Monthly Archives: August 2012

It’s Bat Day: Saturday 1st September 2012

Saturday 1st September 2012 is Bat day in Romiley.

At the Chapel, Chadkirk you can join in and make your own bat box.
This will provide roosts and may help survival in the winter.
Or you can make a box for birds to use for shelter and nesting.
After some wet and cold weather in the spring and summer, this might help more individuals through the winter months.

Later you can learn more about the fascinating lives of bats from an expert.
Book a place for Bat Talk and Walk at Tangshutt.

Bat phone

Steve Parker of the Lancs Bat Group will be at Cherry Tree Community Shop to share his expertise on Saturday 1st September. Starting 3.30pm and going on to about 10pm. 

There’ll be a little intro and then a wander around Tangshutt for a spot of bat detecting.
Bats like the crepuscular light of dusk.
Interested? Book a place by calling Chantal on 07500 316561. 
Chantal advises: People will need to bring appropriate clothing and footwear and something to eat. Steve will be bringing some bat detectors but if people have one they could also bring them along.
You can get a head start with bat id here

| website of the South Lancashire Bat Group.

Bats and birds

Saturday 1st September

A chance to make your own bat box and/or bird box.
Expert guidance from John Rowlands.

Start time: 1.30pm
Meet at the Chapel, Chadkirk.

Bring your own hammer!
(We have a few spare… though there’s never enough to go round)

£4-50 covers the cost of materials and tuition.

In the beginning…

In one of yesterday afternoon’s sunny intervals, an opportunity to re-visit the walled garden with my camera. By chance, there was Pat by the exterior borders pulling slugs off plants and transporting them to the adjacent meadows. It was only then, chatting with Pat, that I learned the story of the planting of the herb beds.

About 10 years ago, the renovation of the Walled Garden was in it’s early stages.
Pat and Mary had studied old OS maps and books on monastic herb gardens.
With a seed catalogue and the reference materials they planned their spending. They had £15. That’s £15. Not from the public purse. But £15 raised by the Friends of Chadkirk and allocated to the planting of the herb beds.

I’m not sure how many packets of seeds that would have bought then.
However I am sure that if you wanted to get a project like this to succeed it would be hard to find a more resourceful and determined pair. Seeds were germinated at home in their own gardens, seedlings planted out by Friends on the gardening days and then watered and tended. With all that TLC and expertise, over the next few years the beds filled up.

That story continues today as Pat, Mary and the team of volunteers, ably supported by Alan and John, tend and stock the herb beds.

Coming into the Walled Garden on a day when the sun shines and the air is still and damp, the aromatic oils of the lavender can be sensed from 3 metres away. Knowing the story behind the herb beds can be just as uplifting, just as heart warming. Metaphorically, another cordial herb.

Herbs, history and something else the Romans did for us…

Yesterday we were fortunate to have the expertise of a professional sharing her passion for herbs with us. A qualified herbalist, Catherine Schofield, offered to spend a few hours in the chapel and walled garden with an interested group from the Friends of Chadkirk.

Apparently we’ve the Romans to thank for the Lavender. Or at least for bringing it to Britain. Though we’ve also to thank the Celts, the Druids, Augustine Monks, the Arabs, the Myddfai family of Carmarthen, Culpepper and Modern Science. Each in their own way having contributed to our current understanding of the way plants can support our health and well being.

Although many of the herbal remedies fell from favour, current scientific research is providing information which tells us more about how they work and to support their use in the hands of a skilled practitioner. Extracts from plants as wide ranging as stinging nettles, foxgloves and teasels can have beneficial effects. For some plants there was a long list of anti-s. Anti- microbial, anti-fungal, anti- bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine. All helpful in a world without antibiotics and modern disinfectants.

