|of Satterthwaite Parish|
|1. The Parish in early times.|
|2. The medieval period and the bloomeries.|
|3. Woodland crafts in the Elizabethan Age.|
|4. The growth of the rural iron industry.|
|5. The Parish communities of the 1800s.|
|6. The expansion of forestry in Grizedale.|
|7. The Second World War and the Women's Land Army.|
|8. Satterthwaite Parish as we know it today.|
|1. The Parish in early times. Legend has it that the fells of High Furness were once inhabited by giants, and at certain times of the year, when a damp mist descends on Grizedale and the forest wears a grey cloak, the place has a strange feeling of remoteness and it is not hard to see how this sense of mystery would, long ago, have given rise to such stories. There are also tales of ritualistic rites taking place in|
| Satterthwaite. The custom of springtime well dressing, when a fountain below an ancient oak was blessed and the tree decorated with crockery and gaily coloured rags, was still being practised in the village up until the 1890s. It was also a place famed in the Victorian period for its version of the Easter Pace-Egg Mummers play, for which there is no known origin.
Some of the earliest archaeological discoveries made in the Parish, rotary querns, possibly date from the Bronze Age, and it is thought that some kind of settlement had existed at Satterthwaite before the tenth century. The name itself is of Old Norse origin: saetr, meaning a shieling or summer pasture, and thveit, meaning an isolated piece of land or clearing. In a similar vein, the name Grizedale means the valley (dalr) of the wild boar (gris), all of which suggests a picture of pastoral simplicity.
2. The medieval period and the bloomeries. In 1163, Furness Abbey acquired Satterthwaite as part of a late Norman grant, and the monks set about properly organising the surrounding countryside, building farmsteads and granges with tithe barns (the remains of one of these granges, Hawkshead Courthouse, can still be seen today just north of Hawkshead village). As the Abbey controlled all the commerce in the area, its abbots enjoyed great power and behaved like feudal lords. One of the later abbots, Alexander Banke, even kept his own deer at Dale Park.
There is documentary evidence that iron making was taking place in Furness during the thirteenth century, and in 1316, two years after the Battle of Bannockburn, the Scots raided the area and carried off as much iron as they could as it was a scarce commodity in Scotland at the time. Iron making required large quantities of charcoal, and as the woodlands around Furness Abbey became depleted, the monks transferred their iron workings to the fells of High Furness. From then until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Abbey made its iron in the woodlands around Satterthwaite, setting up bloomeries (early iron making furnaces) by the sides of streams or places where there was running water nearby. Bloomeries have been located at a number of sites, including Farragrain Bridge near Satterthwaite; Hob Gill, Satterthwaite Moor; and Corker Lane, south west of Force Forge.
A bloomery (from the Old English word blom, a lump) was a simple hearth of stones, covered by a dome of clay. To make iron, the bloomery was pre-heated using fired charcoal fanned by hand or foot operated bellows. Iron ore was then introduced into the furnace, more charcoal was added and the bellows pumped to provide a constant blast of air. Carbon monoxide from the incomplete burning of the charcoal then reduced the ore's iron oxides to a spongy, metallic 'bloom' of iron. Straight out of the furnace, the porous bloom was full of impurities, or slag. This meant the bloom had to be reheated in the furnace and worked down with a wooden mallet to remove some of the excessive slag and make the iron hard enough for forging. Bloomsmithies then removed more slag by using a heavy hammer with a head that moved up and down on a pivot and fell on an anvil. The result was a crude form of wrought iron.
After the closure of Furness Abbey in 1537, trade no longer had to pass through its hands, which meant it could go direct to the market towns. The lifting of this restriction empowered farmers with the freedom to hand down their property to the eldest son, and the great dynastic families of High Furness began to prosper. Families such as the Rawlinsons of Graythwaite; the Satterthwaites of Satterthwaite; the Sandys of Graythwaite; the Taylors of Finsthwaite and the Turners of Oxen Park. The most notable member of the Sandys family was Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York, who was born near Hawkshead in 1519 and resided at Graythwaite Hall (see places), an ancient building that still stands in the south east of the Parish. A stone in the east front bears the date 1178. The landscape architect Thomas Mawson of Windermere was commissioned to design the gardens in 1889.
3. Woodland crafts in the Elizabethan Age. By the time Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558, the woods of High Furness had fallen into decay and the local iron makers were more than ready to make use of fallen, dead and rotting trees, with mosses and resinous substances which caused the wood to burn with fierce heat. Charcoal burning took place in a 'pitring' or 'pitstead'; a circular clearing in a wood, 20 to 30 feet in diameter. Wood was cut up in the spring and summer, and stacked around the pitring in readiness for the charcoal burning in the late summer and autumn. A stake was placed in the centre of the pitring and pieces of wood placed concentrically around it. After a second layer was added, the mound of wood was covered with coarse grass or rushes and spread with a layer of finely sifted marl (soil consisting of clay and lime). The stake was then removed and the space filled with dry wood, which having been fired was covered with turf. Twenty-four hours later, carbonization was complete. The cover was then raked off and the stack sprinkled with water, an operation known as 'saying'. The water caused steam to penetrate and cool the charcoal.
