A Tour of Preston Village
Our tour actually begins outside the village where, just beyond the eastern boundary of Preston Township, a few yards north of Beach Road, stands a sandstone block which makes up the spot where stood;
The Monk's Stone
Up until the late nineteenth century the Monk's Stone (or Rode Stane as it was sometimes called) stood in front of Monk-house Farm and is said to be a marker erected to denote the limit of sanctuary assigned to the monastery of Tynemouth. The intricately carved stone was removed and now stands in the cloister garth of Tynemouth Priory.
It is said that, on the base of the stone, were once carved the words "O horrid dede, To kill a man for Pigg's hede" (altough an 18th century engraving shows the words "O Horor to kill a man! For a Piges head"). This fits in with a legend well known in the district which tells of a monk from Tynemouth who, while out walking, arrived at the hall of Lord Delaval. Delaval was away hunting at the time and, in the kitchen of the hall, a pig was being roasted. The monk, unable to resist the smell, took off its head and made off towards Tynemouth. Lord Delaval, upon his return, was furious and set off in persuit. He caught up with the monk and his ill-gotten gains near Preston and gave him a severe thrashing. The monk died a year and a day later as a result of the beating and Lord Delaval was obliged to hand over three of his estates to the monastery as a penance. He was ordered to erect the Monk's Stone to remind travellers of his dastardly deed. It is unlikely that there is any truth in the legend but Mr. R. Owen of North Shields put the story into ballad form and this is reproduced below;
(Delaval caught the monk east of Preston)
"But stay! But stay! Thou friar knave,
But stay and show me
What thou hast in that leathern poke
Which thou mayest carry so hie!"
"Now Christ ye save!" said the friar knave;
"firewood for the Priorie."
"Thou liest! thou liest! thou knavish priest.
Thou liest unto me! "-
The knight he took the leathern poke
And his boars he did espie,
And still the reek from the scorched cheek
Did seem right savourie.
Gods wot! But had ye seen the friar
With his skin of livid hue,
When the knight drew out the reeking snout,
And flourished his hunting thew;
"Grammercie, grammercie! Sir Knight on me,
As the virgin will mercy shew."
But the knight he banged the friar about
And beat his hide full sore
And beat him as he rolled on the sward,
Till the friar did loudly roar;
No mote he spare the friar mare
Than Mahound on eastern shore.
" Now take ye that, ye dog of monk,
Now take ye that from me!"-
And away rode the knightin great delight
At his feat of flagellrie,
And the snds did resound to his war-steeds bound
As he rode near the margined sea.
Now at this day, while years roll on.
And the knight doth coldly lie,
The stone doth stand on the silent land,
To tellen the strangers nigh,
That a horrid dede for a his hede,
Did thence to heavenward cry.
Leaving the Monk's Stone, as we head towards the village, we come upon the John Spence Community High School, named after John Foster Spence, Alderman and four times mayor of Tynemouth in the first half of the nineteenth century.
The school was opened on the 10th September 1957 ( one week late due to a delay in the delivery of the desks) as the Tynemouth Technical School. It was later re-named the Tynemouth Grammar Technical School and then Preston High School before taking its present name.
From the front of the school we can see, on the other side of Preston Road, the Tynemouth indoor swimming pool. Opened in 1971 by the chairman of the parks and sand committee, J. Goveas, it is the only public pool within the Preston boundary. Up until the mid-1960s, there was an open air, salt water pool in Hawkeys Lane but that has long-since been filled in and the site built upon.
As we turn our backs on the indoor pool and cross North Road, we arrive at one of the most pleasing old buildings in the village;
Preston Village 1988 Diagram