WHITBY #2

[ Photo Gallery # 76 ]

A further selection of my photographs of Whitby taken on my frequent visits there  in the past . . .

01 Whitby Panorama

Panoramic view of the entrance from the North Sea to Whitby Harbour and the River Esk

02 Whitby

The Church of St. Mary on the headland on the south bank of the River Esk.   Ruins of the ancient Abbey can be seen behind the church

03 Whitby

View of the inner harbour and the swing bridge crossing the River Esk and connecting the north and south areas of the town.

04 Whitby

View to the east across the inner harbour

05 Whitby

The breakwaters at the Whitby harbour entrance

06 Whitby

Another view of the Whitby Whale Bone Arch

07 Whitby

Bronze statue of Captain James Cook
The inscription reads:
Front: To Strive, to seek to find and not to yield. To commemorate the men who built, the Whitby Ships and the men who sailed with him.
North Side: In every situation he stood unrivalled and alone on him all eyes were turned.

08 WhitbyGulls

. . .  very popular with the local gulls

09 Whitby

A WW2 anti-aircraft gun on the Whitby seafront

10 Whitby

Whitby Harbour entrance

11 Whitby-199Steps

The bottom of the 199 steps in Whitby, leading up to Whitby Abbey and the top of the East Cliff.  These steps are an extraordinary attraction in Whitby, y attracting visitors from all over the world.

12 Whitby

Wood-carved monument to Whitby seamen in the inner harbour

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WHITBY – North Yorkshire

[  Photo Blog # 75  ]

Moving from my visits to the coastal areas of the far south-west of England over the past few weeks, I now wish to post over the next few Thursdays a number of galleries of my photographs from the opposite, North-Eastern, coasts of England.  This particular photograph collection is of the historic North Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby.  I have visited there before in a number of my earlier blogs.

The photographs below cover a variety of different scenes within the town . . .

Whitby (0) OS Map

 

 

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The jawbones of a whale, framing the ancient Abbey and church on top of the cliffs on the southern bank of the River Esk as it meets the North Sea.  In the 18th and 19th centuries the whaling industry was thriving in Whitby.  Dozens of ships braved the Arctic seas off Greenland to hunt these elusive leviathans for their lucrative whale oil.  Many of the crews never came back.

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A similar view, but this time showing the statue of Captain James Cook, gazing out to the North Sea, from where Cook first set out to sea in ships transporting coal to London and the River Thames. 

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Close up view of the Cook Memorial

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Looking North along the Yorkshire coast towards Sandsend

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The sea entrance to Whitby Harbour

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Modern reproduction of  HMS Endeavour, the British Royal Navy research vessel that Lieutenant James Cook commanded on his first voyage of discovery, to Australia and New Zealand, from 1769 to 1771.

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Whitby Inner Harbour looking south to the ruins of Whitby Abbey

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The modern ‘Endeavour’s’ figurehead

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Modern-day street entertainer at the entrance to one of Whitby’s many ancient ‘Yards’.   Visit my poem about this particular historic Whitby spot at:  ‘Argument’s Yard’ 

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Queuing for entry to Whitby’s famous ‘Magpie Cafe’, renowned for its fresh fish and chip meals.

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Goths in Whitby for one of its regular Goth Weekends’, a celebration of the fact that Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ novel begins its story near the ancient Abbey here.

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More of Whitby’s Goths

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CAEDMON: The First English Poet

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Caedmon Memorial, St.Mary’s Churchyard, Whitby. N.Yorkshire

Inscription … “To the glory of God and in memory of Cædmon the father of English Sacred Song. Fell asleep hard by, 680.

 Caedmon is credited with being the first English poet.

He lived in the 7th Century A.D.  His actual date of birth is unknown. What we do  know of him is chiefly found in The Venerable Bede’s, ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the English People’ written in 731 A.D.,  50 years after Caedmon’s death. In fact the language Caedmon recited and sang in was Old English.  His works were recorded by others and passed on to subsequent generations.  As Bede reports, Caedmon began as a lowly herdsman working mainly in the fields and grounds of the Northumbrian Benedictine monastery of Streonæshalch (later to become Whitby Abbey) on the coast of North Yorkshire during the time when the renowned St Hilda, or Hild, was Abbess between 657 and 680 AD.

The Abbey occupies a dramatic position, exposed as it is at the edge of the cliffs above the town of Whitby, and facing directly out to the North Sea.  It was disestablished and fell into ruin after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the early 16th Century.

Caedmon’s story is a fascinating one, with few sources for verification of its authenticity.

  Over the 3 days, starting tomorrow, I hope to present, translated by me from the original Old English, Caedmon’s own version of his life story. 

