Gordon Home

Part 3 out of 4

miles to the west. Cottam Church and the farm adjoining it are all that
now exists of what must once have been an extensive village. In the
church is a Norman font of cylindrical form, covered with the
wonderfully crude carvings of that period. There are six subjects, the
most remarkable being the huge dragon with a long curly tail in the act
of swallowing St. Margaret, whose skirts and feet are shown inside the
capacious jaws, while the head is beginning to appear somewhere behind
the dragon's neck. To the right is shown a gruesome representation of
the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, and then follow Adam and Eve by the Tree
of Life (a twisted piece of foliage), the martyrdom of St. Andrew, and
what seems to be another dragon.

On each side of the bridle-road by the church you can trace without the
least difficulty the ground-plan of many houses under the short turf.
The early writers do not mention Cottam, and so far I have come upon no
explanation for the wiping out of this village. Possibly its extinction
was due to the Black Death in 1349.

It is about four miles by road to Cowlam, although the two churches are
only about a mile and a half apart; and when Cowlam is reached there is
not much more in the way of a village than at Cottam. The only way to
the church from the road is through an enormous stackyard, speaking
eloquently of the large crops produced on the farm. As in the other
instance, a search has to be made for the key, entailing much
perambulation of the farm.

At length the door is opened, and the splendid font at once arrests the
eye. More noticeable than anything else in the series of carvings are
the figures of two men wrestling, similar to those on the font from the
village of Hutton Cranswick, now preserved in York Museum. The two
figures are shown bending forwards, each with his hands clasped round
the waist of the other, and each with a foot thrown forward to trip the
other, after the manner of the Westmorland wrestlers to be seen at the
Grasmere sports. It seems to me scarcely possible to doubt that the
subject represented is Jacob wrestling with the _man_ at Penuel.

At Sledmere, the adjoining village, everything has a well-cared-for and
reposeful aspect. Its position in a shallow depression has made it
possible for trees to grow, so that we find the road overhung by a
green canopy in remarkable contrast to the usual bleakness of the
Wolds. The park surrounding Sir Tatton Sykes' house is well wooded,
owing to much planting on what were bare slopes not very many years

The village well is dignified with a domed roof raised on tall columns,
put up about seventy years ago by the previous Sir Tatton to the memory
of his father, Sir Christopher Sykes; the inscription telling how much
the Wolds were transformed through his energy 'in building, planting,
and enclosing,' from a bleak and barren track of country into what is
now considered one of the most productive and best-cultivated districts
of Yorkshire. The late Sir Tatton Sykes was the sort of man that
Yorkshire folk come near to worshipping. He was of that hearty, genial,
conservative type that filled the hearts of the farmers with pride. On
market days all over the Riding one of the always fresh subjects of
conversation was how Sir Tatton was looking. A great pillar put up to
his memory by the road leading to Garton can be seen over half
Holderness. So great was the conservatism of this remarkable squire
that years after the advent of railways he continued to make his
journey to Epsom, for the Derby, on horseback.

A stone's-throw from the house stands the church, rebuilt, with the
exception of the tower, in 1898 by Sir Tatton. There is no wall
surrounding the churchyard, neither is there ditch, nor bank, nor the
slightest alteration in the smooth turf.

The church, designed by Mr. Temple Moore, is carried out in the style
of the Decorated period in a stone that is neither red nor pink, but
something in between the two colours. The exterior is not remarkable,
but the beauty of the internal ornament is most striking. Everywhere
you look, whether at the detail of carved wood or stone, the
workmanship is perfect, and without a trace of that crudity to be found
in the carvings of so many modern churches. The clustered columns, the
timber roof, and the tracery of the windows are all dignified, in spite
of the richness of form they display. Only in the upper portion of the
screen does the ornament seem a trifle worried and out of keeping with
the rest of the work.

Sledmere also boasts a tall and very beautiful 'Eleanor' cross, erected
about ten years ago, and a memorial to those who fell in the European

As we continue towards the setting sun, the deeply-indented edges of
the Wolds begin to appear, and the roads generally make great plunges
into the valley of the Derwent. The weather, which has been fine all
day, changes at sunset, and great indigo clouds, lined with gold, pile
themselves up fantastically in front of the setting sun. Lashing rain,
driven by the wind with sudden fury, pours down upon the hamlet lying
just below, but leaves Wharram-le-Street without a drop of moisture.
The widespread views all over the Howardian Hills and the sombre valley
of the Derwent become impressive, and an awesomeness of Turneresque
gloom, relieved by sudden floods of misty gold, gives the landscape an
element of unreality.

Against this background the outline of the church of Wharram-le-Street
stands out in its rude simplicity. On the western side of the tower,
where the light falls upon it, we can see the extremely early masonry
that suggests pre-Norman times. It cannot be definitely called a Saxon
church, but although 'long and short work' does not appear, there is
every reason to associate this lonely little building with the middle
of the eleventh century. There are mason marks consisting of crosses
and barbed lines on the south wall of the nave. The opening between the
tower and the nave is an almost unique feature, having a
Moorish-looking arch of horseshoe shape resting on plain and clumsy

The name Wharram-le-Street reminds us forcibly of the existence in
remote times of some great way over this tableland. Unfortunately,
there is very little sure ground to go upon, despite the additional
fact of there being another place, Thorpe-le-Street, some miles to the

With the light fast failing we go down steeply into the hollow where
North Grimston nestles, and, crossing the streams which flow over the
road, come to the pretty old church. The tower is heavily mantled with
ivy, and has a statue of a Bishop on its west face. A Norman chancel
arch with zigzag moulding shows in the dim interior, and there is just
enough light to see the splendid font, of similar age and shape to
those at Cowlam and Cottam. A large proportion of the surface is taken
up with a wonderful 'Last Supper,' and on the remaining space the
carvings show the 'Descent from the Cross,' and a figure, possibly
representing St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the church.

When the lights of Malton glimmer in the valley this day of exploration
is at an end, and much of the Wold country has been seen.



'As the shore winds itself back from hence,' says Camden, after
describing Flamborough Head, 'a thin slip of land (like a small tongue
thrust out) shoots into the sea.' This is the long natural breakwater
known as Filey Brig, the distinctive feature of a pleasant
watering-place. In its wide, open, and gently curving bay, Filey is
singularly lucky; for it avoids the monotony of a featureless shore,
and yet is not sufficiently embraced between headlands to lose the
broad horizon and sense of airiness and space so essential for a
healthy seaside haunt.

The Brig has plainly been formed by the erosion of Carr Naze, the
headland of dark, reddish-brown boulder clay, leaving its hard bed of
sandstone (of the Middle Calcareous Grit formation) exposed to the
particular and ceaseless attention of the waves. It is one of the joys
of Filey to go along the northward curve of the bay at low tide, and
then walk along the uneven tabular masses of rock with hungry waves
heaving and foaming within a few yards on either hand. No wonder that
there has been sufficient sense among those who spend their lives in
promoting schemes for ugly piers and senseless promenades, to realize
that Nature has supplied Filey with a more permanent and infinitely
more attractive pier than their fatuous ingenuity could produce. There
is a spice of danger associated with the Brig, adding much to its
interest; for no one should venture along the spit of rocks unless the
tide is in a proper state to allow him a safe return. A melancholy
warning of the dangers of the Brig is fixed to the rocky wall of the
headland, describing how an unfortunate visitor was swept into the sea
by the sudden arrival of an abnormally large wave, but this need not
frighten away from the fascinating ridge of rock those who use ordinary
care in watching the sea. At high tide the waves come over the seaweedy
rocks at the foot of the headland, making it necessary to climb to the
grassy top in order to get back to Filey.

The real fascination of the Brig comes when it can only be viewed from
the top of the Naze above, when a gale is blowing from the north or
north-east, and driving enormous waves upon the line of projecting
rocks. You watch far out until the dark green line of a higher wave
than any of the others that are creating a continuous thunder down
below comes steadily onward, and reaching the foam-streaked area,
becomes still more sinister. As it approaches within striking distance,
a spent wave, sweeping backwards, seems as though it may weaken the
onrush of the towering wall of water; but its power is swallowed up and
dissipated in the general advance, and with only a smooth hollow of
creamy-white water in front, the giant raises itself to its fullest
height, its thin crest being at once caught by the wind, and blown off
in long white beards.

The moment has come; the mass of water feels the resistance of the
rocks, and, curling over into a long green cylinder, brings its head
down with terrific force on the immovable side of the Brig. Columns of
water shoot up perpendicularly into the air as though a dozen 12-inch
shells had exploded in the water simultaneously. With a roar the
imprisoned air escapes, and for a moment the whole Brig is invisible in
a vast cloud of spray; then dark ledges of rock can be seen running
with creamy water, and the scene of the impact is a cauldron of
seething foam, backed by a smooth surface of pale green marble, veined
with white. Then the waters gather themselves together again, and the
pounding of lesser waves keeps up a thrilling spectacle until the
moment for another great _coup_ arrives.

Years ago Filey obtained a reputation for being 'quiet,' and the sense
conveyed by those who disliked the place was that of dullness and
primness. This fortunate chance has protected the little town from the
vulgarizing influences of the unlettered hordes let loose upon the
coast in summer-time, and we find a sea-front without the flimsy
meretricious buildings of the popular resorts. Instead of imitating
Blackpool and Margate, this sensible place has retained a quiet and
semi-rural front to the sea, and, as already stated, has not marred its
appearance with a jetty.

From the smooth sweep of golden sand rises a steep slope grown over
with trees and bushes which shade the paths in many places. Without
claiming any architectural charm, the town is small and quietly
unobtrusive, and has not the untidy, half-built character of so many

Above a steep and narrow hollow, running straight down to the sea, and
densely wooded on both sides, stands the church. It has a very sturdy
tower rising from its centre, and, with its simple battlemented outline
and slit windows, has a semi-fortified appearance. The high
pitched-roofs of Early English times have been flattened without
cutting away the projecting drip-stones on the tower, which remain a
conspicuous feature. The interior is quite impressive. Round columns
alternated with octagonal ones support pointed arches, and a clerestory
above pierced with roundheaded slits, indicating very decisively that
the nave was built in the Transitional Norman period. It appears that a
western tower was projected, but never carried out, and an unusual
feature is the descent by two steps into the chancel.

A beautiful view from the churchyard includes the whole sweep of the
bay, cut off sharply by the Brig on the left hand, and ending about
eight miles away in the lofty range of white cliffs extending from
Speeton to Flamborough Head.

The headland itself is lower by more than a 100 feet than the cliffs in
the neighbourhood of Bempton and Speeton, which for a distance of over
two miles exceed 300 feet. A road from Bempton village stops short a
few fields from the margin of the cliffs, and a path keeps close to the
precipitous wall of gleaming white chalk.

We come over the dry, sweet-smelling grass to the cliff edge on a fresh
morning, with a deep blue sky overhead and a sea below of ultramarine
broken up with an infinitude of surfaces reflecting scraps of the
cliffs and the few white clouds. Falling on our knees, we look straight
downwards into a cove full of blue shade; but so bright is the
surrounding light that every detail is microscopically clear. The
crumpling and distortion of the successive layers of chalk can be seen
with such ease that we might be looking at a geological textbook. On
the ledges, too, can be seen rows of little whitebreasted puffins;
razor-bills are perched here and there, as well as countless
guillemots. The ringed or bridled guillemot also breeds on the cliffs,
and a number of other types of northern sea-birds are periodically
noticed along these inaccessible Bempton Cliffs. The guillemot makes no
nest, merely laying a single egg on a ledge. If it is taken away by
those who plunder the cliffs at the risk of their lives, the bird lays
another egg, and if that disappears, perhaps even a third.

