Coxwold, Thirsk and Ripon
Today we are heading south west towards Thirsk, Ripon, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Deer Park. We will take the back country roads again, we could go via York along the main roads, but for scenery the back roads are much nicer. From our village of Little Barugh we make our way to the village of Amotherby 4 miles away and join the main Malton road to Hovingham, this road is actually 2000 years old, having originally been built by the Roman Legions that were based at the Malton Roman Fort, formerly known as Derventio and named for the river Derwent that passes between Malton and Norton. We pass through farmland and several villages, Appleton-le-Street, Barton-le-Street and Slingsby. The le-Street is always an indication of former Roman presence. They always built their roads from a central hub like the spokes of a wheel, and always very straight. Later influences such as the Vikings and Normans who invaded our island may have created diversions and bends in roads to accommodate reclaimed land. Now that the harvest has been gathered in, some of the fields are still white with stubble, though most of the huge round bales have been gathered in and stored in the barns, other fields have already been ploughed up ready for the next crop. We may find ourselves trailing behind a tractor pulling the huge fearsome looking plough shares, though they are not as big as the massive Harvesting machines that seemed to take up the entire road when they were travelling from one farm to another during the harvesting. Very few farmers here could afford to buy one for themselves, so the machines are shared among many.
Hovingham Hall is the family seat of the Worsley family, their daughter Katherine married H.R.H. Duke of Kent back in 1961. Her father was the Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire. If you click on the link for Hovingham you will see a view of the backside of the house overlooking the park. The road we take passes on the right side of that view, they have a large herd of cattle in the park as well as on land on the other side of the road. There is a stream that runs down towards the house with a small hump-back bridge over it that is a public right of way, and it is a pleasant walk if you are not afraid of walking amongst the cattle.
As we carry on up the road the fields on either side give way to forest and the road is an up and down switchback full of bends. There are deer in the forests, at springtime the verges are covered in primroses and in May the ground beneath the trees turns blue with carpets of bluebells. This road is where we often find ourselves travelling through green tunnels as the trees meet overhead on this narrow road. Eventually we come to open fields again and turn right at a T junction to head down towards the village of Coxwold, as we come down the winding hill we get our first glimpse of the Kilburn White Horse, then pass Newburgh Priory and a large man-made pond were ducks wait for visitors to feed them and swans glide majestically.
In Coxwold the old schoolhouse there has been a Tea Shop and Bed and Breakfast House for many years now, originally run by a German ex-POW and his Yorkshire born wife, now retired. The business is being carried on by new owners and they serve delicious high teas: ham and eggs, bread and butter, cakes, scones with strawberry preserve and cream and big pots of tea. On the other side of the road opposite the School House Tea Room there is a pottery and a woodworkers show room, the Coxwold Cabinet Maker, he did his apprenticeship with The House of the Mouse at Kilburn: http://www.thompsononename.org.uk/robthom.html all their furniture trademark was a tiny mouse carved into every piece.
The Coxwold Cabinet Maker uses a unicorn’s head as his trademark.
As we head out of Coxwold we pass the church of St. Michael’s on the left, the original church was built on the site of a pagan temple about 757AD, it has an unusual octagonal tower,
At the edge of the village is Shandy Hall, home of the eccentric parson, Laurence Sterne who wrote ‘Tristam Shandy’ and ‘Sentimental Journey’ back in the 18th century, his home, which is still a lived in home, is also a museum to his memory.
Leaving the village we travel for a couple of miles towards the A19, getting an even better view of the Kilburn White Horse, carved into a cliff face on the right across some fields, At the top of the cliff there is a gliding club and a notoriously dangerous road winding steeply down Sutton Bank, an alternative route to Thirsk that I do not care to travel. (I travelled up the bank one night in a decrepit groaning Ukrainian coach, supposedly the best Yalta had to offer, when we had 27 Ukrainian Christian visitors to our town some years ago. I thought it wasn’t going to make it and we’d all have to get out and push!)
We turn onto the A10, a major road leading directly into the market town of Thirsk, passing a group of Gypsy caravans and Vardo’s parked in a lay-by. Towards the end of May many Gypsy caravans and colourful horse drawn Vardo’s head north to Appleby for the annual Horse Fair.
Thirsk was the town in which Alfred White, better known as James Herriot, the Veterinary Surgeon of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ fame began his career. I met him in 1986 at the old house where he and Siegfried Farnon lived and worked from, he was greeting visitors and fans from all over the world and signing autographs in copies of his books. He was a dapper white haired man and very pleasant and interesting to talk to.
From Thirsk we head for Ripon, back out onto a relatively busy country road and fields, passing through several small villages and over the A1, a very busy road from north to south, at this time there are major roadwork’s going on constructing a couple of large roundabouts to cope with the traffic entering and exiting the off-ramps.
Ripon is another market town, where some of my ancestors lived. My great x 3 grandfather Thomas Pybus was a Saddler and had a shop in the market square, his middle daughter Annie Maria and her husband Joshua Illingworth were my great x 2 grandparents, and their eldest of twelve children, Blanche Lillian, was my great grandmother. Joshua was originally from Bradford, born to a large musical family. He was a Lay Preacher and Chorister at Ripon’s famous cathedral, and he also had his own musical group that played at Harrogate Spa. I pass through Ripon every month and stop to bank there and shop. I always look up at the windows of their old shop with living quarters above, half expecting to see a young Blanche Lillian looking back at me. Annie Maria and Joshua were married in the Cathedral.
http://www.ripon-internet.com/Category/135.html More photo’s
Ripon still has a Watchman who goes around Ripon every night at 0pm and blows his horn.
The custom of blowing the wakeman's horn every night at nine o'clock, maintained to this day, is said to have originated about AD 700. It was probably at first a means of calling the people together in case of a sudden invasion, but was afterwards a signal for setting the watch. A horn with a baldric and the motto "Except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain" forms the mayor's badge.
The sentence in green is emblazoned across the frontage of Ripon Town Hall.
http://www.stripes.com/news/american-plays-a-part-in-english-horn-blowing-tradition-1.48836 This one should really interest you!
Well I am going to leave you here in Ripon for the night, there are plenty of B&B’s and hotels to stay at. I will see you tomorrow for the continuation of the journey to Ripley Castle, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Deer Park.