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Today is   Last update 07-11-2011
 


















RUN OF THE MILL? NOT LIKELY!!!

The description of the Society's visit to Ravenstonedale church in 1887 is full of interest. So much about the church and site is out of the ordinary..... the nature of the building itself, the lay-out of its furnishing, various facts concerning its history.

It's also clear that the members really enjoyed the visit.

33 years later, the remains of a Gilbertine Abbey (referred to nowadays as a Gilbertine Cell) were excavated to the north of the church - a feature making the site even more unusual for today's visitor than it was for the C19 members.

Remains of the Gilbertine Abbey of the very early C13.
Remains of the Gilbertine Abbey of the very early C13.


But for our purpose now, it's worth just letting the Proceedings reporter of the visit speak for himself.....

Rejoining the carriages, the party proceeded to Ravenstonedale which was reached about half-past three o'clock.....On alighting they entered the churchyard and spent a short time in examining the tombstones, one or two with a turn for photography, improving the opportunity by taking a few " shots " at the old church of St. Oswald, which was built in 1747, and, as was remarked, evidently succeeded an earlier building.

St Oswald
St Oswald's Church


Its square tower is the most interesting feature of the out-side of the building; the walls are extremely thick, being 4½ feet between it and the nave. The interior of the church is fitted up with pews of oak, which is believed to have come from Lowther Park. The pews run parallel with the north and south walls, with an open space up the middle to the chancel; so that, when seated, one half of the congregation faces the other.

The view of the south side of the nave enjoyed by  those seated in the pews on the north side of the nave.
The view of the south side of the nave enjoyed by those seated in the pews on the north side of the nave.


The pulpit is a magni¬ficent and lofty specimen of the ancient " three decker," but the top " deck," though offering a splendid opportunity for a "pulpit thumper" to try his skill in rousing a country congregation, is now discarded.

The magnificent three-decker pulpit
The magnificent three-decker pulpit


The fine carpentry of the soundboard of the pulpit.
The fine carpentry of the soundboard of the pulpit.


Standing near the lower "deck" the PRESIDENT gave to the assembled company a number of interesting particulars about the church and parish of Ravenstonedale.

It might be shocking to say it, but he did hope that Ravenstonedale Church would not be "restored "; he admired the old three-decker and the old fashioned pews. The church was characteristic of its time; and the people who built it must have been very public spirited, for it was very large for the size of the parish.

Outside there was a cross, from which, after the service, the clerk used to cry all the sales and meetings to take place during the week; and he was informed that when the custom was discontinued the attendance at the church diminished. (Laughter).

The Sanctus bell used to be rung at one time at the conclusion of the Nicene Creed to call the dissenters into the church, the dissenters not objecting to come in a friendly way and hear the sermon. (Laughter).

That was a curious little circumstance as showing how the people got on together in those old days.

The chancellor of the diocese, when he had jurisdiction over wills, had no power in regard to wills at Ravenstonedale; and the place, owing perhaps to its secluded position, kept up for a long time its old manorial customs, and manorial grand juries, but they were now obliterated, as in more populous places, by county courts and other modern inventions.

It appeared that a right of sanctuary in the church existed, and murderers taking refuge in the building and ringing the bell claimed that right. He did not see why the people of Ravenstonedale were proud of having such a privilege. There was a tradition that a man claimed it once, and that he spent the rest his life in the place, and two generations of his descen¬dants remained after him. (Laughter).

Some of the memorial slabs, etc., were interesting. There was a brass plate on which Carlisle people especially would look with interest; it was to the Rev. Robert Mounsey. Mr. Mounsey's son settled in Carlisle, and there had been four or five generations of the family settled there since. Several of the monuments were to the Fothergills, a great clan in Ravenstonedale, some of whom became men of distinction at Oxford and Cambridge. They were always benefactors to their native place, and the hand-some church plate was the gift of members of the family.

The church plate was examined and the inscriptions and dates were explained by the Rev. H. Whitehead.—The present parish clerk, who has been thirty years in the office, gave an account of the carrying away, on one occasion, of the iron safe containing the registers. He was constable of the parish at the time. The thieves expected that the plate was in the safe, but at that time it was kept at the vicar's. He now kept it, and always had a loaded revolver beside him; and (he added significantly) should any thieves attempt to surprise him they would get the contents of the weapon. (Laughter.)

Various other details were given, the so called British graves were visited, Mr. Metcalfe-Gibson's collection of paintings, china, and old books inspected, and after tea the return journey was made to Kirkby Stephen via Wharton Hall, which was visited. After dinner, at the King's Arms hotel, the annual business of the Society was held, and the following resolutions were passed:

On the motion of the Rev. Canon Weston. seconded by the Rev.J. Brunskill, it was unanimously resolved, That the present officers of the Society be re-elected, with the addition of the Rev. Henry Whitehead, of Newton Reigny, in place of the late Mr. J. A. Cory.

On the motion of the President, seconded by Major Arnison, it was unanimously resolved that the life-subscription be increased from £5 5s. to £10 10s. per annum, and that such increase take effect immediately.

It was further resolved, that a sum not exceeding fifteen pounds be placed at the President's disposal, towards defraying the expense of copying the episcopal registers of Carlisle.

The Committee appointed at the last meeting to explore the track of the Roman Road across Burgh Marsh mentioned that they had not completed their task, and deferred sending in their report.

The King
The King's Arms Hotel, Kirkby Stephen






































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