Ravenstonedale Parish History Group

23rd February 2018
by rphg2015

Summer and Autumn Programme 2018

We are currently working with the Friends of St Oswald’s on an evening event to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War entitled From Westmorland to the Western Front – A Parish Remembers WWI – an evening of words, music – and knitting!  This event will be held in St Oswald’s Church on 9th November. Rehearsals have started – we are learning our lines…

The History Group will be providing an exhibition focussing on what life was like in the Parish during the War years, and we are lucky to have two first-hand accounts in the Archive which will form the framework of the exhibition. This will be in the Church to view after the performance and for the whole weekend, including Remembrance Sunday, the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Armistice on 11th November 1918. The exhibition will move to High Chapel for Val’s talk about the soldiers from the Parish at High Chapel on Wednesday 21st November.

Our next talk this season also deals with the Great War and its impact on Cumbria – No Labour – No Food – No War by Richard Preston. This will be on Wednesday 17th October at 7.30pm in Newbiggin on Lune Public Hall, which was built in the immediate aftermath of the Great War as a place of recreation for the returning soldiers – to try and keep them out of the public house!

Our first talk of the season on Wednesday 19th September 2018 was a fascinating and informative account of Cattle Droving through Cumbria by Peter Roebuck, author of the book Cattle Droving Through Cumbria 1600-1900. Peter is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Ulster, and we were especially pleased to welcome him as he is the current Chairman of Cumbria Local History Federation, to which we belong. A good turnout of members and non-members attended – in spite of the weather!

We enjoyed two summer evening history walks:

Outside the Ravenstonedale pig house where the Parish pig was fattened up…you can still see the feeding slot where the slops were put in

But…no-one really knows why this structure is here…or where it came from originally…

Our evening walk round part of Ravenstonedale village with Andy Lowe on 27th June – for once a beautiful summer’s evening – was attended by 28 people who were treated to a very informative and entertaining guide to what can be learned from looking at the outside of the houses, as to when they were built, and why certain features were designed as they were – most of which have stood the test of time and are still working well today. We’ll never walk through the village again without noting the clever designs to take rainfall away from windows, or how the carts were stopped from hitting the walls – or which house owners and builders were wealthy enough to incorporate the latest technology and fashions (sometimes many at once!) into their new houses.  We also saw some of the more unusual window designs in the village as we walked up the main street. Our thanks to Steve and Val for the refreshments afterwards, and our thanks also to those who were kind enough to let us view internal features such as a cruck beam, a (re-used) medieval timber post, cast-iron beam-mounted brackets for storage shelves, and original HL hinges too.



The second summer evening walk on Wednesday 11th July was led by local Orton resident and guide Wendy Higgins, and was an interesting two hour walk around Orton village. 14 members attended and enjoyed an informative talk on another warm summer’s evening. The tour started at the Market Hall, revealing the history of the very ancient market charter and a tale of an evening in the Vicar’s cellar that led to a court martial in the English Civil War. Orton Hall was discussed, and a number of buildings built by the Revd John Septimus Sisson, as denoted by initials in stone carved above the door of each property. On one of these properties, there is a porch possibly re-utilised from one of three vicarages built over the years. The Mill, now being faithfully restored as a dwelling, and  other notable homes in the pretty lane along the Chapel Beck were described in terms of their history.  The walk concluded with a tour of the Church, showing features inside the building that give an insight into the date of construction including the ancient Parish Chest, and also the mystery door revealed in recent restoration work. Excellent tea and biscuits refreshed the walkers, who all thoroughly enjoyed the evening.



Thanks to all who attended the AGMThe Friends of Tarn Gill Bridge also held their AGM recently.


20th December 2017
by rphg2015

Thursday afternoons

The History Group archive upstairs at High Chapel is open to visitors from 2 to 4pm on Thursday afternoons from now until the end of the year (we don’t open in January). Please note that the History Room will be closed on Thursday 2nd and Thursday 9th August. The History Group can still be contacted with family history enquiries etc if you leave a message on the form on this website – your comment will be moderated, may be edited for reasons of space, and your email address will not be shown to other website users. There are message forms at the bottom of the About the Group, Family History, and Gifts to the Archive pages.

13th November 2017
by rphg2015

Recent visitors

We’ve been pleased to welcome several visitors to the archive who are undertaking family history research recently, including a brother and sister descended from Thomas Carver. They had contacted us as a result of a newspaper report of Val’s talk on the Carver family and their connections to the village, and we were able to show them, among other things, the family gravestone in High Chapel burial ground (which incidentally is duplicated in St Oswald’s Churchyard). Thomas Carver and his brother John were both trustees of High Chapel, and in the 1890’s were responsible for renovating the Chapel, the upstairs Schoolroom and the Manse and for enlarging the burial ground in memory of their mother Elizabeth Airey. This is recorded on a wall plaque in the main part of High Chapel which the visitors were able to photograph. We have subsequently sent them some photographs, including one of their ancestor Elizabeth Airey. We thank them for their kind donation to the History Group.

