Friday, 23 September 2016
Yorkshire Holiday - Tuesday, 13th September - Part 2: Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrifying Well
After walking round Knaresborough and exploring the castle ruins we visited Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrifying Well - England's oldest visitor attraction.
The park and woodland you walk through alongside the River Nidd is a remnant of the Royal Forest of Knaresborough. In 1630 Charles I sold the land to Sir Charles Slingsby and his family created the park and walks. Trees in the woodland include hornbeam, oak, beech and ash - some are 300 years old.
Apologies for the quality of some of the photos, particularly near the cave and well, it was very dark and gloomy (no wonder it has a reputation of being haunted!) and I was getting very slow shutter speeds.
A mill was constructed in 1791 (no picture neither D or I thought to take one!) replacing a much older paper mill. The weir (do have a photo of this see below!) was built to control and send water to the mill's wheels. The mill was latter converted to spin flax and today has been converted into luxury flats.
Dead tree trunks have been used to carve faces and figures.
The spring which supplies the Petrifying Well with mineral laden water.
The roof of the well
The Petrifying Well is a unique geological phenomenon and millions of people over the centuries have visited the cave to see the water turn objects to "stone". The well was first recorded in 1538 by John Leland (King Henry VIII's antiquary). In the years prior to this people thought the well had healing powers and the ill and dying were brought here to bathe in the pool and drink the water. Sir Charles Slingsby eventually began to charge people for guided tours. Items turn to "stone" due to the very high mineral content of the water. A small teddy bear takes between 3-5 months and larger items up to a year.
As you look back at the well as you walk to Mother Shipton's cave - you might just be able to make out a "Giant's Skull" in the rock - I struggled!!!
The wishing well
Mother Shipton is England's most famous prophetess. She was born over 500 years ago in this cave near the river during a violent thunderstorm. Her real name was Ursula Sontheil. Her mother was only 15 and, because she refused to tell people the name of the baby's father, was banished from the town and took refuge in the cave. Mother and baby lived in the cave for a couple of years until the Abbot of Beverley heard of their plight and tried to help. Ursula was taken in and raised by a local family and, sadly, her mother was sent away to a convent in Nottinghamshire dying a few years later. Ursula returned to the cave often learning about flowers and herbs and how to make healing potions. She married a local carpenter called Tobia Shipton and as she grew older began to have visions and premonitions which came true. She predicted the Great Plague and Fire of London - the latter prophesy being mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary. Mother Shipton died in 1561, aged 73.
After visiting the caves and well we walked along Beech Avenue to the museum. The avenue contains some of the tallest beech trees in the country. Their location in a gorge has allowed them to grow unusually straight. The oldest trees were planted in 1739 by Sir Henry Slingsby and trees lost recently due to disease or old age have been replaced.
The museum contains information on Mother Shipton and
contains various items given over the years by celebrities which have turned to "stone".
I haven't had time to try and identify this fungi growing around beech trees but, knowing the problems I have with fungi id, it is likely to remain unidentified.
I loved this fairy carving.
Metal sculpture of an owl - spotted at the side of the road as you leave Harrogate on the Skipton Road.
A ploughman's for tea :)
We had a tremendous thunderstorm lasting for well over an hour later in the evening. Lightning and thunder were all around the cottage accompanied by torrential rain and strong winds. It was quite a sight!
The next post will include a visit to an abbey, a church and a rather terrifying river feature!
*D - photos taken by David with the Canon SX50 HS