Coming to Flamborough Head along the road from the station, the first
noticeable feature is at the point where the road makes a sharp turn
into a deep wooded hollow. It is here that we cross the line of the
remarkable entrenchment known as the Danes' Dyke. At this point it
appears to follow the bed of a stream, but northwards, right across the
promontory--that is, for two-thirds of its length--the huge trench is
purely artificial. No doubt the _vallum_ on the seaward side has
been worn down very considerably, and the _fosse_ would have been
deeper, making in its youth, a barrier which must have given the
dwellers on the headland a very complete security.

Like most popular names, the association of the Danes with the digging
of this enormous trench has been proved to be inaccurate, and it would
have been less misleading and far more popular if the work had been
attributed to the devil. In the autumn of 1879 General Pitt Rivers dug
several trenches in the rampart just north of the point where the road
from Bempton passes through the Dyke. The position was chosen in order
that the excavations might be close to the small stream which runs
inside the Dyke at this point, the likelihood of utensils or weapons
being dropped close to the water-supply of the defenders being
considered important. The results of the excavations proved
conclusively that the people who dug the ditch and threw up the rampart
were users of flint. The most remarkable discovery was that the ground
on the inner slope of the rampart, at a short distance below the
surface, contained innumerable artificial flint flakes, all lying in a
horizontal position, but none were found on the outer slope. From this
fact General Pitt Rivers concluded that within the stockade running
along the top of the _vallum_ the defenders were in the habit of
chipping their weapons, the flakes falling on the inside. The great
entrenchment of Flamborough is consequently the work of flint-using
people, and 'is not later than the Bronze Period.'

And the strangest fact concerning the promontory is the isolation of
its inhabitants from the rest of the county, a traditional hatred for
strangers having kept the fisherfolk of the peninsula aloof from
outside influences. They have married among themselves for so long,
that it is quite possible that their ancestral characteristics have
been reproduced, with only a very slight intermixture of other stocks,
for an exceptionally long period. On taking minute particulars of
ninety Flamborough men and women, General Pitt Rivers discovered that
they were above the average stature of the neighbourhood, and were,
with only one or two exceptions, dark-haired. They showed little or no
trace of the fair-haired element usually found in the people of this
part of Yorkshire. It is also stated that almost within living memory,
when the headland was still further isolated by a belt of uncultivated
wolds, the village could not be approached by a stranger without some

We find no one to object to our intrusion, and go on towards the
village. It is a straggling collection of low, red houses, lacking,
unfortunately, anything which can honestly be termed picturesque; for
the church stands alone, a little to the south, and the small ruin of
what is called 'The Danish Tower' is too insignificant to add to the
attractiveness of the place.

All the males of Flamborough are fishermen, or dependent on fishing for
their livelihood; and in spite of the summer visitors, there is a total
indifference to their incursions in the way of catering for their
entertainment, the aim of the trippers being the lighthouse and the
cliffs nearly two miles away.

Formerly, the church had only a belfry of timber, the existing stone
tower being only ten years old. Under the Norman chancel arch there is
a delicately-carved Perpendicular screen, having thirteen canopied
niches richly carved above and below, and still showing in places the
red, blue, and gold of its old paint-work. Another screen south of the
chancel is patched and roughly finished. The altar-tomb of Sir
Marmaduke Constable, of Flamborough, on the north side of the chancel,
is remarkable for its long inscription, detailing the chief events in
the life of this great man, who was considered one of the most eminent
and potent persons in the county in the reign of Henry VIII. The
greatness of the man is borne out first in a recital of his doughty
deeds: of his passing over to France 'with Kyng Edwarde the fourith,
y[t] noble knyght.'

'And also with noble king Herre, the sevinth of that name
He was also at Barwick at the winnyng of the same [1482]
And by ky[n]g Edward chosy[n] Captey[n] there first of anyone
And rewllid and governid ther his tyme without blame
But for all that, as ye se, he lieth under this stone.'

The inscription goes on in this way to tell how he fought at Flodden
Field when he was seventy, 'nothyng hedyng his age.'

Sir Marmaduke's daughter Catherine was married to Sir Roger Cholmley,
called 'the Great Black Knight of the North,' who was the first of his
family to settle in Yorkshire, and also fought at Flodden, receiving
his knighthood after that signal victory over the Scots.

Yorkshire being a county in which superstitions are uncommonly
long-lived it is not surprising to find that a fisherman will turn back
from going to his boat, if he happen on his way to meet a parson, a
woman, or a hare, as any one of these brings bad luck. It is also
extremely unwise to mention to a man who is baiting lines a hare, a
rabbit, a fox, a pig, or an egg. This sounds foolish, but a fisherman
will abandon his work till the next day if these animals are mentioned
in his presence[1].

[Footnote 1: 'Flamborough Village and Headland,' Colonel A.H.

On the north and south sides of the headland there are precarious
beaches for the fisherman to bring in their boats. They have no
protection at all from the weather, no attempt at forming even such
miniature harbours as may be seen on the Berwickshire coast having been
made. When the wind blows hard from the north, the landing on that side
is useless, and the boats, having no shelter, are hauled up the steep
slope with the help of a steam windlass. Under these circumstances the
South Landing is used. It is similar in most respects to the northern
one, but, owing to the cliffs being lower, the cove is less
picturesque. At low tide a beach of very rough shingle is exposed
between the ragged chalk cliffs, curiously eaten away by the sea.
Seaweed paints much of the shore and the base of the cliffs a blackish
green, and above the perpendicular whiteness the ruddy brown clay
slopes back to the grass above.

When the boats have just come in and added their gaudy vermilions,
blues, and emerald greens to the picture, the North Landing is worth
seeing. The men in their blue jerseys and sea-boots coming almost to
their hips, land their hauls of silvery cod and load the baskets
pannier-wise on the backs of sturdy donkeys, whose work is to trudge up
the steep slope to the road, nearly 200 feet above the boats, where
carts take the fish to the station four miles away.

In following the margin of the cliffs to the outermost point of the
peninsula, we get a series of splendid stretches of cliff scenery. The
chalk is deeply indented in many places, and is honey-combed with
caves. Great white pillars and stacks of chalk stand in picturesque
groups in some of the small bays, and everywhere there is the interest
of watching the heaving water far below, with white gulls floating
unconcernedly on the surface, or flapping their great stretch of wing
as they circle just above the waves.

Near the modern lighthouse stands a tall, hexagonal tower, built of
chalk in four stories, with a string course between each. The signs of
age it bears and the remarkable obscurity surrounding its origin and
purpose would suggest great antiquity, and yet there seems little doubt
that the tower is at the very earliest Elizabethan. The chalk, being
extremely soft, has weathered away to such an extent that the harder
stone of the windows and doors now projects several inches.

In a record dated June 21, 1588, the month before the Spanish Armada
was sighted in the English Channel, a list is given of the beacons in
the East Riding, and instructions as to when they should be lighted,
and what action should be taken when the warning was seen. It says

'Flambrough, three beacons uppon the sea cost,
takinge lighte from Bridlington,
and geving lighte to Rudstone.'

There is no reference to any tower, and the beacons everywhere seem
merely to have been bonfires ready for lighting, watched every day by
two, and every night by three 'honest householders ... above the age of
thirty years.' The old tower would appear, therefore, to have been put
up as a lighthouse. If this is a correct supposition, however, the
dangers of the headland to shipping must have been recognized as
exceedingly great several centuries ago. A light could not have failed
to have been a boon to mariners, and its maintenance would have been a
matter of importance to all who owned ships; and yet, if this old tower
ever held a lantern, the hiatus between the last night when it glowed
on the headland, and the erection of the present lighthouse is so great
that no one seems to be able to state definitely for what purpose the
early structure came into existence.

Year after year when night fell the cliffs were shrouded in blackness,
with the direful result that between 1770 and 1806 one hundred and
seventy-four ships were wrecked or lost on or near the promontory. It
remained for a benevolent-minded customs officer of Bridlington--a Mr.
Milne--to suggest the building of a lighthouse to the Elder Brethren of
Trinity House, with the result that since December 6, 1806, a powerful
light has every night flashed on Flamborough Head. The immediate result
was that in the first seven years of its beneficent work no vessel was
'lost on that station when the lights could be seen.'

The derivation of the name Flamborough has been conclusively shown to
have nothing at all to do with the English word 'flame,' being possibly
a corruption of _Fleinn_, a Norse surname, and _borg_ or
_burgh_, meaning a castle. In Domesday it is spelt 'Flaneburg,'
and _flane_ is the Norse for an arrow or sword.

At the point where the chalk cliffs disappear and the low coast of
Holderness begins, we come to the exceedingly popular watering-place of
Bridlington. At one time the town was quite separate from the quay, and
even now there are two towns--the solemn and serious, almost Quakerish,
place inland, and the eminently pleasure-loving and frivolous holiday
resort on the sea; but they are now joined up by modern houses and the
railway-station, and in time they will be as united as the 'Three
Towns' of Plymouth. Along the sea-front are spread out by the wide
parades, all those 'attractions' which exercise their potential
energies on certain types of mankind as each summer comes round. There
are seats, concert-rooms, hotels, lodging-houses, bands, kiosks,
refreshment-bars, boats, bathing-machines, a switchback-railway, and
even a spa, by which means the migratory folk are housed, fed, amused,
and given every excuse for loitering within a few yards of the long
curving line of waves that advances and retreats over the much-trodden

The two stone piers enclosing the harbour make an interesting feature
in the centre of the sea-front, where the few houses of old Bridlington
Quay that have survived, are not entirely unpicturesque.

In 1642 Queen Henrietta Maria landed on whatever quay then existed. She
had just returned from Holland with ships laden with arms and
ammunition for the Royalist army. Adverse winds had brought the Dutch
ships to Bridlington instead of Newcastle, where the Queen had intended
to land, and a delay was caused while messengers were sent to the Earl
of Newcastle in order that her landing might be effected in proper
security. News of the Dutch ships lying off Bridlington was, however,
conveyed to four Parliamentary vessels stationed by the bar at
Tynemouth, and no time was lost in sailing southwards. What happened is
told in a letter published in the same year, and dated February 25,
1642. It describes how, after two days' riding at anchor, the cavalry
arrived, upon which the Queen disembarked, and the next morning the
rest of the loyal army came to wait on her.

'God that was carefull to preserve Her by Sea, did likewise continue
his favour to Her on the Land: For that night foure of the Parliament
Ships arrived at Burlington, without being perceived by us; and at
foure a clocke in the morning gave us an Alarme, which caused us to
send speedily to the Port to secure our Boats of Ammunition, which were
but newly landed. But about an houre after the foure Ships began to ply
us so fast with their Ordinance, that it made us all to rise out of our
beds with diligence, and leave the Village, at least the women; for the
Souldiers staid very resolutely to defend the Ammunition, in case their
forces should land. One of the Ships did Her the favour to flanck upon
the house where the Queene lay, which was just before the Peere; and
before She was out of Her bed, the Cannon bullets whistled so loud
about her, (which Musicke you may easily believe was not very pleasing
to Her) that all the company pressed Her earnestly to goe out of the
house, their Cannon having totally beaten downe all the neighbouring
houses, and two Cannon bullets falling from the top to the bottome of
the house where She was; so that (clothed as She could) She went on
foot some little distance out of the Towne, under the shelter of a
Ditch (like that of Newmarket;) whither before She could get, the
Cannon bullets fell thicke about us, and a Sergeant was killed within
twenty paces of Her.'

In old Bridlington there stands the fine church of the Augustinian
Priory we have already seen from a distance, and an ancient structure
known as the Bayle Gate, a remnant of the defences of the monastery.
They stand at no great distance apart, but do not arrange themselves to
form a picture, which is unfortunate, and so also is the lack of any
real charm in the domestic architecture of the adjoining streets. The
Bayle Gate has a large pointed arch and a postern, and the date of its
erection appears to be the end of the fourteenth century, when
permission was given to the prior to fortify the monastery. Unhappily
for Bridlington, an order to destroy the buildings was given soon after
the Dissolution, and the nave of the church seems to have been spared
only because it was used as the parish church. Quite probably, too, the
gatehouse was saved from destruction on account of the room it contains
having been utilized for holding courts. The upper portions of the
church towers are modern restorations, and their different heights and
styles give the building a remarkable, but not a beautiful outline. At
the west end, between the towers is a large Perpendicular window,
occupying the whole width of the nave, and on the north side the
vaulted porch is a very beautiful feature.

