The monument to Hugh Ripley, who was the last Wakeman of Ripon and first Mayor in 1604, is on the north side of the nave facing the entrance to the crypt, popularly called 'St. Wilfrid's Needle.' A rather difficult flight of steps goes down to a narrow passage leading into a cylindrically vaulted cell with niches in the walls. At the north-east corner is the curious slit or 'Needle' that has been thought to have been used for purposes of trial by ordeal, the innocent person being able to squeeze through the narrow opening.
In reality it is probably nothing more than an arrangement for lighting two cells with one lamp. The crypt is of such a plainly Roman type, and is so similar to the one at Hexham, that it is generally accepted as dating from the early days of Christianity in Yorkshire, and there can be little doubt that it is a relic of Wilfrid's church in those early times.
At a very convenient distance from Ripon, and approached by a pleasant lane, are the lovely glades of Studley Royal, the noble park containing the ruins of Fountains Abbey. Below the well-kept pathway runs the Skell, but so transformed from its early character that you would imagine the pathways wind round the densely-wooded slopes, and give a dozen different views of each mass of trees, each temple, and each bend of the river. At last, from a considerable height, you have the lovely view of the abbey ruins illustrated here. At every season its charm is unmistakable, and even if no stately tower and no roofless arches filled the centre of the prospect, the scene would be almost as memorable. It is only one of the many pictures in the park that a retentive memory will hold as some of the most remarkable in England.
Among the ruins the turf is kept in perfect order, and it is pleasant merely to look upon the contrast of the green carpet that is so evenly laid between the dark stonework. The late-Norman nave, with its solemn double line of round columns, the extremely graceful arches of the Chapel of the Nine Altars, and the magnificent vaulted perspective of the dark cellarium of the lay-brothers, are perhaps the most fascinating portions of the buildings. I might be well compared with the last abbot but one, William Thirsk, who resigned his post, forseeing the coming Dissolution, and was therefore called 'a varra fole and a misereble ideote,' if I attempted in the short space available to give any detailed account of the abbey or its wonderful past. I have perhaps said enough to insist on its charms, and I know that all who endorse my statements will, after seeing Fountains, read with delight the books that are devoted to its story.
KNARESBOROUGH AND HARROGATE
It is sometimes said that Knaresborough is an overrated town from the point of view of its attractiveness to visitors, but this depends very much upon what we hope to find there. If we expect to find lasting pleasure in contemplating the Dropping Well, or the pathetic little exhibition of petrified objects in the Mother Shipton Inn, we may be prepared for disappointment. It seems strange that the real and lasting charms of the town should be overshadowed by such popular and much-advertised 'sights.' The first view of the town from the 'high' bridge is so full of romance that if there were nothing else to interest us in the place we would scarcely be disappointed. The Nidd, flowing smoothly at the foot of the precipitous heights upon which the church and the old roofs appear, is spanned by a great stone viaduct. This might have been so great a blot upon the scene that Knaresborough would have lost half its charm. Strangely enough, we find just the reverse is the case, for this railway bridge, with its battlemented parapets and massive piers, is now so weathered that it has melted into its surroundings as though it had come into existence as long ago as the oldest building visible. The old Knaresborough kept well to the heights adjoining the castle, and even to-day there are only a handful of later buildings down by the river margin.
When we have crossed the bridge, and have passed along a narrow roadway perched well above the river, we come to one of the many interesting houses that help to keep alive the old-world flavour of the town. Only a few years ago the old manor-house had a most picturesque and rather remarkable exterior, for its plaster walls were covered with a large black and white chequer-work and its overhanging eaves and tailing creepers gave it a charm that has since then been quite lost. The restoration which recently took place has entirely altered the character of the exterior, but inside everything has been preserved with just the care that should have been expended outside as well. There are oak-wainscoted parlours, oak dressers, and richly-carved fireplaces in the low-ceiled rooms, each one containing furniture of the period of the house. Upstairs there is a beautiful old bedroom lined with oak, like those on the floor below, and its interest is greatly enhanced by the story of Oliver Cromwell's residence in the house, for he is believed to have used this particular bedroom.
Higher up the hill stands the church with a square central tower surmounted by a small spike. It still bears the marks of the fire made by the Scots during their disastrous descent upon Yorkshire after Edward II.'s defeat at Bannockburn. The chapel north of the chancel contains interesting monuments of the old Yorkshire family of Slingsby. The altar-tomb in the centre bears the recumbent effigies of Francis Slingsby, who died in 1600, and Mary his wife. Another monument shows Sir William Slingsby, who accidentally discovered the first spring at Harrogate. The Slingsbys, who were cavaliers, produced a martyr in the cause of Charles I. This was the distinguished Sir Henry, who, in 1658, 'being beheaded by order of the tyrant Cromwell, ... was translated to a better place.' So says the inscription on a large slab of black marble in the floor of the chapel. The last of the male line of the family was Sir Charles Slingsby, who was most unfortunately drowned by the upsetting of a ferry-boat in the Ure in February, 1869.
When we have progressed beyond the market-place, we come out upon an elevated grassy space upon the top of a great mass of rock whose perpendicular sides drop down to a bend of the Nidd. Around us are scattered the ruins of Knaresborough Castle—poor and of small account if we compare them with Richmond, although the site is very similar; where before the siege in 1644 there must have been a most imposing mass of towers and curtain walls. Of the great keep, only the lowest story is at all complete, for above the first-floor there are only two sides to the tower, and these are battered and dishevelled. The walls enclosed about the same area as Richmond, but they are now so greatly destroyed that it is not easy to gain a clear idea of their position. There were no less than eleven towers, of which there now remain fragments of six, part of a gateway, and behind the old courthouse there are evidences of a secret cell. An underground sally-port opening into the moat, which was a dry one, is reached by steps leading from the castle yard.
The keep is in the Decorated style, and appears to have been built in the reign of Edward II. Below the ground is a vaulted dungeon, dark and horrible in its hopeless strength, which is only emphasized by the tiny air-hole that lets in scarcely a glimmering of light, but reveals a thickness of 15 feet of masonry that must have made a prisoner's heart sick. It is generally understood that Bolingbroke spared Richard II. such confinement as this, and that when he was a prisoner in the keep he occupied the large room on the floor above the kitchen. It is now a mere platform, with the walls running up on two sides only. The kitchen (sometimes called the guard-room) has a perfectly preserved roof of heavy groining, supported by two pillars, and it contains a collection of interesting objects, rather difficult to see, owing to the poor light that the windows allow. There is a great deal to interest us among the wind-swept ruins and the views into the wooded depths of the Nidd, and we would rather stay here and trace back the history of the castle and town to the days of that Norman Serlo de Burgh, who is the first mentioned in its annals, than go down to the tripper-worn Dropping Well and the Mother Shipton Inn.
The distance between Knaresborough and Harrogate is short, and after passing Starbeck we come to an extensive common known as the Stray. We follow the grassy space, when it takes a sharp turn to the north, and are soon in the centre of the great watering-place.
There is one spot in Harrogate that has a suggestion of the early days of the town. It is down in the corner where the valley gardens almost join the extremity of the Stray. There we find the Royal Pump Room that made its appearance in early Victorian times, and its circular counter is still crowded every morning by a throng of water-drinkers. We wander through the hilly streets and gaze at the pretentious hotels, the baths, the huge Kursaal, the hydropathic establishments, the smart shops, and the many churches, and then, having seen enough of the buildings, we find a seat supported by green serpents, from which to watch the passers-by. A white-haired and withered man, having the stamp of a military life in his still erect bearing, paces slowly by; then come two elaborately dressed men of perhaps twenty-five. They wear brown suits and patent boots, and their bowler hats are pressed down on the backs of their heads. Then nursemaids with perambulators pass, followed by a lady in expensive garments, who talks volubly to her two pretty daughters. When we have tired of the pavements and the people, we bid farewell to them without much regret, being in a mood for simplicity and solitude, and go away towards Wharfedale with the pleasant tune that a band was playing still to remind us for a time of the scenes we have left behind.
Otley is the first place we come to in the long and beautiful valley of the Wharfe. It is a busy little town where printing machinery is manufactured and worsted mills appear to thrive. Immediately to the south rises the steep ridge known as the Chevin. It answers the same purpose as Leyburn Shawl in giving a great view over the dale; the elevation of over 900 feet, being much greater than the Shawl, of course commands a far more extensive panorama, and thus, in clear weather, York Minster appears on the eastern horizon and the Ingleton Fells on the west.
Farnley Hall, on the north side of the Wharfe, is an Elizabethan house dating from 1581, and it is still further of interest on account of Turner's frequent visits, covering a great number of years, and for the very fine collection of his paintings preserved there. The oak-panelling and coeval furniture are particularly good, and among the historical relics there is a remarkable memento of Marston Moor in the sword that Cromwell carried during the battle.
