The latter was based in The Forge by the Rainton cross-roads and the beer seller was Margaret Yeats. In 1865 James Halliday rented the inn and blacksmith’s shops from landowner Lord Leconfield. James named the house Byland House and, being a great Wesleyan, did away with the inn. He started business as a joiner, blacksmith, agricultural engineer, undertaker and timber merchant.
The Shoulder of Mutton dates back to the mid 18th Century and used to have a butcher’s shop next door. The hill where the car-park is now was used for staking out animal skins to dry them. One of the first licensees was butcher Thomas Johnson in 1755.
The pub seems to have stayed in the family, for in the Victorian era, a remarkable character, Bobby Johnson, is reported to have said to the visiting Prince of Wales (later Edward VII)
“Hoo’s yer mother? Ye mun tell her ye hev shekken hands wi owd Bobby Johnson of Asenby.”
Guy and Eric Reed, poultry farmers, rebuilt the Shoulder of Mutton in 1961. Bulldozers flattened the hill to make the car-park and are said to have removed 5000 tons of earth. Among the rubble were several old hitching posts and lots of animal bones.
Fortunately the plan to incorporate a bowling alley into the pub never materialised!
There have been at least 2 witches in Asenby’s past:-
1. Mary Harker was born here in 1768 and baptised at St Columba’s, the daughter of farmer Ben Harker.
Her skeleton can still be seen in the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds.
She was known as The Yorkshire Witch 2. Peggy Lumley lived in Asenby in the mid 1800s. She is described as:- ‘A great reader, especially of quaint old books which taught of necromancy and magic art. A clever, strong-minded woman, she mingled her conversations with dark sayings too deep for the comprehension of her associates. Not surprising therefore she was looked upon by some as a WITCH.’ There are stories of persons who, having unwittingly angered Peggy, received from her a look which made them return home with foreboding to find some of their stock stone-dead.
‘Her appearance too was striking. A tall commanding figure she reminded one of the enchantress Medea but for a fearsome squint in her eyes which, although it detracted from her comeliness, became well a votary of the “black art”’.
(T Carter Mitchell: THIRSK FALCON 1887-1891)
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