ARGUMENTS YARD


argumentsyard

Some viewers  may remember that I published some verses a few days ago – on November 14th, in a blog entitled  ‘Mona Lisa Revisited’ .  The photograph I used, taken by me recently in Church Street, Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast, showed prominently the entrance to one of the town’s well-known ginnels, or Yards, called ‘ARGUMENTS YARD’.

This led me to ponder over the possible derivation of this ancient name for the short dark passageway leading directly down to the north bank of the harbour and the mouth of the River Esk.  The following verses are the result of my deliberations . . .

argumentsyard1

ARGUMENTS YARD

All this is conjecture;
You don’t need a lecture

But, in doggerel verse,
Which could hardly be worse,

I’ll tell you a tale
Which will make you turn pale.

#   #   #

I tried very hard
To find ‘Arguments Yard’.

At last, when I’d found it,
Suspicion compounded,

I knew it was true;
It was no Avenue.

But a hotbed of squabble,
Of trouble and babble.

#   #   #

For once it befell
In this yard there did dwell

Large families three,
Who could never agree.

The ginnel they lived in,
Dwelt side-by-side in,

Was almost a tunnel
A regular funnel.

Lived so close together
They’d bicker and blether.

Their life was uphill
Without any goodwill.

#   #   #

So as this story goes
These neighbours were foes.

And they started to fight
Over which one was right.

They argued from dawn
From the day they were born,

And when evening had come
They continued the scrum.

All mired with scandals,
Both hoodlums and vandals.

Figures of shame
Who denied any blame.

They argued the toss
And got very cross;

Yelled over the fence;
The noise was intense.

They disturbed passers by
With the oaths they let fly.

Disagreed with each other,
With sister and brother.

Shouted and cursed –
The children were worst.

Each day they’d bicker,
Whilst knocking back liquor.

Complained, moaned and grumbled,
Botched, fudged and bungled.

Bemoaned their existence,
Claimed their subsistence.

Refused to comply,
Or for jobs to apply.

In short it was hell
In that yard to dwell.

And everyone near
Existed in fear.

#   #   #

Move on to the present;
Now, not so unpleasant.

It appears that now
All has sobered somehow.

Yes, there’s nothing more strange
Than how times do change.

I’m assured that now
Things are much more highbrow.

Yes, they’re now avant-garde
Down in Arguments Yard.


arguments-yard2

In fact, the real derivation of the Yard’s name is much more prosaic.  It is now known to have been named after the Argument, or Argment, family, a well-established Whitby family who lived in this  yard for many years.  The family has been traced back hundreds of years, when they fled to Whitby to escape religious persecution.  Argument is actually an Anglicisation of the Flemish name Argomont.  They were Huguenots, sixteenth century Protestants, who fled Catholic France to avoid persecution and settled in Whitby.
At one time there were two yards of the same name, from this family name Argument.  The yard pictured – off Church Street – is one of the best known, loved and photographed in the town.  These days, more than 80 such named yards still exist in Whitby.  Their origins lie in the town’s mediaeval past.
Arguments Yard seems to have remained  much as it always has been, still intriguing, full of old-world charm, and much more tranquil than is suggested by its name.

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