Earlier Events

See menu on right for past events from other years

First (AGM) and Last (2009 autumn talk)

Saturday 28th November

The first general meeting of the society, held in Tatham Fells old school, and attended by around 50 members, was chaired by Andrew Taylor. Andrew related the background to the formation of the society, with an interim committee, in March 2009. Secretary Mike Winstanley summarised the society’s activities during 2009, and plans for the future; he also introduced the Tatham History website and took members on a brief tour. Treasurer Anne Wilson gave a financial report for the year to date. With two exceptions, the interim officers and committee were willing to be nominated for the committee; those willing were duly elected.

Mike Kelly then gave a fascinating illustrated talk on “Historical aspects of the plant life of Tatham”. The history started sometime before 15,000 years ago, when the last ice age ended, leaving a lifeless landscape which was gradually colonised by plant life. By 6000 years ago, the land was largely covered by broadleaved woodland, dominated by sessile oak. About that time, humans started to practise agriculture, herding domesticated animals and growing crops, leading to clearance of woodland for grazing and crops, and development of more permanent settlement. On higher ground woodland was reduced by growth of blanket bogs as a result of climate change, as well as by clearance for grazing, resulting in the expansion of moorland. Overall, the long continued development of agriculture has resulted in the dominant vegetation being grassland and moorland with woodland accounting for only 2% of Tatham’s area.

Mike concluded by showing us illustrations of the more common plants to be found today in Tatham’s three different vegetation types: farmed grassland, moorland, and woodland.

Going to school in Tatham

Saturday 14th November 2009

THS went to school – Tatham Fells Old School – for its second indoor meeting of the autumn. The classroom was crowded, with over 50 in attendance, and strict discipline was maintained by Mr. Winstanley and Mrs. Osborne.

Mike spoke about the early history of education in the parish – piecing together evidence from documentary records from the early nineteenth century onwards – and about Low Tatham school. The successful Lancaster shop-owner T.D. Smith, writing his reminiscences in 1902 – fifty years after his Low Tatham school days – remembered his teacher, Nathan Robinson, with little affection! (Click here for extract). A new school was built in Low Tatham in the 1870s, and it closed in the late 1960s.

Tatham Fells “old” school was built in 1863, and extended in 1874. School log books were kept from 1875, and it is from these that Bronwen was able to relate stories of some of the more exceptional happenings in the school’s life up to 1961, when the school moved to its present site.

The audience included many who remember being pupils in the old school, and in the last part of the evening, they shared some of their memories. There were long walks to school in all weathers, even through the terrible winter of 1947, with snow sticking thick to the soles of clogs. Some remembered the arrival of 30 evacuees in war time; the big stove, and gas lights; the temporary addition of “Cementation children” – and their head lice! – in the late 40s and early 50s; the wooden school canteen, built in the early 50s, and also used for village social events; and a visit by TV reporter Alan Whicker. Finally we heard first-hand the tale of a truant, and of his come-uppance and repentance!

Autumn 2009 series of meetings gets under way

Saturday 31st October 2009

At last a Tatham History indoor meeting in Lower Tatham! St. James the Less church provided a very good venue, with ample room for the 57 members and visitors (over half the Society’s current membership) who enjoyed an excellent talk by John Wilson.

How did people live in Tatham 400 years ago? John tried to give us some answers by referring to the inventories of possessions (excluding buildings), with their values, which were made, in the 16th and 17th centuries, after the burials of people who had made wills, to establish that they had the means to cover the bequests they had made. John has painstakingly transcribed many such wills and inventories (which are held at the Lancashire Records Office in Preston), grappling with often unfathomable handwriting, usage, spelling and words.

Given that people who made wills were generally the better-off, the inventories suggest that the people of Tatham were not wealthy; their possessions were entirely connected with the everyday business of survival: farm animals, implements and crops; food processing and cooking utensils, bedding, clothing, and storage vessels and chests for food and cloth. Tables and chairs were uncommon, suggesting that “furniture” consisted of simple boards and benches. Most houses were probably single-storey, cruck-built, with stone gables and low side-walls, undivided inside, with a single hearth.

