Category Archives: In Wensleydale

Articles relating to people, places and events in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire.

Banking in Leyburn

A district councillor is asking for help to find out just how many people regularly  use Barclays Bank at Leyburn.

In January Barclays Bank announced that it will close its branch office in Bedale on April 26 and that in Leyburn on May 5. This will mean it will have no banks in mid and upper Wensleydale  and nor has any other bank.

Barclays stated that the branch in Bedale is used by just 17 regular customers, and that in Leyburn by 19.

Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden is far from convinced that the Leyburn branch has only 19 regular customers. ‘I was in there on Friday and asked about that. Someone behind me said “There are nine of us in here now and more coming.” ‘

Cllr Amsden  said the bank is very much needed by those living in such a very rural area which includes Swaledale, Arkengarthdale, Bishopdale, Coverdale, and Wensleydale. ‘There are elderly people who don’t use computers or the internet. They have to use public transport because they don’t drive. So they have got to bank locally.

There is a Barclays Bank at Richmond. For someone living in Aysgarth a visit to Leyburn by bus takes about two hours, but twice that to go to Richmond. The last bus from Northallerton on weekdays is at 3pm.

Many bank branches  have closed due, it is said, to more people using internet banking. But Cllr Amsden commented: ‘The internet is very intermittent in parts of the dales which means residents can’t easily use internet banking and some businesses can’t take payments by card. A lot of people still pay in cash. There are the village halls and charities who need to pay in cash,’ Cllr Amsden said.

And he is worried that more ATMs will be removed making it very hard for visitors and residents to obtain cash in the evenings or at weekends.

He also pointed out there were more bank scams now and the scammers often target the elderly.

He asked those who bank at the Barclays branch in Leyburn and use it regularly to tell him by emailing him at .

Remembrance Services at Aysgarth Church in 2022

Above: the Gurkha trainees and Corporal Raju Roka at the grave of Lieut Col James Alban Wilson

A contingent of Gurkha trainees helped to make this year’s Remembrance service at Aysgarth church on Sunday November 13 2022 a very memorable one.

The Remembrance services at Aysgarth began on Friday when the refurbished War Memorial in the church was dedicated.  This included a new plaque to honour the twelve local men killed in WWI whose names were omitted from the original Roll of Honour.

Frank Trowell designed the new structure for the wreaths and crosses created from the carved woodwork from the three pews which had been removed.  The refurbishment of the plaques was by John Pickard & Sons and the joinery by Paul Smith of Joinery Solutions. The engraving was by Dan Thornton-Grace.  Colonel Nick Gaskell initiated, oversaw and did much of the additional work.

All the Gurkha trainees and Corporal Raju Roka saluted at the War Memorial before they left the church on Sunday.

They had arrived early and so were able to visit the grave of Lieut Col James  Alban Wilson who served with the Gurkhas during WW1.

In Penhill Benefice on Sunday Gurkha trainees also attended the Remembrance Services at Redmire and West Witton churches.

Below: Saluting at the War Memorial

Aysgarth’s new Post Office


Above: Steve Jack and Tina Clune

Aysgarth’s new Post Office is now open and will provide a service for mid Wensleydale following the closure of that at Thoralby. It is in the Convenience Store at Aysgarth Garage and will be open from 9am to 1pm Monday to Saturday.

Steve Jack took over the shop and the garage in 2008 and ensured that the store remained open every day throughout the Covid pandemic.

In March, when he sought the support of Aysgarth and District Parish Council for a Post Office at the garage, the councillors pointed out that, with the closure of that in Thoralby, residents in such villages as West Burton, Thoralby, Aysgarth and Carperby often had to travel 12 miles to Hawes or Leyburn for Post Offices.

‘A lot of people from Thoralby were worried about losing the Post Office there. I thought it would be a good addition to the village and for the shop’, Steve said when the new Post Office opened on Friday morning (September 23). He emphasised that he would be flexible about closing if there was a queue.

During the first week he is being trained by Post Office trainer Tina Clune. He is advertising for someone to take on the Post Office work for 25 hours a week. And he is looking for another assistant for the shop.

The Post Office stated: ‘As part of an exciting modernisation and investment programme taking place across the Post Office network, a brand-new Post Office for Aysgarth has opened.The Post Office said the new facility [with ample car parking] will provide customers with 24 hours of Post Office services a week making it convenient for them to visit [and there is a car park]. The Post Office services are offered from a low-screened, open-plan Post Office counter that is integrated into the retail area.

It added: ‘This new Aysgarth branch offers customers a wide range of Post Office services, from posting letters and parcels to collecting and returning online shopping items. Customers can also take advantage of a wide range of banking services including cash withdrawals and balance enquiries for customers of all the main UK banks.’

Ian Murphy, Post Office Network Provision Lead, said: ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for customers to pay their bills, withdraw cash from their bank accounts, and send and collect their mail at a time and place that suits them best. We know how important our services are to customers, and we are confident that this brand-new Post Office will ensure that people in the Aysgarth area have easy access to our services.’

Below: Steve and Tina at the open-plan counter.


A Day in the Dales for asylum seekers


Jack Sutton’s photo: Friends – two young asylum seekers at Aysgarth Falls

Children in Wensleydale formed friendships with asylum seekers living in the North East when the Quakers from Bainbridge Meeting House and other volunteers hosted a Day out in the Dales on Monday July 25.

The organising group (Gwen Clark, Jennie White, Vanda Hurn, Sue Stokes, Andrea Hunter and Nancy Sutton) chose Carperby as the best venue with its sports pavilion and village hall. Flyers about the event were delivered to all residents and holiday makers in the village and many joined in with the fun.

‘We must have had over 40 people from the community turn up to wash dishes, prepare food, clear up, offer workshops or just chat and be welcoming. We had a good number of local children who joined in, made friends and played,’ Jennie White said.

There were 48 asylum seekers including 24 children, who came on the coach booked by Darlington Assistance for Refugees with the cost covered by the Bainbridge Quaker Local Meeting and donations.

Their day in Wensleydale began with drinks and biscuits at Carperby pavilion and then the freedom to enjoy the playing fields and children’s playground. Some played football and others had fun with the various sports equipment organised by Vanda Hurn.

There were also craft workshops: felt making with Andrea Hunter; face painting with Julie Edwardson and Sue Stokes; button making with Fran Flanagan; plus painting pebbles. Volunteers prepared a generous vegetarian lunch in the village hall and there were plenty of tray bakes for desserts.

Afterwards, they finished craft making before going with their new friends to Aysgarth Falls where there was a decent amount of water. Tubs of ice cream were provided by Gill Harrison from the Wensleydale Ice Cream Parlour.

The next day Jennie White received a thank you from one of the asylum seekers who stated: ‘You organized a wonderful organization for us yesterday. We had a lot of fun with my family. Your hospitality was also great. Food and desserts were also delicious. I want to thank all the participants, from the oldest to the youngest.’

Patricia ‘Paddy’ Charlton


Paddy’s funeral, following her death on April 26th 2022, was at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, on May 27th. One reason it will be remembered is because of the splendid black horses with plumes which pulled the hearse.

Her daughter Ro explained beforehand: ‘We are not sure if Paddy was joking or not (one could never be sure!) but she did mention this more than once to me, and on a separate occasion to my sister-in-law Nicola, that she would like her final journey to be in a carriage drawn by “black horses with plumes”. This has been arranged, and the horses will be setting off from Hamiltons Tea Room, where Steve, Sandra and some of the regulars will raise a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows to her.’



Photos: The horse-drawn hearse at the church; at Hamiltons in Aysgarth; descending Chapel Bank followed by the family and friends; Paddy’s granddaughter Eleanor stroking one of the horses.


Ro gave the following tribute to her mother at the funeral:


Paddy was born on July 30th 1940 in Lindi, Tanganyka Territory (present day Tanzania).

She wrote of her earliest memories: ’I used to play with Nganya, my Ayah’s daughter, but don’t remember much about her. Ma had hoped I’d teach her European ways and was disappointed when she discovered us sitting on our haunches, swaying and clapping and singing some African chant’.

When she was five, she went with her parents to visit her mother’s family in Sussex, where her brother was born, and she attended school in Rye. They also spent time with her father’s family in Bangor, N. Ireland, where she went to her second school.The journey included travelling on a flying boat.

Many years later, when I took her to the Flying Boat Museum in Foynes, S W Ireland, the museum staff were very excited to meet someone who had travelled on one and she was treated to an Irish Coffee – although all she could remember [of the flight]  was being told off by her mother for pulling the hair of the lady in the seat in front of them!

In 1947 the family returned to East Africa, and some of Paddy’s fondest memories are from that time. Here are two excerpts from her written memories of this time:

‘We returned to Africa when I was seven and for a few months my mother taught me with materials supplied from Dar es Salaam as a correspondence course. I really loved this and would spend my break times climbing trees, examining the abundant insect life or just lying on my back revelling in the sunshine, the bird sounds and the work songs of the natives. There were no other white children, so my friends were African girls, who taught me some of their customs and dances. My parents gave me a little dachshund puppy, which was later run over by one of the lorries from the ill-fated Groundnut Scheme and I also had a tame monkey, which went everywhere with me.

‘I travelled down to South Africa for my next school, where I boarded. I found out later that I was in the same form as Sue McGregor (we compared notes when we met at the BBC). I was very happy there and made many friends. At weekends I went to stay with a delightful couple who had a house in the middle of a vineyard. She was the sister of a famous singer, Keith Faulkener, and had a superb voice herself. She trained the church choir and made me a member, along with two other girls. This wonderful woman would gather a whole group of children together at weekends and take them on exciting excursions to various beauty spots, to the seaside, to the top of Table Mountain by cable car and many other places I cannot remember. The school also arranged trips to the cinema and to the ballet, but it was after the ballet trip that the house mistress took me into her sitting room and told me very gently that my father had died and that I would have to leave the school’.

As her mother wound up her father’s business, farm and estate, Paddy attended a government boarding school for six months. She was very happy there and made many friends.


She and her brother Bernard travelled back to England with her mother and their lives became very different: ‘After a long sea voyage, we arrived in a murky Britain to find ourselves in the middle of a dock strike, so our trunks couldn’t be off-loaded. My mother’s brother hadn’t bothered to come and meet us, so it was a miserable introduction to the country that would henceforth be my home’. They travelled to Rye, where she was enrolled almost immediately at the Primary School, where there was ‘a non-stop regime of General Knowledge, Intelligence, Mathematics, English Language and other tests, all of which would feature in the Eleven Plus exam’.

She missed Africa terribly, and when she sang Jerusalem at school, she would change the words to ‘England’s green unpleasant land’.Since her father had died overseas, her mother was not entitled to a widow’s pension and was too proud to ask for help. There was enough money to buy a small bungalow in Camber, which was ‘in an area where she felt we’d be safe when she left us to our own devices when she went out to work. She had a bicycle with a child’s seat and cycled in all weathers to the golf club, walked across the links and banged the gong (an old artillery shell case) for Mr. Doughty the ferryman, who would row passengers across in his little dinghy for (I think) sixpence. She worked in the office of a concrete works and would keep tabs on us via a daily lunch time telephone call.

‘We spent a lot of our holidays in the (forbidden) Amusement Arcade, trying our luck with the penny-in-the-slot machines and the crane that never quite managed to pick up the goods. Most of the rest of our time was spent on the beach or in the sea’.

She would also climb around the walls of Camber Castle with other children and was often quite daring in these exploits. At home she had a strong preference for Meccano and the Hornby train set and had no interest in dolls. She also liked taking things apart to see how they worked.

Despite the major trauma of losing both her father and the country she loved, Paddy came ninth in the whole county for her Eleven Plus and went on to Rye Grammar School. However (in her own words):’The Grammar School was a let –down. We had all kinds of exciting subjects and sports and games, but I was aware right from the start that girls were not considered academically worth encouraging. We were told that only one girl would go to university for every 50 boys and on one notable occasion the Chemistry Master told us that the girls must be quiet because the boys couldn’t concentrate’.

Things improved as she went through school, and had an inspirational art teacher, Marjorie May. She passed A level Art and would have liked to have gone to Art College, but her mother was advised that Art Colleges were "dens of vice and iniquity", so she went to secretarial college instead.

atbbcBBC and family

In 1959 she joined the BBC as a secretary and worked in various departments before becoming a production secretary in Radio Drama in 1961 and a Studio Manager in 1964. She married a fellow Studio Manager [Roger Charlton] in 1966 and left the BBC to become a full-time mother when Ro(semary) and Alan were born in 1968 and 1970.

Paddy was very capable and became very adept at DIY. One of my earliest memories is of Paddy high up on a ladder removing paint from the eaves with the terrifying paraffin blow torch, with its fierce long flame.

In the mid-1970s, Paddy and Roger moved into a larger house that needed quite a lot of work, most of which they did themselves, including rewiring the whole house. Paddy did most of this when the children were at school and Roger at work. She described herself ‘holding a book in one hand and a wire in the other and working out what to do’, but the task was completed successfully. They also carried out most of the maintenance on the 1965 Morris Minor.

She made many of our clothes using her trusty hand-driven Singer sewing machine and knitted many jumpers.She started an Open University degree in 1982, while raising the family and working part time. While taking a Science Foundation Course she discovered a passion for geology. She graduated in 2000, and then went on to complete a postgraduate diploma. She made some very good friends from on geology field trips and excursions.


Roger was given early retirement in 1992 and they moved up to the Dales two years later. Paddy made the most of her retirement, gardening, learning new skills (upholstery, spinning, scything), and some sailing. She played the viola in the Wensleydale Orchestra, which she and Roger have supported for nearly 30 years. She was able to resume her art studies and joined a ‘laid-back, but highly productive amateur group’ who have now been meeting for 20 years. She was one of ten finalists in the 2014 Oldie Magazine Artist of the Year, for her painting of the Poulnabrone passage tomb in Co. Clare, Ireland. While Paddy was still recovering from a knee replacement, I received a call from her ‘I’m on top of Addlebrough!’

The last few years have brought many challenges, including the death of her brother Bernard in August 2018, followed by Alan’s death just three weeks later after a long illness. I was very fortunate to be visiting in March 2020 and to spend both lockdowns working from Wensleydale. This unexpected additional time together was a precious gift at the time, and even more so now.

‘For a long time I yearned to return to Africa, but the intervening years I would be an alien there. Strangely enough, our move to the Yorkshire have brought such changes to what I still consider to be my country, that Dales has given me the same feeling of contentment as I felt in my early life and I think this is probably due to the fact that the inhabitants in both countries have had to contend with Nature in all its moods and have to deal with all the different natural emergencies on their own’.

Aysgarth’s Platinum Jubilee celebration


Derrick Pickard (in red cap) unveiling the new plaque watched by his great grandson Eidur. On the left is John Dinsdale, chairman of Aysgarth Institute committee.

The festivities in Aysgarth on Sunday June 5 began with the  unveiling of a plaque commemorating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

villagers_watchingVillagers watched from the opposite side of the A684 as Derrick Pickard unveiled the plaque which has been inset into a wall to join two other jubilee plaques (silver and golden) and that commemorating the coronation of George V and Mary in 1911. All the jubilee plaques have been donated by John Pickard & Son of Aysgarth. There is a plaque on a bench on the other side of the road which commemorates the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Platinum Jubilee celebration was organised by the Institute committee – and provided the villagers with a great opportunity to once again gather on the village green for fun and games. There was certainly plenty of that thanks to those who led the children’s sports (Keith and Jean Percival and Jill Metcalfe). But first, the oldest members of the community needed to check that Paddington Bear and Her Majesty were okay! From the left, Irene Pickard, Jean Cockburn and Derrick Pickard.

The games included such old favourites as the sack race and the egg and spoon race – as well as the tug of war. For the Institute there are more photos but I have only clearly shown those when parents have given their consent.





During the afternoon Derrick, Irene and Jean presented the Platinum Jubilee mugs, purchased by Aysgarth Institute, to the children. The prize for the best decorated house was won by Becky, David, Arthur and Olly Clarkson, with that for the best hat going to little Lucy Bussey. Josie Dinsdale got the highest score (20 out of 30) for the Royal Quiz.   (Below left: Aidan receiving his Jubilee mug from Derrick. Right: Becky Clarkson received her prize from Steve Hamilton who, with his wife Sandra, judged the best decorated  house competition.)



And, of course, there was plenty of food. As usual the villagers put on a great display with visitors commenting on how good the baking was. The pride of place went to the Jubilee Cake created by Jan Vaughan. Jean Cockburn, with Irene and Derrick Pickard, cut it, and Molly helped Jan (centre) to distribute it. Lesley Taylor from Newbiggin provided the accompaniment for the National Anthem on her cornet – followed by the loyal toast with bubbly provided by the Institute.  And finally – a smashing ending when all those brave enough to participate in the egg throwing competition. (I hid behind a camera! Well, someone had to record this happy occasion after being so locked away from each other.)








Aysgarth Church Flower Festival 2022

The Flower Festival at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, to mark the Platinum Jubilee of our Queen was both stunning and thought provoking. It was entitled ‘Seven Decades: Celebrating the Reign of Queen Elizabeth II’ and many of the flower arrangements – by some who attend St Andrew’s and members of the Wensleydale Flower Club – were accompanied by the information provided by Barbara Hadlow. Below are my photographs of all the arrangements (with much of that information), and the displays created by children at the BAWB Federation of Schools.

At the main entrance: The Queen’s Green Canopy by Jan Vaughan



The Queen’s Green Canopy was created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and invites people from across the United Kingdom to ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’. As well as inviting the planting of new trees, The Queen’s Green Canopy will dedicate a network of 70 Ancient Woodlands across the United Kingdom and identify 70 Ancient Trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s seventy years of service.

The Queen joined The Prince of Wales to plant a sapling propagated from a Verdun Oak, for the first Jubilee tree planting in Spring 2021 in the grounds of Windsor Castle, to mark the launch of the initiative. Verdun trees are oak and horse chestnut trees, planted in the United Kingdom in the aftermath of the First World War. Acorns and chestnuts were collected from trees on the battlefield at Verdun and sent to England to be distributed and planted as war memorials.

Welcome Table: The Coronation  by Liz Frisby


The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 2nd June 1953

‘The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God’ (The Queen’s Coronation Oath. 1953)

Westminster Abbey has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066. On her way to the Abbey, Her Majesty wore the George IV State Diadem, made in 1820. In the Coronation Bouquet were lilies-of-the-valley from England, stephanotis from Scotland, orchids from Wales and carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

During the Coronation the Queen was invested with a number of ornaments symbolising the chivalric and spiritual nature of kingship. These included the spurs, swords and armills, followed by the orb, a ring and then the sceptres. One sceptre is surmounted by a cross representing temporal power and the other surmounted by a dove representing the sovereign’s spiritual role.After the investiture the St Edward’s Crown made in 1661, was placed on the Queen’s head. It weighs 4 pounds and 12 ounces and is made of solid gold. The Imperial State Crown was worn by The Queen on her return to Buckingham Palace.

Gallery Ledge: Coronation Souvenirs by Helen Witcombe




Top l-r: cup and saucer, Preston under Scar; green mug, Essex County Council. Middle, l-r: spoon, Colwall in Herefordshire; cup, saucer and plate, Caldwell in Richmondshire; glass mug, Leeds. Bottom l-r: glass mug from Leeds; cup, Newcastle; coin, Normanby School, Teesside; and the small book from Sholver near Saddlesworth.

North Door: Trooping the Colour by Juliet Barker


The custom of Trooping the Colour dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th Century when the Colours of regiments in the British Army were used as a rallying point in battle and were therefore trooped in front of the soldiers every day to make sure that every man could recognise those of his own regiment.

When George III became King in 1760, it was ordered that parades should mark the King’s Birthday. This impressive display of pageantry is now held on the occasion of the Queen’s Official Birthday. It takes place in June each year on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall.

Over 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians from The Household Division, come together in a great display of military precision, horsemanship and fanfare.

Once the Queen has arrived at Horse Guard’s Parade she is greeted by a Royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops, who are fully trained and operational soldiers wearing the ceremonial uniform of red tunics and bearskin hats. These bearskin hats are made from the fur of Canadian black bears. The five regiments of The Foot Guards have different coloured plumes in their bearskin hats to denote their regiment as follows – Grenadier (White, positioned on the left),Coldstream (Red on the right), Irish (Blue on the right), Welsh (White/Green/White on the left), Scots Guards have no plume.

Once the Foot Guards have marched past the Queen, she rides back to Buckingham Palace at the head of the soldiers, before taking the salute again at the Palace from a dais. The display closes with an RAF fly-past, watched by members of the Royal Family from Buckingham Palace balcony. A 41-gun salute is also fired in Green Park to mark the occasion.

N W Window: 1950s – Coronation Chicken by Anne Guy


Coronation Chicken or Poulet Reine Elizabeth, was invented for the foreign guests attending a banquet at Westminster School, London, after the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The food had to be prepared in advance and food writer and flower arranger, Constance Spry, together with Rosemary Hume, a chef, who were both founders of the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London, proposed a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce to be served with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs. The recipe won the approval of the Minister of Works and has since been known as Coronation Chicken.

N E Window: 1950s – Thee Ascent of Everest by Liz Piper


When the Queen acceded to the throne on 6th February 1952, Everest had not been climbed. There had already been seven major attempts to reach the summit and a further attempt was made in the Spring of that year by a Swiss team. They were nearly successful, reaching 28,200 feet, only 800 feet below the summit.

By then, plans were already in place for another British attempt in 1953. It was led by Col. John Hunt (later Lord Hunt), who assembled a very able and experienced team of climbers. After a period of build-up and acclimatisation in April and May, two pairs of climbers were ready to make an assault.

The first pair, Bourdillon and Evans, had trouble with oxygen cylinders and had to retreat only 300 feet below the summit on 26th May. The following day, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay from Nepal made their summit bid. Using a high level camp they reached the top at 11.30 am on 29th May. They planted the Union Jack for the Queen on the highest point on earth. It took another day for the climbers to return to their support camp and for the news to be relayed back to base camp. It was then sent by runner and wireless transmitter (in code to prevent a news leak) to the British Embassy in Kathmandu. Telegrams were then sent to Britain and the news of success was released to a rapturous public on the morning of 2nd June, the Queen’s Coronation Day.

Font: 1960s – Beatlemania by Kath Spashett


Beatlemania was the fanaticism surrounding the Liverpool rock band The Beatles in the 1960s. The group’s popularity grew in the United Kingdom throughout 1963, propelled by the singles ‘Please Please Me’, ‘From, Me to You’ and ‘She Loves You’.

The press adopted the term “Beatlemania” to describe the scenes of hysteria and high-pitched screaming by female fans, sometimes called ‘teenyboppers’ who assembled anywhere the Beatles performed or appeared. The behaviour of these fans was scorned by many and was even the subject of analysis by psychologists and sociologists! The Beatles surpassed any previous examples of fan worship and changed popular culture forever.

Pedestal by choir: 1960s – Investiture of the Prince of Wales by Juliet Barker


The tradition of investing the heir apparent of the British monarch with the title of “Prince of Wales” began in 1301, when King Edward I of England, having completed the conquest of Wales, gave the title to his heir apparent, Prince Edward (later King Edward II of England).

Prince Charles was made Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester by letters patent on 26th July 1958, but the official investiture was not held unit 1st July 1969. The ceremony took place at Caernarfon Castle.

During the investiture ceremony, the letters patent were read aloud in Welsh and stated that 20 year old Prince Charles Philip Arthur George would receive the title, style, honour and privilege of the Principality of Wales and Earldom of Chester. The Queen attired her heir with a girdle, sword, coronet, ring, rod and kingly mantle, in that order.

Prince Charles then declared: ’I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship, and faith and truth I will bear unto thee, to live and die against all manner of folks.’

Front of altar steps: 1970s – Decimal Day by Barbara Hadlow


For centuries, Britain relied on a coinage system of pounds, shillings and pence. Twelve pennies made a shilling and 20 shillings a pound. It’s hard to imagine for those under 50, but it was a complex arithmetic that many wrestled with every day.

In 1961 a special committee was set up to think about whether Britain should introduce a decimal currency. On 1st March 1966 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, James Callaghan, announced that pounds, shillings and pence would be replaced by a decimal currency, with 100 units in a pound.

So what should those units be called? The committee had thought about cents and dollars, but eventually decided to stick with pounds and pence. They proposed five new coins, with designs and shapes that were similar to the old coinage.

Decimal Day was set for 15th February 1971 when the new coins would be introduced and Britain’s monetary system saw its biggest change for more than 1,000 years.

Altar: 1970s – Silver Jubilee by Jane Ritchie


The Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II marked the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. The actual anniversary of The Queen’s Accession on 6th February 1952 was commemorated in church services throughout that month.

The full jubilee celebrations began in the summer of 1977 with many street parties and parades taking place throughout the country.The Queen also embarked on a large scale tour, having decided that she wished to mark her jubilee by meeting as many of her people as possible. No other Sovereign had visited so much of Britain in the course of just three months. Official overseas visits were also made and during the year it was estimated that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh travelled 56,000 miles.

On the evening of Monday, 6th June The Queen lit a bonfire beacon at Windsor which started a chain of beacons across the country. The next day vast crowds saw the Queen drive in the Gold State Coach to St Paul’s Cathedral for a Service of Thanksgiving. Afterwards she attended a lunch at the Guildhall, in which she made a speech declaring ‘My Lord Mayor, when I was twenty-one I pledged my life to the service of our people and I asked for God’s help to make good that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgement, I do not regret nor retract one word of it’.

Lady Chapel: 1980s – Royal Residences by Nikki Gaskell


The collage showed the two royal residences that the Queen spends holidays at: Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House.

Balmoral Castle – The Scottish home of the Royal Family. It is used as the private residence of the Queen and her family, who take residence in the castle each summer. The Castle was purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852. However the castle was deemed too small and a bigger version was built adjacent to the original. Work began in 1853 and the new castle was completed in 1856. The castle sits on the 20,000-hectare Balmoral estate in Royal Deeside.

Sandringham House – It has been the private home in Norfolk of British monarchs since 1862. The house was the venue of the first ever Christmas broadcast. It remained as such until Queen Elizabeth II changed the broadcast to a televised version in 1957, filmed in the library at Sandringham. The Royal Family spend Christmas here and can be seen making their way to Church each Christmas morning.

Lady Chapel: 1980s – Miners’ Strike by Jane Ritchie


The miners’ strike of 1984 – 1985 was one of the most bitter industrial disputes Britain has ever seen. The year-long strike involved hardship and violence as pit communities from South Wales to Scotland fought to retain their local collieries.

On 12th March 1984, Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), called a national strike against the pit closures. Britain was to witness a fierce, hard fought battle involving the government, police, press and the NUM.

A key confrontation occurred in the ‘Battle of Orgreave’ when one mass picket on 18th June 1984 was 10,000 strong and the pickets were met with police in riot gear, police horses and dogs. Thousands of miners were arrested, fined, imprisoned or sacked, some never to work again.

On another occasion a coach load of pickets arrived in our Yorkshire Dales village of West Burton – they had meant to go to West Burton Power Station in Nottinghamshire!

Lady Chapel window: 1990s – Harry Potter by Jean Styles


Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J K Rowling from June 1997 – July 2007.

Since the release of the first novel – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – the books have found immense popularity, they have attracted a wide adult audience as well as younger readers and are often considered cornerstones of modern young adult literature.

The books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history and have been translated into eighty languages. The original seven books have been adapted into an eight-part namesake film series.

Lady Chapel ledge: 1990s – The Royal Yacht Britannia 1953 to 1997  by Joan Ford


‘Looking back over forty-four years we can all reflect with pride and gratitude upon the great ship which has served the country, the Royal Navy and my family with such distinction’. (Her Majesty The Queen)

Britannia was the first Royal Yacht to be built with complete ocean-going capacity and designed as a Royal residence to entertain guests around the world and also double as a hospital ship in time of war. She was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank on 16th April 1953 and was in service from 1954 – 1997.

For over 44 years the Royal Yacht travelled more than a million nautical miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world. When she was decommissioned on 11th December 1997, it marked the end of a long tradition of British Royal Yachts, dating back to 1660 and the reign of Charles II. Today Britannia is permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith in Edinburgh and is a visitor attraction and exclusive evening events venue.

Lady Chapel ledge: 1990s – State visit to South Africa by Barbara Hadlow


One of the highlights of the Queen’s reign was meeting Nelson Mandela in Cape Town in March 1995, when the she paid a State Visit with the Duke of Edinburgh, as the guests of the President.

The Queen had last toured South Africa as a young princess in 1947 with her parents and sister. She returned following the end of apartheid and white minority rule as British Head of State and as Head of the Commonwealth. Though she had flown to South Africa, the plan was to arrive, officially, by sea, as in 1947. Therefore the Queen joined the Royal Yacht at Simon’s Town naval base the night before. The voyage into Cape Town took Britannia past Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela had spent much of his adult life in prison; now here he was, waiting on the red carpet to greet her as she walked down the gangway!

This proved to be a highly successful tour and the Queen described it as one of the outstanding experiences of her life.The Queen and Nelson Mandela were known to enjoy a warm friendship. In fact they became so close he was one of the few people permitted to call her by her first name.

Entrance to Lady Chapel: Collage of Family Life by Margaret Proctor


South facing windows

2000s – Eat your 5-a-Day (NHS) by Eve Peacock


On 23rd March 2003. the 5-a-day campaign was launched by the government, following a recommendation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to encourage people to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables to at least five portions a day.The WHO recommended eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables every day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

2000s – Golden Jubilee by Ray Wilkinson


‘Gratitude, respect and pride, these words sum up how I feel about the people of this country and the Commonwealth – and what this Golden Jubilee means to me’.(The Queen)

A packed programme of events took place in 2002 to celebrate fifty years of The Queen’s reign. The central focus for the year was the Jubilee weekend in June which began with a classical music concert in the gardens at Buckingham Palace. There was a Jubilee Church Service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor and a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral which followed a Ceremonial Procession from Buckingham Palace. Events culminated in a pop concert at Buckingham Palace with performers including Paul McCartney, Bryan Adams, Elton John and Shirley Bassey. The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display and The Queen lighting the National Beacon, the last in a string of 2,006 beacons which had been lit in a chain across the Commonwealth.

2010s – 2012  Summer Olympics by Mandy Banks


The opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics took place on the evening of Friday, 27th July in the Olympic Stadium in the East End of London, during which the Games were formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II. The artistic spectacle to showcase the host nation’s culture was directed by Danny Boyle and was entitled ‘Isles of Wonder’.

The opening ceremony was immediately hailed a tremendous success and received widespread acclaim.10,768 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees participated. The United States won the most gold medals (46) and the highest number of medals overall (104). China finished second with a total of 91 medals (38 gold) and Great Britain came third with 65 medals overall (29 gold).

Nicola Adams was the first woman in history to win an Olympic boxing title and Chris Hoy is the most successful Olympic cyclist of all time. [At the 2012 Games] He won two gold medals.

The Olympic symbol is based on a design first created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1913. The five interlaced rings represent the union of the five continents of the World and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games, whilst the colours are those that appear on all the National flags of the World at the time of its inception. The Olympic rings made their first appearance at the Games of the VII Olympia Antwerp in 1920.

West window: 2010s – the Queen’s 90th Birthday by Mary Sutherland


The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday on 21st April 2016 and her official birthday on 11th June 2016. Her Majesty’s actual birthday was spent in Windsor where she met well-wishers during a walkabout in the town centre, before unveiling a plaque marking The Queen’s Walkway. Later in the evening, Her Majesty, with the Prince of Wales, lit the principal beacon which set in train a series of over 900 beacons across the country and worldwide to celebrate her momentous milestone.

On 10th June the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. Prayers at the service were led by people representing aspects of Her Majesty’s life and role. Sir David Attenborough read Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond’s personal account of growing up to be 90.

On 11th June, The Queen’s Official birthday, Her Majesty was joined by members of her family at The Queen’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards Parade, followed by an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with a Flypast.June 12th saw a huge street party and parade take place on the Mall – The Patron’s Lunch – a celebration of over 600 charities and organisations that the Queen was Patron of.

Baptistry: 2010s – The wedding of William and Kate by Susan Fawcett and Christine Tuer


HRH Prince William of Wales married Catherine Middleton on 29th April 2011 in Westminster Abbey. They first met in 2001 while studying at the University of St Andrews. They began dating in 2003 and announced their engagement on 16th November 2010. Prince William is second in the line of succession to the throne.

The Queen gave her formal consent to the marriage and said she was ‘absolutely delighted’ for the couple. She declared that the wedding day would be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom.

Lining the aisle of Westminster Abbey were eight 20 feet-high trees – six English Field Maple and two Hornbeam. Catherine carried a bouquet of Myrtle, Lily-of-the-Valley, Sweet William, Ivy, Myrtle and Hyacinth. The Dean of Westminster conducted the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury married the couple and the Bishop of London gave the address.

Baptistry: 2010s – The Duke of Edinburgh. 10th June 1921 to 9th April 2021 by Susan Fawcett and Christine Tuer


HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. As such, he was the consort of the British monarch from her accession as Queen on 6th February 1952 until his death on 9th April 2021 two months before his 100th birthday, making him the longest serving consort in history. He was also the longest-lived male member of the British royal family.

He retired from his royal duties on 2nd August 2017, aged 96, having completed 22,219 solo engagements and made 5,493 speeches.Prince Philip was a patron of over 780 organisations.

He launched the highly successful Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in 1956. He was especially interested in scientific and technological research, conservation and the environment and the encouragement of sport. He played polo until 1971, when he started to compete in carriage driving, a sport which he helped to expand; the early rule book was drafted under his supervision.

In 2017, Her Majesty appointed The Duke of Edinburgh to be a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in recognition of his years of service.’He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply been my strength and stay all these years’ said The Queen, in a speech to mark their Golden Wedding Anniversary ‘and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.’

BAWB Federation Displays

School children at the BAWB Federation schools (Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton) created two special displays to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee



Dark Skies and Light Pollution

This letter from the Association of Rural Communities has been published in the Darlington and Stockton Times:

It is very sad that, during this year’s Dark Skies Festival there is one part of the Yorkshire Dales where the view of the night sky is impeded by the light pollution from what can only be described as a new settlement between Aysgarth and West Burton.

The light pollution from Aysgarth Luxury Lodges is far in excess of that from any Dales’ village. When planning permission was given in 2007 for such lodges to replace the static and touring caravans which used to be on that site it would appear from the plans that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning department had expected a layout and screening which would have greatly reduced the amount of light pollution from large windows and glazed doors.

We have asked the Authority what it intends to do regarding this light pollution so that all in that part of Bishopdale and Wensleydale will be able to look up and marvel at the beauty of our amazing night skies as would be expected in an International Dark Skies Reserve.

Fundraising to save the Kennel Field

Thornton Rust Kennel Field Trust has started a 100 club as a fund raising effort to save the Kennel Field  not just for the villagers but for all those who love wildflowers and a special view over Wensleydale. (Above: Looking down from the Kennel Field to Thornton Rust)

The field, which is accessed from a footpath south of the village, acquired its name from the kennels which were used by the Wensleydale Harriers from the 1920s to the late 1970s.

The grassland in it had never been “improved” and so in spring there is a rich tapestry of wild flowers from marsh marigold in the wet areas to cowslips, early purple orchids, dog violets and pignut, the latter attracting tiny, black chimney sweeper moths.

The Kennel Field Trust was set up in 1999 to bring the field into public ownership and to restore it so that all could freely enjoy it.  Villagers have put in many hours of voluntary work including restoring and maintaining a traditional barn, the mash house and an 18th century lime kiln. The kennels,  however, were  beyond redemption.

The Trust received one of the first grants awarded by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and has received another grant in 2017. For the first two decades this millennial project had sound finances partly due to income from agri-environment schemes. But that is no longer the case.

As the Trust is a charity if it cannot afford to pay the insurance the field would have to be sold to the highest bidder.

“This would mean access to enjoy the flower-rich grassland and fabulous views would be gone, and without the Kennel Field link people would no longer be able to walk the circular path above the village,”  the Trust’s chairman, John Dinsdale, informed the villagers this week.

The cost of participating will be £12 a year, with the chance of winning one of three prizes at the quarterly draws.  The objective of the fund raising is to cover the cost of insuring the field and the buildings within it which now costs about £450 a year.

For more about the Kennel Field see

Remembrance at Aysgarth Church 2021


A plaque with the names of 12 more servicemen from Aysgarth parish who lost their lives during World War I has now been installed on the north wall of St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth. (Above: Nick Gaskell with the new plaque.)

The information about the servicemen was found by Penny Ellis during her detailed research prior to the 2018 Commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice and was then checked several times to ensure accuracy.

The original plaque, installed by John Pickard and Son of Aysgarth just after the Great War, listed 20 servicemen. After World War II a plaque with four names was added and then one in memory of Captain Philip Guy RM who died in Iraq in 2003.

Installing the new plaque included taking down all the existing plaques and reorganising them to be in sequential historical order. When the frame for the original Great War plaque was removed large wooden plugs were revealed (right).WoodenPlugsS

“That’s the way my father taught me,” commented David Pickard, while his son, John, and son-in-law James Guy, worked on moving it. They were grateful they didn’t need such plugs this time. (Below: James Guy working on removing the old frame, watched by John Pickard and Nick Gaskell.)


Aysgarth Parochial Church Council (APCC) plans now to refurbish the area beside the plaques.

Nick Gaskell, who is overseeing the project for Aysgarth Parochial Church Council, stated: “Currently, on Remembrance Sundays, the Act of Remembrance is conducted around the plaques. There is very little room for clergy, officials and wreath layers, to conveniently access the area to lay wreaths. As a result, the wreath laying procedure is awkward and rather undignified.”

Leeds Diocese has given approval for just the three short pews beside the plaques to be removed with suitable parts of them being used to construct a wooden memorial structure. This work will be carried out early next year.

The Rev Tom Ringland said: “With Remembrance continuing to be such a significant feature in society, I’m delighted we will be able to create a more accessible and appropriate memorial in St Andrews’ church, including the addition of recently discovered names of the fallen. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the project.”

The project has been funded by local donations. Once the joinery and plumbing work is complete the APCC plans to have good lighting installed by the plaques.

For Penny Ellis the research continues. She has added 19 additional names to the Roll of Honour for all who served from Aysgarth Parish bringing the total to 212 men and women. The WWI Roll of Honour can be viewed on her website

The church has been decorated ready for the Remembrance Service at 10.45am on Sunday November 14. This includes the waterfall of poppies in front of the east window.

Quaker Legacy in Wensleydale and Swaledale


Above: Quaker Houses at Bainbridge

For several months I have been immersed in researching the fascinating  history of the Wensleydale and Swaledale Quaker Trust.

The persecution of Quakers in the late 17th century has left a surprising legacy in Wensleydale as the heritage exhibition at Bainbridge Meeting House from September 17th to 19th celebrates

The sufferings Quakers endured – including being imprisoned for not paying church tithes – led to the wealthier members of the Religious Society of Friends such as Francis Smithson of Richmond remembering the poor and homeless in their wills.

Smithson and his nephew, lead mining agent Philip Swale, left land (Smithson’s at Carperby) which provided the funding for Trusts in their names. By the late 18th century there were five Trusts as others left land and property in their wills.

These five trusts have now been incorporated into the Wensleydale and Swaledale Quaker Trust. This has inherited eleven houses for rent in Wensleydale, some dating back to the 17th century.

Quakers in the 17th century had a significant impact upon local architecture one of the best examples being Countersett Hall where the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), George Fox, stayed.

Countersett Meeting House dates back to 1710 at a time when that hamlet was mainly inhabited by Quakers who helped to finance the construction of the ‘Quaker Bridge’ at Semerwater. Hugh Dower will be at that Meeting House from 2pm to 3pm each day September 17th to 19th to talk about the Quakers at Countersett.

There’s still a lot more research I want to do about the Wensleydale and Swaledale Quaker Trust – but first I wanted to create a broad view of the impact of Quakers on these dales for the exhibition. I plan to be at the exhibition each day so will try, with others, to answer any questions.  There will also be a notebook in which visitors can write comments or share their memories.

One who already has done so is Pat Daykin who, with her husband, ran the Victoria Arms at Worton for many years. She has recalled how, as a young teacher in 1956-7, she helped the pupils at Bainbridge School walk to Bainbridge Meeting House to have their dinners.

White Rose Candles celebrates 50th anniversary

White Rose Candles in Wensley has survived flooding and lockdown to celebrate its 50th birthday as a business.

These days it is run by Jane Hammond and Sandra Hewitt who are partners in the business with the founders, Jennie and Mick White. (L-R: Mick and Jennie White, Jane Hammond and Sandra Hewitt)

“I can’t believe that a pair of dozy hippies have run a small business for so long, ” laughed Jennie. For she and her husband were hippies who dropped out of university and went in search of an alternative lifestyle.

They started candle-making in a cellar in their home in Pudsey in 1971. It began when they were offered quarter of a ton of paraffin wax “at a good price”. They had never made candles or run a business before.

At lot depended upon Mick having a scientific background and being an inventor. “He’s amazing. He invents and makes things, anything from scrap,” said Jennie.

And Jane and Sandra have found him just as helpful. They described him as brilliant and said he had saved the company a lot of money thanks to his ability to create the equipment required.

“Mick will always come if we ask him to help with something,” Jane added. Jane, who lives in Wensley, began working at White Rose Candles in 2008 and it was Mick who taught her how to make candles.

But much has changed since the days when Jennie could happily create candles using dried flowers and essential oils.

Jane explained: “Years ago you could just blend your own oils together and Jennie made some marvellous scented candles with essential oils but we are not allowed to do that anymore without getting special labels done and sending data sheets off, and somebody else has got to produce the information for us to put on the label, which you then send to the printer. So it’s a very expensive way of doing things now.

“You are constantly keeping up with the different rules and regulations to make sure any ideas you have are okay.”

Now they use fragrance oils instead and have to ensure their labels list every ingredient.  They also had to stop making candles that looked like cupcakes because, according to Trading Standards, they looked too much like food and a piece might be bitten off and choke a child.

There is still plenty of creativity, however. “Sandra is incredibly creative. We tend to have our own areas of expertise and we work really well together,” Jane said.

One of Sandra’s specialities is painting  Dales’ scenes on candles which she began several years ago to mark Yorkshire Day.

The last few years have been tough. First the business was flooded in 2019 and they lost about 80 per cent of their stock. Then there was the lockdown due to Covid-19 last year.

The pandemic also put a stop for a while to their regular orders from churches and two cathedrals for advent and Christmas candles.

Another major problem was that Jane and Sandra could not work so physically close to each other, and once they could open the doors to customers they had to ensure there were never too many inside the shop at once. This means both have to be on duty on the four days the shop is open (Wednesday to Saturdays each week) as monitoring the situation and selling would be too much for one person.

And that came after surviving lockdown. They are very grateful to Jane’s daughter, Emily, who built a website for them at a reasonable price so that they could advertise their candles throughout the country. “It was a godsend. We did really well with that during lockdown,” said Jane.

Sandra, who lives in Leyburn, added: “It was surprising. We didn’t really advertise it. We had it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We tried to keep up with that sort of thing. That’s how people find you now.”

Very different to the way that Jennie and Mick advertised their candles in magazines and at country shows. Sandra commented that they wouldn’t have time now to go to country shows and Jane added that they couldn’t afford the cost of renting a stand or the insurance these days what with all the regulations about risk assessment.

They still make candles and sell them at the watermill in Wensley leased to the business by the Bolton Estate.

The Whites were invited to look at the mill around 1978 when they were searching for  premises in a rural area.

Jennie said: “It was very, very derelict. Two trees were growing out of it, the floor boards had rotted, and there was no gas, water or electricity, or windows. We were given three years rent free to repair it. But it was an enormous step of faith. We came in February and Wensley was carpeted in snowdrops.

“We could never have run the business if the Bolton Estate had been greedy. They have charged modest rents and just let us get on with it. In many ways we owe a lot to the Bolton Estate.”

For Sandra and Jane it has become a way of life. Jane described how she can get an idea of a new product at bedtime, make a note on her iPad, send it to Sandra next morning, and they would be working on it before they got together at the mill.

Jane said: “I like being able to see something from the very beginning to the very end rather than being just part of [a production line]. Sometimes you see it right from the original concept through to it going on the shelf and somebody buying something that you thought of – it’s really satisfying.”

Peace and Remembrance

The white Peace and red Remembrance Poppies have again been mounted on the railings outside the Quaker Meeting House at Bainbridge.

Those who regularly attend meetings there said: “Why do we wear white poppies on Remembrance Day? We wear them to remember all the victims of war, to challenge militarism, and to build a culture of peace, remembering that, today, 90% of these victims are civilians.


“The custom of wearing white poppies was started in 1934 by the Peace Pledge Union, whose aim is to work against the causes of war, finding other solutions to international problems.

“Many people suffered from refusing to bear arms, being imprisoned, and even killed, for their beliefs. Locally, “The Richmond 16” were imprisoned in Richmond Castle for refusing to bear arms. Many Quakers and other Conscientious Objectors served as ambulance-drivers and stretcher-bearers in both world wars, and the movement continues to work actively for peace around the world.

“Today, the right to refuse to bear arms in enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights, and on the 24th October, fifty nations signed up to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adding them to landmines, cluster bombs, and gas, as illegal under international law.”

White poppy sales can be purchased from the Peace Pledge Union

Aysgarth church windows

All the stained glass windows have been installed since St Andrew’s Church was  rebuilt in 1866. Even that which had been in east window of the chancel for centuries was not re-installed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Instead that of the coats of arms of Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton Castle and James Metcalfe of Nappa Hall was carried off to St Jude’s RC Church at Ulshaw Bridge near Middleham. The small window had been  originally placed in St Andrew’s to commemorate the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 at which both Lord Scrope and James Metcalfe led men from Wensleydale. Today there are two replicas of that window at St Andrew’s. One is in the clerestory windows on the south side of the chancel and the other on the south side of the church near the Lady Chapel.

Baptistry1Baptistry2SowerAs you enter the main entrance look left to see two windows in the Baptistry.  The window immediately on the left, on the south side of the church, illustrates the first confirmation (Acts 8:14-17) and the calling of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:2-3). (left)



That behind the font, on the west side (above right), illustrates the parables of the talents and going forth to sow. This and the Rokeby window were donated by Elizabeth Dunn: that in the Baptistry was in memory of her father, Lawson Dunn and  her mother.

In the Baines’s Directory of 1823 for Thoralby Lawson Dunn was listed as a portrait painter while  Morris Lord Rokeby (3rd Lord Rokeby) was living at Littleburn in the same village. There was a close relationship between the Dunns and Lord Rokeby and when the latter died in 1829 he left Hill House, Thoralby, to Lawson. Lawson died a few weeks later. Lord Rokeby left substantial legacies to the Dunn family including Lawson’s daughter Elizabeth.

RokebyWindowTo see the Rokeby Window (left) walk straight across the back of the church and look left as it is on the north west elevation.  This is dedicated ‘To the memory of the right hon: Morris Lord Rokeby late of Littleburn.’  hence being known as the Rokeby Window.

The main sections depict the healing of the centurion’s servant and the parable about the workers in the vineyard.

(Information about the Dunn family and Lord Rokeby provided by Ann Hartley.)



North side of church:

RemembrancewindowDoctorsWindowThe window (left) near the War Memorial plaques is in memory of William Purchas (1841-1919) and his five sisters. The Purchas family were Lords of the Manor for several generations.

Towards the east end of the north wall is the Doctors’ Window.  (right)

This illustrates the raising of the widow of Nain’s son and commemorates the life of Dr Matthew Willis who selflessly served Dales’ folk until his death in 1871.

To the left  of this window are memorials to three of his successors including Dr William Pickles who was awarded a CBE in 1957 for his pioneering work on the spread of epidemic diseases which he carried out in Wensleydale.

East end of the church:

EastWindowThe East Window  is a memorial to William and Ann Robinson of Redmire and Edgley and their children. It was unusual for the period as it was generally considered ‘high church’ (i.e. verging on Roman Catholicism as it depicts the Crucifixion).

The main panels of the window show the Passion of Our Lord and the Ascension, the central panel being the Crucifixion. In the top part of the window are depicted the Lamb of God, the Dove (Holy Spirit) and the Pelican, drops of whose blood, as it pecks at its own chest, symbolise the Blood of Christ. Underneath are several figures obviously of the Apostles and Evangelists.

The dedication at the bottom is now hidden by the Reredos. It reads: ‘In memory of William and Anne Robinson of Redmire and Edgley and their children, Ralph Robinson and Isabella Robinson of The Cliff, Leyburn, and George Place Robinson of West Burton MDCCCLXVI.’

The window was given by Henry Thomas Robinson, son of William and Anne, also of The Cliff, Leyburn. It was installed at the rebuilding of the church in 1866.The red marble columns in the clerestory of the nave were his gifts also. Henry died in 1886 and his four daughters then gave the Reredos and altar in memory of him and his wife, Elizabeth, who died in 1868.

Vestry window:

VestryWindowThis window can only be seen when a member of the church with a key is present.

It depicts the story of the Good Samaritan and was given by the Rev John Winn (Vicar from 1827 to 1873) in gratitude for his safe deliverance from a vicious attack by robbers at his home, Nappa Mill near Askrigg, in 1860.





In the Lady Chapel

East Window:  This window is in memory of George and Ann Wray, their eight sons and their sons and children who died before 1871. They include Ann Fawcett Fraser‘ The Heroine of Cawnpore’

The four musicians shown at the top, below the eagle, are a harpist, a pipe player, a violinist and another harpist






South East Window:  (left) Jesus with Martha and Mary. In memory of Melesina Wray who died in Calcutta (Kolkata)  in 1860 and her husband, George Octavius Wray, died in 1893.

South West Window: (Above right) Jesus healing the sick when a man is let down on his bed through the roof (Mark 2:2-8). This window is in memory of the Rev John Chapman of Thornton Rust and Newfoundland who died in 1851.

South West near Lady Chapel:

This window was designed in 1905 by Caroline Townshend – a British stained glass artist of the Arts and Crafts movement.

The panel on the left shows Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and the other side depicts him blessing the children who were brought to him.

The window is in memory of Fenwick William Stow MA, vicar of Aysgarth parish 1873-1905.

Do take time to look for all the squirrels!

Parish council gifted Aysgarth’s Edwardian Rock Garden

The famous Edwardian Rock Garden in Aysgarth, Wensleydale, now belongs to the local community thanks to it being gifted to the parish council by Adrian and Rosemary Anderson.

left: Rosemary and Adrian Anderson with Cllr John Dinsdale in the Rock Garden.

The Andersons bought the Grade II listed Rock Garden in 2012 and have maintained it and kept it  open to the public throughout the year. This year, however, they wanted to sell their house in Wensleydale and settle in York but didn’t want to put the Rock Garden on the open market in case a new owner would keep it as private land.

They had researched gifting the 0.14acre walled site to the National Trust or English Heritage but when no solution was found they approached Aysgarth and District Parish Council and its chairman, John Dinsdale.

“John has been so enthusiastic from the start,” said Mrs Anderson. “But it is a big responsibility looking after it all the time. The people in Aysgarth have been so supportive.”

Cllr Dinsdale said: “When Adrian and Rosemary Anderson approached me regarding Aysgarth and District  Parish Council taking over the control and maintenance of the Edwardian Rock Garden, I put it to the parish council and we decided we would be honoured to preserve an important part of the local history for the community.  Not only is it a unique, beautiful and calm place, but it is of national importance.”

The Andersons were invited to address the parish council in November 2019. In February this year the councillors studied an independent report on the structural condition of the Rock Garden and considered that the recommendations made in it were relatively minor and not costly.

The councillors approved accepting the Rock Garden as a gift and for the necessary legal work to be carried out.

The ownership of the Rock Garden was transferred to the parish council on September 11 and a few days later the Andersons took Cllr Dinsdale and two other parish councillors around it to explain about its management and to hand over tools.

In her book about the Rock Garden Mrs Anderson wrote: “It was constructed by the Backhouse firm of York and is a rare surviving example of their work. The Rock Garden was designed as a kind of ‘walk through grotto’ with huge waterworn limestone blocks rising to about eight metres in places, low stone lintels and narrow winding paths.

“A mountain stream and cascade add to the alpine atmosphere and at the rear of the garden the visitor emerges into an open south facing lawned area with mixed borders that provides views of adjacent fields and trees.”

It continues to be open to the public but with the request that social distancing is observed. The public enter at their own risk and it is unsuitable for disabled or wheelchair access due to the narrow and uneven paths and steps. Admission is free and there is a donation box near the entrance which is at the west end of Aysgarth village.

The Parish Council are looking for volunteers to help with weeding and general maintenance  the odd afternoon contact John Dinsdale  Tel: 07805285346.

War Memorials and Graves at Aysgarth Church

Men from Aysgarth parish killed during the 1st World War:

The following are listed on the plaques in the church

Pte Albert Dinsdale Bell, Sherwood Foresters
Pte James Bell, Cameron Highlanders
Pte Harold Binks, 13th Yorks
Pte William Edward Bushby Croix de Guerre,  20th D.L.I.
Pte George Charlton, R.A.S.C.
Pte Mattias Dixon, Coldstream Guards
Pte James Bell Fawcett, 8th Yorks
Pte John Mills Gould, 17th North LD Fusrs
Pte George Sidney Gould, Canadian E.F.
Pte George Iveson Hammond, 4th Yorks
Pte Gilbert John Harker, South Staffs
Pte William Hemsley, 10th West Yorks
Pte Matthew Heseltine, Green Howards
Pte Matthew Heseltine, Green Howards  (cousins, killed on same day)
Pte William Herbert Kilburn, 3rd Yorks
Pte Thomas Lambert, East Lancs
Col. John William Lodge, 3rd Yorks
Maj Harold Carey Matthews, 4th Yorks
Pte Arthur Mawer, R.A.S.C.
Capt George Neville May, R.A.
Pte Robert Pickering Metcalfe, 8th K.R.R.C
Capt Albert Morton,  9th Punjabi L.I.
Pte John Percival, 9th Yorks
Pte Timothy Percival, R.F.A.
Pte Walter Percival,  Yorkshire Hussars
Cpl Joseph Dixon Raw M.M., 3rd Yorks
L/Cpl John Shannon, 10th Yorks
Pte Henry Armistead Storey, 9th Yorks
Pte Thomas Spence, 4th Yorks
Sgt Eric Thomas Watson, West Yorkshire
Bdr Matthew Willis Webster, RFA
Lt Michael Harold Webster, West Yorkshire


There are also plaques remembering:

Men from Aysgarth parish killed during the 2nd World War:
L/Cpl Francis John Chapman, Durham L.I.
Sgt Thomas Foster, Grenadier Guards
A/C Frederick William Lawson, R.A.F.V.R.
Pte Alan Louis Smith, Border Regt.

