Regional Heritage Centre Newsletter October, 2020


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Regional Heritage Centre Newsletter, October 2020

Welcome to the latest e-newsletter from the Department of History’s Regional Heritage Centre. If you have difficulty reading this email please open it in your web browser.

You are welcome to forward this email to any groups or individuals you think will be interested in our activities. If you have received this as a forwarded message please join our mailing list so that we can send you future newsletters directly.

In this edition:

  • Register now for the October run of our popular free MOOC on Lancaster Castle
  • Save the Date for the next RHC events - online in November and December
  • Your adventures in local history during lockdown - this month, John Self takes us along for some Lake District saunterings
  • Successful annual appeal for RHC supporters to become Friends and Patrons + a new online lecture for those who are subscribing this year
  • A new book recording memories of Freckleton by Peter Shakeshaft plus a festschrift in honour of heritage hero Dr Alan Crosby

Registration Now Open for the RHC's FREE Online Course on Lancaster Castle

It's that time of year again...when the crisper days of October roll around, why not join the students and study something new - especially if it is free and accessible from the comfort and safety of your own home! The RHC's Massive Open Online Course - or MOOC - is back for another run, starting Monday 19 October. The course was produced in partnership with the Duchy of Lancaster and the University's Information Systems Services. Registration is now open for those who would like to experience 'Lancaster Castle and Northern English History: the View from the Stronghold'. Learners range across two millennia of history, from the remains of Roman forts to the castle's life as a prison and a visitor attraction. Our engaging educators respond to the castle and its surroundings in relation to their particular research interests, such as medieval Anglo-Scottish warfare, the witchcraft trials of the seventeenth century and the achievements of prison reformers. The course lasts for five weeks, each structured around high-quality videos filmed against the impressive backdrop of Lancaster Castle. The videos are accompanied by learning exercises which tackle a rich variety of primary sources.

To date over 6000 learners have joined us from 128 countries, but there is still time to see for yourself.

For more information and to register, please click here.


Save the Date for Two New RHC Online Events

Though coronavirus continues to present a challenge, we are pleased to announce two new online events for November and December. On Saturday 7 November, we will be Uncovering Halton Mill - the last industrial site on the Lune. This is part of a National Lottery Heritage Funded project led by Halton village’s community heritage group. This event will have a new and exciting format. A number of pre-recorded video presentations will be made freely available on Youtube for a couple of days in advance of the event, and they will remain accessible afterwards. On 7 November (timing TBC) the RHC will be presenting a live online Q&A with our panel of experts, which you will be able to join for a small registration fee. Speakers will include Chris Coates from Lancaster Co-Housing, who will introduce the history of the site and its current use, RHC regular Dr Mike Winstanley on the context of industrial activity along the Lune Valley and Dr Ian Miller from the University of Salford, who has made inspiring contributions to several of our previous Annual Archaeology Fora,  on the place of Halton Mill in the wider context of industrial mills in North West England. Other speakers will look at Halton Mill’s significance to the Polish community in the Lancaster district, and the extensive archive of documents, artefacts, photographs and film that form a key part of the ongoing NLHF project. Full details on how you can access all the elements of this fascinating event will be forthcoming soon, so please watch our website, but for now save the date!
Then on Saturday 5 December, we will be presenting an online Study Afternoon looking at the changing role of Lancaster Castle during WWII. This is in collaboration with the Centre for War and Diplomacy, and focusses on the use of the Castle by the Royal Observer Corps during the Second World War. Featured speakers are Dr Corinna Peniston-Bird, who is an Associate Staff Member of the RHC, and John Gedge, who has made a special study of the ROC’s history in Lancaster. Again, full information and booking process will be available soon, but please be sure to Save The Date!
We are currently putting the finishing touches to a new programme card which will soon be available on our website, and to those of you on our snail mail list, but if you just can't wait, we'll give you just a little glimpse of the good things in store for 2021...our ever-popular Alan Crosby Day will return in February with a tantalising look at the history of premarital sex and illegitimacy in the North West, and on the first Saturday in March we aim to uphold the fine tradition by staging the 48th edition of our Archaeology Forum. We hope you're looking forward to a new season as much as we are.
And though the Centre's physical space remains closed for the time being, we are delighted that our RHC publications are once again available through our Online Store. We've already had orders from as far afield as Utah in the United States, so we know you've missed our great range of heritage titles. At the moment we can only access our book stock once a month, so delivery time is likely to be a little slower than we would wish. We hope to resume normal service in the next period, but for now we appreciate your patience as we fill any orders that come through as soon as possible. However, please note this only applies to purchases through the OS - we will not be able to accept orders sent in the post.

In the meantime, staff continue to work from home on other RHC business. Dr Fiona Edmonds has been working hard to support her students and to develop various future research projects that are relevant to the region's history. She has also recorded and filmed a new lecture for the RHC's Friends and Patrons – but keep reading to the end of the newsletter for more details on that.

