The village green at Ainthorpe in the parish of Danby. Sloping, grazed by sheep, bisected by a ditch and overlooked by the Fox and Hounds, a 16th century coaching inn. Beyond the sheep are pitches for playing quoits, a game where rings 5½ inches in diameter and weighing 5½ pounds are thrown over pins from distance of 11 yards. These are the Northern rules, other regions play to a different set.
One the best known wayside crosses on the North York Moors. This squat stone stands at the head of Rosedale on Danby Moor and also marks the boundary of the parishes of Rosedale, Danby and Westerdale. It’s traditionally whitewashed hence it’s alternative name of White Cross. Legends abound how it has acquired its rather quaint but not politically incorrect name of Fat Betty. Some say Betty was the mother superior of the nuns at Rosedale Abbey who got lost lost on the moors whilst trying to meet up with her equivalent from Baysdale Abbey.
Danby Beacon, the site of a RAF Radar station during WW2. There are very little visible remains on the site just north west of Danby Hill. Three earth mounds that protected the transmission equipment and a few concrete roads and plinths.
The site operated from the outbreak of the war until 1954 and was one of twenty stations along the east coast of Britain. It comprised were eight aerial towers in total, four wood 240 feet high for receiving and, four steel 350 feet for transmitting as well as numerous buildings for billets, guardhouse, the commanding officer’s house and stores. Around the perimeter there were anti aircraft guns and pill boxes.
In February 1940 the station detected enemy aircraft which were intercepted. In the engagement a Heinkel bomber was shot down, the first over England. One of the pilots was Flt. Lieut. Peter Townsend who was involved in a controversial relationship with Princess Margaret in the 1950s.
It must have been quite a cushy posting. Boredom seems to have been the main problem especially if confined to the camp. Stories circulated of a headless horseman seen riding on the isolated moor.
After the war the site continued to protect our eastern skies. This time against a potential Cold War threat. Eventually this function was taken over by RAF Fylingdales.
It is said that Catherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII and the one who outlived him, lived here after marrying Lord Latimer. The castle dates to the early 14th century. It is now part off a farm and not normally open to the public but has in recent years become licensed to conduct marriage ceremonies.
It is also the place where the Danby Court Leet meet. The leet is an archaic form of local government concerning the use of common land such grazing and water rights and the right to cut peat from the moors. Originally it was a manorial court deciding certain criminal cases but over time its powers have been eroded. There just over thirty courts leet remaining throughout the country. Danby Court Leet meets once a year in October.