The old church of Upleatham, standing by the road to Saltburn, is a quaint fragment of a Norman building. The tower, bearing the inscription ‘William Crow, Chvrchwarden Bvlded Stepel—1664,’ is an addition to what is probably only part of the nave of the little Norman building. It is now used merely as a cemetery chapel, but it is picturesquely situated, and on the north wall the carved Norman corbels may still be seen.
FROM PICKERING TO RIEVAULX ABBEY
The broad Vale of Pickering, watered by the Derwent, the Rye, and their many tributaries, is a wonderful contrast to the country we have been exploring. The level pastures, where cattle graze and cornfields abound, seem to suggest that we are separated from the heather by many leagues; but we have only to look beyond the hedgerows to see that the horizon to the north is formed by lofty moors only a few miles distant.
Just where the low meadows are beginning to rise steadily from the vale stands the town of Pickering, dominated by the lofty stone spire of its parish church and by the broken towers of the castle. There is a wide street, bordered by dark stone buildings, that leads steeply from the river to the church. The houses are as a rule quite featureless, but we have learnt to expect this in a county where stone is abundant, for only the extremely old and the palpably new buildings stand Christ. Then comes Herod’s feast, with the King labelled Herodi. The guests are shown with their arms on the table in the most curious positions, and all the royal folk are wearing ermine. The coronation of the Virgin, the martyrdom of St. Thomas a Becket, and the martyrdom of St. Edmund, who is perforated with arrows, complete the series on the north side. Along the south wall the paintings show the story of St. Catherine of Alexandria and the seven Corporal Acts of Mercy. Further on come scenes from the life of our Lord. There seems little doubt that all the paintings, including a number of others in the transepts and elsewhere that are now destroyed, were whitewashed over at the time of the Reformation, and it was during some restoration work carried out in 1851 that indications of the paintings were accidentally laid bare. When the whole of the walls had been cleaned, careful coloured drawings were made, then colour wash was applied again, and the priceless paintings disappeared for a generation. The objections to what had been considered improper wall decoration for a parish church in the nineteenth century having been reasoned away, the pictures once more appeared, but in a very different condition to their first resurrection. However, the drawings were in existence, so that a careful restoration was possible, and as we see them to-day the subdued tones closely follow the original colours.