Saturday, 2 November 2013




Problems  for  the  Archbishop


The church of St Boltoph at Carlton near Stokesley in Cleveland has stood on the same site since the 7th century.   Unfortunately the church burned down in 1881 and the vicar, the Rev. George Sanger, stood trial for arson.   It was said that Rev. Sanger had become deranged because a local girl was carrying his illegitimate child.   However, he was found not guilty and soon left the village.

His successor was a colourful character – Canon John Kyle – who was an old style sporting parson.  Kyle  raised enough funds to rebuild the church and soon settled into his roll of ‘squarson’, a cross between a squire and a parson.    He owned three farms and rode to the hounds.  He was also an accomplished boxer and was able to hold his own against the village youths.   Furthermore he was also the landlord of the Fox & Hounds pub in the village until he died in 1943.   When asked by an anxious Archbishop to explain his role as a pub landlord, Kyle said that it was so that he could be in a position to moderate bad language and loud singing in the pub and indeed so that he could close it on Sundays!
Carlton Church


Eccentric  ministers

Two 19th century incumbents of St Oswald’s parish church at Filey in North Yorkshire, are particularly remembered for their differing eccentricities.
The Rev. Evan Williams was a Perpetual Curate at the church from 1809 to 1833 and lived alone in the Church House.  He would not allow any woman into the house and it is said that he would buy just one shilling’s worth of fish for his food, and his milk was delivered to him in a pitcher which he let down on a rope from an upstairs window.    Sometimes, soon after commencing a service, he would announce that there would not be a sermon and then he would depart quickly, locking the church door behind him.   Instead of the Church Wardens being the choice of one by the parishioners and one by the vicar at St Oswald’s, it had always been customary for both to be selected by the parishioners.  This was challenged by the Rev. Williams, but his law suit found favour with the established tradition, at a cost of £90 to the church.
The Rev. A.N Cooper was a much loved vicar of  Filey for 55 years (1880 – 1935). He was known as  The Walking Parson, and wrote several books about his travels both at home and abroad.  He thought nothing of walking from Filey to London after Sunday evensong, returning by train in time for the following Sunday.   On Easter Monday 1887, he set off to walk to Rome and, having walked to Hull he took the ferry to Rotterdam and, averaging some 30 miles a day, he completed the journey in one month.   During his walks on the continent he reached Budapest, Vienna, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Lourdes, Copenhagen and Stockholm.   His only luggage was a small knapsack containing a change of underwear and his bible.
St Oswald's Church


Sweetheart  Abbey

Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway, founded a Cistercian Monastery on the banks of the River Nith near Dumfries in 1273 in memory of her husband, John Balliol, father of King John of Scotland and founder of Balliol College, Oxford.  When he died, Devorgilla had his heart embalmed and she carried it around in a casket.   When she died in 1289, she was buried with the casket in front of the high altar of the abbey.   Thus the word  sweetheart  became part of the English language and the abbey became known as  Sweetheart Abbey.   The ruined abbey church still stands in the village of New Abbey.
Sweetheart Abbey

A  maiden’s  garland

A curious relic is preserved in the church at Alne near York – it is a maiden’s garland or virgin’s wreath.   It was given to the church in 1923 by Tollerton Girls’ Friendly Society.   According to ‘The dialect of Craven 1829’, one of these votive garlands was solemnly borne before the corpse by two girls who placed it on the coffin in the church during the service.   Thence it was conveyed to the grave and afterwards deposited on the ‘skreen’ dividing the ‘quior’ from the nave, either as an emblem of virgin purity or of the frailty and uncertainty of human life.
The Mermaid
Inside the church of St Senara in the tiny village of Zennor, is a bench end carving of a Mermaid. Local legend has it that one Mathew Trewhella, the local squire’s son, who was a tenor in the church choir, became bewitched by a mermaid. He was so enchanted with her that he threw himself into the sea to be with her. His body was never found and it was assumed that he had drowned. Many years later, some fishermen saw their friend with a fishes tail, swimming in the sea with the mermaid and several young merboys and mergirls. It is said that on a stormy night his voice can be heard singing beneath the sea.
Zennor Church
Copyright chris scarsrook to who I am grateful for allowing me to copy his photograph.




The  lady  with  the  lamp


Florence Nightingdale, the name is legendary, the popular heroine of the Crimean War.  She was actually born in Florence, Italy, on 12th May 1820 of a well to English family, and on her return from the Crimea, she settled in the family home at East Wellow in Hampshire and eventually became something of a recluse.   She died on 13th August 1910 and was buried in the family vault at St Margaret’s church, Wellow, where a very simple memorial can be seen – just a simple engraving of a cross inscribed – FN, Born 12 May 1820. Died 13 August 1910 -  in accordance with her express wishes.

East Wellow Church
Copyright 'agilux35' to whom I am grateful for allowing me to copy his photograph.

Inside the church are a number of memento's and a copy of the Scutari Cross.  This cross is believed to have been given to Florence by a British soldier during the Crimean War (1854 – 56).  It was made of shot and shrapnel from the battlefield.  She left it to the church when she died, but very sadly the original cross was stolen from the church on 20th December 1991 and has not been recovered.






















Anne  Bronte’s  grave


In the graveyard alongside the parish church of St Mary at Scarborough in North Yorkshire, is an attractive gravestone – it marks the grave of Anne Bronte.   The inscription gives her age as 28 years when she died – she was in fact 29 years old.

Anne of Bronte family fame, was a frequent visitor to Scarborough, a place she loved.  In 1849, with ‘consumption of both lungs too far advanced to be curable,’ she yearned to visit Scarborough for one last  time.   She did so in the company with sister Charlotte and friend Ellen Nussey and they lodged at 2 The Cliff (where the Grand Hotel now stands).  Within a few days Anne died and had discussed with Charlotte her wish ‘to die at Scarborough where she had known peace and happiness.’   

St Mary's Church

Grace Darling


Grace Horsley Darling was born at Bamburgh in 1815. Her father was a lighthouse keeper at Longstone lighthouse. At 4.0am on the morning of 7th September 1838 during a violent storm, the steamship Forfarshire was wrecked at Big Harcar Rock on the nearby Farne Islands and 40 lives were lost. At 7.0am Grace saw the wreck some half a mile from the lighthouse and spotted that there were survivors. Her father William thought that the weather was two bad for the Seahouses lifeboat to be launched and so he and Grace launched their little coble in the atrocious conditions which resulted in them rowing around the jagged rocks for nearly a mile to reach the survivors. William went ashore whilst Grace kept the coble steady, and they took five survivors back to the lighthouse.

Grace died of tuberculosis in 1842. A fine memorial tomb was erected in the churchyard at Bamburgh by public subscription in 1844. The original sculpture of Grace in Portland stone weathered badly and was removed to the inside of the church and a new effigy in local stone replaced it. The original coble can be seen, together with other artefacts, in the Grace Darling Museum opposite the church.



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