My Samhain 2021

A few days before I took a trip up to the villages around Pendle Hill, these are some of the Halloween decorations from Downham.

These are some of the pumpkins I found around my own village.

Unfortunately, it hadn’t stopped raining for about three weeks, so everything was soggy and a complete washout.

My Mabon scarecrow from this year was decorated for Samhain.

These were all the pumpkins I got.

From the pumpkin farm, which you can find here.

I decorated my back garden with a few spooky decorations.

The porch decorations.

The carved pumpkins outside.

The butternut squash I carved for my altar.

Blessed Be )O(

Chatburn Halloween Trail 2021

Chatburn is a village near Pendle in Lancashire.

Each year the village decorates their houses and community areas for Halloween.

Visitors can participate in the scary Halloween scarecrow trail with a quiz and the spooky displays are judged on the best decorated.

Come along and enjoy this year’s frighteningly good displays along the street.

Blessed Be )O(

St James’ Shireshead Old Church

St James’ is located in the hamlet of Shireshead, near Forton, Preston.

It’s a tiny church with a small graveyard, surrounded by fields.

This church which was originally called St Paul was founded in 1520 and it was renamed St James in 1889.

There’s practically no information to found on this church, it seems to be a little piece of history stuck in time.

Blessed Be )O(

St Michael and All Angels Church

St Michael and All Angels church is located in Much Hoole, Preston.

The tower was first constructed in 1720 with alterations made in 1799. A bell was hung in 1823 which would eventually crack and have to be replaced in 1971, at this time it was upgraded from a manual to a mechanical one.

There has been some form of burial ground on this site since the 11th century with reference to the chapel existing since the early 13th century.

The land was always owned by the de Hoole family and their gravestones can still be found in the churchyard.

In churchyards, you will often find that the south and east sides are the sunniest, most maintained and often house the majority of the gravestones, this is because in medieval times the north and west sides were considered the “Devil’s side.” This superstition meant that the doors on these unfavourable and shaded sides were blocked off so witches couldn’t enter, they were left to go into a state of disrepair and no person of respectability would be buried here.

Blessed Be )O(

Pumpkin Patch 2021

This year’s pumpkin picks.

My picks from the field.

This is inside the farm shop, the ones already picked from the field.

Blessed Be )O(

Samlesbury Hall

Samlesbury Hall is a historic house in Samlesbury, Lancashire, near Preston.

The earliest settlement of the Samlesbury family dates back to 1185 where the manor was located on the Ribble’s flood plains and owned by Cospatric de Samlesbury.

In 1256, the house was passed onto Cospatric’s three granddaughters; Margaret, Cecily and Elizabeth de Samlesbury. 

In 1267 Margaret died childless, her husband died ten years later in 1277 and the manor was then divided into two. Elizabeth and her husband Robert de Holand received the Lower Hall, whilst Cecily and her husband John d’Ewyas inherited the already established building on the eastern side which they turned into the Higher Hall Manor in 1286.

In 1322, the Earl of Lancashire who was the overlord of the Holands’ estate, was defeated in a rebellion against Edward II. In the aftermath, Lancashire descended into civil unrest. The Banasters who supported the king and the Holand family, who supported the rebellion against the king, turned to attacking each other.

The Lower Hall was raided and goods were stolen. A few months later, Robert the Bruce took advantage of the civil unrest by raiding the Lower Hall where he stole all the property and arms, as well as raiding Samlesbury Chapel. These events devastated the village.

In 1325, it was the granddaughter of Cecily, the daughter of her eldest son, Nicholas, who inherited the estate. Alicia’s brothers and uncles were believed to have been killed in the rebellion and when Alicia married Gilbert de Southworth, land was transferred to them both to consolidate the ownership.

Alicia and Gilbert resided at the Higher Hall where she fully inherited it in 1336. Gilbert was credited with building the great hall.

Their descendant Thomas Southworth, restored the south-west wing and built the long gallery, he died in 1546 and the hall was inherited to his son, John Southworth.

Sir John took a leading role in treasonous plots to replace Elizabeth with the Roman Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots which unfortunately lead to trouble with the authorities. He died in 1595.

John Southworth, grandson of Sir John, who was a priest, declared it his mission to persuade the heretics back into the Roman Catholic church. He spent his time in London and was imprisoned on several occasions. After Cromwell issued the arrest of all priests and nuns, John was apprehended but denied he was a traitor.

