Martin Clunes: Islands of Britain - Netflix

Mon 24 June 2019

Martin travels around the lesser-known islands that belong to Great Britain.

Martin Clunes: Islands of Britain - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2009-05-03

Martin Clunes: Islands of Britain - Piel Island - Netflix

Piel Island lies half a mile (1 km) off the southern tip of the Furness Peninsula in the administrative county of Cumbria, though historically within Lancashire north of the sands. It is located at 54°4′N 3°10′W (OS grid ref. SD233637). It is one of the Islands of Furness. It is the location of the English Heritage-owned Piel Castle. The island is within the administrative boundaries of the mainland town of Barrow-in-Furness and is owned by the people of the town, having been given by the Duke of Buccleuch in the early 20th century. The Borough Council's administrative duties also include the selection of the “King” of Piel, who is the landlord of the island's public house, the Ship Inn. The area of Piel is about 50 acres (20 hectares). As well as the landlord and his family the island has three other permanent residents who live in the old Pilots Cottages.

Martin Clunes: Islands of Britain - The Ship Inn - Netflix

“There is a public-house on the island, the only habitation, tenanted by an old Scotchman, who has been lord of this domain for many years, and goes through the duties of guide and expositor among the ruins of the castle with admirable fluency. The custom of the seamen from the roadstead, and the donations of occasional visitors in the summer time, support him in a state of which he has no right, he thinks, to complain; but he acknowledged that when there were no vessels in the roadstead he found his situation rather too lonesome, and apt to drive him to his beer-barrel for company.”

The Ship Inn dates from the late 18th century. Today it provides sustenance for sailors, fishermen and day-trippers to the island. The landlord is known as 'The King of Piel', a title originating from the time of Lambert Simnel and his attempt to usurp the English throne. A tradition associated with the pub is known as the 'Knighthood of Piel'. Local fishermen have handed this down over the centuries. In a room of the inn is a large oak chair and anyone who sits in it is made a 'Knight of Piel'. The ceremonial knighting is carried out by the King of Piel or a fellow knight. The present-day cost of becoming a knight is to buy a round of drinks for all those present. However, the privilege afforded to knights is that they may demand food and lodging off the innkeeper should they be shipwrecked on Piel. The pub's licence ended in November 2005 and Rod Scarr, who had been King of Piel for 20 years, left the island in April 2006. The island thus fell under the control of Barrow Borough Council. The opportunity was taken to fully renovate the pub, though work did not begin until July 2008, shortly before the new 'King of Piel', Steve Chattaway, was crowned (an event that was documented in the TV series Islands of Britain). The origins of the Ship Inn are obscure; it is said to be over 300 years old, but the evidence is uncertain. In 1746 a lease for agricultural land situated within the castle ditch was granted to an Edward Postlethwaite, who is described as an innkeeper from the ‘Pile of Fowdrey’. The earliest direct reference to an inn, or ‘publick house’, is only in 1800. In 1813 a visitor painted a vivid picture of the life of the innkeeper at that time:

The earliest map reference, in 1833, refers to the inn as 'The Herdhouse', and the first person who can confidently be identified as a landlord of the Ship Inn is James Hool as he is listed in the 1841 census as a publican.

Martin Clunes: Islands of Britain - References - Netflix