Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Come along with me on an atmospheric walk around the winding ways of this ancient city where I utilise forty years of experience of hosting ghost walks around York. I shall write as I recall and be as true to the recollections of witnesses and to my own innate abilities as for accurate representation of historic events you may feel the need to go check such details out for yourself.

Oh yes, As we wander I shall try to remain true to my major influence for I shall be explaining as we go along the details of my claim to fame; Son of York’s first ghost walker.

Adrian Spendlow

 

 

 

There is a strict no swearing policy and definitely no entertainment allowed, in the vibrant, friendly, (and gay friendly), little pub by the York Minster; The York Arms.

You may feel like swearing though if you were to use the stairs. you will be on the floor. As the stairs only lead to the private accommodation it will serve you right for either not paying attention or for being up to no good. The stairs are guarded. You may see the figure of a previous landlady or you may not. If you do you may have a moment to consider how elegant she is with her flowing hair and long gown. Whether you see her or not you will feel her presence. Just in the instance of a strong sensation of anger at your intrusion you will feel her push you very hard. You are on your way down. All in the back bar will see you and definitely hear you as you crash to the floor by the serving hatch. You may still be conscious but are unlikely to be able to run, or to even get up; so you will be apprehended for your crime. For the crime of interfering with the privacy of the lady on the stairs. She keeps her fellow residents safe.stairs

Even less friendly is the ghost across the road, he is running away, running away to cause trouble. Especially if chased. Especially on the eve of his death, death, death.

 

 

   

Tortured, hanged, drawn, quartered and then burnt over and over again. No wonder he causes fires if disturbed.

Yes we have left York Arms and across from there you can see, you guessed it, the Guy Fawkes Tavern (formerly Youngs Hotel). You have passed the main doors of the Minster and more poignantly St Michael Le Belfry. That’s where we are coming from. That’s where the ‘guy’ (sic) was christened. Contrary to what you may have heard of late Guy was his real name. It isn’t now, but it was when he was christened. Guy Fawkes. He was a hero. A hero of Catholicism; a servant of the Pope. Remember remember his whole world was Catholic; the whole of Christendom as they referred to it.

The British (*spit*) protestants were anti-Jew and anti-Catholic, quite an austere lot altogether really. Mr Fawkes was following a Papal Bull – a holy command.

Britain was up against the world and the Pope issued instructions to do whatever you could to destroy the new faith.

Guy was a hero in Spain and his righteous valour caused him to be awarded the more fitting first name of Guido, this he preferred and this we shall call him from now on.

 

 

Guido the terrorist, globalist, servant of the Pope, soldier, did not blow up the houses of parliament, he did not try to blow up the houses of parliament, well he did yet it is not the purpose of his endeavours. He was just a distraction so the King’s boys could be abducted and brought up Catholic. The future of the throne was the main intent.

Thus it is that on a certain date, (Remember remember the ‘fourth’ of November), his angry restless spirit appears to storm home from St Michael Le Belfry to his birthplace, through the tavern to the read annex where he was born.

His storming figure has been seen in the residential area. Two women told my mum of their experiences there. This was the fourth of November, the eve of his death. This is, of course, a death which has been re-enacted countless times.

The fifth of November is Bonfire Night and upon every bonfire, (originally fires of bone), is placed an effigy of Guido Fawkes. No wonder he is angered into haunting as his horribly cruel death is venerated over and over again culminating in explosive cheers and sizzling bones. Everywhere they dance to his death, everywhere except St Peters School. He is an old boy of St Peters. So, it is told, that they never burn a guy – they burn a gal. Victims of their ritual burnings are said to have included Victoria Beckham, Maggie and Katie Price.

 

 

The year the two women saw him that rule was planned to be broken – St Peters school planned to burn a guy, ‘the’ Guy, their Guy. No wonder he stormed home.

“Excuse me,” cried one of the ladies as they ran down the stairs from the residential area, “There is a strange man upstairs,” “Yes,” added her friend, “an intruder.” The bar ‘guy’ ran upstairs and sure enough there was the intruder, a sinister figure in a long black flowing cloak. “Oy,” he half turned towards the bar man’s call then marched on. On into the end of the corridor. On, right through the wall.guido The office beyond burst into flames at just gone midnight – November the fifth.