The interior reveals an inspiring perspective of clustered columns
built in the Early English Period with a fine Decorated triforium on
the north side. Both transepts and the chancel appear to have been
destroyed with the conventual buildings, and the present chancel is
merely a portion of the nave separated with screens.

Southwards in one huge curve of nearly forty miles stretches the low
coast of Holderness, seemingly continued into infinitude. There is
nothing comparable to it on the coasts of the British Isles for its
featureless monotony and for the unbroken front it presents to the sea.
The low brown cliffs of hard clay seem to have no more resisting power
to the capacious appetite of the waves than if they were of
gingerbread. The progress of the sea has been continued for centuries,
and stories of lost villages and of overwhelmed churches are met with
all the way to Spurn Head. Four or five miles south of Bridlington we
come to a point on the shore where, looking out among the lines of
breaking waves, we are including the sides of the two demolished
villages of Auburn and Hartburn.

From a casual glance at Skipsea no one would attribute any importance
to it in the past. It was, nevertheless, the chief place in the
lordship of Holderness in Norman times, and from that we may also infer
that it was the most well-defended stronghold. On a level plain having
practically no defensible sites, great earthworks would be necessary,
and these we find at Skipsea Brough. There is a high mound surrounded
by a ditch, and a segment of the great outer circle of defences exists
on the south-west side. No masonry of any description can be seen on
the grass-covered embankment, but on the artificial hillock, once
crowned, it is surmised, by a Norman keep, there is one small piece
of stonework. These earthworks have been considered Saxon, but later
opinion labels them post-Conquest.[1] In the time of the Domesday
Survey the Seigniory of Holderness was held by Drogo de Bevere, a
Flemish adventurer who joined in the Norman invasion of England and
received his extensive fief from the Conqueror. He also was given the
King's niece in marriage as a mark of special favour; but having for
some reason seen fit to poison her, he fled from England, it is said,
during the last few months of William's reign. The Barony of Holderness
was forfeited, but Drogo was never captured.

[Footnote 1: A worked flint was found in the moat not long ago by Dr.
J. L. Kirk, of Pickering.]

Poulson, the historian of Holderness, states that Henry III. gave
orders for the destruction of Skipsea Castle about 1220, the Earl of
Albemarle, its owner at that time, having been in rebellion. When
Edward II. ascended the throne, he recalled his profligate companion
Piers Gaveston, and besides creating him Baron of Wallingford and Earl
of Cornwall, he presented this ill-chosen favourite with the great
Seigniory of Holderness.

Going southwards from Skipsea, we pass through Atwick, with a cross on
a large base in the centre of the village, and two miles further on
come to Hornsea, an old-fashioned little town standing between the sea
and the Mere. This beautiful sheet of fresh water comes as a surprise
to the stranger, for no one but a geologist expects to discover a lake
in a perfectly level country where only tidal creeks are usually to be
found. Hornsea Mere may eventually be reached by the sea, and yet that
day is likely to be put further off year by year on account of the
growth of a new town on the shore.

The scenery of the Mere is quietly beautiful. Where the road to
Beverley skirts its margin there are glimpses of the shimmering surface
seen through gaps in the trees that grow almost in the water, many of
them having lost their balance and subsided into the lake, being
supported in a horizontal position by their branches. The islands and
the swampy margins form secure breeding-places for the countless
water-fowl, and the lake abounds with pike, perch, eel, and roach.

It was the excellent supply of fish yielded by Hornsea Mere that led to
a hot discussion between the neighbouring Abbey of Meaux and St.
Mary's Abbey at York. In the year 1260 William, eleventh Abbot of
Meaux, laid claim to fishing rights in the southern half of the lake,
only to find his brother Abbot of York determined to resist the claim.
The cloisters of the two abbeys must have buzzed with excitement over
the _impasse_ and relations became so strained that the only
method of determining the issue was by each side agreeing to submit to
the result of a judicial combat between champions selected by the two
monasteries. Where the fight took place I do not know, and the number
of champions is not mentioned in the record. It is stated that a horse
was first swum across the lake, and stakes fixed to mark the limits of
the claim. On the day appointed the combatants chosen by each abbot
appeared properly accoutred, and they fought from morning until
evening, when, at last, the men representing Meaux were beaten to the
ground, and the York abbot retained the whole fishing rights of the

Hornsea has a pretty church with a picturesque tower built in between
the western ends of the aisles. An eighteenth-century parish clerk
utilized the crypt for storing smuggled goods, and was busily at work
there on a stormy night in 1732, when a terrific blast of wind tore the
roof off the church. The shock, we are told, brought on a paralytic
seizure of which he died.

By the churchyard gate stands the old market-cross, recently set up in
this new position and supplied with a modern head.

As we go towards Spurn Head we are more and more impressed with the
desolate character of the shore. The tide may be out, and only puny
waves tumbling on the wet sand, and yet it is impossible to refrain
from feeling that the very peacefulness of the scene is sinister, and
the waters are merely digesting their last meal of boulder-clay before
satisfying a fresh appetite.

The busy town of Hornsea Beck, the port of Hornsea, with its harbour
and pier, its houses, and all pertaining to it, has entirely
disappeared since the time of James I., and so also has the place
called Hornsea Burton, where in 1334 Meaux Abbey held twenty-seven
acres of arable land. At the end of that century not one of those acres
remained. The fate of Owthorne, a village once existing not far from
Withernsea, is pathetic. The churchyard was steadily destroyed, until
1816, when in a great storm the waves undermined the foundations of the
eastern end of the church, so that the walls collapsed with a roar and
a cloud of dust.

Twenty-two years later there was scarcely a fragment of even the
churchyard left, and in 1844, the Vicarage and the remaining houses
were absorbed, and Owthorne was wiped off the map.

The peninsula formed by the Humber is becoming more and more
attenuated, and the pretty village of Easington is being brought nearer
to the sea, winter by winter. Close to the church, Easington has been
fortunate in preserving its fourteenth-century tithe-barn covered with
a thatched roof. The interior has that wonderfully imposing effect
given by huge posts and beams suggesting a wooden cathedral.

At Kilnsea the weak bank of earth forming the only resistance to the
waves has been repeatedly swept away and hundreds of acres flooded with
salt water, and where there are any cliffs at all, they are often not
more than fifteen feet high.



When the great bell in the southern tower of the Minster booms forth
its deep and solemn notes over the city of Beverley, you experience an
uplifting of the mind--a sense of exaltation greater, perhaps, than
even that produced by an organ's vibrating notes in the high vaulted
spaces of a cathedral.

Beverley has no natural features to give it any attractiveness, for it
stands on the borders of the level plain of Holderness, and towards the
Wolds there is only a very gentle rise. It depends, therefore, solely
upon its architecture. The first view of the city from the west as we
come over the broad grassy common of Westwood is delightful. We are
just sufficiently elevated to see the opalescent form of the Minster,
with its graceful towers rising above the more distant roofs, and close
at hand the pinnacled tower of St. Mary's showing behind a mass of dark
trees. The entry to the city from this direction is in every way
prepossessing, for the sunny common is succeeded by a broad, tree
lined road, with old-fashioned houses standing sedately behind the
foliage, and the end of the avenue is closed by the North Bar--the last
of Beverley's gates. It dates from 1410, and is built of very dark red
brick, with one arch only, the footways being taken through the modern
houses, shouldering it on each side. Leland's account and the town
records long before his day tell us that there were three gates, but
nothing remains of 'Keldgate barr' and the 'barr de Newbygyng.'

We go through the archway and find ourselves in a wide street with the
beautiful west end of St. Mary's Church on the left, quaint Georgian
houses, and a dignified hotel of the same period on the opposite side,
while straight ahead is the broad Saturday Market with its very
picturesque 'cross.' The cross was put up in 1714 by Sir Charles
Hotham, Bart., and Sir Michael Warton, Members of Parliament for the
Corporation at that time.

Without the towers the exterior of the Minster gives me little
pleasure, for the Early English chancel and greater and lesser
transepts, although imposing and massive, are lacking in proper
proportion, and in that deficiency suffer a loss of dignity. The
eulogies so many architects and writers have poured out upon the Early
English work of this great church, and the strangely adverse comments
the same critics have levelled at the Perpendicular additions, do not
blind me to what I regard as a most strange misconception on the part
of these people. The homogeneity of the central and eastern portions of
the Minster is undeniable, but because what appears to be the design of
one master-builder of the thirteenth century was apparently carried out
in the short period of twenty years, I do not feel obliged to consider
the result beautiful.

In the Perpendicular work of the western towers everything is in
graceful proportion, and nothing from the ground to the top of the
turrets, jars with the wonderful dignity of their perfect lines.

A few years before the Norman Conquest a central tower and a presbytery
were added to the existing building by Archbishop Cynesige. The
'Frenchman's' influence was probably sufficiently felt at that time to
give this work the stamp of Norman ideas, and would have shown a marked
advance on the Romanesque style of the Saxon age, in which the other
portions of the buildings were put up. After that time we are in the
dark as to what happened until the year 1188, when a disaster took
place of which there is a record:

'In the year from the incarnation of Our Lord 1188, this church was
burnt, in the month of September, the night after the Feast of St.
Matthew the Apostle, and in the year 1197, the sixth of the ides of
March, there was an inquisition made for the relics of the blessed John
in this place, and these bones were found in the east part of his
sepulchre, and reposited; and dust mixed with mortar was found
likewise, and re-interred.'

This is a translation of the Latin inscription on a leaden plate
discovered in 1664, when a square stone vault in the church was opened
and found to be the grave of the canonized John of Beverley. The
picture history gives us of this remarkable man, although to a great
extent hazy with superstitious legend, yet shows him to have been one
of the greatest and noblest of the ecclesiastics who controlled the
Early Church in England. He founded the monastery at Beverley about the
year 700, on what appears to have been an isolated spot surrounded by
forest and swamp, and after holding the See of York for some twelve
years, he retired here for the rest of his life. When he died, in 721,
his memory became more and more sacred, and his powers of intercession
were constantly invoked. The splended shrine provided for his relics in
1037 was encrusted with jewels and shone with the precious metals
employed. Like the tomb of William the Conqueror at Caen, it
disappeared long ago. After the collapse of the central tower to its very
foundations came the vast Early English reconstruction of everything
except the nave, which was possibly of pre-Conquest date, and survived
until the present Decorated successor took its place. Much discussion
has centred round certain semicircular arches at the back of the
triforium, whose ornament is unmistakably Norman, suggesting that the
early nave was merely remodelled in the later period. The last great
addition to the structure was the beautiful Perpendicular north porch
and the west end--the glory of Beverley. The interior of the transepts
and chancel is extremely interesting, but entirely lacking in that
perfection of form characterizing York.

A magnificent range of stalls crowned with elaborate tabernacle work of
the sixteenth century adorns the choir, and under each of the
sixty-eight seats are carved misereres, making a larger collection than
any other in the country. The subjects range from a horrible
representation of the devil with a second face in the middle of his
body to humorous pictures of a cat playing a fiddle, and a scold on her
way to the ducking-stool in a wheel-barrow, gripping with one hand the
ear of the man who is wheeling her.

In the north-east corner of the choir, built across the opening to the
lesser transept on that side, is the tomb of Lady Eleanor FitzAllen,
wife of Henry, first Lord Percy of Alnwick. It is considered to be,
without a rival, the most beautiful tomb in this country. The canopy is
composed of sumptuously carved stone, and while it is literally
encrusted with ornament, it is designed in such a masterly fashion that
the general effect, whether seen at a distance or close at hand, is
always magnificent. The broad lines of the canopy consist of a steep
gable with an ogee arch within, cusped so as to form a base at its apex
for an elaborate piece of statuary. This is repeated on both sides of
the monument. On the side towards the altar, the large bearded figure
represents the Deity, with angels standing on each side of the throne,
holding across His knees a sheet. From this rises a small undraped
figure representing Lady Eleanor, whose uplifted hands are held in one
of those of her Maker, who is shown in the act of benediction with two
fingers on her head.

