Day Eight: Reeth to Richmond
The town of Richemont in Normandy (now in the Seine-Maritime département of the Upper Normandy region) was the origin of the placename Richmond. Richmond in North Yorkshire was the eponymous honour of the Earls of Richmond (or comtes de Richemont), a dignity normally also held by the Duke of Brittany from 1136 to 1399.
Richmond was founded in 1071 by the Breton Alan Rufus, on lands granted to him by William the Conqueror. Richmond Castle, completed in 1086, had a keep and walls encompassing the area now known as the Market Place.
Richmond was part of the lands of the earldom of Richmond, which was intermittently held by the Dukes of Brittany until the 14th century. When John V, Duke of Brittany died in 1399 Henry IV took possession. In 1453, the earldom was conferred on Edmund Tudor, and was merged with the crown when Edmund's son Henry became king, as Henry VII in 1485.
During the English Civil War, the Covenanter Army led by David Leslie, Lord Newark, took over the castle and conflict between local Catholics and Scottish Presbyterians ensued.
The prosperity of the medieval town and centre of the Swaledale wool industry greatly increased in the late 17th and 18th centuries with the burgeoning lead mining industry in nearby Arkengarthdale. It is from this period that the town's Georgian architecture originates, the most notable examples of which are to be found on Newbiggin and in Frenchgate. One of Europe's first gas works was built in the town in 1830.
"At the end of the 18th century, some soldiers found an entrance to a tunnel underneath the castle keep. They could not fit into the tunnel, so they elected to send a regimental drummer boy. The boy was asked to walk along the tunnel and beat his drum so that above ground the soldiers could follow the noise. They did this for 3 miles before the sound stopped unexpectedly. This was never explained until centuries later, when people now believe that the roof of the tunnel collapsed and caved in on top of the drummer boy, whilst drumming along. Today a stone marks the spot the noise stopped. The entrance to the tunnel is still there, but is forbidden for anyone to go in. Today schools celebrate this local legend with children marching through town annually. Legend claims that on some cold winters night, you can still hear the faint sound of the drummer boy beneath the ground, where the stone stands."