Killed during the 1st Iraq War
Capt Philip Stuart Guy, Royal Marines  (see bottom of post for details)

Remembered in the churchyard
Twenty-one soldiers from World War One and World War Two are remembered in the churchyard at Aysgarth church with the majority being on family memorials.  Those remembered  in the churchyard are:

Pte Harold Binks d 1918
Pte William Edmund Bushby Croix de Guerre d 1918
Pte Francis John Chapman d 1941
Pte John Mills Gould d 1915
Pte George Sydney Gould d 1916
Pte George Iveson Hammond d 1916
Pte Gilbert John Harker d 1915
Cpl William Hemsley d 1917
Pte Matthew Heseltine of Thoralby d 1916
Pte Matthew Heseltine of Newbiggin d 1916
RAFVR Frederick William Lawson d 1941
Col John William Lodge d 1917
Major Harold Carey Matthews d 1915
Rifleman Robert Pickering Metcalfe d 1917
Pte John Percival d 1918
Lance Cpl John Shannon d 1916
Pte Alan Lewis Smith d 1944
Pte Thomas Spence d 1919
Sgt Eric Thomas Watson d 1916
Bdr Matthew Willis Webster d 1916
Lt Michael Harold Webster d 1918


Much of the information and many of the photos are from Wensleydale Remembered  and reproduced with the kind permission of the author, Keith Taylor.

Honoured for their bravery

During World War One two from Aysgarth parish received medals for bravery but later were killed in battle.

Pte William Edmund Bushby from West Burton  was, with his commanding officer and four other men, awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French for bravery in the field of battle.

He was 19-years-old when he was killed during a German attack near Kerkhove in Belgium, which included mustard and tear gas – just nine days before the Armistice on 11 November 1918. He was buried at the Vichte Cemetery east of Courtrai in Belgium.



Pte Joseph Dixon Raw  was twice recommended for distinction and in April 1918 was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry at St Quentin between March 21 and March 28 that year.

He died, aged 21, in the Ypres Salient on May 8, 1918, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial near Ypres.




Remembered at Thiepval

The largest Memorial to the Missing of World War One is at Thiepval in France. The names on it include that of Lance Cpl John Shannon one of the five Wensleydale men killed on the first day that infantry were involved in the Battle of the Somme 1 July 1916. His parents had moved to Carperby in 1893.

Two cousins from Bishopdale are remembered at Thiepval because their bodies were never recovered. Both were called Matthew Heseltine– they joined the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment together and died on the same day: Thursday 14 September 1916.

Pte Heseltine from Swinacote, Thoralby (below) was 22 when he died and his cousin was 21.


Pte George Iveson Hammond (19) (above) from West Burton and Pte (William) Herbert Kilburn (20) from Carperby were buried at Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval.

They both killed by machine-gun fire on Sunday 3 September 1916. Their battalion’s total casualties that day were 11 officers and 336 men killed or wounded out of 18 officers and 629 men.

Commemorated in Belgium

Tyne Cot Memorial

Rifleman Robert Pickering Metcalfe was the first from Thornton Rust to die during that war. He was killed by a shell burst when attacking an enemy trench on 24 August 1917 aged 24. His captain wrote, in a letter to his mother Grace, ‘Your son has done extremely good work out here as a Lewis gunner…’

clip_image002Both he and Cpl William Hemsley are commemorated on the same panel of the Tyne Cot Memorial following the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres).

Cpl William Hemsley (19) (left) from Thoralby and Pte Nathan Burton Iveson (29) from Gayle, died on 4 October 1917 during an intense 21-hour bombardment of their battalion’s position.

The 10th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment held on but suffered serious losses. It was reported that the trench conditions were terrible with men standing in over a foot of slime.




Menin Gate

Pte James Bell Fawcett, a farmer from Bishopdale, was 38-years-old when he was killed by a shell burst on 7 June 1917 and his body was never recovered. He is remembered on Panel 33 on the Menin Gate.

Commemorated in France

Arras Memorial

Pte Harold Binks  was born in Well near Masham but was living in West Burton when he enlisted at Leyburn in 1915. He was 23 when he was killed on 22 March 1918 in a battle between Arras and Bapaume.

Vimy Memorial

Pte James Pickard Bell (below) was born in Aysgarth and returned to the village after graduating from Leeds Boys Modern School. In 1910, when he was 22, he emigrated to Canada to farm on the prairies of Manitoba.

In 1915 he enlisted with the 79th Battalion Cameron Highlanders, a Canadian Scottish Regiment. His battalion was sent to France in February 1916. On 4 October 1916, during the later stages of the Battle of the Somme, Pte Bell was seen leading a section of the bombers towards the German lines. Later he was reported ‘missing presumed dead’. His body was never recovered.


Buried in France

Trooper Arthur Mawer (below) was a farm worker at West Burton when he enlisted at Richmond in August 1914. As he was used to working with horses he joined the 1st Lifeguard, Household Calvary. In France they joined the infantry in the trenches in the Ypres Salient. He was wounded in both legs on 27 January 1916, and died on February 11 aged 20. He was buried at Calais Southern Cemetery.


Gunner Timothy Percival from Carperby saw action with a trench mortar battery throughout 1917 and most of 1918, but was wounded just a few weeks before the war ended. He then became ill with pneumonia and died on 16 November 1918 aged 28. He was buried at Cambrai East Military Cemetery in France.

Pte Albert Dinsdale Bell spent his early years in Thoralby until the family moved to Steeton-with-Eastburn near Bradford.

He enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters, Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment.

On 8 August 1917, a month before his 22nd birthday, he was killed on the Western Front while acting as a messenger. He was buried in Sunken Road Cemetery at Fampouxi.

(Information and photo courtesy of Craven’s Part in the Great War)


Pte Thomas Lambert was born in Aysgarth in 1892. His family later moved to Accrington in Lancashire where he worked as a brass glazier in a factory. He became one of the Accrington Pals when he enlisted with the 11th Battalion E Lancashire Regiment. He was killed on 1 July 1916 and is commemorated in The Queen’s Cemetery at Puisieux.



When Captain George Neville May died of his wounds at Rouen on 29 May 1918 aged 34 his daughter, Pamela Castilla (at home with her mother at Thornton Hall, Thornton Rust) was just 24 days old.

Capt May was born in Brighton and in 1910 married Violet Castilla Matthews of Hawes.

He was with the 343rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery when he was fatally wounded during action near Doullens and died three days later. He was buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen.

(Information from Craven’s Part in the Great War and De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour)






Pte Walter L Percival spent the first few years of his life on his father’s farm at Thornton Rust until his parents moved their family to Leeds probably for better job prospects.

Walter enlisted at Leeds into the 1st/5th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. While serving in France he was captured and died of dysentery aged 19 whilst a prisoner of war.

He was buried at Sissone British Cemetery, Aisne, Picardie Region, France.

(Information from Thoralby Through Time. Photo courtesy IWM)



Pte Henry Armistead Storey is commemorated on the village war memorial in the centre of Carperby village as he had worked on a local farm prior to enlisting with the 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.

He was born into a farming family at Downholme. His parents, Fred and Maria Storey, later moved to Bardin Lane Farm near Constable Burton.

Between 5 and 10 July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme Pte Storey’s battalion suffered heavy losses with 438 men killed, wounded or missing. Pte Storey was wounded by shell fire and died in a Field Ambulance Station on 2 August.

He was buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension. His fiancée in Carperby never married and became the village postmistress.

Buried at Aysgarth

The biggest military funeral at Aysgarth church during WW1 was that for Col John William Lodge with the band of his regiment and the detachments of two battalions being present. The firing party fired volleys over his grave and buglers sounded the Last Post. He was 60-years-old when, on leave at his home at The Rookery in Bishopdale, he died on 23 August 1917, after a short illness.

He had served in the Boer War and from 1906-1912 had commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. At the outbreak of the 1st World War he had immediately returned to the battalion as a major and in May 1916 was appointed to the command of a Garrison Battalion.


When Pte John Mills Gould was buried at Aysgarth four days after he died on 9 April 1915 aged 26 almost all the residents from Bishopdale were there as well as 16 of his comrade soldiers. The soldiers fired three volleys over his grave and a bugler played the last post.

He had worked at Ferrybridge as a railway clerk prior to enlisting in the E Company of 17th Northumberland Fusiliers. He had returned to Ferrybridge to visit a friend when he fell ill and died of pneumonia and pleurisy.

Two years later his youngest brother, Pte George Sidney Gould, was killed while attacking the Germans on Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917 aged 26. In 1914 he had emigrated to Canada but had later joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force,

The Gould family at that time lived at Warnford Court in Bishopdale.

There wasn’t a military funeral for Pte John Percival but there is a military gravestone. He was 21-years-old when he died and was buried on 12 April 1918.

This obituary was published about him:

‘He enlisted when he was 19, and after being trained at Rugeley Camp, went to France in April 1916, and was through the battle of the Somme, being badly wounded in the hand in September 1916. He was sent back to England for treatment, and made a sufficient recovery to enable him to return to service.

‘As he was a competent motor driver he was transferred by the authorities from the Yorkshire Regiment to the Motor Transport, Army Service Corps, in June 1917. In this work he did good service until October last, when he was badly gassed, and was seriously ill. He returned to England, and was in the 1st London General Hospital, Camberwell, until November 27th, when he was officially discharged from the Army as physically unfit for further service.

‘A relative went to London to bring him home. He was very weak, and while crossing London an air raid was proceeding, and the journey was several times interrupted. Arrived at Aysgarth he was very happy to see his home and family, and seemed to revive for a while, but the gas had seriously damaged his lungs and recovery was seen to be impossible.

‘Though relatives and friends nursed him tenderly day and night there was no progress towards health. The funeral was largely attended by sympathising friends, and some beautiful wreaths and affectionate messages were sent.’

Pte Thomas Spence was invalided home in early 1916 having been gassed during the Battle of the Somme. He received an honourable discharge from the 4th Brigade Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) in August that year.

He returned to his family in Walden and got married. But in April 1919 he caught Spanish Flu and died aged 23. four months before his baby daughter was born.

for more see Pte Thomas Spence

Buried in Belgium

Pte Gilbert John (Jack) Harker was included on the memorial in Carperby village because most of his aunts and uncles were living there. His grandmother, Nancy Harker, had farmed within the parish.

His father’s work as a railway clerk had taken him to Leeds and later to Birmingham. So it was at Handsworth that Jack enlisted with the 1st/5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment.

After defending trenches in the Ypres Salient during July 1915 the Battalion went into Brigade Reserve at Railway Dugouts in early August. On 6 August Pte Harker (21) was killed by an exploding shell whilst helping a Royal Engineers’ working party. He was buried in the Royal Dugouts Burial Ground. (Wensleydale Remembered)

Major Harold Carey Matthews (born in Hawes) had served in the Boer War as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 4th Yorkshire Regiment and received the Queen’s medal with five clasps.

He volunteered for foreign service when war broke out in 1914 and was gazetted as a major. His regiment left for France on 17 April 1915 and he was killed in action at St Julien north of Ypres eight days later on his 36th birthday.

He was buried at the Sanctuary Wood Cemetery in Belgium. He is also remembered on his parents’ headstone in Aysgarth churchyard. His second child, a daughter, was born in October 1915. (Information from De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour)

Pte Matthias Dixon  was born in Walden and by the beginning of the war was his father’s right hand man at the Grange, a farm between Buckden and Hubberholme.

In his spare time he was a chorister and bell ringer at Hubberholme Church.

He enlisted with the Coldstream Guards at Skipton on 15 August 1916. Six months later they were in the Ypres Salient.

By late July the regiment had suffered such heavy casualties that it had no volume of rifle fire.

On 1 August it rained heavily and the trenches were ditches of water with everyone standing in water up to their thighs and terribly cold. Pte Dixon (25) was wounded that day and died of his wounds. He was buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery.

Those who crowded into Hubberholme church for his memorial service heard the vicar (the Rev R F R Anderton) read letters from senior officers about Pte Dixon, praising his bravery and how he had not lost heart even in the most trying conditions.

(Photo courtesy Craven Herald, information from Swaledale & Wharfedale Remembered by Keith Taylor.)

Buried in Iraq

The parents of Captain Albert Morton Senior moved to Carperby after his father, Colonel H W J Senior, retired from the Indian Cavalry. Their son also joined the army and by August 1914 was a Captain.

He was with the 9th Punjabi Light Infantry when it was one of two Indian Divisions sent to try and relieve General Charles Townshend’s Division which was besieged by the Turkish Army at Kut in what is now Iraq from December 1915. The Turkish defences, however, were so strong that all the attacks during March and early April were repulsed with heavy losses. Captain Senior was wounded and died on 22 April 1916. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq.

General Townshend was forced to surrender on 29 April 2016. This was one of the most crushing defeats experienced by the British Army with 23,000 British and Indian lives being lost either in Kut or in the attempt to break the siege. Those of the 2nd Battalion 8th Gurkhas were among the 8,000 troops taken into captivity during which about half died. Lt Col Alban Wilson was among those who recovered control of Kut – (See Aysgarth church and a Gurkha officer )

Buried in Co Durham

Prior to the war Pte George Charlton had moved from his family home in Crawcrook, Co. Durham, to work as a farm servant for John Chapman at Thornton Hall, Thornton Rust. He served abroad with the Army Service Corps before being transferred to the 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment in England. It is understood he died of pneumonia on 2 December 1918 aged 25. He was buried in St John’s Churchyard, Greenside, Co. Durham. (Sources: Wensleydale Remembered, John Richardson and Thoralby Through Time)


Pte Francis Chapman was born in Thornton Rust and became Master of the Wensleydale Harriers in 1931. He enlisted with the 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and was killed in a road accident on October 8,1941, aged 31. He is buried in Aysgarth churchyard.



Pte Alan Smith of the 9th Battalion Border Regiment (above right )was killed in action in Burma on May 14, 1944 aged 27. He was buried at Imphal War Cemetery, NE India. Before the war he and his father worked as gardeners in West Burton and Alan was also a trainee local Methodist preacher.


Sgt Tom Foster: Although Tom and James Foster of Thoresby near Carperby were listed as being in the important reserved occupation of farming during the 2nd World War they still joined the armed forces. Tom rose to the rank of sergeant in the 5th Battalion Grenadier Guards and James served with the Guards Armoured Division and took part in D Day 2.

Tom’s battalion was sent to Tunisia in early 1943 and the 5th Grenadier Guards were among those who attacked the Germans at Tunis. Tom was killed on April 29 and was buried at the Medjez-el-Bab war cemetery in Tunisia. Prior to embarkation Sgt Foster had instructed soldiers on the use of the bren-gun carrier.

Aysgarth church was full for his memorial service in 1943. A  memorial stone to  him at Carperby was unveiled in June 1946.

Above: the memorial photograph that Tom’s family received. 

Aircraftman Second Class Frederick ‘Freddie’ Lawson : His father, William, ran the general store and post office in West Burton. After graduating from Yorebridge Grammar School Freddie gained a degree in English at Leeds University.  He was working as a teacher at Richmond Methodist School when he volunteered to join the RAF in 1939.

Freddie was training to be an air-gunner on bombers when he was killed in a night time traffic accident at Dishforth on October 16, 1941 aged 25. He is buried in the south west part of Aysgarth churchyard.


Died at Wassett Fell, Bishopdale

On the night of 15th/16th January 1942 a Hampden Mk.1 bomber (AE393) was heading back to its base at Balderton, Nottinghamshire after a raid on Hamburg when it crashed on Wassett Fell, Bishopdale. One of the crew who died was the 21-year-old navigator, Flight Sergeant James Arthur Bunting.

The weather that night was bad and many crews struggled to make safe landings. An investigation concluded that the altimeter of A393 was probably incorrect as, just before impact, it read 5,000ft.

James was born in Otley in 1920 and was the son of Charlie and Phyllis Bunting. He began his operational flying with 49 Squadron in December 1939 and by September 1940 he had flown 40 operational flights. After a spell with 14 OTU he was posted to 408 Squadron to fly operationally again. He is buried at Otley Cemetery.

With thanks to his nephew, the late Mr D Crossley and to www.yorkshire-aircraft.

(Information and photos courtesy Wensleydale Remembered unless otherwise stated. Also see 1st World War section of www.thoralbythroughtime)

1st Iraq War





















Backyard Chickens in the 1890s


It was the headline that caught my attention: ‘Working Men and Poultry Keeping’. During the last decade of the 19th century several articles by the editor of Fowls, the Rev G.T.Laycock, were published in The Church Monthly.

He obviously admired the men who raised chickens in their backyards: ‘The backyard poultry keeper is invariably a man of resource. He has learnt what thousands of country cottagers have yet to learn – how to make the best use of his outdoor opportunities. How ingenious are his contrivances; how excellent his plans for economising space. Everything seems against him, and yet by care, attention and ingenuity he surmounts all difficulties and his fowls in their appearance and productiveness are his reward.’ (1895)

In an article in 1892 he wrote: ‘Many of those who habitually gaze upon smiling fields and picturesque landscape would be utterly astounded could they behold many a working man’s  poultry yard in the midst of a busy town. A flagged floor instead of greensward, and walls fifty feet high in place of hedgerows. Everything against him, in fact, but one – the keen interest of the owner and a fixed determination to succeed against all odds. And many do succeed.

‘The fowls that denizen such yards are not the puny, washed-out looking creatures most would think. The egg record is pretty sure indicator of a healthy state and many a town dweller’s egg record, when compared with that of his country cousin, knocks it altogether into a cocked hat. And how useful these eggs have proved too. For breakfast, tea or supper they are never out of place. Good nourishing food and appetising withal.

‘The next-door neighbour, too, who complains about the cock crowing, can generally be consoled with a half dozen sent now and again. The shop ones, he knows, offend the olfactory sense, and a too close inspection reveals a distinct portion of an embryo chick. Chanticleer may crow and the hens cackle throughout the livelong day. Their incessant rejoicings, instead of being a nuisance, are listened to with delight: they are, in fact, regarded as harbingers of the approaching gift.’

Laycock described some of that ingenuity by quoting an article in Fowls – a a penny weekly journal exclusively devoted to poultry-keeping.

“The very  cheapest [poultry]  house we know of is a large, empty ‘sugar-barrel’. This you can obtain at any good-natured grocer’s for a small sum, 1s. 6d we should think at the outside: a price surely within the reach of any working man. Thoroughly cleanse it from all sticky matter, for your own comfort and to save your clothes from damage. Then obtain half a dozen bricks and, having laid them evenly on the ground, set your barrel on its side firmly on top of them.

“This will serve not only to keep it steady but will also prevent the damp from rising through the floor. To prevent the tub from lurching, secure it by a couple of holdfasts to the wall. In one end of the cask cut out a square hole of moderate size for the door, fix it with a couple of small hinges, and attach a clasp and padlock for security.

“Above the door bore five or six holes for ventilation. At the further end of the barrel make a nest out of a couple of bricks placed at right angles to keep in the hay, and be sure you put in a nest egg or two to encourage laying. The house is now complete.

“Now for the perch. This can be manufactured out of a good stout broom handle, sawn off to the right length and well secured. We say, advisedly ‘well secured’ as there is nothing which fowls dislike so much as a shaky roost. Let the floor of the barrel be thickly covered with fine sifted mould or dry ashes, and beaten down smooth; as this will make a splendid floor, and the dry earth and ash prevent smell.

“Roof over the barrel with a piece of stout felt. Don’t buy the cheapest; it is not the cheapest in the end. You can get the very best for about 4 1/2d. per yard. Nail it securely on, and then give it a good coat of tar and sprinkle some fine grave upon it, and you will have a roof that will last for years.”

He especially recommended keeping pure breeds as these could be sold at a higher price and were more beautiful and ornamental. He stated later that it was better to keep to one variety rather than ‘a hotch-potch of mongrel blood’.

chickens_twoSeveral pure breeds were mentioned in articles: Minorcas, Redcaps, Leghorns, Langshans, Andalusians, Black Hamburghs (sic), Buff Orpingtons,  Plymouth Rocks (left) and  Wyandottes.

The latter, he said, had a combination of all the virtues: a splendid layer ever in winter and a very good table fowl. But he added: ‘For laying purposes pure and simple there is nothing better than a Minorca.  They lay very large white eggs … and lay well all the year round.’ They were, however, only moderate table birds he said. He also accepted that the Langshans were good table birds and excellent layers of dark brown eggs.

In 1895 he was full of admiration for Brown Leghorns. He said the first Leghorns – white ones – had been introduced to England from Italy in 1872. He loved the colours of the Brown Leghorns and wrote that they had hardy constitutions, were excellent egg-layers and reasonably good as table-birds. He added: ‘They seems to thrive here, there and everywhere; on the farm, the country run, or the backyard of the workman’s cottage they will render  a good account of themselves. ‘

That year he noted that the main aim was egg production and for that a cock was not necessary. He added:  ‘This omission will save annoyance to the neighbours, over-the-garden-wall conversations, complaints to the newspapers on the cock-crowing nuisance, solicitor’s letters, and a sundry visit or two to the police court.’

By then he was also full of admiration for Brown Leghorns. He said the first Leghorns to be imported from Italy in 1872 were white. The brown ones came later and he believed the darker colours were better for small town yards.

Women and girls were, of course, also involved in taking care of chickens and in 1898 there was an article by a Mrs R Browne. She left backyards to men and instead focussed on those living in the suburbs or had a small house in the country. She also believed that a profit could be made from poultry-keeping and wrote: ‘ The keep of a hen throughout the year is on average three halfpence a week. You should make by your eggs about three or four shillings a week.’

She wrote: ‘Cochins, Dorkings, Hamburghs and Minorca fowls are all good breeds but, for a beginner, I recommend Brahma hens crossed with a Dorking cock. This breed are fast growers, surpassing in size any other breed and producing splendid table poultry. They are also hardy, good winter layers, exemplary mothers; and they seldom get out of condition . Brahma hens, if regularly and rightly fed, and warmly housed, will often lay nearly every day in the winter and, if pure bred, are known to lay 30 or 40 eggs before they want to sit.’

She advised that it was best to keep only young birds, and also described how to feed and house them. Her henhouse, however, was far more mundane. ‘A henhouse with five or six hens and a cock to start with, need not to be more than five yards square, with a slanting roof six or eight feet. It must be well ventilated, with nests on the ground and rough bark poles for perches. You must see that the boards are well tongued together and tarred, to keep out wind and rain.’

She told her readers: ‘Poultry keeping can be made a profitable and pleasant occupation for a lady provided she looks after them herself; insists on the strictest cleanliness, regularity in feeding… and does not leave them to the tender mercies of a house-boy or an over-worked maid-of-all-work.’

The illustration (below) for her article showed a girl dressed more for going out to tea than feeding hens!

Very definitely a different audience to Laycock’s working men!


A Book to Dance to

book_coverThe local musicians who led Dales folk dancing right through the night in the early 1900s are celebrated in a book full of fascinating detail and music published as part of the Yorkshire Dales Folk Dance and Tunes Project at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) in Hawes.

The author, Bob Ellis of Gayle, has entitled it There was None of this Lazy Dancing, quoting a concertina player, Sam Fawcett of Baldersdale (1878-1960). Fawcett said: “When we get a drop of beer… and got into full blast, there was none of this lazy dancing!” (Pictured on front cover are Peter and Jackie Beresford.)

And a popular accordion player, Harry Cockerill (1914-1994) who farmed in upper Langstrothdale told of how he would milk the cows on the way home from an all-night dance.

Bob doesn’t just give detailed biographies of musicians such as Cockerill, Brian and Jackie Beresford and their family, and Dick and John Wallbank, but also transpositions of their music some of which was almost certainly unique to the Dales.

He can assert this because of the meticulous research he has carried out since 2011. “Although the project was my idea, it was prompted by comments and suggestions made by Fiona Rosher [the DCM manager]. I was already playing a lot of British and European folk dance music and wanted to add a local element to my repertoire.

“I discovered there were only two people in the Dales (both quite elderly) who were still playing that type of music and that it was in danger of dying out,” he said. Those men were Tim Boothman from Threshfield whose late wife, Rosie, was the daughter of Jackie Beresford, and Sam Fawcett’s son, Septimus.

The result is the most complete record to date of Dales musicians and their music in a very easy to read and enjoyable format. Ellis has drawn together all previously published material and, through his own research, been able to add that which has never before been published. As more is coming to light he plans to post it on his website (

The book is in A4 format which has allowed him to print a tune per page along with what is known about its history. One of Peter Beresford’s tunes can be traced back to an itinerant bagpiper in Vienna in the 17th century.

Ellis points out that most of the Dales musicians couldn’t read music. They learnt tunes by ear and then adapted them to the needs of the barn dancers.

The music begins with that of William Calvert (1780-1847) thanks to Lynn Wood of Haworth acquiring his tunebook at an auction in Leyburn in 2002.

Calvert’s family probably paid for his gravestone at Spennithorne churchyard but for the Dales Minstrel, William Bolton, friends raised the funds for his gravestone at Burnsall churchyard when he died in 1881.

Many of these Dales’ musicians came from very straightened circumstances but they provided something very important for Dales folk.

Bob comments:“Dances provided opportunities for people in the scattered neighbouring villages to meet up, exchange news, socialise and enjoy themselves. No wonder village dances were popular – few other events in the lives of Dales folk provided a relief from the drudgeries of daily life, an opportunity to enjoy yourself and socialise and, for the younger people, a chance to meet members of the opposite sex with a view to finding a partner for life.”

Bob is sure there was a Dales’ style of dance music. When quoting Sam Fawcett that there was “none of this lazy dancing”, Bob writes: “To cater for this energetic dancing, the musicians adopted a vigorous, unadorned style of playing that focused more on rhythm than melody.”

He has included a detailed section on Morris and Sword dancing in the Dales. He states: “Whilst not entirely unique to Yorkshire because isolated examples have been recorded in the Shetland Islands and on the Isle of Man, all the other known longsword dances in Britain originated in villages in Yorkshire (87 in all) or in neighbouring counties. The teams in the Dales that survived longest were at Kirkby Malzeard, Bellerby and Hunton.

“An unlikely organisation that helped some of the longsword dances to survive the lean period during the first half of the 20th century, when many teams stopped dancing, was the Women’s Institute, which encouraged the creation of women’s teams in some local villages. In 1929, for instance, Middleham W.I. …came third in a longsword competition held at Castle Howard.”

Bob Ellis PhotoBob (left)has been playing the melodeon since 1994, has organised Melodeons in Wensleydale weekends at the DCM as well as two traditional dance evenings for the Friends of the DCM.

His book can be laid flat so that musicians can easily read and play the tunes. And those who buy the book (£20 plus £4 postage) will be able to download and play the audio files. For more information see

Pip Pointon

VE Day 2020 celebrations in Aysgarth


Jean Cockburn (93) and Irene Pickard (85) have been friends in Aysgarth for over 65 years and not even a pandemic can keep them apart, especially on the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Jean slowly made her way into the centre of the village twice that day. The first time was after the National Moment of Remembrance for which she and many others stood at their doorsteps while the Last Post and Reveille were played on the speakers at Aysgarth Institute. She then joined Irene for a short walk and to sit and chat on the benches on the village green. There they watched children with their parents taking part in the Fairy Door Trail organised by James Metcalfe and which raised £30 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

At 3pm Winston Churchill’s Victory speech was played over the institute speakers. At 9pm Jean made her way into the village centre again – this time to join about 40 others who had gathered to listen to the Queen’s speech and  We’ll Meet Again  broadcast from the Institute. The activities were organised by Aysgarth Institute and social distancing was maintained.

Many had decorated their houses and windows for the occasion and these were judged by Steve Jack from Aysgarth Garage. He reported that it was not easy to judge the displays with slim margins between them but declared the winners of the best dressed house as Jane and Michel and those for the best dressed window as Max and Molly (ably assisted by their parents Rachel and Nick).  Each winning household received a box of slimline Quality Street chocolates.

It all added up to a very sociable, enjoyable and memorable day.

Above: Jean (left) and Irene meeting each other at the village green — and then enjoying a suitably distanced chat (below).





Above: Irene and Derrick Pickard with their son David. 

Below: Jean with her son Stuart just after the two-minute silence. 




Above: the VE Day celebration display created by the Pickard family.

Below: Jill and James Metcalfe, with their son Richard above.



Above: Max and Molly (at back) who, like several other children in the village, had a great time decorating their homes (with a little help from their parents). Their efforts won them the prize for the best dressed VE Day window.


Above: Lily-Anne and Aiden.

Below:  the window decorated by Charlotte and Abigail.



Above: Thomasina with her dad, Jason.

There were two French flags and the Welsh flag flying in the village that day – the former as the households had connections with France, such as Jane and Michel’s (below). Theirs won the competition for the best dressed VE Day house.


Below: And there were some who had been very busy that morning. Steve getting ready to deliver packed lunches prepared at the Hamilton’s Tea Shop to elderly people in mid Wensleydale.


Below: Scenes from around the village







Light Pollution near Aysgarth


When a friend begged me to go and take some photographs of Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site in February I didn’t realise how important they would be later. Even though that was the ‘low season’ I was shocked at how much light pollution was emanating from that site just before the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Dark Skies Festival.  The site, which is close to Bishopdale Beck, is now closed due to the Covid 19 lockdown.

In the photograph above the Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site is that illuminated by strings of lights in the middle. Above it to the left is the eastern end of Aysgarth.

In February the Association of Rural Communities, Burton cum Walden Parish Council and Aysgarth and District Parish Council questioned the Authority about the situation at the Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site.

The owner of the site, Leisure Resorts Ltd, has now made a retrospective planning application to the Authority for the siting of a caravan for use as a reception/office and site wide lighting plan.

The Association  has told the Authority that the application does not answer the concerns of many local residents or the  two parish councils about light pollution.

In its Design and Access Statement the company states concerning lighting: ‘The type of lighting provided on site is low-level lighting which will prevent unnecessary light pollution in this sensitive environment. The location of individual lights has been selected in order to provide light and therefore safe passage for customers accessing and egressing their holiday units and moving around the site during the evening and early morning when natural light levels are low. Every effort has been made to minimise the number  of lighting bollards used whilst providing a safe and usable environment.’

In the application it is stated that the reception/office unit (below) complied with the statutory definition of a caravan and therefore reflected the form of the holiday lodges located on the site.


see also New Village in Bishopdale

The lodge site was developed on Westholme farm in the 1970s by Margaret and Tom Knowles into a family holiday caravan and camping site. From 2007 to 2008 Mr Knowles tried for over a year to to make the Authority aware of how and why the site was being turned into a luxury lodge site with no place for campers or touring caravans. He told the Authority that when he and his wife were running the site it was not visible from the other side of Bishopdale.

With the Association of Rural Communities he campaigned to protect the right of campers and those using touring caravans to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.

Bouquets for Waifs and Strays


Maypole dancing in the Vicarage garden following a Flower Festival probably in the 1930s.

There was great excitement at St Chad’s Home for Waifs and Strays in 1894 when a large hamper of flowers arrived from Aysgarth (see below). The bouquets had been presented by children at the Flower Service at St Andrew’s Church. A year earlier the Vicar, the Rev Fenwick Stow, reported that 300 children had attended the service. It seems incredible now that there were so many children in Aysgarth parish.

The children came from their small village schools (there were five at that time – at Aysgarth, Carperby, West Burton, Cross Lanes and Bishopdale) not just for the Flower Services but also for the teas and sports at the Vicarage (now Stow House) afterwards. They, with  their families and friends, obviously had a great time and as well as bringing a lot of joy into the lives of the girls at St Chads in Headingley, Leeds,  as can be seen from this letter published in  the August 1894 edition of the Aysgarth Parish Magazine:

Please’m Matron says, will you come down and see the flowers? Oh! they are so lovely, and such lots of ‘em.

I gladly obeyed the summons and went down, and this is what I saw – A large table on which were several buckets filled with flowers of every hue – surrounded by eager faces, some hands-filled with flowery treasures, while those who had not yet secured any looked with longing eyes at the great bunches still unappropriated; but soon there was not a child without a flower, and it was amusing to see what each chose, and to hear the chatter – one little mite rejoicing in a huge peony which she had pinned on her pinafore, and remarking to anybody who would listen to her ‘Oh, my! isn’t it a beauty?’

‘Forget-me-nots,’ says a voice, and there is a rush for the happy finder. ‘Look at my button-hole’ from the irrepressible wearer of the peony – and acting upon the idea thus suggested, the Matron says, “Now, I will give a prize to the girl who makes the prettiest button-hole.’

Great is the excitement and the rush for flowers, and when any one has found a special treasure, one is reminded of the happy chicken in the poultry-yard who has secured a dainty tit-bit, only to be pursued by his envying companions and with neither time nor chance to enjoy the prize. But here there is enough for all, and soon the excitement settles down into earnest business – and now some have finished and everybody thinks everybody else’s is better than theirs, and there is much speculation. 

One dark-eyed girl has a really artistic spray, a bunch of pansies, which must have won the prize, only she, alas is in disgrace and so cannot compete.

When all have finished, and their folded names are fastened to their respective bunches, they are laid on white paper, and very pretty they look. ‘Quite a flower show’ someone remarks. Then every one is turned out of the room while the judges (who have not been in the room during the arrangement) perform their office – a difficult one – for the merit is very even . The excitement and impatience outside is extreme, and when we are allowed to come in again, there is dead silence in  the orderly line round the room, though the sparkling eyes speak plainly enough.

The momentous decision is given – a sweet little bunch of yellow, white and dead-pink daisies takes the first prize, and two others receive a second and third. Not a murmur of discontent is heard from the unsuccessful ones. They don their bunches, and think themselves very smart indeed. The proposal of  a future competition in which the Matrons shall also compete, their exhibits to be judged by the prize-winners among the girls is received with acclamation – and so ends a happy evening.

All this pleasure was the result of a gift of flowers, and we feel sure that who send us, and others, hampers of flowers will like to know how much pleasure they give and how their beauty softens our girls and brightens their lives.

The writer continued:

It is much to be wished that our friends at Aysgarth, who so generously responded to their Vicar’s appeal could have been present at St Chad’s Home when their offerings were unpacked. The excitement and interest of the girls and children who were privileged to be present, was fully shared by the Matrons notably by the one-in-charge of the kitchen, who remarked ‘This butter has just come in the nick of time for I had none to send up for tea! Eggs! More eggs! Eggs again! Oh, look a these lovely brown ones – (and at those packed in moss) arn’t they pretty.’

Eggs were the special feature (39 dozen) and much we have enjoyed them since, that is some of them, for the greater number have been subjected to some mysterious process by means of which they will keep till Xmas (always supposing we do not eat them before then).

The clothing was eagerly seized upon by the clothing Matron. The biscuits, sweets, toys, and other good things gladdened the eyes of all, and we felt, as we watched the happy faces and eager  hands, what a privilege it was to be able to give so much pleasure.


The Rev Stow reported that year about the Flower Service:

The Church was full, almost all the children of the parish and many adults were present. Before the sermon, while hymns were being sung, the children marched up the middle aisle each bearing a bouquet of flowers, and many of them also parcels of clothing, eggs, butter, money &c., as offerings in aid of the Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays. In addition about £4 was collected.

During the service the sun had been shining brightly, but after all had assembled in the Vicarage garden unfortunately a very heavy shower occurred. However, all got their tea either inside the house or out of doors as soon as the rain ceased. After this Miss Hill, one of the secretaries for ‘Waifs and Strays’ spoke a few words before a large and attentive audience about those for whom the society carries on its noble work.

The company then adjourned to the field in front of the house where the children held their athletic sports. A nice sum was collected for prizes and some exciting races were run. All seemed in good spirits and enjoyed themselves heartily. After a few speeches and cheers the proceedings terminated.

The flowers were sent, some to the Leeds Infirmary; some to St Chad’s Home for Waifs and Strays; and some to Stockton-on-Tees.


The church has copies of its parish magazine dating back to 1892. In 1892 it was reported: ‘A flower service was held at Aysgarth Church on Thursday June 30th. Each child brought a bouquet of flowers – six hampers of which were afterwards sent to the Leeds Infirmary. After the service the children of the parish and many of their parents and other adult parishioners had tea at the Vicarage. In all about 300 sat down. The weather was fine and it was a bright and pleasant occasion.’

It’s possible that was the first flower service at Aysgarth for the following year the vicar wrote: ‘Our flower service was held on Tuesday June 20. A still larger number of children attended than in 1892. Indeed there was scarcely a child in the parish absent. The quality of the flowers showed improvement. Many of our young friends must have taken a great deal of trouble to procure such charming bouquets.’ A shortened form of service was used and the address (by the Precentor of Ripon Minster) was ‘simple but admirable’.

flower_serviceEveryone – including 300 children – then adjourned to the Vicarage garden for tea and an afternoon of sports organised by the ‘gentlemen of the parish’ who gave handsome prizes to the boys and girls. And at the end of the afternoon each child was presented with a toy. These included 100 dolls which had been dressed at the Vicarage with the assistance of a ‘working party’ of friends. These, it was said,  ‘delighted the motherly hearts of the little girls’. The other gifts included bats, balls, scissors, work baskets and musical instruments.

The Rev Stow added: “Quite a number of parishioners gave gratuitous help on the occasion which was indeed everybody’s treat.’ Two hampers of flowers were sent that year to the Leeds Infirmary and one to the York County Hospital.

The following  year the church began supporting St Chad’s for, as the Rev Stow said in 1895, the flower service provided an ‘opportunity for our children who have happy homes to contribute to the welfare of those poor children who have no homes, or those who, whether they have homes or not, are cruelly treated. Children are invited to bring as offerings eggs or butter, toys or articles of clothing, or anything else ornamental or useful, in addition to their bouquets of flowers.’

Even more children attended the service in 1895 and the fun, the vicar said, carried on till after sunset. In June 1898 the entertainment went on into the evening thanks to a concert by the West Burton Brass Band. The Rev Stow commented again on how so many helped to make the day so successful and enjoyable.  And that year participants could buy copies of photographs of those at the tea and sports.

No flower services were held during World War I but were resumed in 1919. For many years after that war  the music in the evening was provided by the Hawes Band. It is not clear when the church stopped holding the services although it is likely that occurred during World War II.

The Church of England Central Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays  (shortened to The Waifs and Strays Society) was founded in 1881 and by 1902 was caring for over 3,000 children in 90 homes. In 1946 it became the Church of England Children’s Society and i n 1982 that was further shortened to The Children’s Society. It continues to be Britain’s largest child support society having adapted to the needs of our modern society and now helping those  from all faiths and backgrounds.



Maypole photo: from scrapbook of the late May Tunstall with kind permission of Tunstall family

Church Monthly annuals with kind  permission of Aysgarth PCC

Group photo outside the Vicarage on a flower service day c 1900: the original was from the Rev Stow and reproduced in Marian and John Kirby’s ‘Aysgarth Church – Odd bits of history and some of its people’ published by John Kirby in 2009,  with kind permission of Matt and Liz Kirby

Emigrating to Canada in 1892

When reading this account I had several thoughts:

The first was my negative reaction to the arrogance of the first paragraph – that the British, so steeped in their belief in their empire, should think that they had a God-given right to colonise another country and that it would be better for them doing so.

But then I was pleased to see that Church organisations were so ready and willing to provide encouragement and assistance to those who were making such a huge step into the unknown. Some came from very rural communities – just like Pte James Pickard Bell.

He was born in Aysgarth in 1888, the son of the station master, William Bell and his wife Barbara. James emigrated to Canada in 1910 when he was 22 to farm on the prairies of Manitoba. He enlisted in the Army in 1915 and, when with the 43rd Canadians (Grenade Section), was killed during the later stages of the Battle of the Somme in October 1916. He was last seen leading a section of the bombers towards the German Lines and his body was never recovered. There is a photograph of him on Thoralby Through Time.

From The Church Monthly, May 1892

On Board an Emigration Ship

by the Rev C R Job, Vicar of Newington, Hull

goingon_boardThe question of emigration is one which is daily being pressed home with greater force upon vast numbers of people in this country. The rapid growth of population, and the limited area of land capable of cultivation, enclosed by water on every side, point to a time not far distant when ‘pastures new’ must be sought beyond the seas to a very much greater extent than they are now by our sons and daughters. Happily for us, we are a nation of colonists. While we are patriotic to a degree, and love the old country with a love that never dies, we are also gifted with a love of adventure and enterprise, coupled with the power of settling down in far-off lands, and surrounding ourselves with the comforts and happy institutions of the home of our birth. And happily, also for us the wide world offers vast fields in every way suited to our requirements. An incessant stream of enthusiastic humanity is pouring from our ports, going forth ‘to replenish the earth, and subdue it.’; and wherever they place themselves, under the beneficent smile of our Great Father, the wild waste becomes a fruitful field, the prairie becomes a pasture land, and the ‘desert is made to blossom as the rose’.

It was my lot to accompany a large body of emigrants, who sailed from Liverpool for Canada, last year; and it may not be without interest to some to hear what the journey is like. While attempting to describe the incidents of the voyage, I propose to also to try to give such information as I can for the guidance of those who may be contemplating emigration.

Canada, being nearer than any of the other British Colonies, can be reached quicker, and at less expense, the time occupied from Liverpool to Quebec or Halifax being from nine to eleven days. The cost for third class passengers is about £4. Special emigrant trains meet the boats, fitted with sleeping berths, and which carry you to your destination at exceedingly low fares.

It is always wise to be provided with warm clothing for the journey, and also for wear in the severe weather on the other side. Clothing is one of the few things which are more costly in Canada than in England. Everything necessary in the way of food is provided on board ship.

I will ask you to let your thoughts go with us from port to port. All is bustle and excitement as the time arrives for us to sail, luggage pours on board in tremendous confusion, partly because far too many leave everything to the last moment. Friends accompany us on the ship to see what it is like and to say last good-bye. Finally, the bell rings for friends to go ashore, the steam is up, the word is given to ‘let her go’, and we are off. Lingering, wistful looks are exchanged as long as eyesight will serve, and then we turn our attention to our new quarters, and try to accommodate ourselves to our novel situation. The decks are soon cleared of the piles of luggage of every description, and all is order and neatness.

Ere long the bell rings for dinner, and those who have crossed the ‘mill-pond’ as the Yankees call it, before, advise us to make a good meal while we can; and this advice we do our best to follow. At first, thoughts of home and thoughts of what may be before us fill our minds, and we are disposed to be silent but by-and-by, our natural friendliness loosens our tongues, and we break the ice of estrangement by some common-place remark, and soon we have many speaking acquaintances which, in some places, ripen into friendships. Indeed, our voyage is not without its romance, for at least one matrimonial engagement is formed ere we land.

I am appointed for this voyage by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to do what I can for the spiritual welfare of the emigrants, and to give them such assistance as I can in other ways as well. Many have been provided with letters from their parish clergyman, and these are first sought out, and a note made of their names and destination.

During the course of the voyage the acquaintance of many others is made, and advice is tendered wherever needed. All are urged not to put themselves in the hands of strangers when they land, as there are bad characters always on the look-out to take advantage of the ignorance of unwary ones. The name of the nearest clergyman to the place to which they are destined is given in each case, and they are urged to go to him in any case of difficulty. In many instances letters of introduction are written and put in their hands. And here let me say that every intending emigrant should, before starting, provide himself with a letter of introduction from his parish clergyman to the chaplain of the ship by which he intends to sail, and also one to take to the clergyman of the district in which he proposes to settle down. He will then be sure of a friend and adviser who may be of the greatest advantage to him.

Our passage is very smooth and pleasant until we reach the little town of Moville in the north of Ireland, where we call for the mails. We have yet to find our sea legs, for the Atlantic has ways of her own about which our seas know nothing. ‘Now, my boy, let us do the Old Salt as long as we can,’ said a friend who had crossed many times and knew what to expect. And steadily we paced the quarterdeck for half an hour, when conversation grew rapidly fitful and finally, after a long ominous pause, we betook ourselves below. The next few hours it is not necessary to describe. Everybody has heard of the stage of sea-sickness in which you are afraid you are going to die, and then the still worse stage in which you are afraid you are not. Suffice it to say, that sooner or later you get over it, and in four-and-twenty hours a very large proportion creep on deck, and enjoy the  life-giving breeze and the delicious sunshine.

With a fairly calm sea, deck quoits, shovel-board and skipping ropes are produced on the third day, and everybody tries to enter into enjoyment of some kind. The ship is for a time our little world. There is not very much to do and our steps are circumscribed; but there are many lessons to be learned for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. There are many on board who are returning after a visit to the home country, and they are full of information, and ready to give it kindly and ungrudgingly. From these the wise ones seek to gather all they can.

They learn that it is useless for those who know nothing about farming to go and place themselves on the 160-acre free grants until they have first spent a couple of years as hired labourers. The people who are sure to get on are farmers, farm labourers, domestic servants, and artisans. Everybody who is steady and will work is sure  of a living, but nothing is to be obtained without toil.

Opportunities for acts of kindness offer themselves, for some are sickly, and there is no lack of kind hearts who vie with each other to make all happy and bright. The ship’s doctor makes a tour of the emigrants’ quarters every day to see that everything is in a sanitary condition, and to minister to all who require his assistance. His cheery smile and encouraging words do good  like a medicine.

Twice a day we have a bright little service on deck, weather permitting. Our choir consists of a dozen or so of the passengers who have voices. We sing a few hymns, in which all are ready to take part with a heartiness that is delightful and stirring. A portion of the Prayer Book service is used, and a short address is given. On Sundays the saloon is placed at our disposal, and is literally crammed with worshippers. Our surroundings seem to make worship very easy. We feel our utter dependence upon our God. We cannot but pray. Hearts are homesick, and turn instinctively to the One Father for comfort. Minds are anxious, and seek for guidance from the great God who holds all things in the hollow of His Hand. Our beautiful Church service never seemed so delightful nor so full of happy, holy associations as now. And when a small group of us gather round the Holy Table, in happy communion with each other and with our Lord, we can not feel that He who gave His life for us will take care of those we have left behind, and that our future, unknown as it is, is safe in His keeping.

The days go by pleasantly if a little slowly. Occasionally we see a passing ship and, if possible, signals are exchanged. And as we approach the banks of Newfoundland we get into the track of icebergs.  Great is the excitement when the first is seen like a great mountain of snow rising out of the deep. It is sixty feet high and a quarter of a mile long. In the course of four-and-twenty hours we no less than twenty-three and each is different, and are all beautiful. But they are not things of beauty only. If a fog comes on they are a source of great danger as a collision with one of these masses of floating ice means almost certain shipwreck.

Soon, however, we are clear of their track and now we are anxiously inquiring, from the men on the watch, how soon we shall catch a sight of the longed-for land. So accurate are their calculations that they can tell us almost to a few minutes. A thrill of delight is experienced by all when the lighthouse gleam is first sighted. Another hour’s run and we shall be in Halifax harbour!” We are leaving the Atlantic rollers behind and passing into still waters. More lights are seen. A gun is fired on the ship and immediately answered by another on shore. Rockets are sent  up and the sky is all ablaze with coloured stars.

It is a lovely night, the air is crisp and frosty, the moon beams upon us in brilliant fulness, and as we glide silently to the quay side, all the glories of the skies are reflected in the glassy sea. The whole is a touching illustration of the close of the Christian’s life when the waves of this troublesome world are safely passed, when all the perils and perplexities are for ever over, and he calmly enters into the ‘haven where he would be’.

With marvellous alacrity the living freight is unshipped and, after the scrutiny of the custom-house, the trains which are in waiting hurry us off to Montreal and to Ontario and the far West. Thus is the daughter colony continually receiving precious supplies from the mother country. And while she feeds and enriches them she, in her turn, is being made great and  prosperous by them.


The Rev Job then provided the names and addresses of church organisations in the UK willing to help emigrants.


About Pte James Pickard Bell – ‘Wensleydale Remembered’ by Keith Taylor, Country Books, 2004, p128

Article by the Rev Job published in ‘The Church Monthly’, 1892, pp 150-152, with permission from Aysgarth PCC.

Nightingale Duet

From The Church Monthly: In April and May 1892 the Vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev Fenwick Stowe,  reported on how a ‘miners’ strike’ had affected the train service in Wensleydale, and the Rev Theodore Wood recounted how he had a ‘duet’ with a nightingale.

The Rev Stowe wrote in the Aysgarth Parish Magazine in April: ‘ The principal event of March in our Parish was the Confirmation on the 18th. It had been arranged for our [35] candidates to go to Askrigg, but three days before the date fixed the afternoon trains were taken off, and the Bishop of Ripon most kindly consented to hold an additional Confirmation here, as we could not vey well go to Askrigg. So the great miner’s strike was productive of some good after all. The Bishop gave a most beautiful address and everything passed off  as well as possible.’

It is likely that the Rev Stowe was referring to the closure of the Durham mines from February until June 1892. In 1891 the Durham Coalowners Association had proposed reducing the miners’ wages by 15 per cent as the low price of coal had led to a loss of profits. In January  1892 Durham Miners’ Association refused to accept any reduction in wages or to go to arbitration. So, on February 27, the owners closed the mines. The man who mediated the settlement three months later was the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Brooke Foss Westcott. The owners agreed not to reduce wages by more than 10 per cent and that no miners would be victimised. Bishop Westcott was known for taking a practical interest in the miners. His last sermon was at Durham Cathedral during the service for the Durham Miners’ Gala on July 20 1901 and he died on July 27.


From Rev Wood’s An April Ramble: If our ramble takes place after the 15th of the month we ought to hear the nightingale; provided, of course, we dwell in a part of the country which nightingales favour with their summer residence. It is quite a mistake to suppose that these birds only sing by night; for they sing at almost any hour of the 24, if only they are far enough removed from the dwellings of man.

I always challenge them to a competition by whistling a few soft notes, and then waiting for an answer. In a few seconds, at the most, this always comes: for the nightingale is very proud of his own vocal powers, and ever ready to enter the lists with a competitor. So we whistle and reply to one another, the bird and I, for a minute or two, and then the nightingale grows excited and comes a little nearer; and we carry on the duet until he comes nearer still, and finds out the trick that has been played upon him. And then, I regret to say, he gives vent to a perfect torrent of abuse, in tones which no one would ever have imagined could possibly have proceeded from a nightingale’s throat.

Shakespeare tells us that the hen bird is the vocalist.

‘The nightingale, if she should sing by night,

When every goose is cackling, would be thought

No better a musician than the wren.’

But here Shakespeare is wrong, for it is the cock only that sings; and his impassioned strains seem designed first to win the heart of his little brown lady-love, and then to cheer her as she patiently sits on her five olive-green eggs.

From A May Ramble: A nightingale is singing away merrily. Somewhere hard by, but so cleverly hidden that it takes a keen eye to detect it, is his nest, with his homely little mate sitting upon her eggs. So long as her labour of love continues, so long  will  he continue to cheer her with bursts and snatches of melody. But as soon as the little ones appear his vocal powers will leave him; and then for ten long months he will be as voiceless as his mate.

Here … is another nest, a hedge-sparrow’s, this time with three pretty pale blue eggs already gleaming out  upon the warm lining of moss and hair. Let us hope no wandering cuckoo will detect it, and place one of its own eggs therein; for in that case the poor hedge-sparrow will lose all hope of bringing  up her family. The young cuckoo, almost as soon as he is born, will realise that there is not sufficient room in the nest for its rightful occupants as well as himself; and, taking advantage of his superior strength, he will push them over the side, one after another, until he is left alone in the usurped dwelling. Strange to say the bereaved hedge-sparrows seem careless of the fate of their offspring, and bring all the food which should have  gone into the five  little gaping beaks to be devoured by the murderous cuckoo! The mother cuckoo, meanwhile, having laid her egg, seems to lose all further interest in it, and never comes near the nest again; so the parent and child remain for ever strangers.

I once found two cuckoo’s eggs in the same nest – a very rare event. I wondered if both cuckoos had hatched out? Probably they would first have thrown out their fellow-nestlings, and then have had a duel, in the course of which the weaker of the two would have shared the same fate. For the young cuckoo grows so fast that in a very short time there would have been no room in the nest for both; and I am quite sure that one pair of hedge-sparrows could never manage to find food enough for two such voracious little creatures.

What is that bright green inset which flew up from the patch of sandy ground just at our feet? Here is another running rapidly along a foot or two in front. We make a quick dab at it – for it takes to flight almost as readily as a blue-bottle fly – and find that we have captured a tiger-beetle. He tries his very best to bite us, and those big curved jaws look sharp and powerful enough to pierce at least the skin of our fingers; but we know how to hold him, and he has recourse to his other means of defence – a curious odour, vey much like the scent of the sweet briar, which he is able to pour out at will. Having admired his armour of green and bronze and gold we let him go, to resume his ravages among  his fellows. For the tiger-beetle is aptly named and is one of the scourges of the insect world.

For more about the Rev Theodore Wood see Memories of a beetle collector

Sources: “The Story of the Durham Miners” by Sidney Webb, The Labour Publishing Co Ltd, 1921

Wikipedia – about Bishop Westcott

“The Church Monthly” including the “Aysgarth Parish Magazine”, April and May 1892 with permission of Aysgarth PCC

Memories of a beetle collector


A boy filling his pockets with bottles so that he could collect beetles and other creepy crawlies conjures up memories of Gerald Durrell – or even his mentor, Theodore Stephanides. But  this Theodore died in 1923, two years before Durrell was born.

The Rev Canon Theodore Wood FES (1863-1923)  followed his father, the Rev John George Wood (1827-1889), in almost everything.  Both trained to become Church of England clergy but then went on to become well-known for their popular books and articles about natural history. (Left: A boy in knicker-bockers like those Theodore Wood would have worn. Theodore had a sister, Amy, who was two years younger than him. The illustration is from the March 1892 issue of The Church Monthly.)

