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William Bray

William Bray (1736 -1832), of Shere in Surrey was a solicitor and antiquary who pursued a busy professional life in London as solicitor, Clerk to the Board of Green Cloth and Treasurer to both Smith's Charity and to the Society of Antiquaries.
By the 1760s he was already collecting all kinds of material relating to the history of Surrey, and is probably best known for his three volume work The History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey (1804-1814), which he took over from the Rev Owen Manning when he died in 1801.
Bray published just one volume of travels in Great Britain-Sketch of a Tour into Derbyshire and Yorkshire first published in 1777, anonymously then a second in 1783.

On his visit to Malham around 1777, besides commenting on the Tarn, Cove and Goredale Scar, he notes the cost of the enclosure walls being built at the time, the cost of lime burning.


Sketch of a Tour into Derbyshire and Yorkshire

From hence [Starbotton] , the road to Malham (pronounced Maum) has the river on the left, and a high range of rocky hill on the right. At about three miles, is a very lofty crag, hanging, as it were, over the road; it is called Kilsoe-crag, (spelt Kilnsay) from the village of that name just beyond.

At this village, in order to have the ride over the hills, and to go directly to a large piece of water, called Malham-tarn, leave the road, turning out of it in the village on the right; after passing through two gates, come to an inclosed pasture, where an old direction-post has lost its inscription, and going in at the gate, leave the more beaten track, and cross the field, towards the steep side of a hill, on the right, where a piece of gravelly road goes strait up, and is very visible at some distance. Pursuing this, and a track which, though little used, is easily to be distinguished, and runs in nearly a straight line crossing several large inclosures divided by stone walls, you come to the water. This ride is truly wild and romantic ; nature here sits in solitary grandeur on the hills, which are lofty, green to the top, and rise in irregular heaps on all hands, in their primæval state of pasture, without the least appearance of a plough, or habitation, for many miles. In the summer they afford good keep for cattle, great numbers of which are taken in to feed from April or May to Michaelmas, when the owners generally choose to take them away. The pasturage of a horse for that time, is 14s.; a cow, 7s.; a sheep, 1s. 6d. Many of these pastures, which are of great extent, have been lately divided by stone walls, of about two yards high, one yard wide at the bottom, lessening to a foot at the top. A man can make about seven yards, in length, of this in a day, and is paid from 20d. to 2s. The stones brought and laid down for him, cost about 7s. more.

The Tarn has nothing beautiful in its shape or borders, being bare of trees, and every thing else to ornament it, except two or three small houses on the farther extremity, but there is a very particular circumstance attending it; at one corner it runs out in a small stream, the only outlet from it, which, in a very short space, rushes in full current into a heap of loose stones, and is there lost. At the distance of a mile it issues out again, at the foot of a stupendous rock, 200 yards high, called Maum-cove.

The road to Maum is nearly in a straight line (inclining to the left) from this ingulph, your back being to the water; but the Cove is not seen from the road, though it is very near it. From the village, following the stream upwards, you come to the magnificent front of it, which is something in the form of an amphitheatre, almost plain, but has two or three ledges, like galleries, along the face of it, wide enough, for one who has a strong head, to walk on with safety. At the foot of it, a current of water issues out, which is probably the fame as is lost near the Tarn; but, in floods, the subterranean passage is not able to give vent to all the water; and, it is said, that a cataract then pours down from the top of the rock.

But this is not the only object of attention which Maum has to present. A little mile from the village, in the direct road from Kettlcwell, is a small dale called Gordale, hemmed in with rocks. Through this runs a stream, the water of which is very clear, but passing over a bed of yellow earth of the colour of ochre, it tinges the stones with a deep yellow: this is thought to be a marly earth, but, unfortunately, is so situated, as not to be come at for the purposes of husbandry. Following the current you are led into a corner where the rocks hang over on each hand, in terrific majesty; and from about half way up, the stream falls over great fragments of them. Going up as far as is practicable, the water is seen gushing out through the stone from a greater heighth. This is a little stream which was crossed in going over the hills to the Tarn, and is ingulfed at a small distance from this place, where it broke out, after a great thunder - storm, about the year 1733.

The stone of the hills about Maum, is burnt into lime, of which six pecks, each containing 16 quarts, are delivered at the kiln mouth for 7d. It takes up a week in burning, and when it begins to be calcined, the lowest stratum is drawn out at the mouth, and more stone and coal put in at the top.

From Maum, where little accommodation can be had, a few miles bring the traveller into the great road leading from Settle to Skipton, at which last place is a very good inn called the Black Horse.

Read the accounts of other 18th & early 19th century visitors to the Malhamdale area.


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