For those fortunate enough to have all the possessions they felt they needed, and money to spare, and in the absence of banks, they “saved” the surplus by lending to people who needed cash. All these debts were carefully recorded, and when the inventory was made, they were individually listed, totalled, and added to the value of the possessions, to arrive at a (usually incorrect!) grand total.

Our vocabulary was tested by gilefatts (tubs for fermenting ale), knops (large tubs), brandreth (iron frame over fire, to stand cooking pots on), rackincrock (hook for hanging cooking pots over fire), arks (wooden chests, made to contain flour, corn, fruit, clothes, etc.), bigg (barley), windercloth (winnowing cloth) and pasmet (possibly parsnip), which provided topics for discussion over tea and pumpkin tarts.

Thanks to John for a fascinating and entertaining evening.

An Historical Meander round the Millhouses area

Saturday, 22nd August 2009

The sun smiled again, on the society’s second summer walk, led by Mike Winstanley round what was once the industrial and commercial centre of Tatham parish. Its local importance was founded originally on the harnessing of the power of the Hindburn river to drive a corn mill – although with barely a dozen houses, it was scarcely a major growth area of the industrial revolution! In the nineteenth century it became a bobbin mill, which worked until 1939. Thanks to the participation and co-operation of all the local residents, the exploration was a thorough one, but sadly had to be left for completion at a future date, when the lure of refreshments at Hindburn Cottage overcame participants’ thirst for historical enlightenment.

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The Society’s First Event!

Saturday, 27th June 2009
A walk along the Roman Road from Tatham Fells Old School to Ivah

On a very hot afternoon, 33 members set out from the Old School, including and led by John Wilson. The walk used the Roman Road as its theme, but the stops along the way weren’t only Roman-Road-related, and time was spent pondering, learning about, and speculating on such diverse topics as iron bloomeries, man-made water-courses, the mill on Croasdale Back, the routes past and present of Fairheath Road, a culvert and ford on the Roman route, where the Romans crossed Bull Beck, and a mysteriously disappeared datestone at Ivah. The size of the party changed constantly as locally resident members disappeared through front doors, reappearing later with water bottles. Those who survived the heat and made it back to the Old School were treated with rehydration therapy in the form of tea, before being discharged to their homes.

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Tatham History Open Day and Meeting

Saturday, 21 March 2009
Old School, Tatham Fells

This event was staged as a follow up to the three successful Tatham History meetings held in autumn 2008. As well as making available for inspection a huge amount of paper and digital material – including some unique original sources – the very well-attended afternoon also saw the launch of the Tatham History Society.

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Among the items on display were examples of:

  • Census returns from the 19th century listing everyone living here;
  • The ‘tithe map’ and apportionment from 1848 naming the owners and occupiers of properties;
  • The enclosure award of 1858 with all the owners of properties;
  • Commercial trade directories listing prominent residents;
  • Parish registers (baptisms, marriages and burials) from the 16th to 19th centuries for St James and Tatham Fells);
  • A Year in the Fells’ – a slide show of life in the parish in the early 1980s;
  • The ‘Edwardian Domesday’ describing every property in the parish on the eve of the First World War;
  • The National Farm Survey of 1941-43 with details of farms;
  • Rate books – listing owners and occupiers of every property;
  • Maps – including Ordnance Survey and Hennet’s map of 1829;
  • Old photos.

Meetings held in the Old School, Tatham Fells

in November & December 2008

These fascinating and entertaining talks were initiated by Tatham Parish Council in response to a significant number of Parish Plan questionnaire replies expressing interest in the history of the area. The attendance confirmed that interest; the Old School was bursting at the seams! Thanks to all three speakers, and to the Parish Council.

Saturday 8th November
A History of Lower and Higher Tatham
John Wilson

Saturday 22nd November
Farms and farming in Tatham 70 years ago: a survey of 1941
Mike Winstanley

Saturday 6th December
The origins of the Tatham landscape
Mike Kelly