Tag Archives: Lancashire

I Feel Rather Stupid – To Post Or Not To Post?

 

Leading up to Castle Rising.

The reason I feel stupid is that I travelled for just over two hours by car to Castle Rising in Norfolk and spent less than twenty minutes in the castle itself.  Before we go any further, I have to state that Castle Rising is a wonderful place to visit and I would certainly recommend it to anybody.  So, if indeed it is such a good spot to visit, why did I only spend twenty minutes in the castle itself?  I believe I have a bit of explaining to do.

At the moment, I am working on a supernatural novel set in Victorian times called Mulgrave Castle.  I have been working on this, on and off, for a number of years.  At one point, I actually got rid of the supernatural element and decided to have it as a detective story.  The reason for this was that whilst writing it, strange things happened and it spooked me.  I have had a number of supernatural experiences in the past and I find them hard to believe and on occasions have been frightened, I am a sceptic but know what I have seen, heard and felt.

A short while ago, when I decided to go back to working on Mulgrave Castle, I decided that it would be what it had set out to be – a supernatural story.  I resolved that instead of cowardly hiding from the supernatural world, I would do lots of research and find out more instead of closing it firmly out.  This is how I ended up at Castle Rising.

At the same time, my son and I have been doing a lot of family history.  This has brought up some surprises which makes me question why I am sensitive to supernatural experiences even though I have always tried to block them out.  Whilst looking up family history in Lancashire, I stumbled upon MJ Wayland’s (author, paranormal explorer and relic hunter) website www.mywayland.com  In one post, he writes about the most haunted families in Lancashire.  As I read the names the Singletons, the Osbaldestons and the Southworths – I realised that I am descended from all these families.   I will explain further on why I am mentioning these three families.

English: Isabella of France, wife of Edward II...

English: Isabella of France, wife of Edward II of England. From http://www.william1.co.uk/pg1.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Further research discovered that Isabella of France is my 21st great grandmother, for those who are not au fait with her, she is otherwise known as She Wolf for allegedly being involved in the murder of her husband, Edward II.  Castle Rising in Norfolk is where Isabella was under house arrest for many years.  It has been said that she haunts the castle and people have heard her hysterical laughter.  The genealogical line which I followed to get from myself to Isabella involves the families Singleton, Osbaldeston and Southworth from Lancashire.  Are certain genealogical lines more susceptible to hauntings than others?

English: Castle Rising Castle. By William M. C...

English: Castle Rising Castle. By William M. Connolley; 2006/11. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we love visiting castles, we decided to go to visit Castle Rising.  I have to point out that I sincerely did not want the story of Isabella laughing hysterically to be true.  Ancestor or not, the thought of souls who cannot rest in peace leaves me feeling desolate.  I wanted to visit the castle and enjoy it purely for its history minus any supernatural incidents.  So not only am I a sceptic who needs proof of supernatural phenomena, I also think deeply about what some of these stories actually mean if they are true.

Do these creatures guard Castle Rising?

So we arrived at Castle Rising and had a very civilised picnic in the grass covered car park and used the exceptionally clean and well looked after lavatories.   After putting away our chairs and picnic basket, we sauntered down to the castle.  We decided to walk where the battlements would have been first to take in the magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.  After a few minutes, I started to feel unsure of my footing even though I had no need to.  We left the battlements and went into the castle.  By the time I had climbed the first lot of steps, I felt decidedly ill.  I felt so hot my head was pounding and I felt as if I had a huge lump of something in my right ear.  It was a hot day but we were in the cool darkness of the castle.  I complained about how hot I was and my son said that I was standing in what was once the fireplace.  I hadn’t realised as I felt too uncomfortable to read any information signs.

I was trying desperately to feel well as I didn’t want to spoil the visit for the rest of the party.  I looked out and saw a bridge and I heard myself saying that I could not go across the bridge; no one could make me go across the bridge.  I was aware that I sounded like a petulant child but at that point fear was a stronger emotion than shame.  My family asked if I wanted to leave as I looked on the verge of having a palpitation attack.  We hurriedly made our exit.

Within minutes of getting into the car, I was well again.  My son asked me why I was so afraid of going across the bridge.  I told him that at that point, I knew that if I went on that bridge, it would collapse underneath me.  He said that the floor had collapsed around that area in the 16th century.  I had been too unwell to read the wall plaques when I was in there.  The suggestion could be that my eye maybe had quickly skimmed it or I had read about it and not remembered.  The only problem with that theory is that I did not do much reading about the castle before I went to it once I had read about Isabella supposedly haunting it as I did not want any suggestions of anything which have happened implanting itself in my brain.  The other problem with the theory that I might have briefly seen the wall plaque or read about the floor collapsing was that I was truly petrified and I have been to many places where things have happened but they didn’t have that effect upon me.  Nobody would drive all that way on a family day and leave so quickly if not made to do so.

A way to make a quick exit.

Also, it left me feeling really stupid, it has taken me almost two weeks to write about it – in fact, I almost didn’t write about it because it seems too silly for words.  I will be going back; firstly, I am so annoyed with myself because none of us got to really see it and explore.  Luckily, my son had the sense to get some quick photographs before we left.  The other reason I will return is my curiosity – will I be able to overcome my fear of what looks like a perfectly safe bridge?

