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Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Birdforth - Electoral Division of Stillington - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Easingwold - Rural Deanery of Easingwold - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish, according to a re-arrangement which came into force on the 25th March, 1887, comprises the townships of Coxwold, Angram Grange, Byland-with-Wass, Newburgh, Oulston, Thornton Hill, Wildon Grange, and Yearsley, covering a total area of about 13,000 acres, and containing 980 inhabitants. The township which gives its name to the parish comprises 1,364½ acres, and is valued, for rating purposes, at £2,052. Its population in 1881 was 313. Sir George Orby Wombwell, Bart., is lord of the manor and owner of the soil. The surrounding country is varied and picturesque, a pleasing combination of woodland, hill, and stream.
The name is written in Domesday Book Cuevalt, which Mr. Gill, in his "Vallis Eboracensis," says, is derived from cuc, to cry, and valt, a wood, both Saxon, signifying to cry in the wood; "whence," he adds, "it has sometimes been denominated cuckoo-wood." There is, however, much more probability in the supposition that, like Coxhoe, Cocken, Cockfield, it owes its name to the domestic fowl, and signifies simply cock's wold, or wood.
At the time of the Norman Conquest the manor of Coxwold was held by Copsi, a noble Saxon thane, who submitted to the Conqueror, and received the earldom of Northumberland. No truer or stauncher friend had William than Earl Copsi; but soon afterwards, when the smouldering embers of rebellion broke into open flame, he met with a tragic fate at the hands of Osulf, his countryman, whom he had superseded in the earldom. When Domesday Book was compiled, Hugo, of whom nothing is known except that he was the son of Baldric, had four carucates of land in the manor which was then, according to that valuable record, nine miles long and four miles broad. Soon after the Conquest the noble family of Colville was seated here. In Testa de Nevill, compiled in the reign of Henry III., Thomas de Colville is entered as holding one knight's fee of the barony of Mowbray. The Colvilles are enumerated among the benefactors to Newburgh Priory, and also to Byland Abbey; and from them was descended the Fifeshire family of the same name. We are not aware either how or when their connection with Coxwold was severed, but their old hall remains, though vastly changed since they left it. It is now occupied by Mr. S. Barley.
The village is delightfully situated on the slope of an eminence in the "rich and romantic vale of Mowbray," near the station of the same name on the Malton and Thirsk railway, and about five miles from Easingwold. It consists of one long sloping street, near the upper end of which is a magnificent old elm tree. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is an interesting old edifice, supposed by Mr. Gill to have been originally founded in early Saxon times; but the absence of any mention of a church at Cucvalt in Domesday Book appears to militate against such a suppositson. There was, however, a church here soon after the Conquest, which was given by Roger de Mowbray to the abbey he had founded at Newburgh. The present edifice is a handsome structure, in the Perpendicular style, and may be referred to the fifteenth century, when that style was prevalent. It consists of nave, chancel, rebuilt by Henry, Earl Fauconberg, in 1777, and octagonal tower, with battlements and pinnacles. Surmounting the walls is a perforated parapet, with crocketed pinnacles rising from buttresses between each window. From each buttress projects a gargoyle representing a grotesque human head. The chancel arch is circular but modern, as is also the outer doorway of the porch.
Four beautiful monuments of the Fauconberg family adorn the chancel. The oldest is an altar tomb, supporting the recumbent effigy of Sir William Belasyse, in armour, his head resting on his helmet and with hands crossed, his lady, in similar attitude, lying by his side. A stag rests at the feet of the knight, and a lion at those of his lady. In compartments on the dado of the tomb are figures of their children. All the figures are coloured after life. This monument stands against the north wall, and above it rise architectural ornaments, with blazoned shields, &c., reaching to the ceiling. Sir William died in 1603. Near this is a beautiful piece of statuary, in white marble, reaching also to the roof of the chancel. In a recess are the life-sized effigies of Thomas Belasyse, Earl Fauconberg, and Henry, his son. Behind, in bas relief, appear two angels holding over their heads a crown of glory. On the south side of the chancel is a very handsome monument on which, within a recess, are the kneeling effigies of Thomas, Viscount Fauconberg, and Barbara, his wife. She predeceased him in 1618, and he expresses his grief on the tomb in elegant Latin metre. On the same side is an altar tomb beneath a beautiful Gothic canopy, to the memory of Henry Belasyse, Earl, Viscount, and Baron Fauconberg, who died in 1811, and his wife, who died in 1790. On the south wall is a neat monument, in the Early Decorated style, to the memory of Rear Admiral Lord Adolphus Fitz-Clarence, third son of William IV., who died whilst on a visit to Newburgh Hall, 17th of May, 1856, and was buried in the family vault of the Fauconbergs.
