Parton

Week In Focus #36

This is picture #36 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo was taken above Parton, on the west coast of Cumbria.

Parton is a village and civil parish on the Cumbrian coast, overlooking the Solway Firth, 1¼ miles (2 km) north of the town of Whitehaven. Formerly a port and a mining centre, it is now purely residential, benefiting from its location between the A595 trunk road and the Cumbrian Coast railway line.

The sheltered anchorage in Parton Bay was used by the Romans, who had a fort on the high ground to the north of the present village, adjacent to St Bridget’s Church. Later, the bay was used by the inhabitants of Low Moresby, the hamlet which grew up to the east of the old fort in the Middle Ages. In Elizabethan times a number of small merchant vessels were based in the bay, trading as far as Chester; by this time there was probably also a salt-pan in operation. The port was developed in the early 17th century to cater for Moresby’s coal trade, but fell into decline after two generations of the Lowther family turned the hamlet of Whitehaven into a major port.

Parton
Parton
St Bridget's Church, Moresby

St Bridget’s Church, Moresby

St Bridget’s Church church is located 1 ½ miles north of Whitehaven just to the seaward side of the main A595 road. It is a distinctive landmark and can be seen easily from the road (especially from the north).

  • The church is a Grade II listed building.

Proximity to a known Roman settlement gives the church added significance. The simple 13th century chancel arch next to the church marks the continuity of occupation and worship on this site too. The church was built in 1823 by G Crauford, architect, and the chancel was added in 1885 in a remarkably convincing Georgian style. The rest of the interior (including a western gallery) is of 1885 too, but an octagonal medieval font still survives in the building. All the glass appears to be early 20th century.

Exterior: Ashlar on moulded plinth with corner pilasters, eaves band, and cornice; sill band to chancel. Blocking course to graduated slate roofs; stone copings and kneelers. The tower has a parapet with obelisk finials to corners. 4-bay nave with integral 3-stage west tower; 2-bay chancel. Symmetrical west front with central plank door and semicircular fanlight on ground floor of tower; vestry to left, baptistry to right. 2 rows of windows to nave, all round-headed. Chancel has 2 tall windows to either side and Venetian window to east end. Dragons to rainwater heads; decorative downpipes.

Interior: Porch with stairs up to 1885 western gallery which is supported on cast-iron columns with Gothic traceried spandrels. Semicircular chancel arch carried on Ionic responds; text board to either side. Late C19/early C20 stained glass to lower windows by Heaton, Butler, & Bayne (London). 1902 panelled reredos. 1885 square wooden pulpit by Simpson & Rich; decoratively carved with painted panels. Late C19 octagonal marble font in baptistry; font from medieval church (stone, with octagonal bowl) outside vestry. Pedimented marble memorial slab in baptistry, 1843 for Mary Ann Steward.

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St Bridget's Church, Moresby
St Bridget’s Church, Moresby
Ennerdale Water

Ennerdale Water

On the western edge of the Lake District National Park, Ennerdale runs east to west from the high central fells to the rolling hills and moorland of West Cumbria and the Irish Sea coastal plain. Perhaps key to the very special feel of the place is the fact that it’s the only major Lake District valley to have no public road along it. Ennerdale Water, quiet and solitary, is one of the least developed of the English lakes. The water of the lake is extremely pure, and has been used as a source of drinking water for around 150 years.

In the 1920s, the Forestry Commission purchased Ennerdale and created a blanket of commercial conifer forest. This had an effect on the tradition of farming Herdwick sheep. Up until then, Ennerdale held a vital place in the Herdwick story, but 2,000 sheep had to be removed from Gillerthwaite and Ennerdale Dale when the valley was forested. However, there are still 16 farms with fell-grazing livestock in the wider Ennerdale valley.

Originally known as Broadwater, Ennerdale measures two and a half miles long, three quarters of a mile wide and 45 metres (150 feet) deep. Ennerdale’s western end is mountainous and panoramic and is dominated by the rocky bulk of Pillar (892 metres), Haycock (797m), Steeple ( 819m) and Great Scoat Fell (802m). Its eastern end is set in a flatter landscape which looks out over the West Cumbrian plain towards Whitehaven and Workington.

