Wandering round Wigton

A day where I go looking for a new tv and find a lovely church….
After the sunshine of the previous day the second morning arrived cloudy and grey though still very warm. Activities around the farm started just after 8am and when I took Snowy and Poppie for their morning walk I found a large agricultural wood chipper making short work of a gigantic pile of tree trunks, with a couple of tractors and trailers running in relay taking the chippings up to the big barn at the top of the farm track.
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The grey sky and low cloud seemed to be fairly widespread with no sign of clearing so I decided to stay on site, read a few chapters of my book and maybe indulge in a bit of daytime tv, something which I rarely do at home, however the tv itself had other ideas. As I moved it round to avoid the light reflection from the tent window the aerial connector came out of the back of the set and when I looked the connection port itself had broken off inside the set and there was no way of fixing it myself.
Later information from the site owner told me that there was a tv repair shop in Wigton, about 12 miles away; I’d been intending to visit the town at some point during the holiday anyway as I wanted to check out the heritage trail so it seemed like this day was as good as any even if the weather was still dull. I found the tv repair shop with no problem and while the tv could probably have been fixed it couldn’t be done for a week or so and the cost of the repair could possibly be more than the small 24″ set was worth. It looked like I would have to search out a new one from somewhere but not before I’d had a walk round the heritage trail.
Starting from where I left the van the first building I came to was St. Mary’s Church. It dates from the late 1700s and was modelled on St. Michael’s in Workington, though I’m saving any other details for another time as it really deserves a post of its own. In front of the church, between the building and the road, was the old cobbled Corn Market, while on the south side was a row of traditional Georgian cottages built in the 1700s. On the north side was a row of cottages known as the Widows’ Hospital, built in 1723 following a bequest from the Rev John Thomlinson, Rector of Rothbury, for the widows of six Protestant clergymen from across the county of Cumberland.
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Along the road and across on the other side was Wigton Methodist Church, built in 1883 and modernised inside in 2005, then back past St. Mary’s I came to Market Place and the George Moore Memorial. Built in 1872 and dedicated to Moore’s first wife Eliza Ray each of the four sides features a sculpture by the pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner, showing scenes of the Acts of Mercy with Eliza’s face above each one.
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Across from the memorial was the former Kings Arms Hotel, originally a coaching inn where authors Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins stayed while on their Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices during the wet winter of 1857. Apparently they didn’t enjoy the town very much as Collins had previously fallen on Carrock Fell and twisted his ankle. The hotel was renovated in 1987 and when the wallpaper was stripped off it was found that Dickens had put his autograph on one of the walls.
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Along the road to the left of Market Place was the Hare & Hounds, a pub and former shop which is now just one property. Built in the late 17th/early 18th century it’s one of the oldest pubs in Wigton and has been Grade ll listed since November 1984.
Back past the George Moore Memorial and down Station Road I came to the John Peel Theatre, built in 1884/85 as a barracks for the town’s Salvation Army corps. Wigton Theatre Club was formed in September 1952 by the head of Wigton Secondary School and the members spent the first ten years putting on plays, usually four each year, in the school hall, then in the Parish Rooms. In 1964 Redmayne’s Bespoke Tailors bought the barracks from the Salvation Army and rented the building to the theatre club, giving them substantial help in converting it into a theatre which was named after the John Peel of the well known song, then when the land around it was to be redeveloped in 1988 the club purchased the building in order to ensure its continued use as a theatre.
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Round the corner from the theatre and on the way to the next building on the trail I came to a short alley leading to a couple of houses with unexpectedly pretty gardens. They weren’t connected in any way to the Heritage Trail but they looked so bright on such a dull day that I couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos.
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The next building on the trail was the premises of Wilkinson Joinery on the site of the Old Corn Mill. Part of a 1775 rebuild of a much older building the current building served as a water-powered mill until the late 1920s; on the side wall are three original mill stones and a bronze plaque detailing the building’s history.
Across from the joinery place was a cottage with a large mural painted along its gable end wall. Steps at the side of its boundary wall led up to an open alleyway where part of the wall had been replaced by glass panels giving a view of the mural. It obviously depicts life in the past but so far I’ve been unable to find out what it signifies and why it’s there; it isn’t even mentioned in the heritage trail brochure. 
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At the end of the alleyway, which was quaintly named Birdcage Walk, I came to two more buildings with murals on their walls. Now home to the Free 4 All environmental charity they had once been part of the Old Cotton Mill, buildings which originally housed workers from the town’s thriving cotton industry in the 18th century.
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At one corner of the car park where I’d left the van I came across The Pump and The Lamp. Originally situated in Market Place they had replaced a cross with a bell which was rung on each market day but which had burned down during a bonfire to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar in 1805. The Pump and Lamp stayed in Market Place until 1872 when they were taken down to make way for the George Moore Memorial; after being stored for many years they were re-erected in their current spot in 1998. Heading back to the van my final shot, which had nothing to do with the heritage trail, was of a brightly coloured mural in an alleyway between the car park and one of the main streets.
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There were actually 22 points of interest on the heritage trail but I didn’t photograph all of them as many of them now bear no resemblance to what they once were – while they may each have a bit of interesting information attached to them I don’t think shop fronts and takeaway places look particularly exciting.
Having spent quite some time walking round the heritage trail, and with no sign of the cloudy grey sky giving way to any sunshine, I decided to abandon my quest to find a new tv and return to the camp site. I could still watch a dvd if I wanted to and I had a couple of books to read so my tv search would continue another day. 