The living, formerly a perpetual curacy, was constituted a vicarage a few years ago. It is in the gift of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, who are also the impropriators of the rectorial tithes, and is held in conjunction with Yearsley by the Rev. George Scott, M.A., who is also vicar of Husthwaite-with-Carlton and Birdforth.
A free grammar school was founded here in 1603, by Sir John Harte, Knt., citizen and grocer of the city of London, who endowed it with a yearly rent-charge of £36 13s. 4d., payable out of the manor of Nether Silton alias Silton Pannel. The school has been discontinued, and the endowment transferred to the National school in Newburgh township.
Thomas, Earl Fauconberg, in 1696, founded a Hospital here for 10 poor persons, and endowed it with a rent-charge of £59 out of the manor of Barwick-upon-Tees. Each beneficiary receives £1 every three months, 14 cwt. of coals once a year, and each man a new coat, and woman a new gown.
The members of the Primitive Methodist persuasion have a chapel in the village, erected by subscription about 19 years ago.
A little beyond the church is Shandy Hall, rendered memorable by having been for seven years the residence of the Rev. Lawrence Sterne, a distinguished novellist and wit. It is a picturesque old house, and an inscription placed over the front entrance by Sir George Wombwell reads:- "Shandy Hall. Here dwelt Lawrence Sterne, many years incumbent of Coxwold. Here he wrote 'Tristram Shandy' and the 'Sentimental Journey.' Died in London, in 1768, aged 55 years.
A Fair is held at Coxwold yearly, on the 20th of August, and a court leet and baron in October, every alternate year, at the Fauconberg Arms.
CHARITIES. - In addition to the almshouses, there are the following charities belonging to the parish:- a rent-charge of £16, payable out of the manor of Sigston, left by Earl Fauconberg in 1701; the rent of 16 acres of land at Husthwaite, given to the poor by another of the Fauconberg family; the rent of seven acres of land, called Beggar's Bed Field, at Easingwold, purchased with £105 of poors' money in 1743; and £16 a year left, by Lady Frankland Russell, to the poor of Coxwold, Oulston, Yearsley, and part of Wass and Byland.
ANGRAM GRANGE is a small township containing 439 acres, divided into three farms. The sole owner is Sir George Orby Wombwell, Bart.; rateable value, £684, and number of inhabitants, 27. This place formerly belonged to the monks of Byland, who had a grange here. At the Dissolution it was granted by Henry VIII. to the Archbishop of York, in exchange for some lands belonging to that see, and a few years ago the whole township was purchased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by the present owner, who is also lord of the manor. The tithes, commuted value £106, belong to Trinity College, Cambridge, The soil is clay, and subsoil the same; and chief crops wheat, oats, and barley.
BYLAND-WITH-WASS. - By a Local Government Order, which came into operation on the 25th March, 1887, the township of Wass, in the parish of Kilburn, was annexed to that of Byland, but for ecclesistical purposes they remain as heretofore. The joint township contains 2,404 acres and 205 inhabitants, and is assessed at £1,696. It is in Helmsley union. The principal landowners are Major H. M. Stapylton, who is also lord of the manor, Myton Hall; the Prior of Ampleforth College, and W. W. P. Consett, Esq.