Ilkley has contrived to keep an old well-house, where the water's purity is its chief attraction. The church contains a thirteenth- century effigy of Sir Andrew de Middleton, and also three pre-Norman crosses without arms. On the heights to the south of Ilkley is Rumbles Moor, and from the Cow and Calf rocks there is a very fine view.
About six miles still further up Wharfedale, Bolton Abbey stands by a bend of the beautiful river. The ruins are most picturesquely placed on ground slightly raised above the banks of the Wharfe. Of the domestic buildings practically nothing remains, while the choir of the church, the central tower, and north transepts are roofless and extremely beautiful ruins. The nave is roofed in, and is used as a church at the present time, and it is probable that services have been held in the building practically without any interruption for 700 years. Hiding the Early English west end is the lower half of a fine Perpendicular tower, commenced by Richard Moone, the last Prior.
The great east window of the choir has lost its tracery, and the Decorated windows at the sides are in the same vacant state, with the exception of one. It is blocked up to half its height, like those on the north side, but the flamboyant tracery of the head is perfect and very graceful. Lower down there is some late-Norman interlaced arcading resting on carved corbels.
From the abbey we can take our way by various beautiful paths to the exceedingly rich scenery of Bolton woods. Some of the reaches of the Wharfe through this deep and heavily-timbered part of its course are really enchanting, and not even the knowledge that excursion parties frequently traverse the paths can rob the views of their charm. It is always possible, by taking a little trouble, to choose occasions for seeing these beautiful but very popular places when they are unspoiled by the sights and sounds of holiday-makers, and in the autumn, when the woods have an almost undreamed-of brilliance, the walks and drives are generally left to the birds and the rabbits. At the Strid the river, except in flood-times, is confined to a deep channel through the rocks, in places scarcely more than a yard in width. It is one of those spots that accumulate stories and legends of the individuals who have lost their lives, or saved them, by endeavouring to leap the narrow channel. That several people have been drowned here is painfully true, for the temptation to try the seemingly easy but very risky jump is more than many can resist.
Higher up, the river is crossed by the three arches of Barden Bridge, a fine old structure bearing the inscription: 'This bridge was repayred at the charge of the whole West R ... 1676.' To the south of the bridge stands the picturesque Tudor house called Barden Tower, which was at one time a keeper's lodge in the manorial forest of Wharfedale. It was enlarged by the tenth Lord Clifford—the 'Shepherd Lord' whose strange life-story is mentioned in the next chapter in connection with Skipton—but having become ruinous, it was repaired in 1658 by that indefatigable restorer of the family castles, the Lady Anne Clifford.
At this point there is a road across the moors to Pateley Bridge, in Nidderdale, and if we wish to explore that valley, which is now partially filled with a lake formed by the damming of the Nidd for Bradford's water-supply, we must leave the Wharfe at Barden. If we keep to the more beautiful dale we go on through the pretty village of Burnsall to Grassington, where a branch railway has recently made its appearance from Skipton.
The dale from this point appears more and more wild, and the fells become gaunt and bare, with scars often fringing the heights on either side. We keep to the east side of the river, and soon after having a good view up Littondale, a beautiful branch valley, we come to Kettlewell. This tidy and cheerful village stands at the foot of Great Whernside, one of the twin fells that we saw overlooking the head of Coverdale when we were at Middleham. Its comfortable little inns make Kettlewell a very fine centre for rambles in the wild dales that run up towards the head of Wharfedale.
Buckden is a small village situated at the junction of the road from Aysgarth, and it has the beautiful scenery of Langstrothdale Chase stretching away to the west. About a mile higher up the dale we come to the curious old church of Hubberholme standing close to the river, and forming a most attractive picture in conjunction with the bridge and the masses of trees just beyond. At Raisgill we leave the road, which, if continued, would take us over the moors by Dodd Fell, and then down to Hawes. The track goes across Horse Head Moor, and it is so very slightly marked on the bent that we only follow it with difficulty. It is steep in places, for in a short distance it climbs up to nearly 2,000 feet. The tawny hollows in the fell-sides, and the utter wildness spread all around, are more impressive when we are right away from anything that can even be called a path.
When we reach the highest point before the rapid descent into Littondale we have another great view, with Pen-y-ghent close at hand and Fountains Fell more to the south.
SKIPTON, MALHAM AND GORDALE
When I think of Skipton I am never quite sure whether to look upon it as a manufacturing centre or as one of the picturesque market towns of the dale country. If you arrive by train, you come out of the station upon such vast cotton-mills, and such a strong flavour of the bustling activity of the southern parts of Yorkshire, that you might easily imagine that the capital of Craven has no part in any holiday-making portion of the county. But if you come by road from Bolton Abbey, you enter the place at a considerable height, and, passing round the margin of the wooded Haw Beck, you have a fine view of the castle, as well as the church and the broad and not unpleasing market-place.
The fine gateway of the castle is flanked by two squat towers. They are circular and battlemented, and between them upon a parapet, which is higher than the towers themselves, appears the motto of the Cliffords, 'Desormais' (hereafter), in open stone letters. Beyond the gateway stands a great mass of buildings with two large round towers just in front; to the right, across a sloping lawn, appears the more modern and inhabited portion of the castle. The squat round towers gain all our attention, but as we pass through the doorways into the courtyard beyond, we are scarcely prepared for the astonishingly beautiful quadrangle that awaits us. It is small, and the centre is occupied by a great yew-tree, whose tall, purply-red trunk goes up to the level of the roofs without any branches or even twigs, but at that height it spreads out freely into a feathery canopy of dark green, covering almost the whole of the square of sky visible from the courtyard. The base of the trunk is surrounded by a massive stone seat, with plain shields on each side. The aspect of the courtyard suggests more that of a manor-house than a castle, the windows and doorways being purely Tudor. The circular towers and other portions of the walls belong to the time of Edward II., and there is also a round-headed door that cannot be later than the time of Robert de Romille, one of the Conqueror's followers. The rooms that overlook the shady quadrangle are very much decayed and entirely unoccupied. They include an old dining-hall of much picturesqueness, kitchens, pantries, and butteries, some of them only lighted by very narrow windows. The destruction caused during the siege which took place during the Civil War might have brought Skipton Castle to much the same condition as Knaresborough but for the wealth and energy of that remarkable woman Lady Anne Clifford, who was born here in 1589. She was the only surviving child of George, the third Earl of Cumberland, and grew up under the care of her mother, Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, of whom Lady Anne used to speak as 'my blessed mother.' After her first marriage with Richard Sackville, Earl of Dorset, Lady Anne married the profligate Philip, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. She was widowed a second time in 1649, and after that began the period of her munificence and usefulness. With immense enthusiasm, she undertook the work of repairing the castles that belonged to her family, Brougham, Appleby, Barden Tower, and Pendragon being restored as well as Skipton.
Besides attending to the decayed castles, the Countess repaired no less than seven churches, and to her we owe the careful restoration of the parish church of Skipton. She began the repairs to the sacred building even before she turned her attention to the wants of the castle. In her private memorials we read how, 'In the summer of 1665 ... at her own charge, she caus'd the steeple of Skipton Church to be built up againe, which was pull'd down in the time of the late Warrs, and leaded it over, and then repaired some part of the Church and new glaz'd the Windows, in ever of which Window she put quaries, stained with a yellow colour, these two letters—viz., A. P., and under them the year 1655... Besides, she raised up a noble Tomb of Black Marble in memory of her Warlike Father.' This magnificent altar-tomb still stands within the Communion rails on the south side of the chancel. It is adorned with seventeen shields, and Whitaker doubted 'whether so great an assemblage of noble bearings can be found on the tomb of any other Englishman.' This third Earl was a notable figure in the reign of Elizabeth, and having for a time been a great favourite with the Queen, he received many of the posts of honour she loved to bestow. He was a skilful and daring sailor, helping to defeat the Spanish Armada, and building at his own expense one of the greatest fighting ships of his time.
The memorials of Lady Anne give a description of her appearance in the manner of that time: "The colour of her eyes was black like her Father's," we are told, "with a peak of hair on her forehead, and a dimple in her chin, like her father. The hair of her head was brown and very thick, and so long that it reached to the calf of her legs when she stood upright."