There are ghosts in this ancient city and my mum knows that for sure. She met many of the witnesses. She worked for the author: John Mitchell. He wrote Ghosts of an Ancient City. It is still out there and it started it all. Not the inventor of the ghost walk though. The original ghost walks were invented by…

My mum’s pals.

A gang of them. They got together and chatted and the next thing mum knows the phone is ringing. “You know how you were the researcher and met all the witnesses first hand?”

“Yes.” Hang fire here comes the invention of ghost walks…

“Why don’t you take us on a walk round York and tell us the stories where they actually happened.” Now there are eight or nine companies doing ghost walks every night of the week.

 

 

Yes my mum was in on it at the beginning but she didn’t know that my sister Ginny was too. John Mitchell ran experimental groups which would have several lasting repercussions. It is only in the last couple of years that it has come out that they both attended these groups.

The library at St Olavs is dedicated to John Mitchell, but his chief work was undertaken while he was teacher, and later ‘head’ at the ancient school of St Peters.

People from all walks of life were invited to experiential workshops with experiments, practices and discussions.mitchell

Mum listened to voices among white noise, talked to the dead, discussed the power of visitation with the then late H G Wells, held vigils late into the dark, felt upturned wine glasses fill with power,

“So did I,” proclaimed my sister, “with my teacher.” Her teacher from Mill Mount School for Girls had recruited her for one of John Mitchell’s projects. Light in the dark; wisdom for the believer.

From all of those groups came the search for witnesses, from these came a book, from this came the ghost walks. From those decades of ghost walks came an invitation for me to tell ghost stories to young people. Ghost stories in St Olavs school in the John Mitchell library. I told stories but not for long as you will see.

 

 

I did them ‘the worst thing about doing ghost walks’. The worst thing about doing ghost walks is – there is always someone on my ghost walk who knows a better story than me! It is just not fair!

Take the lady who told me of coming home from work late. It was a large terrace house which had been split into two and her and her husband had the top part as their apartment.

She was late home. Work were keeping her. She managed to let her husband know. She would not be in till 19.30 but he would have a meal ready.

She got off work not as late as expected and headed home. She let herself in and started up the stairs, as she neared their apartment she heard voices.

There was someone talking to her husband; it was a woman.

There was a woman inside her home. She could hear her voice. That woman was in her living room.

She burst open the door. There was no one there.

She could still hear voices. They were in the bedroom.

She crept to the door; she burst it open. There was no one there.

They were in the bathroom. She could definitely hear them talking. She burst open the door.

 

 

There was her husband looking in the mirror and shaving. As he slowly looked round, she asked, “Who were you talking to?”

He answered haltingly, “I, thought, I was talking to you.”

Then he was staring to the side of her – to – behind – the – door. She peered around the door and there was a young woman. She was dressed smartly, but rather old fashioned; her full-skirted black lace dress had frilled cuffs and a ruff at the neck, “I must be in the wrong house.”

The young woman walked out and around my friend and past her into the lounge. They watched as she opened the main door, they heard her clunk down the stairs. They heard the front door open and close. They came to their senses and ran after her.

They ran down the stairs. They got to the door – it was locked. Locked, twice, and both bolts were across and the chain was on.

By they had it open the woman was gone. They locked up and went back up into the lounge. He flopped in one chair and she in the other. They stared for a second then one said, “She was as real as me and you.”

Then the other said, “But,” and then they both said at the same time, “She didn’t have any feet.”

Yes she was as real as me and you but she disappeared from the ankles down.

After a few more such tales as this it was time for the kids, and boy did they know tales.

 

 

They frightened each other; the girl with no face, the lover who turned out to be long dead, the figure you just know is right behind you, the building no one ever goes in and no one ever returns from, the ribbon around the neck which must never be removed, the fingers in the trunk, the light over the gravestone, the warrior who slowly turns towards you, the romans in the cellar, the roman in the Minster, the angry figure. They frightened each other.

