The MadGang In An English Country Garden

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After our exertions of the previous day, rambling around the Roaches, we decided to take it easier on Tuesday and so we headed to a reasonably nearby National Trust property called Quarry Bank Mill. It is "is one of the best preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution and is now a museum of the cotton industry" (Wikipedia).

We did not go into the factory itself as we had the dogs with us and didn't want to leave them unattended in our car for the length of time it would have taken to do justice to the museum. So we settled instead to walk round the gardens of Quarry Bank House, the house adjacent to the mill lived in by the Greg family, the first owners of the mill, and to then visit the village of Styal and some of the houses that were originally built to house the millworkers.

Point of interest - Terry Waite came from Styal.

Quarry Bank Mill was the inspiration for the 2013 television series, "The Mill," and the second series was being filmed around the site whilst we were walking around. It would not be the only time we bumped into a film unit working on a period drama during our holiday this week.

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Mrs MP particularly wanted to see the famous handkerchief tree situated in the garden as they have a less spectacular specimen in the grounds of the university where she works as an administrator. It is called the handkerchief tree because the leaves surrounding the seeds look a bit like handkerchiefs. It is also sometimes called the dove tree, the pocket handkerchief tree and the ghost tree. Only its mother and clever people who want to impress you call it Davidia involucrata.

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"Quarry Bank Mill employed child apprentices, a system that continued until 1847. The last child to be indentured started work in 1841. The first children apprentices lived in lodgings in the neighbourhood then in 1790 Greg built the Apprentice House (photo below) near the factory. Greg believed he could get the best out of his workers by treating them fairly. He hired a superintendent to attend to their care and morals and members of the Greg family and external tutors gave them lessons. Greg employed Peter Holland, father of the Royal Physician Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet and uncle of Elizabeth Gaskell, as mill doctor. Holland was responsible for the health of the children and other workers, and was the first doctor to be employed in such a capacity. The apprentices were children from workhouses. Initially, they were brought from Hackney and Chelsea but by 1834 they came mostly from neighbouring parishes or Liverpool poorhouses. They worked long days with schoolwork and gardening after their shift at the mill. The work was sometimes dangerous, with fingers sometimes being severed by the machines. Children were willing to work in the mill because life at a workhouse was even worse." (Wikipedia)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe mill towns and villages of the industrial north east were hotbeds for the dissenting religions of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. This was hardly surprising as the Church of England, the Tory Party at prayer and upholders of the status quo that protected "the rich man in his castle whilst the poor man starved to death at his gate," must have been seen as part and parcel of the system that kept the working class labouring away in dark, Satanic mills for a pittance whilst the factory owners enjoyed a level of personal wealth never before known in England. However, whether out of shame or true faith, some industrialists were themselves very much attached to the free church movement. Quite a few were Quakers, but at Quarry Bank, the Greg Family appear to have favoured Unitarianism. The "model village" they built for their workers included a chapel that is still used by Unitarians (but mostly by wedding couples) to this day. But don't start thinking that the Gregs were all model employers as they had slave traders among their number, even owning a slave ship. Business was business and religion was religion back then and those who wanted to do well for themselves in the early days of the Industrial Revolution made sure they never mixed the two together or let the words of the god they worshipped in heaven influence the decisions they made that they hoped would lead to the amassing of lots of the money they worshipped on earth.

Unfortunately the building was locked which was a shame. But a sign on the wall reminds visitors that Unitarians started out as people who believed in God every bit as much as any other Christian. They just didn't believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ or in the Trinity. I have no idea what a "Free Christian" is or was. Anglicans are born free but everywhere they are in chains.

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Here are some calves lying beneath a tree with their mother.

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Comments

The MadGang In An English Country Garden — 5 Comments

  1. I love, “Wedding requests after Sunday service”. Best come to worship first. Thanks, MP.

  2. Such an interesting narrative and beautiful pictures! Thank you, MP!

  3. Nice to see a familiar place; it’s a short drive from my brother’s house, and he’s taken us there several times through the years.

  4. You are a great tour guide for these walks, and I always feel as though I’ve spent the day out in the English countryside after you post these. Thanks.