Bussing it – Two visit Herstory

Hello All

Had a fab day yesterday following the quest for this year. Quest? You say. Is this a great endeavour aimed at bringing about world peace? ending inequality? famine? Well…errr…. no. While these are definitely laudable aims me and walking buddy J have set our sights a wee bit lower….

Our target for 2018 is …. to visit all 11 of the exhibits at the Cumbrian museums taking part in events ‘Celebrating the Women of Cumbria’. Yahoo!

Humming ‘The March of The Women’ (could just have been me) we boarded the good old 555 Stagecoach Bus at Kendal and set off for Keswick and Herstory. In case you want to hum along* here are the words of this rousing suffrage anthem written by Cicely Hamilton with music by Ethel Smyth.

The March of the Women

Shout, shout, up with your song!

Cry with the wind for the dawn is breaking.

March, march, swing you along,

Wide blows our banner and hope is waking.

Song with its story, dreams with their glory,

Lo! They call and glad is their word.

Forward! Hark how it swells

Thunder of freedom, the voice of the Lord.

Long, long, we in the past,

Cower’d in dread from the light of Heaven;

Strong, strong, stand we at last;

Fearless in faith and with sight new given.

Strength with its beauty, life with its duty

(Hear the voice, oh, hear and obey).

These, these beckon us on,

Open your eyes to the blaze of day!

Comrades, ye who have dared,

First in the battle to strive and sorrow;

Scorned, spurned, naught ye have cared,

Raising your eyes to a wider morrow,

Ways that are weary, days that are dreay,

Toil and pain by faith ye have borne.

Hail, hail, victors ye stand,

Wearing the wreath that the brave have worn!

Life, strife, these two are one!

Naught can ye win but by faith and daring;

On, on that ye have done,

But for the work of today preparing.

Firm in reliance, laugh a defiance

(Laugh in hope for sure is the end)

March, march, many as one,

Shoulder to shoulder and friend to friend!

Keswick Museum certainly did not disappoint. The staff were super helpful and friendly (even after I changed their knitting example from garter to stocking stitch … sorry) and for the sum of £4.50 we each purchased a 12 month ticket for this delightful museum.

We first had a quick tootle around the ‘old’ museum where I couldn’t resist playing (or attempting to) the huge slate ‘xylophones’ housed there. These amazing instruments have a fascinating history dating back to the discovery by Peter Crosthwaite in 1785 of his first 6 ‘music stones’ (sic). He produced a further 10 musical stones over the next six months and in later years his achievements were built on by Joseph Richardson of Keswick who spent 13 years (!!!) scouring the slopes of Skiddaw for rocks with the best tone in order to produce an extraordinary instrument which comes complete with candle holders and an 8-octave range. So popular was this instrument of percussive delights that in 1848 the ‘Richardson & Sons, Rock, Bell and Steel Band’ performed at Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria. The instrument was donated to Keswick Museum in 1917.

I am lucky enough to have heard a selection of these stones (35 rather than the full 61) during a performance at Kendal Library some years ago. They were played by composer Brian Dewan and Jamie Barnes who performed (in 2005, I think) seven new movements for the musical stones written by Brian Dewan with the assistance of Jamie Barnes. Atmospheric indeed. But I digress…. what were we here for? Ah yes, ‘Herstory’.

We had a marvellous time learning more about this famous Lakeland town through the stories of its women. What I think absorbed us most in this mountainous area so beloved of climbers were the brave women who scaled the local peaks often dressed in long heavy skirts, heeled boots and an ever present tipfer pinned to their copious coiffured locks. It reminded me of a description of Ginger Rogers: “sure he [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, … backwards and in high heels”.

Glad to say that some of these bold lasses donned knickerbockers under their skirts and when up in them thar hills took off their voluminous skirts and carried them (annoying enough) in their knapsacks.

