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 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. A member of the Lake Artists Society for over 20 years, and illustrator of the popular series of Toby Twirl children’s books in the 1940’s and 50’s, Edward Jeffrey also painted the watercolours used as the cover illustrations for over 200 issues of the small-format Cumbria magazine in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and somehow also found time to take a full part in village life. serving not only as a Churchwarden for many years, but also as the Chairman of the Bowls Club, and as the auditor for the Tennis Club accounts. 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 will appear on the website shortly.
On Wednesday 17th January 2018 Val Fermer gave an entertaining and informative talk on the history of the various licenced premises in the Parish. Despite the snowy weather, over 20 members and friends came to Newbiggin Public Hall to hear about the former establishments in Newbiggin, which over the years changed their names several times – being known variously as The Oddfellows, The Horseshoes, The Pig and Whistle and The Commercial Inn. Some of the current and former public houses in Ravenstonedale village and nearby had been temperance houses and coffee houses at various times in their past, and we were also treated to stories about the families of the numerous innkeepers and their customers, which included a dramatic elopement to Gretna Green, duly celebrated by the happy couple in one of the pubs on their return to the village!
For our first evening talk of the 2017-2018 programme on 20th September 2017 we were very pleased to welcome back Ian Carradice, who gave us glimpses of life in Ravenstonedale – and the wider world – from about 1905 to 1920, seen through the picture postcard album of his grandmother, Lizzie Fothergill, who lived at Wray Green, Fell End. Sometimes the interest in such albums comes from what is written on the postcards, not just the scenes depicted on the front, although some postcards were made from family portraits and photographs, which is fascinating from the point of view of family history research. Lizzie’s family were keen correspondents – as Ian pointed out, a postcard then was perhaps the equivalent of a text message sent now – but of course it’s available to future generations to study and learn about the day-to-day life of their ancestors…obsessions with health and haymaking were evident among the Fothergills which no doubt reflected common topics of conversation and concern (as in Ravenstonedale nowadays too!). It was a super talk – even though Ian pointed out it is a “work in progress” as he follows up all the leads – and we wonder how many of the audience went home and searched out their own family postcard albums to take out the cards and discover the messages hidden inside…
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.
The evening talk on Wednesday 18th October in Newbiggin Village Hall at 7.30pm by John Dunning told the story of Westmorland Motorway Services which he and his family started when some of their farmland was compulsorily purchased to build the M6 motorway through the Lune Gorge. None of the usual motorway services providers were interested in building a service station between Lancaster and Carlisle (“not enough people would use it”), so the Dunnings decided they would start their own. Now as well as the two at Tebay, they own and run Rheged and the two Gloucester services on the M5 and have expanded into the Borders as well. All in all, a fascinating talk.
On 15th November Andy Lowe returned to give us another of his popular talks – this time entitled “Inside a Lakeland Farmhouse”. He showed us how much can be learned from clues inside these houses to do with methods of construction, those who lived there and their daily life, superstition, and social change. For instance, it was interesting to discover that the saying “a square peg in a round hole” was originally a good thing, not a misfit, as a square wooden peg in a round hole to fix two pieces of wood together would grip better than a round peg in a round hole. Of course there are examples of these 17th and 18th century houses and barns around our Parish too, and we hope to fix up an evening walk around some of them with Andy next summer. Keep an eye on the website for details.
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.
Our annual Ravenstonedale Parish History Group newsletter was published in early September and emailed to all members. Members who do not have access to email receive a copy in the post. Please note that the venue for Les Neal’s talk on 21st March 2018 will now be in High Chapel. This is a change from the venue shown in the newsletter.
Over last summer we organised several events. Continue Reading →