Sunday, 31 July 2016

Loughborough to Tiverton Pt 1

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I talked about the Ludd Hub, where information about the Luddite attacks of 1816 on Heathcoat's lace factory was presented as a part of this year's Picnic in the Park event? Possibly as a result of the attack, Heathcoat took his business, his expertise and many of his local workers to Tiverton, setting up a business that is still trading today under the name of Heathcoat Fabrics. At the Picnic in the Park we welcomed visitors from Tiverton and cheered them on their way as they re-enacted the 200-mile walk that Loughborough folk would have made 200 years ago when they migrated from Loughborough to Tiverton.

Our annual summer holiday sees us heading to the southern most point of Britain, a journey of some 330 miles, which means a stop somewhere along the way. Usually that stop is somewhere beyond Exeter, and previous stops have included Tavistock, Launceston, Tintagel and Boscastle. This year, the journey was so arduous, with lots of accidents, many, many roadworks, and hence, long delays, we broke with tradition and decided to stop off at Tiverton. I'm glad we did!

Already having made an association with staff from the museum, I knew there were a lot of connections and similarities between our two towns, and I was keen to explore these. Hmmm, it does, however, mean that I may have to split this blogpost into two as there is so much to cover!

So, we headed off to the town museum and were pleased to be so pleasantly greeted and welcomed when we got there. What I hadn't quite realised was that we'd arrived a couple of days before a big Heathcoat 200 exhibition launch, but luckily it was all there and ready to be viewed. As well as this temporary exhibition, there is also a permanent Heathcoat Gallery. Just a quick note here to say how disconcerting it was to hear the name Heathcoat as I would pronounce it, pronounced as Hethcutt!

Anyway, the museum was also choc-full of lots of other Tiverton history, and it was great to see all the things that Loughborough and Tiverton had in common. I suppose when one is looking at the local history of one's own town, it's sometimes too easy to forget the national context, so Tiverton's museum collections reminded me of many things. Let's see, where shall I start?

The populations of the two towns at 2011 are quite different: Loughborough's population was around 59,000 while Tiverton's only 19,500, so Tiverton is about the size of Shepshed and Barrow-upon -Soar combined, and about 6,000 more than Ashby-de-la-Zouch, but 6,000 less than that of Melton Mowbray. 

Both Tiverton and Loughborough are market towns, and their original market / fair charters were granted in the 1200s, during the reign of Henry III. Loughborough's was first being granted around 1221, extended to three days to include the Feast of St Peter (29 June) in 1228, and then shortly after it was extended to include the November fair, to be held around the Feast of All Souls (2 November). The Tiverton charter was first granted in 1257 for a three-day market around the Feast of St James (5 July), starting on a Monday. This was later modified by Oliver Cromwell, changing the first day to Tuesday to avoid market traders working (i.e. preparing their goods) on Sundays. 

This year, the charter market was held on July 16, just a few days after my visit. A copy of the later amendment is available in the museum.

The Cromwell market charter
The woollen trade was extremely important to both towns, and there were several information boards in the Tiverton museum, as well as a cabinet of interesting looking tools. Selective breeding of sheep seems to have started around 1808 in Tiverton, whilst Robert Bakewell of Dishley had been one of the early protagonists of this. 
Sheep and wool production
The woollen trade
All about wool merchants
The tools of the trade

In Loughborough there have been small finds of Roman origin, like pottery, some of which was possibly found in Church Gate. At Bolham on the outskirts of Tiverton (coincidentally very close to Knightshayes Court which is the home of the current Heathcoat family) there was a Roman marching camp, a model of which has been constructed, and sits in the museum.
Model of the Roman marching camp
In common with other towns of the time, both Tiverton and Loughborough have endured fires which had a devastating effect on the dwellings and the people of the towns. Reports of fires in Tiverton were so devastating, the one in 1731 was called the Great Fire, and reports of this, and other fires are covered by Wikipedia. One such fire was in about 1598, which was allegedly started by a frying pan fire, and which destroyed most of the town. There was a further fire in 1612 which was apparently started from a furnace. There were at least five known fires in Loughborough, the first of which was in 1622, and in which two people died. The second fire was in 1666, apparently started from a kiln, and in which 200 houses were destroyed. Then, in 1668 there were two fires in October, and in 1761, 13 houses were affected by a fire which started in a malt kiln. When reports of these fires talk of thatched houses and ricks of barley, furnaces, and kilns, it's surprising there weren't more fires, more buildings destroyed and more deaths.
The Civil War in Tiverton

Both towns were affected by the Civil War of 1642-1651. Royalist Tiverton Castle was under siege from Parliamentarians in 1645, and in December of that year Oliver Cromwell paid it a brief visit. On 17 March 1644 there was a minor battle at Cotes Bridge, just outside Loughborough, when Parliamentarians occupied the bridge. 