Dr Sam Riches has been particularly busy with work to organise undergraduate student placements. As many of our regular readers will know, part of her role is to organise work placements with Heritage organisations around the region for second-year undergraduates in the History department. A few months ago, we featured a report from a student who was placed with the Judges’ Lodgings in Lancaster, now available on our website. Sam has written this update for us:
I’m delighted to report that we have succeeded in establishing six different projects for our students, either fully or mainly by remote working, and the applications process is now underway. Students will be challenged to help with a range of projects, from planning a pop-up museum to creating an online Heritage careers pack, and from researching and generating social media content to editing transcripts of oral history videos. Aspects such as the potential for site visits will of course be subject to a full Health & Safety appraisal under the guidance of our Faculty Placements Team – but it is looking very promising that we will be able to place ten to twelve students on ‘real-life’ projects starting in early 2021.
As Centre Administrator, I continue to keep in touch with RHC supporters and respond to all enquiries. We've had researchers interested in the Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive - specifically looking for references to the role of pets in social history - and enquiries about another great project that is part of the RHC holdings, Now the War is Over.  We've also welcomed new Friends and Patrons, and as ever I've been most impressed with your continuing engagement. Some of you have noticed that our regular e-newsletters are becoming more interactive, and have contributed your own ideas for satisfying the appetite for heritage activities even under the present difficult circumstances. If you haven't done so yet, why not write in and tell us about your adventures under lockdown? Our website is also fully functioning, so we encourage you to let us know as your various groups and societies resume activity (limited and socially distant, of course!), or find new means of connecting with heritage fans across the region. We're happy to list your news and resources, so do let us know what you're up to.


Lancashire Archives Set to Re-Open

After months of closure due to Corona virus, Lancashire Archives is finally re-opening to the public. Visitors are being welcomed back from Tuesday, 6 October as part of a phased reopening of Lancashire County Council's archives, museums and libraries. The building will be open on Tuesday-Friday from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 4pm, for pre-booked appointments only. The archives will close from 12.30pm to 1.30pm so that the public areas can be cleaned between sessions, so there will be no public access to the building during this time. Visitors will be asked to complete an online booking form, giving their preferred dates and sessions and listing all the document reference numbers, titles of books, or details of other material that they would like to use. An Archives Card will also need to be applied for in advance of a visit. More information is available at

For those who can't book online, appointments can be made by emailing the archives directly at

All visitors will be required to wear a face covering and follow social distancing guidelines, as well as provide contact details to support the NHS Test and Trace system.
More information about visiting the archives during the current restrictions is available at
The copying and enquiry service is still available and catalogues can be searched online at
For more information visit, telephone 01772 533039 or email


Local History Under Lockdown

In the last few months, we've been featuring little snippets on local history under lockdown, with many readers telling us about interesting walks and discoveries in their area. This month's offering features the saunterings of John Self who takes us on a lovely ramble through the Lake District, with the added bonus of no danger of inclement weather.

The standard smart-arse question to ask about the Lake District is: “How many Lakes are there in the Lake District?” To which the hoped-for answer is: “15 or 16 or so.” Which can then be followed by: “No, there’s only one. Bassenthwaite. It’s the only one with Lake in its name. All the others are Meres or Waters”. It's so standard that most people interested in the Lake District will not fall for it. So, here’s an alternative: “How many Hills are there in the Lake District?” (It is important to say this with a capital H.) To which the answer might be: “214” (assuming that the answerer is a devotee of Wainwright). And then one can pounce: “No, there’s only two. Wether Hill and Loadpot Hill. All the others don’t have Hill in their name”.

If you do ask this question then be prepared for an argument. Wainwright (1955-66) included Eel Crag in his 214 but the Ordnance Survey and everyone else calls it Crag Hill. Crag Hill (839m) is considerably higher than Wether Hill (674m) and Loadpot Hill (672m). Birkett (1994) also included Sand Hill (756m), Jenkin Hill (735m) and seventeen lesser Hills in his 541 tops. So, it could be argued that there are 22 Hills in the Lake District, and that the highest Hill in England is Crag Hill. However, we strictly followed our dear friend Wainwright so that our walk took us to not only the Lake District’s highest Hills but also its only Hills.

Despite the two Hills’ eminence, Wainwright didn’t think much of them. Of Wether Hill, he said “The top … is quite without interest, while the eastern slopes [the ones we walked up] are little better …There are many fells more worthy of climbing than Wether Hill, the final slope being very dull.” The summit was considered “a dreary and uninteresting place.” Loadpot Hill fared little better: “By Lakeland standards …territory of this type is uninteresting …There is the appearance of desolation.”

Wainwright’s opinion was coloured by the fact that, although he described approaches up the flanks, he knew that almost all walkers will reach Wether Hill and Loadpot Hill by walking along the High Street ridge, from the north from Pooley Bridge or from the south from the High Street top itself. For such walkers, Wether Hill and Loadpot Hill are barely noticeable rises along the long ridge. Walkers will have had the view to the west – in particular, of the Helvellyn range – all the way and it doesn’t suddenly change upon reaching Wether Hill or Loadpot Hill. It is different, however, for walkers from the east, like us. After striding over moorland for some time, as we pass High Kop there is a revelation through a dip in the High Street ridge of the Helvellyn mountains ahead, to which one can only respond ‘wow’. 

