Monday, 19 May 2008

Arkentown

After our recent visit to The Tan Hill Inn (see Stonch blog), we decided to venture into unknown territory and go home via Arkengarthdale. With my loving wife Marion at the wheel (drunk or sober, I do not drive) we were soon off the bare misty tops as the road dropped down into a verdant valley. Reaching Langthwaite, formerly known as "Arkentown", we came across a "Waterloo" church, one of many which had been built as a form of thanksgiving at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. These particular churches, having been recently built, escaped the attentions of the Victorian "restorers", those pious vandals who set out to "Gothicise" every church in the land, ruining many beautiful buildings in the process. Inside the church, the neo-classical structure was untouched, a perfect example of the genre.
The village itself seemed untouched too, a time-capsule of old Yorkshire, like something out of a film set or a Hovis advert. Here there were steep winding streets, mossy dry-stone walls, quaint little cottages and idiosyncratic nooks and crannies. The village pub, the Red Lion, was built into one such little corner and we bundled in to share their fire and sample the beer.
The pub is run by an eccentric middle-aged lady who opens and closes the bar as she pleases. She served us only one drink, an excellent pint of Black Sheep Bitter, before announcing that she was closing because she "needed a break". I later found that she is well-known for such behaviour, it was nothing we had said or done.
During the half-hour we spent in her cosy little bar, we fell into conversation with a holidaying couple from Bala in Wales and I happened to mention that I had once known some Romanies who frequented that area. But that gave the landlady the opportunity to pour out her feelings of scorn and resentment of such "criminals". I’m afraid she shares the opinion of most country people, who forget how vital the Romanies once were to the rural economy before we ruined our agriculture by joining the (French-dominated) E.E.C. Even as late as the 1960s, the seasonal labour of the Romanies was so essential to our farmers that they would often go in search of them, to "bring them in" if they were late arriving at harvest-time.
But now, like coalminers and steelworkers, all this has been forgotten and they are consigned to the rubbish-heap of history.

4 comments:

wittenden said...

Grand place, Langthwaite, and there aren't too many pubs nowdays where the guvnor's name springs unbidden to mind.We got on well with Rowena, despite being told off for parking in the wrong place, while staying in "Shit House View"-I think your 2nd. photowas not a million miles from the very spot. The Riggwelter made up for any ruffled feathers.
Have you tried the Three Horseshoes in Wensley-probably my new best pub in the Dales, serving an excellent range of Wensleydale ales, though we couldn't spend enough time there last autumn.

papastonch said...

No, mate, I haven't, but I'll be sure to try the Three Horseshoes next time we pass through the Dale. This is one of the great adavantages of writing a blog - you get such good advice!

SheyMouse said...

Papastonch, are you going to write about your recent visit to the Tan Hill Inn? I read your reminiscence on the first time you visited, and am curious to see what you thought of it and how it compares with your recent visit.

Stonch said...

His article about the Tan Hill will appear tomorrow on MY blog at 8am!