We cannot leave these old towers of Skipton Castle without going back to the days of John, the ninth Lord Clifford, that "Bloody Clifford" who was one of the leaders of the Lancastrians at Wakefield, where his merciless slaughter earned him the title of "the Butcher." He died by a chance arrow the night before the Battle of Towton, so fatal to the cause of Lancaster, and Lady Clifford and the children took refuge in her father's castle at Brough. For greater safety Henry, the heir, was placed under the care of a shepherd whose wife had nursed the boy's mother when a child. In this way the future baron grew up as an entirely uneducated shepherd lad, spending his days on the fells in the primitive fashion of the peasants of the fifteenth century. When he was about twelve years old Lady Clifford, hearing rumours that the whereabouts of her children had become known, sent the shepherd and his wife with the boy into an extremely inaccessible part of Cumberland. He remained there until his thirty-second year, when the Battle of Bosworth placed Henry VII on the throne. Then the shepherd lord was brought to Londesborough, and when the family estates had been restored, he went back to Skipton Castle. The strangeness of his new life being irksome to him, Lord Clifford spent most of his time in Barden Forest at one of the keeper's lodges, which he adapted for his own use. There he hunted and studied astronomy and astrology with the canons of Bolton.
At Flodden Field he led the men-at-arms from Craven, and showed that by his life of extreme simplicity he had in no way diminished the traditional valour of the Cliffords. When he died they buried him at Bolton Abbey, where many of his ancestors lay, and as his successor died after the dissolution of the monasteries, the "Shepherd Lord" was the last to be buried in that secluded spot by the Wharfe.
Skipton has always been a central spot for the exploration of this southern portion of the dales. To the north is Kirby Malham, a pretty little village with green limestone hills rising on all sides; a rushing beck coming off Kirby Fell takes its way past the church, and there is an old vicarage as well as some picturesque cottages.
We find our way to a decayed lych-gate, whose stones are very black and moss-grown, and then get a close view of the Perpendicular church. The interior is full of interest, not only on account of the Norman font and the canopied niches in the pillars of the nave, but also for the old pews. The Malham people seemingly found great delight in recording their names on the woodwork of the pews, for carefully carved initials and dates appear very frequently. All the pews have been cut down to the accepted height of the present day with the exception of some on the north side which were occupied by the more important families, and these still retain their squareness and the high balustrades above the panelled lower portions.
Just under the moorland heights surrounding Malham Tarn is the other village of Malham. It is a charming spot, even in the gloom of a wintry afternoon. The houses look on to a strip of uneven green, cut in two, lengthways, by the Aire. We go across the clear and sparkling waters by a rough stone footbridge, and, making our way past a farm, find ourselves in a few minutes at Gordale Bridge. Here we abandon the switchback lane, and, climbing a wall, begin to make our way along the side of the beck. The fells drop down fairly sharply on each side, and in the failing light there seems no object in following the stream any further, when quite suddenly the green slope on the right stands out from a scarred wall of rock beyond, and when we are abreast of the opening we find ourselves before a vast fissure that leads right into the heart of the fell. The great split is S-shaped in plan, so that when we advance into its yawning mouth we are surrounded by limestone cliffs more than 300 feet high. If one visits Gordale Scar for the first time alone on a gloomy evening, as I have done, I can promise the most thrilling sensations to those who have yet to see this astonishing sight. It almost appeared to me as though I were dreaming, and that I was Aladdin approaching the magician's palace. I had read some of the eighteenth-century writer's descriptions of the place, and imagined that their vivid accounts of the terror inspired by the overhanging rocks were mere exaggerations, but now I sympathize with every word. The scars overhang so much on the east side that there is not much space to get out of reach of the water that drips from every portion. Great masses of stone were lying upon the bright strip of turf, and among them I noticed some that could not have been there long; this made me keep close under the cliff in justifiable fear of another fall. I stared with apprehension at one rock that would not only kill, but completely bury, anyone upon whom it fell, and I thought those old writers had underrated the horrors of the place.
Wordsworth writes of
"Gordale chasm, terrific as the lair Where the young lions couch,"
and he also describes it as one of the grandest objects in nature.
A further result of the Craven fault that produced Gordale Scar can be seen at Malham Cove, about a mile away. There the cliff forms a curved front 285 feet high, facing the open meadows down below. The limestone is formed in layers of great thickness, dividing the face of the cliff into three fairly equal sections, the ledges formed at the commencement of each stratum allowing of the growth of bushes and small trees. A hard-pressed fox is said to have taken refuge on one of these precarious ledges, and finding his way stopped in front, he tried to turn, and in doing so fell and was killed.
At the base of the perpendicular face of the cliff the Aire flows from a very slightly arched recess in the rock. It is a really remarkable stream in making its debut without the slightest fuss, for it is large enough at its very birth to be called a small river. Its modesty is a great loss to Yorkshire, for if, instead of gathering strength in the hidden places in the limestone fells, it were to keep to more rational methods, it would flow to the edge of the Cover, and there precipitate itself in majestic fashion into a great pool below.
SETTLE AND THE INGLETON FELLS
The track across the moor from Malham Cove to Settle cannot be recommended to anyone at night, owing to the extreme difficulty of keeping to the path without a very great familiarity with every yard of the way, so that when I merely suggested taking that route one wintry night the villagers protested vigorously. I therefore took the road that goes up from Kirby Malham, having borrowed a large hurricane lamp from the "Buck" Inn at Malham. Long before I reached the open moor I was enveloped in a mist that would have made the track quite invisible even where it was most plainly marked, and I blessed the good folk at Malham who had advised me to take the road rather than run the risks of the pot-holes that are a feature of the limestone fells. The little town of Settle has a most distinctive feature in the possession of Castleberg, a steep limestone hill, densely wooded except at the very top, that rises sharply just behind the market-place. Before the trees were planted there seems to have been a sundial on the side of the hill, the precipitous scar on the top forming the gnomon. No one remembers this curious feature, although a print showing the numbers fixed upon the slope was published in 1778. The market-place has lost its curious old tolbooth, and in its place stands a town hall of good Tudor design. Departed also is much of the charm of the old Shambles that occupy a central position in the square. The lower story, with big arches forming a sort of piazza in front of the butcher's and other shops, still remains in its old state, but the upper portion has been restored in the fullest sense of that comprehensive term.
In the steep street that we came down on entering the town there may still be seen a curious old tower, which seems to have forgotten its original purpose. Some of the houses have carved stone lintels to their doorways and seventeenth-century dates, while the stone figure on 'The Naked Man' Inn, although bearing the date 1663, must be very much older, the year of rebuilding being probably indicated rather than the date of the figure.
The Ribble divides Settle from its former parish church at Giggleswick, and until 1838 the townsfolk had to go over the bridge and along a short lane to the village which held its church. Settle having been formed into a separate parish, the parish clerk of the ancient village no longer has the fees for funerals and marriages. Although able to share the church, the two places had stocks of their own for a great many years. At Settle they have been taken from the market square and placed in the court-house, and at Giggleswick one of the first things we see on entering the village is one of the stone posts of the stocks standing by the steps of the market cross. This cross has a very well preserved head, and it makes the foreground of a very pretty picture as we look at the battlemented tower of the church through the stone-roofed lichgate grown over with ivy. The history of this fine old church, dedicated, like that of Middleham, to St Alkelda, has been written by Mr. Thomas Brayshaw, who knows every detail of the old building from the chalice inscribed " THE. COMMVNION. CVPP. BELONGINGE. TO. THE. PARISHE. OF. IYGGELSWICKE. MADE. IN. ANO. 1585." to the inverted Norman capitals now forming the bases of the pillars. The tower and the arcades date from about 1400, and the rest of the structure is about 100 years older.
"The Black Horse" Inn has still two niches for small figures of saints, that proclaim its ecclesiastical connections in early times. It is said that in the days when it was one of the duties of the churchwardens to see that no one was drinking there during the hours of service the inspection used to last up to the end of the sermon, and that when the custom was abolished the church officials regretted it exceedingly. Giggleswick is also the proud possessor of a school founded in 1512. It has grown from a very small beginning to a considerable establishment, and it possesses one of the most remarkable school chapels that can be seen anywhere in the country.
The greater part of this district of Yorkshire is composed of limestone, forming bare hillsides honeycombed with underground waters and pot-holes, which often lead down into the most astonishing caverns. In Ingleborough itself there is Gaping Gill Hole, a vast fissure nearly 350 feet deep. It was only partially explored by M. Martel in 1895. Ingleborough Cave penetrates into the mountain to a distance of nearly 1,000 yards, and is one of the best of these limestone caverns for its stalactite formations. Guides take visitors from the village of Clapham to the inmost recesses and chambers that branch out of the small portion discovered in 1837.
In almost every direction there are opportunities for splendid mountain walks, and if the tracks are followed the danger of hidden pot-holes is comparatively small. From the summit of Ingleborough, and, indeed, from most of the fells that reach 2,000 feet, there are magnificent views across the brown fells, broken up with horizontal lines formed by the bare rocky scars.
CONCERNING THE WOLDS
On wide uplands of chalk the air has a raciness, the sunlight a purity and a sparkle, not to be found in lowlands. There may be no streams, perhaps not even a pond; you may find few large trees, and scarcely any parks; ruined abbeys and even castles may be conspicuously absent, and yet the landscapes have a power of attracting and fascinating. This is exactly the case with the Wolds of Yorkshire, and their characteristics are not unlike the chalk hills of Sussex, or those great expanses of windswept downs, where the weathered monoliths of Stonehenge have resisted sun and storm for ages.
