June 15, 2018
Junction, Paradise Place, Goole DN14 5DL
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INTRODUCTION/PROGRAMME NOTES by Wesley Stace
Peg Fyfe was the Queen of a robber band, her name a menace throughout East Yorkshire in the 17th Century. She earned the nickname “Cruel Peg” in the following way.
In Holderness, not far from Spurn Point, a small farmer cultivated a few acres of land. One day, she ordered the farmer’s boy to leave the stable door open the next night so she could steal the horses. She’d skin him alive if he told his master. The boy came up with a possible loophole: he’d tell the horses, rather than the farmer, but make sure the farmer was within earshot. The next night, the farmer was able to successfully ambush the thieves, severely wounding one, though the gang escaped.
For a long time, the boy lived in constant dread of reprisal, but weeks, months, years wore on, and nothing happened. One night, however, he was seized, stripped, and bound. His captors took out their knives and as their fiendish leader looked on and taunted him, proceeded to flay the boy alive. After their horrid work was done, the boy somehow found his way home, where he died on arrival.
For this, Peg was sentenced to hanging, though she reputedly placed a spoon down her own throat to prevent the rope choking her. Soldiers on their way to York were called in to assist. They hanged her with a rope made of willow reeds before driving their swords into her.
In 1945, Oliver Onions published a novel The Story of Ragged Robyn, inspired by these events.
Peg’s possessions were supposedly exhibited in the Hull Municipal Museum, destroyed during an air raid on the 24th June, 1943.
She is still said to haunt Skelfrey Wood. She may or may not; but she certainly haunts Goodmanham where All Hallows Brewery currently makes a traditional dark mild beer named for her.
Performers: Wesley Stace, Gavin Bryars, Molly Townson (Wesley’s mother)
Note: Gavin and Molly were at Kingsway Primary School together and both went to Goole Grammar School in 1954. Molly’s father died during her first year there and the family moved away. This will be the first time that Gavin and Molly have seen each other since that time…
Molly Townson, age 10, May Queen at Kingsway Primary School, Goole