Theodore wrote in his biography about his father: “[It] may fairly be claimed for my father that he was the first to popularise natural history, and to render it interesting and even intelligible to non-scientific minds.” (The Rev J G Wood; His Life and Work by Theodore Wood FES)

The 1892 compilation of The Church Monthly owned by Aysgarth Church begins with a letter by the Rev Fenwick Stowe, Vicar of Aysgarth, introducing the new parish magazine. That January he reported that he had given the second of his two lectures (illustrated with lantern slides) about his visit to Canada “in the Gymnasium”. I am grateful to Bob Ellis and Liz Kirby for identifying this as having been a room in the tall building at the top of Church Bank opposite the Aysgarth  Falls Hotel. In the 1881 census it was called the Palmer Flatt Boarding School and was also known to the local community as the Rev Hales’s school – for its headmaster from 1877 was the Rev Clement T Hales (1845-1900). He moved what had become Aysgarth School to its present site at Newton-le-Willows in 1890.  From 1907 to 1947 the building housed the Aysgarth TB sanitorium.

In January 1892 the two-page parish magazine included the church notices and information about two baptisms. It ended with this comment by the Vicar: “We hope every one has noticed the beauty of our Christmas decorations.” This was followed by the January edition of The Church Monthly beginning with:



Rev Wood:

For more than twenty years now, with two or three brief interruptions, I have been one of those fortunate mortals who are able to enjoy a country ramble at all seasons of the year. I have made pretty fair use of my opportunities.

I began by incurring scorn and contumely at school because I would prefer insects to cricket, so that a fine “painted lady” or “lime hawk” seemed to me a better and a greater thing than a score of ever so many, not out; I have been looked upon as a sort of amiable lunatic almost ever since, owning to my fondness for going about with a net in my h and, and my pockets stuffed out with bottles and pill-boxes; and I am still regarded by a certain section of my parishioners as one who ought, by all means, to be encouraged (on the strength of sixpence apiece paid for many a blindworm and hedgehog), but who is undoubtedly in some respects much more than a little “daft”.  “’Ee bring whoam to-ads in ‘is ‘arnkerchief, ‘ee du.”

But the result is, that from January to December I know pretty well what is going on in the fields and woodlands around me, where it is to be looked for, and how it is to be found.  January might not seem a very promising month for out-door rambling; and yet I have always found much to interest me.

Once I went out, from pure curiosity, and without the least expectation of finding anything, to fish in a small pond, when the ice was five inches thick, and a sharp north-east wind was blowing. The cold was fearful, and seemed to numb one to the very marrow; yet life in that little pond was going on very much as usual.  The frost had been too much for the fish, it is true; for the thick ice had prevented them from obtaining a proper supply of air…. When I cut out a hole with the chopper which I had brought with me, and sent down my net into the depths below, I found that the more lowly inhabitants of the waters were very lively indeed. Up came a big black beetle… a water boatman … a water-scorpion too, a flat, dull creature, with great jaw-like forelegs and a long bristle sticking out from the end of his body. There were several tiny beetles and several tiny grubs which would be beetles by-and-by, always provided that none of their numerous enemies ate them meanwhile.

In the outer world, however, insects during a frost, are conspicuous by their absence. As a matter of fact, they are as numerous as ever; only they are all in hiding.  Moss is full of them; the loose rubbish underneath haystacks swarms with them; there are numbers beneath the bark of decaying trees, in company with a perfect host of spiders, wood-lice and centipedes; buried in the ground there are numbers and numbers more.

Farmers mostly welcome a hard winter largely with the notion that it will kill down the insects. Never was a more mistaken idea. If anything, indeed, a hard winter is rather beneficial to insects for it prevents the birds from getting at them. And in the following summer they are nearly always unusually plentiful.

Winter moths are curious creatures. One sees numbers of them on fences and tree-trunks in January when the weather is mild; and at night the attractions of the gas-lamps lure hundreds of them to their doom. They are very dull and unattractive-looking beings, most of them; slight in body and sombre in hue, with nothing whatever remarkable about them. But these are the males. The singularity lies in the females, which are fat-bodied, long-legged, spider-like creatures, with only the merest apologies for wings, and bearing no resemblance whatever to their lords and masters. What charms the latter can see in them it is difficult to understand. They are not pretty in our eyes; they are not graceful; they cannot even fly. Yet no doubt they are as beautiful in the eyes of the other sex as if they were as broad-winged themselves, and flashing with all the resplendent glories of some of the tropical butterflies.

One of these winter moths is white, and has a curious faculty of rendering itself quite indistinguishable when sitting upon a black fence. This it does by choosing a spot which has been splashed with mud by passing vehicles; and the mud-spot and the moth, somehow or other, from a few feet away, look to the unpractised eye exactly alike.

The titmice [blue tits] are making themselves very conspicuous. They like to be fed with fat in the winter months, and the best way to do it is to tie  up a  lump of suet in a piece of wide-meshed netting, and then suspend it by a yard or so of string from the branch of a tree. By this plan it is protected from the ever-aggressive sparrow, who cannot cling to the netting as the titmouse can, and is obliged to look jealously on while that feathered athlete peck away at the feast. The sparrow has often hustled the titmouse away from the morning crumbs on the window-ledge; it is something to the titmouse to find him baffled for once.

Nothing to see this January day? There is life, and plenty of it, everywhere about us. A fox prowling cautiously round that rabbit-warren on the side of the hill. Hounds don’t hunt him on frosty days, and he feels safe, and is looking about for a nice fat rabbit for dinner.

Here on this twig is a batch of insects’ eggs, encircling it in a broad ring as regularly as if they had been affixed by human art; there is a cocoon, spun neatly up in a chink of the bark. A neighbouring bough is riddled with beetle burrows; they tell a tale of disease and impending death. Even that tuft of grass at our feet is full of slumbering tenants.

We may not hear the busy hum of life that by-and-by will greet us; we may not see the thronging hordes of active creatures that by-and-by will be at work in wood and heath and fi8eld. Yet Nature is never really asleep; and even on this cold January day her pulses are throbbing around us, and her armies have only to be looked for in order to be found


It was reported in the February edition of the parish magazine that the weather had been so bad on January 18 that the Sunday School children from Thornton Rust had not been able to attend the Parish Tea in the Gymnasium. But those from Aysgarth and West Burton were there for the prize giving. They also provided the entertainment which included a number of new “Action Songs”. Two days later a concert, also in the Gymnasium, was well attended.

The vicar reported on two other concerts – and a serious epidemic of influenza. He wrote: “The epidemic has certainly reached us now but up to date of writing no very bad cases have been reported. It is much to be hoped that by God’s blessing the change in the weather may tend to stay the spread of the complaint.”

There was also a short financial report about the West Burton Clothing Club in 1891. It was noted that the club was started in 1874 and that more than £250 worth of clothing had been distributed to the poor of West Burton.

In his “A February Ramble” the Rev Wood grumbled about our British winters: “There is no depending upon winter at all. It may bring us a long spell of Siberian cold or it may pass by with scarcely a week of frost or a fall of snow.” He commented again on the fickleness of British weather in his March report (below).

In March the Rev Stowe reported that the list of Lent preachers was not complete “chiefly owing to the influenza”. But at least the churches were open – which cannot be said this year as we approach Easter.



Rev Wood:

March, to me, has been a month of many and grievous disappointments. When I was a boy in knicker-bockers, madly enthusiastic as any boy could be over butterflies, and moths, and beetles, and things creeping of every kind – with the exception of centipedes which have ever been my abhorrence – I always look forward with hope and gladness to the first few days of March as the end of the winter of my discontent.

According to the books in which I believed with all my small heart and soul, birds ought to be building, and flowers starting up, and bees busily working, and butterflies enjoying the warm spring sunshine, and moths flocking in their multitudes to the honey-laden catkins of the sallow.  And yet, when that distressful month dawned, I sallied forth again and again, and searched tree-trunks by the hundred, and fences by the mile, and turned over stones in number greater than I should like to count, only to return home with saddened countenance, and boxes empty as when I set out.

And once, later, I took a special holiday in March, and went down to a certain favoured spot by the sea, on the strength of many notable captures made at that particular time in the preceding year, only to see the snow on the ground during the whole fortnight  that I was there, while the wind never for a moment came from any quarter but the east.  So that not a single insect summoned up courage to venture from its retreat.

Yet I have had many pleasant rambles in March, and seen many curious and interesting sights; for when the weather is mild, Nature commences her spring work in a  hurry. Birds do begin to build, sometimes, and even get well on with family matters before the end of the month.

One can always look with some degree of certainty, for instance, for the nest of the thrush. For thrushes have two or even three broods to bring up in the course of the season, and therefore it behoves them to begin work early if they want to get their first quartet of nestlings fairly started in life before the gooseberries and currants are ripe.

But they are not at all wise birds in the way they set about their task. Their one great aim and object, indeed, seems to be to make their nest as obtrusively conspicuous as possible.  So they either select a young and solitary tree, in which it must be plainly visible for fifty or sixty yards in every direction (they like oaks best, because the leaves are longest in coming), or they place it within a yard or two of a much-frequented pathway, or they leave a long streamer of straw hanging down, which cannot but attract the notice of every passer-by.

The blackbird, too, which begins building about the same time, is quite as foolish, although in a different way. It takes a good deal of trouble to conceal its nest, and stands by it most pluckily until one is just abreast of the bush in which it is built. Then, however, its courage seems suddenly to fail it, and off it flies with a loud and terrified squall, which inevitably betrays the secret of its dwelling.

A year of two ago I found a nest which had clearly been built by a blackbird of an original and economical turn of mind; for it was placed upon a bramble-branch against a paling, in such wise that the paling itself did duty as part of the structure. Strictly speaking, in fact, it was only half a nest, which was fastened against the fence very much as that of the martin is fastened against the wall of a house. After making it, however, the builder seemed to have been disappointed with the result, for no eggs were laid in it, and it had apparently been deserted as soon as it was finished.

A warm, sunny day in March is sure to bring out some butterflies. Most of these have been hiding away  since the autumn in dark, sheltered corners, and are now bent on recuperating their bodily energies after their prolonged fast. So their object is to find, if it be possible, some early spring flower which will furnish them with a draught of refreshing nectar. Most of these butterflies look much the worse for wear. Their six weeks of pleasure and idleness in the autumn have result in wings chipped and torn, and the loss of many a plum and scale. And some are so tattered and worn that one marvels that they can fly at all.

But this pale yellow sulphur fluttering lazily by is as perfect and fresh as possible. He looks as if he has never flown before. As far as appearances go, he might have come out from the chrysalis this very day. ~And it is more than likely that he has don so for sulphurs, unlike peacocks, and admirals, and tortoiseshells, do not live through the winter as perfect butterflies, but wait until the first warm days of spring to emerge from the pupal shell.

Once, and only once, I ran a sulphur butterfly down in fair chase – soon after I began collecting when sulphurs, as yet, were rarities to me. It led me for fully three-quarters of a mile through a piece of rough and hilly woodland, and at last dropped utterly exhausted in the ferns just before me. I killed  it, and pinned it into my collecting-box – a proceeding for which I have ever since been sorry. The insect  had struggled gamely for its life and done far more than could have been expected of a little weak-winged butterfly. And I think it deserved its life.

We shall very likely see a squirrel – not gambolling among the trees, as by-and-by he will, but either visiting or returning from one of those stores of nuts and beech-mast which he  laid up so carefully in the autumn. For his appetite, after five months or so of slumber, is as keen as that of the butterflies, and he is now able to reap the fruits of that strange instinct which led him to provide for a future of which, very likely, he had no conception at all. For how can a squirrel of three of four months old know that a time of frost and cold is coming in which it will be able to find no food? Yet it lays up its stores, just as if it had lived for years. Truly a wonderful  instinct.

I once say a squirrel drop from the upper branches of a lofty tree. In leaping from one bough to another his missed his footing, and fell some fifty feet to the ground. I ran to the spot, expecting to find him a crushed and quivering carcase; but long before I could reach him he was on his feet again, scampering as fast as his short legs would carry him to the nearest tree, and apparently none the worse for his tumble. For a squirrel, when he falls, stretches out his legs to their full extent, and converts himself into a kind of parachute; so that the air buoys him up, just as it buoys up on oyster-shell or a flat stone when we throw it sideways. And consequently the rapidity of his descent is greatly lessened, and he alights on the ground uninjured.

Children’s Playtime early 1890s


When I was helping to scan the Aysgarth and Upper Wensleydale Parish Magazines for the Friends of the Countryside Museum archives it was very difficult not to be tempted into reading some of the fascinating stories in The Church Monthly annuals in which they were published. Now I’m “locked down” I do have time to go back and read those books more carefully – and to share some of the most fascinating stories and illustrations.

I start with some wonderful illustrations of children at play. The first two pages were published in July 1892:




Those below were published in 1894, probably in February.




From The Church Monthly,  1892 and 1894, published by The “Church Monthly” Office, Ludgate Circus, London. My thanks to Aysgarth Parochial Church Council for allowing me to reproduce these from books owned by St Andrew’s Church.

A Mothering Sunday story

The carved wooden pulpit at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, has an unusual feature: on the central panel there is an old woman.

I like to think that the man who donated the pulpit to the church, Frank Sayer Graham, had her included in memory of his mother who, in the Victorian era, would have been described as a fallen woman!

In 1851 Frank’s mother, Elizabeth, then 25-years-old, was listed as the house servant of  59-years-old Francis Sayer of Aysgarth. Her son was born in 1859 in West Witton and she returned to Aysgarth as Mr Sayer’s housekeeper. It was not until Mr Sayer died that Frank added Sayer to his name. According to the 1881 census he was an unemployed clerk living with his mother.

He did eventually inherit from his father and ten years later was living in Aysgarth on his own means with his wife Mary.

He used his inheritance to build in Aysgarth a state of the art Edwardian house (Heather Cottage) which embraced the Arts and Crafts movement of the time and a fascinating Edwardian rock garden.

This is now the only remaining Edwardian rock garden in North Yorkshire. It was said that between 1906 and 1913 1,500 tons of native stone were used to build it.

Frank also developed a successful business which included exporting live grouse from Scotland to the German Kaiser and silver grey rabbit furs from the warren at Lady Hill in Wensleydale to pre-revolution Russia.

The love of his life was his first wife, Mary but she died in December 1911, aged just 45. To remember her he commissioned that magnificent pulpit. The architects (Messrs Hicks and Charlewood), the company which dealt with the wood carving (Ralph Hedley and Son) and Robert Beall who did the stonework were all based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev  William K Wyley reported in the Upper Wensleydale Parish Magazine  in April 1915 that the Bishop of Richmond would dedicate the pulpit that month.  He added: “The service will be choral and the Bishop will preach.”

He continued: “The pulpit is of richly carved Crown Austrian Oak of natural colour. The shape is octagonal and the design is XV (15th) Century Gothic in keeping with the ancient Abbot’s Stall and the Rood Screen from Jervaulx Abbey.

“It stands upon a graceful base of Beerstone (which is similar in appearance to Caen stone [of the reredos] but of a harder nature); this base is richly moulded, with traceries and carving.

“The pulpit has four panels, well set back in niches with groined roofs and Ogee-shaped crocketed canopies above, which are designed to accord with those at the end of the Abbot’s Stall.”

He described how other features of the pulpit were not only in accord with the Abbot’s Stall but also with the Jervaulx Screen.

The subject of the central panel of the pulpit, he said, was based on the hymn “Lead kindly light” and represented Jesus about to heal the man born blind (John 9:5).

He noted: “The artist has included the mother of the blind man without direct Scriptural authority.”

The panel on the south side illustrated the hymn “Fight the good fight” as this was another of Mrs Graham’s favourites.  That on the north side was on the theme of Holy Innocents’ Day based on Rev 14:1-5.

On the final panel there is an inscription which reads: “To the Glory of God and in affectionate remembrance of Mary Elizabeth Graham of Aysgarth, who fell asleep on Holy Innocents’ Day  1911…  She sweetened the lives of others and in their love survives.”

The story goes that, when Mary was dying, she asked Frank to marry her sister. This he did but there was, it seemed, little love in the marriage. When he died in 1946 he left his widow the following: A house in Wales, £100, some wooden items that Mary had made, and “a Hoover Sweeper Absolute”. (from Will transcribed by Marian Kirby)


The Doctor’s Window


Above: The Doctor’s Window at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, which depicts the raising of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15).

Before the National Health Service (NHS) was introduced  in Britain in 1948 many people could not afford to go and see a doctor, as a retired doctor, Margaret Hoyle explained:

“You didn’t get the ‘walking wounded’ and there was no preventative medicine then or early diagnosis. People would treat themselves with herbal medicines as long as they could – and medical attention would probably be out of the reach of many because they had to pay a fee.”

DrWillisbThat would certainly have been the situation that Dr Matthew Willis (left) would have found in the 1860s when he became the first doctor to live in Aysgarth. He was born in Aysgarth as his father had a grocery and drapery shop in the village. He qualified as a doctor in Edinburgh.

Dr Willis became known for being kind to the poor but sadly he died of tuberculosis in February 1871. His patients wanted to ensure he wasn’t forgotten and so paid for the stained glass window at St Andrew’s which has become known as the “Doctor’s Window”.

There are now plaques near that window in memory of three other doctors who had been based at Aysgarth. These include Dr William (Will)  Pickles who became famous after the publication in 1939 of his book Epidemiology in a Country Practice.

Mrs Hoyle said: “The causes of infectious diseases were still being discovered. He was in a unique position  at that time because the dales folk were then fairly circumscribed. If someone came in (from outside the dale) it was noticed. So if there was an epidemic he could pinpoint when it came in and the incubation period.” His careful statistical studies were written up by his wife Gertrude (Gerty) the daughter of the wealthy Burnley mill owner, Harry Tunstill, who owned Thornton Lodge at Thornton Rust.

Dr Pickles joined the Aysgarth practice in 1913 but was away from  April 1914 to January 1919  when he was serving as a surgeon with the Royal Navy. He died in 1969. Doctors Derek and Margaret Hoyle ran the practice from 1979 until they retired in 1995.

I interviewed Mrs Hoyle in 2009 when we were preparing for the Heritage Event at St Andrew’s.

For more about Dr Pickles click here

Kennel Field Trust update


The work by Thornton Rust villagers  to conserve the ecology and history of the Kennel Field has now been celebrated with an interpretation board thanks to a grant from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).

The interpretation board (above), produced by Shelley Designs, was installed on the renovated Mash House by Paul Sheehan of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and two Kennel Field Trustees, David Preston and Deborah Millward.

The board includes photographs of the Mash House (used to cook food for Wensleydale Harriers hounds) and a mid-19th century field barn before they were restored by villagers with the help of one of the first grants awarded by the YDMT over 20 years ago. The kennels used by the Wensleydale Harriers from the 1920s until the late 1970s were, however, beyond redemption.

The grassland in the Kennel Field had not been improved and so in spring has a rich tapestry of wild flowers from marsh marigold in the wet areas to cowslips, early purple orchids, dog violets and pignut, the latter attracting tiny, black chimney sweeper moths.

In 2017 the Kennel Field Trust won a highly recommended award of £4,000 in the Conservation, Heritage and Environment category from the YDMT when the latter was celebrating its 20th anniversary celebration.

This has been used to carry out environmental improvements in the Kennel Field, erect a new fence, purchase a wooden bench which is now near the Mash House and produce the interpretation board. The artwork engraved on the bench by Daniel Thornton-Grace was created by one of the trustees, David Pointon.

Another trustee and its treasurer, Graham Darlington, wrote much of the text for the interpretation board.

At the meeting of the Kennel Field Trust on January 22 it was agreed that, following the untimely deaths last year of David Pointon and Graham Darlington, to ask their respective widows, Pip Pointon and Penny Noake, to become trustees. Lynda Denny also agreed to become a trustee with the added responsibility of taking over as treasurer.

The Trust’s chairman, John Dinsdale, and Deborah asked Pip and Penny if they would like a tree planted in a corner of the Kennel Field in memory of the service their husbands had given. Both agreed and asked if Janet Thomson (another trustee) would also like a tree for her husband, Mike Thomson, who died in January. This offer has been accepted.

The Kennel Field Trust was set up in 1998 to bring the field into public ownership and to restore it so that all could freely enjoy it. There is an 18th century field lime kiln near the western entrance and details about how that was used are included on the interpretation board.

The Kennel Field can be accessed from the car parlk in the Outgang, the lane opposite Thornton Rust village hall. Villagers have carried out extensive restoration work at the Outgang and there is an interpretation board by the car park to explain how the area was used by farmers in the past.

New ‘village’ in Bishopdale

Above: Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site is in the foreground.

Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site between Aysgarth and West Burton looks more like a village than a campsite, Cllr Rowland Dent told Burton cum Walden Parish Council on Tuesday February 4. The parish council was also concerned about the impact upon the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s Dark Skies initiative. It’s Dark Skies Festival to celebrate the stunning dark skies of the National Park, so free from light pollution, begins on February 14.

The administrative officer of the Association of Rural Communities, Pip Pointon, told Burton cum Walden Parish Council that the Association had asked the YDNPA’s head of development management, Richard Graham, last week about the situation at the site particularly regarding light pollution.

The Association, she said,  had stated that there was a large amount of glazing to be seen on the other side of Bishopdale and a lot of light was also visible from the A684 when approaching Aysgarth.

She told the parish council that Mr Graham had replied that an officer would check on the situation.

Cllr Dent commented on Tuesday: “It has come to my attention quite recently, since the trees were gone, that on a night it looks more like a village than a campsite. I just wondered how much of it had planning permission and if it was permitted development.”

The councillors noted that all the lodges on the site were changed last year. The chairman, Cllr Jane Ritchie, added that the parish council had not been informed of any planning applications concerning the site since 2007. She said that the parish council had seen nothing to object to when it saw the original plans. Approval for the subsequent changes to the plans had then been made by a planning officer under delegated powers without consulting the parish council again.

The clerk was asked to write to Mr Graham asking that the parish council receive copies of any further replies to the Association of Rural Communities.

Cllr Ritchie said: “The other thing we need to mention is that the National Park is particularly trying to support the Dark Skies  and if they are serious about that, and there are people in this village who are keen on that, then that should be part of their inspection [of the lodge site].”

For a bit more about the history of this site click here.


Adam Hurn–an obituary


Above: Adam Hurn (right) with Adam Henson

Over 300 people attended the gathering at Askrigg on November 26 to celebrate the life of Adam Hurn where he was remembered for being a wonderful, caring vet with a tremendous appetite for adventure.

The celebration was held at Bainbridge Vets and one participant commented afterwards: “Adam’s enthusiasm for life and living came across so powerfully. Peoples’ warmth and affection for him, their respect and admiration shone through.”

Local farmer, William Lambert and his family commented: “Adam was a wonderful vet and friend to the whole farming community and we will miss him dreadfully.”

Nobby Dimon scripted the story of Adam’s early life for the celebration and this was enacted by Dan and Amy Cockett.

Adam was born in London in November 1951. His family moved to Manchester when his father, a TV film director, was involved in the early days of Coronation Street, and Adam was s sent to a preparatory school on the South coast. It was there, during his lonely walks, that he became interested in animals. He then attended Westminster School and should have gone on to Cambridge University but was unable to do so due to illness. So instead he hitched lifts to Greece and after a year there gained a place at Liverpool University to study veterinary science.

It was in the university’s sports centre that he met Vanda and they were married in September 1975. Following graduation he first worked with a practice in Liverpool which led to him not only being the vet to Police dogs but also to Knowsley Safari Park. At the latter his jobs included castrating a cross-eyed tiger and lancing very large boils on elephants.

From Liverpool he moved to a mixed practice in Saffron Walden and then a friend from his Westminster School days challenged him to volunteer to work with UNAIS (International Service with the UN).

He and Vanda at first declined because they had two young children. But then, in October 1981, they became possibly the first family to volunteer, he as a vet and Vanda as a teacher. They travelled to a very remote part of Bolivia with their five-year-old and one-year-old daughters, Alice and Daisy, to work with the Guarani Indians. Their new home had no running water nor electricity.

One of Adam’s key projects was to show how, with good management, pigs could be bred to make maximum use of soya and maize and so provide an income and food for families. He also developed a simple water filtration scheme to improve the quality and health of villagers. While in Bolivia they adopted their son Marcos.

When they returned to England four years later Adam was looking for another challenge. He had worked as a student in Bainbridge and was happy to accept David Metcalfe’s invitation to join the practice in Wensleydale.

He served the community as a vet for nearly 30 years and one of his client’s commented: “He was a most rare human-being: wise, thoughtful, considerate, compassionate…the list goes on, including the-best-vet-ever!”

Vanda recounted that the most challenging and heart breaking time for them was during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. With David in quarantine she said Adam worked frenetically to try and save the animals of all the farms. “He was constantly phoning the Ministry in Leeds to challenge decisions,” she added.

Following that he was interviewed by Adam Henson for the BBC’s Countryfile programme about the broad range of vet work in the Dales.

Retirement gave Adam and Vanda the opportunity to travel overland through South America from Mexico to Buenos Aires, during which they spent over a month back among the Guarani Indians – who now had running water, electricity and even broadband.

At the funeral at Skipton Crematorium Vanda said: “Life’s an adventure. It certainly was with Adam and I’ve loved every minute of the adventure – from our early days in Liverpool… to Bolivia, India, Spain and our wonderful Wensleydale.”

At the celebration at Askrigg Adam’s huge sense of adventure was also remembered. His love of windsurfing was described by David West-Watson. “We have travelled to some very windy locations for some ‘intense water therapy’. Adam suffered the same bug as me – he loved it when it was extreme – the slight fear and enormous exhilaration,” he said.

Adam went on windsurfing courses in Brazil, Spain and Ireland, as well as at Tiree with Peter Hart, described by David West-Watson as a teaching guru for windsurfers. Hart sent the following email:“Adam was the inspiration for the saying ‘age is just a number’. After four days of gales when others were flagging, Adam would be out there bouncing around like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh … “

Adam’s insatiable spirit of adventure was also well known in Wensleydale. Will Daykin described the adventures the Wensleydale Mountain Biking group had had thanks to Adam finding “short cuts” by looking at Google maps. “We have an annual Christmas ride down from Tan Hill. Adam’s ‘extra bit we could do’ actually involved a section of rock climbing,’” Will said.

The others who participated in the celebration included: Adam’s daughter, Alice Hurn; Helen Appleton ; Andrew Fagg; Peter Nettleton; Richard Fawcett; and Dan and Amy Cockett.

Vanda especially thanked the staff at the neurosurgery unit at the James Cook University Hospital and neurosurgeon Mr Varma. She spoke of how Adam established a mutually respectful relationship with Mr Varma, the neurosurgeon, and they discussed all the details of his treatment including when to stop it.

He died at home in Bainbridge on October 10. “Adam felt he had the best possible treatment,” Vanda said.

Donations are being shared between two Askrigg charities: Low Mill Outdoor Centre of which Adam had been the chair, and Yorebridge Sports and Leisure Centre of which Vanda is the chair. Donations can still be made via or Yorebridge Centre, Askrigg, DL8 3BJ tel. 01969 650060.

New vicar for Penhill Benefice


Above left to right: The Rev Tom Ringland, Bishop Nick, and the Rev Penny Yeadon

There was a party atmosphere at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, on Monday (November 4) as members of the Penhill Benefice churches welcomed their new vicar, the Rev Tom Ringland.

His institution by the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, was witnessed by the Diocesan Registrar Peter Foskett, the Dean of Ripon Cathedral the Rev Canon John Dobson, Area Dean the Rev Canon Penny Yeadon, several local clergy, and the Readers and Churchwardens of Penhill Benefice.

The Rev Yeadon also deputised for the Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, the Ven Jonathan Gough, as he was too ill to attend. It was she, therefore, who placed the Rev Ringland’s hand upon the handle of the entrance door  (pictured below) and officially inducted him into ‘the real and actual possession of this church and benefice with all its rights, responsibilities and opportunities for ministry.”


He was then presented with the keys by the Churchwardens who, with the captain of the bell ringers Stuart Huntington, went with him to the tower where he rang one of the bells nine times to signify that he was taking up his pastoral charge.

The Rev Ringland had been welcomed not only by church members but also by representatives of the local communities served by Penhill Benefice. These included North Yorkshire County councillor Karin Sedgwick and parish council chairmen.

When the Churchwarden of St Martin’s at Desford in Leicestershire, Nev Hammonds, commended the new vicar to the benefice he pointed out that the Rev Ringland did face one particular challenge: “He is a keen cyclist and the hills here are a little larger…”

Quite a few from the Rev Ringland’s previous parishes at St Bartholomew at Kirby Muxloe and that at Desford attended the service although one group was left stranded in Leicestershire when the minibus it had hired did not appear.

During the service the Bishop told the large congregation that the teachings of Jesus, especially in the Beatitudes, showed that Christians don’t have to conform to the world. Instead they should have a prophetic witness.

“There’s only one measure of the faithfulness or the integrity of the Christian church and that is when people look at us, when they touch us, when they hear us, … they see some representation of Jesus. The church does not exist to save the church. The church exists to save the world out there,” he said.

He added that this might mean sacrificing the culture and ways of worship of the church so as to meet people where they were. And part of the job of a vicar was to enable that to happen.

After the service most of the congregation stayed to enjoy the homemade canapes and to chat with friends.

In his first letter to his new benefice Mr Ringland said he grew up near Canterbury. It was after he graduated in Geology from Durham University that he felt drawn to the Christian ministry.He volunteered in a church in the East End of London for a while and then spent a year in Sudan and Kenya in Christian relief work before beginning ordination training at Trinity College Bristol.

He met his wife, Bev, in Bristol and they were married during his first curacy in Crawley, West Sussex. The youngest of their four children is 19. During his ministry they have lived in Coalville and then, for the past 13 years, at Kirby Muxloe.

He wrote: “Bev grew up in Wharfedale, and it’s thanks to her that I’ve come to enjoy wide open spaces and long walks! We’ve also done a bit of cycling together, but the terrain in Wensleydale looks a little tougher than we’re used to.”One of their sons and their two Labradors, Islay and Skye, have moved with them to the Vicarage at Carperby.

Remembrance stories

Pte William Thomas ‘Tot’ Dinsdale;  Pte Thomas Spence;  Major Donald Herbert Rose MC and Sgt Ernest Moore; Col John William Lodge; and Pte John Percival. Plus Aysgarth Parish and WWI

Pte William Thomas ‘Tot’ Dinsdale

‘Granddad was never the same man again. He was gassed [mustard gas] towards the end of the war. When the Armistice came he was in a hospital somewhere in the Midlands. He was there for a long time. He just got out before the hospital was decimated by Spanish Flue,’ said John Dinsdale of Hawthorn Farm, Thornton Rust. (John is the chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council). He continued:

‘Granddad went back to farming at Sedbusk but he was never a fit man. He was always short of breath. If he did anything strenuous he was jiggered. When the lads [his sons] got to be 12 or 13 they did most of the work.


Above: Tot and Charlotte Anne Dinsdale with their children l-r Thomas (John’s father and also known as ‘Tot’), Alice, Jim, Dorothy, Jack and Margaret.

Below: The kettle presented to Tot Dinsdale by High Abbotside Parish Council in recognition of his service during WW1


Pte Dinsdale fought with the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment throughout most of the war apart from when he was recovering from being wounded, John said.

‘He joined up at Hawes when they first started recruiting – I think there were 15 or 16 of them from the Upper Dale and then they all marched to Leyburn with the rest from the Dale. He thought it was the right thing to do. He was 19 or 20.’

The 4th Yorkshires first experience of trench warfare was during the Battle of Ypres from April to June 1915. The front line battles the battalion was involved with included Armentieres from August to December 1915, the Somme from August to November 1916, Ypres October 1917 (Tot returned to the battalion in time for Passchendaele) to February 1918, and Aisne in May 1918.

At Aisne on May 27 1918 the battalion and others fighting alongside it was decimated by a massive German attack. That was the end of the 4th Yorkshires as a fighting unit during WW1. (from

Like many others who returned home after the war Tot found it difficult to talk to anyone about it other than those who had also fought in the trenches. The two he turned to were Anthony and Jack Fawcett, his brothers-in-law, from High Abbotside.

John said: ‘They would go into the far room and shut the door. I’m pretty certain they were talking about the war but as soon as anyone went in they shu7t up. They never talked to us about it. But granddad did talk to my Uncle Ernie – his son-in-law.’ (Ernest Metcalfe)

Anthony ‘Ant’ Fawcett was given a small book of Common Prayer and Hymns Ancient and Modern by his sister Annie (later Mrs Pratt) in February 1914 and he carried that with him throughout the war. From the state of the pages it is obvious that he read some of the hymns a lot such as No230. (See Penny Barker’s address in Remembrance Service at Aysgarth Church)


Family photo courtesy John Dinsdale. Other photos by Pip Pointon.

Pte Thomas Spence


Pte Thomas Spence of Walden and West Burton was one of those who did come home from WW1 but then died during the flu epidemic. ‘He was gassed and later got the flu. He died at home,’ said his grand-daughter, Frances Sledge of Leyburn.

For his wife, Fanny, and daughter, Grace Kathleen, his death meant that they had to leave their home in West Burton. Fanny took her daughter back to her family in Wharfedale. They either lived with Fanny’s parents (William and  Deborah Gill) at the post office in Buckden or they stayed with her aunt and uncle at Fold House Farm in Kettlewell.

It was to those addresses that his medals (the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-1915 Star) were sent and the family carefully stored them in the boxes and envelopes in which they came.

Tom was born at Hargill Haw Farm in Walden where his father, John farmed. He had four siblings: Margaret, Grace, Sarah and John. In the 1911 census he was described as a 15-years-old draper’s apprentice.  By 1915 he had enlisted with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards).

On April 1 1915 he wrote to his mother, Margaret Spence,  from Newcastle-on-Tyne: “Dear Ma, I arrived safe and sound, but I got a very pleasant surprise, we are of (sic) across before the 18th of this month. Dont fret or worry I shall be alright…. Tell uncle Kit I am of but dont forget I shall come safely back again. I had a very enjoyable time at Northallerton…. Tell Mr Roulden I shall write to him soon now, to let the School children know how we get on. … I am in the Pink of health. I am  your loving son Tom. Remembrance to all at Burton.”

His battalion had moved from its home base at Northallerton and, just as Tom said, was sent to France on April 18, and straight into battle in the Ypres sector. The regiment saw action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 which was probably  when he was gassed. He received his honourable discharge certificate and silver badge after being in hospital in August 1916.

He married Fanny Gill at Skipton registry office in August 1918 but died on April 18 1819 aged 23. He was buried in Aysgarth churchyard four months before his daughter was born.  In the 1911 census her grandmother, Deborah, then 57-years-old, was described as being in charge of the post office at Buckden.  Deborah’s husband was then 71-years-old.

“He was a shoemaker. He had a long beard and lived until he was in his nineties,” said Mrs Sledge. Below: William Gill with his daughter, Fanny Spence, and grand daughter.


Major Donald Herbert Rose MC and Sgt Ernest Moore


The Festival of Remembrance at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, in November 2018 provided an opportunity for Hugh Rose of Leyburn and Catrina Cloughton of Thornton Rust to remember their father: Major Donald Herbert Rose MC (above).

Major Rose was born in 1885 in Lincolnshire, went to what was then Ceylon in 1910 and became a tea and rubber planter. He joined the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC) in 1911. Lance Corporal (Rifleman) Rose was among the 237 from the Corps who were sent to Egypt in October 1914. They initially helped to defend the Suez Canal against Ottoman Turkish attack.

In December that year they joined the Wellington Battalion of the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac). They made such a good impression that many were sent for officer training. Rose did his in Egypt with the 1/6 Essex Regiment. In August 1915 the regiment was sent to Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. Those who survived were evacuated in December 1915, first to guard the Suez Canal and then to fight the Turkish Army through Egypt into Gaza.

Major Rose commanded the company which was the first to enter Gaza City. From there they went to Damascus where he and his company marched into the city 200 yards behind General Allenby and Lawrence of Arabia. He finished in Baghdad and returned to Ceylon in 1919.

He remained there until the early 1950s by which time he was married. On returning to England they finally settled in Thornton Rust when his wife Joan became the assistant matron at what was then a sanatorium at Thornton Lodge.  He died in 1963.


“Trina” Cloughton also shared the sad love story of her maternal great uncle Sgt Ernest Moore.

He grew up in Tudhoe Colliery in Co Durham, the only son of John and Alice Moore. John was from a mining family but attended evening classes after he left school when he was 14. He worked his way up to becoming a mine’s inspector.  His job included making sure there was no gas in the mines said Trina.

When Ernest joined the Durham Pals (18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry) at Craken Hall on 29 December 1914 he was 20 years and 10 months old and listed his occupation as “shop assistant”.

After training the Durham Pals were sent to Egypt late in 1915 to defend the Suez Canal. They were then moved to France in March 1916 for the “Big Push”. Sgt Moore survived the Battle of the Somme but was killed in action on 19 May 1918. He was buried at Caestre Military Cemetery in France.

He had hoped to return and marry his girlfriend and had given her a bracelet as an “engagement” present before he went overseas.

Mrs Cloughton said: “He was ‘engaged’ to one of my grandma’s sisters, Emma Musgrave. He and Aunty Emma loved poetry. He sent her a book of poems each Christmas. They are suede covered and wouldn’t have been cheap.”

Emma cut out the “In Memoriam” notice in the local newspaper and stuck it on a page in one of those books. The notice read: “Roll of Honour. MOORE. – In cherished memory of Sgt. E. Moore (Durham Pals), beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Moore, Tudhoe Colliery, who fell in France May 19th, 1918. Safe in our Father’s home until the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

And the poem on that page was God’s Acre:

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls

  The burial-ground God’s Acre….

God’s-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts

  Comfort to those who in the grave have sown

The seed that they had garnered in their hearts,

  Their bread of life, alas! no more their own….

Below: It is likely that Sgt Moore is the man with a cigarette standing at the back with his arm resting on a friend’s back. He does look older and battle weary compared to that above which was probably taken before he left England for the Western Front.


Aysgarth Parish and WWI

In December 1918 the vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev William K Wyley wrote in the parish letter: “I wonder if, in the years to come, November 11 will overshadow the 5th as a day greatly to be remembered.”

He was, however, very aware that dalesfolk were in the midst of the great Spanish Flu epidemic and that the WW1 peace agreement had not yet been signed.

Two soldiers, L/Cpl John Wood of Carperby and Driver William Metcalfe of Aysgarth, were given compassionate leave when their wives became ill with the flu. Both women died, Eleanor Metcalfe (22) before her husband got home.

Soldiers began to be demobbed in early 1919 and this led to Mr Wyley publishing an interesting ‘advert’ in the parish magazine: “The Employment Exchange at Northallerton has asked me to state that it has on its Registers women discharged from War Service and suitable for several classes of employment.”

It was acknowledged that women had an important part to play in reconstruction. The role that women had played during the Great War was recognised when limited suffrage was granted to them in 1918.

In October 1918 Mr Wyley commented: “We are approaching the time when, as a nation, we shall realize more fully what a tremendous change the war has made in the social, industrial and religious life of England.”

In that letter he reminded everyone about the great need of economy in the use of oil and especially coal. “I know that very many of us are reducing our fires to a very low minimum, and where wood fuel is available I am sure we shall be careful to ‘do our bit’ in this respect for our country.” He had regularly emphasised the need for food economy and, in June 1917, explained why (below).


WW1 had a massive impact upon the lives of everyone and not just because of the ravenous war machine in France and Belgium. The parish magazines not only listed those who had enlisted – but also those who were killed.

When war first broke out local people didn’t know how to respond. Initially events were cancelled but it didn’t take long for people to realise that they could use the church’s flower festivals and other celebrations to raise money for the War Working Parties or to be sent direct to hospitals caring for the war wounded. Concerts, jumble sales and tea parties were also held.

In May 1915 there was a bold headline: “200,000 Eggs wanted weekly for the wounded.” The National Egg Collection had been launched with the request that each household should send one each week to help the recovery of wounded soldiers. The West Burton and District Scout Troop took on the job in the parish and by late November had collected 6,144 eggs. These were sent to military hospitals in France and Malta and some to wounded soldiers at Leeds Infirmary.

HomeFront2SRight: published in the Aysgarth section of The Upper Dales Parish Magazine in December 1917

Children helped with collecting sphagnum moss for dressing wounds, made items of clothing and, in November 1917, were encouraged to collect horse chestnuts for munitions and also waste paper. Mr Wyley reported that within two months he received half hundredweight of horse chestnuts and four hundredweight of waste paper.

The times of services had to be adjusted when lighting restrictions were introduced in February 1916 following air raids by Zeppelins. And the shortage of manpower was beginning to have an effect. In July 1918 Mr Wyley wrote: “May haytime be favourable and health and strength sufficient to tide over the shortage of labour.”

Conscription was introduced in January 1916 and in July 1917 he wrote: “I am glad to say that the local Tribunal has granted exemption to our Sexton on condition that he is released as far as possible for agricultural and other work of National importance.

The signing of the Peace Treaty in July 1919 led to celebrations throughout the country and the Empire. But in Wensleydale the hay harvest had to come first. Mr Wyley commented: “I hope that when all the hay has been led each village… will do something to mark our rejoicing over the Peace and our gratitude to the men who won the possibility of it.”

This has been edited from the Aysgarth sections of the  Upper Wensleydale Parish Magazines 1914-1918. Aysgarth parish consists of Aysgarth, Carperby, Bishopdale, Thoralby, Thornton Rust and West Burton.

Below: The peace celebrations in 1919 at The Rookery in Bishopdale  (courtesy DCM)  The Rookery no longer exists.

Peace CelebrationsS

For more stories see the WWI section of the Thoralby Through Time website.

Col John William Lodge

JWLodgeSThe biggest military funeral at Aysgarth church during WW1 was that for Col John William Lodge with the band of his regiment and the detachments of two battalions being present. The firing party fired volleys over his grave and buglers sounded the Last Post. He was 60-years-old when, on leave at his home at The Rookery in Bishopdale, he died on 23 August 1917, after a short illness.

He had served in the Boer War and from 1906-1912 had commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. At the outbreak of the 1st World War he had immediately returned to the battalion as a major and in May 1916 was appointed to the command of a Garrison Battalion. (Information and photo courtesy Wensleydale Remembered)

Pte John Percival

There wasn’t a military funeral for Pte John Percival but there is a military gravestone. He was 21-years-old when he died and was buried on 12 April 1918.

This obituary was published about him:

“He enlisted when he was 19, and after being trained at Rugeley Camp, went to France in April 1916, and was through the battle of the Somme, being badly wounded in the hand in September 1916. He was sent back to England for treatment, and made a sufficient recovery to enable him to return to service.


“As he was a competent motor driver he was transferred by the authorities from the Yorkshire Regiment to the Motor Transport, Army Service Corps, in June 1917. In this work he did good service until October last, when he was badly gassed, and was seriously ill. He returned to England, and was in the 1st London General Hospital, Camberwell, until November 27th, when he was officially discharged from the Army as physically unfit for further service.

“A relative went to London to bring him home. He was very weak, and while crossing London an air raid was proceeding, and the journey was several times interrupted. Arrived at Aysgarth he was very happy to see his home and family, and seemed to revive for a while, but the gas had seriously damaged his lungs and recovery was seen to be impossible.

“Though relatives and friends nursed him tenderly day and night there was no progress towards health. The funeral was largely attended by sympathising friends, and some beautiful wreaths and affectionate messages were sent.”

Waterfall of Poppies at Aysgarth church


A waterfall of poppies is once again cascading over the reredos at Aysgarth church ready for the Remembrance service on Sunday.

The waterfall and a large exhibition were created last year as part of the church’s celebration of the centenary of the signing of the Armistice in 1918.

The part of the exhibition which remembers the local men killed during World War 1 is still in place. All the other information gathered about men and women from the church parish (Aysgarth, Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby, Thornton Rust, Walden and West Burton) who also served during that conflict is in two books beside it.

A lot of the information was collected by Penny Ellis and she has continued her research this year. This has enabled her to update the Roll of Honour and some other pages on her website, Thoralby Through Time. She has added five names to the Roll of Honour with the total now standing at 198.

Those she has added are: Elizabeth Ewbank of Swinithwaite and Aysgarth, VAD nurse; James William Fryer of Bishopdale, Driver 52nd Liverpool; Thomas Fryer of Bishopdale, Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery; Joseph Powell Hammond of Thornton Rust, Private Northumberland Fusiliers; and Mark Hammond of Aysgarth, Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery.Mrs Ellis has also found more names of women shown on some photos in her “Home Front” section and added photos of the commemorative cup and saucer produced for the peace celebrations at the Rookery in Bishopdale in 1919. Her research continues.

On Sunday November 10 the Remembrance services at Penhill Benefice churches are: at Castle Bolton at 9.30am; at Preston under Scar at 10.45am; and at Aysgarth at 11am.

Aysgarth Church Harvest Festival 2019

by Juliet Barker


The harvest was well and truly celebrated at St Andrew’s! We gave thanks to God for the beauty of our natural world and for the social ties that bring us together as friends and neighbours in a fantastic Flower Festival.

Our flower arrangers are renowned for their creativity, skill and imagination but they excelled themselves in their displays celebrating some of the local organisations in our parish. Who knew there was so much going on in  our villages? (To see more pictures click on the photo)

A children’s session of fun and games attracted a low turnout but, led by a roller-skating scarecrow (Steve Hamilton), we all had huge fun rescuing the animals in Noah’s ark, passing round the potatoes and finding the harvest mice hidden in church.

In the evening we had a full house at the Falls Café for our hog-roast and ceilidh, with music provided by the inimitable Roosters Band. It was a great joy to see so many young people, including children, join in the dancing with great enthusiasm – and then come to church the next morning to round off our celebrations with a Harvest Thanksgiving Service, led by Rev Kathy Couchman. Her moving and memorable sermon struck a chord with many of us and was much discussed afterwards.

Thank you everyone who gave their time, energy, skills and money to make our Harvest Celebrations such a success. We raised over £800 and renewed our fellowship with members of the parish – and beyond!

We will continue to collect tinned and dried food for Caring For Life until the end of October: a list of suggested items and a box for offerings can be found at the back of the church.

Photo: one mouse escaped and almost came to a sticky end on part of the Jervaulx Screen! or was an adult just playing after all the children  had gone?

Hard Banks Barn Ice Cream Parlour


Left to right: Andy Singleton and Gillian and Adrian Harrison outside Hard Banks Barn

A beautifully restored barn in lovely countryside with an ice cream parlour hidden inside has proved to be a magnate for locals and visitors alike in Wensleydale since Saturday September 21.

On the approach along the A684 from Aysgarth Hard Banks Barn looks like a well-renovated traditional building that fits so well into the undulating countryside around it.

“You cannot tell from the outside what is within – which sort of makes it a nice surprise,” said Gillian Harrison who manages the ice cream parlour in a joint venture with her husband, Adrian. And it is a wonderful surprise to walk inside and find a light and airy ice cream parlour where the atmosphere is enhanced by the late 18th century beams.

The designer, Andy Singleton, commented that it was not where such a traditional barn was situated but rather the way It was restored. He had assured the National Park planning officers that the barn conversion wouldn’t have a detrimental impact upon the landscape and was delighted with the result.

Part of the airy atmosphere inside is due to his creative use of the original ventilation apertures. He had had the splayed reveals inside widened and small glass “windows” inserted without changing the outside appearance of the barn.

“I think those appealed to everybody. It’s a bit higgledy piggledy but that adds to the character,” Gillian commented.

Their Wensleydale Ice Cream comes from their own Jersey cows and is manufactured at their farm at Thornton Rust. There are now three generations of Harrisons at the farm: grandparents Maurice and Anne; Gillian and Adrian and their two children.

Gillian and Adrian explained that they hope the ice cream parlour will enable the family to support themselves without turning to intensive farming methods. “You’ve got to have additional revenue. There are so many variables in farming and it’s a big risk [business] with small margins,” Gillian said.

Hard Banks Barn, they believe, will show just how much everything in the Dales is intertwined in what is very much a man-made landscape. Even the colour of the grass depended, they pointed out, on the fertiliser used and the animals which graze on it.

They plan to have cows grazing near the barn and to display pictures to show how the milk is processed into ice cream. And their customers agreed that the ice cream is superb.

There are tables and chairs downstairs and more in the ‘Minstrels Gallery’ above. Alongside the ice cream there are also coffee, cakes and waffles. Adrian and Gillian are employing five local part-time staff to help Gillian with another making the ice cream. And they are very grateful for the support of Maurice and Anne Harrison.

The parlour is attracting a wide age range of people and Gillian was delighted to see children larking about outside and rolling down the grassy bank.

One Monday they hosted children from the BAWB federation of schools who were taken there by their parents as an after-school treat. “The parents said it was so nice because there aren’t many places they can take the children for a treat,” said Gillian.

She and Adrian were also very happy to see people going to the parlour for their sweet course after their Sunday dinner. “I always wanted it to be like a ‘pudding’ barn,’ she commented.

They believe the ice cream parlour fills a niche market in Wensleydale and helps to attract tourists. And they and their staff can – and do – tell tourists about other local attractions. They are looking forward to continuing to work with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to make the ice cream parlour a success, especially its tourist department and the Dairy Days project.

The Harrisons are very grateful to all those who helped to make their dream come true and for a grant from The Yorkshire Dales LEADER programme. They plan to hold an official opening in a few months’ time in memory of John Blackie for all the work he put into the project.

During the winter the ice cream parlour is open from 10am to 5pm Thursday to Sunday each week.

In November 2014 I posted a report on the obstacle race the Harrisons were facing as part of my coverage of the Rural Summit in Leyburn that was organised by John Blackie. 

Below: Hard Banks Barn. The brown patches will disappear once the grass has grown. 

Remembering David


Above: White roses for Yorkshire and a pair of David’s crocs on the table in the Meeting House for David’s Memorial Meeting. This display was created by Liz Burrage who also led the Memorial Meeting. Many thanks to those who donated a total of £530 to Yorkshire Air Ambulance in David’s memory. 

David certainly did live up to the advice in the Quaker Advices and Queries which states: Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offer the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak.”

Becoming a Quaker in 2004 made a significant and very positive impact upon him  -but he had lived up to that advice for most of his life.

He was born in Sheffield  in October 1941 where his father worked as a  policeman. While David was at grammar school he represented the North of England at the Scout jamboree in North America in 1958.

At Alsager Teacher Training College he specialised in Design, Technology, Arts and Crafts and then took a job at the Sheffield School for Blind Children.

He and his young family moved to Norfolk  to the East Anglian School for Blind and Deaf Children in 1974. While there he also trained as a teacher of the deaf, gained an Open University degree and served for four years as a councillor on Yarmouth Borough Council.

When that school closed in 1985 he became deputy head of the Norfolk Sensory Support Service with responsibility for integrating  visually impaired  children into mainstream schools. He later became head of that Service.

One of his former work colleagues commented: “David was a larger than life character, loyal to his friends and co-workers – and knew the best places to stop for coffee! He gave us freedom to work with the families and came with me to visit homes if they thought there could be a problem – or something interesting such as the view of prostitutes on Rouen Road!

“He was a lecturer on my Cambridge course and had a wealth of knowledge of the VI (Visually Imparied) world.”

In 1989 David answered an appeal by Phil Feller to help blind and visually impaired children in The Gambia. This led to him becoming a founder trustee of what is now the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in The Gambia after going with Mr Feller to that country to assess the need.

His list included setting up a purpose-built school;  proper training not only for the few teachers at that school but also mainstream teachers as the majority of visually impaired children were living in distant villages; and the provision of Braille machines and paper, as well as computers with specialist programmes.

Phil said: “David – with great enthusiasm – set to work with myself and my wife, Joan, to start meeting those needs. A charity was set up (now the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia) and funds were successful raised for building a special school.”

The school was opened in 2002 and whenever David visited he helped to teach the pupils and teachers there.  He worked closely with the Gambian Education Department and the Integrated Education Programme and by early 2019 over 200 mainstream teachers had been taught to help visually impaired students.

Phil added:  “A highlight for David was the purchase of a minibus in 2003 and, together with Malcolm Garner, drove to The Gambia with urgently needed equipment. Subsequently he organised and led several other overland deliveries.”

David met Malcolm when they were both members of the Special Educational Needs National Advisory Council. Of the overland journey in 2003 Malcolm said: “This experience had a life-changing impact for me as I was later to return to The Gambia on a regular basis to try and develop health and education services for deaf children and adults, something which continues to this day.

“David has left a very significant legacy of change for good among many pupils disadvantaged by limited or no sight, both in the UK and also in Africa, and also among professionals such as myself who have benefitted from his energy, initiative and enthusiasm.” (See his Gambian adventures )

David and Pip Land (his partner whom he married in July 2018) introduced Heather Ritchie of Rug Aid to The Gambia and she has subsequently set up one of the most successful programmes for visually impaired children and adults in that country.

After he retired David moved to Thornton Rust in Wensleydale in 2001. He became a volunteer at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes; enjoyed creative work as a member of the Yoredale Art Group; was an official of the North East Mercedes Benz Club for many years;  a president of the Rotary Club of Wensleydale, and was a trustee of the Kennel Field Trust at Thornton Rust.

Two weeks after he died villagers at Thornton Rust raised their glasses to him for all he had done for the Kennel Field Trust and as a local parishioner. (A special celebration at Thornton Rust)

He became a parish councillor for Thornton Rust in 2015 and one of his parishioners commented: “He was a very conscientious parish councillor and always available to the villagers, just to chat or to get jobs done.”

In the last few years of his life his main projects were turning round the Northallerton branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists to make it one of the most effective in the country (he was its chairman and one of its observers), and working with the West Burton School Representative Group to safeguard its future as part of a local three-school federation. (See West Burton – a school set to thrive and his view as an independent education consultant. )

To the latter he brought a wealth of experience of governing schools since he retired. He had served as a Quaker trustee on the board of Reeth Primary School, and as a governor of the Breckenbrough Quaker Foundation School.  He had also been a Local Education Authority governor on the board of Leeming and Londonderry  Primary School and Risedale Secondary School.

He was an active member of the Wensleydale and Swaledale Area Quaker Meeting and served for a few years as an elder.