When we endeavour to analyse the power of attraction exerted by the Wolds, we find it to exist in the sweeping outlines of the land with scarcely a house to be seen for many miles, in the purity of the air owing to the absence of smoke, in the brilliance of the sunlight due to the whiteness of the roads and fields, and in the wonderful breezes that for ever blow across pasture, stubble, and roots.
Above the eastern side of the valley, where the Derwent takes its deep and sinuous course towards the alluvial lands, the chalk first makes its appearance in the neighbourhood of Acklam, and farther north at Wharram-le-Street, where picturesque hollows with precipitous sides break up the edge of the cretaceous deposits. Eastwards the high country, scarred here and there with gleaming chalk-pits, and netted with roads of almost equal whiteness, continues to the great headland of Flamborough, where the sea frets and fumes all the summer, and lacerates the cliffs during the stormy months. The masses of flinty chalk have shown themselves so capable of resisting the erosion of the sea that the seaward termination of the Wolds has for many centuries been becoming more and more a pronounced feature of the east coast of England, and if the present rate of encroachment along the low shores of Holderness is continued, this accentuation will become still more conspicuous.
The open roads of the Wolds, bordered by bright green grass and hedges that lean away from the direction of the prevailing wind, give wide views to bare horizons, or glimpses beyond vast stretches of waving corn, of distant country, blue and indistinct, and so different in character from the immediate surroundings as to suggest the ocean.
At Flamborough the white cliffs, topped with the clay deposit of the glacial ages, approach a height of 200 feet; but although the thickness of the chalk is estimated to be from I,000 to I,500 feet, the greatest height above sea-level is near Wilton Beacon, where the hills rise sharply from the Vale of York to 808 feet, and the beacon itself is 23 feet lower. On this western side of the plateau the views are extremely good, extending for miles across the flat green vale, where the Derwent and the Ouse, having lost much of the light-heartedness and gaiety characterizing their youth in the dales, take their wandering and converging courses towards the Humber. In the distance you can distinguish a group of towers, a stately blue-grey outline cutting into the soft horizon. It is York Minster. To the north-west lie the beautifully wooded hills that rise above the Derwent, and hold in their embrace Castle Howard, Newburgh Priory, and many a stately park.
Towards the north the descents are equally sudden, and the panorama of the Vale of Pickering, extending from the hills behind Scarborough to Helmsley far away in the west, is most remarkable. Down below lies the circumscribed plain, dead-level except for one or two isolated hillocks. The soil is dark and rich, and there is a marshy appearance everywhere, showing plainly the water-logged condition of the land even at the present day.
There is scarcely a district in England to compare with the Yorkshire Wolds for its remarkable richness in the remains of Early Man. As long ago as the middle of last century, when archaeology was more of a pastime than a science, this corner of the country had become famous for the rich discoveries in tumuli made by a few local enthusiasts.
It has been suggested that the flint-bearing character of the Wolds made this part of Yorkshire a district for the manufacture of implements and weapons for the inhabitants of a much larger area, and no doubt the possession of this ample supply of offensive material would give the tribe in possession a power, wealth, and permanence sufficient to account for the wonderful evidences of a great and continuous population. In these districts it is only necessary to go slowly over a ploughed field after a period of heavy rain to be fairly certain to pick up a flint knife, a beautifully chipped arrow-head, or an implement of less obvious purpose.
To those who have never taken any interest in the traces of Early Man in this country, this may appear a musty subject, but to me it is quite the reverse. The long lines of entrenchments, the round tumuli, and the prehistoric sites generally—omitting lake dwellings—are most invariably to be found upon high and windswept tablelands, wild or only recently cultivated places, where the echoes have scarcely been disturbed since the long-forgotten ages, when a primitive tribe mourned the loss of a chieftain, or yelled defiance at their enemies from their double or triple lines of defence.
In journeying in any direction through the Wolds it is impossible to forget the existence of Early Man, for on the sky-line just above the road will appear a row of two or three rounded projections from the regular line of turf or stubble. They are burial-mounds that the plough has never levelled—heaps of earth that have resisted the disintegrating action of weather and man for thousands of years. If such relics of the primitive inhabitants of this island fail to stir the imagination, then the mustiness must exist in the unresponsive mind rather than in the subject under discussion.
In making an exploration of the Wolds a good starting-place is the old-fashioned town of Malton, whence railways radiate in five directions, including the line to Great Driffield, which takes advantage of the valley leading up to Wharram Percy, and there tunnels its way through the high ground.
Choosing a day when the weather is in a congenial mood for rambling, lingering, or picnicking, or, in other words, when the sun is not too hot, nor the wind too cold, nor the sky too grey, we make our start towards the hills. We go on wheels—it is unimportant how many, or to what they are attached—in order that the long stretches of white road may not become tedious. The stone bridge over the Derwent is crossed, and, glancing back, we see the piled-up red roofs crowded along the steep ground above the further bank, with the church raising its spire high above its newly-restored nave. Then the wide street of Norton, which is scarcely to be distinguished from Malton, being separated from it only by the river, shuts in the view with its houses of whity-red brick, until their place is taken by hedgerows. To the left stretches the Vale of Pickering, still a little hazy with the remnants of the night's mist. Straight ahead and to the right the ground rises up, showing a wall chequered with cornfields and root-crops, with long lines of plantations appearing like dark green caterpillars crawling along the horizon.
The first village encountered is Rillington, with a church whose stone spire and the tower it rests upon have the appearance of being copied from Pickering. Inside there is an Early English font, and one of the arcades of the nave belongs to the same period.
Turning southwards a mile or two further on, we pass through the pretty village of Wintringham, and, when the cottages are passed, find the church standing among trees where the road bends, its tower and spire looking much like the one just left behind. The interior is interesting. The pews are all of old panelled oak, unstained, and with acorn knobs at the ends; the floor is entirely covered with glazed red tiles. The late Norman chancel, the plain circular font of the same period, and the massive altar-slab in the chapel, enclosed by wooden screens on the north side, are the most notable features. Going to the east we reach Helperthorpe, one of the Wold villages adorned with a new church in the Decorated style. The village gained this ornament through the generosity of the present Sir Tatton Sykes, of Sledmere, whose enthusiasm for church building is not confined to one place. In his own park at Sledmere four miles to the south, at West Lutton, East Heslerton, and Wansford you may see other examples of modern church building, in which the architect has not been hampered by having to produce a certain accommodation at a minimum cost. And thus in these villages the fact of possessing a modern church does not detract from their charm; instead of doing so, the pilgrim in search of ecclesiastical interest finds much to draw him to them.
As a contrast to Helperthorpe, the adjoining hamlet of Weaverthorpe has a church of very early Norman or possibly Saxon date, and an inscribed Saxon stone a century earlier than the one at Kirkdale, near Kirby Moorside. The inscription is on a sundial over the south porch in both churches; but while that of Kirkdale is quite complete and perfect, this one has words missing at the beginning and end. Haigh suggests that the half-destroyed words should read: "LIT OSCETVLI ARCHIEPISCOPI." Then, without any doubt comes: " IN: HONORE: SCE: ANDREAE APOSTOLI: HEREBERTUS WINTONIE: HOC MONASTERIVM FECIT: I IN TEMPORE REGN." Here the inscription suddenly stops and leaves us in ignorance as to in whose time the monastery was built. There seems little doubt at all that Father Haigh's suggested completion of the sentence is correct, making it read: "IN TEMPORE REGN[ALDI REGIS SECUNDI]," which would have just filled a complete line.
The coins of Regnald II. of Northumbria bear Christian devices, and it is known that he was confirmed in 942, while his predecessor of that name appears to have been a pagan. If the restoration of the first words of the inscription are correct, the stone cannot be placed earlier than the year 952 (Dr. Stubbs says 958), when Oscetul succeeded Wulstan to the See of York. However, even in a neighbourhood so replete with antiquities this is sufficiently far back in the age of the Vikings to be of thrilling interest, for you must travel far to find another village church with an inscription carved nearly a thousand years ago, at a time when the English nation was still receiving its infusion of Scandinavian strength.
The arch of the tower and the door below the sundial have the narrowness and rudeness suggesting the pre-Norman age, but more than this it is unwise to say.
And so we go on through the wide sunny valley, watching the shadows sweep across the fields, where often the soil is so thin that the ground is more white than brown, scanning the horizon for tumuli, and taking note of the different characteristics of each village. Not long ago the houses, even in the small towns, were thatched, and even now there are hamlets still cosy and picturesque under their mouse-coloured roofs; but in most instances you see a transition state of tiles gradually ousting the inflammable but beautiful thatch. The tiles all through the Wolds are of the curved pattern, and though cheerful in the brilliance of their colour, and unspeakably preferable to thin blue slates, they do not seem to weather or gather moss and rich colouring in the same manner as the usual flat tile of the southern counties.
