Monday, 4 August 2014

9. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: Boroughbridge

Threading through the diary entries are glimpses of Boroughbridge and the countryside around: John records taking visitors to see the Devil’s Arrows or the Aldborough Pavement; riding his cousin Richard Hirst’s mare to the top of Gibbet Hill; going to the river “to bathe through the pasture and jolly it was”; walking down the river past Ramsdens; walking through Langthorpe down Dog Kennel Lane; going to the Water Cress Spring near Low Dunsforth; walking to the Ouseburn Bar. 

People appear, mentioned fleetingly.  In April 1856 John had his hair cut at Bulmer’s and his watch mended at Glew’s.  He got a dog from Capes, that Capes had bought from Mr Peacock, the relieving officer.  He went fishing and ferreting with Slater, the Roecliffe gamekeeper, or at the Mill with Baldrey (possibly the young schoolmaster lodging at Whixley in 1851).  He and his friend Smallwood walked up the river to drink porter at Bickerdikes.  On summer evenings he would play or watch the cricket – on 3 July 1856 he watched the match between Langton Wold and Boroughbridge.

There were annual events: the fairs, November the Fifth – in 1856 John walked round the town to see the fireworks on November 5th (Dr Sedgwick had his display two days earlier).  There were visiting attractions – travelling circuses  (Cookes or Pablo Fanque’s) were always a great favourite but sometimes the entertainment was rather more unusual:
Monday January 14th 1856
Went to Office   Sat with Aunt Hirst as all the rest were at Eagles Clairvoyant Entertainment   Read Blackstone
Miss Eagle of Eagles Clairvoyant Entertainment was staying at the White Horse Inn – a couple of days later Bessie Carrass went to ask her for news of John’s uncles Richard and Giles Henlock, who had emigrated to New Zealand in about 1835.  Miss Eagle (inaccurately) predicted Richard’s return in 1857.  Both are mentioned in Uncle William Henlock’s Will made in 1865 and it seems Richard died in Australia in 1876.
Monday November 7th 1859
to office.   At night read Equity at the office.   Went at noon to call at Mrs Parkers   Went at night to Miss Grace Egertons entertainmt at the White Horse
Mrs Morrell of the White Horse also kept vehicles for hire – in May 1857 the cab was hired to take John’s parents, sister Jane and Mr Capes to Joe’s wedding in York; in March 1858 John and his friend Mark Smallwood went in Morrells’ phaeton to Ripon to visit friends; in February 1859 John and a friend went in Morrells’ dogcart to a party in Humburton; and in November 1859 a large party of ten people took Morrells’ omnibus to Thornton Bridge to a party at Thomas Lund’s house.

There were concerts :
Monday October 13th 1856
Went to Office.   At Noon Walked up Topcliffe Road  Went to Capes’s  At Night Uncle Hirst gave me a tickett to the Concert (Singers Miss Barwick & Miss Newbound  Mr Wilson Lambert & Delavanti)  It was very nice  All passed off well.   I went to Capes’ to sup  Heaton Clark, Uncle & Aunt Pick were there.   Got home about 11
It is not clear where this concert took place, with the celebrated Mrs Lockey and others:
Tuesday October 13th 1857
Went to office   At Noon about home   At Night went to Concert   Heard Mrs & Mr Lockey & Miss Banks sing & Blagrove the violinist & brother the Concertina player also Mr Aylward on the Violin cello   It was most glorious   Supped with Smallwood  Young Johnson was there
Young Johnson was probably Tom Mason Johnson, who was training as a doctor with Dr Crosby of Great Ouseburn.

On September 8th 1858 John and Smallwood attended the Leeds Musical Festival at the Town Hall, opened the previous day by Queen Victoria in a wildly successful visit.  After a morning at work they drove Mrs Morrell’s phaeton to Starbeck station and went on by train to Leeds, still lavishly decorated from the Royal visit.  They heard some of the greatest singers of the 19th century – including Madame Clara Novello, Madame Alboni, Sims Reeves – in a programme that included the first performance of William Sterndale Bennett’s The May Queen.  It “was glorious.”  John finally got home at about a quarter to three in the morning.

There was also amateur music – on 23 February 1858 there was an Oratorio in the Schoolroom.  John’s friend William Stott Steele sang “and several others” – and more informally, in the autumn of 1857, John went glee singing at Miss Stott’s and the Sedgwicks’.

