Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Heysham Spirit

The Spirit of Heysham sculpture by Michael Edwards on the wall of Heysham's Jubilee Institute depicts many of the historical buildings and artifacts to be seen in this ancient space and led us to the small but interesting Heritage Centre where the Duddon Valley History Group learnt about the area and indulged in a small bit of retail therapy and then moved on
to one of those buildings on the sculpture, St Peter's Church, a sturdy squat building whose churchyard slopes down to the sea and the buildings rear windows look out over the expanse of Morecambe Bay.  Two of the remains of crosses can be seen either side of the path in the photo above.  The core of the church is Anglo Saxon (mid 8th Century or before) and the door with a wooden bar and niches speaks across the centuries of times when refuge was taken from those with ill intent coming from the sea or land. Over the centuries the interior has been expanded from its Anglo-Saxon origin and altered with each era, Norman to Victorian.  One of the church's great treasures is the Hogback Stone, a Viking grave cover, and the story it contains of the Legends of Sigmund and Sigurd the Dragon Slayer are told and can be seen here .   Our church guide Richard Martin had a wealth of knowledge of the church and its history and has a handy guide available in the church for self tours.  

The church was consecrated in 967 and as part of its millennium celebrations the parishioners in 1966 made kneelers and cushions portraying the area's industry and occupations.  The four evangelists have pride of place
by the wooden screen in the chancel.  This is St Mathew and St John (the eagle)
St Mark (the winged lion) and St Luke (the winged ox).  The Cross with the crosses at the end is a Crosslet which also represents the four evangelists and the spreading of the gospel to the four corners of the earth.  Moving outside towards St Patrick's Chapel
a different type of cross can be see, a Pommée, the apple shapes at the end represent the fruits of the Christian life and it is thought that
St Patrick's Chapel's Anglo Saxon Doorway
St Patrick's Chapel on top of the headland was a place of retreat. It would have been a great place for contemplation with its views over Morecambe Bay and the hills of the Lake District.  Another of Heysham's treasures are the six rock-cut graves -
Nobody knows their origin but they are certainly unique and, as demonstrated, it looks a cosy place to end ones days under ever changing skies. Perhaps there were sky burials here although the less romantic archaeological explanation is that they were probably reliquaries for bones and other materials as they were not big enough for bodies but I observe they appear to big enough for female bodies.  The holes at the head were for crosses.  We took our leave of the Anglo-Saxon chapel and returned to the church
another stone coffin but of one which at one time contained the body of a past rector of the church (the crumbled remains of his chalice can be seen in the church).  We headed away
Remains of Anglo-Saxon Cross
to the nearby St Peter's cafe, a converted stables, which was a nice warming retreat to take the chill off the biting wind of the day.

The Heysham Timeline can be seen on Heysham Heritage Association website here.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Galatea Comes to Life

Galatea (45699) took a trip down the Cumbrian coast at the end of September and we watched from Foxfield Station as it steamed round the estuary
then came into view as it approached the station bend
past Tony Sharp's Trailer yard and towards the crowd of steam enthusiasts, their numbers swelled by those that were attending the beer festival in the Prince of Wales nearby who also couldn't resist a steam loco.
Galatea thundered past.  The driver waved, we waved, and then passengers and spectators waved, the power of steam and history joining us together in a wave of pure joy.  Galatea the statue that came to life and a locomotive brought to life by the power of engineering.

Can't get enough of steam engines? Here are more photos of Galatea and some black and white photos of the Jubilee class taken in the 1960s

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Ulpha and Dunnerdale

An Ulpha Circuit with the Duddon Valley Local History Group.

A sunny day in lakeless lakeland tempted a good turnout for the walk through Duddon history on Saturday.  Setting out off the road leading to Ulpha Bridge we walked up the fell-side east of the river to our first destination
the old Quaker Burial Ground known as the Quakers' Sepulcher, my first sight was of the beautifully crafted wall which encloses this peaceful space.
Burials took place here between 1662-1775. We appreciated the walled enclosure with its interior inset slate seats then took care to duck down under the low entrance to leave while mountain bikers waited to let the crowd pass.
After burial ceased here an apple orchard was planted but no trace of them remain, the only trees now are a scattering of firs.  We leave heading for Kiln Bank with views of the valley
the sky full of clouds with slants of sunlight highlighting patches of the field system. The scattering of houses and lone farms
and old slate workings entertain the eye.  We continued down the gentle path and reach the valley bottom
over the stream past 'The Fairy Bridge' in actuality built in the 1960s to show how a bridge was built -
only fairies may cross.   We cross the valley floor over Hall Bridge
Nook steps and Hall Bridge
and start to climb stopping part way up
to have lunch where there were plenty of nice flat slates to sit on
at Commonwoods Slate Quarry.  Our ultimate destination was further up
Ken stops to get his notes out to elucidate us all
to what is left of the Commonwoods slate dressing plateau.
There are many small ruined buildings, I think one would need plenty of shelter from the weather up here although this is a nice seat on a sunny day.
The slate workings building with pointed peak of Caw in the background.
The light playing on the hills with the steep slate quarry in the foreground. Here is someone who has visited the mines beneath.  We however stayed under the ever changing skies
headed downwards past the mossy remains of Grimecrag House.
which dates from the 17th Century. Built in one long range across the hillside it consists of a 3 bay house with 4 bay barn. Alan commented that the name Grimecrag would not have attracted a bride to this location in those day of old.  Today with it view of the Duddon to the coast it might have been more attractively called Sea View.  The old tree trunk in the foreground held a nice surprise
in this year of abundant fungi some had made a home here. Downward we continued by
Crosby Gill and past Grimecrag Bridge
through Hazel Head Farm, the group splintered when a few were tempted in to the Hesk View Walkers Barn with its cake and tea signpost but only with time to look around and think next time we might have time to stop but we had to catch up with our party.
We admired the bank barn on the way past.  Joining the Birker Fell Road and across the fields to the gate by
the charming Ulpha Post Office (opened in 1890). Buy your postcards here and post in
the Victoria Regina post box manufactured by WT Allen.  However it was only ice creams to be licked for us on this day rather than stamps.
A dated (1709 or 1769) gate stoop to gaze at and a visit to the idylic St John's Church
and enjoy its wall decorations.  This is dedicated to one of the Dansons (1793) who gave the church its lynchgate and oak porch (replaced in 1961 with a stone porch).  We give thanks for the day and return to our cars.