Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rosedale Abbey is ready for the Tour de Yorkshire. Are you?

You've all heard of Le Tour de France. Of course you have. Well those lovely people  in charge of that major spectacular have launched Le Tour de Yorkshire. No. I've not made a mistake in its Frenchness. It's officially called that and May 2015 marks its inaugural outing. Three days of spectacular cycling beckon. 
And guess what?

Although a triathlete, Alistair Brownlee would be great at this event - if you added in swimming and running plus and a proud Yorkshire lad, to boot!

Well-known cyclists, including Bradley Wiggins, and prestigious teams such as Sky pass through our village on the first of the Tour's gruelling stages. On Friday May 1st, it traverses the North York Moors National Park (A very round trip from Bridlington to Scarborough with its stunning coastline and stunning moorland in the centre.) Then on the 2nd May, it's the turn of the lovely Yorkshire Wolds, beginning in Selby and its abbey and finishing in York with its Minster. The last day is further south in the old wool manufacturing heartland of God's Own County, then onto the Dales which was such a hit in the Tour de France last year and then culminates in Leeds. So, naturally we have all dressed up in blue and yellow, the official colours of Le Tour. The only sad thing is that the live TV coverage on ITV 4 and Euro-Sport channels does not begin until half an hour after the peloton has just passed through our village and its environs and will have seen Young Ralph, Castleton and and be its way to Whitby - and another famous abbey.
The Tour has named this part of the road north with its fine view of the dale as "Le Cote de Rosedale" which leads across the moor to...

...Young Ralph...

And then into Whitby, then Robin Hoods Bay and finally - Scarborough. Phew!

SO,  let's linger for a while to admire what Rosedale Abbey has done to welcome the riders!  Come and join in the fun on Friday. And please drive carefully.
Here we are.

Oops! But don't turn up there! Even professional cyclists fear the dreaded Rosedale Chimney Bank!

Come on in!

You can stay at one of our camp-sites.

But don't cycle here - it's a private garden!

But stop for a pot of tea and enjoy Anne's wonderful cakes!

...or relax on the green with home-made Yorkshire ice-cream

Rosedale School has very imaginative artists. 

And what's this guy doing?

Not a lot. He's been waiting patiently for a while for the cyclists

But where's he disappeared to now?



Oh sorry. He's had to attend to a call of nature. Hurry up! These cyclists are fast.

We're having a celebration. Why not come and sample the delights we have to offer. Cakes, ice-cream, and fine glassware to buy. Have a drink at The Coach-house Inn, The White Horse Farm Inn plus the welcome re-re-opening of The Milburn Arms. And much, much more. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Secret Rosedale

Did you watch Secret Britain on BBC One yesterday? If you did you would have seen Rosedale in all its glory and in particular the short piece about the brief period in the 16th century when Huguenot glass-blowers worked here.

A Huguenot on St Bartholomew's Day.
As usual, the programme was too disjointed for my taste and it jumped about from one area to another without any coherence. So I would like to use this post to write about the brief appearance of Huguenots in Rosedale and the way stunning hand-made glass-making has now re-established itself in Rosedale Abbey.

I have been researching the brief appearance of Huguenot glass-makers in Rosedale in far more detail than appeared in the TV show for my next novel set in Rosedale during the reign of Elizabeth 1st. This research is personal and probably incorrect but I am a fiction writer and it's plausible. At this time the Cistercian Rosedale Priory I wrote about in my previous and unpublished novel, The Rosedale Miracle, had long gone and Protestantism was in ascendant. However, the people of this part of Yorkshire's North Riding were mainly secret Roman Catholics. I can imagine people who are confused and have to watch their step. For instance, did they know about the Huguenot settlers and, if so, what did they think of them? Answers to such questions are what create a plot and characters which are currently taking shape in my head and I am currently doing much background reading about the French Huguenots in England.

Here is a brief account of my personal theory of why some Huguenots settled briefly in Rosedale which I have given to Rosedale's History Society. I am no historian. I have no proof. It is mere speculation which is why I am prefer to be a fiction writer.

So here it is - with footnotes.

