Despite the wet weather there was a good turnout for the fascinating talk by Dr Bill Shannon on Dr Kuerden’s 1685 map, and other early maps of the Cartmel Peninsula in September 2017 . The history of mapping in the area included the 1025-1050 Anglo Saxon Map, 1410 Gough Map and the first printed map in 1540. Dr Kuerden (1623- 1702) was a medical doctor from Cuerden near Leyland who developed an interest in history and surveying. He collaborated with Christopher Towneley in compiling material and had ambitious plans to produce a 5 volume History of Lancashire. Eleven volumes of his manuscripts including 84 maps were discovered in the 1950’s in Towneley Hall. The maps include detailed surveys of roads (including buildings, notable inhabitants and roadside features like shrubs and walls) on the southern part of Cartmel Peninsula and a survey of the boundary of Cartmel Parish. Unfortunately Dr Kuerden died without publishing any of his materials. However Dr Shannon intends to publish a book about Dr Kuerden and his research.
Following Bill’s talk I looked for the Houseman family in Cartmel as Bill had mentioned that Widow Houseman’s was where Dr Kuerden lodged whilst surveying the Cartmel Peninsula. Widow Houseman may have been married to John who died in 1661. His will described him as living at Cartmel. The only entries in the Parish Register (online records start in 1664) for the Houseman family of Cartmel are between 1664 and 1673. Ellin, a daughter, was buried in 1664, Jane Houseman was married in 1671 and Elizabeth Houseman was married in 1673. Houseman is a common name in the Warton, Lancaster area and the family may have originated from there.
See also his research paper:
The landscape and people of the Cartmel Peninsula in 1685: the Keuden &Townley maps. Transactions C&WAAS CW3, 18, 2018, 201-222.
In Feb 2018, Mike showed how important the West Indies trade with Britain was in that period. Lancaster and Liverpool were important ports but direct colonial trade was more important to Lancaster than the slave trade as many ships went via the Canary Islands rather than Africa.
There were many roles involved in the West Indian trade, which was considered both a risky and prosperous business. Various Quaker families from the Cartmel and Furness areas were involved in some capacity, connected to others through marriage or business.
Quakerism was introduced to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, by James Birkett of Cartmel Fell, in the 1750s and there was a strong trading relationship between Lancaster and Tortola with materials for supporting a community going one way and sugar and cotton returning. The Rawlinson family originally from Rusland were more influential than most.
Mike supported his fascinating talk with various research materials including letters, census, shipping registers, muster rolls, photographs, invoices and newspapers.
In July Pat Rowland and David Shore took 2 groups of members around the village and surrounding countryside to look for evidence of the Flax Industry that disappeared at the beginning of the 19thcentury.
The walk took them from High Newton, where the weaving sheds were located on the edge of the village, towards Barber Green. En-route, there were the retting ponds, one of which is used today to collect run off rainwater from the A590. Retting is the process where the harvested flax was immersed for 10-14 days. In Barber Green we visited the engineered water-course that provided the power to the fulling mill, a place where the bleached cloth was beaten to flatten the fibres. Then, just outside Barber Green, we looked at the fields where the flax was grown, and the amazing “consumption wall”, created from the process of clearing the fields. Afterwards we walked to Low Newton, viewing more retting ponds and engineered water course and to enjoy some afternoon refreshment.
Kelly Spronston-Heath spoke about the history of Fell Foot and the National Trust’s future plans for the estate. Kelly described the history through the various families that owned or rented the estate.
In the 15th century the land was owned by the Canons of Cartmel Priory. Following the reformation the land passed to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1567. By the seventeenth century Fell Foot was a productive and prosperous farm; in 1713 the land was valued at £615. In 1784 the Robinson family, yeoman farmers, sold the land and house to Jeremiah Dixon, a merchant from Leeds, as his family’s second home. At the time there was probably a modest farmhouse on the site. With his wife, Mary, Jeremiah expanded the house that was then described as a substantial villa with pleasure ground and lawns sweeping down to the lake. Mary contributed to the local community, establishing a Sunday School for 12 local children and a number of heath related schemes. The next owner was Francis Duckinfield Astley a businessman from Manchester who purchased the estate in 1813. Up until this time the road to Ulverston passed through the estate, crossing two fords but in 1813 it was moved to the current line when a bridge was built. On Mr Duckinfield Astley’ death the land, house and contents were put up for sale and many of the contents ended up in houses around Windermere. The estate didn’t sell and was eventually rented out but in 1851 Francis Duckinfield-Astley Jr moved back with his family
The next owner, Col John George Palmer Ridehalgh bought the estate in 1859. He and his wife extended the house further and added a gas house with gas lighting throughout the house, an entertaining area and additional boathouses. Col Ridehalgh had two steam yachts, the largest 60’ long could carry 122 passengers, and various yachts and rowing boats. The grounds were landscaped and an arboretum created. The family was immersed in the local community. He was a JP, a founder member of the Windermere Yacht Club and a Col in the Border Regiment. He also maintained a large pack of hounds that he transported to sites around the lake in one of his steam yachts. (Ms Spronston-Heath circulated some fascinating photographs of the interior of the house and the steam yachts from this period). The trust has some artifacts from the Ridehalgh period of occupancy and a quilt which was made for Mrs Ridhalgh is in the Textile and Quilt museum in York and has been taken on a world exhibition tour.
