A significant anniversary milestone at Ryedale Folk Museum is reached on 15 July this year. This was the day 50 years ago that the fourth cruck of the museum’s Stang End building was raised.
Stang End is a cruck framed thatched long house and was originally a farmhouse on the north bank of the Esk in Danby Dale. It is a great example of vernacular architecture of the North York Moors area.
In 1967, the local paper reported that “The Countess of Feversham will place the salt box in position at 2.45pm on the occasion of the rebuilding of a medieval long house in the museum grounds”.
After the salt box was cemented in place, about a dozen volunteers using ropes and supports raised a pair of oak crucks under the supervision of curator Bert Frank. This took place on St Swithin’s Day as traditionally a cruck raising ceremony had to take place on a saint’s day.
Crucks are curved timbers erected in pairs to form an ‘A’ shape. Several crucks would be constructed on the ground, then lifted into position and joined together by cross beams or solid walls. The design was very practical. As the roof was wholly supported by the crucks, the walls were not load-bearing and could be made from any available materials and the house could be extended by adding more pairs of crucks.
Stang End was restored to reflect the way of life of a farming family, John and Anne Huntley, who lived and worked there from 1704. The inscription in the lintel over the door – I H 1704 and two interlocking rings – is probably a record of their marriage. Its origins are probably earlier – when it was dismantled ready for the move to the museum some sherds of 14th century pottery were found under the oldest, eastern part of the house.
The house was home to the family and their beasts. The entrance was in the centre with doors front and back. They would be left open whilst the corn was threshed. The lighter chaff would be blown away or winnowed, leaving the heavier corn seeds on the threshold. To the left of the door is the kitchen with a fireplace, witch post and salt and pepper cupboards in the wall behind the fire to keep them dry. These were very valuable commodities for flavouring food and helping to overcome the bad smells and taste of old food that might be going off in the days before refrigeration.
To the right of the door was the dairy, then a bedroom at the far end.
There is evidence in Stang End that once there was flooring to create more sleeping space, with a simple staircase more like a ladder. The house had been home to many families such as the Scarths, Kings and Cornforths but by the 1950s it was being used as a cow byre.
Now Stang End and other buildings such as the Manor House and White Cottage are clustered around the village green and May pole at the heart of the museum.
Ryedale Folk Museum is gearing up for a busy summer with the return of its ever-popular Tractor and Engine Day on Sunday 30 July as well as some new open air theatre events (The Emperor’s New Clothes and Pride and Prejudice) and its Countryside Crafts weekend long event on 12 and 13 August.