Wednesday, 15 January 2014


The  Tan  Hill Inn

According to the Guinness Book of Records, The Tan Hill Inn is the highest situated pub in England.   At 1732ft  (528m) it stands alone on an unclassified road on remote moorland at the head of Arkengarthdale above North Yorkshire’s Swaledale and not far from the border with County Durham.  Frequently snowed in, the place is famous for its annual sheep sales each May.






The Green Dragon


This ancient country pub at Hardraw in Wenseleydale, North Yorkshire hides a wonderful secret place.   Accessed through the pub, the private grounds behind reveal the majesty of Hardraw Scaur a wonderful amphitheatre, surrounded by  limestone cliffs, through which runs Hardraw Beck.  The amazing part of this scene is that a fantastic waterfall falls 100 feet from an overhanging ledge on the scaur. A sight to behold when in full spate.  Hardraw Force is said to be the highest waterfall in the country.

Furthermore the natural wooded amphitheatre is the venue for a brass band contest each year.   This contest is organised by The Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association  on the second Sunday in September, which was first held in 1884 and continued until 1927.  In 1976, the contest was restarted and draws brass bands from all over the North of England.

The  George


Back in the 19th century, two brothers called Jenkins ran the family coaching inn, The George at Piercebridge –on-Tees in North Yorkshire.  In the lobby of the inn stood a tall clock in a wooden case, which had been bought to commemorate the birth of one of the brothers.   This clock always kept perfect time until one of the old Jenkins brothers died, after which the clock gradually started to lose time and efforts to rectify it were in vain.  On the day the second brother died, in his ninetieth year, the clock stopped at five past eleven, the time of the old man’s death, and has never run since.

 Apparently song writer Henry Clay-Work who wrote the song ‘Marching Through Georgia’ was staying at The George in about 1850 and was so enthralled when he heard the story of the clock, that he wrote the song, ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’.  Since that time such clocks have been known as ‘Grandfather’ clocks.

 The full story can be gleaned from the words of Clay-Work’s song :


 My Grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,

So it stood ninety years on the floor;

It was taller by half than the old man himself

Though it weighed not a penny weight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day he was born

And was always his treasure and pride.

But it stopped short – never to go again –

When the old man died.

Chorus :

Ninety years without slumbering-

Tick,tock, tick, tock,

His life’s seconds numbering –

Tick, tock, tick, tock,

It stopped short – never to go again –

When the old man died.


In watching its pendulum swing to and fro

Many hours had he spent as a boy;

And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know

And to share both his grief and his joy,

For it struck twenty-four when he entered the door

With a blooming and beautiful bride,

But it stopped short – never to go again –

 When the old man died.

Repeat Chorus

 My grandfather said of those he could hire,

Not a servant so faithful he found

For it wasted no time and had but one desire –

At the close of each week to be wound.

And it kept in its place, not a frown on its face,

And its hands never hung by its side;

But it stopped short – never to go again –

When the old man died.


Repeat Chorus


It rang an alarm in the dead of the night –

An alarm that for years had been dumb.

And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight,

That his hour for departure had come.

Still the clock kept the time with a soft muffled chime

As we silently stood by his side;

But it stopped short – never to go again –

When the old man died.


Repeat Chorus


The old clock  stands in The George to this day, still showing the time – five past eleven.




The  Ketton  Ox  Inn


The old North Riding of Yorkshire town of Yarm, now in the modern county of Cleveland, was an important coaching stop and in 1848 this tiny town had no less than 16 inns, half of which are still in use today. 
The imposing  Ketton  Ox,  dating from the 17th century, now the oldest inn in the town,  gains its name from a huge cow.  This famous shorthorn was reared by Charles Colling of Ketton Hall in 1796 and grew to the huge size of 220 stones and was valued at the enormous sum in those days of £250.

This inn was also a popular venue for  cockfighting  and a special room was set aside in the attic for that purpose.   When the ‘sport’ became illegal in 1849, cockfighting continued and a ‘decoy’ room was constructed alongside the original in case the place was raided.   Curious oval shaped windows, now covered up, gave good light into the arena.



The  Cleveland  Tontine  Inn


Standing at the junction of the A19 and the A172 roads in North Yorkshire near Northallerton,  The Cleveland Tontine Inn  is a stark reminder of the importance of coaching inns in the 17th and 18th centuries.  This stretch the A19 was built in 1804 – the Thirsk to Yarm Turnpike, and the sum of £2,500 was required to build a coaching inn.  Shares of £25 each were issued to pay for the project and thus purchaser’s were entitled to a proportionate share of the profits, but only in their lifetimes,  for it was a ‘tontine’.   This was a scheme invented by one Lorenzo Tonti in 1653, a kind of life annuity which increased for the survivor’s as the subscriber’s eventually died.   When only three shareholders were left, then the inn was their property in proportion to the number of shares which they held.



The  Birch  Hall  Inn




The picturesque tiny hamlet of  Beck Hole, tucked away in a deep fold of the North York Moors not far from Whitby, often features on calendars and guide books, and is the kind of place one stumbles upon by accident whilst trying to negotiate the extremely narrow, hilly roads in this lovely area.    The tiny  Birch Hall Inn  is not just the village pub, but is also the village shop and post office where you can buy a pint at the other side of a partition, and it has a unique sign outside its whitewashed facade -  an original oil painting in a glass case!    It is a painting of the area by Sir Algernon Newton RA; the father of actor Robert Newton, who was once a frequent visitor to this idyllic spot; and said to be good enough to have hung in the Royal Academy.   
The pub is also the headquarters of the Beck Hole Quoits Club, who take this local game very seriously and in fact in 1990 they produced their first world champion!   The game is very simple, each pitch on the village green has two iron pins exactly eighteen yards apart and set in a clay base.  The object is to throw a quoit, which is a shaped metal ring, over the pin and so on.  Actually there is a bit more to it than that and it is in fact a highly skilful game, as you will find out if you have a go.   The pub has been their HQ only since the Lord Nelson closed down and now just a cottage,  with an old quoit as a door knocker



The  Henry  Jenkins  Inn


The  Henry  Jenkins  Inn  at Kirby Malzeard near Ripon in North Yorkshire reminds us that Yorkshireman  Henry Jenkins is said to have been 169 years old when he died in 1670. 

The following epitaph, composed by Dr Thomas Chapman, master of Magedelene College, Cambridge, can be seen in the church at Bolton-on-Swale near Richmond in North Yorkshire :



A monument to the memory of Henry Jenkins was also erected in the churchyard in 1743, by public subscription.

Although no parish register exists to support Henry’s claim that he was born in 1500 at Ellerton-on-Swale, he certainly died at Bolton-on Swale in 1670, having lived there for some 20 years.   Born of peasant stock, Henry remained totally illiterate all his life.   He worked as a farm labourer, as butler to Lord Conyers and later in life as a thatcher and river fisherman.   A teetotaller, he regularly swam across the Swale when he was more than 100 years old.   He was often questioned about his long life by Lord Conyers who failed to find fault with his recollections such as the Battle of Flodden (1513) when Henry claimed to have guided a horse load of arrows to Northallerton for use in that battle; and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.   Other Swaledale centenarians clearly remembered that Henry was a very old man when they were young and all the evidence pointed to the truth of Henry’s claim.   He was often called to testify in court in ancient disputed matters and was a witness at York Assizes during the latter years of his life when he testified that to his knowledge, tithes of wool and lambs had been paid to the vicar of Catterick for at least 120 years.



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