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These are articles from earlier Newsletters, which we think are of general interest. We hope to add to the collection from time to time.

Ambleside’s Historic Environment

An Ambleside Childhood – Our Clothes

Ambleside’s Historic Environment

By Maureen Colquhoun (Spring 2009 Newsletter)

Ambleside is rich in culture and history. It is a small town which deserves recognition and respect, from its medieval roots to the present day. The good news is the Lake District Park Authority is to look at Ambleside’s Conservation Area with the aim to include the whole of Ambleside, as only half of which was designated in 1980.

As a community we are remarkably rich in our designated Listed Buildings. Ambleside alone has 53, comprising:

  • 1 Grade I Listed Site-Borrans Field (Roman Fort)
  • 1 Grade I Listed Building – The Bridge House, Rydal Road
  • 1 Grade B Listed Building – Church of St. Mary
  • 50 Grade II Listed Buildings

But are there any more buildings and areas which need designation? I can think of one: The cottages in Ellerigg Road which housed the first Building Society in the north of England and were the brainchild of Harriet Martineau whose house The Knoll, Rydal Road, is also Grade II listed.

So what is a listed building?

The listing covers the whole of the building, both interior and exterior. This includes any object or structure fixed to the building and any object or structure within the cartilage which is not fixed but forms part of the land, and has done so prior to 1st July 1948. This would, for example, include boundary walls, outbuildings, cobbles in a courtyard or any signs attached to the building.

All buildings are selected according to criteria laid down by English Heritage. Buildings and are listed for their special architectural or historic interest by the Department if Culture, Media and Sport, acting on behalf of English Heritage.

The principles they use for selection are:

    • Architectural interest – buildings which are important for their design, decoration or craftsmanship. Historical Interest – buildings which illustrate important aspects of Britain’s social , economic, cultural or military history.
    • Close Historical Association – buildings associated with national important people or events.
    • Group Value – where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic unity, or a good example of planning.

There are three grades of listing:

  • Grade I are building of outstanding national importance which should on no account be destroyed . These account for just 2% of all listed properties.
  • Grade II* are buildings considered of particular importance and of more than special interest. They account for approx 4%.
  • Grade II are buildings deemed to be of special interest and make up the large majority of listed properties. (approx 94%).

Of the 21 million homes in Britain, less than 3% are listed

There remains much more to be done to ensure that the historic character of Ambleside is preserved. What I would like to see is the whole of Ambleside designated a Conservation Area. With so much creeping development, plastic doors and light pollution, soon there will be little left to preserve.

[Written in Spring 2009] I would urge you all to take part in the public consultations that will take place later this year. I believe it is important to press the Park Authority to make sure that Ambleside’s historic character is conserved.

An Ambleside Childhood – Our Clothes

By Joan Newby (Spring 2011 Newsletter)

In the nineteen-twenties life seemed very secure and the seasons clearly defined. Girls never wore trousers. In winter we had kilts and jumpers and long stockings – knee socks when we were young, long ones when we were older. Houses were cold in those days, only the living room being heated, so we wore a considerable collection of clothing in winter. Firstly a woollen vest, next a liberty bodice, unheard of now – and the children of today can be thankful for that! It was a bodice of warm material, re-enforced with tape bindings. When we were old enough to wear long stockings, suspenders were attached to rubber buttons on the bodice. There was always a cold space between stocking tops and pants. We wore navy, green or brown fleecy knickers with elasticated legs.

Those who had very hygiene-minded mothers even had white linings to add to the general bulk. On top we had our kilts and jerseys and, some of us, thick petticoats as well, although I never wore one. Hats, thick overcoats and scarves were worn for going out. As a child I was always cold and suffering greatly from chilblains which were treated with a green waxy substance called Snowfire – for me it was completely useless. One thing I remember in cold weather were the gaiters. These must have been a tortuous invention of the Devil. Legs were tightly encased from the knee to ankle, kid leather monstrosities, with a flap over the shoes. They were so tight that a button hook was necessary to fasten the long row of buttons on the outer side of the legs; it was purgatory, and I think I must have stopped the circulation in the leg, because my feet were always colder than ever.

This was our winter gear. We went into it as soon as school as school started at the beginning of September and that was what we wore until May, when the warm weather returned. Then, as one, we all went into our summer dresses, ankle socks and white canvas shoes – always dresses – no shorts or jeans. So for six months we wore our cotton dresses with a cardigan if it was cooler or a mackintosh if it should rain. Summer and winter clothes were never mixed – ever!

In 1933 I started at Kelsick Grammar School at the top of Stock Ghyll and now a part of Charlotte Mason College. Our school uniform was a navy blue pleated gymslip, white blouse, yellow and black tie, yellow girdle, black stockings and navy blazer with a Viking-head badge. We wore a round, navy felt “pudding basin” hat with a badge in front. In summer we wore Panama hats with the brims turned up at the back and yellow and black bands round. It was a plain blue cotton dress. We were very healthy as we all walked to school. Rules were very strict even outside school. We were never allowed to walk up the hill with boys, not even with brothers, and were put into detention if we did. And the school uniform must always be worn or we were really in trouble!