A Raft of Apples

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hand on the Tiller

In a May of uncertain weather this rainbow tiller brightens up the canal-side perhaps waiting for its trip along the water when the helmsman manoeuvres it to provide leverage in the form of torque to turn the rudder. Staying with the nautical theme I'll take you to London's Trafalgar Square
where Nelson's Column has a new companion, yes its Shaun the Sheep turned out with a tricorne hat just like the one Admiral Nelson is wearing. Are you ready for your close up Shaun?
Here is Nelson Shaun with his decorations and, as we are in Trafalgar Square, there is a pigeon included. I'd forgotten hearing there was a temporary Shaun the Sheep Art Trail in London otherwise I'd have downloaded the app and driven my companion to distraction by tracking some of  them down. As it was I found another two by accident  but there are 50 across the city.  They have been created by artists, designers and celebrities and will be there until the end of May when the show moves on to the home of Aardman Animations, Bristol, where a further flock of 70 will appear.  Eventually they will be auctioned off to raise money for two children's charities. See more Shaun in the City here   (and that app).

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at T here

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Roman Bath House

Roman Baths
In the northernmost reaches of the Roman Empire here stood  a Roman Bath House and its walls still survive standing up to 12 ft 9 ins (3.9 metres).  There is more to it than this photograph shows but you can see the remains of the arched doorway.  Its buttresses suggest that it had a substantial roof.  It owes its preservation in part to the fact it was at one time incorporated into a medieval building.  The Bath House is just a third of a mile away from the settlement of Ravenglass on whose tidal estuary beached ships would be unloaded directly onto the shore and taken to the Roman Fort of Glannoventa of which this was its Bath House.  It was not actually located inside the fort but outside and it is thought for that reason its purpose was to be shared by both civilian and military personnel who "enjoyed hot saunas and cold baths". Although enjoy and cold baths are not two words that would go together for me.  There is evidence that the soldiers stationed here served in Hadrian's fleet for Ravenglass was a supply point for much of the North West of England.

Nothing remains of the four acre fort which was occupied from the AD130 to late 4th century, its west half destroyed by the estuary of the Esk and by the railway of 1850 however there is an enigmatic sandstone marker in a field nearby
Glannoventa Roman Fort Marker
I will have to have another attempt at this photograph for my intention was to show the marker with the Bath House in the distance to one side, however the clear blue sky and the sunlight dazzle on my camera screen means that, as I realised when I downloaded the picture, I have managed to place the marker directly over the distant Bath House.  Doh.

There is a nice tour of the Bath House on You Tube here and as you will see there are always visitors pottering around. It may not be as impressive or well preserved as others in the world but this southernmost point of Hadrian's Wall Country was in Roman times a frontier. Members of the Cohors Primae Aelia Classica (First Cohort of the Aelian Fleet) garrisoned here and bathed within the walls, the fort's name of Glannaventa meaning 'market of the shore' means that merchants and travellers would have enjoyed the underfloor heating in the cold of winter.  After the Romans left there was a great Viking settlement.  I wonder if they took advantage of the baths.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at R here.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


St Andrew's Church, Quatt
For any history lover St Andrew's Church in Quatt has a fascinating interior full of plaques, tombs, coats of arms and memorials but on top of that it is very pretty with its pink and grey marble and sandstone features. The great and the good are memorialised with the local Wolryche family featuring large (the tomb above is of Margaret and and Francis)
Memorial to George Wolryche, younger brother of the 1st baronet
They even had a reforming politician in their number,  William Wolryche-Whitmore (1787-1858), who campaigned against the Corn Laws and slavery and is buried in the churchyard but memorialised in some length in the church.
One would never guess from such a plain exterior there was so much crammed inside.
Lieutenant Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson VC
Outside by the path I came across this Canadian flag and thought it must be someone on a quest for their ancestry but this was not the story. Lieutenant Wilkinson had emigrated with his family to Canada from Lodge Farm near Quatt. He enrolled with the Canadian army on outbreak of World War 1 but when he was not sent overseas made his own way to England and joined the North Lancashire regiment. The posthumous owner of the Victoria Cross his body was never recovered and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme who have no known graves. This plaque was placed in Quatt churchyard after unsuccessful attempts to trace any relatives by the Shropshire War Memorials Association. (Source: Wikipedia)
As one walks down the path on the way out opposite St Andrew's church at Quatt is a large house.   Originally built as the Dower House in the 18th Century I learnt from the 'Workhouses' site it was, as the result of the Poor Law Amendment Act,  turned into a school for pauper children. In 1851 it housed 170 girls and boys, its 4 acres of land provided income, the boys cultivating the land and looking after cows and pigs and the girls working in the house and dairy.  A gazetteer of this date extolled the "habits of industry, knowledge of gardening combined with honest principles and religious knowledge are blessings of incalculable amount" which the inhabitants obtained. At its peak it would educate 220 pupils but was closed by the 1900s probably because by that time there was state funded free schooling for all up to the age of 12.  It would later become an independent primary school which went into liquidation in 2010, today I believe it has been turned into seven residential apartments.

