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Travelling History in Yorkshire (Part 2)

September 6, 2017

In this second instalment of our Yorkshire Blog we head away from Ilkley Moor and the Bronze Age and set off for the lovely town of Pocklington. Our destination was All Saint's Church.

 

A Preaching Cross outside commemorates a sermon of St. Paulinus in 627 AD. A beautiful 15th century head of the cross is to be found inside the church to this day. There are unfortunately no clues to the existence of its Early Mediaeval predecessor.

 

John Wesley preached at Pocklington at least 18 times in what seems to have been rather trying circumstances. On his first visit on 25th April 1752 he was offered a room just 5 yards square, or alternatively, a yard that, according to his diaries "......was plentifully furnished with stones - artillery ready to hand for the devil's drunken companions" During another visit in  1757, the All Saint's church bells were rung in an attempt to drown him out.

 

All Saint's is today attended by students from Pocklington School, as was the case in the eighteenth century. William Wilberforce was one such member of the congregation attending the school between 1771 and 1776. Whilst there he resided with the splendidly named headmaster, the Reverend Kingsman Baskett. 

 

Amongst the occupants of the churchyard lies  the "Flying Man" of Pocklington. In the early eighteenth century flying men were a popular attraction, showmen who would rig up ropes and paraphernalia to church steeples to astonish audiences with their flying skills. There would be one of two outcomes; aviation triumph or certain death as they plummeted ingloriously into the churchyard.  In 1733, Thomas Pelling attempted a "flight" from the steeple of All Saint's to the Star Inn, using a contraption suspended on a rope. Unfortunately a breakdown in communication between our flying man and the windless operator lead to disaster and Pelling, and his appended bat wings, crashed into the chancel wall with the latter outcome. He is buried where he fell.Thomas Pelling is remembered today at the annual Pocklington Flying Man festival.   

 

Our final stop was St, Ethelburga's church in nearby Great Givendale. A fabulous location with fish ponds apparently first dug by Vikings in the 9th century. It is a most picturesque spot and a great place for a picnic. The churchyard is home to the Singleton and Atkins families, both of whom occupied the nearby manor house. Jonathan Atkins was Governor of both Guernsey and Barbados in the 17th century. 

 

And thus concluded a short but fascinating tour of a tiny bit of Yorkshire. We are looking forward to further trips to this fantastic, welcoming and historical county.

 

 

 

 

 

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