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The musings of GERALD - December 2005

It's good bye to Wagtail editors Chris and Hazel Tomkins, thank you for all the improvements you have made to Wagtail over the last few years, it has now become essential reading in all our homes, keeping us up to date with all that is happening in our villages. Let's hope the new Editor is equally successful.

The Trafalgar Night Beacon was a huge success, thanks mainly to Paul and Manon Ogden, Tony Metcalfe and Anne Pettifor, but mainly to Colin and Marjorie Hall who allowed us the use of their lovely home for the occasion and thank you to everyone who helped in any way to make it such a happy night. Wern't we lucky that the rain cleared away just at the right time.

The tree tidying work in the Churchyard was well supported, nine men turned out with loppers, saws and chain saws and there was soon a large heap of branches to take to the bonfire. Tony had brought his tractor and trailer but it took three journeys before it was all tidied away.

The Blencathra Dance Band will be in the village hall playing their own brand of Lakeland Music on December 17th in aid of Lupton Church -why not come and join in and enjoy a friendly lively night.

Did you hear of the death of Lord Lichfield the photographer? But did you know that his stepmother the Countess of Lichfield was born at Whittington Hall, and that her ashes were interred in the family grave and hers is the last Dawson Green name recorded on their family memorial in the Churchyard. The Dawson Green family were great benefactors of the village, having had the School and Schoolhouse built, the Parish Church extended and modernised, given the land where the present Village Hall is built and constructed a new road from Pearson House to the pointer at the top of Moor Brow. It was Lady Lichfield who in 1964 was asked to open the then new Village Hall and she recalled growing up in the village in the early nineteen hundreds, walking to Church every Sunday down the footpath called the "Long Walk", afternoon tea in the tea room in Home Farm, and picnicking in the Summer House on top of Sellet Banks. It was there she watched her brother and his friends early attempt to fly. They had built a large Ski jump type ramp on the hillside from which they launched their manned gliders - she never said how successful they were.

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The musings of GERALD - November 2005

Remembrance Sunday is here once again and we will be remembering all those young men who left our village never to return.

The young men of the Lune Valley have a long history of fighting for their country and were renowned for their proficiency with the Long Bow, every man had to take part in archery practice each week and all other sports were banned. At the battle of Flodden in 1513 when the English defeated the Scots the bowmen of Lunesdale had a poem written about their bravery. It is as follows:

Sir Edward Stanley stiff in stour,
He is the man of whom I mean,
With him did pass a mighty powr
Of soldiers seemly to be seen.

Most lively lads of Lonsdale bred,
With weapons of unwieldy weight,
All such as Thatham fells had fed
Went under Stanley's streamer bright.

From Bowland, billmen bould were bourn
With such as Bottom banks did hide,
From Wharemore up to Whittington,
And all to Wennings water side.

All Lancashire, for the most part,
The lusty Stanley most did lead,
A stock of striplings, strong of heart,
Brought up from babes with beef and bread.

Sir Edward Stanley who lived at Hornby Castle was given the title Lord Monteagle for his prowess in the battle, also there were Bryan Tunstall of Thurland Castle who commanded the Lunesdale Bowmen and Edward North of Docker Hall and Newton. We have had a good response from people offering to map the Church Yard and record the epitaphs on the grave stones, you are still welcome to join in if the work appeals to you.

The Heritage Society have been handed a timetable for the repair and cleaning of the Royal Coat of Arms, the work was due to start in July and should be completed by September 06. It will be possible to watch the restorers at work in their new studio from next April onwards.

How well all the gardens the hanging baskets and the window boxes looked this summer they really were a picture and brighten up the village, how well the judges results and comments were received the competition gets harder every year.

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The musings of GERALD - October 2005

The Church Yard grass cutters are having a tree tidying day on Saturday October 22nd at 9-30am cutting off the lower tree branches that are hiding some of the older grave stones, if you would like to help please come along on the day it shouldn't take to long and we then hope to put the branches on the village bonfire.

We have heard from The Lancashire Family History Society that Whittington Church Yard is the only church yard in the Lune Valley not to have had the grave stones recorded. Once we have obtained permission to carry out the task we would like volunteers to first map the Churchyard and then record the writing on each stone, possibly taking digital photos of every stone to save on CD. If you could help with this project please let us know.

Dennis Westmorland will be back playing his own special music for dancing in the Village Hall on Saturday October 22nd in aid of Lupton Church.

