IT is a little hard to describe precisely where Eryholme is. In the Downton Abbey TV programme, for example, it was described as being the Earl of Grantham’s estate “in the north of the county on the border with Durham” to where the earl was going to retreat when he fell into financial difficulties.

The railway network, of course, tried to pin Eryholme down by giving it a station. Eryholme station was where the Richmond lined branched off the East Coast Main Line a mile south of Croft-on-Tees.

It was a station in the middle of nowhere, with no access roads, built solely so passengers could be put down and picked up, and it was nowhere near the real village of Eryholme.

The real village is a couple of miles away, down a meandering U-shaped road that takes the traveller past Eryholme’s 12th Century church and its late Victorian school and down to the River Tees where, once-upon-a-time, there were two fords which plodged their way over to Neasham on the Durham bank.

The fords are no longer passable, and the river is spanned by an elegant bridge built in 1909 by Sir Thomas Wrightson so he could get from his home of Neasham Hall to Eryholme church. Sir Thomas, of course, was head of the Stockton ironfounding and bridge-building firm of Head Wrightson so could easily knock up a river bridge if it meant keeping his feet dry on a Sunday morning.

A new book is aiming to put Eryholme firmly on the map by chronicling its history which, for such a dot of a place, is surprisingly eventful: it was sacked by Normans and Scots, devastated by famine and disease, almost abandoned in the 15th Century and later divided by faith, rebellion and civil war. Only after 1700 did it enjoy a more tranquil existence, famed until 1850 for its cattle breeding.

The book is being written by Tony Pollard, a retired professor of history at Teesside University, who has lived at Eryholme since 1996. His academic research was into the 15th Century and the Wars of the Roses, and he has published books on Richard III, Edward IV and Warwick the Kingmaker.

This, though, is a first for him, as it tackles the history of a place over almost a thousand years, from the Norman Conquest to Brexit.

The 40,000 word paperback, with more than 40 illustrations and maps, will be published in September for £14.99, but the parish council is now seeking subscribers to help cover the cost of publication. For £10, subscribers will get a copy of the book, their name entered in a list in the book, and an invitation to the book launch – and full details of how to get there.

Eryholme should, though, be easy to find as in 1775, the lady of the manor, Elizabeth Montagu, described it as a “perfect paradise”.

For further information about how to subscribe, email or write to the Eryholme Parish Clerk at Rose Cottage, Eryholme DL2 2PF.

A FORTNIGHT ago in this space, we told of the remarkable court case that took place in February 1919 – 100 years ago – between the perpetual curate of Arkengarthdale and his Swaledale sexton.

The two came before a court in Richmond because the perpetual curate, the Reverend Albert Butterworth, had become so exasperated with the sexton, Thomas Coates, that he sacked him and sued him for the grass that his cows had eaten in a church field.

The main reason for the sacking was that Mr Coates had failed to fulfil his contract and live in a house beside the chapel, where the sexton had lived for 80 years so that he could conveniently attend to church business.

Mr Coates contended that as he only lived half-a-mile away, he didn’t need to move.

The D&S of the day only said that the dispute centred around a “chapel-of-ease attached to Grinton”.

Richmond historian Jane Hatcher points out that this could well have been Holy Trinity Church in Low Row, which was built in 1840 as a chapel-of-ease in Grinton parish, as the upper dales filled with leadminers. The following year, a new parish, Melbecks, was created out of Grinton with Holy Trinity at its centre, to cover communities including Feetham and Gunnerside – but the perpetual curate remained the patron of the church.

Perhaps a simple mathematical sum confirms Low Row as the dispute’s centre: the case was heard in 1919 about where the sexton had customarily lived for 80 years, which points almost bang-on to 1840 being the start of the arrangement which was, of course, when Holy Trinity was built.

SOMEHOW, this space has been overtaken by UFO – not flying saucers from outer space but Gerry Anderson’s sci-fi series of that name which ran for 26 episodes in 1970. In the series, earth was protected from alien invaders SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation) which comprised supersexy purple-haired women stationed in on the moon scanning the skies while their commander drove around in a gullwing car directing his spaceships.

When the series finished, Commander Ed Straker’s car, which was loosely based on a Ford Zephyr, toured Ford garages, and we had a picture of it in Skippers of Darlington’s showroom.

The car, which had a turn of pace so that it could outrun an alien intergalactic spaceship should the need arise, was so sought after that Dinky made a scale model – and last week, we showed an empty box that once housed a model.

Fortunately, John Hunter in Grinton has the very model which once went in the box.

“I acquired it at a Gerry Anderson convention (the only one I've been to, honest!) more than 20 years ago for the princely sum of £2,” he says. “The guest speaker was none other than Ed Bishop, who played Cmdr Straker.”

As well as the gold car, John as a green Moonbase Interceptor, a ground-based vehicle with working caterpillar tracks and roof-mounted armaments which are accessed through a flip top lid, and a Space Intruder Detector (SID, for short).

“As most chaps of my age will remember, Dinky was king of the TV related toy vehicles in the 1960s and 1970s,” says John. “The three Captain Scarlet vehicles and, of course, Lady Penelope's FAB 1 were among their best sellers, followed by the Man from Uncle Thrush-buster car, the Daktari Land Rover and the Green Hornet's Black Beauty, but the Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5 has to be one of the greatest toys ever (the features on mine all still work - though the suspension has seen better days!).”