The discovery in 1968 of a glass furnace in Rosedale raises more questions than answers. Joseph Hurst[i] has researched the subject and has provided important evidence of the presence of Huguenot glass-blowers from the church records held at Lastingham Church. The site of a 16th century kiln can be visited by following the track that leads from The White Horse Farm Inn towards Lastingham. (A brief account and history, including a walk around Rosedale is available as a North York Moors National Park booklet[ii] and the reconstructed furnace can be visited at The Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole.)
            There is little doubt now that between the approximate dates of 1567 and 1597 several Huguenot[iii] families lived and worked in Rosedale. They did not mix with the indigenous population of farmers and tradesmen and would appear to have disappeared without leaving any trace. Joseph Hurst discovered entries of births, marriages and deaths with French names in the records of Lastingham Church.[iv]
            Why these families moved to Rosedale in the first place is a matter of conjecture. It is true that the locality provided everything they need to make glass. Sand, potash (produced by burning bracken), timber (to fire the furnace) were all available in abundance in  Rosedale at that time. That they were Huguenots is evident in the style of glass produced and the design of the furnace that has been reconstructed in the Ryedale Folk Museum.
            The history of the Protestant Huguenots is complex. Even the origin of their name is subject to speculation. The immigration of Huguenots to England was not straightforward either. The first wave of immigration to England began after their lives in France became intolerable for them, particularly in the wake of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572 and the Wars of Religion that followed.[v] This was the period in which the Huguenots settled in Rosedale. The main wave of Huguenot immigration actually came a century later. Then, most settled in London (mainly Spitalfields) but also in areas such as Macclesfield, where they were also known for their silk-making.
            So why did they come to Rosedale? And why, having arrived here and build a glass furnace, did they leave after a mere 30 years? I can only speculate using circumstantial evidence. So the following, although based on facts, has no corroborative evidence. It’s a theory. No more.
            When Elizabeth 1st ascended the throne in 1558, The Manor of Rosedale was owned by Charles Neville, the 6th Earl of Westmorland (who also owned Kirkbymoorside Castle.) A Roman Catholic, he was one of the leaders of The Rising of The North in 1569 (Also known as the Rising of the Northern Earls and the Northern Rebellion). Their aim was to depose Elizabeth, rescue Mary Queen of Scots from captivity and place her on the English throne. The endeavour failed and the leaders arrested and some executed. Neville was stripped of his lands and titles and fled to the continent where he died in poverty.
            In 1576, a Protestant queen was on the throne and the manor of Rosedale was then granted to the Protestant, Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Duke of Warwick. The elder brother of The Queen’s favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, he was also one of her most staunch supporters. Earlier, in 1562-3 he had commanded the army sent by the Queen to Le Havre to support the Huguenots in the First French War of Religion.[vi] The venture ended in failure and Dudley suffered a severe leg injury which curtailed his career and eventually led to his death 13 years later.
Did that failed venture and his Protestantism, followed by the granting of Rosedale manor (at that time, the whole area was known as a hotbed of Catholic recusancy) make him ponder the possibility of bringing Protestant Huguenots into the area—for the same reasons, perhaps, that Protestant Scots were moved into the north of Ireland?  I am sure that on acquiring the manor of Rosedale he would have commissioned a report on the area and its resources and must have known it would possibly be a suitable area for glass-making, one of the crafts at which the Huguenots excelled. Perhaps he thought he could establish a thriving community of Protestants in Rosedale? Did his continuing ill-health prevent him from following this plan through with sufficient care? We shall never know. But what is known is that Queen Elizabeth was notorious for granting trade monopolies and that in consequence the Rosedale glass-makers would actually have been working illegally.
            Whatever the reasons and however it came about, the glass-making venture did not last. the Huguenots, records of which only last for about 30 years, remained isolated and disappeared without trace. When, in 1592, the monopoly on glass-making in England passed from Jacob Verzelini to Sir Jerome Bowes, the end was in sight as he was far more assiduous than his predecessor in closing down illegal manufacture and trading.
            Ambrose Dudley died in 1590; Queen Elizabeth in 1601. In 1615, James I, concerned by rapid deforestation and the increasing need of timber for ship-building, issued a decree banning the burning of timber, thus bringing to an end any last vestige of glass-making in Rosedale.