What a lot of history within a few steps in a village of a couple of hundred people but the settlement is very old. The curious name derives from the Celtic word for wood - Coed and the Saxon word for farm - Tun.  That is Coed-tun - "The village in the wood".  By the time of the Domesday Book of 1086 it was listed as Quatone which has through the centuries morphed into the name of Quatt.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet,  this week sojourning at the letter Q here

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Over Hedge and Gate

Taking a break from munching on the sweet grass this cow wondered who was coming down the lane so took a look over the hedge.
Not too far away on a warm April day a farm gate was the perfect place to lean and contemplate the distant hills.
It may not be a case of anyone looking over this gate but perhaps something with a zig zag pattern slithering underneath. When the wooden gate leading onto this woodland path gently rotted away and became more difficult to open and shut it was replaced by this new one. What amused me was the installer opted to use the old notice that was attached to the old gate
Obviously he considered it had not outlived its useful life.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at O here   

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Nags Head, Bunbury
There is often a story connected to pub names and one of them for the many called 'The Nag's Head' comes to us from the time of pirates and smuggling when a lantern would be tied around the neck of a docile old horse and this 'nag' would be led slowly up and down the hilltop or highest point to signal to the ship offshore that it was safe to land its cargo and occupants. The sight of the bobbing lantern was known as the Nag's Head.

The sign's designer shows an instantly recognisable outline so here is the real thing
Welsh Pony, Woodland
in this case a hardy Fell Pony who turned to look at me as I passed but only briefly before it returned to its main purpose .
of nibbling on whatever was tasty on the woodland floor.   Its companions were further
up the hillside. It is very rocky and stony ground but the fell ponies (whose ancestors have probably roamed about on the fells and valleys since neolithic times) seem to thrive.
Their coats looked glossy after the winter.

Although the word nag usually refers to an old or inferior horse, its older usage is that of a small riding horse or pony and comes to us from the Middle English word nagge whose origin is unknown.   

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at N here

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Mehodist Chapels

Methodist Church, Broughton
As we have just celebrated Easter it may be just the time to feature Methodist Chapels, so here is the one in Broughton in Furness, Cumbria.  If  passing by on a Tuesday then
the sign welcomes anyone to pop in for Morning Coffee.  The chapel has stood here on Princes Street since 1875 and was gifted by Nathaniel Caine (1808-1877) a Liverpool industrialist and co-owner of the nearby Hodbarrow Mines who considered the religious facilities in the area inadequate. He funded a number of nonconformist chapels in the 1860s and 1870s and although he himself was a baptist his faith was such he readily funded chapel buildings for those denominations that needed them. 

The reason there was a shortage of religious building here in the second half of the 19th Century was the large influx of workers and their families to work in the booming local industries.   The chapel cost £2,500 to build and is made of the very durable Kirkby Stone, still quarried locally.

In contrast the Marshside Methodist chapel, located in one of the hamlets that makes up the village of Kirkby
Kirkby Methodist Church
Marshside Methodist Chapel
was built in 1870 but with only the slate roof tiles from the local Burlington Quarry and the building is made of sandstone is from St Bees further up the coast. It was a similar story of workers emigrating into the area, mostly here from Wales and Cornwall.  They would come from different traditions of Methodism, the Welsh tending to be Calvanist Mehodist and those from Cornwall, Primitive Methodists but I guess they would all join together in worship here.

These simple chapels contrast with the one in Harrogate, Yorkshire,  built in 1862 and
Wesley Chapel, Harrogate
a much larger and ornate example.  The heartlands of Methodism were the north of England, Cornwall and Wales, its egalitarian message contrasting with the established church which it split from.  This like the first chapel I showed in Broughton both started life as Wesleyan Methodist Chapels.  In 1932 all the strands of Methodism reunited and today are simply called the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

The archives of the Methodist Church and  the papers of the founder of the religion John Wesley are held by the John Rylands Library of Manchester University which opened its doors in 1900 and also contains Wesley's statue alongside John Wycliff, William Shakespeare, John Dalton, William Caxton, Johannes Gutenberg and Francis Bacon. The choices of statues are explained here. This cathedral of  books has a magnificent reading room -
"The John Rylands Library" by Mdbeckwith - Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons"
Year ago I was sent on a course to the Rylands Library and I can't for the life of me remember what it was about but vividly remember enjoying my meander around the library in the lunch break.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at M here

Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Here is a narrow boat, winter ready, with logs piled up on its roof and moored on the northern reaches of the Shropshire Union Canal (affectionately known as The Shroppie) near Bunbury Locks.  I imagine with the logs burning on a cold winter's night the boat will live up to its name and everything will be 'wine and roses'.  My photograph was taken in December when it was muddy with rain rather than firm ground solid with ice and snow but we all know "as the days lengthen the cold strengthens"  so a supply of logs was a must in 2015, not to mention  the added warmth of the contents of the coal scuttle on the banking. 
By contrast this photograph was taken in June when it looks as though someone with forward planning had split a nice pile of logs to dry out in the sunshine on the Cumbrian coast

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojouring at L here