Let there be light!

Exploring the interiors of cowhouses is not recommended without the owners’ permission. It can also be a bit hazardous given how little light there is inside. There are also a LOT of cobwebs and the occasional dead bird or sheep so it can sometimes be a bit creepy.

Cowhouse interior near Thwaite

Imagine visiting these buildings at night with only a candle in a lantern to light your way? Some cowhouses have little niches where a lamp or lantern could be placed. In others you might see a hook for hanging a lantern from like this one.

Hook for a lamp, Jordan cowhouse

We interviewed a group of women who grew up on farms around Muker parish, they have clear memories of how dark the cowhouses were.

“See, when they went to milk in these cow’usses it was always candlelight …I don’t know about your cowusses but ours always had a little hole in the wall for the candle to go in…wasn’t likely to set hay on fire you see…and then little lamps came that you used to carry…and then what you called a tilly lamp, paraffin, had to prime it. That was a big step.”

“Ah but tilly lamp never came to High Frith… we had candles all the time”

“You’d get heat off it as well…You did, off a tilly lamp”

“Used to have a flashlight that you could hold in his mouth…when he had two calf buckets he held the flashlight in his mouth…not like a head torch now, they’re grand!”

“They’d milk in the dark in’t winter “

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