Northern Soul

Heritage

Making-Thunder-Roar

Review: Making Thunder Roar at the Brontë Parsonage Museum

March 15, 2018 Comments Off on Review: Making Thunder Roar at the Brontë Parsonage Museum

Emily Brontë is the most elusive of the famous Brontë siblings.

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Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre. Northern Soul talks to the team behind a new graphic novel

March 4, 2018 Comments Off on Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre. Northern Soul talks to the team behind a new graphic novel

The name of Peterloo is bandied about so much these days that it would be tempting to forget there was never any such place.

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Barley Hall archeology

Jorvik Viking Festival: A Geek’s Guide

February 27, 2018 Comments Off on Jorvik Viking Festival: A Geek’s Guide

I’ve known about the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York for years.

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Blood and guts: Northern Soul joins the Vikings at the 2018 Jorvik Festival, York

February 25, 2018 Comments Off on Blood and guts: Northern Soul joins the Vikings at the 2018 Jorvik Festival, York

It’s fair to say that York is a special city. A place where history greets you at every turn. The streets and buildings breathe their storied past, providing the perfect setting for an experience as visceral as the Jorvik Festival.

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Water Brass Band c1880

Northern Brass Bands and Christmas Carols: a Victorian tradition in the 21st century

December 19, 2017 Comments Off on Northern Brass Bands and Christmas Carols: a Victorian tradition in the 21st century

As Christmas approaches, the streets are alive with the sound of brass bands playing carols.

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Exterior of the Pankhurst Centre © Pankhurst Trust

“Everyone should have the same value within society.” Elaine de Fries from The Pankhurst Trust

December 5, 2017 Comments Off on “Everyone should have the same value within society.” Elaine de Fries from The Pankhurst Trust

Standing at 62 Nelson Street, nestled in the grounds of Manchester Royal Infirmary, The Pankhurst Centre serves as a permanent reminder of the Suffragette movement.

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Bittersweet, The Portico Library

Review: Bittersweet: Legacies of Slavery and Abolition in Manchester, Portico Library

September 20, 2017 Comments Off on Review: Bittersweet: Legacies of Slavery and Abolition in Manchester, Portico Library

Bittersweet, the latest exhibition from The Portico Library, looks at the abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates in Manchester and the discussions that were taking place at the time.

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Photo Gallery: Landmark building The Piece Hall re-opens in Halifax

August 7, 2017 Comments Off on Photo Gallery: Landmark building The Piece Hall re-opens in Halifax

On August 1, 2017, The Piece Hall in Halifax – one of the most iconic heritage buildings in Britain – re-opened its gates following a multi-million-pound transformation.

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York Minster, York

Northern Soul takes a trip to historical York

June 27, 2017 Comments Off on Northern Soul takes a trip to historical York

It’s the early 80s and I’m on my first school trip. Everything is going swimmingly.

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Astley Hall

A Northern Jewel: Northern Soul visits Astley Park in Chorley

June 27, 2017 Comments Off on A Northern Jewel: Northern Soul visits Astley Park in Chorley

Despite modern appearances, Chorley is an ancient market town and, unlike many of its neighbours, still retains the original manorial park and house (although these days Chorley is probably best known for its housing estates and ridiculously high number of roundabouts).

I spent the first nine years of my life in Chorley living on a 1970s estate on the fringes of Astley Park. I have many happy memories of the grounds and the renaissance-style house. Returning so many years later, I was prepared for it to be a pale imitation of my recollections, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to find it much improved.  

Astley Hall The walled gardens were just a shell in my day but now there is a thriving orchard, kitchen and herb garden with a gorgeous rose path. There are signs around the garden with clear emphasis on interactive education for kids. This is teamed with the Ghastly Astley series of workshops for schools entitled Plague, Potions and Pestilence which sounds fascinating, and I’m wondering if there might be room for an adult version. I would certainly attend.Rose Queen of Sweeden

The stable block next to the walled garden has been upgraded to Café Ambio, a far classier affair than the basic café of my youth. Although I’ll admit part of me was disappointed at the lack of Wall’s ice cream sandwiches and plastic drink pots of Vimto where you stabbed a straw through the lid. Part of the same stable block now houses the Chorley Remembers Experience, an exhibition charting the people of Chorley’s involvement in military conflict over the years. Complimenting this is the fascinating Evaders’ Garden, transplanted to Chorley in all its quiet solemnity from the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show. There is also a Family Research Centre and art gallery situated in the farmhouse within the park grounds.Astley Hall

Growing up I must have visited Astley Hall hundreds of times, but I don’t think I ever realised what a rare treasure the house is. Now in the final stages of renovation, it has been rejuvenated to give us a glimpse of its former glory. The ceilings alone are worth a visit with their part stucco creations resembling some fabulously ostentatious wedding cake icing. The great hall at the entrance is still impressively grand with the ornate carved staircase and painted panels. Meanwhile, the carved wooden fireplaces and rooms are just as beautiful as I remember and I can see now why I decided I wanted to live there when I was five. Fireplace, Great Hall, Astley Hall

The grounds have been revamped since my day too, with a Royalist Retreat for the kids and a toddlers’ play area next to the sports pavilion. In my youth, it was rounders in extremely soggy grass or a game of frisbee if we were lucky. There is still pets’ corner but I suspect that feeding the ducks on the lake is frowned upon these days. As a kid, there was the Chorley carnival in the park and a large bonfire with fireworks on Bonfire night. But now it seems there are events all year round such as Theatre in the Park and Chorley Flower Show.

One part of the park which I am relieved to say seems largely unchanged is the woodland. This was my playground as a child and it still retains its ancient charm. I was also pleased to see wild flower meadows dotted about which I’m sure will be worth revisiting in a month or two. All in all, Astley Park is something to be very proud of in these austere times.  It would be easy to allow gems like the hall to fall into wrack and ruin but instead Chorley Council and, I’m guessing, an army of dedicated volunteers have turned it into something very special and well worth the trip.

Happy visiting.

By Claire Fleetneedle

 

checkoutchorley.com/astleypark

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