The truth is, ‘Cockle Hall Picnic Site’ is actually where the now-redundant path to the old Stanah/Wardleys ferry once ran. There’s actually some debate as to whether the owner of Cockle Hall also owned the ferry itself, Freda Gregg, who remembers the ferry from her childhood, informing us that, should its services be required, you had to shout across the river to where it was birthed outside the pub.
Whatever the case, Cockle Hall itself stood further north than the tumble down ferry jetty as shown in the photograph above, in what is nowadays a short but pleasant wood.
The steps for the ferry are still there, as can be seen in the photograph below, although not as well maintained as they perhaps once were.
Freda informed us that, when she was a kid, she remembers the mediaeval hedge line (that might have come out sounding wrong…obviously Mrs Gregg wasn’t mediaeval, just the hedge line) running all the way down to the river across the path later installed by the Wyre Rangers.
Observant readers, of course, will also know that the Romano/Celtic road running from Bourne to Nateby passes by the picnic area, just a little to the south, indicating that in more ancient times, a ford rather than a ferry spanned the Wyre at this point.
As for the hall’s history, well, surprisingly little is known, but what information we do have we thought we’d share with you just for the sake of it.
Let’s start with a photograph of the building.
It’s not exactly the clearest photograph ever produced it must be said. In fact, to be honest, it’s not much more than a dirty brown smudge, taken from the marsh, presumably with a pinhole camera constructed from old toilet rolls and tracing paper. But if you look closely enough you might be able to make out the entrance gates on either side of the cobbled revetments that held up the embankments on which the hall stood.
Those cobbled revetments are still there to this day, as can be seen in the photograph below.
We took a trip to Stanah a few weekends ago with the previously mentioned Freda and her son, Nathan, both of whom are descended from the hall’s one-time occupants, the Lawrensons. (In the past we’d made arrangements with Councillor Jim Lawrenson, who’d agreed to meet us at the Ecology Centre to fill us in on a few historic details. Unfortunately he failed to turn up and reports of him wandering around Sainsburies without a care in the world at the same time as our meeting reached us later. To this day we’ve never had an explanation and can only assume that he’d forgotten.)
Anyhow, this seems like as good a place as any to splice this article in two. So, if you’re interested (or even if you’re not), more of the same in seven day’s time.