In 2014 David decided to create two large poppies, Peace and Remembrance,  to mark the beginning of World War I. These were fixed to the railings at Bainbridge Meeting House in November each year, and then throughout 2018 up until the centenary of the end of that war. They became a significant landmark in Bainbridge.

Another important part of his life since 2007 was his 30ft cruiser, Edna May. Its moorings at Thurne opposite the white mill and various journeys on the Norfolk Broads were a source of constant delight to him as were the friends he met there.

His links with Thurne went back to the early 1970s and nothing pleased him more than being able to return there. In the last few years there was always the question of how much longer he could walk along the dyke to Edna May  as the effects of an old spinal injury took their toll.

On May 19 (2019)he again savoured that walk, stopping half the way down to do his “360” – turning slowly to enjoy every detail of the scenery. Then he walked on and managed to reach his boat and settle into his favourite seat before he died. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.


My tribute to my husband, David Pointon,  at the Memorial Meeting at Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House on Saturday, July 13, 2019:

David passionately believed that anyone with a disability should be able to live life to the full and adventurously.

His former work colleagues recount with delight how he encouraged his blind and visually impaired students to climb trees – something that probably wouldn’t be allowed now du e to health and safety rules. But those kids learnt a lot about what they could achieve.

When his dog, Raq, became blind David gave him mobility lessons too. And I was taught how to be a good guide person.

David approached his own increasing mobility problems in the same way. An old severe spinal injury led to him being unable to put his own shoes and socks on. And then he found…Crocs! Out went the shoes and socks and in marched Crocs – and  joyful independence.

They meant he could still walk down the dyke at Thurne to his beloved Norfolk cruiser Edna May – his glorified shed on water, spiders and all. That meant he could fettle to his heart’s content – either in his garage cum workshop at Thornton Rust or when on the boat.

He could still participate in overseas adventures – either the overland drives to the Gambia or later with his mate Ken to Morocco and France. And David and I could enjoy our journeys exploring Britain.

Many have commented on how much they enjoyed David’s sense of humour.

Our relationship began 14 years ago with a good laugh – and continued with lots more. For me ours was a special relationship. We accepted each other warts and all – two odd people thoroughly enjoying life together and supporting each other in our various interests and activities. He was my soul mate and my best friend.

I have many wonderful and very happy memories. Thank you David.


David became a  close friend of John Warren through attending the Quaker meetings at Bainbridge and Countersett. Pip chose the following poem by John for David’s funeral. It was read by Allan Sharland who had been a friend of David and his brother Mike since they were teenagers.

Over the hill the grey road climbs

And the wind blusters over the hill

Tumbling the trees

And the grey road winds

Where hedges curve in ragged lines

And cærulean blue the bright sky shines

Where the road climbs over the hill

And I will go where the grey road leads

With the wind in my face at the crest

Where the curling road goes down and on

To the far blue hills in the west

And birds in the wind

Wheel and cry

The great elms bend, and creak

And sign

And the road goes on

And so shall I

To those far blue hills in the west.

David Pointon’s Gambian adventures

David teaching a blind student at the GOVI school in Serrekunda, The Gambia, in January 2010

David Pointon, who died in May 2019  made several overland journeys to the Gambia between 2003 and 2010 to deliver vehicles and equipment to the only school for the blind, run by the Gambia Organisation for the Visually Impaired (GOVI).  He was a founder trustee of  a charity with the objective of helping  visually impaired children in the Gambia. His travelling companion in late 2003 was Malcolm Garner (the Gambia Deaf Children’s Support Project – GDCSP).

Scroll down  for his overland journey with the Dales Team in 2006, and  for tributes to him by Phil Feller of what became the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia, and by Malcolm Garner.

For that first overland journey, completed in January 2004, David decided it would be a good idea to join the Plymouth/Dakar Challenge.

He said: “I thought it was one way of getting out there with support and taking a minibus for the school. There were three rules for the Challenge: spend under £200 for your vehicles; only spend £15 fettling it; and rules are made to be broken. It is a charity run and all the vehicles are auctioned in Banjul and the money went to Gambian charities.

“As I had a purpose for the minibus I didn’t care how much I spent on the vehicle and I didn’t put it in the auction – it was going to a Gambian charity anyway.”

He knew he wanted a four-wheel drive diesel minibus and early in 2003 remembered seeing such a vehicle which had been parked at the Wensleydale Rugby Club at Leyburn for a couple of years. It was also left-hand drive as it had been bought in Germany by a British serviceman stationed there who needed a vehicle suitable for a large family.

“His daughters had grown a bit and he had bought himself a small car. When he came to the club we had a look at it and drove it around the rugby field, and we eventually arrived at what I thought was a reasonable price.”

That vehicle – a Mitsubishi minibus – quickly became known as Mitzi.

Malcolm was among the friends he contacted when looking for sponsorship for this project. “I had known Malcolm professionally for well over 20 years. We served on the same special needs advisory council. Malcolm sent me an email back saying ‘Of course I will sponsor you – wish I was coming with you.’ He was recovering from prostrate cancer at that time which had been caught and fixed. As he was convalescing I sent him an immediate reply: ‘Why don’t you?’”

Advertising material was put on Mitzi and she began her travels around England as David and Malcolm collected donations.

And then she left England for good. “She wasn’t the quickest of vehicles so driving 600 miles down Spain in one day was quite interesting but we did it,” recalled David. It was in the south of Spain that they first met up with others on the Challenge.

The journey overland in 2003 was very different to those David took part in later because the road from Noadhibou to Nouakchott in Mauritania had not been completed. Instead the route took them through desert and across a long beach.

Below: Mitzi crossing the desert – click on the picture for more photos of that overland journey. 

David said:”In our group there was a 43-year-old Triumph Herald, an old Mark II Cortina, a Lada and a Triumph 2000. The Lada never got stuck in sand the whole trip but the others got stuck quite often. As we had  four-wheel drive we were pulling them out all the time and the clutch wasn’t up to it. When it went we had to reline it with the Triumph 2000 clutch lining.

“The repair worked which got us out of the desert but when we got down to the Senegalese border the thrust bearing went making the clutch pedal obsolete. The clutch was still working so we could still get drive. Changing up was no problem but changing down was not possible. So we went right through Senegal and into the Gambia without a clutch.”

It cost just £100 to fix Mitzi and then she was handed over to GOVI and spent three years as the school bus. When two school buses were given to GOVI by the Dales Team of 2006 David and Malcolm repossessed Mitzi. Since then GOVI has sold the vehicles delivered in 2006 and the children are now transported to school by a bus provided by the Gambian Government’s Integrated Education Programme (IEP).

David and Malcolm spent a lot of money on Mitzi to try and get her back into good working order. When Malcolm arrived in the Gambia in 2009 the minibus wouldn’t go and he had the engine replaced, but to no avail. So it was decided it was time to part company with Mitzi.

Overland with the Dales Team in 2006

It was in April 2006 that David introduced me to the idea of helping blind children in the Gambia. By then he had visited that country several times to help at the school for the blind as well as to deliver Mitsi. By 2006 Mitsi needed replacing and David had begun to dream of taking something bigger and better. I wrote a feature for the Darlington and Stockton Times  about his dream and within a few months the Dales Team had formed.

WithMrsDavies1b The team consisted of David, myself, Ken Nicholas, Donna Parker and Hazel Townesend from Wensleydale; Ray Wright from Arkengarthdale; Charles and Elaine Wood from nearby Richmond; and Frank Whitfield from East Cowton near Darlington. By September three of the team (David, Charles and Ray) were able to travel to Germany to buy two Mercedes minibuses – a Sprinter and an MB100 as, for the Gambia, we needed left-hand drive vehicles. David likes Mercedes anyway, and the parts and expertise for them are easily available in that part of Africa.

(Above) When 100-years-old Kathleen Davies (who now lives in Bainbridge) heard about our adventure she decided to knit teddies for the children. Here she is with Ken. By the Sprinter are, from the left, Donna, Hazel, Pip, David and Ray.

As a team we raised over £13,000 for this project which included what we put in the kitty to cover our travel expenses. We left England on November 23 and reached Banjul on December 11 after a fascinating journey which had taken us through Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal.  In Morocco all of us especially enjoyed our short visit to Marrakech and the drive through the Atlas Mountains.


(Above) One of Ken’s great photographs from the journey – this was taken on the drive through the Atlas Mountains. Later he took the sun roof out of  Rosie the MB100 so that he could photograph our descent to the desert. The ability to get out through that hole in the roof proved very useful on the ferry across the River Gambia as there was so little space between vehicles that we couldn’t open the doors. That hole also provided Donna and myself and great vantage point (below)

G O V I ..... 1030

G O V I ..... 1032

The most memorable moment for all of us was arriving at the school and receiving such a warm, wonderful welcome from the staff and students. We not only delivered the new school buses but also equipment like computers, a printer and a computer driven embosser. David made sure that these were soon “up and running”.

On a visit to the Gambia in 2008 Ken Nicholas helped Lamin Saidy maintain and paint the playground equipment (below).

The playground was constructed under the supervision of FGVI’s representative in the Gambia, Lamin Saidy, who had designed it. Over the years he did  a lot to maintain the playground and the buildings.


 For David’s overland journey to the Gambia in 2010 with a team from Wensleydale Rotary Club click here.

Malcolm Garner and the impact of that first overland journey to The Gambia:

I feel as though a part  of my own history has died with him, as David and I go back a long way professionally, and then I shared with him one of the greatest adventures of my life – the drive to Gambia in December 2003 to deliver the Mitsubishi minibus to the School for the Blind in Serrekunda.

In our working careers, David was the representative for teachers of the blind and partially sighted when I was for teachers of the dear on an organisation called the Special Educational Needs National Advisory Council (SENNAC) which was actually far less important than its name suggests! Nonetheless we did some good work and organised a few national conferences which were interesting and sometimes influential.

It was through that contact that David got in touch in 2003 to ask if I (and others) would sponsor his journey to deliver the minibus to Gambia. I was impressed that he had set this up and wrote and said I would, and that I wished I was going too, to which he replied – “Well why don’t you. I need a co-driver.” Hence my involvement.

The journey was absolutely fascinating and exciting, including a complete failure of the clutch in  the middle of our crossing of the Sahara Desert! The repair of that in the desert was an epic achievement and we made it to Gambia intact and were able to hand the minibus to the school as planned. The project and journey was all David’s idea and initiative and, to his great credit, he made the journey [several more times] with other vehicles to donate to work in Gambia. I know he is remembered in Gambia with enormous affection and gratitude and they too will be very sad to hear of his passing.


Above: David (left) and Malcolm with Mitsi on arrival in Banjul, The Gambia, in January 2003

This experience had a life changing impact for me as I was later to return to Gambia on a regular basis to try and develop health and education services for deaf children and adults, something which continues to this day. This has been a rewarding and fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) experience and I have David to thank for leading me in this direction.

David has left a very significant legacy of change for good among many pupils disadvantaged by limited or no sight, both in the UK and also in Africa, and also among professionals such as myself who have benefitted from his energy, initiative and enthusiasm. As such I will never forget David and will always be grateful for the opportunities and encouragement he has given me over the years.

Phillip Feller, Chairman of the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in The Gambia:

Thirty years ago David answered my appeal for assistance for the blind and visually impaired children of The Gambia.  At that time David was head of what was then the Sensory Support Service of the Norfolk County Education Department.

Joining me in The Gambia David soon assessed the needs of the blind and visually impaired children there. His list was frighteningly long.

To mention a few: proper training for the few teachers who were working with the children; computers with special programmes to assist training; Braille machines and paper; tape recorders; and even a purpose-built school. At that time the few pupils attending a dedicated facility were housed in an annex to a mainstream school in Banjul.

David – with great enthusiasm – set to work with myself and my wife, Joan, to start meeting those needs. A charity was registered first as the Friends of GOVI (The Gambian Organisation for the Visually Impaired) and later as the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia. Funds were successfully raised for building a special school for the children at Serrekunda.

A highlight for David was the purchase of a minibus in 2003 and, together with Malcolm Garner,  drove to The Gambia with urgently needed equipment. Subsequently he organised and led several other overland deliveries including that with the Dales Team in late 2006 and with members of the Wensleydale Rotary Club in 2010. The minibuses were then used by the school.

After several years of meetings with the Minister of Education we succeeded in obtaining an agreement that student teachers, as part of their training, would spend time with disabled pupils at St John’s School for the Deaf and at the GOVI School for the Visually Impaired (both at Serrekunda).

David worked closely with the Education Department and with the Integrated Education Programme headed by Nancy Mendy and her deputy Sarjo Bajinka.

Having just returned from The Gambia ( in 2019)  I was unable to inform David that there were now over 300 visually impaired children receiving education and of Nancy Mendy’s latest initiative to recruit more teachers. This is a legacy that David could be proud of.

All I can say is: Thank you David for all your help and support over the years and for realising my dream of a future of hope for the blind and visually impaired children of The Gambia.

(First posted on the website of the charity of which David was a founder member and a former trustee.)

David Pointon and a special celebration at Thornton Rust


Villagers at Thornton Rust raised their glasses to my husband, David Pointon, on Saturday June 1. He had died just two weeks before the 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of the village’s Kennel Field TrustAbove: David on his quad bike overlooking Wensleydale from near the Kennel Field.

At that celebration the villagers also raised their glasses to the continued prosperity of what is often known as the Millennium Field. The Kennel Field Trust was set up to bring that field, once used by the Wensleydale Harriers for kennelling its hounds, into public ownership and to restore it.

The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT)  had supported the Kennel Field Trust  then – and, as part of its own 20th anniversary celebrations awarded a further grant of  £4,000.

At the party in Thornton Rust village hall on Saturday the chairman of the Kennel Field Trust, John Dinsdale, explained that this grant was used to install new fencing, reinstate the cooking area of the mash house, order an interpretation board and install a new bench.

Deborah Millward, the Trust’s secretary, told those who had gathered in the village hall: “Dave [Pointon] had been associated with the Kennel Field for at least 15 years and for much of that time he was a trustee.

“I think what appealed to him and the rest of us was the ethos of the Kennel Field: that it was owned by the community; that the villagers could freely wander wherever they wanted there – enjoy the flowers, enjoy the birds, and enjoy the view.”

She added that he was a very good artist and had designed the artwork for the new bench. “Sadly he hasn’t been to see it but he did have photographs. I think he would be wanting us to celebrate and so I would like you to raise your glasses in joyful memory to Dave.”

His wife, Pip, said later: “As his mobility was becoming more and more restricted he had bought a quad bike so that he could still visit the Kennel Field and go up onto the moors. He loved the Yorkshire Dales and still wanted to enjoy them.”

Below: the new bench with David’s artwork engraved on it.


David was an Aysgarth and District parish councillor for Thornton Rust and a member of its village hall committee.

He was chairman of Northallerton branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorist and a Qualified Observer (trainer).

He was on the Representative Group for West Burton CofE School and then a member of the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools Working Party.

Before he retired to Wensleydale in 2001 he was head of service in Norfolk for children and young people with sensory impairment. He set up that service in 1983 and through it children were brought from boarding schools for the blind and visually impaired into main stream education. This led to him being a representative for teachers of the blind and visually impaired on the Special Educational Needs National Advisory Council and being a trustee of a charity aimed at helping such children in The Gambia.

After retirement he made several overland journeys to The Gambia to deliver equipment to the only school for the blind and visually impaired in that country and to run training classes for teachers working with them. David and I also introduced Heather Ritchie of Rug Aid to that school and it is wonderful to see how her work in The Gambia has developed since then.

He also served as a governor at Risedale School until it was converted into an academy and at Leeming Bar CofE Primary. He was involved for a time with Reeth School through the Quaker Trust as well as being a governor for six years at Breckenbrough School at Sandhutton run by North Yorkshire Quakers.

His funeral will be at Gorleston Crematorium as he died on his boat on the Norfolk Broads and as his daughter and some of his closest friends live in Norfolk.

Later there will be a Memorial Meeting at Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House. As one of those who worked with him in the Sensory Support service commented: “His discovery of the Quaker faith gave him an anchor later in life and I know he loved the life ‘up North’ surrounded by such magnificent countryside.”

Pip’s message on Facebook on May 21:

Sadly my wonderful husband, David, died suddenly on Sunday – [sitting] in his favourite place on his boat on the Norfolk Broads. I am so grateful to the strangers who helped me with CPR, to the paramedics and ambulance staff who worked so hard to bring him back, to Eddie my son for driving from London to be with me that evening and for being a tower of strength, and to the Bondi family, especially Jim and Sue for caring for me so well at their home.

Remembering Aysgarth Methodist Chapel


Above after the service on April 7 2019 : Front Row l-r – Richard and Ann Wilkinson, Jean Cockburn and Rona Trowell. Back row – Anne Moore, Martin and Pauline Beckett and Frank Trowell.

Aysgarth Methodist chapel was full on Sunday April 7 for its final service before its official closure on April 22 2019.

The few remaining Methodist chapels in mid and upper Wensleydale were represented as well as St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, and the local community.

The service was led by Dr Richard Wilkinson who for many years was a local Methodist lay preacher as well as being the organist at St Andrew’s Church.

He spoke of his own sadness about the closure of the chapel which, he said, had been a wonderful centre for the village. He reflected on the history of the chapel and the local man to whom it has been a memorial – the Rev Sylvester Whitehead who served for ten years as a missionary in China and who, in 1904 became the President of the Wesleyan Conference.

The present chapel was built by local craftsmen in 1900. It replaced a cottage on the site which had been used for services since 1766.

Dr Wilkinson remembered those who had ministered there and recalled the annual nativity plays in which the village children participated. “These were a wonderful experience for all of us, led by Jean Cockburn and Rona Trowell,” he said.

Mrs Cockburn started the nativity plays in 1966 four years after taking over the chapel’s Sunday School. For 20 years or more she has assisted Rona Trowell with the nativity plays and all age worship services.

“I ‘m very grateful that I’ve had over 90 years of being a chapel member,” said 92-years-old Mrs Cockburn as she shared some of her memories (see below). She is one of the five remaining members of Aysgarth chapel who made the decision to close it.

Another was Pauline Becket who told the congregration: : “We have reached the end of a long road and we have to look for a new direction.”

She sang a solo at the beginning of the service, and there were two duets by Emma Cloughton and Colin Bailey. The organist was Diane Hartley.

After the service Mrs Cockburn was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Mary Hugill as a thank you for all she had done at the chapel for so many years.

Most of the congregation remained in the chapel afterwards for the buffet tea.

Jean’s reflections:

When Richard asked me if I would say a few words about our chapel my first thought was “No Way” – but I thought of the years I’d asked him to play [the organ] and he never refused so I had second thoughts and decided I just couldn’t refuse.

I seem to have been involved with chapel all my life, sitting with Mam firstly and then in the choir, with Dad [Cecil Riggs] playing the organ.  Occasionally Mam allowed me to take my panama hat off and put it on the window ledge, but in the 1930s not wearing a hat would have been frowned on. Everyone wore their Sunday best for Chapel, and trousers for women wouldn’t have been acceptable at all.

The heating for the Chapel was a coal boiler which Dad had to go every Sunday morning whatever the weather down the steps into the cellar to light the boiler.

Each year members and friends went round Christmas singing, always walking – Hestholme where the Vicars lived then the houses up to Aysgarth, cups of tea and biscuits at a few of them. Then the next night finish Aysgarth and Thornton Rust where Hannah at Low Gill had a lovely spread for us.

For me Christmas singing was the highlight of Christmas. It stopped a lot of years ago, maybe because everyone got older, and maybe because we’d not got Dad with his tuning fork.

Some verses from the poem Jean wrote several years ago about her memories of Aysgarth Chapel:

I learnt pretty early that Sundays were Chapel,
No playing games for me,
It was Sunday School, Chapel then Chapel again
And in the middle up to my Aunty’s for tea.

The Aldersons, Sayers, Thompsons, Pedleys
All were sat in the centre
With Grandma Riggs on the very front seat
To hear the preacher the better

Ben, Jim & Alice took Sunday School each week,
For the boys and girls of Aysgarth who were not always meek.
The boys carved names on Chapel pews and led old Jim a dance.
But faithful soul that old Jim was, he didn’t stand a chance.

The Sunday School trip was a must each year
To Redcar, the sands and the sea,
Paddling and building sand castles,
Then into a cafe for tea.

The old ones now have passed away
But still our Chapel remained
With a host of happy memories
Of many happy days.

and she has now added this final verse –
But now our Chapel’s closing,
And we all feel very sad
But we’ll trust God for the future
And thank Him for all the years that we’ve  had.

Jean and the last Nativity at the chapel

Above: Jean Cockburn (in the foreground) and Rona Trowell with the children who participated in the Aysgarth Chapel Nativity this year.

Christmas won’t be quite the same in  Aysgarth without its annual children’s nativity at the Methodist Chapel. With the chapel due for closure in 2019 the last nativity was held  on Sunday December 9.

A few days later I sat with Jean  Cockburn (92) as she searched both her father’s diaries and her own to pinpoint exactly when she started organising this very special community event.

Finally we found her notes in November and December 1966 about the rehearsals for the first nativity play in the chapel. By then she had already been running the Sunday School for four years.

“I used to go to Kendal to buy suitable plays as there was a nice little religious bookshop there,” she told me.

It was pointed out at this year’s nativity that the parents of several of the children taking part had also previously participated in the plays – and some of the grandparents too.

For the past 25 years Rona Trowell has helped to organise the chapel’s Nativity event. Both she and Jean were thanked by Frank Trowell.

In recent years Rona and Jean have introduced some very creative changes to the nativity story adapting it to the abilities of the children taking part. This year’s was a very good example with the older children (Charlotte, Thomasina, Abigail and George) providing the narration and impressing everyone with their singing.

The younger children (Sebastian, Douglas, Aidan, Lily-Anne, Jacob and Will) had great fun enacting the arrival of the nativity characters. The congregation also thoroughly enjoyed the  instrumental solos by Amy and Sophie.

Andrew Souter accompanied the carol singing on the organ. The collection of £160 was shared between the charities Action for Children and Children in Need.


Frank Knowles’ Photography Exhibition

FKQueenMotherIn the 1950s Frank Knowles was Wensleydale’s archetypal news photographer – and until Sunday February 17 60 of his magnificent black and white photographs are on show at Tennants Garden Rooms in Leyburn. These include his favourite news picture – the one he took of the Queen Mother when her train stopped at Harrogate Station (left)

He was working for the Ackrill Group of newspapers based in Harrogate and had gone there to process the glass slides which were then used as negatives. He was asked to go to the station and try and get a photo of the Queen Mother.

“Everything was cordoned off. There wasn’t a soul on the platform but I got on alright. It was a long train and I had to go right down the platform. Eventually I found the Queen Mother. She was sat at the window, had her glasses on, her ledger open and was writing in it.

“I bowed my head to be respectful and I pointed down at the camera. She [signalled to me] to wait a minute and I thought ‘Oh, all the security people are going to come and catch me.’ She just took off her glasses, put them to one side, closed the ledger and she posed. And I took that picture. I was absolutely amazed. I thought how nice it was of her. She could so easily have waved me out of it. I was quite prepared that if she did tell me to be off I would have done so without taking a picture. I think it’s a good picture.”

Frank was 15 when he left Harrogate Grammar School and joined the Ministry of Aircraft Photographic Laboratory in Harrogate in 1943. His job entailed making 8×6 inch contact prints from whole plate glass negatives. He explained: “Many of these were photographs of new and secret aeroplanes and were subject to Official Secrets Regulations.

“When the Ministry of Aircraft moved back to London I started as a printer with the Ackrill Group.” He did his two years National Service in the Army during when he continued his interest in photography. He even took the official photos of his Company Commander, Officers and NCOs for recording purposes.


“When I returned [to the Ackrill Group] from National Service, I started using a press camera in earnest in both Harrogate and Thirsk. Soon after this I was asked to cover the Wensleydale area. It was the life of Riley. I cannot think of any better job in the world – to be given a camera and told to go up into the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and record the people and events. I had a completely free rein as long as I sent in a supply of pictures each week.”

Those provide a remarkable glimpse into the life and times of the dale which became his home. They include house fires, train crashes, local gymkhanas and dramatic winter weather.

“Perhaps the most memorable and scary event was being with a bomb disposal team on the moors and actually touching a live 100lb German bomb prior to it being detonated,” he commented.

The bomb disposal unit from Portsmouth had been sent to Wether Fell near Hawes in 1957 to deal with the bomb. The unit took five weeks to reach it but Frank had only a fraction of a second to photograph the 200ft-high plume of debris when it exploded.

It was even harder for him to estimate the right moment to take a photograph when one of the largest prepared explosions in England took place in Redmire Quarry in 1952. His photograph showed the rock face bulging outwards due to the impact of the 3,750lbs of explosives when they were detonated inside a tunnel.

“I had to follow a lot of ambulances to get one good story,” he told me. One ambulance took him to the Blea Moor tunnel near Ribblehead station where, in April 1952, the morning express from Glasgow to London had crashed. He was the first pressman at the scene and took some moving photographs of not only the crash, complete with discarded pram, but also of a mother and her baby waiting with other slightly injured passengers for transport.

Frank didn’t chase fire engines. Instead he often beat Leyburn’s retained firemen to a fire.

“The firemen then had only basic equipment and no radio pagers,” he said. “They had to rely on the siren and if they were working out of town they couldn’t hear it. The fire engines were not much better than Green Goddesses. When I heard the siren I went to the fire station to find out what sort of fire it was. The fire engine was quite ponderous and could not go as fast as my van.”


One day only two turned up at the fire station, a fireman and himself! They loaded a couple of extinguishers into his press van and went to a house in Leyburn where a settee was smouldering. “The fireman and I carried it out into the garden and he put the fire out.” Not surprisingly Frank has no photographs of that fire scene.

But he did get others such as in Bedale when a car burst into flames behind Mr Brears’ ironmongery shop. The man who had been working on the car was in flames as he ran for help. Frank arrived in time to photograph people using new buckets from the ironmongery as they helped quench the flames.

“I was also involved in life and death situations,” he said. “On one occasion I helped a farmer to deliver a calf with a difficult birth. I pulled on a rope around the calf’s legs. Another time I took some photos of a fire where an old gentleman died. The photos were used by the police at the inquest – obviously they were not published.

“I was fortunate that I had a good relationship with the police. On one occasion I provided transport to take an officer on to the moor to try and rescue a swan [which had fallen] down a mineshaft. Unfortunately it had to be shot as no one could get near enough to rescue it.“

The police once asked me to keep an eye out for two young boys who were missing from home in Sunderland. When returning to Leyburn from Hawes Sports, I saw two youngsters near Bainbridge. I returned to Hawes, picked up a police officer and we caught up with the boys who turned out to be the missing pair. They had been camping near the river. I looked after one while the officer took to the other boy to their camp to collect clothes etc. I received a letter of thanks from the grateful parents.”


Photographing action shots was not easy in the days when photographers had to use heavy quarter-plate glass slides as negatives. “With a modern camera you can keep your finger on the trigger! I had only one chance – I either got it or I didn’t. You didn’t have a second chance because you had to change slides. It was quite a performance between one shot and another. I could change a glass slide in 10 seconds. You had to keep careful track of which ones were unused and which ones were used. Otherwise you could spoil the ones you had already taken.”

“With that camera I had to focus manually. It had what you call a focal-plane shutter. You had to wind a nob on the side and a shutter came down and a blind with a slot in it. You adjusted that slot as to how little or how much exposure you wanted to give it. You didn’t quite know what you were doing but you just knew by experience to put it at an eighth of an inch wide or an inch wide if it was bad light. It was quite a skill really.”

Photographing gymkhanas was a particularly difficult job. He had to decide, before a horse jumped a fence, if the rider was likely to come a cropper or not. If he aimed at photographing the final part of the jump it was possible he wouldn’t get an interesting photo at all. He did capture the moment at Bellerby one year when a competitor’s horse “carried all before him” and destroyed a jump.


In addition to carrying the large camera and a box of glass slides he also had to take a heavy pack to recharge his flash unit.“It was terrible when you were going off to take snow pictures. You had this great weight on your shoulder,” he said.

He was always expected to cover bad weather stories, however dangerous. In December 1952 he heard about a multiple pile-up outside Leyburn. As he reached the scene his own van skidded on the black ice and was damaged.

“It was happening so fast no one could run up the hill to warn people. You had to keep leaping out of the way. It was like one of those funny films,” he said. In all 11 vehicles were involved including two large Army trucks and the seven-ton army recovery lorry sent to rescue them. Above: Frank and his camera in the 1950s.

In February 1956 he joined a post woman, Marion Bowes, from Ulshaw Bridge, to photograph her trying to deliver letters during a four-day snow storm. Together they battled their way up to Sowden Beck farm where they found Mr and Mrs Banks feeding their sheep. Marion had just one letter to deliver and when Mrs Banks opened it she commented: “You needn’t have brought that.” It was a notice of a rent increase!

Frank then had to take his slides to Harrogate for developing. “I would fight my way out of the dales and when I got to Harrogate there wasn’t a flick of snow. If I didn’t have the photographs with me they would not have believed me.”

In 1953 he married Betty Wray whose father and uncle ran the ironmongery business in the centre of Leyburn. He joined the family business in 1960 and continued to manage it, even after it was taken over by new owners, until he retired in 2004.

He will be 90-years-old on January 31 but is as determined as ever to continue taking good photographs. He uses what he describes as a glorified digital camera which has a zoom lens but no interchangeable lenses. “It’s a lot lighter,” he said with a chuckle.


Above: Frank pointing out the difference between the glass slides he used in the 1950s and, on the right, a modern SD card on which over a thousand photos can be stored. Photo by Gilly Knowles.

He also showed me his excellent action photo of cyclists racing towards Leyburn during the Tour de France in 2014.

“Even today it depends on what the photographer wants and how he is going to get it,” he commented. Both he and his daughter, Gilly, took pairs of steps with them so that they could be above the crowd to take photos of the Tour de France.


Photography has become a family tradition for the Knowles. Frank explained: “One hundred years ago my mother was employed as a photographic finisher at Davey’s, a well-known Harrogate photographer in James Street.

“My son, Andrew, was the official photographer and line artist for North Yorkshire County Council. His son, Ben, is a professional photographer and his daughter, Abi, is also an accomplished photographer. Gilly continues the theme by embarking on a degree course in photography. Four generations working with photography. I think we may have photography in the blood!”

Gilly added that, as a family, they produce a calendar every year. The photographs for these are contributed not just by Frank, Gilly and Andrew but also by Ben and Abi.

It was Gilly who introduced Frank to Leyburn Band when it was re-started in 2003. She plays 2nd horn – while Frank takes the photographs. “I must have two to three hundred pictures of the band,” Frank said.

One of the regular venues has been Tennants Garden Rooms. He described how Rodney Tennant (chairman of Tennants Auctioneers) had allowed him to photograph the band from anywhere he wanted. And it was Rodney who encouraged Frank to hold an exhibition there of his 1950’s press photos.

The curator at the Garden Rooms, Harriet Hunter Smart, worked with Frank to organise it. Together they chose 60 out of the 200 that he and Gilly have made digital copies of. One of those photos is of a crowd at Middleham and in the front is Rodney in school uniform.

Harriet was keen to have photos for which there were stories. “It was quite a job writing full captions,” commented Frank.

The exhibition includes the photo he couldn’t take – that of his own wedding.

“I must have taken over 1,000 wedding photos over that ten years,” said Frank. Some people still remind him that he took their wedding photo.

Gilly is looking forward to hearing peoples’ comments at the exhibition. Those who took the opportunity to visit on January 18 so as to meet Frank were very impressed.


Remembering a father and a great uncle


The Festival of Remembrance at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, in November 2018 provided an opportunity for Hugh Rose of Leyburn and Catrina Cloughton of Thornton Rust to remember their father: Major Donald Herbert Rose MC (above).

Major Rose was born in 1885 in Lincolnshire, went to what was then Ceylon in 1910 and became a tea and rubber planter. He joined the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC) in 1911. Lance Corporal (Rifleman) Rose was among the 237 from the Corps who were sent to Egypt in October 1914. They initially helped to defend the Suez Canal against Ottoman Turkish attack.

In December that year they joined the Wellington Battalion of the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac). They made such a good impression that many were sent for officer training. Rose did his in Egypt with the 1/6 Essex Regiment. In August 1915 the regiment was sent to Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. Those who survived were evacuated in December 1915, first to guard the Suez Canal and then to fight the Turkish Army through Egypt into Gaza.

Major Rose commanded the company which was the first to enter Gaza City. From there they went to Damascus where he and his company marched into the city 200 yards behind General Allenby and Lawrence of Arabia. He finished in Baghdad and returned to Ceylon in 1919.

He remained there until the early 1950s by which time he was married. On returning to England they finally settled in Thornton Rust when his wife Joan became the assistant matron at what was then a sanatorium at Thornton Lodge.  He died in 1963.


“Trina” Cloughton also shared the sad love story of her maternal great uncle Sgt Ernest Moore.

He grew up in Tudhoe Colliery in Co Durham, the only son of John and Alice Moore. John was from a mining family but attended evening classes after he left school when he was 14. He worked his way up to becoming a mine’s inspector.  His job included making sure there was no gas in the mines said Trina.

When Ernest joined the Durham Pals (18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry) at Craken Hall on 29 December 1914 he was 20 years and 10 months old and listed his occupation as “shop assistant”.

After training the Durham Pals were sent to Egypt late in 1915 to defend the Suez Canal. They were then moved to France in March 1916 for the “Big Push”. Sgt Moore survived the Battle of the Somme but was killed in action on 19 May 1918. He was buried at Caestre Military Cemetery in France.

He had hoped to return and marry his girlfriend and had given her a bracelet as an “engagement” present before he went overseas.

Mrs Cloughton said: “He was ‘engaged’ to one of my grandma’s sisters, Emma Musgrave. He and Aunty Emma loved poetry. He sent her a book of poems each Christmas. They are suede covered and wouldn’t have been cheap.”

Emma cut out the “In Memoriam” notice in the local newspaper and stuck it on a page in one of those books. The notice read: “Roll of Honour. MOORE. – In cherished memory of Sgt. E. Moore (Durham Pals), beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Moore, Tudhoe Colliery, who fell in France May 19th, 1918. Safe in our Father’s home until the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

And the poem on that page was God’s Acre:

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls

  The burial-ground God’s Acre….

God’s-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts

  Comfort to those who in the grave have sown

The seed that they had garnered in their hearts,

  Their bread of life, alas! no more their own….

Below: It is likely that Sgt Moore is the man with a cigarette standing at the back with his arm resting on a friend’s back. He does look older and battle weary compared to that above which was probably taken before he left England for the Western Front.


Remembering Pte Thomas Spence


Pte Thomas Spence of Walden and West Burton was one of those who did come home from WW1 but then died during the flu epidemic. ‘He was gassed and later got the flu. He died at home,’ said his grand-daughter, Frances Sledge of Leyburn.

For his wife, Fanny, and daughter, Grace Kathleen, his death meant that they had to leave their home in West Burton. Fanny took her daughter back to her family in Wharfedale. They either lived with Fanny’s parents (William and  Deborah Gill) at the post office in Buckden or they stayed with her aunt and uncle at Fold House Farm in Kettlewell.

It was to those addresses that his medals (the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-1915 Star) were sent and the family carefully stored them in the boxes and envelopes in which they came.

Tom was born at Hargill Haw Farm in Walden where his father, John farmed. He had four siblings: Margaret, Grace, Sarah and John. In the 1911 census he was described as a 15-years-old draper’s apprentice.  By 1915 he had enlisted with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards).

On April 1 1915 he wrote to his mother, Margaret Spence,  from Newcastle-on-Tyne: “Dear Ma, I arrived safe and sound, but I got a very pleasant surprise, we are of (sic) across before the 18th of this month. Dont fret or worry I shall be alright…. Tell uncle Kit I am of but dont forget I shall come safely back again. I had a very enjoyable time at Northallerton…. Tell Mr Roulden I shall write to him soon now, to let the School children know how we get on. … I am in the Pink of health. I am  your loving son Tom. Remembrance to all at Burton.”

His battalion had moved from its home base at Northallerton and, just as Tom said, was sent to France on April 18, and straight into battle in the Ypres sector. The regiment saw action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 which was probably  when he was gassed. He received his honourable discharge certificate and silver badge after being in hospital in August 1916.

He married Fanny Gill at Skipton registry office in August 1918 but died on April 18 1919 aged 23. He was buried in Aysgarth churchyard four months before his daughter was born.  In the 1911 census her grandmother, Deborah, then 57-years-old, was described as being in charge of the post office at Buckden.  Deborah’s husband was then 71-years-old.

“He was a shoemaker. He had a long beard and lived until he was in his nineties,” said Mrs Sledge.

©Pip Pointon January 2019

Below: William Gill with his daughter, Fanny Spence, and grand daughter.

the photos belong to Mrs Frances Sledge


Peace and Remembrance Poppies at Bainbridge

The two 4ft diameter brightly coloured  poppies on the fence outside the  Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House in Wensleydale with their message of peace and remembrance which have been a feature of the village since March 2014 have now been removed.

When this was reported at the Local Quaker Meeting at Bainbridge Meeting House on Sunday January 7 it was pointed out by one member that several villagers had said how much they had appreciated this Remembrance display.

(Click on the photo above to see pictures of how the poppies were created and installed.)

When the poppies were first put in place all were invited to place their own individual remembrances and attitudes towards war and peace on the fence.  There was also a display inside the meeting house illustrating the local involvement in the two World Wars. This explained the Quaker views on peace and the work of the Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU).

The Bainbridge Quaker Meeting has its own special link with the FAU for during the 1st World War as John Leyland of Bainbridge was one of the 96 volunteers with the Unit to be awarded the Croix de Guerre for continuing to work when under fire along the Western Front. His son, Peter, served with the FAU in China in the 2nd World War. (See also A Bainbridge Family )

The poppies were created at Gayle Mill by David Pointon, a member of the Bainbridge Quaker Meeting. He was very grateful to the Gayle Mill Trust for making that possible.



Aysgarth parish and WWI

In December 1918 the vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev William K Wyley wrote in the parish letter: “I wonder if, in the years to come, November 11 will overshadow the 5th as a day greatly to be remembered.”

He was, however, very aware that dalesfolk were in the midst of the great Spanish Flu epidemic and that the WW1 peace agreement had not yet been signed.

Two soldiers, L/Cpl John Wood of Carperby and Driver William Metcalfe of Aysgarth, were given compassionate leave when their wives became ill with the flu. Both women died, Eleanor Metcalfe (22) before her husband got home.

Soldiers began to be demobbed in early 1919 and this led to Mr Wyley publishing an interesting ‘advert’ in the parish magazine: “The Employment Exchange at Northallerton has asked me to state that it has on its Registers women discharged from War Service and suitable for several classes of employment.”

It was acknowledged that women had an important part to play in reconstruction. The role that women had played during the Great War was recognised when limited suffrage was granted to them in 1918.

In October 1918 Mr Wyley commented: “We are approaching the time when, as a nation, we shall realize more fully what a tremendous change the war has made in the social, industrial and religious life of England.”

In that letter he reminded everyone about the great need of economy in the use of oil and especially coal. “I know that very many of us are reducing our fires to a very low minimum, and where wood fuel is available I am sure we shall be careful to ‘do our bit’ in this respect for our country.” He had regularly emphasised the need for food economy and, in June 1917, explained why (below).


WW1 had a massive impact upon the lives of everyone and not just because of the ravenous war machine in France and Belgium. The parish magazines not only listed those who had enlisted – but also those who were killed.

When war first broke out local people didn’t know how to respond. Initially events were cancelled but it didn’t take long for people to realise that they could use the church’s flower festivals and other celebrations to raise money for the War Working Parties or to be sent direct to hospitals caring for the war wounded. Concerts, jumble sales and tea parties were also held.

In May 1915 there was a bold headline: “200,000 Eggs wanted weekly for the wounded.” The National Egg Collection had been launched with the request that each household should send one each week to help the recovery of wounded soldiers. The West Burton and District Scout Troop took on the job in the parish and by late November had collected 6,144 eggs. These were sent to military hospitals in France and Malta and some to wounded soldiers at Leeds Infirmary.

HomeFront2SRight: published in the Aysgarth section of The Upper Dales Parish Magazine in December 1917

Children helped with collecting sphagnum moss for dressing wounds, made items of clothing and, in November 1917, were encouraged to collect horse chestnuts for munitions and also waste paper. Mr Wyley reported that within two months he received half hundredweight of horse chestnuts and four hundredweight of waste paper.

The times of services had to be adjusted when lighting restrictions were introduced in February 1916 following air raids by Zeppelins. And the shortage of manpower was beginning to have an effect. In July 1918 Mr Wyley wrote: “May haytime be favourable and health and strength sufficient to tide over the shortage of labour.”

Conscription was introduced in January 1916 and in July 1917 he wrote: “I am glad to say that the local Tribunal has granted exemption to our Sexton on condition that he is released as far as possible for agricultural and other work of National importance.

The signing of the Peace Treaty in July 1919 led to celebrations throughout the country and the Empire. But in Wensleydale the hay harvest had to come first. Mr Wyley commented: “I hope that when all the hay has been led each village… will do something to mark our rejoicing over the Peace and our gratitude to the men who won the possibility of it.”

This has been edited from the Aysgarth sections of the  Upper Wensleydale Parish Magazines 1914-1918. Aysgarth parish consists of Aysgarth, Carperby, Bishopdale, Thoralby, Thornton Rust and West Burton.

Below: The peace celebrations in 1919 at The Rookery in Bishopdale  (courtesy DCM)  The Rookery no longer exists.

Peace CelebrationsS

For more stories see the WWI section of the Thoralby Through Time website.

JWLodgeSThe biggest military funeral at Aysgarth church during WW1 was that for Col John William Lodge with the band of his regiment and the detachments of two battalions being present. The firing party fired volleys over his grave and buglers sounded the Last Post. He was 60-years-old when, on leave at his home at The Rookery in Bishopdale, he died on 23 August 1917, after a short illness.

He had served in the Boer War and from 1906-1912 had commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. At the outbreak of the 1st World War he had immediately returned to the battalion as a major and in May 1916 was appointed to the command of a Garrison Battalion. (Information and photo courtesy Wensleydale Remembered)

There wasn’t a military funeral for Pte John Percival but there is a military gravestone. He was 21-years-old when he died and was buried on 12 April 1918.

This obituary was published about him:

“He enlisted when he was 19, and after being trained at Rugeley Camp, went to France in April 1916, and was through the battle of the Somme, being badly wounded in the hand in September 1916. He was sent back to England for treatment, and made a sufficient recovery to enable him to return to service.


“As he was a competent motor driver he was transferred by the authorities from the Yorkshire Regiment to the Motor Transport, Army Service Corps, in June 1917. In this work he did good service until October last, when he was badly gassed, and was seriously ill. He returned to England, and was in the 1st London General Hospital, Camberwell, until November 27th, when he was officially discharged from the Army as physically unfit for further service.

“A relative went to London to bring him home. He was very weak, and while crossing London an air raid was proceeding, and the journey was several times interrupted. Arrived at Aysgarth he was very happy to see his home and family, and seemed to revive for a while, but the gas had seriously damaged his lungs and recovery was seen to be impossible.

“Though relatives and friends nursed him tenderly day and night there was no progress towards health. The funeral was largely attended by sympathising friends, and some beautiful wreaths and affectionate messages were sent.”

YDNPA and Swinden Quarry

ARC News Service: An application to deepen Swinden Quarry received unanimous approval at the meeting of the  Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ’s planning committee on Tuesday December 11.

Tarmac applied to deepen the quarry by a further 50m by removing an additional 11.3 million tons of limestone. This will extend the life of the quarry from 2030 to 2039. Although restoration work would  be completed by 2041 the 144m deep lake would take 27 years to fill once pumping stopped, the committee was told. 

Tarmac’s  area director, Stephen Barker, told the committee that the appearance of the site would not be altered. He said Tarmac was determined to remain a good neighbour an stated: “We can’t deny that quarrying has an impact upon the local community but we believe much of that impact is positive.”

They had, he said, consulted extensively with the community over a two year period and made some significant changes and commitments in response to the feedback they had received.

He explained that they planned to expand the rail operations and reduce the amount of road haulage.  The company would continue to be involved with bio diversity and environmental projects in Upper Wharfedale as well as supporting community projects, he said and added:

“Early in the consultation it was made apparent to us that the potential impact to the ground water and the springs and wells that supply drinking water was a concern. We have agreed to pay Yorkshire Water to install mains water to Cracoe village and to outlying properties [including Rylstone]  following the granting of planning permission.”

One of the conditions of the planning permission is that the company will sign a legal agreement which includes funding mains water supply to local residents and the reduction in road transport from 800,000 tons in 2019 to 25,000 tons a year between 2030 and 2039.

Also included is the extension of the existing provisions for independent arbitration if there are any disputes over water supply, subsidence or blasting vibration. Adequate insurance cover will be provided to cover any remedial works resulting from any adverse impacts of quarrying.

These conditions cover many of the issues raised by Cracoe Parish Meeting. The parish meeting did, however, feel that the company’s hydrology and hydrogeology report was flawed and there were insufficient monitoring wells. A Cracoe resident Dr Richard Muir explained to the planning committee why there were concerns that the lake could become alkaline.

The parish meeting had welcomed the undertaking that there would be no heavy traffic from the quarry on Saturdays and had also asked that HGV transport should not start  until 7.30am. The hours of haulage approved the the planning committee, however, were from 6.30am to 5pm Monday to Fridays.

David Parrish, the Authority’s Minerals Officer, told the committee: “There are clearly economic benefits by extending the life of Swinden Quarry – by the direct and indirect employment and to the local economy.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch pointed out that each day everyone depends on quarried products both within and outside our homes. He remembered the days when residents packed liaison meetings because they were so concerned about issues at the quarry. Now there was often no need to organise such meetings.

This supported Mr Barker’s statement that Tarmac took its obligations to the community seriously. Mr Barker said: “We recognise that some people object to the concept of quarrying in the National Park but there is a clear local and regional need for the materials we produce. We believe we have designed a scheme that protects the local landscape, secures local jobs and minimises our environment impact.”

Remembrance – John Leyland and the FAU

This story about John Leyland and the Friends Ambulance Unit was included in the Festival of Remembrance exhibition at Aysgarth church, November 9-12, 2018. The exhibition has been left in situ for the next few months.  Juliet Barker mentioned John Leyland in the address she gave at the Remembrance Service on November 11.


John Leyland was born in Bainbridge in 1890. His parents sent him to the Quaker school at Ackworth near Pontefract in West Yorkshire and there he learnt the principles of non-violence which made him choose to be a conscientious objector.

In July 1915 it was recorded in the Askrigg section of the Upper Dales Parish Magazine that 30 men had answered the call to serve King and Country. John was listed among those as he had joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) – group mainly staffed by conscientious objectors.

It was set up at the start of the Great War by a group of Quakers who wanted to offer a service that would save lives. The first party of 44 newly trained me arrived in Dunkirk in October 1914. Their first job was to help the 3,000 wounded soldiers lying on the straw-covered floor of the goods sheds at the railway station.

There was a terrible typhoid epidemic that winter and so the FAU set up the first of its hospitals, the Queen Alexandra at Dunkirk. Two of its hospitals near Ypres cared for the civilians affected by the bombardment of that city and the typhoid epidemic. The FAU had eight hospitals during WW1, four of which were in England, as well as two hospital ships.

The French army medical headquarters asked the FAU to staff and run three of its ambulance convoys (Sections Sanitaires Anglaises) – SSA 13,14 and 19. These French ambulance convoys served the whole length of the Western front during all the major offensives.

The FAU sent over 1,000 men and women to France and Belgium. Between July 1915 and February 1919 its ambulances with the SSA and its ambulance trains carried 224,964 patients, and travelled over two million kilometres. Of the 96 Croix de Guerre awarded by the French government to the FAU 78 were to those with Convoys 13,14 and 19. John Leyland was a member of SSA 14. During WW1 26 members of the FAU were killed including five convoy members.

His son, Peter, said that it had come as a big surprise to local people to hear, at John’s funeral in 1942, that he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre. He had earned that by continuing to drive ambulances to the front line to collect the injured even when the road was being shelled. ‘One day he could see shells popping up the road towards him. As they got nearer he hopped out into the ditch and the next shell hit his ambulance,’ Peter explained.




Above:  John Leyland beside his ambulance; and the ambulance after it was shelled.

Photos copyright Janet Leyland

Many Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) wear the white poppies of the Peace Pledge Union to remember all victims of all wars and to reflect the society’s commitment to peace since 1660.

More about John Leyland from an interview I had with his son, Peter, in 2008:

When he returned to Wensleydale from service with the FAU John was accepted once again as a stalwart of the local community even if many felt he had, as a conscientious objector, “skived” during WW1.

In 1918 he inherited the village grocery and drapery shop started by his great grandfather, Alexander Tiplady after returning from fighting at the battle of Waterloo.

John, like his father, was also a Wensleydale cheese factor, collecting cheeses from the local farms and selling them to retailers throughout the country. He and his wife, Isobel, whom he married in 1919, carried on running the Bainbridge Electric Lighting Company which his father had helped to set up in 1912.

The couple had two sons – Derrick and John, the latter being known locally as Peter. John Snr was chairman of the Aysgarth Board of Guardians, governor of Yorebridge Grammar School, and a member of Aysgarth Rural District Council. He played cricket and also enjoyed playing football with the Bainbridge team.

Peter served with the FAU China Convoy during WW2.

Remembering Pte William Thomas ‘Tot’ Dinsdale

‘Granddad was never the same man again. He was gassed [mustard gas] towards the end of the war. When the Armistice came he was in a hospital somewhere in the Midlands. He was there for a long time. He just got out before the hospital was decimated by Spanish Flue,’ said John Dinsdale of Hawthorn Farm, Thornton Rust. (John is the chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council). He continued:

‘Granddad went back to farming at Sedbusk but he was never a fit man. He was always short of breath. If he did anything strenuous he was jiggered. When the lads [his sons] got to be 12 or 13 they did most of the work.


Above: Tot and Charlotte Anne Dinsdale with their children l-r Thomas (John’s father and also known as ‘Tot’), Alice, Jim, Dorothy, Jack and Margaret.

Below: The kettle presented to Tot Dinsdale by High Abbotside Parish Council in recognition of his service during WW1


Pte Dinsdale fought with the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment throughout most of the war apart from when he was recovering from being wounded, John said.

‘He joined up at Hawes when they first started recruiting – I think there were 15 or 16 of them from the Upper Dale and then they all marched to Leyburn with the rest from the Dale. He thought it was the right thing to do. He was 19 or 20.’

The 4th Yorkshires first experience of trench warfare was during the Battle of Ypres from April to June 1915. The front line battles the battalion was involved with included Armentieres from August to December 1915, the Somme from August to November 1916, Ypres October 1917 (Tot returned to the battalion in time for Passchendaele) to February 1918, and Aisne in May 1918.

At Aisne on May 27 1918 the battalion and others fighting alongside it was decimated by a massive German attack. That was the end of the 4th Yorkshires as a fighting unit during WW1. (from

Like many others who returned home after the war Tot found it difficult to talk to anyone about it other than those who had also fought in the trenches. The two he turned to were Anthony and Jack Fawcett, his brothers-in-law, from High Abbotside.

John said: ‘They would go into the far room and shut the door. I’m pretty certain they were talking about the war but as soon as anyone went in they shut up. They never talked to us about it. But granddad did talk to my Uncle Ernie – his son-in-law.’ (Ernest Metcalfe)

Anthony ‘Ant’ Fawcett was given a small book of Common Prayer and Hymns Ancient and Modern by his sister Annie (later Mrs Pratt) in February 1914 and he carried that with him throughout the war. From the state of the pages it is obvious that he read some of the hymns a lot such as No230. (See Penny Barker’s address in Remembrance Service at Aysgarth Church)


Family photo courtesy John Dinsdale. Other photos by Pip Pointon.

Remembrance Service at Aysgarth

For me the Remembrance Service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, was particularly poignant for several reasons. First, as the names of The Fallen were read each soldier was so real to me after having spent weeks preparing the display for the Festival of Remembrance exhibition. Secondly, my final duty after 14 years as a Community First Responder was to ensure that a wreath from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service was included among those laid below the memorial plaque.

Thirdly, there was the memorable address by Juliet Barker in which she reminded us that World War One was a time when ordinary people did extra-ordinary things. (See below)

About 180 residents attended the Short Acts of Remembrance at village memorials at Aysgarth, Carperby, Thoralby and Thornton Rust that Sunday morning. Many then joined the procession to the church for the Remembrance Service passing the wooden ‘Tommies’ along the drive from the WW1 memorial gates on Church Bank (above). The memorial pillars had been renovated ready for the festival.

The church was full for the service which was led by the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee and Reader Ian Ferguson.  Wreaths were laid by the  Deputy Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Brigadier David Madden on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter Wade (British Legion), Cllr John Dinsdale  (Aysgarth and District Parish Council) and Neil Piper (Aysgarth church).


Juliet’s address:

Exactly one hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns on the Western Front fell silent as the Armistice that was to end the First World War came into force.

While the crowds back home in England went wild with joy, cheering, singing and getting drunk, the men actually serving in the trenches at the time spoke only of a sense of anti-climax. ‘We were drained of all emotion’, one said. ‘You were so dazed you just didn’t realise that you could stand up straight – and not be shot’, said another. Sgt-Major Richard Tobin summed it up:

‘The Armistice came, the day we had dreamed of. The guns stopped, the fighting stopped. Four years of noise and bangs ended in silence. The killings had stopped.

‘We were stunned. I had been out since 1914. I should have been happy. I was sad. I thought of the slaughter, the hardships, the waste and the friends I had lost.’

The scale of the slaughter over those four years is unimaginable, even by our standards today, and the statistics are worth repeating. Across Europe nine million soldiers died. A third of all British men who were aged between 19 and 22 in 1914 were killed.

At small public schools, which provided most of the officers, the proportion was even higher: the headmaster of Loretto, near Edinburgh, (who lost three of his own sons) observed that every boy who had left school fit to serve over the four years of the war had joined the army: over half of them had been killed or wounded.

