A____, Sir William is thrown into panic fearing the inevitable confrontation with his wife and showing lack of respect to the Marquis at their simultaneous appearance. Nothing goes well from here on in, Edgar is thrown out of the house by her ladyship forbidding their union, wishing to replace him with Bucklow. The Marquis is no help either, he sends The Master of Ravenswood to Europe on a political and diplomatic mission, whilst ensuring him a hearing in the House of Lords. In the meantime Lady Ashton puts Lucy under pressure, bullying her to renounce her pledge to Ravenswood and accept an offer of marriage to Bucklow, intercepting letters between the engaged couple to make Lucy think Edgar has forsaken her and withdrawn his promise.
       Lucy is driven to distraction by her mother's dictatorial attitude and although she has absolutely no feeling whatsoever for Bucklow, she allows herself to be browbeaten and eventually acquiesces to her mother's wishes, being finally convinced Edgar no longer cares. On the eve of the wedding Lucy is pressured to make a new promise to Bucklow by signing a contract drawn up for the purpose and has reluctantly done so when Ravenswood appears, demanding to know what is going on and to uphold his prior claim to the hand of Lucy. In the depths of despair Lucy is speechless and in turmoil at finding Edgar does still care, but is unable to respond to his pleas. Ravenswood once more is ejected from the house, at the same time being challenged to a duel by Colonel Sholto Ashton, Lucy's brother for his insolence and threats. The wedding goes ahead as planned on the following day and the celebrations begin back at the Castle. However as they retire screams are heard coming from the bridal chamber and it transpires Lucy has stabbed Bucklow with a dagger bought for younger brother Henry. The wound is not fatal and Bucklow eventually recovers, but Lucy's mental state has been severely tested and tormented by the events leading up to the wedding, she succumbs to several convulsive attacks and dies the next day. Later Caleb finds Edgar saddling his horse in the stables at Wolfs Crag and suspecting he is going to give Sholto the satisfaction he wants, in vain tries to persuade him against such action. As the final scenes in the tragic story play out in the most dramatic manner, Caleb, Ravenswood's faithful butler can be seen out on the ramparts of Wolfs Crag watching his master as he rides towards the rendezvous in a secluded spot on the shore near the links, only to see him ride into a treacherous patch of quicksand, never to be seen again.
       Not the ending I was hoping for or expecting, but despite this a fantastic gripping story and another fascinating insight into Scottish history and the legends of the eighteenth century. It comes well recommended for readers with a taste for historical fiction and the most eloquent English prose, Scott is the master of both.

Palfreyman, May 2022

picpicFarthingale Publications: ..... Is a hobby web site containing articles of local interest to Lancastrians, some favourite walking and cycling routes, selected words and poetry, and some writings of more general nature as well as the authors own picture gallery. Access is available via the homepage and menu at the head of the page or via one of the direct links below.

Local Interest: Richmond Hill Dairies; Mind Your Language; John Lancaster Wigan MP; Thomas Aspinwall Miners Agent; Thomas Aspinwall Obituary; Upholland Telephone Exchange; Thomas Linacre School Wigan; Scot Lane School Wigan; The Lindsays of Haigh; Dust Upon God's Fair Earth; The Nurburgring 1960; Wigan Advertisements 1960; Wigan Soldier Missing in Action; It's a Funny Life; Private Thomas Whitham VC; Isaac Watts 1674 - 1748; Wigan Old Bank 1792; The Brocklebank Line; John Byrom 1692 - 1793; The Holy City Liverpool; Jubilee Park Memorial, Ashton in Makerfield; Little Ships at War 1918; A Cricket Calypso; Not Much of a Warrior; Peveril of the Peak.

Walking & Cycling: Moss Eccles Tarn; Abbey Lakes to Coppull Moor; Chorley Ice Cream Walk; Douglas Valley Dawdle; Three Counties Cycle Ride; Haigh to Borsdane Wood; A Lancshire Lineaer Walk; Blackrod or Bust; Cycle the Sankey Valley; Cycle the Monsal Trail; Wigan Circular by Bike; Freshfield to Crosby; Irwell Valley Trail (Bury to Rawtenstall); Irwell Valley (Bury to Salford).

Words & Poetry: The Heart of Midlothian; King Cotton; The Family Man; The Pickwick Papers; The Fair Rosamond; The Fair Rosamond Comic; When Winds Breathe Soft; The Wreck of the Hesperus; God Bless these Poor Wimmen that's Childer; Dombey and Son; Aw've Turned me bit O' Garden O'er; On Th' Hills; Four Favourite Poems; The Darkling Thrush; The Glory of the Garden; The Rolling English Road; The Antiquary; Hymn Before Action; Dust upon God's Fair Earth; Mind Your Language; Jeff Unsworth's dialect poetry; Martyrs of the Arena; Th' Coartin' Neet; Boat Song; Toddlin Whoam; Calm is the Sea; A Lancashire Mon.

picWallgate Chronicles: Hugo Boss comes to Wigan; In the footsteps of the Manchester Rambler; Fun with Trigonometry; Surprise at the Philharmonic; The Marriage of Figaro; Cat Bells; A Walk in the Hills; Eay Times Uv Changed; Fidelio; The Ravioli Room; Desert Island Discs; Travels in Time; The Spectroscope; The Bohemian Girl; Bookcase; Barnaby Rudge; Romance on a Budget; The Battle of Solferino; The Getaway Car; The Switchroom Wigan; The Force of Destiny; Adolphe Adam; The Fair Maid of Perth; Ivanhoe; Semele; Lohengrin.

Selected articles from the above listed:
pic Richmond Hill Dairies - Pemberton - These pages contain some personal memories from my youth and my association with Richmond Hill Dairies, a local business I grew up with and remember with some affection. A well known and important feature of the local community in its day and part of the heritage of Pemberton, this is my attempt to commit some small snapshot of its history to print, I hope these pages paint a worthy picture.
Mind Your Language - A humorous poem by "the bard of Haydock" George Anderton, inspired by memories of a trip to Bad Canstatt, Stuttgart Germany with the Haydock Male Voice Choir in 1975. This publication will bring a smile to the faces of not only those members who were there at the time and know the people involved but the wider population of Haydock as well who speak the language.
Wigan and the American Civil War - Wigan Coal and Iron Company, The Right Honourable John Lancaster MP for Wigan, the Confederate Raider Alabama, USS Kearsarge, Cherbourg and the yacht Deerhound all feature in the last great sea battle of the American Civil War.
Wigan Old Bank 1792 - A tragic boating accident on Windermere and a surprising journey through the social history of Wigan during the reign of Queen Victoria, highlighting the relationships between four families who played an important part in the commercial development of the town.
The Brocklebank Line - Daniel Brocklebank (1741-1801), shipbuilder and mariner, a brief biography, and some background detail of his family and the shipping line he founded.
Little Ships at Zeebrugge - An account of a heroic attempt to block the port of Zeebrugge during the first World War, to protect supply routes into the UK by denying enemy submarines based there access to the open sea.
A Cricket Calypso - A short biopic of cricketer Cyril Washbrook and a snapshot of his career including his role in the West Indies tour of 1950 recorded in the lyrics of the Cricket Calypso.
Not Much of a Warrior - Wigan RLFC in the fifties and sixties, through rose coloured glasses. A golden age of legendary players and memorable moments, along with some personal memories.

picLyme Hall, Disley, Cheshire