Friday, October 9, 2015

A ruined church and Harvest Festival

A strange day, although the weather was beautiful, Turner would have needed a very large canvas to paint the skies of this Yorkshire day, the clouds strung from side to side in a bitingly blue sky, so different from the grey rainy day before.  We decided to go to Wharram Percy, the most famous deserted medieval village in England.  Somehow I always thought that I would never see this place, excavated by Beresford for 40 years, the lumps and bumps of this small village lie in a valley through which runs a small stream.

You arrive in a small car park and the path leads from there for three quarters of a mile, down you go there are small copses and the hiccuping sound of pheasants, the path runs deep below banks on either side, till at last you come to an open piece of land and then cross the small rivulet of water on a bridge.  Climbing upward you are now on the track way through the village.  A DMV is of course only lumps and shapes in the ground, we call these 'crofts and tofts' the regular setting out of house platforms in their gardens, a small self sufficient community of probably 185 people lived here once.  But their numbers gradually faded and then the local overlord turfed these last people out of their homes, so that he could have better grazing for his sheep.

What is strange though is the 18th century 'improved' farmhouse, that stands like a 'gingerbread house' in the hollow of the valley.  It is shuttered and empty but perfectly preserved, behind this farmhouse are the ruins of the church.  This church has apparently many manifestations over the centuries, being enlarged then made smaller, and is surrounded by grave stones.

Picturesque is of course the first words to fall off one's lips, we missed the fish ponds, basically I think because there were two people sitting there talking,but this valley had always had a source of water and had been occupied, probably from prehistoric times, evidence of Roman occupation was there also.

You can see the traces of the settlement in the far field

Ruined tower of the church
The old farmhouse

St. Martin

St.Martins Church, its development over the centuries

this is a site of one of the two manor houses

We plough the field, and scatter,
the good seed on the land

In the evening we went to the Harvest Festival in our church next door, it was very well decorated with polished red apples on the window ledges pretty flower arrangements, marrows, etc.  No sign of tins of baked beans though, there are not many children living in the village.   About 26 people attended, Jo had rung the bells for attendance, and there were refreshments afterwards.  LS forgot his glasses so could not sing the hymns, as this was the first time we had both attended church for sometime he has been silent as to the effect, though of course being gloomy about the fate of churches he sees them falling into disrepair through dwindling attendance.

Harvest Festival was 'invented' in 1843 by the eccentric Robert Steven Hawker vicar of a parish (Morewenstowe in Cornwall.


  1. Interesting photographs Thelma. The weather is glorious isn't it - just right for visiting Wharram Percy - still and Autumnal so you would hopefully 'get the feeling' of the place. Not sure I would like to live in that farmhouse (wonder why it is abandoned) - too many 'ghosts' nearby I should think.

  2. Well apparently there have been 'ghost hunters' on the prowl there, and who have 'seen' different ghosts. Take with a pinch of salt. It was beautiful and rather remote from the roads, set amongst large ploughed fields if you Google Earth it. The Autumn tree colouring is beautiful at the moment, sad that it has to disappear into winter.

  3. The Yorkshire countryside is very beautiful Ana, it changes almost abruptly from empty stretches of moors to small valleys full of trees and water, and then back to pencil sharp farmed fields.