A FORTNIGHT ago, we told the remarkable story of Willance’s Leap. One foggy November night in 1606, the horse ridden by Richmond draper Robert Willance spooked on the top of Whitcliffe Scar overlooking Swaledale. It took two enormous leaps and then launched itself off the edge of the cliff.

It plunged 212ft to its death, and Robert smashed a leg in the fall.

He knew he would not be rescued on such a terrible night and feared gangrene would set into his wound, so he sliced open the belly of his beast and slipped his leg inside.

And it did indeed keep nice and toasty until he was found.

Unfortunately, it was so badly damaged that surgeons decided to amputate it.

Robert, though, survived the desperately painful operation and joyfully lived for a further ten years, becoming alderman (the equivalent of mayor today) in 1608.

To commemorate his salvation, he gave a fine silver chalice, made in London in 1595, to be used by future aldermen and burgesses. He inscribed it with the legend: “Given as a thank offering for his great escape from death in a riding accident.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

It is now part of Richmond Town Council’s silver collection and on display in the Green Howards Museum.

On the scartop, Robert placed three stones which marked the last hoofprints of his horse and which also had the story of his escape carved on them. Over the centuries, the stones became weathered and they were replaced in 1743, 1815 and 1843.

Mike Wood has kindly sent in a photograph of the 1843 stone.

“I used to play up there when I was young and the local farmer, Mr Carter, told me that the army trained there before the First World War and broke the stones while abseiling down the cliff,” says Mike. “This is probably correct because I found several .303 bullets up there!”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of Willance’s Leap, the army-damaged stones were replaced once more and a splendid monument, with a terrific view, was erected.

When Robert died, he was buried on February 12, 1616, in St Mary’s churchyard, where he was reunited with his leg which had been buried there after the amputation.

A fragment of the 1843 stone from the scartop can be seen on top of the large gravestone beneath which all of Robert’s body lies.

In his will, Robert left money to be distributed among the poor of Richmond and for "the needy at Winster, Crook and Croft".

Jane Hatcher explains: “I believe Robert was born somewhere in the area of Winster, Crooke and Crosthwaite which is between Lake Windermere and Kendal. Richmond would be an attractive place to move to, a relatively large town with an established market for trading in a wide area, so offering opportunities to make money – which he clearly did!”