In the north aisle of the chancel there is a very unusual double
staircase. It is recessed in the wall, and the arcading that runs along
the aisle beneath the windows is inclined upwards and down again at a
slight angle, similar to the rise of the steps which are behind the
marble columns. This was the old way to the chapter-house, destroyed at
the Dissolution, and is an extremely fine example of an Early English
stairway. Near the Percy chapel stands the ancient stone chair of
sanctuary, or frith-stool. It has been broken and repaired with iron
clamps, and the inscription upon it, recorded by Spelman, has gone. The
privileges of sanctuary were limited by Henry VIII, and abolished in
the reign of James I; but before the Dissolution malefactors of all
sorts and conditions, from esquires and gentlewomen down to chapmen and
minstrels, frequently came in undignified haste to claim the security
of St. John of Beverley. Here is a case quoted from the register by Mr.
Charles Hiatt in his admirable account of the Minster:

'John Spret, Gentilman, memorandum that John Spret, of Barton upon
Umber, in the counte of Lyncoln, gentilman, com to Beverlay, the first
day of October the vii yer of the reen of Keing Herry vii and asked the
lybertes of Saint John of Beverlay, for the dethe of John Welton,
husbondman, of the same town, and knawleg [acknowledge] hymselff to be
at the kyllyng of the saym John with a dagarth, the xv day of August.'

On entering the city we passed St. Mary's, a beautiful Perpendicular
church which is not eclipsed even by the major attractions of the
Minster. At the west end there is a splendid Perpendicular window
flanked by octagonal buttresses of a slightly earlier date, which are
run up to a considerable height above the roof of the nave, the upper
portions being made light and graceful, with an opening on each face,
and a pierced parapet. The tower rises above the crossing, and is
crowned by sixteen pinnacles.

In its general appearance the large south porch is Perpendicular, like
the greater part of the church, but the inner portion of its arch is
Norman, and the outer is Early English. One of the pillars of the nave
is ornamented just below the capital with five quaint little minstrels
carved in stone. Each is supported by a bold bracket, and each is
painted. The musical instruments are all much battered, but it can be
seen that the centre figure, who is dressed as an alderman, had a harp,
and the others a pipe, a lute, a drum, and a violin. From Saxon times
there had existed in Beverley a guild of minstrels, a prosperous
fraternity bound by regulations, which Poulson gives at length in his
monumental work on Beverley. The minstrels played at aldermen's feasts,
at weddings, on market-days, and on all occasions when there was excuse
for music.



'Away with me in post to Ravenspurgh;
But if you faint, as fearing to do so,
Stay and be secret, and myself will go.'
_Richard II_, Act II, Scene 1.

The atrophied corner of Yorkshire that embraces the lowest reaches of
the Humber is terminated by a mere raised causeway leading to the wider
patch of ground dominated by Spurn Head lighthouse. This long ridge of
sand and shingle is all that remains of a very considerable and
populous area possessing towns and villages as recently as the middle
of the fourteenth century.

Far back in the Middle Ages the Humber was a busy waterway for
shipping, where merchant vessels were constantly coming and going,
bearing away the wool of Holderness and bringing in foreign goods,
which the Humber towns were eager to buy. This traffic soon
demonstrated the need of some light on the point of land where the
estuary joined the sea, and in 1428 Henry VI granted a toll on all
vessels entering the Humber in aid of the first lighthouse put up about
that time by a benevolent hermit.

No doubt the site of this early structure has long ago been submerged.
The same fate came upon the two lights erected on Kilnsea Common by
Justinian Angell, a London merchant, who received a patent from Charles
II to 'continue, renew, and maintain' two lights at Spurn Point.

In 1766 the famous John Smeaton was called upon to put up two
lighthouses, one 90 feet and the other 50 feet high. There was no hurry
in completing the work, for the foundations of the high light were not
completed until six years later. The sea repeatedly destroyed the low
light, owing to the waves reaching it at high tide. Poulson mentions
the loss of three structures between 1776 and 1816. The fourth was
taken down after a brief life of fourteen years, the sea having laid
the foundations bare. As late as the beginning of last century the
illumination was produced by 'a naked coal fire, unprotected from the
wind,' and its power was consequently most uncertain.

Smeaton's high tower is now only represented by its foundations and the
circular wall surrounding them, which acts as a convenient shelter from
wind and sand for the low houses of the men who are stationed there for
the lifeboat and other purposes.

The present lighthouse is 30 feet higher than Smeaton's, and is fitted
with the modern system of dioptric refractors, giving a light of
519,000 candle-power, which is greater than any other on the east coast
of England. The need for a second structure has been obviated by
placing the low lights half-way down the existing tower. Every twenty
seconds the upper light flashes for one and a half seconds, being seen
in clear weather at a distance of seventeen nautical miles.

In the Middle Ages great fortunes were made on the shores on the
Humber. Sir William de la Pole was a merchant of remarkable enterprise,
and the most notable of those who traded at Ravenserodd. It was
probably owing to his great wealth that his son was made a
knight-banneret, and his grandson became Earl of Suffolk. Another of
the De la Poles was the first Mayor of Hull, and seems to have been no
less opulent than his brother, who lent large sums of money to Edward
III, and was in consequence appointed Chief Baron of the Exchequer and
also presented with the Lordship of Holderness.

The story of Ravenser, and the later town of Ravenserodd, is told in a
number of early records, and from them we can see clearly what happened
in this corner of Yorkshire. Owing to a natural confusion from the many
different spellings of the two places, the fate of the prosperous port
of Ravenserodd has been lost in a haze of misconception. And this might
have continued if Mr. J. R. Boyle had not gone exhaustively into the
matter, bringing together all the references to the Ravensers which
have been discovered.

There seems little doubt that the first place called Ravenser was a
Danish settlement just within the Spurn Point, the name being a
compound of the raven of the Danish standard, and eyr or ore, meaning a
narrow strip of land between two waters. In an early Icelandic saga the
sailing of the defeated remnant of Harold Hardrada's army from
Ravenser, after the defeat of the Norwegians at Stamford Bridge, is
mentioned in the lines:

'The King the swift ships with the flood
Set out, with the autumn approaching,
And sailed from the port, called Hrafnseyrr (the raven tongue of land).'

From this event of 1066 Ravenser must have remained a hamlet of small
consequence, for it is not heard of again for nearly two centuries, and
then only in connexion with the new Ravenser which had grown on a spit
of land gradually thrown up by the tide within the spoon-shaped ridge
of Spurn Head. On this new ground a vessel was wrecked some time in the
early part of the thirteenth century, and a certain man--the earliest
recorded Peggotty--converted it into a house, and even made it a
tavern, where he sold food and drink to mariners. Then three or four
houses were built near the adapted hull, and following this a small
port was created, its development being fostered by William de
Fortibus, Earl of Albemarl, the lord of the manor, with such success
that, by the year 1274, the place had grown to be of some importance,
and a serious trade rival to Grimsby on the Lincolnshire coast. To
distinguish the two Ravensers the new place, which was almost on an
island, being only connected with the mainland by a bank composed of
large yellow boulders and sand, was called Ravenser Odd, and in the
Chronicles of Meaux Abbey and other records the name is generally
written Ravenserodd. The original place was about a mile away, and no
longer on the shore, and it is distinguished from the prosperous port
as Ald Ravenser. Owing, however, to its insignificance in comparison to
Ravenserodd, the busy port, it is often merely referred to as Ravenser,
spelt with many variations.

The extraordinarily rapid rise of Ravenserodd seems to have been due to
a remarkable keenness for business on the part of its citizens,
amounting, in the opinion of the Grimsby traders, to sharp practice.
For, being just within Spurn Head, the men of Ravenserodd would go out
to incoming vessels bound for Grimsby, and induce them to sell their
cargoes in Ravenserodd by all sorts of specious arguments, misquoting
the prices paid in the rival town. If their arguments failed, they
would force the ships to enter their harbour and trade with them,
whether they liked it or not. All this came out in the hearing of an
action brought by the town of Grimsby against Ravenserodd. Although the
plaintiffs seem to have made a very good case, the decision of the
Court was given in favour of the defendants, as it had not been shown
that any of their proceedings had broken the King's peace.

The story of the disaster, which appears to have happened between 1340
and 1350, is told by the monkish compiler of the Chronicles of Meaux.
Translated from the original Latin the account is headed:

'Concerning the consumption of the town of Ravensere Odd and concerning
the effort towards the diminution of the tax of the church of Esyngton.

'But in those days, the whole town of Ravensere Odd.. was totally
annihilated by the floods of the Humber and the inundations of the
great sea ... and when that town of Ravensere Odd, in which we had half
an acre of land built upon, and also the chapel of that town,
pertaining to the said church of Esyngton, were exposed to demolition
during the few preceding years, those floods and inundations of the
sea, within a year before the destruction of that town, increasing in
their accustomed way without limit fifteen fold, announcing the
swallowing up of the said town, and sometimes exceeding beyond measure
the height of the town, and surrounding it like a wall on every side,
threatened the final destruction of that town. And so, with this
terrible vision of waters seen on every side, the enclosed persons,
with the reliques, crosses, and other ecclesiastical ornaments, which
remained secretly in their possession and accompanied by the viaticum
of the body of Christ in the hands of the priest, flocking together,
mournfully imploring grace, warded off at that time their destruction.
And afterwards, daily removing thence with their possession, they left
that town totally without defence, to be shortly swallowed up, which,
with a short intervening period of time by those merciless tempestuous
floods, was irreparably destroyed.'

The traders and inhabitants generally moved to Kingston-upon-Hull and
other towns, as the sea forced them to seek safer quarters.

When Henry of Lancaster landed with his retinue in 1399 within Spurn
Head, the whole scene was one of complete desolation, and the only
incident recorded is his meeting with a hermit named Matthew Danthorp,
who was at the time building a chapel.

The very beautiful spire of Patrington church guides us easily along a
winding lane from Easington until the whole building shows over the

We seem to have stumbled upon a cathedral standing all alone in this
diminishing land, scarcely more than two miles from the Humber and less
than four from the sea. No one quarrels with the title 'The Queen of
Holderness,' nor with the far greater claim that Patrington is the most
beautiful village church in England. With the exception of the east
window, which is Perpendicular, nearly the whole structure was built in
the Decorated period; and in its perfect proportion, its wealth of
detail and marvellous dignity, it is a joy to the eye within and
without. The plan is cruciform, and there are aisles to the transepts
as well as the nave, giving a wealth of pillars to the interior. Above
the tower rises a tall stone spire, enriched, at a third of its height,
with what might be compared to an earl's coronet, the spikes being
represented by crocketed pinnacles--the terminals of the supporting
pillars. The interior is seen at its loveliest on those afternoons when
that rich yellow light Mr. W. Dean Howells so aptly compares with the
colour of the daffodil is flooding the nave and aisles, and glowing on
the clustered columns.

In the eastern aisles of each arm of the transept there were three
chantry chapels, whose piscinae remain. The central chapel in the south
transept is a most interesting and beautiful object, having a recess
for the altar, with three richly ornamented niches above. In the
groined roof above, the central boss is formed into a hollow pendant of
considerable interest. On the three sides are carvings representing the
Annunciation, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. John the Baptist,
and on the under side is a Tudor rose. Sir Henry Dryden, in the
_Archaeological Journal_, states that this pendant was used for a
lamp to light the altar below, but he points out, at the same time,
that the sacrist would have required a ladder to reach it. An
alternative suggestion made by others is that this niche contained a
relic where it would have been safe even if visible.

