EARLY in the 17th century, a young girl on her way home to Burton Agnes Hall was cruelly murdered.
She was Anne Griffith. She was wearing jewellery and was attacked by two roughnecks as she walked through the village. She was assaulted, robbed and beaten with a cudgel and died some hours later as she crawled home, leaving a trail of blood in her wake.
Anne was found, barely alive, in the gateway to the hall by a servant, but she gasped a most peculiar wish with her dying breath. She told the servant that after her death, she wanted her head to be cut off and for it to remain in her beautiful house for ever. She whispered that if her wishes were not carried out terrible consequences would occur.
Her request was not granted by her family who preferred a more conventional burial of their beloved daughter. But on the night of her funeral, they heard wailing and the banging of doors in the house.
The same happened every night for weeks, so the decision was made to exhume Anne’s body and remove the head. When they opened the coffin they saw a grinning skull looking at them. They cut it off and placed it in a box to be kept in the house. Anne was finally at rest and peace prevailed.
Many years later, when a new family moved into the house, the skull was found and thrown into the rubbish cart, but the horse pulling the cart would not move. After much beating of the horse, it stood rigid, the skull was removed and the horse moved off.
The new family was informed of the story of Anne’s curse by the villagers and they soon returned the skull to the house. It is known to have been walled up adjacent to the main staircase behind a picture of Anne, and there is rests today.
Anne continues to haunt the house at Burton Agnes and is regularly seen appearing through the picture on the wall, before descending the stairs to walk outside into the garden, a happy soul again.
The second tale is only short but nonetheless cruel. As you walk along through Harpham village, don’t be surprised if you hear the soft beat of a drum coming from under your feet – it is only the ghost of a Drummer Boy merrily drumming, echoing from the village well deep underground.
Harpham is the former residence of the St Quintin family who were lords of the manor for many years.
It was in the 14th century that one of the St Quintins was watching his troops exercise and the Drummer Boy was beating his drum boldly, when suddenly he ended up in the well.
Why he met his death in the well is not recorded and there are many different versions of what might have happened, but how he met his death is certain. One of the St Quintin family either pushed him into the well on purpose, which I believe to be true as there was a dispute between the St Quintins and the Drummer Boy over an inheritance, or he could have fallen accidentally to his death.
The troops were making a lot of noise and everyone was watching and cheering them on. The poor Drummer Boy could have fallen, or have been pushed into the depths of the well unnoticed. Whichever is correct, he still drums merrily from his watery grave when a member of the St Quintin family dies – now there’s a clue.
This is a linear walk, don’t forget to also leave transport at Sledmere.
Wherever you decided to park, take the junction off the A614 road in Burton Agnes where the village pond is on the corner and walk along the road signed to Gransmoor and Lissett.
Cross the railway line, then soon turn right along a narrow road signed as the Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route 1. This quiet road eventually crosses a railway line. Please take care here, then continue your walk into the village of Harpham passing the Holy Well of St John on your left as you approach the outskirts of the village.
Continue along into the village to a crossroads. If you would like some refreshments, go straight ahead to the St Quintin Arms Inn just up the road. If not, turn right here signed to Bridlington. At the crossroads, go straight ahead across the A614 with care to walk along a rough old lane.
Follow it straight ahead for some time, then bear left as it curves around to eventually reach a T-junction. Go right here to follow the road all the way into the village of Kilham.
In the village, keep straight ahead, through the double bends, then past the church and the Old Star Inn to take the second turn on the left at the Bay Horse Inn signed to Driffield.
At the crossroads, turn right along West End. Eventually, at the huge barn, the main road goes right, you must go straight ahead on a long, straight Roman Road signed to Cottam.
Keep on this straight road for almost three miles passing nearby the Danes graves, to reach the B1249. Cross with care to take a muddy lane opposite which climbs gently across the wold.
Keep on the obvious path when it changes from lane to a bridleway soon taking a path through the a wood then between fields to descend to the road. Cross the road here to walk along another muddy lane until it passes Sledmere Grange where the road improves.
In about a mile, you cross the road to Sir Tatton Sykes monument, continue past it along a grassy lane, a continuation of the Roman Road. At the next road, go right onto it and walk along to a T-junction. Go right here for a short walk to Sledmere, if it is summer you might like to finish off the walk with some refreshment in the café at Sledmere House or the pub in the village just a few paces further along.
Distance – 18miles/29km
Terrain – Undulating, mainly quiet roads, lanes and bridleways
Best map – OS Landranger 101
Start/grid ref – Burton Agnes, grid ref: 103630
Parking – Street parking in the village in various places or along the Gransmoor/Lisset road. As this is a linear walk you will need to leave transport at the Sledmere finish
Refreshments – Along the way, see text
Public toilets – None
View a map of the country walk map>>