Since some of the knowledge gleaned in the past has been lost, or hidden, there were bound to be a few oohs and aaahhhas as Catherine unfolded the story of a few of our common herbs. Of mullein being used as a kind of pre-industrial firelighter (hence the folkname of torch weed).Of pieces of elecampane chewed to banish toothache, or reduce asthmatic spasms. Of teasel flower heads being used in the wool trade.

Among the many contemporary uses for herbs, the favourite might have been something Pat heard from American visitors. They made good use of lovage: drinking their cocktails through the stalks.

Before you dash to emulate them, a cautionary warning. There are poisonous plants out there. Without sufficient expertise for correct identification and the knowledge required for their safe use they can be harmful. Can you be sure of the differences between Hemlock and Angelica? The right dose of one can help digestion if you suffer from low stomach acid and an extract from the other will kill.

A cure for loose teeth?
Pieces of roots from elecampane were candied, coloured red and chewed.

After the loss of so much of the folklore and experience of previous generations, it’s good to know that we can all find out more. On the history of herbs Catherine recommended The Green Pharmacy by Barbara Griggs. Information about herbs and their uses can be found in “A Modern Herbal” by Maud Grieve, originally published in 1931 but also available on-line:

A Modern Herbal | Elecampane.

You can find out more about the use of plants in the Middle Ages by looking into what archaeoethnopharmacologists discovered from excavations such as those at Soutra.

Soutra Aisle – Medieval life – Scotlands History.

BBC NEWS | Health | The medical world of medieval monks.

Catherine Schofield Herbal Medicine – Home.

How to have a happy heart…

The Apothecary’s Rose is in the medicinal bed of the walled garden herb beds.
It is growing amongst plants used by monks for their healing qualities. Appreciated for the beauty of it’s flowers, then as now, it was an invaluable resource for health and wellbeing. Today western herbalists often think of Rose tincture as a hug in a bottle – one of the best cordial herbs.

There are other cordial herbs growing in the walled garden at Chadkirk.
Rose, pot marigold and elecampane have been cultivated for many centuries
and used to gladden the heart.

Down by the river

In the gentle evening, a group gathered by the river. As joggers, cyclists and dog walkers passed over Chadkirk Bridge, the group listened with interest.

Since 2007 Paul Griffiths has been involved in the project to build a bridge at Chadkirk. As Project Manager he was able to share his experience and his detailed knowledge of the site. Given his engineering expertise, you’d expect that he would be able to talk enthusiastically about the structure and it’s design. In addition there were many other aspects of the site that came out in the discussion.

The bridge design had been chosen by members of the public when residents in adjacent areas were polled and asked to select a design from a short list of three. Planners had been surprised when the cable stay bridge (similar to, though smaller than, the bridge seen from M60 near Sale Water Park) was rejected. For every vote cast for the cable stay design there were 7 residents who voted for the current bridge design.

A further consultation is taking place about the plans for a Portrait Bench near to the bridge. This is part of Sustrans’ commitment. Visitors to the Chadkirk Festival who stopped by the Sustrans stall were able to have their say on the characters who feature in the Portrait Bench.

For more information about the Sustrans Portrait benches (including images)

The Portrait Bench | Sustrans.

In the coming weeks the Connect2 project team will be posting information on-line for a poll about the local contenders for the Chadkirk Portrait Bench. While Padiham plumped for their famous local witches, we have a more saintly possibility: St. Chad. Also attracting local support: Douglas Tattersall. He was the inspiration and driving force behind the decision to buy Etherow and Chadkirk for the people of Stockport.

The river played a key role in the siting of the mill at Chadkirk. Evidence of this can be seen below Chadkirk Bridge; the weir and the stone tunnels are structures designed to feed water to the mill. Information boards around Chadkirk tell some of the story. A new board will be placed near the bridge and add more to complete the picture.

In the twenty first century, the river’s contribution to the local economy continues. A few hundred metres downstream is the recently installed Archimedes Screw, generating hydro-electric power.

BBC News – Weir screws generate electricity for Stockport homes.