The Durham Ox was bred in 1796 by the pioneering shorthorn breeder, Charles Colling of Ketton Hall, Bafferton, Nr Darlington in the North East of England. The beast became know as the Ketton Ox when it was exhibited in Darlington in 1799.
The Colling brothers and a man named Thomas Bates, who farmed at Kirklevington, have been given much credit for the development of the Durham Shorthorn breed of cattle.
The Kirklevington estate in what is now North Yorkshire has been owned over the centuries by such aristocratic and royal landowners as William the Conqueror, Robert de Brus, The Percys, Henry IV and Henry V. It was finally divided and sold by the Earl of Strathmore to two wealthy business men one of whom was Henry Hutchinson who was mayor of Stockton-on-Tees for a time. His nephew, John, bred shorthorns at Stockton and named one of his bulls “Kirklevington.”
In their childhood John and his brothers and sisters became wards of Henry Hutchinson. In their early childhood before they were orphaned the Hutchinsons had been friends and neighbours of the Wordsworth family at Penrith. Mary Hutchinson had been born at Stockton-on-Tees and went to school there when she was sent to live with her Uncle Henry.
At twenty-four Mary announced she was going to marry William Wordsworth. Her uncle did not approve; he considered Wordsworth had no profession – he had changed his mind by the time Wordsworth had become Poet Laureate.
William and Mary
William and Mary were married in 1802. William wrote a poem about his wife in 1803.
‘She was a Phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;’
But it was Mary who is said to have composed the last two lines of Wordsworth’s often quoted poem; he may have ‘wandered lonely as a cloud’ to see ‘A host of golden daffodils;’ but its Mary’s words at the end:
‘And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.’
So why is this my Sepia Saturday post?
I live in the village of Kirklevington less than a mile from the house which was once Thomas Bates farm and from the churchyard where his gravestone stands.
St Martin’s Church at Kirklevington also has a memorial window to him which incorporates a shorthorn beast.
Detail of memorial window
I happen to have been born in the village of Ketton in England’s smallest county of Rutland. Finally I may also be able to toast you all this Christmas in one of Yarm’s many pubs less than three miles away.
The Ketton Ox, of course.