A Grand Day out in Lancashire


We’ve been to Eccleston near St. Helens, to see some draft and history and meet some friendly people.

Mark Constable was there, forging fire steels in his minimalist bucket forge running on charcoal and an airbed bellows.  We had a good chat about making the forge lining, refractory cement, flue vermiculite, beeswax finishes and the general wonder of making a hard lump of metal into the shape you wish.

Mark’s charcoal forge. His own photo from his website.

I don’t think I mentioned that I started a short coursette in blacksmithery at Craven College last week, blimey, rather louder than Strid Wood what with 5 fires with their electric blower and extractor fans, 9 people bashing metal and shouted chit chat.  I’m making a snail – slowly.

Pepper had brought his boss Phil Gregson worshipful wheelwright along with him, I hear Phil is crossing the pond for a grand tour of US museums and that his progress will be tracked and reported on a specially souped up soon to be upgraded website. He’ll be at Colonial Williamsburg first off (in period costume!).  Phil had brought his band of Lancastrian bodgers along and we had a bit of a natter about this and that things woody.  I failed to take any photos as I was lugging my stock knife around with which I was going to demo peg-making, but the rain was against us.  The Wobbly Wheelwright beer was a great success though.

From Twitter post to George Wright Brewery from james barber ‏@jamesbarber37

Here’s the set up, pole lathery, spinning, spoon carving and the odd wheel.  Phil and grandfayther under the shelter and Pepper posing for the camera, centre.

Tip of the cap to Cllr Michael Haw ‏@CllrMichaelHaw

Eventually the rain got the better of us, so, as planned we departed for Gawthorpe Hall

GawthorpeSAMSUNG CSCThe entrance doorway gives a taste of what’s inside.  An Elizabethan Manor House, built around an earlier tower, with Victorian remodeling in the 1850s by Sir Charles Barry, designer of the Houses of Parliament.

There is no photography allowed inside so the pictures are from the excellent National Trust’s collections database.

The remodelling didn’t stop at the building, the furniture has been hacked about in many cases, original panels and friezes reworked into mongrel creations:

I’m not sure whether this is a “marriage” but that pierced apron below the seat looks odd.  This one is more obvious:

However, there is enough there in its original simple condition:

Detail of above settle.

The plaster work on the ceilings is stunning, the drawing-room especially.

There are even two of the original family cast in plaster

Thanks go to Michael P. Conroy for his extensive research on the Shuttleworth family. Much of the information on this webpage is taken from his 1996 booklet1, “The Shuttleworths of Gawthorpe.” Thanks to Deborah Nouzovsky for bringing out the fact that Winston Churchill is descended from Hugh and Anne Shuttleworth.

As if all the woodwork and architecture were not enough, the Hall houses the Gawthorpe Textile Collection.  This is an amazing collection of mostly hand worked textiles from many eras and countries collected and many produced by Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth (1886 – 1967).  Not only historical artefacts are there but also the crafts are kept alive (as Rachel wished) with resident craft workers and workshops. Feast for your eyes!

Copyright gawthorpetextiles.org.uk

Copyright gawthorpetextiles.org.uk


A Grand Skipton Evening Out

‘Twas the evening of Museums at Night in Skipton and the lathe was sleeping,



I wish I had one of these and a boy to turn the great wheel.

There was a people’s curated exhibition with many interesting artefacts.

SAMSUNG CSCI wonder if this could be turned on the great wheel lathe (I guess not looking at the two varieties of wood used for the captive rings.)


Echoes of Skipton’s busy industrial past and productive cotton mills.
SAMSUNG CSCAnd memories of an Indian childhood told in a cross-cultural American traditional red work quilt.

More treats in the streets outside.


The Penny Plain Theatre were out roaking in people (notice the boxing glove, it was used) to gamble away their hard-earned cash in a fruitless search for sudden wealth

I told them they’d be beamed around the world “… perhaps even into parts of Lancashire …”

Skipton Ukelele Band were out.


As well as some buskers, including this delightful quintet.

