Posted by: travelrat | January 6, 2019


scorton 2

Scorton: 26th December 2018.

We had our Boxing Day lunch at the Farmer’s Arms, in Scorton, North Yorkshire. It’s rather an attractive town, but somewhat off the tourist beat. But, the name rang a bell … this was the origin of the Antient Scorton Silver Arrow (not a mis-spelling; they used the form that was once in use to show how ‘antient’ it was)

The origins of the Silver Arrow are obscure. Many tales are told about it; the most favoured was that it was presented to Sir Roger Ascham by Queen Elizabeth I, who he’d instructed in archery.

The arrow was discovered by Henry Calverley, MP, while renovating his house at the nearby village of Eryholme on Tees, and, in 1673, he established an archery tournament at Scorton. The arrow wasn’t really the prize, however; the winner was designated Captain of the Arrow, and got to keep it for a year.

The tournament was held every year, except when war intervened, in various locations in Yorkshire; one of the rules says the arrow must never be taken out of the county. It’s still held to this day, making its claim to be one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, sporting events in the country,

But, they don’t compete for the actual arrow any more. That’s in the Royal Armouries Museum, in Leeds. The Captain is presented with a replica arrow … which is then taken off him, and taken back to its bank vault.

The winner isn’t the highest scorer. The prize goes to the first archer to hit a 3” disc in the centre of the target … and it’s a bit of a white elephant, for the Captain of the Arrow has to organise next year’s tournament, and provide a dinner for the competitors.

Although I practised archery, and lived in Yorkshire in the 70s, I never participated in the competition. But, I have seen the Arrow, when, at a ‘Sport for All’ presentation in Leeds, Major Roger Crees, who was then Clerk to the Captain of the Arrow, brought it in to show participants.

There was one year, I did consider competing, but the dates weren’t right. But, I spent several weeks rehearsing phrases like ‘Oh, fiddlesticks! I appear to have missed to target!’ because, although the competition is open to ‘gentlemen over the age of 21’ … anyone using intemperate language is frowned upon, and is liable to a fine!

scorton 1

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