button to main menu  Clarke's Survey of the Lakes, 1787

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Page 55:-
  funeral customs
It is worth while here to mention some singular customs in use at funerals in these environs. Notwithstanding some tenements in this dale are seven miles distant from Greystock, they are all obliged to bury their dead there: all the relations of the deceased who reside within twenty miles, and all the neighbours, attend the funeral. A dinner is provided for them, and after dinner two pennyworth of wheaten bread, and a piece of cheese (by way of viaticum I suppose) is given to each person: the corpse is then laid upon a bier, and carried upon the shoulders of those who attend by turns, (a piece of duty from which even the women are not exempted) till they arrive at a large stone at Greystock town-head: Here they set the coffin down, and from hence it is carried to the church, (which is distant near a mile) by six persons, upon napkins: during this last part of the procession, the parish-clerk and people sing a psalm before the body, and walk, (be the weather as bad as it will) with their hats off. After the corpse is interred the company retire to the ale-house, here they are again refreshed with bread and cheese, and ale.
This method is invariably followed, whatever be the quality of the deceased; an instance of which I saw about three years ago, when a person of considerable property was thus carried from Lowside, (see plate V.) during a very deep snow: scarce any one present had a horse; and though the deceased was much respected, and left no children, (whose property might have been diminished by an expensive funeral,) he would not be prevailed upon to permit an hearse to be used, or omit any part of the old ceremonial, and this he expressly commanded before his death.
  Souther Fell

Opposite the nine-mile post, on the right hand, is Southerfell; rather smoother than its neighbours, and remarkable for an extraordinary phaenomenon, which perhaps can scarcely be paralleled by history, or reconciled to probability: such, however, is the evidence we have of it, that I cannot help relating it, and then my readers must judge for themselves. I shall give it nearly in the words of Mr Lancaster of Blakehills, from whom I had the account; and whose veracity, even were it not supported by many concurrent testimonies, I could fully rely upon. The story is as follows:
On the 23d of June 1744, his father's servant, Daniel Stricket, (who now lives under Skiddow, and is an auctioneer,) about half past seven in the evening was walking a little above the house. Looking round him, he saw a troop of men on horseback riding on Southerfell-side, (a place so steep that an horse can scarcely travel on it at all,) in pretty close ranks, and at a brisk walk. Stricket looked earnestly at them some time before he durst venture to acquaint any one with what he saw, as he had the year before made himself ridiculous by a visionary story, which I beg leave here also to relate: He was at that time servant to John Wren of Wilton-hill, the next house to Blakehills, and sitting one evening after supper * at the door along with his master, they saw a man with a dog pursuing some horses along Southerfell-side; and they seemed to run at an amazing pace, till they got out of sight at the low end of the Fell. This made them resolve to go next morning to the place to pick up the shoes which they thought these horses must have lost in galloping at such a furious rate; they expected likewise to see prodigious grazes from the feet of these horses on the steep side of the mountain, and to find the man lying dead, as they were sure he run so fast that he must kill himself. Accordingly they went, but, to their great surprise, found not a shoe, nor even a single vestige of any horse having been there, so much less did they find the man lying dead as they expected. This story they some time concealed; at length, however, they ventured to tell it, and were, (as might be expected) heartily laughed at. Stricket, conscious of his former ridiculous error, observed these aerial troops some time before he ventured to mention what he saw: at length, fully satisfied that what he saw was real, he
* It is a custom with the shepherds here to sup by day-light half the year, in consequence of which they sup about eight in the Summer, and before six in Winter.
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