Bill Mitchell

Over 40 members shared the varied pleasures of a summer's day in Bowland when the annual outing, led by Bill Mitchell, took place on July 17. Cars were used. The convoy system was avoided by setting the cars off at varying times, but with deadlines to meet. The excursion began with a relaxed drive up hill and down dale, in a world holding 1,000 shades of green. In due course, the journey lay beside the sparkling river Hodder. At Whitewell we crossed over the hill to visit Browsholme Hall, home of the Parker family for over 400 years.

A welcome to the hall was extended by Christopher Parker and his wife. We examined the treasures of the large entrance hall - objects ranging from prehistoric implements to a piece from a zeppelin, and included furniture and uncomfortable-looking armour. On a walk in the grounds, we passed a lake adorned by Canada geese and a gateway bearing the stag's head emblem of the Parkers, who were originally the keepers of deer at Radholme, in the ancient Forest of Bowland.

All Hallows Church at Great Mitton was no anticlimax; here the members were enthralled by a small country church at which nothing seems to have been thrown away over the centuries. Of special interest were the alabaster figures in the Shireburn chapel - including a small child shedding an alabaster tear. We had our packed meal among the tombstones and ancient crosses of the churchyard, overlooking an unspoilt tract of wooded countryside.

Stonyhurst College, where the Elizabethan hall of the Shireburns [a surname spelt variously] became one of the most famous public schools of England, was in complete contrast, being vast and magnificent. The Rector told us about the history and architecture. Our tour included Museum, library and Elizabethan hall (the furnishings included a stout table on which, it is said, Cromwell slept - in his armour!). We were shown two Churches - one representing a high point in Victorian design and craftsmanship, situated with the main building, and the more familiar 1835 Church based on the design of King's College, Cambridge.

Finally, with the warm, dry weather holding, we went on safari, travelling from Bolton-by-Bowland along a track to New Ing Farm, the grass in the centre of the track polishing the sumps of the cars. Arthur and Doreen Hodgson introduced us to their small herd of Bowland sika deer, which were in the glory of their summer coat of dappled chestnut, the stags growing new horn under plummy "velvet".

We print for the interest of Members some Notes provided by Bill Mitchell for the Field Trip.

FOREST OF BOWLAND: The earliest traceable spelling was Boeland, and in a document of the 13th century it was rendered Boweland. Between Tudor times and the present day the common name was Bolland. Old people hastily corrected you if you talked of Bowland. "It's Bolland, lad". This was a "land of cattle", an allusion to the medieval custom of ranching at vaccaries (from the Latin vacca, a cow). Bowland Forest refers to the Norman chase. The last indigenous deer, red and fallow, were slaughtered in 1805. Almost exactly a century later, sika, an Asiatic species, was introduced by Lord Ribblesdale and some sporting friends. Today, sika and roe are widespread.

BROWSHOLME HALL (pronounce it "Broozam"): The Parkers took their name from their old occupation as keepers of a deer park (Radholme). They also farmed at Browsholme. Thomas Parker, having bought the vaccary from the Crown in 1604, had the family house re-fronted with red sandstone dressed and positioned to a design from Thomas Holt, of York. The architectural scheme for the main doorway incorporates the three orders of Greek architecture. The landscaping of the grounds, undertaken in advance of a visit from the Prince Regent, cost Thomas Parker over 100,000.

ALL HALLOWS, GREAT MITTON: An outstanding country church. Of special interest to us, in view of the impending visit to Stonyhurst, is the Sherburne chapel, the foundations of which were those of an early chantry. Its architect in 1594 was Sir Richard Sherburne (the surname is rendered Shireburn at Stonyhurst and Hurst Green). The last of the Sherburnes to be laid here was Sir Nicholas, who died in 1717. Since then, the tombs of alabaster and marble have been objects of respectful curiosity.

STONYHURST COLLEGE: One of the most famous Catholic public schools. Two 660 feet long ponds (excavated in 1696) lead the eyes to the buildings. The architectural core is the Elizabethan mansion of the Sherburnes, the last of whom, Sir Nicholas, rebuilt the front and placed two eagle-crowned cupolas on the towers. When Cromwell was an uninvited guest during the Civil Wars, he wrote to the Speaker of the House of Commons to relate that he "quartered the whole army in a field by Stonyhurst Hall". The school was moved here from the Continent, as we shall doubtless hear. The design for the school chapel, built in 1835, was based on that for King's College, Cambridge.