SAMSUNG CSCOne to one finger puppet show.

SAMSUNG CSCI spotted this S-scroll on a cast iron support column which I must have walked past hundreds of times and never before noticed.


I’ll bet it looks good under all those layers of paint.


Felt a very small amount like being in ole Manhattan.  Funny old world!



Fasten down that Ball


This long marquee has many extra straps and wooden pegs/stakes to hold it up. No wonder, it was windy.


“Well I woke up this mornin’,
So glad our tent hadn’t blown down.”

We were in territories new and unfamiliar, East Sussex in the South of England, near the sea and the South West wind.  The land where trugs are made and called trugs, not bodges, as in Kent. In Herstmonceux pronounced Herstmonzoo.  Blimey, these names down South very long and complicated, not like Strid, or other Northern simplicities, OK well, there are exceptions like Mytholmroyd and Micklethwaite.

Now here’s Mike Church, working away like a good ‘un on trugs for an American order  (I suppose a “Speed trug-making” video would have been good here – Ed)


Here’s their details:


Sussex trugs have been going for a long time, in fact they are “Royal” because Thomas Smith, their inventor sold some to Queen Victoria on the first day of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London in 1851.


Here’s the oblong I bought my wife:


Before we arrived at Herstmonzoo we stopped off to have a look at Great Dixter gardens (& hall/house).  Well worth a detour (as they say in Michelin guides).

GD entrance

Great Dixter Entrance, yes the porch does lean cocked towards the left.


A quite large Great Dixter garden  bench.


A small sample of the planting style at GD.

I took no photos of the house interior, as this wasn’t allowed, but it was a fine mixed collection of 17th/18th/20th century furniture in a stunning timber-framed early 16th century hall.

I was rather saddened to find that the old central heating radiators had mostly been disguised by covering them with a butchered antique chest, must have been when they were out of fashion, the alterations responsible were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer LutyensOMKCIEPRAFRIBA and Nathaniel Lloyd in 1910.  Some of them had rather fine carving in the 17th century style.  Here’s a picture of one from Country Life 1995.

The Bodgers’ Ball was held at Herstmonseux in a strong gale.  In a field provided by Richard Bingham.

English: Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1599)

English: Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1599) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mainly in a massive marquee which billowed and creaked over the whole weekend, occasionally bursting the odd wall pole.

These gatherings are a great way of meeting up with people … you met at earlier Balls and also new people you’ve not met before, but all of whom have a common interest and to some degree a common attitude to parts of life.

What I got from The Ball this year


Breakfast at Mark Allery’s bar. Looks like the wind blew away some of Alan’s hair. (right)


Whoops wrong photo …



In the auction I successfully bid for a French side axe, more of this in a later post.

I discovered that the bodgering world is not yet ready to propel itself back into 17th century green joinery.


But I’m working on it.  Watch out Worshipful Company of Turners, my cricket stool is coming!

A massive G cramp for £10 – it must open about 14″, haven’t measured it yet.



And that the Sussex coast is about 7 hours away from Strid Wood, where herb paris is blooming (again)


No wonder I’m so tired of an evening …

Here’s a video of some green oak adzing I’ve been doing to make a pair of outdoor seats for either side of a green oak picnic table.

There’s about 10 seconds at normal speed, then about 4 minutes 20 seconds in slo-mo, which may get rather boring, if so fast forward to about 4m 30s where it’s back to normal speed and some work with the inshave.

Notice how the work rocks, that’s the pressure of being on film.  The screw clamp came loose and I didn’t want to stop and tighten it up again.

Anyway, the pair looks like this at the moment.


I did some more of this:


Unfortunately it burnt rather faster than usual and I had the lowest return yet, the charcoal had been merrily burning away to itself overnight before I shut it down and I got about half the weight I should have done. Can’t win ’em all!

Never mind, on the plus side we have lots of these:


Bee eggs in a new colony we’ve just taken on to reinforce our small colony with the drone-laying queen.

And the bluebells are out in Strid Wood too.