2017 Events

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12 Aug: Visit to Lowgill and Ivah, Tatham Fells

This exploration of the largest settlement in Tatham was led by John Wilson. Starting at the “new” (1961) school, we were reminded that the road linking Lowgill and Ivah has Roman origins, and that its survival into mediaeval times may explain why the first recorded settlements in Tatham Fells – a series of cattle farms or vaccaries linked to monasteries – were sited at Swans, Ivah, Lowgill and Stockbridge, close to the Roman Road.

The walk visited no less than nine Grade 2 listed buildings, and we learned about their histories, much of which had been unearthed by John and by former Lowgill resident Mike Kelly.

At Ivah we heard how an owner’s reckless borrowing had led to the farm spending much of the 19th century in dire straits, before being transformed in the 20th century, by the Carr family, into the most prosperous in the area. In the 1980s, however, the farm was sold and broken up. The largest barn was bought and converted into a house by Geoff and Fran Higgin, who kindly rounded off the afternoon by treating everyone to tea and cakes in their beautiful garden.

8 Jul: Visit to Moss House Farm, Wennington

36 members and visitors enjoyed perfect weather for a fascinating look into the relatively short history of Moss House, built in the 1840s as a model farm, using modern labour-saving technology and many of the latest agricultural ideas. We were delighted to have the company, memories and insights of John Atkinson, one of the last farming owners. Since his time, the buildings have fallen into dereliction, and are no longer safe.

Mike Winstanley described the history and context, with the help of several maps and a contemporary plan of the farm as built, and Mike Harrison described the present owner’s ambitious plans for the future development of the site.

11 Mar: Research Visit to Lancashire Archive

An intrepid group ventured forth, by train no less, to visit Lancashire Archives to explore some of its treasures. Vicci McCann, the archivist, had already laid out the documents we had requested and provided an introduction to the archives and a tour of the search room and the state of the art storage facilities. Many thanks to Vicci for her assistance in making this a very profitable day. Then it was down to ‘work’.

We had asked for information on specific properties and people, as well as sight of Wray with Botton’s tithe map of 1848 showing all the farms (we have digitised Tatham tithe map already). There were some fascinating documents: wills, inventories of possessions, lists of owners and occupiers, plans of Tatham Fells church as it wasn’t built, maps, surveys, petitions from prisoners in Lancaster castle and even the coroner’s inquest report on Tatham Fells vicar, Revd James Marshall who was tragically killed in a cycling accident at Halton in 1905.

All we can do here is share a few of the documents and the joy of discovery. All the images are courtesy of Lancashire Archives and are not to be reproduced without permission.

This is from a valuation of Wray with Botton for 1819 naming all the fields and their sizes for Botton Head farm, then owned by William Remmington. It includes a valuation for his common rights on the fell which were later brought into the farm’s ownership.

Reproduced with the permission of Lancashire Archives

And here is the will and inventory of William Foster of Barley Bank, 1664. Many wills of that period list everything which the person had on the premises and all the debts owing and due. Some people had lots of money out on loan. Credit is nothing new! Click here to view a transcription by John Wilson

Reproduced with the permission of Lancashire Archives

And here is another William Foster, possibly the original’s son, who had been charged with coin clipping but had turned King’s evidence against his comrades and was desirous of being let out of prison, where he had been threated and abused by others. There will be a talk on these notorious coin clippers and their activities in December after the AGM. Click here to view a transcription by John Wilson

Reproduced with the permission of Lancashire Archives

Finally, here is a plan of Tatham Fells church as it was drawn up by the Lancaster architects Paley and Austin 1877. As you can see it looks nothing like the church which was actually built a decade later, but it does look rather similar to what the same architects came up with for St James the Less! Again, there will be a talk on the rebuilding of these churches in November so look out for that.

Reproduced with the permission of Lancashire Archives

For those who had not visited the archives before, this was a welcome return visit; for those who had not it was a fascinating insight into the treasures which can be unearthed about our parish’s history and the people who lived here. If anyone wants advice on how to do their own research on Tatham please let us know, or just try the Lancashire Archives online catalogue LANCAT.

The day was topped by seeing a steam engine in Preston station!

We will be back!