St. Mary's Church and the 'South Bay'
St. Mary's Church/South Bay - viewed from castle

Viewed from beside the castle wall, looking in a south-west direction, this scene shows part of Scarborough's 'South Bay' with St. Mary's Church on the right. The Grand Hotel (site of Wood's Lodgings) and Anne's grave are indicated. Although it may be difficult to see in this photograph, another group of people pay a visit to Anne's grave (stood just to the right of her gravestone). Just to the left of the Grand Hotel can be seen the Spa Bridge with the 'Spa' buildings further to the left. Behind these is 'Oliver's Mount' - this was almost certainly the 'lofty hill' referred to in Anne's poem 'The Bluebell' (see 'Poems' section). Below and to the left of the hotel are the South Sands where Anne took many walks, as does Agnes in Anne's novel - Agnes Grey. Over on the right, running past the church, is Castle Road: in this photograph it appears to be ascending as it moves away from the camera, but in reality it gradually descends into the town centre. At this top end it becomes quite steep as it inclines up towards the castle entrance (see picture below), and this upper section was once known as Castle Hill: Anne makes reference to this 'hill' and the church in Agnes Grey (below).

St. Mary's Church/Castle  (1899)LEFT: St. Mary's Church viewed from the opposite direction, with Scarborough's castle crowning the headland in the background. The sea beyond, and below the cliff, surrounds the headland, and spans the South Bay - down to the right. On the left is Castle Road, with the distant 'Castle Hill' rising towards the castle keep, and beyond - into the grounds of the ancient fortress (pictured here in 1899).

This scene is clearly portrayed in Agnes Grey: Edward Weston informs Agnes that he wishes her to take a walk with him to 'a certain part of the coast - a bold hill on the land side, and towards the sea a steep precipice, from the summit of which a glorious view is to be had'. Agnes later relates her walk through the streets with Edward, and their reaching 'the quiet outskirts of the town' (the church and its surroundings were more secluded in the mid-nineteenth century - and could well have been regarded as existing on 'the quiet outskirts of the town'); she continues:

 '. . . as we came in sight of the venerable old church and the castle hill, with the deep blue sea beyond it, . . .' 20n 

They presently ascend the hill and make their way to the vantage point from where they look out to sea. Today, after entering the castle (via the old Castle Hill) and walking directly across the grounds, one reaches the edge of the cliff, and is faced with a sheer-drop falling several hundred yards to the rocks and sea below (also the road which surrounds the headland, though this was not present in Anne's day); but is also presented with a magnificent view out to sea. It was here, 'on the edge of the precipice', where Edward Weston proposed to Agnes. Years later, Agnes recalled:

'. . . I shall never forget that glorious summer evening, and always remember with delight that steep hill, and the edge of the precipice where we stood together, watching the splendid sunset mirrored in the restless world of waters at our feet - with hearts filled with gratitude to Heaven, and happiness, and love - almost too full for speech.' 21n    . . . Agnes Grey.

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Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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