We turn aside to look at the rudely carved Norman tympanum over the church door at Wold Newton, and then go up to Thwing, on the rising ground to the south, where we may see what Mr. Joseph Morris claims to be the only other Norman tympanum in the East Riding. A cottage is pointed out as the birthplace of Archbishop Lamplugh, who held the See of York from 1688 to 1691. He was of humble parentage and it is said that he would often pause in conversation to slap his legs and say, "Just fancy me being Archbishop of York!" The name of the village is derived from the Norse word Thing, meaning an assembly.
Keeping on towards the sea, we climb up out of the valley, and passing Argam Dike and Grindale, come out upon a vast gently undulating plateau with scarcely a tree to be seen in any direction. A few farms are dotted here and there over the landscape, and towards Filey we can see a windmill; but beyond these it seems as though the fierce winds that assail the promontory of Flamborough had blown away everything that was raised more than a few feet above the furrows.
The village of Bempton has, however, contrived to maintain itself in its bleak situation, although it is less than two miles from the huge perpendicular cliffs where the Wolds drop into the sea. The cottages have a snug and eminently cheerful look, with their much-weathered tiles and white and ochre coloured walls. From their midst rises the low square tower of the church, and if it ever had a spire or pinnacles in the past, it has none now; for either the north-easterly gales blew them into the sea long ago, or else the people were wise enough never to put such obstructions in the way of the winter blasts.
Turning southwards, we get a great view over the low shore of Holderness, curving away into the haze hanging over the ocean, with Bridlington down below, raising to the sky the pair of towers at the west end of its priory—one short and plain, and the other tall and richly ornamented with pinnacles. Going through the streets of sober red houses of the old town, we come at length into a shallow green valley, where the curious Gypsy Race flows intermittently along the fertile bottom. The afternoon sunshine floods the pleasant landscape with a genial glow, and throws long blue shadows under the trees of the park surrounding Boynton Hall, the seat of the Stricklands. The family has been connected with the village for several centuries, and some of their richly-painted and gilded monuments can be seen in the church. One of these is to Sir William Strickland, Bart., and another to Lady Strickland, his wife, who was a sister of Sir Hugh Cholmley, the gallant but unfortunate defender of Scarborough Castle during the Civil War. In his memoirs Sir Hugh often refers to visits paid him by "my sister Strickland."
After passing Thorpe Hall the road goes up to the breezy spot, commanding wide views, where the little church of Rudstone stands conspicuously by the side of an enormous monolith. Although the church tower is Norman, it would appear to be a recent arrival on the scene in comparison with the stone. Antiquaries are in fairly general agreement that huge standing stones of this type belong to some very remote period, and also that they are "associated with sepulchral purposes"; and the fact that they are usually found in churchyards would suggest that they were regarded with a traditional veneration.
The road past the church drops steeply down into the pretty village, and, turning northwards, takes us to the bend of the valley, where North Burton lies, which we passed earlier in the day; so we go to the left, and find ourselves at Kilham, a fair-sized village on the edge of the chalk hills. Like Rudstone and a dozen places in its neighbourhood, Kilham is situated in a district of extraordinary interest to the archaeologist, the prehistoric discoveries being exceedingly numerous. Chariot burials of the Early Iron Age have been discovered here, as well as large numbers of Neolithic implements. There is a beautiful Norman doorway in the nave of the church, ornamented with chevron mouldings in a lavish fashion. Far more interesting than this, however, are the fonts in the two villages of Cottam and Cowlam, lying close together, although separated by a thinly-wooded hollow, about five miles to the west. Cottam Church and the farm adjoining it are all that now exists of what must once have been an extensive village. In the church is a Norman font of cylindrical form, covered with the wonderfully crude carvings of that period. There are six subjects, the most remarkable being the huge dragon with a long curly tail in the act of swallowing St. Margaret, whose skirts and feet are shown inside the capacious jaws, while the head is beginning to appear somewhere behind the dragon's neck. To the right is shown a gruesome representation of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, and then follow Adam and Eve by the Tree of Life (a twisted piece of foliage), the martyrdom of St. Andrew, and what seems to be another dragon.
On each side of the bridle-road by the church you can trace without the least difficulty the ground-plan of many houses under the short turf. The early writers do not mention Cottam, and so far I have come upon no explanation for the wiping out of this village. Possibly its extinction was due to the Black Death in 1349.
It is about four miles by road to Cowlam, although the two churches are only about a mile and a half apart; and when Cowlam is reached there is not much more in the way of a village than at Cottam. The only way to the church from the road is through an enormous stackyard, speaking eloquently of the large crops produced on the farm. As in the other instance, a search has to be made for the key, entailing much perambulation of the farm.
At length the door is opened, and the splendid font at once arrests the eye. More noticeable than anything else in the series of carvings are the figures of two men wrestling, similar to those on the font from the village of Hutton Cranswick, now preserved in York Museum. The two figures are shown bending forwards, each with his hands clasped round the waist of the other, and each with a foot thrown forward to trip the other, after the manner of the Westmorland wrestlers to be seen at the Grasmere sports. It seems to me scarcely possible to doubt that the subject represented is Jacob wrestling with the man at Penuel.
At Sledmere, the adjoining village, everything has a well-cared-for and reposeful aspect. Its position in a shallow depression has made it possible for trees to grow, so that we find the road overhung by a green canopy in remarkable contrast to the usual bleakness of the Wolds. The park surrounding Sir Tatton Sykes' house is well wooded, owing to much planting on what were bare slopes not very many years ago.
The village well is dignified with a domed roof raised on tall columns, put up about seventy years ago by the previous Sir Tatton to the memory of his father, Sir Christopher Sykes; the inscription telling how much the Wolds were transformed through his energy 'in building, planting, and enclosing,' from a bleak and barren track of country into what is now considered one of the most productive and best-cultivated districts of Yorkshire. The late Sir Tatton Sykes was the sort of man that Yorkshire folk come near to worshipping. He was of that hearty, genial, conservative type that filled the hearts of the farmers with pride. On market days all over the Riding one of the always fresh subjects of conversation was how Sir Tatton was looking. A great pillar put up to his memory by the road leading to Garton can be seen over half Holderness. So great was the conservatism of this remarkable squire that years after the advent of railways he continued to make his journey to Epsom, for the Derby, on horseback.
A stone's-throw from the house stands the church, rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, in 1898 by Sir Tatton. There is no wall surrounding the churchyard, neither is there ditch, nor bank, nor the slightest alteration in the smooth turf.
The church, designed by Mr. Temple Moore, is carried out in the style of the Decorated period in a stone that is neither red nor pink, but something in between the two colours. The exterior is not remarkable, but the beauty of the internal ornament is most striking. Everywhere you look, whether at the detail of carved wood or stone, the workmanship is perfect, and without a trace of that crudity to be found in the carvings of so many modern churches. The clustered columns, the timber roof, and the tracery of the windows are all dignified, in spite of the richness of form they display. Only in the upper portion of the screen does the ornament seem a trifle worried and out of keeping with the rest of the work.
Sledmere also boasts a tall and very beautiful 'Eleanor' cross, erected about ten years ago, and a memorial to those who fell in the European war.
As we continue towards the setting sun, the deeply-indented edges of the Wolds begin to appear, and the roads generally make great plunges into the valley of the Derwent. The weather, which has been fine all day, changes at sunset, and great indigo clouds, lined with gold, pile themselves up fantastically in front of the setting sun. Lashing rain, driven by the wind with sudden fury, pours down upon the hamlet lying just below, but leaves Wharram-le-Street without a drop of moisture. The widespread views all over the Howardian Hills and the sombre valley of the Derwent become impressive, and an awesomeness of Turneresque gloom, relieved by sudden floods of misty gold, gives the landscape an element of unreality.
Against this background the outline of the church of Wharram-le-Street stands out in its rude simplicity. On the western side of the tower, where the light falls upon it, we can see the extremely early masonry that suggests pre-Norman times. It cannot be definitely called a Saxon church, but although 'long and short work' does not appear, there is every reason to associate this lonely little building with the middle of the eleventh century. There are mason marks consisting of crosses and barbed lines on the south wall of the nave. The opening between the tower and the nave is an almost unique feature, having a Moorish-looking arch of horseshoe shape resting on plain and clumsy capitals.
The name Wharram-le-Street reminds us forcibly of the existence in remote times of some great way over this tableland. Unfortunately, there is very little sure ground to go upon, despite the additional fact of there being another place, Thorpe-le-Street, some miles to the south.
