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The Spark and The Hunt : Down the Rabbit Hole

I often descend into my crazy of collection of eclectic-a for ideas and inspiration. I love old type and typefaces and the feeling of letterpress on a quality paper. This little book from the 1830s, I’m going to date from 1832, isn’t the best condition, showing it had some use in its time and perhaps not very careful handling over the years. At over 180 years old I think we can be a little forgiving of the foxing, wear, and the missing first pages. Besides, those missing pages sent me on a hunt, and there’s nothing better than a spiraling descent into the world of historical research for me. Not only does it usually give me answers to my burning questions, often I find some other piece of esoterica that leads me down another garden path, plants a seed for a new story, or adds spice to something I’m already working on.

Today the hunt for: The Ring and The Mendicant, lead me to Google Books.

The Ring and the Mendicant - A Tale of Frankfort Fair

A few searches later I determined the tale originally came from, The Stanley Books by Ambrose Marten. Curious to know more about the priory and then Mr. Ambrose Marten I searched for them too.

I found two matches:

This one: or this one

The hunt was on.

But I found nothing on Ambrose or Teesdale (more than the basic map) or Stanley Priory at Teesdale.

Teesdale is in the North of England near Barnard Castle. There's no priory there; a deadend.

Off I went to look through the text itself as searches were failing to bring up anything that wasn’t copies of a book reprint.

The location itself is problematic. The only abbey I could find on the River Tees is at Egglestone and but the history is murky and it may have been a ruins since before the text was written.

Perhaps it was a cottage on that property or something elsewhere altogether.?Wikipedia says the abbey was abandoned in the mid nineteenth century so it is possible that it was Egglestone abbey as this picture with it’s line of trees certainly has similarities to the descriptive in the text.

“The same evening found me at the little wicket at the entrance of an avenue of oak trees which lead to the door of the priory.”

Egglestone Abbey, view of the Abbey facing south from Newgate Westwick Road leading into Barnard Castle. In the foreground between the trees is the River Tees

Egglestone Abbey © 2005 Jeff Buck

I have also been unable to find Ormwood which is were the author was headed before he turned back to the Stanley Priory. But it may refer to Wormeswood or Wormwood. I’m going to take a guess it’s in Lancashire, north of Manchester.


The text that we are reading in the The Ring and The Mendicant was bequeathed to the author by Ambrose Martens after his demise shortly after the visit documented in the text. The collection was written up and then in 1827, printed in six volumes by the London Publisher, Thomas Hurst & Co., 65, St. Paul’s Churchyard, W. Morgan, 33 Old Bond Street, and W. Tait, Princes Street, Edinburgh.

Sometime after that my little volume of selections must have arranged rights to the text of The Ring and the Mendicant.

I’ll leave the rest of the hunt for the next installment.


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