27th October 2016
by rphg2015

History Room refurbishment

The good news is that we are now able to resume opening the History Room at High Chapel upstairs on Thursday afternoons between 2 and 4pm. The bad news is that we have to do a lot of sorting out in the archive and cataloguing that we haven’t been able to do for several months – but we are able to welcome members and visitors! We have a new floor now in the History Room – and a radiator – so we will be reorganising our storage over the coming weeks. We now have some new shelves, tailor-made by two members of the Committee and a Group member who isn’t on the Committee (but who is married to a Committee member!). This has enabled us to reorganise our growing archive, and to display books, scrapbooks and folders which until now have been kept in boxes. We are very grateful to Phyllis and Jon Ring (who visited the village from the USA earlier this year) for their donation enabling us to refurbish the storage in the room – members of Phyllis’s family lived at The Chantry and Chantry Lodge for many years. We are also purchasing archive-standard storage boxes for the more fragile paper items as our funds allow.

20th May 2016
by rphg2015

This Season’s Programme

This season’s evening talks began on September 20th 2017.

Our final talk of this season was Les Neal’s presentation on 21st March on the changes in Ravenstonedale Town up to the early 1900’s, featuring stories of landowners, tenants and the farms and cottages. We learnt about the families who became part of the village’s history –  some of the surnames have now disappeared from the village because the family had no male heirs, such as the Bovells. Les also showed how the houses and cottages had changed over time – this will be an aspect on which Andy Lowe can focus during his walk with us round Ravenstonedale village on the evening of 27th June.

On 21st February Jackie Wedd spoke about the life and work of Edward Jeffrey, a versatile and talented artist who lived in Ravenstonedale from the late 1940’s until just before his death in 1978.  About twenty original watercolours by Edward Jeffrey were on show, kindly lent to the History Group for the evening – along with many well-loved copies of the Toby Twirl books, many of which show local Ravenstonedale references in his artwork. Other books with his illustrations were also on show. A summary of Jackie’s talk appears here, along with brief notes about previous talks this season: Continue Reading →

11th December 2015
by rphg2015

Christmas Get-together 2017

On Wednesday 13th December at 7.30pm in High Chapel we held our annual Christmas get-together with a Quiz. Dave’s Quiz this time was an Eggheads inspired list of multiple choice questions on the Lakes and Dales, followed by the killer Sudden Death questions (no choices) to sort out any ties between the teams….all did very well with the winners scoring an impressive 29 out of 40. Thanks to Bill for his keyboard accompaniment to our carol-singing and to Ann for the Christmas decorations.

18th September 2015
by rphg2015

Annual Exhibition 2017

Our annual exhibition on 14th and 15th October in High Chapel from 2pm to 5pm each day featured some of the old maps of the Parish and sales prospectuses which we hold, including a bound copy of the first Ordnance Survey maps of the Parish dating from 1859, donated to the History Group earlier this year. More of our photographic archive relating to Parish gardens past and present, and more of the history of Ravenstonedale School – photos and yearbooks from around 2000-2001 – were on show too, as well as the story of how the Parish Millennium Map was created.

Continue Reading →

12th February 2015
by rphg2015

Tarn Gill Bridge closer to being saved

Chantry Bridge 1970s

Tarn Gill Bridge (known locally as Chantry Bridge – but is it really Artlegarth Beck Bridge – see below), Townhead, Ravenstonedale, has been saved from demolition, as the County Council have now decided not only to allow investigations of the perceived problem with the north-east abutment, but also to do the work themselves and, more importantly from the Friends’ point-of-view, to pay for this investigation and any subsequent repairs, subject to them being within budget. All being well, work will start as soon as the contractors have all the relevant permissions and safeguards in place, and Martin Hardman, the Council’s Bridges and Structures Manager, hopes that the contractors will be able to take advantage of the continuing good weather. The Council are aware of the historic importance of the bridge, and have agreed to reinstate the parapet stone with the original OS benchmark on it after the work is complete. This stone came from a nearby wall when the parapet was raised – probably in the 1920’s. Meanwhile the Friends await the decision of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as to whether the bridge will be added to the National Heritage List for England. The Historic England Listings Team (North), based in York, have advised that this should be within the next couple of months or so. The Friends have been intrigued to learn that HE refer to the bridge as Artlegarth Beck Bridge – at least the fourth name the bridge has been given!  The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership, whose bid for Heritage Lottery Funding for projects in the area will be finalised in August 2018, could be a possible source of funding for an interpretation panel giving the history of the bridge if their Lottery bid is successful.

Meanwhile, the History Group are still trying to find out how old the bridge is. The earliest map showing a bridge on the site is Cary’s map of 1789 which later accompanied the edition of Camden’s Britannia (Richard Gough translation) published by John Nichols in 1798. It seems that the bridge would have been built to allow carts and heavily laden horses to cross Artlegarth Beck without having to go through the adjacent ford, which would have been impassable after heavy winter rain or snowmelt. The bridge is certainly on a packhorse route. Even the new “Irish Ford” was impassable to traffic on one morning during the December 2015 floods – but the bridge stood firm, although suffering some damage. Our latest research has uncovered a former name for the bridge in use locally – Ford Bridge – which would have been used before  the nearby house named The Chantry was built. The beck itself has also uncovered some cobbles under the bridge and just upstream which were laid by hand at some point in the past, which we understand were probably placed there in an effort to streamline the flow of water when the beck is in spate.

Artlegarth Beck Bridge, before the beck completely dried up this summer…