With the light fast failing we go down steeply into the hollow where North Grimston nestles, and, crossing the streams which flow over the road, come to the pretty old church. The tower is heavily mantled with ivy, and has a statue of a Bishop on its west face. A Norman chancel arch with zigzag moulding shows in the dim interior, and there is just enough light to see the splendid font, of similar age and shape to those at Cowlam and Cottam. A large proportion of the surface is taken up with a wonderful 'Last Supper,' and on the remaining space the carvings show the 'Descent from the Cross,' and a figure, possibly representing St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the church.
When the lights of Malton glimmer in the valley this day of exploration is at an end, and much of the Wold country has been seen.
FROM FILEY TO SPURN HEAD
'As the shore winds itself back from hence,' says Camden, after describing Flamborough Head, 'a thin slip of land (like a small tongue thrust out) shoots into the sea.' This is the long natural breakwater known as Filey Brig, the distinctive feature of a pleasant watering-place. In its wide, open, and gently curving bay, Filey is singularly lucky; for it avoids the monotony of a featureless shore, and yet is not sufficiently embraced between headlands to lose the broad horizon and sense of airiness and space so essential for a healthy seaside haunt.
The Brig has plainly been formed by the erosion of Carr Naze, the headland of dark, reddish-brown boulder clay, leaving its hard bed of sandstone (of the Middle Calcareous Grit formation) exposed to the particular and ceaseless attention of the waves. It is one of the joys of Filey to go along the northward curve of the bay at low tide, and then walk along the uneven tabular masses of rock with hungry waves heaving and foaming within a few yards on either hand. No wonder that there has been sufficient sense among those who spend their lives in promoting schemes for ugly piers and senseless promenades, to realize that Nature has supplied Filey with a more permanent and infinitely more attractive pier than their fatuous ingenuity could produce. There is a spice of danger associated with the Brig, adding much to its interest; for no one should venture along the spit of rocks unless the tide is in a proper state to allow him a safe return. A melancholy warning of the dangers of the Brig is fixed to the rocky wall of the headland, describing how an unfortunate visitor was swept into the sea by the sudden arrival of an abnormally large wave, but this need not frighten away from the fascinating ridge of rock those who use ordinary care in watching the sea. At high tide the waves come over the seaweedy rocks at the foot of the headland, making it necessary to climb to the grassy top in order to get back to Filey.
The real fascination of the Brig comes when it can only be viewed from the top of the Naze above, when a gale is blowing from the north or north-east, and driving enormous waves upon the line of projecting rocks. You watch far out until the dark green line of a higher wave than any of the others that are creating a continuous thunder down below comes steadily onward, and reaching the foam-streaked area, becomes still more sinister. As it approaches within striking distance, a spent wave, sweeping backwards, seems as though it may weaken the onrush of the towering wall of water; but its power is swallowed up and dissipated in the general advance, and with only a smooth hollow of creamy-white water in front, the giant raises itself to its fullest height, its thin crest being at once caught by the wind, and blown off in long white beards.
The moment has come; the mass of water feels the resistance of the rocks, and, curling over into a long green cylinder, brings its head down with terrific force on the immovable side of the Brig. Columns of water shoot up perpendicularly into the air as though a dozen 12-inch shells had exploded in the water simultaneously. With a roar the imprisoned air escapes, and for a moment the whole Brig is invisible in a vast cloud of spray; then dark ledges of rock can be seen running with creamy water, and the scene of the impact is a cauldron of seething foam, backed by a smooth surface of pale green marble, veined with white. Then the waters gather themselves together again, and the pounding of lesser waves keeps up a thrilling spectacle until the moment for another great coup arrives.
Years ago Filey obtained a reputation for being 'quiet,' and the sense conveyed by those who disliked the place was that of dullness and primness. This fortunate chance has protected the little town from the vulgarizing influences of the unlettered hordes let loose upon the coast in summer-time, and we find a sea-front without the flimsy meretricious buildings of the popular resorts. Instead of imitating Blackpool and Margate, this sensible place has retained a quiet and semi-rural front to the sea, and, as already stated, has not marred its appearance with a jetty.
From the smooth sweep of golden sand rises a steep slope grown over with trees and bushes which shade the paths in many places. Without claiming any architectural charm, the town is small and quietly unobtrusive, and has not the untidy, half-built character of so many watering-places.
Above a steep and narrow hollow, running straight down to the sea, and densely wooded on both sides, stands the church. It has a very sturdy tower rising from its centre, and, with its simple battlemented outline and slit windows, has a semi-fortified appearance. The high pitched-roofs of Early English times have been flattened without cutting away the projecting drip-stones on the tower, which remain a conspicuous feature. The interior is quite impressive. Round columns alternated with octagonal ones support pointed arches, and a clerestory above pierced with roundheaded slits, indicating very decisively that the nave was built in the Transitional Norman period. It appears that a western tower was projected, but never carried out, and an unusual feature is the descent by two steps into the chancel.
A beautiful view from the churchyard includes the whole sweep of the bay, cut off sharply by the Brig on the left hand, and ending about eight miles away in the lofty range of white cliffs extending from Speeton to Flamborough Head.
The headland itself is lower by more than a 100 feet than the cliffs in the neighbourhood of Bempton and Speeton, which for a distance of over two miles exceed 300 feet. A road from Bempton village stops short a few fields from the margin of the cliffs, and a path keeps close to the precipitous wall of gleaming white chalk.
We come over the dry, sweet-smelling grass to the cliff edge on a fresh morning, with a deep blue sky overhead and a sea below of ultramarine broken up with an infinitude of surfaces reflecting scraps of the cliffs and the few white clouds. Falling on our knees, we look straight downwards into a cove full of blue shade; but so bright is the surrounding light that every detail is microscopically clear. The crumpling and distortion of the successive layers of chalk can be seen with such ease that we might be looking at a geological textbook. On the ledges, too, can be seen rows of little whitebreasted puffins; razor-bills are perched here and there, as well as countless guillemots. The ringed or bridled guillemot also breeds on the cliffs, and a number of other types of northern sea-birds are periodically noticed along these inaccessible Bempton Cliffs. The guillemot makes no nest, merely laying a single egg on a ledge. If it is taken away by those who plunder the cliffs at the risk of their lives, the bird lays another egg, and if that disappears, perhaps even a third.
Coming to Flamborough Head along the road from the station, the first noticeable feature is at the point where the road makes a sharp turn into a deep wooded hollow. It is here that we cross the line of the remarkable entrenchment known as the Danes' Dyke. At this point it appears to follow the bed of a stream, but northwards, right across the promontory—that is, for two-thirds of its length—the huge trench is purely artificial. No doubt the vallum on the seaward side has been worn down very considerably, and the fosse would have been deeper, making in its youth, a barrier which must have given the dwellers on the headland a very complete security.
Like most popular names, the association of the Danes with the digging of this enormous trench has been proved to be inaccurate, and it would have been less misleading and far more popular if the work had been attributed to the devil. In the autumn of 1879 General Pitt Rivers dug several trenches in the rampart just north of the point where the road from Bempton passes through the Dyke. The position was chosen in order that the excavations might be close to the small stream which runs inside the Dyke at this point, the likelihood of utensils or weapons being dropped close to the water-supply of the defenders being considered important. The results of the excavations proved conclusively that the people who dug the ditch and threw up the rampart were users of flint. The most remarkable discovery was that the ground on the inner slope of the rampart, at a short distance below the surface, contained innumerable artificial flint flakes, all lying in a horizontal position, but none were found on the outer slope. From this fact General Pitt Rivers concluded that within the stockade running along the top of the vallum the defenders were in the habit of chipping their weapons, the flakes falling on the inside. The great entrenchment of Flamborough is consequently the work of flint-using people, and 'is not later than the Bronze Period.'
And the strangest fact concerning the promontory is the isolation of its inhabitants from the rest of the county, a traditional hatred for strangers having kept the fisherfolk of the peninsula aloof from outside influences. They have married among themselves for so long, that it is quite possible that their ancestral characteristics have been reproduced, with only a very slight intermixture of other stocks, for an exceptionally long period. On taking minute particulars of ninety Flamborough men and women, General Pitt Rivers discovered that they were above the average stature of the neighbourhood, and were, with only one or two exceptions, dark-haired. They showed little or no trace of the fair-haired element usually found in the people of this part of Yorkshire. It is also stated that almost within living memory, when the headland was still further isolated by a belt of uncultivated wolds, the village could not be approached by a stranger without some danger.
We find no one to object to our intrusion, and go on towards the village. It is a straggling collection of low, red houses, lacking, unfortunately, anything which can honestly be termed picturesque; for the church stands alone, a little to the south, and the small ruin of what is called 'The Danish Tower' is too insignificant to add to the attractiveness of the place.
