Romance, Rutson, Friarage and a bit of History

So Boys and Girls, today we’ll learn about jumping out of a window at the nurses home, a laburnum tree, some history of the Friarage and Rutson Hospitals and a little romance! Oh, and there’s a little bit about the town but I’ve put that at the end.

We’d gathered together at the watering hole for the usual Friday evening strategy meeting. The weather had been somewhat variable so we’re planning something on the quieter roads about 6 or 7 miles (10 km – ish). You don’t have to live in Northallerton to do this walk and I encourage people from further afield to consider this route especially if it has been wet and the normal cross-country tracks are boggy but not only then. It is a glorious walk on a warm spring or summers day and some of the views from Banks Road are wonderful in any season. You have the  Vale of Mowbray to the west and the North Yorkshire Moors to the East both are well worth a few minutes contemplation.

So – we start with a walk…

If you intend to do this walk then gather near the bus terminus where you may wish to take a look into All Saints, the parish church of Northallerton. Built in a cruciform it’s a wonderful medieval building well worth a look inside. Take particular note of the stained glass in the East window and Lady Chapel and look for the strange face carving on one of the pillars. Current thinking is that the first church built here was in the early 7th century and was was made of wood but nothing survives of it. Fragments of stone were found during restoration work that seemed to indicate a stone church on this site in the 9th century.

All Saints Church

We walk south along the High Street opposite what was the Rutson Hospital.

The Rutson Hospital was founded in 1877 when it was known as the Cottage Hospital. It was located in an existing building which was certainly 18th century in date, but may have incorporated the remains of a house built after the Dissolution of the Carmelite Friary which had owned the land and any buildings on it until the 16th century. The buildings were renamed as the Rutson Hospital in 1905 after Mr Henry Rutson of Newby Wiske who donated additional buildings to the hospital so they could extend. As a child I remember a vine that grew on its front, you can see it on this pic.

Rutson Hospital – with nurses watching the carnival from the window

At the roundabout we cross the road onto Friarage Street then again onto Bullamoor Road with the Friarage Hospital on the left.

The Friarage Hospital

The Friarage Hospital stands on the site of the original Carmelite Friary originating in 1356 and closed, rather abruptly, by Henry VIII in a fit of pique in 1539 when the Pope wouldn’t give him a divorce. It opened in 1939 as an emergency medical services hospital and its initial function was to receive casualties in the event of the bombing of the Teesside civilian population. From 1943 until 1947, the hospital functioned as the Royal Air Force Hospital, Northallerton and in 1948 it was temporarily reopened as a satellite of the Adela Shaw Orthopaedic Children’s Hospital (based at Kirbymoorside). It was then renamed the ‘Friarage Hospital’ and came under the control of the newly formed National Health Service.

The Nurses Home

There are many men and women with fond memories of this wonderful place especially in the 60’s and 70’s. There was a nurses home, a warden to look after them and much activity both day and night and many a fuddled memory of the dances in the Nurses Recreational Hall.

There was an evening when a young man had met a girl who invited him back to her room for errr, coffee; however, no sooner were their lips moist from the ‘coffee’ than a voice was heard shouting, “I know you’re in there, come out!”, followed by some loud knocking on the door. It was – ‘The Warden’. Now nothing would stop ‘The Warden’ once she thought there was something ‘going on’.

The blood had rushed from the head of the young man and was now occupying other parts of his anatomy rendering the concept of sliding under the bed an impossibility! There was nowhere else in the tiny room to hide so the only option was to climb out of the window. Easy eh? He opened the window with some minor creaks and squeaks, then with a final kiss, a minor grope and a lot of giggling he jumped clear and adopted a slightly crouched position ready for the contact with path four feet below…except, his feet didn’t make contact with the path as expected, in fact he was still dropping like a brick, the giggling had transformed into a sort of nervous scream and in the few milliseconds before his fall was broken by the branches and twigs of a laburnum bush he really did think his short life was over. What the young man and, one would hope, his young lady had forgotten in the excitement of ‘drinking the coffee’ was that they were, in fact, on the second floor.