Patrington village is of fair size, with a wide street; and although
lacking any individual houses calling for comment, it is a pleasant
place, with the prevailing warm reds of roofs and walls to be found in
all the Holderness towns.

On our way to Hedon, where the 'King of Holderness' awaits us, we pass
Winestead Church, where Andrew Marvell was baptized in 1621, and where
we may see the memorials of a fine old family--the Hildyards of
Winestead, who came there in the reign of Henry VI.

The stately tower of Hedon's church is conspicuous from far away; and
when we reach the village we are much impressed by its solemn beauty,
and by the atmosphere of vanished greatness clinging to the place that
was decayed even in Leland's days, when Henry VIII, still reigned. No
doubt the silting up of the harbour and creeks brought down Hedon from
her high place, so that the retreat of the sea in this place was
scarcely less disastrous to the town's prosperity than its advance had
been at Ravenserodd; and possibly the waters of the Humber, glutted
with their rapacity close to Spurn Head, deposited much of the
disintegrated town in the waterway of the other.

The nave of the church is Decorated, and has beautiful windows of that
period. The transept is Early English, and so also is the chancel, with
a fine Perpendicular east window filled with glass of the same subtle
colours we saw at Patrington.

In approaching nearer to Hull, we soon find ourselves in the outer zone
of its penumbra of smoke, with fields on each side of the road waiting
for works and tall shafts, which will spread the unpleasant gloom of
the city still further into the smiling country. The sun becomes
copper-coloured, and the pure, transparent light natural to Holderness
loses its vigour. Tall and slender chimneys emitting lazy coils of
blackness stand in pairs or in groups, with others beyond, indistinct
behind a veil of steam and smoke, and at their feet grovels a confusion
of buildings sending forth jets and mushrooms of steam at a thousand
points. Hemmed in by this industrial belt and compact masses of
cellular brickwork, where labour skilled and unskilled sleeps and rears
its offspring, is the nucleus of the Royal borough of Kingston-upon-Hull,
founded by Edward I at the close of the thirteenth century.

It would scarcely have been possible that any survivals of the
Edwardian port could have been retained in the astonishing commercial
development the city has witnessed, particularly in the last century;
and Hull has only one old street which can lay claim to even the
smallest suggestion of picturesqueness. The renaissance of English
architecture is beginning to make itself felt in the chief streets,
where some good buildings are taking the places of ugly fronts; and
there are one or two more ambitious schemes of improvement bringing
dignity into the city; but that, with the exception of two churches, is
practically all.

When we see the old prints of the city surrounded by its wall defended
with towers, and realize the numbers of curious buildings that filled
the winding streets--the windmills, the churches and monasteries--we
understand that the old Hull has gone almost as completely as
Ravenserodd. It was in Hull that Michael, a son of Sir William de la
Pole of Ravenserodd, its first Mayor, founded a monastery for thirteen
Carthusian monks, and also built himself, in 1379, a stately house in
Lowgate opposite St. Mary's Church. Nothing remains of this great brick
mansion, which was described as a palace, and lodged Henry VIII during
his visit in 1540. Even St. Mary's Church has been so largely rebuilt
and restored that its interest is much diminished.

The great Perpendicular Church of Holy Trinity in the market-place is,
therefore, the one real link between the modern city and the little
town founded in the thirteenth century. It is a cruciform building and
has a fine central tower, and is remarkable in having transepts and
chancel built externally of brick as long ago as the Decorated Period.
The De la Pole mansion, of similar date, was also constructed with
brick--no doubt from the brickyard outside the North Gate owned by the
founder of the family fortunes. The pillars and capitals of the arcades
of both the nave and chancel are thin and unsatisfying to the eye, and
the interior as a whole, although spacious, does not convey any
pleasing sensations. The slenderness of the columns was necessary, it
appears, owing to the soft and insecure ground, which necessitated a
pile foundation and as light a weight above as could be devised.

William Wilberforce, the liberator of slaves, was born in 1759 in a
large house still standing in High Street, and a tall Doric column
surmounted by a statue perpetuates his memory, in the busiest corner of
the city. The old red-brick Grammar School bears the date 1583, and is
a pleasant relief from the dun-coloured monotony of the greater part of
the city.

In going westward we come, at the village of North Cave, to the
southern horn of the crescent of the Wolds. All the way to Howden they
show as a level-topped ridge to the north, and the lofty tower of the
church stands out boldly for many miles before we reach the town. The
cobbled streets at the east end of the church possess a few antique
houses coloured with warm ochre, and it is over and between these that
we have the first close view of the ruined chancel. The east window has
lost most of its tracery, and has the appearance of a great archway;
its date, together with the whole of the chancel, is late Decorated,
but the exquisite little chapterhouse is later still, and may be better
described as early Perpendicular. It is octagonal in plan, and has in
each side a window with an ogee arch above. The stones employed are
remarkably large. The richly moulded arcading inside, consisting of
ogee arches, has been exposed to the weather for so long, owing to the
loss of the vaulting above, that the lovely detail is fast

About four miles from Howden, near the banks of the Derwent, stand the
ruins of Wressle Castle. In every direction the country is spread out
green and flat, and, except for the towers and spires of the churches,
it is practically featureless. To the north the horizon is brought
closer by the rounded outlines of the wolds; everywhere else you seem
to be looking into infinity, as in the Fen Country.

The castle that stands in the midst of this belt of level country is
the only one in the East Riding, and although now a mere fragment of
the former building, it still retains a melancholy dignity. Since a
fire in 1796 the place has been left an empty shell, the two great
towers and the walls that join them being left without floors or roofs.

Wressle was one of the two castles in Yorkshire belonging to the
Percys, and at the time of the Civil War still retained its feudal
grandeur unimpaired. Its strength was, however, considered by the
Parliament to be a danger to the peace, despite the fact that the Earl
of Northumberland, its owner, was not on the Royalist side, and an
order was issued in 1648 commanding that it should be destroyed.
Pontefract Castle had been suddenly seized for the King in June during
that year, and had held out so persistently that any fortified
building, even if owned by a supporter, was looked upon as a possible
source of danger to the Parliamentary Government. An order was
therefore sent to Lord Northumberland's officers at Wressle commanding
them to pull down all but the south side of the castle. That this was
done with great thoroughness, despite the most strenuous efforts made
by the Earl to save his ancient seat, may be seen to-day in the fact
that, of the four sides of the square, three have totally disappeared,
except for slight indications in the uneven grass.

The saddest part of the story concerns the portion of the buildings
spared by the Cromwellians. This, we are told, remained until a century
ago nearly in the same state as in the year 1512, when Henry Percy, the
fifth Earl, commenced the compilation of his wonderful Household Book.
The Great Chamber, or Dining Room, the Drawing Chamber, the Chapel, and
other apartments, still retained their richly-carved ceilings, and the
sides of the rooms were ornamented with a 'great profusion of ancient
sculpture, finely executed in wood, exhibiting the bearings, crests,
badges, and devises, of the Percy family, in a great variety of forms,
set off with all the advantages of painting, gilding and imagery.'

There was a moat on three sides, a square tower at each corner, and a
fifth containing the gateway presumably on the eastward face. In one
of the corner towers was the buttery, pantry, 'pastery,' larder, and
kitchen; in the south-easterly one was the chapel; and in the
two-storied building and the other tower of the south side were the
chief apartments, where my lord Percy dined, entertained, and ordered
his great household with a vast care and minuteness of detail. We would
probably have never known how elaborate were the arrangements for the
conduct and duties of every one, from my lord's eldest son down to his
lowest servant, had not the Household Book of the fifth Earl of
Northumberland been, by great good fortune, preserved intact. By
reading this extraordinary compilation it is possible to build up a
complete picture of the daily life at Wressle Castle in the year 1512
and later.

From this account we know that the bare stone walls of the apartments
were hung with tapestries, and that these, together with the beds and
bedding, all the kitchen pots and pans, cloths, and odds and ends, the
altar hangings, surplices, and apparatus of the chapel--in fact, every
one's bed, tools, and clothing--were removed in seventeen carts each
time my lord went from one of his castles to another. The following is
one of the items, the spelling being typical of the whole book:

'ITEM.--Yt is Ordynyd at every Remevall that the Deyn Subdean
Prestes Gentilmen and Children of my Lordes Chapell with the Yoman and
Grome of the Vestry shall have apontid theime ii Cariadges at every
Remevall Viz. One for ther Beddes Viz. For vi Prests iii beddes after
ii to a Bedde For x Gentillmen of the Chapell v Beddes after ii to a
Bedde And for vi Children ii Beddes after iii to a Bedde And a Bedde
for the Yoman and Grom o' th Vestry In al xi Beddes for the furst
Cariage. And the ii'de Cariage for ther Aparells and all outher ther
Stuff and to have no mo Cariage allowed them but onely the said ii
Cariages allowid theime.'

We have seen the astonishingly tall spire of Hemingbrough Church from
the battlements of Wressle Castle, and when we have given a last look
at the grey walls and the windows, filled with their enormously heavy
tracery, we betake ourselves along a pleasant lane that brings us at
length to the river. The soaring spire is 120 feet in height, or twice
that of the tower, and this hugeness is perhaps out of proportion with
the rest of the building; yet I do not think for a moment that this
great spire could have been different without robbing the church of its
striking and pleasing individuality. There are Transitional Norman
arches at the east end of the nave, but most of the work is Decorated
or Perpendicular. The windows of the latter period in the south
transept are singularly happy in the wonderful amount of light they
allow to flood through their pale yellow glass. The oak bench-ends in
the nave, which are carved with many devices, and the carefully
repaired stalls in the choir, are Perpendicular, and no doubt belong to
the period when the church was a collegiate foundation of Durham.



Malton is the only town on the Derwent, and it is made up of three
separate places--Old Malton, a picturesque village; New Malton, a
pleasant and oldfashioned town; and Norton, a curiously extensive
suburb. The last has a Norman font in its modern church, and there its
attractions begin and end. New Malton has a fortunate position on a
slope well above the lush grass by the river, and in this way arranges
the backs of its houses with unconscious charm. The two churches,
although both containing Norman pillars and arches, have been so
extensively rebuilt that their antiquarian interest is slight.

On account of its undoubted signs of Roman occupation in the form of
two rectangular camps, and its situation at the meeting-place of some
three or four Roman roads, New Malton has been with great probability
identified with the _Delgovitia_ of the Antonine Itinerary.

Old Malton is a cheerful and well-kept village, with antique cottages
here and there, roofed with mossy thatch. It makes a pretty picture as
you come along the level road from Pickering, with a group of trees on
the left and the tower of the Priory Church appearing sedately above
the humble roofs. A Gilbertine monastery was founded here about the
middle of the twelfth century, during the lifetime of St. Gilbert of
Sempringham in Lincolnshire, who during the last year of his long life
sent a letter to the Canons of Malton, addressing them as 'My dear
sons.' Little remains of Malton Priory with the exception of the
church, built at the very beginning of the Early English period. Of the
two western towers, the southern one only survives, and both aisles,
two bays of the nave, and everything else to the east has gone. The
abbreviated nave now serves as a parish church.

Between Malton and the Vale of York there lies that stretch of hilly
country we saw from the edge of the Wolds, for some time past known as
the Howardian Hills, from Castle Howard which stands in their midst.
The many interests that this singularly remote neighbourhood contains
can be realized by making such a peregrination as we made through the

There is no need to avoid the main road south of Malton. It has a
park-like appearance, with its large trees and well-kept grass on each
side, and the glimpses of the wooded valley of the Derwent on the left
are most beautiful. On the right we look across the nearer grasslands
into the great park of Castle Howard, and catch glimpses between the
distant masses of trees of Lord Carlisle's stately home. The old castle
of the Howards having been burnt down, Vanbrugh, the greatest architect
of early Georgian times, designed the enormous building now standing.
In 1772 Horace Walpole compressed the glories of the place into a few
sentences. '... I can say with exact truth,' he writes to George
Selwyn,' that I never was so agreeably astonished in my days as with
the first vision of the whole place. I had heard of Vanburgh, and how
Sir Thomas Robinson and he stood spitting and swearing at one another;
nay, I had heard of glorious woods, and Lord Strafford alone had told me
that I should see one of the finest places in Yorkshire; but nobody ...
had informed me that should at one view see a palace, a town, a
fortified city; temples on high places, woods worthy of being each
metropolis of the Druids, vales connected to hills by other woods, the
noblest lawn in the world fenced by half the horizon, and a mausoleum
that would tempt one to be buried alive; in short, I have seen gigantic
places before, but never a sublime one.'

