Northern England: Witches, Bronte’s and World Cup soccer

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The RoseHill is a quaint and funky hotel.  We enjoyed it from the first greeting of “Yall-right?”  This seems to be the opening salvo for “Can I help you?” to “Good Morning”.    When Carl was in his 20s he was a Mormon Missionary in Lancashire.  Doreen and Geoffrey Bland shared their modest apartment with Carl and his missionary companion.  It was the seed of a lifetime friendship with the Blands.  As soon as we checked into the RoseHill Hotel, we headed off to Geoffrey and Doreen’s home in RoseGrove.  Their daughter Suzanne who was 8 when Carl stayed with the Blands, was there also, visiting from Cyprus.  Carl and Geoffrey shared Jura scotch.

On this bright sunny Sunday morning (July 1), Carl and I headed out for RoseGrove where Carl lived with the Blands during his Mission days.  We had a true Lancashire experience, most notably, people’s friendliness.  From a civic worker cleaning the park (remember we’re in England where they still have those civil services) greeted us with cordiality and friendliness.  We learned that “normal” coffee is milk with coffee in it, We walked among the row-houses.  Since I’ve known him, Carl has without cause, been friendly and charming to strangers.  Carl confessed that he was influenced by the friendliness of strangers from his time in this part of England during his early 20s.  Carl reported that the neighborhoods hadn’t changed much, they were not populated by immigrants but felt very English.  There were fewer lawns and front gardens, many had been zero-scaped and needed little or no care. We didn’t see any Lancashire lasses sweeping the front stoop.

Carl hosted a noon meal on Sunday with the Blands at the RoseHill Restaurant. Memories, sharing and renewing connections was fabulous.


After a lovely breakfast at the RoseHill in their solarium we headed for Haworth.  The experience of Carl driving on the left was a white-knuckle experience, for both the driver and passenger.  The roads are windy and narrow because, after all, these stonewalls have been there for centuries.   Haworth is the first 100% Fair-Trade village and they are proud of it.  We visited the Bronte Parsonage, home of Pastor Patrick Bronte and his 3 daughters and a son.  It was a hard life in 1618, the 200-anniversary of their life and times.  Poor water sanitation and lack of education made it even more gloomy.  Many children did not live past the age of 6, women died in childbirth and the average life expectancy was <40 years.  In such a bleak environment, Patrick Bronte, an educator and pastor, gave equal education to all his children.  My mother, Cecile, loved Wuthering Heights and the Bronte sister’s writings in general.  Besides her Irish heritage, she also had in common her commitment to education and she vowed that not only her sons, but also her daughters would also receive higher education.  Patrick Bronte educated all his children and many more in the school in Haworth.  He outlived his wife and all four of his children.  Besides the significant contribution of education and faith to the community of Haworth, he also was instrumental in purification of the water supply. Interestingly in the same time frame in Sienna they were refurbishing a large community water supply and had extensive plumbing.

The Witches of Pendle Hill and Kissing Gates

A lovely Saturday morning we grabbed the fold-up Leke poles that Jill gave us for our anniversary and headed for Pendle Hill in Lancashire.  Here is a link to the Pendle Hill loop hike from Barley

This 5-mile hike is across private lands with sheep pastures and the English have this lovely invention where a gate can never be left open, it swings within a restricted range and you walk around the gate.  They are affectionately known as “kissing gates” which Carl and I were happy to demonstrate how they work.  You’ll see in the pictures.  Besides being the highest spot around this place is famous as location where “witches of Pendle Hill” hung out.  The 400th anniversary of the witch’s trials and execution was 1212. Women are always in the cross-hairs not only for being at risk in childbirth and caring for the sick but there to blame if those they are caring for die.  During that time, the state of healing around the mystery of illness was reliance on magic, prayer, use of needles and other unproven interventions.  When something went wrong, those that attempted to help were there to blame.  By cleaning up the water and reducing disease Patrick Bronte helped to reduce, at least in part, reasons for labeling women as witches.

On our way up Pendle Hill we met John and Andrea Holmes of Lancashire.  We had a lovely chat.  At the top of Pendle Hill we saw birds of prey, hover taking advantage of the fierce winds, then dive into the field.  We didn’t know what they were but suspected a hawk.

Whalley Abbey and Towneley Hall

Carl, Geoffrey and I drove to Walley and visited the ruins of Whalley Abbey.  Thanks to Henry VIII who came through destroying the churches as he was warring against the Catholic Church.  That was interesting fact that the King was destroying the infrastructure of his own kingdom. In one painting in the gallery at Towneley Hall depicted how his army housed horses in the sanctuary of a cathedral.  Towneley Hall ( is a Lord’s palatial estate.  During the time of persecution of Catholics, the palace was used to hide Catholics and clergy from Henry VIII and subsequent persecution.  In the mid-1600s Cromwell railed against the royals and went through England knocking down castles.  Geoffrey beliefs Towneley Hall was missed because Cromwell was busy knocking over another nearby castle.  This was the second instance of the state official destroying the infrastructure in their county.  As I see the Italians have gone through fascism, and the British have survived both the misdeeds of Henry VIII and Cromwell, I hope we too survive the destructiveness  and chaos visited upon our own institutions in the US.

England and the World Cup

St James flags (white with a red cross) were hanging in the windows and flying from cars.  Hmm, must be the world cup.  Until then I hadn’t really taken an interest since Italy and the US weren’t in it.  Now I had someone to root for.  So our next stop was Manchester to our AirBnB where we had a lovely apartment.  We walked the neighborhoods of Denton and Stockport Manchester.  That evening we were delighted to see England beat Columbia to make it to the quarter-finals.

A link to pictures of our trip to Northern England: