This is the page I will use to talk and write about the seasonal folklore of England and I will be adding to it as time goes by.   Please pop by every so often to see what stories I've conjured from the ether.


 Christmas

 

Photograph ©Paul Fitz-George 2016

 

What can be more seasonal then Christmas and where better to spend it than in North Yorkshire and in particular, the old seaport of Whitby. 

During my days as Collector of Dues at Whitby Harbour, I would walk down Flowergate, a steep hill that goes from the top of the town to the harbour.  On cold December mornings the hard ice sheeted across the pavements would crunch under my feet, as the cold winds blew in from Scandinavia and Russia nipping my cheeks.   My mission, to get to the quayside with due dignity as befitted my station in the town and without adopting a sudden and unwanted recumbent posture, much to the amusement of any watching citizen.  Alas I did not succeed at every attempt.

 

As I teetered down the treacherous and unforgiving pavement like a chorus girl in too-high heels, which somewhat took the edge off my manly harbour officer's uniform, I used to jealously eye the smoke rising from the houses' warm coal fires in the famous tight-packed yards, knowing it was going to take me ages to get the harbour office warm with its weedy electric ones.

My thoughts would turn to the past, when fishermen and farmers' lads strode along the narrow cuts, joking and bantering, the town's lasses talking in the doorways.  I contemplated the local customs that they would practice at that time of year and that I had heard about from the venerable ancients of the town.  The burning of the Yule 'clog', eating of vast amounts of frumity and Whitby gingerbread, all topped of with the seasonal song of the old Vessel Cup Singers, or the raucous and roaring recitations of the Lucky Birders. 

Then one year I decided to visit the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society of which I was a member and research these Yuletide customs.

 

The result?  This booklet-come-essay on them, containing folklore, a Christmas song and several seasonal recipes for some very filling cake and pudding enjoyed by the Whitby folk at this happy time of year.

It's based on the script I wrote and narrated on air for a BBC Radio show that went out on Christmas Day 1991 called Christmas Spirits.

Here's the link for the Kindle eBook and new 2016 paperback version available on Amazon, do check your own country's Amazon store for avalability as it's also available in the US, EU, Japan and Indonesia etc. :-



 

© Paul Fitz-George 1990-2017

The names English Ghosts, englishghosts.com and Christmas Customs of Old Whitby are the sole property of Paul Fitz-George and any unauthorised use or copying of these terms is forbidden.