Tuesday, 21 June 2016
The journey from our holiday cottage to the market town of Helmsley proved a favourite one over the past couple of weeks. It took us up Clay Bank (as shown on Sunday's Postcard), then over Bilsdale and Ryedale moors through the most exquisite of upland scenery and a scattering of stone-built villages and farmsteads.
Our main objective for the first of these trips was to visit Helmsley Walled Garden - a blog treat reserved for another day - which I've wanted to visit for quite some time. A stroll around town afterwards proved equally rewarding, especially when I found the Yorkshire version of the Allotment Folk I wrote about recently.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the chap on the left. Evidence of May's Tour de Yorkshire greeted us in most places we visited or travelled through, with all kinds of brightly painted yellow and blue bicycles, oodles of bunting and proud Yorkshire flags providing evidence of the route taken by the race's cyclists.
They may have been long gone, but each village and town's remnant finery served to make us feel cheered and welcome. We found the above scene whilst walking from the castle into town. It was on a long narrow plot, which I suspect is remnant of the burgage plots created when the town was granted its Borough Charter in the late 12th century.
Strictly speaking I'm stretching the term allotment here. Burgage plots are a much earlier beast which consisted of a house with a narrow street frontage plus a long plot of land stretching behind it. These were rented from the local king or lord, and most were cultivated to provide meat and vegetables for the household. Some of the plot's produce may have been included in the tenants' payments, depending on the local rental agreement in force.
If you zoom in on the aerial photo of Helmsley in Google Maps, you can see how these plots have influenced much of the town's central layout by the castle. X marks the spot where I found my Allotment Folk, Yorkshire style.