Even on the very day of the Armistice itself, 863 Commonwealth soldiers were killed – the last one, Private George Price, a Canadian, who was shot by a sniper in Mons, died at just two minutes to 11.

This was a war that affected the whole of our country on an unprecedented scale. Although it was the big industrial towns with their ‘Pals’ regiments who suffered the heaviest losses, it is worth observing that out of all the 13,702 civil parishes in England and Wales only 53 or 54 welcomed back alive every man who had left to serve – the so-called ‘Thankful Villages’.

Statistics like these may give us some idea of the sheer numbers who died but what they cannot do is reveal the devastating human impact of each and every one of those deaths: the bereaved parents, the wives made widows, the orphaned children, the women who would never marry because a third of their generation of young men had been wiped out. Nor do they tell us of the lasting impact on those who survived, but had to live with sometimes horrific physical and mental injuries; or the many hundreds, if not thousands, who died of what was classified as influenza or TB – though in fact it was actually the result of being gassed.

Every Remembrance Sunday we pledge ‘We will remember them’. But even if we honour their sacrifice, how can we actually ‘remember’ people we don’t know? And as the years pass, fewer and fewer of us can claim to have known anyone who lived through, or fought in, the Great War of 1914 to 1918. When their names on the war memorial are read out, how many of us know who these men were? How many of us have wondered, like me, if repeating the name of Pte Matthew Heseltine is simply a mistake?

This centenary year of the signing of the Armistice seemed a particularly appropriate time for us to hold our Festival of Remembrance – an opportunity for us to come together as a community so that we could gather and preserve the stories of the men and women from our parish who served in WWI, before they are lost forever. So when you hear Pte Matthew Heseltine’s name read out twice, you will now know that it is not a mistake, and that these two young men were cousins from farming families in Thoralby and Newbiggin, who not only shared a name, but enlisted into the same regiment on the same day and, aged 21 and 22, were killed in action at the Somme – on the same day, 14th September 1916.

And you’ll also know that Pte John Percival of the Motor Corps, who is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in our churchyard, was actually 21-year-old Jack, son of the huntsman of the Wensleydale Harriers, who fought all through the Somme in the Yorkshire Regiment alongside the Heseltine cousins, and was only transferred to the Motor Corps after being severely wounded. Sent back to France, he was badly gassed in October 1917, discharged as unfit for further service and brought home by his family to die. Jack has the dubious distinction of being commemorated on more local memorials than any other man from our parish.

For every man on our memorial there is a story: 19-year-old Pte William Edmund Bushby, who won the Croix de Guerre but was killed in action only nine days before the Armistice; 28-year-old Gunner Timothy Spensley Percival who died of his wounds five days after it; 26-year-old Pte George Sydney Gould and 28-year-old Pte James Pickard Bell, who had both emigrated to Canada in search of employment and a better life, as so many young Dalesmen did during the first decade of the 20th century, but returned to fight in defence of king and country, and were killed for their altruism.

But there are also men born in the parish whose names had already slipped from memory when the memorials were erected in the years immediately after the war: Pte Albert Dinsdale Bell, of Thoralby, for instance, who was killed in action on the Western Front in 1917 and Pte Walter Percival, of Thornton Rust, who was only 19 when he died of dysentery as a Prisoner of War in France.

Thanks to the extensive research undertaken by Penny Ellis, our First World War Roll of Honour for The Fallen of our parish has now risen from 20 to 32 men. But what the new Roll of Honour also does is commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men – and women – from this parish – 193 of them – who went to war, but came back again.

One of the popular vaudeville songs about American soldiers returning from France posed the question in its chorus ‘How ‘ya gonna keep ‘em down on the Farm? (After they’ve seen Paree)’. The idea that there was a wider world outside the small farming communities in which they had hitherto spent their lives was one which certainly spoke to some of the women who joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

May Heseltine, who served as a nurse in Egypt and lost her brother and cousin in the war, had no intention of returning to Thoralby once it was over, choosing instead to take up a nursing career in America. Madge Blades, who trained with her, would also have liked to remain a professional nurse in Leeds, but succumbed to family pressure to return home, becoming instead the pharmacist at the doctor’s surgery in Aysgarth – and organist at this church for a remarkable 69 years.

By contrast, the men who had lived through the horrors of the trenches and served at the Front, seem to have been quite content to return to the Dales and pick up the threads of their old lives as far as they were able to do so. Many of them had been injured, some of them repeatedly, and some of them endured constant pain; some of them had been gassed and would suffer from breathing problems for the rest of their lives, which were often cut short because of their wartime experiences. We live in an over-sharing age, but these men kept the burden of their terrible memories to themselves: only when they were with other veterans would they feel able to talk freely – and would always fall silent if someone else entered the room.

John Leyland’s friends and neighbours would only learn at his funeral in 1942 that this staunch Quaker and conscientious objector had won the Croix de Guerre for driving ambulances to the front line, under heavy shelling, to collect the wounded.

And despite everything that had happened to them, most of them kept their faith and remained stalwarts of church and chapel. Some of the most poignant exhibits we have on show are examples of this: the tiny Bible, carved with a nail out of a piece of marble from the rubble of Ypres cathedral in 1918 by a local stonemason – whose family are still local stonemasons; the well-thumbed prayer and hymn book (see Pte W T Dinsdale) which accompanied a soldier to the Front and falls open at his favourite hymn:

‘There is a blessèd home

Beyond this land of woe

Where trials never come

Nor tears of sorrow flow…

There is a land of peace

God’s angels know it well ….

Look up you saints of God

Nor fear to tread below

The path your Saviour trod

Of daily toil and woe.

For Ant Fawcett, and the thousands of men like him facing the sheer horror and terror of daily life – and death – on the Front Line; experiencing the worst that human beings can, and do, inflict on each other; there was comfort and hope in trusting and believing in a Saviour – our Saviour – who shared both our humanity and its sufferings. A Saviour who, in that inspirational Gospel reading we heard today, commanded His followers to love one another, as He had loved them.

This goes to the heart of Christian teaching. Love is not only stronger than death, it is the path to life and to salvation. It is selfless and therefore it is sacrificial. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ Jesus told His disciples as He prepared to go to His own death so that we, his friends, might have eternal life. His words appear on so many of our war memorials because they reflect the sacrifice made by so many who also gave their lives for those whom they loved.

If our Festival of Remembrance does nothing else, I hope it pays appropriate tribute to the so-called ‘ordinary’ men and women of our dale who, not of their own choosing, were called upon to do extra-ordinary things.

In a period when hatred and violence seemed all-powerful, they demonstrated time and again the selflessness of love: love for their families and friends back home (‘Don’t tell mother so much about it’ one young man drafted into a tank unit nick-named ‘The Suicide Club’ writes home to his brother, ‘I know she will take it badly’). And love for their comrades whose lives they held dearer than their own in the hell on earth that was the battlefields and trenches of the First World War.

By telling some of their stories I hope that we will be able to say, with renewed conviction and greater understanding than before: ‘We will remember them.’

(Photo of front page of the Northern Echo Tuesday, 12 November 1918, courtesy of John Suggitt. A copy of the front page of that newspaper is still on display on the Home Front board in Aysgarth church.)

For photos of the Festival see Aysgarth Festival of Remembrance.

(Sadly I had to resign as a community first responder due to back problems)

Aysgarth Festival of Remembrance


(above l-r: Rishi Sunak MP, Richard and Christine Tuer, and Ann and Stuart Guy, studying the Roll of Honour created by Penny Ellis for Aysgarth ecclesiastical parish. 

Over 1,000 people including school children participated in the Festival of Remembrance events hosted by Aysgarth church from November 9 to 12.  (Click on the photo above to see more pictures of the festival)

‘That’s the value of what you have done – bringing together the many communities in an act of remembrance and a mark of remembering and paying tribute to the sacrifice of those who gave up their freedom so that we might enjoy ours today,’ Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak said when he officially opened the festival of Friday November 9.

Mr Sunak took time to study the Roll of Honour created by Penny Ellis which listed 193 men and women from Aysgarth, Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby, Thornton Rust, West Burton and Walden who served during WW1. The stories of some of them were told in the festival exhibition. In her address at the Remembrance Service on Sunday Juliet Barker said: ‘If our Festival of Remembrance does nothing else, I hope it pays appropriate tribute to the so-called “ordinary “ men and women of our dale who, not of their own choosing, were called upon to do extra-ordinary things.’

The Vicar, the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee, praised what she described as the amazing team which had planned and prepared the festival and especially thanked the sponsors. These were: Aysgarth and District Parish Council, the Richmondshire Area Partnership Fund, Tennants of Leyburn, The Wensleydale and Swaledale Quaker Meeting, Lambert’s Florists of Leyburn, Outhwaite Ropemakers of Hawes, RCP Parking Ltd, the Wensleydale Creamery and Campbells of Leyburn.

Lynn thanked those in the parish who had knitted poppies and made the paper ones for the ‘waterfall’ of poppies which cascaded over the altar. This began with 1,100 poppies and grew throughout the weekend as visitors made more.

Juliet Barker chaired the committee which worked for more than a year on the arrangements for the festival.This included an inspiring flower festival, organised by Barbara Hadlow, with floral displays depicting the battles and poets of WW1 created by the ladies of the church’s congregation and friends from Wensleydale Flower Club. Many gasped with admiration as they entered the church and saw Hazel Oliver’s ‘War Horse’ (below). And that sense of wonder continued as they viewed all the other floral displays.

(Click on the photo of the ‘War Horse’ to see more pictures of the Flower Festival.)


On the Saturday afternoon over 250 people attended what many described as a brilliant and very moving Concert of WW1 Words and Music in the church. The music was provided by the Hawes Silver Band, the Aysgarth Singers and the children of The Songbirds community choir based in West Burton.

The music was interspersed with readings under the headings ‘The oubreak of war’, ‘Fraternising with the enemy’, ‘Life and death in the trenches’, ‘The horrors of war’, ‘Women at war’ and ‘The Armistice’. Many of the readings had considerable impact because those quoted were ordinary soldiers rather than poets.  Juliet Barker, who was one of the readers, said: ‘We have deliberately chosen to use a larger number of less familiar pieces which voice the first-hand experience of the ordinary men and women who lived through The Great War.’ The other readers were Sophie Barker, Heather Limbach and David Poole.

The end of the first half was especially moving as, after everyone sang Lead Kindly Light the lights were turned out and there was silence as the Remembrance Candle was lit.

I especially liked the fact that the concert did not celebrate war but rather celebrated the human spirit.

On Monday November 12, 90 school children from Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton schools (many with their parents and grandparents) spent over an hour at the church.

This gave them an opportunity to see and touch the WWI memorabilia brought along by a curator of the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, and also to find some of the gravestones in the churchyard on which the soldiers of two world wars have been remembered. For the latter they used the pictorial guide which I produced for the festival.

Throughout Saturday, Sunday and Monday there was a steady flow of visitors with some returning to spend more time in the exhibition and to enjoy the floral displays and excellent homemade refreshments. The exhibition created by Penny Ellis and myself will remain in the church after the festival.

The Roll of Honour can be viewed on the WW1 section of Penny’s website, Thoralby Through Time.

Photos copyright Pip Pointon

Poppies for Aysgarth church


I must make some paper poppies this week – but it won’t be half as much fun doing that on my own as it was when I went to photograph Sally Stone and her grandchildren, Alyssa and Jacob (above – all photos copyright Pip Pointon)

The aim is to create a ‘waterfall’ of 1,000 poppies to cascade over the altar of St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, during the community’s Festival of Remembrance from November 9 to November 12 to commemorate the signing of the Armistice in 1914.

People throughout the parish of Aysgarth (which includes Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby and Thornton Rust) have been making the poppies, ranging from a 96-year-old to a four-year-old. Local Knit and Natter groups and the WI and Penhill Ladies have added to all the poppies being made by Anglicans, Methodists and Catholics and many others. Many of the poppies will be dedicated to a member or friend killed during the 1914-1918 War or wars since then.

Those visiting the church during the festival  will be able to make their own poppies and add them to the ‘waterfall’.  The poppies are very easy to cut out and make thanks to Doreen Mason who designed them.  (Below – making poppies)



The ‘waterfall’ will take a team of volunteers a couple of days to create just prior to the festival because each poppy will bee individually attached to a background made of  hessian – a fabric which references to the use of sandbags during WWI.

Andrew Hawkins of West Burton, whose great grandfather was killed at the Somme, is making the frame for the waterfall free of charge.

There will be a poppy dedicated to every soldier named on the parish war memorials plus some more which have been found by Penny Ellis for the new Roll of Honour which will be on show at the festival. It includes not just The Fallen but those soldiers who returned to the parish after the Great War, and also the women who served as nurses. There will be a Book of Remembrance at the festival in which the names of those for whom there are dedicated poppies will be recorded.

The chairman of the festival committee, Juliet Barker, told  me: “It was my idea to do the poppy waterfall but it was inspired by the Tower of London’s ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppy installation for the centenary of the start of WWI.”


Above: Alyssa, Sally and Jacob with the poppies they made

The festival organisers are very grateful to Richmondshire District Council’s Upper Dales Area Partnership and Aysgarth and District Parish Council for grants towards the cost of the Festival, and to RCP Parking Ltd for free parking at its Church Bank car park for all Festival visitors.

Loss of houses to rent


The new national energy efficiency regulations for rented property will have a major impact upon Dales’ communities Aysgarth and District Parish Council was told at its July meeting.

The chairman, Cllr John Dinsdale, reported that when he contacted local estate agents he learnt that 14 properties which had previously been rented had now been sold, some probably for second homes.

“We can’t lose so many rented properties,” he said.

He had invited Bernard Spence to describe what it had been like trying to bring a rented property up to the required standard so as to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least band E.

Mr Spence explained that the new regulations had come into force in April this year and an estate agent had informed him that his property in Aysgarth (above) could not be advertised for let until it had been upgraded. Like many properties in the Dales this is an old stone-built house and so is especially difficult to upgrade to modern standards.

He did manage to upgrade it sufficiently but told the councillors:“Higher required EPC changes planned in the future will make it difficult for me to continue to let the property without increases in rent.”

District councillor Yvonne Peacock said she would discuss the issue with the legal department at Richmondshire District Council. “We need to keep young people living and working in the Dales,” she said. The issue will also be brought to the attention of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority by District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry.

Reading Room. – The council was informed that at an extraordinary meeting of Thoralby Parish on June 18 it had been decided that a grant of £10,500 should be made from the Thoralby Moss account towards the cost of repairing the village Reading Room.

Cllr Brian McGregor also reported that at a Thoralby Parish site meeting it had been agreed that it was not feasible to create a car parking area in Low Green Lane as there was insufficient ground area.

Westholme. – The council received the following response from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority concerning the trees that had been felled at Aysgarth Luxury Lodge Holidays (previously Westholme Caravan Park):“After checking that this isn’t a conservation area and that there are no TPOS in force, the matter [was referred] to our Senior Trees and Woodlands Officer who referred onwards to the Forestry Commission given the amount of felled wood.

“Apparently, it is permissible to fell five cubic metres per quarter and the FC feel that no offence has been committed. The FC will, however, contact park management to give guidance on tree felling requirements, although it may be that the work is now complete. There is no breach of planning with respect to tree felling.”

Thoralby – Cllr McGregor told the meeting that Low Green Bridge needed a hand rail and netting or chicken wire as its surface was slippery. North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department reported that following an inspection it did not consider that the railway sleeper-type bridge needed to be replaced at present.

Cllr McGregor reported that the new tarmac on the road from Aysgarth Garage to Thoralby was 50 yards short of Tom Gill bridge where the road surface most needed to be repaired.

Aysgarth. – The highways department had informed the council that the speed limit sign on the west side of Aysgarth was past its sell by date and needed to be replaced. A new vehicle activated sign will be installed during the present financial year.

The clerk will ask the highways department if it will install bollards outside Flatlands or if this could be done by a resident. The council agreed that bollards are needed to stop cars being parked on the grass verge.

The highways department will also be informed about the bushes which are overhanging Dyke Hollins Lane near the Doctors’ Surgery as these were scratching cars.

The chairman, Cllr John Dinsdale, was thanked for repairing and varnishing benches. He said that the bench by the bus shelter in Aysgarth was beyond repair and so the Coronation plaque would be moved to another one.

Next meeting. – will be in Aysgarth Institute at 7.30pm on Thursday September 13.

Our Quaker Wedding – 2


Our wedding on Saturday July 21 was a joyful, relaxed event where we had time to meet and greet friends and family and, in the Friends Meeting House in Countersett, promised to be loving and faithful partners in marriage to each other. So now we are David and Pip Pointon.

Little did we think when we started planning our  wedding that it would be a historic event for many who regularly attend meetings of the Religious Society of Friends in Wensleydale and Swaledale. This was because the last wedding at Countersett was in 1841. (For more about that see Our Quaker Wedding – 1).

We are so grateful to all those who helped to make it such a special occasion. We wanted a simple Quaker wedding but nothing is ever that simple.  First there was the problem of getting 78 people to Countersett where there is very little parking.  We began to explore the idea of hiring coaches to bring our guests from Bainbridge to Countersett but there isn’t much parking space in the latter either. Thankfully the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority gave permission for its staff car park to be used and from there it was a short walk to where Fosters Coaches of Redmire collected them for the journey into Raydaleside.

Two days before the wedding David, Ken Nicholas, Phil Crowther and John Suggitt took some benches from Bainbridge Meeting House to that in Countersett using John’s trailer. When I entered the Meeting House on Saturday the first thing I noticed was the two lovely colourful posies provided by Liz Burrage who had acted as our Quaker supporter. These were in addition to the arrangement of autumn leaves created by John Warren.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the wedding for it was overcast (so not too hot) but not raining. This meant everyone had time to greet us before going into the Meeting House – and were there a lot of hugs! They were more formally welcomed by the Friends who were on duty: Hugh Dower, Judith Nicholls and Ian Hunter Smart.

The majority of us had never attended a Quaker wedding before and so were very grateful to Ian who, as an elder, explained to us what to expect. A Quaker wedding takes place during a specially arranged meeting for worship – so at the beginning we all sat in silence until David and I were ready to stand  up and make our declarations to each other. A few people then shared their thoughts or memories about us – all of which was very encouraging.

I very rarely speak at a Quaker meeting but this time I did want to share something. I mentioned that the couple who married there in 1841 were Oswald and Agnes Baynes who then moved to Poynton in Cheshire (See Our Quaker Wedding  – 1). And there beside me and Eddie at my wedding were my brother Les, his wife Beryl, their daughter Clare, and her husband Barry – all from Poynton in Cheshire. I do like a God who takes special interest in us and has a great sense of humour.

Before the meeting closed the Quaker Registering Officer, Richard Waldmeyer, invited David and I to sign the Quaker Certificate of Marriage. The first witnesses to sign were David’s daughter, Alex, and my son, Eddie. Alex and Eddie then went with us into the home of the Warrens next door to sign the registers. Philip and Lesley Warren had prepared the room so nicely for us but it was odd to walk back in there for the first time since John died. (Below: David and I signing the registers with David’s daughter, Alex, behind us.)

While we were doing that our guests were lining up to sign our Quaker Certificate of Marriage. What a wonderful way to remember our wedding! I only heard about that Quaker tradition a few weeks before our wedding and the only one I had seen before ours was that of Janet Leyland and her late husband, Peter. Janet kindly did the calligraphy on ours so it looks amazingly good (below).


Once everyone was outside it was time to let Eddie do something very special for us – an aerial photo using his drone (above). We were very impressed (the small version used here doesn’t do it justice). But it wasn’t until later that we realised that the Registrar wasn’t included. (I am glad that Les did take one of him when the registers were being signed.)

By then the coaches were waiting for their passengers, and soon we were all on our way to Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge (near where all those cars were parked) for afternoon tea provided by the Corn Mill Tearoom in Bainbridge. And what a tea! Many  described the wonderful selection of food prepared and served by members of the Peacock family as excellent, including those who were vegetarians or who had food intolerances. I especially enjoyed the butter-free carrot cake – and the big welcoming smile from Yvonne Peacock as she gave me a refreshing drink as I walked in.

We had seen the facilities at Sycamore Hall Extra Care Home when the reception after John Warren’s funeral was held there and we were very impressed. Our guests were too as they were able to sit in comfort in either a large lounge,  the dining room or out on the patio. Our special guest at the tea was Judith Warren who is now a resident at Sycamore Hall.

We had told everyone that we didn’t want any presents as we have two full households. Instead we said that, if they wished, they could give donations to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service. When we got home from Sycamore Hall with Eddie, Alex and Serena we were amazed to find that the donations amounted to over £800 (with some more to come we are told).

So a big thank you to all who helped to make our wedding so memorable – even Oswald and Agnes Baynes!

Our Quaker Wedding – 1


I sat in the Religious Society of Friends’ Meeting House in the hamlet of Countersett (above) on Sunday June 24 enjoying the peacefulness of an hour’s quiet contemplation and prayer when I suddenly thought: “Wow, the next time I will be in here for a meeting will be on my wedding day!”

For David and I have decided, after 13 years together, that we will get married – and we had no doubt where we wanted the wedding to be. Yes, St Andrew’s at Aysgarth is a beautiful church and all those I know there would be able to attend if they wished. But David and I were in complete agreement that we wanted the simplicity of a ceremony which centres on the essence of a marriage between two people.

George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends  (Quakers), wrote in 1669: “For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord alone, and not the priests’ or magistrates; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses.

Some have asked why we wanted to go to Countersett when we could use Bainbridge Meeting House. In the past ten years, however, I have mainly attended Countersett Meeting House where meetings are held on the last Sunday of each month. I love the atmosphere there along with the opportunity to commune with God, usually in silence.

Countersett Meeting House for us also means remembering John Warren who died earlier this year. An arrangement of bronzed autumn leaves that he created is still on one of the window sills.

A Quaker wedding takes place during a specially –arranged meeting for worship and all who regularly attend local Religious Society of Friends meetings can attend. We are, however, asking them to let us know beforehand as we need to know how many coach seats are required and how many will be joining us for ‘afternoon tea’ afterwards. This will be at Sycamore Hall with the catering being done by the Corn Mill Teashop in Bainbridge.

So slowly we are sorting out the logistics but, at the beginning, we needed to make sure we could be married at Countersett Meeting House.

Preparing for a Quaker wedding

The first step was to meet with Richard Waldmeyer. The Marriage Act of 1753 explicitly exempted Quakers and Jews from the statutory regulation of all other marriages in England and Wales – and that has been reaffirmed by subsequent Marriage Acts in England. So, as the Quaker Registering Officer for our region, Richard explained what we had to do – starting with sponsors signing the necessary forms for me as, unlike David, I am not a member of the Religious Society of Friends.

A big thank you to Liz Burrage and to David Ladyman for being willing to sign the forms at very short notice for, after so long together, we were suddenly in a hurry.

Richard also explained that we needed to get certificates of marriage from a local Registry office as well as attend a Quaker Meeting for Clearness. So one morning we went to the Registry Office in Richmond to apply for those certificates which now take 28 days to process. The first problem was that the computer didn’t immediately recognise Countersett Meeting House. Thankfully the registrar resolved that problem and we managed to complete the paper work.

After that we definitely needed some sustenance so made our way to one of our favourite eating places: Duncans Teashop in Richmond. My food intolerances have multiplied and become more severe recently so it was wonderful to be so well looked after – and to have yet another slice of their utterly sumptuous walnut and coffee cake which contains no cow’s milk products or potato starch.  David, of course, treated himself to a slice of their wonderful treacle tart.

After a short rest we headed to Leyburn Meeting House for the Meeting for Clearness. I have to admit I was both intrigued and a bit nervous. I had read the guidance provided in Quaker Faith and Practice which stated: “A meeting for clearness can provide an opportunity for the couple and selected members of the meeting community to explore their intentions and hopes, the nature of the commitment that is being contemplated, and ways the meeting can support the marriage after its solemnisation. Consideration of a non-member’s acceptance of the Quaker understanding of marriage could also be explored. The small group of Friends and the couple will get to know one another at a deeper level. Prayerful consideration in a relaxed atmosphere is time well spent…”

So I entered the room with some trepidation. But there was nothing to worry about for the elder leading the meeting, Ian Hunter Smart, quickly put us at ease. It was a good example of a prayerful and loving Quaker meeting.  Within a day the meeting houses in Leyburn, Bainbridge and Countersett were informed that approval had been given for our wedding to take place at the latter.

An interesting history

Richard was at the Meeting for Clearness – and it was he that told us that the last wedding at Countersett was in June 1841! As one local Quaker said – ours will be a historic wedding at Countersett Meeting House.

So the next time I was on duty as a volunteer in the Research Room at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes I had a look at the transcript made by Jack Handley of The Births Marriages and Burials, Records of the Society of Friends for Wensleydale and Swaledale which covers period from the 1680s to the 1770s. The first Quaker weddings in upper Wensleydale were held in the homes of members and that was certainly true of the first four at Countersett, three of which were in Richard Robinson’s house, Countersett Hall. Where that in 1709 was held is not clear as the date on the Meeting House is 1710.

Sir Christopher C Booth wrote in The Quakers of C ountersett and their legacy  that the Norsemen who colonised the upper dales before the Normans came were individualists and did not tip their hats to the gentry. Richard Robinson, he said,  was such an independent-minded dalesman who, by the 1650s, was searching for a spiritual experience beyond  that offered by the institutional church. When he heard about George Fox he went to Westmorland to meet him and was convinced.

Like other Quakers at that time he was prepared to face considerable abuse and persecution to be part of this revival of the Christian faith. Booth noted: ‘It was undoubtedly through the influence of Richard Robinson and his friends that so many became Quakers in upper Wensleydale. At the same time, Richard’s extensive travels in Yorkshire and throughout the land, sometimes taking him as far as London, helped to spread George Fox’s teaching far and wide.’ Robinson died in 1693 and Quaker Meetings continued to be held at Countersett Hall until the Meeting House was built.

When reading the diaries of George Fox I was particularly fascinated by his radical approach to gender equality and the impact that had on the development of female education. 

I was curious, of course, to find out more about the couple who were married at Countersett in 1841. They were Oswald Baynes, a farmer from Carperby of ‘full age’, and Agnes Webster, a ‘minor’ who was described as a housekeeper at Carr End near Countersett. The profession of her father was given as Linseed Manufacturer.

When I searched for them in the 1851 census I had a surprise for I found they were living at Poynton in Cheshire. That’s where my eldest brother, Les, lives with his wife, Beryl. His daughter and son-in-law also live in Poynton. We often joke about the similarity of that name to David’s surname.

In the 1851 Agnes was shown as being 29-years-old who had been born in Thirsk. She had two sons and two daughters – and the help of a 20-year-old female servant from Sedbergh. Oswald (32) was a farm steward at Tower Farm Yard. Ten years later he  described himself as the farm bailiff at The Towers.  By 1861 there were three more sons and the girls were at a Quaker boarding school in Winscombe, Somerset. Oswald continued to do well and by 1871 he had his own farm of 130 acres. His eldest son (also Oswald) went on to become an auctioneer in Chorlton on Medlock.

I couldn’t find Oswald Snr or Agnes in the 1881 census and decided I would have to put aside any further research as there was so much to do with our wedding date fast approaching.

John Warren


John Warren and his wife Judith on their 60th wedding anniversary

Architect John Cecil Turnbull Warren (86) was as happy using his remarkable skills and insights for the refurbishment of West Burton CofE School as he was restoring the Royal Crescent in Bath, advising on the conservation of the Al Gaylani Mosque in Iraq or as an UNESCO World Heritage inspector advising on the suitability of a site for the Terracotta Army in China.

John was a modest man who will be remembered for welcoming everybody to Quaker meetings at Countersett and Bainbridge, where he served as an Elder, Trustee and on the Council of the Wensleydale Friends. So it was no surprise that the Friends’ Meeting House in Bainbridge was packed for his memorial service.

He was born in Surrey, attended Collyers’Grammar School in Sussex, and won a scholarship from the National Coal Board to read Mining Engineering at what is now Newcastle University. After a year he changed to Architecture.

He divided his National Service between the RAF and working as a miner at the Rising Sun Colliery at Seaham Harbour.

“He never lost his love of the colliery experience and his admiration for the men who worked underground,” his daughter, Rebecca Brown said.

In later years he captured his experiences in an exceptional set of paintings of miners at work which were exhibited at Fairfield Mill near Sedbergh in 2012. As an artist using pen and ink, watercolour and oils his work was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibitions on several occasions.

He married Judith Kershaw in 1957 and, after a period travelling in Turkey studying Ottoman architecture, he set up his own architectural practice (the Architectural and Planning Partnership) in Horsham, West Sussex. Over the years the practice won numerous awards, expanded to having offices from Brighton and London to Baghdad and Mumbai and, during the 1980s, employed about 120 people.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when most Local Authorities were destroying historic architecture, he was consistently involved in the conservation of historic buildings and took this expertise to the Middle East, where he both designed new buildings and conserved historic houses and mosques.

He made annual explorations of remote and inaccessible desert regions in the Middle East and India recording and researching ancient churches and mosque, some of which have now been destroyed or damaged beyond recovery.

Back in England he was also involved in preserving the vernacular buildings of Sussex and he became the founding architect of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton. He was fundamental to its development as one of the most important museums of vernacular architecture. One of the books he wrote was about such vernacular buildings.

This led to a close friendship with surrealist artist Edward James on whose land the museum was site. He helped James to transform his house at West Dean into a college of teaching and conservation of the fine arts which it remains today.

In the 1970s John was the joint founder of the Amberley Chalkpits Industrial History Museum in West Sussex (now the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre). He was the chairman of the trustees in the 1980s and 1990s.

His architectural and conservation advisory roles throughout the 1980s to the 2000s included with UNESCO, English Heritage, the Built Fabric Advisory Committee for Chichester Cathedral and Nominator for the Aga Khan Awards. He was also a Fellow of the Centre for Conservation Studies at the University of York, lectured at several British universities and supervised and examined a number of PhD theses in the field of historic buildings.

When he retired to Wensleydale in the late 1990s he continued to work on architectural projects whilst also lecturing, writing and painting. He undertook several projects in Wensleydale including the internal modernisation of West Burton CofE School and advising on the conservation of Nappa Hall near Askrigg.

He was a Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Asiatic Society.

John leaves his wife, his two children, Philip and Rebecca and their spouses, and four grandsons, Christopher, Matthew, Francis and Alex.A Wensleydale Friend said: “John is missed by so many – in Wensleydale, in Britain and throughout the world.”

Judith died on January 17 2019. She will be buried next to John in the Quaker burial ground in Bainbridge on Friday February 1 at 11am followed by a memorial meeting in the Meeting House at 11.30am.

There were refreshments afterwards in Sycamore Hall, Bainbridge, where she lived and was cared for and supported over the last year of her life.

Below: The family think this was John’s selfie, in the days before mobile phones.


Presentation at Thornton Rust


A year-long project to renovate the area in and around the car park and to create a picnic area at the Outgang in Thornton Rust has come to a successful end with the installation of an interpretation board.

The board, which tells the story of how West Beck was used in the past to wash sheep, was included in a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainability Fund.

“These small projects are so exciting and so memorable,” commented YDNPA officer Andrea Burden when she was in Thornton Rust to celebrate with villagers.

The YDNPA’s Champion for Sustainable Development, Chris Clark, presented Aysgarth and District Parish Council with a cheque for £3,740 from the fund towards the cost of the refurbishment.

He said: “It is absolutely fantastic that communities like Thornton Rust have come together to improve this facility and the environment.”

In response Thornton Rust parish councillor David Pointon said: “I want to thank all those who have been so deeply involved in this and the YDNPA for its support.  I know most people in the village have contributed in one way or another – everybody has done their little bit which just shows that this village is the best one to live in in the Dales!”

The project began in March 2017 when the state of the Outgang car park was discussed at Thornton Rust Parish Meeting. Cllr Pointon commented that it was more like a patch of waste land,  very uneven, and with no proper surface for parking on.

A team of volunteers was formed, led by Mark Sheard, to organise and carry out the work. The initial clearance work was done with the support, on a voluntary basis, of Tim Kilvington with his digger.

During the summer of 2017 some of the villagers worked very hard not just within the parking area but also around West Beck and the lane leading to the moors. In doing so they revealed features of the village’s agricultural and social past including how a pool was created in the beck up until the beginning of the 20th century so that sheep could be washed before being clipped.

Eleanor Scar and her brother Owen Metcalfe provided information about that and had photographs taken by Dr Werner Kissling of a re-enactment in the early 1960s. Copies of some of those photographs are on the interpretation board.

The full story of that re-enactment is told in the November 2017 edition of Now Then which is available at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, price £2.

Mr Sheard and Martyn Donno have also restored the old pots which were used for boiling up the dipping mixture used in the 1960s.

Mr Donno commented: “The [National Park] had the vision to see that it was worth doing and put their trust in us – we are grateful for that. It is quite interested in the sheep dip because there are few of those left intact. So we wanted to show how it used to work.”

The grant from the YDNPA also made it possible to install a picnic table and a bench beside West Beck.

From the car park there is a bridleway to Thornton Rust Moor and then, via a permissive footpath, to the site of an ancient settlement at the top of Addlebrough.

For those who don’t want to go so far there is a gentle walk up to the old lime kiln and into the Kennel Field where there is a seat overlooking the village.

For more about the Outgang project click here.

Below: Chris Clark (left) presenting the cheque to Cllr John Dinsdale (chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council)  and Cllr David Pointon.

Mark Sheard (left) and Martyn Donno with the interpretation board

Looking up the Outgang towards the car park and the moors beyond.

Three men on a bench: Chris Clark, Mark Sheard and Martyn Donno




Tom and Margaret Knowles

The rich family life of Tom Knowles was celebrated at the St Peter and St Paul RC church in Leyburn – and it was for his family and as someone who cherished and loved to share the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales that he founded the Association of Rural Communities.

“Grandad taught us family is an important support centre.,” Sarah Jayne Mitchell said in her tribute to him, during which his other grandchildren and some of his great grandchildren joined her at the front of the church to say their own quiet farewell.

She told a packed church that Tom had been born in Durham in August 1933 and baptised Thomas Henry. His family moved to Darlington five years later and after he left school he went into farming in Wensleydale with the Iveson family at Wensley.

He met Margaret Lambert at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married two years later. Tom commented after she died four years ago: “We loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

When they moved to Westholme near Aysgarth in 1958 it was just a small dairy farm. Not long afterwards they were asked by the then Vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, if they would let boy scouts camp there two to three weeks a year.

Soon after this they started catering for the parents of boy scouts and many others for Tom and Margaret certainly understood how important it was to encourage people on more restricted incomes to visit the Dales. Some of those people later came to live in the area.

Local people also enjoyed the food at the camp site restaurant and the discos. “Many of us were lucky enough to share those days. We now have some great memories of the beautiful place at the end of the rainbow known as the ‘wreck’”, said Sarah. But Yorkshire Dales National Park planning officers tried to close the campsite and eventually created a situation whereby the site could become a luxury lodge park where campers and touring caravans were not welcome. (see below)

After Tom and Margaret took over a bed and breakfast business with a restaurant in 1988, Tom became an Aysgarth and District parish councillor. He was remembered at this year’s Aysgarth Township meeting as being a generous man who bought the village its first Christmas tree with lights.

His experience as a parish councillor made him well aware of the growing anger towards what was then the Yorkshire Dales National Park committee and he poured out his frustration in a letter to the D&S in 1995. Even he was surprised by the huge response to that letter.

He spent the last part of that year attending large angry meetings from Askrigg and Garsdale to Kettlewell and the Association of Rural Communities was born. As the association’s president he summed up very clearly in 1998 some of the major problems facing the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

“The Yorkshire Dales should be a prosperous area with young people able to have families in thriving villages and towns, and able to earn a living without having to leave their local communities. The most important issue facing the YDNPA is how they can improve the local economy which is necessary to keep the younger generations employed in the area. Instead they are being driven out as there are too many second homes and holiday homes,” he said.

He continued helping to monitor YDNPA planning meetings for the association after he and Margaret moved to Spennithorne in 1996. Retirement also gave him time to indulge in cooking and baking.

Sarah explained: “Grandad had many hobbies which included painting, gardening and baking. This made him well known in [local] show circles for winning many cups and prizes.”

Tom and Margaret had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles, as well as 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren with one more due on what would have been his birthday.

Father James Blenkinsopp officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were Tom’s grandsons: Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of £470 will be shared between St Peter and St Paul RC church and Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Tom began writing to the planning department in 2007 asking about the basis on which the holiday park at Westholme was being remodelled. The Association of Rural Communities assisted him and after several letters it found out that the planning department had given approval for the remodelling on condition that the site could no longer be used for pitching tents, touring caravans, trailer tents or mobile homes. This, it was stated, would be for the “benefit to the natural beauty of the landscape” partly because there would be no brightly coloured tents. The site has now become a multi-million pound eco lodge site.

The funeral service for Margaret Knowles took place at SS Peter and Paul R C church in Leyburn on Thursday, March 13 2014.

She was a popular Dales’ lady who had lived her whole life in the Aysgarth and Leyburn area. Her grandchildren especially remembered her for providing an important support centre in their lives.

As her granddaughter, Sarah Jayne Mitchell read her family tribute to this “beautiful lady” Margaret’s other grandchildren joined her and held candles in memory of her.

Margaret, who was born in May 1936, was one of three children of Horner and Alice Lambert. She attended West Burton primary school and then Yorebridge Grammar at Askrigg. She met Tom at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married in 1955.

In April 1958 the couple moved to a small dairy farm at Westholme, Aysgarth. Soon afterwards the then vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, asked if they would be prepared to allow boy scouts to camp there for two to three weeks a year. This led to Margaret and Tom developing the farm into a very successful, well landscaped site for caravans and tents, which was also used by those taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

The discos in the restaurant and bar were very popular with local young people and Margaret’s hospitality was especially appreciated. Sarah Jayne commented: “Many of us (were) lucky enough to share those days – we now have fantastic memories of that beautiful place.”

In 1988 Margaret and Tom moved to Grayford near Carperby and established a thriving, successful bed and breakfast business with a restaurant. And yet again Margaret’s cooking was a big attraction.

Sarah Jayne said that her grandmother had been crowned Needle Queen at a national competition in London in 1972 and had gone on to become very well known over numerous years for winning cups, trophies and prizes at the Spennithorne and Harmby Village, Wensleydale, Reeth, and Muker shows for her knitting, crochet, dressmaking and baking. And last year in BBC2 ‘s Country Show Cook Off a celebrity chef was shown at the Wensleydale Show sneaking a piece of her prize-winning savoury tart to try and find out why his was only ranked third.

Sarah Jayne told the very large congregation at the funeral: “Grandma taught us (that) family is an important support centre to our lives. We are told constantly that our beautiful family is so unique – that is because we have excellent role models.

“Over her life our beautiful grandma was a strong lady overcoming a triple heart bypass and cirrhosis of the liver.”

Margaret and Tom had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles as well as 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Tom commented: “I’ve loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

Father Pat O’Neill officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were her grandsons – Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of over £1,140 will be shared between Herriot Hospice Homecare and Marie Curie Cancer Care.


Easter fun and a farewell at Aysgarth church


The Easter Sunday service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth has become a great family favourite and this year there was lots of fun for the children – and a special farewell to organist Richard Wilkinson.

He has been the organist for 20 years and many contributed to the farewell gift which was presented to him by John Foster (above – L to R, Rev Yeadon, Richard and John) .

John commented: “To be a church organist is a big commitment – much more than just playing on Sundays. Richard has brought to it an encyclopaedic knowledge of church and organ music. He has served us incredibly well.”

Members of Aysgarth Methodist chapel were at the service because Dr Wilkinson has been a local preacher in the Methodist circuit since 1987.

There were also many families because of the special Easter activities for children. They and the adults thoroughly enjoyed the Rev Penny Yeadon’s talk in which she used, with the help of some of the youngsters, Easter eggs to explain the Easter story and the importance of Christ’s resurrection. Then the children had gone into the Lady Chapel to paint hard-boiled eggs and create their own miniature gardens. Some members of the church had certainly put a lot of work into making it a fun service.

When it ended everyone accepted the Rev Yeadon’s invitation to sit and listen to Richard play the Chorale Improvisation for Organ No 65 by Siegfried Karg-Elert: Nun danket alle Gott (Now thank we all our God). He was warmly applauded – and then the children with their parents and grandparents went outside to enjoy rolling the eggs they had decorated.

Later Richard (who never accepted payment as an organist) said: “I would have very gladly paid the church for the privilege of playing at St Andrew’s because it’s a marvellous organ and they are super people there. I love playing at the services.

“It is a Victorian organ but it is, in fact, remarkably like the organs of the Bach day – astonishingly similar. So it is perfectly possible to play Bach satisfactorily on it.”

The organ was installed in 1880 by M Abbot of Leeds from a design by J M Bottomley of Middlesbrough.

Richard will be playing at a few more services at St Andrew’s before he and his wife, Ann, move to Warwickshire on June 1. Geoff Hirst is now the chief organist at St Andrew’s.

Below: Richard and Geoff chatting before the service

and a little boy concentrating on rolling an egg



A visit to Leyburn and Swaledale


When our friends Jim and Sue  (with their elderly dog Monty) visited us  recently we took them to some of our favourite places: Tennants of Leyburn and The Garden RoomsDuncans Tearoom, Richmond, and Lower Swaledale. The wind was cold but otherwise the weather was perfect for some of the Dales views that we treated them to.

We do feel very fortunate to live in such a beautiful area where even the drive to the shops can be savoured – whether we go to Hawes or to Leyburn. I must admit that I do enjoy shopping in Leyburn. There’s a good mix of family run shops, medium sized supermarkets,  bakeries,  butchers, gift shops,  plus a variety of excellent places to eat or socialise.

As it was a Friday it was market day in Leyburn but this time we did not stop but headed for The Garden Rooms  as our friends had not seen how Tennants has developed  into a world-class centre. The multi-million pound extension which was completed in December 2014 made it it the largest auction house in Europe. It is a grand building which the Tennant family uses to promote and enhance the culture and tradition of the Yorkshire Dales. Jim and Sue were very impressed by the beautiful entrance to The Garden Rooms. As it was an auction day we decided to have a look at what was on offer before going to the cafe for coffee.

Jim, Sue and I  first browsed among the toys which conjured so many childhood memories for us oldies. Then we realised we had lost David in a world of his own for he was fascinated by a model of the famous 19th century racing clipper Lightning.

As we wandered off to admire the ceramics, jewellery, evening dresses and even fur coats David was obviously still thinking about it. In the cafe it was fascinating to watch the monitor as it displayed the rapid sale of items – 100 in an hour. That model boat wasn‘t due to be under the hammer until lunchtime and we wanted to move on. We were just leaving when David decided he would go and place a commission bid on Lightning.

Once Monty had had a chance to stretch his legs we set off back through Leyburn to Moor Road and along Whipperdale Bank. This took us past Metcalfe Farms, now famous following the TV series about its heavy haulage business.

After the crossroads Whipperdale Bank (otherwise known as Cote de Grinton during the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014) is a road which commands attention not just because of  the awkward camber and the undulations but also for the moorland scenery. When Sue asked for a place to stop so that Monty could get out we immediately suggested waiting until we passed the imposing Grinton Lodge which was built in the 19th century as a shooting lodge and has been a youth hostel since 1948. Soon afterwards we came to the junction with the road to Redmire just before Grinton where there is an ideal viewing spot with space to park several cars. Jim and Sue were duly impressed by the view across Swaledale.

Reeth warranted a longer visit but we just drove round the village green and headed for the road to Richmond as it was almost lunchtime and we wanted to eat at Duncans  Tearoom. This has become one of our favourite places to eat not least because they have the most delicious gluten, dairy and potato starch free chocolate and walnut cake. Jim and David ordered eggs benedict (David’s with smoked salmon), while Sue enjoyed a leek and potato pie and I had one of their dairy free soups.

We were thoroughly enjoying our lunch when David made a telephone call and found out he was now the very delighted owner of Lightning.

It was soon time to find somewhere for Monty to have a brief stroll so we went to Hudswell and along the moor road which leads to Downholme.  That road (Hudswell Lane) provides some of the best views in the area and there is a good interpretation board at the small car park (above). From there we could see Hutton’s Monument which marks the grave of Matthew Hutton who died in 1814 when he was 35-years-old.  He had chosen that site because as a boy he had sat there enchanted by the beauty of that “mountainous country”.

We could understand his enchantment as we gazed on a vista which was not only very beautiful but also had so much to tell about the history of the northern Yorkshire Dales. To the west we looked across How Hill to Marrick. How Hill is the site of a large Iron Age defended settlement  (univallate  hillfort) which would have provided a commanding position overlooking the access to upper Swaledale as well as the route south to the Vale of York.

The Romans mined for lead in the moors above Swaledale and Arkengarthdale but they did not leave such a lasting legacy as the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings did for today many of their place names remain. The name of the river – the Swale – has Anglo-Saxon origins meaning whirling, swirling and swallowing. An apt name for one of the fastest flowing rivers in the country with its reputation for ‘swallowing’ incautious bathers.  Marrick and Marske are Viking place names.

In the 11th and 12th centuries it was the turn of the Normans to stamp their mark on the area with large  hunting forests for the noblemen and the foundation of religious  houses. Some Benedictine nuns chose a site near Marrick in the 12th century for its beauty and solitude and Cistercian nuns founded Ellerton Abbey nearby. That solitude was often rudely shattered between the 13th and 16th century when the nunneries were attacked by Border Rievers (robbers). In 1342 Ellerton Abbey was almost destroyed by Rievers. Bands of robbers continued to attack farms and villages in Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Cumbria until the border with Scotland became settled following the coronation of James I in 1603.

The  nunneries had gone by then. The dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII led to the closure of  Ellerton Abbey in 1536 four years before the nuns at Marrick Priory were evicted. The Priory chapel was the village church until 1948  and it was then used as a hen house.In the 1970s it was converted into an outdoor education and residential centre.  Ellerton Abbey was transformed into a Regency villa in the 1830s so that it could be used as a shooting lodge. For over 200 years the heather moors have been managed to provide grouse shooting for the wealthy and providing employment for many local people.

It is said that Swaledale has 75 per cent of the world’s remaining heather moorland – a habitat which is rarer than tropical rainforest. We could see smoke rising from the controlled burning of the heather and the patchwork pattern which that produces as well as the butts where shooters wait for the grouse to be driven overhead between August 12 and December 10 each year. The new growth provides the green, juicy shoots that the grouse love to feed on. It is argued that the management of the heather moors which includes predator control has led to the retention of so many curlews, lapwings, redshanks and some other ground nesting birds. It is always a delight in the spring to hear the curlews and lapwings calling as they return to nest among the heather.

Human management has stamped its mark on the Dales. The view so many people associate with Swaledale with its picturesque stone barns and small green fields enclosed by dry stone walls was created by the families who have farmed there for many centuries.

It was not just the heather moorland and the green swathe that surrounds the Swale which caught our attention but also the signs that this was once a heavily industrialised area. On Marrick and Marske Moors there are disused quarries and lead mines with the remains of smelt mills and soil heaps. When it was no longer commercially viable to mine for  lead in the area there was a mass exodus in the 19th centuries which is why there are so many in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada today who are descended from Dales folk.

Sadly today Swaledale is an example of a new exodus as so many houses have become holiday lets or second homes. This has led to the villages becoming denuded of young families – the life blood of any community –  as they can’t afford the high prices that those coming from the cities and suburbs can pay. I can’t help thinking that the National Park’s drive to bring in more tourists might well backfire as more local young people are driven out.

In Downholme, the next village we passed through, has become a prime location because it has changed so little since the 1930s when the MoD began buying all the houses there. The MoD didn’t start selling the houses on the open market until the late 20th century. The Bolton Arms pub was the last to be sold – in 2013. Downholme is now a conservation area to protect the local vernacular style of the majority of the buildings which were built in the mid 19th century.

We travelled on hoping to reach The Garden Rooms in time to collect Lightning. The A6108 took us past the very distinctive Walburn Hall which dates back to the 15th century when it was fortified against the attacks of Border Rievers.  On the land around this working farm there are many humps and bumps – all that remains of a village which thrived there in Norman times.


At Tennants we parked among many others who were collecting their newly acquired wares. David soon appeared proudly carrying Lightning.  The next problem was getting it safely into the car as it was  55 inches long  (140cm), 18 inches (46cm) wide and 35 inches (90cm) from the stand to the top of the main mast (above). Monty usually filled most of the boot. Thankfully he accepted being gently pushed to one side and a passenger seats was laid flat. Sue and I squeezed into the remaining passenger space and tried to keep the boat from rocking as Jim drove carefully back to Aysgarth.

Once Lightning was safely tucked away in the conservatory we could relax around a warm fire and enjoy some excellent cheese from the Wensleydale Creamery for light supper.


David and I returned to The Garden Rooms a few days later and had lunch in the cafe. I was delighted to find that there was no cow’s milk in the battered cod and even more so when the catering staff substituted baby root vegetables for chips. David was equally delighted with his beetroot and feta tart.

We certainly didn’t try to have a meal there on Saturday December 9 when the cafe was full to overflowing during the superb Christmas Fair. It is now attracting coach loads of visitors as well as many local people enjoying a day out. That was not surprising because there was a great variety of wares for sale with some stallholders having travelled miles to participate. My friend Rita Cloughton hadn’t  had so far to travel with her delightful  home-made crafts and was doing very brisk business.

For me the biggest surprise was finding mouth-watering Christmas puddings that I could eat thanks to Burtree Puddings. It is often very frustrating having so many severe food intolerances – but what a pleasure it is when I find something so good that I can eat.

Below: David’s new hobby is restoring Lightning.

Thornton Rust Outgang project


The Outgang at Thornton Rust is the perfect place to start a walk along the bridleway to Thornton Rust Moor and then, via a permissive footpath, to the site of an ancient settlement at the top of Addlebrough.  For those who don’t want to go so far it is but a gentle walk up to the old lime kiln and into the Kennel Field where there is a seat overlooking the village. (Above: preparing the site for a picnic bench, with the bridleway on the other side of the beck. )

During the summer of 2017 some of the villagers have worked very hard to create a new car parking area at the Outgang and in doing so revealed features of the village’s agricultural and social past. (Click on the picture to see more photos of the work at the Outgang. )

They were grateful for a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s sustainability fund which will also cover the cost of preparing and installing an interpretation board. This will show how West Beck was dammed each year up until the beginning of the 20th century to form a pond where sheep could be washed to remove salve and lanolin before being clipped.

The salve, according to Eleanor Scarr, was a mixture of rancid butter and tar which helped to stop the sheep being struck by flies. In this year’s Now Then (the annual magazine of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum) there is an interview with her and her brother, Owen Metcalfe, about how farmers like their father, Sidney Metcalfe, used the beck – and how, on a hot summer’s day they would dam it so that the children could play in the water. Copies of the magazine are on sale (£2 each) at the museum in Hawes.

Below: the benches installed in December 2017

Ecologists congratulate the villagers

In November 2017 Deborah Millward wrote:

Last month I led a group of ten ecologists a short walk round the village. We discussed the West End Bank, which had just been cut and cleared, much to their approval.

I then showed them the new car park area up the Outgang describing the morass of docks and ground elder that had previously featured there. The consensus was that even if the “dreaded weeds” had not been defeated, the eventual increase in biodiversity was worth the effort. They greatly appreciated the improved facilities.

In East Lane I explained the problems we had experienced with water eroding the track. The new drain, funded by the Parish Wildlife Scheme, had gone in and the track could be restored. The Catchment Sensitive Farming Scheme was a possible source of funding for keeping silt out of the stream.

We discussed how best to manage the grazing to protect the flower-rich sections. Their advice was to graze in the autumn with cattle to remove the bulk of the year’s growth, then to follow this with sheep at some time in the winter months.

In the Kennel Field I showed them photos of the site before work started almost 20 years ago. The present day scene of trees and honeysuckle created a good impression, especially with the RSPB person. Sadly I had to report that black grouse no longer used the field’s hawthorn trees. The group were full of praise for the effort villagers were making to conserve and restore wildlife and wished us luck with East Lane.

Thornton Rust’s Kennel Field


The chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council, John Dinsdale, was delighted in October 2017 when Thornton Rust ’s  Kennel Field Trust was highly commended at the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust awards ceremony. The award included £4,000 which, he said, would cover the cost of more environmental work at the Kennel Field.  My article (below) about the Kennel Field which was published in The Dalesman in 2014.

The Kennel Field

Above Thornton Rust there is a very special place to sit and enjoy the beauty of Wensleydale – and thanks to the hard work of many of the villagers there are no ugly blemishes on that landscape. Instead the Kennel Field is bedecked with wild flowers in Spring. (Above: Looking down from the top of the Kennel Field with the restored barn on the right, the mash house below it, and Thornton Rust in the distance. Click on this picture to see more photos)

Deborah Millward was so excited in November 2014 that she had to tell everyone connected with that field: “Hurray! Today a black grouse was feeding on one of the old hawthorn trees.” Deborah, who had just retired as chair of the Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Forum, had a very different view of the Kennel Field when she first saw it in 1983. She and her husband, Ian, had walked up to field next to the lime kiln on the south side of the village. Looking back towards Carperby Moor she thought: “Wow – this is a beautiful place”.

But then she glanced downwards and saw the kennels which had been built as the summer retreat for the Wensleydale Hounds in the 19th century. “They were a real blot on the landscape,” she said. The other two buildings in the field – the mash house and a traditional barn – were also semi derelict.

When she studied the field more closely, however, as part of her moving from being a microbiologist in the food and water industries to a botanist, she realised that it was home to over 120 species of plants. “That is quite impressive. A lot of pastures are not as nearly as diverse,” she explained. “The field had never been improved and there is a wet bit with marsh marigold and meadow sweet. Probably the rarest thing in there is the flat sedge. That has declined nationally and the Kennel Field is a hot spot in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”

She began dreaming of protecting the field and discussed her ideas with some of the villagers, including Aysgarth and District parish councillor and local farmer, John Dinsdale. As a child he had played there with his friends and so the idea of the field being special was a novel one.

What did concern him was that the old kennels were becoming so unsafe. “They were a danger to kids – because they used to play on the roof and that could have fallen through.” And they might then have been impaled on the old railings.

