Evening Gazette, November 24th, 1962
I AM always impressed by I the neatness of the hedges at
Pilling. They seem to me, generally speaking, to be better cared for than any in
our part of the countryside. It may be because hedges were not introduced into
Pilling until comparatively recent times— only about 100 years ago.
The originator was the vicar, the Rev J, D. Banister, who looked
after Pilling for 51 years from 1825 onwards. "Looked after" is right. He more
or less revolutionised the place. He built a new vicarage to supersede the
tumbledown old cottage which did duty up to 1831. He built schools at both
Pilling and Eagland Hill, and Eagland Hill church ,too — although Pilling, when
he died in 1876, still worshipped in the little 1717 church which now remains as
a lovely Georgian relic.
He supervised the draining of much of the mossland, bringing
large new tracts into cultivation; and he had much to do with the building of
new farmhouses and cottages to replace the old turf - walled, thatch-roofed and
clay-floored homes such as the relics I described a few weeks ago.
Up to his time most field boundaries in Pilling were banks of
earth. I suppose that the nature of the land demanded drainage by ditches and
the excavated soil was conveniently heaped up.
But Mr Banister thought that it was ugly — and so it must have
been — and little by little he persuaded farmers to plant hawthorn hedges. The
pretty Pilling landscape of today is a memorial to him.
To my mind, however, the most powerful proof of Mr Banister's
authority and influence is that he managed to introduce the chanting of the
psalms in the village church. Anyone who could persuade the people of Pilling
into such a change as that must have been a Napoleon and a Machiavelli rolled
"As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world
without end" is still a strong creed in Pilling. What it must have been 100
years ago can be imagined. He says in his memoirs that "some of the old people
objected to the change." That, should think, must be one of the most magnificent
understatements of the century.