John was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, on 28th June 1654. His remains were stitched back together, embalmed and taken to Douay. His coffin was hidden in the chapel until it was discovered in 1927 and now rests in Westminster R.C. Cathedral.

In 1678, after a twenty-six year legal battle with two nieces, the sixth John Southworth was on the brink of bankruptcy. His son, Edward, inherited the hall and sold it to Thomas Braddyll. In 1710 the house turned into a fustian factory before the rooms were let to handloom weavers and their families later in the century.

In 1834 Col. T.R.G. Braddyll converted Samlesbury Hall into The Braddyll Arms. Thomas Southworth’s gallery was stripped of his elaborate panelling and it was taken to enhance Col. Braddyll’s rebuilt house at Conishead Priory.

Mrs Blundell was the first landlady, she farmed 130 acres of the manor and won the Preston Agricultural Society’s Prize in 1838.

Col. Braddyll bankrupted himself through unsuccessful mining ventures and the hall was forfeited into chancery.

in 1851 the hall was bought by Thomas Cooper and in 1852 he let the old hall out to Mrs Harrison who turned it into a school.

Joseph Harrison purchased the hall, he was an iron founder, mill owner and philanthropist. In 1862 his wife died and after that he devoted his time to restoring the hall. Later on his widowed sister, Agnes, would live with him and his son William.

William had a bad accident in January of 1879, where he fell on ice and sustained a head injury. In May, after his dog was bit by a rabid dog, he knew that his dog would have to be shot. William was later found to have shot himself, suspected that the gun accidentally went off when he was loading it. Agnes and William’s brother Henry gave evidence that William would never do such a thing but since his accident, he hadn’t been the same and that he could no longer make rational decisions.

The same year, their father Joseph died. Mary, another sister, who had nursed Joseph, moved to Samlesbury and when Agnes remarried shortly after, both Mary and Agnes relocated. Henry, who was the only sibling left at the hall, bought his sister’s shares of the estate.

After Henry’s death, his nephew, Agnes’ son Montague Charles Somerset Johnstone inherited the house but declined to live there. His brother FitzRoy Lewis Montague Johnstone would live there instead. Unfortunately, FitzRoy was killed at the Battle of the Marne in September 1914 and the gardener assumed the role of caretaker.  

By 1925 the hall had become derelict and was bought by a firm who intended to demolish it to build a housing estate instead. The local community got together and purchased the house, where it has been managed by the Samlesbury Hall Trust ever since.  

One of Sir John’s Southworth’s daughters began to keep company with a man from an Anglican aristocratic family. After being forbidden to marry him, she planned to elope to get married but her brothers discovered the plan and killed the man. She died of a broken heart in a foreign convent.

It’s believed that Dorothy is the White Lady ghost of Samlesbury’s hall.

In 1612 Jane Southworth, Jennet Bierley and her daughter-in-law, Ellen Bierley, were accused of witchcraft by Grace Sowerbutts, the teenage granddaughter of Jennet. It was acclaimed that they had killed Grace’s twelve-month-old baby. Once the child had been buried, the three women exhumed the body from the graveyard, cooked it, ate it and saved the fat to rub into their bodies in order to change their appearance. The three accused women were incarcerated at Lancaster castle.

Jane was married to the grandson of Sir John Southworth, who was the heir to the estate but had recently died. During the trial, a witness claimed that Sir John was so frightened of his granddaughter-in-law that he would avoid her, dispite the fact that Sir John had died seventeen years earlier when Jane was only a young girl.

The uncle of Jane’s husband was a priest and when Grace was sent to Christopher to learn her prayers, it’s believed that Christopher talked Grace into accusing the women of witchcraft as he disapproved of Jane marrying his nephew. Once Jennet and Ellen gave their similar testimonies about Christopher at the trial, the other witnesses began to accuse each other and in the end, the Samlesbury witches were acquitted.

Blessed Be )O(

Leighton Hall

Leighton Hall is located near Yealand Conyers, Carnforth, Lancashire.

The earliest record of this historic house was back in 1246 when it was a fortified manor, owned by Adam D’Avranches.

George Middleton, a cavalier, was the only owner to conform to the Church of England, the rest being Roman Catholics. He was a colonel of the Royal army, he was both knighted and made baronet on the same day at Durham in 1642. He was the High Sheriff twice, once being in 1641 and the Middleton legacy died with him. He was succeeded by his grandson, George Middleton Oldfield, who died at Leighton Hall in 1708. 

