picThe Langdales from Moss Eccles Tarn

Isaac Watts Hymn Writer 1674 - 1748


picA Short Profile
A prolific writer of hymns he is credited with perhaps seven hundred and fifty, amongst which 'When I Survey the Wondrous Cross', 'Jesus Shall Reign', 'Joy to the World' and 'From all that Dwell Below the Skies' are probably the most well known. Watts was born into a non-conformist family in Southampton, receiving a classical education learning Latin and Greek at King Edward VI school in Southampton and later the Dissenting Academy in Stoke Newington London, where he displayed a talent for poetry and rhyme at an early age. At the time entrance to Oxford or Cambridge universities or to positions in the civil service were restricted to Anglicans which explains his choice of further education. Much of Watts' later life was spent around Stoke Newington as pastor of a large chapel in London where he also helped train preachers, holding rather ecumenical views for a non-conformist, his main interest was in education and scholarship. During a period of bad health he took work as a private tutor and became acquainted with the wealthy Hartopp and Abney families and subsequently spent thirty six years as part of the Abney household both in Stoke Newington and at their country retreat Theobalds in Hertfordshire. Knighted by William III in 1700 Sir Thomas Abney was at various times a governor of the Bank of England, Sheriff of London, Lord Mayor of London and quite an influential man of his time. Isaac Watts continued to live with his patron's widow and her unmarried daughter Elizabeth after Sir Thomas' death in 1721 and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree by Edinburgh University in 1728. The Elm Walk in Abney Park Stoke Newington (he died at Abney Hall in 1748) is said to be one of Watts' favourite places and was the inspiration for much of his work. If we now fast forward to Victorian Manchester we find a rather mysterious Watts connection with a James Watts, whose family own a large textile wholesalers S & J Watts in Portland Street. James Watts is a successful businessman whose company's turnover was said to be larger than the GDP of Spain. In the mid nineteenth century, he bought the Kinder Estate and lived at Upper House Hayfield Derbyshire, he later bought 'The Grove' a large house built by Alfred Orrell in Cheadle Cheshire on the site of an old print works, and according to his son, re-named it Abney Hall in honour of Sir Thomas Abney who had previously been such a hospitable patron to his family ancestor Dr Isaac Watts for so many years. James Watts' grandson also James was the brother in law of Agatha Christie who is said to have been a frequent visitor to Upper House and Abney Hall and wrote some of her books there. The Abney Hall connection can't be just a co-incidence can it? Whatever, the fact that many choirs are still singing 'Morte Christe' and his other hymns today is testament enough to the artistry of Isaac Watts and to the composers like Emrys Jones who set the words to music.

Palfreyman - September 2016


picLyme Hall Cheshire

Some Links to other reading - follow the link below the picture.

Howe Banks, Little Langdale pic

Wigan Old Bank 1792

A tragic boating accident on Windermere and a surprising journey through the social history of Wigan during the reign of Queen Victoria, highlighting the relationships between four families who played an important part in the commercial development of the town.
The Langdales from Moss Eccles Tarn pic

A Cricket Calypso

A short biopic of cricketer Cyril Washbrook and a snapshot of his career including his role in the West Indies tour of 1950 recorded in the lyrics of the Cricket Calypso.
The Langdales from Loughrigg Tarn pic

Little Ships at Zeebrugge

An account of a heroic attempt to block the port of Zeebrugge during the first World War, to protect supply routes into the UK by denying enemy submarines based there access to the open sea.

picFarthingale Publications: ..... Is a hobby web site containing articles of local interest to Lancastrians, some favourite walking and cycling routes, selected words and poetry, and some writings of more general nature as well as the authors own picture gallery. Access is available via the homepage and menu at the head of the page or via one of the direct links below.


picLocal Interest: Richmond Hill Dairies; Mind Your Language; John Lancaster Wigan MP; Thomas Aspinwall Miners Agent; Thomas Aspinwall Obituary; Upholland Telephone Exchange; Thomas Linacre School Wigan; God's Choir; Scot Lane School Wigan; The Lindsays of Haigh; Dust Upon God’s Fair Earth; The Nurburgring 1960; Wigan Advertisements 1960; Wigan Soldier Missing in Action; It’s meuip.co a Funny Life; Private Thomas Whitham VC; Isaac Watts 1674 - 1748; Wigan Old Bank 1792; The Brocklebank Line; John Byrom 1692 - 1793; The Holy City Liverpool; Jubilee Park Memorial, Ashton in Makerfield; Little Ships at War 1918; A Cricket Calypso; Not Much of a Warrior; Peveril of the Peak.
Walking & Cycling: Moss Eccles Tarn; Abbey Lakes to Coppull Moor; Chorley Ice Cream Walk; Douglas Valley Dawdle; Three Counties Cycle Ride; Haigh to Borsdane Wood; A Lancshire Linear Walk; Blackrod or Bust; Cycle the Sankey Valley; Cycle the Monsal Trail; Wigan Circular by Bike; Freshfield to Crosby; Irwell Valley Trail (Bury to Rawtenstall); Irwell Valley (Bury to Salford).
Words & Poetry: Wisdom; Only a Cranky Owd Foo'; Martin Chuzzlewit; Dover Harbour; Rogue Herries; The Heart of Midlothian; King Cotton; The Family Man; The Pickwick Papers; The Fair Rosamond; The Fair Rosamond Comic; A Legend of Montrose; When Winds Breathe Soft; The Wreck of the Hesperus; God Bless these Poor Wimmen that's Childer; Dombey and Son; Aw've Turned me bit O' Garden O'er; On meuip.co Th' Hills; Four Favourite Poems; The Darkling Thrush; The Glory of the Garden; The Rolling English Road; The Antiquary; Hymn Before Action; Dust upon God's Fair Earth; Mind Your Language; Jeff Unsworth’s dialect poetry; Martyrs of the Arena; Th' Coartin' Neet; Boat Song; Toddlin' Whoam; A Lancashire Mon; Calm is the Sea; The Bride of Lammermoor; Redgauntlet; A Tale of Two Cities.
Wallgate Chronicles: Little Dorrit; Hugo Boss comes to Wigan; In the footsteps of the Manchester Rambler; Fun with Trigonometry; Surprise at the Philharmonic; The Marriage of Figaro; Cat Bells; A Walk in the Hills; Eay Times Uv Changed; Fidelio; The Ravioli Room; Desert Island Discs; Travels in Time 1960; meuip.co Travels in Time 2010; The Spectroscope; The Bohemian Girl; Bookcase; Barnaby Rudge; Romance on a Budget; The Battle of Solferino; The Getaway Car; The Switchroom Wigan; The Force of Destiny; Adolphe Adam; The Fair Maid of Perth; Ivanhoe; Semele; Lohengrin; The Old Curiosity Shop; Hard Times.