George Heneage Dundas – Marske and Upleatham

Upleatham Hall

Apart from regularly falling over Captain Cook along the Cleveland Way, I took a day off in the middle to walk the coast from Redcar to Saltburn and so catch up with myself before heading south from Saltburn (I’ve walked the coast south from the Tyne in order, although erratically over several years!), and to visit a couple of places connected with George Heneage Dundas – the model, at least initially, for Jack Aubrey’s friend.

I knew that he was buried at Marske, in the graveyard of the old church, St Germain’s, by the sea. This was rebuilt in 1821, and mostly demolished in the early 20th century, but the remaining tower may be much older, as it clearly shows the marks of two different roof lines.

St Germain’s Church, Marske

I also knew from hunting online that he was included on a Dundas family gravestone (or a Zetland family gravestone, but he died before his brother became the Earl of Zetland rather than Lord Dundas), and that it was one of the biggest in the graveyard – but despite this it took quite a bit of searching to find it, as I hadn’t realised it was a flat stone.

Dundas gravestone

The relevant part of the inscription reads:

Admiral George Heneage Lawrence Dundas
Died Octr 16th 1834 Aged 55

Admiral George Heneage Lawrence Dundas

There are two mistakes in that – he died on 6th October, or possibly the 7th, as it was around midnight, and as he was born in September 1778 he had turned 56 a few weeks before he died – but it’s very much a family stone, and as it’s clear that all the lettering was done at the same time, it must have been after the last death recorded there, that of his nephew more than 40 years later.

The new church in the town, St Mark’s, built in 1867, contains several Dundas family funeral hatchments, moved there from the old church.

The first two are for Harriet, Lady Dundas – GHD’s sister in law – and his brother Lawrence, 1st Earl of Zetland.

Hatchments, St Mark’s Church Marske
Hatchments, St Mark’s Church Marske

The next two are for Thomas, 2nd Earl of Zetland – GHD’s nephew, who he was staying with at the time of his own death – and his wife Sophia.

Hatchments, St Mark’s Church Marske

Next door to the new church is Marske Hall, now a nursing home, but then a Dundas family possession, although their main home was at Aske.

Marske Hall

The next morning I made a detour to visit Upleatham, where GHD was living when he died (if that makes sense). His obituary describes Upleatham Hall as the home of his nephew, but his Houses of Parliament record lists it as his home, and it makes sense that someone who wasn’t married and probably lived mostly in London had a base in a family house, rather than setting up a house of his own.

It’s a lovely setting – beautiful, but not so tame that it couldn’t be Scotland (and although the family were firmly settled in England by this stage it doesn’t ever seem to have occurred to them to move out of the north) – and from the road to the church Roseberry Topping is in view.

Roseberry Topping

The village has a famously small church, but this is really only the remains of a much bigger building, left behind in the graveyard as a mortuary chapel when the church moved into the village.

Upleatham old church

Upleatham Hall was demolished in the late 19th century due to subsidence from mining, and a much smaller building stands in the grounds now, although it does include a carving which looks like it might have come from an earlier building.

Carving on the new hall

It’s not all that easy at first to map the location of the old hall onto the current map – there’s also nothing remaining of the old Home Farm, and the new Home Farm is in part of the grounds of the old hall, which confused me. But it can be done, helped by the fact that the field boundaries haven’t changed much – and the site of the hall then turns out to be marked as earthworks on the current map.

Old Upleatham Map

The wellhouse marked on the old map is still standing, at the corner of the current roads.

Well house

These gateposts, near the start of the track continuing past the new hall, also look like part of the older building.


Following the path round, I took a slightly trespassy detour into the corner of the field, where I could look into the woods at the original site of the house.

Site of the old hall

(I was a bit amused that I’d been unwilling to walk through a field of cows to follow the coast path the day before, but had walked through one now to look at a house that wasn’t there where a fictional character had died. I’m mad, but it’s a fairly harmless variety.)

Two more family relics turned up along my walk – this is the old Redcar lifeboat Zetland, built in 1802 and the oldest surviving lifeboat in the world – and obviously named after the Dundas family, although they didn’t become Earls of Zetland until 1839.

Zetland lifeboat

And although there are Dundas Streets all over Scotland – far too many to count – they’re all named after Lord Melville. This was the first one I’d ever seen which was definitely named for the other Dundas family.

Dundas Street

Captain Cook and the Cleveland Way

Captain Cook’s monument

I didn’t set out on the Cleveland Way this spring on the trail of Captain Cook, but he did turn up quite a bit along the way.

(I did, a little bit, set out on the trail of George Heneage Dundas, but that’s a whole other story.)

After working around the moors from Helmsley to Kildale, Cook started to come into the story on the fourth day, with Great Ayton in view down below for part of the day, and then his monument on Easby Moor ahead.

The start of the fourth day found me climbing up to the monument itself – an impressive marker on the hillside.

The monument, Easby Moor

The monument was erected in 1827, and has a plaque praising Cook’s abilities.

Monument inscription

(It’s odd to think that this was before Middlesbrough existed – the monument isn’t in the middle of nowhere, as it seems now, it’s overlooking the biggest town connected with his boyhood.)

After a day around Redcar and Marske on the trail of the Dundas family, it was day 6 when I next came across Cook, in Staithes where he spent 18 months working for a merchant before moving to Whitby to train as a seaman. It’s a very picturesque little harbour, piled into a gap between the cliffs.


The shop where he worked has been destroyed by the sea (a common story along this coast), but parts of it were used to build the house called Captain Cook’s cottage. There’s also a museum here, but I was too late to visit it.

Captain Cook’s cottage

The next day I was in Whitby, where Cook served his apprenticeship as a seaman and then worked for several years on Whitby-based ships, working his way up to master before joining the navy at the start of the Seven Years War.

Whitby harbour entrance

A statue to Cook stands on the west cliff – as well as the inscriptions describing it, there are plaques presented by several of the countries which Cook helped to explore.

Captain Cook statue, Whitby
Statue inscriptions

I especially liked this ship:


Down at the quayside, the replica of Endeavour was just returning from one trip and ready to set out for another – which I couldn’t resist. The ship is built on roughly 40% of the scale of the original, but that still doesn’t feel like the original would have been very big!

Small Endeavour

Over on the other, older, side of the harbour is the house where Cook lodged as an apprentice, now the Captain Cook museum. From the street it’s a nice building, marked with the initials of its original owners, Moses and Susannah Dring, although in Cook’s time it belonged to John Walker.

Front of the house

The house is built in an L shape around a courtyard behind – the attic of the main building is where the apprentices would have slept.

John Walker’s house

At the other end, the courtyard runs down to the harbour – and would have been lower in Cook’s day, running down to a slipway.

Looking to the harbour

The museum itself is interesting but not always very clear – they have several exhibits which they’re rightfully proud of, but don’t put much effort into telling the overarching story which these things fit into (what happened on each of the three voyages, for example). My vague memories of the museum at Marton did help a bit!