Have A Cup Of Torture Tea

(Originally posted 1/3/17 on Read With The Gringa)

Why were people being tortured in England during the 12th century? In Chillingham, a small village in Northumberland, England, there is a castle of horrors. Have you heard of Earl Grey tea? Yeah, you are drinking tea named after a famous family with ancestral roots as torturers of the locals, the Scots and their own kin. Now, the gringa is sure that the Grey and Bennet families would prefer folks remember them for the tea and famous Chillingham Wild Cattle. But that’s just boring so the gringa will discuss the dark past of their ancestral home’s macabre history.

Scotland was the staunch enemy of England during the 1200’s. The Scots attacked the castle many times throughout this medieval century. Do you remember the movie “Braveheart” about legendary William Wallace? This leader of the Scots attacked the castle, burned it to the ground, and even the women and children of the Grey family were killed in this brutal act.

However, bloodletting was not solely reserved for hated Scotsmen enemies. During the 1300s the War of the Roses was raging. This was a bitter family feud for the possession of England’s throne. The Grey family had to decide whether to support the Lancastrian family who threw in with Henry IV or back the Yorks who were behind Edward IV. The Lancastrians, with the support of those in Chillingham Castle, eventually won the crown but not after executing eight of their own kin.

Their sentence for treason was to be hanged, then drawn and quartered. This was by order of Sir Ralph Grey. One of the victims was his own son. If you think being drawn and quartered doesn’t sound so bad after a lynching, um, the gringa would like to remind you of one gruesome detail. The victims were cut down from the rope while still alive. They were ALIVE when they were disemboweled then chopped into four pieces. Usually their heads were also chopped off and hung in public as a warning to others. And Sir Grey ordered this torturous death for his own son.

The gringa has to wonder what kind of upbringing he must have had on the family estate that allowed a father to commit such an act. He was, after all, raised in a castle featuring dungeons filled with torture devices. Dungeons that, for a price, can be toured today in hopes of seeing one of the many ghosts reported to inhabit the dark corners of these subterranean death chambers.

A few favorite ghosts are known as Blue Boy, Lady Mary Berkeley, and, the Torturer. How appropriate. The gringa believes torturers should find no rest upon their death. And what kind of grisly acts would drive a person mad to the point of remaining at the site of their suffering in order to exact revenge by inflicting suffering upon others? Get a load of some of the ingenius ways humans invented for torturing their fellow humans during the 12th century in rooms specially designed with sloping floors to efficiently drain the pints of blood spilled upon them:


Chair of nails.


Rack to stretch you to stringy, dislocated bits.


Mangle, like an old-fashioned laundry wringer, to cripple the hands. Probably saw a lot of action with neighborhood thieves.


Boots with nails. The gringa supposes they were good to kick in the seat of the pants anyone who didn’t work fast enough or was just downright pesky and troublesome.


The barrel of nails that victims would get tossed in then rolled down a hill, coming out leaking like a sieve at the bottom.

When folks start pointing the finger at Muslims as the sole source of murder and mayhem today, the gringa wonders how people can be so forgetful. There is not a single religion on Earth that has cornered the market on righteousness or cruelty. Every religion is comprised of the same elements: inspirational teachings of love, tolerance and compassion that also include a few perverse verses that could be exploited by unsavory people to justify violence. In every religion the masses are relatively decent people who choose to practice religion for the right reasons. However, there is always a handful of rotten power-mongers exploiting religion for nefarious purposes that makes everyone else look bad and the religion itself gets the blame. So, if you get caught up in populist fervor and feel tempted to shake a finger at the Muslim community, go have a cuppa Earl Grey and think on that.

Sources: chillinghamwildcattle.com

The Vintage News

Photo Credits: Great Castles

The Vintage News

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A barrio gringa with a dream of cosmic proportions: writing to satiate my insatiable curiosity, worldwide literacy beginning with our youth, and to be the first barrio gringa to explore outer space!

