1st March 1998 Leader - John Chapman
Meeting Place - Market Square, Settle
|We stood in the rain outside the Town Hall. The suggestion that
our immediate destination could be the cellars adjoining Old Stables Yard
met with approval. The yard is approached through a narrow arch from Castle
Hill and it wasn't difficult to imagine horses and drays in times past clattering
through the arch to enter the yard. Old Stables Yard lies to the rear of
Rock House, owned a century and a half ago by a tallow-chandler, Peter Skirrow,
so the goods carried by the drays could well have included tallow candles
from Greenfoot Barn, also owned by Peter Skirrow and conveniently placed
near the tannery in Upper Settle. It may be significant that when the barn
was converted to a house a few years ago, it was only with difficulty that
the internal walls could be plastered.
Under the entrance arch, the 1679 lintel stone surmounting the doorway of Old Stables Cottage was, we understand, taken from elsewhere in the yard, from above the large filled-in stone archway in the wall on the Castlebergh side. It would be interesting to know what used to be behind that archway - stables presumably. On the other side of the yard the flight of descending stone steps that led down into the cellars beneath Rock House has long been covered over by stone flags but the steep flight of well-worn steps can still be seen from below. Entrance to the cellars is now down winding stone steps just inside the rear door of the house, steps dm were covered over by floor-boards and a WC pedestal until their removal in 1994. The two interconnecting cellars under the house have stone-flagged floors and are barrel-vaulted with the original hooks still in the roof The larger, 34 ft long, was partly filled with stone rubble until 1994, dumped there many years before when a nearby wall in the yard collapsed. There is a similar but smaller barrel-vaulted cellar under the rear part of Old Stables Cottage. An odd thing about cellars is that few people, other than their owners, ever see them.
The less said about the walk die better. The rain turned to sleet and we walked up Banks Lane onto the hills above, where steep grass slopes and a glutinous mixture of soil and slush proved to be treacherously slippery. But the views from here are a delight, even in sleet and rain.
Naked Man Photo: John Chapman