Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Hempsyke is described in the Eskdaleside-with-Ugglebarnby Geographical and Historical Information from the year 1890 as 'an estate near Littlebeck, the property and occasional residence of Henry Harrison Allen, Esq. The house is a neat structure, with verandah in front, erected in 1883-4. Three hundred different kinds of wood, it is said, appear in the floors, walls and ceilings.'

This picture of the fountain featuring the carved head of a lion, from whose mouth the water from a natural spring flows, was taken on Sunday, May 24th 2009. Although not clear in the picture, carved in the stone above the lion's head is the word 'HEMPSYKE'.

Below this are three plaques.

Man made the trough
The water God bestows
Then praise his name
From whom the blessing flows

John Allan
Hempsyke 1856

Weary stranger here you see
An emblem of true charity
Richly my bounty I bestow
Made by a kindly hand to flow
And I have fresh supplies from heaven
For every cup of water given

John Allan
Hempsyke 1858

According to legend, one day in 1864 a passing tramp refreshed himself at the font, possibly using a metal cup attached to a chain to prevent theft, that was often a feature of these roadside oases. He called at the house and arranged for the following plaque to be erected by way of thanks:

The stream is pure as if from heaven it ran
And while I praise the Lord I'll thank the man

Tramp 1864

To find the fountain from Whitby, go through Ruswarp over the bridge. Carry on past Sneaton and take the next turning on the right signposted Littlebeck 2, Sleights 2. Don't turn off towards Ugglebarnby though, follow the lane on in the Littlebeck direction. The font is set in the wall directly by the roadside on the left hand side.

OS map reference NZ8805
Click on the photo of the fountain for a fully detailed instant enlargement

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