The changing world from the reformation and dissolution of the monasteries to the beginning of the 19th century was described through the superb maps available for the Peninsula, from the County Palatine Map of Christopher Saxton in 1577 to the first OS map in 1850. Saxton’s map was decorative, and attempted to show topography. The coastline was taken at low tide, indicating the sands crossing route. At that time there was little woodland in our area, in contrast to the extensive woodland to the north where there was a charcoal industry. Subsequent maps for a while tended to copy Saxton, eg John Speed. Around 1665, John Bleau published a map in Amsterdam, with some peculiar spelling eg Flokesbarro, and with the locations of Cart Lane Village, Gowborn Head (Humphrey Head), Waysholm towre, Wynder, Howker and Hamfeld Hall.
Yates’s 1786 prize-winning map is the first ‘proper’ map (1” to the mile). It was more effective in showing different aspects of the landscape (mosses, small patches of woodland and enclosures) and the townships with Cartmel, the market town, at the centre. Sponsors were named eg John Wilkinson’s improved moss. Even by this time Cartmel was still relatively cut off, until the turnpike road and railway were completed by the middle of the 19th century.
Richard Keurden produced very detailed maps in 1684 of the main routes in Lancashire, including the area north of the sands which were never printed or published. His survey of the main roads showed properties and distances in furlongs. Alan showed the map from Sandgate and Flookburgh to Allithwaite past Utterthwaite Hall.
The importance of Cartmel for travellers and as a market town was demonstrated in a survey by the War Office in 1686 of guest beds and stables, Cartmel being the 12th in the ranking for Lancashire with 26 guest bed and 57 stable places, ahead of Ulverston in 17th place.
The relative importance between Flookburgh and Cartmel Markets was discussed. It is known that William Marshall prescribed Cartmel for markets in 1292, Flookburgh’s charter was originally granted in 1412 and regranted for a second time in 1663, but still it appears that it was unsuccessful. There were disputes between the two settlements, the claim of Churchtown in 1690 of weekly markets beyond the memory of man was disputed by the residents of Flookburgh. Similarly, in 1721, Flookburgh claimed market affairs were held since time began! In 1725 the Bishop of Chester reported that Flookburgh had neither maintained a market or fair. In 1731, Sir Thomas Lowther granted Cartmel its only market charter.
Alan showed Paul Hindle’s map of developing routes, including the cross sands route and the turnpike road up to Kendale and across to Crosthwaite and down to Newby Bridge. Despite the turnpike route being safer the dangerous cross sands route remained well used because it was shorter and importantly it was free.
In the 18th century, industry started to appear on maps, eg on Yates’s map, there were details of the extensive iron works and other industries at Backbarrow. Alan showed an Indenture dated 1709 from Elizabeth Preston to Maychell for charcoal fired forges at Cartmel and Backbarrow and the right to explore for iron ore for a yearly rent of £28. She agreed to supply 300 loads of charcoal to Maychell. This was a renewal of the first agreement dated 1691. Iron Ore was not found in quantity in the Peninsula which saved the area’s landscape. In 1796, at the time of the enclosures the new land owners were granted mineral rights as an encouragement for the tenants to occupy the poorest land.
Alan concluded by showing a plan of the sea embankments of 1797, 1807 and 1828, and his lovely map showing the original coastline before the establishment and drainage of the marshes overlaid onto a modern map. Notably Humphrey head was an island! And then he presented data from the Agriculture Board Returns of crops showing a time-honoured diet (in acres): Oats 1586, Barley 659, Wheat 382, Potatoes 167, Rape 58, Peas 23 & Beans 7 from a total of 8000 acres.
Phil Rowland March 2020
Dr Colin Penny, the museum manager of Lancaster Castle, gave a fascinating talk on the history of the castle. The talk included the history of the buildings and the medieval kings, the small part it played in civil wars and the prominence of the castle in law and order through the centuries. In addition Dr Penny talked about the people associated with the castle and provided many anecdotes relating to the castle.
Due to the strategic point of castle hill, the Romans had a fort there in AD74 and the Normans built the first castle in 1093. The Duchy of Lancaster, including Lancaster Castle continues to belong to the reigning monarch.
