Ravenstonedale Parish History Group

23rd February 2018
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Summer and Autumn Programme 2018

Don’t forget our annual Xmas get-together – this year it’s on Wednesday 12th December at 7.30pm in High Chapel – “bring and share” as usual. All members and friends very welcome. There will be a Quiz…. Just before this, on Monday 10th December in Tebay Methodist Chapel, there is a talk by Robert White on Traditional Farm Buildings of Cumbria. Lunesdale Archaeology Society thought some of our members might well be interested, so we’re happy to mention it here….£3 for non-members of LAS – to include mince pies!

The Friends of St Oswald’s Supper Theatre’s poignant and heartfelt performance to mark the centenary of the signing of the Armistice on 11th November 1918, which signalled the end of the fighting between the Allies and Germany, was entitled From Westmorland to the Western Front and was held in St Oswald’s Church on 9th November.

The History Group were asked to put on an exhibition to accompany the play focussing on what life was like in the Parish during the War years – we are lucky to have two first-hand accounts in our Archive which formed the framework of our exhibition. The exhibition stayed in the Church over the Remembrance weekend, and we then moved it to High Chapel for Val Fermer’s talk entitled From the Western Front to Westmorland on Wednesday 21st November.  Val had added to her research on the men who left the Parish to fight in the Great War but who did not return, but this time she also managed to find information about some of those who fought and then returned home. Such research can be very difficult, because in 1940 the building which housed the Great War service records was bombed and many records were lost entirely or damaged by fire and water, but despite this Val had succeeded in finding detailed historical information about all those had died and a selection of those who returned. These survivors served across all the theatres of War, including not only France and Flanders but Italy, Bulgaria, Mesopotamia and Salonica. After the War, some remained in the area but others left Westmorland for good. The History Group was pleased to welcome relatives of two of the men named on the War Memorial in St Oswald’s – one came to see the performance and the exhibition on 9th November, and the others came to the exhibition and Val’s talk.

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!

Our second talk of this season dealt with the Great War and its impact on Cumbria. Richard Preston has undertaken extensive research over many years into the subject and his talk entitled  No Labour – No Food – No War on Wednesday 17th October in Newbiggin on Lune Public Hall (itself 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) focussed on the impact of wartime on farming in particular.

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20th December 2017
by rphg2015
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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 but please note that we do not open in January. The History Group can still be contacted with family history enquiries etc while we are not open if you leave a message on the form on this website – your comment will be moderated, it 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
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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
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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
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Last Season’s Programme

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

Our final talk of that season was Les Neal’s presentation on 21st March 2018 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 – Andy Lowe also focussed on this during his walk with us round Ravenstonedale village on the evening of 27th June.

On 21st February 2018 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 last season: Continue Reading →

11th December 2015
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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
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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.

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12th February 2015
by rphg2015
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Tarn Gill Bridge saved – and renamed Artlegarth Beck Bridge

The Friends are celebrating the addition of the bridge to the National Heritage List for England at Grade II, for reasons of architectural and historic interest, and group value. Historic England have now named it Artlegarth Beck Bridge, after the beck over which it stands, and its List Entry Number is 1455814.  The County Council who own the bridge 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.  Martin Hardman, the Council’s Bridges and Structures Manager has told the Friends that work will start as soon as the contractors have all the relevant permissions and safeguards in place. He has also 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 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.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 board giving the history of the bridge if their Lottery bid is successful, and both YDNP and CCC Highways have agreed to discuss the best site near the bridge for this board.