Natland Map Mystery Solved

A few years ago I was at a jumble sale in Staveley and bought the map of Natland and Oxenholme shown on the right (click on it for an enlargement) for about 50p. I often wondered about its origins and now the mystery has been solved, as will shortly be revealed!

It is a delighfully illustrated map, showing field names and several drawings including Natland Hall Farm, Natland Mill Beck Farm, St Mark's Church, The (old) School, Hawes Bridge, The Cockpit, The Wishing Tree, The Station Inn, Helm and a Roman Soldier.  It has a recipe for Oxenholme Ginger Beer and quotes two verses from Bonnie Jane of Natland:

Before the year had past and      gone,
Jane was married unto John,
Long they dwelt beside the thorn
On the Green at Natland

How many years they liv'd to see
Natland Fair, and rounds of glee
Round about the Lover's Tree
On the Green at Natland

The legend around the side reads:

The name Natland comes from Nat (a proper name) and lound, a grove of trees.  The Parish consists of 1,155 acres of farm land and 20 acres of water.  It slopes down from 605 ft- the summit of Helm, to the river Kent, 100 ft above sea level. Helm  and the Village Green are common land.  There is a cluster of cottages around the church and green, a good many new houses and some fine old farm houses. Oxenholme dwellings centre mainly on the railway junction started in 1846. The Lancaster canal was opened in 1819, but much of it is now filled in.  In olden times the Palm Fair was held on the village green on Palm Sunday.  It lasted several days and embraced wrestling, leaping, cock fighting, dancing and racing.  In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Natland was noted as a residence for wandering earthenware dealers who erected their tents on the village green.






I have never seen another copy of the map although I have seen one of another Westmorland Village in similar style.  It obviously dates from after the Park Close houses were built and before the new school was opened (1967).  Someone suggested it might have been commissioned by the WI.

I was thinking of putting an article on to ask if anyone could throw any light on who produced the map.  However, when I went round to see the Ushers to take their photograph recently, there, hanging on the wall, was a similarly styled map of the Kent Estuary.  They were able to tell me that the cartographer cum illustrator was former Natlander, Daphne Lester. By a happy coincidence I was in touch with Daphne as a by-product of the Art Exhibition so I asked her about the map.

Daphne has confirmed that she did produce the map.  She told me:

Well, yes, I can tell you all about it!  I did indeed paint it for the W.I. and I think it was some kind of W.I. celebration for which all clubs were asked to produce a scrap book about their village.  I think that the original scrap book may be in the archives at County Hall - I don`t think the W.I. headquarters would have room!  

It was such fun to do - I walked miles asking farmers about their field names, and Wendy Balmer introduced me to the poem about Bonny Jane.  Unfortunately I haven`t dated the map, but the scrapbook would obviously be dated.  When the W.I. first printed copies, they did it in black and white, and some, I think, in negative black and white, which didn`t work very well, then a few years ago they wrote and asked if they could do another printing in aid of funds, and this is the colour version.

I lived at Church View, Natland from 1961 until 1983 and was a member of the W.I. and took a choir of ladies, who were very good and keen, and were even chosen to sing in a great W.I.production at the Royal Albert Hall, called The Brilliant and the Dark, by the then master of the Queen`s Musick, Malcolm Williamson.  I loved my cottage on the green but after my Dad died I found this house in Milnthorpe with a granny flat which my Mother enjoyed for 12 years.

I enjoy doing illustrated maps and have done about thirty I think - Wendy has one of Westmorland which I did years ago, and Norma Hewertson has the Scilly Isles.  I have also done Mull, Arran, Guernsey, the Settle to Carlisle railway (twice!), the Furness Peninsular, the Arnside AONB and others I can`t recall at the moment!

Having retired many years ago I still paint, enjoy my music and garden like mad to try to keep on top of the place - never manage it!

It was good have the mystery solved.

Don Shore, 8th April 2008


Natland Village Green

Post Office and General Store

The Church on the Green


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