11 thoughts on “Have A Cup Of Torture Tea”

  1. Exceedingly scary to consider the cruelty inherent in human beings. We seem to delight in the pain of other people and creatures. Religion, politics or just plain sport – we don’t need much of an excuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gringa, the torture you speak of was horrible to be sure….but it took place some 9 centuries ago. It does not excuse Muslim extremists today….chopping off heads, burning people alive, blowing up innocents. In essence you are saying that what they do is okay because there is a history of torture in the world. Your argument is amoral.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Religion is not the problem. It is the greed & lust for power within mankind who will use religion, any religion, to justify heinous acts to expand power. Even now, throughout North Africa, Christians are slaughtering their Muslim neighbors. Genocide of Muslims by Christians happened in Bosnia. Throughout Central & South America indigenous tribal people are being slaughtered today by govts led by Christian leaders. Zionist Israel, with the support & weapons supplied by Zionist Christian nations, were empowered & encouraged to invade a land where Arabs had lived for centuries under the flags of different nations, building their homes, running their businesses & educating their children. Christian nations encouraged the Holocaust survivors to attack people who had never done them harm & were, by & large, unarmed. Israel rules over them as terrorists, compliance is forced by the barrel of a gun. As the homes of innocent Arabs are bulldozed these families are forced to live in a walled ghetto, much like the strategy used by the Nazis. Supplies are controlled so that housing, medicine & education is chronically inadequate. Those who resist & cry out for justice & liberty are shot, even children. Do not make the mistake of believing that radicalized Islamists are the only modern perpetrators of evil. If you live in a predominantly Christian or Jewish governed nation the govt has an interest in you believing such unbalanced truth so they can continue their own religious ideology war. Zionism & fundamental Christianity believe god has chosen them to one day rule over the entire world from the city of Jerusalem. Slaughtering hordes of people to make this reality makes these 2 radicalized ideologies no different than the perversion of Islam to expand power. Isis, Zionists & radicalized Christians are ALL guilty today of evil continuing to thrive.


      1. I see, your argument has morphed into one against Israel. I’m not sure you’re sober this morning……but I can feel the hate. I suppose you think the torture of a white kid in Chicago is justified because slavery existed until 1865….truly pitiful.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My argument is against any violence against any people. I find it reprehensible when religion, any religion, is used to support & justify violence against people. I am not against Israel. I am against Zionism. Zionism is an extremist ideology of Judaism, just as ISIS is an extremist ideology of Islam. Both believe that their ideology is the one true religion destined to rule the world in order to fulfill god’s will and gain favor. It is not hate that I harbor, it is resistance. To pervert religions that, in essence, teach goodwill, love, kindness & compassion in order to control decent people through fear is wrong, whether that be Zionism, Fundamental Christianity or Islam. All three are guilty of this. There is no justification of what happened in Chicago. I do not use my nation’s past history of slavery to excuse such behavior. I do, however, use that history to understand why such frustration and anger still resides in the black American community today. In America today a generation still survives that lived during the time of legalized white supremacy. That generation includes my parents and 2 oldest siblings. What that means for US society is that there are millions of whites who remember the privileges of having a protected special status. They grew up believing this was their right. They also remember the resentment & anger at having this privilege & special protected status revoked & being forced to share equal status, power & space with a group of people they considered lower than animals. There are also millions of Americans who remember the violence & daily injustices they had to endure because such actions were legal. These are the Americans who suffered through the loss of loved ones who were lynched, were victimized by rape, torture or the loss of property when homes & businesses were burned. Who had to suffer the indignity of segregation. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 may have changed legal status for many Americans, but it did not change how they had been conditioned or the effects of how they had been traumatized. And these generations have raised a consecutive generation to continue their own legacy, whether that be racism or hate of the oppressors. It will be several generations before this kind of trauma passes from our society. 60 years is not enough time to undo the damage of hundreds of years of legalized terror on the black American community. It is also not enough time to undo many social policies that still undermine progress for minorities in the US today. The only way to eradicate hate is to first confront it. In a nation where it became illegal to practice race-based discrimination, many parents simply raised their children to continue a legacy of racism but in a socially acceptable way. The sad truth is that there is still much racism within the white American community but many are unaware of it. It is difficult for many whites to simply sit back and listen to minorities express their experiences of racism. Many whites become offended and angry, refusing to believe that it really affects them. This refusal to believe the personal testimony of a minority’s suffering is, in itself, rooted in racism. The desire many white people have to explain to minorities how they are wrong about their own personal experiences, is also rooted in the traditional white racist perspective of the white person having the right and power to dictate to the minority how they should act, feel and think because the white person knows better. The automatic defensive reaction many white people have to such testimony by minorities is rooted in the defensive position a white person traditionally takes because a minority does not have the right to criticize white society. It has been a long journey for me as a white person who was raised as 4th generation KKK. I still have a long way to go to destroy the roots of racism my parents & white only society childhood environment buried deep within me.


