For many years I'd heard rumours of a great pub with wonderful food near Skipton. The Angel In at Hetton had even featured in that great foodie comedy BBC's The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden. So I was very chuffed when, at the end of last year, I had a phone call from Pascal, one of the Angel's directors, with a proposal that we work together.
Pascal and I hit it off pretty much straight away. He'd read my book Tales of the Dales and seemed to like my work very much. Bursting with energy and enthusiasm, he outlined his idea to transform one of the dining rooms with a series of paintings. Well we talked for a bit and a second idea surfaced for a book of stories about the surrounding area with added walks and recipes based on local ingredients. We both thought this seemed like a great concept and, as it happened, turned out to be a very enjoyable project.
What the book reveals is that The Angel (here's a MAP so you can see where it is) is in a landscape rich in legends. Within a few miles there are holy wells which can cure many ills, a palatial almshouse built by the undertaker of the Great Plague and the setting for a spectacular UFO sighting.
To accompany the launch of the book and the redecorated dining room is an exhibition of my paintings. I am the first artist in a programme called Art in the Bar curated by Josie Beszant of the Masham Gallery.
Above Hetton watercolour. Available as a limited edition print from The Angel.
And just to whet your appetite, here's a story from the book:
St Helen’s Well The Yorkshire Dales are riddled with ancient sacred wells. Sometimes little more than a roadside trickle, sometimes extravagantly ornamented, they mark places which have sometimes been of huge importance but, almost without exception, their time in the limelight has past.
St. Helen’s Well, beside the Eshton to Winterburn road, is a rough, spring-fed pool overhung by trees and bordered by battered railings. (St Helen was the British-born mother of the Roman emperor Constantine.) The pool’s outfall is marked by a low dam, which used to include three stones reputedly from a demolished church at Gargrave. (Or they may have come from a chapel of ease that used to stand beside the well - the pasture is known as Chapel Fields.) The stones were decorated with carved heads but, sadly, some misguided individual decided to liberate them in 2004.
However, the trees are still occasionally hung with ribbons and strips of cloth by visitors and the loss of the carved heads does little to dispel the magic of this spot.
Like St Alkelda’s Well at Middleham the water was known as a cure for sore eyes. A writer in the late nineteenth century also mentions that it had once been a sort of courting custom of the “younger folk”of the district to come to the well on Sunday evenings and drink the waters, mixed with sugar.
Ladyhill , watercolour. One of the paintings in the current Art in the Bar exhibition.