Folklore and legends

St Hilda 

St Hilda the Abbess of Whitby has a couple of legends associated with her .One legends says birds especially sea birds would not fly over the Abbey for fear of soiling it when St Hilda was there and it was also claimed that those that flew past it always dipped their wings in flight "thus to do lowly obeisance to its hallowed precincts". "They told how sea-fowls pinions fail As over Whitby's towers they sail and sinking down, with fluttering faint, they do homage to the saint". Sir Walter Scott recorded a better know legend concerning St Hilda "How, of a thousand snakes, each one, was changed into a coil of stone, when the holy Hilda prayed".

This is the story of how St Hilda changed snakes into stones the snakes were really ammonites (see coat of arms on index page these are a extinct shell fish which was a strange coiled creature as its feet where situated near its head). St Hilda as legend says" was given the task of founding an Abbey on the plains of Whitby the place was so infested with snakes that habitation by humans seemed in possible. There was no way of clearing the site and all attempts failed.  St Hilda prayers even failed she prayed that the snakes might fall over the cliff and never return this didn't clear the site. Determined to build her Abbey on pure clean ground. St Hilda obtained a whip she uttered prayers to banish the snakes this time following it with crack of the whip at the persistent creatures. On this occasion it worked the terrified snakes fled before her .Most of them threw themselves over the cliffs losing there heads in the process. All were turned to stone, some said it was the whip that cut off their heads after a time no more snakes where found  near the Abbey. You can still find these fossils in the cliffs and on the beaches today, we even have three on the towns coat of arms strengthening  the legend of St Hilda and the snakes.

If your lucky enough to visit my home town in the summer months take a walk up to the Abbey between 10-11 am you might see St Hilda and look towards the northern part of the choir if the suns position and the timings right you might see a vision of the Lady Hilda in the highest windows of the Abbey for it is said that" the resemblance of a woman she is arrayed in a shroud by tradition  said to be the appearance of St Hilda in her glorified state". Some say St Hilda loved Whitby so much she never left the Abbey others say its a trick of the light I'll let you make up your own mind.


Some of St Hilda's snakes

Legend of the bells

At the time of its dissolution at the hands of King Henry the VIII Whitby's fine old Abbey was ransacked and laid bare. Whitby Abbey had a particular set of bells described as "very noble and antique". King Henry wanted to sell them to rise funds as he had done with the gold and silver from the other Monasteries and Abbeys. He gave his commissioners instructions to dispatch the bells by boat to London where they could be sold. The people of Whitby where deeply grieved at this as if the destruction of the Abbey wasn't even the removal of the bells was considered sacrilege. A sense of profound grief settled over the town as the people watched the bells transported down the lane (donkey path) at the side of the 199 steps to the habourside where a ship waited to transports the bells to London. Some of towns people prayed for a storm others prayed that the bells would never leave this wasn't to be .As the people watched in silence on this fine sunny day the bells where loaded onto the ship many wept openly as the ship slipped its mooring and reached the sea beyond the cliffs of Whitby. On the fine summer evening the sea was flat calm until they reached a point just of black nab (about a mile from the Abbey) the ship suddenly sank. no explanation could be found as to why the ship sank no rough sea, the vessel didn't capsize. It simply sank out of sight some people said it was the weight of the bells that sank the ship. we don't know what happened to the crew but the bells are still there lying at the bottom of the sea and on a very quiet night if you listen carefully you can hear the bells ringing with the movement of the current some the legend says.

The Legend of the Penny Hedge

The Legend of the Penny Hedge Thus reads the ancient legend of the Penny Hedge: 'In the fifth year of the reign of King Henry II three noblemen were hunting a wild boar on Eskdaleside, near Whitby. 

