Monday, 20 January 2014




The  Saltersgate  Inn


It is reputed that the peat fire in the bar of  The Saltersgate Inn has burned for more than 200 years without being extinguished.   There is certainly an abundance of peat to keep it burning, for this remote hostelry stands alongside the A169 road over the North York Moors between Pickering and Whitby.   The pub, which was built in 1648 at a meeting point of ancient pack horse routes over the moors, was originally called the Wagon and Horses and soon became the haunt of packhorse men carrying fish and salt over the moors from the coast.   Salt was an important commodity needed for preserving fish and pork, and was heavily taxed.  It follows that such a product and indeed other taxed goods were smuggled and it is said that the inn was used as a staging post for this activity. 
Apparently a lantern was left burning in a small window high in the bar as a warning when excise men were on the prowl.  

The story goes that a murdered excise man was buried under the hearth and that the fire has been kept burning, either to prevent discovery, or to prevent his spirit from escaping.





The  Blacksmith’s  Arms


The Blacksmith’s Arms  at Lastingham on the edge of the North York Moors near Pickering, retains the fixtures and fittings of a former age with real fires and real ales.

In 1774 the Curate of Lastingham church, the Rev. Jeremiah Carter, was also the landlord of the inn situated alongside the church.   When interviewed by his superior about why he kept an inn, the Rev. Carter gave the following explanation :

‘ I have a wife and thirteen children and with a stipend of £20 per annum,
increased by a few trifling surplice fees, I will not impose on your understanding by attempting to advance an argument to show the impossibility of us all being supported from my church preferment!  
My wife keeps the public house and as my parish is so wide that some of my parishioners have to come 10 to 15 miles to church,you will readily allow that some refreshment be necessary!   I take down my violin and play them a few tunes, which gives me the opportunity of seeing that they get no more liquor than necessary for refreshment;  and if some of the young people propose to dance, I seldom answer in the negative.   Thus my parishioners enjoy the triple advantage of being instructed, fed and amused at the same time.’

He went on to maintain that more people were led into piety that way than  by the most exalted discourses.’    Apparently the Rev. gentleman was complemented on his work by the archdeacon.

There has been a church at Lastingham since the 7th century when St Cedd first built a monastery there and indeed the present church is believed to be his shrine.  In 1078, Abbot Stephen of Whitby Abbey began to rebuild Cedd’s monastery but abandoned the idea, leaving the legacy which is the main part of the church today.  Stephen’s crypt,  is a little church in itself, has remained unchanged, and is a sight to behold.


The  Star  Inn


Harome near Helmsley in North Yorkshire is one of the few villages in Yorkshire which maintains a number of thatched roofed houses and the village inn,  The Star  is no exception.   The history of this unspoilt inn stretches back more then 300 years and is worth a visit in its own right, but in addition it possesses a very fine curiosity – its bar.   The very fine oak bar was the work of the famous  mouseman,  Robert Thompson, who was born in Kilburn, at the other side of Helmsley,  in 1886 and followed his father into the trade of wheelwright.   Robert was very fond of carving wood and loved English oak – ‘ No other wood has the same character as oak, and this is the medium with which I can express my feelings,’ he is quoted as saying to a monk at nearby Ampleforth Abbey who had recognised the young man’s skill.    Robert was commissioned for work at the Abbey and soon developed an interest in carving church furniture, although it was not such lucrative work at that time.   One day he thought of the expression ‘poor as a church mouse’ and had the idea to carve a mouse on his work.

Since that time the little mouse has appeared on all Thompson furniture and carvings and is renowned in churches and homes throughout the country.    Many examples can be seen in churches everywhere, notably in York Minster and in Westminster Abbey.   Just look for the little mouse.   Robert Thompson died in 1955 aged 79 years and his half timbered cottage still stands in Kilburn close to the modern workshops where the Thompson family tradition is carried on by his family.   A visit to the workshops and showrooms is an enlightening experience and the mouse can be seen in action on most of the furniture in Kilburn church, as well as on the bar at The Star.

The  Caley  Arms


The Caley family of Brompton-by-Sawdon, near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, lived at Brompton Hall from Stuart times and although the old hall is now a school the name still lives on in the name of the village inn,  The Caley Arms.’

Sir George Caley  ( 1773 – 1857 ) has been described as  The  Father  of  Aviation  and with good cause.   It is a little known fact that the world’s first aeroplane flight took place in Brompton Dale in the mid 19th century, and the plaudits go to Sir George, who had discovered that the old idea of flapping wings was of no use at all.  He decided that there must be a flat plane which depended on wind pressure and the angle of the plane’s surface, and his subsequent design boasted all the refinements of the modern aeroplane with the exception of wing flaps.   His prototype was tested by his protesting coachman when he reluctantly piloted the craft in 1852 and he is quoted as having said, ‘ Please Sir George, I wish to give notice.  I was hired to drive, not to fly.’   Sir George later designed a wheeled undercarriage and the first moveable tail.

A plaque on the wall of his workshop at Brompton Hall recalls this visionary pioneer.

Another proud memory of this little village is of the marriage of the poet William Wordsworth and Mary Hutchinson, at All Saints church in 1802.   Mary, ‘The perfect woman, nobly planned,’  lived at Gallows Hill Farm in the village.
The Roman Bath
The Welcome to Yorkshire web site ( tells us :
An excellent location to enjoy good food,ale and live music, plus a Roman Bathhouse in the basement! One of the City's oldest attractions, step underground to see the remains of Roman York or Eboracum as it was then known. Discover what life was like for the soldiers who lived and worked here and why a visit to the Baths was so important!

n 1930 renovations to a tavern on St Sampson's Square in York, revealed the remains of a caldarium, or steam bath, from the Roman city of Eboracum. The Caldarium, and a neighbouring plunge bath, have been excavated, and visitors can now see the place where Roman soldiers and citizens came to find relaxation.

The small museum is below ground, accessed through the Roman Bath pub, and shows remains of the baths with Roman artefacts and replica articles of everyday life. There are fascinating - and often humorous - facts and figures about Roman life in York scattered about the museum on placards, and visitors can view armour, weapons, and Roman tiles up close.

You can view tiles found on the site, some of which clearly show the signs of nails from the sandals of Romans who had trodden upon them before the tile had hardened after being made. Tiles appear to show the seal of the 9th Roman legion, who founded the city of Eboracum in 71 AD.



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