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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A-Z Challenge - U is for Upper Poppleton - A Typical Enghlish Village

Join me on his A-Z journey  into  A SENSE OF PLACE where I reminiscence on places that are connected with my family history or are part of my own personal memories.


What is your image of a typical English village - village green and maypole, surrounded by cottages, church (All Saints) , school and pub (The Red  Lion)?   Well, that describes where I lived in my teens in a village  with the lovely sounding name of Upper Poppleton.  It lies 4 miles west of York towards Knaresborough and Harrogate on the west bank of the River Ouse, with its neighbouring village of Nether Poppleton.

Upper Poppleton Green with the maypole.

The name is derived from popel (pebble) and tun (hamlet, farm) and means "Pebble Farm" because of the gravel bed upon which the village was built. The village was mentioned in both the Domesday Book and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the Battle of Marston Moor in the English Civil War was fought nearby.

Our house.  We had to come up with a name for it quickly and my father settled on "Arlon" after a place in Luxembourg where he stayed in 1944.  He remained in contact he was billeted with there for a long time after the war.  

My own memories  of Poppleton are of the village railway station, the  fetes on the Green - and yes, dancing round the maypole;  fancy dress parades, taking part in Girl Guide activities  (Scarlet Pimpernel patrol) and the foxhunt meeting there at New Year. Unfortunately I have hardly any photographs of that time.   Right is my brother winning a prize in a fancy dress competition as a Yeoman of the Guard (Beefeater).  It  was a testimony to my mother's creative  skills - adapted from a red suit of hers, my 1950's waspy belt and my father's war medals.  I  cannot imagine how my brother ever agreed to wear tights dyed red and rosette garters.   

Church was an important feature  in our family life.   I was a member of the choir, along with my father,  and had my first experience of the  pleasure of singing anthems, including excerpts from Handels' "Messiah .  Goodness knows what it sounded like performed by a small village choir, but choral singing has remained one of my great loves.   

I was confirmed at All Saints. by the Archbishop of York, Michael Ramsey - his visit was a major event for our small village and he was an imposing figure remembered from his key part in the Queen''s Coronation and he  later became Archbishop of Canterbury.  

All Saints, Church, Upper Poppleton
St Everilda's Church at Nether Poppleton was a beautiful  much older little church, situated at the end of the  cul de sac of Church Lane. The church is one of only two dedicated to the seventh century Saxon saint, which suggests that it was founded about that time or soon afterwards.  I recall  some lovely carved Elizabethan kneeling figures in  the tiny chancel  and just wish now that  I had photographs of them. 
St Everilda's Church at Nether Poppleton
We only lived four years in Upper Poppleton before moving on again with my father's work - this time to Edinburgh.  But I remember the feeling of being part of a village community and it was here that my love of history crystallised, remaining  with  me ever since.
Colour photographs taken by my brother on a recent visit. to Poppleton


  1. It sounds like a setting for a book with you as the main character.

  2. Oh lucky you Susan! As I was reading, it seemed like a beautiful story from my childhood... "Snap", Kristin :-)

  3. I love when you explain the meaning of town names. Your brother's costume is superb - no wonder he won!


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