Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Weighill’s Plantation

What a dreich morning to inaugurate the month of April. ‘Pinch punch, first of the month,’ as the old adage goes, though it hardly seems an occasion for mirth.

The ragged pines emerge as solitary figures amidst the enveloping mist, remnants of Weighill’s Plantation, which would, if not for the mist, command a view over Bilsdale Hall. Which begs the question: who was this Weighill?

A cursory look at historical newspapers reveal the plantation’s earliest mention in 1874 within a report of a fox hunt1‘The Bilsdale Hounds. | York Herald | Saturday 14 November 1874 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2024. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000499/18741114/036/0008> [accessed 1 April 2024]. The wily old fox led the hounds on a merry chase throughout Bilsdale, ultimately seeking refuge within an old jet mine near Hagg’s Gate. The account, while geographically detailed, makes uncomfortable reading given the barbarity inherent in such ‘sport,’ yet it remains silent on the fate of the fox, perhaps resignedly so.

The census of 1901 records of a certain John Weighill in residence at Bilsdale Hall, then aged 61. A newspaper report of the passing, at the age of 72, of Elizabeth Weighell, identified as the wife of Stephen Weighell, suggests a family of at least two generations of farmers2‘Darlington & Stockton Times, Ripon & Richmond Chronicle | Saturday 21 July 1877 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2024. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002054/18770721/102/0008> [accessed 1 April 2024]. Thus lending credence to the notion that this family likely gave its name upon Weighill’s Plantation.

It should be noticed that, in the 1841 census, when John Weighill was just a baby, Bilsdale Hall was occupied by William and Mary Barker31841 Bilsdale Census https://www.genuki.org.uk/sites/default/files/media/colin_hinson/YKS/NRY/Photographs/pdfs/Bilsdale1841.pdf.

This dreich April morning serves as a reminder of the stories hidden in every corner, waiting for the curious to uncover them.







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