The style is that of the Corinthian renaissance, and Walpole's
description applies as much to-day as when he wrote. The pictures
include some of the masterpieces of Reynolds, Lely, Vandyck, Rubens,
Tintoretto, Canaletto, Giovanni Bellini Domenichino and Annibale

Two or three miles to the south, the road finds itself close to the
deep valley of the Derwent. A short turning embowered with tall trees
whose dense foliage only allows a soft green light to filter through,
goes steeply down to the river. We cross the deep and placid river by a
stone bridge, and come to the Priory gateway. It is a stately ruin
partially mantled with ivy, and it preserves in a most remarkable
fashion the detail of its outward face.

The mossy steps of the cross just outside the gateway are, according to
a tradition in one of the Cottonian manuscripts, associated with the
event which led to the founding of the Abbey by Walter Espec, lord of
Helmsley. He had, we are told, an only son, also named Walter, who was
fond of riding with exceeding swiftness.

One day when galloping at a great pace his horse stumbled near a small
stone, and young Espec was brought violently to the ground, breaking
his neck and leaving his father childless. The grief-stricken parent is
said to have found consolation in the founding of three abbeys, one of
them being at Kirkham, where the fatal accident took place.

Of the church and conventual buildings only a few fragments remain to
tell us that this secluded spot by the Derwent must have possessed one
of the most stately monasteries in Yorkshire. One tall lancet is all
that has been left of the church; and of the other buildings a few
walls, a beautiful Decorated lavatory, and a Norman doorway alone

Stamford Bridge, which is reached by no direct road from Kirkham Abbey,
is so historically fascinating that we must leave the hills for a time
to see the site of that momentous battle between Harold, the English
King, and the Norwegian army, under Harold Hardrada and Harold's
brother Tostig. The English host made their sudden attack from the
right bank of the river, and the Northmen on that side, being partially
armed, were driven back across a narrow wooden bridge. One Northman, it
appears, played the part of Horatius in keeping the English at bay for
a time. When he fell, the Norwegians had formed up their shield-wall on
the left bank of the river, no doubt on the rising ground just above
the village. That the final and decisive phase of the battle took place
there Freeman has no doubt.

Stamford Bridge being, as already mentioned, the most probable site of
the Roman _Derventio_, it was natural that some village should
have grown up at such an important crossing of the river.

An unfrequented road through a belt of picturesque woodland goes from
Stamford Bridge past Sand Hutton to the highway from York to Malton. If
we take the branch-road to Flaxton, we soon see, over the distant
trees, the lofty towers of Sheriff Hutton Castle, and before long reach
a silent village standing near the imposing ruin. The great rectangular
space, enclosed by huge corner-towers and half-destroyed curtain walls,
is now utilized as the stackyard of a farm, and the effect as we
approach by a footpath is most remarkable. It seems scarcely possible
that this is the castle Leland described with so much enthusiasm. 'I
saw no House in the North so like a Princely Logginges,' he says, and
also describes 'the stately Staire up to the Haul' as being very

We come to the north-west tower, and look beyond its ragged outline to
the distant country lying to the west, grass and arable land with trees
appearing to grow so closely together at a short distance, that we have
no difficulty in realizing that this was the ancient Forest of Galtres,
which reached from Sheriff Hutton and Easingwold to the very gates of

In the complete loneliness of the ruins, with the silence only
intensified by the sounds of fluttering wings in the tops of the
towers, we in imagination sweep away the haystacks and reinstate the
former grandeur of the fortress in the days of Ralph Neville, first
Earl of Westmorland. It was he who rebuilt the Norman castle of Bertram
de Bulmer, Sheriff of Yorkshire, on a grander scale. Upon the death of
Warwick, the Kingmaker, in 1471, Edward IV gave the castle and manor of
Sheriff Hutton to his brother Richard, afterwards Richard III, and it
was he who kept Edward IV's eldest child Elizabeth a prisoner within
these massive walls. The unfortunate Edward, Earl of Warwick, the
eldest son of George, Duke of Clarence, when only eight years old, was
also incarcerated here for about three years. Richard III, the usurper,
when he lost his only son, had thought of making this boy his heir, but
the unfortunate child was passed over in favour of John de la Pole,
Earl of Lincoln, and remained in close confinement at Sheriff Hutton
until August, 1485, when the Battle of Bosworth placed Henry VII on the
throne. Sir Robert Willoughby soon afterwards arrived at the castle,
and took the little Earl to London. Princess Elizabeth was also sent
for at the same time, but whether both the Royal prisoners travelled
together does not appear to be recorded. The terrible pathos of this
simultaneous removal from the castle lay in the fact that Edward was to
play the part of Pharaoh's chief baker, and Elizabeth that of the chief
butler; for, after fourteen years in the Tower of London, the Earl of
Warwick was beheaded, while the King, after five months, raised up
Elizabeth to be his Queen. Even in those callous times the fate of the
Prince was considered cruel, for it was pointed out after his
execution, that, as he had been kept in imprisonment since he was eight
years old, and had no knowledge or experience of the world, he could
hardly have been accused of any malicious purpose. So cut off from all
the common sights of everyday life was the miserable boy that it was
said 'that he could not discern a goose from a capon.'

Portions of the Augustinian Priory are built into the house called
Newburgh Priory, and these include the walls of the kitchen and some
curious carvings showing on the exterior. William of Newburgh, the
historian, whose writings end abruptly in 1198--probably the year of
his death--was a canon of the Priory, and spent practically his whole
life there. In his preface he denounced the inaccuracies and fictions
of the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth. At the Dissolution Newburgh
was given by Henry VIII to Anthony Belasyse, the punning motto of whose
family was _Bonne et belle assez_. One of his descendants was
created Lord Fauconberg by Charles I, and the peerage became extinct in
1815, on the death of the seventh to bear the title. The last
owner--Sir George Wombwell, Bart.--inherited the property from his
grandmother, who was a daughter of the last Lord Fauconberg. Sir George
was one of the three surviving officers who took part in the charge of
the Light Brigade at Balaclava on October 25, 1854.

The late Duke of Cambridge paid several visits to Newburgh, occupying
what is generally called 'the Duke's Room.' Rear-Admiral Lord Adolphus
Fitz-Clarence, whose father was George IV, died in 1856 in the bed
still kept in this room. In a glass case, at the end of a long gallery
crowded with interest, are kept the uniform and accoutrements Sir
George wore at Balaclava.

The second Lord Fauconberg, who was raised from Viscount to the rank of
Earl in 1689, was warmly attached to the Parliamentary side in the
Civil War, and took as his second wife Cromwell's third daughter, Mary.
This close connexion with the Protector explains the inscription upon a
vault immediately over one of the entrances to the Priory. On a small
metal plate is written:

'In this vault are Cromwell's bones, brought here, it is believed,
by his daughter Mary, Countess of Fauconberg, at the Restoration, when
his remains were disinterred from Westminster Abbey.'

The letters 'R.I.P.' below are only just visible, an attempt having
been made to erase them. No one seems to have succeeded in finally
clearing up the mystery of the last resting-place of Cromwell's
remains. The body was exhumed from its tomb in Henry VII.'s Chapel at
Westminster, and hung on the gallows at Tyburn on January 30, 1661--the
twelfth anniversary of the execution of Charles I--and the head was
placed upon a pole raised above St. Stephen's Hall, and had a separate
history, which is known. Lord Fauconberg is said to have become a
Royalist at the Restoration, and if this were true, he would perhaps
have been able to secure the decapitated remains of his father-in-law,
after their burial at the foot of the gallows at Tyburn. It has often
been stated that a sword, bridle, and other articles belonging to
Cromwell are preserved at Newburgh Priory, but this has been
conclusively shown to be a mistake, the objects having been traced to
one of the Belasyses.

Coxwold has that air of neatness and well-preserved antiquity which is
so often to be found in England where the ancient owners of the land
still spend a large proportion of their time in the great house of the
village. There is a very wide street, with picturesque old houses on
each side, which rises gently towards the church. A great tree with
twisted branches--whether oak or elm, I cannot remember--stands at the
top of the street opposite the churchyard, and adds much charm to the
village. The inn has recently lost its thatch, but is still a quaint
little house with the typical Yorkshire gable, finished with a stone
ball. On the great sign fixed to the wall are the arms and motto of the
Fauconbergs, and the interior is full of old-fashioned comfort and
cleanliness. Nearly opposite stand the almshouses, dated 1662.

The church is chiefly Perpendicular, with a rather unusual octagonal
tower. In the eighteenth century the chancel was rebuilt, but the
Fauconberg monuments in it were replaced. Sir William Belasyse, who
received the Newburgh property from his uncle, the first owner, died in
1603, and his fine Jacobean tomb, painted in red, black and gold, shows
him with a beard and ruff. His portrait hangs in one of the
drawing-rooms of the Priory. The later monuments, adorned with great
carved figures, are all interesting. They encroach so much on the space
in the narrow chancel that a most curious method for lengthening the
communion-rail has been resorted to--that of bringing forward from the
centre a long narrow space enclosed with the rails. From the pulpit
Laurence Sterne preached when he was incumbent here for the last eight
years of his life. He came to Coxwold in 1760, and took up his abode in
the charming old house he quaintly called 'Shandy Hall.' It is on the
opposite side of the road to the church, and has a stone roof and one
of those enormous chimneys so often to be found in the older farmsteads
of the north of England. Sterne's study was the very small room on the
right-hand side of the entrance doorway; it now contains nothing
associated with him, and there is more pleasure in viewing the outside
of the house than is gained by obtaining permission to enter.

During his last year at Coxwold, when his rollicking, boisterous
spirits were much subdued, Sterne completed his 'Sentimental Journey.'
He also relished more than before the country delights of the village,
describing it in one of his letters as 'a land of plenty.' Every day he
drove out in his chaise, drawn by two long-tailed horses, until one day
his postilion met with an accident from one his master's pistols, which
went off in his hand. 'He instantly fell on his knees,' wrote Sterne,
'and said "Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name"--at
which, like a good Christian, he stopped, not remembering any more of

The beautiful Hambleton Hills begin to rise up steeply about two miles
north of Coxwold, and there we come upon the ruins of Byland Abbey.
Their chief feature is the west end of the church, with its one turret
pointing a finger to the heavens, and the lower portion of a huge
circular window, without any sign of tracery. This fine example of
Early English work is illustrated here. The whole building appears to
be the original structure built soon after 1177, for it shows
everywhere the transition from Norman to Early English which was taking
place at the close of the twelfth century. The founders were twelve
monks and an abbot, named Gerald, who left Furness Abbey in 1134, and
after some vicissitudes came to the notice of Gundred, the mother of
Roger de Mowbray, either by recommendation or by accident. One account
pictures the holy men on their way to Archbishop Thurstan at York, with
all their belongings in one wagon drawn by eight oxen, and describes
how they chanced to meet Gundreda's steward as they journeyed near
Thirsk. Through Gundreda the monks went to Hode, and after four years
received land at Old Byland, where they wished to build an abbey. This
position was found to be too close to Rievaulx, whose bells could be
too plainly heard, so that five years later the restless community
obtained a fresh grant of land from De Mowbray, at a place called
Stocking, where they remained until they came to Byland.

