We visited Hartlepool after Whitby to have a sleep and go to the Maritime Museum on the next day. It is an ordinary port city, however it was a main target of German attacks during WWI.
Monkey’s and Hartlepool ? Yes, the legend comes from Napoleonic Wars:
Hartlepool is famous for allegedly executing a monkey during the Napoleonic Wars. According to legend, fishermen from Hartlepool watched a French warship founder off the coast, and the only survivor was a monkey, which was dressed in French military uniform, presumably to amuse the officers on the ship. The fishermen assumed that this must be what Frenchmen looked like and, after a brief trial, summarily executed the monkey.
Historians have pointed to the prior existence of a Scottish folk song called “And the Boddamers hung the Monkey-O”. It describes how a monkey survived a shipwreck off the village of Boddam near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. Because the villagers could only claim salvage rights if there were no survivors from the wreck, they allegedly hanged the monkey. There is also an English folk song detailing the later event called, appropriately enough, “The Hartlepool Monkey”. In the English version the monkey is hanged as a French spy.
“Monkey hanger” and Chimp Choker are common terms of (semi-friendly) abuse aimed at “Poolies”, often from bitter footballing rivals Darlington. The mascot of Hartlepool United F.C. is H’Angus the monkey. The man in the monkey costume, Stuart Drummond, stood for the post of mayor in 2002 as H’angus the monkey, and campaigned on a platform which included free bananas for schoolchildren. To widespread surprise, he won, becoming the first directly-elected mayor of Hartlepool, winning 7,400 votes with a 52% share of the vote and a turnout of 30%. He was re-elected by a landslide in 2005, winning 16,912 on a turnout of 51% – 10,000 votes more than his nearest rival, the Labour Party candidate.
The monkey legend is also linked with two of the town’s sports clubs, Hartlepool Rovers RFC, which uses the hanging monkey as the club logo. On tours it would hang a monkey on the posts of the rugby pitch to spread the story. Hartlepool (Old Boys) RFC use a hanging monkey kicking a rugby ball as their tie crest.
Let’s go back to the Hartlepool Maritime Museum we have visited and enjoyed 🙂