I reminded them of whose library we were in. John Mitchell would certainly be listening, he spent his life trying to discover the truth about life after death. He was York’s man of ghosts, now his school’s pupils were telling ghost stories in his library, of course he was listening, and going by the bristling tension we had created, of course he would be proud.

 

Click links below to see previous editions

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Request to receive emails to keep up to date.

I highly recommend: http://www.ghostwalkyork.co.uk/

See also my Nordic Prose poems of the Gods and Goddesses series…

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #32 Lay of Hymir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Come along with me on an atmospheric walk around the winding ways of this ancient city where I utilise forty years of experience of hosting ghost walks around York. I shall write as I recall and be as true to the recollections of witnesses and to my own innate abilities as for accurate representation of historic events you may feel the need to go check such details out for yourself.

Oh yes, As we wander I shall try to remain true to my major influence for I shall be explaining as we go along the details of my claim to fame; Son of York’s first ghost walker.

Adrian Spendlow

Heralding a Great Show

 

You don’t tend to notice any metaphysical atmosphere in these particular passageways you are where you wished to be; you are a thespian. Carrying large holdalls of make-up and costumes up the steep twisting stairway here is more about destination. It is a convoluted route to being on the stage; for you are climbing to the theatre dressing rooms. The excitement of your prospects tends to lift you; you are climbing to dizzy heights.008

This is the Theatre Royal, York and it is a tennis court.010 Plays take place in this tennis court but that is what it is. Back in the year which in this modern age you can look up for yourself it started out that way.

“Can we have a theatre here?”

“No.”

“OK then we will have a tennis court.”

The population of York and far and wide were invited to the tennis court to watch King Lear.

“You are putting on plays.”

“This is a tennis court.”009

(NB I chose King Lear as it is often described as impossible to stage in a theatre but this was in a tennis court.)

 

The winding stairs were built afterwards.004

Some of the rooms those stairs lead to were there already it seems. The reader is leaping ahead now and deciding we are about to hear all about the existence of the Theatre Royal’s Grey Lady,012 well the reader is wrong, there are two ghosts in the theatre, both are Grey Ladies; yes there are two of them.022

Pray for a good death, live a good life; a fair one, even so a trick of fate, a cruel wickedness, can lead to centuries of wailing.

What quite leads to age upon age of mischievousness is not so clearly understood unless it was loving a building too much.015

‘The’ Grey Lady roams the place and is seen often and word is out on her that if she is seen there will be a full house; that the show will have a successful run. This legendary advantage is evidence in itself that she is seen quite often, not because there are regular full houses, but that when a member of the acting profession is upset because of the sight of her the joke is on you to be told, “Don’t worry it is a sign of a good show.” Thus the legend continues in an unhelpful way by making fun of the poor sobbing thespian who is scared to go backstage;016 to stand in the wings, or to look out into the audience.

 

For this is where she is; if you are stage left you will be wondering, as you await your cue, who the mature lady is, so still in concentration upon you from the distant stage right.021

If you are due to come down on a wire she is in the rafters, (do not go down a shoot from centre stage whatever you do), if you look out at the audience seeking to meet the eye of a safe looking face don’t be too sure that they are still alive.

For these are places she is often seen, by actor or audience member alike, (or perhaps I am being over inclusive simply to increase interest), no, it is so.

Marie of the theatre staff told me of seeing the Grey Lady in all of these places and a guy in a pub told me too.

To bring you back into the realms of believability this is a ghost tale which goes back in popularity to well before ghost walks. It is as old as the theatre, well no, as old as the Grey Lady.

I sat at that pub, in the beer garden, telling my sister of a commission to collect ghost stories for broadcast when a guy across the way overheard. He had been in the post of Domestic Services Coordinator for the theatre and he had seen the Grey Lady.017

 

There had been a huge response to their advertising for more cleaners and it was decided they would all have to sit in the stalls. They set up an interview area on the stage and worked their way through. At last mid-afternoon his assistant said they had finished and being a thorough chap, he pointed out that they hadn’t finished as there was still the lady in grey who was sat further back. His assistant said everyone had gone and he insisted the lady had been staring at him from the back all afternoon.018

“There is no one there.”

