Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back to the Grange: Part One

Let’s kick off this article with a bit of eye candy for the ladies:

What? Don’t anybody say a bloody word! We’ve all got to have our dreams, haven’t we? Anyhow, that’s me on the left (unfortunately) doing some sort of groundbreaking new dance or other, whilst Mr. Clayton (on the right) watches on in awe…possibly disbelief. (Incidentally, Steve the surveyor is responsible for this photograph, so if you want somebody to belt for ruining your breakfast, feel free to teach him a lesson.)
Now, put your fans away and stop drooling ladies, it’s actually the platform I’m stood on that’s important here. That’s because we’re back at Grange Farm in Stalmine and we’re still trying to figure out what archaeological wonders we’ve got buried beneath this thing.
We’ll start with the watermill theory then. Take a look at this:

This is a quoin (if you don’t know what a quoin is, find an architectural dictionary and look it up) inside the old barn (recently sold for conversion) on the summit of the hill. (Previously we’ve postulated that the foundations of this barn were the remains of the original grange building…but that’s already been covered so we’re not going to retrace our steps again here.) There are several sandstone blocks like this around the building, all with grooves that could serve no possible purpose in their present location, suggesting that they originated in another, now demolished, building.
We reckon these blocks might have once housed sluice gates for the watermill belonging to Furness Abbey. Sluice gates were generally wooden things and needed to be lifted up and down to control the flow of the water down the millrace.
I can’t remember if we’ve mentioned the watermill before, so before we go any further, let’s just throw a few ancient documents in your direction to verify its existence. Page 253 of the Victoria County History then, footnote 16: “Nicolas was plaintiff in 1318 (ibid. 221, m. 9d.), in which year he came to an agreement with the monks of Furness as to certain approvements; Dep. Keeper’s Rep. ut sup. From this it appears that Nicolas had a salt-pan on the waste and the monks had a watermill by their grange.” And just for good measure, here’s an extract from Stan Jones’ ‘White Horses, Red Cats and Buried Treasure’ which informs us that, in 1205: “Geoffrey Arbalester granted Furness Abbey land described as ‘...16 acres in the town field of Preesall on each side of the road to the Orestpul, with water for their mill.’
So did our platform back in 1205 and 1318 house a monastic watermill belonging to Furness Abbey then? Well, here’s a
photograph showing a section of ground beside the ‘bridle path’ at the base of the ‘Grange’ hill running down to and past the platform, demonstrating how the hillside at this point (stretching all the way to the ‘snig pond’ at the bend of the bridle path) had obviously been cut level at some point or other:

On the off chance that you still haven’t got all of that clearly sussed out (and let’s be honest here,
there’s a good possibility you haven’t) here’s an aerial photograph that, hopefully, should fit the various pieces together better:

Right…that should all make perfect sense now, so here’s the theory…in visual format because, well, frankly, trying to explain this sort of stuff in writing tends to be extremely verbose, confusing and, ultimately, a waste of time:

Does everybody understand that? What we’re trying to explain here is how there’s a strong possibility that three ponds along the bridal path (along with a further pond that does exist on the top of the hill) fed into a reservoir behind the sluice gates and the mill wheel jutting out from the mill itself on the platform before being fed off towards the other end of Grange Pool.
Obvious really.
There is another theory about this platform, however, that ought to be thrown into the works before we dig it up and find out…but we’ll leave that for now because my stomach’s rumbling and there’s a bacon butty downstairs that’s singing a siren song.


Jayne said...

Ahhh! Those pics make it as clear as crystal, even for this blind old biddy.
Would Henry VIII have destroyed a perfectly good watermill? Cutting off his nose to spite his face if he did demolish those sort of things along with the abbey instead of taking it over himself/giving it to a local crown brown noser..err..supporter.
Can't wait to hear what the possible alternative theory is, too :)
Sorry, not drooling at this end, you're a dark, shapeless blob in that pic to this blind old biddy - sort of like a goblin prancing about :P

Brian Hughes said...


I'm a dark, shapeless blob in reality as well, unfortunately.

I don't think old Henry would have destroyed the mill personally. It's just that, without any monks left to run it, it probably fell into disuse. We know that by 1618 that woman (whatever her name was...I've forgotten it now...Mrs Pike or something) owned the Grange but there's no mention of the mill anywhere ever again. Who knows, by the time of the dissolution, the monks might have long abandoned the mill themselves...always assuming that the platform was the location for the mill, of course.

I suspect we won't know until we've excavated it...and we probably won't know much more after that considering that it would have been made of wood and other easily decomposable stuff. After almost 1,000 years, there probably won't be much of it left to find.

Fingers crossed, though, eh?

Anonymous said...

Brian, are you levitating?

Brian Hughes said...

No, it's just this cushion's a bit uncomfortable on my hemmorhoids. Oh...I the photograph? Well, it'd take an awful lot of hot air to get my fat carcass off the it's highly possible.

Bwca said...

... and I had been thinking Snig and Quoin were members of Adge Cutler's Wurzels.

Dig ON

Brian Hughes said...

Actually Annie, I think they're the names of two background Orcs in Lords of the Rings.

Feral Beast said...

I hope it is a water mill.

Brian Hughes said...

Mr. Beast,

So do I. Actually I just hope its old and it isn't just a platform for chickens don't like running around at angles after all.