Tag Archives: Lancashire

Robin Hood and the Monstone

The Monstone Looking towards Blackstone Edge

Blackstone Edge on the horizon

From “In Olden Days” by Rev. G. R. Oakley, M.A., B.D.,

The glorious beauty of an early autumn morning, the sweet scent of the wide-stretching moorland, the invigorating breeze from the east sweeping over the hills, the occasional calls of the birds or the flutter of their wings, all combined (as they still combine) to make life seem more than usually joyous on a certain day in the year 1247, when a company of men might have been seen assembled on that part of Blackstone Edge which we now call “Robin Hood’s Bed.”

Robin Hood's Bed

Robin Hood’s Bed

Stalwart fine fellows were they, clothed in well-fitting tunics of the fashion of the day, and of a colour so like that of grass that one could readily understand how easily the owners might lie in ambush in some parts of the country—in forest lands, for instance—were they so disposed.

There were at least a hundred men, and every man was armed, most of them with that splendid English weapon, the long-bow, which in later days gained Crecy and Poictiers and Agincourt, and the use of which Bishop Latimer (in 1549) described as “a godly art, a wholesome kind of exercise, and much commended in physic.” Many of them, however, carried quarter-staves—tough poles of wood some seven feet long, shod at each end with iron, and which, when grasped in the hands of athletic men and twirled with practised skill, became terrible weapons, one blow from which usually terminated a combat.

These archers and others—all clad in the costume of Lincoln green already described—made a striking picture as they stood in a semi-circle listening intently to the words of the man who stood upon one of those great stones which still mark “Robin Hood’s Bed.”

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Lancashire Sketches by Edwin Waugh

Lancashire Sketches - Edwin WaughIn this volume, relating to a district with which the writer was intimately acquainted, he has gathered up a few points of local interest, and, in connection with these, he has endeavoured to embody something of the traits of life in South Lancashire with descriptions of its scenery, and with such gleanings from its local history as bore upon the subject, and, under the circumstances, were available to him.

Waugh is commemorated on the Rochdale Dialect Writers’ Memorial,

“In grateful memory of four Rochdale writers of the Lancashire dialect who have preserved for our children in verse and prose that will not die, the strength and tenderness, the gravity and humours of the folk of our day, in the tongue and talk of the people.”
Erected in the year 1900.

  • Chapel Island
  • Ramble from Bury to Rochdale
  • The Cottage of Tim Bobbin
  • The Birthplace of Tim Bobbin
  • Ramble from Rochdale to the Top of Blackstone Edge
  • The Town of Heywood and its Neighbourhood
  • The Grislehurst Boggart
  • Boggat Ho’ Clough
  • Rostherne Mere
  • Oliver Fernleaf’s Watch
  • Norbeck
  • Wails of the Workless Poor
  • A Wayside Incident During the Cotton Famine
  • Saint Catherine’s Chapel
  • The Knocker-Up
  • The Complaint of a Sad Complaint
  • Firelit Shed
  • Dulesgate
  • Pilling Moss
  • The Forest of Rossendale
  • Tattlin’ Mary
  • The Storm
  • Among the Preston Operatives

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The Britannia Coconut Dancers

From the town of Bacup with blackened faces and unusual costumes comes a unique folk dance troup. The team dances several garland dances once common as part of rushbearing festivals around the area, but also a “nut dance” of which they now seem to be the sole surviving example.

The Britannia Coco-nut Dancers, a folk dance troupe from Bacup in Lancashire, England.

Photo by Kezka Dantza Taldea Eibar

Whilst the clogs shirt and britches are traditional Lancashire, the white and red hooped skirt and white hat/turban seem more exotic in origin.

While Morris Dancing is rumoured to have been derived from the dances of the Moors, the African tribe that conquered large parts of Spain, Portugal and Southern France. The tradition danced by the Britannia dancers seems to have a more definite link. It is rumoured to have been taught to Cornish tin miners by Moors who came to this country and found employment in the mines. When the work in Cornwall became scarce during the 18th & 19th centuries some of the Cornish miners came to the North-West to work in the mines and quarries and brought the tradition with them.