“Yes there is,” he stood up and pointed, no there wasn’t.

She is mischievous though, which leaves one wondering on her reason for haunting; if there is a reason for the sight of a ghost. Perhaps yes, she loved the place too much and could not bear to move on upon her death.

For she is seen at performances and rehearsals and makes her presence felt;014 lights go on and off quite frequently. Staff will be extra sure they have made every safety check upon locking up for the night. As they look back upon wandering away there is a light shining. (I note there are never reports of taps running or doors unlocking or anything which may endanger the fabric of the building or the surety of future shows.) 019

 

Yet when they plod back up those narrow stairs they find that the light in question is no longer on and as they work their way back down another light now is.

There is a more definite reason for the other famed haunting – she doesn’t know she is dead.025

For those of us with an awareness of spirit there is a blatant sense of despair. Most of us are sensitive in such places and are affected though not all people know why they react the way they do.

I would like to think that I knew that the story behind the experience was true but I knew the tale before I went in there and picked up upon it though.

The walled-up nun. Several different folks who may each describe themselves as clairvoyant mediums have reported the same or similar.005

Well they all match up to the long-told story; she was bad.024

 

Actually she may well have been a victim; a modern view might well have seen a situation thus. Even in some present day societies the dark ages concept of a woman being ‘tainted’ by the actions of a man still have currency – the word ‘despoiled’ comes to mind.

You can tell your dates and places, you can look at the history of consensual respect – she had sex.023

The man, for it was a man, doesn’t seem to be haunting anywhere, so probably wasn’t walled up or castigated – she was.027

They may have slipped tit bits through a crevice to prolong her existence but be assured she was in the dark, her ability to move was severely restricted, there were no facilities, no warmth and there certainly was no hope. This was a dead woman breathing.020

She is dead now, she is not breathing, she is still in existence. Admittedly, as a ghost she is steadily, very slowly, dwindling. There is as nothing of her left in fact except the despair and (multiply those type feelings a tenfold and then you come up with a word for it): She is bad.

 

It is just a story.

Go in that dressing room then.

The one next door is identical; rows of mirrors with lights: 028

The acting profession are famed for being protective of their space. Their ‘slap’ is laid out and this is their mirror with a chair demarking their area – Do not go near. Now go next door.

They are all down one end and they are sharing one or two mirrors. They may not be fully aware of why they are so close together and do not feel too comfortable being expected to have to explain to you.

Hey, you go up the other end beyond where the old wall of so long ago crosses the room.

Let us leave the Theatre Royal behind us and go seeking some fresher air – and possibly some hope.

Click to read the whole series:

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

I highly recommend: http://www.ghostwalkyork.co.uk/

 

Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – (some of it is a bit grizzly).

history-tabviking-life-taboldman-tabviking comics inc tab.jpgpoetics tab.jpgrants tab.jpgchat tab.jpgspooky tab.jpggby-tabnewsnext

Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – (some of it is a bit grizzly) – (Please share, like and add comments).

hood-02There I was sat in the centre of the park by the river in my Hobb outfit, (which is basically a dress and tights), with a huge black cloak with a huge black hood; waiting. I was waiting to suddenly start in a deep scary voice. ‘Long long ago!’

I could not see ahead of me because of the big hood, but eventually I heard a group approaching and saw their feet gathering around, ‘Long long ago!’hood-01

Luckily it was the right group!

Jules Montgomery of Barmby Moor School had asked me to be there to meet her group, or rather groups. They had teamed up with Garton on the Wold School for a trip to York to go around Cliffords Tower.two-towers-cut-to-one

There was only room for one of their groups at a time, so they were to split up and spend an hour in there and an hour with me.me-09d

Life with the Normans was Jules’ suggestion and, as they had been studying the topic, plus would be hearing the relative history of the tower, I thought I better be a bit different to all that. Jules suggested tales of the Normans from the local perspective.special-one-03

Hence Hobb’s view.me hood.jpg

Long long long

Long long long

Long long long ago (the hood was off)me-09i

There used to be a great tower here upon a hill.two towers cropped to wood.jpg

Do you know where it was?

