The Eagle and Child
The village pub at Auckley near Doncaster was originally called ‘The Bird and Bastard’ so the name has been somewhat modified. It all derives from a 14th century legend surrounding the local squire, Sir Thomas Latham, who is said to have seduced a servant girl in his employ who gave birth to a son. To cover up his misdeeds, Latham arranged for the child to be abandoned near a tree wherein nested a bird of prey. Because he actually wanted a son and heir, he then ‘ found ‘ the child and adopted it.
Jemmy Hirst at the Rose & Crown
Formerly The Neptune Inn, this strangely named pub at Rawcliffe near Goole remind us of eccentric local man, Jemmy Hirst, who planned his own funeral and for some reason he stipulated that his coffin was to be borne by eight old maids who would receive one guinea each. When he died in October 1829 at the age of 91 years, it was in fact eight widows who performed that last service and they were paid half a crown each. In accordance with Jeremy’s wishes, the Mayor of Rawcliffe declared the funeral day a public holiday and as the glass-domed coffin was carried to the churchyard, a piper from Aberdeen and a fiddler, each hired by Jeremy on payment of £5, preceded it. A great procession of his racing friends and acquaintances marched to lively music and the event was followed that night by a firework display.
Jemmy or James to give him his correct name, was indeed an eccentric of the first order. He was born on a farm at Rawcliffe and had a great love of animals which he liked to train and it was said that a hedgehog and an otter followed him to school. Later in life he trained a young bull – Jupiter as Jemmy called it – as a horse, riding it to market and even hunting to hounds with it. When his father died Jemmy inherited nearly £1000 and, after shrewd investment, he became a rich man. He built a wickerwork carriage with very high wheels and a top shaped like a chinaman’s hat, and of course it was pulled by Jupiter. Off he went to Doncaster Races followed by two foxes he had tamed, where he was as popular as he was colourful with harlequin breeches, yellow boots, red coat and huge hat said to be three yards in circumference. For betting he used his own bank notes to the value of five pence ha’penny. Later he attached sails and a bed to his strange carriage and replaced the bull with four mules.
Jeremy had of course carefully planned his funeral. His coffin, made to his own design, was equipped with a bell (in case he need to call anybody from his grave), had folding glass doors and it stood in his dining room instead of a sideboard and served as a bar for his favourite tipple – brandy. After imbibing, his friends would be invited to try the coffin for size and were only released on payment of a fee, a penny from the men and from the women – a garter, which would be used as embellishment. His generosity knew no bounds and he was called the ‘King of Rawcliffe’.
He married the lady who had been his housekeeper for a number of years and he wore a toga for the occasion, insisting that the ceremony be conducted in sign language.
He was a great practical joker and lived in a strange house where each of the four walls had a door to confuse visitors and some inside doors led only to a blank wall or gruesome painting. The windows were of different sizes and were curtained with newspaper and a variety of staircases led nowhere,
Apparently because of his famed oddity, King George 111 invited Jeremy to Court and he travelled to London in his wickerwork carriage. Jeremy was not greatly impressed with the capital or with Court etiquette, but he did invite the King to visit Rawcliffe and promised him ‘as much good brandy as tha can sup.’
Jeremy was mostly remembered for his generosity and his great love of practical jokes. Strangely enough, there is no known grave for Jemmy. It is thought that he may have been buried with his parents.
I am grateful to Gordon for the use of his Geograph photograph.
One date in history which readily springs to mind is 1066, that momentous year which changed the face of our country. Indeed it was a momentous year for Saxon King Harold – he who was supposedly shot by an arrow in the eye at the Battle of Hastings. What is not so well remembered is that Harold had marched his troops some 250 miles from Stamford Bridge near York after defeating the Norwegians there, to engage the Normans in his final battle.