Recent excavation and preservation operations carried out by H.M.
Office of Works have added many lost features to the ruins including
the exposure of the whole of the floor level of the church hitherto
buried under grassy mounds. Almost any of the roads to the east go
through surprisingly attractive scenery. There are heathery commons,
roads embowered with great spreading trees, or running along open
hill-sides, and frequently lovely views of the Hambletons and more
distant moors in the north.

In scenery of this character stands Gilling Castle, the seat of the
Fairfaxes for some three centuries. It possesses one of the most
beautiful Elizabethan dining-rooms to be found in this country. The
walls are panelled to a considerable height, the remaining space being
filled with paintings of decorative trees, one for each wapentake of
Yorkshire. Each tree is covered with the coats of arms of the great
families of that time in the wapentake. The brilliant colours against
the dark green of the trees form a most suitable relief to the uniform
brown of the panelling. In addition to the charm of the room itself,
the view from the windows into a deep hollow clothed with dense
foliage, with a distant glimpse of country beyond, is unlike anything I
have seen elsewhere.



Thoroughly to master the story of the city of York is to know
practically the whole of English history. Its importance from the
earliest times has made York the centre of all the chief events that
have take place in the North of England; and right up to the time of
the Civil War the great happenings of the country always affected York,
and brought the northern capital into the vortex of affairs. And yet,
despite the prominent part the city has played in ecclesiastical,
military, and civil affairs through so many centuries of strife, it has
contrived to retain a medieval character in many ways unequalled by any
town in the kingdom. This is due, in a large measure, to the fortunate
fact that York is well outside the area of coal and iron, and has never
become a manufacturing centre, the few factories it now possesses being
unable to rob the city of its romance and charm.

There could scarcely be a better approach to such a city than that
furnished by the railway-station. Immediately outside the building, we
are confronted with a sloping grassy bank, crowned with a battlemented
wall, and we discover that only through its bars and posterns can we
enter the city, and feast our eyes on the relics of the Middle Ages
within. It is no dummy wall put up to please visitors, for right down
to the siege of 1644, when the Parliamentary army battered Walmgate Bar
with their artillery, it has withstood many assaults and investments.
Repairs and restorations have been carried out at various times during
the last century, and additional arches have been inserted by the bars
and where openings have been made necessary, luckily without robbing
the walls of their picturesqueness or interest. The bright, creamy
colour of the stonework is a pleasant reminder of the purity of York's
atmosphere, for should the smoke of the city ever increase to the
extent of even the smaller manufacturing towns, the beauty and glamour
of every view would gradually disappear.

Of the Roman legionary base called Eboracum there still remain parts of
the wall and the lower portion of a thirteen-sided angle bastion while
embedded in the medieval earthen ramparts there is a great deal of
Roman walling.

The four chief gateways and the one or two posterns and towers have
each a particular fascination, and when we begin to taste the joys of
York, we cannot decide whether the Minster, the gateways, the narrow
streets full of overhanging houses, or the churches, all of which we
know from prints and pictures, call us most. In our uncertainty we
reach a wide arch across the roadway, and on the inner side find a
flight of stone steps leading to the top of the wall. We climb them,
and find spread out before us our first notable view of the city. The
battlemented stone parapet of the wall stops at a tower standing on the
bank of the river, and on the further side rises another, while above
the old houses, closely packed together beyond Lendal Bridge, appear
the stately towers of the Minster.

On the plan of keeping the best wine until the last, we turn our backs
to the Minster and go along the wall, trying to imagine the scene when
open country came right up to encircling fortifications, and within
were to be found only the picturesque houses of the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries, many of them new in those days, and yet so
admirably designed as to be beautiful without the additional charm of
age. Then, suddenly, we find no need to imagine any longer, having
reached the splendid twelfth-century structure of Micklegate Bar. Its
bold turrets are pierced with arrow-slits, and above the battlements
are three stone figures. The archway is a survival of the Norman city.
In gazing at this imposing gateway, which confronted all who approached
York from the south, we seem to hear the clanking sound of the
portcullis as it is raised and lowered to allow the entry of some
Plantagenet sovereign and his armed retinue, and, remembering that
above this gate were fixed the dripping heads of Richard, Duke of York,
after his defeat at Wakefield; the Earl of Devon, after Towton, and a
long list of others of noble birth, we realize that in those times of
pageantry, when the most perfect artistry appeared in costume, in
architecture, and in ornament of every description, there was a
blood-thirstiness that makes us shiver.

The wall stops short at Skeldergate Bridge, where we cross the river
and come to the castle. There is a frowning gateway that boasts no
antiquity, and the courtyard within is surrounded by the
eighteenth-century assize courts, a military prison, and the governor's
house. Hemmed in by these buildings and a massive wall is the
artificial mound surmounted by the tottering castle keep. It is called
Clifford's Tower because Francis Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, restored
the ruined wall in 1642. The Royal Arms and those of the Cliffords can
still be seen above the doorway, but the structure as a whole dates
from the twelfth century, and in 1190 was the scene of a horrible
tragedy, when the people of York determined to massacre the Jews. Those
merchants who escaped from their houses with their families and were
not killed in the streets fled to the castle, but finding that they
were unable to defend the place, they burnt the buildings and destroyed
themselves. A few exceptions consented to become Christians, but were
afterwards killed by the infuriated townspeople.

On the opposite side of the Foss, a stream that joins the Ouse just
outside the city, the walls recommence at the Fishergate Postern, a
picturesque tower with a tiled roof. After this the line of
fortifications turns to the north, and Walmgate Bar shows its
battlemented turrets and its barbican, the only one which has survived.
The gateway itself, on the outside, is very similar in design to
Micklegate and Monk Bars, and was built in the thirteenth century;
inside, however, the stonework is hidden behind a quaint Elizabethan
timber front supported on two pillars. This gate, as already mentioned,
was much battered during the siege of 1644, which lasted six weeks. It
was soon after the Royalists' defeat at Marston Moor that York
capitulated, and fortunately Sir Thomas Fairfax gave the city excellent
terms, and saved it from being plundered. Through him, too, the Minster
suffered very little damage from the Parliamentary artillery, and the
only disaster of the siege was the spoiling of the Marygate Tower, near
St. Mary's Abbey, many of the records it contained being destroyed.
Numbers were saved through the rewards Fairfax offered to any soldier
who rescued a document from the rubbish, and as the transcribing of all
the records had just been completed by one Dodsworth, to whom Fairfax
had paid a salary for some years, the loss was reduced to a minimum.

Walmgate leads straight to the bridge over the Foss, and just beyond we
come to fine old Merchants' Hall, established in 1373 by John de
Rowcliffe. The panelled rooms and the chapel, built early in the
fifteenth century, and many interesting details, are beautiful
survivals of the days when the trade guilds of the city flourished. On
the left, a few yards further on, at the corner of the Pavement, is the
interesting little church of All Saints, whose octagonal lantern was
illuminated at night as a guiding light to travellers on their way to
York. The north door has a sanctuary knocker.

The narrowest and most antique of the old streets of York are close to
All Saints' Church, and the first we enter is the Shambles, where
butchers' shops with slaughter-houses behind still line both sides of
the way. On the left, as we go towards the Minster, one of the shops
has a depressed ogee arch of oak, and great curved brackets across the
passage leading to the back. All the houses are timber-framed, and
either plastered and coloured with warm ochre wash, or have the spaces
between the oak filled with dark red brick. In the Little Shambles,
too, there are many curious details in the high gables, pargeting and
oriel windows. Petergate is a charming old street, though not quite so
rich in antique houses as Stonegate, illustrated here. A large number
of shops in Stonegate sell 'antiques,' and, as the pleasure of buying
an old pair of silver candlesticks is greatly enhanced by the knowledge
that the purchase will be associated with the old-world streets of
York, there is every reason for believing that these quaint houses are
in no danger. In walking through these streets we are very little
disturbed by traffic, and the atmosphere of centuries long dead seems
to surround us. We constantly get peeps of the great central tower of
the Minster or the Early English south transept, and there are so many
charming glimpses down passages and along narrow streets that it is
hard to realize that we are not in some town in Normandy such as
Lisieux or Falaise, and yet those towns have no walls, and Falaise, has
only one gateway, and Lisieux none. It is surely justifiable to ask, in
Kingsley's words, 'Why go gallivanting with the nations round' until
you have at least seen what England can show at York and Chester?
Skirting the west end of the Minster, and having a close view of its
two towers built in late Perpendicular times, which are not so
beautiful as those at Beverley, we come to what is in many ways the
most romantic of all the medieval survivals of York. There is an open
space faced by Bootham Bar, the chief gateway towards the north; behind
are the weathered red roofs of many antique houses, and beyond them
rises the stately mass of the Minster. The barbican was removed in
1831, and the interior has been much restored, without, however,
destroying its fascination. We can still see the portcullis and look
out of the narrow windows through which the watchmen have gazed in
early times at approaching travellers. It was at this gateway that
armed guides could be obtained to protect those who were journeying
northwards through the Forest of Galtres, where wolves were to be
feared in the Middle Ages.

Facing Bootham Bar is a modern public building judiciously screened by
trees, and adjoining it to the south stands the beautiful old house
where, before the Dissolution, the abbots of St. Mary's Abbey lived in
stately fashion.

When Henry VIII paid his one visit to York it was after the Pilgrimage
of Grace led by Robert Aske, who was hanged on one of the gates. The
citizens who had welcomed the rebels pleaded pardon, which was granted
three years afterwards; but Henry appointed a council, with the Duke of
Norfolk as its president, which was held in the Abbots' house, and
resulted in the Mayor and Corporation losing most of their powers. The
beautiful fragments of St. Mary's Abbey are close to the river, and the
site is now included in the museum grounds. In the museum building
itself there is a wonderfully fine collection of Roman coffins, dug up
when the new railway-station was being built. One inscription is
particularly interesting in showing that the Romans set up altars in
their palaces, thus explaining the reason for the Jews refusing to
enter the praetorium at Jerusalem when Christ was made prisoner,
because it was the Feast of the Passover.

We can see the restored front of the Guildhall overlooking the river
from Lendal Bridge, which adjoins the gates of the Abbey grounds, but
to reach the entrance we must go along the street called Lendal and
turn into a narrow passage. The hall was put up in 1446, and is
therefore in the Perpendicular style. A row of tall oak pillars on each
side support the roof and form two aisles. The windows are filled with
excellent modern stained glass representing several incidents in the
history of the city, from the election of Constantine to be Roman
Emperor, which took place at York in A.D. 306, down to the great dinner
to the Prince Consort, held in the hall in 1850.

The Church of St. Michael Spurriergate, built at the same period as the
Guildhall, is curiously similar in its interior, having only a nave and
aisles. The stone pillars are so slight that they are scarcely of much
greater diameter than the wooden ones in the civic structure, and some
of them are perilously out of plumb. There is much old glass in the

St. Margaret's Church has a splendid Norman doorway carved with the
signs of the zodiac; St. Mary's Castlegate is an Early English or
Transitional building transformed and patched in Perpendicular times;
St. Mary's Bishophill Junior has a most interesting tower, containing
Roman materials, and the list could be prolonged for many pages if
there were space.

We finally come back to the Minster, and entering by the south transept
door, realize at once in the dim immensity of the interior that we have
reached the crowning splendour of York. The great organ is filling the
lofty spaces with solemn music, carrying the mind far beyond petty

Edwin's wooden chapel, put up in 627 for his baptism into the Christian
Church nearly thirteen centuries ago, and almost immediately replaced
by a stone structure, has gone, except for some possible fragments in
the crypt. Vanished, too, is the building that was standing when, in
1069, the Danes sacked and plundered York, leaving the Minster and city
in ruins, so that the great church as we see it belongs almost entirely
to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the towers being still



It is not easy to understand how a massive structure such as that of
Selby Abbey can catch fire and become a burnt-out shell, and yet this
actually happened not many years ago.

