We had another visit recently from an ex-pupil of Fell End School, Mary Stewart, a member of the Akrigg family, who kindly brought us some gifts for the archive. These include a metal label once used on the milk churns from the Lune Head Creamery Company, a company which by coincidence had featured in Diana Fothergill’s September talk to us, as it was run by a member of the Fothergill family who lived at Tower House. Mary also kindly gave us two books, including one given to her by Mrs Jackson, the headmistress of Fell End School, when it closed in 1946.
Frank Hunter, who farms locally, has given the History Group several landscape paintings by Edward Jeffrey on permanent loan, on condition they are exhibited in public where people may see and enjoy them. Once the paintings have been reframed and mounted with acid-free board for their long-term preservation, we will be very pleased to display them. Frank has also given us the medal given to his grandfather by the village of Ravenstonedale when he returned from the Great War. This is the only such medal which we have been able to acquire, and we have had it mounted with his grandfather’s regimental cap badge and shoulder flashes so we can display it securely.
We were delighted to receive a vintage “prodded rug” – and also an old frame for making these rugs, with its “prodder” and a rug partly made on it, showing how the strips of material were forced through stretched hessian to make a pattern. We were able to exhibit these as part of our contribution to show aspects of life in the Parish during the Great War, as the family to whom they belonged once lived at Townhead Cottage (aka Top Shop), and we have a detailed description in the Archive already of how such rugs were made by a family in Newbiggin-on-Lune – about once every two years, as they soon wore out on the stone floors.
Our latest acquisitions also include an illustrated file on the ten-year history of Ravenstonedale Yacht Club which we have been given by a local family, a handwritten book with details of the Meals on Wheels service which ran in the Parish for about twenty years, and a set of the Kirkby Stephen Messenger newspaper from 1995 to 1997 (it reappeared after a gap of 103 years!) with numerous articles relating to Ravenstonedale. We are currently cataloguing these gifts and some excerpts will appear here on the website in due course. We are very grateful for all these gifts. We have been delighted recently to receive a portrait of Sarah Wilson (his landlady at The Chantry) painted by Edward Jeffrey in 1947, which was sent to us from the USA by Tracey Meloni who was born at The Chantry, knew Edward Jeffrey personally, and who inherited the painting.
History Group members who received our 2017 autumn Newsletter may remember reading that we were able to help a researcher from King’s Somborne in Hampshire who was looking into the early life of a pioneer in education, Richard Dawes. Richard Dawes was born in Hawes, attended Ravenstonedale School in the early 1800’s where he was taught by John Robinson, then studied with John Gough in Kendal and at Cambridge University, before founding the nationally renowned school at King’s Somborne. He became Dean of Hereford in 1850. The Somborne and District Society have now published Norman Denison’s biography of Richard Dawes and have kindly sent us a copy as thanks for our help with the Ravenstonedale connection. The book will be kept in the History Room in High Chapel and will be available for reference.
One of our villagers has also very kindly given us a portrait of Reverend John Robinson, the schoolmaster at Ravenstonedale who taught Richard Dawes and many other boys who went into the clergy. We have framed this etching, which bears John Robinson’s signature, and it now hangs in the History Room.
In 2017 we were given a bound copy of the set of the first Ordnance Survey maps of Ravenstonedale Parish, which we keep in the History Room for people to consult for reference. This set of maps complements a set of later maps which we have also been given.
We have also received a hand-coloured edition of Wainwright’s map of Westmorland which was commissioned at the time the County of Westmorland disappeared under Local Government reorganisation in 1974. This was given to the History Group by a resident of Ravenstonedale who has moved away from the village. This is now hanging in the History Room, and we have asked the Parish Council if they would like it to be on show in one of the public areas.
An extremely kind donation of files of years of research into local families was given to the Group by the widow of the gentleman who undertook this research, and we are currently going through these files and sorting out items of interest to fill in gaps of our knowledge of the Parish. Any original documents we find will be copied for our use and then given to the local Records Office.
We are also very pleased to have received a digital copy of Keith Lovet Watson’s immense work of research into the Hewetson families of Ravenstonedale (and elsewhere) which he completed in 1991 and which took him over thirty years – an incredible feat when you consider this was accomplished when such research involved countless trips to local archive offices, the Public Record Office, the British Library and so on. As only twenty-five printed copies exist, we are indeed fortunate to be allowed to have this digital copy.
Phyllis Edgerly Ring, whose mother, elder sister and other family members lived for many years at The Chantry and Chantry Lodge, kindly presented us with a copy of one of her novels when she visited the village from the USA with her husband. She was very interested to see the piece of wood, painted grey, with the name Rev J H Kidd RN painted on it, which was given to us by the current owners of The Chantry when they found it during refurbishment work in 2016. We discovered that it came from the lid of an old sea-chest from the early part of the last century and belonged to a naval chaplain who used to stay from time to time with his sister, Phyllis’s great-aunt, when she lived in Chantry Lodge.
In 2016 we were given several books of local interest by a gentleman whose mother used to rent a house locally. They include The Howgills and the Upper Eden Valley by local author Michael Ffinch, W.R. Mitchell’s books The Lune Valley and the Howgill Fells and The Eden Valley and the North Pennines, as well as Wainwright’s An Eden Sketchbook. All are available to view in the History Room at High Chapel.
In 2015 we were given numerous photographs, yearbooks, trophies and artworks from Ravenstonedale School when it closed. These formed the basis of our annual exhibition in autumn 2016. As we were preparing the exhibition we were given the fireguard from Fell End School which was placed round the stove in the classroom. We were able to reunite one of the former Fell End pupils with this which she hadn’t seen since she was very young!
In 2014 we received some generous gifts including some W.I. scrapbooks from Mrs Wendy Hunter which date back to the 1960’s and make fascinating reading. One of them contains original artworks by the artist Edward Jeffrey who lived in Ravenstonedale, first at The Chantry and then at The Stables. He was also a churchwarden at St Oswald’s and held in much affection locally. By coincidence, Edward Jeffrey’s great-nephew Geoff Waldram visited the History Group exhibition of Entertainment and Celebrations – past and present and presented the Group with a copy of his ongoing research into the life and works of his great-uncle. Edward Jeffrey produced over 200 covers for the monthly Cumbria magazine from 1959 onwards, as well as numerous landscape and wildlife paintings, some of which are in local ownership.
Mrs Hunter also donated the Newbiggin-on-Lune School Log Book from 1873 to 1919. We have photographed the pages, but the original will be kept in the County Archive at Kendal.