The public can now take a walk through time on a Heritage Trail which has resulted from research into what many regarded as a fairly nondescript area of farmland, but has proved to be a landscape rich in history.
The Dog Kennel Lane Project, an offshoot of Boroughbridge and District Historical Society, was supervised by Community Archaeologist Kevin Cale. He made a presentation on what has been discovered at an exhibition held in the Coronation Hall, Langthorpe, Boroughbridge, on Sunday 24th May
Peter Greenwood, Estates Manager for Newby Hall, who was representing the owners, Richard and Lucinda Compton, unveiled an information board which will be placed at the start of the Heritage Trail. It was made possible by a permissive path, granted by Newby Hall Estates, linking public rights of way.
Information leaflets are also available from the Tourist Information Centre to guide visitors and local people around the five-mile circular trail explaining some of the area’s history. The Trail, part of Yore Vision’s Ure Walks Through Time series, starts on Skelton Road to the west of the bridge carrying the A1M and takes about two-and-a-half hours.
The Dog Kennel Lane Project, which was financed by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, spent nearly 18 months researching the history of a small area bounded by the motorway, River Ure, Skelton Road and the eastern edge of Newby Hall’s parkland.
Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The Dog Kennel Lane project has enabled the local community to develop new skills, share their memories and learn more about the history of their local area. The exhibition and trail will share these stories with the wider community and bring the area’s history to life.”
Project chairman David Barley said: “Superficially, the landscape did not appear to contain much of importance. It is largely farmland, but there were unusual features, including an embankment where children went sledging 60 years ago, that were intriguing.
“Our research took us to record offices and libraries in Northallerton, Morley, York Minster and the National Archives in Kew. The more we learned the more interesting and historically important our small corner of North Yorkshire became.
“For example the embankment had provided shelter for an encampment by thousands of troops under the command of General George Wade, who stayed there during the severe winter of 1745, before marching north to fight Bonny Prince Charlie’s forces at the Battle of Culloden the following year.”
Part of the embankment was levelled in the 1970s. But the study of aerial photographs and Lidar, which uses aerial lasers to examine a landscape and analyse the reflected light to reveal previously unseen features, showed that the embankment extended over a wider area and probably had much earlier origins.
The Project Group were particularly pleased that their research found a tithe map dating from 1842 which showed dog kennels on the former carriage drive to Brampton Hall. No trace of the kennels can be found beside what is now known as Lowfield Lane, but the discovery justified the Dog Kennel Lane Project’s name.
Brampton Hall, to which there is no public access, is now a rather plain farmhouse, but a drawing from 1718 and a study of old maps shows that it was once an impressive, three-storey, mansion. Much of the building was destroyed in the 18th century and today only small traces of the original remain. Brampton and nearby Mulwith were occupied by Catholic families who were persecuted for their faith in Protestant England.
Mulwith, a property connected to two members of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot against Parliament, was the birthplace of Mary Ward in 1585. She became a Catholic religious sister, who founded institutions across Europe. One of these established the Bar Convent in York. Mary was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. This is the first of three steps on the path to being declared a saint.
Mr Barley said the Project Group had learned new skills, including the analysis of old maps, aerial photographs and Lidar, plus the recording of oral history. “We produced an exhibition which filled the main room in the Coronation Hall. There was a steady stream of visitors throughout the day and our work was well received by everyone who attended.”
Anyone who missed the exhibition can see some of the research on the project’s website to which information is still being added: www.dogkennellane.co.uk