Empire Day was celebrated from 1909 until 1969. Its purpose was to teach all children the essence of good citizenry and responsibility. It was first instituted by King Edward VII.
A village hall was first planned in 1913, but it was abandoned when the First World War started the following year. After the war, the idea was revived and plans were approved for a building on land given by Mr Hubert Argles.
Funds were raised by the whole community. The schoolchildren were taught crafts and made objects to sell, gave concerts, held fetes on the Vicarage lawn and had various other fund-raising activities.
The stone was quarried from a nearby field on Spout House Farm.
The limestone quoins came from Whitbarrow. It was dug and carted by local, volunteer labour.
The builders were Nelson, Hodgson and Scott of Milnthorpe. The construction of the hall held a great fascination for the local schoolchildren. On one occasion, they were given the cane for being late, having forgotten the time whilst watching all the activity on their way to school! Lady Holt, from Blackwell, opened the Argles Memorial Hall in March 1931. Mrs Argles was not able to attend, due to a prior engagement.
Before the village hall was built, many meetings, dances and concerts were held at the school.
Today, the reverse is true. The school uses the Argles Memorial Hall for concerts and physical education activities. The village uses it for classes in art, computer studies, indoor bowling and keep fit. The playgroup, Women's Institute, Cameo Club and other village groups, all make use of the building. The hall is also a focus of celebration for the village, whether for special occasions, like this year's Golden Jubilee, or annually for Harvest festivities or New Year partying.
At present, there are plans to up-grade and refurbish the hall with money given by the Community Fund (Lottery Grant). This work will include a new pitched and slated roof to replace the flat roofed extension, new toilets, a committee room and storage, also a new heating system and electrics.
Translation of the dialect play written by the children at Crosthwaite School, to celebrate the building of the Argles Memorial Hall, published in the school magazine.
A conversation between two farmers, looking at the new hall Mr A (Joe Walker) Mr B (Gilbert Park) Mr A It doesn't seem as if it's going to be such a big one.
Mr B It doesn't look so big now but it will look different when it's finished.
Mr A Yes, but it still doesn't look any different than the school.
Mr B Have you heard who's building it yet? Mr A Yes, I think it's Hodgson, Nelson and Scott from Milnthorpe.
Mr B There's two or three very strong fellows among them.
Mr A Yes, do you see that big, stout chap over there? That's Hodgson and him in brown overalls is Scott and I don't know Nelson.
Mr B They're getting on very well for the few chaps there is.
Mr A Who's going to lay the foundation stone, do you know? Mr B Run! They're just going to let a blast off over there! (The stone for the hall was quarried in the next field.) Mr A By gum! I've never run so fast in all my life, except once when I was chased by a bull.
Mr B There it goes! By gum that's shifted some stuff (quantity of stone).
Mr A Yes, let's go and have a look and see what it's done.
Mr B Oh all right but we'll not have to hinder the workers.
Mr A No, by gum, it'll be cold getting those stones out of the water.
Mr B By gum, it's 4 o'clock. I'd better be getting home or I'll miss my tea.
Mr A Well I'll see you tomorrow some time, so good night.
Mr B Good night.
The Choral Society was very popular in the 1930s. Every year they performed operettas, two performances, to a packed house. The Rev.
William Heyes, the Vicar of St. Mary's, made the scenery.
Mr James Prickett, the schoolmaster, started the Dramatic Society at about the same time. It was also very well supported. The first production was "Orange Blossom" and starred Kit Newton, Tommy Walling, Mary Walling, Violet Trotter, Nora Jackson and "Diddy" Harrison on the piano. The Society ran for 4 or 5 years.
The Westmorland Gazette of December 24th 1932 reported on a children's play, which was performed under the direction of Mr James Prickett, called "Princess Chrysanthemum". It was in aid of the Christmas Festivities Fund. Miss Palmer assisted Mr Prickett and "attended to the children." The scenery and properties for the three act play were painted and arranged by the Rev. Heyes. Mr J. A. Cartmell was in charge of the lighting and the Vicar was also the stage manager. The paper notes that, "There were large audiences, quick to appreciate the way in which the play was presented". £10/14s/0d was raised for the Fund.
The idea of a playing field, for the use of the village, was first sparked off by a letter received from the Carlisle Diocesan Council, stating that they were contemplating selling the Vicarage. This meant that the Bowling Club would not be able to use the Vicarage lawn as a bowling green.
The owners of a field opposite the Memorial Hall were approached, to see whether they would be prepared to sell the field, to convert into a new bowling green. This request did not prove to be fruitful.
Subsequently the field was put up for auction and the Landowners of Crosthwaite and Lyth decided that a member of their committee would bid up to an agreed figure. If successful, the field would be used for the benefit of the whole village. It could be used as a playing field and bowling green, with tennis courts, football and play areas. There would even be room for an overspill car park for events held at the Memorial Hall. The Landowners were outbid, but at a later date the field was acquired.
