Hurstwood Flaneur

The last stop on our tour of northern England was Hurstwood, which is a beautiful little hamlet on the outskirts of Burnley. The settlement consists of a handful stunning Elizabethan properties including the once-home of the poet Edmund Spencer, Hurstwood Hall, which I believe now provides B&B accommodation.

We stayed in a charming little cottage, which may have been erected for the construction workers of the Hurstwood reservoir, which was built in 1925. 

Typically, my Flanéur is inspired by casual observations when walking our dog or driving   around an area and Hurstwood is no exception. The outstanding Elizabethan buildings (figs #16~#18) and the later-built cottages are a delight, and the settings amongst the trees and the river Brun are idyllic (figs #14 & #15). 

Opposite our accommodation was the river Brun, a convenient seat, and a Defibrillator in a redundant phone box (fig #3), which I found most reassuring. The river leads into the Elizabethan area of the hamlet, which in-turn leads to a small winding pathway that is accentuated by a clutch of chickens (fig #5) as one enters the path. The vista opens to a wonderful view of the river Brun valley; however, the prodigious use of steel fencing and barbed wire does somewhat detract from the spectacular views. The pathway leads on down a track, at the bottom is a muddy path where there’s a high, lichen-clad stone wall (fig #12) with a forbidding gate. If one peers over the wall, you are greeted with the sign ‘Private Property – Keep Out’ (fig #13). Is someone trying to tell me something with all this barbed wire, high walls and “Keep Out”?

During my wanderings I ventured into the farmyard of Tattersall’s Farm, where the now-famous 16th century stables were founded, which led to the international horse sales business. I was seeking the owner or manager of the farm to gain permission to photograph, what I thought was a ‘birthing parlour’ for the lambs that I had seen from the roadway earlier (fig #4a). I was introduced to Shirley (fig #21), a charming lady of similar age to me, who eagerly agreed to me photographing the lambs and horses in her stables. However, it was typical of my timing to arrive just they were coming to the end of lambing; “there were loads of lambs being born over the past few days”, said Shirley. I was taken on a tour of what they’ve called the ‘Maternity Tent’ (fig #22) and introduced to the lambs and ewes. I always enjoy experiencing the fearless, inquisitive nature of lambs and other young species, the ewes too expressed an interest in me, but with a degree of expectant hesitation (figs #24~#33) – “it’s OK, I’m a vegetarian”. I really enjoyed chatting to Shirley; we were able to share similar childhood experiences and to have a chuckle about old times. 

I continued my wanderings about the farm and ventured into the stables where there’s still an original stable (figs #34~#36) from the early days of Richard Tattersall (18th C). 

The horses (figs #39 & #40) in the liveried stables look fabulous and are so well cared for and cherished by the grooms (fig #41~#44).

I had a great time wandering about Hurstwood for a couple of hours, and everyone at Tattersall’s Farm was so charming, interesting, and friendly, including Mario the ‘guard dog’ who was finally able to accept me. 

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