Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kirkby Lonsdale and the Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel - note the Georgian facade, and the older stonework on the side. In a later post, I will explain why it is this way.
I came to Kirkby Lonsdale for research reasons, knew next-to-nothing about the town, and so was prepared for anything. Many of the English market towns of the 1600s and 1700s have become tawdry and abandoned-looking. Often, this is because of a loss of employment, but it also happens because paid consultants tell town councils that they need to heed the tenets of the global economy and get with the times. Redevelop. The downtown core gets hollowed out. Fortunately for those in power in Kirkby Lonsdale, the  Kirkby Lonsdale and District Civic Society was there to set their local council straight.

Like all volunteer enterprises, they run on a hope and a prayer. Their volunteers run the local tourist information centre. Support them by buying something, or making a donation - or both.
For me, it isn’t only the look of the preserved architecture and old town layout that is the appeal of Kirkby Lonsdale. It is also the variety of textures of the cobbled roadways, dry-laid stonewalls, and walls of buildings. They are worth taking the time to feel with ones fingertips. Like the braille of time, their materials tell the stories of additions and repairs.

The walls of Jiggling Lane frame a flowering apple tree.
A cobbled snicket - a phrase which I learned from Mary Gresson's "A Stroll through Kirkby Lonsdale". It is another way of saying "a cobbled lane". Snicket. Snicket. Verbal texture.

I wish that I knew how to read what these stones have to say.
My bedroom at the Royal Hotel overlooks the Market Square. It used to be part of the gardens attached to a building that was known as Jackson Hall before it was sold and turned into the Rose and Crown. It will come as no surprise to most of my readers that Jackson Hall is the main reason that I am here. Some sources say that the last Jackson attached to this place was Ellen Jackson who died in 1785; other sources allege that it was an Abigail Jackson who married Sir Oliver Crofton, an Irish baronet. Either are plausible. Or not. I will post later on this matter.

Breakfast in my room - overlooking Market Square.
I was only here for two mornings– not long enough – but on one of them, I trotted on down to the Lunsdale Bakery, and bought myself this scone for breakfast. The photo does not show what happened next. I scarfed it down without regard for what the icing sugar on the top might do. I ended up looking like an inept coke user. Sugar all down my front and up my nose. But hey – it was totally worth it.

My two days here has been perfection itself. The Royal Hotel staff are blessed with that kind of friendliness that can only come from people who genuinely enjoy meeting the needs of strangers. A bonus is that the food served in either the pub or the dining room is superb– although you do need to book a table for the evening meal. The locals also know how good the food is. I leave in a few hours, and I certainly do plan to return. Au revoir, Damien.

Damien - General Manager of the Royal Hotel.

No comments:

Post a Comment