Catkill Lonnin & Pattie's Nook
I should like to know what James would have said to the dismal deeps of Cat-kill Lonnin. A visit there could not but have been gratifying to the Royal crusader against witchcraft, and the awkward huntsman. It is the lane, which intersects Newtown and leads from the great North Road at Travellers’ Rest to Sadberge and Yarm, being formerly much used by wagons and carts conveying lime and coals to the farms further south, and to many parts of Cleveland. But the roads of Great Stainton are improved, and railroads are still better, so the lane at Newtown is seldom used, and in most parts is in a wretched state. It is called Sadberge, Broom, or Cat-kill Lane or Lonnin. The Broom has now disappeared, with the exception of a single plant, which sprang from the ground where much soil had been removed, and perhaps had remained there, as a seed for centuries.
As for the name of Cat-kill, a friend well recollects a nursery tale when he was young, reciting that during some night in the year (it was either Halloween or April fool een or some other een), all the cats in the neighbourhood for may miles round held their meeting and bivouacked in a particular place in the lane, holding annual consultations, devising future schemes, planning, plotting and contriving, mewing and squalling. There were black cats, white cats, grey cats, yellow cats, and not a few tortoiseshell cats; and the story goes on to say how they dispersed prior to daybreak, and how the most dreadful noises and horrifying screams caused by their disagreeing and fighting were heard.
For the latter amusement was not to be wondered at, seeing that so many outrageous and belligerent creatures were congregated together; and in proof of all this marvellous narration’s correctness, if any person visited the place the next morning there laid before him the ground quite saturated with grimalkin gore – nay more, to remove every doubt as to assassination and slaughter having been the order of the night, six, eight, or ten bleeding male or female tabbies were to be found, laid grim, gelid, and ghastly, where the internal conflict had been lost and won.
And yet this place of horrid deed is in summer very fair. There grows the witch’s vervain (fit denizen of such a spot), the veronica, the valerian, the elegant and varied eglantine, the wiling woodbine, the creeping byrony, the fragrant thyme. The wild strawberry furnishes fruit plentiful, large, delicious, and the blackberries, bumble kites or brambles, are so abundant that their votaries readily come five and six miles for them. Many a basket is annually taken thence to Darlington and there sold for mickle profit, and in the season it is very usual fro parties to call with their baskets or tins at Newtown to inquire the nearest road to the far famed Cat-kill. But in winter, woe be to the luckless traverser of that miry way.
At the end of Cat-kill Lonnin, where four roads meet near Stainton, is Pattie’s Nook, a place of ghastly grey renown. Pattie’s beer house was a place of no good associations in any way. One market-day, at Darlington, two farmers, Pringle and Race, fell out sadly, and Pringle threatened, “Before the sun rise tomorrow, I will be revenged of you”. Race passed through Haughton, Pringle after him, and that was the last time he was seen alive. Two butchers intended to halt at Pattie’s Nook at midnight, but looking in first, they saw two men by a glimmering light; one supported a dead man’s body bleeding from ear to ear, the other held a basin to catch his blood. The butchers fled in horror. It was conjectured that Pringle and Pattie burnt poor Race’s body in an oven, but no evidence was procured; the murderers escaped, and the vile den has wholly passed away.
Apparently, no one ever knew what happened afterwards. The murderers were never brought to justice as the body of the victim could not be found. And any signs that the Inn once existed have now vanished. Only the story remains in both Longstaffe’s history of Darlington and also in that of John Fordyce; to remind us that such a place ever existed.
Catkill Lonnin 2006