Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mardale: A Village Lost

When I was a child I was told about the village of Mardale in the Lake District, which was drowned under Haweswater Reservoir in 1935. I was recently reminded about the site and I decided to do a little bit of research into what actually happened to Mardale and its residents. 

Mardale Shepherd's Meet in 1908
Mardale was described by Councillor Hinchcliffe of Manchester in 1921 as "The most primitive and secluded dale, the most charming and restful to be found in all Lakeland" (Berry 1984: 9). The village was located in an unspoilt area of the Lake District and contained houses and farms, a pub, a school, and a church. Mardale also hosted the famous autumnal 'Shepherd's Meet' when local shepherds came together with stray sheep from the fells, hoping to find their rightful owners after checking their ear tags and wool markings, as each farm had an individual code. At this event, wrestling, horse racing and other sports also took place.

The decision was made in the 1930's to build Haweswater Dam and its associated reservoir to supply the water needs of Manchester. The dam was considered to be an engineering feat of its time, and at its maximum capacity it can hold 18.6 billion gallons of water. Mardale's inhabitants were moved to local villages and measures were taken to remove and preserve some of the village buildings. For example, the Old School, founded in 1713 by Richard Wright, was carefully dismantled and rebuilt on higher ground at the expense of a private donor. However, the majority of the village buildings had a worse fate, being blown up by the Royal Engineers who used them as target practice! 

Holy Trinity Church in 1893 (Francis Frith Coll.)
The most famous building in the village was the Holy Trinity Church which held 75 people. In spite of much protest, the church was dismantled in 1936 and the stones were used to build a small pier and a tower along the shore of the reservoir. The last service held at the church was ticketed as the congregation far surpassed the capacity of the small church, and the hymns chosen for the service included 'I will life mine eyes unto the hills', 'The Church's One Foundation' and 'Bright Vision that Delighted'. Around 100 coffins were exhumed from the cemetery and reburied just east of Shap Church. Plans to build another church on higher ground never materialised.

Although the village was completely submerged by the reservoir in the 1930's, when a severe drought occurs the level of the reservoir can be drawn down to such an extent that it is possible to visit the ghostly remains of Mardale, including brick buildings and the village bridge. This happened in July 1984, 2003 and July 2010, and it could well happen again should the region suffer a similar drought in the future. The memory of the village lives on in the Mardale Times, a satirical newspaper about global warming, and a novel entitled Haweswater set at the time of the dam's construction.

Berry (1984: 9) stated after his visit in 1984 that "There is a strange fascination in the re-emergence of a drowned village and as soon as this happened in Mardale the valley became a place of pilgrimage". I would be very interested to hear if anyone has visited the site during a time of drought, as I am yet to have the privilege.

Reference Cited: Berry, G. (1984) The Story of Haweswater: Mardale Revisited, Kendal: Westmorland Gazette.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Website of the Week: Sewing the Town Together

Although I am clearly biased when I write this, I would like to recommend a visit to the website of my artist sister, Charlotte Louise Garnett, who describes her working mantra as follows: "I emphasise sewing as a means of demonstrating architectural perspective of buildings and text, elaborately using the sewing machine like a pencil and the fabric as an inter-changeable canvas".

"Sewing the Town Together"

For her final year project, Charlotte undertook a unique project which she hoped would bring together the different religious institutions in Kendal, entitled "Sewing the Town Together". 

She describes the project as follows:

"Over the past year I have been researching all of the 22 religious buildings in Kendal and through my sewn works, aim to emphasise the idea of community by bringing these different establishments together through an exhibition to be held in the town in spring 2011. 

As part of the project I will be inviting a member from each establishment to an exhibition of the 26 works where they will have the opportunity to not only view the pictures but more importantly be part of an event where all religious orders can feel they are part of one single local community. After this event, they will be able to take away their respective pictures to hang in their particular establishment, thus creating a legacy exhibition sewing the town together".

"Keep Left"

She has recently completed her final exhibition of her work as a student of Fine Art at Leeds University, which is currently open to the public in the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies at the University as part of an exhibition entitled "Keep Left". The pieces included in this exhibition utilise buildings of cultural importance as the subject matter, including the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Charlotte uses a unique method incorporating different fabrics and textures which are skilfully sewn onto a background of calico. The effect is simple and clean, yet highly effective. 

Charlotte is available for commissions; if you would like a sophisticated, original rendering of a building or scenic location close to you, or indeed of a favourite famous landmark, whilst supporting up and coming British artistic talent, please contact her by phone on 07515176641 or by email at

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

New Kendal Museum Content on the ACCES Website

© Kendal Museum
I'd like to draw your attention to some new content on Kendal Museum that has recently been uploaded to the ACCES website (The Association for Curators of Collections from Egypt and the Sudan). ACCES is the first curators’ group in the UK for curators who are responsible for archaeological collections from ancient Egypt and Sudan.

The ACCES website is a useful portal for browsing through the history and objects of both local and national UK museums with Egyptology collections, and it contains a link to some great images of a selection of the objects from Kendal Museum - definitely worth a visit.
Yan Tan Tethera: A rhyme derived from a Brythonic Celtic language used by shepherds to keep sheep in many parts of England and Southern Scotland.

Until the Industrial Revolution, the use of traditional number systems was common among shepherds, especially in the Dales of the Lake District.

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