Beggar’s Bridge, Glaisdale

One of several packhorse bridges that span the River Esk. It was built in the 17th century by a Tom Ferres, the son of a poor sheep farmer. Tom sailed from Whitby in 1588 to seek his fortune. He joined the navy under Sir Francis Drake and returned to England four years later with a captured ship which he sold, establishing a shipping business in Hull with the proceeds. He married his childhood sweetheart, Agnes Richardson, daughter of a wealthy Glaisdale landowner, a match which would have unheard off when he had left Whitby all those years earlier. He became mayor of Hull and a warden, or officer, of Trinity House, the corporation which had received a Royal Charter by Henry VIII for “the safety of shipping and the well being of seafarers” and which would later establish the network of lighthouses around the British Isles.

It is said that the day before Tom was to leave for Whitby he had secretly arranged a tryst with Agnes but the river was in spate and the two lovers were unable to meet. In the autumn of his life then he had the bridge built to prevent any future young lovers from being separated.

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