This short trail will be of interest to anyone delving into Scarborough’s past.
It’s all downhill to start, but uphill returning to see places of importance. Start on Castle Road near St Mary’s Parish Church, and beyond is Church Lane. Walk down Church Lane and swing left around the car park down Paradise. To your right, with a blue door stands Paradise House. Read plaques related to Sir George Cayley, and the Local Shipping Families’ Home from 1690.
The Coastguard Rescue Station is to your left as you descend and round the bend into Castlegate. Your descent continues to a sharp bend. Halt! At the Burr Bank sign you’ll see a flight of steps. These are called Long Greece Steps. They would have taken provisions from ships straight up to the castle. Take these 55 steps down to Quay Street. Turn right and go forward to The Bolts. STOP at 2 Quay Street (brown and white), at the junction with Whitehead Hill. This old house is a survivor from an earlier age and maybe dates from the late 15th century. It’s a timber-framed gabled building. The timbers of the second storey jut out to support the gable. The windows are of later construction and the half timbering once concealed with lath and plaster is now visible again between the modern pebbledash finish.
Restored in 1965, it’s a reminder of how this street looked in Elizabethan times. Now bear left and right via The Bolts and turn right in front of the Tunny Club, and left along The Bolts. At Custom House steps go left and immediately right into Eastborough.
Turn right past the car park, and rise steeply to Clayton’s Tea Room and up to Leeds Hotel. Just beyond, to your left features the remains of the Buttercross that would have been at the centre of the butter market. Butter was a major export in the 18th century.
Go straight forward towards St Mary’s Parish Church, on St Mary’s Street. Cross Longwestgate and ascend Church Stairs Street. At the last house to your left you’ll see a blue plaque on the wall regarding John Wesley.
John Wesley was the father of Methodism and a frequent visitor to Scarborough between 1759 and 1790, making 14 visits here. He was fond of the chapel that local Methodists built as the first permanent meeting place here on Church Stairs Street in 1772. The chapel occupied a site which is now an extension of St Mary’s graveyard to your left. It adjoins some post-war council housing. As you climb the 60 steps you’ll see the area, with old gravestones to the side of the green.
Nearing the top, bear left up the final 27 steps, through St Mary’s churchyard. Take time to view the parish church before regaining Castle Road.
No building in Scarborough has a longer or more turbulent history than St Mary’s Church. It’s believed that a church may have occupied this commanding site even before the first castle was erected. The first single-aisled structure of c1150 was enlarged in 1180. Around 1450 it was almost doubled in size. During the Civil War almost 200 years later, this church was used by the Parliamentarians as a forward position for bombarding the castle. Inevitably the castle batteries returned the fire, destroying the beautiful medieval choir and north transept. Then 14 years after the bombardment, the church steeple and bells collapsed in 1659. Money raised nationally and locally has helped restore much of the church. The Friends of St Mary’s never cease in their endless task of helping preserve this ancient parish church.
The ruined sections of the pre-Civil War can be seen at the eastern end of the main churchyard, silent witnesses to the fearful destruction of 1645. Beyond, in the east churchyard (ie over the car park walling) is the grave of Anne Bronte (1820-1849) novelist and poet. She died aged 28 years on May 28, 1849.
Now just cross Castle Road to find Mulgrave Place. At the far end to your right is Castle-by-the-Sea. Here lived the famous artist John Atkinson Grimshaw, with his wife and family, from 1876-1879. His popularity then, as now, was based on his evocative moonlight paintings. These were perfected during his years in Scarborough. His principal local patron and landlord was a wealthy retired brewer named Thomas Jarvis. He lived in The Towers which you’ll see facing Castle Road.
The artist is said to have built the curved, double-flight of steps leading up to his castellated property. Exotic plants were grown in the conservatory, and some provided pigments for his paints! You can view four examples of his moonlight paintings in the Crescent Art Gallery. The most famous is possibly ‘The Burning of the Spa Salon’, 1876. It’s believed to include in the foreground, portraits of Grimshaw himself, Thomas Jarvis, and members of their two families.
Take refreshment here, and you may discover much, much more! Finally, leaving Mulgrave Place, look on the garden wall of The Towers – the large battlemented house before the castle.
On the weatherbeaten sandstone you may just discern details which commemorate the Hinderwell Memorial Drinking Fountain of 1860. The fountain formerly stood in the roadway at this point, in memory of the great Scarborough historian, Thomas Hinderwell. The drinking fountain fell into disuse and was removed long ago.
With your short trail completed, you’ll hopefully find time to discover more local history, by visiting Scarborough Castle, close by. Don’t miss it, as it’s sure to complete your memorable day out.