Google+ Followers

Monday, 19 December 2011

Crooked Spire and Revolution House

This week we had the opportunity to visit the last stoop known to us in Derbyshire. The stoop is kept in Revolution House which is now a museum in Old Whittington near Chesterfield. The museum is open only over the Christmas period & then it closes until April 2012. I contacted the museum and arranged for us to visit and view the stoop which was in a separate room, not open at this time. The room is normally open but it doubles up as a storage room during the Christmas period and is closed to the public.
Revolution House doesn't open until 11:00 am so we thought we would call in and visit the Church of St. Mary and all saints in Chesterfield.
The famous crooked spire is visible for miles around and there are several theories why it is crooked.
My favourite is that there wasn't enough cross members to support the weight of the lead tiles that were added much later.
When the spire was constructed in 1362 it was covered in wooded tiles and apparently it was straight for the first 300 years, after this the wooden tiles were replaced with lead tiles ( these weigh in at 33 tons) and that's when the spire began to twist. The twisting has been attributed to the sun heating up the lead on the south side and causing unequal expansion and contraction to the north side, giving the twist.
The spire is twisted 45 degrees and leans 2.9 metres.

The spire has a twist of 45 degrees and leans 2.9 metres

Close up of the tiles

The tower contains a peal of 10 bells

St. Mary's and All Saints Church Chesterfield.
Inside the church which is the largest in Derbyshire is just as spectacular as the outside.
Magnificent stained glass windows and the internal stone structure is amazing.

This is the oldest window at 1890 with Moses top centre.

The newest window with the 3 plotters centre panel.

The plotters in the room at the Cock & Pynot.
This chest looks likes it could have come from the crusades.
We walked back to the car park and passed a couple of interesting establishments.
Don't eat to many of these!!

What goes on in there!!
Revolution House was only 10 minutes out of Chesterfield in Old Whittington. We got there a few minutes early and had a walk around the area until 11:00. Now this Revolution House has a true place in history when in 1688 a meeting of 3 powerful men changed the order of succession of the monarchy.
The 3 conspirators met on Whittington Moor to discuss the revolution but a rain storm forced them to find somewhere out of the weather. They ended up in the Cock & Pynot and finished there discussions there. They were William Cavendish (the 4th Earl of Devonshire) later to become the 1st Duke, Lord Delamere, John Marcy and the Earl of Danby.
The bloodless revolution saw King James 2nd deposed in favour of William of Orange.
The window in St. Mary's Church in Chesterfield shows the men plotting in the Cock & Pynot.
The Cock & Magpie
Pynot is the local name for a magpie.

Revolution House

Plaque on the wall of Revolution House
Jonathon the curator let us into the room where the stoop was kept. It still had a lot of material surrounding the stoop so he gave us permission to move it so we could have a proper look and take some pics.

Rob & Ike with Jonathon

The last stoop

 The room where the stoop was kept was roughly where the 3 conspirators concluded there meeting in 1688.
This is the "Passing Out" photo for the last stoop.

The 3 men in the Plotting Parlour of the Cock & Pynot
Next Sunday is Christmas day so its merry Christmas to everyone and have a prosperous and healthy new year.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Shinning Cliff Woods & The Betty Kenny Tree

We had a late start this week, didn't leave until about 8:00 and it was all down to me. Well I've had a few late nights recently and just didn't wake up in time!! And to make it worse it was my turn to drive.
We decided to go and see if we could find Betty Kenny's tree in the middle of Shinning Cliff Woods. For a change driving time was less than 10 minutes, we parked at the top of the woods so we could have a look at the small pond there. The other 3 have been to this pond in the past but not me. It was dull and miserable and a bit wet under foot when we got there and very disappointing. Apparently when the lads last went you could walk all around it but now its surrounded by a fence. We just had a quick look and then back to the car. It only took another 5 minutes to get to our destination, Halfpenny Bridge at Ambergate, we parked up and set off into the woods looking for the Betty Kenny Tree.
The first part of the trail runs past some derelict cottages and through part of the old wire works. Richard Johnson and his nephew opened the wire works in 1867. They made telegraph wire and suspension cables and apparently supplied the telegraph wires that run under the English Channel during WW2. The factory stopped production of wires in the mid 1990's.
Part of the old Johnson's Wire Works
A bit further on into the woods we came across a derelict house "Oakhurst". It was built in 1848 for the daughters of Francis Hurt although they never got to live there. It was then bought by the Johnson family and later enlarged. The house has had several uses over the years including use by the military, a retreat for the local diocese and finally it was converted into flats in the 1970's until it closed its doors in the 1980's. Its a listed building and no doubt will continue to rot away unless some eccentric takes it on as a hobby.

Oakhurst House

Back onto the trail and deeper into the woods following the path through the trees.

Typical path through the woods

Puff Ball fungi
Ike & Rob decided to clean out a drainage channel that was blocked up and causing the water to run down the footpath. The forestry commission will be getting the bill!!