The Landowners leased the land to the village for a peppercorn rent and a Playing Field Committee was elected from different organisations in the village; Val Nelson and Denise Park were appointed as trustees.
During the next two years money was raised by the villagers to fund work on the field.
The first phase involved draining the field. Tennis courts were then built, with fencing acquired from courts at Halecat in Witherslack.
Chaplows of Kendal laid the tarmac. The bowling green was constructed by Sam Procter, an employee of John Thacker of Levens. Volunteers did the final levelling of the field and Jack Myers sowed the seed. Several members of the Sports Committee made and put up the play equipment.
The base for the pavilion, drains, septic tank, and the trenches for water and electricity supply were constructed by George Myers, John Thacker and Hartley Trotter. Barkers of Haverthwaite supplied and erected the pavilion.
So, with much hard work and a lot of laughs, Crosthwaite had a very desirable playing field. It was opened in 1995. Today, the bowling green is a top class one, thanks to the loving care lavished on it by John Pearson! Events are held each year to raise money for the running costs of the Recreation Field Trust, so that the village may continue to enjoy these excellent facilities.
In June 1928 at a meeting held in Crosthwaite Institute, Mrs Isobel Hoggarth, from Dawson Fold, proposed forming a Women's Institute in the Parish. The meetings were held monthly and alternated between Crosthwaite and Lyth. The first meeting was held on August 1st 1928, in the Parish Rooms. Two years later in 1931, the Argles Memorial Hall was built and in use. The meetings in Lyth were held at Flodder Hall, Dawson Fold, Howe School and Row Mission Hall.
The format for meetings was the singing of Jerusalem, business, a speaker, a social half-hour, the judging of the competition, ending with the National Anthem.
The competitions were always well supported. An example of an early competition was to produce "an article made from a flour bag".
The winners had made two cushion covers, a child's dress and a child's hat. On winter evenings classes were held, which included dressmaking, embroidery, craft, home nursing and cookery.
In the early days members walked or cycled to meetings. When they travelled away from the valley, a bus had to be hired at a cost of £1/10/0 per member. The Institute went to Cartmel and the County Shows and entered drama and choir festivals. Their first choirmaster was Mr Prickett, the schoolmaster.
One of the present members, Christine Walling, remembers how she and her sister climbed the trees in their garden, next to Dawson Fold, to watch the Annual Garden Party in June. They would long for the time when they would be able to join the WI and share the fun.
Games were played and a buffet was laid on in the barn.
Mrs Hoggarth had been President of Crosthwaite and Lyth Women's Institute for 39 years and had been the first member to attend the AGM at the Albert Hall. She left her much-admired blue and white Wedgwood tea service to the Institute, on condition that it was used and not kept in a cupboard, to gather dust! And so it was until, wellused, the intact pieces were shared out amongst the members to be displayed in their houses, in memory of their founder.
The Young Farmers was a very active group. The members took part in many competitions, including less likely endeavours such as drama and public speaking. Every year one of the groups in the area would hold a Field Day, where each club would compete against the others. In the 1960s West View hosted this special day. The competitions were on stockjudging, tractor and trailer driving, welding, carpentry, fencing, also cookery, needlework, poetry and general knowledge. The day always finished with a Grand Slam Fun Competition, usually involving water or cross-dressing but we won't dwell on that! On this occasion it was something quite different - a rodeo.
Crosthwaite and Lyth have never had any difficulty in persuading people to raise large sums of money for community or charitable projects. The Memorial Hall, playing field, its club house and equipment have all benefited from village efforts. The Sports Committee has arranged various events over the years, profits going to village projects.
Other activities have included agricultural shows, sports days, badminton, bowls and tennis league matches, horse jumping, sheepdog trials and Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling. Village shows and sports days always had a fancy dress competition included in them. The village has also had a lively musical life, taking part in the Mary Wakefield Festival in Kendal. In the 1920s Tommy Cannon's dancing classes included most of the local children. No event was complete without a dancing performance! Every year a Grand Auction and Jumble Sale is held, to raise funds for the maintenance of the Argles Memorial Hall. The £1,000 sum raised these days is a far cry from an event held in 1895 to raise money for a village piano.
Although the princely sum of £16/10/0 was realised, Mrs Argles had to top up the amount to enable the piano to be purchased! In 1987 Jim Bownass suffered from cancer. When he had recovered he decided to have a coffee morning, to raise money for cancer care and Christies Hospital in Manchester.
This one morning grew into eight days of fund raising events, culminating in a supper dance.
£8,686 was raised in total. One of the most original ways of extracting money from people was a scheme where highwaymen were stationed at either end of the village. Nobody got away without paying, not even the Chief of Police!