Archive for the Lancaster Category

The Ghosts of 2010


Although I have cut down on my  posts from one per day to one every 4 or 5 days in 2010 starting in August, I managed 256 posts.  I hope to improve on this year and continue to build up Bookstains, which is proving popular. This year Echostains celebrated 16 artists birthdays (another area I intend to improve on).  Some earlier categories have gone and I have plans for some new ones.  This year saw the arrival of slide shows and polls.  WordPress is a learning process and I’m still learning:-)

PS This video was completed in 2010 and was supposed to go on New Years day.    I have had to revise it because it was originally over 20 minutes long 😀

Ecclesiastical public bars

Posted in DESIGN, Lancaster, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, PAST PLACES with tags , , , , , on July 5, 2010 by echostains

The Parish York

I first came across a church that had been turned into a public house a while ago when we went to York.  I loved it! (see ‘Throwing yourself on the mercy of the parish these days’……….post)   At first I felt a bit uncomfortable about the idea, – but the conversion was so tastefully done and it meant that the church was saved from perhaps demolition or a really drastic bad modernisation, so  I was very much inclined to approve of it.

The Friary Lancaster

On our trip to Lancaster we found yet another chapel that had been coverted into a pub.  The Friary, on Rosemary Lane has a completely different feel to the Parish in York.  The decor I suppose could be called Shabby Chic or Boho: some of the textiles and colours are not for the faint hearted, but there are original touches here and there.  The light fittings in particular are highly inovative, in the sense that they have been fashioned out of rather unusual recyclable materials.  An oil drum, for example, split in half and the inside encrusted with glitter hangs over a table illuminated by bare bulbs.

ten greenish bottles

A wire frame with hanging bottles provide another eye catching light arrangement.  What looks like part of a tyre, is fashioned to become another unusual lighting design.  Strange vinyl sofas with matching covered tables, interspersed with velveteen seating banquettes.  All this – and carpets, red snooker tables.

Footage and Firkin Manchester

This pub used to be owned by the Firkin group, who like to convert old buildings into pubs.  We have one in Manchester which used to be an old cinema – and it’s most interesting pub which still has the balcony.  In the Friary the real ale has gone from this pub now and it’s mainly for students and owned by the Scream group.

The Friary Lancaster

All in all, I did prefer the Parish in York, I thought the space better utilised.  Although the Friary is a good size too, the layout is a little too haphazard and the layout chaotic.  But  that’s probably part of its charm:)  I suppose it’s a sign of the times that the only time some people go into a church is to worship at the bar.  But at least these buildings are being put to use and they are attracting their own congregation.

Excellent Friary Church outer shot from here

Lancaster legends, lunatic chairs and witches

Posted in HISTORY, Lancaster, PAST PLACES with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2010 by echostains

Lancaster castle John O Gaunt gateway

In our relentless quest to travel further and further into the world, we often forget places which are relatively nearest to us.  Lancaster, for example is  only an hour or so drive away from us, yet until recently we had never been there.  Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, famous for the Pendle Witch trials of 1612 where  9 women and two men were tried at Lancaster Assizes, 10 were found guilty and were hung.

Lancaster Museum

The town itself is a very busy place, the river Lune runs through it, colourful barges and delightful pubs and restaurants abound.  The Museum has a marvellous collection that ranges from early civilisation up to the present day.   I really like the way the collections are displayed and grouped, going back through time.  There are lots of artifacts that have been found in Lancaster.  The most fascinating one, I thought, was a body that had been found under a car park  (I think) in the centre.  The coffin was hollowed out of a tree and the body wrapped up in a cloth shroud.  But all that remained of the body was the fingernails and toenails!  Of course you weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum, which was a shame because there were some wonderful artifacts.

Lancaster Prison

Lancaster castle is a big black imposing place – there’s nothing romantic about it  Having gone up to the entrance (John of Gaunt’s gateway) we were a bit disconcerted to find that this entrance was actually the doorway to a working prison and we were queueing up with relatives of the prisoners…..  Apparently this is a common mistake.

Having found the right entrance we were shown around by a the castle’s archivist Eric Wilkinson whose knowledge of the castle’s history and the informative and highly entertaining way he made the castles history come alive, made the hour-long tour go by only too quickly.   It was easy to forget that part of the castle is in fact a prison and that the Crown court still sees a lot of action, it’s  done so for over 200 years.  The walls in the court are covered in heraldic shields of all the counties of Lancashire and ornate carving provides an impressive backdrop to this historical room.

lunatic chair

I got to sit in a ‘Lunatic chair’.  It is a restraining chair that was used to confine ‘awkward’ prisoners.  the more they struggled, the more the leather straps self tightened.  Luckily for me, the chair was strapless when I sat in it 🙂

We were also incarcerated in a tiny dungeon, the door was locked and the light turned out.  To say it was creepy would be an understatement…..  of course yet again we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the prison (security risk).  


 But outside we took some of ‘Hanging Corner’.  This little place is where a lot of hangings took place.  Standing on the car park where the prisoners bodies were buried in quicklime, facing the church on a sunny day, a slight chill was felt. 

 Castle tour (lunatic chair and scolds bridle and inside pics of the castle here)

Castle John O Gaunt gateway here and prison sign here

About Lancaster here