Rob & Ike

We passed this stone horse trough and assumed it would have been put there centuries ago when this track would have been used by pack horses & traders.
Horse trough
We passed this great looking oak tree and just wondered how old this was.
Old Oak Tree

My GPS told me we were close to the Betty Kenny Tree would still couldn't see it and just then a guy on a mountain bike appeared. I asked him if he knew about the tree and we were in luck, he has been coming here for years and took us straight to it.
The Betty Kenny Tree
This yew tree is reputed to be 2000 years old and has a history attached to it which has come down the years and claims to be the origin of the nursery rhyme "Rock a bye baby". The story has been well documented and relates to a family of charcoal burners called Luke & Kate Kenyon from the 1700's. They lived in the woods and used the tree as shelter and brought up 8 children. This is where the rock a bye baby in the tree tops comes from. The Hurt family owned Shining Cliff Woods and they heard about the family and even commissioned the artist James Ward of the Royal Academy to paint their portraits. The tree was damaged by mindless vandals in the 1930's and is slowly disintegrating.

Its birthday boy Rob looking through the tree.

The 4 of us in the remains of the Betty Kenny Tree

Remains of the 2000 year old Betty Kenny yew tree.
Edge of the woods
After having our breakfast at the tree we set off back towards the car. We came to the edge of the woods, looked over the wall and spotted Alderwasley Hall. The present house was built in the late 18th century by Francis Hurt (he was the High Sheriff of Derbyshire ) and this replaced a 15th century manor house. It remained in the family until 1930 when it was sold to a Benedictine Order to be used as a school. It became a Special school in 1976.
Alderwasley Hall
Further down the woods we stumbled across the bikers and they were performing jumps over a built up ramp. Very impressive. We had quite a chat and they have been coming here for a number of years. They told us there bikes ranged in price from £3000 to £5000, you have to be dedicated to spend that much on a bike. They were all very nice lads and a pleasure to talk to them.
Biker in mid air

On the way back

Stretchy Trees

Because he's a year older the birthday boy now needs sticks
On the way back past the wire works we saw these huge stone slabs and just wondered what they would have been used for. At first we thought they were concrete but they turned out to be stone.
Ike inspecting a load of stone slabs
Well that's it for this week.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mandale Mine Revisited

This week we returned to Lathkilldale to further investigate the Mandale Mine sough.
We parked in the same spot as last week at Conksbury Bridge, with the weather being a lot kinder this week.
As usual there were no people around at this early time, but there were a few birds about. This heron was sitting quite nicely but as soon as we got within shooting range it kept moving on. The pic was taken through the cover of a couple of tree's.
Heron on the weir
  A bit further on these two cock pheasants were squaring up to each other but as soon as we got close they were off.
We arrived at the sough prepared with torches to see how far we could get underground. Rob was first in followed by Ike then me and Geoff.
At the entrance to the sough, torches at the ready.

Ike found some hand chisel marks on a rock.

Me at the furthest point in.
When inside it was bone dry and a lot warmer than outside. Looking at the walls and roof its remarkable to think these were constructed almost 200 years ago.
We probably got in about 150 metres at the most before the way ahead was blocked. You can see the rubble on the floor in the pic with Ike. Rob crawled over this and got to a T junction, on the left was a vertical shaft going up and on the right the passage carried on but we decided not to go in any further.
This section had plant material hanging from the roof.

When the torches were switched off it was absolutely pitch black. On the way back down the tunnel we stopped to take pics where the roots were hanging from the roof, shining the torches around Ike spotted an open shaft above our heads. This went up about 20 feet and you could see where it had been capped from above.
Vertical shaft - looks more like a black hole

From about 20 feet inside looking out.
Out of the sough and up to the Mandale Mine and pump house. This old stone building housed a huge beam pump which was used to pump water up from the mine workings.
In 1839 a massive water wheel was installed and this could pump the water from 27 metres below the sough level. The water to power the wheel came from a header "pond" quite some way up stream, it travelled along a leat and had to cross the river Lathkill on Wooden launders supported by huge stone pillars.

The pump house at Mandale Mine

The Blackbrook Explorers!!

Remains of the launder supports
We carried on up to Batemans House to have our breakfast, and Geoff just had to go down the ladder to check out the hand powered floodlights which lit up the shaft under the house.

The bridge over the dry river Lathkill

Geoff , coming up from the viewing level.

Even Rambo had a break in Batemans House.
We headed back towards the car at a nice steady pace to make sure Ike got back in time for the pub. There were a few people about on the return and a bit more wildlife.
Whats a group of fungi called?

There were lots of Goldfinches about, these 2 having a bath.
Weir on the river Lathkilldale

This swan shows a new meaning to "wind your neck in"
On the way up the hill to the car its very steep and we all were feeling it, then we were all passed by a bunch of cyclists, Ike just said well we were all young once.
Oh to be young!!
 Just up the hill from Conksbury Bridge we spotted a strange looking stone in the entrance to a farm. We stopped to have a look and it turned out to be an old mile post.
Old mile post to Bakewell & Sheffield.

The milestone had been moved from the top of Haddon Hill
 We were photographing the stone when this lovely lady came out to see what we were doing. After Geoff had charmed her she was a mine of information. Her family had lived in this farm for 250 years. When questioned about the stone she told us how the council had moved it from Haddon Hill years ago, although she didn't know why. 
Joan Dale
Joan said she had a couple of old books one of which had information about her farm. She told us part of the farm used to be a toll road and her great grandfather used to take the money from the travellers.
Ike was chuntering about the time, so it was back in the car and off home.
See you next week.