My cartoon was inspired by the photograph we saw of Pauline Ranken and Lucy Smith of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club ascending Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh in June 1908. Unlike my swinging lady above they were doing the job properly despite their attire and being suspended by what looked remarkably like string. Gutsy women.

We had a whale of a time and I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Keswick and its friendly museum post-haste.

We have now visited two of the eleven exhibitions. We tripped over the trail in the Museum of Lakeland Life (MoLLi) at Abbot Hall where we had gone to view the Folk Art exhibit. The MoLLi definitely set us on our quest as their exhibition was so cleverly woven into the museum’s existing artifacts giving us a taste of the struggles which both suffragists and suffragettes – didn’t know about the difference till then – faced in pursuing women’s suffrage.

Next on our list is the Beacon Museum in Whitehaven where they are exploring the life of Whitehaven’s Edith Brown a trailblazer in women’s healthcare and education. Watch this space….

In any event I am sure that I will be back in Keswick soon. Not only is it – to my mind – the best bus journey in England but I have a new walking book to add to my small collection.

Happy days.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

* Warning!!! Don’t listen to ‘The March of the Women’ unless you want it in your head all day … Shout, shout up with your song… aaaaargh!

Short walks and flying visits

Hello All

Funny little week this one with a veritable variety of small delights. The weather and remnants of the ever-lasting flu bug has limited my walking recently. With yet another forecast of f-f-f-f-reeezing high winds accompanied by a deluge (think BBC Weather marks it with charming two raindrops under a too fluffy cloud, its a deluge to me) the intrepid three J, JF and me decided that perhaps meeting for a cuppa would be enough for this week’s walk day. But we are not intrepid for nothing and decided on a short walk before the luxury of a warm coffee shop.

When I say short I mean short. Today’s walk was along one side of Kendal’s main shopping street Stricklandgate. For a Kendal walk we of course turned to Mr Nicholls and in this instance his Exploration No.1 Around Stricklandgate. To reduce the need to refer to Arthur Nicholls’ book in the everlasting downpour I made a quick (ie not very good) sketch of our half-a-street walk with all the highlights jotted down which I could preserve in a waterproof ‘envelope’.

For such a diminutive amble Stricklandgate (one half) packs a historical punch. Kendal Town Hall is presently being restored after the damage wrought by Storm Desmond (2016) so a little interior shot is all I have to give to an idea of its grandeur.

Passing up the opportunity to burst Maria-like into song we girded ourselves for a walk on the wild side of Cumbrian weather (I begin to wonder if there is any other type!).

We quickly trotted to the top of Finkle Street.

There has been much conjecture about the name Finkle. I like the old Kendalian story that it is from the Norse word meaning elbow as it does have a dog-leg as you walk downbank. My extensive research (I Googled it) is not entirely supportive of this theory and whatever you do don’t look up the definition of ‘finkle’ in the urban dictionary …. you have been warned.

Moving on. What has always intrigued me is the fact that Stricklandgate was lined with buildings on both sides (remember we are only looking at one half…) and the Pump Inn which lay across the top of Finkle Street fascinated me. I was imagining something grand like the Pump Rooms in Bath but the reality appears to have been a far cry from this. The fact that a fish market ran down Finkle Street behind it should have given me a clue. We are lucky that there are archive photographs of the Pump Inn. Here is my representation of one of them. I am afraid as it was all grey even my grey-heavy palette gave up.

Doesn’t that fish-wife look familiar?!

Tootling on we wistfully wandered on past Farrers Tea and Coffee. Ahhhh the smell of freshly roasted coffee that comes from this old coffee house is amazing. If you are up this way it is a must to visit Farrers with its wobbly timber floors and stairways. The coffee and tea are tasty as are all the home baked treats. You can also pick up Farrers’ goodies to take home. The building is fronted by the iron doorway which was put in when the building was refronted in the 18th century. Prior to this Farrers was a hostelry called the Waggon and Horses Inn.

