Tatton Park

Tatton Park is a historic hall and gardens located in Cheshire.

The mansion is surrounded by over 1000 acres of a landscaped deer park, 50 acres of gardens, a farm and an array of vegetable gardens which still provide food to the estate.

The walled kitchen garden, including all the glasshouses, have been restored to working order. This garden has remained loyal to the traditional Edwardian way of growing fruits and vegetables.

Runner beans, potatoes and lettuce are some of the varieties that are still being grown today from a forgotten era.

The orchards house gooseberries, gages, apples, pears, plums and cherries.

The produce from the garden can be purchased from the farm shop.

Sir Thomas Egerton purchased this estate in 1598. Although the Egerton family had ownership of the estate, the old medieval hall was rented out to tenants. It took until 1716 when John, the great-great-grandson of Sir Thomas, built the first mansion on the land that the family actually resided on the estate.

It was John’s son Samuel that made renovations, including the completion of the dining room.

Exhibited in the dining room is a Minton dessert service in the Sèvres style that was purchased in 1865.

In the 1770’s Samuel asked architect Samuel Wyatt to build a completely new Neo-Classical mansion on the land, this didn’t get completed until 1791, after Samuel Egerton’s death.

Lewis William Wyatt, the nephew of Samuel was responsible for the purchase of the vast array of paintings.

In the 1860’s more alterations were made to the mansion, including an upper floor added to the family wing and another entrance way.

In 1958, Maurice Egerton, the last lord of the manor, donated the house to the National Trust after his death.

View of the Italian terrace from the mansion.

The Italian gardens were designed by Joseph Paxton in 1890 and they received restoration in 1986 and 2010.

The recreation and leisure gardens are known as the pleasure grounds. They include Charlotte’s Garden, the Rose Garden, the Maze, the Tower Garden, the Topiary, The Choragic Monument, the African Hut and the Arboretum.

The gazebo from Charlotte’s garden.

Charlotte’s garden was named after Lady Charlotte Egerton, wife of William Egerton. It was designed in 1814 by Lewis Wyatt. This was the first formal garden designed with small flower beds of single plants.

The Choragic Monument is a copy of the Temple of Lysicrates in Athens. It was built in 1840 by Wilbraham Egerton.

There are over 300 species of trees in the garden. The Egerton family started this collection in 1795 which includes rare species from China, Japan and North America.

The Japanese garden was inspired by an Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910 where Alan de Tatton visited.

The garden was constructed by Japanese men with artefacts brought back from Japan. It’s the style of a Tea garden, including a Shinto shrine, a bridge over the Golden Brook and white stones that represent a snow-capped Mount Fuji with balance brought from the well-placed plants and rocks to create harmony with nature. There are Japanese Maples, Acers, bamboo and evergreens with the focus on strict pruning techniques.

The glass houses were built around the 1750’s. Used to grow pineapples, figs, apricots grapes, peaches and nectarines.

Alongside the pinery is the fernery. This was built by Joseph Paxton in 1850. It has an extensive collection of ferns, some of which were brought back from as far as Australia and New Zealand.

Blessed Be )O(

Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle is located in the Lake District, Cumbria and is owned by the Pennington family who have resided in the castle for over 800 years.

The castle is secluded up high between the hills which overlook the River Esk and has spectacular views of the Eskdale Valley and the Lakeland Fells.

The castle was built in the 13th century, on a site that had Roman ruins. The castle started its life as an unfortified hall. When the Scottish raided the border during 1316 – 1322 a four-storey pele tower was built using Roman stones as the foundation and would be enough defence to repel the Scots.

As time passed the hall was remodelled for comfort and it wasn’t until 1783 that the hall was completely rebuilt, only leaving the pele tower in its original condition. The Georgian house was then remodelled into Victorian fashion between 1862 – 1866. A second pele tower was added purely for aesthetical symmetry. The library was built from the hardwood trees that were planted on the grounds.

In 1464 Henry VI gave a glass bowl to the family and declared that as long as it remained intact, the Pennington’s would thrive and remain at the castle, to which they are, even to this day.

There are many ghosts said to reside at Muncaster Castle but one in particular is Tom Fool aka Thomas Skelton. He was a jester during the Tudor period and even on occasion an executioner when he cut off the head of a carpenter who had fallen in love with Sir Ferdinand Pennington’s daughter. Tom was known to play cruel practical jokes on visitors, when asked for directions he would often direct people across the river below and into the quicksand. He’s still playing jokes on people today.