It was before midnight on October 19, 1906, that the flames were first
seen bursting from the Latham Chapel, where the organ was placed. The
Selby fire brigade with their small engine were confronted with a task
entirely beyond their powers, and though the men worked heroically,
they were quite unable to prevent the fire from spreading to the roofs
of the chancel and nave, and consuming all that was inflammable within
the tower. By about three in the morning fire-engines from Leeds and
York had arrived, and with a copious supply of water from the river, it
was hoped that the double roof of the nave might have been saved, but
the fire had obtained too fierce a hold, and by 4.30 a correspondent

'The flames are through the west-end roof. The whole building will
now be destroyed from end to end. The flames are pouring out of
the roof, and the lead of the roof is running down in molten
streams. The scene is magnificent but pathetic, and the whole
of the noble building is now doomed. The whole of the inside is a
fiery furnace. The seating is in flames, and the firemen are in
considerable danger if they stay any longer, as the false roof is now
burned through.

'The false roof is falling in, and the flames are ascending 30 feet
above the building. Dense clouds of smoke are pouring out.'

When the fire was vanquished, it had practically completed its work of
destruction. Besides reducing to charred logs and ashes all the timber
in the great building, the heat had been so intense that glass windows
had been destroyed, tracery demolished, carved finials and capitals
reduced to powder, and even the massive piers by the north transept,
where the furnace of flame reached its maximum intensity, became so
calcined and cracked that they were left in a highly dangerous

Fortunately the splendid Norman nave was not badly damaged, and after a
new roof had been built, it was easily made ready for holding services.
The two bays nearest to the transept are early Norman, and on the south
side the massive circular column is covered with a plain grooved
diaper-work, almost exactly the same as may be seen at Durham
Cathedral. All the rest of the nave is Transitional Norman except the
Early English clerestory, and is a wonderful study in the progress from
early Norman to Early English.

On the floor on the south side of the nave by one of the piers is a
slab to the memory of a maker of gravestones, worded in this quaint

'Here Lyes ye Body of poor Frank Raw
Parish Clark and Gravestone Cutter
And ys is writt to let yw know:
Wht Frank for Othrs us'd to do
Is now for Frank done by Another.
Buried March ye 31, 1706.'

A stone on the floor of the retro-choir to John Johnson, master and
mariner, dated 1737, is crowded with nautical metaphor.

'Tho' Boreas with his Blustring blasts
Has tos't me to and fro,
Yet by the handy work of God I'm here
Inclos'd below
And in this Silent Bay
I lie With many of our Fleet
Untill the Day that I Set Sail
My Admiral Christ to meet.'

The great Perpendicular east window was considered by Pugin to be one
of the most beautiful of its type in England, and the risk it ran of
being entirely destroyed during the fire was very great. The design of
the glass illustrates the ancestry of Christ from Jesse, and a
considerable portion of it is original.

Although Selby Abbey suffered severely in the conflagration, yet its
greatest association with history, the Norman nave, is still intact. At
the eastern end of the nave we can still look upon the ponderous arches
of the Benedictine Abbey Church, founded by William the Conqueror in
1069 as a mark of his gratitude for the success of his arms in the
north of England, even as Battle Abbey was founded in the south.

Going to the west as far as Pontefract, we come to the actual borders
of the coal-mine and factory-bestrewn country. Although the history of
Pontefract is so detailed and so rich, it has long ago been robbed of
nearly every building associated with the great events of its past, and
its present appearance is intensely disappointing. The town stands on a
hill, and has a wide and cheerful market-place possessing an
eighteenth-century 'cross' on big open arches. It is a plain, classic
structure, 'erected by Mrs. Elisabeth Dupier Relict of Solomon Dupier,
Gent, in a cheerful and generous Compliance with his benevolent
Intention Anno Dom' 1734.'

The castle stood at the northern end of the town on a rocky eminence
just suited for the purposes of an early fortress, but of the stately
towers and curtain walls which have successively been reared above the
scarps, practically nothing besides foundations remains. The base of
the great round tower, prominent in all the prints of the castle in the
time of its greatest glory, fragments of the lower parts of other towers
and some dungeons or magazines are practically the only features of the
historic site that the imagination finds to feed upon. A long flight of
steps leads into the underground chambers, on whose walls are carved
the names of various prisoners taken during the siege of 1648. Below
the castle, on the east side, is the old church of All Saints with its
ruined nave, eloquent of the destruction wrought by the Parliamentary
cannon in the successive sieges, and to the north stands New Hall, the
stately Tudor mansion of Lord George Talbot, now reduced to the
melancholy wreck depicted in these pages. The girdle of fortifications
constructed by the besiegers round the castle included New Hall, in
case it might have been reached by a sally of the Royalists, whose
cannon-balls, we know, carried as far, from the discovery of one
embedded in the masonry. Coats of arms of the Talbots can still be seen
on carved stones on the front walls over the entrance. The date, 1591,
is believed to be later than the time of the erection of the house,
which, in the form of its parapets and other details, suggests the
style of Henry VIII's reign.

Although we can describe in a very few words the historic survivals of
Pontefract, to deal even cursorily with the story of the vanished
castle and modernized town is a great undertaking, so numerous are the
great personages and famous events of English history connected with
its owners, its prisoners, and its sieges.

The name Pontefract has suggested such an obvious derivation that, from
the early topographers up to the present time, efforts have been made
to discover the broken bridge giving rise to the new name, which
replaced the Saxon Kyrkebi. No one has yet succeeded in this quest, and
the absence of any river at Pontefract makes the search peculiarly
hopeless. At Castleford, a few miles north-west of Pontefract, where
the Roman Ermine Street crossed the confluence of the Aire and the
Calder, it is definitely known that there was only a ford. The present
name does not make any appearance until several years after the Norman
Conquest, though Ilbert de Lacy received the great fief, afterwards to
become the Honour of Pontefract, in 1067, the year after the Battle of
Hastings. Ilbert built the first stone castle on the rock, and either
to him or his immediate successors may be attributed the Norman walls
and chapel, whose foundations still exist on the north and east sides
of the castle yard.

The De Lacys held Pontefract until 1193, when Robert died without
issue, the castle and lands passing by marriage to Richard
Fitz-Eustace; and the male line again became extinct in 1310, when
Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, married Alice, the heiress of Henry de Lacy.
Henry's great-grandfather was the Roger de Lacy, Justiciar and
Constable of Chester, who is famous for his heroic defence of Chateau
Gaillard, in Normandy, for nearly a year, when John weakly allowed
Philip Augustus to continue the siege, making only one feeble attempt
at relief. Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who was a cousin of Edward II,
was more or less in continual opposition to the king, on account of his
determination to rid the Court of the royal favourites, and it was with
Lancaster's full consent that Piers Gaveston was beheaded at Blacklow
Hill, near Warwick, in 1312. For this Edward never forgave his cousin,
and when, during the fighting which followed the recall of the
Despensers, Lancaster was obliged to surrender after the Battle of
Boroughbridge, Edward had his revenge. The Earl was brought to his own
castle at Pontefract, where the King lay, and there accused of
rebellion, of coming to the Parliaments with armed men, and of being in
league with the Scots. Without even being allowed a hearing he was
condemned to death as a traitor, and the next day, June 19, 1322,
mounted on a sorry nag without a bridle, he was led to a hill outside
the town, and executed with his face towards Scotland.

In the last year of the same century Richard II died in imprisonment in
the castle, not long after the Parliament had decided that the deposed
King should be permanently immured in an out-of-the-way place.
Hardyng's Chronicle records the journeying from one castle to another
in the lines:

'The Kyng the[n] sent Kyng Richard to Ledis,
There to be kepte surely in previtee,
Fro the[n]s after to Pykeryng we[n]t he nedes,
And to Knauesburgh after led was he,
But to Pountfrete last where he did die.'

Archbishop Scrope affirmed that Richard died of starvation, while
Shakespeare makes Sir Piers of Exton his murderer.

During the Pilgrimage of Grace the castle was besieged, and given up to
the rebels by Lord Darcy and the Archbishop of York. In the following
century came the three sieges of the Civil War. The first two followed
after the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, and Fairfax joined the
Parliamentary forces on Christmas Day of that year, remaining through
most of January. On March 1 Sir Marmaduke Langdale relieved the
Royalist garrison, and Colonel Lambert fell back, fighting stubbornly
and losing some 300 men. The garrison then had an interval of just
three weeks to reprovision the castle, then the second siege began, and
lasted until July 19, when the courageous defenders surrendered, the
besieging force having lost 469 men killed to 99 of those within the
castle. Of these two sieges, often looked upon as one, there exists a
unique diary kept by Nathan Drake, a 'gentleman volunteer' of the
garrison, and from its wonderfully graphic details it is possible to
realize the condition of the defence, their sufferings, their hopes,
and their losses, almost more completely than of any other siege before
recent times.

In the third and last investment of 1648-49 Cromwell himself summoned
the garrison, and remained a month with the Parliamentary forces,
without seeing any immediate prospect of the surrender of the castle.
When the Royalists had been reduced to a mere handful, Colonel Morris,
their commander, agreed to terms of capitulation on March 24, 1649. The
dismantling of the stately pile by order of Parliament followed as a
matter of course, and now we have practically nothing but
seventeenth-century prints to remind us of the embattled towers which
for so many months defied Cromwell and his generals.

Liquorice is still grown at Pontefract, although the industry has
languished on account of Spanish rivalry, and the town still produces
those curious little discs of soft liquorice, approximating to the size
of a shilling, known as 'Pontefract cakes.'

The ruins of the great Cistercian Abbey of Kirkstall, founded in the
twelfth century by Henry de Lacy, still stand in a remarkable state of
completeness, about three miles from Leeds. With the exception of
Fountains, the remains are more perfect than any in Yorkshire. Nearly
the whole of the church is Transitional Norman, and the roofless nave
is in a wonderfully fine state of preservation. The chapter-house and
refectory, as well as smaller rooms, are fairly complete, and the
situation by the Aire on a sunny day is still attractive; yet owing to
the smoke-laden atmosphere, and the inevitable indications of the
countless visitors from the city, the ruins have lost much of their
interest, unless viewed solely from a detached architectural
standpoint. We do not feel much inclination to linger in this
neighbourhood, and continue our way westwards towards the great rounded
hills, where, not far from Keighley, we come to the grey village of

More than half a century has gone since Charlotte Brontė passed away in
that melancholy house, the 'parsonage' of the village. In that period
the church she knew has been rebuilt, with the exception of the tower,
her home has been enlarged, a branch line from Keighley has given
Haworth a railway-station, and factories have multiplied in the valley,
destroying its charm. These changes sound far greater than they really
are, for in many ways Haworth and its surroundings are just what they
were in the days when the members of that ill-fated household were
still united under the grey roof of the 'parsonage,' as it is
invariably called by Mrs. Gaskell.

We climb up the steep road from the station at the bottom of the deep
valley, and come to the foot of the village street, which, even though
it turns sharply to the north in order to make as gradual an ascent as
possible, is astonishingly steep. At the top stands an inn, the 'Black
Bull,' where the downward path of the unhappy Branwell Brontė began,
owing to the frequent occasions when 'Patrick,' as he was familiarly
called, was sent for by the landlord to talk to his more important

The churchyard is, to a large extent, closely paved with tombstones
dating back to the seventeenth century, laid flat, and on to this
dismal piece of ground the chief windows of the Brontės' house looked,
as they continue to do to-day. It is exceedingly strange that such an
unfortunate arrangement of the buildings on this breezy hill-top should
have given a gloomy outlook to the parsonage. If the house had only
been placed a little higher up the hill, and been built to face the
south, it is conceivable that the Brontės would have enjoyed better
health and a less melancholy and tragic outlook on life. An account of
a visit to Haworth Parsonage by a neighbour, when Charlotte and her
father were the only survivors of the family, gives a clear impression
of how the house appeared to those who lived brighter lives:


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