By God, I will neither go nor hang

Bob & Claire picked us up at 8:30 and we were packed and on the road by 8:45. The weather report was full of doom and gloom, massive storms and gale forced winds across all of England, Scotland, Wales and most of Ireland. It was going to be horrendous and last all weekend. We not only had a great traffic jam free M25 & M1 journey all the way up to York, but also, it didn’t rain. And there was no great wind in evidence. It wasn’t until Bob & I were watching Match of the Day that we realised how much rain and storm we had missed.

The south east was badly hit with the Watford game abandoned after half time – the pitch was a badly disguised green lake and the players were playing water polo rather than football. According to a text I received from Nicktor, the Aldershot game was abandoned after seven minutes! We had a little bit of rain as we did the shopping and that lasted about half an hour.

We arrived at the lovely village of Thornton-le-Dale and found Forge View, our home for the week. It is pretty centrally located with shops and pubs within metres. The locals seem friendly – one of them chatted to Mirinda as she leaned on the gate, commiserating the demise of the bakery. Seeing as there’s another two in the village seems to make this point a bit pointless.

Down Maltongate

The upper heights of Thornton-le-Dale (the name comes from the Royal Mail but more on that later) have been inhabited for at least 10,000 years (unless you are of a religious persuasion in which case, 6,000 years). Mirinda’s personal favourites, the Beaker people were here for a bit as discovered during excavation of several tumuli.

There have been lots of finds around the area but possibly the most significant was made in 1911 at Pexton Moor, just up the road from Thornton-le-Dale, when, while out ferreting, a gamekeeper called Green found a small fragment of wheel. Subsequent excavation of the area unearthed a complete wheel which led to the discovery of a square barrow, the sort that normally contained carts. When it was excavated the remains of an upright cart were found in it as well as evidence that the owner and his horse were also with it – obviously a big burial. The whole thing has been dated to 300 BC. I haven’t found anything else about how Green’s ferreting went.

Our old friend Bill the Bastard wasn’t too keen on our friends in the north. In 1069 he carried out the great Harrying of the North where wholesale slaughter was visited on the people from York to Durham. Once everyone had been brought to book…or killed…Billy Boy gave the manor of Thornton to his sister, Adelaide. An interesting side point here. Adelaide’s third husband was Count Odo who, I think, was Bill’s uncle!

From the Norman’s land grabbing antics, the ownership of Thornton changes with the passing tides of popularity and power bases of the wealthy. The manor house changed around a bit too but eventually landed opposite the church where it stands today as part nursing home, part public bar – my kind of nursing home and one I hope my wife notes I’d like for my terminal incarceration.

As happens a lot in places we visit, Thornton was granted a market in 1281 (weekly, on Tuesdays) and two yearly fairs.

High Street

By the medieval period, Thornton was owned by Roger Bigod so-named because when the King ordered him to go to France he refused and the King said “By God, you will either go or hang!” To which Roger replied “By God, I will neither go nor hang.” As a humorist, he was obviously a bit of a damp squib but apparently he was ok as a lord of the manor.

The 14th century saw weaving take centre stage as it took over the village as locals worked their own looms. It was a great area for natural energy resources as the hills provided wind power for the mills and the rivers flowing down to the village provided water power for the waterwheels.

In the 16th century, the rector of Thornton was Henry VIII’s physician, John Chambers. A chronicler called John Leland passed through the area around 1533 writing very little about the place except to say it was hilly. In the same year Lord Latimer (lord of the manor) married a certain Katherine Parr who, upon his death in 1543 went on to become the last of Henry’s wives.

So much celebrity! I could go on but it’s getting a tad boring! Suffice to say, Thornton-le-Dale has been a small speck in the eye of British history for a long time and is now simply one of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire. Oops, nearly forgot the name.

Apparently when the General Post Office (as it was called) introduced the Penny Post in 1840 they added the ‘le’ to many place names as the postal address to distinguish between other similar named places. So now we have Thornton-le-Clay, Thornton-le-Beans, Thornton-le-Hole (not recommended) and, of course, Thornton-le-Dale. And there was me thinking it was French. But back to the present.

Forge View – the forge has long gone – is a gorgeous semi-detached three bedroom holiday cottage with an excellent cooker and a downstairs toilet which was once the stairs down to the wine cellar. Highly recommended.

Having escaped serious injury crossing the A170 to Costcutters, we gathered supplies and returned to the cottage before eventually heading out to the Brandysnap for dinner. It was here that Mirinda started getting a bit toe-y as we waited in the tiny restaurant bar. I thought it was quaint and the staff were eager to please. Mirinda thought they were trying too hard.

The food was lovely, the beer and wine also. We then wandered down the road, alongside the beck (that’s what they call brooks/streams/rivers in these here parts), giving our dinners a good chance to go down, before returning to the cottage. A good day.

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