Bequests to fund schools are also common to both towns. In 1601 Peter Blundell, a man who had gained considerable wealth during his life as a clothier, bequeathed a sizeable sum of money for the creation of the Peter Blundell School, which is still in use as a school, although I believe the original building was replaced in about 1883. Thomas Burton was an English wool merchant who died around 1495, and bequeathed sums of money to a variety of Loughborough causes. One of his trustees, Ralph Lemyngton, decided that some of the money should be used to create a school, and to this day Loughborough Endowed Schools is still active in the town.

In common with many other towns and cities water was made safer to drink in Tiverton and Loughborough by being brewed into beer. I believe there was a brewery at the end of Market Street, and that it wasn't called Malt Mill Lane for nothing! In Tiverton Museum, there was a fine display of brewery paraphernalia and old bottles, as well as a malt shovel, and an apple press.
The cabinet of paraphernalia
The malt shovel

The apple press
And, of course, townsfolk everywhere needed shoes, so cobblers would have been found in each town
Tools of the trade
Interesting to know that at one time there was a branch of the Leicester firm Olivers in the town!
Olivers, who had a warehouse in Leicester

Oh my goodness, time is running away with me, and I haven't even mentioned all the Heathcoat connections, the iron works, the water supply and drinking fountains, the GWR, the cinemas, the Temperance Society and the United Order of Druids, the brick-makers, the police station, the milestones, the canal, the band, the pubs ...

Better save those for next time!

Acknowledgements: I'd like to thank the staff at Tiverton Museum of Mid-Devon Life, for allowing me to take photographs to use in this blogpost .

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

[Dyer, Lynne (2016). Loughborough to Tiverton. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 31 July 2016] 


Sunday, 24 July 2016

It's been three years!

I cannot believe that this blog has been going for 3 years now, admittedly, not always weekly, as I intended, but certainly long enough to have clocked up x posts.

As is usual around the time of the anniversary, I take a look back over the years, and share with you.

It will come as no surprise to you to learn that the most visited page is "Ghost signs of Loughborough"! I still think this is because people are looking for ghosts, rather than signs!!

The next most visited page is "Spotlight on Ashby Road". I really think I should do a follow-up to this, as there have been quite a few changes to the road since this post was published in October 2013. It's just a case of finding the time.

A more recent post, "From 54 Baxter Gate to 1 Old Hospital Close", comes in 3rd most visited, hardly surprising since this is one very big change to the town, and one that people have been watching with interest.

"Spotlight on Radmoor House" continues to be of interest, as many of you reading this may well have been born there.

The next 4 most visited posts all seem to have "house" in the title! So, there's "Red and green houses abandoned in favour of a picnic!", about the recent Picnic in the Park, featuring the Ludd Hub and the commemoration of the attack on Heathcoat's factory. Then, there's "Red, white or maybe green?" a description of the White House. These days coffee culture is experiencing a bit of a resurgence: "Coffee houses to coffee shops" includes a list of some local coffee shops and a few pics. Finally, "Binns Family, The Blackamoors Head, The Blackboy and the Burnaby family" returns to a favourite topic of mine - pubs!!

Alongside the weekly blogposts, I've tried to create some virtual walks. This was hard, for many reasons, not least because if I'm thinking you might try these out using your mobile phone to access the webpage, then it's useful if the automatic template used by Blogger displays properly, isn't it?! So, I had to change the template for the web display in order to get a better mobile one, but even now we have some funny characters appearing, which on a pc show as arrows!

Anyway, if you're interested in the sites of the Zeppelin raids on Loughborough of 1916, pop over to the Zeppelin walk. If art and sculpture is more your thing then head along to the sculpture walk. The fascinating story of the locations associated with John Heathcoat and the Luddite attack on his factory are covered in the lace walk. If you're interested in other virtual walks, do let me know and I'll see what I can do. I'd really like to create an app, but that would be just far too technical for me!!

So, here's hoping for another year of weekly blogposts!!


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Loughborough and more holiday connections

Well, apologies for the radio silence: as usual things have been hectic, and I've also been on holiday for a while. Which foes someway to explaining the title of this post!

Whilst I've been away, Loughborough has not been far from my mind, and this has been particularly evident as almost everywhere I go I see something that reminds me of our little town. Places we visited were Tiverton (so many connections here, this warrants a separate post), St Ives, St Agnes, Penzance, Zennor, Newlyn, Mousehole, Lamorna, Wookey Hole, Wells, and Bristol. So, below I shall share some of these reminders with you!

