My Lord, what an evocative post!
I'm a South Yorkshire lass...with a dash of Derbyshire borders thrown in... and as beautiful as West/North Yorks is... them there folk ar reight forign - a different tribe all together!
It's amazing ( and reassuring) that in such a small island- and in spite of all that's happened- we still have these huge regional and tribal differences.
I believe that a certain amount of North/South rivalry preceded the so-called Wars of the Roses. Certainly one glum chronicler referred to Margaret of Anjou's troops as being from the North, "whence every evil comes."
Richard Duke of York's family seat was in barely-Northampton -- Fotheringhay, near the border of Cambridgeshire -- the northern connections, I believe, were more from his inlaws, the Nevilles.
The battle of Towton (1461, if memory serves) is purported to have resulted in 28,000 slain. That's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but it doesn't take a lot of imagination to envision hundreds or thousands of panicked Lancastrians being driven down the hill to the flooded Cock Beck and the stream running red with blood. Doesn't take all that much blood to turn the water red.
Some photos --
This is more North-North rivalry; The folk to the West of the Pennines (that's us) being at odds with the folk to the East.
Even today the Pennines present quite a barrier. OK, you can get through them in a car or train in about 20 minutes- but look out the window and that's a wasteland out there.
I don't think the War between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists was ever really a war between the two counties, but it's remembered as such. And the counties still use the red and white roses as their emblems. As I drive up into the hills I pass a sign surmounted by a white rose, "welcoming" me to West Yorkshire. It feels like a challenge.
Thanks for the photos. You can feel the chill. I'd like to visit Towton. Have you seen the TV film about the archaeology of the battlefield- "Blood Red Roses"? It contains marvellously graphic reenactments of the fighting and (rightly) won awards.
oh, crap, leave Sylvia where she is. Civilized she may have been, but just barely.
We have regional rivalries here in the same city - our school can beat your school at basketball, football, baseball, etc because "you kids are a bunch of rich spoiled sissies and we are all the children of blue collar workers and know how to play this game the way it should be played."
Which doesn't take away from the fact that I would really like to see your part of England. And the part you drove through, yesterday.
Ted Hughes had two women commit suicide on his watch. I think he was a humourless, self-important bastard. I'm one of those who would quite like to see The "Hughes" scratched off Sylvia's headstone.
She was the better poet I think.
2007-01-15 02:57 pm (UTC)
I live in Maryland. If you drive north on York Road, which overlaps with Interstate 83 for a good stretch, you will cross the border into Pennsylvania. Not so far into Pennsylvania, you'll come to a place where the road splits. Go right, and you'll enter York, Pennsylvania. Go left, and it will be Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Just names. No history.
2007-01-15 03:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Transplanted Englishmen
My mother, a York County girl, said to me about ten years ago, "You know, York is the white rose city and Lancaster is the red rose city. I wonder why that was..."
Given that I'd been rocketing around the house fulminating about those skeevy Lancastrians since, oh, 1961, I was dumbounded.
Wonderful, wonderful post, Tony! Thank you.
One of the many things that draws me back to England time and time again is the regional diversity. Oh, we have that here in Spain although in my own homeland, vistas aside, the USA is a more homogeneous place. My very first visit to England was to Lancashire but north, to Lancaster itself. We haven´t ventured into Yorkshire yet but your post pulls me in that direction. Oh, the wildness!
I really need to convince Manolo that we should take road trips in England and not just fly up there and rely on National Express to get us around but we´re both a bit afraid of getting all jumbled up driving on the left side of the road.
My daughter and son both went to Lancaster university- so I know the town quite well.
Yorkshire is arguably the most beautiful English county. It's also the largest. So yes, you probably would need a car to get into the interesting out of the way corners.
I had a friend who lived in Saddleworth, Yorks, which was just next to Oldham, Lancs, and the nearest big town was Manchester. I visited him in the vac once, and loved it. His father was a nurseryman, and when people paid him by cheque it went through the books, and when they paid him cash it went into a shoebox under the floorboards. One day he took the shoebox down to a car dealwer and bought a new van, paid for in grimy and mouldy pound and ten-bob notes.
And then there were the famous Moors Murders, scary places, those.
Saddleworth is the place I'm talking about. It used to be Yorkshire, but then they re-arranged the boundaries and tacked it onto the borough of Oldham. It's been disputed territory ever since.
It used to be a very isolated place; Ailz lived there for a time and found the locals hostile to in-comers- which is why I'm not entirely kind in my account of them- but now it's filling up with the Manchester glitterati.
Ailz knew the family of John Kirkbride- one of the victims of the Moors murderers. Those killings cast a gloom over her childhood. Suddenly she and her friends were no longer allowed to roam freely.
When I lived in Lancaster, I was amused to see the red rose insignia everywhere ... because the Wars of the Roses are even more a pure history-book thing for an American.
Interestingly, the city next door to mine (Pasadena, California) also has as its symbol a red rose. Anti-Yorkishness apparently follows me everywhere. :)
Although since it's a "conflict" to which I'm really not a party, I must say that York is a really lovely town ...
I'm a Southerner by birth and should really not allow myself to be drawn into these north-country tribal disputes.
So I do my best to be nice to the Yorkies. Yes, York is a very handsome city. And what a history- Roman, Viking, medieval; I really ought to treat myself to a weekend break there, sometime soon.
I feel a slight need to go "HRRUMPH" being a proud Yorkshire lass (North, no less!) by birth. But then my mother and father are both from Manchester via Ireland and lived in Oldham for years.
Well, yes- I'm actually a Londoner. My loyalty to the red rose is the fruit of thirty years residence in the Manchester area.