All the males of Flamborough are fishermen, or dependent on fishing for their livelihood; and in spite of the summer visitors, there is a total indifference to their incursions in the way of catering for their entertainment, the aim of the trippers being the lighthouse and the cliffs nearly two miles away.
Formerly, the church had only a belfry of timber, the existing stone tower being only ten years old. Under the Norman chancel arch there is a delicately-carved Perpendicular screen, having thirteen canopied niches richly carved above and below, and still showing in places the red, blue, and gold of its old paint-work. Another screen south of the chancel is patched and roughly finished. The altar-tomb of Sir Marmaduke Constable, of Flamborough, on the north side of the chancel, is remarkable for its long inscription, detailing the chief events in the life of this great man, who was considered one of the most eminent and potent persons in the county in the reign of Henry VIII. The greatness of the man is borne out first in a recital of his doughty deeds: of his passing over to France 'with Kyng Edwarde the fourith, y[t] noble knyght.'
'And also with noble king Herre, the sevinth of that name He was also at Barwick at the winnyng of the same  And by ky[n]g Edward chosy[n] Captey[n] there first of anyone And rewllid and governid ther his tyme without blame But for all that, as ye se, he lieth under this stone.'
The inscription goes on in this way to tell how he fought at Flodden Field when he was seventy, 'nothyng hedyng his age.'
Sir Marmaduke's daughter Catherine was married to Sir Roger Cholmley, called 'the Great Black Knight of the North,' who was the first of his family to settle in Yorkshire, and also fought at Flodden, receiving his knighthood after that signal victory over the Scots.
Yorkshire being a county in which superstitions are uncommonly long-lived it is not surprising to find that a fisherman will turn back from going to his boat, if he happen on his way to meet a parson, a woman, or a hare, as any one of these brings bad luck. It is also extremely unwise to mention to a man who is baiting lines a hare, a rabbit, a fox, a pig, or an egg. This sounds foolish, but a fisherman will abandon his work till the next day if these animals are mentioned in his presence.
[Footnote 1: 'Flamborough Village and Headland,' Colonel A.H. Armytage.]
On the north and south sides of the headland there are precarious beaches for the fisherman to bring in their boats. They have no protection at all from the weather, no attempt at forming even such miniature harbours as may be seen on the Berwickshire coast having been made. When the wind blows hard from the north, the landing on that side is useless, and the boats, having no shelter, are hauled up the steep slope with the help of a steam windlass. Under these circumstances the South Landing is used. It is similar in most respects to the northern one, but, owing to the cliffs being lower, the cove is less picturesque. At low tide a beach of very rough shingle is exposed between the ragged chalk cliffs, curiously eaten away by the sea. Seaweed paints much of the shore and the base of the cliffs a blackish green, and above the perpendicular whiteness the ruddy brown clay slopes back to the grass above.
When the boats have just come in and added their gaudy vermilions, blues, and emerald greens to the picture, the North Landing is worth seeing. The men in their blue jerseys and sea-boots coming almost to their hips, land their hauls of silvery cod and load the baskets pannier-wise on the backs of sturdy donkeys, whose work is to trudge up the steep slope to the road, nearly 200 feet above the boats, where carts take the fish to the station four miles away.
In following the margin of the cliffs to the outermost point of the peninsula, we get a series of splendid stretches of cliff scenery. The chalk is deeply indented in many places, and is honey-combed with caves. Great white pillars and stacks of chalk stand in picturesque groups in some of the small bays, and everywhere there is the interest of watching the heaving water far below, with white gulls floating unconcernedly on the surface, or flapping their great stretch of wing as they circle just above the waves.
Near the modern lighthouse stands a tall, hexagonal tower, built of chalk in four stories, with a string course between each. The signs of age it bears and the remarkable obscurity surrounding its origin and purpose would suggest great antiquity, and yet there seems little doubt that the tower is at the very earliest Elizabethan. The chalk, being extremely soft, has weathered away to such an extent that the harder stone of the windows and doors now projects several inches.
In a record dated June 21, 1588, the month before the Spanish Armada was sighted in the English Channel, a list is given of the beacons in the East Riding, and instructions as to when they should be lighted, and what action should be taken when the warning was seen. It says briefly:
'Flambrough, three beacons uppon the sea cost, takinge lighte from Bridlington, and geving lighte to Rudstone.'
There is no reference to any tower, and the beacons everywhere seem merely to have been bonfires ready for lighting, watched every day by two, and every night by three 'honest householders ... above the age of thirty years.' The old tower would appear, therefore, to have been put up as a lighthouse. If this is a correct supposition, however, the dangers of the headland to shipping must have been recognized as exceedingly great several centuries ago. A light could not have failed to have been a boon to mariners, and its maintenance would have been a matter of importance to all who owned ships; and yet, if this old tower ever held a lantern, the hiatus between the last night when it glowed on the headland, and the erection of the present lighthouse is so great that no one seems to be able to state definitely for what purpose the early structure came into existence.
Year after year when night fell the cliffs were shrouded in blackness, with the direful result that between 1770 and 1806 one hundred and seventy-four ships were wrecked or lost on or near the promontory. It remained for a benevolent-minded customs officer of Bridlington—a Mr. Milne—to suggest the building of a lighthouse to the Elder Brethren of Trinity House, with the result that since December 6, 1806, a powerful light has every night flashed on Flamborough Head. The immediate result was that in the first seven years of its beneficent work no vessel was 'lost on that station when the lights could be seen.'
The derivation of the name Flamborough has been conclusively shown to have nothing at all to do with the English word 'flame,' being possibly a corruption of Fleinn, a Norse surname, and borg or burgh, meaning a castle. In Domesday it is spelt 'Flaneburg,' and flane is the Norse for an arrow or sword.
At the point where the chalk cliffs disappear and the low coast of Holderness begins, we come to the exceedingly popular watering-place of Bridlington. At one time the town was quite separate from the quay, and even now there are two towns—the solemn and serious, almost Quakerish, place inland, and the eminently pleasure-loving and frivolous holiday resort on the sea; but they are now joined up by modern houses and the railway-station, and in time they will be as united as the 'Three Towns' of Plymouth. Along the sea-front are spread out by the wide parades, all those 'attractions' which exercise their potential energies on certain types of mankind as each summer comes round. There are seats, concert-rooms, hotels, lodging-houses, bands, kiosks, refreshment-bars, boats, bathing-machines, a switchback-railway, and even a spa, by which means the migratory folk are housed, fed, amused, and given every excuse for loitering within a few yards of the long curving line of waves that advances and retreats over the much-trodden sand.
The two stone piers enclosing the harbour make an interesting feature in the centre of the sea-front, where the few houses of old Bridlington Quay that have survived, are not entirely unpicturesque.
In 1642 Queen Henrietta Maria landed on whatever quay then existed. She had just returned from Holland with ships laden with arms and ammunition for the Royalist army. Adverse winds had brought the Dutch ships to Bridlington instead of Newcastle, where the Queen had intended to land, and a delay was caused while messengers were sent to the Earl of Newcastle in order that her landing might be effected in proper security. News of the Dutch ships lying off Bridlington was, however, conveyed to four Parliamentary vessels stationed by the bar at Tynemouth, and no time was lost in sailing southwards. What happened is told in a letter published in the same year, and dated February 25, 1642. It describes how, after two days' riding at anchor, the cavalry arrived, upon which the Queen disembarked, and the next morning the rest of the loyal army came to wait on her.
'God that was carefull to preserve Her by Sea, did likewise continue his favour to Her on the Land: For that night foure of the Parliament Ships arrived at Burlington, without being perceived by us; and at foure a clocke in the morning gave us an Alarme, which caused us to send speedily to the Port to secure our Boats of Ammunition, which were but newly landed. But about an houre after the foure Ships began to ply us so fast with their Ordinance, that it made us all to rise out of our beds with diligence, and leave the Village, at least the women; for the Souldiers staid very resolutely to defend the Ammunition, in case their forces should land. One of the Ships did Her the favour to flanck upon the house where the Queene lay, which was just before the Peere; and before She was out of Her bed, the Cannon bullets whistled so loud about her, (which Musicke you may easily believe was not very pleasing to Her) that all the company pressed Her earnestly to goe out of the house, their Cannon having totally beaten downe all the neighbouring houses, and two Cannon bullets falling from the top to the bottome of the house where She was; so that (clothed as She could) She went on foot some little distance out of the Towne, under the shelter of a Ditch (like that of Newmarket;) whither before She could get, the Cannon bullets fell thicke about us, and a Sergeant was killed within twenty paces of Her.'
