Let's start from the bottom of the yard, looking up towards the White House at the top above all our little gardens. Originally this yard like all the others would have had a gate at the entry. At night the gate would be locked
or barred, particularly when there was trouble afoot, giving the families in the yard some security. Until the thirties when slum clearances started, there were cottages facing each other on opposite sides of the footpath.
As all of them were three-storied, and scarcely 10' between each terrace, the yard would have been dark and dismal with scarcely any sunlight penetrating the gloom. We were lucky that it was the opposite line of cottages that was demolished,
leaving each of the eight remaining properties with a small garden,the site of one of the ones that have gone. There are very few yards in Whitby which have gardens, so again we are lucky. Pocket handkerchief sized they may be, but all of
us take great pride in our small plots ~ we regularly win prizes at the annual Whitby in Bloom competition for"prettiest" or "best kept" gardens.
Our terrace of cottages all face due south, and with this open patch of ground in front,
they are light and sunny. Mine more than the rest because I have four large Georgian windows, which in the 1750s when the house was built would have given the Sanders as much light as possible in the dark yard.
The lower cottages are
older than mine by a long chalk ~ probably dating from 1650 or earlier. They are simple cottages, each of them on three floors, one room on each : kitchen, bedoom and attic. With small irregular windows. The four lower cottages
have cellars which regularly flood.
The oldest house of all is the tall white gable-ended one at the very bottom, which is known as Crystal's house. Around 1639, or as it says on all our deeds, "the fourteenth year of the reign
of King Charles Ist", the local gentry, the Cholmleys, were in Big Trouble as Sir Hugh Cholmley had lost a fortune in gambling and was in danger of going to prison. At that time the family owned all the land on the east bank of the river.
To try to solve their problems, all Cholmley land below the Church and the Abbey ruins was sold off. Development started along Church Street, and then extended behind those shops and dwellings facing onto the street, with back-to-backs in
their yards. As Whitby grew more prosperous, with whaling and the jet industry in addittion to fishing, more housing was required. Residents along Church Street began to sell off the land behind their properties ~ mostly steep rough
virgin ground ~ for development.
This will have been when the lower cottages in Clarks Yard were built. Obviously there were no planning regulations and the developers would put them up as quickly and cheaply as possible, filling every
available space. Astonishingly, the development stretched up the yard and well up the steep hillside above us where the foundations of several cottages can still be seen. When you think of those poor folk struggling up there with building
materials, furniture, bags of coal, babies and wriggling toddlers ~ heaven help them ! The steps are still there, worn away by centuries of working clogs, up and down in all weathers.
My house was built long after all these cottages.
Indeed it was built by Jonathan Sanders in or around 1750. And far from a humble cottage, he built "a gem of an early Georgian double-fronted town house" for his new bride, Mary Ward. She was older than him by a good few years (Mary born 1714,
Jonathan born 1727), but as a widow of substance with a thriving business, she was a good catch !
I can't seem to download the picture of Crystal's cottage ~ this one is looking up the yard to the White House which was sometimes known as The Captain's
House, but more of that later. That's enough for tonight. Joy Peach xxx My good friend Di Feather is the photographer. Sunday ~ let's try again !