Ravenstonedale Parish History Group

23rd February 2018
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Winter Programme 2019

About 30 members and friends enjoyed Hilary Wilson’s informative talk on Wartime Farming in the Howgills on Wednesday January 16th. In 2008, Hilary published a book entitled Heritage of the Hills in collaboration with the late Judy Dunford, and the talk featured images from a collection of photographs taken in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s by the late Jim Cookson. The photographs belong to a collection owned by Margaret Postlethwaite and most were taken at the Postlethwaite family’s farm near Sedbergh. Hilary also brought many items from her own family’s collection of farming memorabilia – everything from old receipts to homemade tools, including a chopper for cabbages made from an old scythe blade by the local blacksmith. Many of the audience, as well as Hilary, had first-hand experience of life on a hill farm, and this led to much discussion and reminiscing after the talk!

The next evening meeting is on Wednesday 20th February at 7.30pm, and will be a talk by Les Neal on changes in Newbiggin-on-Lune over the last few hundred years. It is our second talk in Newbiggin-on-Lune Public Hall this season.

Meanwhile, we start opening the archive room again on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4pm as usual on Thursday 7th February.

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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

A few of our volunteers are still working on cataloguing our ever-growing archive…if you would like to help us out with this, please come along on a Thursday afternoon between 2 and 4pm when we are open to see what’s involved – no obligation! We are very grateful to Phyllis and Jon Ring (who visited the village from the USA) 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
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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.