The next owner, Albert Hodgson, was involved in the Jacobite Rising of 1715 in Preston and he was taken to prison for his participation. The manor was burnt to the ground and all his possessions were confiscated.

In 1722, the hall was sold, which was the first of only two times this happened. It was purchased by Albert’s friend Mr Winkley, who later gave it back to Albert. Once he was released from prison, Albert returned to his ruined property. The house wasn’t repaired until Albert’s daughter Mary married wealthy George Towneley in the 1750’s.

George Towneley rebuilt the hall between 1759 – 1761. The woods were replanted and the park was laid out by 1763. Most of the estate’s layout and how it appears today is thanks to George’s investment.

George and Mary had no children so the hall was inherited by George’s nephew John, who sold the estate in 1805.

The house was sold to Alexander Worswick who was married to Alice Gillow. Their son Thomas was a failed businessman but when he sold the property to his cousin Richard Gillow, this sparkled the long legacy associated with the famous Gillow family.

Richard was the the grandson of Robert Gillow, the founder of the famous furniture business Gillow & Co. of Lancaster.

Richard refaced the house between 1822 and 1825 into the Gothic style using white limestone.

In 1849, their son Richard Thomas Gillow inherited the property where he added a three-storey wing containing a billiard room and guest rooms.

In 1906 Richard died at the age of 99. He had left the building in a neglected state to which his grandson, Charles Richard Gillow inherited the very dilapidated property.

Charles died in 1923, but his widow lived on at Leighton Hall until her death in 1966 at the age of 96. Their daughter Helen married James R. Reynolds and upon her death in 1977 the house passed to their son Richard Gillow Reynolds.

Richard married Susan, they are the current owners of the estate and they have two daughters Katherine and Lucy.

Even though the house was sold twice, the current owners are descendants of the original owners.

This cottage garden is full of fragrant roses and herbs with a herbaceous border.

The pond was created in the 18th century and had at some point supplied water to the house. It is now full of wildlife and plants. To the right side of the pond is a sundial that was built in 1647, standing as one of the oldest remnants, it has the initials of George and Ann Middleton on it.

The woodland was planted in the 18th century.

Surrounded by Yew trees which are traditionally found in graveyards, the old stone cross is a reminder that this was once a graveyard to the Catholics of the family who couldn’t be buried anywhere but on private land.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Mr Gillow built a Catholic church in Yealand that the bodies were removed and reburied there.

The wall marks the boundary between the woodland and the parkland. The parkland is inhabited by sheep, cows and deer.

The Russia house is something left behind from a film set. It has views overlooking the Lake District fells, Arnside and Silverdale.

Blessed Be )O(

Tatton Park

Tatton Park is a historic hall and gardens located in Cheshire.

The mansion is surrounded by over 1000 acres of a landscaped deer park, 50 acres of gardens, a farm and an array of vegetable gardens which still provide food to the estate.

The walled kitchen garden, including all the glasshouses, have been restored to working order. This garden has remained loyal to the traditional Edwardian way of growing fruits and vegetables.

Runner beans, potatoes and lettuce are some of the varieties that are still being grown today from a forgotten era.

The orchards house gooseberries, gages, apples, pears, plums and cherries.

The produce from the garden can be purchased from the farm shop.

Sir Thomas Egerton purchased this estate in 1598. Although the Egerton family had ownership of the estate, the old medieval hall was rented out to tenants. It took until 1716 when John, the great-great-grandson of Sir Thomas, built the first mansion on the land that the family actually resided on the estate.

It was John’s son Samuel that made renovations, including the completion of the dining room.

Exhibited in the dining room is a Minton dessert service in the Sèvres style that was purchased in 1865.

In the 1770’s Samuel asked architect Samuel Wyatt to build a completely new Neo-Classical mansion on the land, this didn’t get completed until 1791, after Samuel Egerton’s death.

Lewis William Wyatt, the nephew of Samuel was responsible for the purchase of the vast array of paintings.

In the 1860’s more alterations were made to the mansion, including an upper floor added to the family wing and another entrance way.

In 1958, Maurice Egerton, the last lord of the manor, donated the house to the National Trust after his death.

View of the Italian terrace from the mansion.

The Italian gardens were designed by Joseph Paxton in 1890 and they received restoration in 1986 and 2010.

