My House, My Home

My house in Clarks Yard

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"As soon as I could write, I made a little book with a calico cover, and every Sunday I wrote in it any merry time or good fortune we had had in the week, and so kept them.  And if times had been troublous and bitter for me, I wrote that down too and was eased."

from 'Precious Bane', by Mary Webb

This quote from Precious Bane nearly reduces me to tears : isn't this what all our efforts amount to ?   I hope in this blog I can keep to these simple objectives ~ I'll do my best !



If you know Whitby, you know the fascinating old yards, particularly those off Church Street.   My house in Clarks Yard is said to have been built around 1750 for the Sanders family when Jonathan Sanders, a widower from Guisborough, came to Whitby to marry an affluent widow, the owner of a thriving sail cloth factory just along Church Street in what is still known as Sanders Yard !

Before long, Old Quaker Jonathan as he came to be called, was running a very successful manufactory with 16 or 18 looms, storage facilities in the cellar, sales outlet on the street, and cottages for the workers in adjoining yards.   Most touchingly, and with typical Quaker philanthropy, he had the steep hillside behind his factory landscaped to provide terraced gardens where the workforce could to sit out among the flowers and shrubs in their lunch break.  

In 1779 the old man retired passing the business over to his son and grandson ~ they expanded it, and also opened a private bank, Sanders Bank.  Quite recenly a Sanders Bank noter came up for auction in London, and is now on display in one of the Whitby hotels.

For virtually 75 years the Sanders family ~ or some of them ~ lived here in my little house, a stone's throw from their business premises.   By the time they sold it, they owned another two or three modest properties in the yard ~ these were real cottages, with just three rooms, one above the other, and steep narrow spiral stairs going up through the first floor to the attic.

This house was a different matter altogether.  Although basically a two-up, two-down plus two attics, I am told by experts it is "a gem of a modest double fronted early Georgian town house"   Wow !    I am hoping to share with you as much as I know of the history of the house ~ architectural features of interest, stories of those who have lived here since it was built 260 years ago.   I'll start off with the recent visit from my ghost !   It was December 7th 2010  ~ copy of email I sent to family and friends next night : 

Such a strange thing happened last night.  I sat down to watch Ch/4 News as usual but towards the end must have dropped off momentarily.   I came to with a start and ~ oh my stars ~ a young-ish man was sitting in the rocking chair.  Yes, I promise you, there he sat, clear as day.  Was I somehow with my wonky eyes transferring something on the screen across to the left ?  But no, it was just the dreary weather forecaste.  This chap sat well to the left in the rocking chair.  He didn't seem to see me, however.   I can describe him to you : a slight figure, probably in his early thirties, with a mop of not ginger but dark auburn curly hair sticking out round his head.  He wore a red shirt or jersey with rather full "bishop" sleeves.  I think his trousers were greeny-grey but couldn't really see as he was sitting down.   He sat there for a good few minutes and then as I reached for the remote control to turn the telly off, he disappeared.

What do you think ?   I felt certain he was a ghost.   I left pad and pencil on the table overnight asking What is your name ?  What year is it ?   etc but no answers awaited me this morning.  It wasn't that he reminded me of someone I knew or knew of.   His hair and clothes could have belonged to any era, though I don't think one of the early Quaker Sanders would have worn a RED shirt.  In its 260 year history this little house must have seen hundreds of inhabitants ~ their births, deaths, joys and sorrows.  But I wish I could discover which of them my visitor was !

I've always wanted to see a ghost.   At the Heritage Open Days in September, someone once came in the door and immediately went into a kind of trance and told me this house is full of spirits.  Friendly spirits.  I didn't feel scared of him, but surprised and fascinated ~ who could he be ?   Might he have been ?   The fact that he didn't appear to see me was significant ~ maybe I am a ghost from the future, just as he is from the past !!

Just thought this might interest you all ~ maybe you have theories to explain the visitation !  xxx Joy xxx   Deep snow here this morning and coming down heavier than ever.   Maybe my visitor just wanted a warm by the fire !


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Colin | Reply 28.05.2016 15.41

Hello Joy. We have a new Merrywood Grammar group on Facebook if you would like to take a look -

Stella | Reply 22.04.2015 17.13

Sorry about the spelling mistakes. Please read bed instead
of head, etc. Keyboard is wearing out. (Also eyesight)

misha | Reply 07.09.2014 18.11

Love this blog.

Anna | Reply 30.05.2014 19.37

Hello Joy, you read ribbons for my friends and I a couple of years ago at Robin Hood Bay, I've tried to contact you via the number on the sheet you gave us but

Anna 30.05.2014 19.40

Hope you are keeping well?

Anna 30.05.2014 19.39

its not working, we are staying in Whitby on the 6th June and were hoping to see you again and possibly have our cards read if you still do it?

Mark C | Reply 28.05.2014 17.36

Hi,a few years ago my wife and i stayed the night in Sanders yard in the attic..something was in the room with us all bad i wanted to just run out.

Joy Peach 28.05.2014 22.11

Wow ! Mark C ~ thank you so much for sharing this with me ~ all these old properties must be haunted though mostly we are too pre-occupied to notice Joy Peach

Rita Gillham | Reply 05.02.2014 16.15

Hi, about the ghost, I too saw a ghost, but she definitely saw me. I can't wait to know more about the people who have lived in your Yard. Rita, Llanpumsaint.

Lynn | Reply 25.12.2013 17.48

Were you okay after the recent floods?

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Latest comments

14.03 | 05:51

Hi Joy, came across your blog while researching the Sanders, thanks for the interesting read about them and your lovely house.

27.10 | 11:43

Michael ~ happily ~ and good luck ~ I'd like to know the outcome ~ joy peach

26.10 | 14:33

I am in the same position. Amazingly, your case R(IS)1/93 - CIS/270/1991 is being used against me. Clearly, it got more complicated. Can I quote your blog? Mike

28.05 | 15:41

Hello Joy. We have a new Merrywood Grammar group on Facebook if you would like to take a look -

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