Ennerdale Water
Ennerdale Water
Whitehaven Harbour

Whitehaven Harbour

The first mention of Whitehaven as a harbour comes from 1172, but the foundation for the first quay was laid in 1633 by Sir Christopher Lowther for construction of the Old Quay to export salt and coal.

The Bulwark Quay was completed in 1711 making Whitehaven the third largest trading port in England during the eighteenth century and the most important rum port in the UK. Construction of The West Pier Lighthouse, West Pier and North Pier surrounding the Outer harbour began in 1832 and finally the Queen’s Dock was built in 1876.

Over 1,000 ships are documented as being built in the port of Whitehaven. The most famous shipyard was that established by Daniel Brocklebank which eventually became part of the Cunard Line.

Since 1990, £20 million of grant funding has been invested in and around the harbour improving public access. The harbour no longer sees the amount of trade vessels it used to. However, the harbour still has an active fishing industry with vessels bringing in a large variety of fish including sole, skate and prawns.

The sea locks themselves not only let the inner harbour stay water-filled at all times, the massive gates also act as flood defences. For centuries, the town was flooded by fierce storms, but with the help of the Environment Agency, the sea lock now helps to keep the town dry.

Now, the tourist industry is of growing importance to town’s economy.

Whitehaven Harbour
Whitehaven Harbour
Mackenzies Lonning, Cleator Moor

Week In Focus #17

This is picture #17 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This weeks photo is of Mackenzies Lonning, near the town of Cleator Moor in West Cumbria.

The lonning was named after a local mine owner, and was probably used by local men trudging their way to work, in clogs, during all weathers. The lonning is a sunken lane with long green tunnels of willow, bramble and ferns, with a soft soil to walk upon.

During my short walk along the lonning, it was quite muddy in places. I can only imagine what it would have been like at the height of winter, when those hard-working miners went to work. However, in summer, when the lonning is in full bloom, it’s a glorious retreat.

  • The Lakeland Dialect Society defines a lonning as a lane, and when many lonnings were “upgraded” to roads in the 19th century they were often re-named lanes.
  • Local author, Alan Cleaver has written a book which takes the reader on a tour of 21 of the best lonnings in Cumbria.
Mackenzies Lonning, Cleator Moor
Mackenzies Lonning, Cleator Moor

Calder Abbey

Calder Abbey

Calder Abbey, at Calderbridge in Cumbria, was a Savigniac monastery founded in 1134 by Ranulph de Gernon. The Abbey was home to twelve monks from Furness Abbey under the abbot Gerold.

Only four years later, in the midst of the political instability following the death of Henry I, David King of Scots sent Scottish raiders under William Fitz Duncan to raid the northern English counties. Calder Abbey was one of the victims. The Scots raided the Abbey and drove out the monks. This, and the poor endowment, led the monks to abandon the site, and they sought sanctuary at Furness Abbey.

A second attempt at colonisation of the Abbey was made from Furness in about 1142 under Abbot Hardred, and this time they had the protection of Fitz Duncan. The Sauvigniac order became Cisterian in 1148 when the two orders were amalgamated, and Calder likewise was obliged to follow.

By 1180 a stone church had been built of which the west door is the main survivor today. Most of the rest of building was rebuilt in 1220 in the early English style by Thomas de Multon of Egremont. At the Dissolution, the only recorded relic in the monastery’s possession was that of a girdle claimed to have belonged to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The girdle was supposed to be efficacious to women in childbirth.

At the Dissolution Henry VIII gave the abbey to Sir Thomas Leigh, who pulled off the roof and sold it and anything else he could and reduced the church to a ruin. Ownership passed through many secular hands, in which it still remains.

Much of the cloister buildings remain either incorporated into Calder Abbey House, now a largely early-nineteenth century structure that is still a private residence, or in adjoining ruins, such as the chapter house. It is now a picturesque ruin, no doubt retained by early residents of the newly formed mansion as an ornamental feature.

Little on record has been found about the history of the abbey church or precincts. J. Denton was of opinion that the abbey ‘was not perfected till Thomas de Multon finished the works and established a greater convent of monks there.’ In 1361 Bishop Welton issued a licence with indulgence to a monk of that house to collect alms in his diocese for the fabric of the monastery.