Mary Bragg who was murdered in 1805 was in love with a footman at Muncaster Castle but so was a housemaid. One night Mary was told to come visit her ill lover but instead, two men took Mary to a large tree on a nearby road and killed her. Weeks later, her body was found floating and half-eaten by eels in the River Esk. The spirit of Mary can be still seen wandering the gardens and there’s a tale of the tree that Mary was murdered underneath, actually bled when it was cut down.

Inside the tapestry room phantom baby cries can be heard from the forgotten past of the room being used as a nursery, along with soft singing, black shadows towering over you and the feel of a heavy weight being pressed down on you when you try to sleep at night in that room.

A carved fairy tree house in the garden.

Muncaster Parish Church of St Michael and All Angels is located on the grounds of Muncaster Castle. There is a record of a church on this site since 1140 with the current building dating from the 16th century and alterations made in the late 19th century.

The Viking cross that remains in the churchyard suggests that this land was used as a burial ground even before pre-Christian times.

Blessed Be )O(

St Michael’s Church

St Michael’s church is located in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.

There is also another nearby medieval church, St Helens in Churchtown.

The site the church stands on has probably housed some form of sacred building since the Saxon times. The church itself was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and it is believed that some elements of the 13th century church still remain within the building today.

The current building is from the 15th century with alterations that were made some 200 years later.

The tower was built in 1549 and it houses three bells. The first one was donated by a French lady in 1458, the second one dates from 1663 by Geoffrey Scott and the third was from Abel Rudhall in 1742.

Inside the church is a large pendulum that hangs down from the wall. This clock was installed in 1850 and the ticking can be heard throughout the building.

Blessed Be )O(

My Samhain 2020

This year has gone so fast with months of lockdown and Covid restrictions, that Samhain didn’t at all feel like Samhain this year. This whole year took on a completely different vibe, some traditions I tried to stick with and others couldn’t be done.

However, even though I pretty much missed celebrating Mabon this year, it wouldn’t be autumn without the yearly scarecrow.

The garden was decorated around the scarecrow with purple lights, lanterns and pumpkins.

More pumpkins.

The porch was also decorated.

For the feast of the dead I hollowed out a butternut squash, carved it so it became a lantern and made a soup with the flesh.

My altar this year was nicely decorated with plenty of munchkin pumpkins.

This Samhain had a blue moon (the second full moon of the month.)

Because of the powerful and amplified energy of this Samhain’s blue moon, I took the opportunity to tap into this power with a special abundance spell.

A walk around the neighbourhood was eerily quiet, no trick or treaters and barely anyone decorated, but the carved pumpkins I did see had created inventive ways to distribute sweets without human contact, such a shame that the streets actually resembled something out of an apocalypse film this year.

Blessed Be )O(

The Witch of Woodplumpton

The boulder to the witch is located in St Annes church in Woodplumpton, Lancashire.

The Witch of Woodplumpton is the legend of a woman named Meg Shelton, she was accused of witchcraft and in 1705 she was buried in this churchyard.

The “Fylde Hag” that was Meg Shelton was accused of stealing milk and transforming herself into objects. She was seen as a nuisance to the local farmers, she would often transform herself into objects on the farm in order to avoid detection. There is one story of her changing herself into corn sacks; as the farmer noticed the sacks where there should be none, he poked them with a pitchfork. One of the bags let out a scream and changed back into the witch.

There is another story of a farmer noticing a goose in one of his fields with the cows. It’s said that from the goose bill there was milk dripping. The farmer saw the oddity in this and kicked the goose, changing it back into a bucket. Enraged at the spilling of the milk she was trying to steal Meg flew off in anger.

One of the stories around her death is said that she was crushed to death between a wall and a rolling barrel that was pushed in her direction.

Some of the other stories revolve around Meg not actually being a witch but a scorned mistress. She was said to be having an affair with the local lord of the manor with the possibility of an illicit child involved, there was cause for this lord wanting Meg out of the way.

There is also the question of why a witch would be buried on consecrated grounds.

But the tale doesn’t end at Meg’s death. After she was buried it’s said that Meg rose from the grave at least three times. Resulting in her body being buried at midnight, vertically with her head facing downwards so that if she tried to scratch her way out again she would be scratching deeper into the earth. A heavy boulder was then placed on top just for good measure.

There’s lots of folktales revolving around the boulder where Meg is buried beneath. It’s said walking around the boulder three times will make Meg appear or that if you touch the boulder it will bring you bad luck.

Apparently the spooky apparition of Meg can still be seen floating about the graveyard and an appearance of an old hag has been seen on a number of occasions.

