Bridges – Nether Bridge

Hello All

With all this walk-ling in the early hours I have become conscious of the ebb and flow of the River Kent which accompanies me along much of my route. The swift flowing Kent is a mercurial river prone to flooding during heavy rain but exposing it’s rocky bed when the weather is dry.

You can see the old river is quite frisky after recent downpours.

Historically most of Kendal lay on the west bank of the river but to the east lay the castle, farm lands and important arterial roads. To allow guaranteed river crossings – fords were only available in dry weather – bridges were a necessity. They stitched the town together.

The first bridge I encounter as I pedal along is one of Kendal’s oldest, Nether Bridge. The earliest reference is from 1421. Old enough you’d think but it is likely that a bridge has spanned the river at the same point from much earlier.

Peering under Nether Bridge (and getting funny looks as I peered … well I was hanging over the wall) shows the evidence of the bridge being widened twice.

I often wonder at the strength of Nether Bridge as large lorries roll over it taking up both lanes as they navigate the tight turn to travel south toward the motorway.

Reading Andrew White’s description of the bridge in his “A History of Kendal” I find I am right to wonder. The bridge may have been a principal route but it was so narrow that an ordinance of 1582 banned vehicles with more than one horse. Something needed to be done. Fast … ish.

In 1772 – things up here like to take their time – the first widening of the bridge was made on the downstream side. Unfortunately this was washed away (eek) after a few weeks – we do get a lot of rain…I may have mentioned that before – and the widening was moved to upstream. A further widening took place in 1908 and I assume this has left us with the bridge we can see today.

Should you wish to stop and traffic watch (does anyone do that?!) the bridge comes with seating:

All creature comforts don’t you know.

Of course during dry spells the nearby ford could still be used. I tried to capture the location of this ford but am not sure I have because buildings have vanished and the banks are now steeper. Here’s where I think it lay…

But then again it could be …

…here?

In any event after the tragic drowning of a chaise driver in 1806 the ford no doubt lost some of it’s allure and was better used as a place to water cattle.

As the temperatures here are set to drop over the next few days looking at the cold waters of the River Kent sent me indoors and to the warm wonderfulness of felting.

Working on my wall hanging I decided to start livening up the sombre dancers by needle felting onto the piece.

Very satisfying. A little like Nether Bridge the additions have been a long time coming but I will get there in the end.

Until next we meet,

Moke x

Going up town

Hello All

Two posts today. In my last I shared with you a walling walk around Coniston. In this walk we are closer to home.

Walk 2 – Exploring Kendal (from “Explore Kendal” by Arthur R. Nicholls)

For this perambulation there is no getting there as we are already here. J and I started our ‘tour’ by meeting outside Kendal Parish Church (more about this gem later) ready for Mr Nicholls’ ‘Exploration No. 3 Kirkland The Original Kendal’. Within minutes we were lost! Hilarious as I was born here and have lived in Kendal for almost the last 30 years… this is what happens when you take a walk on the wild side and discover a Kendalian ginnel you have ignored before.

This particular ginnel being Kirkbarrow Lane:

Known also as T’Crack (stop with the ribald humour) Kirkbarrow Lane is a walk into the past. It once provided an ancient pathway between Kendal’s first church at the Holy Well and the ‘new’ church of 1210 by the river (definitely more of that later). As you can see it is atmospheric:

Sadly, as we found along much of this walk, the olde Kendal buildings and monuments are often no longer there. Hence we got a bit muddled and roamed off piste. The detour was worth it however as we visited the Anchorite Well which according to local tales was home in time of yore to a hermit (anchorite) who as the story goes had returned from the Crusades still haunted by murdering his brother and sweetheart (deserves at least to feel haunted I’d say) and sought to salve his conscience and earn heavenly forgiveness by living the life of an anchorite. How true this is I am unsure although I am pretty certain a hermit did live here (apparently it was all the rage in the early Middle Ages). The civic society sign gives a more detailed history:

But I don’t think I would risk drinking the water ….

This is also the aforementioned Holy Well and probably the site of a wooden Saxon church. Now a housing estate the area connects to its past through the road names.

After a fair amount of zig-zagging across Kirkland (my favourite part of Kendal as it oozes character) we landed back at Kendal Parish Church a place of worship for the last 800 or so years.

The nave dates from 1201 but the church may hold some remnants from its older sister church at Holy Well. The Parr Chapel – yes that Parr family … think last and surviving wife of Henry VIII, this chapel dating from the 15th century was built (commissioned I’d say) by the Parr family – houses a fragment of a 9th century (800s) Anglian Cross possibly from Holy Well. Sorry for one of the longest sentences in the known world!

The church grew to be one of the widest in the country apparently only 7 feet less than York Minster. Go Kendal builders! Glad to say it offers some more recent gems, including an altar frontal in the Saint Thomas-A-Becket Chapel by the late Susan Foster a well known Kendal weaver:

Now faded it is good to see the design echoed amongst the fabulous kneelers:

There were sooooo many wonderful kneelers that I couldn’t record them all. Worth a visit just to see the whole merry collection if you live hereabouts or are visiting.

Of course a building of this age holds many secrets and stories. We looked out for the helmet and sword which could have belonged to Sir Roger Bellingham but more excitingly may have been the property of ‘Robin the Devil’ known as Sir Robert Philipson by his friends (if he had any) who was said to have ridden into the church in pursuit of his enemy Colonel Briggs and lost his helmet on the way out.

