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Life in Old Loweswater
Life in Old Loweswater
Life in Old Loweswater is a collection of short sketches on the history of this Lakeland village and its people, written by Roz Southey, mostly in the 1980's, and now edited and illustrated for Lorton & Derwent Fells Local History Society by Derek Denman.
234 x 156mm paperback
Half tone photographs
We all leave a trace. These days our traces seem to threaten our liberty – closed circuit television, phone and bank records and all the endless documents of our bureaucratic society. But people have always left traces, marks of their existence, of themselves,of their individuality.
A certain Ann Fisher scratched her name in flourishes and curlicues on the glass of the window in a house called Cold Keld in Loweswater in 1804 and she left a trace and it was that trace that prompted Roz Southey to accumulate so many other traces of people from Loweswater. From these traces she was able to discover the community that had occupied the valley in the years before she took up her residence.
The most common trace is that of birth and death. Usually the record is tantalisingly brief: the Cumberland Pacquet records in 1775 – “Died the 7th inst. Of a short and severe illness, Mr Jacob Hudson of Loweswater, a young man of great genius and much respected by his acquaintance.” He was 19 years old. An entry on Sarah Hudson in the Parish Register reads: “She and the said John Cowper were pleasant and lovely in their lives and in their deaths they were not divided; their graves being contiguous at the south west corner”.
Other traces were bureaucratic. The census started in 1801, but a more detailed account was instituted in 1841. that census shows us, among many other things, that Christopher Southey, son of Robert, the poet from Keswick, was staying with his friend the Vicar of Buttermere at a house known as Red Howe.
Records of crimes and fines prove themselves indelible. In 1504 Henry Burnyeat was fined 2d by the Lord of the Manor for allowing a house to be used as a tavern. The law-breaking landlady went by the name of Elesbeth Tailyouse.
James Dickinson of Mockerkin left a will and from it we learn he was a man of some substance having owned a pewter salt-cellar. John Wilkinson in 1707 had beef, bacon, butter and cheese to the value of 15s 6d.
Sometimes the trace derives from the whole community and says something of the style and manner in which they lived. A Christmas issue of the Cumberland Pacquet from two hundred years ago carried the following account: “As an instance of the great festivity which prevails at the season, a correspondent informs us that in the township of Buttermere (which consists of only 16 families) there are 17 fat sheep killed from each of which sheep, 30 pies are to be made; so that the number of pies to be destroyed this Christmas in the town ship of Buttermere amounts to 510.”
Far less wholesome was the murder of Robert Thompson in 1524 by a Richard Newcom of Bannerdale and a Mr Peill, although there is no record as to whether the murderers were ever apprehended.
Another record was provided by Mr F R Sandford, who was Her Majesty’s Inspector for Schools. On 17th May, 1872, he reported that the children’s handwriting was “pretty good”, their reading “fairly correct” and their spelling and arithmetic “pretty fair”.
Roz Southey is a professional historian. Her garnering of these traces of days long gone is informed by a sound understanding of the life of the time and she writes shapely attractive essays on each of her subjects.
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