Chorley. Astley Hall All Lit Up.

Astley Hall is a historic manor house on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. It’s favourite place of mine, I like to visit it with my camera as the seasons roll and change through the year.

It has a changing sequence of events taking place through the year which always add to the pleasure of any visit. A more recent attraction is Astley Hall Illuminated, a light show that takes place in the grounds on one night in November and I was able to make it to this years performance. As well as the lights there were other attractions, living Christmas Trees walking around, children being terrified and intrigued in equal measure and a Brass Band from the Lancashire village of Tarleton played Carols throughout the evening.

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SPARK Line up outside the Hall

The highlight for me though was a drumming troupe by the name of SPARK. Their appearance was completely other worldly. They wore illuminated costumes, the colours changing as the beats of their drums changed. Throughout the evening they marched in formation around the Hall and it’s grounds like ghostly Pied Pipers with the crowds following in their wake. It was a truly magical experience.

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SPARK attracts the crowds.

I’ve already made a note to check out the date for next year, a tip if you go wrap up warm, it’s Lancashire and it’s November. I warmed up afterwards with a hot chocolate from the Hall’s Cafe Ambio, a lovely end to a great evening.

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Drums and lights in a circle from SPARK. 

ASTLEY HALL INFORMATION

SPARK INFORMATION

CHORLEY INFORMATION

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Liverpool. A Very Particular Gallery.

A few days ago I finally made my way to a place I’ve been meaning to visit for some time, the Victoria Gallery & Museum, part of Liverpool University. I had kept coming across references to it and had made various plans to visit but something had always come up and got in the way until the Saturday when I finally got through the door.

The Gallery is located on Ashton Street, off Brownlow Hill. It stands opposite the modernistic Metropolitan Cathedral, the warm, red brick of the gallery building is a stark contrast to the brash concrete and angular shape of the cathedral.

LIVERPOOL. Metropolitan Cathedral.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

This isn’t the largest museum or gallery I’ve ever visited but it more than makes up for it with character and quirkiness. The interior of the building is largely unchanged from its opening, when the top floor, now the Tate Hall, served as the University’s library. It is a marvellous time capsule of Victorian design and style of that period. The magnificent entrance hall, now a excellent cafe, is dominated by a wonderfully tiled fireplace from which elegant stair cases lead off up to the higher floors.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

The Entrance Hall Cafe.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

Stairway to The Upper Floors

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum Owl Skeleton

Owl Skeleton On The Stairs.

Some of the displays are contained within individual rooms, which I found helped, I was able to focus more on specific items rather than be overwhelmed by larger displays.

The top floor of, the original museum library, now the Tate Hall named after Sir Henry Tate one of the University library’s benefactors, is a large and airy space with a beautiful beamed ceiling. This part of the gallery contains a wonderfully quirky mix of displays, one end has exhibits charting the part Liverpool University played in nuclear research, for medical uses originally and then how that changed with the onset of WW2 and then with the coming of peace developments with lead to the building of the Large Hadron Collider. At the other end of the room however there is a display of dentistry through the ages with a reconstruction of a typical Victorian era Dentist’s surgery and a collection of dentures form around the world.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum Tate Hall.

The Tate Hall.

One final aspect which made my visit so enjoyable was the staff, they are amongst the most friendly, approachable and well informed that I have met, only to happy to discuss the museum, its history and displays. Treat yourself to a couple of hours away from the rush of the city centre, next time you are near or in Liverpool, pay the Victoria a visit.

VICTORIA GALLERY & MUSEUM

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LOOKING AT LINCOLN

Lincoln is a city that I had wanted to visit for some time and to have a change from driving I decided to travel by train. The journey took a couple of hours with the route starting in the industrial surroundings of Manchester before passing through the beauties of Derbyshire’s Peak District. More industry was passed through at Sheffield but before long the train was travelling through the flat Lincolnshire countryside.

The railway station lies at the bottom of the city, by the River Witham. It was in this part of Lincoln that signs of the earliest settlements have been found. The Romans settled here in the AD 50’s, building their fort at the top of Steep Hill, where the cathedral and castle now stand.

Lincoln River Witham

The River Witham

Lincoln High Street

The High Street

This lower part of Lincoln by the river is linked to the Upper by the very aptly named Steep Hill. On your way up Steep Hill you pass The Jews House, a building which dates from the 12th century and has been occupied ever since. Having been in the recent past an Antiques shop it is now a restaurant.