Farrers had whetted our appetites but we carried on paying our respects to Kendal’s historic past: the buildings that survive – like the Working Men’s Institute and Globe Inn – and those long gone – like the Corn Market Hall with its grim prison named the Black Hole underneath. Further down the road (but not much further) we gave a nod to the old yards and burgage plots that now lie long forgotten under the modern Westmorland Shopping Centre which at least has hung on to our old County name.

Almost at our destination we skirted Blackhall Yard which originally housed a 16th century mansion for the first mayor of Kendal Henry Wilson and later became Hodgson’s Black Hall Brush Factory. There is a replica of the hog with bristles sign still hanging near the yard but one of the original wooden hogs can be seen at the Museum of Lakeland Life at Abbot Hall.

Finally Charlies and that long (er-hum) awaited cuppa but before we could enjoy the delights of an Earl Grey tea or three there was one last historic footnote. Charlies cafe is sited in the old house that Bonnie Prince Charlie is reputed to have stayed in on his retreat from Derby in 1745 and is where he was cared for by the Misses Thompson (make of that what you will). Ironically the house is said to have provided the same bed to the Bonnie Prince’s pursuer the Duke of Cumberland the very next night. Hope they changed the sheets … were there sheets…?

Amazing what a short walk can reveal. The same is true for a flying visit.

Yesterday I was in Carlisle to meet up with friends at Tullie House museum. I love this museum and the fact that I picked up a season ticket for £6.50 on my last trip has helped me appreciate it even more.

Having had a super catch up and lunch in the museum cafe I enjoyed an hour looking at the Percy Kelly retrospective. The work of this amazing artist is right up my street. Driven to draw everyday he generally had a linear and angular style with all those clean lined edges I find so satisfying. In addition to the drawings, paintings and prints I discovered textile prints and multi-media examples of his work. All wonderful but for me the most beautiful exhibits are his letters. He was an inveterate letter writer writing in a clear copperplate hand around the drawings he incorporated into his correspondence. His letters are erudite and incredibly illustrated how fortunate were his friends to receive them. No wonder so many survive they must have been treasured. If you have a chance to see this exhibition (which I hear is now staying in Tullie House until mid-February) I would thoroughly recommend going.

Understandably no photos were allowed of the Percy Kelly exhibition however elsewhere in Tullie House you are generally allowed to take snaps and I grabbed one of Tullie House’s latest acquisition, Driggsby.

Sadly Driggsby a rare Fin Whale was found in 2014 by a dog walker at Drigg in West Cumbria. The young whale had already perished but has been kept in the county to illustrate the wonderful sea life we have around our shores and to act as a reminder to care for the environment that sustains these amazing creatures.

Lest I leave you on a sad note here is something that made me smile. Having completed our walk down Stricklandgate J, JF and myself trotted into Kendal Library and popped our heads into the colourful children’s library where we were bowled over by our talented friend AW’s fabulous display.

Hope her hard work leaves you smiling too.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Heights, Hats and New Year

Hello All

Hope its not too late to wish you all HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! What is the protocol? I usually go with wishing Happy New Year to people I have not seen – since hearing the fading strains of Auld Lang Syne – until the end of January. What do you do?

Protocols aside a bit of housekeeping is needed on this here blog. I don’t feel I have finished 2017 off properly as I was smitten by a fluey bug at the tail end of the Christmas festivities and didn’t complete a post for the last walk of the old year. It was a Bussing It walk and everything!!! So here goes.

Somewhere in the mists of time … December 2017! …. J unleashed our first walk from Robert Swain’s “55 555 Walks” Bolton Le Sands to Lancaster. For me it is a particular pleasure to combine public transport with a walk, no worries about driving, parking, individually polluting the universe … that sort of thing. But little did I know as we set off that by the end of the day I would be facing one of my greatest fears. Eeek.

Innocently we tootled off on a very pleasant stroll through the Lancashire countryside chuckling at the punishments meted out to ne’er do wells of yesteryore.

