Sedbergh is known as the north’s book town but there is more to it than that
PUBLISHED: 21:00 14 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:02 14 April 2013
Sedbergh School’s official hymn points to the appeal of the location for many who visit, live and work here: ‘Not ours the crowded highway, the dust, the heat, the glare; We see a vaster prospect, we breathe a larger air.’
Sedbergh is a place for energetic people – whether it means climbing Winder, the hill domintaing the northern skyline or just as a way of life. This energy is heard in the clashing of cymbals and in the beat of the drums of both the Town Band and the School’s CCF Band. Dr Hilary Hodge, chairman of the parish council, and town band secretary, says: ‘It is generally agreed by local people that the Town Band is the most successful example of bringing the town and the school together. Alan Lewis started it in 1999, with a few people interested in learning how to play brass instruments and now it tours internationally.’
Meanwhile, the Sedbergh Choral Society, has been running for more than 40 years and was set up in order to introduce a greater range of voices when the school was single sex (girls were admitted from 2001). John Seymour, the school director of music, says: ‘The very nature of music, as an interest, a way to come together socially and as an academic pursuit, is collaborative rather than competitive and I believe it works this way for the school and the town. The school, merging with nearby Casterton, works closely with local music groups – of which there is a surprising number in such a small town.
‘The Sedbergh Orchestra uses our facilities and many of our concerts in the new Thornely Studio are open to the public. We get a huge amount of support and the pupils benefit tremendously from performing in front of a live, supportive audience,’ adds John. Professional musicians visit, too. Julian Lloyd-Webber gave an open concert and workshop, and oboist Tasmin Little, world-class Choral composer and conductor Bob Chilcot, and the Choir of Queen’s College, Oxford, have all performed here recently. The National Children’s Orchestra and Royal School of Church Music rehearse at the school and put on free concerts and the Dentdale Choir, for adults in Sedbergh, Dent and Cowgill, also has close links with the School. On May 4 this year it will perform with Cambridge Chamber Consort and the junior pupils’ Chamber Choir.
Sedbergh School was established in 1525 by Roger Lupton, former Provost of Eton and the site of the original school is where the 18th Century School Library now stands. Outside the library, on Ten Mile Day - it was March 19 this year - crowds of locals, parents, pupils and Old Sedberghians gather to support pupils heading for the Wilson Run finishing line on Loftus Hill. The race is now in its 132nd year and is a tradition that always brings the town and school together. The interaction between the 300-strong staff body, pupils, parents and the town is a huge part of Sedbergh life and there are more than 20 retired teachers who have settled here and who are actively involved in community life.
Community projects are central to the work of school archivist Katy Iliffe. The school has recently been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to digitise a collection of records and to develop an oral history and reminiscence project, which will run in May and June this year. Katy, who also runs the heritage centre,and says: ‘Sedbergh has an amazingly diverse history. One of the projects I am running is to create displays about the history in shop windows, providing interesting information for both the people of Sedbergh and visitors to the town.’ Tours of the school are available for interested visitors [call 015396 22275].
Check howgills.co.uk for more information
or try www.sedbergh.org.uk
HIKE, FISH & TREK
Sedbergh Tourist Information Office on Main Street has routes and maps for walks, and details of pony treking. Anglers can obtain tickets and maps through the Sedbergh Anglers (www.sedberghanglers.org.uk / 07866 783254), for fishing in the Lune, Rawthay and tributaries. In the Summer, a residential ‘Dangerous Course for Kids’ runs for children aged 10-13. www.sedberghschool.org/the-academies. (Tel:015396 22616).
THEY’RE A CRAFTY LOT
Farfield Mill (£3.95 entry) is one mile away from Sedbergh on the Garsdale Road. It is home to 20 artists and crafters. As well as beautiful ceramics, weaving and quilts, there are up-cycled vintage items for sale, working looms, a water mill and Weavers, the highly-regarded café. The Mill is open 10.30am until 5pm; the Quilt Festival runs daily 11.00 – 4pm until 7th April. (www.farfieldmill.org Tel: 015396 21958).
In Sedbergh town centre, the Sedbergh Tapestry is on permanent display in St Andrew’s Church. A new Jewellery Design course at Sedbergh School launches this summer, with an adult or residential children’s option (015396 22616) and craftworkshop, run by a co-operative of local craft workers, at 61 Main Street, offers workshops, demonstrations and stock for sale.
Roger Gifford, current Lord Mayor of London, Adam Sedgwick, the father of modern Geology, from Dent, Simon Beaufoy, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, playwright John Arden, BAFTA nominated production designer Assheton Gorton, Lord Bingham of Cornhill KG PC QC FBA – the ‘greatest judge of his era’- and a number of well-known sporting internationals, including former England rugby captain Will Carling.
PARKING & RIDING
Leave the M6 at Junction 37 and head east on the A684. Once you get there you will find some on-street parking available on the outskirts and a village centre pay and display where the market is held.
ON THE MENU
Sedbergh has a wide choice of cafes, pubs and takeaways, listed at www.sedbergh.org.uk and www.hiddenhowgills.co.uk. Recommended are Duo Cafe, The Dalesman pub, Howgills Bakery and Tearoom, and the gloriously named Haddock Paddock, a five star chippy.
WHAT’S IN STORE?
Patch and Fettle is a vintage emporium – kitchenalia, clothing, haberdashery, eiderdowns and quirky bric-a-brac. Yorkshire Dales Antiques sells period oak, early country pine furniture, and some interesting smaller items. Sedbergh Soap Company products are stocked in the Sleepy Elephant (www.sedbergh-soap.co.uk). Waka Artisans, on Back Lane, sells fine pottery inspired by Japanese design, gift cards and takeaway coffee and cupcakes.