Here, in a romantic situation at the foot of the Hambleton Hills, are the picturesque ruins of Byland Abbey. This was a Cistercian monastery, an offshoot from Furness Abbey, in Lancashire, and the little colony of monks, by whom it was peopled, seem to have experienced more than the usual share of vicissitudes between the time of quitting the parent house and finally settling in the quiet and peaceful shades of Bellaland, as this sequestered vale was formerly called. The story of their many troubles is told by Philip, the third abbot of Byland. From this account it appears that, in the year 1134, Gerald, with 12 companion monks, was despatched from Furness to found the Abbey of Calder, in Cumberland, where they abode four years, when their lands were wasted and their monastery plundered by the Scots. Thus rendered homeless, Gerald and his companions fled for refuge to the mother house of Furness, but the abbot refused to receive them, reproaching them with cowardice for abandoning their monastery, and alleging it was rather the love of that ease and plenty which they expected at Furness, rather than the devastation of the Scottish army, that forced them from Calder. Some writers say that the Abbot of Furness insisted that Gerald should divest himself of the abbatial authority, and absolved the monks from their obedience to him, as a condition of their receiving any relief, or being again admitted into their old monastery. This, Gerald and his companions refused to do, and turning their faces from Furness they, with the remains of their broken fortune, which consisted of little more than some clothes and a few books, with one cart and eight oxen, taking Providence for their guide, went in search of better hospitality. The result of their next day's resolution was to address themselves to Thurstan, Archbishop of York, and beg his advice and relief. Towards that city they bent their way, and on reaching Thirsk, the Lady Gundreda, commiserating their pitiable condition, hospitably entertained them in her castle, and then sent them to Robert d'Alneto, her uncle or brother, a hermit at Hode, where she supplied them with necessaries for some time. But they found the situation too confined for the erection of an abbey; and in 1143 Gundreda, with the consent of her son, Roger de Mowbray, gave them the village of Byland, on the moor, since called Old Byland. Thither they removed and built for themselves a small cell; but here again new troubles and inconveniences presented themselves. At a short distance on the opposite side of the Rye river was the abbey of Rievaulx, but, says Abbot Philip, "the two houses were too near each other, for, at every hour of the day and night, the one convent could hear the bells of the other; and this could not in any way long be borne." Having sojourned here five years they removed to Oldstead, near Coxwold, where Roger de Mowbray had given them two carucates of waste land for the site of their house. He also gave them the patronage of the churches of Thirsk, Hovingham, and Kirkby Moorside, and Thomas de Colville gave them some neighbouring lands"; also all Bersecyve and Bertoft, and the appurtenances of the vill of Cuckwald, lying to the north, towards Whitaker, to do therewith whatsoever they would for ever." Here they built a small stone church and a cloister, and abode 30 years. Having cleared a large tract of woodland and drained the marshes, they removed to their final resting place in 1177, where they commenced the erection of the noble abbey whose ruins still stand majestic even in their decay.
Gerald the first abbot at a General Chapter of the Order held at Savigny in Normandy, in 1142, obtained an exemption from his former subjection to the abbot of Furness, and dying at York the same year, was buried at Hode. A few years later the abbots of Furness and Calder, the latter abbey having been reoccupied by another body of monks from Furness, put forth a claim to jurisdiction over the abbey of Byland as a filiation from Calder. The claim was submitted to the arbitration of a jury of abbots under Aldred of Rievaulx, and judgment was given in favour of the independence of Byland.
The abbey was enriched by popes, kings, princes and nobles, and many valuable privileges and exemptions were conferred upon the brethren. They were exempt from paying tithes for the lands they owned or rented, or for the produce of the mines which they held in their own hands; they were toll-free in all cities, boroughs, markets, fairs, bridges, and ports in England and Normandy; they were exempted from the payment of gelds, scutage, hidage, or any other duty to the county Wapentake or Riding; and they had the liberty of holding courts for their own tenants, with sac, soc, thol, theam, &c., and no person was to molest them under pain of forfeiture to the king. They had likewise free warren in their demesne lands out of the boundaries of the king's forests.
The noble founder having in his career experienced the smiles and frowns of kings retired to this peaceful retreat to spend the sun-down of life in prayer and meditation. He was buried under an arch on the south side of the Chapter-house near his mother Gundreda, and on his tomb was carved the figure of a sword. Here the bones of the old warrior rested until the year 1819 when Martin Stapylton, Esq., owner of the site of the abbey, having learnt from an ancient M. S. the spot where they were buried, caused the rubbish to be removed, and, with mistaken zeal the bones were disinterred and conveyed to Myton where they were a second time committed to earth in the churchyard. They were again unearthed a few years ago by the present Major Stapylton and deposited in their original resting place in Byland abbey.
Here, too, was buried, Wymund the warrior bishop of the Isle of Man. He had been a fellow monk with Gerald at Furness, and was despatched from that monastery to found a house of the order of Rushen in the Isle of Man. The Manxmen subsequently appointed him their bishop, but he exercised not solely episcopal authority over them, he became their leader in predatory expeditions on the Isles and coast of Scotland. These we may charitably suppose were made in retaliation. He baffled for some time all the efforts of the Scottish king to take him, but was at last defeated and captured by a brother bishop and rendered incapable of committing further depredations by being deprived of his eyesight. After being imprisoned for some time, he was permitted to retire to Byland abbey, where he spent the remainder of his days.
