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Downham, The Village That Time Forgot

Giugno 2007
La storia si è fermata a Downham, Lancashire. Vero e proprio feudo della famiglia Assheton da sei secoli, in questo villaggio non è consentita alcuna concessione alla modernità.

di John Rigg

File audio:


Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

Time stands still in the Lancashire village of Downham. There are no street signs or yellow road markings, no cables or television aerials. A sparkling stream passes under an old stone bridge at the south end of the village, where 18th-century cottages circle the village green. Visitors walk up the main street, past the post office and the old stocks, past the village pub and St. Leonard’s, the village church with its 14th-century bell tower, until they come to the gates of Downham Hall.


Downham Hall is the home of Lord Clitheroe. He is a member of the Assheton family, which has lived there since the 15th century. The Asshetons own the entire village and control everything; indeed the village resembles a feudal settlement with its grand hall, the nearby church and the surrounding cottages.
The Asshetons are benevolent rulers who built the village school, its pub, and most of the cottages – though they insist on keeping the village free of modern innovations. Not surprisingly, Downham is often used as a location for films set in the past.


In the grounds of the Hall there is a “great stone,” which marks the graves of two Roman soldiers who died there. Local legend tells us that the stone turns over completely when the church clock strikes. It isn’t difficult to believe, as this is a beautiful and mysterious place. In 1652 George Fox had a vision while walking on Pendle Hill above the village; as a result, he founded the Quaker movement. In the 1830s elders of the Mormon church baptised several local people in the village stream; Mormon pilgrims regularly visit the village even today. It’s also said that J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by the local countryside when he wrote The Lord of the Rings.
After darkness falls, only the truly courageous walk over Pendle Hill: the hill is famous as the home of the Downham witches. In the 17th century, 13 women were convicted of witchcraft and hanged.

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time stands still - il tempo si è fermato.

cables - cavi.

aerials - antenne.

sparkling stream - torrente spumeggiante.

village green - il prato.

stocks - gogna.

bell tower - campanile.

own - possiedono.

indeed - in effetti.

settlement - insediamento.

graves - tombe.

turns over - si capovolge.

strikes - batte le ore.

the truly courageous - i veramente coraggiosi.

witches - streghe.

convicted of witchcraft and hanged - condannate per stregoneria e impiccate.