Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Heritage From the Air | Series 1 Montage | VIDEO

Over the last year we have been exploring some of the wonderful historic sites of Furness from above in the first of our Heritage from the Air series.

Series one of ‘Heritage From the Air’ has seen us take to the skies above Birkrigg Stone Circle, Heathwaite Medieval Farmstead, Gleaston Castle, Aldingham Motte and Aldingham Moated Manor. Each episode giving a greater sense of this wonderful heritage and their surroundings.

To round off series one we now have a special montage using footage from the first 5 videos. Hit the play button below to watch and enjoy Furness Heritage from the Air:

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Walney Island a history and heritage

Walney has a rich and deep history that dates all the way back to prehistory!

Across the island there has been many discoveries that bring to light its prehistoric past from Neolithic stone axes to beaker pottery and even Bronze Age antlers.

At the very northern tip of Walney a variety of Neolithic items have been discovered, including a polished axe made of Langdale Tuff. Sites in the Lake District, like Langdale, were places of axe production in Neolithic times where axes would be roughed out of the stone. These rough outs would then be taken to polishing sites away from the fells, North Walney is one of such sites. Sandstone and other course stones would be used to grind the rough outs until they become polished and usable. Once finished the items would be used as tools for varying jobs; killing animals for food, processing food, cutting down trees for use in settlements and scraping skins for tanning, to name but a few. As implements like this were so treasured in this time they were often placed at ritual sites, which is where they are frequently found today. Although some, like the polished axe found on Walney, are discovered where they were worked and most likely lost or discarded.

The name of the Island also has a route in history, Viking history infact. Walney is believed to originate from Old Norse, the tongue of the Vikings, although the island wasn't always named as such. Originally it was called Hougenai and is how it is named in the Domesday book. As well as the islands name many of its site names can be traced back to Viking origins, for instance North Scale from ‘Skali’ Norse for Summer Dwelling.

Across Walney are many scars of a Medieval farming past. From the north to the south many fields are covered in archeological features known as ridge and furrow. You can discover more about these features in the article entitled ‘Marks of a Medieval Farming Landscape, Walney’. Ridge and furrow are the remains of Medieval ploughing in field systems, which the peasants of the age would work on a near daily basis. Near by Furness Abbey would have been the owners of many of these field systems and the peasants would pay a tithe (one tenth of their annual produce) to the Abbey for the support of the church. The Abbey owned much of the land around Furness as well large swathes of land in the Lake District.

Jump forward a few centuries to the late 19th to early 20th century and Walney becomes very different. A large part of the island, just over the bridge today, was turned into Vickerstown. A brand new housing estate for shipyard workers. The houses were built to last and were in the Tudor Revival style. Many new terraces were constructed for the lower end of the work force but larger houses were also built for the mangers, and these overlooked the channel. The first thousand houses were completed in 1901 on streets named after ships that had been built in the shipyard. Names such as Mikasa and Vengeance Street. This was a huge change for the island and created an influx of inhabitants, which really saw the birth of modern Walney.

Over the coming decades Walney was set to face the effects of war. During World War 1 there was two military encampments in use on the island, one known as Hilpsford Fort, to the south, and one as Fort Walney, to the north. Each providing defence on the home front and providing jobs in the area. You can find out more about these forts in our previous blog 'World War I, the effects in Furness'.

During World War 2 there were also many military defences built across the island, from pill boxes to Coastal Artillery Searchlight Emplacements. All built to protect mainland Britain in case of enemy invasion. If you want to know more about these defences then please read our previous blog 'Remnants of World War II, the Military Defences of Barrow and Walney'.

A year after World War 2 and Walney became the basis for the made up island of Sador in the Thomas the Tank Engine books.

Writer Rev. W. Awdry needed a location to base his stories around that was in Britain but also isolated enough from the main railway systems of the country. On a trip to the Isle of Man Rev. Awdry discovered the Bishop there was known as the Bishop of "Sodor and Man" and that the island was in the Diocese of Sodor and Man. He realised that there was no island of Sodor like there is of Man. This gave inspiration to create a new island, Sodor, for his books.

He decided to place this new island between mainland Britain and the Isle of Man, right where Walney Island is. He took the east side of the islands outline but expanded it out to the west creating a much larger island. He did however keep some of the local names. The bridge to Sodor comes over from Barrow, as a bridge does for Walney, and the bridge arrives at Vickerstown, as it does at Walney.

A map of the Isle of Sodor (courtesy of Wikipedia). Note Barrow and Vicarstown to the right of the map.

As you can see Walney has a very vivid history, one that I have barely scratched the surface of in this blog. Hopefully, though, what I have shown is some of the interesting features and moments in this small islands history. Moments that helped to shape the island we know today.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Aldingham Moated Manor from the Air | VIDEO

On the outskirts of Aldingham there is a raised earthwork surrounded by water on all sides, this is Aldingham Moated Manor.

This Moated Manor is closely linked to the motte and bailey castle, which we showcased in the previous episode of 'Heritage From the Air'.

During the 13th Century the family living at the motte and bailey castle, the Le Fleming's who built it in the early 1100s, needed to move because of coastal erosion. Due to this they built a new moated manor a short distance inland from the castle.

