Feb 032018

On Friday evening we held the first HangoutOnAir for the year, concentrating on the topic of the Built Heritage of a Home - specifically one home, Springhill House in Lancashire. This proved to be a splendid case study of what can be learned about a property.

First up, we had some technical hiccups so feel free to skip the first four and a half minutes in the recording. Janet then starts getting in to the nitty-gritty of Springhill House, with her focus being on the building, rather than the people, and the various sources that she used to learn more about this building. Some of these are expected, like the legal title registration and deeds, land valuations, and photos of the interior and exterior of the house at various points in time. Some are unexpected - the title deeds of the next-door-but-one house, obituaries, and, if you are lucky enough to reside in the home in question, not-so-random visitors coming to gaze at the house who can be enticed inside to share their knowledge!

The Hangout can be viewed at any time at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq9OvJLqfPs. Members can also watch out for the detailed article about this in the next issue of Destinations.

Alex Coles

Feb 022018

This Friday 2nd February (that's today!) it's time for our next Hangout On Air. Each year the Society runs a Shared Endeavour for members, where our one-place studiers have the opportunity to work on a common theme, supported with materials and guidance the Society puts together. Today's Hangout will be led by this year's Shared Endeavour co-ordinators, Janet and Alex, and Janet will be sharing more about what she's learned about the houses of her place, Springhill.

Members and non-members can watch live at 8pm GMT, or after the event, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq9OvJLqfPs.

Members, watch for your email invitation to join in the discussion live.

Alex Coles

Jan 052018


Vintage Happy New Year postcard

Happy New Year to all our members and one-place studiers out there!

Members, check the latest issue of Destinations for an introduction to Built Heritage, our Shared Endeavour for 2018. Every year we focus on one particular aspect of our one-place studies and provide guidance, suggestions, and inspiration for investigating that particular aspect in your place. This year it is the turn of Built Heritage - the buildings and other physical signs of human occupation in our place. Materials for the first quarter are also now available in the Members section of the website.

If this sounds good to you but you are not currently a member, you can join us to join in the fun. The more the merrier!

Alex Coles and Janet Barrie

Dec 072017

The 'Buildings of England' guides by Nikolaus Pevsner are regarded as one of the ‘go to’ guides for buildings of architectural importance and can be both helpful and interesting. However they are secondary sources compiled with various degrees of local knowledge, and as such should be regarded with caution.

St Anne’s church, Edgeside

St Anne’s church, Edgeside

One example is seen in the 'Lancashire North’ edition. Although no Springhill properties are listed in the guide, St Anne’s church, Edgeside, is included and was endowed by a Springhill resident, Captain Charles Patrick, being consecrated in 1885. Pevsner’s entry for St Anne’s reads:

'ST ANNE Ashworth Lane, Edgeside. By Thomas Bell of Burnely and Nelson, 1885. Low, aisleless and with a canted apse and plate-traceried windows. Base of a SW tower. W front with a big wheel window over a portal which embraces a pair of doors, like a Nonconformist church. Was this a deliberate ploy in an area of Methodist and Baptist supremacy. STAINED GLASS. Nave N. A good window by Shrigley and Hunt c 1895. The Adoration of the Magi and sheep. The church is groped with the substantial, slightly Gothic VICARAGE S. of 1910 and the long, low bare SCHOOL W. 1873 by Harry Thorndyke Perceval.'

Stained Glass Window, St Anne’s church, Edgeside

Stained Glass Window, St Anne’s church, Edgeside

The statement that the window was installed 'about 1895’ is true only in a very general sense. The window commemorates Charles Patrick and his wife, Mary Ann nee Ashworth. Charles Patrick died in 1895 and his date of death is included in the window.

Inscription on stained glass window

Inscription on stained glass window

A little probing reveals more however. Patrick’s will states that a stained glass window be installed in the church in memory of him and his wife as 'soon as conveniently maybe' after Rev Cross Jones ceasing to be vicar there. This suggests that relations between Patrick and Rev Cross Jones may not have been entirely cordial, or perhaps Cross Jones objected to stained glass in principle. This is an avenue for further study, although I’m not sure what documentation survives from St Annes’ from this period. The window was actually installed in 1903.

As members begin to explore our shared endeavour for 2018 of ‘the built environment’ this acts as a timely reminder that not everything written is accurate, and the more remote the source the more true this is. This applies, of course, to all avenues of our research!

Does anyone have any other examples of guides getting it wrong?

Janet Barrie

Nov 122017

Halloween and Bonfire Night have recently passed and these have led me to reflect on the changing traditions around these two celebrations over the years (too many to own up to!) that I have been in and around my place. I am not going to get into the discussion of whether Halloween is a pagan or Christian festival of ancient or medieval origin as that is not relevant to Springhill over recent years. A fascinating topic, but for an other time.

Rather I am remembering Halloweens and Bonfire Nights of my childhood, my children’s childhood and today and the changes have been quite marked.

Taking Halloween first, it was relatively low key when I was growing up. There were parties with parkin and games of bobbin apples and ducking apples, usually held in the church. No fancy dress as I remember. By the time my children were young (thirty years later!) the churches had stopped Halloween parties and the old games had gone. Trick or treat was becoming popular but still no fancy dress or focus on horror. Now the stores are full of zombie or scary clown costumes as soon as the ‘back to school’ promotions are over in August, trick or treating is possibly reducing in popularity and Halloween parties for adults are growing. The churches are now holding ‘lite nite’ parties with different games, a spiritual focus and no fancy dress.

Bonfire night was a bigger event during my pre-teen years with gang-built bonfires being fiercely guarded against raids from other groups. Home made guys were still touted around the village for the ‘penny for the guy’ then burned on the fire. There was, however, a trend away from making our own guy and putting a jacket and cap on a teddy. Financial returns tended to be lower with that approach. We had treacle toffee and black peas and Dad struggled to light the fireworks in the garden. A few years later council-run bonfires on the ‘rec’ replaced home-built ones, still with treacle toffee and black peas but now at a cost. By my children’s pre-teen the council-run bonfire had been replaced with a council-run firework display on the local sports field, more recently these have ended and we are back to smaller fires and displays, not usually organised by local groups of kids but by the scouts, the cricket club and the like. In general though bonfire night has reduced in prominence and Halloween increased, becoming more commercial in the process.

Have there been similar changes in these customs in your places?

Janet Barrie