Easter in Carlisle
Easter in Carlisle has previously been mentioned on Cumbrian Characters, in a post on the public space by Carlisle Castle known as the Sorceries.
The post covered the old tradition of pasche eggs, and how Easter was celebrated on the Sorceries in 1801.
Two years later, the entertainmen options for Carlisle folk in the run-up to Easter included a comic opera at the Theatre Royal:
MISS BLANCH Having been received on the Night of her Performance of Rosetta, Love in a Village with fuch liberal and unbounded Applause, by a most brilliant and crowded Audience, has induced Mr. MOSS to comply with the Requeft of a number of respectable Applications (who could not obtain Admiffion to the Theatre on that occafion), its Representation, for the LAST TIME, this prefent Evening, which, in confequence of the approaching Solemnity of PASSION WEEK, will pofitively be the only Night of the Company’s performing until EASTER MONDAY.Carlisle Journal
There was also to be a bonus: a ‘favourite farce’ called Fun and Frolic, or the Comical Transformation, which had never been performed in Carlisle before. And after the opera, Miss Blanch and Mr Pollock were to sing.
Whoever Mr Moss was, the ‘celebrated comic opera’ was apparently authorised by Parliament, and performed by permission of the mayor of Carlisle. Except for the Holy Week, when a comic opera and farce would have been frowned on as disrespectful.
It seems Love in a Village was indeed a popular production. Drawing on music by a range of composers, it was the story of a heroine (Rosetta), who runs away from the prospect of marrying a man she hasn’t met.
A Cumbrian connection?
While Miss Blanch may have been forgotten by history, an earlier Rosetta was immortalised in an engraving from 1790. Elizabeth Billington was so famous in her day:
that for a time “a Billington” was a popular term for any great singer.
What jumps out at the image of Mrs Billington, as Rosetta, is the text under her picture. The words ‘Wastall del’ one side, and ‘Thornwthaite Fc’ the other.
‘Wastall’ was ‘after Richard Westall’, an artist who born in Norfolk (1765). But one can’t help wondering if his family had Cumbrian connections. Ditto John Thornthwaite, an engraver who worked in London in the late 1700s.
Easter in Carlisle – back to the Sorceries
For children, there was the fun of the Easter sports. And the weather in 1803 was kind.
Never was the weather more propitious for the juvenile amusements of Easter, and of course the Sorceries, in the afternoons of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, were filled with innumerable groups of youngsters at an early hour.
The wonted diversions of trap, drop the handkerchief, &c. were immediately commenced, and kept up with unabated spirit, till unwelcome night drew her sable curtain upon their innocent and health-giving pastimes.Carlisle Journal
In case you were having fun…
After the ‘sable curtain’ fell, the writer took it upon themselves to dwell on less-joyful thoughts:
Such assemblage of children, with countenances suffused with rosy health and happiness, is seldom witnessed, and at once affords a pleasing spectacle, and an impressive moral lesson to every beholder capable of comparing the past with the present:
it shews him in striking light what he was; and too generally, we are afraid, leads to a painful tacit acknowledgment, that the felicitous golden dreams of life’s early morn, have been unrealised by age.
Cheers for that. Happy Easter.