He added:“The barn and the mash house were going to fall down if they didn’t have something done to them. It’s a lovely spot now and it’s canny you can go up there and sit on the seat and enjoy it.”

That transformation came about because Deborah realised that funds might be available through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) after it was set up in 1996. But first she needed the landowner’s permission to demolish the kennels. To her surprise the owner, Arthur Metcalfe, suggested they should buy the field. And so the Kennel Field Trust was born with John as its chairman. The many hours he, Deborah and other members of the management group spent working in that field counted as match funding.

Deborah put the project forward to the YDMT to be included in its application to the Millennium Commission. “The Kennel Field ticked all the boxes for the Millennium Commission,” explained David Sharrod, the YDMT director. “It came from the community, it was wild life and it was restoring historical sites. It was one of the first we managed to fund and certainly one of the first that we made work.”

The YDMT not only allocated some of the Lottery funds to the Kennel Field Trust but also obtained some European funding for the project. In addition to a small grant from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society the Kennel Field Trust also received a grant from the ESA Conservation Plan and that was used to purchase the field.

But back in Thornton Rust it wasn’t all plain sailing. There were some who were very suspicious and were worried that the Kennel Field would become a financial burden on the small community. One who expressed his doubts was Colin Day. “Afterwards I felt I had done wrong and I thought I would chip in and do a bit,” he said.

He certainly did chip in for he set himself the task of cleaning the lime mortar off of 100 bricks a day. “I chipped away at many, many thousands. It was snowing at times and it was jolly cold.” John would regularly drive a tractor to the field to knock down more of the roofing and Colin helped to demolish the walls. Others did help with cleaning the bricks and slowly they accumulated 8,800 which were sold to the builder who was restoring the barn.

That bit of extra money helped as Deborah hadn’t budgeted for buying good quality Northerly calcareous mix of seeds to restore the land where the kennels had been. The verges along the lane to the village were also reseeded as so much had been swept away by flooding before the new culvert was installed. The breeze blocks from the kennel runs were crushed and used to create the bridge over that culvert.

The rich mix of wild flowers in the Kennel Field had come about because Arthur Metcalfe had only grazed cattle there. Sheep would have damaged many of those plants explained John. Now a local farmer grazes her cattle there just twice a year the first period being for six weeks from June 1 – after that glorious display of wood anemones, marsh marigolds, cowslips and early purple orchids.

The cattle return after the summer flowering of plants like scabious and ox-eye daisies. “They graze it again in the autumn just to take all the growth off. It would just form a mass of dead material and the little seedlings wouldn’t be able to get through,” Deborah explained.

With so little grazing the field could easily become overgrown with hawthorn bushes if Deborah didn’t regularly weed out newcomers. Ragwort has no place there for the members of the management group pulled so many out in the first few years after the Kennel Field was officially opened in 2000. These were stored in the mash house until they were dry enough to burn.

The management group organises a maintenance day each Spring when woodwork is treated, injurious weeds like dock are pulled out and there is a general tidy up. Other jobs have included putting up a fence to stop calves going into the lime kiln and damaging it.

There wasn’t that much to do until someone realised a few years ago that a corner of the barn was sinking. John explained that the marshy area was increasing in size as it was being fed by a stream flowing down the field near the barn. So some of the villagers installed a drainage pipe.

“We do need a small steady income to maintain the two buildings, the gates and some fencing,” Deborah commented. That income has come from the ESA scheme since the field was bought but that ended in 2014. So now those on the management committee are looking for ways to cover this shortfall. For they are determined that many others in the future will be able to sit on that seat and share in that Wow factor.


Deborah reported in November 2017  that sadly the black grouse was no longer using the field’s hawthorn tree.

Thornton Rust Country Show


On August 12 Thornton Rust – one of the smallest villages in Yorkshire –  will stage its 35th country show. It might even be the smallest country show in Yorkshire, or even England.

There are always memorable floral arrangements (especially the miniatures); fascinating entries in the children’s and crafts sections; a mouth- watering display of baked cakes, flans, breads and preserves; and the produce from various gardens.

The show was started by Ron Jones and his wife, Chris. They got the idea from Rufforth where they lived before moving to Thornton Rust and Ron saw the show as a way of drawing the community together.

(Above) The late Chris Jones studying the arts and crafts exhibits in 2008

The potato competition, and the spud raising ceremony that preceded it, hasn’t been held for several years but they still have one for the longest stalk of rhubarb.

The prize money hasn’t changed since the show started in 1983: 20p for coming first in a class; 15p for being second; and the princely sum of 10p for coming third. But most people don’t collect their prize money. Instead it is left in the kitty.In 2008 the proceeds of the show, about £500, went  towards the cost of replacing the roof of the village institute. There are trophies, however, for those gaining the highest number of points in various categories.

The first trophies were presented in 1986, including that from Fred Thwaites for the resident obtaining the highest number of points overall. Below right: Fred at the 2015 show.

“It’s such a magical show” commented local artist, Roger Lofts when he and his wife visited the show in 2015

For historian and author, Juliet Barker, it was her first visit and she said: “I am absolutely amazed at the quality and quantity of what’s here. I just can’t believe that one tiny village like this has got so many talented bakers and so many talented gardeners.”

Parish councillor David Pointon, who presented the trophies this year, told everyone: “As usual it’s a magnificent display – I don’t know how it happens every year but it does.”

After the trophies have been presented the auction of produce begins, which is always a fun event. These days the auctioneer is Alwyn Spence. He took over from Tot Dinsdale in 2005. Tot died just four days after the show in 2012.

NOTE: the show is no longer being held.

Below: Tot presenting a trophy to Charlotte Mudd in 1997.





It is always encouraging when Pipspatch provides a way for people to re-connect, as happened for Graham and Mary Watts in 2016 and, in a way, for Catherine Conrad in February 2017.

In March 2016 Richie Watts, who lives in Devon,  posted this comment on the article I wrote in 2013  about Graham and Mary : “Just shown my children Finley and Matilda a picture of their great great uncle!” He explained that Graham is the brother of his grandfather, Arthur Watts.

I obtained Graham and Mary’s permission to give their telephone number to Richie and soon afterwards he sent me a photo of their family reunion. He commented: “It was great to catch up with them after so many years.”  His great uncle was also very pleased. (Above: Graham and Mary with Richie and his family)

Then, in December 2016, Alan Katanka, sent this comment concerning the same post about the Watts: “What a lovely article. Mary Watts produced a Morning Worship programme n the Leeds Belgrave Street Synagogue for Yorkshire TV (aired 1st Feb 1981) featuring my late father, Rev David Katanka, and Rabbi Dr Solomon Brown. Ever since my father’s untimely death a few years ago I have desperately been trying to find a recording of this wonderful service (I was present as a six-year-old). I was wondering if Mary would have a copy or know who would have one.”

I put him in contact with Graham and Mary and he sent them more details about that TV programme which included the name of the man who directed it – Munro Forbes. When they Googled that name they found that Munro was now in Cyprus. He is the director of the Cyprus Media School and a Sigma TV executive. The courses at the school include: stage and TV production design; media and TV; TV journalism; and shooting and editing for TV.

“When we finally got in touch with him  he said ‘you and Mary were very encouraging to me’. He was delighted to hear from us. He mailed us back in no time at all to say  he had access to the recording. He couldn’t vouch for the quality of it because it was an old VHS. He also  had a copy of the script. He managed to doctor the VHS so that he could transmit it to us.” They sent that on to Alan.

After Christmas they were in contact with another former colleague who had just had triple bypass heart surgery. He, also, was very pleased to be put in touch with Munro Forbes again.

In March 2016 I was also able to put the Watts in contact with Sue Fox who had a 90-year-old friend, Evelyn Stevenson, who wanted to renew her connection with them. She had appeared on Farmhouse Kitchen, the Yorkshire Television programme that Graham and Mary directed and produced from 1971 to 1983.

Graham died at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, on Friday June 12 – he will be greatly missed. 

Mothering Sunday flowers

Catherine Conrad, who lives on the southern Oregon coast in the United States, contacted me via Pipspatch in February 2017 because she wanted flowers delivered to the grave of Betty Hey (1928-1981) in Aysgarth churchyard.

I have a copy of the list of gravestones and memorials at Aysgarth which was compiled by Evelyn Abraham and the late Marian Kirby. I was, therefore, able to send details of the location to her so that she could place an order for flowers with Lamberts of Leyburn in time for Mothering Sunday.

Catherine explained: “Betty was a dear friend of my mother, who died recently. I think those days must have been the happiest of her life, from the way she went on about it during the last months. Literally, her heyday.”


Dales Countryside Museum – young archaeologists and mining


The Young Archaeologists’ Club based at the Dales Countryside Museum celebrates its 10th birthday on December 3. As could be seen at the club meeting in November the young people have a lot of fun experiencing the past for themselves.

At the November meeting they worked with potters clay to try and reproduce Bronze Age beakers (above: like that created by Kathryn Lindsey) and reconstructing broken pottery. A Friend of the museum had the job, the day before, of smoothing down the edges on the shards of pottery.

In the latest edition of the Friends’ annual magazine, Now Then, Helen Schofield has an article about her ten years as a club member. She explained that their theme this year was prehistory.  “Over the years we have done many activities including  making butter, gas masks, and stonehenges. We’ve also had guest speakers who did talks on topics such as medieval archery, and Roman military techniques. Due to our outstanding leaders past and present, and their connections in the archaeological world, we have had the opportunity to participate in multiple digs. We have also been to a few festivals such as the Burnsall Viking Festival and the York Viking Festival, which were great fun.

“Overall my time with the Young Archaeologists’ Club has been a great experience and I have learnt a lot of new things from it. I would highly recommend it to anyone  interested in history…”

Below: Jane Filby showing Roland Hodgson how, during the Bronze Age, string was used to decorate pots.


My visits to the museum also gave me the opportunity to see how the new mining exhibit is developing under the road arch. As the museum  manager, Fiona Rosher, reported in Now Then, there was quite a varied team of volunteers who helped at the recent working day.

“The team, which was made  up of those who rescued the material originally, those who were involved in the [Yorkshire Dales] Mining Museum and our own  Dales Volunteers, was hugely enthusiastic and achieved everything within the day. It was wonderful to see knowledge and skills being shared in this way. We will be holding more working days as and when we are able to progress the re-assembly of the Providence Mine water wheel.”

The Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum based at Earby closed in the summer of 2015. It was agreed that the extensive collection relating to Dales mining industries between 1750 and 1910 could be moved to the Dales Countryside Museum. At present most of it is stored away in boxes. Each item will have to be checked and catalogued and new display cases will be required. The museum is seeking funding and grants so that changes can be made to the Goods Shed gallery so as to accommodate the mining display.

Below: David Carlisle, of the Earby Mines Research Group, cheerfully sharing his expertise and knowledge with Dales volunteers during the working day. From left: Mason Scarr, Stuart Armstrong, David Carlisle and Gill Robinson.


Once the track was laid the wagons, also brought from Earby, were put in place.



For more information about the Young Archaeologists’s Club and the museum why not buy a copy of this year’s Now Then. It costs only £2 and is available from the Dales Countryside Museum.

Dales Countryside Museum – the Dales Kitchen


“It’s brilliant – spot on. It’s far more realistic,” Eleanor Scarr announced when she saw the way the traditional Dales Kitchen  at the Dales Countryside Museum had been re-vamped by Lottie Sweeney of Feasts of Fiction.

While the museum was closed in January Lottie  had prepared fake pies that would never age and worked on the fireplace to make it more three dimensional. She explained that she had been contracted in January 2015 to make replica havercakes (oatcakes), butter and cheese for the kitchen. At that time she had commented that she could make the whole display much more effective and so had been invited back this year.

“You want it to tell a story,” Lottie said. And she does a lot of research so that she can create authentic replicas.

Eleanor regularly gives talks in the museum’s traditional Dales Kitchen.  For many years this was done by Ann Holubecki who, like her sister José  Hopper, was a stalwart of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum.

Eleanor explained: “Ann was in her late 70s when she said to me ‘Now look – what’s going to happen to my kitchen when I’ve gone because there’s nobody younger who knows what they’re doing. I want somebody to look after it.’  So I helped her for quite a number of years. I learnt a lot because she could just talk from memory and I didn’t really know as much.”

Ann then encouraged Eleanor to join the Friends of the DCM committee in her place. Now Eleanor also helps in the museum’s Research Room, assists with cataloguing the books in the Mcfie-Calvert collection, and is on the editorial panel of Now Then.

The Dales Kitchen originated in the 1950s  after Ann Holubecki’s mother, Margaret Hopper, helped at an event at Bolton Castle to celebrate the Festival of Britain.  Ann wrote later: “The castle was brought back to life as in Tudor times: the year 1568, to be exact – when Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned there.

“My mother was in charge of the kitchen tableau. She was ‘Mistress of the Stillroom’ and I was the ‘First Still Room Maid’ (i.e. skivvy). It was great fun.”

After the Festival Mrs Hopper inspired others to donate items and the collection of Victorian furniture and utensils from the Dales grew. Eventually the then Lord Bolton allowed them to create a Dales Kitchen at Bolton Castle and this was formally opened in April 1965.

It was an interesting attraction for many years but by the 1980s Mrs Hopper was no longer able to care for it as well as she had. Hurricane Charlie finally put the “tin lid” on it in 1986 when the castle roof was damaged and water poured into the Dales Kitchen.

“After its 22 years at the castle, it now seemed a good idea to remove it and salvage what we could,” wrote Ann. “The kitchen display from Bolton Castle eventually became the foundation of the ‘new’ Old Dales Kitchen in our museum at Hawes. The Kitchen was re-opened at the Dales Countryside Museum in 1994.”

Her daughter, Janina Holubecki, wrote in her postscript to Ann’s account which was published in Now Then  in 2014: “For many years, until her death in 2013, Ann Holubecki continued to be closely involved with the Museum – in particular the Dales Kitchen. She had regular ‘demonstration days’: Washday, Baking, Butter and Cheese-making, Pig Killing and Preserving Time. She passed on her knowledge of those old domestic tasks to younger museum volunteers – such as Eleanor Scarr, Evelyn Abraham and Brenda Watering – so that the Dales Kitchen demonstrations could continue.”

Cleaning Day

Armed with mops, dusters and paint brushes several volunteers set to work on Friday, January 29 2016, to clean the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes ready for it to re-open on February 1.  As a Friend of the Dales Countryside Museum I went along not just to take some photographs but to join the cleaning brigade.

Marcia Howard, David Wright. Donald Brown and Tony Dobson were in the train carriages. I didn’t recognise Marcia at first in her workman’s hat and white overalls. Like David she was repainting the doors and walls so that they were sparkling white again.

Armed with a duster I joined Sue Foster (chairman of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum) and Eleanor Scarr and began cleaning the exhibits in the main display rooms. It was certainly a much closer encounter with old knitting machines and weaving looms than I had ever experienced before. I couldn’t help wondering who had carved their names or initials on the old loom.

I certainly didn’t dust the mining or peat cutting exhibits – that would have robbed them of that look of authenticity!

Sue and Eleanor had a much bigger job cleaning all the items in exhibits showing the work of tinsmiths, cobblers and shoe makers in the past.

It was Sue who enlightened Eleanor, Lottie Sweeney and myself about the tar pot in the “sheep pen”.

“I used to do that job when I was a little girl,” she said. “When they were sharing the sheep by hand I had the tar brush. When they nicked the sheep by mistake we put a bit of tar on the cut. It worked – it kept the flies off and that sort of thing and they healed up very quickly.

Eleanor commented: “It’s a blue iodine spray now.”

We didn’t have to dust in the traditional Dales kitchen because Lottie was cleaning up after completing her re-vamp of that display.

Once our work was done we gathered in the small room beside the museum’s own kitchen for tea, coffee and cake.

Click here for pictures taken on January 29, 2016

Bringing Superfast Broadband to West Witton and beyond

After four years of searching for solutions West Witton parish council and village residents witnessed the official opening of their LN Communications microwave broadband network by Rishi Sunak MP on Friday, November 6. This is a first for Wensleydale – which like many other dales suffers from a “postcode lottery” when it comes to the provision of super fast broadband.

John Loader explained: “It was realised a couple of years ago that the BT fibre to the cabinet paid for by BDUK via SFNY (Superfast North Yorkshire) would not be any use for us as our cabinet was in Wensley and, therefore, too far from us to give any better speeds than we were experiencing – around 2 MB/s down to 0.75 with irregular down times.

“In June 2014 I spotted in the trade press that BDUK was sponsoring six trials of solutions that would enable super fast to reach the last five per cent of the population. With a great deal of help from North Yorkshire County Council and SFNY I managed to get one of the two North Yorkshire trials in West Witton, an ideal example of a linear village.

“From then it took until October 18 to get the first person connected via a chimney mounted book sized aerial to a mast in the pub car park to a mast a few hundred feet further up Penhill to an access point to the Virgin network in Darlington. I had the first installation and this was used to test the installation process using contractors. “

Dramatic increase in broadband speed

Since then, he said, the hard to spot rooftop aerials have been sprouting. Those who have benefitted include a graphic designer who now has 10 times the upload speed for his creations, an internet wholesaler of football souvenirs who has over 30 times the previous speed, and a B&B owner who wants his guests to get the same speeds as they do at home. In addition the Fox and Hounds pub is now a free WiFi spot.

Two of those who have signed up for this new service, including an 80-year-old, had not even had computers before let alone broadband. At least 28 have signed up for this improved broadband service so far but a lot of people are stuck with long contracts with wire-based companies that they can’t get out of*.

It is now planned to extend the microwave service to the North side of the river (Preston under Scar and Castle Bolton) and from there back to Swinithwaite possibly by the end of 2015.

LN Communications, trading as ilovebroadband, has now replaced Airwave Solutions as the provider of this microwave broadband service. LN Communications is funded by David Hood, the entrepreneur who started the set top box maker, Pace, and now has an executive jet and helicopter business.

The following is from the brief that Mr Loader gave Mr Sunak:

This village is around 8km from the telephone exchange in Leyburn which has meant historically poor speeds. The equipping of a fibre cabinet at Wensley had no effect as we are around 5km from that and BT has a policy they call “sweating the copper” which means that they have tonnes of cable in the ground they want the last penny from.

Service has also been generally unreliable given the length of lines and their age. BT did trial a cut down version of their one solution fits all of fibre and copper called Fibre to the Remote Node, getting the fibre closer to remote customers, and a pilot was installed at East Witton. However for the limited number of customers to be served, it proved very expensive.

DCM&S had recognised that getting high speed broadband, thought essential to rural and isolated communities, would probably not be possible using the current virtually 100 per cent BT solution and around five per cent of properties would miss out. So they announced in June 2014 that six different technology trials would be held around the UK and North Yorkshire would trial microwave to the property which was capable of speeds similar to fibre systems and £1.5m was allocated.

I immediately lobbied Ian Marr at North Yorkshire Council who oversaw their Company, NYNET, and Superfast North Yorkshire, and although he had no direct involvement as this was a BDUK rather than SFNY managed project, I think influenced the decision for West Witton to be one of the sites. Airwave Solutions, the provider of communications to the emergency services nationwide were the chosen network suppliers.

All started well and survey teams scoured the village and a presentation was made to the village in February of the solution. This required four masts and would be rolled out by May and triallists would encouraged to join with free access.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park wanted to refuse planning permission for two of the masts but with our County Councillor and District Council chair on the planning committee plus strong support from the then District Councillor and many residents, we won the day.

The first install, mine, took place on November 15, 2014, with a phone service included in the package. They are offering a choice of 10, 20 or 30Mb/s at increasing prices plus their phone service where existing numbers can be ported and very low call charges. Thus I pay £19.99 per month for broadband and £6 a month for “line rental” for my phone with called display included.

Town dwellers and those with a cabinet nearby can get Superfast speeds relatively cheaply comparatively with or without BDUK funds. And even, as with us, when this subsidy is provided, the cost of joining the internet Superhighway is a postcode lottery – West Burton, Kettlewell and Thoralby for example all have fibred cabinets that they can connect to at far lower cost than West Witton. BDUK should look again at this lottery and make it fair to all.

*Mr Loader was informed by BT when he terminated his agreement: “We can’t refund your upfront payment for BT Line Rental Saver. If you’ve paid up to £194.28 in advance for 12 months’ line rental, we can’t refund any of it as it was a special discount for paying upfront. Thanks for being a BT customer.”

A Bunch of Herbs


I’ve had a fascinating couple of weeks searching my garden for herbs. It all began when I saw that among the schedule of classes for this year’s Country Show at Thornton Rust was a “bunch of mixed herbs with a list of names” and they had to come from one’s own garden.

At first I felt a bit sad because my parsley had disappeared, my nasturtiums had taken one look at my garden and decided on a “go slow”, and my rosemary bush had died a few years ago. I have one of those gardens in which plants either seed themselves and grow like weeds (like the violas) or make a quick, ungracious exit.

But this year the pineapple mint has decided to fight the violas for space – and the spearmint is as invasive as ever. In addition I do have apple mint, marjoram, lemon balm and chives. And aren’t stinging nettles a herb?

So I turned to the Collins Gem Guide on Herbs for Cooking and Health written by Christine Grey-Wilson. Suddenly a whole world of herbs opened up and some of the lowliest weeds became little treasures.

I ended up with a bunch of 26 herbs. Somewhat amazed I checked the Oxford Dictionary to make sure I had got it right. The definition given there is: Herb – any plant with leaves, seeds or flowers which can be used for flavouring, food, medicine or perfume.

Here’s my list:

Blackberry – has medicinal uses besides having nice fruit to eat.


Clover – leaves and flowers of the white clover can be used in salads

Dandelion – can be used for medicinal purposes, and the young leaves can be put in salads or in soups. You can even dry, roast and grind the roots to make a coffee-like drink.

Deadnettle – young leaves as vegetables, or with soapwort to make a shampoo

English Lavender

Feverfew – infuse as a hot bath to alleviate aches and pains… or in a tea for headaches

Fern (Male Fern) – ground dried rhizome as treatment for worms.

Foxglove – digitalis

Goosegrass (Cleavers) – eat as a spring veg or make a broth to cure overweight! Roast fruits ground to make something like coffee.

Herb Robert – dressing for cuts and wounds

Lady’s Mantle – a soothing bath herb, or use the dried leaves ‘to make a useful tea for all female complaints’

Lemon Balm

Lily of the Valley – produces a milder version of digitalis

Mints : Spearmint, Apple mint, Pineapple mint. I infuse apple mint in hot water to make my favourite herbal tea.

Nasturium – can use the leaves in salads and the seeds can be pickled.

Pot Marjoram – that’s definitely becoming a weed in my garden and the bees love it.

Rhubarb – originally grown for its ‘mild astringent and purgative actions’

Rough Comfrey – Comfrey oil is used to heal bruises, and pulled muscles and ligaments etc


Stinging Nettle – ‘tops are delicious as a vegetable and in soups’ (wrapped in a foxglove leaf – see below)

Yellow Flag – seeds once used for a drink similar to coffee. Roots used to make black dye, flowers for yellow dye

Yellow hopclover – good source of protein. Flowers and leaves can be eaten raw, drunk as tea, or the flower heads can be dried and ground into a nutritious flour.

Plaintain – medicinal uses as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Leaves and seed heads can be dried for tea. Young leaves can be used in salads.


Burning of the Bartle

In 2002 I interviewed the late  Alan Harker about the Burning of the Bartle tradition in West Witton.  The article I wrote was published in The Dalesman in 2003. Below is a slightly amended version.


Above: The “Burning of Bartle” Doggerel as written for me by Alan Harker.

Ghostly memories of harsher times when sheep stealers faced summary justice at the hands of local people are remembered each year in Wensleydale, with the ancient and unique ceremony of Burning the Bartle.

The oral history for the centuries-old event (was) held by 75-year-old Alan Harker who could remember following the Bartle when he was about four-years-old. In August each year he and his small team made the effigy of the Bartle, stuffing trousers and a shirt full of straw and giving it a head. Then, at 9pm on the last Saturday in August, the 45-minute parade through West Witton began, starting from the west end of the village and ending at Grassgill where the Bartle was once again ceremonially burned.

“Some have said it’s a harvest ritual which to me is daft because we had to plough out in wartime to grow corn and it didn’t grow because the climate wasn’t right. I believe he was a sheep stealer as what I was told by George Smorthwaite,” said Mr Harker.

The late Mr Smorthwaite had been born in the village but later worked in London as a schoolteacher. He had collected some historical records about the village and the Bartle but these were lost in a fire. Fifty-one years earlier, when Mr Harker was asked to help with the ceremony, Mr Smorthwaite told him that it was already over 400 years old.

By the time Mr Harker was seven he had learned the doggerel chanted at the ceremony off by heart from men like Bert Spence and George Stockdale who were then in their 50s. To him it spoke of a local man, chased down from Penhill and then executed.

The term ‘Bartle’ he believed came from St Bartholomew’s Church. He was told by Mr Smorthwaite that the man, once caught, was probably tried at the village church court and that was why his effigy was traditionally burnt during the patronal festival.

In the 1920s there were 70 children in the village school and all enjoyed the feast of St Bartholomew which included two sports days as well as the Burning of the Bartle. “It was a busy little village then,” Mr Harker remembered.

There were about seven shops including the post office, grocer, baker, cobbler and joiner and there was plenty of work around for the local men, whether in the quarries, with the railway company or on the farms.

“There was very little traffic then. There were only two or three motor cars in the village. It’s a bit dodgy now because of the traffic and some don’t keep the speed limit,” he said.

Not only does the Bartle parade now become entangled with cars but one year a vehicle was even parked in the middle of the burning site. It had to be moved because Mr Harker was determined that all aspects of the ceremony must be retained.

“It’s an old custom that’s gone on all these hundreds of years and it wants carrying on,” he said. “It’s quite popular now but the feast nearly fell through.” In the 1980s there were sometimes only three people at the meetings to plan all the feast activities, including Burning the Bartle.

Of the latter Mr Harker commented: “We don’t want it to die out. Gareth Robson is a new recruit. He’s been with us a few years now and is in training for the future.”

The team in 2003  consisted  of Mr Harker; his brother Robert, who had been helping for 26 years; his son, John, who after 16 years was the chief executioner, and Mr Robson.

Along the way they were  plied with drinks and chanted the doggerel, to the accompaniment of the Bartle’s flashing eyes.

“When I started he had just one eye and we used a flashlight for it, switching it on and off,” Mr Harker said. Now they have a battery poked in one of the Bartle’s back pockets and have two eyes peering out of a plastic mask.

Another innovation during Mr Harker’s 50 years had been to use a sheep’s fleece for the Bartle’s hair and beard. “It’s changed quite a bit but it is still a bag of straw when it’s done,” said Mr Harker.


Above: Alan Harker fixing the face on the Bartle in 2002, while his brother, Robert, holds the straw effigy. Below: Robert Harker and Gareth Robson testing the “eye lights”.


Below: John Harker burning the Bartle in 2003



I hold the copyright for this article and also for the photographs – even if some have been posted on other websites (without my permission).

Hilary Davies

Many gathered at St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth, on Friday, April 10, to say goodbye to Hilary Kathleen Davies (1933-2015). The Wensleydale village of Thornton Rust where she had lived for so long, was almost empty as so many of the residents attended the service of thanksgiving for her life. hilary

Here is what the Rev Canon Sue Whitehouse, former vicar of Aysgarth, told us about Hilary.

Several of Hilary’s friends have contributed their thoughts and memories to this service – not least Cordula from Germany. Over the last years she and Hilary have been very good and close friends and although Cordula is not able to be with us today I know that she is putting aside this hour to be here in spirit.

And so we come to say our farewell to someone who from 1972 – when the then headmaster of Wensleydale school took her on a tour of the outlying farms to show her where some of the pupils lived  – she was totally committed to Wensleydale: to its young people and families; to church and choirs; and to its countryside and nature.

The photograph on the front of the service sheet (above)  shows a Hilary of earlier days: always busy, coming home from school, taking Honey (her dog) up the Outgang in Thornton Rust, having tea with her parents, and then  out to meetings or choir practices.

And, in the early days of retirement she was still busy: at the Citizens Advice Bureau, as churchwarden at St Andrew’s, at the Mission Room in Thornton Rust, with the diocese and the deanery synod, and with various choirs, courses and expeditions abroad. Or she was looking after her parents in to their very old age. As she became more and more physically limited she found life very hard and frustrating and difficult to accept. And so it was, of course, difficult for those around her.

A sustaining faith

But throughout her faith sustained her and she was prepared for her dying. She often spoke with Cordula about death – peacefully and without fear.

I’m reminded of a painting by Salvador Dali where a girl stands at an open window looking beyond the familiar harbour to an unending vista. A description of the painting says of the girl: “Fully attentive she is ready to recognise and greet a hope-filled future.”

So as we come to hand Hilary back into the arms of her Maker we do so in sadness as we remember times past, in gratitude for having known her and in trust of God’s promise in Jesus’ death and resurrection of eternal life for her, now in God’s nearer presence, and for ourselves, as we continue our earthly journey.

Her early life

Hilary was born at Low Fell in Gateshead in 1933. During the war when Gateshead was in danger of being bombed she stayed with her Grandma Sharman in Stocksfield, County Durham. And, although her love of Wensleydale became deeply ingrained she still always held a light for the north-east and the Lambton Worm was one of her party pieces.

Animals were always an important part of her life, culminating in Sam (Samson) – rescued as a kitten from a wall, I think, along Thornton Rust Road, and (became) very much part of her life at The Bield (Hilary’s home in Thornton Rust).

Her love of music was fostered at Gateshead Grammar School according to her friend, Ann.  Hilary went on to read Botany and Bacteriology at King’s College which became Newcastle University. As a child Hilary had poor health and Betty Cawte remembers that her mother worried about her taking part in field expeditions. Hilary, of course, continued to organise school field trips when she was teaching.

Her first post was in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, where she taught with Margaret Bottle. Margaret left some years before Hilary but she and Ted went back to visit…

On one occasion Hilary needed some flower specimens for a lesson at school and so took them to Ditton Priors. Nearby was a “hush hush” secret naval base which had been served by a now overgrown branch line. Ted, a railway buff, explored the line while Hilary and Margaret gathered the flowers.

The next day at school, Hilary was visited by two men who, on a tip-off, had travelled up from London in order to question her as to why she had been in the area of Ditton Priors. They fortunately accepted her explanation!

In 1964 Hilary moved to Cartwright School, Solihull, and then in 1972 to the Wensleydale School where she became a Deputy Head and helped to steer the school through some difficult and stressful times. She was always a devoted and loyal member of staff who was understanding and encouraging. She continued to take an interest in all her former pupils, several of whom recently cared for her in hospital and at Sycamore Hall (Bainbridge).

Her love for others

She was generally interested and concerned about people. She delighted in her family – her cousins and their families: Sybil and Michael; Donald, Christina, Joseph and Erin; Neil, Penny, Martha and Peter; Paul, Judith, Owen and Hugh; Valerie and Eric and their family, and latterly, in particular, enjoyed and talked about their visits. She was a kind and caring godmother and had a great capacity for friendship.

Margaret Carlisle from the States said that “though there were thousands of miles between our homes – when we saw each other we would share endless cups of tea from the little blue teapot, as we laughed and cried together, consoled and advised each other, and caught up with all our news.” And, for others too like Cordula, the “little blue teapot” was an important symbol of a special friendship.

Hilary always remembered people. When Jackie was helping her to sort out decades of theatre and concert programmes, Hilary would always know who had been performing in the play or concert and which friends she had been with to see a performance.

In her last years she was grateful to friends and neighbours like Ian at Thornton Rust and the staff at Sycamore Hall who helped her through difficult times.

Her vision of God’s Kingdom

Hilary’s faith was a constant throughout her life but it was not static. As a member of St Andrew’s and Thornton Rust Mission Room she worked indefatigably on practical matters but also had a vision of God’s Kingdom beyond the parochial. She looked to build on the past and move forward into the future. There was always an integrity and wisdom in her thinking and in all aspects of her life as sense of “One who serves”.

Her spirituality was, I think, both nurtured and expressed through her singing, her artistic talent and her love of nature – using her gifts in praise and thanks to God.

Her love of music

Over the years she sang with many choirs: the church choir at St Andrew’s where she encouraged youngsters in their RSCM awards; the North Yorkshire Chorus with whom she went on tours in Finland, East Germany, South Carolina and France; the Harp Singers; and in the 1990s there were special pilgrimages to the Ancient Churches of Asia Minor, Rome and in the footsteps of St Paul with the BBC Pilgrim Choir.

She missed her singing with choirs very deeply and used to sing along to familiar works on her CDs.

She was always interested in discovering and exploring the natural world. At Sycamore the birds coming to the feeder at her window gave her great delight every day and indeed she was sitting looking out of her window when she died.

Resurrection life

Her artistic talent was put to use in children’s work and displays for the church. The toddlers’ rainbow of glue and tissue paper was in her airing cupboard for three days before it dried out. It is poignant at this Easter season to remember that the egg rolling that took place this last Sunday was originally Hilary’s initiative – a symbol particularly for her of resurrection life.

For all of us the Easter message of freedom, release from the restrictions that hold us back from the full life that God offers begins in the here and how. For us there are still earthly boundaries but for Hilary (there is) the wide vista beyond the known harbour.

Psalm 126, in a translation from the German version, says: “When the Lord will release the prisoners of Israel, we will be like people who are dreaming, our mouth full of laughter, our tongues full of praise.”

We are called to lead our earthly lives within the dimension of the promised state – for Hilary it is now a reality.

Public access defibrillators in mid Wensleydale


Thornton Rust institute now proudly displays a public access defibrillator (PAD) box on the front of the building. And on Saturday, September 13, many residents attended the coffee morning in the institute to learn more about the defibrillator (defib) and how and when it could be accessed.

Left: Ian White (right) and Dave Jones beside the PAD box outside Thornton Rust institute.

Dave Jones, the community defibrillator officer for West Yorkshire, explained that the box containing the defib could be opened by obtaining the code for the keypad from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. So, in an emergency, the first step was to ring 999 and the ambulance call handler will ask a series of questions to ascertain what was required.

It is vitally important to give the ambulance service an address to which to send a fast response car, an ambulance and (if one was available) a community first responder. As a first responder I’ve often been very grateful that a Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) fast response car has arrived soon after I have reached someone suffering from chest pains.

Once the call handler knows where the patient is they will want to know how many people are available to help. Dave emphasised that it is important that one person stays with the patient and the call handler will give advice about how to administer chest compressions. “The call handler will talk you through it,” he assured everyone and warned: “The window of opportunity when there has been a cardiac arrest is just four minutes.”

But compared to administering chest compressions a patient’s chances of survival can be increased from below five per cent to over 50 per cent if a defib is used soon after someone has collapsed. So, if another person is available to help, they will be asked to run and get the defib, following the instructions provided by the ambulance call handler.

When encouraging residents to make use of the defib Dave commented: “You can’t get it wrong – just have a go.” He said that the defib provided both spoken and visual advice on how to use it.

Dave not only explained how the defib worked but also demonstrated how to give chest compressions using a dummy. Afterwards he had time to chat with residents and answer more questions while I, as member of the Carperby and Aysgarth volunteer community responder team, watched while some used the dummy to practise chest compressions. Practising chest compressions on ‘Little Anne’.


The Carperby and Aysgarth team is short of members now and is finding it harder  to provide almost 24/7 coverage in mid Wensleydale as we are willing to go beyond our four-mile radius.

Ian White organised the installation of the defib box at Thornton Rust. The  boxes and defibs for Aysgarth and Thoralby have been deliverd and that for Aysgarth has been installed on the front wall of the village institute thanks to Kevin Hails and James Metcalfe.

But, even though Thoralby was the first village in the Aysgarth and District parish council area to raise the funds for this equipment it is likely to be the last to have a box installed.

This is because Thoralby village hall is a listed building.  This means that permission has to be obtained to install a box on an outer wall and the Yorkshire Dales National Park planning officer has suggested it should be at the back of the building. This upset many people in the village who felt that the building was not “an attractive feature which contributes significantly to the quality of the village” and that equipment which has the potential to make the difference between life and death ought to be clearly visible. (See Aysgarth and District parish council report)

Dave, however, said that having the defib box at the back of the hall was not a problem as the ambulance call handler would give clear directions as to its location and signs could be provided.  When I asked him about this later he said that a PAD box had been installed on the back of another listed building in North Yorkshire.

The box needs to be on a publicly funded building with an electricity supply as the defib must be kept warm during the winter months.

The cost of the equipment at Thoralby and at Thornton Rust was met from the funding received through the Defra environmental stewardship schemes for Thoralby Moss and Thornton Mire. Aysgarth, as well as West Burton and Preston under Scar plus two villages in Swaledale received assistance from Richmondshire District Council’s Communities Opportunities Fund.

In Remembrance

The Leyland family of Wensleydale have links with the Battle of Waterloo, World War 1 and World War 2. John “Peter” Leyland‘s widow, artist Janet Rawlins, lent a bugle to Askrigg village for their commemoration of the start of World War 1. She commented afterwards:

“It was an amazing and very moving occasion – huge crowd all with lanterns, a still evening, Christine (Hallas) explained about James Preston and Mary Rose read a poem. The bugler blew, standing up on the cross (I cried my eyes out – doubt if it had been blown like that since Jim Preston). The King’s Arms provided free whisky for all – and a piper played. The church was full of candles and the two brass vases in memory of James Preston and another were filled with poppies.”

James Graham Preston of West End House, Askrigg, was a member of Askrigg church choir, a Sunday School teacher and a pupil teacher at Askrigg day school. He then attended the Beckett Park Teacher Training College at Leeds with his cousin, Dick Chapman, and won several awards for swimming and running.

He volunteered for the Army in 1915 and twice turned down a commission preferring to remain a private. He transferred from the Royal Field Artillery and became a bugler with the 18th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. On his 20th birthday on October 22, 1917, the Battalion was pinned down by enemy fire in the Houthulst Forest in the Ypres Salient. Preston’s lung was pierced by a bullet and he died in hospital on November 2.

His bugle was returned to West End House and is now in the care of Janet as her late husband, Peter, was James Preston’s nephew.


The bugle has been part of the peace and remembrance display at the Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House which is open from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Wednesdays. Messages can be left on the Peace and Remembrance Wall outside.

The first Wensleydale men to be killed during WWI were: Pvt Frederick Cockett from Hawes on October 29, 1914; Capt Hugh C Chaytor from Spennithorne on October 31 (both in and around Ypres); Lt Commander Percival van Straubenzee of Spennithorne, when his ship was blown up during a battle with German cruisers off coast of Chile on November 1; and Leading Stoker John R Leake from East Witton on November 3, whose submarine hit a German mine after protecting Great Yarmouth from an attack by German cruisers. Information about these men and James Preston from Wensleydale Remembered by Keith Taylor.

Peter’s father, John, (1890-1942) served with the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) in WW1.

See also Peter Leyland’s story of his experiences with the  FAU China Convoy in World War II. And for details of the family’s connection with the Battle of Waterloo see Peter Leyland and the Tipladys.

Wensley Flower Festival 2014


The theme “Music and Song”, as Lady Bolton said, gave those preparing for the Wensley Flower Show at Wensley church in mid August lots of scope to enjoy themselves. That enjoyment shone through every arrangement from the luxurious depictions of Swan Lake and The Blue Danube to those illustrating nursery rhymes.

But none more so than in Lord Bolton’s own pews for, hidden behind the red curtains was a life size cardboard cut-out of the “King” himself. Gary Lewis had lent this portrait of Elvis Presley and it was transported to the church in an animal trailer.

The celebration of rock and roll and the Swinging 60s was centred round Lord Bolton’s pews. Leading up to them was The Wedding March – so applicable seeing that the wedding of Gary and Sarah Simpson was held in the church hours before the flower show preview.


This meant that the couple walked along an aisle decorated to illustrate the hymn Love divine all loves excelling.

Their guests may have missed the preview but Lady Bolton was sure many returned during the weekend to see the flowers.

Over 15 women assisted Lady Bolton with preparing for the event and one of them, Doreen Moore, said: “We do enjoy arranging flowers and it’s a nice time for everyone.”

They were delighted that their efforts raised over £2,000 for the church. The Churches Conservation Trust maintains this 13th century church but not its organ. So the parishioners have been fund raising for several years to have this renovated.

As the church is officially closed there are only six services a year there but Mrs Moore commented: “For us it is a living church and we care for it a lot. We are trying to keep the church alive.”

That is very evident at the beautiful biennial flower festivals. Click on the photograph above to see more of this year’s festival.

Anne Barlow – Aysgarth’s centenarian


At 100-years-old Anne Barlow of Aysgarth had a lot to teach us about enjoying life. This was very obvious at her birthday party at West Burton village hall on Saturday, June 21. And also in the way she so joyfully participated in all the fun of watching the Tour de France Grand Depart pass through her village. (click on the photo to see the way she enjoyed her birthday celebrations.)

Aysgarth and District parish council had ensured that the bench outside her home had been repaired and her friends and family made sure it was in the best place for her to view the peloton. She was even more impressed by the helicopters hovering over Aysgarth.

She was so pleased that over 90 friends and family, some from as far away as France, had joined her at West Burton village hall for her birthday party. Her close family there included her grandsons, Edward, William, Louis and Jed.

Her son, Roger, especially thanked his daughter-in-law, Helen, for the creative ideas which helped to make the party so memorable – and his son, Guy, and his wife, Sue, for assisting with the preparations.

One of his special memories of his mother was the amount of Eccles cakes she used to make – and so his wife had made a tower of them. He told those at the party: “You have to have at least one Eccles cake!”  The actual birthday cake was decorated so as to celebrate his mother’s dressmaking and gardening skills.

Roger told them that his mother was born into a coal mining family at Atherton in Lancashire – the sixth of eight children. After she left school she worked as a clerk and then as a secretary.

She married Edward (Eddie) Barlow in July 1939 just a few months before he joined the regular army. In 1945 she wrote to Winston Churchill: “My husband has been fighting in Europe for five years – how dare you send him off to India and Burma to fight the Japanese!”

After the war Mr Barlow worked as an electronics engineer in Leeds and she became a medical secretary at the neurological unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

“I had a very happy life with him,” Mrs Barlow said wistfully about her husband who died in May 1992.

While working in Leeds they bought a holiday cottage in West Burton, and when they retired they moved to Blades Cottage at Aysgarth.

She was very grateful to all who helped to make her to remain living there so long. As her son said – she continued to use her energy and enthusiasm to live life to the full, including going on a world tour when she was 84-years-old.

She had a great sense of humour and a zest for life – and was delighted that she was able to witness such a “once in a lifetime event” as the Grand Depart coming to Yorkshire.

Epilogue: Anne died on January 23 2018.

Tour de France in Wensleydale

After months of preparation the cyclists in the Tour de France Grand Depart rushed through Aysgarth on July 5 – and left us all wondering where all the crowds were. Many communities like those in Bainbridge, Hawes, Muker, and Leyburn had worked hard to welcome this “once in a lifetime event” – as I saw when I went on a photographic tour a few days before the Grand Depart.

Click on the first three photos to see the albums on Flickr:

Le Tour cyclists passing through Aysgarth:



Aysgarth on the day of Le Tour:


Carperby’s market cross was dressed for the occasion even though the village wasn’t on the Le Tour route.


Wednesday, July 2

Like many others I thought it would be fun to go and see how our villages were celebrating this big event – and also make sure I did my shopping  before all those expected hordes of visitors descended upon us. Many residents had worked hard to decorate their villages and hamlets before this “once in a lifetime” event.

In Leyburn I found that many other local residents had also decided to do their shopping early with some items either being out of stock or very low. It was also obvious that the cafes and pubs were doing a roaring trade thanks to all the cyclists needing refreshment after their long haul over the Buttertubs and along Moor Road.

The barriers were going up as I approached the Tour route through Wensleydale.

Thursday, July 3

Like many others I was busy baking – both for the flower festival at Aysgarth church (June 4-6) and for the refreshment stalls being organised by Aysgarth Institute.  I did make a tour of Aysgarth to take some photographs – for as a friend pointed out to me in Hawes, I couldn’t leave my own village out.

The chocolate fudge cake I made was, in parts, too (gorgeously)  fudgy to cut up and take to either the church or the institute. We just had to eat much of it ourselves!


Friday, July 4

That morning I did a two-hour shift at Aysgarth church – welcoming anyone who came to see the floral displays that had been created to celebrate  Le Tour to Wensleydale.

On leaving the church I found the roads teeming with cyclists – they came from every direction on every road. And back at Aysgarth I found that a portaloo had been placed right in the centre of the village,  as planned by one of the parish councillors and originally with the approval of Aysgarth and District parish council. But not in accordance with the wishes of the villagers who very quickly took action to move it.

In the end it found a home beside another portaloo in the car park at the George and Dragon. Below: Unwanted of Aysgarth.


At 4pm many villagers converged on Aysgarth institute carrying bags of homemade cakes and cookies to join in a very happy communal event, expertly overseen by Karen. Within an hour or so 250 packed lunches had been prepared, with the sandwiches safely stored in fridges ready to be placed in the bags tomorrow, alongside bottled water, apples, and biscuits.

The big question was: just how many people would converge on the village before the roads closed at 7am the following morning?

Saturday, July 5

My first job was to check the secondary Community First Responder kit that had been delivered to me. Then I packed myself  some food that I could eat as I would be based at the institute as a community first responder for most of the day.

When I got into the centre of the village at 10am I found that all of those crowds of people we had been told to expect just hadn’t materialised – kept out by those barriers. It certainly was easy to watch the Tour de France cyclists but sadly a lot of food did not get sold.

I was very grateful that there no medical emergencies and I could enjoy the spectacle. The ‘caravan’, however, was a big disappointment. The drivers may have honked their horns or blasted us with other unmelodious sounds, but they drove through our village as fast as they could and shared little with us. Just one police motorcyclist stopped to share a high five with a small girl. The  helicopters overhead as Le Tour cyclists passed through gave a better show than the caravan.

As a family we watched some of Le Tour on television that afternoon – and had a good laugh at the bad pronunciation of the names of Yorkshire towns and villages by the commentators who even confused the Yorkshire Dales with the North Yorkshire Moors. That, and the limited knowledge of Yorkshire revealed by the stewards brought in from southern England, said a lot about the North South divide in this country. Those poor stewards certainly did not expect it to be that much colder up in the hills of the North.

Sunday, July 6

David and I had a very enjoyable, restful day at the classic car rally at Corbridge, while Eddie battled through the crowds in York to get another view of Le Tour. Eddie commented later that it had been more enjoyable watching Le Tour in Aysgarth.

Monday, July 7:

My niece, Helen, and her son Jack, watched Le Tour as it left Cambridge – as a way of celebrating the memory of “Granddad Bob” , my brother who died at this time last year.

In appreciation of Easter


Penhill Benefice celebrated Easter with many events in April 2014. But why is Easter so important?

Many years ago a Muslim man left me almost speechless when he asked one short but very important question.

I respected that man a great deal for he was a very sincere Muslim who prayed five times every day, fasted during Ramadan, and gave alms, as well as having been to Mecca.

And yet he asked me: “What can I do about the bad things inside me – the things I can’t seem to change no matter how hard I try?”

I replied:  “That’s why Easter is so important to Christians.”

He wanted to know more so I explained what Jesus had achieved for each one of us by choosing to be sacrificed on the cross for us. When he rose from the dead three days later he made it possible for us to also start a new life and to change those aspects of our life which we hated. (Above  – the cross of flowers at Aysgarth church after the Easter Sunday service.)

One of the people who lived a beautiful life was Dorothy Walker. I have added the Rev Graham Dear’s speech to my tribute to show why.

In Penhill Benefice we had a busy time celebrating Easter in 2014 – from the processions at Redmire and West Witton churches on Palm Sunday, to the Stations of the Cross throughout the benefice on Good Friday, to the Easter Sunday services.  At Aysgarth church many children enjoyed decorating eggs and biscuits – and then the egg rolling afterwards.

Pictured below: the Palm Sunday procession to Redmire church; and the procession to West Witton Church led by the Rev Penny Yeadon; Stations of the Cross at Carperby on Good Friday; egg rolling at Aysgarth Church on Easter Sunday. There are more photos – if anyone wants a CD contact me at






The inspirational Dorothy Walker

It was an honour and a pleasure to have known Dorothy Walker who died at Brentwood Lodge, Leyburn, aged 108, on April 2. Her enjoyment of life, the twinkle in her eye and her Christian faith were inspirational. When she retired as a teacher from Bellerby School in 1971 (14 years before it closed) the vicar, the Rev T F Unsworth, said she had a Peter Pan like quality – and she retained that throughout her life.

She grew up in Selby and when she was 21 was appointed to teach the 20 or more children at the primary school in Bellerby. It was a cold, grey evening when she got off the train in Leyburn and, as she wasn’t able to find a taxi, she had to walk the two miles to the village. By then it was snowing and as she searched for accommodation she believed she would not stay long in Bellerby.


But she did and married a local man, Fred Walker, who died about a year after their golden wedding anniversary in 1995. “I have enjoyed all my years in Bellerby and I am very grateful for all the help I have been given,” she said. (Above – with school children at Bellerby)

She was 99-years-old when she retired as the organist at St John’s, Bellerby, and a year later young pianists were still going to her home for piano lessons. As the Rev Unsworth said, she awakened the love of music in several generations of children in and around Bellerby.

Dorothy told me that she loved children too much to want to be a head teacher. Instead she took on all the music teaching at the school as well as doing needlework with the seniors.

It was the sudden departure of a head teacher in 1928 that led to her long involvement with the Wensleydale Tournament of Song for she was asked to prepare the pupils for this annual event in Leyburn.


Just days before her 100th birthday she said: “I love the tournament.” (Above: being filmed at the Tournament in 2006) She was delighted when she was made one its patrons in 2000. In Bellerby she had organised choirs for the ladies, the WI, the children, the church and the Glee Club to sing at the tournaments. By the time she was 100 she had trained the highest number of pianists who had taken part in its junior music classes.


She had celebrated her 96th birthday in hospital after fracturing her hip. But that did not stop her attending the tournament to see her student, Laura Reeks (pictured with Dorothy in February 2006), win a cup for playing the piano.


In March 2008 her good friends, Mary and John Storr, held a birthday party in their home for Dorothy and Beattie Tupling  (above)as both were celebrating their 102nd birthdays. Mrs Tupling’s son, Trevor, and her two grandsons were taught by Dorothy. “We have been friends for 80 years,” Mrs Tupling said. And Dorothy commented:“We only have happy memories – we have never had a wrong word between us. We have both found a lot of happiness in this village.” Mrs Tupling died in January 2009. (Below: Dorothy with her son Dick on the right and John Storr)


Dorothy was delighted when one of her favourite writers, Gervase Phinn, visited her in Bellerby in May 2009 and they swapped yarns about teaching local children.

In 2010, after her 104th birthday she commented: “I don’t understand how I have lived this long. My doctor said I was not strong enough to train as a nurse and so I became a teacher instead.”

©P Land

Her chief mourners were her son, Richard (Dick), his wife, Ann, her grandchildren Tony and Rachel and her great grandchildren Logan and Blake. But as the Rev Graham Dear noted at the service of thanksgiving for her at St John’s, Bellerby  on Thursday, April 10, there were many others who had counted her as a special friend, and who had helped to care for her in the latter part of her life. He thanked the staff at Brentwood Lodge Care Home in Leyburn for the way they had made it possible for her to continue to be the person all knew and loved until she died.

Rev Dear’s address at the service:

Dorothy was born 108 years ago as Dorothy Mary Wilkinson in Caton Bay, near Scarborough and by the 1st World War she and her family had moved to Selby where they attended church at Brayton.

There she enjoyed being part of a very happy, church going family where music played a very strong part. Her mother was the first to teach her to play the piano. Her father, Wilfred, had a very fine voice and so, especially on a Sunday, they would gather around the piano to sing.

Her mother, Elizabeth, was always affectionately known as Mums. Mums was one of those people who was quietly there right to the end of Dorothy’s life as an example to her. After school and college at the age of 21 her first teaching post was here in Bellerby at the Church of England school.

When she came here in 1928 the village had three shops, two pubs and a post office. They were very hard days. People and families living in very cramped accommodation and it was difficult at first to find a place to live and to have room for her preparation, as well as later to find a home for her piano. It was a godsend when in the post office she learned that Miss Davison at The Lilacs was looking for a paying guest. This provided the ideal situation not just for herself but later for Fred and for Richard.

Aunty Madge – Miss Davison – remained was one of Dorothy’s lifetime inspirations. Her faithful attendance at Mass, her ability to always find something good to say about somebody strengthened Dorothy’s own faith and her character.

Coming to grips though with life in a somewhat insular community with its own particular dialect caused initial difficulties but the young Miss Wilkinson quickly began winning the children round. The headmaster was keen to include music and Dorothy was very soon taking children on the bus to Leyburn to take part in the Wensleydale Tournament of Song.

As the years went by she organised choirs both for children and ladies, the WI, St John’s and then the Glee Club. Often she saw these pick up awards as far away as Harrogate.The school children from Bellerby became very much the stars at the Tournament of Song and soon any rival didn’t have to give any other explanation for their failure than to just shrug their shoulders and say “Oh well you had Mrs Walker of Bellerby”.

For by then Miss Wilkinson’s heart had been won by Fred Walker of Wensley – they met at a dance in Leyburn. They had their golden wedding anniversary just a year before Fred died in 1995. From then on quietly whatever came she was ready to go home to be with Mums and with Fred – that gave her the serenity that we all marked and rejoiced in.

She was a keen walker all her life. She had walked with the children six miles to Richmond to visit the cinema. Fortunately for their sakes, if not for hers, they were able to catch the bus back. She also organised outings on the bus for picnics, walks and a paddle at Aysgarth Falls.

Distances on foot seemed no problem. Fred was a keen cricketer and she had gone to watch him play in a match at Masham. The game was still going on but she said “I think I’ll just slip away. You’ll catch me up on the road”. Well – he never caught her up. She walked all the way back to Bellerby from Masham.

Shortly before she left the village she was still walking around the village much to everyone’s concern. She remained independent to the last though appreciative to have somebody’s arm to lean on for the final lap home.

She was an early fan of flight and she went to France with one of her girlfriends quite early on. Sadly she never learnt how to drive. She had a rather interesting initial foray with Fred which nearly ended up in a ditch. However much Fred tried to persuade her to get behind the wheel again it wasn’t on.