[i] Joseph Hurst. The Rosedale Glass Furnace and the Elizabethan Glassworkers. 1970. Ryedale Folk Museum
 [ii] In Search of Rosedale Glass
 [iii] The Huguenots were French Protestants who followed the teachings of Martin Luther. Their constant moral battle with the ruling Catholics eventually led to a series of wars during which many of them fled to Protestant countries during the 126th and 17th centuries.
 [iv] See endnote 1.
 [v] 23rd August 1572. King Charles IV of France (some say on the orders of his mother, Catherine de Medici) ordered the killing of Huguenots leaders after the assassination of. Admiral Gaspar de Coligny. This led to mob violence by Catholics. It is estimated that anything between 5 and 30 thousand French Protestants were killed in the ensuing massacre.
 [vi] 1562-1598

So it pleases me greatly that traditional and top-class glass-making has returned to Rosedale twenty years ago with the contemporary glass artists, Kate Jones and Stephen Gillies who feature in the TV show.
Gillies Jones is one of the most celebrated glass-artists in the country and exhibit at many major galleries in  the UK, including The V&A. They are based at what was once the village blacksmiths. If you're lucky, you can see them blow glass but you can always marvel at their artistry and then take a little bit of Rosedale back home with you and follow them @GilliesJones.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why on earth do people drop litter?

It's been a while.but, take a deep breath FOR ONE OF MY RANTS!

Britain is drowning in litter. It never fails to amaze me that in this modern world of litter bins, those lovely council employees who clear up after us plus all the campaigns and exhortations to keep Britain tidy and to recycle, how many stupid people think nothing of slinging their filthy rubbish about everywhere to the detriment of everyone else. Brainless idiots.

To be fair, the countryside is far less blighted than city streets. But why even think of spoiling one of Britain's National Parks? (or any of them?) Has everyone lost any sense of this country's values?

I mean, why do people take their holidays in such places? It depends on what each particular Park has to offer, of course. Here in the North York Moors, I've nattered on long enough here about its tranquillity, its beauty, its lack of stress and the joys of feeling the wind in your hair, the cry of the curlew, the chuckling of grouse, the tinkling of the becks, the windswept heather uplands; not to mention the roadside verges which right now you can spot wild primroses peeping through the undergrowth - and discarded chocolate wrappers and empty bottles and cans?

Why oh why oh why? Every day I take a walk. Nothing strenuous or painful for me. But I love my series of little walks that show me Rosedale from all its spectacular viewpoints. Only yesterday, I took the walk closest to home - up Heygate Lane and as far as the cattle grid onto the moors - short but steep before turning back.That one only takes me three-quarters of an hour. (Yes, I am very, very  slow because I stop, look, listen and think. It's amazing how often ideas for my writing can pop into my head when I'm walking.) But in that hour what did I find? Apart from pheasants, sheep, rooks, hens and assorted bicycles - a vintage car and a couple of horses - plus an idea or two, I picked up two chocolate wrappers, one empty crisp packet, a discarded bottle of mineral water and any empty can of coke. And it's only April. Come the summer and Annie, our village caretaker will be very busy!

Home Sweet Home - rubbish free.
I took the rubbish back home and disposed of it. However, there is a large recycling bin and plenty of litter-bins in the in the centre of the village (all emptied weekly), not to mention doggy-poo bins. So I won't.

What more do these morons want? Locals with nothing else to do but pick their rubbish up for them?

Monday, April 6, 2015

And the winner is...

...Abbeybufo! Congratulations! (Was it too difficult for the rest of you or did you all fall asleep?) Penguin will kindly wing you a copy your way if you let me know your address by dropping it to me by email  (which is my name - dot -  gmail - dot  - com.)

I also believe we have a mutual friend so you could pass your address to her and she could pass it on to me.

All very cloak and dagger!

So, enjoy a brilliant novel from a writer who understands how love and attraction can blind  us,  especially if the deceiver is a consummate actor and word-smith.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Free copy of THE TUTOR for a lucky reader

IF you love historical fiction, the Tudors, the works of Shakespeare and have a UK postal address -

IF you are prepared to be open-minded about an Elizabethan genius -

IF reading my previous post about THE TUTOR by Andrea Chapin has whetted your appetite, then how about adding a comment below? One lucky person need only answer a simple question (which may involve a bit of delving and guesswork) to win a free copy.

Which of Shakespeare's narrative poems is featured strongly in The Tutor?
I will choose a winner by drawing the names of winners out of my Easter Bonnet on Easter Day. Good Luck!

Here's a clue. 

Looking back; looking forwards

So it's that time of the year when we review what we did in 2017 and plan what we will do in 2018. All I can say is...