“There!” “There!” There!” they all point.two-towers-cut-to-one

Oh, no, you’ve got a new one.

In my-a-days it was over there. I point to where the Eye of York is now.

This one wasn’t there in my-a-days. It must be from your-a-days. What do you call it? “Cliffords Tower.”two-towers-cut-to-one-flipped

Oh no, what did you call it that for?! You have called it after the enemy.clifford

Clifford was one of the nasty bad guys from that horrible place over the mountains; the place of the red rose.mountains

Ah, I think I know why it got called that. It is a joke.

When they caught him they hung him. They hung him from the tower and left him there.hung

For a long long long time, is that enough longs or should there be more?

“More!”

For a long long long long long long long time, is that enough longs, er, yes perhaps so.

A long long time he hung there, and people would look up as they passed and say, ‘Hello Clifford.’hung

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha…

Well perhaps it isn’t funny now-a-days, but it was then.

‘Hello Clifford!’hung

‘ Ha ha ha ha ha ha,’ is that enough ha ha’s or should there be more?

“No!” “No more!”

After years of folk saying, ‘Where are we going fishing?’ Down past Clifford’s tower ha ha ha ha ha – it all wore a bit thin, but the name stuck.

That is what I say about it and I should know because I am Hobb.

Hello. “Hello.”

Let me introduce myself I am Hobb, Hobb the pigman. pig hut.jpg

Not that I have got any pigs, but you know how you all have a pig in your house don’t you. “No.” “Yes.” “No.” Well some of you have. Everyone did in my-a-days. Not in your-a-days but in my-a-days. And you know how you would get fed up of them around your feet? And would push them out of the door, so they were all wandering about in the street. Well I felt sorry for them all and I have them all round at my house. I am always warm on a night, and I am never short of company. People don’t tend to like me very much, because of the smell, but the pigs like me, so that’s all right.

clipped faded.jpgThey was a tower here, a big castle on a hill you know, long long long before that-there William feller came here. The Saxons built it, or the Angles or both of them. That one was destroyed. The Vikings came and the Vikings destroyed it. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Is that enough Viking laughter? “No.” Everybody then; “Ha ha ha ha ha ha.“just-you-02-coloured

Well there I was in The Globe in Shambles having a glass of porter, and then I went across the street to a pub called The Globe and had a glass of porter. I like the Globe, but the porter isn’t as good, I don’t like The Globe but the porter is far better there and it is only across Shambles so I popped back into The Globe for another, while my pigs waited outside.globe

It wasn’t so bad. We all got nattering and chatting and we got onto the Vikings. There was Ragnar you see, long long long long, shall I? No, OK, just the one long then, long ago there was a Viking king called Ragnar. Ragnar Hairy-breeks; he of the hairy trousers. He stormed through Europe taking town after town, city after city. He came to Paris, oh, he took his army with him of course, he didn’t do it all on his own. Paris was a bit trickier. A big strong city. paris.jpgSo he put the place under siege. That’s where you don’t let anybody out and you don’t let anybody in. It tends to make you hungry does that, but more on that later. For now, let’s just say that they had a lot of food in there; they managed to survive for two years. Eventually they gave in because they were very very hungry, very.

They gave in, and they gave him all their treasure; gold, jewels, crepe recipes, everything.crepe.jpg

Trouble was, most of his Vikings said, ‘We quite like it here, we have got used to it, we think we’ll stay.’ camp 02 coloured.jpgThat left him with a smaller army when he came to Britain and it left France with a load of Vikings who would later turn into Normans, or their off-spring would many many years later. Many.away

So along here came Ragnar and died terribly at the hands of a Saxon king, but that is another story for another time.

