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Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Dickering - County Council Electoral Division of Burton Agnes - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Bridlington - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.
Bessingby is a parish and township containing 1,269 acres, and 171 inhabitants. The soil is loam; the principal crops are wheat, oats, and beaus, but a large portion of the land is in permanent pasture. There are 1,160 acres of land under assessment, the rateable value of which is £2,780. The manor formerly belonged to the Priors of Bridlington, who held it of the fee of Gant.
Subsequently the manor and estate came into the possession of the Hudsons, from whom they were purchased by the present owner, George Wright, Esq., J.P. Alfred Jameson, of Bridlington, has also some land in the parish.
The village is pleasantly situated on the sloping side of the Wold Hills, facing the sea, 1½ miles south-west of Bridlington. It is almost hidden from view by the trees that shelter it on every side. This place is twice mentioned in Domesday Book, and is spelt Basingebi and Basinghebi. The author of "Yorkshire Past and Present " tells us that it derives its name from the Norse word bessi or bersi, a bear, but this is scarcely admissible, since that animal was extinct in this country centuries before the advent of the Norseman. A much more probable explanation is given by the writer of "East Riding Sketches," in the Leeds Mercury Weekly Supplement. "The name," he says, "is evidently a compound of the old Norse personal name, Basing, and by, a house, and shows that the village was the property of, and probably owes its origin to, one of the old Scandinavian vikings during the Danish occupation of Northumbria. The personal name Basing (literally a bastard) occurs ten times in Domesday Book as a landowner in the East Riding of Yorkshire; eight times it is spelt Basin (i.e., omitting the "g"), and twice spelt Basine (i.e., having "c " for "g," as is frequently the case in Domesday Book). The personal name Basing was a common one in Scandinavia, and became particularly so in Iceland, to which island a portion of the inhabitants of Norway emigrated a little over a thousand years ago, to escape the tyranny of their king, Harold Harfragra."
The church of St. Magnus is a small plain brick structure, rebuilt in 1766, a period when architectural taste in this country had sunk to its lowest ebb, and the churches that were erected were but unworthy successors of the grand old (though dilapidated) edifices which they displaced. It consists of chancel and nave, with small belfry containing one bell. The east window, of three lights, is a stained glass memorial of Harrington George Frederick Hudson, Esq., who died in 1848. The ancient font, with its sides carved in panels, was fortunately retained. The interior is furnished with old-fashioned box-pews. On the floor of the chancel is a brass to Pierson de Bessingby, Esq., who died in 1647, and there are also several monuments to the Hudson family. One, to the memory of Lady Anne Hudson, widow of Harrington Hudson, who died in 1818, is a beautiful marble tablet, with a basso relievo of a lady expiring in the arms of her attendants. This was executed by Wyatt. The original church, or rather chapel, is supposed to have been founded by one of the Gant family sometime in the twelfth century. Gilbert de Gant, who founded the Priory of Bridlington, confirmed to that church "the carucate of land here which had been given by William, his constable, at the dedication of the chapel of Basyngby." There is some doubt as to the tutelary saint. Torre, in his MSS., calls it St. Mary Magd., and Allen and later writers St. Magnus. In the Diocesan Calendar the dedication is left blank. The register dates from 1559. The living is a new vicarage, gross value £70, in the gift of George Wright, Esq., and held by the Rev. Henry Woffindin, M.A., who is also rector of Bridlington. In the churchyard is a box tree of immense size.
Bessingby Hall, the seat of George Wright, Esq., J.P., is a modern building standing in a park near the village, and well shaded by trees. Near the church is an old house with mullioned windows and chimney stacks, dating from the reign of Elizabeth. About a mile north-west of the village is a farm called Wandale, a name which it has probably borne for a thousand years. It is of Norse origin, and occurs frequently in Yorkshire and Cumberland, where the Norsemen settled in goodly numbers. "It seems," says the writer above mentioned, "to be a compound of the old Norse (Icelandic) vangr - pronounced wang - a field, and deill, an allotment. This Wandale is the extreme northern portion of the township, and probably all the others are on the boundaries of the parishes in which they are found. It would seem that each of the townships in which they occur had been taken possession of by the Viking, who headed the invading host, except that some portion had been cut off and assigned, probably, to some secondary leader of the expedition, while all the rank and file were probably rewarded by the privilege of occupying certain plots, as compensation for their services."
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.