Speculation is rich and rife on ‘Ilkla Moor’

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From: Clive Goodhead, Rowley Court, Earswick, York.

I CAN’T speak for my old friend Gervase Phinn, but I do feel that I might have something to contribute with regard to the origins of On Ilkla Moor baht ‘At.

JD Billcliffe (Yorkshire Post, November 25) is not the first to point out that its sacred, Methodist, musical origins were in Kent rather than Yorkshire. Indeed, shortly before he died, an illustrious and true Yorkshireman, the late Dr Arnold Kellett, dedicated a whole chapter of one of his many excellent books to the composer of Cranbrook, Thomas Clark from Canterbury.

Dr Kellett’s On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At, the story of the song, published in 1998 by Smith Settle of Otley, is the result of dedicated and careful research into the original sources and antecedents of the “national anthem” of Yorkshire. It is about as exhaustive an investigation as one could wish for. It makes abundantly clear the futility of Mr Billcliffe’s own request for a single unassailable origin for the song’s famous words. There isn’t one, though speculation is rich and rife.

From: Mrs Pat Kellett, Aspin Oval, Knaresborough.

I WAS very interested to read the letter by JD Billcliffe. We know who composed the tune, but the origin of the song remains a mystery. Lots of theories have been voiced but no one has ever been able to prove who the poet was.

My husband, Dr Arnold Kellett, wrote a book On Ilkla Mooar Baht ‘at, The Story of the Song, way back in 1998, in which he explores all the stories from people who think they have the answer.

It makes very interesting reading and maybe it would help Gordon Eddison in his effort to bring this song back to life.