 

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Filed under Mulgrave Castle - Harriet Twine the Saucy, Strange Stories

Six Great Reasons To Do Family History With Kids.

I love family history, I get to be the detective, I couldn’t be in reality.  I have been doing it with my son since he was about nine.  He is now a grown up and does it without me as he is crazy about history and has got a deep interest in particular families he has discovered we are descended from.  This isn’t a post about how to do family history – there are many great books and articles out there to help.  This is a post which explains a few of the reasons why it is good to share it with our children.

My great grandmother, Alice Escritt.

History becomes a reality.  When our children do history at school, it is always other people’s history.  It might be about monarchy, political leaders or wars.  It is nearly always about the folks who are known by many but actually connected to a few.  When anything is covered about the ordinary folks it can seem as bland as my cooking.  Growing up in Lancashire, we covered the cotton industry in history at school.  I remember wishing aliens would come and cause chaos as Mr Hall droned on about the warp and the weft.  Oh how that man knew how to kill any interest in The Industrial Revolution –  that in itself was a talent.  However, much as I would love to indulge myself in remembering Mr Hall’s secret educational weapons, I won’t.  When we look at our ancestor’s lives during these periods, we truly get a sense of reality, especially in periods which cover the censuses.  For instance, finding out that your great grandmother shared one room with ten other people and had to go into the street to get drinking water, really makes us think about the reality and hardships of their lives.  Family history brings history to life for children because it is about folks they are directly connected to, people whom they share DNA with.  It doesn’t get more personal than that.

Family History Mormons

Family History Mormons (Photo credit: More Good Foundation)

Research skills.  Whilst having lunch with a teacher friend of mine, we decided that one of the most important skills a child can learn is to be able to research well.  Family history is a  productive way of doing this.  Children love to discover something about their ancestors and then grandly announce it to their parents.  When my son discovered that he had a 10X great grandmother called Frances Poo, he adored breaking the news.  Of course, I thought he was joking and had to check it.  He was right, of course.  The point is that family history makes children feel like real live detectives.  The more they find, the deeper they wish to go.  It is amazing how much this aids their research skills whilst having fun.

Francis Poo

England, Marriages, 1538–1973

marriage: 24 Jan 1598 Pocklington, York, England
spouse: William Fallowfyeld

Bonding process.  In this day and age, it is all too easy for families to be in the same house and yet not really be connecting with each other.  A lot of the time, families are all doing their own thing, even watching television programmes is done in separate rooms these days.  This is where family history really helps us bond with our children.  There is something really powerful about the moment your child and yourself discover something fantastic or heart breaking about a shared relative.  It is potent and strange and something which they could not get with friends, neighbours or anyone except the family.  When I first discovered that a great grandfather of mine had spent the last twenty years of his life in a lunatic asylum –I was totally shocked.  I was new to family history and it was the first of many sad or brilliant shocks which were to come.  The only people I could share it with, initially, were my son and my mother – both of whom were from the same ancestor.

Ashton-under-Lyne old hall

Ashton-under-Lyne old hall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Days Out.  Sometimes, it is hard to think of something new to do with our kids or even somewhere different to go.  We often seem to do the same activities and visit the same places.  We’ve had some great days out though visiting the places where our ancestors lived.  It can be good fun to take photos of the children in front of the church where their ancestors got married two hundred years earlier or even just discovering a market town which your ancestors lived in but you haven’t been to before.  I found a fabulous pair of Punch and Judy doorstops for £5 in an antique shop whilst visiting one of the market towns my ancestors once lived. in  Although saying that, it can sometimes backfire.  We visited some record offices in Ashton Under Lyne in Lancashire – that was fine.  We then planned to find an address where some of our ancestors had lived in the early 1800s.  It had turned into a monstrously busy road with huge trucks zooming up and down it. It made me totally stressed so I really do not know what my 4X great grandfather and grandmother would have made of it if they had travelled forward in time.

Meeting Wonderful New Relatives.  We all have an amazing number of ancestors, so logically that means we are related to an amazing number of people whom we have never met.  We were lucky enough to be found by a wonderful Australian lady whose great grandmother was sister to my great grandmother.  When she came to England, she brought her husband and children to meet us and we all had a rare old knees up together.  My son found lovely new cousins whom he bonded with immediately.  It makes family history become real for children when they get to meet the descendants of people who are simply names and numbers on family trees.

Lancashire

Lancashire (Photo credit: Neil T)

Logic and Maths. When children do family history, they have to do lots of mathematical calculations and estimates.  It isn’t the hardest maths in the world but it means lots of practise with basic maths in a productive way instead of filling in one maths worksheet after another.  In the same way, they have to work in a logical manner.  Finding out about our ancestors means working methodically backwards and making sure all the facts fit.  We cannot start in the middle, we have to be systematic and it becomes a habit.  Children who take part in family history projects become adept at careful note-taking and fact checking.  They have to do the maths to make sure that what they have discovered is both logical and correct.

Happy hunting!

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Filed under Education, For children, For Teens, Parenting, The Peculiar Past