Whitby Abbey

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The RUN

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The RUN

 Though separated from it
by so many years
that route is etched
onto my memory
I run it in my sleep now
following my recollected path
with trenchant mindset
breathing deeply
whilst
with vigorous tread
pressing onwards

The massed start
then
across the school playing field
right turn out of the gate
onto the sea road
past the police station
the nurse’s home
on to the cemetery
the very edge of town
up that tricky slope
still on metalled road
avoiding the light traffic
before the turn right
off the main road
into Mucky Lane
aptly named
plough on
with uncertain foothold
through the rutted cart tracks
muddy lane
until
eventually
the Whitby road
left towards the moors
a few hundred yards
then leaving the road
right and through the farmyard
annoying the sheepdog
avoiding its belligerence
quickly   
over the stile
up the narrow path
hedge-hugging
onto the foothills
the Cleveland scarp
all is yellow and green
steep climb through the gorse
hard going here
wet but springy turf
short-cropped by the sheep
and all is now green
still climbing
straining
through the encroaching undergrowth
brushing bracken
avoiding the sheep droppings
past the wreck of the old iron mine
the landscape now pink and brown
circle the next shale heap
slag and spoil underfoot
the air shafts
wired off now
as far as the rifle range
out of bounds
sharply right and down now
Butt Lane
and more mud
until back on the Whitby road
right again
following the stickleback stream
along the metalled paving
until
on the flat
picking up my pace
I turn left into the
Hall grounds
now the copse
quickly through
negotiating the kissing gate
and into the Applegarth
the finishing straight
arrows ahead
short sharp uphill sprint
and then
heart racing
to keep up with
legs pounding the ground
grasping the air
gasping for breath until
at last
the tape

beaten
only just
into second place

the story of my life

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The views in the Photo Gallery below and in the top photograph are all from the actual area of the RUN which was on the scarp slope of the Cleveland Hills which form the Northern border of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.  Some of them are more recent photographs of the actual places through which the cross-country course originally passed.  The photographs were culled from various internet sources covering this area.

 

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Runswick Bay & Staithes

These are my Pen & Wash sketches of two quite different but equally fascinating coastal villages of North Yorkshire, England.  Below them is a short article about their history of attracting and inspiring artists. 

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RUNSWICK BAY & STAITHES

These two villages lie only a few miles north of Whitby and within the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.  The villages, only about 4 miles apart, each grew up around an inlet of  Yorkshire’s North Sea Coast.  Both villages have a distinctive character and are fascinatingly atmospheric.  At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries  they nourished separate artistic communities, which are now considered to be of greater significance than has previously been recognised because of the number of artists who worked there and the paintings they produced.

One of the best known of these was the Yorkshire-born artist Arthur Friedenson who visited Runswick Bay to work many times.  Friedenson was initially apprenticed as a sign writer, before training as an artist in Paris and Antwerp. However, it was in this lovely Yorkshire coastal village that Friedenson met his future wife, and after they married in November 1906, he returned to Runswick Bay the following spring in order to paint the picture below. It was much admired at the Royal Academy that year, and purchased for the nation.  

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Arthur Friedenson – Runswick Bay -1907 . . .  Tate Gallery

An interesting website, which contains a lot of material about the art galleries and museums in the area, can be found at:     Staithes & Runswick Bay Art Galleries

 

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ARGUMENTS YARD

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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 . . .

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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.


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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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MONA LISA REVISITED

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MONA  LISA  RECRUDESCENT

When I met her pleading stare
I nearly had a seizure.
A revenant confronted me,
Labelled ‘Mona Lisa’;

I saw her on a street in town,
That enigmatic beauty.
Reduced to begging for a crumb,
That captivating cutie.

A painting from another time
With pallid face and frown;
A legend from another age,
On a street in Whitby Town.

So sad to see her brought to this,
Esteem and beauty stolen,
Bereft of stature, fame, renown.
How are the mighty fallen!

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The two photographs were taken by Roland in Yorkshire in October 2016

 

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THE BALLAD OF BEGGAR’S BRIDGE

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BEGGAR’S  BRIDGE

This bridge, in a traditional Pack Horse shape, has remained intact straddling the River Esk near the moorland village of Glaisdale, in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, for 400 years.   The village is about ten miles inland from Whitby, where the River Esk flows into the North Sea.
It is known as Beggars’ Bridge, and was built in 1619, by Tom Ferris, a local man, son of a poor moorland sheep farmer.   Having been turned down as a suitable suitor for his love, Agnes, by her wealthy land-owning father, Tom vowed to seek his fortune and to one day return to claim Agnes’ for his wife.  After many adventures at sea, Tom returned, now a rich man, married Agnes, and prospered, to such an extent that he eventually became the Lord Mayor of Hull.  The bridge, it is said, was erected by Tom as a memorial to his wife, and as a means for future lovers to cross the river without having to brave its often flooded waters.  The story, as it has been passed down, is a mix of fact and fiction.  The basic facts are essentially true, but the story, has become a local legend and has, no doubt been embellished over the course of time.
I have tried my hand at re-telling this story in a simple and traditional ballad style, the results of which efforts I give below . . .