The stocks at Slyne give a hint of a raucous past in this now ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ little village. Oh how I was chuckling … then.

The next stretch of the walk took us part-way along the Lancaster canal. My favourite: a really flat walk.

Although major road building – the Bay Gateway: Heysham to M6 link if you wanted to know – left us with a rather strange detour (not in Swain’s book of course) serpentining our way around the pillars of the new four-lane highway rumbling above us before entering the outskirts of Lancaster through a modern housing estate. Different from the Lakeland fells and cottages for sure.

And then as we walked through Lancaster’s Ryelands Park … gulp … the realisation that the walk took us across the Lune and that this would only be managed by bridge (swimming across would be pretty radical). Those of you that followed my travels in Germany will recall an annoying vertigo that decided to visit me while I was away. The thought of a scary bridge on the horizon brought that memory back.

J being the good friend she is suggested we walk to a much less high rise footbridge. But that meant skipping some of the walk so I girded my loins and up and over Lancaster’s Carlisle (foot and rail) Bridge we went. And do you know what? despite my qualms, fear of white knuckles, passing out part way (I think that was J’s fear) it was … drum roll please …. ok. I know what an anti-climax. It really was alright.

It was worth it too as the quays along this bank of the Lune, a salt marsh tidal river, are quaint and full of architectural interest. They also end in a good end stop at the oldest pub in Lancaster. The Three Mariners is not only a grade II listed building steeped in 500 years of history – even holding prisoners in its cellar when Lancaster Castle’s dungeons were overflowing – it also serves a fine pot of tea which comes with a jug of fresh milk and a spare pot of hot water. Tea heaven. Oh yes its also a paranormal haunt!

A quick hop across the road and we were back on the 555 Stagecoach bus home. A good way to end the walking year.

As to 2018? No walks yet. Recuperating from fluey-virus thing has grounded me a wee bit. Although now the hacking cough has subsided I am rather enjoying the snug loveliness of homely pursuits and a couple of thoughtful Christmas presents especially.

In the last few years my children have introduced new folks to our teeny tiny family. Their wonderful partners are extremely welcome additions and already know me well enough to supply fodder for my New Year needs.

A selection of beautiful wools from No 1 Son’s No 1, RS

From which one ball today started a cable-knitted journey to becoming a hat:

The free pattern from Margo Knits can be found here. Big thanks RS: I will soon have a warm hat so I can again embrace walks in my chilly county.

Thanks to No 1 Daughter’s No 1 RP I am happily putting up my feet and losing myself in an era that I love

Fabulous reading especially now the thumping head has receded. Inspired pressie.

On those happy and thankful notes I will love and leave you.

May 2018 bring you everything you need.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Three go to Kentmere

Hello All

Brrrrrr. Today has been chilly but with the insulation afforded by many layers of clothing and JF driving we three set off for a walk in Kentmere just a few miles north of the village of Staveley.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that the roads had been gritted as there were pockets of solid ice towards some of the verges. Parking near St Cuthbert’s Parish Church we donned our walking boots and set off up the road towards Hartrigg the highest farm in the valley. Now not being one who would want to spend Christmas – nor anytime really – in plaster we erred on the side of caution and made our way back to the church when snow started to fall, worryingly dusting and partially hiding the icy stretches on the path.

We arrived back at St Cuthbert’s in time to help carry pine branches into the little church for its seasonal window decorations. The smell of fresh pine was evocative of winter and a roaring fire. I was also wowed by the kneelers. Not hidden away below the pews as usual but proudly displayed. How fab!

This was only one half of them, sadly my photography skills let the other half down. Sorreeee.

The church apparently dates in part from 1691 but the amazing yew in the circular walled burial ground is thought to be around 1000 years old and suggests that this was a much earlier place of worship.