In old Bridlington there stands the fine church of the Augustinian Priory we have already seen from a distance, and an ancient structure known as the Bayle Gate, a remnant of the defences of the monastery. They stand at no great distance apart, but do not arrange themselves to form a picture, which is unfortunate, and so also is the lack of any real charm in the domestic architecture of the adjoining streets. The Bayle Gate has a large pointed arch and a postern, and the date of its erection appears to be the end of the fourteenth century, when permission was given to the prior to fortify the monastery. Unhappily for Bridlington, an order to destroy the buildings was given soon after the Dissolution, and the nave of the church seems to have been spared only because it was used as the parish church. Quite probably, too, the gatehouse was saved from destruction on account of the room it contains having been utilized for holding courts. The upper portions of the church towers are modern restorations, and their different heights and styles give the building a remarkable, but not a beautiful outline. At the west end, between the towers is a large Perpendicular window, occupying the whole width of the nave, and on the north side the vaulted porch is a very beautiful feature.
The interior reveals an inspiring perspective of clustered columns built in the Early English Period with a fine Decorated triforium on the north side. Both transepts and the chancel appear to have been destroyed with the conventual buildings, and the present chancel is merely a portion of the nave separated with screens.
Southwards in one huge curve of nearly forty miles stretches the low coast of Holderness, seemingly continued into infinitude. There is nothing comparable to it on the coasts of the British Isles for its featureless monotony and for the unbroken front it presents to the sea. The low brown cliffs of hard clay seem to have no more resisting power to the capacious appetite of the waves than if they were of gingerbread. The progress of the sea has been continued for centuries, and stories of lost villages and of overwhelmed churches are met with all the way to Spurn Head. Four or five miles south of Bridlington we come to a point on the shore where, looking out among the lines of breaking waves, we are including the sides of the two demolished villages of Auburn and Hartburn.
From a casual glance at Skipsea no one would attribute any importance to it in the past. It was, nevertheless, the chief place in the lordship of Holderness in Norman times, and from that we may also infer that it was the most well-defended stronghold. On a level plain having practically no defensible sites, great earthworks would be necessary, and these we find at Skipsea Brough. There is a high mound surrounded by a ditch, and a segment of the great outer circle of defences exists on the south-west side. No masonry of any description can be seen on the grass-covered embankment, but on the artificial hillock, once crowned, it is surmised, by a Norman keep, there is one small piece of stonework. These earthworks have been considered Saxon, but later opinion labels them post-Conquest. In the time of the Domesday Survey the Seigniory of Holderness was held by Drogo de Bevere, a Flemish adventurer who joined in the Norman invasion of England and received his extensive fief from the Conqueror. He also was given the King's niece in marriage as a mark of special favour; but having for some reason seen fit to poison her, he fled from England, it is said, during the last few months of William's reign. The Barony of Holderness was forfeited, but Drogo was never captured.
[Footnote 1: A worked flint was found in the moat not long ago by Dr. J. L. Kirk, of Pickering.]
Poulson, the historian of Holderness, states that Henry III. gave orders for the destruction of Skipsea Castle about 1220, the Earl of Albemarle, its owner at that time, having been in rebellion. When Edward II. ascended the throne, he recalled his profligate companion Piers Gaveston, and besides creating him Baron of Wallingford and Earl of Cornwall, he presented this ill-chosen favourite with the great Seigniory of Holderness.
Going southwards from Skipsea, we pass through Atwick, with a cross on a large base in the centre of the village, and two miles further on come to Hornsea, an old-fashioned little town standing between the sea and the Mere. This beautiful sheet of fresh water comes as a surprise to the stranger, for no one but a geologist expects to discover a lake in a perfectly level country where only tidal creeks are usually to be found. Hornsea Mere may eventually be reached by the sea, and yet that day is likely to be put further off year by year on account of the growth of a new town on the shore.
The scenery of the Mere is quietly beautiful. Where the road to Beverley skirts its margin there are glimpses of the shimmering surface seen through gaps in the trees that grow almost in the water, many of them having lost their balance and subsided into the lake, being supported in a horizontal position by their branches. The islands and the swampy margins form secure breeding-places for the countless water-fowl, and the lake abounds with pike, perch, eel, and roach.
It was the excellent supply of fish yielded by Hornsea Mere that led to a hot discussion between the neighbouring Abbey of Meaux and St. Mary's Abbey at York. In the year 1260 William, eleventh Abbot of Meaux, laid claim to fishing rights in the southern half of the lake, only to find his brother Abbot of York determined to resist the claim. The cloisters of the two abbeys must have buzzed with excitement over the impasse and relations became so strained that the only method of determining the issue was by each side agreeing to submit to the result of a judicial combat between champions selected by the two monasteries. Where the fight took place I do not know, and the number of champions is not mentioned in the record. It is stated that a horse was first swum across the lake, and stakes fixed to mark the limits of the claim. On the day appointed the combatants chosen by each abbot appeared properly accoutred, and they fought from morning until evening, when, at last, the men representing Meaux were beaten to the ground, and the York abbot retained the whole fishing rights of the Mere.
Hornsea has a pretty church with a picturesque tower built in between the western ends of the aisles. An eighteenth-century parish clerk utilized the crypt for storing smuggled goods, and was busily at work there on a stormy night in 1732, when a terrific blast of wind tore the roof off the church. The shock, we are told, brought on a paralytic seizure of which he died.
By the churchyard gate stands the old market-cross, recently set up in this new position and supplied with a modern head.
As we go towards Spurn Head we are more and more impressed with the desolate character of the shore. The tide may be out, and only puny waves tumbling on the wet sand, and yet it is impossible to refrain from feeling that the very peacefulness of the scene is sinister, and the waters are merely digesting their last meal of boulder-clay before satisfying a fresh appetite.
The busy town of Hornsea Beck, the port of Hornsea, with its harbour and pier, its houses, and all pertaining to it, has entirely disappeared since the time of James I., and so also has the place called Hornsea Burton, where in 1334 Meaux Abbey held twenty-seven acres of arable land. At the end of that century not one of those acres remained. The fate of Owthorne, a village once existing not far from Withernsea, is pathetic. The churchyard was steadily destroyed, until 1816, when in a great storm the waves undermined the foundations of the eastern end of the church, so that the walls collapsed with a roar and a cloud of dust.
Twenty-two years later there was scarcely a fragment of even the churchyard left, and in 1844, the Vicarage and the remaining houses were absorbed, and Owthorne was wiped off the map.
The peninsula formed by the Humber is becoming more and more attenuated, and the pretty village of Easington is being brought nearer to the sea, winter by winter. Close to the church, Easington has been fortunate in preserving its fourteenth-century tithe-barn covered with a thatched roof. The interior has that wonderfully imposing effect given by huge posts and beams suggesting a wooden cathedral.
At Kilnsea the weak bank of earth forming the only resistance to the waves has been repeatedly swept away and hundreds of acres flooded with salt water, and where there are any cliffs at all, they are often not more than fifteen feet high.
When the great bell in the southern tower of the Minster booms forth its deep and solemn notes over the city of Beverley, you experience an uplifting of the mind—a sense of exaltation greater, perhaps, than even that produced by an organ's vibrating notes in the high vaulted spaces of a cathedral.
Beverley has no natural features to give it any attractiveness, for it stands on the borders of the level plain of Holderness, and towards the Wolds there is only a very gentle rise. It depends, therefore, solely upon its architecture. The first view of the city from the west as we come over the broad grassy common of Westwood is delightful. We are just sufficiently elevated to see the opalescent form of the Minster, with its graceful towers rising above the more distant roofs, and close at hand the pinnacled tower of St. Mary's showing behind a mass of dark trees. The entry to the city from this direction is in every way prepossessing, for the sunny common is succeeded by a broad, tree lined road, with old-fashioned houses standing sedately behind the foliage, and the end of the avenue is closed by the North Bar—the last of Beverley's gates. It dates from 1410, and is built of very dark red brick, with one arch only, the footways being taken through the modern houses, shouldering it on each side. Leland's account and the town records long before his day tell us that there were three gates, but nothing remains of 'Keldgate barr' and the 'barr de Newbygyng.'
We go through the archway and find ourselves in a wide street with the beautiful west end of St. Mary's Church on the left, quaint Georgian houses, and a dignified hotel of the same period on the opposite side, while straight ahead is the broad Saturday Market with its very picturesque 'cross.' The cross was put up in 1714 by Sir Charles Hotham, Bart., and Sir Michael Warton, Members of Parliament for the Corporation at that time.
Without the towers the exterior of the Minster gives me little pleasure, for the Early English chancel and greater and lesser transepts, although imposing and massive, are lacking in proper proportion, and in that deficiency suffer a loss of dignity. The eulogies so many architects and writers have poured out upon the Early English work of this great church, and the strangely adverse comments the same critics have levelled at the Perpendicular additions, do not blind me to what I regard as a most strange misconception on the part of these people. The homogeneity of the central and eastern portions of the Minster is undeniable, but because what appears to be the design of one master-builder of the thirteenth century was apparently carried out in the short period of twenty years, I do not feel obliged to consider the result beautiful.