Here, ringed by Rivers Derwent, Humber, Ouse,

Where Sykes of Sledmere tamed the rolling Wold

And Hockney’s brush paints rapeseed fields in gold

Are places rich in lore that fires the Muse.

In Welton, Warter, Wetwang, Wawne and Thwing

Are sights that make you hear the angels sing

And where the signpost points to ‘Land of Nod’

You feel you can detect the hand of God.

Rising like hymns from Beverley Minster’s choir

Skyward the towers of Hedon and Howden climb

And Dalton’s slender steeple points still higher

With peerless Patrington defying time


And now a lanky bardic figure’s seen

Bespectacled, lugubrious of mien,

Long-coated, earnest, cycle-clipped and bald

Larkin’ round churches, thirsting for what’s old,

Relishing fusty air, people long gone,

Turning to verse worn effigies in stone

Rhyming old gravestones, lecterns, pews, incense,

Agnostic awe, facetious reverence.


Long before him, from Winestead Marvell came –

John Milton’s friend and Kingston’s pride and joy –

With ‘carpe diems’  wooed his girlfriend coy*

Then, in a garden’s peace remote from fame,

Sang of the boundless whole of all that’s made

Pared by the mind of man to a green shade.


Kingston is where his statue proudly stands


* Andrew Marvell: To His Coy Mistress and Thoughts in a Garden


Kingston-on-Hull! A name of royal sound,

City of regal pride and ornament

Of towers and domes, museums, galleries

Of theatres, halls, of squares and boulevards

Of business titans, Ferens, Reckitt, Rank,

Of ‘wonderful Amy’ Johnson flying high

Seems now a place of wistful memory

Its River Hull a sluggish silent flood

Mourning lost wharves and barges, warehouses,

Its Humber-side where busy docks once throbbed

With industry and shouts of trawlermen

Now fronts an empty Humber wide and still;

Where three great docks once marked the former line

Of Kingston’s moats and walls today are found

A yacht marina and a shopping mall

And in Queen’s garden gazing down its lawns

An effigy of Hull’s most famous son

Whose opium-fuelled words and energies

Severed the chains of black humanity.

(In Wilberfoss, his family’s former seat,

Willows still line its ancient stream, the Foss)


Out on the coast there’s elemental war:

Wind-driven waves sweep Filey’s sandy shore.

Sheer cliffs resound to Bempton’s screaming gulls

And wave-lashed rock with organ thunder swells

In Flamborough’s chalk-hewn mist-enshrouded caves.

Spray drenches all the crowds in Brid’s arcades

As Hornsea weeps for villages galore

Shattered and washed down Ocean’s greedy maw.

Ghosts tread the shore of Holderness forlorn

And walk the fragile tail of lonely Spurn.


To learn the muted magic of the Wolds

By Huggate, Fridaythorpe or Thixendale,

Just stroll down secret valleys smooth and green

Streamless and virgin, hidden from noisy roads,

Rounded in profile, cropped by tireless sheep,

Past earthworks, tumuli and ancient dykes

And contemplate old Wharram’s poignant site

Of buried mediaeval mysteries –

Or Rudston’s prehistoric monolith

Looming above the springs of Gypsey Race.


For travellers seeking Beverley from York

A varied music haunts the passing scene

Along the route, changing from stage to stage.

At first a constant pianissimo

Befits the level contours of the Vale.

The drive past Wilberfoss past Pocklington

Gives back a barely audible low note

That matches all the flatness of the ground.

But soon a merry piccolo strikes up

As Market Weighton’s passed. A gentle slope

Leads to the heady summit of the wolds

On every side the landscape stretches wide,

And now the woodwind swell the tuneful noise

As endless views enchant the watchful eye

And soon the strings enrich the glorious sound

That greets the charming sight of village pond

At Bishop Burton smiling in the sun.

From then it’s all crescendo to the point

Where Beverley’s ancient common land begins.

And driving down the Westwood past the cows

A wondrous prospect quickly comes in view –

The Borough’s welcome to all travellers –

St Mary’s tower, the Minster’s western front.

The orchestra’s brass section opens up

It’s ‘tutti‘ all the way, fortissimo’s

The order of the day, the trumpet sounds;

The Riding’s plush red carpet”s at your feet.

Michael Bradford

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