On one of my recent skirmishes across the North York Moors, I particularly wanted to visit St Hedda’s Church in Egton Bridge because, as well as being a beautiful building, it is where my parents were married.
I wanted to show it to my companion because, although it doesn’t look that special on the outside, inside it is an absolutely stunning church. Designed in 1867 by notable architect Matthew Ellison Hadfield (who was also responsible for the Catholic cathedrals in Salford and Sheffield) when you open the doors you are greeted by a vision of colour and splendour, dominated by a spectacular curved sky blue ceiling decorated with gold stars. The altar is surrounded on all sides by brightly coloured paintings and panels depicting saints and scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. It is reminiscent of the ornate church interiors you see in places like Italy and Spain rather than in a remote corner of the North York Moors.
As we came out of the church, I was keen to show my friend a favourite picture of Mum and Dad leaving the church just after their wedding. They married on 10th January 1959 after a nasty snow storm, and it is a gorgeously atmospheric image taken by Whitby photographer John Tindale.
I scrolled through the photos on my phone, but could I find the picture in question? I could not. It may have had something to do with the fact there are, ridiculously, 30,000+ stored on there. I spent much of the rest of the day trying to locate it in between our various pit stops. I finally gave up and concentrated on the task in hand, which was looking for Hannah Raw’s grave (as featured last week) and visiting the Witching Post pub in Egton, which is has a witch post in the ceiling as you walk into the bar.
Once at the pub, we got chatting to the charming staff, explaining what we were doing. They suggested that I needed to get my hands on a copy of the local magazine, Esk Valley News, the latest edition of which had just come out. It had a piece on witch posts and they informed us that we could get hold of it at the Co-op in Grosmont, so that was our next destination.
I must confess that I imagined this magazine would be some amateurish free pamphlet put together with the main aim of advertising local trades and suppliers. How wrong was I! I was presented with a very professionally-produced journal stretching to a whopping 165 pages. It is a quarterly publication, and this edition was a ‘folklore, witchcraft and tradition’ special, absolutely jam-packed with contributions from local writers and experts. Having a quick flick through I put it in my bag, planning to read it properly when I got home (Incidentally, if you are ever in Grosmont, then I recommend you visit this little Co-op because not only is it a very useful shop and post office, it also stocks delicious home-made pies, pastries and cakes, and we couldn’t resist indulging!).
It was a very successful trip, and provided me (as you may have noticed over recent weeks) with plenty of fodder for future columns. We ended the day with a walk along Wheeldale Gill, and on the way back were blessed with one the most glorious sunsets I have seen. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
Once home, I handed my copy of Esk Valley News to my mum, who was born and bred there, and therefore was very interested to see it. In the meantime, I sat down to mull over the day’s events and examine the dozens of pictures I’d taken on the trip, deciding which ones would the best to accompany future columns (which explains why I have 30,000+ on my phone!).
Mum’s voice interrupted me: “Did you buy this because your dad is in it?”
“What?” I took back the magazine, and sure enough, there was a two-page feature on my dad written by a childhood friend. I had no idea and had failed to spot it when I’d flicked through earlier.
And right there with the article was a picture of my parents at their wedding. Yes, the very same one I’d been looking for all day long. I think that is what one might call a rather serendipitous purchase.
Read more at countrymansdaughter.com. Follow me on Twitter @countrymansdaug
This column appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on 10th and Ryedale Gazette and Herald on 8th March 2023