The History of Pennington Archers

Pennington is a small village on the north side of the A590, just outside of Ulverston in one of the South Lakes Peninsulas. When the Queen’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated in 1977 all of the Pennington and Swarthmoor villagers got together for a party at the Pennington Memorial Hall. This was such a success for the villages that they suggested an annual event, so the following year a summer gala was planned.

All interested parties were invited to a planning meeting. A committee was formed, various stands were planned. Catch the rat, a duck shoot with various sized wooden ducks to knock over, a coconut shy, a ducking stool etc. When the set up was drawn out they found that there was a gap at the top of the field so Terry Ridal, an active village member, suggested archery.

They built a straw bale wall.  Begged two 'shot out' straw bosses and stands from Vickers archery club and Terry and Janet Ridal provided some of their own equipment [collected over the years].  Lo and behold, we had a “Have a go” archery stand.

It proved so popular that later in 1978 archery became a regular activity for a gathering of villagers, plus other interested friends, and an informal club was formed.

It wasn’t until early in 1982, when some people were getting a bit more serious about archery, that the informal gathering became a fully constituted club affiliated to GNAS (Grand National Archery Society).

Then it was decided that the club should have an emblem.  But what to use?

The Pennington Connection

In the museum part of Furness Abbey there is a display of the coats of arms belonging to local families, one of which was the original device registered to the Pennington family in 1106. We obtained permission from the family Duff-Pennington of Muncaster Castle to use a revised form of their heraldic device for our club badge. Mrs Duff-Pennington readily agreed because that particular device had fallen into disuse around 1690.

The badge we use takes the form of a stylised “P” with a heraldic bar at the top and alternating arrows heads, up and down within the body of the “P”[as it was in the original]. The bar according to heraldic terminology is supposed to denote that the estate, to which the device belongs, has passed into the ownership of the second son of the family. The full Pennington device was too intricate to incorporate into an enamel badge but a mum of one of our junior members , Mrs Diane Hill, did the art work to incorporate all the salient information included in the original heraldic design, and set it within an unusual octagonal form. We searched for a specialist enamel badge maker who was prepared to make a die, the badge was cast and the rest is history.

Shortly after we obtained our first batch of badges Sellafield archery club held a field shoot at Muncaster Castle. Mrs Duff- Pennington acted as Lady Paramount and presented the winning medals.  At the end, Terry Ridal presented her with one of the Pennington badges, together with a silk scarf, in gratitude for allowing us to use the device. To this day she tells us she is proud to use our badge as a scarf pin.

As the device was originally granted in 1106 our badge must rank as one of the oldest archery club emblems in the country, if not the world!


For more information about the Pennington Family please follow these links.

From 'Informal Club'' to the present day Pennington Archers  


The leading light at that time was Terry Ridal, who had been shooting "in the bow" since the age of sixteen, initially shooting a Lindop flat, or now more popularly known, as an American longbow. Eventually he progressed through various recurve bows, inevitably including the fully stabilised set up now called an Olympic style, he finally found the Longbow, and has remained a devotee of his "bent stick" ever since.

In the early days Terry took on the role of Chairman and the club was formed entirely as a target archery club, hosting open shoots and tournaments on a regular basis which provided Cumbria County Archery Association with a steady supply of county team members. The ladies proved the most successful; three Pennington ladies formed the core of the county team which took the Martin trophy off Durham and Northumberland and the Scottish National teams, for the one and only time since the competition began in the mid 50s.

Pennington Archers turned their attention towards field archery under the Grand National Archery Society (G.N.A.S.) banner in the early 80s and shot on a wonderful course at Finsthwaite (near Lake Windermere in the Lake District). This course gained a formidable reputation not only for its breathtaking views over the Lakeland hills, but also for terrain which challenged the best archers in the land. Indeed it was a world class course and was worthy of its highest accolade of hosting the British Open Field Archery Championships in 1994.

The club became a victim of its own success and challenging courses as the numbers of archers attending shoots fell, many archers not wanting to wound fragile confidence by being confounded by the difficult terrain and the top class courses being set for competitions. Very few archers scored a personal best on this course as it was assessed as being up to and beyond international standard!

Eventually the members moved away from field archery under G.N.A.S. rules and regulations and made sorties towards the National Field Archery Society (N.F.A.S.) This coincided with a move from Finsthwaite to a new location, about five miles away, at Bigland Hall in Mungeon Wood.
Again the members showed that their enthusiasm had not waned and have twice hosted and laid a course for the N.F.A.S. National championships, first at Newby bridge, then two years later, in the woods around Bigland estate where their course laying gained so many accolades.

When Bigland Hall went up for sale we had to find a new home and after viewing quite a few areas of woodland we were lucky enough to find Linsty Woods. After an initial one year lease we were able to secure a longer lease which gave us the security to progress an expansion programme.
Terry had been leading the way, both as the club coach, and as chairman for many years and he decided it was time for a new administration to take the club forward. The club rewarded his efforts over the years by making him Honorary President in 2005. A new and larger committee was formed at this time, lead this time by Janet Ridal, and has brought up to date and revised all the club procedures (Rules of Shooting, Health and Safety issues, Child Protection Procedures etc, etc).

Over the years Pennington Archers have been active in the local community by helping others to raise money for their funds. We have demonstrated archery and organised “Have–a-Go” sessions at many local school fetes, galas, Medieval Fun days (Furness Abbey) and the Holker Hall Driving Trials. They have also been active during the Ulverston Charter Festival by organising a Medieval Longbow Tournament, making a donation to the Mayor’s Charities and by stewarding at the Lantern Procession.

Since the AGM in May 2005 the new committee decided that fundraising for a new hut on our Field Course should be a priority. Setting out and maintaining a Field Archery course involves quite a lot of woodland, forestry and agricultural equipment and therefore we needed a hut for storage and as a meeting place for the archers.

The fundraising included - 2 local Have-a-Go's (Dalton Medieval Fayre in May and the Jousting Day in Ulverston’s Charter Festival in September), both in medieval dress. - Organising beginners courses which were fully subscribed on Ford Park in Ulverston - Car boot sales to sell items donated from club members.

We have also been fortunate enough to receive funding from - Ulverston & Low Furness Neighbourhood Forum - Ulverston Town Mayor's Charities - Ulverston Carnival Committee.
A new sub committee was formed to organise tournaments as a direct response from the membership.