There are no stirring episodes connected with Byland; the monks passed their quiet uneventful lives, reeking little of what passed around. An event, however, occured in 1322 which must have sent a flutter of perturbation through the convent. Edward II had led his forces across the border and penetrated as far as Edinburgh, but his provisions failing he was obliged to retreat into England, closely pursued by the Scots under Bruce. The English had reached Byland where they encamped, and the king took up his quarters in the abbey. Whilst he was at dinner the Scots surprised the camp, completely defeated the English, and Edward only escaped through the fleetness of his horse. A very considerable quantity of booty fell into their hands, which seems to have satisfied them, as there does not appear to have been any attempt to plunder the monastery.
The monks of Byland professed the Cistercian rule which inculcated a severe and rigid discipline. They never ate flesh meat except in time of sickness, and rose at midnight to sing the Divine praises. They were kind and indulgent landlords and bountiful to the poor. They taught the children in their school aud spent their revenues in the alleviation of poverty. There were then neither workhouses nor poor laws; these were the inevitable consequences of the destruction of monasteries.
Byland Abbey was surrendered in 1540 by John Ledes or Alanbrig, the last abbot, and 24 monks. Their gross yearly revenue was £295 5s. 4d., and there were 516 ounces of plate. This, with the seven bells in the church, the furniture, and the lead stript off the building amounting to 100 fodders, were sold for the king's use. The site and most of the demesne lands were granted to Sir William Pickering, Knight, and they subsequently, about the reign of Charles I, came into the possession of the Stapyltons, in which family they still remain.
The existing ruins belong chiefly to the church, and show that the edifice must have been a superb structure, of a style coeval with that of Rievaulx. It has suffered much from the wear of time, and probably still more from the destructive hand of man, and stands now in fragments. The western front is the most interesting of these. Here are three doorways each differing in style from the other. The centre one has a trefoil head, that on the north is pointed, and the south one semicircular. Above the middle doorway are nine very fine lancet arches, three of which are pierced for windows, and above these has been a beautiful circular window of very large diameter, but only the lower half is now left. One end of the north transept, and parts of the aisles and chancel remain, but not of their original height. These walls are pierced with round headed windows of very pure Early English style. Triforia have traversed the nave as well as the transepts and choir. Not a single pillar remains standing, but the bases of the massive columns that supported the great central tower have been laid bare.
One sepulchral monument only is left of the many that once adorned the abbey. It is a fractured slab from which has been torn the brazen effigy it once bore. It is supposed to have commemorated Abbot Robert de Helmsley, who presided over the abbey in 1370. During some excavations in 1818 a beautiful tesselated pavement was discovered in a good state of preservation, and also the high altar slab, which was removed to Myton Hall; it has since been given to Ampleforth college and is now in the chapel porch. In 1857 two stone coffins were dug up in an adjoining close called Chapel-garth.
The conventual buildings, which have covered a considerable area, may be traced by the grass-covered mounds of debris. The old gateway to the precints stands some distance from the ruins on the road from Byland to Kilburn.
Near the ruins is the village of Byland, some of the houses of which have been built out of the spoils of the abbey. A feast or fair is held here in October. Byland is distant from Coxwold about two miles
Wass contains 858 acres, chiefly the property of Major Stapylton, lord of the manor. It is rated at £566, and contains 113 inhabitants. The soil is a stiff clay and strong loam resting on clay. The tithe rent-charge is £31, and belongs to the archbishop of York and lessees.
The village is situated at the foot of the Hambleton hills, and probably derives its name from the Saxon vasl, marshy ground. It is shut in by lofty eminences thickly clothed with wood, affording excellent cover for game. The village school is licensed for divine service, which is performed by the vicar of Kilburn on Sunday afternoons. A feast or wake is beld yearly by the villagers on the first Sunday and Monday after the 11th of October, and on the two following days it is kept up at Byland Abbey.
NEWBURGH township, containing 2,313 acres, is the property and manor of Sir George Orby Wombwell, Bart, for whom a court leet is held every alternate November. It is valued for rating purposes at £2,824, and had, in 1881, 147 inhabitants.
Newburgh was probably so named in contradistinction to the more ancient Aldbrough, a few miles distant. The Roman road which led from York to Teesmouth, has been traced near the village, and a vicinary way from Malton appears to have passed through or near the park. It has, therefore, been supposed that the Romans would have a fort or camp for the protection of the roads near the point of intersection. A few coins bearing the impress of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius have been found in the neighbourhood, but no inscribed stones or altars - the only certain corroborative evidence of Roman occupation. Extending from the south east side of the park, a distance of 400 or 500 yards to Oulston moor, is an entrenchment, consisting of a double ditch and agger, but whether Roman or British is not known with certainty.