Those ones he left behind though, many many years later their children’s children’s children’s ch, you get the idea. The king’s army, the king of France (as we call it now).king

Along came a Viking, well a few. The leader of this army was a big guy, you might call him Rolo, or Rolf, he said he was called Hrolfr. Ganger Hrolfr in fact. Ganger means walker.

ganger..jpgHe ran mainly, very fast, and right at you. He was so big that no horse would carry him; his feet trailed along the floor when he sat in the saddle. So he ran, with his army riding behind him. Well, not when they were on a ship, then they sailed. There were ships full of them. A hundred ships they say, with a hundred men in each one they say. How many is that? “A thousand?” “Ten thousand?” “A hundred thousand?” I will tell you how many and you will repeat it after me. How many? A lot! How many? “A lot.”100 ships.jpg

They went in by river and then they travelled the lands. Till presently they came again to the great river around a great bend far from their ships. saine.jpgThere across the waters was a huge army. The king at their head. His army was far larger. He was about to call for a charge to ride across the river and kill these invaders with their tall leader when he heard his own army talking behind him. ‘Those fellers over there are from the North.’ ‘They are Northmen.’ ‘That is where our forefathers were from.’ ‘We are kin.’ ‘Family.’ ‘We can’t fight them.’two armies.jpg

The king heard this and thought that he had better change his plan. ‘What is it that you want?’

Ganger Hrolfr replied, ‘All this. All the land at this side of the river.’

The king was not happy with this but felt he had no choice, ‘This you can have as long as you swear allegiance to me.’

‘How would I do this?’ called Ganger as he strode across the river with his strongest few.

‘You must bow down and kiss my foot.’

‘I will bow down to no man,’ cried Ganger. He turned to his mightiest warrior, ‘Would you do this duty for me my good friend?’

Tor Eric stepped forward with a wry grin, (that is a bit of a smirk if you didn’t know). He walked forward towards the king who was sat before him on his horse. Tor Eric took the king’s foot, he didn’t bend, he lifted the foot quickly to his mouth and kissed. The king flew off his horse. king-fallAs he crashed to the floor Hrolfr laughed loud, as did his warriors, their whole army behind them across the river could be heard to be laughing wildly. The king’s men were not laughing; his close knights were reaching for their weapons and stepping slowly forward. The king laughed. The king stood, and laughed and laughed. His knights looked, looked back at Tor Eric and Hrolfr, and then they laughed, a whole army behind them laughing and laughing. Both banks of the river were filled with wild loud hearty laughter.

Hobb laughs, the teachers laugh, the children laugh – a timeless hearty laugh.

So that is even more descendants of the Norsemen settled in France. No wonder the Norman invasion fought so well!normans

Anyway I went for a walk. To be more correct, I took my pigs for a walk (Oink, wheet wheet wheee), they were fed up of being in the house, well, the hovel actually. Anyway, we went for a walk.pigs-drawing

So there I was in the ale house on the street of stone, the pigs were in the front yard and I was sat with a glass in the inne: Yee Newe Starre Inne. You might know it better as Yee Olde Starre Inne, but this was a long time ago when the Starre Inne was newe.pint.jpg

Sipping away at my porter and listening to my friend who was a porter, lending a tanner to my friend the tanner, and… – that’s quite enough of that, let’s just say there were a few of us. Then I was asked what I thought of the news, I wasn’t able to think about the news, because I hadn’t heard the news. Then I heard the news; the king was dead. My friend the Crier was quite upset about it, yes he had been crying about it all over town. I didn’t know. The pigs are so noisy you see. Edward? The King? That Edward feller? I asked. Yes I was told. Well, I asked, did he confess anything in the end, but nobody knew.elf table.jpg

Anyway I wasn’t worried, he was from down there and it wouldn’t bother us up here I reckoned. Some of my friends agreed. The one who was a Wait said we would have to find out in the end. Mostly though they were worried, because, it turned out, there were many coming who thought they ought to be king and there would be trouble. There would be trouble mainly round here, fighting and that, they reckoned. (One of them-there would-be kings is buried under that great big church you have, a Viking feller.) They were all going to be coming over here they said.Copy of minster and seven.jpg

What did it matter I wondered, as a king is a king is a king is a king, but I was informed I was wrong. The one that worried everyone was coming over from France to conquer. What was he called? “William!” No. Guillaume. That is French for William or any rate maybe William is English for Guillaume. We maybe should end up calling him William but for now he was Guillaume I was told. One of my pals said he was called Guillaume le Rude-word. I wanted to know what the rude word was and it was whispered in my ear. Goodness me that’s a shock. We can’t call him that. We had better call him a conqueror. Yes that would do it; William the Conqueror. Any way there was going to be trouble.battle.jpg