At the beginning of May 1857 he was involved in days of preparation for the Bazaar to be held in the schoolroom – the great attraction was to be the “German Tree”, which must have been a May variant of the newly introduced Christmas tree:
Friday May 1st 1857
Went to Office  At Noon Capes  Jane  Joe & I dined with Aunt Bell.   At Night Smallwood & I walked to Crows to see him about a ham for the tea party on the night of the Bazaar
The Crow brothers of Ornhams Hall were bachelor farmers, related to the Howes of Ouseburn.
Saturday May 2nd 1857
Went to Office.   At Noon was about home.   At Night I was at the School Room with Smallwood  Owen & Leond Sedgwick making arrangements for the German Tree

Monday May 4th 1857
Went to Office.   At Noon Read Equity.   At Night was decorating the school room in preparation for the German Tree tomorrow

Tuesday May 5th 1857
Went to Office.   At Noon Joe & I had a walk up the River.   At Night went to the School Room to tea & to the German Tree.   Put into several loteries   got a cushion which I sold to [Revd] Owen for 12/-   got an antimacassar  a pr of slippers  &c   Had a very pleasant evening   got home about ten
A few weeks later he drove his cousins Mary and Sophy Hirst in their father’s dogcart to the Brafferton Bazaar, where they “had some good fun raffleing &c &c”

In September there was the annual Ouseburn Feast:
Monday September 21st 1857
Went to Office   Left about ten   walked to Ouseburn Feast   Dined at Uncle Picks   Capes dined with us   went to tea at Uncle Wms   Called at Crosby’s   Smallwood came on after tea & had supped with us at Uncle Wms   Lascelles & wife  Miss Haddon  Howe & wife  Old Pick & wife   Richd Paver  Ellison & wife were there   Smallwood & I walked home   arrived about 11.50 pm  
Mr Ellison was the steward for Lord Stourton of Allerton Park. 

Sometimes there were Missionary Meetings:
Thursday May 19th 1859
Came home by train from Helperby.   To office   at noon read law.   In the afternoon Capes Joe & I were ferretting with Poulter at the Mill    At night I rode to Ouseburn  but the good people there had gone to a missionary meeting so I did not see them
The Boroughbridge church anniversary was celebrated:
Friday July 24th 1857
Went to Office at ½ past six   stayed till after eight   At ½ past eight Smallwood Steele Joe & I went to Langthorpe   Miss Stott was getting in a stack   we took our dogs & killed loads of mice & twelve rats.   Got back about ½ past eleven.   At Noon was about home.   At Night went to Church  Revd Arthur Maister preached   it was the anniversary of the Church opening   Supped at Joes.   Father & Mother came home from Mrs Workmans.   Two Miss Scholfieds came to Capes’
and alterations made to the organ
Sunday May 9th 1858
Morning & Evening to Aldbro Church   Afternoon to Kirby Hill   No service at BB Church on acct of alterations in the Organ   Hy Redmayne slept with me at Uncles
Henry Redmayne had evidently come over from Settle.

A couple of times John records a fire in the town:
Tuesday February 5th 1856
… Mrs Powells house was on fire, not much damage done

Friday November 27th 1857
Went to Office.   At Noon Mr Harrisons Stables & Chamber over were on fire …
and living at the Bridge Foot, the river was always important:
Sunday September 28th 1856
Went twice to BB [church] & once to Aldbro   We had a very high River   moved the things out of the Kitchen but it did not come in

Sunday December 7th 1856
Very high Water   it got into our kitchen and it was in the Street  had not been such a high water of 35 years.   Went once to BB Church.   Joe was in York.   I was very busy all day.

Monday December 8th 1856
Did not go to Office  Before Breakfast the water was across the road  Went after in Robert Pettys Rulley.   At Noon we had the Boat at the Crab Mills & rowed Jane Capes Dora & Mary about in the Tut   I rode Joes Mare in the field.   At Night I read Margaret & her bridesmaids  Went to the Station to meet Joe
A rulley was usually a flat four-wheeled wagon.  Margaret and her Bridesmaids by Julia Stretton was published in 1856.  John often records the books he was reading.
Monday December 5th 1859
To office.   Had tea with Joe & was about home   all the night we had a very high water just did get in to our kitchen  got to bed about ½ past 3
and on occasion fatal:
Saturday May 14th 1859
To office.   At Noon Steele Capes Joe & I went to Chr Lofthouses stable to see a corpse which was found in the Canal.   At night went to Aldbro  Had a walk with Capes
Christopher Lofthouse kept the Grantham Arms at Langthorpe.

Devil's Arrows, Boroughbridge (early C20 postcard)

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