In the neighbourhood are numerous tumuli or sepulchral mounds of the ancient Britons. Mr. Gill says he "counted no less than 16 in the immediate vicinity," and, he adds, "there are many more near Yearsley and Gilling, extending in the direction of Hovingham." The presence of these may not warrant the assumption of a British origin for the entrenchment; but they do most clearly indicate the proximity of a populous Brigantian settlement. These barrows are all of the round type, and evidently belong to the later British period. Several of them were opened in 1851 by T. M. Kendall, Esq., of Pickering Hall, and were found to contain urns, calcined bones, a flint knife, personal ornaments, domestic utensils, and weapons of war. One contained a kist-vaen, in which were several skeletons with the legs drawn up and heads towards the east. By the side of one skeleton was an urn "richly carved all over with angular lines running in opposite directions," an ornament peculiar to the ancient British period. In another tumulus were some pieces of Roman pottery, which seems to fix its date at the Romano-British period. A gold spur was found near one of the barrows, but this belongs to a much later date. It is now preserved in Newburgh Hall, The large loose stones which surrounded the base of one of these sepulchral mounds, the superior finish of the urn it contained, and the presence of a piece of iron, all show that the barrow was the work of a later age, when a considerable advance had been made in civilization.
But leaving these speculative matters to the learned, we come to the first solid fact of Newburgh's history, the founding of an Augustinian priory here in 1145, by Roger de Mowbray. The charter, as translated from the Latin of Dugdale, rehearses that the noble founder "gave and granted to God and the church of St. Mary of Newburgh, and to the canons there serving God, the place in which their abbey is built, and all the ground which lies to the east of Cuckwald beyond the fish pond. The church of St. Mary at Hode, with the ground belonging to it, and the woodlands on the declivity of the neighbouring mountains, in the same manner it was before held by the monks of Byland; the church of Cuckwald with nine oxgangs of land, and the tofts and crofts of the village; and with the chapels belonging to that church, namely, the chapel of Kilburn, with one carucate of land; the chapel of Thurkilby, with three oxgangs of land and certain tofts and crofts; the chapel of Silton with two oxgangs of land; the chapel of Tresc (Thirsk) with one carucate of land in that village, and tofts and crofts in the borough; also the chapel of St. James, with two oxgangs of land in the village, and two tofts in the borough," with many other lands, privileges, and immunities, and the churches of Hovingham, Welburn, Thirkleby, Boroughbridge, and Cundall, with the chapels and lands thereto belonging. The possessions of the priory were much enlarged by grants of later benefactors.
The priory continued to flourish till the Dissolution, but little is known of its history in the interim. Many of the priors passed away unrecorded in the annals of the house; and of its individual canons one only has left an imperishable record on the sands of time - William de Newburgh, the historian of Norman England down to the reign of King John. He was born in 1136, and was called de Newburgh from this priory, in which he was a canon.
At the Dissolution, its annual revenue was £367 13s. 5d. - a very considerable income in those days. The site and demesne lands were granted to Anthony Belasyse, chaplain to Henry VIII., from whom they have descended to the present owner. The church has entirely disappeared, and what little remains of the conventual buildings, is incorporated in the mansion that now occupies the site. But some idea of the extent and magnificence of the priory may be gathered from the circumstance, that the Princess Margaret, daughter of Henry VII., with her train of nobles and their retainers, upwards of 200 in number, lodged here one night during her journey to Scotland to be affianced to James IV.
The hall, or as it is now styled, Newburgh Priory, is a handsome mansion, retaining many characteristics of the conventual building, and of the style of architecture that prevailed about the reign of Elizabeth. It stands in an extensive park well stocked with deer and varied with woodlands.
The Fauconbergs. - Anthony Belasyse, the original grantee of the site and priory lands at the Dissolution, was the son of Thomas Belasyse, of Henknoll, county Durham. This family was seated at Bellasis, in the same county, soon after the Conquest, and, at an early period, John de Bellasis exchanged that estate with the prior of Durham for Henknoll, a bargain which he afterwards repented, if we may believe the following couplet"Bellysis, Bellysis, daft was thy sowell, When exchanged Bellysis for Henknowell !"The above Anthony gave the Newburgh estate to Sir William Belasyse, Knt., son of his elder brother, and it descended to Henry, his son, who was created a baronet in 1611, In the troublous times of Charles I., Thomas, his son, for his staunch loyalty to the Crown, was raised to the peerage as Baron Fauconberg, and was afterwards created Viscount Fauconberg of Henknowle. He died in 1652, and was succeeded in his titles and estates by his grandson, Thomas, Viscount Fauconberg, one of the privy council to Charles II. In 1689, he was created Earl of Fauconberg. He was twice married, his second wife being Mary Cromwell, daughter of the Protector, but dying without male issue, the title of earl ceased, and those of baron and viscount descended to the offspring of Sir Roland, his second brother. Thomas, his nephew, the third viscount, married Bridget, daughter of Sir John Gage, Bart., and was succeeded by his son Thomas, who, abandoning the Catholic religion for the Church of England, was, in 1756, created Earl Fauconberg; but the title again became extinct on the death of his son Henry, second earl, in 1802.
