John Ray (1627-1705) was one of the pioneers of modern botany. A parson naturalist, he was the first to classify plants by species. He undertook a number of tours of Britain and Europe where he collected and described the local flora and topography.
The following passage, describing his visit to North East Yorkshire, is taken from Selected Remains of the Learned John Ray with his life. By William Derham published 1760.
We ascended the top of that noted hill, called Roseberry or Ounsberry Topping, the top whereof is like a sugar loaf and serves for a sea-mark. It may be seen at a great distance, viz. from Stanmore, which is in a right line above 20 Miles off. From hence we had a prospect of that pleasant and fruitful vale, part whereof is called Cleveland a country noted for a good breed of horses.
The ways here in winter time are very bad, and almost impassable, according to that proverbial Rhyme,
Cleveland in the Clay
Bring in two Soles, carry one away.
Near this hill we went to see a well celebrated for the cure of sore or dim eyes, and other diseases. Every one that washes in it, or receives benefit by it, ties a rag of linen or woollen on a shrub or bush near it, as an offering or acknowledgement.
The People of Gisburgh are civil, cleanly, and well-bred, contrary to the temper of the inhabitants of Whitby who, to us, seemed rude in behavior and sluttish.
In the way from Whitby to Gisburgh we passed by Freeburgh Hill which they told us was cast up by the Devil, at the entreaty of an old Witch, who desired it, that from thence she might espy her cow in the moor.
Image – National Portrait Gallery / Public domain
The Battering Stone
A large mass of blue whinstone by the road side near the east end of Whitby abbey, which the boys were won’t to batter or pelt with stones on Holy Thursday, after the usual perambulation of the parochial boundaries, the fortunate breakers, it was said, being entitled to a guinea from the parish. The custom seems almost forgotten with the cessation of the perambulation, and the stone reposes from year to year in its wonted solidity, though bearing the marks on its surface, of the juvenile assaults of former days.
Holy stones are those artificial formations connected with the oracular ceremonies of past ages; and it is recorded that one of these uprights, called the needle stood in the vicinity of the west pier at Whitby, through the eye of which rickety children were drawn in order to strengthen them; a custom practiced in some parts to this day. Lovers also pledged themselves by joining hands through the hole, especially in the case of young mariners bound on their voyage.
A Glossary of Yorkshire word and phrases: Collected in Whitby and the neighbourhood. 1885
A Glossary of words used in Swaledale, Yorkshire 1873
55 Years of Space Operations on Fylingdales Moor.
The Whitby Museum at Pannett Park is one of my favourite places to spend a couple of hours so when I saw a flyer for this exhibition I headed over the moors at the first opportunity.
The two nice ladies at the desk said to me ‘it’s probably not what you were expecting, it’s an artists response to the Fylingdales site.’
The exhibition is the result of Michael Mulvihill’s three years of exploring the objects in the sites archive and the history of RAF Fylingdales. I enjoyed the exhibition, if you go I would recommend that you read the accompanying booklet, which is excellent.
The exhibition runs from the 3rd of August to the 3rd of November. There is also a public program of events which can be found here
Two Minutes to Midnight – Richard Clay explores why we are no longer afraid of nuclear annihilation, and whether we should be.
On reflection, the objects on display will have a different meaning depending on your own personal experience. I was born in the 1960s, there was a civil defence siren located on the perimeter of my primary school playground, the four minute warning and the Doomsday Clock were ever-present in our lives. The threat of a nuclear attack was a very real one, the RAF Fylingdales early warning station was a constant reminder of this.
This wonderful album by Chris Whitehead is my favourite album of 2019 so far. It has been released by TQ Zine.
You can get the download by ordering the latest copy of TQ or you can buy the album directly from the TQ Bandcamp page. Any income is being donated to TQN-aut by the artist to help fund other releases by artists who need financial support to do so
The Boiling well stands on the side of the road from Whitby to Hawsker. The well originally fed Whitby Abbey hence it’s other name T’awd Abba Well. A plaque on the well wall used to read
T’awd Abba Well
Also Known as The Old boiling Well
Lang centuries aback
This wor’t awd Abba Well
Saint Hilda veiled i’ black
Lang centuries aback
Supped frey it an no lack
All ‘r sisterhood as well
Lang centuries aback
This wor’t awd Abba Well
This very worn 10C Anglo Saxon cross sits beside a minor road at Low Hawsker. Much of the detail is lost. The drawing below was published by W G Collinwood in 1911.
Graham Chappell’s wonderful Yorkshire Holy Wells
Anglian & Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the East Riding with addenda to the North Riding. W.G. Collingwood. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 21 1911. Yorkshire Archaeological Society. Leeds
Read Chris Corner’s account of The Penny Hedge (Horngarth) Ceremony here
Whitby Abbey & Cliffs from the North by JMW Turner. 1801.
Copyright Tate CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)
During the summer many an excursion train, or ‘chape trip,’ as the natives say, brings thousands of the hardworking population of the West Riding, to enjoy a brief holiday by the sea. There once arrived a party of miners two of whom hastened down to the beach to bathe. As they undressed one said to the other “Hey, Sam, hoo mooky thou is!” “Aw miss’d t’chape trip last year,” was the laconic and significant reply.
A Month in Yorkshire. Walter White. 1861
Scantlings is a new solo exhibition from artist Aphra O’Connor, which celebrates the enduring local boat building industry through a range of sculpture, print and ceramic works.
The exhibition follows the construction of a new fishing vessel at the Parkol Marine engineering site in Whitby. Each stage of construction has been documented by the artist, and the works reference the various techniques employed in the boat building process.
Items discarded during the building have been collected together and reimagined in abstract three-dimensional collages. Through this, O’Connor sets out to capture the nuances which lie behind the rough and heavy labour which takes place on the yard. In a similar vein, ceramics feature as a method of recording the imprints of the found objects. By indenting and creating repeating patters on ceramic, O’Connor seeks to open a dialogue between the traditional nature of making and more industrial modes of manufacture.
The systematic approach to assembly and the reliance on the prefabricated is played upon in ornamental prints, whose designs isolate and focus on the many forms hidden within the structures of the boat yard.
Scantlings is a natural progression of O’Connor’s interest in the manufacturing heritage of the North East. In a time of severe difficulty for British production, this exhibition offers a wink to both local history and the surviving industry.