Discover village gems

Rudston Church and monolith
Rudston Church and monolith

Written by Maureen Robinson

The little village of Rudston lies six miles due west of Bridlington in the valley of the Gypsey Race – an erratic stream which appears and disappears in a whimsical manner. It may be completely dry, or flooded, as it was on our recent visit. The village is dominated by the Church of All Saints, which is of Norman origin.

Rudston is named from the huge standing stone to be found in the churchyard. ‘Rod’ means ‘cross’, and relates to the monolith beside this hilltop church. It’s the largest prehistoric standing stone in Britain.

The authoress Winifred Holtby (best remembered for her novel South Riding) was born and lived in Rudston. Her grave can be seen in the churchyard, and her home at Rudston House features on Long Street.

Walk in the footsteps traversing the countryside of Winifred’s childhood – the chalkland of the Wolds, when conditions permit. At present, I suggest you restrict walking to the exploration of this delightful village.

Access: Rudston is six miles due west of Bridlington on the B1253 Bridlington to Octon Road, and is about 16 miles south-east of Scarborough. A prominent war memorial on the roadside commemorates the Great War 1914-18. Park in the vicinity of the Bosville Arms Country Hotel, possibly in a side road, and walk down Long Street which is opposite. This quiet residential area of farms and cottages leads to Rudston House Farm, behind which stands Rudston House among the trees. A plaque reads: “Winifred Holtby Novelist and Social Reformer 1897-1935, Author of South Riding. The original Home of the Holtby Family and Birthplace of Author”.

Having explored this area and possibly discovered the Gypsey Race beyond, from Eastgate, make your way to All Saints Church which is mainly of Norman origin. The lower end of the churchyard, to the left of the path and close to the hedge will reveal the grave of Winifred Holtby.

Her gravestone is appropriately designed like an open book bearing the following inscription: “God give me work till my life shall end, And life till my work is done”. Born at Rudston House in Long Street on June 23, her major achievement, South Riding was later turned into a film. She died on September 29, 1935, in London.

Near the wall is the burial place of the Macdonalds of the Isles. Their seat of residence was nearby at Thorpe Hall.

Walk to the north side of the churchyard to see something of Rudston’s ancient history which goes back to Neolithic times. Rising beyond the gravestones is the monolith, claimed as being the tallest standing stone in England. The huge block of gritstone projects over eight meters above ground, but there are speculations that there could be a similar depth below!

Legend tells how the devil attempted to destroy Rudston Church. He flung an 80 ton spike of rock at it – but just missed!

The origin and use of the monolith are shrouded in mystery. It’s possible that it was deposited by a melting glacier and set up in ancient times by the Celts as a tribute to their Sun God.

From the church, School Lane returns you the B1253 Bridlington road. Turn left towards Sledmere and you quickly reach the Bosville Arms for a drink.

Alternatively, if you descend Church Lane you’ll soon see to your right Rudston National School dated 1858.

Finally, should time permit, from the Bosville Arms take the lane opposite named Long Street, and follow it to the road junction. Turn right along Kilham Lane, and in less than half a mile along this lane was once the site of a Roman villa. In April 1933, Henry Robson discovered fragments of a tessellated pavement whilst ploughing a field south of Kilham Lane.

Below the surface, further tiles were found which formed part of three mosaic pavements, along with a hypocaust which carried hot air beneath floors of Roman houses. Foundations of the buildings were later uncovered. The pavements were lifted in sections for display in Hull Museum. What an amazing discovery.

Now following your exploratory stroll around Rudston, make it a day to remember by partaking in a snowdrop walk which is organised by the church to help raise church funds.

Here’s a date for your diary:

February 16 and 17 snowdrop walk, meet at Thorpe Hall car park near Rudston.

Departs 10am and continues until about 3.30pm.

Cost £2.50 towards church funds.