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An Artist in Bishopdale

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An Artist in Bishopdale, Dalesman, 1961 Vol. 23 pp.185-186

By J. Wilcock

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes)

The following is a transcription from the above Magazine:

© Thoralby Through Time

"IN the evening of a sunny day in July, 1954, I completed the long walk to the top of Kidstones Bank. Sighing with relief I mounted my bicycle and went rapidly down the enchanting length of Bishopdale. The square walls of Castle Bolton gleaned in the distance.


I had just spent a few busy days in Lakeland. My object was a pleasant jaunt through the Dales, and I would perhaps give painting a rest.

When I was well down Bishopdale, topping a slight rise, I noticed a white-washed inn on the left. I did not remember this hostelry from previous visits. In hearing that I was an artist, the landlord dragged me across a field to see "a wonderful view."  It was the broad side of Wensleydale from a corner of the field, interesting but not a "subject." On the way back I noticed the picturesque rear view of the inn, complete with washing hanging out. "Now that would be interesting to draw," I remarked.

He would like to have a drawing of the inn, and we fixed the fee. The sketch, completed in the now fading light, was brought in and approved. An Army major, relaxing in the bar, was shortly bound for foreign climes, and he wanted a painting of his village, West Burton. The landlady required another drawing of the front of the inn, without the washing (just like a woman). "Is this my holiday from painting" I asked myself.

The commissions were completed, and next summer Stanley, the landlord, had a long list of clients. Once again I headed for Bishopdale, and in superb weather carried out the five drawings asked for.


As I sat at breakfast, with the morning sun glowing on the deep window embrasure, I was looking at a diamond-shaped scratch on one of the panes. A newspaper -cutting pinned up in the hall informed me this was apparently made, some two hundred years ago, by a would-be thief, the intention being to smash the pane and gain entry, but for one reason or another the dded was left undone.


The name of the place, The Street Head Inn, is a curious one. It is so name because it is at the end of tr lane (or street) leading across to Newbiggin. It is strange that the main highway through the dale goes by the Street Head and not through the village.

Every memory of the time spent here is a pleasant one - of sitting in the shade of a wall, painting a cottage with foreground of rose garden, or lying by a tiny stream and watching a vole peep  out from among the tree roots, of evening bathes at West Burton, where the rocky ledges below the bridge formed diving platforms of various heights.

Back at the inn I sat by the open front window looking out over Walden Dale, and inhaling the delictae fragrance of a clump of night-scented stock growing by the porch.

My last call at the  Street Head was at the end of my soaking day in September. Alas! Stanley and his wife had left, and there was no "waiting list." After a short stay we moved on to Aysgarth." 

 - J. Wilcock

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