Thursday, 14 June 2012

Ivegate in Colne

Ivegate is now a small lane leading along one side of St Bartholemew's churchyard. Nowadays it runs roughly north and becomes Argyle Street at some indeterminate point...the older maps show that it led towards the 'church well', downhill from the churchyard (lovely).

Why's this of any importance? - it's in the name, Ive-gate. 'Gate' we're well used to in northern England, a good old Viking linguistic heirloom meaning a lane or street. But 'Ive'?

So, go to Bing maps and search for Ivegate - you'll find that there are four. Colne, Foulridge (very nearby), Bradford and Leeds. It seems locally significant to this Lancashire - Yorkshire upland. One antiquarian writer was convinced of the reason for this:

“Ivegate was possibly called from a small chapel dedicated to the famous Saxon Saint Hiev, to whose immortal memory many such chapels or cells were erected in various places and parts of England bearing her august name”
Harry Speight, from Airedale through Goole to Malham, early 20th century

Saint who? 
St Hieu or Hiev, a 7th century abbess at Tadcaster….. or St Ive (as in St) Ives … or the 4th century Irish ‘Ia’…or Greek slave ‘Ia’....all are contenders for the name Ive where it occurs across the UK.

It seems from this name that Colne was one of several locations where a pre-Norman English saint was venerated....and this supports a hypothesis that Colne had a focus for Christian religious practice before the building of the Norman church. 

And probably some kind of village or settlement to go with it.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Outing The Past: LGBT History Month
February 2012 will see a month of LGBT events and celebrations across the UK. Here in Lancashire the County Archives have hit the ground running - booking in advance is essential to secure your place at workshops on 3rd February and 25th February. If you would like to book a place, or have any questions or queries, please contact Kathryn Rooke, on 01772 536795 or

Friday 3 February 2012 10.30 – 15.30
'OUTING THE PAST: Identifying, Showcasing & Celebrating the Wealth of LGBT Evidence in every Archive'
Archivists from Manchester, London and Preston will be sharing ideas of how to host a first celebration of LGBT History Month, where to find LGBT History, how to use it with school and volunteer groups and the collections at Hall-Carpenter Archives in London. (£3.00 per person)

Saturday 25 February 2012, 10.30 – 16.00
A FREE event on Saturday 25 February for lectures, displays, 'Talking Heads' and more...
From Polari to 'Impostresses', Lancaster Castle to Whittingham Hospital, our guest speakers Dr Colin Penny, Dr Paul Baker, Jeff Evans will be sharing their latest research with a day-long programme of talks.
Once again, our 'Talking Heads' will also be sharing their own personal histories of life in Lancashire and there will be plenty to see from Lancashire's archives, not to mention plenty of refreshments courtesy of Lancashire County Council's LGBT Staff Network!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Snail water, the ultimate diet drink - read this and lose your appetite

Lancs Archives DDSP/56/11/3/8
"Take a peck of garden snails wash them in a bowl of beer and put them in a brass pan...."

So starts the recipe for Snail Water. I've added the full transcript at the end, if your curiousity overcomes your nausea...I guarantee you won't want to be nomming on anything for a while if you do. So lose weight by reading on!

I happened on this delightful concoction at the Lancashire Archives in Preston. It is part of the collection made by Wilf Spencer who was Colne Librarian for decades at a time of accelerating change - the 1920s onwards. 

The recipe comes from what's described in the catalogue as book of 'Cordial Waters, Simple Waters and Syrups'. It doesn't have a date, but judging from the handwriting and spelling I'd say it was written down between 1800 and 1820-ish. Lancashire was a bit of a back-water even then, so the spelling and phraseology come from an earlier age. 

The snails are by no means the least of it. The recipe then calls for a quart of earthworms pounded to a mush, and two handfuls of sheep or goose dung. 
That's revolting. But two things spring immediately to my mind: firstly, many ancient remedies refer to the use of animal dung, even going back into ancient Egyptian times. Secondly, is this a manifestation of the ancient notion that if it's horrible it must drive out some other 'badness'?

