Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The Oldstead Observatory

 The Oldstead Observatory 


Oldstead is a village near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, there are suggestions that it was used by people who took telescopes to the top. The skies in the 19th century would have been very clear from the tower.

York Herald Saturday 28th October 1837

Relic of Mortality, at Oldstead .


The in- habitants of Oldstead in the North-Riding, and its vicinity, have had their curiosity much excited, during these few days past, by the discovery of the bones ft a human skeleton, which were found in digging the foundation of an observatory, on the estate of John Wormald Esq. of Oldstead Hall. They were turned up in the most secluded part of the property, at a place called Snever Point, which is situated on the heights of Black Hambleton, by the side of a wood, and according to Col. Mudge's Trigonometrical Survey, at a height 1246 feet above the level of the sea. Judging from the appearance of the skeleton, which is that of a female, it has lain in the earth for many years, and from the manner of its disposal, the body seeming to have been doubled up, when put into its grave, conjecture would assign a violent death to the individual whose remains are thus mysteriously brought to light. A piece of common flint was found amongst the bones, such as a person might carry about with them for the purpose of striking a light.



York Herald Saturday 7th July 1838

Oldstead— No one baa shewn more loyalty to their Queen and Sovereign, than Mr. Wormald. of Oldstead Hall, and the inhabitants of that village. Mr. Wormald gave a general invitation to all the villagers to assemble on the heights, and there to drink, in a bumper, the health of their Queen, which was done with the greatest feelings of loyalty, a band of music attending; after which, under the command of Mr. Sutton, a royal salute of 21 guns were fired from the terrace of the observatory.

This observatory, which was erected by Mr. Wormald to commemorate the first year of her reign, is a strong rough pile of stone. Upwards of 40 feet in height, standing upon a rock in the summit of a wood, 1140 feet above the level of the sea: and on the north side thereof bears the following inscription:— " John Wormald, in the first year of the reign of Queen Victoria, caused this Observatory to be erected.— John Dodds, builder." On the south side are the following lines, in every respect appropriate with the situation where this building stands:—

Here bills and waving groves a scene display,

And part admit, and part exclude the day;

See rich industry smiling on the plains,

And peace and plenty tell, Victoria reigns

Happy the man who to these shades retires,

Whom nature charms, and whom the muse inspires;

Who, wandering thoughtful in this silent wood,

Attends the duties of the wise and good;

To observe a mean, be to himself a friend,

To follow nature, and regard his end.


After this pleasing ceremony was over, a party of Mr. Wormwald’s friends retired to Oldstead Hall, where a cold collation was provided, and the same feeling prevailed to a late hour.  



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