They seek him here, they seek him there – apparently he’s on the wasteland! If only those Frenchies had had a set of Pepys’ Wild Flower Sevens they’d have known where to look! Oh, how we chortled, gathered around the dining table finally able to do battle once more. I say battle, playing card games with family could be mistaken for warfare at times.
Yes, I’ve been down in the old country as restrictions have been loosened off. They’ve clearly had a rather damp time of it, all the local reservoirs are full to overflowing (in July, wow), luckily it wasn’t too bad for my trip. The warm weather meant I was roped into mowing the meadow that my mother’s lawn had become. I left a few patches of flowers, the selfheal did look very pretty and the bees love it. I was also given the dubious task of pruning the hedge; it’s done, not particularly well, but it’s done. I’ll be sure to time my next visit down for after it’s next trim.
I joined in the long evening walks over the local hilltops, well, I followed on behind, not a clue where we were, just the odd distant memory popping up. Wandering on the tops did occasionally put us in the clouds, like here looking across to the M62…..
…….but invariably the sun would reappear as we wound our way lower and home again.
I even learnt some local history when one evening a far hillside was pointed out as Coiner’s Country (I’d tried a knowledgeable grunt, but then had to admit to my ignorance). Coiners were folk who clipped bits off gold and silver coins to make more counterfeit coins (that’s the simplified version).
Turns out the Cragg Vale Coiners were notorious as the most organised gang in the 1700’s, so much so their leader was known as “King David” Hartley. He’d learnt his skills while working in Birmingham, then took them back home where the local weavers were in dire straits and welcomed any way to make some money. Enter William Deighton, an excise officer, sent to investigate, exit Deighton murdered by two coiners; well, he had arrested “King David” in the Old Cock Inn in Halifax, which led to the “Duke of York” aka Isaac (David’s brother) calling a meeting in the Dusty Miller (a Mytholmroyd pub), putting a price of £100 on his head. The Crown got serious and despatched one Marquis of Rockingham to deal with the problem however he saw fit (imprisonment, hanging, deportation to the African colonies, apparently).
“King David” lies in Heptonstall graveyard. He was convicted for coining and hanged in York in 1770. There’s a book The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers that tells the tale, fictionalised but faithfully drawn from historical accounts and documents; I’ll definitely have to get me a copy. There’s also The Cragg Vale Coiners Walk by Christopher Goddard, a must-buy before I head down again.
The Dusty Miller and The Old Cock are still going to this day, according to a quick check on Facebook. Interestingly, The Old Cock was later frequented by one Branwell Brontë. He also drank in the Union Cross in Halifax, definitely still open as I had a pint in there just last week. Sadly another pub from that time, the Upper George (a pub I misspent plenty of time in in my younger days) hasn’t reopened yet, no doubt another haunt of Branwell’s.
I shall leave you with another card, played by my brother announcing he had Scabious on the Moorland, well, I had to say it – “You can get an ointment for that”.