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Young People


Riding the Stang


About this book:

  • ISBN: 9780952328223

  • Published 2000

  • Price £10.00 + postage

  • 294 pages



About the Book:
This novel is based on a true story which rocked Edwardian England. The book tells the story of how a married vicar who came to Stainmore in 1903, fell in love with a school teacher half his age.

Their love affair was doomed. In an atmosphere where breaking the moral code could not be ignored, the parishioners set up a system of spying behind walls and trees, gathering evidence against the vicar and his mistress, which proved to be their downfall.


The vogue for turn-of-the-century period literature should receive a boost from this excellent work by Cumbrian author Dawn Robertson. Set in the Upper Eden valley and based on historical fact, it tells of a notorious incident involving a recently appointed married vicar who enjoyed an affair with a young school teacher and who was ‘punished’ by some vigilante parishioners. From the first mention of the coalcart’s wheels on the road you are back in a harsh, uncomfortable world where moral transgressions, especially by a churchman, attract universal condemnation. Page by page you absorb the feelings and tensions of what seems a bygone age whose social code seems to outlaw forgiveness. Strong stuff and provocative too, for it challenges the reader to look into his soul and see how he would act in similar circumstances. Northern Echo

As the story builds like a Greek tragedy to its inexorable conclusion, Dawn Robertson vividly captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of life in a small community with its fears, feuds and petty jealousies magnified by the hypocrisy of stifling Edwardian morality. The Dalesman

A rivetting read...the places are real and the characters so life-like that they very quickly become as friends and neighbours. Riding the Stang is based on a true tale and, in her first foray into fictional writing, the author has put lively flesh onto the bare bones of history. Dawn Robertson builds on her previous success as an author of historical books to ensure that the facts not only unfold in fascinating style, but that the story bursts into life. A half-remembered tale is suddenly alive and well and certainly worth reading. Cumberland & Westmorland Herald

A vicar’s forbidden love among the fells

The true story of a married vicar falling in love with school mistress Mary Dennison at Stainmore has been vividly brought to life 100 years on by author Dawn Robertson. The tale turned into a national news story in the early 1900s when six local parishioners appeared in court after humiliating the newly appointed clergyman by typing him to a gate and taking him to to the vicarage to face his wife.

The title Riding the Stang described a medieval form of public punishment used by the parishioners. Dawn has fictionalised the historical fact and turned the story into a novel, a move away from her usual factual books. Riding the Stang has been well received.

“It really was an amazing story. I wanted to do the best job I could with it. I have known about it for about ten years. For the book I’ve interviewed old people and two of them remember what happened, they were only five or six years old at the time, and I’ve drawn together all of the paperwork and court stories that appeared in newspapers at the time,” she said.

Dawn wanted to show how different classes, morals and society were just a century ago. She said: “Mary Rennison was a girl who wanted to better herself at a time when women were not really part of education. Her mother died when she was a month old and her father married someone who was 20 years younger.”

Dawn’s research has led her to Australia, via e-mail, to find out what happened to the families involved. She traced the vicar but no-one knows what happened to the schoolteacher. Cumberland News, March 2000







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By the same author:

Plains of Heaven

Secrets & Legends of Old Westmorland

The Great Flood

A Country Doctor


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