Gypsy Race

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3 Responses

  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Gypsy Race
    The Gipsies are pretty well known as streams of water which at different periods are observed on some parts of the Yorkshire Wolds. They appear toward the latter end of winter or early in the spring; sometimes breaking out very suddenly, and, after running a few miles again, disappearing. That which is more particularly distinguished by the name of The Gipsy has its origin near the Wold-cottage at a distance of about twelve miles W.N.W. from Bridlington. The water here does not rise in a body in one particular spot, but may be seen oozing and trickling among the grass, over a surface of considerable extent, and where the ground is not interrupted by the least apparent breakage; collecting into a mass, it passes off in a channel, of about four feet in depth and eight or ten in width, along a fertile valley towards the sea, which it enters through the harbour at Bridlington. . . . There is sometimes an intermission of three or four years. . . . A custom formerly prevalent among the young people at North Burton, but now discontinued . . . was "going to meet the Gipsy" on her first approach. — T. C, Bridhngton.

    The Table Book, by William Hone. London : 1827, pp. 115, 116.

  2. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Gypsy Race

    A Mysterious East Riding Stream. Woe-Waters of the Wold. A correspondent of the London "Daily Mail " gives some particulars of a mysterious East Riding stream which comes and goes like a will-o’-the-wisp and the appearance of which superstitious folk regard as the harbinger of evil, and which is just now almost the sole topic of conversation in the villages and hamlets among the wolds and dales of North-East Yorkshire.

    To solve the mystery of the "Gypsey Race," as the strange waters are called, has been the ambition of many modern scientists. Little, however, has yet been discovered to account for its eccentricities. Almost as suddenly as they came, some six weeks ago, the waters will shortly disappear, and may not be seen again for years. Only five or six times during the last twenty-one years has this brook run its eerie course. Its source of origin is a hidden mystery. The strange workings of Nature, however, appeal to the curiosity and imagination of the Yorkshire wold-dweller.

    Day by day young and old watch the stream running its twenty-mile course of hide and seek among the chalk to the sea at Bridlington. Astonishment is often mingled with awe, for according to tradition dire disasters follow in the wake of the brook, and which in consequence bears the sinister title of " The waters of woe." Superstitions die hard, and in these out-of-the-way wolds people are still to be found whom it is difficult to dissuade that the running of a stream fed by an intermittent spring is not in some way associated with the supernatural. I have tried hard, however, to find someone who can give personal testimony in support of the theory that the appearance of the mysterious waters is a prognostication of trouble. With the exception of some heavy floods in the winter of i860 and a great storm at sea in 1880, no one can remember that the coming of the stream has been attended by any particular local woe. The legend seems to be founded on incidents belonging to a very distant past.

    The "gipsey," it is said, appeared just before the great plague, before the restoration of Charles IL, and a few weeks prior to the landing of the Prince of Orange. Its appearance in 1795 is also reported to have synchronised with the descent of a huge meteorite in the village of Wold Newton.

    The mysterious stream meanders through this quaint little village, some of the inhabitants of which have not yet ceased to talk of the " bolt from the sky " and its supposed affinity with the " woe- waters " of the wold. Originating from an intermittent spring which bursts through the chalk strata to the east of the village of Wharram-le-street the gipsey stream performs at times so many queer pranks that its vagaries may have given rise to some of the superstitions associated with its appearance.

    For instance, the waters may be running strangely at one end of a field and at the other end of the bed of the stream be quite dry. On one occasion the stream literally passed through some cottages at Kirby Grindalythe, the water forcing its way through the ground floors and only being released by artificial means. At times trout have been seen in the mystic brook.

    Some authorities declare that the stream derives its origin from the Greek word Gupos (chalk), while others aver that it means the same as the ordinary gipsey wanderer. Only once during the last fourteen years have the limpid waters of this strange rivulet run as strongly as they have during the last few days. There are already indications, however, that the waters are about to ebb. Soon the stream will have entirely disappeared and children will again play in its dry and erstwhile channel. The waters, however, will not be forgotten, and not a few old folk will quietly, but anxiously, wait to see whether the gipsy’s warning of 1910 of " battle, plague, and famine " come true or not. — Y.H. April 5th, 1910.

  3. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Gypsy Race
    The Gipsies.

    My Prophetick Spring at Veipsey, I may show,
    That some years is dry’d up, some years again doth flow;
    But when it breaketh out with an immoderate birth
    It tells the following year of a penurious dearth.

    The Complete Works of Michael Drayton now first collected with Introductions and Notes by the Rev. Richard. Song 28.