Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Jan 2014 Feb 2014 Mar 2014 Apr 2014 May 2014 Jun 2014
Jul 2014 Aug 2014 Sep 2014 Oct 2014 Nov 2014 Dec 2014
Oct 2014

Sat 25 Oct 2014
Ceramic Poppies at the Tower of London.

25th Oct. 2014, visited London to view the ceramic poppies at the Tower.

There were literally hundreds of people there, all trying to view from afar or join the queue to walk through them.
They are magnificent and a wonderful tribute to those who died, during WW1.

Come Nov. 11th there will be 888,246 ceramic poppies in the Tower of London's mighty moat , one for each of the British and Colonial soldiers, sailors and airmen who perished in the Great War.

We also went into the library in Kings College, very impressive and into the chapel also, which was awe inspiring.
We had a great day with our two grandsons, and ended up in the Knights Templar bar, off the Strand, for a meal before leaving for home.



Tue 21 Oct 2014
Visit to Ribchester Museum

Members of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society were treated to a special presentation at Ribchester Museum to cover the Museum's centenary and also the return to Ribchester of the magnificent Parade Helmet which was found in Ribchester in 1796. After passing through local ownership it was purchased by the British Museum where it has been on display since 1814.
The visit was organised in collaboration with the Friends of Ribchester Roman Museum.
Patrick Tostevin, the Museum Curator, gave us a potted history of the Museum, the Roman Fort and the return of the Parade Mask. The mask is on temporary loan and returns to London in early November 2014.

The earliest Roman fort in Ribchester was established in the early 70s AD as part of a network of defensive forts across northern Britannia. Originally of turf and timber construction, the fort was rebuilt in stone in the mid to first century AD.
The fort accommodated a garrison of cavalry troops whose purpose it was to patrol the surrounding area and keep the local inhabitants under control. It was occupied into the fourth century.
The helmet was discovered in 1796 by John Walton a local man, along with about 30 other items which are still at the British Museum. To maintain the security of the helmet a special case had to be made and imported from Belgium. There were no suitable cases available for loan in the UK. The cost was over Ł11,000.
After the presentation were able to view the helmet in its secure case. A duplicate copy of the helmet was made about 100 years ago and this has been on display in the museum since then.

An engraving by James Basire for Charles Townley.

Battlefields and Poppy fields - Steve Williams
Tue 14 Oct 2014

Steve made a welcome return to the society as a departure from the scheduled speaker to speak on the battlefields and poppy fields of both world wars. Steve admitted his passion includes World War 1 and the Chorley Pals involvement in it. His illustrated talk, though, would cover, in chronological order, battlefield sites in northern France and Belgium between the years 1914 to 1944.
Firstly, 1914 and the scene is the town of Mons, Belgium. It was said to be the scene of the first and last shots fired in the whole war. Indeed, there were fired only 10 feet apart from each other of a plaque Steve showed. He told the story of the ‘Angel of Mons’, which was said to protect British troops in their retreat. It is a great story but, however, is a myth.
A battle which cost more Chorley soldiers’ lives than the Somme was at Festubert in 1915. These lives, however, were those of the men of Chorley’s territorials or the ’terriers’. These men were called up in 1914 to fight alongside the regular army.
Verdun in north east France is important to French national identity as this was the place where the Germans would not be allowed to pass. A heavily fortified place that was important enough for both armies to bitterly contest it between February and November 1916. Steve commented on the totally different atmosphere experienced at French war cemeteries than at British and Commonwealth cemeteries.
It was an attempt to relieve the enormous pressure on the French lines that the British initiated a large scale assault at the Somme in July 1916. This, of course, became synonymous with the Pals battalions. Chorley’s Pals accounted for a quarter of the East Lancs and many of them were killed at the town of Serre.
Steve told of a story about a contemporary silent film made of the battle at the Somme. Much of it was fake but the interesting point was that women who worked in mills and factories, who watched it, walked out. Not because of the violence in the film but because of the bad language they could understand through lip reading.
Other interesting points were of the Zillebeke British war cemetery. A battalion of men from the City, many with aristocratic connections, suffered casualties and the dead were buried at this cemetery. Steve told of the body of a Brindle lad’s body being exhumed from there, as he, supposedly, did not deserve to lie at rest with these men.
Moving onto World War 2 Steve told of his father who was a regular soldier and served at Dunkirk in 1940. There were more Chorley connections with stories of Joseph Slater, who died at Normandy in 1944. Also, of Stan Dickinson, who was shot and was bombed there and is still alive today. More Chorley connections were mentioned in respect of Arnhem and at Bastogne, the ‘Battle of the Bulge’.
Steve concluded his talk with supporting images of the enormous memorials at Menin Gate and Tyne Cot. His image of a field blushed red with poppies and the poem ‘In Flanders Field’ brought his talk to a fitting end with reflections on the millions who lost their lives in both world wars.