The Swordsman Inn, situated alongside the bridge over the River Derwent at Stamford Bridge, reminds us of a heroic event which turned the battle of 1066 in Harold’s favour. It was vital that Harold’s troops should cross the river but the only way across was by way of a narrow wooden bridge which was blocked by a huge Norwegian warrior who managed to slay all the soldiers who tried to dislodge him. Apparently the day was saved by a brave young soldier who floated under the bridge in a tub and managed to stab the warrior through a gap in the wooden bridge. Thus the way was clear and the victorious Saxon army stormed across.
Until 1878, a Spear Pie Festival was held annually in the village with the traditional pie being boat shaped and filled with pears. The festival was temporarily revived in 1966 to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the battle, but is alas now only a memory.
The Londesborough Arms
A huge armchair can be seen in this fine hostelry at Market Weighton in East Yorkshire, together with a portrait of its former owner, William Bradley, the Yorkshire Giant!
A memorial plaque on a fine Georgian house not far away, depicts a large footprint, that of ‘The tallest Englishman ever recorded who lived in this house.’ William Bradley was born at Market Weighton on 10th February 1787, one of 13 children and grew to be 7ft 9ins tall and weighed 27 stones. One of his shoes, 15ins long and 51/2ins wide, can be seen in Hull museum.
The Yorkshire Giant travelled the country exhibiting himself at fairs and shows and it cost 1/- to see him, quite a considerable amount in those early days of the 19th century. Apparently King George 111 was quite taken with him and presented him with a gold watch chain.
Bradley died at Market Weighton on 30th May 1820 at the age of 33 years. His coffin measured 9ft x 3ft. He was buried at 5-o-clock in the morning of 3rd June 1820, to avoid onlookers, originally in the churchyard, but in 1872 his remains were exhumed and reburied inside All Saints Church at Market Weighton, where a memorial tablet can be seen.
William Bradley is still recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest ever British person. A fund has been started in recent years to raise money for a statue of the great man to be erected in his home town.
The Falling Stone
The Falling Stone Inn at Thwing recalls and unusual incident which occurred in 1795.
On a Sunday in December of that year, a stone weighing 56 pounds fell from the atmosphere and hit the earth a few hundred yards from Wold Cottage just on the outskirts of the nearby village of Wold Newton in East Yorkshire. It caused an indenture about a yard across and 19 inches deep.
The meteorite is now preserved in the Natural History Museum in London.
A stone pillar marks the exact spot and an inscription tells the story:
‘Here on this spot
December 13th 1795, fell from the atmosphere
An extraordinary stone!
In breadth 28 inches. In length 30 inches.
And the weight of which was fifty-six pounds!
This column erected by
Ye Olde White Heart
A panel in the so called Plotting Room at Ye Olde White Harte pub in Silver Street, in Hull, East Yorkshire, tells of the events of 23rd April, 1642 :
‘ 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.
The Green Dragon
At The Green Dragon Inn at Welton near Hull in East Yorkshire, now a quiet country pub, stories of the legendary Dick Turpin abound, for this was the scene of his arrest in 1739. Turpin was nothing like the romantic character portrayed by Harrison Ainsworth in his novel Rookwood. He was actually born at Bluebell Inn at Hempstead in Essex and ended his days on the gibbet at York Knavesmire on April 17th 1739. Turpin was a cattle and horse thief turned highwayman and was actually detained at The Green Dragon on a charge of poaching. He gave the name John Palmer to avoid recognition but made the mistake of writing to his brother whilst in custody and a former schoolmaster recognized his writing. It seems strange that Turpin could read and write, but apparently it proved to be his undoing because he was duly identified, tried and hanged at York Knavesmire. He was just 34 years of age. It is said that Turpin engaged five indigent men to follow his cart to the gallows and these ‘mourners’ were each paid the sum of 10/-.
Dick Turpin was reputedly buried in the graveyard of St. Georges Church in George Street, York, where a renovated gravestone reads :
‘ John Palmer, otherwise Richard Turpin.
The notorious highwayman and horse stealer,
Executed at Tyburn, April 17th, 1739
and buried in St. Georges churchyard. ‘
Although Tyburn was in fact the London gallows it was also a generic term for any gallows.
The Bluebell Inn, Hempstead, Turpin's birthplace.