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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:45 pm 
Spider Lady
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Location: Staffordshire
Burnley Express

Saturday 19 July 1884

A Morning Ramble Into The Pennine Range.

By Thomas Booth.

Come away, let us roam by yon' green woodland bowers,
Whilst the cool breeze of morning blows soft o'er the lea,
The meadows are gay with bright dew-spangled flowers,
And the blossoms hang sweet on the old hawthorn tree.

It was a bright sunny morning that I sauntered slowly out of our smoky, grimy, old work-a-day town, bent upon a day's ramble in the country. My destination was a little whitewashed house in the Swindean Valley, just at the foot of that wild range of hills which divide the sister counties of York and Lancaster. This cot is the residence of a friend of mine - Mr. Tattersall Wilkinson - and, as I had a whole day entirely to myself, I resolved, in response to an invitation received, to call and see him, that together we might visit the sites of several Roman camps, and other interesting relics of antiquity that exist in the neighbourhood. The morning, as I have said, as warm and sunny, and it was in anticipation of a long day's thorough enjoyment that I turned into the fields at Pheasantford; with just a glance at old St. Peter's Church as I passed, with its many olden memories, and with a thought of how the times have changed since Colonel Towneley mustered his men in front of the "Old Sparrow Hawk" previous to their departure to join Prince Charles Edward, in his unavailing struggle to retrieve the shattered fortunes of the Stuarts. Leaving these things behind, I passed along up the new road, and into the more open country beyond Heysandford mansion. This old house was formerly the residence of the Stansfields, one of which family (Oliver de Stansfield) was the first Lord of the Manor of Worsthorne, he having been granted that manor by Henry de Lacy, temp. Edward II. This Oliver was doubtless a noted man in his day, as we find that he held the office of Constable of Pontefract Castle - an office that was almost always bestowed as a reward for distinguished military services. He also held the position of Receiver of the Honor of Clitheroe. As I left the town further behind, the cool morning breezes came down from the green uplands with a delightful freshness, "ilka blade o' grass kep' its ain drap o' dew," and the greening meadows were enamelled with a rich profusion of sweet wild flowers; bright dew-gems hung upon the leafing hedges,
Like a myriad orient seed-pears,
From the hand of morning flung;
whilst a lark high-poised on airy wing rained down his glad bird-music, filling all the sunny morning air with a wild burst of joyous song. After ascending a somewhat steep path and past the farm at Netherwood, near a gate at the end of the lane which runs up to Extwistle I noticed that part of the wall was built of dressed stones mortared together; in fact, it was plain to be seen that these were the remains of the wall of some building, which had been allowed to stand to do duty as a fence wall for the field. Upon a little closer examination, I could trace the foundations of a large square building. I learnt afterwards that here had formerly stood the Tithe-barn for the surrounding townships, and that it was the scene of a Tam o' Shanter-like story, which runs as follows:- "In olden days, when witches, wizards, warlocks, boggarts, and 'feorin' of all descriptions haunted each wild clough and lonely dell, this old barn was the meeting place for all the "uncanny" beings that haunted the countryside. Here they held their wild revelries, or met
To swear
Their homage to the devil, and contrive
The death of men and beasts.
One night a great gathering took place in the old Tithe-barn. Towneley Boggart, Holden Rag, &c., were in attendance, and the wizards and witches were going through their weird rites, when a countryman happened to pass that way, and seeing lights shining through the loop-holes, he drew near to see what was going on. Peeping through a slit in the wall he saw the wild orgies taking place, which he watched for some time in silence, when, forgetting himself, he suddenly called out "Lord save us; what a seet." Of course they were unable to bear the sound of that sacred name, so instantly, with a loud noise, all was plunged into darkness. Frightful forms, mounted on broomstick nags, hurtled through the air; whilst our friend, the countryman, fled in terror from the scene; and we may rest assured that whenever the shades of night wrapped the hill-side in gloom, he would take care to give a wide berth to that unhallowed spot. A few miantes' walk from here brought me up to the old hall at Extwistle, the ancient home of the Parkers. But of this old mansion and its former occupiers I shall say nothing here, but would recommend such of my readers as have not done so, to read the account given of it in the columns of the Express some time ago from the pen of Mr. Tattersall Wilkinson. Just past the hall, and looking over the wall to my right, the cottage of my friend appeared in sight, nestling snugly in the Swindean Valley, at the head of the reservoir, which though an artificial work adds somewhat of beauty to the scene. Pleasant it looked this sunny morning as it lay placid and smooth as the face of a mirror; so still and quiet that one scarce could tell where the substance of the trees and bushes that fringed its banks, and dipped their branches in its clear waters, left off and the shadow commenced. I leaned upon the wall and lingered here a short time to drink in the quiet beauty of the scene before me. At the head of the little lake which glistened in the morning sunshine in the valley at my feet, stood the "White House," which was to be my destination, whilst far away behind it rolled in heathery billows the summits of the grand old hills, those glorious old hills I love so well, up whose rugged sides I delight to climb and over whose heathery summits I love so much to wander, for oft
Right up among the silent hills,
I take my pathless way, alone,
To find, amid their solitudes,
An empire of my own.
