Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Aldingham Motte from the Air | VIDEO

Aldingham Motte is all that remains of a Norman Motte and Bailey castle, once home to Michael Le Fleming.

Much of the original castles bailey has been lost to coastal erosion, as has part of the motte, a large mound where a wooden strong hold once stood.

In this video we take to the air to view what remains from above to give a sense of it's scale and how much erosion has taken of this once impressive Norman structure:

Video footage Copyright © Furness Hidden Heritage 2018, all rights reserved.

As well as the wonderful motte on show here, with it's surrounding ditch, you can also spot the marks of medieval farming with many ridge and furrow features visible in the fields surrounding the motte. Something I personally love to see. This land was no-doubt farmed following the Le Flemings moving down the hill to a new moated manor.

You can find out more about Aldingham Motte in our previous blog post 'A Motte Without a Bailey and a Manor Without a Town, Aldingham', just click here.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A spire seen across the town - St. James' Church, Barrow

Across the town of Barrow-in-Furness, if you look across the skyline, there is one heritage building that can almost always be seen - the spire of St. James' Church.

This lovely looking church was built, along with many other historic building in Barrow, during the Victorian period and sits in the Hindpool area of the town.

The site for the church was gifted from the Duke of Devonshire - one of the major players in the town at the time. Soon after this the Directors of the Iron and Steelworks, big businesses in the town, provided the money to build the church.

Once money was obtained the architects Edward Paley and Herbert Austin were hired to design the building. The two went on to become famous for their many church designs across Northern England.

The building was constructed using local bricks, in the familiar red hue that one associated with the town, and has contrasting yellow sandstone forming the windows and decorative features. The final construction is large and grandiose but has a beauty of it's own. It's 150ft tower rising up to touch the sky and create a landmark seen across the town.

This is something that was used to the advantage of the Germans during the Second World War.

Incoming bomber planes, destined to hit the shipyard, are said to have used the tower of St. James' as a marker. They would fly towards the tower, turning on reaching it to gain a direct line to the shipyard.

During the German air raids of 1941 the church sadly received damage. Several stained glass windows were destroyed, the organ was damaged and a floor in the spire collapsed onto the bells inside. Unfortunately many of the surrounding buildings were completely destroyed in the air raids but the church managed to stay mostly intact and remained as a symbol of hope for the local townsfolk.

One interesting fact I'd like to leave you with is about the organ just mentioned. This organ is rather special, it started life in 1837 when King William the Fourth commissioned it's construction. The organ was built inside the Chapel Royal of St. James Palace - the royal palace at the time.

Here the organ was played at many royal occasions including at the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg.

Several years later, in 1868, the organ was to be replaced so was sent to Barrow to be installed in St. James Church, where it still stands today.

St. James' Church is a wonderful building on the skyline of Barrow, it stands as a lasting reminder of the towns incredible Victorian past and is well worth a look around if you're ever in the area.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Gleaston Castle from the Air | VIDEO

The romantic ruins of Gleaston Castle are well known in Furness but take to the air and the site takes on a new dimension...

Back in 2013 we took a look at the fascinating, if sometimes unclear, history of Gleaston Castle. Now, some 5 years on, it was time to revisit the site from a different perspective - from the air.

In this short video you can see a variety of aerial shots taking in the splendour of this medieval ruin and the area it sits in:

Video footage Copyright © Furness Hidden Heritage 2018, all rights reserved.

The ruin is sadly in bad repair, as is made evident from the large cracks that can be seen rising up through several of the walls, but it still forms quite the impressive structure. Three of it's four towers are still standing proud, with door ways and windows often still intact.

It can be hard to get a real sense of what this castle once looked like or how it once was used but this video at least gives a new perspective on the ruin and shows just some of its former majesty.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

A ram's head and a chimney - Ramsden Hall, Barrow

What do you think of when you see an image like the one to the right? 

Industry maybe? Mills and factories of the Victorian age perhaps?

Well, if so, you would only be partly right!

This lovely chimney is from the Victorian period, built in the typical red brick of the Furness area, but it is not attached to an industrial mill, nor is it from a large factory. or yard

It is in fact attached to a rather fine building which once housed something of a much more gentile nature, a community bath house, gifted to the town by the first mayor of Barrow, Sir James Ramsden.

Ramsden commissioned and funded the building of this, quite small, public bath house in 1872 and it was constructed in that same year.

On completion the building was given the name 'Ramsden Hall', a reminder of who funded it. Another reminder of this is situated above the main entrance to the hall. Carved into yellow sandstone is an inscription that reads 'Presented to the town by James Ramsden Esq. First Mayor'.

Just below this is another interesting feature of the building, and something I personally have always associated with the building since childhood, a ram's head. This ornate carving forms the centre part of the archway above the main entrance door and is rather wonderful. The ram of course being a symbol for Ramsden.

The chimney, mentioned at the opening of this post, sits to the rear of the building and would have sat directly above a boiler room of some variety. This boiler would have heated water which would be used for bathing, a steam engine most likely being used to do this pumping. The chimney would be used to vent out smoke from coal or wood which would be burnt to heat the water and operate the steam engine - something which would be a common site across the town at the time.

The building sadly did not remain as a bath house for long as in 1886 it was converted into a public hall. It also went on to become an annex of the technical college, which stands next to the hall, before becoming the Citizens Advice Bureau, which it remains to this day.

Ramsden Hall is a wonderfully cute building on the streets of Barrow. Sitting on Abbey road between the former Houses of Parliament Pub and the now Nan-Tate Centre this building is one of a kind. It is the last remaining public bathhouse from the 19th Century left in the town and is a beautiful piece of Victorian architecture, one I hope remains out of harms way for many, many more years to come!