(Photo:  The Helvellyn range as seen approaching the High Street ridge from High Kop, photo used by kind permission of John Self.) As if by design, there is even a sight of Scafell Pike through the Grisedale col. How can this be considered “very dull”?!  

How indeed...Our thanks to John for the breathtaking scenery. And if you'd like to follow more of John's ramblings, even if only from the comfort of your armchair, you can find his full list of 'Saunterings' here. He includes helpful details of every walk, such as starting point, route and distance covered.

And if anyone else comes across something interesting in the course of their government-sanctioned and socially distant exercise, why not share it with us? We could all use some distraction in times like these, and learning about local heritage is such a rewarding way to spend your time, don't you think?


Annual Enrolment of Patrons and Friends of the Centre

Many of you will have heard from us recently with information about enrolling or renewing as a Friend or Patron of the RHC. One long-time Friend of the Centre, Penny Pattinson, even had the bright idea of using the funds normally spent on Study Day places to upgrade to Patron status this year, to maintain her level of support for the RHC.

'During these interesting times I won't be paying for any study days while circumstances prevent them from running. As you very kindly reimbursed my payment for the Archaeology Forum during the early days of the crisis, this means I could continue my support for the RHC within budget, until we can meet again.'

Whether as a Friend or a Patron, Penny will have access to our new online lecture initiative - the closest thing we have to a day school at the moment. Of course, anyone able to support us in this generous way will not only have the satisfaction of seeing their gift help to ensure the future of the RHC and its programme of heritage activities - you'll also be invited to special events just for Patrons and Friends.

We've had a great response already, and we want to say a big thank you, while clarifying the little details... If you are currently a Friend or Patron and pay by Standing Order or Direct Debit, your membership will automatically renew, but if you pay by cheque you will need to contact us in order to renew your membership. If you have not been a Friend or Patron in the past, please do consider supporting us in this way, now more than ever. Our subscription year runs from August to July, so to get the most out of our offer, take a look at our website now or contact us, and we will be happy to send you the relevant forms. The best way to reach us is via email since the Centre phone is not currently being monitored.

Another Online Lecture Exclusively for Friends and Patrons

We offered our first-ever online lecture as a 'thank you' to our existing Friends and Patrons this past summer, and it has been receiving very good feedback. For those Friends and Patrons who have not yet registered, it is not too late to access Dr Fiona Edmonds's lecture 'The Medieval Past and Northern English Identities' and its supporting materials. Just email to find out more. But if you have already registered, there's more good news... another online lecture will be being made available in October. Entitled 'Mountain Names in Lakeland', this is again available exclusively to RHC Friends and Patrons. This initiative - along with your much-valued feedback about the experience of accessing the video lecture through an online platform - will help us to develop online platforms and resources that may be used in future to support attendance at Study Days, especially as social distancing may reduce the capacity of our venues and some supporters may be unable to participate in person due to health concerns.

Click here to find out how you can become a Friend or Patron


External Events and Announcements

Please note that the RHC now lists external events on our website. The RHC cannot provide further information on these events and announcements, nor be held responsible for any inaccuracies in what is posted. If you have queries or wish to book for any event listed here please contact the organiser/venue/promoter directly.


New publication by Peter Shakeshaft

Peter Shakeshaft and his wife Maureen have spent the last 25 years recording interviews with Freckleton residents to preserve the community's history. Now they've published these memories in a new book called Voices of Freckleton. This volume focuses on village life from the 19th to mid-20th century and includes local newspaper reports and even private correspondence to give a full and lively picture of local history. Beautifully illustrated in colour throughout, it's sure to find an audience beyond its geographic boundaries. To order your copy (£15 plus postage), please contact or phone 01253 720852.


Festschrift in honour of heritage hero Dr Alan Crosby

The Federation of Lancashire Local History Societies, which encompasses 80 member societies, has published a festschrift in recognition of the enormous contribution that Dr Alan Crosby has made in advancing the local history cause. The contributors include many prominent local historians with connections to the RHC, including our former director Prof. Angus Winchester, our Patron Dr Bill Shannon, and regular RHC speaker Dr Mike Winstanley. The presentation was made in August by some of the editors (outdoors and socially distant of course) and as you can see in the photograph (pictured left), Alan was delighted, but for once left speechless. The book is available through the Lancashire Local History Federation for £15 + postage. For more information and to order, please email John Wilson on


We hope this newsletter gives important information on heritage activities and organisations locally. We do hope to see you at an RHC event in the future, but for now, keep safe and enjoy the wealth of online options.  There's never been a better time to explore regional heritage.

Best wishes,

Ann-Marie Michel