NOW here is a romantic story which has been marked by the dedication of a parish church as a "poetry church". All Saints' Church, Hawnby, was dedicated on Sunday, July 25, following a special walk across the moor to where, one summer's day in the mid-eighteenth century, the Hawnby Dreamers' actually dreamed their dreams.

A short service was held there, then later in the afternoon there was a service in the church.

The Rev Dr Andrew Shanks, priest-in-charge of the Upper Ryedale parish, said: "The setting, on the banks of the River Rye, is poetic, and recently a collection of poetry has been installed in the church as well as an opportunity provided for visitors to contribute their own work, or their own favourites."

But where is Hawnby? Well, it is on the Osmotherley road, on the edge of Arden Great Moor. You can approach it from Osmotherley or from the other direction, from Old Byland, just beyond Thirsk.

Not having been there, it took a little finding - but all of a sudden you drop down from the Cleveland Hills down the valley to the village, with wonderful views of possible picnic spots noted for the future. Actually, the village is set in two parts - top and bottom, all due to the Hawnby Dreamers.

Hawnby is another example of an isolated village in North Yorkshire where time appears to have stood still - just birds singing, cows and sheep in the meadows and a sprinkling of cottages and farmhouses - albeit nowadays modernised and priced out of the reach of many people - a hotel, shop and post office and church.

It wasn't this way in years gone by, so let's go back to the middle of the eighteenth century to recall the romantic tale.

One summer's day, two men - their surnames were Cornworth and Chapman - were cutting bracken, not far from their homes in Ladhill Gill, up above Hawnby.

It was hard work, and warm, so after a while they decided to take a snooze. And, as they slept, they dreamed dreams.

These were strange, and momentous dreams. Comparing notes after they had woken, the two men found that had both in a way dreamed the same dream: that God, somehow, was calling to them - calling for a change in their lives.

A little later, they were talking with a sympathetic neighbour, a Mr Hugill. This was a man who read newspapers. He had read that the famous preacher, John Wesley, was shortly due to preach at Newcastle. Why not go, he suggested. Perhaps that might help provide some answer to their dreams.

So off they went, the three together, on foot, up the drove road, where the flocks and herds were driven down from Scotland to the markets of Malton and York. They walked all the way to Newcastle.

On the way, it is recorded, they stopped at an inn and drank some tea, a new drink in those days and a great luxury. And then they heard Wesley. There in the midst of one of the often wildly excited crowds that he attracted, they were converted to Methodism.

Back home, they gathered family and friends together into a new community of Methodists - the first in Ryedale. But this caused great scandal among the local upholders of the established church. They were hauled before the magistrates and charged with disorderly conduct, as "lewd fellows of the baser sort", presuming to preach their own version of religion even though they lacked any proper education.

Their landlord then expelled them from their homes.

That is why to this day, the village of Hawnby is in two quite separate parts. The original main village is halfway up the hill, but down at the bottom, by the bridge, is the settlement the early Methodists built, on land they managed to obtain when they were driven out.

On July 7, 1757, John Wesley himself came to visit. In his journal he wrote: "I rode through one of the pleasantest parts of England to Hawnby. Here the jealous landlord turned all the Methodists out of their houses. This proved a singular kindness, for they built some little houses at the end of the town, in which forty or fifty of them live."

Within a few years, those original little houses had been replaced by the houses that are there now. And chapels had been built, both there and up the dale at Snilesworth. A community founded by dreamers ...

Dr Shanks, to whom I owe thanks for this history, said: "The first houses would have been shacks. The population has now shrunk and the chapels are now closed.

"The one at Snilesworth is a ruin on the edge of the moor, the Hawnby chapel has been converted into business premises.

"But in 2002 we organised a first Hawnby Dreamers' Day to honour the memory of the brave people, some two-and-a-half centuries ago. This was an initiative of the Church of England parish. Our predecessors are the villains in the story. But we believe in honestly remembering both the good and the bad in our past.

"Nowadays our two churches are drawing ever closer together, nd we wanted to celebrate that. And we wanted to celebrate the sort of sheer free-spiritedness the Dreamers represent."

So a little pilgrimage walk was planned with a short, and fairly easy, walk across the moors to where the dreamers actually dreamed.

A brief open air service was planned, then later in the day, a service in All Saints', Hawnby, to dedicate it as a "poetry church".