Neil and Janet really did produce a memorable first Run of the Season when, on a grey Sunday in March, they led out their small band into the thaw, even if the work of the snowplough was still in evidence.
Samlesbury Hall is a medieval timber manor and “Janey” our tour guide was – for the day – a very spotty witch but one who, unlike the Pendle Witches of our parish, was found not guilty!
She eloquently evoked the joys of smokey fire s without chimneys, rats, er, personal smells and tapeworms in life at the High Table. Inevitably, she came to the subject of diet and the symbolic status of a groaning board: 22 separate food dishes was a sign of great wealth! Now your Secretary could be most kindly referred to as “portly” but, in those times, this would have indicated great fiscal solidity… For once – remember Harrogate only wanted to take home his MGB – she fixed him with a gimlet stare and declared, to general hilarity, that she voted to take him home! (She didn’t know about the MG…)
There were other lucky recipients of her favours: the “priest” with his Priest Hole which, sadly, proved ineffective and the younger, and much slimmer man, who had the rôle of the luckless Protestant neighbouring noble’s son murdered in his pursuit of the Lord’s Catholic daughter. One curious fact was, though, that most of the original furniture been taken – the subject of one our previous visits – to Conishead Priory by a previous owner. One and a half hours of fluently delivered and fascinating history.
Lunch was at the also venerable Wheatsheaf at Woodplumton and we were fed, if not on a medieval scale, certainly very well.
Thank you to Neil and Janet for a lovely day out.