Always on the lookout for something to read, when I get to my holiday location I buy the local newspapers, so I can get a feel for what's been going on in the area lately, and I also try and find an interesting magazine that I don't regularly read. So, finding myself in one of the most interesting WH Smiths I know of, I chose a couple of magazines, Scientific America: Mind (because it had a feature on dementia) and Evergreen, a magazine I've bought once before, so I knew would be a light, but interesting read. Imagine my surprise when I opened Evergreen in my holiday home and on the first page was a lovely picture taken near Beacon Hill!!
Beacon Hill from the summer issue of Evergreen
Talking of Beacons, one of the days we decided to walk around St Agnes's Head, where we passed several old tin mines, a couple of coves, a derelict church, and took a climb up to St Agnes's Beacon, from where we could see for miles around, much like a our Beacon Hill.
The toposcope on the Beacon at St Agnes
A view from the Beacon at St Agnes
And whilst we were in Wells walking around the Bishop's Palace, we happened upon a wood carving, another reminder of Beacon Hill.
Carved wooden hand at the Bishop's Palace, Wells
Also from the Bishop's Palace at Wells, we could look over from the prominent walls and see the deer park that was created by ... which reminded me of our very own Bradgate Park.
Information board about the creation of the deer park

A view towards the deer park
Bradgate is very close to Swithland, and as we were eating our lunch in the cathedral cafe at Wells we had a perfect view of one of the slate tiled roofs: clearly not Swithland, which is characterised by being very thick pieces that are laid from top to bottom with the largest ones at the top, but slate, nonetheless.
Slate roof at Wells Cathedral
Inside Wells cathedral there were very many alabaster carvings, which although not directly related to Loughborough (spar ornament makers in Loughborough used alabaster from Chellasdon to carve small items), the alabaster may well have come from Nottingham.
Alabaster memorial at Wells Cathedral
Only related to Loughborough by name, I also spotted a memorial in Wells Cathedral to one John de Middleton: no relation of our own Edward Chatterton Middleton, banker, but ...
Effigy of John de Middleton
Another name which rang a bell with me was Myrtle Cottage in Wookey Hole (actually, we passed several houses with the name Myrtle in them, either house, or cottage) which reminded me of one of the first houses to be built on Park Street.
Myrtle Cottage at Wookey hole

Myrtle Cottage in Mousehole
And then there was Tucker's Cottage in St Agnes
Tuckers Cottage in St Agnes
Shops also featured a bit in my mind. So, there was Stuarts in St Ives, a lovely little leather shop selling bags, belts and various other items, almost identical to our Stuarts on Church Gate
Stuarts leather shop in St Ives
as well as I Should Coco, a chocolatier and chocolate workshop, rather like our Chocolate Alchemy in Church Gate Mews
Chocolate shop in St Ives
and a micro-brewery, called Pilchard Press, which reminded me of our Needle and Pin on Swan Street
Pilchard Press, micro-brewery, not publishers!
Welbeck also featured, but in Newlyn
A shop in Newlyn
It seems that everywhere has an interesting body in their window!
A mask in a St Ives window
A bit closer to home, the view from the holiday house was very similar to the view from my own bedroom window!
View from the bedroom in St Ives
View from the bedroom in Loughborough
Then there were the longhorn cows in Wells, and the Leicester sheep at the Stithians Show.
Longhorn cattle at Wells
Border Leicester and Roussin sheep at Stithians Show
Border Leicester and Roussin sheep at Stithians Show
This blogpost could go on forever!! I also spotted a couple of wonderful water fountains like our gorgeous Fearon Fountain, an interesting weather vane, like the one on top of Rigg-Rut, numerous war memorials, though none to match our carillon, loads of lovely lamp posts, small, independent cinemas that reminded me of our Odeon (formerly Reel, Curzon etc.), and a Warwick Arms in Bristol: oh, but we haven't got one of those any more!

But, before I go, let me tell you about one last coincidence!

Perusing the books in a charity shop in Penzance, I came across half a dozen fairly old ones. Picking one up, I opened it to the first page and was so surprised to see an inscription inside to a nine year old girl from Diseworth! Not only that, the book was printed by Wills and Hepworth!! If I ever remember, I was thinking of donating the book to the lady who helps out at Diseworth Heritage Centre: last time I spoke to her, her husband was writing a book about Messengers. Oops, I think I promised you an article on green houses - or was it red?
The book
The inscription and the printers label
You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

[Dyer, Lynne (2016). Loughborough and more holiday connections. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 19 July 2016]