Colin Croft who died recently was the last Gressingham resident to have attended the Village School. Colin's family had lived in the same house Loyn View formerly Rose Cottage since 1872 when his grandfather bought it for 50-00.He worked in the dairy industry all his life, first at Gressingham Hall for the Pearson family and then collecting milk driving a kit wagon for Newtons of Melling, he was later employed at Barbon Creamery before finally selling dairy produce on behalf of Halls of Kendal. All his life he was interested in vehicles from trucks and buses to trains and cars and he had a wonderful collection of books and magazines as well as lots of photos. His pride and joy was his Morris Minor which he kept in immaculate condition and he loved showing it at vintage rallies all over the North West.

Both Colin's father and grandfather were estate men working for the Pearson family on the Storrs Hall estate and they were responsible for planting and maintaining a lot of the local woods as well as looking after the Arkholme water supply that came from Locka woods and fed communal taps at the Post Office and Goss Farm. His mother was one of the Gressingham residents who finally persuaded the Post Office to place a post box in the village, before that anyone who had a letter to post walked the well worn footpath across the Parks to Storrs Hall not a pleasant journey on a cold wet night.

Please help us celebrate Trafalgar night and make lots of money for the Church Bells restoration fund on October 21st.

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The musings of GERALD - September 2005

A thirty year old mystery was solved last month when three generations of the family of Vernon Bush came knocking at my door. Every week as I wound the Church clock I read the message Cyril, Victor and Vernon Bush went home June 2Oth 1945 written in pencil on the clock casing, Only now have I learnt the full story.

The Bush boys were from London, at the start of the war in 1939 they were evacuated first to Somerset where they stayed until after the London Blitz had ended they then returned home thinking it was safe once more. When the VI and V2 flying bombs started landing on London in 1944 they were again evacuated but this time to Whittington where Vernon and Victor stayed with Vince and Marjorie Watson at Hillside and Cyril stayed next door with the Wilsons at Braeside.

Vince Watson was the local joiner and undertaker and I remember him carrying his tools and his timber on an old Norton motor cycle his only mode of transport, Vince was also the clock winder as well as being a bell ringer and I think he was probably responsible for writing the message with his joiners pencil.

Victor and Vernon were made very welcome by the Watson's who had no family of their own and they kept in touch until Marjorie's death in 1985. Vernon has never been back to Whittington but has many happy memories of his time spent here.

When the school his great grand children attend re-enacted the evacuation of 1939 the children were told to pack a small suit case and had identity documents on a string around their neck, this got a bit too realistic for some of the children who thought it was happening all over again. His son and grand daughter thought they would like to see the village where Vernon had been made so welcome and they took home many photos of the Church, Hillside, the pump and the Watson's grave to remind Vernon of his time here. When they were taking photos of the gravestone Vernon's son said to his grand daughter, look at the name Marjorie Alice the same as yours, wouldn't Auntie Marj have been pleased to think that a young boy who only stayed a matter of a few months had such lasting memories that his great grand daughter was named after her.

A gentleman stopped me in the street last week and said "I agree with your observations about the elections and the lack of people attending Parish Council meetings but we never see them advertised, I rarely read the Wagtail and hardly ever look at the notice boards" Is this a general feeling and is Wagtail no more important than junk mail? You do realise the magazine delivered to every house in Whittington Parish is funded entirely by the Parish Council and it is attempting to inform everyone of what is happening in the village and a diary of future events.

Chris and Hazel Tomkins work very hard to publish Wagtail as do the volunteers who go out of their way to deliver it. How do we find out that people are reading it?

You may have noticed that the Church clock was stopped for a few days last month, Nick my co-winder came knocking on my door with a handful of broken clock parts and said" what can we do about this" I knew it was no good searching for the extended warranty or looking on E Bay so there was no option but try a little DIY. The spindle that supports the winding maintenance weight had broken, so having dismantled the broken pieces and shown them to my neighbour he said leave it with me and three days later the spindle was returned as good as new and the clock is back working as good as ever. You just can't beat good neighbours.

More about Trafalgar Night next month.

The Heritage Society are hoping to catalogue the grave stones in the Church Yard so that visitors can more easily identify their position, once it is finished it is hoped to publish it on the internet.

