National Geographic : 1952 Oct
556 © Kesl ey Press Robed Choristers Hiking to Holy Island Laugh as Incoming Tide Tickles Their Feet Cold and windswept in winter, Holy Island is a popular resort in summer. Visitors come by hundreds to enjoy the island's memories, climate, and bird life. These choir girls, still cheerful after an hour-and-a quarter hike, carry suitcases for an overnight stay. They will sing at the Priory's ruins (page 553). makers, scratching the sands for brass car tridge cases ejected by practicing airplanes in the last war (they fetch £7.10.0-about $19.75-a hundredweight), and farming pro vide a good livelihood for nearly two-thirds of the population. A fleet of 11 antediluvian taxicabs-all Fords, except for one 1925 Austin-and coastguard work, keep the re mainder in comparative affluence. Prior to 1920, herring fishing was the main stay of the island, but the old herring boats now do duty as sheds for storing crab and lobster gear, coal, paint, and ropes. Black and forlorn, with their sterns cut away, they stand inverted on the beach of the Ouse. Three more lie below the walls of the Castle on Beblowe Crag, where they give protection to keeper "Wheeler" Lilburn's prize chickens. Once there were 20 of these stout fishing craft, but they were outmoded with the coming of the steam trawler. I found only seven small motor fishing vessels left; Sarah Ann, the largest, registers 10 tons. Wandering up to the schoolhouse, I met Mr. George Rowe. Since his arrival 18 months before, both he and his wife had worked wonders with the children. The bairns were making rapid progress under this former Air Force educational officer. All the same, the old schoolhouse remains a headache to teachers and a refrigerator to pupils. Built in 1796, its drab gray walls and wired windows seem more a mortuary than a suitable place for new life to be molded. Brides Jump the Petting Stone Although no marriage had been celebrated on the island for five years, when one does occur it calls into practice an ancient custom. Following the actual ceremony in the parish church, the bride, assisted by the two oldest men, jumps over the Petting Stone, an empty socket of a Saxon cross which rests in the churchyard (opposite). As the stone is a yard across and two and a half feet high, it is no easy matter for the bride to get over without touching it, especially if she is fat. If she makes a clean jump, the bride gives 10 shillings apiece to the old men for the luck they have brought her. Bride and groom then walk to the lych gate, which has been tied shut with a ship's rope. Another old fisherman is seated outside, waiting to be paid a 10-shilling toll by the bridegroom.