Safe and sound at home what to do now?
Plentiful seasonal rhubarb from a friend’s garden (thanks JG) makes up a wonderful mixed fruit crumble topped off with a dollop of coconut cream …
Meeting up with friends for a crafty day is an immense and productive pleasure.
As is a session of solitary ‘just one more row’ late night knitting to get you to the finished cardigan.
But crucially there is always The Quest … March March!… Women of Cumbria I am back.
Time is running short on visiting a couple of the exhibitions before they finish so meeting up with ‘she of the rhubarb’ JG we were off on our latest mission.
Our destination was Penrith and Eden Museum for the “Lorna Graves: Memories of Belonging” exhibition. Truth to tell we were not expecting much. So we spent most of the day exploring Penrith.
It’s quaint emporiums.
It’s places of worship. St Andrew’s Church in Penrith is a hotch potch. The tower dates from 1397 yet the nave and chancel are Georgian
Those chandeliers by the way were a gift from the Duke of Portland as a reward to the parishioners for their efforts in defeating the Scottish army in 1745. We are on much better terms with our northern neighbours now!
I wish you could hear this clock – built by Aaron Cheeseborough in the early 1700s – a magnificently deep “tick tock ” emanated with each swing of the pendulum. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
In the beautifully blossom bedecked churchyard we went in search of The Giant’s Grave (who would want to miss that?!)
And his thumb
Turns out they are different giants. The Giant’s Grave consists of 6 ancient tombstones including the Scandinavian type Hogbacks. It dates from around the tenth century AD and has been moved from it’s original site in the cemetery. It is variously thought to be the grave of Owen King of Cumbria (920 -937) or Sir Owen Caesarius (aka Sir Hugh or Sir Ewan) a great boar-hunter. When opened in the seventeenth century the grave revealed the remains of someone with very long leg bones (sic) and a sword….but thankfully no boar. Oink.
As to the Giant’s Thumb it is a Norse Wheel Cross marking a separate burial in about 920AD. Not surprising to find such remains here. Penrith is a cross-roads for Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures. Seems like Denmark has followed me home!
Now all this is grand but will not help us with our quest. Unbeknownst to us we had saved the best till last.
Penrith and Eden Museum is housed in the old Robinson’s Church of England school
The building is something of an exhibit in itself. The school’s history dates from 1670, although the construction is probably older, and was established by a wealthy grocer named Robinson (surprise!) as a school for poor girls. These girls were to be taught to read, work lace, knit and “other matters proper for young girls to learn and practice” (ideas on a postcard please).
In return the children had to “refrain from swearing, lying, stealing and quarrelling”. Some things never change. In the late nineteenth century the building was used as an infant school and remained as such until April 1971 when it closed.
Today the building holds a Tourist Information Office together with a small museum of artefacts relevant to the area.
Not sure about the Penny Farthing’s pertinence but it certainly suited the window position.
Oh yes The Quest!
The pennant heralded the wonderfulness of the Lorna Graves’ exhibition inside. Sorry but I cannot share any photos. It is understandable that photography was not allowed (I always ask first) but also a shame as I don’t think I have ever been as moved by an artist’s work as I was by the drawings and sculptures of this local ceramicist.
Lorna Graves (1947 – 2006) was born in Kendal and grew up on the land around Hadrian’s Wall. Having studied Earth Sciences she became an artist and back home in Cumbria found her inspiration in the landforms and ancient art of the county.
Her work is simple yet striking. The Raku pieces in particular radiate an ancient and spiritual quality that reflect her words:
“I feel the past pushing up against me from below: the herds of animals and the vegetation, the people and their dwelling places, the winds and floods, the times of peace and times of war, the chanting in the temples…”
Her archaic forms of beasts, women, shrines some glinting with gold lustre all drew me in. It was quite mind-blowing.
Dragging ourselves reluctantly from the Lorna Graves exhibition (we were really surprised at how brilliant this exhibition was) we set off for the train home. But Penrith had not finished with us as who can ignore a ruddy great castle? Especially when it is right opposite the train station.
Oh well in for a penny….
Hello Penrith Castle!
A friendly cat welcomed us to this monument to Anglo-Scottish relations (honestly we are all friends now).
Built in the late 1300s the castle was altered over time becoming in the 1470s under Richard Duke of Gloucester (soon to be Richard III – some of us up North like him!!!) a major residence. Thankfully in time it’s presence was no longer required. The castle fell into disrepair and what we see today is thanks to the excavations and conservation undertaken in 1923.
Penrith is a treasure chest, of things to see and enjoy, often overlooked by visitors to the Lake District. We had a full and fabulous day and The Quest is one amazing exhibition nearer completion.
Before I go: congratulations to KC and JR on the arrival of your gorgeous baby boy SP. He is beautiful and I hope the cardigan fits soon!
Until next we meet,
You don’t stay still for long do you?! I’m a native Cumbrian (now removed to Yorkshire) but didn’t know any of this about Penrith. Very interesting.
Hello fellow Cumbrian – Thanks. Penrith is such a mixed bag. Lots to see but watch out crossing the roads! Mx