Tuesday, 8 September 2015

YORKSHIRE (East Riding)

YORKSHIRE, England's largest county originally consisted of three 'Ridings'  (Thirds) - East, North and West, but in 1974 Local Government was drastically reformed and the traditional Ridings were abolished in favour of a system of four Metropolitan counties, East Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. However, East Yorkshire was renamed Humberside which included  part of North Lincolnshire on the south side of the Humber. This entailed considerable boundary changes and much of Yorkshire, especially to the north and the east. was lost to other administrative areas, causing much controversy.  After much campaigning the 'East Riding of Yorkshire' was reinstated but it still lost some of its historic area to North Yorkshire.



HULL, or Kingston Upon Hull to give it its correct name, is the only city in this part of Yorkshire.  Now somewhat depleted, the port was once one of Britain's largest ports and developed at the point where the River Hull joins the Humber Estuary where deep sea fishing and whaling docks were once part of the scene.  Considerable renovation of the area has left the working dock area to the east of the town and they are now given over to imports from all over the world together with ferry connections to the continent. 

The city will become the European City of Culture in 2017.

When it was completed in 1980 the Humber Bridge (4626ft) was the longest suspension bridge in the world and gave the city its much needed connection to the south.


The city gained some notoriety on St George's Day 1642.
A panel in the so called Plotting Room at Ye Olde White Harte pub in Silver Street
tells of the events of 23rd April of that year::
‘ Whilst Sir John Hotham, the Governor of Hull, was giving a dinner party he received an intimation from the King that His Majesty, who was then only four miles from the town, deigned to dine with him that day. The Governor, filled with surprise at the unexpected news, retired to his private room (since called The Plotting Room) and sent for Alderman Pelham, the M.P for the Borough. It was then resolved to close the gates against the King and his followers and a message was dispatched to his Majesty informing him of the decision. The soldiers were called to arms, the bridge drawn up, the gates closed and the inhabitants confined to their houses. About 11 o’clock the King appeared at Beverley Gate but the Governor refused to allow him to enter the walls. The King then called upon the Mayor but that official fell upon his knees and swore that he could not assist as the gates were guarded by soldiers. Whereupon the King, after much strong discussion and
proclaiming Hotham a traitor, withdrew to Beverley.’
The preserved foundations of Beverley Gate in the heart of the bustling shopping center bear a plaque which testifies to this first overt act of The Civil War on St. George’s Day in 1642.



 Many of the old buildings have on the waterfront have been renovated for use as residential and commercial premises leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come. 


Even the Victorian toilets are in pristine condition.


At the confluence of the Hull and the Humber known as 'Sammy's Point is 'The Deep' , a charitable public aquarium which was opened in 2002.  Said to be the world's only submarium  2,500,000 litres of water fill tanks containing thousands of sea creatures. It is also a centre for marine research.



Saturday, 22 August 2015


ST BEES HEAD is the most westerly point in Cumbria and is the start of the Coast To Coast Walk across the north of England to Robin Hood's Bay on the east coast.


This church on the site of a Benedictine Priory became the parish church at the Dissolution and is dedicated to St Bega an Irish Princess the subject of legend. See further photographs for story.

Wikipedia relates a curious story: When a dig was undertaken in 1981 in the area of the 14th Century ruined chapel at the east end, a number of medieval burials were uncovered, and the remains of an earlier building on a different alignment to the Priory was found. The most significant find was of a man aged 35–45 in a lead coffin in a stone vault, now known as "St. Bees Man", whose body was in a remarkable state of preservation. It has now been established that he was Anthony de Lucy[14], a knight, who died in 1368 in the Teutonic Crusades in Prussia. Although the body was about six hundred years old, his nails, skin and stomach contents were found to be in near-perfect condition. [15]. After his death the vault was enlarged to take the body of his sister, Maud de Lucy, who died in 1398. The probable effigies of both Maud and Anthony can be seen in the extensive history display which includes the shroud in which he was wrapped.

THE PRIORY CHURCH, St Bees, Cumbria.

Situated at the head of Derwent Water, KESWICK is one of the larger market towns in Lakeland and the centre is dominated by the Moot Hall of 1813.
 Travelling north on the A66 north of Keswick the eye is drawn to a white painted rock on the steep scree slopes of Barf near Thornthwaite. (Photograph taken from coach!). It is known as Bishop Rock - the Bishop being the newly appointed Bishop of Derry. It seems that the Bishop was travelling to Whitehaven en route for Ireland in 1783 when he stopped overnight at the Swan Inn at Thornthwaite. He had a few drinks and entered in to a wager with fellow guests that he could ride a pack pony to the  Lord's Seat at the top of Barf. Apparently he had reached the rock now known as Bishop Rock when the pony stumbled and fell killing the rider and itself. They were both buried at the foot of the scree near a rock called The Clerk. The inn landlord had the Bishop Rock whitewashed at a payment of one shilling and a quart of ale!
The rock is still whitewashed annually by Keswick Mountain Rescue Team.
Winlatter Pass reveals some spectacular scenery endemic to this area.
John Peel  (1776 – 1854) was no more than a local character in his native village of Caldbeck, who kept his own pack of hunting hounds.   Peel, who was more than 6ft tall, fathered 13 children after eloping with his loved one to Gretna Green.   He was immortalised in the song, D’ye ken John Peel’,  the words of which were written by his friend John Woodcock Graves, and it was set to music by William Metcalfe, Carlisle Cathedral organist.  
Peel died in 1n1854 at the age of 78 years after falling from his horse.  A very fine gravestone marks the Peel family grave in the churchyard at Caldbeck.

