The legend of the drowned town of Semerwater

“Semerwater rise, and Semerwater sink, And swallow the town all save this house, Where they gave me food and drink! ”  cried the Angel.

Semerwater was created at the end of the last Ice Age when glacial debris and sediment dammed the valley causing the formation of a lake. Today it is the second largest lake in North Yorkshire after Malham Tarn. The lake is half a mile long covering about 100 acres. The name Semerwater was first recorded in 1153 and is derived from the Old English for lake which is sae and mere which is lake and water. It is a typical picturesque English scene that was the subject of numerous sketches by the artist J.M.W. Turner. Windsurfers and boatmen use the lake and walkers and fishermen relax along the shores and it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for nature lovers.

Although Semerwater is a sizable body of water tradition tells that where the lake is situated today there was once a thriving and prosperous town. The legend tells how the town was visited by an angel who took the form of a poor old beggar man. In the guise of the beggar man the angel went around the town begging for food and drink.  He begged in the streets and in the main market place but all the rich and prosperous citizens passed him by or looked the other way never once making an offering.  Read more

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