Leeds Mercury – Saturday 6th August 1898


The members of the Doncaster Scientific Society held their third excursion for the present season on Thursday. the 28th ult., the district visited being Hatfield and Hatfield Wood house.

On arrival at Hatfield, the outside of the church was inspected with much interest. The western door is of Romanesque style, with volute ornament on the caps of the pillars, very suggestive of derivation from Ionic columns. The nave appears to have been the original port of the building, and, from its broad plan, was probably all Romanesque at one time, though but little of the old masonry remains now. Some of the windows in the nave are of the Decorated Gothic style characteristic of fourteenth-century work; but others, as well as the clerestory of the nave, the lantern tower, the chancel, and both transepts, are of the perpendicular or Tudor style, and probably date back to about 1460.

Leaving Hatfield, the walk continued towards Woodhouse, a sharp look-out being kept for rare and interesting plants by the way. But, although flowers were seen in great quantities, they were, for the most part, of common kinds. One exception was noted in the very beautiful and rare grass Agrostis spica-venti. This appears to be a troublesome weed in the cornfields about Hatfield.

Arriving at Woodhouse, the botanists found much to their liking in the cornfields bordering the Moor. Rarely does one see in one locality so many characteristic cornfield weeds as were to found here. Most conspicuous, from its tall growth and large purple flowers, was the Corn Cockle (Lychnis githago). Along with it. and growing very luxuriantly, was the much rarer Great Yellow Rattle (Rhipanthus major). This plant is parasitic on the roots of growing crops The brilliant yellow starrry flowers of the Corn Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum segetum) were seen here and there, and the delicate blue minute-flowered Lambs Lettuce (Valerianella olitoria) was common. Perhaps the palm of beauty should he awarded to the Bee Nettle (Galeopsls speciosa) with its head of large yellow and purple flowers. This and its less showy relative, the Red Kemp-nettle (Galeopsis laudanum), were both abundant. Of more humble growth and less conspicuous were to be found the Corn Mint (Mentha arvensis) and the Cow Cress (Lepidium campestre), while along with them was the rare Small Campion (Silene anglica). Many other more common weeds grew along with these, making the land very rich to a botanist, though probably not to the farmer.

Returning to the Little John Inn for tea. the ramblers were joined the cyclists. These latter had ridden Lindholme, in the centre of the moor. Hatfield Moor, like all peat logs, in low-lying and comparatively level country, is the remains of a shallow lake or morass. The vegetation that grew and accumulated in the shallow waters left a slowly thickening deposit of partially decomposed moss and reeds, the greater part being the remains of the common aquatic moss known as Sphagnum. Year by year the mass grew thicker, until the whole of the lake was converted into peat as it is seen at the present day.

In the middle of Hatfield Moor is Lindholme. This place consists of a slightly raised piece of land composed of sand and gravel, and was no doubt formerly an island in the lake. It would make a safe place of refuge in troublous times, and probably was often resorted to for such a purpose. From one of its inhabitants of past days have arisen the local legends of the Hermit of Lindholme. Among other feats attributed to him that of throwing some stones that are to found on the borders of the moors, and are really ice-borne erratics, at the sparrows that came to steal his grain. Some human bones, that are on view at Lindholme, are said to be his. They are only the bones of an ordinary-sized and fairly muscular man.

At the close of the outing, the walking party returned to Stainforth, and the cyclists rode home by way of Sand Bramwith, a very enjoyable and instructive day having been spent by all.
H. C. C.