The manor consists of a mound surrounded by a moat for defence. The mound would have had a wooden structure built upon it, forming a new home for the family. This would have likely been surrounded by a wooden palisade, creating further defence.

In this new aerial video you can clearly see the moated manor and get a sense of it's incredible surroundings:

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

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Spooky tales from South Cumbria - Halloween Special!

In 2013 we took a look at several spooky tales from the Furness Peninsula, then in 2016 we showcased even more sinister tales from the area.

Now, a couple of years later, we are relaying five more spooky stories from South Cumbria, including Furness. So, dim the lights and let's get started...

Spine chilling chanting near Furness Abbey

Some 30 years ago a mother and son were walking past Furness Abbey. They head away from the ruins towards Rating Lane. As they reached the West Gatehouse the young boy started to hear singing emanating from the surroundings.

He turned to his mum and asked 'Where's that singing coming from mum?'. His mother, quite uncharacteristically, snapped 'There is a tape playing somewhere', before rushing the two away from the area. She was clearly afraid but never spoke of the incident again.

Could the mysterious singing have been the sound ghostly monks performing their Gregorian chants? Who can say but the incident certainly makes for a spooky tale.

A mysterious gentleman in Cartmel

In the picturesque village of Cartmel many local folk have spotted a man who appears out of time. Wearing a top hat the man has been witnessed wandering around the priory gatehouse in the centre of the village. He moves mysteriously and when approach or spoken to, he simply disappears.

Who could this mysterious gentleman be? No-one knows.

The locked room of Sizergh

Many many years ago a lord of Sizergh Castle had a wife that he loved passionately. Sadly though his jealousy was just as passionate.

At one time he was called away to serve the king. He was so worried though that another man might steel his wife's affections while he was away that he locked her in a room inside the castle.

He forbid his servants to release his wife under any circumstances and as they were so scared of their master they did not disobey. The lord's wife would scream and plea for release but the servants ignore her cries. Soon the poor woman died of starvation, locked in the room.

Today it is said that the screams of wife's ghost can still be heard echoing from the room, pleading to be released.

The Bowness Bay Tizzie-Whizie

A myth from the Lake District, the Tizzie-Whizie was a much sought after creature of the 1900s.

First spotted in 1900 by a boatman from Bowness on Windermere the Tizzie-Whizie soon became popular with locals and tourists alike. The creature was said to have the body of a hedgehog, the tail of a squirrel and wings like a bee. It was also said to be a water loving creature and quite shy.

The photo featured here was taken by a local photographer after the grandson of the original spotter found and captured a Tizzie-Whizie for the first time. He struggled to capture the beast but managed to drag it from the water and whisk it off to the photographers.

The creature stuck around long enough to have a photo taken before jumping off and flying out the window, back into the wild.

The photo taken became a post card and many thousands were sold, leading to hunts for the mysterious creature. Strangely another was never found...

The White Lady of Furness Abbey

Many have wandered the ruins of Furness Abbey near Barrow-in-Furness but one soul that still wanders the ruins died many years ago.

The White Lady has often been spotted in and around the ruins of the monastic site. She is believed to be the ghost of a squires daughter from the Tudor period. The woman would meet her lover in secret at the recently dissolved monastic site on many occasions until he had to leave on a journey. Her partner never returned from his journey.

The lady, broken hearted, returned to the abbey every day until her death. Could it be that she still returns today?

We hope you have enjoyed this spooky Halloween special. Do check out our previous two posts - Furness Ghost Stories pt1 and Furness Ghost Stories pt2 for more sinister tales.

Do you have a ghost story from Furness or South Cumbria? We'd love to hear your tales. Comment below or on our social media channels..

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Hoad Monument, Ulverston | Snapshot Series

One of the most prominent features visible from the Furness town of Ulverston is the random lighthouse that sits upon a hill above the town - the Hoad Monument.

Even though it appears as such the monument is not a lighthouse, well not a working one at any rate. It is in fact a monument to Sir John Barrow, a man born in Ulverston during the 18th Century, who went on to be a founding member of the Royal Geographical Society.

The monument, real name the Sir John Barrow Monument, was designed in the style of a lighthouse and built on the top of hoad hill on the outskirts of Ulverston. It was built using local limestone in 1850 and stands 100ft tall.

It cost £1250 to build and was paid for mainly by public subscription. It soon became an iconic image of the town and held a special place in the hearts of locals.

This still stands today with the view of the 'Pepper Pot', as it is also refereed to, when driving home is an instant reminder that you are almost there. Many people walk up the hill to wander around the monument every day and enjoy the views up the tower or out across Ulverston.

It really is adored by everyone and will continue to be a lasting symbol of Ulverston and, indeed, the Furness peninsula.

The Snapshot Series is a series of short posts on singular locations, features or artefacts found in the Furness area. Not large enough to warrant a long blog post we will explore these sites in snapshots!

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.

The Churches of Furness Series does what it says on the tin, it takes a look at the many and varied churches of the Furness area of South Cumbria. From churches with Norman origins to Victorian houses of worship there certainly is an array of religious buildings to discover

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.