It’s incredible to think that she retired from the school as long ago as 1971 after 44 years. She then taught music for another eight years music at the Convent of the Assumption at Richmond. She was still of course teaching her pupils at home way beyond her 100th birthday.

Dorothy loved to keep in touch with her old pupils and colleagues. As the years went by quietly but proudly Dorothy was rewarded by being made patron of Wensleydale Tournament of Song , by receiving cards from the Queen which she never dreamt she would receive, by opening the Leyburn Medical Centre, by the Swaledale Festival organising a violinist to play for her at her home; and by swapping yarns with Gervase Phinn.

She shared that marvellous childlike wonder that she had right about the world and all that went on in it to the end of her days.

St John’s was very much her spiritual home. She was very proud of having played the organ for over 70 years especially as she had initially been asked to stand in “just for a few weeks until they got a proper organist”.

Here at St John’s and later in Brentwood she was able to receive Holy Communion – following the pattern set in Selby which would last her all her life. No week was complete for her without sharing in Holy Communion. For the Vicar and me it has been my joy to see the look of gratitude on her face – a look of joy – when on each occasion this simple act so faithfully shared brought together over 100 years of experience.

In her later years the Methodist chapel at Bellerby proved a blessing to her as well. The Mothers’ Union also played a great part in her life, both in Bellerby and beyond.

I think everyone here will have a memory of Dorothy – that marvellous twinkle in her eye, the gentle pat on the back of the hand – she loved us dearly and we dearly loved her. She appreciated us graciously and perhaps made us more gracious people.

The prayer that she loved best alongside the Lord’s Prayer comes towards the end of the Holy Communion service and I think it summarises very well her experience of her Heavenly Father and her wish to share his love through Christ Jesus with others:

“Father of all, we give you thanks and praise that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory. May we who share Christ’s body live in risen life. We who drink his cup bring life to others. We whom the Spirit lights give light to the world. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, so we and all your children shall be free and the whole earth live to praise your name through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

Farm shop, cafe and meadow walk in Wensleydale

What a great way to spend a sunny afternoon! A friend and I met at Berry’s Farm Shop and Cafe  at Swinithwaite and enjoyed the Meadow Walk created by the Thornton-Berry family. This walk passes through their farmland to Redmire Falls.  At the beginning there was a feeling of “follow the yellow brick road” – while a Swaledale sheep kept watch on us.


Above: towards Redmie


Above – Redmire Falls
Below:  Looking towards the farm, the farm shop and Penhill



We spent an enjoyable hour in the very restful, welcoming cafe enjoying afternoon tea . It is a gentle, half a mile walk from the Cafe to the scar above the river. The steps make it much easier to access the Falls. The uphill walk back to the Cafe is not difficult – and, of course, there are good facilities and good food at the end.

The chairs and much of the new buildings have been made from timber from the Swinithwaite Estate and a wood burning boiler provides the heating and hot water.  All the water comes from the roofs of the buildings. This same sustainable approach applies to the café and the shop with the meat, vegetables, cheeses, oils and preserves being procured locally.

Mrs  Bridget Thornton-Berry said: “By having a farm shop and café we realise a dream of sharing the views and the land with more people and in so doing help people to understand that food comes from this landscape. We see ourselves as care takers for a beautiful part of the dales, and we feel very privileged to live here.”

Other old farm buildings at the hall have been developed to retain their traditional features and to provide modern facilities for  local businesses.

Below: Bridget and Adrian Thornton-Berry (send and third from left) after the official opening of the farm shop and cafe in April 2012







The cafe is now run by Fairhusts. For more information click here

A Bainbridge family: Peter Leyland and the Tipladys

I edited Peter Leyland’s story about his family in Bainbridge from his talk to the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum and the oral history recordings I made in 2008. This was first published in the Now Then magazine in 2009. This annual magazine is published by the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum. Peter died in 2010. His widow is the artist Janet Rawlins.

My great great grandfather was called Alexander Tiplady, or Alec Tiplady, and he was born in Askrigg. He fought in the battle of Waterloo and, when he came back, he married an Askrigg girl called Mary Metcalfe and decided to open a shop in Bainbridge.

He started the general store with groceries and draperies and so on in 1816 and this was carried on by his son John Tiplady. John married Mary Ann Routh from Hawes and they had one daughter, Mary. (Below: John and Mary Ann Tiplady. Drawn by Janet Rawlins from a photo.)


They didn’t go to cash and carry in those days but had commercial travellers who came round touting their wares. A lot of them used to come on the train to Askrigg and they would walk on to Bainbridge carrying their bags and take orders from the shop. One of these commercial travellers, although I don’t think he ever called himself that, was John Leyland from a firm in Bradford. He married Mary and they carried on with the shop after my great grandfather died.

My father was born in 1890. My grandfather died in 1918 just before my mother (Isobel Chapman) and father were married. They were married in 1919 and I was born in 1920. My given name was John because the eldest son of the family for three to four generations had always been John. But my parents wanted to call me Peter and did so. So my nickname is Peter in this part of the world. In the outside world I was called John.

My parents lived (for many years) in the house by the shop on the north side of the road just before the bridge. It was called Tiplady House but in my young days I always remember it being called Tippledy House.

My grandfather started the Bainbridge Electric Supply company in partnership with John Cockburn, the owner of High Mill. They invited W H Burton and Son to create an electricity supply system in Bainbridge. So in 1912 the Bainbridge Electric Lighting Co was established and W H Burton installed a water turbine, manufactured by Gilbert Gilkes of Kendal, in the disused mill wheel house.

This turbine drove a generator producing 6 kw at 110DC. (Later converted to 240volts AC). The old mill leat had been taken from the River Bain by a channel cut in the limestone bed of the river. In 1912 it was taken under the wall of the mill garth to a header tank with a galvanised grid (still there) from which the water was carried in a 15 inch diameter ceramic pipe down past the present Unicorn House and into the mill wheel house.

Half way down the mill garth the pipe runs under an old millstone inscribed “JS 1798″. The original account book shows “Total Cost of Installation of Electric Light in Bainbridge Village being Value of Turbine, Battery, Generator, Cable and Works £415.14.2″. (John Leyland and John Cockburn contributed half each. The prices of electricity per unit were: 6d (2.3p) 1914-1919; 7d (3p) 1920; 8d (3.33p) 1920-23; and 9d (3.75p) 1924-48.

After she remarried and moved to York Isobel still came back to take the meter readings and keep the accounts, having W H Burton and Sons looking after the technical side. It was very astute of her in 1947 to anticipate the nationalisation of electricity by negotiating with Dick Cockburn, son of John Cockburn, to buy his continuing half share for the sum of £400. But it took her six years to reach an agreement for compensation with the newly established Electricity Authority. They finally settled at £1,415 which she found very satisfactory at the time.

I remember as a boy in the 1930s that in autumn the grid on the header tank tended to become blocked by leaves. When the village lights started to dim as a result of the reduced flow of water my brother, Peter, and I were then told to get the brushes and go and sweep the leaves off.


The Tiplady’s shop c 1920s

The other business my grandfather and father developed was as cheese factors.  The cheeses were produced on the farms individually by the farmers. My father used to say that the best cheese came from Coverdale. We used to go to farms in Coverdale, Swaledale and Ravenstonedale to buy cheeses. We were cheese wholesalers really.

I remember a lot of cheeses were mail ordered. They used to wrap them in brown paper and tie them up with strong string and post them. We had a little cart and would drag this to the other end of the village to the post office. I remember going along to Askrigg station with parcels of cheese to deliver to retailers, I suppose, around the country.

Just after the First World War we had an old Austin pickup. I can remember going on a camping holiday with this to Kilnsey. We piled everything into this Austin pickup and went down to Aysgarth and up Bishopdale and we stuck in the middle of Kidstones. So my father turned it round and we went up backwards because reverse gear was lower.

Later on we had a rather more sophisticated van – a huge Willis Overland. It was almost like a converted small bus. We also used to deliver goods (mostly groceries) to all the farms around and my father used to go out every week on a different route (eg Raydaleside including Countersett and Stalling Busk; Aysgarth, West Burton, Newbiggin and part of Bishopdale; and Hawes and Apersett). In those days the road to Raydaleside was really rough, the tracks were potholed, and in bad weather it was terrible. My father would (visit) mainly farmers and bring back the orders on Thursday.

On Friday they would make up the orders (packing them) into little wooden boxes and deliver them on Saturday. This was very good business but it was very hard work. They worked to 7 o’clock in the evening every day except half day on Wednesday and they didn’t work on Sundays.

In the shop there was no self service. You stood at the counter and gave your order. Even in those days Allens in Hawes was a much bigger enterprise than Leylands in Bainbridge. People also went to Leyburn as there was a bus service – the Northallerton Omnibus Service.

The market towns Hawes and Leyburn, were meccas then more than they are now. (When I was small) there were two grocers shops – ours and Alex Chapman’s at the top of the village. And there was a butcher’s. I can’t remember any other shops.

The farmers didn’t come out much then. So the delivery of heavy groceries like sugar was quite a service to them. My father would go into the kitchen of the farmhouse and sit with the farmer’s wife. She would have to give the grocery order for a month. The farmers had horse and little light traps and sometimes would bring their wives and other members of the family to town.

When my father died in 1942 my aunt Edith carried on with the shop with the help of an old stalwart employee Sam Peacock until she retired in… (She died in 2003 aged 104). She had been working in the shop all her life and particularly ran the drapery side. I remember her telling me that she went to Bradford to study millinery and, after she came back, she used to design and decorate hats for the ladies.

My family were the small entrepreneurs of the village with the cheese, the electricity, the grocery and the drapery. They were quite prosperous and my parents sent their two boys and two girls to the Quaker school at Ackworth.

The connection with the Quakers came through the Rouths of Hawes. Mary Ann Routh (my great great grandmother) had a sister, Rebecca, who was housekeeper at Ackworth School until 1910. She was a rather formidable lady and it was quite clear that she was very influential on my grandfather. My parents joined the Society of Friends in the 1920s.

I went to the elementary school in Bainbridge on the green at the top of the village. At the age of 10 my parents put me on the train at Askrigg station and I was told to change at Northallerton and York and find my way to Pontefract. It was a benign world for young travellers. I came back for holidays and at the age of 16 my father sent me off by train to London where I was articled to a firm of chartered accountants. I enjoyed my time in London – it was so exciting to live away and have this independent life at such an early age.

For the story of his work with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in China during the 2nd World War see

Aysgarth Church and a Gurkha Officer

On the wall by the south west exit from the Lady Chapel in Aysgarth church is a small brass plaque commemorating the life of Lieut. Colonel Alban Wilson D.S.O. who died at West Burton in April 1928. He spent the majority of his military service as an officer with the 44th Gurkha (Rifle) Regiment (later 8th Gurkha Rifles) helping to secure the British empire’s northern borders on the India sub-continent, especially around Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and in Nagaland. That certainly doesn’t explain how he came to hold an extremely rare medal awarded by the German princely state of Waldeck and Pyrmont (below)


His full name was James Alban Wilson and he was born in Warrington. Lancashire, in February 1865. It is likely that he attended Uppingham School in the early 1880s1 and in 1885 joined the 3rd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders militia.

He gained his first commission with the Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, the Duke of Albany’s) in 1887 and became a 2nd lieutenant in November 1887. Two years later he transferred to the 44th Gurkha (Rifle) Regiment of the Bengal Infantry of the Indian Army2. From then until the 1st World War gained promotions and honours by taking part in punitive expeditions against unruly tribesmen in the North East and North West of India.

In 1895 he and the 44th Gurkhas were sent to Burma (Myanmar) to take part in counter-insurgency operations. The British had annexed Burma in 1886 after the 3rd Anglo-Burmese war but had not been able to stop the insurgency which followed. And so in 1895, working from an extensive system of small military police posts, small lightly equipped columns were sent out to chase insurgents and punish any villages which harboured them. Villages were burned and property confiscated and by 1895 these punitive expeditions had brought the country fully under British control3.

Wilson was involved in similar campaigns on the N West Frontier of India between 1901 and 1902 but the biggest one of all was that against the Abor (now known as the Adi people) in 1911 to 1912 in the North Eastern enclave the British had claimed which bordered on Tibet, China and Burma. By then the 44th Gurkhas had been renamed the 8th Gurkha Rifles.

The Abor expedition4  into what is now part of Arunachal Pradesh was described as a classic punitive expedition to subdue and settle tribesmen who, in their jungle and mountain retreats, were used to being independent. To the nearby Assamese they were savages who raided their farms on the plains beside the young River Brahmaputra. The Abors also attacked saw mills.

The British found it impossible to recruit cooks, sweepers or water carriers in Calcutta when it became known that the campaign would be in Abor Hills, and in Assam it proved just as impossible to recruit coolies. Instead the British turned to another tribe which had not yet fully accepted colonial rule – the Nagas. The Nagas, who were more dreaded that the Abors because of their head-hunting activities , offered to sort out the Abors themselves so long as they could take over the land.

The British had tried a few punitive expeditions before against the Abor but none as large as that led by Major General Hamilton Bower in 1911. This was in retribution for the murder of two British men – an Assistant Political Officer and a doctor – plus some of the coolies who had been travelling with them.

Angus Hamilton in his book about the expedition reported that the Gurkhas made up the bulk of the troops and added: “The Gurkha is the ‘handy-man’ of India, and Gurkha sepoys are deservedly most popular figures with the ‘man in the street’. Short and sturdy, they are as active as cats on the hills, and take to bush warfare instinctively.”

And Bower would comment later: “A better corps for jungle warfare it would be hard to find.”

That was fortunate as the Abors, much to the frustration of the British officers, relied mainly on guerrilla tactics rather than pitched battles. The British led columns faced raging torrents, avalanches, booby traps and arrows tipped with either the poisonous powdered root of the wild aconite or with blood.

Bower was very careful to protect his lines of communication and supply as the columns moved through the thick jungle and up into the hills. Heliographs were in constant use and the sappers laid telephone cables. Wilson (by then a Major) and a couple of companies of the 8th Gurkhas cleared the route for the main column to the first halting place beside the Kemi River en route to Pasighat. Hamilton commented: “A pleasant camp was laid out by the gallant Major’s merry men.”  (Below – Wilson in a camp during the Abor expedition. He is in the foreground with back to the camera.)


From there they could see the jungle and the snow-capped mountains. The Abors believed that their villages were inviolable because the forest was so impregnable with almost impassable undergrowth. On occasions it took an hour to move an army column just one mile and the biting insects and leeches proved to be as difficult and elusive enemies as the Abors.

The sappers and miners used elephants and even dynamite to clear the jungle. And as they moved up into the mountains they had to build bridges across rocky gorges and blast paths out of the precipitous slopes. In one place it took three days to clear two miles.

As it was so difficult to protect a single file of coolies in the forest they were very limited in what they could carry. Officers and civilians accompanying the expedition including a botanist, zoologist and an anthropologist cum geologist were allowed 60lb or even less later in the expedition. Some discarded their pillows for suits of “Burberry’s indispensable Gabardine” and others chose to include their Kodak cameras and films.

The officers personally carried: a Sam Browne belt; a sword, kukri or shotgun; field glasses, revolver and ammo; map, compass; emergency rations; first aid dressing and brandy flask; haversack; water bottle; regulation waterproof; rations for two days; whistle; knife and notebook.

Once they reached the area of the most inhospitable tribes the soldiers had to clear the way themselves as it was too dangerous to send the road making parties ahead even if they had guards. The Abors waited in their stockades perched high above the track ready to rain down arrows and rocks upon the column. In one such attack even Bower was injured.

The British expedition forced the Abors to retreat and there was an attempt to hold peace talks. One of the Abors leaders, however, was killed when en route to the talks. So Major Wilson with 300 Gurkhas was sent to avenge his death. But the Abors fled.

Peace talks did begin after a major village had been burnt and those who had murdered the political officer and the doctor were captured. Wilson was among those who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) after that expedition.

Bower reported: “He (Wilson) commanded when Lt Col Murray was invalided and carried out his duties to my satisfaction. He has shown energy and enterprise throughout, and has commanded detached bodies on several occasions.”

In February 1913 Wilson led a successful punitive expedition into Nagaland to exact reparation for an attack on a Military Police station. In 12 days with a column which included 216 8th Gurkha Rifles and 250 Military Police, six villages which had been involved in the attack were burned and all the livestock and property destroyed. Over 130 Nagas were killed. It was predicted afterwards that the Nagas in those areas would not defy the Government again or attack any of its representatives5.

Following that expedition Wilson was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and in June 1914 he was appointed a Commandant with the 8th Gurkha Rifles. His battalion was sent to Mesopotamia in March 1916 a month before the fall of Kut (now in eastern Iraq). This was one of the most crushing defeats experienced by the British Army with 23,000 British and Indian lives being lost either in Kut or in the attempt to break the siege by the Turkish Army. Those of the 2nd Battalion 8th Gurkhas were among the 8,000 troops taken into captivity during which about half died.

Major General Stanley Maude was much more careful about his supply lines when he took over command of the British Army in Mesopotamia and led a very successful campaign which included recovering control of Kut and then capturing Baghdad in March 19176.

Wilson was put in command of the 21st Infantry Brigade in May 1916 and returned to command the newly formed 3rd Battalion 8th Gurkha Rifles in July 1917.

After he retired in May 1918 he began writing. The most collectable of his books is his Trout Fishing in Kashmir which was published in 1920. He also wrote Sport and Service in Assam and Elsewhere, published in 1924.

By the time he died in April 1928 in WestBurton, N Yorks,  his daughter, Dolores, had divorced her first husband and in September 1927 married William Westenra which meant she became known as Baroness Rossmore of Monaghan. She died in 19817.

There’s nothing in his service in India which explains how Wilson managed to acquire a collection of 300 Polynesian spears, bladed paddles, axes, clubs, daggers and blowpipes. Nor why they were donated, in the 1930s, to the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto8.

Nor is there anything to explain how he came to be entitled to wear the Waldeck and Pyrmont order of merit 3rd class. Only 111 of these medals were awarded between 1878 to 1897 by that small Princely State in Germany9.

Sources and  notes:

1.Census return of 1881 – from

2. My sincerest thanks to Gavin Edgerley-Harris, curator of the Gurkha museum, for providing details of Lt Colonel James Alban Wilson’s military career including the medals he was awarded.


4.Details and photograph from Angus Hamilton’s book In Abor Jungles published by Eveleigh Nash, London, 1912 (a year before Hamilton’s death). Hamilton joined the Abor expedition as the correspondent for the Central News Agency. There was also a Reuter’s correspondent. Now available on (

5.The 1913 Nagaland expedition (known as the Totok Punitive Expedition) –  details from the PhD thesis by Joseph Longkumer submitted to the Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth University in India, doctorate awarded in 2011.

6.The First World War Mesopotamia Campaigns: Military Lessons on Iraqi Ground Warfare, by LCDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, MSC, USN, Strategic Insights, Volume IV Issue 6 (June 2005), published by the Centre for Contemporary Conflict



9.On the Wikipedia sites providing information about the princely state of Waldeck and Pyrmont there is no guide to how an Indian Army Gurkha officer came to be awarded that medal. But it was interesting to see that the present hereditary prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont is Wittekind Adolf Heinrich Georg-Wilhelm. He was born in March 1936 and his godfathers were Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. His father, Josias, had joined the Nazi party in 1929 and became a member of the SS in March 1930.

For more about those from mid Wensleydale who served during WWI see the Roll of Honour on Thoralby Through Time.

Aysgarth Church and the “Heroine of Cawnpore”


Memorials at Aysgarth church reveal many connections with India, including the “Heroine of Cawnpore” – Ann Fraser who, before her marriage, was Ann Fawcet Wray. Also remembered among the Wray Memorials in the Lady Chapel of that church (see below) is her uncle, Lieutenant Thomas Fawcet Wray, who was killed during the storming of Badajoz in Spain in 1812, 17 years before she was born.

In the nave there is another memorial to Lt Wray of the 7th Fusiliers erected in his memory by his fellow officers of the Loyal Dales Volunteers. On that it states that he died, aged 25, on April 2 1812. But other sources, including another tablet in the Lady Chapel, give his date of death as April 6 – the day that 4,800 allied soldiers were killed storming Badajoz. This has been described as one of the bloodiest battles during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Earl of Wellington had reached Badajoz on March 16, 1812, and had 27,000 allied soldiers – British and Portuguese – under his command. They laid siege to Badajoz where 5,000 French soldiers were garrisoned. The walls were bombarded, tunnels were dug and extensive siege earthworks built until the Allies managed to breach the walls in two places. One more breach in the walls was created and, on the night of April 6, Wellington gave the order to make a surprise attack but a French sentry raised the alarm. French soldiers rushed to defend the city and Wellington’s force was almost routed.

In the morning, when the British soldiers who had taken the city looked back at the piles of their comrades bodies, they went on the rampage, looting, getting drunk, raping and killing. They even killed any of their officers who tried to stop them. It took three days to bring them under control and in that time 4,000 Spanish civilians had been massacred. It was said that the British soldiers “resembled a pack of hell hounds.”1

Lt Wray’s youngest brother, Octavius (i.e.the eighth son) would have been about 19-years-old, by then and may have started his medical training. By mid-1831 he was in India as a surgeon with the Bengal European Regiment and his daughter, Ann, was eighteen-months old. He died of a fever in Agra in 1836 leaving five children, the youngest, Thomas Charge Wray, being just two-years-old2.

Ann married Lt George William Fraser in November 1850 and seven years later they became caught up in what was then called the Indian Mutiny3. To escape being killed in Delhi she had hired a small coach and travelled from Delhi to Cawnpore (Kanpur). Captain Mowbray Thomson, one of the four survivors of the massacres at Cawnpore reported4:

“Two or three days after the arrival of the tidings from Delhi of the massacre which had been perpetrated in the old city of the Moguls, Mrs Fraser, the wife of an officer in the 27th Native Infantry, reached our cantonments, having travelled dak from the scene of bloodshed and revolt. The native driver who had taken up in in the precincts of the city brought her faithfully to the end of her hazardous journey of 266 miles. The exposure which she had undergone was evident from a bullet that had pierced the carriage.

“Her flight from Delhi was but the beginning of the sorrows of this unfortunate lady, though she deserves rather to be commemorated for her virtues than her sufferings. During the horrors of the siege she won the admiration of all our party by her indefatigable attentions to the wounded. Neither danger nor fatigue seemed to have power to suspend her ministry of mercy.

“Even on the fatal morning of embarkation, although she had escaped to the boats with scarcely any clothing upon her, in the thickets of the deadly volleys poured upon us from the banks, she appeared alike indifferent to danger to her own scanty covering; while with perfect equanimity and imperturbed (sic) fortitude she was entirely occupied in the attempt to sooth and relieve the agonized sufferers around her, whose wounds scarcely made their condition worse than her own. Such rare heroism deserves a far higher tribute than this simple record.”

The Indian soldiers (sepoys) at Cawnpore rebelled on June 4 and the British commanding officer, Major General Sir Hugh Wheeler, moved the British soldiers and the women and children to  a hospital and the thatched building adjacent to it around which an earthen entrenchment had been built. He had expected that the sepoys would go to Delhi to join the mutiny there but instead the local “ruler”, Nana Sahib,  persuaded them, using money from a treasury that the British had left in his care, to attack the British, Europeans and Anglo-English in Cawnpore.  Until then Nana Sahib had been very friendly to Wheeler and his officers.

The siege of the hospital barracks began on June 6. Somehow the small contingent of about 300 British soldiers held out until June 23 but by then there there was little shelter left to protect the women and children from the blazing heat of an Indian summer. Water was in very short supply as those at the well were under constant attack even during the night.  During the siege there was only sufficient food for one very small meal a day and with just three days of rations left Wheeler, for the sake of the women and children, agreed to the treaty offered by Nana Sahib. One mother wrote: “It is not hard to die oneself but to see a dear child suffer and perish – that is the hard, the bitter trial.”

Nana Sahib said he would give them safe passage down the River Ganges to Allahabad on June 27. Thomson described the scene early that morning: “Never, surely, was there such an emaciated, ghostly party of human beings as we. Sixteen elephants and between seventy and eighty palanquins composed the van of the mournful procession, and more than two hundred sufferers had thus to be conveyed down to the river. We loaded and unloaded our burdens ourselves; and the most cautious handling caused much agony to our disabled ones. The women and children were put on the elephants, and into bullock carts. When we reached the place of embarkation, all of us, men and women, as well as the bearers of the wounded and children, had to wade knee-deep through the water, to get into the boats, as not a single plank was provided to serve as a gangway.”


The boats were over-crowded, stuck in the mud, and the thatched roofs laced with hot charcoal. As soon as everyone was on board they were fired upon from the opposite bank. Many were killed by Nana Sahib’s men as they jumped from the boats and tried to get back to the shore.

Those who made it to shore were separated. The men were lined up and shot and the women and children taken back into Cawnpore and later housed in what became known as the Bibigarh. The women were scantily clad for they had given up most of the material from their dresses and petticoats to dress wounds.  Over 200 women and children were crammed into the Bibigarh where the conditions were very bad and it was reported that 25 died in one week from dysentery and cholera.

And then, on July 15, the order was given to massacre those who remained. The sepoys refused to carry out that order and so butchers were sent in to do the job. Thomson, who had managed to escape on June 27, stated: “Mrs Fraser is reported to have died from fever before the terrific butchery that immediately preceded General Havelock’s recapture of Cawnpore.”

Mowbray stated that lynch law prevailed after the British retook Cawnpore and found the well full of bodies. Any sepoys who were captured were hanged for rebelling and also for not stopping the massacre at the Bibigarh. Many Indian civilians were also killed for not doing anything to save the British women and children.

One of the memorials to the Wray family at Aysgarth church states that Mrs Fraser’s  husband also died during the mutiny. But there is a report that he survived, rose to the rank of General, married two more times, and had nine children5.

Source and Notes:

1. Information about the Siege of Badajoz mainly from Wikipedia. Lt Fawcet is listed on Glosters as being killed during the storming of Badajoz on April 6.

2. Information about the Wrays from  Thomas Charge Wray became a Colonel in the 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Regiment. He died in Murree, India, on July 22, 1888, aged 54. He had served in New Zealand in 1866 and in Egypt in 1884 (

3. Also known as India’s First War of Independence, the Sepoy Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857 and the Uprising of 1857.

4. Mowbray Thomson, The Story of Cawnpore, R Bentley, London, 1859, His account about Mrs Fraser is on pages 26-28.  Picture of the scene at Sati Chaura Ghat on June 27 1857 is from Thomson’s book.

5. Glosters lists Lt Fraser as being missing in action on June 8, 1857. The alternative story is detailed on


Several members of the Wray family served in India as can be seen from the memorials. That on which Ann Fraser is listed as the “Heroine of Cawnpore” is under the East window (below) in the Lady Chapel and is hidden behind the altar table. The window illustrates the life of Jacob.



Brass plate under East window: To the memory of George Wray of Thoralby Town Head in this parish Esquire who died 14 October 1806 aged 50 an Ann his wife who died 17 March 1795 aged 28 also of their eight sons and the wives and children who died before 1871 of such of their sons as were married namely 1. George Wray of Cleasby in this county Captain Bengal European Regiment born 1785 died 1838, Isabella his widow died 1848 and their third son Christopher Wright WRAY H.M. 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers Surgeon born 1825 killed by an avalanche in the valley of Wardhum in Cashmere 1853 unmarried. 2. Thomas WRAY born 1785 died in infancy. 3. Thomas Fawcet WRAY Lieut. H.M. 7th Fusiliers born 1786 killed at the storming of Badaios 1812 unmarried. 4. Jonathan WRAY born 1787 died 1801 unmarried. 5. John WRAY born 1788 died 1810 unmarried. 6. James Taylor WRAY of Cliff Lodge near Leyburn in this county Esquire born 1790 died 1845 and Sarah his first wife died 1827 also Julia his widow died 1860. 7. Septimus WRAY of Brixton in the county of Surrey M.D.M.R.C.P. Lond. Born 1792 died 1869 his first wife Frances died 1846 and their daughter Fanny Julia born 1831 died 1852 unmarried. 8 Octavius WRAY Surgeon Bengal European Regiment born 1793 died at Agra in the East Indies, 1836, Sarah his widow died 1870 and their eldest daughter Anne Fawcet “The Heroine of Cawnpore” wife of George William Fraser 27th Bengal Native Infantry died at Cawnpore in the East Indies 1857.

Other Wray memorials:

Brass plate: Here lies the body of George WRAY of Thoralby who departed this life January the 14th in the 78th year of his age and the year of our Lord 1785 also of Jane his wife who departed this life April 16th in the 80th year of her age and in the year of our Lord 1788.

Brass plate: In memory of Jonathan Wray of Easthome who died on the 17th January 1780 also of Mary his wife who died on the 28 November 1803. Tablet: In memory of George Wray Esq of Townhead House Thoralby who died October 14 1806 aged 49, Anne his wife who died March 17 1795 aged 27 also of their sons Thomas Fawcet who died an infant December 13 1785, Thomas Fawcet killed in action in Spain April 6 1812 aged 25, Jonathan who died April 26 1801 aged 13, John who died February 18 1812 aged 23. This monument was erected by George, James, Septimus and Octavius surviving sons of George and Ann Wray.

Tablet: In memory of Jonathan Wray late of Eastholme Gent. Who died 1 august 1811 aged 51 years. Also in memory of Agnes widow of the above who died January 21 1843 aged 82 years and of their only child William Robinson Wray of Eastholme who died May 2nd 1861 aged 70 years.

Brass plate: To the Glory of God and in memory of Melesina wife of George Octavius WRAY formerly solicitor and Magistrate of Police in Calcutta in which city she died on the 23rd day of July AD 1860. This brass is also in loving memory of the George Octavius Wray LL.D. formerly of Calcutta afterwards of Hestholme in this parish and of the Inner Temple, London. Barrister-at-Law. In 1872 he took Holy Orders and was Vicar of Brockenhurst in Hampshire for 8 years. He died at Surbiton in Surrey on the 18th March 1893 and his remains are buried outside this window.

Brass plate: In memory of Alfred WRAY the beloved son of the Reverend George Octavius WRAY LL.D. and Caroline Elizabeth his wife formerly all of Hestholme in this parish. He was born at Cambridge 18 August 1867. He died at Bedford 15 August 1885. ‘My grace is sufficient for me for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’

Brass plate: In loving memory of my husband George Crofton WRAY eldest son of the late Rev. Geo. Octavius WRAY LL.D. and of Melassina WRAY who died October 5th 1914 aged 54 also of our darling only child Sisselle Vivien wife of Col. G.Stanley BRIGHTEN D.S.O. who died February 19 1918 aged 22 ‘Jesus Mercy’

The Lady Chapel was furnished by members of the Wray and Winn families.

St Simon and St Jude’s, Ulshaw Bridge


Until 1865 the stained glass window which commemorated the Wensleydale contingent at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415  – led by  the Third Lord Scrope of Bolton and James Metcalfe of Nappa – was in the East window of Aysgarth church. But then the Scrope (pronounced Scroop) family rescued it and took it to Ulshaw Bridge near Danby Hall and East Witton to be installed in St Simon and St Jude’s Roman Catholic church. Left: The window at St Simon and St Jude’s with the Scrope shield at the top.

When restoration work began on St Andrew’s, Aysgarth, in 1865 it was found that the walls were in such bad condition that the church had to be almost completely rebuilt. That commemorative window with the shields of the Scropes and the Metcalfes was found outside and carried away. When it was inserted into a window at St Simon and St Jude’s the inscription underneath explained that the shields were “rescued from destruction when (Aysgarth) church was pulled down and were placed together again …. by Simon Conyers Scrope of Danby and John Henry Metcalfe lineal descendants of the said Richrd (sic ) Lord Scrope &  James Metcalfe AD 1897.”

By the early 19th century Danby Hall – just a mile from Ulshaw Bridge – had been replaced as the centre of Roman Catholic worship in Wensleydale by St Simon and St Jude’s. For centuries Roman Catholics had worshipped in secret because of the harsh penal laws instituted against them in the 16th century.

Until the reign of Elizabeth I the Scropes (or Scroopes as they were previously known) held such high offices in England as Lord High Chancellor, Chief Justice and Archbishop, as well as being earls, barons, Knights of the Garter and Wardens of the Marches. All that changed when the Scropes of Danby decided to remain Catholics after 1559 and so became known as recusants. During the years of penal law Catholics could be fined each week for not attending Anglican services; could not be commissioned into the army or navy; could not work as solicitors or become Members of Parliament; and could not buy, sell or own a horse worth more than £5.

“They had to keep their heads down, but they had a happy time as country gentlemen, farming and hunting. Danby Hall has had hard times, but they held on by the skin of their teeth, and it has never been sold,” the late Simon Scrope of Danby Hall told me in 2009. He added: “We were always Catholics. There has been an unbroken Catholic succession in this house since the Scroopes came here in 1561.”

In her book The Catholic Missions of Danby Hall and St Simon and St Jude  Sally Doyle showed how the story of the Scropes was intertwined with the survival of Catholicism in Wensleydale. She wrote:

“The Scroopes achieved this by taking in and maintaining priests at risk of their own lives, and Danby became the heart of the small and secret community of Catholics in Wensleydale. Mass was covertly celebrated in a room in the tower on the east side of the house before it was safe to make a chapel in a large room on the ground floor, now the drawing room.”

Many of the priests were employed at Danby Hall under the aliases of grooms or gardeners and two hiding places (priest holes) were created in the Hall – one in the roof space of the tower and the other behind the hall fireplace.

“It is said that six, or even eight priests – the number is uncertain – are buried under the drawing room,” said Jane Scrope. “Well, I was brought up on that story,” commented her husband.

By the 18th century the penal laws had become unenforceable and so it was possible for Catholics to worship more openly even though they were not fully emancipated until the passing of the Catholic Relief Act in 1829.  A discreet Roman Catholic chapel at Ulshaw Bridge was built by 1788  and the Scropes who had been interred in the family vault at Spennithorne church were moved to its crypt.

Below right: The door to the crypt is behind the tombstone in the foreground. Mr Doyle commented: “The crypt tantalised Sally and eventually she got someone to saw off the old padlock because Simon said he didn’t know where the key was. So she got in – it was a great day for her.”


Mr Scrope said that it was possible that the crypt contained some of the oldest brickwork in the area and may be the site of the cock fighting pit which was almost the downfall of Simon “The Cockfighter” Scrope in the late 17th century.  His sons were so incensed about how he had spent their inheritance that after his death they took his portrait outside (the one of him holding a cock) and used it for target practice.

That crypt delineates the site of the original 18th century chapel and the width of the central section of the present church. Joseph A Hansom (of Hansom cab fame) was commissioned by the Scropes in 1865 to rebuild the church in Byzantine style. It even had a bell tower – which meant the church was no longer hidden behind the house which became the presbytery. Hansom was also involved with the redesigning of the family chapel at Danby Hall which had been moved to one of the upstairs rooms.

Today the presbytery is a private  home for St Simon and St Jude’s is now one of the rural parishes associated with that in Leyburn and so part of Middlesbrough diocese. The Scropes fully supported the church until it was handed over to the diocese in 1948.

The Low Mass at 8.30am on Sundays at St Simon and St Jude’s has become quite popular with up to 60 attending. Mrs Doyle loved the informality of that service.  She was charmed, her husband Tony said, by the church’s style, architecture, location and  the way it was connected with the  Scrope family.  She won Mr Scrope’s support with her enthusiasm and he lent her catalogues and checked her text. Her daughter, Shelagh, helped her with proof reading when she was ill with cancer of the colon and she saw it when it was ready for printing before she died in June 2008.

©P Land 2013


Mrs Doyle also co-authored, with Ann Hartley, The Catholic Missions of Danby Hall, West Witton and Ulshaw Bridge,  Middlesbrough Diocesan Archives: Occasional Publications No 4. Mr Doyle assisted with the fund raising which made it possible to renovate St Simon and St Jude’s over the past 20 years.

Simon Egerton Scrope died at Danby Hall in March 2010. I interviewed him in February 2009.

After Aysgarth church was rebuilt (1865-66) replicas of the shields of Richard, Lord Scrope, and James Metcalfe were placed in one of the clerestory windows. There is another copy of the Metcalfe arms on a panel in the centre window in the South aisle.

James Metcalfe was knighted after the Battle of Agincourt and for his shield (“pedigree”) chose the symbol of the three black calves on a silver background. He died in 1471.  (metcalfhistory . com).

The ashlar and rubble bridge at Ulshaw, built in 1674,  is scheduled as an ancient monument (britishlistedbuildings.

Below: the interior of St Simon and St Jude’s; the exterior of the church from the east; and the bell tower visible above the roof of what was the presbytery.




Wensley church – the story writer’s church


From ghostly worm eaten legs to theatrical pews Holy Trinity church in Wensley has all the rich ingredients for storytelling. Which is why this summer Ian Scott Massie chose Wensley church on the A684 in mid Wensleydale for his exhibition of paintings and prints entitled Tales of the Dales.


His book with the same title includes stories about this medieval church which is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. He commented: “A lot of these stories are stories and not necessarily historical truth.”

Nothing illustrates this more than the enduring story about the plaque in memory of Peter Goldsmith MD. A few years ago a group of excited people rushed into the church on the anniversary of Nelson’s death to see this plaque as they believed Goldsmith was the surgeon with the admiral at the battle of Trafalgar in October 1805.

Penny Seckerson, who was on duty at the church that day, said: “I hadn’t the heart to tell them that it wasn’t so. I showed them where the plaque was and thought ‘I’m going to keep quiet’ – they were so enthusiastic. She explained: “If you look in the church safe you will find the letters from the Admiralty saying that there is no-one of that name recorded with any of Lord Nelson’s fleet (at Trafalgar).”

She continued: “There are little things which intrigue me about this church. Like why were there two lots of windows in the vestry? I found the answer to that.”

She learnt that in the past the rectors had so many churches that they would send curates to take services for them. The curates were not well paid and had to find cheap accommodation. And what was cheaper than turning the upper part of the vestry into a bedroom!


“And why do we get people married on the blue stone?” she wondered – and added: “You also get buried from the blue stone unless you are Lord Bolton and then you go up into the chancel.” The blue stone commemorates two 15th century rectors at Wensley – the brothers Richard and John Clederow. The traditions involving the blue stone date back over 100 years but no-one knows when they started or why. Above: The blue stone is in the centre foreground. On the left is one of the pillars on which there are the remnants of medieval paintings, and then the Powlett Pews – see below.

One of Penny’s enduring memories is of Richard Lord Bolton’s funeral in August 2001. This was attended by three retired clergy. So the officiating minister used the Bishop’s chair while the other clergy sat in the triple Early English style stone sedilia (below). “I thought you probably would never see that again. I like the sedilia – I think they are very beautiful,” she said.




Another beautiful feature of the church is the medieval screen with its heraldic carving illustrating the various alliances of the Scrope family. But Penny wondered how did that and the reliquary, said to contain relics of St Agatha, come to be in Holy Trinity church.

These were at St Agatha’s Abbey at Easby near Richmond until the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII in the 16th century. The Barons Scrope of Bolton in Wensleydale had close links with that abbey from the 14th century.

The present Lord Bolton (Harry) is descended from Thomas Orde-Powlett, the 1st Baron Bolton, whose peerage was created in 1797 and who was a descendant of the last Baron Scrope of Bolton. Harry does not know exactly how the screen and reliquary came to Wensley but commented: “I have always assumed that as Patrons of Easby (the Lords Bolton) either brought ‘The Screen’ or the salvage rights at the time of the dissolution and moved the screen to Wensley, of which they were also Patrons.” They were also the Lords of the Manor with their castle (Bolton Castle) nearby.

The screen is beside the pews (below) used for so long by the Lords Bolton. Harry explained: “They are the Powlett pews. They were brought by the 3rd Duke of Bolton and were the opera boxes from which he ogled his mistress to be – Lavinia Fenton – who played Polly Peachum in the first run of John Gray’s The Beggar’s Opera.”


That run of the opera began in 17281 and Lavinia soon became the Duke’s mistress. He married her in 1751 following the death of his wife that year. Harry continued: “I am not sure at what date the pews were put in the church. I don’t think he spent very much time in them because he spent most of his time in France with his mistress. There is a glorious account in one of the archives about his taking his mistress and his four illegitimate children to Bath for the season. And the town sent trumpeters out to herald their approach because of the great excitement about the money they were going to spend.”

He believes that the folly called Polly Peachum tower which can be seen from Wensley church pre-dated the installation of the pews and isn’t convinced about the story that “Polly” went there to sing so as not to disturb her husband.


Left: remnant of a medieval mural still visible on the north wall.

To him as a historian Wensley church has a fabulous history. There are the medieval wall paintings including one of the oldest surviving depictions of the legend of the Three Living and the Three Dead, complete with worms hanging from decomposing legs. In this story three dead people return to beg those who are still living to repent – for in death all are equal.

But as Penny pointed out at Wensley there is a sad reminder that not always were the dead seen as equal. For when the village was ravaged by the plague in 1563 those who died were not buried in the churchyard but in pits directly west of the church still visible as pale areas of grass on the north bank of the River Ure.


She explained: “People then felt that those who died of the plague were evil and therefore could not be buried on consecrated ground.”

Inside the church there are many reminders that even if death was a great leveller the rich could pay to be remembered. Just beyond the 16th century carved oak stalls and in front of the communion table is a superb Flemish brass – but for a long time no-one knew who had paid for such a splendid memorial. The small inscription states that Oswald Dykes, a rector at Wensley in the 17th century, was interred there.

It was the Rev James Raine2 in the mid-1850s who solved the puzzle of who was the first occupant of that grave. For Dykes had requested in his will that he should be interred under the stone where “Sir Symond Wenslow was buried”. Sir Symond Wenslow was Sir Simon de Wenslegh upon whom the valuable and important rectory of Wensley was conferred by the Scrope family in the 14th century.

For Penny, however, there is at least one very modern puzzle to solve. Why has the congregation grown from nine to about 35 since the church was made redundant in 2006 even though the faithful regulars stick to using the traditional Book of Common Prayer (BCP)? Only six services can be held there each year now that it is cared for the Churches Conservation Trust.

“As far as I am concerned the Churches Conservation Trust is absolutely brilliant. They have spent thousands on this church and completely re-roofed the tower. They are all so kind – and you are kept informed,” Penny said.

The church is still very much part of the community with events like the biannual flower festival, christenings, weddings and funerals being held there.

And the link with the Lords Bolton also continues. Harry commented: “ I think we attach too much importance to buildings. Christianity is about people and how we interact with each other. It’s about how we give space to everybody and tolerate everybody. That is what religion is.”

But he added: “I think it is important to continue being a church warden because there’s my family, my Scrope ancestors who endowed the church in the first place and have been very involved with it throughout – including the memorials in the church.”

So if you are passing through Wensleydale take time to stop at Wensley and visit Holy Trinity and see which stories you want to weave around the history of this fascinating church. And also take time to enjoy the footpaths through the large Bolton Hall estate with its wonderful vistas across the dale.


1. The first run of The Beggar’s Opera began at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre in January 1728. This theatre was abandoned in 1732 when the new Covent Garden Theatre was opened (Wikipedia).

2. Notice of a Remarkable Sepulchral Brass of Flemish Design, in the church of Wensley, Yorkshire, by Rev James Raine, principal of Neville College, Newcastle upon Tyne, published in The Archaeological Journal, vol 12 in 1855. He stated that the brass “represents an ecclesiastic with a chalice and the host laid upon his breast. The priestly vestments are most beautifully executed…” Raine noted that as so many wanted to be interred in churches this was not unusual and that altar tombs and stone coffins appeared to be used again “without the slightest scruple”.

also  with acknowledgement to :



Above: One of the fascinating animals to be found on the 16th century oak stalls in the church.

Below: Scott Massie at Wensley Church in August.

Scott Massie’s exhibition Tales of the Dales can be viewed until January 5, 2014, at Farfield Mill which is on the A684 between Hawes and Sedbergh.  It is also possible to buy copies of his book which combines magnificent pictures with fascinating stories. These range from legends about saints, witches and fairies to forbidden tracks and haunted ravines. Definitely an unusual guide to the Yorkshire Dales!


Pentecost at Aysgarth Church


A visit to All Saints church at Ripley inspired Doreen Mason to create a magnificent and awe inspiring mobile for Aysgarth church depicting the life-changing message of Pentecost.

“At Ripley Angela Moore and I saw this mobile of angels in their belfry which was absolutely stunning,” said Mrs Mason. When they asked Karen Evans, who created that mobile, if she would mind if they did something similar she actively encouraged them. Mrs Mason and Mrs Moore decided they would like to do something in time for Pentecost and before the vicar, the Rev Sue Whitehouse, retired.

And so Mrs Mason designed a mobile using over 500 white doves and flames. The message alongside the mobile reads: “Pentecost – ‘the fiftieth day’ was a Jewish festival to celebrate the giving of The Law on Mount Sinai. It was at this festival that the Holy Spirit (represented here by doves) descended amid tongues of flame and a rushing wind. This excited everyone and filled the Apostles with new confidence and is often referred to as the ‘Birthday of the Christian Church’.”

Mrs Mason involved many others in creating the mobile. She explained: “Most of the ladies in the congregation and the children at three local schools – at Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton – contributed by cutting out doves. And then Paul Markie made us a very, very nice round wooden structure to hand them from. I strung most of them and lots of people helped to put it up. And it was up before Pentecost. And then Colin Bailey lent us the floodlight.

“I am very happy with the result. If I did it again there are certain things I would do different like putting the flames in different places.”

Even so people visiting St Andrew’s do experience that Wow factor on seeing that amazing mobile. Mrs Evans visited with her husband and left a congratulatory note as have some other visitors. And one from a military base in Malta commented: “I love the children’s participating by way of collages, paintings, mobiles etc.”

For details of services at St Andrew’s, Aysgarth, see Penhill Benefice.

Photographs: Above: Mrs Mason adding “flames” to the mobile. Below: Working on the mobile, and the finished display.



Bolton Hall Open Gardens





Two gloriously sunny Sundays meant that the visitors who flocked to Wensley on May 26 and June 2, 2013, could thoroughly enjoy the chance to explore as much of the 17 acres of gardens at Bolton Hall as they wished. Click on the picture above to see more photos.

This was the first time the gardens had been open for several years. Lord and Lady Bolton did not charge much for admission but even so over £1,600 was raised for local churches and a hospice. (Sadly, Lady Bolton died on May 16, 2016 – truly a lovely lady and much missed. See below)

On May 26 £830 was raised for Redmire and Castle Bolton churches, and the following Sunday £750 for St Teresa’s Hospice. In addition the hospice volunteers raised £420 by selling scones and teas to those visiting the gardens.

“These are not manicured gardens – they are fun gardens,” said Lord Bolton. For these days they rely on just one estate gardener – Jason Hanslip – to help them compared with 25 when the Georgian garden was created.

There were two gardeners when Lord and Lady Bolton moved into the Hall in 2002 and began restoring the gardens. Of the Italianate garden then Lady Bolton said: “You could not distinguish the lawn from the borders and the path. We rediscovered the side borders ..and we replanted the big borders by the terrace.”

On the first of the three terraces they created a vegetable patch because the old kitchen garden was about half a mile away. She loves to grow herbs and vegetables from the seeds she has collected herself. “It is really satisfying. You feel you have achieved something,” she commented.

The two gardens which needed the most work were the “secret garden” and the arboretum. They found the latter overgrown with self-seeded trees which Lord Bolton cleared. For the open days that old Pleasure Garden was awash in bluebells and many other wild plants including primroses, daisies and red campion.

The “secret garden” with its small waterfall, ponds and the almost tropical exuberance of its plants again enchanted visitors. It was in 1905 that the then Lord Bolton decided to change part of the Italianate garden into a rock garden and made it his own secret place. But in 2002 it was completely overgrown and the pond had silted up. The rocks and paths were hidden by weeds and debris.

Lord Bolton helped with the heavy work and removed fallen and damaged trees. This had then made it possible to see the magnificent great Cedar of Lebanon trees on the west side of the garden.

A group of friends (Helen Francis, Hilary Stirling, and Eithne Cunningham) joined Lady Bolton in the painstaking work of clearing the overgrowth. Some of the ferns in the original rock garden had survived, including the unusual Royal Fern.

Those who visited the gardens this time thoroughly appreciated how that garden had developed – and the way in which care had been taken to retain as many wild flowers as possible.

Below: Lord Bolton giving directions to a visitor. 



Over 650 people gathered at Wensley Church on May 26, 2016, to celebrate and give thanks for the life of Lady “Pip” Bolton. It was a beautiful service graced by some haunting solos by Charity Schofield.

The church has so often been graced by the floral arrangements prepared by Lady Bolton for the flower festivals there. For me the most inspirational – and the one I thought about so much during the service – was that she created in 2003 (shown below).

Her son, Nick, read the poem, “You Can Shed Tears That She is Gone.” One verse states: “Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her, or you can be full of the love you shared.”

Those who accepted the invitation to go to Bolton Hall afterwards were surrounded by the beautiful gardens she helped to create. But even in giving thanks for a life so fully lived, often in raising thousands of pounds for charity and in helping others, it was still difficult to accept that she had left so soon.


Harry Lord Bolton died on Jun 10 2023, aged 69. He is survived  by his second wife, Valerie, whom he married in 2019, and by his three sons, Tom, Ben and Nick  and eight grandchildren.

Boris and Clare Anderson



I feel honoured to have known – and become a friend of – Boris and Clare Anderson. Their small cottage in Aysgarth became a haven for me when I first settled in this village in Wensleydale in 1990. And they were both delighted to act as ad hoc tutors when I began my Open University studies. It didn’t take long before they shared with me their passion for Taiwan and Taiwanese self-determination. Below are the obituaries I have written for our local newspaper about them. (Photo:  Boris and Clare in their back garden in March 2008)

The Rev Dr Boris Anderson  (August 1918- April 2013)

Senior representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (PCT) flew to England to attend the funeral and thanksgiving service at Zion United Reformed Church in Northallerton for the Rev Dr Boris Anderson (94) on Friday, April 26. They joined many from in and around Aysgarth, Wensleydale, where he had lived for over 30 years.

The Rev Jen-Kuei Lo, the Vice Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCT, explained that Dr Anderson had given the best part of his life to Taiwan, spoke beautiful Taiwanese, loved that country more than the Taiwanese did, and firmly believed that Taiwan did not belong to either Japan or China. His tribute was translated by his wife, Li-Ju Lo.

Dr Anderson and his wife Clare had been sent as Presbyterian missionaries to Fujian Province in China in 1946 following their marriage in 1945. But they were moved to Taiwan in 1948 at the request of the Rev Dr Shoki Coe who was the principal of the Tainan Theological College and Seminary following its re-opening after the 2nd World War. Dr Anderson became the vice principal and taught New Testament studies.

The Rev Lo said they were modern missionaries who refused to live apart from the Taiwanese. They fully supported Dr Coe and Taiwanese self-determination even in times of danger. The present Dean of the college, the Rev Dr Chhong-Fat Chen, said that Dr Anderson had contributed to both the church and society in Taiwan.

But as soon as a Taiwanese was academically ready to take over Dr Anderson stepped down and returned with his family to England in 1963 where he became the secretary of the Presbyterian Church’s Overseas Mission Committee.

The Rev Ray Adams told the congregation that Dr Anderson had played a key role in defining the way the United Reformed Church related to churches overseas when the Presbyterians and Congregationalists merged in 1972. The Andersons, he said, led the way in showing that missionaries could work under the leadership of nationals, supporting their work whole heartedly, and never being isolated or superior. And as he travelled around the world attending international church meetings Dr Anderson was sympathetic and often prophetic. He was committed to justice and peace, and he and his wife continued to support the Taiwanese in their quest for self-determination.

Dr Anderson’s son-in-law, Philip Spencer, commented: “He was a remarkable man. It was a great privilege to talk to him, to listen to him and to learn from him.” The service included poems read by Dr Anderson’s grandchildren, Reuben and Rosa, and tributes from friends in Australia and former students in Taiwan.

Then his daughter, Jane, spoke of how he had been born in Hull in August 1918 into the family of a Presbyterian minister. From his father he gained a love for theology but it was from his artistic, well-read mother that he acquired his love for music, literature and art. He learnt to play the flute well and could quote large passages of Shakespeare (and Chaucer). One of the most formative experiences in his life was living in Jarrow at the time of the great march, for his father became the minister to a church there in 1934.

He studied at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1937 to 1940 and then theology at Westminster College at Cambridge. It was at the latter that he met Clare and Dr Coe. His friendship with Dr Coe was strengthened when he was studying Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

The Andersons two children, Jane and Robin, were born in Taiwan and his daughter recalled their happy childhood there. They enjoyed his adventurous approach to life and she added: “He was such a warm, intelligent, funny person – and an enthralling story teller.” (Robin died in June 1976.)

After Dr Anderson retired he and his wife visited many of the Presbyterian churches and old friends overseas. He was an inspiring preacher and his ministry was much appreciated at Low Row United Reformed Church in Swaledale and at Aysgarth Methodist chapel. The Andersons took part in many village events but as Clare’s health deteriorated he dedicated himself to caring for her. She died in May 2008.

His daughter especially thanked those who had helped him during the last few years: the staff and doctors at Aysgarth surgery; his friends in the Wensleydale and chapel communities; and the carers who were with him each day.

The Rev Lan Ting Fang, the managing editor of the Taiwan Church Press, attended the service as a representative of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan and as a reporter. There will be a memorial service for Dr Anderson at Tainan Theological College and Seminary on May 26.

The Rev Malcolm Smith officiated at the services at Darlington Crematorium and at the church in Northallerton.

Clare Anderson (June 1923- May 2008)

Courageous, clever, zany, funny, generous and stylish were all used to describe Clare Anderson at her funeral at Northallerton United Reformed Church on Friday, May 16, 2008. Her bravery was seen not only in how she battled against ill health in the latter part of her life but also in how, as a young woman, she travelled with her husband, the Rev Dr Boris Anderson, to a remote part of China in 1946 and later supported the Taiwanese in their fight for democracy and independence.

