Scarborough, No Fair

by Dee


Are you coming to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme…

Remember that song? Well, I also visited Scarborough as a packaged trip from the campus. I discovered a lot in Scarborough, from Anne Bronte to the Civil War that damages the castle.

Scarborough - Phoenix Court

The second leg of the day was Scarborough, a city located 37 minutes drive north of Whitby. This will be a stupid idea to go north in this cold. But it’s in the programme, so I’d better make use of it. We didn’t visit many attractions in Scarborough as we were exhausted after spending the first half of the day at Whitby. It seemed like I’ve spent all of my excitement there too. Getting off the bus at Scarborough, we took a walk to Phoenix Court, looking over the North Bay of Scarborough.

At this point, anything with the word “north” equals to “freezing cold” for me. That’s a little reminder of the song that played in my mind throughout this trip.  No, there has not been any Scarborough Fair like the medieval times for a long time. It used to be a  45-day event, but then there was a similar fair held on a neighbouring area which lessened the visitors to the one in Scarborough.

The weather was not helping as well. It was super windy, breezy, sleeting a little bit when we sat down at one of the benches in Phoenix Court. Lighting is awful for photographs, as you can see. I’ve written before, I know almost nothing about Scarborough apart from Simon & Garfunkel’s rendition of the traditional ballad, Scarborough Fair. That song is old—traces of its lyrics go back to 1670 (Child, 1894). 

The 1960s rendition is also as good. But I knew there is a castle in Scarborough, so that is definitely worth a visit. Because we’re tired, I think at this point Mbak Rini was just humouring me to go and visit yet another derelict building from the past. But she’s a good sport and loves to walk around, observing people, and making the best of our visit. I am so blessed for having her as a travel mate.

Bits of Scarborough

Scarborough had several name variations per usual, starting from Scardeburc (12th-13th century), Scartheburch or Chardebort (13th century), and Scardeburch (13th-16th century). Scarborough is not recorded or mentioned in Domesday Book (1086) because it was burnt down by Harald Hadrada and Tostig Godwinson in 1066. Scarborough has remains of Bronze and Early Iron Age (Victoria County History, 1923: 538-560). 

On the way to the castle rock, I saw a sign pointing to Anne Brontë’s grave. Anne Brontë was Emily Brontë’s sister and was the youngest member of the famous literary family. She was born in Thornton on 17 January 1820 and died in Scarborough on 28 May 1849 at the age of 29. Her nom de plume was Acton Bell. 

To be honest, I decided to visit the grave and pay respect only because of her relation to Emily. But I reminded myself to find motivation and pick up reading on her book, Agnes Grey. I feel as if she must have worked so hard to “compete” with Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre that her sisters produced. Hang on, Anne. I’ll pick up a copy and read yours too. (Update 2020: Still haven’t picked up Agnes Grey. Sorry, Anne.)

Anne Brontë’s grave is located on the east side of St Mary’s Church, a parish church which was built in 1150 (The History of St Mary’s Church). History recorded that the church used to have two towers in the west and central parts. But those were destroyed during the English Civil War as collateral damage.

A few steps from St Mary’s Church lies the mighty Scarborough Castle. I hadn’t imagined it to be THAT BIG. What an impressive architecture. The site of the castle was an Iron Age settlement, a Roman signal station, an Anglo-Scandinavian settlement, an enclosure castle (12th century), and 18th-century battery. I love the continuous usage of the space, but I wouldn’t want to be the archaeologist who has to compile the reports. Ugh, can you imagine the drawings and database work need to be done?! I’m dizzy imagining it. Good luck, Scarborough archaeologists!

The Great Siege at Scarborough Castle

One of the main events of quarrel occurred in Scarborough Castle was the Great Siege which happened during the first English Civil War. Did I just refer a war as a measly quarrel? Apologies, I didn’t mean it. The siege occurred on 18 February to 25 July 1645. The first English Civil War was fought between Parliamentarians and the Royalists of Charles I. It’s still a long way until Charles II’s Restoration. But for now, let’s deal with this war.

The Parliamentarians bombarded and destroyed walls causing the collapse of half of Scarborough Castle. Even St Mary’s Church also suffered damages from this act. Hang on—I feel like I’m describing the Parliamentarians as “the party responsible for destruction”. Oh, I haven’t got the energy to study and do literature research about the English Civil War, the first or the second. 

Anyway, the five-month siege pushed the Royalists to a corner as they start to have less provision, some of them suffered from scurvy, water supply is decreasing, and shortage of ammunition. The Royalists finally surrendered at noon, 25 July 1645 (English Heritage). The winning side then repaired and rearmed the castle, but it soon was returned to the Royalists because their soldiers were left unpaid. Seriously, I nearly choked in my own laughter when I read this part of history. No matter how idealistic you are with your cause, whichever side you fight for, it ain’t no long-lasting victory if you don’t pay your minions. (Scene fades to Money, Money, Money by ABBA)

The last act of this debauchery began when the castle got repossessed by the Parliamentarians on 19 December 1645. After that, an order was issued for the castle is to be demolished to prevent it from returning to Royalists. But luckily, public outcry saved the fate of Scarborough Castle from total destruction. In the end, the castle was returned to the Crown during the Restoration period.

It was nearly 5 pm, and we’re exhausted from everything we’ve gone through and every information that our brains absorbed. The north wind started to disturb my sinus, and it’s freezing. We took a slow walk from the castle through the Castle Gardens, taking a route towards Foreshore Road. We passed through Bland’s Cliff and took the time to photograph some interesting graffiti painted on the gallery. Foreshore Road was loud. 

There were plenty of amusement shops and arcades where yobs and youths alike can play games. Despite the freezing temperature, I was tempted to buy myself a cone of ice cream. What did I say about my sinus? Nevermind. Blundered by all the noise in Foreshore Road, we realised we were walking further away from where the bus awaits. 

Doubling back towards Bland’s Cliff, we walked straight until we reached Castle Road. No more stops or cute shops to stop at. We’re ready for a short slumber on the bus until we arrive back at Sheffield. Yeah—and then realised there’d be more walking in the dark and cold Netherthorpe to reach home. I swear I could’ve wrapped my hands around my heater while it’s on if it’s not deemed dangerous.

I’m very thankful for the Student Union to have this kind of programme available for students. But I really feel that two destinations in a day are quite hefty. Nevertheless, I’ll be joining more Give It A Go programmes or dare myself to hop on a bus or train to get somewhere else. While in Britain, I should fit as many travelling schedules as possible cause I have only one year here. Where to go next?


1. Child, Francis James. 1894. The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Part 9. Boston/Cambridge: Houghton, Mifflin and company. The Riverside Press. p. 206.

2. The borough of Scarborough, in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London: Victoria County History, 1923), 538-560. British History Online.

3. The History of St Mary’s Church. St Mary’s with Holy Apostles.

4. History of Scarborough Castle. English Heritage

Read also

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tjandoe Radjoet uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More