High Street, Great Ayton

I walked into the village today and was taken aback that a cedar tree that has dominated the High Street for centuries was being felled. Such a shame. The tree was an icon, with a canopy extending well into the road. But I suppose its closeness to the house and road and the fact that Cedars have a notoriety for randomly dropping their large branches that its felling was inevitable. In was during the late 17c that the importing of Cedar seedlings from the Lebanon first began and judging by the girth, this tree could well date to not long after that period.

The house in which garden the cedar tree stood can be dated to 1779. That date is above one of the windows. By coincidence this was the year that Capt. James Cook, Great Ayton’s most famous son, was killed in the Pacific. However look more closely at the house and a difference in the stonework can be distinguished. There is also a slight kink in the white wooden fascia at roof level. Clearly the house has been extended. The 1779 date is on the nearer half. The other half, nearer the Cedar, is probably Victorian. The house was at one time occupied by the village doctor, Thomas Loy. His surgery was next door, perhaps where the Victorian half now stands. Thomas died in 1842, when one of his sons, William, took over the practice. Interestingly William and his brother, also a Thomas, married two sisters, Elizabeth and Hannah Jackson.

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