Celebrating 125 years of village church

EACH spring, summer and autumn the countryside abounds with a schedule of rural events, to say nothing of winter celebrations.

By definition of their number, however, I can only sample or preview a small portion of them. What can generally start off as a simple brief of a 'can you give us a mention?' often rolls on into a full profile.

This, indeed, was the case when I was recently contacted with information relating to the forthcoming celebrations at the Church of St Andrew's, Burnt Yates to mark its 125th anniversary.

The celebrations will culminate in a Flower Festival and Heritage Exhibition in October, but much more will be happening before then.

Between June 14 and 21 Burnt Yates will be staging a Scarecrow Show, rounded off by a mid-summer event on June 21 which is the pre-cursor to the ongoing celebrations at St Andrew's Church each Sunday in the form of weekly worship.

Whilst not having the same touristic attraction as the neighbouring village of Ripley, resplendent with its castle, Ripley and Burnt Yates do have one thing in common. Rev Stephen Brown is the vicar at both churches supported by his curate Rev Ralph Hudspeth.

It was Janet Newall, the reader (lay preacher) at St Andrew's who pointed me in the right direction for this article.

She is ably supported in her role at St Andrew's by two church wardens, Sylvia Loxley and Hilda Walmsley.

Their telephone numbers are 771683 and 770149 respectively should anyone need more detailed information on the forthcoming celebrations.

Burnt Yates may initially seem to be just another pretty Dales village you may drive through en route up the Dale, but, as with many such villages it has a fascinating history and, over the centuries has been home to many local Dales characters.

It is, however, somewhat confusing as to where the village starts and finishes.

As you cross Thornton Beck on leaving Ripley on the B6165, the bridge is clearly marked 'Ripley' on one side and 'Clint' on the other.

In actual fact Burnt Yates is, indeed, in the parish of Clint, along with other hamlets such as Bedlam. History books tell us that 'The Church of St Andrew, Burnt Yates, Parish of Clint-cum-Hamlets was consecrated for divine service in 1883 by Bishop Hellmuth, co-adjutor to the Bishop of Ripon.'

Interestingly, at the conclusion of the consecration ceremony, an offering was made which raised 25 – 18s and 4d.

Getting back to the bridge – after crossing Thornton Beck the road climbs up Whipley Bank or, as some call it, Bedlam Bank, and here you pass Scarah Bank Farm, the home of Hilda Walmsley and her late husband Geoff. Scarah Hill, however, is on the other side of Thornton Beck on the Bishop Thornton Road.

I did say this was confusing, especially for those who don't know the area well, but then, this is part of the richness of our local and regional heritage and which becomes all the more fascinating when one starts to delve into it.

To whet the appetite of any would-be historians the ruins of Clint Hall, locally known as Clint Castle remain as a single pillar of masonry, possibly on the site of a settlement pre-Norman in origin.

There are also several boundary stones of the Forest of Knaresborough in the locality.

One former resident of note from Burnt Yates is William Mountain who it is alleged was a very clever mathematician and a member of the Royal Society. Locally, however, he is best remembered for being a co-founder of the school at Burnt Yates in the 1760s.

I was to learn from Hilda Walmsley, who was particularly helpful in assisting me to get these facts together, that, in fact, her grandmother on the Houseman side actually was a pupil at the original school (now a private house) across the road from the present day school.

Hilda has in her possession a certificate dated March 1888 awarded to Jane Hall who, it claims, passed all but one subject in the Seventh Standard. Jane went on to marry 'grandad Houseman'.

Whilst Hilda has lived at Scarah Bank Farm for 50 years, a previous family who resided there was the Scatchards, with Mr W Scatchard owning the Nidderdale Creameries based in Harrogate.

A photograph taken in 1904 that Hilda showed me was of a wedding group outside Scarah Bank Farm.

The photo commemorates the marriage of William Gratton to Florence Scatchard, with young William Scatchard in there somewhere!

The village, like most such rural clusters had its own post office and several shops, but then, so did many other villages 50 or 100 years ago.

If you think this is the end, it's really only the beginning of further tales and information about Burnt Yates and its families.