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Cumbria’s Heritage Attractions Pop Up With Compelling Claims to Fame

L-R: from the top, Sir Edward Holt, Arthur Ransome, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Yellow Earl, Tom Fool and bottom left, John Ruskin

[A] group of 38 heritage attractions in Cumbria has built upon its recent journey into the colourful world of pop art, by analysing how every single venue within its membership can boast having had 15 minutes of fame … and many more!

Cumbria’s Living Heritage celebrated what would have been the 90th birthday of pop art legend, Andy Warhol, earlier this month, by reimagining some of its great heritage names and giving them a pop art makeover.

This communication of how living heritage works, and how it is so vibrant, proved so popular that Cumbria’s Living Heritage has now followed this up, by issuing a second tranche of pop art images, plus claims-to-fame summaries that highlight its members’ unique selling points.

Joining Donald Campbell, William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, Lady Anne Clifford and Alfred Lord Tennyson in the pop art gallery are other names intrinsically related to the heritage of Cumbria. These are: ‘Tom Fool’ (Muncaster); Sir Edward Holt (Blackwell); Arthur Ransome (Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry and the Ruskin Museum); The Yellow Earl (Lowther Castle); Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Dove Cottage and Allan Bank) and John Ruskin (Ruskin Museum and Brantwood).  All are now helping to demonstrate that heritage is not dull and dusty, if you give it a chance.

Meanwhile, the ’15 minutes of fame’ elevator pitches relating to each member really demonstrate how rich the stories within Cumbria’s heritage are and how much Cumbria’s Living Heritage has to offer you, no matter who you are.

The member properties are associated with everyone from the Kray Twins to the Green Knight of Arthurian legend, and from ‘Wicked Jimmy’ – the first Earl of Lonsdale and owner of Lowther Castle –  to motorbiking legend, John McGuinness.

The stories underpinning these summaries are intriguing, amazing and enlightening. Members can boast having items as unusual as a crimson velvet Arabian saddle that belonged to the Egyptian ruler, Elphi Bey, and which was gifted to Napoleon, and as thought-provoking as a poet’s war diary that has an arc of creases caused by the shell blast that killed him.

There is a recipe book from the 17th century that would surely entice any ‘Bake Off’ fan, hand-painted wallpaper that travelled from China on a tea clipper (a must for any Grand Designs viewer) and ghosts aplenty for those who love their supernatural films.  For those who have been hooked by this summer’s TV serialisation of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’, Cumbria’s Living Heritage even has a member – Dalemain – whose architects’ plans were used to create Martindale Hall, Australia, which was the property featuring in the original movie.

But there is poignancy in the stories too.  There are the unknown soldiers, who Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life wishes to identify; the cricket pitch at Hutton-in-the-Forest abandoned when news of the outbreak of World War I was received; the life cut short, in the case of Donald Campbell, the hero with the matinee idol looks.  These mingle with the mysteries – the stone carvings of mermaids, knights and animals on the keep walls at Carlisle Castle; the true identity of the giant Turquin, said to have lived at Brougham Castle; the identity of the monk who may once have owned the crozier and the gemstone found at Furness Abbey.

And then there are secrets – secret recipe scones and Morocco Ale, to name but two!

Peter Frost-Pennington, Chair of Cumbria’s Living Heritage, says: “Our claims to fame, when analysed and compiled in the way that we have this year, are absolutely amazing and I doubt that any other group of attractions could rival what we have pulled together in our downloadable document. This is partly due to our geography, close to, or on, the Anglo-Scottish border, and also much to do with our incredible landscape, which has attracted famous names, artists and other creatives, who have enriched our culture.

“We hope that people will head to our website, download our ’15 minutes of fame’ summaries, revel in the content and start planning a few visits, to see all of this for themselves.”

The compelling summaries can be found at www.cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk where the pop art images can also be viewed.

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