Oswy-by-his-mother-lay

Up at 7 and out for a short morning walk at 8. The day is clearer than it has been but there’s an omnipresent threat of rain hanging over the hills.

I walked up passed All Saints church and made my way up and over a hill towards a large fish hatchery near the hamlet of Ellerburn. A tad muddy but very fresh and quiet. I returned via the church.

All Saints

All Saints has been around for a while – in the main the present building dates to the 14th century – and is a large austere structure. On one of the supporting piers near the entrance, you can clearly see the scratch marks where churchgoers of the middle ages would sharpen their arrow heads prior to the obligatory archery practice after the Sunday service. The bowl of the font is possibly the oldest thing in the church and dates to the 11th or 12th century and a lovely little piscine, which probably marks a small Lady Chapel from before the Reformation. A lot of the church interior was rebuilt in the mid-19th century so not a lot of carvings! The automatic lighting kept coming on and off as I wandered around – quite disconcerting but a good way to conserve energy.

I made my way back to the cottage via the bakery in time to meet Bob & Claire leaving in search of an open tea room (there’s at least three in the village) while I set about my study quota.

At about 12 we all set off for the Mount Grace Priory. The website said it was open, the brochure we had said it was open but guess what? It wasn’t open. Not that it was all that easy to find. Mirinda took us on a very scenic trip to find it and then, missing the turning off the A19, we drove around the 20 mile block to have another go. So we left the priory, disgruntled and travel weary before stopping down the road in the oddly named Osmotherley.

Houses in Osmotherley

This is a lovely little village on the edge of the moors and where a lot of people start their walks. It was once quite popular with smugglers on their way across the moors from the coast. The name is thought to come from one of two sources. I prefer the first. It’s the legend of the Saxon Prince Oswy, son of King Osmund of Northumbria. Sitting comfortably?

And verily, the King was told by a soothsayer that young Oswy was going to die of drowning when he was three, on a particular day. So on the nominated day, his mum took him to the top of the tallest hill where he would be safe. Unfortunately, the fates would not be denied and he drowned when the natural spring in the hermitage he’d been sheltered in, naturally, sprang to life. His body was taken down to the little village of Tevotdale where he was buried. His mother, overcome by grief, died soon after and Osmund had her buried beside Oswy. The village was renamed in their memory: “Oswy-by-his-mother-lay” which became Osmotherley.

The less romantic reason for the name is that it was the field belonging to a Viking chap called Asmund.

We tried the tearoom but they had no food left after yesterday – that’s what the woman said. Sadly we had to go to the pub, Queen Catherine’s and drink copper dragon and eat pub food. I had a delicious gammon steak while the others had the chicken. So if they get sick and I don’t, it was the chicken!!!

After a somewhat massive lunch, Mirinda and I popped behind the pub to check out the church, St Peter’s. There’s a few bits of Saxon masonry scattered by the porch, a lovely old font of indeterminate age and a few nice stained glass windows but no guide.

St Peter's

The Saxon masonry comes from the original Saxon church that stood on the site. Interestingly, the southern aisle is empty but could easily fit lots of pews. Perhaps they added an aisle but then had no need after everyone took off for a walk on the Lyke Wake Walk (which starts (or ends) in Osmotherley), and didn’t make it back.

We then spotted a lovely little Catholic chapel attached to a Benedictine Monastery. Very sweet. It is up a flight of stairs and sits in what could easily be someone’s upstairs. John Wesley was a celebrated visitor to Osmotherley – he preached from a table in the centre of the village.

The trip back took a fraction of the time and distance so we were home for 4:30 having seen a lovely sunset and lots of large areas with placards which Mirinda refused to tell me about.

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