A Little Jaunt around Northern England: Part 2
After a night in York we headed out for some more sightseeing. Our first port of call was the charming village of Coxwold about twenty miles north of the city. In the mid-18th century it was the home of the extraordinary and eccentric writer Laurence Sterne, who is most famous for Tristram Shandy, most of which he wrote there. The vicarage, which he renamed Shandy Hall, is still in private hands and is usually closed to the public but I was lucky to have visited in 2015.
Here is my photo of the addition that Sterne built with some of the profits from his glorious novel:
Nearby is Byland Abbey, now a picturesque ruin:
Afterwards we met some friends at Castle Howard, a few miles to the south. For those with longish memories, Castle Howard was where the TV series Brideshead Revisited was filmed in the early 1980s.
We were there on a perfect day as you can see from David’s photo:
Such palaces are designed to impress, which they still do, but they must have been really freezing in winter. I was even allowed to play one of their terrific pianos. There was an Erard very close in date to ours as well as a couple of square pianos. Here I am playing their Bösendorfer, which was in perfect condition:
David found a copy of the famous Roman statue of a wild boar in the garden and posed for a photo.
At tea we had a Ryedale Tyke, which is a hearty scone very much like a Fat Rascal, another Yorkshire treat. Here is a recipe:
By James Martin, BBC Food
• 150g/5¼oz plain flour
• 150g/5¼oz self-raising flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 65g/2¼oz lard, diced
• 65g/2¼oz unsalted butter, diced
• 90g/3¼oz caster sugar
• 1 orange, zest only
• 1 lemon, zest only
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
• 50g/1¾oz currants
• 50g/1¾oz raisins
• 50g/1¾oz sultanas
• 50ml/1¾fl oz double cream
• 2 free-range eggs, beaten
• 50g/1¾oz glacé cherries
• 50g/1¾oz blanched almonds
• 100g/3½oz clotted cream
• 70g/2½oz strawberry jam
• 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Sieve the flours into a bowl and stir in the baking powder.
3. Add the diced lard and butter and rub into the flour using your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4. Add the sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried fruit and mix until well combined.
5. Stir in the cream and half of the beaten egg until the mixtures comes together as a dough. Cut the dough into six pieces, shape into large rounds, 2cm/1in deep and place onto the prepared baking tray.
6. Brush the remaining beaten egg over the top of the ‘rascals’ and top with the glacé cherries and blanched almonds.
7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
8. Serve warm with the clotted cream, jam and butter.
These are best had with many cups of strong milky Yorkshire tea!
The following day we visited Burton Agnes, a country house that dates mostly from the 17th century.
The elaborate carvings inside are wonderful.
A big surprise was the magnificent collection of 19th and 20th century French art on the upper floors.
For the final couple of days we stayed in Beverley where a part of my family had lived from the mid-18th Century until nearly the end of the 19th. John Arden, my great-great-great-grandfather, was a philosopher, scientist, and teacher. He was one of the founders of the Bath Philosophical Society, along with Sir William Herschel, but by the late 1760s he had moved to Beverley. One of his pupils there was the redoubtable Mary Wollstonecraft, who was a very close friend of John Arden’s eldest daughter Jane. Mary’s rather bossy teenage letters to Jane survive and are now in print. The Ardens lived next door to the Beverley Arms Hotel, where we stayed. My ancestors’ house is just to the left of the inn in this 19th century photo:
Alas it was pulled down not long after this photo was taken.
The Wollstonecrafts lived nearer in Minster and happily that house survives. Just down the street is the home of Oliver De Lancey, who was born in America but supported the British in the Revolutionary War.
Here I am standing outside the Wollstonecraft house:
In 1797 my ancestor George Lambert bought this very house and his family lived there until 1880. Maybe there should be a second plaque? From the top windows they had a spectacular view of the Minster:
eorge and his son George Jackson Lambert were organists of the Minster for nearly 100 years. However, it was George’s daughter Elizabeth who was the reason for our visit. She was the organist of St. Mary’s, the other church in town. To say the least, it was highly unusual for a woman to hold such a post; we even know that she drew a respectable salary. She may have been a good musician but she was an extraordinary artist. When she died in 1830, her sister, Mary Anne, inherited her portfolio. She was my great-great grandmother and so it was eventually passed down to me. We decided, since all her art was fragile works on paper, to donate the whole lot to the town Beverley where they could be professionally conserved. A few weeks ago the Treasure House there mounted an exhibition of many of them. Through the kindness of Susan and David Neave, the amazing historians of the town and Sally Hayes from the Treasure House, a marvellous show was put on and we were thrilled to be there. Here is just a sample:
Finally, here is her drawing of Byland Abbey that we visited only a few days before (see photo above). Today it’s much less of a romantic ruin than it was nearly two hundred years ago.
We are so pleased that these delightful watercolours and drawings have returned to the place where they were created.
Lest you think we were mere culture-vultures the whole time, I must confess that we did our best to sample the local fare and not just food. In Beverley there is a bar called the East Riding Gin Club, which has more types of ‘mother’s ruin’ than I’ve ever seen! The Beverley Arms also offered an amazing variety of cocktails. Highly recommended by both of us is Rhubarb Gin of which the best local one was made by Slingsby of Harrogate. Wonderful stuff if you can find it!
So it was a terrific trip and for the most part the weather was kind. We have many happy memories of the places we saw and we’ll raise a glass of rhubarb gin & tonic to all the friends we met along the way.