Tunstead Mill Nutters 1907

Tunstead Mill Nutters 1907

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Samuel Bamford’s Autobiography, Volume 2: Passages in the Life of a Radical

Samuel Bamford (28 February 1788 – 13 April 1872, was an English radical and writer, who was born in Middleton, Lancashire.

In August 1819, Bamford led a group from Middleton to St Peter’s Fields, to attend a meeting pressing for parliamentary reform, where they witnessed the Peterloo Massacre.

Bamford was arrested and charged with treason. Although the evidence showed that he had not been involved in the violence, he was nevertheless found guilty of inciting a riot and sentenced to a year in Lincoln gaol.

The experience of the massacre made a deep impression on Bamford, and convinced him that the state’s power would always succeed against radical militancy. He came to be seen as a voice for radical reform, but opposed to any activism that involved physical force.

Bamford was the author of poetry (mostly in standard English)but of those in dialect several showing sympathy with the conditions of the working class became widely popular.

“Passages in the Life of a Radical” covers Samuel’s life from 1815 to 1821 and his introduction into the politics that lead to his being arrested as one of the leaders of the reformers at Peterloo.

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Samuel Bamford’s Autobiography, Volume 1: Early Days

Samuel Bamford (28 February 1788 – 13 April 1872, was an English radical and writer, who was born in Middleton, Lancashire.

In August 1819, Bamford led a group from Middleton to St Peter’s Fields, to attend a meeting pressing for parliamentary reform, where they witnessed the Peterloo Massacre.

Bamford was arrested and charged with treason. Although the evidence showed that he had not been involved in the violence, he was nevertheless found guilty of inciting a riot and sentenced to a year in Lincoln gaol.

The experience of the massacre made a deep impression on Bamford, and convinced him that the state’s power would always succeed against radical militancy. He came to be seen as a voice for radical reform, but opposed to any activism that involved physical force.

Bamford was the author of poetry (mostly in standard English)but of those in dialect several showing sympathy with the conditions of the working class became widely popular.

“Early Days” covers Samuel’s life from 1788 – 1812

AVAILABLE AT LULU.COM – £7.99

Tim Bobbin’ Grave

Self Portrait

Self portrait of John Collier (Tim Bobbin)

I stoode beside Tim Bobbin’ grave
‘At looks o’er Ratchda’ teawn;
An’ th’ owd lad ‘woke within his yerth,
An’ sed, “Wheer arto’ beawn?”

“Awm gooin’ into th’ Packer-street,
As far as th’ Gowden Bell;
To taste o’ Daniel’s Kesmus ale.”
TIM.—”I cud like o saup mysel’.”

“An’ by this hont o’ my reet arm,
If fro’ that hole theaw’ll reawk,
Theaw’st have o saup o’th’ best breawn ale
‘At ever lips did seawk.”

The greawnd it sturr’d beneath my feet,
An’ then I yerd o groan;
He shook the dust fro’ off his skull,
An’ rowlt away the stone.

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Rush-Bearing by Alfred Burton

Rush-BearingThe practice of strewing rushes in church as a primitive carpet has long since passed into history but the rush-bearing tradition is still upheld in a few towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Many of our old customs are fading away into the dim mists of antiquity, and all but the name will soon be forgotten. This is much to be regretted, because they were attended with a great deal of pure enjoyment, and were looked forward to by the people for weeks before the event.

One of these is the old custom of strewing rushes, and its attendant ceremony of the rush-bearing, with its quaint rush-cart and fantastic morris-dancers.

Once common to the whole country, it now lingers only in a few isolated places, principally in the hill districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

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Also available for Kindle

Rush-bearing

The Uppermill Rush-Cart 1880

The Uppermill Rush-Cart 1880

During the middle-ages it was common for the floors of buildings to be no more than compacted earth. To stop the floor getting muddy in wet weather and to insulate the rooms, rushes or hay were put down (sometimes mixed with herbs and flowers to freshen the air). This floor-covering was known as thresh and a piece of wood or stone put across the bottom of a doorway to keep the thresh inside was known as a threshold.

Seats were not provided in church until the 15th century and even if the floors were flagged the excessive cold after long standing and the kneeling required during devotions necessitated the floor being covered.

The renewal of the rushes at the church commonly coincided with the Saint’s Day to which the church was dedicated and the corresponding “Wake,” the custom quickly developed into a part of the religious festival.

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