Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

The FC stands for Frank Chalmers and the Rdale – is Ravenstonedale! The Independent History Archive is a searchable database of image, documents and words. This independent history archive started in High Chapel, before the Parish Council took over in 2011. It was assembled by volunteers (Steve Sowerby and Frank Chalmers, see below) over a nearly 4 year period and now is available by arrangement for people wanting to have a search made of this PDF database. It is not part of High Chapel, nor is it connected to the History Group or the Parish Council – it is independent.

Frank Chalmers and Steve Sowerby

In this article, it describes

  • how the archive is accessed,
  • its current scope,
  • what you might find in it,
  • how to donate so I can expand the archive further
  • How to join “the Friends of “RIHA” – “Rdale Independent History Archive”
  • Contact details

Join the Friends of “Rdale Independent History Archive”
Email me on frankrdale@yahoo.co.uk and ask to join. The suggested donation for this would be £10 per annum – the money would be used to advance the archive, purchase new historical items, or storage or similar. Your membership would give you occasional opportunities during the year to ask for searches and information. Currently this is only open to private individuals who want material for their own needs – not for other history groups.

Gifts and Donations – to continue to expand the archive, purchasing more historical material, scanning more items, buying storage, maintaining the fragile items etc all costs money and the more people donate, the more this can expand.

The Archive is currently  accessed by sending a request to me via email. Depending on the time available, I will search the database and report back, as soon as possible (but with no guarantee of speed, nor of certainty of any result). If material is in the database, then usually this can be copied and sent to you – costs and donations, depending on the result, would be appreciated and expected.

The scope and contents of the archive are too large to describe, but examples of the database are given below. The contents are being expanded on a weekly basis.

Ravenstonedale and its sister village, Newbiggin on Lune, have important and singular historical aspects to them. The rate of change (until recently) has been slow and controlled because of the ownership of most property by a limited group of families. The family names have equally been relatively unchanged, with local family names occurring from the 1500’s onwards to 2011. The villages have been busy, prosperous and supported shops, businesses and services – once upon a time, but now both villages are mainly residential. The religious story in the area has Gillbertine monks and nuns, pre 1662 independents, preaching protected by the good Lord Wharton during the Great Ejection, schisms, ruination, and beautiful buildings – including important national figures as Ministers here such as Revd. George Manning, Revd. Nicholls (History and Traditions Books), Revd Alec Whitehouse and others... The area has families such as the Fothergills, who have moved on away from the area – but their roots are here and so it is with many other families, as I find with requests for information from USA, New Zealand, Australia etc.
Time has stood still, or slowed right down, here. In 2002, Maypole dancing and the Summer Fete, combined with the “Yacht Club”, the W.I., plus many other village functions reminded new comers of the post war sociology and social structures that were still thriving then. The dynamic of a village, mainly owned by a few families (houses, farms, land, businesses – mostly tenanted) has both helped the villages to retain old world charm and to prevent modern ideas from disrupting that slow progress. There are both swings and round a bouts in that dynamic. The land owning social layer is distinct from the rent paying tenants and social acceptance is mainly controlled by money.
Beautiful countryside, pretty villages, but hard land to earn a living from at 800 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Howgills. On a sunny day there are few places to better the Eden Valley, but when the wind blows and the rain falls and the animals must be tended...
So the history of the area is complex and the history is still alive today with the same family names, the same fields, the same push and shove – a wealth of historical detail, some of it gathered here in the Rdale Independent History Archive.
Be part of History; preserve the past and invest in the future.

Services offered to Researchers
I am often asked for
family names, farms, images and documents. I have helped people from New Zealand, Australia, USA and Britain and where possible I supply images by email.

Photographs. By arrangement it is possible to photograph places, houses, gravestones or other images as they are now and the image sent to you by email. This has been done for people from New Zealand and USA.

History archive. We scanned the local history folders, stored at High Chapel and made the information more accessible by converting the scanned images into PDF format (Portable Document Format). This enables me to search all documents for a single word such as Adamthwaite or Todd. Most of the images (except the very old handwritten material, have been converted to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and this is what enables single word searching. The older hand written material would have to be read and analysed.

Look at the History Archive for some examples of the large database content. The first two historic photos show the Vicarage (Ravenstonedale) and in the foreground, posed, are a family in their best clothes – a child’s hand can be just seen waving. The pony and trap have been taken from the original and expanded to analyse the content. The beck (stream) is Scandal Beck SSSI. These two pictures show an early Newbiggin on Lune village and next to it are the children’s group expanded to show any content of further interest.

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Grave stones identified and photographed, then sent to the person requesting the information (New Zealand). Or houses identified and up to date photos sent to the USA.

“Our ancestral Home” from Freeport, Illinois

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Agriculture and the war years

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Personal Books and Documents
George Manning's copy of “Of The Imitation of Christ” with notes about Thomas a Kempis

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Old Bibles – extracts and advice to the congregation.

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Copy of the Grant to the Abbot of Walton of the land Ravenstonedale by Torphin son Copsus 1154 -1189

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Getting back to normal – takes time

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

The archive is growing - These are only a fraction of the database. More material is being added. You can help add to this by contacting me by email (frankrdale@yahoo.co.uk) and arranging to:

  • Send me material
  • Send photos and articles
  • Send partial or completed research
  • Donate -  enabling me to purchase more material

The images, articles, items, photos etc are copyright and should not be used without permission and agreement of FC.

In the archive we have...
Old documents and artefacts

Old documents and artefacts

Photographs of people and places 1

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Interesting people who have played a part in history, locally and nationally.

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Temperance medals

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

1. “Pledged to resist our countries greatest Foe”. Middle – “I promise to abstain from all intoxicating drinks as beverages”.

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

2. “Vale of Eden Band of Hope Jubilee 1923”. Middle – “Holy Bible – Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging”; “My Word is Truth”

Local Field Names

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Railway photos and information

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Examples of formal language 1912

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Rusty tracks & Railway lines long since gone – the station still there! (Newbiggin on Lune)

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Objet trouvé – old newspaper found during renovation in Greystones by Aaron , used to fill a void, which was plastered over

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Ministers and Vicars

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Old original signatures of important local families
1793 or thereafter

Ravenstonedale Independent History Archive

Audio Files interviews with local people, such as Chris Irwin on Radio Cumbria about the Gilbertines Monastry (listen to interview).

The archive has 1st editions, bills and invoices, postcards, Bibles, material that sheds light on economic and social history in the Ravenstonedale and surrounding area.