Lincoln Steep Hill

Looking down Steep Hill

Lincoln Jews House

The Jews House

At the top of Steep Hill stands the glorious Lincoln Cathedral, as you will see from my headline picture it is a soaring,  impressive building. Constructed a little after the castle it was consecrated in 1092. The cathedral owns one of only four copies of the Magna Carta, this one signed in 1214, it is displayed in the museum which now occupies the castle.

Lincoln cathedral organ

The Cathedral Organ

After the collapse of the Roman Empire Britain fell prey to other invaders such as the Vikings and then finally William the Conqueror arrived in Lincoln and had the castle built in 1068. In Victorian times the castle became a prison. Now a museum the castle still has the prison chapel where the prisoners were seated and hooded in individual stalls so as to prevent any contact or conversation. It is possible to walk a complete circuit of the castle walls, a viewpoint which gives stunning views over the city and surrounding countryside.

Lincoln Castle

The Castle Entrance

Lincoln Gaol ghost

Inside the Castle Gaol

One feature of my visit to the Castle Gaol was the use of re-enactments of prisoners stories projected onto near invisible screens. They do give you a jolt if you are not expecting them. This ‘ghost’ recounts her tale of being imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread.

Lincoln Information

Lachlan’s Electric Bookshelf

A Busy Month

Just a quick post to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had a busy month getting a couple of projects off the ground, on in particular has been adding to and organising the ebooks I produce. With a little bit of head scratching and midnight oil burning I’ve managed to produce twelve titles, not in one month obviously but reaching number twelve feels like a bit of a personal milestone.

I’m now starting to feel comfortable with the format and more importantly confident in the style and content of the books.though as always, at the back of my mind is the thought that I don’t want to get over confident and just bang out books in a production line with no thought as to the idea behind them. if I expect people to look at them they have to have a decent theme and a degree of style and continuity.

I don’t intend to step back from book production, I really enjoy the challenge of putting them together, print on demand will be the next step, which means more head scratching and midnight oil burning over a different set of production techniques.

All of the above though has meant that the blogging has become a whole lot more sporadic than it was before so a bit more personal organizing will have to be brought into play.

Fleetwood, Marine Hall

FLEETWOOD. The Marine Hall

 

Right, blog entry over for now, the next one is beginning to come together out of a pile of scribbled notes.

Lachlan’s e-book bookshelf

Heptonstall. History On A Hilltop.

Huddled around a hilltop above the West Riding town of Hebden Bridge sits the village of Heptonstall. It’s houses clustered in narrow, winding streets show its past as a centre for hand loom weaving, their large, third floor windows making the most of the precious daylight.

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Landgate as seen from Weavers Square

The centre of the village is dominated by the ruins of the church of St. Thomas A’ Becket, which date from the 1260’s. A photo of the roofless nave heads up this post. Damaged by a gale in 1847 it fell into ruin and was replaced by the adjacent church of Thomas the Apostle, which in it’s turn was struck by lightning in 1847. Perhaps there’s something about Heptonstall we should be told. The old graveyard which spreads out between the two churches is filled with the rumpled layered tombstones, each with their tale to tell of lives lived and lost, some through age, some through accident and one at the hands of the law. Clipping the edges of silver coins to win yourself a little extra at the government’s expense was a pastime that could result in an appointment with the hangman’s noose.

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Old gravestones etched with history and worn by time.

A little way off the centre of the village, sits the octagonal Methodist church. It  lays claim to being the oldest in continuous use, the foundation stone being laid after a visit from founder John Wesley in the 1740’s.

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The octagonal Methodist Church clinging to the hillside.

In an adjacent cemetery extension lies the grave of the poet Sylvia Plath, wife of fellow poet Ted Hughes. It’s a place of pilgrimage, with pens and notebooks regularly being left as tributes.  She is perhaps best known for her work ‘The Bell Jar’ . Her own story ended with her suicide in 1963.

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The grave of Sylvia Plath

Heptonstall is an intriguing place, its streets winding and looping back on one another. You can drive up and park or if you are feeling up to it a steeply rising path climbs up the hill side from Hebden Bridge on the valley bottom.

Tourism Information

Taking It Easy In Todmorden