All this commotion apparently occurred around the late 15th early 16th century.

Kendal Parish Church has seen it’s fair share of life’s ups and downs: raids by the Scots, the dissolution of the monasteries, the reformation, Jacobite rebellions and naughty window-breaking grammar school boys to name but a few. It is hard to believe that there is an unbroken succession of ministers from 1190 to the present but here is the plaque to prove it:

In a world seething with change it is an amazing testament to the continuity of one small community. After all that history my butties were burning a hole in my sandwich box. Egg and salad cream again if you wanted to know.

Time, as we chomped, for a bit of celebrity ‘spotting’. Renowned people that are rumoured to have visited Kirkland are King Arthur (may be taking this one with several pinches of salt), Bonnie Prince Charlie (very likely) and Dickens who reputedly saw the communal bakehouse that once existed close to Nether Bridge and made reference to it in “A Christmas Carol”.

And while we are on with the famous of Kirkland we should also mention portrait painter George Romney (1734 – 1802) who lived for some time and died in a house (handily named Romney House) on the edge of Kirkland. The house is still there. Recently I visited Abbot Hall Art Gallery where a number of Romney’s paintings are permanently exhibited. Luckily I went with someone who knows much more about art history than I do. Thank you MB, I came away with a much greater appreciation of Romney than I had previously felt.

Kendal still has so much to reveal that it will no doubt appear in future posts.

But for now … until next we meet,

Moke x

It’s nice to be appreciated!

What a wonderful couple of days I’ve had. So before my memories fade I had better get tapping on this here keyboard.

Unusually for me I was off on a Friday and not only did this mean I caught a lovely day to walk along the River Kent

and be glad that I wasn’t dragging my washing down these steps to scrub it clean! DSCN0651

But it also meant that I was able to pop into one of our local wool shops, join in their Macmillan Coffee Morning (make mine a tea!) and spontaneously meet up with some familiar faces.

And if that wasn’t all superb enough the real purpose of perambulation was to meet up with JG at the beautiful Abbot Hall Art Gallery for lunch and on top of that there was the bonus of our fellow Daughter of Destruction (coined from a time we tried to hang wall coverings…you had to be there) BD being able to join us!

Aaaaah, satisfied sigh aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh. Poor Abbot Hall Cafe they almost had to lever us out we got so settled. I really appreciate the good friends I have and how nice it is to get some time to spend with them.

Another friend deserving appreciation is AW. Today she hosted a brilliant open morning at Sedbergh library to welcome the fair folk of that small town into their treasure of a library and let them know that she is now on hand to help them and keep it a tip top convivial place to be. Now this being AW everything was beautifully arranged. She’d visited the local primary school whose children had written poems for a wall display,

there was a warm welcome,

and plenty of AW’s tasty home baking,

It was also a real treat to see a display of AW’s incredible sugarcraft. This is the woman who made my fabulous cake when I left the library,

so I shouldn’t be surprised at the wonderful things she can fashion but her work is so detailed and intricate that it is hard to believe all these stunning flowers are created with  sugar!

Amazing! Well done AW on such a beautiful display and a marvellous morning for the library users of Sedbergh. And thanks too to the other library staff and volunteers for supporting this lovely event. It was great to be there.

Being them and also Uz4

What a lovely weekend. Saturday I spent chewing the fat with JG at the lovely Waterside Cafe (so no real chewing of fat involved ‘cos Waterside is a yummy veggie restaurant). We had a good old catch up and then I had a walk home along the River Kent in glorious sunshine.

Turn the clock forward to Sunday morning and what a change in the weather! Blowing a gale, raining hard and sun? what sun? it was dark enough to be evening. But it would take more than that to dampen my spirits because it is drumming Sunday. Kettle’s on and pot’s warming….

DSCN0633

Drums and percussion are out ready….

for the arrival of the other three members of Uz4.  Braving the storm we all managed to be sitting around the table with hot mugs of tea not long after 11am.

Uz4 is made up of four drummers who met as members of Tenterhooks a community percussion which we helped set up in the 1990s. Tenterhooks of yester year

They were wonderful times and involved us in many community projects, like the Kendal Torchlight Festival mentioned with the photo above, and even allowed us to record an album at a musicans’ cooperative in Lancaster.

Uz4 get together for a fun drum and a natter although we have managed to record some of our pieces and today I managed to master modern technology and upload some of our tracks onto Soundcloud. Whoo-hoo! Wonders will never cease.

On that happy note I must leave you.  Hope all is well wherever you are.

Eden’s only just up the road

What a fabulous evening I had on Saturday in sunny Cumbria. I can’t get enough of saying ‘sunny Cumbria’. Our beautiful green county is normally the wettest place in Britain this is a rare treat. Infact so heavy and frequent is the rain  it’s rumoured that Cumbrians have webbed feet…just checking mine…

First I trotted off to see my cousin and his wife for a relaxing bask and catch-up overlooking their amazing garden. I just had to take some photos to share it with you.

In a generation of only children fr-elatives are very important so it was hard to tear myself away from A and P but my lovely evening like a Dickens’ novel had another installment. Thankfully something far more convivial than pickpockets and escaped criminals was to come…

A quick hop (webbed feet have their uses) over the River Kent – thanks for the lift A – and I was with a bunch/chapter/paragraph/stamp/collection??? of library friends. Sitting under a shady gazebo- did I mention it is HOT in Cumbria?

We discussed everything  from the difficulties of growing asparagus (I never knew) to Mi5! A perfect evening.