In 1166, under Henry 11 the castle became the centre of an area from Liverpool to Furness where judges took trials every March and August. The castle thus became a prison where people were held until trial. Dr Penny described how the prison system changed over time and the prison closed in 2011, the oldest continually used prison in Europe.
Dr Penny also touched on the Pendle witches and the Peterloo organiser Henry Hunt who were all tried at Lancaster Castle.
Kevin Grice gave an entertaining and informative talk on a relatively hidden aspect of our local history. It seems that the Dad’s army of WW2 was not the first time that Volunteer Forces had been used in military history.
A number of events in the mid nineteenth century including the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the limited effectiveness of the Crimean War, and an assassination attempt on the life of Napoleon the Third in 1858 which involved a grenade made in Birmingham all raised fears of a possible French invasion in 1859. Thus RVC’s ( Rifle Volunteer Corps) were formed all over the country with Lancashire over the Sands and Kendal being no exceptions.
He talked principally about the rifle ranges which were created to fulfil the 24 days a year target practice the RVC’s enlisters were required to carry out. Needless to say these sites were of necessity in relatively isolated areas and amongst those he discussed in detail was the site at Silver How, above Grasmere. Others noted were on Torver Common another at Helsfell, Kendal and one even in Cartmel at Holker Bank in what is today part of the Cistercian Way.
Members of the Society time-travelled back to the Victorian era at the June 2018 lecture through a selection of photographs taken by John Garnett of Windermere (Photographer, Post Master, Printer, Bookseller and Chemist) at the end of the 19th Century. Ian explained the different type of glass negatives (full plate, half plate and stereoscopic pair) and that if properly stored the images are permanent. The photographs required an exposure time of 10 to 20 seconds or the images would be blurred, but most of the photographs were extremely clear even when he zoomed in to show particular features. The photographs shown included the shore at Grange-over-Sands (after the railway but before the promenade was built ie c1868); Holker Hall (before the 1871 fire which destroyed the West Wing); High Fold Farm at Troutbeck (showing Peggy Longmire on her 100th birthday in 1864); Bowness (both before and after the promenade was built); and Windermere Station (c 1900 featuring horse-drawn coaches built in Windermere). Ian displayed a wealth of knowledge of local history which enabled him to date the photographs very accurately.
Ian Gee, a Director and Trustee of the Lakes Flying Company, gave an absorbing and fascinating Talk to a large audience about “Aviation on Windermere 1909-1919”, describing how Edward Wakefield pioneered flight from water on Windermere.
Wakefield built hangars at Bowness and used boat engineers from Barrow to adapt an Avro plane as a seaplane. Despite widespread ridicule “Waterbird” made the first successful flight from water 25th November 1911 from the Lake. The pilot sat at the front with the engine and propellers at the rear. The float was stepped, (a crucial adaptation) and the outriggers made from bamboo.
Wakefield recognised early on the military advantages of seaplanes for scouting purposes as land- based aircraft at the time did not have the range to reach enemy lines. During World War I Windermere was an important centre for training Naval Pilots and the first seaplanes were used 25th December 1914 against Zeppelin bases in Germany.
A replica of the “Waterbird” is currently being built and approaching “air worthiness”.
In October 2017, Dr. Rob David gave a fascinating talk on the fate of the those men retaining their German/Austrian nationality were mostly interned, including an enclave of German miners at Nenthead and hotel waiters from Keswick. Losing the wage-earner left many families in great poverty.
Those who were naturalised British had mixed fortunes, especially when “Germanaphobia” spiked after events such as the sinking of the “Lusitania” and horror stories from Belgian refugees. Some pork butchers in Barrow had their windows smashed, and “spy fever” fuelled by the media led to the German wife of an ex MP near Whitehaven being interned. This followed a U Boat attack on Lowca Coke Ovens. Some others however lived unmolested.
After the War most were deported but some such as the Head Waiter from Keswick were allowed to remain. Some families were never reunited.
At the end of Rob’s lecture, he mentioned his interest in the Trapp family and Harry Mudd of Grange. Subsequently Pat Rowland has been helping Rob with his research and Rob has produced two papers which are both on this website:
The Trapp Family of Grange-over-Sands during the First World War
Harry Mudd of Grange-over-Sands