It was true. In no time there was talk of a big battle raging over a bridge just a little way from here. I was told I had to go, not to fight, but because I had pigs and they might need pigs. I couldn’t guess what they might need my pigs for, but I went anyway.Copy of bridge 03.jpg

It took a while; these pigs of mine are slow to shift. I had a switch and I switched it, the new one wasn’t any better but I switched with it anyway. There was a lot of noise and a lot of wandering off but eventually we got there. It was too late. It was all over.scene.jpg

I made the mistake of looking around, I shouldn’t have done it, I looked around. It was terrible terrible. You can be sure that when we meet in person for me to tell you all this there will be a lot of stabbing and crying and groaning and dying going on. For now though, just imagine. I wish I hadn’t looked.at worst.jpg

Then suddenly there was an army running at me.

group-03They ran right past me, ‘Come on, come on.’ What? ‘Come on, come with us.’ ‘We are running all the way to a place called Hastings, it can’t be far.’ That was going to be their downfall I thought, but I didn’t say anything. What do you want me for? ‘We don’t need you, we need the pigs.’pig-man-drives

I had no idea why they might want my pigs but I set off anyway. It was a long slow journey. Oink, oink, oink – switch, switch, switch – wheeet wheeet wheeee. We got there. It was too late. It was terrible, terrible, terrible. Slashing, and stabbing and crying and groaning and dying. All that was over. Well except for the odd bit of groaning maybe. It was all over. Imagine my face as I look around for a very long time. Imagine. That is how horrible it was.burning dead.jpg

We all know what that battle was called. “The battle of Hastings!” No. The battle of Hastings which isn’t the battle of Hastings because it didn’t happen at Hastings did actually happen at Battle. So it is the battle of Battle. Except if the village of Battle is only called battle because it was where there was a battle then it was just a battle. Then again if battles before the battle of Battle weren’t called a battle and they only started being called battles after there was this one in Battle it isn’t even the battle of Battle. It is called          .

That’s where I was anyway           .

pigs drawing.jpgThere ahead of me was a huge army running right at me, this was a horrible terrible army and they were running right at me as I said. I hid. I hid behind my pigs. But because by now I was starting to get an idea of why they might want my pigs I hid the pigs. Once I had hid the pigs in the ditch I hid among the pigs. The horrible army hurried past.Copy of misty wood.jpg They were led by William somebody… “William the Conqueror!” No. The Malet. Him and all the knights and their retinues were a great army and they were being sent north.

falling flames 02 up painted 03.jpgIt is said they went and crushed York. Crushed it. Then they went back down a bit (which was rather a long way round to do things, but they were new to Britain) and they went to Nottingham.cracks

They went there to crush that place too but I don’t think they managed very well because Nottingham has another name. What is it? “We don’t know.” The City of Caves.oski halls 01.JPG

By I got there with my pigs people were starting to come up out of the caves blinking. I was glad they were alright. I was also glad they were blinking because they didn’t see my pigs.blinking

I did meet someone else, someone interesting; the Pig Woman, but that is another story for another time when you are older.tricked.jpg She did tell me something though. She said that Malet had been ordered back to York to take charge (See I told you they did things in a long way round sort of way).

So I went back to York.blurry walls.JPG It wasn’t so bad. There was plenty of work. Well there was mainly plenty of work because there weren’t that many people left.mum-n-dad-coloured The people who were left were very very cross. That Malet feller got us all working though. Well except for the one or two who ran off to send messages about the terrible horrible things that had happened.oski-away-version-one

There were walls and gates around the town, but not across the river. The river was surrounded by marshland as well. So we had to dig in it and get all the muck and mud and rocks and clay and pile it up. We didn’t know why. Well not until they started building on top of it. A castle, a great big castle. Now there was water all around it. That water would become known as Kings Fishpond in later years.harbour

There was a huge draw bridge to get in and they all lived up there looking out at us.draw bridge.jpg

Some of those quietly cross people who hadn’t stayed to dig mud had gone to meet other people and make them cross; livid might be a better way of putting it. They all came here for a fight. Out across the Vale of York they were steadily gathering. The farmers, the Northumbrians, the Scottish, the boy king, so that’s Saxons and maybe Angles too, maybe even three or four Jutes, and one or two Picts perhaps, some Celts or Irish anyway and at last – the Danes. And we, snigger, were all set to let them in.door knocker.jpg They all were in this together and they were far more than cross or even livid.

