The response to this post about a Victorian photograph album that was almost destroyed has been overwhelming. It probably helped that one of the images featured this rather terrifying looking gentleman:
Within hours, bloggers all over the world were arguing about how many of the photos featured dead people. Apparently, it wasn't unusual for Victorians to dress the recently departed in their Sunday best for one last family portrait and, with the requirement to stand still for long periods of time, the deceased had a clear advantage. It's a spooky thought.
However, I'm not particularly good at determining whether people are alive or dead. I got it wrong with my wife's grandmother and I'm not making that mistake again, so I shall stick to the more earthly matter of where these photos were taken.
The general consensus has been that the photos from this album are from the Lake District, but after extensive research (i.e. a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon), I can now confirm that they come from a village a few miles south of Lancaster called Cockerham.
Here is the evidence:
The two photos of St Michael's church are pretty conclusive, but I was less convinced by this match:
Even allowing for alterations, the two incarnations of the Manor Inn seemed very different.
But then I found this:
According to this webpage, when the original Manor Inn closed, its owner bought the Plough Inn and renamed it after his old pub.
The album also featured several photographs of this church:
This proved to be the greatest challenge. I scoured Google images for Lake District churches, then Lancashire, followed by Yorkshire; but nothing matched. I began to wonder if the church had been demolished or destroyed - surely somewhere with such a distinctive spire would appear on Google?
Fortunately, once I'd confirmed Cockerham as the location for many of the photos, I was able to narrow my search to the neighbouring villages and within minutes, I found this:
It's in a nearby village called Ellel, which has inspired one of the shortest Wikipedia entries I've ever come across.
The questions I really want an answer to will, of course, remain a tantalising mystery. But I like the fact that 150 years on, these places are still recognisable and that if I want to, I can still enjoy a pint at the Manor Inn.
STOP PRESS - In a slightly spooky twist of fate, it has emerged that Cockerham is very well known to the writer Sam Jordison, who kindly mentioned this blog in a Guardian post in August.
He had one of his first pints in the Manor Inn!
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