Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Coiners


My photo today is of the ruined - and I think rather macabre and mysterious - church of St Thomas à Becket in Heptonstall.  It was left to fall into disrepair after being damaged in a storm in 1847.  The congregation decided it was better to build a new church, which stands over to the left of the old one, giving this little Yorkshire village the peculiarity of having two churches in one churchyard. Only a handful of other places share that distinction, one being Westminster Abbey in London.

I am showing you this today because it continues yesterday's history lesson about 'clipped money'.  There are reputedly over 100,000 bodies interred in the church's graveyard and one of them is that of David Hartley, "king" of the Cragg Vale coiners. He was hanged in 1770 for his part in a large-scale conspiracy to clip the edges of gold coins, melt the scraps and recast the metal to produce counterfeit money.  It was big business in this area, and the government was determined to catch the offenders, whose exploits were seriously harming Britain's currency. A Customs and Excise Inspector, William Deighton, who got on to their trail, was murdered by the gang in the hope that would stop the inquiries.  Suspected informers were brutally tortured by gang members. But David Hartley was convicted and hanged at Tyburn near York and many of the others were eventually caught too.

10 comments:

  1. You've captured the atmosphere nicely in this shot. No doubt, plots were hatched within and without these walls, in distant times?

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  2. What a history! Amazing photo too, you have captured a lot of atmosphere and I think I can just imagine what it would feel like to walk through these ruins.

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  3. It looks strangely appropriate to have a planter in the middle of a ruined church.

    I definitely wouldn't have wanted to come across David Hartley and his gang!

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  4. Hauntingly beautiful photo! I'm glad they didn't bury the ruins and build on top of them. What an interesting story on clipping the money. Now we have the government doing that job for us, devaluing our money as rapidly as possible (and getting away with it.)

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  5. I agree with you the ruins do hold a macabre and haunting atmosphere which you definitely captured in the photo.Although that placing of flowers certainly does something to lighten the dark atmosphere.

    I wonder how much it cost to have him brought back from York, and then inter him beneath a dedicated stone. Evidently his family missed him anyway.

    Really interesting these little stories jennyfreckles!

    Jane

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  6. Great bit of history! Love the pic.

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  7. I would just love to see something like this and the trompe l'oeil from your previous posts are wonderful too!

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  8. It does make for a very cool looking shot. Very interesting history. ~Lili

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  9. This makes good reading, Jenny. And your POV captures the mood you present. I find it curious why they wouldn't have demolished the old church to build the new. And I wish the modern-day culprits who play the currencies to much misery of the "little folk" would meet the same end as that King of the Cragg Vale coiners. (I've used poetic licence, but surely you get my drift.)

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  10. Now, that's a fantastic composition! And what wonderful ruins I would love to explore.

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