Blessed Be )O(

Holehird Gardens

Holehird gardens is located in Windermere, Cumbria.

The area was originally owned by Thomas Hird and the gardens date back to the 17th century. The house was built in the 1860’s as a private home and is currently being used as an independent living facility.

In 1885 the walled garden was created along with the heated greenhouses. In 1897 when the Groves family moved to Holehird, the gardens continued to develop and expand which included the rock gardens and water features.

In 1945 the garden had become too expensive to maintain and it was an overgrown wasteland. Henry Leigh Groves gave the estate away to the County Council.

In 1969 the Lakeland Horticultural Society formed which immediately transformed the overgrown rock garden and grassy slopes of the orchard. By 1980 the walled garden which was being used as a tree nursery was cleared and redesigned. The abandoned greenhouses and walls were repaired as well as new paths and flower beds were created.

It wasn’t until 2001 that the woodland walk was created, the water features were restored and other areas of the land were acquired for transformation.

The walled garden has all year around plant life including a variety of colourful flowering herbaceous plants and shrubs, roses, climbers and small trees.

The south wall is the most shaded area and the east border has the most sun throughout the day. There are five island beds and this garden has something to offer all year around including fragrant plants at the north wall.

There are several glasshouses that display a range of alpines that would be difficult to grow outside in colder climates. There are more than five hundred species and the displays are often changed.

There is an old Victorian glass house that was restored in 1999 which has preserved the Victorian curve-ended glass panes. Fuchsias are grown in that one whilst the flowers, herbs and plants that are grown in the heated greenhouses are used for both the gardens and for sales in the plant sale area.

Water features in the rockery garden.

The upper garden is sprawled across the slopes with narrow pathways and winding steps.

There are seating areas along the upper gardens that offer up scenic views of lake Windermere.

Blessed Be )O(

Kirkstone Pass

The Kirkstone pass has the highest altitude of 1, 489 feet in the Lake District and is the highest pass that’s open to traffic.

It’s a steep, narrow and winding road that directly goes through the valley to connect Ambleside in Rothay to Patterdale in Ullswater.

The views from the top are breathtaking and encompass the whole valley. Close to the summit is an inn which is the third highest public house in England.

Blessed Be )O(

Trowbarrow Quarry

Trowbarrow Quarry nature reserve is located in Silverdale, Lancashire.

This piece of land was once a limestone quarry up until it ceased functioning in 1959 and it wasn’t until 1997 that Trowbarrow became a nature reserve for a variety of wildlife and plants.

The trail to the quarry starts from Storrs Lane and you have to follow the sign posts as there are many other walking routes that divert along the path.

This area has woodland, wildlife and a nice walk around the quarry but don’t walk too close to the edge as people do rock climb here and bits of rocks do fall from the top.

This massive stone is known as the “shelter stone,” it was once used by the quarry men to shelter behind when they were blasting. These days it’s used by rock climbers.

Blessed Be )O(

Wyre Estuary

The Wyre estuary is where the mouth to the Irish sea meets the river Wyre.

This country park has a tourist information centre with parking, a picnic area, a children’s play area and cafe/toilet facilities.

There are numerous walking routes around the riverside and estuary that showcase some of the best views.

This area is also a nature reserve with the land comprised of salt-marshes and mudflats it provides habitation for birds and wildlife in the area.

Always check the tide times before walking as this path goes underwater when the sea comes in and floods the river.

Blessed Be )O(

Witch Wood Grave

Witch wood is located in Lytham, St Annes, Lancashire. It’s a woodland walk on the boundary of Lytham Hall.

The woodland belonged to the Lytham estate but once the house was acquired by the trust in 1963 this derelict land was gifted by the local council to St Annes Civic Society, who is now in charge of the upkeep of the area.

The houses situated at the edge of the woodland were built on what was once land that belonged to the Lytham estate.

I went walking through these woods during spring.

The reason Witch wood has its name is because on 5th January 1888, John Talbot Clifton, the squire of Lytham hall’s favourite horse called Witch died in a riding accident through this wood. The horse was buried on the property but when the boundary of the land moved, the gravestone became situated in the middle of public land and was left as a little piece of history embedded into the local folklore.

The gravestone can be found near the edge of the woodland and can be visited by anyone.

Should you be there, you might want to be aware there is a ghost story attached to this tale. It’s said that a phantom horse gallops along the path through the wood, accompanied by the sound of stampeding hooves.

Blessed Be )O(

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