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The musings of GERALD - July 2005

Did you hear about the adventurous hedgehog at Rectory Gardens? Paul and Manon Ogden heard a strange noise one night and on investigation found a hedgehog stuck in the cat flap of their kitchen door, it had succeeded in getting through a cat flap in the garage door and was attempting to raid their cat's feeding bowl when it got stuck in the second flap. Since that night it has become a regular visitor and has been provided with its own food bowl in the kitchen, the food disappears each night but they never see the hedgehog. Paul is thinking of making a video recording of it but doesn't know whether to send it to Spring Watch, Candid Camera or Crime Watch, they just hope it doesn't bring the rest of it's family when they grow up.

The Trafalgar Day Beacon project is going ahead on the 21st of October on the top of Sellet Banks, Colin and Marjorie Hall from Sellet Hall are kindly allowing the Bell Ringers to use their House that night for a money raising event to boost the Church Bells Repair Fund more details next month.

At the recent General and Council elections were you like me disappointed when none of the candidates felt it necessary to visit the village. No wonder people don't bother to vote when their prospective representatives can't be bothered to canvas in the village. We didn't even get the chance to attend a public meeting, surely any employer offering a salary plus expenses, of 15,0000+ would expect a word before giving them the job, why should we be any different.

Apparently my small efforts on behalf of Wagtail is now appearing on the Whittington web site much to the amusement of my sister Joan and her family in New Zealand. Joan and her husband Jim were married at Arkholme Church in 1956 before emigrating the following year, she along with my mother were founder members of Arkholme W I and she still keeps in touch with old friends with letters and E mail.

Please help to keep the village as tidy as possible to make a good impression on the Best Kept Village judges, we know it isn't the prettiest village and we do have a main road with lots of heavy traffic going through but it's a nice place to live and we can only do our best.

Follow this link to see the photographs which Gerald recently took at Sellet Hall

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The musings of GERALD - June 2005

Who is the anonymous farmer that regularly spreads till the full length of Church Street and up the Moor Brow? Doesn't he know it's the Best Kept Village contest we entered not the competition for the largest roadside weeds?

It doesn't seem ten years since we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of VE day when we had a memorable village party and the Village Hall was decorated with flags and bunting and everyone joined in the sports and barbecue finishing with a dance at night.

Neither does it seem sixty years since VE day when as a nine year old at Arkholme School we heard the Church bell ring the first time for five years. We had to wait twelve months for the celebrations so that the men and women who were in the forces could be back at home to join the thanksgiving. Arkholme in wartime was an exciting place with evacuees, the Home Guard, ARP, Special Police Constables, and soldiers all around with army camps at Redwell, Storrs Hall, Capenwray Hall and a searchlight at Newton. One lasting memory is of a Guards Regiment who were camped at Redwell marching behind their regimental band to a church parade at Arkholme Church, I wonder how many of those soldiers were around to celebrate VE day? We thought it was great fun to have a ride in an army truck or better still a Bren Gun Carrier, probably some lonely dad giving us kids a treat.

The Parish Councillors were slightly peeved when no villagers turned up for the annual Parish Assembly, The Council Chairman had his annual report all ready, the guest speaker PC Paul Winder was going to tell us of all the criminals and miscreants that had been apprehended in the last twelve months and of all the motorists caught speeding but no one came to listen. We can only assume all the villagers think their Parish Councillors are doing a first class job!!!

The swallows arrived back on April the twenty sixth and immediately started tidying last year's nests, no jet lag for them.

It is the two hundredth year anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in October, the Metcalfe brothers have agreed to allow us to build a beacon on top of Sellet Banks to celebrate it. Are there any volunteers willing to give a hand to make it happen?

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The musings of GERALD - May 2005

I was watching the TV programme about Windsor Castle, it must have been filmed in October, as the clockmaker was busy putting all the clocks back, over a thousand of them. When he came to the tower clock I thought 'I recognise that'. It is identical to the Whittington Church clock made by Gillet and Bland of Croydon with an unusual escapement and the same type of serrated gear wheel that controls the striking mechanism, what's good enough for Whittington is obviously good enough for the Queen. The clock will have been going for one hundred and thirty years on January the tenth next year.

What a pity The Best Kept Village competition wasn't judged in April, the Church Yard was again a mass of beautiful flowers - there couldn't be many nicer places to spend a few quiet moments.