Romance on the Stage

There are many memories of the nurses home but the most important for me was a show being put on with dancing by some of the nurses, singing from some of the doctors and a band called ‘Grimbles’ who did a lot of folky stuff.  Dr. Michael Hunt was running the event with his lovely wife (actually I think she did all the work).

The singularly most important thing for two people is that they met that night!

He was in the folk group above and she was dancing with her friends Donna and Eileen on the tiny stage. It was a Christmas show for charity in the Nurses Recreational Hall in the early seventies. Their eyes caught fleetingly on stage and he, in a rash fit of confidence that he normally didn’t possess, asked if she was going to the Fleece* afterwards and after a nanosecond of hesitation during which he thought he’d blown it, she shyly and very quietly said, “OK…”, and smiled.

*The Fleece was the pub where everyone who worked at the Friarage would congregate on most nights of the week.

Linda became my wife and we had nearly 40 wonderful years together. I’m sure the Nurses Hall has a lot of memories for many other people in this delightful town.

Early Grimbles at the Northallerton Folk Club in the old Working Mens Club
(Mike Birch, Dave Trousdale, Ian Ingles, George Layfield (me), Pete Trousdale and Colin Robinson)

We carry on past the Friarage and stay on Ballamoor Road until we reach the fork turning right onto Scholla Lane. This is the first hill and it’s not steep but does go on a bit. On the way up and towards the top, take the opportunity to look back over the Vale of Mowbray towards the Pennines. You can also make some cracking photographs at the top looking both west and south.

We pass beautiful fields and have a great view down to the Vale of York and further to the Pennines.

Scholla Lane towards Hailstone Moor

Up here there’s a public footpath that takes you through fields and woods and I shall be exploring that at a time in the future. I’ll produce a map and bring it to you then.

Scholla Lane

When I was about 9 years old, Penguin had just got permission to publish Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the Everley Brothers were singing about Cathy’s Clown and Johnny Preston was telling us the story of the unrequited love of Running Bear and Little White Dove. I had problems with that record at that age as I couldn’t handle sad stories, still struggle to this day.  Even at that young age it was normal to jump on your bike and ride to the woods, rivers and ponds that were on the periphery of town. Our limits were where we could get to and back again before dark.

The Newt Pond

There was a pond in the corner of the field up here and we’d ride our bikes to it when the weather was good.  It was always well stocked with newts and frogs. In the spring there’d be newt eggs hidden under aquatic leaves and occasionally in the mud. They eventually became tadpoles (I think their proper name is an eft) then they began the transformation process where they looked like a cross between what they were and what they were going to be. It was all fascinating. Sadly; however, we used to catch some of them to take them home and put them in make shift ponds thinking we were doing them a favour by protecting them from predators. I think that in these circumstances the irony is that we were the predators. They’re a protected species now and I think youngster are better educated regarding ecology, well I hope so.

Towards Greenhow Syke and the Newt Pond (now filled in)

At the end of Scholla we turn left and walk to the cross roads at the Fox and Hounds. The cross roads are slightly offset and can be tricky in a car when approaching from Brompton. We walk straight on towards Brompton. This stretch is flat but not boring. Looking right through the gaps where there are gates, the North Yorkshire Moors are clear. Depending on the time of day or season they’re sometimes in silhouette, sometimes green and occasionally purple when the heather is blooming.

We look out for the Brumpton stone, probably the most photographed stone in the area and we do what everyone else before us has done, we make a photograph or two.

The stone is inscribed “Brumpton Liberty North 1759” and designated the boundary between Brumpton (now Brompton) and Northallerton. It is a designated grade 2 listed building!

The road twists and undulates into the distance and with a name like Banks Road it seems very apt. The hedges are just starting to bud and the birds are singing. All fabulous signs that winter is coming to an end but, as yet, only a promise of spring and quite often those same buds are burnt by late frosts, but nature always wins through.

At the top of the bank you can see north and west. If the wind is from the west or south there will be a haze. If it’s from the north east it will be clear and easterlies, well with easterlies you have pot luck but generally clear.

Banks Road looking west

The walk down the hill is welcome and we see only our second car of the walk then it’s followed by a couple of wagons and a tractor. These roads are generally quiet though so be reassured.

