10 September, 2011

Swarthmoor Hall

Another heritage open day, this time at the home of Margaret Fell, the mother of Quakerism.

Swarthmoor Hall is an Elizabethan manor house just between Ulverston and Swarthmoor built in 1586. It may have been built on the site of an earlier dwelling but records are hard to find from that era. It is now owned by the Religious Society of Friends who operate it as a hotel and conference centre, and have furnished six rooms as they would have been furnished at the time of George Fox's visits to the hall. The first room you go into is the Great Hall with a long refectory table an panelling from 1912 by Emma Clarke Abraham including wyverns. The rooms have been furnished with care and there are some fine artefacts, including a copy of the Great Bible of Myles Coverdale, the bible from which the Book of Common Prayer lectionary is taken. There is also George Fox's travelling bed - weighing a ton.

The hall was renovated from 1912 by Emma Clarke Abraham who carved the panelling in the Great Hall herself. She had windows unblocked and the structure made sound.

The real story of Swarthmoor is that of Margaret Fell. Born in 1614 in the reign of James I and VIshe lived throughout thr reign of the Stuarts dying diring the reign of Queen Anne.
During her longlife she married Judge Fell, who opened Swarthmoor to travellers for hospitality and who also allowed dissenter preachers to stay and preach, most unusual for the times. After a long and happy marriage to Thomas Fell, eleven years later she married George Fox, founde of the Friend's Religion. Imprisoned for preaching within her own home she was thrown into a dungeon in Lancaster Castle for four years, a most unpleasant experience that I have had, even though I was in for four minutes and voluntarily. Undaunted by this she went to see the King when George Fox was imprisoned asking for his release. He was released but other Friends were imprisoned. Margaret Fell is one of England's bravest women.

09 September, 2011

Silverdale - the loveliest spot on Morcambe bay.

The weather was unkind when starting out but the rain didn't put us off. Silverdale is just over the border from Cumbria in Lancashire, and although we couldn't see very far into the distance we were able to see Morcambe bay. The Church of St John had some beautiful modern stained glass, which my camera fails to do justice to. Stained glass should be so easy to photograph but digicams have difficulty for some reason.

The church has capitals carved with biblical scenes in the spirit of the 14th century.
After a short walk across 'the lots' with its views of Morcambe Bay we went to a cafe for tea. As the sun had come out we decided to walk to Arnside, past the Leeds Children's Holiday Camp, founded in 1904 to enable poor children from Leeds to have a week's holiday in the fresh air with good food. A role still fulfilled today.

It was a very long way to get to Arnside, which was shown as being three miles, but was more than that. We didn't see the ancient monument at Far Arnside but has a lovely walk through the woods and along the coast to pleasant Arnside, a village alongside Morcambe bay.

Barrow Library Strongrooms

A photo free visit to Barrow Library Strongrooms. The strongrooms are to an archival standard and contain various treasures - including George Romney's sketchbook, a commonplace book of a yeoman farmer and bomb maps of Barrow. These are the treasures. Other things kept include filthy old rate books from the 1930s. Even the Librarian said that nobody ever looks at them. I suppose one might say the rates on my house were 19/6 in the 30s and the council tax is now £230. Beloved and I certainly enjoyed the tour, part of heritage open days.

04 September, 2011

Convalescence in Barrow - Piel Island and the Barrow Lifeboat

I have been quite seriously ill and am slowly recovering. After Church at St John's Barrow Island, an interesting concrete church of the 1930s, it was such a lovely day, beloved and I went to Piel Island. Piel Island was a Meadieval stronghold for the Abbots of Furness with the castle built about1200. The best way to access the island is by walking over the sands from Walney Island (this depends on the tide), however beloved and I decided to take the ferry. The ferry is a small boat completely exposed to the elements and driven very fast by a (hopefully) experienced ferryman. I found it difficult to get out but the ferryman was helpful. The castle was in ruins and some bits had fallen into the sea on to the shingle shore. but was mostly intact even if you couldn't get indide the keep. There is quite a bit of the keep left and a ruined chapel, although greatly ruined. After refreshment provided by the King of Piel Island - in reality the landlord of the pub - he's king because he's the only person who lives there all the year round. After a hairy ferry crossing back we went to see the Barrow lifeboat - a real ocean going craft. It was last launched on 28 August to rescue a yacht.