I had to give this yew a gentle touch of homage. Weird tree-hugger that I am. Looking from the other side of this magnificent ancient tree the view towards the distant hills is snowily seasonal.

Within St Cuthbert’s is also a plaque to the memory of Bernard Gilpin ‘the Apostle of the North’ who was born in 1517 at nearby Kentmere Hall. Gilpin was a famous preacher in the time of Henry VIII and a leading churchman in the troubled times of Mary Tudor. He gained his rather magnificent ‘title’ for his preaching in the wild lands of the north. Let me reassure you we are no longer that wild … we have Michelin starred restaurants and everything, honest. Gilpin died when he was run over by and ox and cart in Durham market-place on 4 March 1583. Perhaps that was a tad wild.

What a treat St Cuthbert’s was. A little welcoming sanctuary especially on a very cold day.

Kentmere looks like a fabulous walk so can’t wait to come back in warmer (i.e. no ice) weather.

In the meantime I am happily sitting de-frosting with a pot of tea and comforting assortment of biscuits. Life is good.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Amble around Levens Park and Heversham

Hello All

Now we are all out of walling walks J and I are branching out – well I am, J is a seasoned walker. Boarding the 555 bus towards Lancaster we disembarked at Levens Bridge (opposite the wonderful Levens Hall) for a circular-ish walk.

No weather gods playing tricks on us today – sorry JF you missed the sun – we started our walk with a gentle if muddy stroll around Levens Park. This deer park belonging to Levens Hall was once part of a medieval deer park or hunting enclosure which was landscaped about 300 years ago in the then al la mode ‘natural landscape style’. Wasn’t it already that?

We squelched through the avenue of oaks planted along what was once a magnificent carriage drive to the Hall. On our way we spotted Black Fallow Deer and also a herd of the rare breed Bagot goats.

Oh dear. I tried to capture the grandeur of these magnificent beasts … ermmm … and no those are not bows on his rear legs! Moving swiftly on.

We squerched to the end of the first half of the Park and after willing myself to walk over the road bridge spanning the A590 … don’t look down…don’t look down …. phew … we arrived at Force Falls near Sedgwick.

From there we strolled along the opposite bank of the River Kent, under the A590 (almost as worrying as walking over it) and after a couple of fields entered the other half of Levens Park. What a pleasure it was to have our tea break sitting on two old tree stumps like a couple of latter day pixies. OK one of us – who is not J – is a rather portly pixie. Takes all sorts. I almost felt moved to burst into vaguely remembered Girl Guide songs (ahhh, those were the days) luckily for J I resisted temptation.

Soon we were back by Levens Bridge. Too soon on such a lovely day. We therefore extended our walk to have a look at nearby Heversham village.

Apparently Heversham is a Spring-Line village. Who knew?! It grew from a settlement based by the springs occurring along the boundary of a ridge of permeable rock lying over impermeable rock. These villages became the long and narrow strip parishes typical of the Anglo-Saxon or early medieval period. And sure enough there was the ancient St Mary’s Well. It had a very tantalising pump, so hard to resist the urge to raise the arm and see if it draws water …. but don’t! One of us did (I will not mention any names) and there was a nasty moment

when the handle came over all wobbly. Dear reader do not worry we left the well and pump just as we found them, intact.

Just DON’T TOUCH THE HANDLE….EVER! Luckily there was a nearby church to visit. Some might say hide in but they would be wrong.

I have often passed the little church in Heversham so it was a treat to go inside. The tower of St Peter’s is positively modern (1869-1870) in comparison to the rest of the building. Infact Pevsner and Hyde The Buildings of England: Cumbria accuse the tower of being misleading as this is one of the oldest Christian sites in Westmorland. So there!

Old it is. In the porch alongside a magnificent medieval door (used on Sundays for services we were told) is the remains of a late 8th century (Pevsner and Hyde) or perhaps 7th century (church handout) Anglo-Saxon cross covered with vine scrolls and beasties.