Musing over many a mountain ramble that I have enjoyed over these hills, whose ridges environed the scene before me, I wandered on, and soon reached the sweet-looking little whitewashed cottage of my friend. I found him at home expecting my arrival. He had made this "little nook of wilderness" quite a little paradise of rustic beauty. The little garden he has filled with a profusion of pretty flowers, of which he is passionately fond, in t a every nook and corner inside and out, was occupied by some pretty floral gem, or some interesting geological specimen, whilst a book-case in the corner was well filled with a choice selection of books, all indicative of the tastes of Mr. Wilkinson. The window sill was occupied by a little fernery, filled with graceful ferns, culled from the surrounding cloughs and dells. Inside the cottage he had arranged a choice collection of flowering plants, and a pretty crystal stand was filled with a profusion of blossoms gathered from the hawthorn hedges. We were soon seated, and chatting merrily over the "cup that cheers," whilst the bright sunshine glinted in at the open door, and the perfume of the flowers floated in, accompanied by the songs of the birds, and the breath of the hawthorn blossoms filled the room, and all combined to steep the senses in a kind of dreamy delight. The cottage of my friend, which he has named the "White House," is well-known in Extwistle as "Swindean School," because of its formerly having been used as such; in fact it was built by public subscription for that purpose, in the year 1804, and was the first Sunday school commenced in these parts. It was founded by William Todd, of Extwislte, several of whose descendants now live at Worsthorne. Mr. Wilkinson tells me that he remembers coming to school here on Sundays when he was a little boy, in a white pinafore and a pair of clogs ironed all round. Having finished our meal, and having provided ourselves with a field glass each, we sauntered out to climb the hills which roll away eastwards of the "White House" and to visit the site of the Roman Camps, and other relics upon their submits. Coming out of the garden gate we inclined to our left, but quitted the main road very soon, turning in at a gateway at the angle of the road above the cottage, just opposite "The Halstead." We now began to ascend the side of the hill towards "Ringstones Camp." Just before coming fairly upon the open moor, one may notice built into the wall, at a spot call "Halstead Cote Nook." a number of dressed stones, altogether different from those of which the wall is built as a whole; it is plain to be seen these have at some time formed part of some building, as the mortar still adheres to some of the stones, and this is really so, for at a short distance from the wall corner, formerly stood a little cottage, all traces of which have now disappeared, except these stones, and that the herbage is perhaps a little greener upon its site. Tradition says, that at this little moorland cottage Colonel Towneley and other adherents of the Jacobite cause met to concoct their schemes, so that they would be in readiness, when Charlie should come from "over the water" to join that prince, to help him recover what he no doubt considered his rightful inheritance. Here in this out-of-the-way nook of the wild moors, it is said they drilled a number of men, in preparation for what turned out to them such a disastrous struggle. Leaving this corner, we ascended higher to the summit of the hill, passing by the Kingstones Camp, which is very clearly defined, measuring about 50 yards square, and is defended by a double vallum (rampart) and fossa (ditch). There is a smaller square at the end, forming the officers' quarters. Upon the crown of the hill are the remains of what is evidently an ancient beacon. These beacon-fires were used in the days long ere electric telegraphs were ever thought of, to flash intelligence of threatened invasion from point to point of our "tight little island," so that the inhabitants might muster together to repel the common foe. One can imagine the sight as the red glare of these bale-fires gleamed from hill to hill,-
And on, and on, without a pause, untired they bounded still,
All night from tower to tower they sprang; they sprang from hill to hill,
Till the proud peak unfuried the flag o'er Darvin's rocky dales,
Till like volcanoes flared to heaven the stormy hills of Wales;
Till twelve fair counties saw the blaze on Malvern's lonely height,
Till streamed in crimson on the wind the Wrekin's crest of light;
Till broad and fierce the star came forth on Ely's stately fane,
And tower and hamlet rose in arms o'er all the boundless plain;
Till Belvoir's lordly terraces, the sign to Lincoln sent,
And Lincoln sped the message on o'er the wide vale of Trent;
Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's embattled pile,
And the red glare on Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle.
From this old beacon an excellent view of the surrounding country was obtained. Northwards the eye ranged over many a lesser ridge to where grand old Pendle closed in the view, preventing a sight of the Lancashire coast line. More to the eastward, the rounded summit of Ingleborough, the hummocky ridge of Whernside and Pennyghent were discernable, recalling the old, though untruthful, couplet,
Ingleborough, Pendle Hill, and Penyghent,
Are the highest hills between Scotland and Trent.
Round about us many a familiar spot could we espy, and long we lingered upon the brow of the hill recalling many a scene in the history of the past; when the sturdy legions of old Rome traversed the rigged passes of these wild hills. After enjoying to the full the prospect spread around us, we descended one more to the little white cottage in the vale, and spent the remainder of the day in looking about my friend's little garden, or in peeps into quaint books from his well-filled shelf, or in exchanging some bit of old-world lore. And then, when the evening shadows began to creep o'er the quiet landscape, when the birds had hushed their songs, and when the flowers had nodded "good-night" to each other in the valleys, I, accompanied by my friend for a short distance, made my way homewards, and when we shortly separated
Each took off our several way
Resolved to meet some other day.

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Mel

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:47 pm 
Spider Lady
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:23 pm
Posts: 8051
Location: Staffordshire
A couple of things struck me.....
I wonder if Thomas Booth took notes while 'sauntering' or did he write this from memory.
Also, why didn't he detail the books on Tattersall Wilkinson's shelves :evil:

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