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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Vicar’s hill top retreat with message in Greek

THIS week’s Memories Page mystery picture was of one of the more curious vantage points in the Lake District.

Hampsfell Hospice was built for the fell walking vicar of Cartmel George Remington.

It stands at 727ft above sea level in a very handy half-way location for walkers between Cartmel and Grange.

The Reverend Remington was vicar from 1835 to 1854 and had the hospice built as a shelter for travellers in 1846.

The square, limestone shelter has stone benches inside and a series of four wall panels with quirky poems and messages showing the character of the long-dead cleric.

From the top there are outstanding views of Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland fells – including Coniston Old Man, Helvelyn and the Langdales.

You can work out what you are looking at thanks to a unique direction finder and a numbering system which was put in place by a retired railway worker.

Above the entrance to the hospice is another unique feature – a message in Greek characters formed from carved limestone.

It has been translated as ‘Rosy fingered dawn’.

Among the messages left by the Reverend Remington for modern travellers is this one: “All persons visiting this hospice by permission of the owner are requested to respect private property and not by acts of wanton mischief and destruction show that they possess more muscle than brain.

“I have no hope that this request will be attended to for as Solomon says ‘Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle yet will not his foolishness depart from him’.”

While the vicar was hardly tough competition for William Wordsworth, he did fancy himself as something of a poet.

This is one of his efforts from a large wooden panel inside the hospice.

He writes: “This hospice is an open door, alike to welcome rich and poor; a roomy seat for young and old, where they may screen them from the cold.

“Three windows that command a view, to north, to west and southward too; a flight of steps requireth care, the roof will show a prospect rare.

“Mountains and vale you there survey, the winding streams and noble bay; the sun at noon the shallow hides, along the east and western sides.

“A lengthened chain holds guard around, to keep the cattle from the ground; kind reader freely take your pleasure, but do no mischief to my treasure.”

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