At the bottom is Stokesley Road and we are turning right as if to go out-of-town. This crossing is tricky so take care. We pass the Green Tree where I spent an evening or two when I was 16 and 17, Scott McKenzie was singing about Going to San Fransisco and The Bee Gees – Massachusetts. Then on  for another quarter of a mile then turn  towards Brompton and the aptly name Water End.

There’s a bridge that we requisition for the purpose of yet more photographs and then walk slowly along the Northern bank of Brompton/Willow Beck where crocus and daffodils are poking through but not yet in bloom.

Water End Brompton

The village was an important centre for linen making and weaving in the 19th century with eight mills in the village at its peak in 1820 but declined by the early 20th century. The last mill was located in what is now the residential area of Linen Way. Bricks from the demolished chimney now form a memorial to linen workers which is situated on Water End Green, opposite the Village Inn.

We’re over the cross roads and talking about a hotel that used to be near the green and I think it had an open swimming pool. Now the reason for this line of thought is a tale of several boys and girls (now adults) who, after a night of heavy imbibing, went skinny dipping in said pool. Perhaps it’s a myth or maybe it was Brompton Beck, anyone care to elaborate?

As we pass the church Peter indicates that the daffodils are blooming. I love daffodils, they point to spring, they’re happy, vibrant and yellow and most importantly, they make me smile. We make some more photographs of this lovely church of St Thomas’

St Thomas’

Brompton parish church has a 1000 year history and the village is mentioned in Domesday. Five Anglo Danish hogback stones, of an original eleven found here, are displayed in the church along with Anglo Saxon sculpture: a ninth century cross shaft, two complete wheel head crosses and three other fragments of wheel head crosses. There are several stained glass windows, including one by Kempe, commemorating the Pattison family – owners of one of two linen mills established in the village in the middle of the 19th century. Just Google St. Thomas’ Brompton, there’s a mine of information.

As we pass the rugby club Bri points out the electricity sub station that’s good for a pee if you’ve been in to Northallerton of an evening. As it is an electricity sub station I would imagine that aim is paramount with dire consequences for those that are cavalier.

We turn right at Hambleton and walk past the school through the alleyways to the High Street eventually walking back through All Saints to the bus terminus.

Our adventure continues as we use our bus passes to go to Osmotherley for fish and chips at Briege’s but you may wish to use any of the local pubs or cafes. They’re all good and we tend to choose on the basis of trying somewhere new to vary our experience, we haven’t yet found anywhere that we would not return.

This walk is about six and half miles, is suitable for wheelchairs but you might need help on the hills, it’s on tarmac roads all the way and has some lovely views. Be careful at the main Stokesley Road junction. Enjoy the snaps…G.x

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PS: Enjoy the town, it’s worth a visit. See below:-

Northallerton – Great Place to Visit and Walk

Northallerton is the county town of North Yorkshire and this walk starts and ends in the High Street.  If you are visiting there are wonderful shops, some of them with world wide reputations like Lewis and Coopers, a delicatessen that’s the envy of them all. It’s as quaint as you’re likely to get anywhere with narrow isles that open into crowded anti rooms. It has definitely evolved and at no time has shown any intent to be planned. There’s a cafe upstairs selling local produce. I would urge you to go there just to sniff the atmosphere.

There’s also a number of family owned stores such as Barkers who’ve been around for over 100 years and as big as you get in many larger town.

Maxwells sell electrical goods but with a difference. You don’t get some spotty teenager breathing down your neck trying to flog you something to make up their bonus. The people here know their products and if they don’t personally then they know someone who does and will bring them into the conversation without pressure or coercion.

There are cook-shops, leather and bag shops, fashion shops, supermarkets, general shops (Wilko and B&M) and M&S Food. There’s a cobbler, picture and picture framing shops (no candlestick maker though), a great toy shop, photography and printing shops, pet and pet supply shops, charity shops (and some of these stock what was seriously expensive stuff and now at the cheapest prices).

There are flower shops, hairdressers and barbers, travel agents who really can help and you get to see a person!

There’s Cowley’s bike shop and Betterdaze, a vinyl record and juke box shop (yes really) people come from miles around to this one.

Joe Cornish the world-renowned photographer has his gallery here with floors dedicated to guest artists and a cafe that sells excellent local stuff and you can sit outside in a little courtyard.