The recreation and leisure gardens are known as the pleasure grounds. They include Charlotte’s Garden, the Rose Garden, the Maze, the Tower Garden, the Topiary, The Choragic Monument, the African Hut and the Arboretum.

The gazebo from Charlotte’s garden.

Charlotte’s garden was named after Lady Charlotte Egerton, wife of William Egerton. It was designed in 1814 by Lewis Wyatt. This was the first formal garden designed with small flower beds of single plants.

The Choragic Monument is a copy of the Temple of Lysicrates in Athens. It was built in 1840 by Wilbraham Egerton.

There are over 300 species of trees in the garden. The Egerton family started this collection in 1795 which includes rare species from China, Japan and North America.

The Japanese garden was inspired by an Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910 where Alan de Tatton visited.

The garden was constructed by Japanese men with artefacts brought back from Japan. It’s the style of a Tea garden, including a Shinto shrine, a bridge over the Golden Brook and white stones that represent a snow-capped Mount Fuji with balance brought from the well-placed plants and rocks to create harmony with nature. There are Japanese Maples, Acers, bamboo and evergreens with the focus on strict pruning techniques.

The glass houses were built around the 1750’s. Used to grow pineapples, figs, apricots grapes, peaches and nectarines.

Alongside the pinery is the fernery. This was built by Joseph Paxton in 1850. It has an extensive collection of ferns, some of which were brought back from as far as Australia and New Zealand.

Blessed Be )O(

Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle is located in the Lake District, Cumbria and is owned by the Pennington family who have resided in the castle for over 800 years.

The castle is secluded up high between the hills which overlook the River Esk and has spectacular views of the Eskdale Valley and the Lakeland Fells.

The castle was built in the 13th century, on a site that had Roman ruins. The castle started its life as an unfortified hall. When the Scottish raided the border during 1316 – 1322 a four-storey pele tower was built using Roman stones as the foundation and would be enough defence to repel the Scots.

As time passed the hall was remodelled for comfort and it wasn’t until 1783 that the hall was completely rebuilt, only leaving the pele tower in its original condition. The Georgian house was then remodelled into Victorian fashion between 1862 – 1866. A second pele tower was added purely for aesthetical symmetry. The library was built from the hardwood trees that were planted on the grounds.

In 1464 Henry VI gave a glass bowl to the family and declared that as long as it remained intact, the Pennington’s would thrive and remain at the castle, to which they are, even to this day.

There are many ghosts said to reside at Muncaster Castle but one in particular is Tom Fool aka Thomas Skelton. He was a jester during the Tudor period and even on occasion an executioner when he cut off the head of a carpenter who had fallen in love with Sir Ferdinand Pennington’s daughter. Tom was known to play cruel practical jokes on visitors, when asked for directions he would often direct people across the river below and into the quicksand. He’s still playing jokes on people today.

Mary Bragg who was murdered in 1805 was in love with a footman at Muncaster Castle but so was a housemaid. One night Mary was told to come visit her ill lover but instead, two men took Mary to a large tree on a nearby road and killed her. Weeks later, her body was found floating and half-eaten by eels in the River Esk. The spirit of Mary can be still seen wandering the gardens and there’s a tale of the tree that Mary was murdered underneath, actually bled when it was cut down.

Inside the tapestry room phantom baby cries can be heard from the forgotten past of the room being used as a nursery, along with soft singing, black shadows towering over you and the feel of a heavy weight being pressed down on you when you try to sleep at night in that room.

A carved fairy tree house in the garden.

Muncaster Parish Church of St Michael and All Angels is located on the grounds of Muncaster Castle. There is a record of a church on this site since 1140 with the current building dating from the 16th century and alterations made in the late 19th century.

The Viking cross that remains in the churchyard suggests that this land was used as a burial ground even before pre-Christian times.

Blessed Be )O(

St Michael’s Church

St Michael’s church is located in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.

There is also another nearby medieval church, St Helens in Churchtown.

The site the church stands on has probably housed some form of sacred building since the Saxon times. The church itself was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and it is believed that some elements of the 13th century church still remain within the building today.

The current building is from the 15th century with alterations that were made some 200 years later.

The tower was built in 1549 and it houses three bells. The first one was donated by a French lady in 1458, the second one dates from 1663 by Geoffrey Scott and the third was from Abel Rudhall in 1742.

Inside the church is a large pendulum that hangs down from the wall. This clock was installed in 1850 and the ticking can be heard throughout the building.

Blessed Be )O(

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