............ .... .THE HARTLEPOOL MONKEY

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...............Did you know that residents of Hartlepool are known as Monkey Hangers?
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As the story goes, during the Napoleonic Wars a ship was wrecked off the coast and the only survivor who made it to land on a raft was a monkey. The people of old Hartlepool - known as Crofters - being unable to understand a word this little stranger spoke decided that he must have been either a Frenchman, or a spy, so they hanged him. The only problem with this tale is that the people of Hartlepool, being sailors and fishermen and living on a large natural harbour, would certainly have known the difference between an animal and a Frenchman! Nevertheless, the monkey legend has stayed with the townsfolk of Hartlepool ever since.

A folk song which was written by Alan Wilkinson, and sung by The Teesside Fettlers, tells the story of "The Hartlepool Monkey" and can be heard in full on this YouTube video with a selection of photographs from old Hartlepool.


"The Hartlepool Monkey"

It happened in old Hartlepool about the time of France
The Emperor Napoleon was leading us a dance
Sailing down the coast came a British man of war
The captain's pet monkey was washed upon the shore

The Lord Mayor of Hartlepool was walking on the shore
When he came across a funny site he'd never seen before
There was this little fellow sitting on the sand
Holding up a 'nana in his tiny 'airy hand


Old folks, young folks, every one and each
Come and see the Frenchie that's landed on the beach
He's got long arms and great long tail, he's covered all in hair
We think that he's a spy so we'll hang him in the square

The Lord Mayor told the town clerk who hurried to the shore
There was a little man where he had been before
Now a crowd had gathered round because it was the funniest sight
Since the timber yard had burnt down the previous Friday night


Then Constable Parsons he comes upon the scene
He takes out his note book and he licks his pencil clean
Causing a disturbance is a serious offence
Anything you say may be used in evidence


But when that little man spoke a funny thing was heard
Constable Parsons couldn't understand a word
The reason for his puzzlement, the clerk could plainly see
The little man's a foreigner from way across the sea

The little man's a spy the angry crowd did roar
Sent by Napoleon to our native shore
So they grabbed that little fellow by his long hairy tail
Gave him to the copper who put him in the jail


They hung that little fellow from a gallows in the town
A rope all round his neck, his tail all hanging down
A lesson to Napoleon to make himself a rule
Not to send his hairy spies to old Hartlepool

Old folks, young folks, every one and each
Come and see the Frenchie that's landed on the beach
He's got long arms and great long tail, he's covered all in hair
We thought he was a spy so we've hung him in the square

The chords for the "Hartlepool Monkey" can be viewed here!

Monkey Postcard

A series of three Monkey postcards are available from hundreds of shops throughout Hartlepool. Cards @ Cleveland Wholesale Stationers.

Hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil - photograph copyright © Gary Smurthwaite.

With acknowledgement and thanks to Alan Wilkinson, Stewart McFarlane MBE and the Teesside Fettlers for the use of "The Hartlepool Monkey" song on this page.


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