"Down in Carlisle he loved a lady, many years ago..."

Carlisle page for The Annotated "Terrapin Station"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By Dave Kopel
Reprinted by permission of the author in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics (The opinions expressed are those of the author, not of the University of Colorado.) Copyright notice; © 1996, Dave Kopel
There are two principle towns named Carlisle, one in northern England, the other in Pennsylvania. Both have rich histories, and the first town has three Ladies of Carlisle.

Carlisle, England, and its Ladies

The older Carlisle is in England, in County Cumbria, on the Scottish border. Thus, if the line "down in Carlisle he loved a lady" is read literally, the Terrapin story is being told in Scotland.

The town, originally known as Luguvallium, was first a civilian settlement next to one of the fortified camps that comprised Hadrian's Wall.

Carlisle's mythic past goes all the way back to King Arthur, who was said to have ruled in the murky period following the withdrawal of Roman armies--around the fifth century.

In the twelfth century, the female poet Marie de France composed a dozen lais--short stories about love and adventure. One of her lais is the Arthurian legend of Lanval. Just before the story opens, King Arthur has been campaigning against the Scots and the Picts. Having won great victories, Arthur is now dispensing gifts from his castle at Carlisle. Lanval, a prince from a faraway land, is unfairly ignored by King Arthur. As the story develops, Queen Guenevere attempts to seduce Lanval, but he has too much honor to accept her advances.

Destroyed by Norse invaders in 875, the town was later taken by the Scots. William Rufus (successor to William the Conqueror) recaptured Carlisle for the English in 1092. His successor, Henry I, built the castle there.

The reign of Henry I's grandson, Henry II, was the time when Marie of France wrote her Arthurian Lais.

Much later, in the 16th century, Mary Queen of Scots, also known as "Bloody Mary" [see note from reader, below] was imprisoned for a time at Carlisle castle. In 1888, the poet William Wordsworth remembered her plight, with the poem "Lament of Mary Queen on Scots on the Eve of a New Year." The poem begins, on New Year's Eve, as the imprisoned Queen contemplates a crescent moon:

Smile of the Moon!--for so I name

That silent greeting from above;

A gentle flash of light that came

From her whom drooping captives love.

[Click here for full text of poem.]

Several parts of the cast still stand, including Queen Mary's Tower.

The third lady of Carlisle, is Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle. Born in 1599, Lucy Percy married James Hay, the Earl of Carlisle, in 1622. She became a well-liked figure at the court of King Charles I. During the English Civil War, she remained at court, and communicated the monarchy's secret plans to leaders of the parliamentary opposition. She also betrayed secret plans of the Parliamentary leaders to the monarchy. Arrested in 1649 and imprisoned in the Tower of London, she kept up a correspondence using a cipher. Released in 1650, she died in 1660. Many contemporary poets wrote about her, including Sir John Suckling ("Upon My Lady Carlisle's Walking in Hampton Court Garden"), Robert Herrick, Thomas Carew, and William Cartwright.

In Shakespeare's King Richard II, the Bishop of Carlisle is one of King Richard's most loyal subjects, who unsuccessfully tries to prevent a coup to depose the King.

Today, the town of Carlisle, with a population of about 70,000 is known for its textiles, metal products, and baked goods. The beautiful, historic Leeds-Settle-Carlisle Railway is a popular tourist attraction.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Eighteen miles west of Harrisburg, the town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania (pop. 18, 419), is rich in American history, especially military history.

Benjamin Franklin, as a member of the colonial Pennsylvania legislature, went to Carlisle to negotiate a treaty with the Mingo, Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, and Miami Indians. Later, Carlisle became the site of a federally-run Carlisle Indian School for American Indians, the most famous graduate of which was Jim Thorpe.

In June 1775, Carlisle Patriots formed a militia, which was sent to help revolutionary forces in Boston. During the revolutionary war, Carlisle was used as a prisoner of war camp for Redcoats (including Major John Andre), and as an American supply center.

During the Whiskey Rebellion, President Washington established a militia headquarters at Carlisle.

In 1838, the federal School of Cavalry Practice was established at Carlisle, the ancestor of the United States Army War College. The War College's excellent website contains extensive information about the military history of Carlisle, the Carlisle Indian School, and the cultural background of the surrounding area.

When the Civil War began, and Virginian troops moved to seize the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, the Union army retreated to Carlisle. In June 1863, Robert E. Lee's forces captured Carlisle, and each some of the Confederate forces that fought at Gettysburg the next month arrived from the Confederate base as Carlisle.

Today, Carlisle is the home is Dickinson College.

Floyd Carlisle

South Carolinian Floyd Carlisle (b. 1926) is the composer of operas Susannah, Wuthering Heights, Of Mice and Men, Bilby's Doll, and The Passion of Jonathan Wade.

This page created by Dave Kopel.

First posted: November 13, 1996
Last revised:
This note from a reader:
Subject: Terrapin Station Annotation
Date: 14 Jan 97 22:02:10 EST
From: David Douglas <71351.1521@CompuServe.COM>

Dear David

I am a British exile, born in Carlisle, England, and now living permanently in Japan. I was browsing the Net for articles about my home town when I stumbled across your Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, and being, I suspect, of an age similar to that of yourself, found them most interesting.

The information you gave about the Three Ladies of Carlisle, England, in relation to Terrapin Station, was fascinating. I knew already about the Arthurian link. In fact I consider that Carlisle has a stronger claim to being the site of Camelot than other places in England such as Tintagel in Cornwall and Glastonbury in Somerset. If you have ever been there, it does have a wild and magical atmosphere, and the geographical features of the area seem more in keeping with the Legend.

However, I feel I must draw your attention to one point of inaccuracy: Mary, Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart), imprisoned for a time in Carlisle Castle before her execution at Fotheringay in 1587, was not known as "Bloody Mary". Many people do make this mistake because of the fact that the unfortunate lady was later beheaded. It was, in fact, Mary Tudor (Mary I, elder sister of Elizabeth I) who was given that name. Her brief 5-year reign was marked by a Catholic backlash that saw a reversal of the Protestantism initiated by Henry VIII's Reformation. During that period, Mary vigorously pursued leading members of the Protestant Movement, and had many of them burned at the stake. Hence the name "Bloody Mary".

Good luck with your ongoing enterprise. Any chance of a set of annotated Doors lyrics ???

David Douglas
283-6 Ashigakubo,
Saitama-ken 368,

And another note from a reader:
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 21:57:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mary-Ellen Mort
To: ddodd@well.com



I also popped over and read all the stuff on the Terrapin Station--still nothing definitive? Ah! It's more fun that way. Besides, how many of us get to be the bibliographer of the collective unconscious (I mean, Grateful Dead.) I am jealous.

But the thing that prompted me to stop and say hello was the entry on your site for my home town! Where is that, you might ask? Carlisle, Pennsylvania!

You know who is missing on David Kopel's page: http://arts.ucsc.edu/GDead/AGDL/carlisle.html about Carlisle?

Molly Pitcher, Stephen Vincent Benet and Marianne Moore all lived in Carlisle.

Molly Pitcher:

Stephen Vincent Benet
Not seeing anything on the web to indicate this, but I believe Benet's dad was a military officer and Benet lived for a time in Carlisle. I could research this if there was interest.

Marianne Moore:



Thanks, Mary-Ellen!