Visiting English Heritage sites – Lanercost Priory

The day we went to Lanercost Priory was the Saturday following our visit to Wordsworth House and garden.  The weather was much brighter, which added to our enjoyment and to the opportunities for taking photos.  There were yellow bicycles along those parts of our route, which coincided with the rout of the recent Tour of Britain cycle race.

We ignored the SatNav’s instructions and followed the signposts to a large car park.  We had taken a picnic lunch with us, but there is a café adjacent to the car park.  There are also some interesting-looking footpaths nearby – perhaps next time!

The Priory is partly run by English Heritage, whose staff are helpful and knowledgeable.  The remainder is in good repair and is in use as the parish church. It has an unusual clear glass East window, giving views of the ruins beyond.  We visited the ruins first.

The remaining stonework had similar features to some at Furness Abbey and at St Bees Priory Church, which like Lanercost Priory is the site of a former monastery with a well-loved parish church.  Little remains of the monastic buildings at St Bees.  The stones have been reused elsewhere in the locality.  However the history is fairly well documented.

The stones used to build Lanercost Priory had been quarried (recycled) from Hadrian’s Wall, which is not far away.  We made a detour to it before returning home.

So here are the photos.

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Visiting English Heritage sites – Castlerigg Stone Circle

As part of an outing in and around Keswick we stopped off at Castlerigg Stone Circle to take some photos.  As far as I can remember this was only my second visit to this amazing site.  The first time I was distracted as our children were young .  This time I could take as long as I wished to admire the panoramic views and the prehistoric standing stones.

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Clouds add atmosphere and interest to any view. The day was dry but overcast.  In one photo a hillside is spot-lit through a gap in the clouds.  I did not attempt a photo of the entire circle with my phone camera.  It works better for close-ups.  The sheep were oblivious of their privileged location.

One of my hobbyhorses is that people ignore signs asking them to keep dogs on leads.  Earlier in the day I had seen a National Trust sign saying, “Lambing season keep dogs on leads”.  Although I live within sight of sheep in fields, it took me a little while to realise that in October the ewes are already pregnant and this constitutes part of the lambing season.

Warning: The road leading to the site is narrow and steep.  Proceed with caution, whether in a vehicle or on foot!

If you are looking to visit a stone circle at the other end of England this post may help. It is by another blogger.

Visiting English Heritage sites – Stott Park Bobbin Mill

Our third visit was to a site of industrial importance.  Stott Park Bobbin Mill used to be a hive of industry, being one of many such places in Cumbria (or Cumberland and Westmorland and part of Lancashire as it was then) to produce bobbins for use in the textile mills of Lancashire, Yorkshire and farther afield.

Stott Park Bobbin Mill
Stott Park Bobbin Mill

The day we chose to visit was one of the regular steam days.  The horizontal engine, which drove the lathes and other machinery, was working.  The guided tour was extremely well done and lasted about 45 minutes.  Admission to the mill building is only permitted with a guide;  tours are repeated at hourly intervals through the day.  The life of the workers in the mill was portrayed with words and actions.  The dangers of the working conditions and the production of coppice poles, which were grown locally were explained.  From these poles items other than bobbins were also manufactured at the mill.

The Exhibition in the wood-drying barn
The Exhibition in the wood-drying barn

We ate a picnic lunch in the grounds and took a scenic route home.  It would have been possible to go on to visit Furness Abbey again and see the Medieval Fair, which was taking place that day.  However we enjoyed the outing we had and returned home with time to catch up with other members of the family using modern means of communication.

In the days of the mills there was not the kind of technology we have today.  I was impressed by the design and engineering of the engine, though.  The Victorians were very good at what they did.  At one time there was a water-wheel at the mill.

The mill stream
The mill stream

It was interesting that the people on the tour included some with an interest in steam engines and others, whose ancestors had worked in the textile industry.   Workers in wood and social historians would also find much of interest.  There were no young people in this party, but  there is plenty to learn here about how young people lived in former times.  Stott Park Bobbin Mill was the first industrial site to be saved for the nation.  It was a forerunner of Quarry Bank Mill, National Trust – a place we have enjoyed visiting several times.