Besides giving charcoal colliers a means of earning a living, the woodlands also provided plenty of work for woodcutters; sawyers; wheelwrights; carpenters; bobbin turners and makers of wooden hoops, brush handles and swill baskets. Coppicing, the art of cutting broad-leaved trees, such as oak and ash, down to ground level to encourage vigorous growth, was a more productive alternative to cutting down the tree completely, and with such methods of woodland management providing plenty of timber, rural industries flourished.
4. The growth of the rural iron industry. In 1614, during the reign of James I, the Sandys and Rawlinson families of Graythwaite and Grizedale acquired local estates. The Sandys lived at Graythwaite Hall, and the Rawlinsons owned Old Grizedale Hall, the first of the great mansions which stood near where the Grizedale Visitor Centre is now located. These estates saw the growth of a new era of rural iron making when bloomery forges were introduced to the Parish.
| The bloomery forge used water power, which meant higher temperatures and heavier hammers that could forge larger blooms of iron weighing up to 250 pounds. Bloomery forges were built at Force Forge (around 1614), Force Mill and Cunsey. Force Forge ceased to work as bloomery forge when the smelting furnaces were established, but was rebuilt in 1713 and used as a refinery forge until 1744, after which it became a ruin. Ore for the bloomery forge at Cunsey Beck was transported up Windermere by boat, but two woods nearby, named Great Ore Gate and Little Ore Gate, suggest it also came overland. Cunsey Beck Forge went into decline around 1760 and was demolished in 1800. The blast furnace at Cunsey was established in 1712, about 500 yards further down the beck. The blast furnaces demanded huge quantities of charcoal, and colliers had to be brought into the area from outside to maintain production levels. Eventually, supplies became so short that workers had to resort to picking through the slag from the furnace to find pieces of half-burnt charcoal. Like the forge, the furnace at Cunsey became redundant at the end of the 18th century and for a time it was run as a bobbin mill. In 1870, a Gilkes water turbine was installed and the site was used as a sawmill until it finally closed in 1998.
How very different the landscape of Satterthwaite Parish must have looked during the industrial scene of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A harsh world where people struggled to make a living from burning wood, and where toxic smoke-filled woodlands resounded with the sound of metal hammering on metal.
Around 1780, Agnes Ford of Monk Coniston inherited Ford Lodge in Grizedale and began planting large numbers of broadleaved trees in the valley. In 1785, she married Henry Ainslie in the church at Colton, and the tree planting continued, with larch trees being added to the estate.
5. The Parish communities of the 1800s. By the end of the eighteenth century, the rural iron industry had literally burnt itself out in the region. However, during the early 1800s, the people of Satterthwaite did have sheep farming, the slate quarries, bobbin mills and other woodland industries to fall back on for employment. There was still great poverty, but not as much as in some areas. In 1851, the sub-district of Hawkshead, which at that time included Satterthwaite (see map), had a combined population of 3763. Ten years later it had fallen to 3599, mainly as a result of emigration. In Satterthwaite, there was considerable anxiety over the future of the Parish's three bobbin mills due to the effects of new machinery. These bobbin mills, which helped to keep the cotton mills of Lancashire supplied with wooden bobbins, were situated at Cunsey, High Force Forge and Low Force Forge. Bobbin making involved the boring and turning of blocks of coppice wood using belt-driven lathes linked to a spinning line shaft, which ran the length of the mill. This shaft was originally turned by a water wheel or turbine, but later on steam engines were also used. The bobbin mill at Low Force Forge was powered by a Fourneyron water turbine which harnessed the fast flowing waters of Force Beck. A working example of a bobbin mill can still be seen at Stott Park Bobbin Mill museum, just outside the Parish, two miles south of Graythwaite Hall.
6. The expansion of forestry in Grizedale. In the early 19th century, Montague Ainslie inherited the Grizedale estate and, like his parents before him, planted vast numbers of larch trees. In 1841, he turned Ford Lodge, the family's 'country cottage' on the east side of the lane running through Grizedale, into a larger residence. This became known as Grizedale New Hall, the original Old Grizedale Hall, situated 250 yards to the west, having by this time become Grizedale Hall Farm. The foresting of Grizedale continued when Harold Brocklebank bought the estate in 1903. He completely rebuilt Grizedale Hall (The Yan, the Forestry Commission's new meeting centre, is now located near this site) and managed the forest in the form we recognise today; planting spruce, larch and fir trees. A photograph taken just before the Brocklebanks arrived in the valley, shows a crowd of people watching a tug of war taking place in a field in the centre of Satterthwaite during celebrations to mark the Coronation of King Edward VII.