Although the church still contains a patchwork of perpendicular (ie English Gothic – 1335 onwards – don’t you know) and Norman architecture a fire in 1601 caused by a plumber (how?!) meant the subsequent centuries saw renovation and re-building. It is a happy little building despite Norse settlers moving into the surrounding area scaring the Abbot, fire-starting plumbers and Victorian ‘improvements’. We had a lovely time spotting its most notable features.

And admiring the kneelers.

When we left blue skies were still with us. You can see them behind the J.F. Curwen 1920 War Memorial Cross in the churchyard.

What a wonderful day for a walk.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Three go to Ambleside

Hello All

Final catch-up post. Joined by mutual friend JF, J and I set off for another walk.

Walk 3 – Walling Walk around Ambleside (thanks again to the Dry Stone Walling Association Cumbria Branch)

For this circular walk we got there by car, parking near the main car park opposite the Armitt Museum and University of Cumbria. It is also easy to get to Ambleside by the Stagecoach 555 bus from Kendal Bus Station.

Today (being 20 November) the weather gods decided to give us a small reminder of Cumbria’s predilection for chucking wet stuff at innocent passers-by. We and the landscape spent most of the day covered in fine droplets born of a mizzle that barely lifted.

Nevertheless while our kagouls were dampened our spirits were not. Who could fail to smile at the bonkers little Bridge House where we started our walk. Chortling at my attempt to capture Moke in situ is encouraged if only to give you a feel for the light hearted mood of the day.

Strangely wet weather often adds to the camaraderie and hilarity of a ramble. It is just impossible to take yourself too seriously with rain water dripping off your nose-end while trying to enjoy an undiluted thermos of tea and keeping the seat of your trews from soaking up your body weight in ‘refreshing’ Cumbrian precipitation.

From the Bridge House we tootled on through Ambleside to the path which would take us up to Blue Hill and Red Bank Woods conservation area and lead us in a contour around Wansfell. Speaking as one who would immediately turn her ankle if pursued by raptors (watched too many Jurassic Park films!) stout walking boots or shoes ARE A MUST on this walk as it is FAIRLY STEEP (swoon) and rough and muddy in places.

The Dry Stone Walling Association … Cumbria Branch again did not disappoint and we were treated to a selection of the walling styles that feature in this upland landscape. We stumbled upon this stone hewn trough no doubt needed by the dray animals hauling materials up for the building of the Thirlmere water pipeline which took water from Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.

Apparently soooooo prestigious was this Victorian project – the Bill was passed into law in 1879 – that our old grey stone was not good enough and the contractors imported sandstone posts to mark the pipeline! Bloomin’ cheek.

Of course no dry stone walling walk of any worth would be complete without a smoot (smout…?) or several. And this walk was no exception:

The weather meant finding a sandwich stop was a bit tricky however we walked into the grounds of Cumbria University’s campus at Ambleside (once known as Charlotte Mason) and found a handy bench to eat our vittles and discuss the world. Home-made fajitas if you want to know.

Now I am not sure if we should have done the above. If we shouldn’t please ignore the previous paragraph. It was all a dream (except the fajitas which were scrummy).

I have another confession to make. There is an add on to this walk that takes you up a road known as ‘The Struggle’ (you know what’s coming) to some amazing views. Guess who (it wasn’t JF nor J) demurred against this extra climb? In my defence I would say I was pretty wet – I am getting good gear in stages, boots came first – and the said views would not have been visible through the drizzle to make the aforementioned struggle (oops Struggle) worth it. But we have made a pact to return in the better weather and take in the panoramic scenery offered by this extra leg.

Even without the extra couple of miles this was a splendid outing. I felt that I had done a proper (ie rigorous) walk and got some much needed exercise (ie hilly) with the bonus of fresh air (ie weather). Sadly this is the last of our dry-stone walks but what we have learnt will inform all our subsequent excursions in the wonderful Cumbrian countryside.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

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