Peter Robinson

Here's a note from John Harrison.
Please could the following note be put on the website?
Chillingham Castle.

Those who experienced our Society's tour around Chillingham Castle this year will want to watch "You can't get the staff" on Channel 4 on Tuesday 21 October. Part of the programme shows the attempt to recruit an armoury polisher. The mind boggles, given what we saw at Chillingham.

Amateur Diver finds many objects on the bed of the River Wear.
Thanks to Lionel Walker for article and photos.

The Archaeologist
Gary Bankhead discovered and excavated the objects displayed in this exhibition from the River Wear in the
centre of Durham City. He works as a Watch Manager in charge of Green Watch at Durham Fire Station
and is currently studying for an MPhil at Durham University.
Gary made his first finds in April 2007 following a suggestion from his wife Angela to investigate the river.
He and his brother Trevor found an ornate silver trowel buried in the shingle on their first dive. Over the
past four years Gary has found over 3,500 objects in his underwater searches.

Gary Bankhead

Recovering these artefacts was no easy task. Gary had to endure temperatures of 4-12°C during the
April-October dive season, working
with less than one metre of visibility. Recovering the objects required meticulous excavation from stratified
layers of the riverbed whilst
surface traffic rumbled hardly three metres overhead.
Thanks to Gary's dedication, it is possible to gain a unique insight into how people traded, travelled and
lived their daily lives in Durham
through the ages. Students, researchers and visitors to future exhibitions will have the opportunity to
explore this story.

Gold ring with diamond 19th century




Sat 18 Oct 2014
1914 Commemorative Exhibition: Antarctic Witness
at South Ribble Museum.

It is Frank Hurley’s remarkable photographic record of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16. This is a centrepiece of the Borough’s commemoration of Britain’s declaration of war, which broke out on August 4th 1914 as the expedition ship – Endurance – was making her way out into the English Channel.

The exhibition is due to close this week.

The Endurance.

The exhibition of Hurley’s work is on loan from the Royal Geographical Society. It has been seen in New York and Edinburgh and is also an important contribution to the national celebration of the centenary of the expedition itself.

There was a showing of the film 'South' the film record of Sir Ernest Shackleton's heroic but ill-starred attempt to cross Antarctica in 1914-16.

This restored version of the film has been constructed by the BFI National Archive from a wide range of materials. The BFI National Archive has applied its own tinting and toning to match the original prints, and has produced this handsome and richly coloured testament to a remarkable episode in the history of exploration.

Fri 17 Oct 2014
Astley Farmhouse official opening.

The Astley Farmhouse renovation was officially opened by The Mayor of Chorley Councillor Roy Lees on as a dedicated space for Chorley's Heritage and Cultural Community.

l to r: The Mayor Cllr Roy Lees and Cllr Beverley Murray.

Downstairs is a joint exhibition between Chorley Lodge Artists and Chorley Photographic Society.
Upstairs will is '75 Years of Royal Ordnance Chorley'



Wed 15 Oct 2014
The Community Archives and Heritage Group North West Conference
for 2014 “Better Together”

The Community Archives and Heritage Group North West Conference for 2014 “Better Together” took place this week on 15th October at the Lancastrian Suite, Chorley Town Hall. Special thanks goes to Greenhalgh's Bakery who kindly provided a magnificent supply of our local gastronomique, the Chorley Cake.

The event was hosted by Chorley Heritage Centre Support Group.

Lincoln Shields

Chorley’s eponymous cake is a flattened, fruit-filled pastry cake. Not to be confused with its rival cousin the Eccles Cake which is sweeter and made of flaky pastry, the Chorley
Cake is made of short crust pastry. It was often made as a means of using up ingredients left from baking days. The filling is usually of currants, so that it has been called Fly Pie! However, it’s not unusual for sweeter fruits such as raisins or sultanas to be used, or for sugar to be added to the currants. Variants are almost as numerous as households in the town, so we can forget about European Union protected-brand status! The cakes sold in shops are usually 3-4 inches in diameter, but they can be plate-sized. It is usually eaten with a liberal layer of butter on top. Enjoy!

Chorley Cakes