      3. Your hostility is a sign of your deeply rooted racism. I feel very sorry for you. White privilege, is, indeed, very real. It is beyond to the realm of basic logic and reason to believe that a white person could live in a society where white privilege was the law of the land for hundreds of years and think that such a condition disappeared overnight because Congress passed a law. Again, I feel sorry for you. Although you point at me with accusations of hate, it may be that you are only reflecting a condition within your own heart. I hope that one day, you will spend more time in brutal honesty with self like I have. The painful truth is that I as born to racists, grew up with racist siblings in a racist community, and will probably never be cured of racism because of such profound conditioning. It will be a lifetime of humble acceptance of this truth and aggressive suppression of many of my automatic responses I have been trained and conditioned to react with. I am grateful for the minorities in my barrio who accept me and listen to my struggles as a white person who was raised to be a racist, just as I am willing to listen to their stories of how people like my parents have striven to maintain a white power status quo in our society. My life is richer because I remain open to my own failures. I accept the reality of white privilege. However, I consider it my duty to use it to even the playing field as much as possible for my minority brothers and sisters. When they face roadblocks are a result of racism & discrimination, many times, with a white advocate by their side, these roadblocks are removed. White privilege can be a GOOD thing if it is used to help others. When used for good, this reality is nothing to be ashamed of. The shame is in denying that racism still exists and becoming angry & hostile when this truth is exposed. Every racist since 1964 has desired only for the white superiority system to remain the status quo.


      4. So now I’m a racist and hater? How easily you assign labels to people …..without, I might add, any provocation or factual basis….in the name of “leveling the playing field” (by attacking me) you denigrate all those that don’t agree with you. #notlove

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I am not attacking you. I am simply asking that you examine why you feel the way that you do toward minorities when they expresss themselves about how racism still affects them in the US today. These are groups with a documented history of extreme oppression at the hands of white America and yet you are hostile to the possibility of the reality they describe. Why the hostility? Why are you unwilling to listen with an open mind and consider that what they describe as their American experience is real? Why does it make you so angry and hostile to be asked to consider that, as a white American, your American experience has been different than that of a minority American, and, perhaps, filled with a broader and more open path. Why does it make you so angry to be asked to consider such things? I never said that you were a racist. I explained how certain reactions and positions by white Americans are rooted in racism. If these reactions and positions describe yourself, you are then identifying yourself as a racist, not being accused by me.


      6. omg……please stop and yes, you are attacking me, labeling me and trying to convince whoever reads your blog that I’ve done something to deserve your rath……stop it. Just stop. You’ll never see me on your blog again….I promise.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’m very sorry you feel this way. I only hope that one day you will be open to consider the points of view from people who are different from you as being just as legitimate as your own perspective. I guess I feel a very close, personal connection with your reaction of hostility toward the concept of white privilege. When I first heard that phrase my initial reaction was one of indignant hostility as well. However, I had learned by then to check myself when I would bristle at a seeming criticism of my white condition. I discussed the subject with black American loved ones. I engaged online with minority people who were discussing the issue. I read some of the works of black American scholars who specialize in Black American history and studies. That openness and willing to explore whether or not there was truth behind what was being proclaimed was enlightening. I hope that when you get over your initial reaction, you might explore the concept from the black American perspective. Good luck. I hope you do keep in touch.


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