Those from mid Wensleydale who attended the funeral were fascinated to hear about her life before she and her husband retired to Aysgarth in 1983.They heard Ms Yuehwen Lu, the representative of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, thank those in England who had sent such wonderful, dedicated missionaries to her country.

Mrs Anderson was born in Angel, Islington in June 1923. Her father was a Presbyterian minister and his family moved with him to Chalfont St Giles, Nottingham and then to Birmingham. During the 2nd World War while she was studying Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, one of her brothers was serving with the Friends Ambulance Unit in China. She first met Dr Anderson while at Newnham College and they married in 1945.

Dr Anderson had been studying Chinese in preparation for work as a Presbyterian missionary to Fujian Province in China. It took them a year to find single berths on a troop ship. After two years in China they were transferred to Taiwan where Dr Anderson was appointed vice principal of the recently re-opened Tainan Theological College and Seminary.

While Dr Anderson lectured on New Testament theology Mrs Anderson taught New Testament Greek and Shakespearian poetry. This led to an invitation for her to lecture in Greek and Latin classics at Cheng-Kung University. Taiwan at that time was a virtual police state under the KMT government and Mrs Anderson knew there were political spies in her classes. In Taiwan she is now famous for having courageously gone ahead with lectures on Sophocles’ Antigone with its message about the rights of an individual in a totalitarian state.

She also became famous for how she, with others, made sure that the truth about the “Formosa Incident” in 1979 was widely reported. She published a small book under a pseudonym in support of the democracy and independence movements in Taiwan and the release of political prisoners. By then the Andersons were back in London having left Taiwan in 1963.

In the mid 1970s she moved from teaching to community work, first with Ghanaians and then with the Chinese community. They bought the cottage in Aysgarth in 1969 and the friendships they developed there and in London helped them through the devastating loss of their son, Robin, in a drowning accident in June 1976, aged 21.

Mrs Anderson regularly played the organ at Aysgarth Methodist chapel until forced to stop due to ill health. They enjoyed making music both together and with friends. She also loved walking in the dales and continued her hobbies of collecting fossils and stones and gardening. In her 70s she successfully took up photography.

At the funeral those who described her life and her warm generosity which won her so many friends were her sister, Alison Smith, and her daughter, Jane. Two of her poems (from her book Sad, Mad, Good, Bad published in 1999) were read by her grandchildren, Rosa and Reuben. The Rev Malcolm Smith officiated and read the Bible readings.


More facts:

Dr Anderson was secretary of the Overseas Mission Committee  of the Presbyterian church of England from 1964 to 1983, and then secretary of the World Church and Mission Department of the United Reformed Church from 1972 to 1983.

In 1972 he wrote The Future of Taiwan; and in 1994 he edited Shoki Coe’s Recollections and Reflections.

Clare wrote Taiwanese Voice in 1980 to provide information in English about the Kao-hsiung Incident (the ‘Formosa Incident’) in December 1979. This was published by the British Council of Churches under her pseudonym of Anne Ming.

In England both worked closely with the “Taiwanese Christians for Self-Determination” movement.

Below: The Andersons outside their home in Aysgarth. Boris enjoyed telling the story about a local man visiting them soon after they bought the cottage who told them that it was the worst dwelling in the village. They turned it into a cosy, friendly home.


Mary and Graham Watts


Graham and Mary Watts directed and produced the very popular Farmhouse Kitchen series on Yorkshire Television from 1971 to 1989. Mary edited several cookbooks using the recipes collected for that series including The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cook Book. On February 24, 2013, they held an all-day party at their home in Askrigg, Wensleydale, to celebrate Graham’s 90th birthday. I later interviewed them about their life together: –

Mary was thoroughly frustrated. “It took me six hours to get travel insurance,” she commented. And all because her husband, Graham, had just had his 90th birthday. As if that stopped them from wanting to fly to far-away places or to go sailing on the high seas this summer.

They sailed around the world – just the two of them – in a 36ft steel boat when Graham was 73-years-old. The two years spent meticulously researching that journey helped him come to terms with retiring when he was 70-years-old. By then he and Mary had lived and worked together for nearly 35 years.

The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cook Book, that Mary edited from recipes sent in for the cookery series they created for Yorkshire ITV in the 1970s is still getting five star reviews on Amazon. Mary, who originally trained as a typist, began her career in commercial television in Australia.

After moving to England she worked her way up from being production assistant and secretary to the Religious Advisory Committee at Yorkshire TV to being a researcher and then the producer of the cookery programme of which Graham was the director. “It was our programme really from start to finish,” Mary said. It became very popular because it showed people how to make good, decent nutritious food economically.

They started that programme about the time that they got married and bought Gaudy House near Hawes in Wensleydale. “It was without electricity, without telephone and without TV unless we ran a cable from the battery in the car,” Mary remembered. They sold Gaudy House in 1999 and moved a few miles across the dale to a house in Askrigg.

Back in 1983 they had gone freelance and set up their own production company. This proved to be so profitable that they could work in the winter and spend their summers sailing. That lasted until Graham retired but he commented recently about his directing work: “I would love to have a go again now.”

Graham’s career began inauspiciously as he left school with no qualifications. He did, however, have a great interest in radio and his father got him to apply for a job at the BBC in late 1940. After a short while with the BBC he joined the radar section of the Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. At the end of the war he worked with the Forces Broadcasting first in Germany and then in Sri Lanka. He rejoined the BBC in 1947.

When ITV started he joined Rediffusion TV, the first commercial television company in Britain and by the time he was 30 he was a programme director. He thoroughly enjoyed producing and directing a wide range of programmes, including outside broadcasting, of major events, coverage of Budgets and planned the entire ITV set-up for Winston Churchill’s funeral. He regularly worked 12-hour days seven days a week. “I don’t think I have ever worked so hard,” he said about his early years in commercial TV – and added: “We enjoyed it all”.



If his directing years are behind him his sailing days certainly aren’t. They now have a 38ft boat and he explained: “We can manage that between the two of us. If we are making longish trips involving overnight we like to have a third person with us.”

So, after they have visited friends and relations in Australia and New Zealand, they will be, with the help of friends, sailing to Norway, Denmark and Sweden where Bill, his son, makes films and has a family.

Graham died at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, on Friday June 12 – he will be greatly missed.

Elizabeth Anne Brett


The memorable crossroads in the life of Elizabeth Anne Brett were remembered at her Thanksgiving Service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, on Tuesday, 5th February 2013.

Elizabeth was just two years old in 1924, the youngest of five girls, when her father died and her mother sold their fruit farm in Paarl, South Africa, and took up a position as matron at the Diocesan College (Bishops), a boys’ public school in Cape Town.


She lived with her mother at the school and this was where she met and fell in love with the head boy who was sadly killed on active service with British Forces during the war.

Some years later, a young army Captain, Harold Brett, whose brother taught at Bishops, passed through Cape Town en route to Burma. Elizabeth corresponded with Harold for three years and in 1945 she bravely and clandestinely boarded a troop ship en route to England. She was only given 12 hours’ notice of the ship’s secret departure and could not tell anyone because the Japanese were still bombing Allied shipping. They were married that same year at Church Stretton in Shropshire.

Harold remained in the regular army until 1951 when he and Elizabeth bought a farm on the Isle of Wight. There they spent six years working hard together, and raising three children. In the following years they made three more moves before settling in Harrogate.

In 1978 they moved again – this time to Yoredale House in Aysgarth. Harold stocked what was then the village shop with everything everyone could possibly need while Elizabeth ran a successful bed and breakfast business and catered admirably for weary travellers, lone walkers and the happy families who visited year after year.

In 1982 they retired to Green Bank in West Burton but Harold died six months later. When the upkeep of Green Bank became too much, Elizabeth acquired the neighbouring field and had her final home built – Field House. It was there that she died on 27th January aged 90.

The Rev Canon Sue Whitehouse remembered her wonderful smile and her mischievous sense of humour and recounted that she rarely thought of herself but was always caring for the happiness and well-being of everyone around her.

Elizabeth was a kind and gentle lady, warm and welcoming to all, with a smile that warmed many hearts. She was good at all those ‘mother’ crafts – cooking, baking wonderful cakes and fudge, sewing and knitting. She designed her own tapestries and became an accomplished painter of watercolours.

She loved all animals and was never without her beloved spaniels. A keen gardener, she grew all manner of plants, in particular the lavender and everlastings which were used to make many flower arrangements.

Close family at the Thanksgiving Service were her son Michael, her two daughters Sue and Barbara, and her grandchildren Dan and Lizzie.

Aysgarth church – the Jervaulx Screen


Above: An animal depicting the evil of back biting.  Click on this photograph for more pictures of  the flowers and animals in the frieze of the Jervaulx Screen.

The medieval Jervaulx Screen is one of the most fascinating and beautiful objects at St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth. When studying it closely I can’t help wondering what those in the Ripon School of Carvers had in mind when they created some of the fabulous animals and fruits that have been included in its frieze.

By standing on the Victorian choir seats and using a 70-300mm lens I got a completely new perspective and appreciation of their craftsmanship. It is believed that the frieze was intended to impress upon the lay brethren at the Cisterician monastery at Jervaulx the perils of falling into the sins of the world such as back biting and being caught up in the snares of lust.

Even all the beautiful foliage and fantastic fruit were a warning about sin. In his essay about the Screen, which is on sale at St Andrew’s, Barry Thornton explained: “The leaves represented untamed nature and therefore Sin. The idea that nature represented God’s handiwork as in ‘All things bright and beautiful’ was a 19th century perception. In medieval times nature’s creatures were seen as red in tooth and claw, a vicious world where animal characteristics could be applied to man.’

And so the dragon, representing evil, is also shown sticking out his tongue. This was intended as a reminder that people ought to be quiet in God’s house. A creature is shown biting and therefore tasting the leaves of sin, and antelopes have their horns entangled in the bushes of sin. These would have been warnings to avoid the evils of strong drink and other sins.

To those in medieval times all the animals would have had meanings. These were so well known throughout Christian Europe that there no complete written record was made of them. So much was, therefore, forgotten once ordinary people could read the Bible for themselves and didn’t depend upon priests and craftsmen to explain or illustrate the “message”.

The barrel (tun) shown in one of the photographs of the intricate carving on the screen was the rebus (logo) of William de Heslington who became Abbot at Jervaulx in 1472. So it is possible that the screen was commissioned – as a Rood Screen – during his tenure as Abbot. This rebus was also carved on the Vicar’s Stall which is now at Aysgarth church.

For more about how the Jervaulx Screen and the Vicar’s Stall came to be at Aysgarth church see  A personal view.

Below: In medieval times it was believed that an elephant had no knees and could carry a castle on its back.



Aysgarth church – a personal view

This is my own very personal view of Aysgarth churchSt Andrew’s, Aysgarth – after many years of sitting in pews, assisting with events there and just spending time contemplating the gifts that have been made to it over the years that make it a special place in Wensleydale.


I often wonder what it feels like having one’s nose squashed against a stone column since 1866. That was the year when the Victorian makeover of Aysgarth church was completed and during which someone added a series of carved heads to look down upon us. Were those stone heads bought “off the shelf” or did they have any local folks in mind?

The wonderful East window bequeathed to the church in memory of William and Ann Robinson and some of their children evokes very different thoughts. I often use that window to meditate on the joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ which depends so much upon the sacrifice he made on the cross. The Robinson family also gifted to the church the altar and reredos beneath the window. The latter is a magnificent piece of 19th century craftsmanship in Caen stone portraying Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Alongside there are some fascinating examples of medieval craftsmanship. For me there is a lot of fun in the medieval carving – even if it was intended to scare people into heaven. There are those naughty little imps (or devils) peering out from the 16th century beam above the vestry door. The beam, inscribed to Abbot Adam Sedber of Jervaulx, is said to commemorate the rebuilding of St Andrew’s in 1536.


The Abbot was executed in London the following year for participating in the Pilgrimage of Grace against Henry VIII – a rebellion aimed in part at saving the smaller monasteries like that at Jervaulx from dissolution.

Soon after the Abbot’s death the rector and parishioners of St Andrew’s, which had very close links with Jervaulx Abbey, decided to bring the beautifully carved rood screen to Aysgarth. It is said that 20 strong men carried it on their shoulders across Witton moor to Aysgarth – the same moor where the Abbot hid when trying to evade being caught up in the Pilgrimage of Grace.

At first the Jervaulx Screen served as a rood screen between the nave and the chancel at St Andrew’s. When the church was being rebuilt between 1864 and 1866 the screen  was restored, painted and gilded at the expense of the church’s present patrons, Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Vicar’s Stall, at the western end of the Screen, was also brought from Jervaulx Abbey. The intricate carvings on the bench ends include a little monkey beside an intriguing mystical animal and a medieval depiction of a lion. What did these mean to the Abbot when he sat in such a grand seat? Below  – that lion – and  the monkey with mystical animal.






























For me one of the highlights on a Sunday is listening to Richard Wilkinson playing the organ when the worship service is over. “It’s a wonderful instrument and it is a joy and a privilege to play it,” Richard told me. It was built by Abbot of Leeds and installed at St Andrew’s in mid 1880.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In the early 20th century there were further gifts to the church but none more soulful than the font in the baptistry. Mrs Jane Winn of West Burton had the font created in memory of three of her children who died in infancy. Baptisms are no longer held at that one as the 18th century font has been brought back into use.

Mrs Winn’s husband had donated the clock in the tower to the church in 1904 and, after the 1st World War, paid for the Memorial Gates. All those from the parish who died as a result of wars since 1914 are commemorated inside the church, including Capt Philip Guy who was killed in a helicopter crash on the first day of the Iraq War in 2003. The memorials to those who died in the 18th and 19th centuries were re-installed in 1866.

The Winns belonged to the gentry of Wensleydale – but another of the church benefactors of the early 20th century certainly didn’t start life in that social class.

Frank Sayer Graham was the illegitimate son of a house servant, Elizabeth Graham. He did not inherit the estate in Aysgarth until several years after his father’s death.  One of his donations to the church was the magnificent pulpit in memory of his first wife, Mary.

I like to think he had an old woman included in the central panel of the pulpit in memory of his mother. See A Mothering Sunday Story

pulpit_detailFor details of services at St Andrew’s and at other churches in mid Wensleydale see Penhill Benefice.

The space at the Eastern end of the nave was extended in 2007 and this has become a great performance area which, with the superb acoustics in the church, makes this a great place to hold concerts and recitals. See Wensleydale Concert Series


Olympic torch at Aysgarth Falls 2012


For the school children of Wensleydale and Swaledale the visit of the Olympic Torch to Aysgarth Falls on June 20 was a very special occasion thanks to the torchbearers, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Police and many others, including parents and teachers.  The torchbearers at Aysgarth Falls were Lucy Gale  (left), Caroline Curtis and 89-years-old Maurice  Collett.

Official school groups from Arkengarthdale, Reeth with Gunnerside, Bainbridge and West Burton lined  part of the National Park’s car park above those famous falls along with some of the children from Askrigg school who had been brought by their parents. And children from Middleton Tyas CofE Primary School also had a chance to see the torch at Aysgarth Falls thanks to their parents (below).


One of the big surprises was how the Police motorcyclists, in their leathers and fluorescent jackets, took time off from their duty of providing those rolling road closures (or rolloing as it was shown on the sign at Aysgarth) to enjoy themselves as impromptu cheer leaders (below).



The other surprise was to find that Caroline Curtis was not mentioned on the official London Olympics website. Only Maurice Collett and Lucy Gale, who carried the torch into the car park and on to the photo call overlooking the middle falls, were listed as being at Aysgarth. Thankfully the BBC news site did mention Caroline and showed a fantastic photograph of Maurice handing over to her on the bridge overlooking the river. For many of the children Caroline was the star of the show in the way that she spent time with them. Both she and Maurice took time to let the children touch the torch and to answer their questions.




Above – Maurice with Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne Peacock behind  him.

The Chief Executives of the YDNPA, David Butterworth, and of Welcome to Yorkshire, Gary Verity, were there to see what an exceptional job had been done  to make it so special for the children.

Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in Aysgarth and mid-Wensleydale 2012


The community spirit was in full swing in mid Wensleydale as dales folks prepared shared meals, organised tea parties, and just had a great time together to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond  Jubilee on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.  For more pictures click on the photo above.

In Aysgarth everyone enjoyed the sports events from the children who took part to those who watched. Our oldest residents, Anne Barlow (almost 98) and Boris Anderson (93)  were there for a while but, although it didn’t rain, it was a bit cold for them.

Many of the houses in Carperby were decorated while Doreen Mason, with the help of David Bains,  turned the village cross into a regal affair. They even did some recycling for the crown was fixed onto a section of a shower overflow tank. At Carperby and at Askrigg children received jubilee mugs specific to their own villages.

The festivities in Askrigg lasted all weekend with special church services, children’s sports and a fancy dress parade on the Monday and then the street party on the cobbles outside the church on the Tuesday. It was fun walking around the village following the scarecrow trail.

In Redmire Phil Oliver rescued a crown from his attic which last saw the light of day on the Queen’s last jubilee. And at Thornton Rust a Morris Minor proudly waited outside the village hall while its owners and most of the villagers enjoyed a jubilee bring and share tea.

Leeds Morris Men organised their own diamond jubilee tour of the Yorkshire Dales on the Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday which included other groups. The Briggate Morris female dancers (below) came to Aysgarth twice, accompanied by the Whitchurch Morris Men and Heartsease, the ladies group from around St Neots.


Dales Festival of Food & Drink


Above: The founders of Leyburn’s Dales Festival of Food & Drink with Richard Whiteley in May 2004. From the left (the late) Keith Knight, (the late) Richard Whiteley, Ann Hodgson, Margaret Knight and Gerald Hodgson. Below is a feature I wrote in April 2003 about how the festival began, followed by photographs  from 2002, 2003 and 2004.

The Festival was so successful that from 2004 until 2015 it was held in a field on the east  side of Leyburn. It was then moved back into Leyburn Market Place  but in March 2020 the partnership which organised the event issued this statement: “The event had remained popular with the public but the absence of an entry charge made it impossible to cover costs.

“The directors of the Leyburn and Mid Wensleydale Partnership wish to thank the festival’s supporters, many generous sponsors and an army of volunteers, whose efforts enabled the event to happen and to be the big success it was for many years.”

Driving into Leyburn in Wensleydale for the first day of the Dales Festival of Food & Drink in 2002 was an amazing experience. The town centre was so full of people that  one little boy commented: “It’s just like London.”  During the foot and mouth epidemic the year before Leyburn had been almost like a ghost town and a pall of smoke and depression had hung over Wensleydale. But four local people were determined to help kick start the dales economy.

Over 15,000 attended that first festival and it has become an important annual event in North Yorkshire and beyond. I interviewed Keith and Margaret Knight and Gerald and Ann Hodgson in April 2003 for their story about the founding of the festival and this was published in the Darlington and Stockton Times.  To mark the 10th anniversary here is that story:

Good friendships and the hands-on approach were major factors in the success of the first Festival of Food and Drink in Leyburn, Wensleydale, in 2002. And at the heart of the team were four people with a vision: Ann and Gerald Hodgson and Margaret and Keith Knight. It all started with Ann being irritated by the way urban politicians and planners viewed the countryside.

“I got terribly upset listening to instructions to farmers that they had to change their lives and that the countryside should be a large pleasure ground for the tourists. And all these farmers were going to have to change their way of life by applying for grants. That upset me again. Most of the farmers were born around here. They love and understand the land and how to use it, and have great animal husbandry skills. All this knowledge is so important and not to be just packaged up and changed. We have this wonderful countryside – let’s use it.

“Let’s tell everyone we are good farmers, that we provide excellent food and everyone can come to Leyburn and buy it. We should have a food festival I said. I was thinking more about the flower and wine festivals in Europe. I used Gerald as a sounding board.”

This was just after Margaret Knight started her two year stint as chairman of the Leyburn and Mid Wensleydale Business Association. So Gerald told her about Ann’s idea. They also shared it with Richard and Jacqueline Wells who told them there was an annual food festival at Ludlow. At their own expense, the Hodgsons and Knights headed for Ludlow just a few weeks later.

“We had a lovely time and were very impressed,” commented Mrs Knight. “I walked around with a pad of paper and if I saw a good idea I would make a note of it. Those notes were the foundation of our planning.”

“But we never thought we could do as well,” added her husband, Keith.

“That festival had been running for eight years and had worked up to 12,000 visitors,” said Mr Hodgson. “It had clearly had a considerable impact upon the town of Ludlow which has become a nationally renowned centre for good food. We noted good ideas and added our own. It was held in the centre of the town and that seemed very important because that created a great atmosphere. They had made only a small effort to involve the farming community but we wanted to involve the farmers in a more meaningful way.”

They also wanted to make sure that all local businesses benefited. But they never thought they would do as well as Ludlow in their first year. “We expected a total of 8,000 people and we got 15,000,” said Mr Hodgson.

Mrs Knight, as chairman of the business association, got the ball rolling by organising an open meeting. Among those invited were representatives of the local churches. “We thought we had done a fair amount of work but St Matthew’s scored four tries,” said Mrs Knight. “They suggested the band concert, flowers in the church, refreshments and that lovely cookery book. The Methodists also organised food and a pudding tasting competition.”

“The business association was a great help because they said they would bank roll it. Without that we would not have been able to go ahead,” said Mr Knight. They decided to look for funding because with that they could plan with more confidence, including ordering the marquees. In the end they received £20,000 from various agencies as they emphasised the need to counteract the devastating effects of the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001.  Even so, as Mrs Hodgson said, it was an ambitious decision to go for a three-day event. “People could not envisage what we were trying to do. They could not believe it. That was the worse moment for me. I thought it was going to fail.”

“In January and February 2002 we debated if we should pull the plug on the whole thing,” said Mr Knight. “We had no idea how many people would come. It was a leap of faith.But all were used to facing tough times.

Mr Knight had been a train control system consultant and they had lived quite a transient life before moving back to England after five years in the States. They looked at properties in the Lake District and the dales and found something suitable in Leyburn.At first they had a bread and breakfast business but this almost came to a standstill during the miners’ strike. They were facing bankruptcy when the local vicar pointed out there was a need for good quality residential care for the elderly.

“It was a complete gamble,” commented Mr Knight. But it worked well right through to their retirement in 2002. The Hodgson’s retired in 2001when they sold Copley Decor in Leyburn to their long term business colleague, Bruce Storr.

“We first came to Leyburn 25 years ago and started that business in an outbuilding beside our house,” said Mr Hodgson. When that was moved to a premises on Leyburn business estate Mrs Hodgson was busy developing a special idea of her own in those same outbuildings. She came from a textile background in Bradford but as a young woman was thoroughly frustrated that the whole wool trade only employed women as secretaries or tea makers.

In the dales she was fascinated by the Wensleydale Longwool sheep. “They have a magnificent fleece. Its probably the world’s finest  lustre wool,” she said.  At that time the breed was in decline. She said that the main way to promote it was to use the wool. And so she started the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop, which is now run by Ann Bolam and Ruth Tombleson at Garriston near Leyburn. Under Ann’s guidance the shop twice won an International Quality award from the British Wool Marketing Board.

The Hodgsons and the Knights were also encouraged to keep going in 2002 by the rest of the steering committee set up to organise the festival. “David Berry, Alistair Davy and Elizabeth Hird were just great,” commented Mr Hodgson. “Another major contributor was Mavis Parry who joined the team as the representative of Leyburn Town Council.” In the end about 35 people were involved besides the small army of volunteers who helped throughout the festival.

“Ann worked immensely hard to persuade people to come,” said Mr Hodgson. “It was a very big commitment for small businesses as they had to spend three days at the festival.”

His wife added: “They had to make all the preparations beforehand and there was a lo t of clearing up afterwards. We were trying to give confidence to everyone to go ahead.  But we had to proceed with it. It was really worthwhile not just for us but for the whole area.” And all their hard work did pay off for not only was that first festival a big success but everyone who had a stand in the food hall last year returned in 2003. And more booked to join them.

“I would love to see the festival being automatically included on everyone’s calendar just as the Yorkshire Show is,” said Mrs Hodgson.  To which Mrs Knight added: “We also want the local people to have a good time.” Their ultimate aim was summed up by the Hodgsons: “We want Leyburn to become nationally recognised as a centre of good food based on the wholesome production of the surrounding countryside.”

Margaret Knight spent most of the first festival wearing an apron as she was so busy making sure that the theatre marquee was clean and tidy for each demonstration. She was still cleaning up the day after the festival – and was spotted “shut in” the market shelter. Her husband and the Hodgsons all helped with tidying up afterwards – and for the Hodgsons that included moving a rather sorry looking “sheep”.


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Among the special guests  in 2002 were Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott who signed copies of their books. Derek Kettlewell of Raydale Preserves has been among those who have regularly had stalls in the main marquee. And Andrew Thwaite had his Wensleydale family there to help at his chocolate stall including his grandmother, Isabel Robinson, and his mother (right) Gillian Thwaite.

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Richard Whiteley joined Andrew Thwaite in the theatre marquee during the 2003 festival for lessons in how to make chocolate much to the delight of a packed audience. “It was great fun. I’ve never made chocolates before and I thoroughly enjoyed myself,” Mr Whiteley said.

Below: Rick Stein was one of the guests at the 2003 festival where he enjoyed sampling the roast pork at the Mainsgill Farmshop stand and trying his hand at Craske’s traditional shooting gallery. Gerald Hodgson took good care of him during his visit to Leyburn.  Also pictured: Local estate agent Brian Carlisle with all those balloons, and the young four-legged star of the farming marquee.














































The festival in the field east of Leyburn


















































After the 2003 festival it was decided to move to a field on the outskirts of Leyburn for the festival had already outgrown the town’s market square. This new site has proved to be a big success as it provides plenty of space of the large marquees as well as room (on warm, dry days) for families to sit on the grass and relax.

Also photographed in 2004: Richard Whiteley after a cookery lesson with Peter Ball of Darlington College; Gervaise Phinn book signing; and Ffion Hague tasting honey watched by her husband, William Hague MP.



Irene Morton


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         To many in Wensleydale Irene Morton, who died aged 59-years on March 4, 2012, will be remembered for the way she supported so many local groups during the 30 years that she lived in that dale. But her family and friends will especially remember her bravery and great sense of humour during the time that she had motor neurone disease.

Irene was born in Clifton, York, in August 1952 and attended Queen Anne’s Grammar School before going to Farnborough College to do business studies. She then worked for three years at the office of Dunlop Tyres UK at Newcastle. In 1975 she was able to move back to York when she successfully applied to the Gofton’s accountancy firm. It was there that she met John Morton and they set up home together in April 1979.

In 1980 Gofton’s took over an accountancy firm which had offices in Leyburn and Thirsk and the Morton’s moved to Wensleydale. The links with the York office were severed a few years later and a new partnership was formed. Irene retired from the Barker Partnership in November 2010 due to the onset of motor neurone disease.

During her 30 years in Wensleydale she had not only been extremely supportive of her husband in all that he did including as a member of the local Round Table and Rotary clubs but also of all the activities that their son, Toby, was involved in such as the Beavers, the Scouts and Leyburn primary school. She served the Wensleydale Ladies Circle as secretary, treasurer and chairman at various times, and then as president for a while after she became a member of the Wensleydale Tangent Club. She was passionate about gardening and the new house they moved into at Wensley 1985 gave her ample opportunity to enjoy  creating a beautiful garden and home.

The Morton’s moved in 2010 to Leyburn into a bungalow altered to provide her with many facilities and much enjoyment and it was there that she died very peacefully on March 4. The Mortons were a couple who worked and played together. They enjoyed skiing and sailing holidays and for many years had part shares in boats, firstly on Lake Windermere and then at Menorca and finally in Greece. They also loved visiting Madeira. They were members of the National Trust which provided her with an opportunity not only to see great houses but also to explore beautiful gardens. She never lost her love of watching nature programmes on TV, nor of those about house buying and renovation.

At the funeral service at Holy Trinity church, Wensley, on March 15, the Rev Sue Whitehouse thanked, on John’s behalf, the friends and carers who had helped his wife during the past two years. Half of the collection at the service was given to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The close family at the funeral were: John Morton (husband); Toby Morton (son); Linda and Michael Rheinberg (sister and brother-in-law); Rita Walls (sister), her daughter Lisa Walls, and grandson Denzil; and Jackie and Malcolm Coggan (sister-in-law and her husband).

John has provided some more photographs: Irene at her 55th birthday party; with her sister Linda during a sailing holiday around the Greek islands; at Catherine Ford’s wedding, l-r Ruth Biker, Joyce Sunter, David Ford (with Joan Ford behind him), Irene and John; at one of her favourite places – St Katarina’s Gardens in Madeira overlooking the port; and with friends George and Helen Bennett and Linda and David Milner. I took the photo of her in late 2011 with Jacky Warden and Jacky’s granddaughter, Keira.



A Walk from Aysgarth

It takes just 10 to 15 minutes to walk across the fields from the  eastern  end of Aysgarth to Aysgarth church and Aysgarth Falls.  This walk begins at the bottom of the lane below the Methodist chapel. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last spring those two lambs had jumped  over onto the footpath which at that point runs between a hedge and that drystone wall. Above – trying to get back to mum. 

At the next stile on the way to the church it is possible to see both Bear Park and Carperby to the north (below). Bear Park was originally owned by Marrick Priory in Swaledale and the present house was built in the 17th century.


As you approach the church you can see a large building to the right which was once known as the Palmer Flatt hotel because it was built on the site of a medieval hospice for pilgrims or “palmers”. This is being completely refurbished by the new owners and should be open by early summer if not before and will be known as the Aysgarth Falls Hotel. The car park at The Falls is also visible, as well as (to the right) the large building which now houses a book store. This was the original home of Aysgarth preparatory school  and in 1881  there were 81 scholars. By 1891, however, the school had moved to its present site at Newton le Willows. In the 1920s and 1930s the building was part of a TB sanatorium and later served the area as a YHA hostel.

As you enter the field directly below the hotel it is possible, from the fence on the left, to look down on the River Ure (below).


Or you can go up the path towards the hotel to get a better view of Bolton Castle across the river to the north east. bolton_castle


















The footpath across that field takes you to Church Bank road and on the other side is what may be the largest churchyard in the country. You can take time to visit Aysgarth Church (St Andrew’s) which is open every day or turn left just inside the main gates onto a path which takes you to the northern exit from the churchyard. Descend the steps to reach Yore Mill.

This began life in the late 18th century as a cotton mill  and over the next two centuries was used to produce worsted, to grind corn and then flour (see Yore Mill). There was a school in a room in the mill complex in the early 19th century run by John Drummond, a noted mathematician. In the census for 1891 there were nine households listed at the mill complex, ranging from a clerk in holy orders living in one of the small cottages to the corn miller with his wife and six children. Today the mill is used to generate some electricity for the National Grid and the once derelict cottages behind the gift shop are being renovated.

The old middens (toilets) for the cottages by the mill race are by the river just before the bridge. There is an excellent gift shop on the right. For refreshments there is a choice for there is the restaurant at The Falls (by the car park opposite Aysgarth Falls Hotel) ,the tea room at the Yorkshire Dales National Park car park on the northern approach, or the tea shop by the bridge

The bridge was built in the 16th century  for pack horses and was only nine feet wide. It was rebuilt in the 18th century when the turnpike roads were made. Do be careful crossing the bridge as there is no footpath and is just wide enough for two cars! At the other side turn left through the gate to the Upper Falls. In this parkland meetings and galas were held which, in the mid 20th century, included the Aysgarth annual show with sports, fancy dress and tea tents. Across the river are the remains of lead mining and a bit higher up the river is Aysgarth Mill where electricity was generated for the village in the mid 20th century.

Back at the road take the footpath on the left through the woods to the National Park car park where there are toilets and the information centre in which there is an exhibition about how the falls came into being and the wildlife of the area. Outside the information centre there is a mosaic made by local children. For more photos (all copyright Pip Land) see Aysgarth Falls.

Aysgarth Reflections

Most people come to Aysgarth because they want to visit those famous falls. The village, a bit further west of Aysgarth Falls doesn’t look at first as if it has much to offer the tourist – even if it does have some excellent accommodation and food available.

It does now have a beautifully maintained Edwardian rock garden at the west end. When I first came to the village it was almost impossible to move around in the rock garden as it was so full of brambles and nettles. Thankfully Peter and Angela Jauneika found sufficient funding to be able to restore it and it was opened to the public in April 2003. Below: The exterior of the rock garden in early 2002 and how it looked after restoration.  And inside the garden before and after.



























From the gateway to the rock garden it is possible to look out across Wensleydale and down what is known locally as Jammy Hill. I have always been fascinated by the painting of James Thompson which hangs in the institute. It shows him at work as a cobbler and clog maker. His home overlooked the hill that now is remembered by his name. In 1891 there were two shoemakers in Aysgarth as well as a butcher, two grocery shops and a postmaster.

The village could still boast a general store with post office and a cheese and wine shop at the end of the 1990s. But then we had what I called the “cheese and wine war” when the owner of the general store decided to go into competition with the shop next door.  Not surprisingly that didn’t help either shop and within a few years both had closed. One has been replaced with an excellent teashop. Below – our cheese and wine wars in the summer of 1998.


James Thompson lived next door to Frank Graham, the illegitimate son of a housekeeper, who had finally come into his inheritance from the Aysgarth landowner who had fathered him. It was Frank Sayer Graham who had the rock garden built as well as his Arts and Crafts inspired house opposite (Heather House). From Jammy Hill one drumlin (a hill created when the glaziers receded at the end of the Ice Age) stands out. The old Douglas Firs on top of it gave Lady Hill at very distinctive shape for many years. It will take time for the young Douglas Firs to be so misshapen. When Frank Graham owned Lady Hill it was an enclosed warren where he bred silver-grey rabbits. In the early 20th century he was still exporting the black furs from the young rabbits to Russia.

He became a major benefactor of St Andrew’s church at Aysgarth in the first decades of the 20th century.  The Anglican church had remained a central feature of village life even though the Dale had witnessed the great spiritual revivals of the 17th Century when the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) opened its first meeting houses and the 18th Century when many responded to John Wesley’s preaching and became Methodists.  There are still two Quaker houses west of the rock garden and the Society of Friend’s burial yard behind them. As there are only a few gravestones at the south end the Wensleydale and Swaledale Monthly Meeting Trusts gave permission for the children of the village to play football in the burial yard.

Opposite the village green and what remains of the village stocks is Hamilton’s Tea Room which offers homemade food each day except on Tuesdays. Or you can walk a bit further east to the George and Dragon.  (All photographs are copyright Pip Land)

Aysgarth Falls


When the River Ure is in full spate I can hear the roar of the water over Aysgarth Falls from my home. But it is not easy to get a good photograph of the water storming over the Upper Falls for often it is still raining hard or there is not enough daylight. I struck lucky during the first week in January even if I almost got blown away as I took photographs from the bridge. The rain held off and the sun broke through for a few minutes and I snapped away until my fingers were too cold. I then headed for home only to find, at the top of Church Bank, that there had been a hailstorm and the A684 had a treacherous icy mantle.

I certainly would not have dared to try and take any photographs from under that bridge – as I had done in the summer of 1995. There were even flowers growing among the rocks in the river bed during the drought that year.


There was just a sad trickle of water flowing over the Lower Falls that year – as compared with four years later. I particularly love visiting the Lower Falls when there is a gentle cascade of water rippling over the limestone shelving as in May 2011.
















Eileen and Bill Shuttleworth

shuttleworth_golden A memorial service was held at St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth church on May 15 for Eileen Shuttleworth  because so many were unable to get to her funeral in December due to the very bad weather conditions. (Photo: Bill and Eileen celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.)

At the funeral service in December the Rev Penny Yeadon told those who did get there that the core of Mrs  Shuttleworth’s life had been her faith in Jesus. This has been evident in her calling to be a nurse in inner city hospitals, in the way she assisted at her husband’s medical practice, the communities she lived in, and as a homemaker.

She was born at Whitley Bay in Tyneside in 1917 but, as her son Keith explained, the family moved to Rothbury in Northumberland while she was still young because her father had to take early retirement from the ship yards due to ill health. She enjoyed the open countryside as well as taking part in sports and the Guiding movement.

During the war, after qualifying as a nurse, she transferred to the Liverpool Royal Hospital where she met Dr Bill Shuttleworth. He was born in Coventry and grew up in Wales.  “The romance soon blossomed completely contrary to hospital regulations which would not countenance such a scandal,” said Mr Shuttleworth. They were married at Rothbury in 1943 and not long after that Dr Shuttleworth joined the RAMC.

While he was away his wife moved back to Rothbury to live near her parents. On his return in 1947 he joined a medical practice at in the large mining village of Witton Park, Bishop Auckland. Mr Shuttleworth told those at the funeral:”With the establishment of the NHS in 1948 the practice grew as did the size of the twice daily surgeries. Mother helped to relieve the pressure by acting as receptionist, dispensing medicines and performing nursing tasks.”

By 1954 she also had four sons to care for but all that did not stop her having her own interests. She joined the Women’s Institute and the St John’s Ambulance as well as helping with Meals on Wheels. But her main interest was the church at which she was a Sunday school teacher and a member of the Mothers’ Union and the choir. She also occasionally played the organ.

Dr Shuttleworth’s annual two weeks leave gave them the opportunity to take caravan holidays in Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia – and also in Walden near Leyburn. This led to their buying a house in West Burton in the 1960s and to which they retired in 1975. They joined Aysgarth church and became choir members. Mrs Shuttleworth was the choir leader for 16 years and especially encouraged the junior members. She was the church organist for a few years after Madge Blades retired.

Retirement provided them with an opportunity to expand their love of classical music by learning to play the violin and cello and they joined the Wensleydale Philarmonic Orchestra. They sang with Aysgarth Choral Society for many years and were instrumental in the formation of a local recorded music club. Her continuing love of sport led to her becoming a lady member of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and to buying a wide-screen plasma TV recently so she could enjoy watching cricket, tennis and snooker matches.

Mr Shuttleworth thanked all the neighbours and friends who had helped his parents in the past few years, and had supported his mother after Dr Shuttleworth died in 2009. He also thanked those who had cleared the driveway to the church on the day of the funeral.

EXCERPTS FROM THE REV SUE WHITEHOUSE’S ADDRESS ON MAY 15:  She began by reading the pilgrim journey of the Church as described in a prayer by George Appleton, one time Bishop of Jerusalem.

“For over 90 years the church’s (pilgrim) journey was also Eileen’s, and for a good part of that time within the fellowship of St Andrew’s church.

“The early Christians devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. Eileen’s own spirituality was sustained by receiving communion and by her daily prayers and Bible reading. Gathering together for worship was important to her – she was faithful in her attendance at Sunday and weekday services. There was a steely determination about Eileen. It was because of Eileen that the midnight Christmas communion service about 12 years ago actually took place. It was a night of dreadful storms. She and Bill had had to negotiate a fallen tree on their way out of West Burton. They arrived to find no electricity at church. Eileen made her way in the pitch black to the vestry to find some candles. When I arrived from Redmire the church was in candlelight and ready for what was to be a memorable service.

“Hospitality – reflecting God’s welcome to each of us – has always been a hallmark of Christianity. Eileen and Bill’s home was a place of welcome. Meals with friends; larger gatherings to celebrate important birthdays or anniversaries; choir parties – especially enjoyed by the younger members with their good old-fashioned party games; and shared meals for Christmas and Easter. It was generous and sensitive hospitality.

“And there were the glad hearts in the early church – and I think that above all Eileen’s life showed such a gladness and gratitude to God for all his faithfulness and his gifts to her. She rejoiced in her family – Bill, their four sons, their daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren. ”

She said that Eileen accepted the gift of life from God and lived it to the full – enjoying the opportunities presented to her and sharing with others her gifts and interests. And continued:

“When someone dies we look back over past years with mixed emotions – gratitude, grief, regret, laughter, nostalgia – thoughts too deep for words. But then (we remember) we are a pilgrim people – a pilgrim church. Eileen, in her earthly life, showed how following the good shepherd led to growth and development in her relationship with God and in her understanding of Him. Jesus’ promise is now fulfilled in her: that He came to live, to die and rise again, that we might have life and have it abundantly. As we as individuals and as His church continue on our earthly journey we pray that we may hear the Good Shepherd call us, by name, and be ready to follow him wherever he leads that we too may grow and develop as people and as His church.”

shuttleworths_diamond The memorial service  provided an opportunity to remember both Eileen and Bill Shuttleworth (Left: at their diamond wedding celebration) The following is from my report about the Shuttleworth’s  Golden wedding celebrations in September 2003:

Dr Shuttleworth told all those who attended the celebration at West Burton village hall that so much in his life, including his 25 years as a GP in Barnard Castle, would not have been possible without Eileen. Along with raising their four sons (Keith, Hugh, Philip and Paul) she had been the general practice nurse, receptionist and dispenser at that surgery. She was also the nursing officer with the local St John’s Ambulance Brigade for many years.

It was when she was working as a probationer nurse at a hospital in Liverpool that they met. Their eyes twinkled mischievously as they spoke of their clandestine romance. “The nurses weren’t supposed to fraternise with the doctors. We were very discreet but we did get teased,” she said. They spent their honeymoon in Scotland “feasting on the fat of the land” as Dr Shuttleworth recalled. “We ate grouse, venison and salmon and then had to go back to strict rationing.”

In 1945 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corp for two years seeing his wife only occasionally in her small cottage near Rothbury. “There was no electricity. There were oil lamps and an outside toilet,” she recalled. Her father sent in a snow plough to get her out during the winter of 1947, just two weeks before her second son was born. So she was very pleased when Captain Shuttleworth was demobbed.

It was in 1965 that they bought a holiday home in West Burton and began singing with Aysgarth church choir. By the time they retired and moved to West Burton they had been singing with the church choir in Witton Park for 25 years. They said their love of classical music and working together had kept them close. “It has been a very satisfying and happy marriage,” commented Mrs Shuttleworth.  Her husband added: “We just hit it off together and we helped one another. We needed each other.” Both had a deep Christian faith but in all their years of attending church services they  rarely sat together because of their choir duties. They notched up another 25 years of choir singing with Aysgarth church choir!

Mars and Carperby’s New Sports Pavilion


Click on the picture to see photos of the pavilion project from laying the foundations to the football match with Peter Crouch in January 2011.

It was all hands on deck at Carperby’s new sports pavilion in the first week in January as members of the village’s football team and over 90 residents and friends worked together to make sure it was ready for the completion date (January 7) set by the confectionery company, Mars Ltd.

When William Hague MP took part in the foundation stone ceremony on October 22,2010, the local builders who had won the contract in a blind tender thought it would be several years before the community had raised sufficient funds to complete the project.

The village of  223 residents had raised £40,000 by holding various events and by obtaining grants since the project was launched in 2004. The pavilion team, which consisted of three members each from Carperby Playing Fields Association, Carperby Football Team and Carperby cum Thoresby parish council, thought it might take another five years to complete.

But then Mars Ltd and the FA became involved with the former offering a grant of £125,000 to cover the cost of completing the 11m by 21m pavilion as long as it was completed by January 8, 2011, so that the company’s advert could be filmed and edited to be shown on TV by February 2.

When the icy and snowy weather became a problem in late November Mars provided a 15m x 30m tent which completely covered the building site. This enabled the builders (Scott with Steve Harrison and Chris Peacock, along with Trevor Gilham, Jonathon Wood, Stuart Hunter, Tim Peacock and his father, Alan) to carry on working.

Even then they had problems with the cement freezing before they could use it. Scott said that on occasions the weather had been unbearable.

“The construction would have ground to a halt without the tent and we were indebted to Mars for all their help and support with the project,” said Nick Oliver, who was a member of the sports pavilion project team.

Once the building was complete the community – young and old – mucked in to clean and paint the interior. “The community has been brilliant – fantastic,” said Scott.

“Many in the village have been invited to take part in the filming, which has been great fun for all those connected with the project,” added Mr Oliver. A great community spirit had developed with the camera crew during that winter.

To be ready for the final filming session on Thursday, January 27 the villagers also wanted to make sure that children’s play area and the dugouts beside the football pitch were spick and span. This meant scrubbing, painting and treating woodwork in freezing conditions.

There was a tremendous sense of anticipation as residents, friends, local footballers and the camera crew awaited the arrival of England star footballer, Peter Crouch.

And no matter how cold it was, or how many takes the camera crew’s director requested, Peter was the perfect role model for the youngsters who were there. He was always cheerful and approachable – so willing to share with the community the joy of finally having a modern, well-equipped sports pavilion.



Family history, gravestones and topple testers

Aysgarth church is the first in Richmondshire to start re-erecting gravestones. Richmondshire District Council regularly sends its topple testers to check on gravestones in churchyards and cemeteries to ensure they are safe and won’t topple over and maybe kill children. But in 2009 Carperby farmer Alastair Dinsdale  asked Aysgarth Parochial Church Council (PCC) to consider re-erecting some of those which had been laid flat.

When, in early 2010, the PCC contacted the district council’s head of open spaces, Gary Hudson, he happily came along with David Lodge, the ground maintenance supervisor, to explain how it could be done. Alastair  then  raised the gravestone of one of his ancestors to test the suggested method (see below).

To his surprise he found fragments of an 18th century gravestone had been used as a foundation for that erected about a century later.  Beside another toppled gravestone the carved sides of a casket grave were found. As there are few 18th century stones remaining in the churchyard it is possible that many were recycled in the 1800s. (Photographs below)

For those researching their family history the churchyard (one of the largest in the country) is a useful source of information about those buried there since the 19th century. Alastair is particularly keen to raise gravestones so that the inscriptions can be protected from water and ice.

Even some of the upright stones have deteriorated since Evelyn Abraham and Marian Kirby listed them in 1992. Without that list it would not have been possible to locate the grave of John and Margaret Fawcett  “of Cote near West Burton”. He died in 1836 and his wife in 1846. Dianne Powell in Australia had asked if we could send photographs of the gravestone which we did.

Some of those who attended the Gravestone Coffee Morning on June 26 had also been researching their family history. Relatives of one family had come from New Zealand a few years ago and had been saddened to find that the gravestone of their great grandparents (Edward and Elizabeth Graham) had been toppled. This was one of the gravestones re-erected during the community work day in September.  Nine gravestones were successfully raised that day including those of Thomas and Emily Shannon of Carperby  which has a a memorial to  their son John who was killed in action in France during the First World War.

Aysgarth Parochial Church Council (PCC) decided to publicise details of these so that the families would know about the work day. This led to descendants of the Shannon family making contact (one from Inverness) and those of Jane Hammond, including one who lives in Bowness in Windermere.  An Aysgarth family has also asked for that of Catherine Wood to be added to the list. She died during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918.

If anyone wants information about gravestones in Aysgarth churchyard they can leave a comment on this post.



John “Peter” Leyland

peter_bynoah At the Quaker memorial meeting for John ‘Peter’ Leyland at Bainbridge on June 22, 2010, there was very little silence  as  so many wanted to share their happy and very special memories of him.

“This is a celebration of his life and everyone is encouraged to share their memories about Peter. I feel extremely blessed and privileged to have known him,” said Quaker elder, Judith Bromley.

When he was born in Bainbridge in January 1920 his parents dutifully gave him the family name of John but then always called him Peter. He was proud of the fact that all his grandparents were from mid Wensleydale but, after he was articled as an accountant to a London firm when he was 16-years-old he did not return to live in the dale until he retired as finance director of the Scott Bader Commonwealth in 1982.

“He was a gentleman and a gentle man,” wrote one friend. Throughout his life he was renowned for his integrity, honesty and probity, as well as his quiet bravery. Several at the memorial meeting spoke of his time with the “China Convoy” for the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) during the Second World War. (Oral history recordings are at the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes.)

His widow, the artist Janet Rawlins (Parfitt) read an email from Godric Bader who commented: “His concern for the truth of a situation was deep and clarifyingly perceptive, often salutary, but always expressed helpfully… the same qualities… undoubtedly were behind his clearly heroic work in the Friends Ambulance Unit in China  – or possibly they were nurtured there in those tough and exposed days in the inhospitable mountain fastnesses.”

Another friend had written: “He was one of those exceptional people on earth who sought always to do the best for others and to create peace where there was lack of harmony. He was a man who stood by his principles and his deep Christian faith shone through him.” At the memorial meeting one said that Peter had shown how being guided by the Spirit did produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control (Gal:5.22-23).

Janet commented: “He was a quiet man but he was a wonderful character. And he was fun.”  They married in 1982 and became very involved in the local and Quaker communities as well as restoring what had been his mother’s family home in Askrigg. Later they were able to buy back the house his wife had had built in Bainbridge.

For many years he was treasurer of the Askrigg Foundation, Askrigg Millennium Fund, Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum, the Bainbridge (Quaker) Meeting, and Bainside Arts as well as of the Laurie Baker Society and Ackworth School. He attended Ackworth School from the age of 10 to 16.  Peter was one of the first to buy shares in the River Bain Hydro project this year investing the £1,415 that his mother had received as compensation from the National Grid in 1953 when it took over Bainbridge’s electricity company that his grandfather had co-founded.

His close family at the memorial meeting included: Janet Rawlins (wife); Sarah and Stephen Morgan (daughter and son-in-law) with Nat and Jonas and representing Noah; Joanna and Patrick Morris (daughter and son-in-law) with Rebecca and Victoria; James and Samantha Parfitt (step son and daughter-in-law) with Jake and Alex; Dennis Leyland, Wendy and John Doig, and Dennis and Margaret Mudd (cousins). The collection at the memorial meeting amounted to £400 and was donated to the Friends of Friary Hospital, Richmond, where he was cared for so well during the last week or his life. His widow has also donated one of her collages to the Friary. The photograph above was taken by Peter’s grandson, Noah Morgan.  (See also the obituary I wrote which was published in the Yorkshire Post )



At the annual meeting of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum in October 2007 Peter told the remarkable story of his family’s involvement in providing a shop and the electricity supply for Bainbridge  until the mid 20th century. He explained how his great great grandfather, Alexander Tiplady, had returned from the battle of Waterloo and opened the first shop in Bainbridge. Alexander’s grand daughter married John Leyland who gave up being a travelling salesman and joined her in running the family business.

It was he who with Richard Cockbone in 1912 set up Bainbridge Electric Lighting Company based on a water mill on the River Bain. The turbines were installed by William Handley Burton of Askrigg. His great grandson, William Burton of Maxwells Electrical in Northallerton, was invited to the annual meeting and enjoyed discussing the various historical documents with Peter. (Right: Peter on right with William Burton.) During his talk Peter described how his mother had carried on with the shop and running the electricity supply in Bainbridge, Wensleydale, even after her husband died in 1942.

At that time John ‘Peter’ Leyland was still in China with the Friends Ambulance Unit.  As a Quaker he had chosen to serve others that way rather than be conscripted into the armed forces during the Second World War. See also Memories of war time China

Eco friendly transformation

eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale
Eco-friendly transformation

Eco-friendly living with geothermal heating can be fun as Rosi Keatinge found when she helped to transform a small barn in Wensleydale into a dwelling with the smallest carbon footprint possible. The barn at Garriston near Leyburn with its panoramic views of Lower Wensleydale was almost derelict when she had her husband, Dr Dyno Keatinge, decided to turn it into a two-bedroom home. Above: As the barn is  now with its French doors facing south to collect heat from the sun. Below: Mary Farnell’s painting of part of the barn when it was derelict.

Before transformation!

The most eco-friendly feature about the barn conversion is the geothermal under-floor heating installed by IceEnergy of Whitney. With a considerable amount of insulation the temperature inside was 22 degrees C throughout the winter, without ever using the multi fuel stove. “This place is so warm- I cant believe it,” commented Rosi.“My late father, a civil engineer, was convinced that geothermal energy was the way forward and particularly for things as we have done at the barn, for under floor heating and hot water production. You have got to get your heat from renewable sources. We are running out of oil, gas and coal.”

Dr Keatinge was the director general of the World Vegetable Centre in Taiwan and spent a lot of his time trying to convince people throughout the world of the importance of growing their own vegetables and having a balanced diet. So Rosi had the job of searching for local products for the barn conversion when not teaching music. They have named the dwelling Rufus Barn after a golden retriever who was a much loved family pet.

She is delighted that most of the oak used for the bespoke kitchen and the roof trusses travelled only a few miles from where the tree was felled via Wensley saw mill and Calvert’s  workshop in Leyburn. To make the best use of natural light there are French windows in the kitchen, sitting room and main bedroom, and  glass has been inserted between the traditional roof trusses.

eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale The sitting room as seen from the storage space above the second bedroom.

“The trusses are so wonderful. There is a bolt through the middle and that’s it. Then there are pegs and so every year or so you will knock the pegs in a bit more. Oh – and a few makers marks,” said Rosi.

Calvert’s craftsmen also produced the kitchen counter tops made from the fossil-filled stone from Leyburn’s Shawl Quarry. And, before Rufus Barn was let to a tenant, Rosi loved standing in the kitchen and looking across Wensleydale to Jervaulx where the stone for the floor was quarried. “It’s the same stone as was used to build Jervaulx Abbey,” she explained.

She is especially pleased with  the tiles handmade by Caroline Hudson. Rosi spotted those at an arts and crafts fair at The Station in Richmond (North Yorkshire) and has integrated them into the design of the bathroom, toilet and kitchen.

She was very careful to make sure that the bath and toilet were just right! “I sat in many baths and on many lavatories to make sure that they were comfortable,” she said with a laugh. In the end she chose an ideal standard bath at Homebase.

Some of the walls have not been plastered so that original features can be seen. These include the original outer wall now in the kitchen complete with lichens, and the clamp bricks in the sitting room. These would have been baked in small kilns in the late 19th and early 20th century and were used to make the animal stalls. “There’s a patina to those bricks which is very attractive,” she said.

They have been careful to retain the integrity of the barn and its rural charm. “It’s an amazing part of the world – we have got everything. The sunrises are beautiful and there are wonderful trees, the wild flowers are super, and there are resident hedgehogs, stoats, little voles and many birds.”    Her tenants won’t be allowed to keep cats because she is so keen to protect the small birds that flock to her garden next door to Rufus Barn. Below: Rosi just making sure that the bath still feels right!

Rosi and Dyno may consider retiring to the eco-friendly barn they have created, with its geothermal under-floor heating, and its great views across Wensleydale.

eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale

Keywords: eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale