Category Archives: Cumbria

John Ruskin’s 200th Birthday Celebration

There were children from Coniston C of E Primary School singing, and reading poetry. There were also children from the John Ruskin School, Coniston performing on brass instruments. They had a day of Ruskin Celebration and church was one part of it.

Rather than be buried in Westminster Abbey John Ruskin chose St Andrew’s Church, Coniston. He lived beside Lake Coniston.

After the service, some of the congregation gathered round the wonderful Ruskin Cross for a prayer and to lay some flowers.

A lot of his ideas are still very relevant today. Speaking at the service, a lady from the Ruskin Museum in Coniston  traced back some of the twentieth centuries great achievements to Ruskin’s social reforming ideas: the founding of universal education, the minimum wage, the NHS and welfare state. As an art critic and painter he taught many people how to see and appreciate nature and art.

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”  John Ruskin.

Whose house is this?

We found this house after driving along a very narrow lane. We needed a ticket from a National Trust hut which allowed us to enter at 2:25pm, and get in out of the rain.

Inside was a blazing fire in a stove that has been pictured in some books by the person who lived here.

Most of the house was kept fairly dark to help preserve the fabric and pictures. There were a lot of pictures, many by this person’s brother and father, and even a hat and some clothes belonging to the person who lived here.

In the kitchen was a basket of vegetables picked from the garden that is also shown in books by the person who lived here.

That person wrote and illustrated this letter to a young friend. It was the start of what this person is most famous for. But they also kept prize winning sheep, and helped set up the early National Trust.

Ulverston Gill Bank Closed

Work is underway on the town beck in Ulverston. The work is to reduce the risk of the beck flooding houses and commercial properties, as it did in 2009. So we could not follow the beck up Gill Bank into the hills round Ulverston.

Instead we went via Town Bank Road passing a house that was both picturesque and decrepit.

Then back onto the footpath towards the Hoad landmark that can be seen on the approach to Ulverston and the hills roundabout.

A few Ulverston shops we visited today

We visit Ulverston about twice a year and have done for the last 30 years to visit my wife’s parents and other family.

The China shop had a 75% off sale today as the owner is retiring at the end of 2014. Somebody said “It is a shame to loose shops like this.”

Ulverston is not immune to closed shops: the old Stead and Simpson shoe shop has been vacant for years, and currently has a nativity scene in the window.  But Ulverston still has a large number of interesting independent shops.

Ulverston still has a fruit and veg shop.

and a butcher with cooked meat and pies one side and fresh meat the other. There is also a permanent butcher and fruit and veg stall in the Market Hall.

The best fish and chips in town come from the Chippy Bank.

The equivalent of the Pound Shop is full of mostly useful things. We were asked to get toilet paper, and Yorkshire Tea from there, and I got some gloves – having lost mine.

Walney Island Sunset

This afternoon we visited Walney Island – a long island separated by a channel from Barrow in Furness.

The sun was going down as we stopped next to the Round House, on Biggar Bank. Distant windmills looked like tropical palm trees in the sunset light. 

There were still many dog walkers about.

Small waves lapped the pebbled shore, as the sea and sky grew dark. The air was cold, and frost  formed on the windscreen when we got back to the car.

A walk done many times before

This morning we walked up to Birkrigg to the limestone common that rises up above the town. At the stone circle somebody had performed some sort of ceremony and left  crystals, flowers, and ashes near one of the stones.

We then descended by farm tracks to Morcambe Bay by way of Bardsea.

At the Holy Trinity Church my wife’s Grandmother, formerly of Hull, is buried, aged 100 years. That funeral was 22 years ago. We remembered how hot it had been that early April and how Cindy who was then new to the family had been very emotional. We said goodbye to Cindy at the Crematorium in Warrington just 2 months ago.

Then we had an ice cream by the shore having peeped in at the Restaurant where we had our wedding reception almost 30 years ago. The same priest still serves at the catholic church in Ulverston, although he is now a canon. He won’t remember us as he offers us a basket with small chocolate eggs after the Easter Day service like so many times before. We may also go to the 6am service on Birkrigg but have said that many times before and not done it yet.

Good Friday at the Market Cross in Ulverston

About 60 members of the Churches Together in Ulverston met at the Market Cross on Good Friday at 10:30 for a short service.
They were led by a band in singing the three hymns:

  • There is a Green Hill Far Away 
  • Were you there when they crucified my Lord 
  • There is a Redeemer It was a lovely summer morning. 

 Only about half the shops were open.
After the service we went for a walk up Gill Bank, and then through some woodland, and out towards Hode.

Easter Monday with Laurel and Hardy

Within close proximity to the Lake District, the town of Ulverstone has had a museum dedicated to Laurel and Hardy since 1983. Back then there were a couple of rooms with pictures and news clippings pasted round the walls by an enthusiast.

Stan Laurel was born in Ulverstone in 1890 and lived his first six years in Foundry Cottages, now renamed as Argyll Street … at number 3.

The museum has since moved to larger premises in part of the Roxy Cinema, and is run by the Grandson of the original enthusiast.

Mark, the Grandson, would still like to recreate the original museum in one area but it is not proving easy … moving paper pasted to walls.

I dare say he should take inspiration from “Laurel and Hardy”. They knew how to move things.

At the original museum, and the new one, there is a chance to watch Laurel and Hardy movies, which are still very funny – or at least I found them so.

Swarthmoor Hall Revisited

This Elizebethan Manor House in Ulverston, Cumbria was the home of Judge and Margaret Fell. Here George Fox found a place to rest and be among friends in the years around 1650 when the Quaker founder was often the subject of persecution

We often visit, and look round the old house – just half a mile from the house of my parent’s in law. Swarthmoor Hall has been furnished with artifacts from George Fox’s time. But it is more than a living musuem. The long barn alongside has been rebuilt as a place of study and retreat where people can come, like George Fox, to find peace among friends.


The Hoad Monument was made in the style of an Eddystone Lighthouse, and restored thanks to a National Lottery grant last year.

Judith and me climbed up to see Hoad today – Easter Sunday.

It is the first time in 28 years of going to Ulverston that I have ever climbed right to the top. We were the last visitors of the day.