25 thoughts on “Wandering round Wigton

  1. That looked like so much fun!! I can’t even imagine finding Charles Dickens signature. That is so cool!!! I’m glad you had a nice walk!

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    1. Finding Dickens’ signature on an interior wall would definitely be a talking point and would probably add to the provenance of the place if/when put up for sale. The heritage trail made an interesting walk round the town centre, just a shame it was such a dull day.

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  2. Shame about your TV. Funnily enough hubby and I have recently wondered if there were any independent TV repair shops left but seems there are, I hope you found a reasonably priced replacement. I like those flowerpot men climbing the ladder and those murals are lovely. I have to say I prefer those murals of life in the past to the brightly coloured one. That was amazing they found Dickens signature on the wall during a renovation. Interesting tour and tales of Wigton.

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    1. The tv was sorted the following day with a very simple and cost effective solution 🙂 The flowerpot men on the ladder made me smile so I just had to take a photo of them. Thinking about Dickens’ signature on the wall in the hotel brought back the memory of my own signature dating from 1970 being on a wall in my mum’s old house – I don’t think it would be worth anything though 🙂 🙂

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    1. You could probably do the same if you came down here Jayne. I think when you live in an area for so long there are things you don’t ‘see’ until an outsider comes along and ‘finds’ them. I enjoy doing walks like this and researching things afterwards – education without realising one is being educated 🙂

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  3. What a shame about your TV. I hope you manage to find another suitable one.
    It’s been lovely to see a glimpse of Wigton. The flowers and benches by the church look so pretty. X

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  4. The tv is used in my bedroom here at home though small enough and light enough to take camping The aerial port is in a really stupid place and difficult to access, I think the aerial being disconnected and reconnected over the last three years or so has caused it to work loose and snap off inside the set. I don’t watch a lot of tv anyway but I was glad to be able to get it sorted out the following day 🙂

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  5. It isn’t a big town centre and other than a B & M there are no chain stores, just small independent shops so it’s quite a pleasant place to walk round.

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  6. I love seeing how different churches are. Sadly, we had the roof of one collapse in town last week and now part of the building needs to be knocked down. I suspect that the owner’s intention was to knock it down to build flats or something anyway, he’s certainly not looked after the building in the last decade.

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    1. I hate to see old churches destroyed, it’s such a shame but maybe in a lot of cases it costs too much in heating and maintenance to keep them going. A local one near me was demolished a couple of years ago – it was a lovely building with a separate Sunday school. The developers turned the Sunday school into a posh restaurant and demolished the church to make a car park 😦 😦

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  7. Looking forward to finding out more about the church. Like everyone else I too fell for Bill and Ben. I love it when someone makes an effort with cheerful plants in a front garden. Really enjoyed the virtual walk.

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  8. The places featured on the trail were very interesting though I didn’t photograph all of them. Those gardens were really pretty and Bill and Ben were too cute to resist 🙂

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  9. It’s not a big town centre, only two main streets and a couple of side alleys but with several points of interest it’s quite a pleasant little place 🙂

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  10. I’ve never ventured to this part of Cumbria. Nearest I’ve been is Silloth where I went many years ago for a short visit with work and I didn’t see much of the place. I recently read a book about the Solway, “the Fresh and the Salt” https://birlinn.co.uk/product/the-fresh-and-the-salt/ which I found very interesting and made me think of venturing overthat way. Probably a bit flat for me given the proximity of the fells, although I do enjoy a good coastal walk

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    1. There’s not really a great lot in Wigton but it’s a pleasant enough place and the church was lovely. I’ve got Silloth coming up in a later post, also quite an adventurous walk up a fell 🙂

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        1. I went to Silloth a couple of years ago Paul, I did like the green and the promenade, also the church, but was surprised that for the size of the place it doesn’t have a proper town centre,just those meagre few shops opposite the green 😦

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  11. Ahhh, and I had the temerity to accuse Wigton of being in the middle of nowhere… “right in the middle there” 😊
    Sorry, Wigton!

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