There is accommodation on the high street and The Golden Lion a wonderful family owned hotel with facilities for anything from wedding receptions to seminars and music.

Just out-of-town but easily walkable is another excellent quality hotel with similar facilities and the quirkiest hardware store of all, Sammies. Sam Turners sell anything from kids toys (many of them with an agricultural bent) to lawn mowers, quad bikes, tools, electrical stuff, ladders, fencing, countryware clothing, wellies in all colours including green, garden stuff and it has an excellent cafe. It’s worth a visit just for a walk around!

There’s Amadeus, a cracking nightclub with occasional guest appearances from well-known artists, a great leisure centre with swimming pool, wave machines and slide, numerous gyms, a BMX park, a flood-lit dry football ground, a rugby ground and club, football ground and club house and golf courses. and a tremendous venue for anything from live shows to films, The Forum.

The Forum is a tremendous venue for anything from live shows to films or you can hire their facilities for your own event.

It’s a bit light on green parks but there’s an excellent kids play area in the Applegarth that’s well worth a visit if you have little ones.

On top of that, there’s a shed load of pubs, cafes and takeaways.

This town is worthy of a visit especially on market day which are Wednesday and Saturday.

It’s also steeped in history with marauding Scots, visits from kings and bishops, the odd visit from famous authors and a wonderful hospital based on the site of a Carmelite friary but I’ll cover that another time when I’m on another ‘ramble’ with my priceless friends who are often the stimulus for these thoughts.

If you think others would enjoy the pictures, walks and anecdotes please feel free to “share” using the links. Thanks.

This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to walk, it’s liberating…G..x

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7 thoughts on “Romance, Rutson, Friarage and a bit of History”

  1. This has been most interesting and educational. We have lived here in Romanby for 23 years and have learned a lot about the area from your writings. Many thanks, also for the photographs.

    • Dear Joy,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate all feedback and to know that my writing is pleasing and educating is truly encouraging.

      I’ve written most of my life into notebooks, especially when we’ve been on holiday, so there is some unpublished and when I stop walking (hopefully that will be a long time coming) I intend to type them into my laptop and publish them here too.

      I think the fact that you’ve commented will generate an email to you each time a new article is posted but if not please feel free to ‘like’ the Facebook page at and that will inform you automatically. Both of these can be turned off without notice. Of course, you can always just check the site every week, all new posts are automatically added to the front page.

      Please encourage others to look at the site too, if they’re moderately fit they may want to do some of the walks with their friends and/or family.
      If not, I know there are many that are unable to get about and love to see and read about our activities. Although the demographic is mid-twenties to around eighty, the ones that remark on the ‘flash backs’ are at the upper end as they trigger their own memories of childhood and adolescence whereas the ones that remark on the walks tend to be the younger ones.

      It thrills me to see the WordPress stats indicating many thousands of visitors to the site from USA, Canada, Australia as well as the UK and Europe but the ones that really have me scratching my head are from China, Russia and Africa. There are also visitors to the site that have me perplexed from the Middle East countries that are currently in ruins! All are welcome though.

      The ones that thrill me the most are when people either comment here or stop me in the street and say, “I enjoyed the bit about the swing over the beck” or, “We did that too” or, “I remember …” and, “We have a town to be proud of, thanks for saying it”

      I am buoyed and encouraged by comments like yours on here and others on Facebook, thank you so much for taking the trouble. I really do appreciate it. If you see me out and about feel free to speak.

      Kind regards,


  2. Lovely account of your walk through a beautiful part of the world. I am biased though. Thank you for sharing

    • Thank you Karen,

      I really appreciate all comments and I do agree that we’re in a privelaged position by living here. That said, I’m going to be in France for a few weeks and I’ll try to add a few pictures and bit of fun dialogue whilst I’m there.

      Ramblings in Yorkshire will resume in early September.

      Many thanks again for taking the time to feed back.

      Kind regards,


  3. I’m researching the history of my family name. Aware it goes back to this area and certainly want to get a pic of the Brumpton stone.

      • Brilliant. Thanks George, most illuminating and about my name being the original and in the doomsday book. I’m surprised the name was changed over the years.


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