A regular visitor to Whittington received an unexpected invitation to the Royal Wedding earlier this month. Joe Relph with his brother Harry form the Blencathra Dance Band play regularly for the Lupton Church Dance at the Village Hall and was invited along with his wife Hazel to attend the ceremony at Windsor Castle. Joe is a man of many talents he farms a two thousand acre fell farm at Rossthwaite in the Borrowdale Valley looking after one thousand Herdwick sheep. Hazel takes in bed and breakfast guests at their farmhouse and includes Prince Charles as a regular visitor. When Joe found it difficult to sell his Herdwick lambs he started a mail order business and now sells the meat direct to his customers using the sheep wool to insulate the containers. Joe is also a keen sheep dog trialist and last year represented England at a national trial at Holker Hall. Prince Charles has come to enjoy the quiet Lakeland scenery away from his Royal duties and loves joining in with a typical farming family. Things may alter now he is a married man again and has to do as he is told!!!. The Blencathra Band should be back in December.

Have you seen any Swallows yet? They usually arrive around the twenty fourth of April. Stuart Close saw an odd one at Docker on the tenth of April but it may have been travelling through. The Sand Martins have arrived at the river and the House Martins and the Swifts will come about the second week in May.

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The musings of GERALD - April 2005

Whittington Heritage Society hit the jackpot this week when they heard that the Heritage Lottery Fund had granted them 10,800 to restore the Royal Coat of Arms found in the garage at The Old Rectory three years ago. The restorers at the Lancashire Museum Services studio who have undertaken the work hope to have it finished by the end of this year.

WHO are the DOG OWNERS who allow their dogs to FOUL the footpaths going across the Croft's field and also the Churchyard? HAVE THEY NO SHAME? Don't they realise that this is the one place in the village where mothers can let their small children have a run without having to keep a close eye on them. So come on you dog owners CLEAN UP THE MESS your dogs leave behind and let the children have some fun enjoying the countryside.

Arkholme Bowling Club's team 'The Bay' recently won the Cowan Bridge winter League Cup, the team members were John Fell, Ted Helme, Gerald Hodgson and Bob and Brenda France.

The Church Wall gardeners would like to extend the border but there are some tree roots in the way, are there any fit young men out there who fancy a bit of hard digging? Picks and shovels could be provided, a nice work out over the Easter holiday. There is still some room in the border for trailing rockery plants so if you have a cutting of something suitable please bring it along and watch it grow.

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The musings of GERALD - March 2005

The dance on January 22nd held in the Village Hall raised 1,600 for Cancer Care and the McMillan Nurses.

I had no offers of help to arrange a Whittington School reunion so I assume no one wants to meet up with their old school friends.

Last month's Wagtail hadn't been printed before someone dumped a bag full of garden rubbish at the bottom of Moor Brow, it would have been easier putting it in the dust bin.

You haven't by any chance Lost an oak tree? One very neatly felled and the branches trimmed off has been left at the top of the hill on Sadler Nook Lane it might come in handy for a DIY person, but they would require a large crane to move it.

Early days yet but the daffodils in the Church wall top garden have just started flowering it looks like there could be quite a show before long.

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The musings of GERALD - February 2005

I have been spending a few afternoons recently picking up litter on the road sides, it's a lot easier this year as the Parish Council have recently bought some litter picking tongs and you can reach right to the middle of a hedge without getting scratched.

Already I have collected four sacks full of rubbish and I haven't travelled more than half a mile from my home. Who are these dirty, grubby selfish litter droppers who treat our road side verges as elongated litter bins, the smokers, the drinkers, the fast food eaters who drop their empty cartons for someone else to dispose of instead of taking them home and keeping our country side tidy.

At a dance held on January 81h in the Village Hall arranged by Mr. & Mrs. Robert Lewis 600 was raised and this together with 250 collected at the Lupton Church carol service has been donated to Blackpool's Queen Victoria Hospital heart ward in grateful thanks for Robert's recent heart bypass operation.

It is 30 years this year since Whittington School closed and it was suggested at the Heritage Society exhibition in November that it would be an appropriate time to have a final old scholars reunion. If any old scholar is interested and would like to help arrange it would they please let me know?

Once again I have joined the indoor bowling at Cowan Bridge youth club where they now have two 75 ft long mats, there are also facilities for snooker, darts. Basketball, Badminton, Five a side football and floor mats for gymnastics, plus a well-equipped kitchen, and for a two pounds deposit you can have a door key so you can go at any time. A wonderful facility right on our doorstep.

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