William was worried but it took them all so long to get together that he had time to send for William; the other William.

He turned up with a huge army and he saw them all off. We were all alone again (oink).

He was horribly cruel, torturous even, you can be sure that if ever you invite me to your group to tell this I will be torturous to be sure.

For now just imagine the screams.oski small.jpg

He built that tower over there at the other side of the river in eight days flat! “What tower?” It’s flat! Well it was over there back then in the back-then-i-days.two-towers

The Danes came back!wild creature.jpg

We all joined in!

3000 Normans died.

Hahahahahahahahatower.jpg

King William is said to have said something about God’s Splendour, but what he meant was he was going to kill us all. And he did. Well, no or I wouldn’t be here to tell you. That’s what he said though.

Next thing we know, we can’t get out and they are all around the place.

We got very hungry.Copy of apple side.jpg

This is the bit where I got to find out just how horrid children’s imaginations can be, because I asked them what they would have to eat. Yes there was sausages and chicken nuggets and Macdoodles (we only ate the box actually), and pigs – No, I hid the pigs on Barmby Moor just in timepig wall.jpg – we raided all the butchers on Shambles, we drank everything in all the innes and wayside places, birdwe caught birds out of the air and ate them whole cat(we won’t mention the puppies and kittens because we don’t like to talk about it). palet.jpgMud, leaves, grass, slime, there was nothing left.

I asked for volunteers and a few came forward. To be eaten. I crept up on them from behind all ready to kill them and eat them, well we had been hungry for like a year or something. I was baring my teeth and raising my claws to swoop and there was a shout.stupid guy.jpg It was coming from outside the walls. ‘If you surrender we will be nice.’ Well something like that. ‘We have lots of scrummy things to eat.’ ‘Come on out it is all alright really.’

surrender.jpgWe went out and it wasn’t alright. They were horrid, more horrid than you can imagine. Screams and mess and chopping and stabbing and burning and searching. I don’t think there was anybody left.door flames.jpg

That wasn’t enough for him.

He sent troops all over the place. Took all the food, broke all the farming things, burned all the farm houses; the land around here and as far up as Durham was a desert. Nothing grew, everyone starved. It all turned wild. Imagine if you will all the weeds and hedges and trees taking over and nobody anywhere. The Harrying of the north. A wilderness was all that was left and a wilderness is nothing.Copy of hockney tree.jpg

William built two new castles here, filled them with troops, and then left and never bothered to come back here again. There was nothing to come back to.

Everyone listening to this – lower your head – turn – and slowly quietly walk away.

.

.

.

Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – by Adrian Spendlow

Footnotes:

This story follows research of history and folklore and is told as Hobb would understand it.

I hope to recreate the live atmosphere of dramatic storytelling, but of course a whole lot of the acting out, the facial expressions, the sound effects are a little lost – for instance, the moment of the child who volunteered to be eaten will be forever lost on you unless you see this live. Thank you to the child I hardly met.

There were, at one point, two inns on Shambles opposite each other and both called The Globe.

Porter was a strong dark beer.

Tor Eric is a popular Norwegian name rather than the actual name of the warrior. Pronounced approximately as Tour Eeirik, Tor is of course the root of what a British person would describe as Thor.

A Wait was a musician, they marked the hour and sometimes called the news in the way a Town Crier would.

To this day there is a whole network of caves under Nottingham and you can go on a tour. Perhaps they were a good place to hide even in the days of William.

My art work is intended to illustrate the story in an impressionistic way.

A more complete story in an historical format will shortly be available as a download, for now we do have a history download relating to York…

.

.

.guy-link-board

Also try the Viking Comic Book  and History links at the top.

 

mountains