It cannot be said that Calder was ever a rich house. In 1292 its temporalities were valued at £32 a year, and in 1535 the gross revenues of the abbey amounted only to £64 3s. 9d., which, after deducting certain outgoings, was reduced to the clear annual income of £50 9s. 3d.

The Abbots of Calder do not often appear in the public life of the country. They occasionally come into notice when applying for royal protection to go beyond the sea on the business of their house or to attend the general chapters of the Cistercian Order. In the fourteenth century they were sometimes employed in the collection of ecclesiastical subsidies.

  • The Abbey and grounds are private, and not open to the public.
Calder Abbey
Calder Abbey
Calder Abbey
Calder Abbey
Egremont Castle

Egremont Castle

I’ve previously shared a photo with you of Egremont Castle, and I thought I would share another with you today.

The history of Egremont dates from the Bronze Age, but the town was put on the map in the 10th Century when work had begun on building a fortress, by Walter de Meschines.

The first keep at Egremont, in West Cumbria, was built on a natural motte in c1120. At the end of the 12th century a circular stone shell keep was added. The gatehouse and curtain walls were added in the 12th and 13th centuries. It has been in ruins for 300 years, but the gatehouse and parts of the hall and walls are still standing.

In 1315 and 1322, Robert the Bruce raided and damaged the castle, additions and alterations were then made, which included building The Great Hall. In 1572 the castle was dismantled in part, after Thomas Percy, 7th earl of Northumberland was executed for treason.

The castle is the subject of a local legend, one immortalized by Wordsworth in The Horn of Egremont:

To the Horn Sir Eustace pointed
Which for ages there had hung.
Horn it was which none could sound,
No one upon living ground,
Save He who came as rightful Heir
To Egremont’s Domains and Castle fair.

William Wordsworth

The legend exists in various forms but basically it is the story of two brothers riding away to the Holy Wars, of the elder being captured and held for ransom and the younger brother being sent home to raise the price of freedom. Once home he decides to do nothing and to assume his brothers place. The latter however, is freed through the love of his captors daughter, and returns to blow the horn that hangs by the castle gate and which only the true heir can blow.

  • Access at any time. The castle is close to a public footpath.
Egremont Castle
Egremont Castle
Whitehaven West Pier Lighthouse

Week In Focus #10

This is picture #10 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. Today’s photo is of one of the weathered lighthouses at Whitehaven harbour in West Cumbria.

  • This photo was taken on my mobile phone and edited in Photoshop.

Work on building the The West Pier Lighthouse (pictured) was completed around 1839, and officially opened in 1841. The white tower with red trim is built into the breakwater which has two levels, joined by cases of 17 steps. The lighthouse is 14 metres high in total, but the full height of the tower can not be seen from the sea, because the breakwater wall is several metres taller on the seaward side. It is a simple stone lighthouse with glazed lantern and ogival cupola.

The flashing green light, housed within a glass lantern, shows once every 5 seconds and is visible for 8 nautical miles. From this location you can see at least 3 other lighthouses, including the other towers within the harbour and the Trinity House Lighthouse at St. Bees Head, just south, which unsurprisingly, as a result of the area’s strong connection with the coal industry, was the last coal powered lighthouse in England.

  • Both of Whitehaven’s historic lighthouses are due to be renovated this year, with a cash injection of £40,000 from the UK Government, and it’s about time! Allowing them to degrade as they have done so, is disgusting. Those responsible for the lack of maintenance should hang their heads in shame.
Whitehaven West Pier Lighthouse
Whitehaven West Pier Lighthouse
Bird Box

Week in Focus #8

This is picture #8 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The challenge is to get myself outside and simply take photographs. Today’s photo is of a bird box (nest box) which I spotted hanging from a tree on the local cycle path.

  • This photo was taken on my mobile phone.
  • I’ve brought forward this weeks challenge due to Christmas.
Bird Box
Bird Box

I didn’t see any evidence of the bird box being used – maybe it is too exposed, facing the wrong way, or Sylvester the cat is prowling.

Seeing the box did bring back some fond memories for me, from my Woodwork classes at school – a bird box is something that I had created in the past – mind you, I don’t think that attracted any birds either. Lol.