In 1907 Oswald Hedley purchased the house and estate. Mrs Hedley didn’t like the house and so Oswald demolished it planning to replace it with a Jacobean style building. The foundations for the new house were dug but Mrs Headley died suddenly and Oswald abandoned the project and the estate and moved to the north of Windermere. In 1948 Oswald’s third wife, who survived him, gave the land to the National Trust. The Trust leased it, for 21 years, to a Mr Rhodes as a camping and caravanning ground. In 1969 the Trust took the estate back under it’s management as what might be best called a country park; there were also a number of chalets which could be rented.
The National Trust is now planning a major restoration and development of the estate. The gas house and boathouses, which are of architectural interest, are to be restored. A watersports centre will be developed around the boathouses. The arboretum will be restored with further planting, new gardens and footpaths added. Catering facilities will be developed on higher ground to avoid the risk of flooding, Overall access will be improved and better links to public transport developed. Interpretational material will allow visitors to engage with the history of the estate. Ms Spronston-Heath finished by encouraging people to become volunteers at the site, particularly in bringing together stories about the history of the estate.
At the March meeting of Cartmel Peninsula Local History Society, June Hall talked about Cumbrian vernacular buildings and the Cumbria Vernacular Buildings Group that was set up in 2013. We heard how, in the 1950s, Dr Brunskill developed a system for recording traditional historic buildings that were not designed by architects. Subsequently a national group and affiliated local societies were established to record local buildings. The history of the development of Cumbrian buildings was covered and where the building materials came from. The key features such as window and door styles, wall thickness and layout helped to date a building. Documents can give clues to the age of the building and can help to understand how the building was used. The talk ended with a review of the wide ranging activities of the Cumbrian Group during 2016. This illustrated how the Group covers the whole county and how diverse are the styles of buildings. In the summer June will lead a walk around High Newton looking at the features of vernacular buildings in the village.
For our first lecture of 2017 the hall was packed to hear Claire Asplin talk about her explorations of Lindale Low Cave. In a light hearted but very informative talk Claire described how as a child she played in the 3 caves that were situated on her family’s land, making her own cave painting which baffled the archaeologists at a later date. Claire eventually worked with the archaeologists in the caves.
Claire explained how Lindale Low cave proved to be very important in showing that people were living in the north at the last ice age which went against the academic argument of the time. Although other caves, including Kirkhead cave, had artifacts dating back to the ice age, the flints found below the stalagmite floor laid down 9000 years before present in Lindale Low proved the late Chris Salisbury and his colleagues were correct in their belief that people were here.
Claire illustrated her talk with photographs and diagrams of the caves and photographs and drawings of the artefacts found and answered many audience questions.
The October 2016 lecture was given by Andy Lowe, a very popular speaker and the hall was full. Rocks, woodland and water provided the power and resources which came together at times of economic demand to produce a variety of local industries and crafts.The rocks produced minerals such as copper, pyrites, quartz. Lime was used for agriculture and house building. Slate was in demand and the railways provided the necessary transport. The lakes provided access and Greenodd was an important port. The many becks provided water power for the mills.
The coppiced woodlands provided charcoal, the hazel for swill or cockle baskets, the birch for besom brushes. Pegs and bobbins were made too. The oak bark gave the tannin for cow hides to be cured at tanneries such as Rusland. Andy compared this industrial landscape with the industrial city landscape painted by Lowry. The Lakeland industrial activity was scattered over a large area as opposed to the more familiar highly concentrated Lowry setting.
Wine and nibbles were served after the lecture to celebrate 20 years of Cartmel Peninsula Local History Society.