The Richmond Drummer Boy Legend
Legend has it there used to be a tunnel connecting Easby Abbey to Richmond Castle. After many hundreds of years, possibly at the end of the 18th century, the tunnel was rediscovered under the Keep of the Castleby some soldiers . It had been quite damaged over the passing of time; only a small boy could pass through the fallen rubble.
As they were too large to crawl into it themselves, they selected one of the small regimental drummer boys to be lowered through a narrow crevice into a vault. He was told to continue along the passage beating his drum as he went. Guided by the sound of drumming, the soldiers were to follow his course above the ground and so plot the route.The sound of the drum was heard clearly as he proceeded down the tunnel. It led them away from the Castle, across the Market Place in the direction of Frenchgate, and beside the River Swale towards Easby.When the soldiers reached Easby Wood, half a mile from the Abbey, the drumming ceased. A stone stands today to mark the spot and is called the 'Drummer Boy Stone' by the local people.
The drummer boy was never seen again. Perhaps the roof had fallen in? There were people who swore they could hear drumming day after day under Richmond, sometimes under the Castle, sometimes by the river, sometimes heading to the Abbey and sometimes under the town itself. And people still occasionally hear that drumming to this day.The mystery has never been solved.
There’s another theory about what happened, though. It had long been said that King Arthur and his Round Table Knights slept deep under the castle, waiting to come to England’s aid in her hour of need.The drummer boy stumbled into the cavern where the sleeping King and his Knights lay, and his loud drumming roused them. One of the Knights raised his hand to stop the noise. “Is England in danger?” he asked. “No” the boy replied tremulously. “Then now is not the time to awaken King Arthur” said the Knight. Before returning to his slumber, he asked if the boy wished to join their band and sleep with them until they were needed. In his excitement and pride at joining such as illustrious group, the lad agreed. And there he lies to this day.
The Drummer Boy Walk
The Market Place is the starting point for this three mile (5km) circular walk past St Mary's Church and the Drummer Boy Stone, along the banks of the River Swale to Easby Abbey.
The return route follows the old railway track to Richmond Castle.Walk down across the cobblestones to the north east corner of the Market Place to a street leading north called Frenchgate. Turn north down Frenchgate past Swale House and turn right along Station Road past Richmond Lower School.
St Mary's Church is across the road on your left.Walk down Station Road to the far end of the churchyard and turn left down a narrow lane called Lombards Wynd. After about 30 metres you will reach a turning right along a path sometimes known as Easby Low Road. On your left down the path you will see a green sign indicating 'Easby Abbey - 3/4 mile'.
Easby Low Road is the path to Easby Abbey along the bank of the River Swale. It leads upwards through Easby Wood with the fast flowing river down on the right.
At the end of the wood, where a track leads down to the river, there is a gateway leading into a wide field. The Drummer Boy Stone - marking the spot where the soldiers last heard the sound of drumming - is mounted on a plinth.Continue past the Drummer Boy Stone alongside the field on your left OR take the lower path with the river on your right and wooden fence on your left.
Both paths come together at a stile. Continue by walking diagonally across the field towards the old Vicarage. Cross two more stiles and follow the path until you reach a metaled road.Turn right down the lane, and on your left is the Gatehouse of the abbey, entered by a small gate in the iron fence.
The Gatehouse is almost complete except for its roof, and still retains medieval vaulting. Continue a short distance down the lane to Easby Church.From the church, walk towards a gravel path which leads along the bank of the River Swale.
Easby Abbey is on your right. It is maintained by English Heritage and visitors are welcome to look around the ruins.It is believed that the legendary tunnel was constructed in medieval times as an escape-route to the castle for the abbot and canons in case of attack from Scots, who frequently made raids into the northern counties.Retrace your steps to the Car Park and head east along a gravel path alongside the River Swale.
After about 300 metres, turn right across the old iron bridge and travel north along the old railway track towards Richmond.Continue for about 1000 metres northward along the old railway track past the former railway station onto the A6136 road.
Turn right and cross Station Bridge over the River Swale. Take the first gateway on the left which leads onto a path by the side of the river. The path leads onto Park Wynd and so to Millgate.Turn north and climb up Millgate until you reach some steps on your left which rise up to Tower Street. From here you can see the Castle, now administered by English Heritage.