Knaresborough in old picture postcards

Knaresborough in old picture postcards

:   Arnold Kellett
:   Yorkshire, North
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2597-0
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Knaresborough in old picture postcards'

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Knaresborough is, ab ave all things, a picture postcard town, one of the most photogenic in Europe. lts setting is unique - a fairy-tale gorge of the River Nidd, dominated by the craggy heights on which the first settlement must have been made countless centuries ago,

It was an easy place to defend, an ideal site for a camp or a fortification - and this provides the best explanation of how the name originated - a combination of 'knarre', the Anglo-Saxon for a rugged outerop of rock, and 'burgh', meaning fortress. This was certainly the opinion of J ohn Leland, Henry VIII's historian, who visited Knaresborough in 1540: The Toune itself taketh name of the Rokky Ground that it standeth on. So the name pre serves the essential reason for the existence of the town. In the beginning Knaresborough was simply 'the fortress on the rock'. The first encampment here may well have been in prehistorie times, and later the area would be known to that fierce Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, and to the Romans, who eventually subdued them in 74 A.D. It was not, however, until the Normans had subjugated the Angles and Saxons in the decades following 1066 that Knaresborough Castle first took shape. The first Norman overlord was Serlo de Burgh, who had fought alongside William at Hastings,

Notorious early occupants of the Cast1e were Hugh de Moreville and his three fellow-assassins, who took refuge here in 1170 after they had murdered Thomas à Beeket. Then King John stayed here on at least

twelve occasions, inspecting the newly-dug moat and other improvements being made by Brian de Lisle. The most important royal residents were Edward Il, who largely rebuilt the Castle in the early part of the fourteenth century, and his son Edward 111, who lived here with his lady, Queen Philippa, and their sons, the Black Prince and J ohn of Gaunt. The Queen appears to have taken a great interest in the growing town of Knaresborough. For example, in 1343 she restored the Parish Church, founded in the Norman period, but burnt down by marauding Scots in 1318.

Starting life as a strategie little garrison town, and becoming an occasional royal residence, Knaresborough soon developed a thriving market and, from Tudor times, a cottage industry based on flax, which eventuaily led to Walton's Castie Mill providing linen for the royal household. The importance of the Castle abruptly declined in December 1644, when it was taken by the Parliamentary army. However, though royalty and military personnel no longer came to Knaresborough, there were many visitors who now used it as a base for taking the waters at the new spa three miles away, on what was described as a 'bleak and dreary heath'. In 1571 William Slingsby had discovered the Tewit Weil, and by 1649 a York physician was enthusiastically promoting it in a book entit1ed 'The English Spa - or the Glory of Knaresborough'.

Although Knaresborough was the first English town to be linked with the name borrowed from the town

of Spa in Belgium, it was inevitable that accommodation would be built close to the mineral springs. The eighteenth century saw the development of two hamlets - High Harrogate, near the Tewit and St. John's Welis, and Low Harrogate, around the Old Sulphur WeIl. Such was the vogue for spa visiting that by the end of the following century the two hamlets had mushroomed into a town of ab out 20,000 inhabitants, whereas Knaresborough's population 'remained statie at around 5,000.

An important practical consequence of this was that Knaresborough was disfranchised, that is, it lost the right to elect its own M.P. Since 1553 the townsfolk had been sending two members to Parliament, but the privilege was now handed over to the flourishing spa of Harrogate with the good grace indicated by this mock obituary notice: In Affectionate Remembrance of the Electoral Borougb of Knaresborough, who after an existence of 332 years, 1 month and 9 days, during whicb time th is Borougb returned 187 members to the House of Commons, departed this life on Wednesday, November 18th 1885.

Still, there was plenty of life left in the busy little market town, and this book provides photographic evidence of a community not only blessed by an incredibly picturesque setting but also enjoying a rich variety of social life. Of course, we must beware of sentimental nostalgia for the pretty cottages and quaint corners. Times were often hard and life uncertain. When the earliest of these photographs were

taken Knaresborough people still had vivid memories of the outbreak of cholera which struck the town the day before Christmas Eve 1848. When the Improvement Commissioners (forerunners of the Knaresborough Urban District Council) appointed their first medical officer in 1873 he immediately drew attention to the dangerous lack of sanitation, noting, for example, that the inhabitants of eight cottages in Bond End had to share a single privy.

A second mock obituary notice might well have been printed in 1974, when Knaresborough finally lost its independenee and became part of the Harrogate District. In researching for this book I have constantly met a strong feeling of civic seniority, 'Why', exclaimed one proud old Knaresborian, 'Harrogate was once no more than an acorn in the Forest of Knaresborough!' True, and the acorn has grown into an overshadowing oak-tree. But at least let us be thankful that Knaresborough did not develop into an industrial town - partly because the coliapse of the almost completed viaduct in 1848 delayed a link with the railway network.

