Old Grassington

When one thinks of Grassington, one sees an olde worlde village with quaint independent shops, cobbled lanes, flat-capped farmers in elderly Land Rovers. The new All Creatures Great and Small is filming there, so nostalgic and evocative is the place. Yet this is New Grassington. Old Grassington I visited in the summer, having spent a morning at Yorkshire Camps. I walked up, past the Methodist chapel beyond Town Head Farm. The OS marks over a dozen sites in its Old English font, indicating post-Roman sites of antiquarian interest. There are cairns, field systems and two spots marked ‘medieval village’. 1960s archaeological exploration found paved floors, rectangular buildings, 14th century pottery and various other examples of medieval ‘midden’. This is the original G-town, before people felt the need to relocate half a mile to the south. Now, it is just a series of mounds and forlorn stones. The old was replaced by the new, and became increasingly forgotten.

We always assume our town, nation and civilisation will stand time’s test. Arguably, there are more former civilizations than there are contemporary ones. Each one was great in its day, each one fell as providence directed. Why should ours be any different? Even if a recognisable British way of life survives a century of increasing Chinese bellicosity and Russian aggression, Christ’s second coming will put paid to our pretensions. One day, New Grassington will be just another collection of curious lumps and bumps, no better than the Old.

In 2 Chronicles 32:9-19, King Sennacherib of Assyria taunts the Jews with their imminent destruction. He was wrong, of course, for the Jews had a God who determined their deliverance. Yet if we hear these words as coming from the mouth of providence and addressed to each civilisation and empire, they truer ring:

“Do you not know what I and my predecessors have done to all the peoples of the other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand? Who of all the gods of these nations that my predecessors destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your god deliver you from my hand? Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!”

Only New Jerusalem will survive time’s ravage. Only the City of God will remain when all else falls. Where is your citizenship?

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14