We all know of Haworth and the famous Bronte Sister’s, with their tales of love and hardship in the 19th century, but there is another place in Yorkshire associated with three literary giants who put North Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales on the map…Ampleforth.

A hidden gem hiding in a valley between Thirsk and Helmsley, it has a well known college – Ampleforth College – with some famous alumni, such as Joseph Colin Bamford (JCB), David Stirling – founder of the SAS and Basil Hume – Catholic Archbishop of England. One of its more theatrical students is a gentleman called Julian Fellowes who started life as an actor in TV shows including Monarch of the Glen. His knowledge of the upper class and their scandals first surfaced with the film, Mansfield Park. This theme was further developed into the worldwide blockbuster drama series Downton Abbey with its back story set in North Yorkshire. Now he is Sir Julian Alexander Fellowes.

The other two literary great of Yorkshire actually met in The White Swan pub around 1970. The story goes that the two men were writing stories about the people of North Yorkshire but getting nothing published. The landlord was listening to one man on one side of the bar, moaning about not being published and serving beer on the other side to another would be writer, moaning about no one wanting Yorkshire humour. “You two need to talk” said that landlord to the two customers. So, James Alfred Wight sat down with Peter Walker and had a good moan about writing!

We now know these 2two gentlemen by their pen names – James Herriot, the most famous Vet in the world and Nicholas Rhea, the writer of the Constable novels which became the hit TV series Heartbeat.

Article contributed by Steve Sutcliffe – https://yorkshiresbestguides.co.uk/project/steve-sutcliffe/