Those born and bred in Knaresborough also point out that many attractive buildings and streets have been inexcusably demolished. Even so, Knaresborough retains much that is pleasing to the eye ... I can only hope that the following glimpses of the past will encourage us to preserve the best of the present.

1. This view taken in the 1870's shows part of the ruined keep of Knaresborough Castle, towering above the River Nidd in its almost impregnable position, At this time the Castle grounds had not been landscaped, and we can see the rough paths leading down the crag. The riverside had not been fully developed either, but there were habitations and smal! mills for grinding corn and fulling cloth, and also a dye-house, The building shown here was the indigo-mill, where dried plants were ground to pro duce the deep-blue dye, Notice the Dickensian gentleman wearing a stove-pipe hat, and the brass cannon, which was apparently swept away a few years later when the river flooded.

2. Knaresborough Castle, in its magnificent setting above the romantic gorge of the Nidd, was extremely popular with Victorian and Edwardian visitors. Although there are Norman foundations, the majority of the ruins date from the fourteenth century, when the Castle had twelve tewers and a great keep, the remnant of which we see here. In December 1644, not long after their victory at Marston Moor, the Parliamentarians took the Castle after a siege lasting three weeks, Along with other Royalist strongholds Knaresborough Castle was later systematically blown up on the orders of Oliver Cromwell. The Castle and grounds are leased to the Council by the Duchy of Lancaster. This is explained by the fact that in 1372 ownership was granted by Edward III to his sen, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

3. An early postcard sent by someone who had been into the sinister Castle dungeon, a view which has remained unchanged since the fourteenth century. This central pillar supports twelve graceful arches, whose beauty would scarcely have been appreciated by the prisoners, manacled to the wall. There is a legend that they were moved around until they faced the light from the single window - and then they knew it was their turn to be executed. We rnay doubt this story but not the claim that no prisoner ever escaped from this fearsome dungeon with walls 14 feet thick. Knaresborough's most famous prisoner, Richard 11, had superior accornmodation upstairs in the King's Chamber, when he stayed here in 1399 shortly before bis execution at Pontefract.

4. Cheapside in 1900 - a typical street-scene of the time, with carts instead of cars, women in shawls and aprons, and a man smoking a clay pipe. Beyend the hardware shop on the right is Hall's, 'Muffin and Crumpet Baker'. The shop on the left, at the corner of Cheapside and Briggate, was the 'Sixpence-Halfpenny Bazaar', a kind of forerunner of Woolworth's. According to adverts of the time, for 6Y.!d. you could get incandescent gas-lights and dothes-baskets and 'penny goods too numero us to mention',

5. The Market Place at one time reached as far as the Castle, whose garrison would form a nucleus for trading. First mentioned in 1206, the market has officially been held here every Wednesday since Edward H's charter made the inhabitants free burghers. The Market Place was entirely cobbled untill963, as shown in this old postcard view, long befere the present-day dutter of cars. You can perhaps just see that one of the boys is wearing a sailor-collar, characteristic of the period.

c:/'Ytarkef J>lace. cÀnares6orougf.

6. A typical market-day in Edwardian times, with the square crammed full of stalls and crowded with shoppers. In the foreground is the large pitch occupied by Morrison's, well-known dealers in pots and every kind of crockery. Of the permanent shops around the Market Place we can just see, on the extreme right, Mason's hardware store, then Hebblethwaite's drapery and millinery, and Eddy's Cash Boot Stores, just before the Oldest Chemist's Shop.


7. The Market Place on a quiet day before the First Wor1d War. We can clearly see the unique feature of a gas-lamp in place of the original market cross. The lamp was replaced by an electric one, and then in 1953 by the present memorial-like cross, made by Cecil Naden. The base, dating from 1709, remains, with a token remnant of cobbles. This postcard reminds us that the Market P1ace used to be the bus terminus.

8. The most interesting establishment in the Market Place is the Oldest Chemist's Shop in England, in continuous use as a pharrnacy since at least 1720. The box windows on legs of 'Chinese Chippendale' were added in about 1760. The name of Lawrence on the board at the top deserves to be prominent. As father and son (seen in the doorway) the Lawrences were chemists here for more than a century, until the late Mr. W.P. Lawrence, still active in bis nineties, retired in 1965. Some of the early postcards show the inscription across the front 'The Noted House for Ye SpecialOld Englyshe Lavender Water', which has been made on the premises to a secret recipe ever since the eighteenth century.

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