Review of Pennybottom Castle

Review of Pennybottom Castle by Eden Carter –
published in the West Bolton Courier, 19 July 1982.

After paying my entry fee (a shock for many at 25 pence, I can tell you!) I entered the tourist attraction which West Bolton District Council have laughingly decided to re-Christen Pennybottom Castle. Why they couldn’t leave it be, as the perfectly acceptable Pennybottom Keep, I cannot fathom.

Closed for five years to allow urgent restoration to be carried out, I and thirty other Pennybottom enthusiasts queued for the very first tickets. And we were not disappointed.

As reported in this very organ – the last fifty or so months has seen buckets of unidentifiable filth and a million Marathon and Opal Fruits wrappers removed, allowing the hand carvings of Bolton’s pre-eminent eccentric millionaire to be fully appreciated for the first time in almost a hundred years.

And the results, I can tell you, are simply startling.

Even an innocent babe would have no problem identifying each flobby breast and dollopous buttock from among the heaving throng of bodies in the many bawdy depictions of local courting rituals. It is also suddenly and delightfully clear which hags Pennybottom intended to be toothless. And after many a year of scholarly argument I don’t think anyone can now seriously disagree that the figure chasing the bishop with two sheep, a duck and a pot of marmalade is definitely male.

Some folk might say 25p is a lot to pay to see some badly-drawn boobies. And I would say that some folk are Philistines.

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David Baillie is a freelance writer and artist. Born almost thirty years ago in Scotland, he now lives and works in the East End of London.

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