Our nearest market town is very small and often very sleepy, but it is packed with history; it used to be a centre for smuggling sheep wool! I have teased out a couple links to America, which I hope you will enjoy.
St Wilfrid's Church, which I'll post about separately, is over 650 years old. The room over the south porch (where the flags are) is the Parvis room, which was used as the first grammar school, in the town, during Elizabethan times.
In 2007 there were celebrations to remember John Smith, the explorer, a former pupil of the school. He was saved from death by Pocahontas!
John Smith became Virginia's first Governor.
This is, without doubt, George's favourite shop. It is a good old fashioned establishment which sells all those essentials like screws, nails, bolts, door handles, fork handles, candles, cookware and kettles.
You can see that they have trimmed the place, to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, with bunting and balloons.
The market square is very small, when there isn't a market being held it is used for car parking.
Writing this post has taught me another lesson... I am, yet again, found guilty of judging a book by its cover, or in this case a building by its facade.
To the left of this photograph you can see part of The Windmill Hotel. My eye has always skimmed over it, simply because of the enormous lettering proclaiming "The Windmill Family & Commercial Hotel". It has always looked seedy and down at heel to me.
However, upon doing my research I discover that it has a fascinating history. The present building dates from the late 18th century, although there has been an inn on the site for much longer. In the 18th century it not only offered accommodation to travellers and families, but it was the civic centre for the town and held the Magistrates Court.
Thomas Paine worked as an excise officer in what is now room 105, the Bridal Suite... the bay window on the first floor of the lemon coloured building to the left of the photograph. Paine emigrated to America in 1774 and became an influential writer (Common Sense) and became good friends with Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. He later wrote "The Rights of Man" and "The Age of Reason", both of which are still published today.
Another link is Anne Hutchinson, born in Alford in 1591. Her husband Will, was a tailor in the market place; they had 14 children. The Hutchinson family sailed to America in 1634 with their 11 surviving children. Deeply religious, Anne became one of America's first women preachers. In 1643 the settlement where Anne lived was attacked by Indians and Anne and six of her children were killed. Her daughter Susanna aged 9 was captured and held for 4 years, but was eventually returned.
This is a window of one of the antique shops - the rooms and spaces are rented to individual dealers. and I think this dealer has been squirrelling suitable items away for this occasion. It looks lovely.