200-year-old whale bones to be displayed at Cresswell Pele Tower

A reminder of a notable day in the history of two Northumberland villages 200 years ago will be on show this weekend.

By Andrew Coulson
Monday, 1st August 2022, 4:48 pm

People living in Cresswell and Lynemouth spotted a giant Sperm Whale beached on the shoreline between their two villages on August 8, 1822, which appeared to have been injured when it crashed onto some rocks.

Local fisherman, helped by labourers building the nearby Cresswell Hall stately home, unsuccessfully tried to kill the stranded whale but they eventually managed to do so with the aid of a harpoon fashioned by a local blacksmith.

The carcass rendered nine tons of whale meat and around 150 gallons of oil that were claimed by two landowners, including the Baker-Cresswell family, before the Admiralty stepped in and declared the remnants of the whale to be the property of the Crown.

Celia Lister with whale bones that will be on display at Cresswell Pele Tower.

After it was disposed of, some of its huge bones were mounted on a plinth in the grounds of the hall. All that remains now is the plinth, with the bones being long gone.

However, more bones unexpectedly turned up. It was around 50 years ago that the father of Celia Lister found the bones in a stream as he walked home from his shift at the local coastguard station.

With the help of his daughter, Mr J A Anderson took the bones home to their home in Ashington and they have been with the family ever since.

Celia has decided to return them to Cresswell because the village now has somewhere to display them in the shape of the recently restored 14th Century Pele Tower.

The bones will be presented to custodians of the tower at a special maritime open day on Sunday (August 7) from 1pm to 4pm exactly 200 years minus a day to when the tale of the whale began.

Steve Lowe, volunteer co-ordinator and engagement officer at the Pele Tower, said: “The Cresswell whale is a story that has fascinated local people for two centuries, so to have these bones given to us to go on display in the tower is really exciting and we are grateful to Celia for presenting them to us.”

There will also be displays from the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the North East Cetacean Project at the open day, as well as music from Beeswing.