Halloween Retrospective:Jubilee Walk

I don’t normally post a lot of photographs (apart from the old, black and white ones that I try to breathe new life into).  But I do enjoy seeing the ones that other people share, particularly the bloggers in other countries. It gives me a limited sense of their communities. Their lifestyles.

So I thought I would reciprocate. No fancy camera or technique, just a temperamental phone.

On Halloween I went for a walk with my son, ostensibly to give my wife space as she finished cooking food for our buffet, but in reality I think we both were in need of some autumn air. Us guys can only be cooped up so long, you know?

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We went to Jubilee Park, which is a small park in the center of the town in which I live. I don’t know whether it is the exact, geographical center of the town, but it has always felt that way to me. That is how I regard it. Here is the Victorian bandstand, scene of many a trumpeted triumph.

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The building in the background is Middleton library, a building I think I have spent most of my life escaping to and in.

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This is the exedra designed by Edgar Wood. Sounds exotic doesn’t it?

Wood was an architect who now lies buried in Italian soil. There are many buildings locally designed by him that survive. Looming large above it is St.Leonard’s church-the place where my wife and I were married.

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View from the top. At the top of these steps there used to be a fountain, but nobody knows, neither layman nor official, where it now is. Always check your pockets.

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Looking towards the monument which is a memorial to the three people killed in the flood of 1927. (A future post, dear reader.)

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Lost in Autumn. Fun before the fall.

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Fairwell, faltering sun.

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I remember visiting the park with my primary school class. After the flood memorial we were shown this rock. I could not remember the significance of it-the visit was decades ago after all, and the plaque is no longer on it. Pockets again?

My line of thinking was that it was another marker connected to the flood, perhaps an indicator of how high the water rose, or how far it travelled. But I have since been persuaded that it is a rock that has been transported by glaciers in the last ice age. Sounds right..but we could do with a replacement plaque, though, to aid us ignorant people.

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We went into the Old Cemetery above the park-it was Halloween after all.

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Old highways and dieways

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Don’t let night catch you here.

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The forgotten lie underfoot.

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Celtic Circle of Life.

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A hint of heralded Winter.

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The Sam Bamford memorial, a local Radical/Reformer/Poet.

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Damn vandals! They have painted his eyes white and given him black eyelashes. I cannot say it is a generational thing though-I recall seeing this face when I was a teen and some wag had written ‘Dracula Lives’ on his forehead.

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There was an old saying about  the people of Middleton in regard to this church-wooden steeple, stubborn people.

If you were born within earshot of the Nowster bell, you could class yourself as a true Moonraker, a true Middletonian. The mythological term ‘Moonraker‘ came from a folklore tale of two local men trying to rake the reflection of the moon from a pond. Obviously two of the more brighter ones.

St.Leonard’s church is said to date to around the 1100’s, but is thought to be built on the site of an earlier, wooden, Saxon church. Perhaps if you peel back all the layers of Christian worship you would also come to pre-Christian ritual at a pagan temple, as the Christianisation of pagan sites was the custom. Before Christ and his Father God were worshipped here, I wonder who the local Gods and Goddesses were?

There is a hill nearby where it has been suggested a Roman beacon was kept.

Not only do I look at this area as the center point of the town, but also as its most ancient  anchor too.

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Looking towards the cemetery.

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Looking towards The Ring O’Bells pub, reputedly haunted by the sad cavalier.

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Opposite the library, down the hill from the church, is the oldest pub in town, the Olde Boar’s Head, an old 16th century coaching inn. Rumours have always persisted of a tunnel leading from this pub up to the church on the hill, and also from the church to the Ring O’ Bells. (There must be that many passages criss-crossing beneath our feet, we best not jump up and down too often if an orchestra should suddenly strike up in the bandstand.)

Bamford wrote about his father, in the 1800’s, taking part in the stand up fights that frequently occurred in this place. These days you can catch a pub quiz.

Continuing the Halloween theme, there are stories of hauntings associated with this pub too, as there are with any historic building worth its salt.

There are a few other notably old buildings in this immediate area, but for us twilight quickly began to descend, tummies were rumbling, and James insisted he wanted to go home for his ‘Halloween Tea‘ so we called it a day.

As we made to leave, James found a discarded mask on one of the park benches.

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Had Michael Myers nipped into the library to check his Facebook notifications online? Maybe he fancied picking up an Enid Blyton.

James had a great time scaring his poor Dad, but once Dad had a turn, well, let’s just say the peace of the park was suddenly shattered.

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11 thoughts on “Halloween Retrospective:Jubilee Walk

  1. Enchanting. I was completely under the spell of your leaf trimmed tour. I would also agree that we tend to map our communities with emotional centers, places weighted in meaning and belonging.

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  2. Wonderful photos. You are surrounded by so much history. I live in an area developed in the 1970s. Not very historic.

    I especially love the photos of James looking so tiny on the crosswalk and among the leaves.

    Thanks for the history behind moonraker. I’d heard the term (um, mainly because of the James Bond movie), but I’m always interested in the etymology of a term.

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    • There is a nearby town called Heywood, which has always been known as Monkeytown. Nobody knows why.
      There is a legend that the local men were monkeys, and in the pubs the chairs/benches had holes in them for the tails to fit through.
      Perhaps the real origin of the name is a lot more mundane, but I like this version.

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  3. Perfectly charming! I am sure many a ghostly tale could be told with all the props you have at hand there: graves, ancient churches and bells, a pub with a tunnel underneath, mysterious breezes blowing the leaves over the lonely monuments… Get busy!

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  4. We’ve done swopsies then … I grew up in Middleton, used to go drinking in the Boars from the age of 15 (!) … still meet up with my brother for a few pints in the Boars then the Ringers every now and then …. moved to Heywood in the mid 1980s

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