 

THE BALLAD OF BEGGAR’S BRIDGE

He lived beside the river Esk
In a verdant sylvan dale;
His story I must tell you now
A truly stirring tale.

Tom loved a lass of high estate;
It was not meant to be,
For Agnes was of gentry born,
A lowly lad was he.

Her father disapproved the match,
Tom was of humble birth,
No land, no money, no position,
Of very little worth.

But their shared love was sound and solid
So secretly they met.
They shared their passions willingly
But always under threat.

Poor Tom was restless and intent
To run away to sea;
He held fast to the thoughts that stirred
Inside him to be free.

He knew one day he’d win his bride,
He would not be gainsaid;
Beyond this dale there was a world
Where fortunes could be made.

So one dark night he set off late
To wish Agnes farewell;
To promise to return for her,
To ever with her dwell.

She lived beside the river too,
But on the other side.
He therefore had to swim across,
He would not be denied.

The Esk just then was in full spate,
It coursed along the dale.
It almost took Tom’s life that night,
He knew he must prevail.

With strength of ten he forged his way
Across the raging stream;
Then dragged his aching body out
As if within a dream.

With his goodbyes Tom gave his word
That some day he’d return;
And Agnes gave her solemn oath
She’d wait for him in turn.

Tom took himself to Whitby town
And soon with Drake joined battle;
Against the Armada fleet he fought,
Saw off the invading rabble.

A rover in West Indies then
And piracy his game.
Plunder and pillage gave him wealth
And brought a taste of fame.

He felt that now he could return
To claim his promised bride;
Confront her father without fear,
With new found hope and pride.

And so to Glaisdale Tom returned
His roving days now past.
True to her word Agnes rejoiced,
Her hopes fulfilled at last.

They married soon and lived in bliss,
Or so the story goes.
Tom grew in wealth, in power, renown,
Commanding all he chose.

Throughout the north he garnered fame
His name grew ever bigger.
Lord Mayor of Hull he then became,
A well respected figure.

And when his Agnes died at last
Their story he declared,
Would with a bridge over the Esk
With all the world be shared.

A bridge to join the river’s banks
To help new lovers’ trysts;
A bridge secure from spate and flood
Which to this day exists.

The reason it’s called Beggar’s Bridge
No one is very sure.
‘Tis thought was done to prompt us all
That Tom was once so poor.

And so the story I’ve unfolded,
A famed love-lilt of old,
Remains a tale of hearts fulfilled,
The best-loved story told.

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Beggar’s Bridge over the River Esk, at Glaisdale, North Yorkshire Moors National Park . . .  Photograph – WHB  – 2002


 

THE MIST OF LOVE

Hawsker Church

THE  MIST  OF  LOVE

I fell for a ghost,
A spectre, a wraith,
I grappled to win her
In a wrestle with faith.

A wondrous creature,
A vision in white.
I knew I should leave her,
Beware of her bite.

Her present and past
I struggled to find;
Whatever her story –
I was out of my mind.

I knew nothing of her,
Nor she of me;
So however I tried
It just wasn’t to be.

She sighed with delight
As I caught her sweet breath,
And I knew with a shudder
She’d never trounce death.

For death had imbibed her,
Had taken her in
To its cold winter grasp,
And I never could win.

But her passion was endless.
It left me in dread
Of an endless uncoupling –
A  gift to the dead.

So I severed my heart strings
– Futile to resist.
Yes, my dream was a mirage
… What is love but a mist?

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I n an earlier blog of mine (No.6. published on 1st August, 2016), I mentioned my love of William Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems. In another of his poems in similar tender vein, which has also long been a favourite of mine, he begins with the line, which has become the poem’s title, ‘She was a phantom of delight’.  The poem was written about his first meeting with, Mary Hutchinson, a pupil at the same school as William, who eventually became his wife.

The first stanza depicts the woman not as a creature of flesh and blood but as a phantom or an insubstantial being. He calls her an “apparition” that can “haunt, startle and waylay”.

For no particular reason that I am aware of, this set in motion a train of thought suggesting a liaison with a more genuine ‘phantom’, a wraith. The verses above were the result – in no way comparable with the subtleties and delights of Wordsworth’s poem.


The lead-in photograph at the top was taken by me on a foggy day at the ancient cliff-top church and churchyard of Hawser, near Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast.  Some adaptations have been made to the photograph.