GREYSTOKE is perhaps better known as the supposed ancestral home of the legendary            'Tarzan of the apes'.
 The eccentric eleventh Duke of Norfolk was the owner of Greystoke Castle in the 18th century. He was a Whig and a strong supporter of the American colonists which prompted him to build two curious farm houses on his estate to commemorate two of the battles in the American War of Independence. Both of the farms are surrounded by curtain walls with thin towers and blank arches – ‘Fort Putnam’ also has circular buttresses, whilst ‘Bunkers Hill’ has a crenellated roof and arched windows. Both farms are situated alongside the B5288 to the east of Greystoke. The Duke also built a third farm house – ‘ Spire Farm’, near to the other two, also castle like but with a fine spire on the central tower, reminiscent of a church tower. It is said that the tenant of this farm belonged to an obscure religious sect and the Duke designed the building with this in mind.


Thursday, 6 August 2015









Lake Windermere, some 10 miles long and 1 mile wide is the biggest lake in the Lake District and is the largest lake in England. 
On the eastern side of the lake, Bowness Pier at the edge of Bowness village is the central commercial point for ferries and steamers which ply the lake.
The Victorian villages of BOWNESS and WINDERMERE were merged into one after Windermere developed following the arrival of the railway in 1847.

The Hole in the Wall pub
 The most southerly pier is at Lakeside with steamer connection to Bowness and also access to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.


There are several small islands in the lake and the largest, Belle Isle, is the only one which is inhabited and is privately owned    During the English Civil War it was the stronghold of a staunch Royalist (see story  under Kendal church). The island contains what is said to be the country's very first circular house which was built in 1774.
 The island is not open to the public.


The New Hall Inn in Lowside at Bowness on Lake Windermere which dates to 1612  is better known as  'Hole in t'wall'  due to the fact that it adjoined the old blacksmith's. Apparently the thirsty smithy made a hole in the joint wall so that his ale could easily be passed through. The hole has now been enlarged into a doorway and the old smithy is now part of the pub.
An inscription on a beam reads: 'The blacksmith he did sweat in here and slake his thirst on
Hartley's ale'.
Thomas Longmire, champion wrestler of England and holder of 174 belts, was landlord 1852-1862. It is said that he was visited by Dickens in 1857 who described him as a quiet looking giant.


 The northern most pier is at Waterhead on the outskirts of the Victorian village of AMBLESIDE


Stock Ghyll once powered several mills.


but this little delightful town is now given over to tourism. 

A great attraction is a curious tiny building  built on a stone arch spanning Stock Beck, it is known as The Old Bridge House.   This charming early 16th century structure was originally built as a summer house for Ambleside Hall, but subsequently became a dwelling house.   In the mid 19th century, Charity Rigg, his wife and six children are said to have lived in this tiny one up and one down house.   To get from the tiny downstairs room with its little fireplace, they had to go outside where stone steps lead to the equally tiny upper room.

This building is now in the care of the National Trust.

The 180 foot tower of St Mary's Church dominates the area.
Designed by Gilbert Scott, the church was consecrated in 1854.

Just north west of Ambleside is the village of GRASMERE where famous poet William Wordsworth was buried in 1850 soon after his 80th birthday.  He had lived at nearby Rydal Mount for 37 years and before that he had lived at Dove Cottage for some nine years.

St Oswald's Church.

There is a memorial to Wordsworth inside the church but the man himself was buried amongst a cluster of family graves in a corner of the churchyard alongside the tiny River Rothay. His gravestone bears the simple inscription :   'William Wordsworth 1850'.


Gingerbread has a long history in Grasmere and a little cottage at the church gate is apparently where it was all started by a lady called Sarah Nelson.  The cottage is now a little shop where the tradition is continued to this day.

HAWKSHEAD  is a mediaeval village which has changed little from its past and is where William Wordsworth went to school. It is situated just north of Coniston Water and to the east of Windermere.

St Michel and All Angels Church is on the 'Wordsworth' trail  - he worshipped in this church. Although now stripped of its outside white paint, it is the church of which the poet wrote:
'I saw the snow-white church upon her hill, Sit like a throned lady sending out,
A gracious look all over her domain'.

An unusual survivor can be seen outside the east wall of the church - it is a long stone bench known as 'Church End' where parishioners sat after services to hear public notices and became a general meeting place for the villager's. Quite a rarity.




The 15th century  Red  Lion  Inn  is the oldest pub in Hawkshead..   This old coaching inn was on the Morecambe Bay, Cartmel, Coniston stagecoach route and the locals have many interesting stories to tell.   Ask about the two figures on the fa├žade of the inn and you will be told that one is a farmer with a pig under his arm – he is on his way to market;  whilst the other is a man with a whistle – he blew the whistle to start the market.  Opposite the pub is a narrow cobbled street which was formerly called,  Leather, Rag and Putty Street!



Formerly the Barngate Inn near to the village of Outgate just north of Hawkshead, The Drunken Duck Inn obviously has a story to tell.   Apparently a Victorian landlady found her six ducks lying ‘dead’ outside and she started to pluck them ready for the oven.  However,. She soon found that they were not dead – they were drunk!   It seems that a barrel of beer in the cellar had leaked into the duck’s feeding ditch!   The distraught lady, it is said, knitted woollen jackets for the ducks until their feathers grew again!

A 17th century notice, preserved at the Drunken Duck Inn  reminds us how seriously witchcraft was taken at that time :



The little village of LOWICK is situated south of Lake Coniston  around the A5084 road.
A story is told of an early 'cottage industry' where a Lowick family had no land but enjoyed common rights to breed geese. When the geese were ready for market they had their feet tarred and were then 'walked' some 20 miles to the Martinmas Fair at Kendal.When the geese were sold, the family returned home laden with whalebone which they made into corsets for re-sale.
A very enterprising family.