The boar, wounded and hotly pursued by the hounds, took refuge in the Chapel and Hermitage at Eskdaleside, which was at that time occupied by a monk from Whitby Abbey. The monk closed the door upon the hounds, and when the three hunters came along they, in their anger, set upon him with their boar-staves. 
The monk, being on the point of death, sent for the Abbot of Whitby who would have had them put to death. The monk however forgave them and said their lives would be spared 'if they be content to be enjoined to this Penance, for the safeguard of their souls'. The Penance is as follows…"You and yours shall hold your lands of the Abbot of Whitby, and his Successors in this Manner:

That upon Ascension-Eve, you, or some of you, shall come to the Wood of the Strayhead, which is in Eskdaleside, the same Day at Sun rising, and there shall the Officer of the Abbot blow his horn, to the intent that you may know how to find him, and he shall deliver unto you, William de Bruce, ten Stakes, ten Stout-Stowers and ten Yedders, to be cut to you, or those that come for you, with a knife of a Penny Price; and you Ralph de Piercie, shall take one and twenty of each sort, to be cut as aforesaid; and to be taken on your backs, and carried to the town of Whitby; and so to be there before nine of the Clock (if it be full Sea, to cease Service), as long as it is low water, at nine of the Clock, the same hour each of you shall set your Stakes at the Brim of the Water, each stake a yard from another, and so Yedder them, as with Yedders, and Stake on each side with your Stout-Stowers that they stand three Tides without removing by the Force of the Water.

Each of you shall make them in several places at the Hour above-named (except it be full Sea at that hour, which, when it shall happen to pass, that Service shall cease), and you shall do this Service in remembrance that you did most cruelly slay me.

And that you may the better call to God for Repentance, and find Mercy, and do good Works, the Officer of Eskdaleside shall blow his Horn, Out on you, Out on you, for the heinous Crime of you. And if you and your Successors do refuse this Service, so long as it not be full sea at that Hour aforesaid, you and yours shall forfeit all your land to the Abbot, or his successors.

Thus do I entreat the Abbot that you may have your lives and Goods for this Service, and you to promise by your Parts in Heaven, that it shall be done by you and your successors, as it is aforesaid." The ceremony prescribed by the monk is still carried out today by the occupiers of the land formerly owned by the Abbot.

The horn is sounded by the bailiff to the Lady of the Manor, and followed by the cry 'Out on ye, Out on ye.'

Planting the Penny Hedge

Yorkshire pudding

Asked by tourists to Yorkshire why we eat our Yorkshire puddings before the main course? The answer lies with the history of the moorland around these parts. It centers on a small village some miles inland comprising of 3 or 4 farm houses and a few thatched cottages. At the time of the Vikings raids when the Vikings raped and pillaged in the area the villagers being so far inland from the coast thought they were secure from attackers. Nothing stopped the Vikings though they made there way inland raping and plundering they knew these remote villages would provide them with refreshment and rest.
The band of 20 strong Vikings entered the village just as the ladies were serving dinner (noontime) the ladies not knowing of the invasion took them to be visitors and set before these large hungry men a dinner of beef 3 vegetables and Yorkshire pudding. The Vikings sat down and ate their meal all around the village they were subdued it was the Yorkshire pudding that had charmed them. Instead of raping and plundering the village they ask for more Yorkshire pudding. They ate the lot and the ladies of the village had to make more to satisfy the Vikings. The village was spared. Instead of raping the women and plundering the village the villagers escaped harm. The Viking intend on carrying the raid so the villagers suggested that they go over the hills into Lancashire and raid to their hearts content and where it was impossible to get real YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS. However the villagers did suffer for the Vikings had eaten all the Yorkshire puddings and there wasn't any spare ingredients to make more for the Villagers. So as a consequence so that they would never suffer the same lack of Yorkshire puddings again. True Yorkshire folk eat their Yorkshire pudding before the main course. just incase there's another Viking raid.

If your a Viking reading this be warned if you knock on my door you wont get any yorkie puds as I eat mine first and their lurvly with a knob of sage and onion in with gravy mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........

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