The forecast today started off being correct, we had showers. Not just light showers but down right dumping of loads of water showers. This meant we could check if our new covers were waterproof. At the stern we had a small puddle where the amount of water had been too much for the drain on the roof and at the front there were a couple of spots, nothing at all to worry about. A couple more showers came over, but then the day brightened up and stayed that way.
We were a little slower at getting going than Bridget and Storm and made our way to the Cathedral whilst they set of for the Castle.
In 1924 the Pope founded the new diocese of Lancaster, which covered the whole of Cumbria and most of Lancashire north of the Ribble. A Benedictine Monk from Ealing Abbey, Thomas Wulstan Pearson, was chosen to become the first Bishop of Lancaster and St Peter’s became the Cathedral. A huge amount of work took place to mark the Golden Jubilee of the church in 1909, the addition of the triptych designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, new benches and doors, the walls of the church were recoloured. Looking high up the decorations are beautiful and on the walls of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel are wonderful murals. I tried to find out a bit more about these paintings but have had no luck.
Neither of us is religious, but we enjoy visiting churches and looking at their architecture. However today we both found a different atmosphere in the Cathedral. Mick attended St Benedicts School, Ealing and was taught by some of the monks from the Abbey. On entering the cathedral today his body language changed to uneasy. There was no welcoming feeling to the place, the stained glass didn’t warm with sunlight, the cream walls stayed cold. We decided that we far prefer Anglican churches.
From here we set off to walk towards the Castle.
As we meandered our way through the streets we walked through what used to be the market, but is now a shopping arcade. In the paving slabs there is a trail of coins which at one point is taken over by weights. The faces of the coins have long since been worn away. Lancaster has many grand buildings. Leaving the centre we came across the grand City Museum and as it was free we decided to have a look.
What a comprehensive museum. Far too much to read, but very informative. Yesterday we’d wondered how Lancaster came to be and what it was famous for. The Romans built a castle here on the hill over looking the River Lune and through the centuries it’s position on the river meant that it was an ideal place for merchants. By the 17th Century it was a thriving port with merchants trading with the West Indies and the American colonies. During the 18th Century it enjoyed it’s Golden Age when all the fine buildings around the city were built. Furniture building with imported mahogany, clock making, ship building, stained glass, iron and steel engineering and coated fabrics such as Linoleum kept the town busy.
Wealthy citizens made gifts back to the town to help the poor and needy. The main benefactor was James Williamson Jnr who made his money from the production of linoleum, he became Lord Ashton in 1895. Williamson Park is named after him which is the most obvious of his gifts, we may have to visit there for the views from the Ashton Memorial. On the 14th May 1937, Lancaster received a new royal charter granting it ‘the style and title’ of a city.
The museum also houses the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum. We had a brief look inside here. However an exhibition remembering the anniversary of the White Lund explosion kept our attention. During WW1 there was a Projectile Factory and the National Filling Factory (White Lund) close to Lancaster. The Filling Factory did just that, it filled shells with TNT that were then transported to the front lines. Thousands of people worked in the factory which took over a large area between Lancaster and Morecombe Bay. On arrival the workers would change into a uniform that didn’t have buttons and were searched for matches, nothing possible of makeing a spark was allowed. On the 1st October 1917 a fire was discovered in the factory, explosions followed. Luckily for most they were on a meal break so not near the explosions, however twelve people died that night. An interesting exhibition, but the noise from the flame effects on the displays was deafening, I felt for the people manning the desk having to put up with it all day.
We ended up spending too much time at the museum to manage the castle today. Instead we stopped off at Filberts Bakery that we’d spotted last night. There was plenty of bread on the shelves. Rye, Oatmeal and Sunflower, Sour Dough to name a few and one we’ve never seen before Roast Potato Bread (Italian). Well even though I don’t eat bread anymore we had to try a loaf. It is very tasty, although we were a bit disappointed that so far we’ve not come across a whole roast potato.
Further along King Street is Penny’s Hospital Almshouses. Through a gate is a courtyard with two large flower beds, flanked by six homes either side. At the far end is a small chapel. Built in 1720 by the executors of the will of William Penny who had been Mayor of Lancaster three times. During the day you are welcome to walk in and have a look. The front doors painted blue are reflected by the flower beds. King Street was widened in the early 20th Century so the two houses nearest the road were demolished, the screen wall was rebuilt, the chapel shortened and two new houses built keeping the twelve units. In the 1970’s the houses were refurbished with bathrooms and since have been used as they were originally.
The chapel is simple, twelve chairs are placed round for the residents to sit on. There is an alter and a stained glass window. Simple yet far more welcoming than the cathedral this morning. Services are still held here every week for the residents, their guests and anyone who cares to join them.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 very wet morning, 1 dry bow, 1 dry stern, 1 cold cathedral, 1 hermetically sealed organ, 1 extensive museum, 1 jacket potato, 1 ciabatta, 2 mugs of tea, 1 carry mat, 1 potato loaf, 12 almshouses, 1 warm chapel, 12 chairs, 1 bored cat! 2 much to see in one day.