The broth is repeatedly fermented, boiled and distilled and a whole rack of herbs and spices are then added, and lastly - probably most importantly - it is recommended to be taken with sugar or lemon syrup ('syrup of sittern'). So like cough-sweets, the main flavour is going to be sweetness. Which will surely help to mask the snails, worms and dung. But in fairness, after all that boiling and distilling, hopefully any harmful bacteria have been killed off and sieved out. Hmm?

The writer of the recipe recommends it for helping ease measles, smallpox, convulsions, the ague, wind, infants and newborns illnesses and faintness.

Here's the full recipe: don't try this at home!

Lancs Archives DDSP/56/11/3/8
Take a peck of garden snails wash them in a bowl of beer and put them in a Brass pan. Set them over a clear fire and Stir them as long as they make any noise then take 'em out and with a knife and a coarse cloth pick them and wipe away all the green froth from them very clean then in a stone mortar bruise shells and all take also a quart of earthworms slit 'em and scour them with salt and then wash and beat 'em in a stone Mortar then make your Pott very clean upon which you purpose to set your Still, take also 2 green handfuls of Angelico and 2 of saladine and lay them in the bottom and put upon them the snails and worms with sheeps dung and goose dung either of them 2 handfuls, then put in a quart of Rose Mary flowers also of Egrimony Barefoot & Red dock roots of the bark of Barbary of wood Sorrel of each of these 2 handfulls apiece, of Rue half an handful of fennygreek and Turmerick one Ounce, of saffron well dryed and powdered the weight of  6d then pour in 3 gallons of your Strongest Ale and cover your Pott and let it stand a day or 2 and one night at least close stopped in the place where you mean to put your fire under it in that morning before you put your fire under it put to them of good cloves beaten to powder one Ounce of harts horn 6 Ounces you must not stir it after you have put in the horn lest it go down to the bottom then still it up in an ordinary still but then it will not be so strong take water as long as there is any strength in it and mingle all together and stop it close and drink 4 spoonfulls of this water with Sugar in any great distemper of heat sweeten it with syrup of Sittern in stead of Sugar as in Feaver Small Pox or meazels it is good at the beginning of an Ague to take half an hour before the cold fitt comes. It is good for faintness and restoreth the spirits for Convulsions and for the Worms and the best thing that young Children can take for the wind is one Spoonfull all thereof being made sweet with Sugar when they be undrest in the afternoon for a bigger child two spoonful or more, and in all other cases it is best to take it going to bed for new born children keep of the middle sort neither of the Strongest nor of the Smallest of all it will be stronger if it be Stilled in a Glass still close luted but for want of that the other will serve

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


The Historypin website
 My good friend Andrew Schofield of the North West Sound Archive told me about Historypin, a new not-for-profit community project supported by Google.

Simple and quick summary: Historypin lets you pin photos, sound clips and text to places on a google map - and you can place old photos so that they appear in Streetview. Like I said - it's simple and quick. Click on the button if you want to have a nosey!
See what I've pinned on Historypin

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Fairytale of New York

Seasons greetings everyone....

Make your own beautiful word cloud with Wordle

Monday, 5 December 2011

Inspiring personal research
'Join me in the 1900s' by Pat Cryer is well worth visiting if you are looking for ideas on how to put together some personal family and local history research. 

An intelligent combination of reminiscence, photographs and maps, it shows just what can be done online to make your research accessible to a vast audience in a highly cost-effective way.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Turn £1 into £500 at a click!

Seriously, you can make £1 into more than £500......using the National Archives currency converter!
This is a great tool for making sense of money in the past - so if you look at how much £1 in current money was worth in terms of purchasing power in the year 1270, there's your answer....£532.72. 

Or, that 2 shillings and six pence that William Brown gets from his visiting aunt.....well, put it into the online machine and it comes out with a whopping £17.21 - no wonder he was so keen on impressing them.

Cash amounts crop up again and again in studies of literature and history, and other than saying blandly that you got much more for a penny, it gets hard to flesh out the detail. This online tool will help and will give a more detailed picture of purchasing power in past times.

There's a bit of a limit in that the calculations only go up to 2005 - but it's better than a guess.
Crumbs, I just calculated what my first pay packet would be worth now. No wonder I was so pleased.