Brought to our attention: Nick Chadwick’s letter in the Independent yesterday, given the title ‘Violent days out’:
“After reading Peter van den Dungen’s letter (28 July) about warlike museums, I checked the “Events” pages in the most recent issue of English Heritage’s magazine Heritage Today.
“Out of 22 pictures on these pages, 10 showed some form of military activity. In addition, there was an advertisement for a “gruesome weekend” at Whitby Abbey: “Discover the head-chopping antics of Henry VIII with light-hearted performances of Top of the Chops!”
“It is not only the Royal Armouries Museum that glorifies violence for pleasure.”
The English Heritage website in question pointed out that at Whitby Abbey, “Children can take a closer look into the gory side of history with hands-on activities” . . .
Let the building be the message?
A more edifying association is recorded by Daniel Parkinson:
In 1159 the Abbot of Whitby imposed a penance on three hunters and their future generations for murdering a hermit. To save them from execution they had to make a stake hedge that would resist the sea every year until their descendants had died out.
In memory of this clemency a festival called ‘The Planting of the Penny Hedge’ is held on the shore here each year on the eve of Ascension Day. Wooden stakes are cut from Eskdale side and carried through the town at sunrise to the shore, where they are woven into a strong hedge before the tide turns. The name Penny Hedge is thought to relate the price of the knife used for cutting the hedge.