This nobleman left by his wife, Charlotte, daughter of Sir Matthew Lamb, Bart., four daughters. Charlotte, the eldest, married Thomas Ed. Wynn, a younger branch of the Newburgh family, in Wales, who, in 1802, succeeded to the Newburgh estates and assumed the name of Belasyse. Anne, the second daughter, married Sir G. Wombwell, Bart., of Wombwell, in the West Riding, where his ancestors had been resident since the time of King Stephen; and George, their eldest son, on the death of his aunt, the Lady Charlotte Wynn Belasyse, in 1825, inherited the Fauconberg estates. Sir George succeeded his father as third baronet in 1846, and died in 1855, leaving by his wife, Georgiana, daughter of Thomas Orby Hunter, Esq., of Crowland Abbey, Lincoln, besides other issue, Sir George Orby Wombwell, Bart., late lieutenant 17th Lancers. He married Lady Julia Sarah Alice Villiers, daughter of the sixth earl of Jersey, and has issue Stephen Frederick, second and only surviving son, and three daughters.
There is a good collection of paintings in the hall, chiefly portraits of the Wombwell family, and there are also many interesting relics of Oliver Cromwell, which have passed through the various generations of the Fauconbergs since the marriage of Mary Cromwell with the first earl, to the present owners.
A National school was erected near the railway station in 1863 by Sir George Orby Wombwell, to which has been transferred the endowment of the late Coxwold Grammar school. Twenty-seven children are taught free.
OULSTON township comprises 1,502 acres, of which the rateable value is £1,584; population, 177. Sir G. Orby Wombwell is sole owner and lord of the manor, for whom a court leet is held every alternate October. The village is pleasantly situated on an eminence about two miles S.E. of Coxwold. The Wesleyans have a small chapel here, and there was formerly one belonging to the Catholics, which was built and endowed by Lady Mary Fauconberg in 1795. The lease of this was bought out by Sir G. Orby Wombwell about 23 years ago, and it is now converted into a cottage.
Manor House, now occupied by Mr. J. Knowles, farmer, apppears to have been, at some former time, a residence of consequence. The remains of the fishpond and bowling green may still be seen, and ruins of buildings lie scattered about the adjoining grounds. During some alterations that took place some years ago, the fragment of a stone was found, on which was part of an inscription, commencing with Orate pro anima (Pray for the soul). Mr. Gill describes the tenantry as passing from generation to generation with few changes, and we may add that one farm, Close House, has been in the occupation of the Jackson family for over 200 years.
A beautiful tesselated pavement and the remains of a Roman villa were discovered in this township, by the author of Vallis Eboracensis, just mentioned, in 1854. This pavement is now in York Museum.
THORNTON HILL. This township is also the property of Sir G. Orby Wombwell. Baxby, formerly included with it, has been annexed to Husthwaite since March 25th, 1887. Area, 1,140 acres; rateable value, £1,428; population, 92. The soil is sandy in the south, and in other parts a strong clay and dark loam. The principal crops are barley, wheat, and turnips. The farm house occupied by Mr. John Barley bears marks of antiquity. The walls are 3 feet 4 inches in thickness, and the foundations of old buildings, which may still be traced, show that it has been at some former time a place of importance. Another farm has been in the occupation of the Batty family for 400 years.
WILDON or WILDEN GRANGE is a small township containing 692 acres; rateable value, £779; population, 21. It is held in trust by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the Archbishop of York, who is also lord of the manor. This place anciently called Willaden, was given by Roger de Mowbray to the monks of Byland whilst they were at Hode, and here a grange was built, in which some of the lay brothers resided. At the Dissolution it was worth £13 6s. 8d.
YEARSLEY is another township in this parish, containing 2,764 acres, chiefly the property of Sir G. Orby Wombwell, lord of the manor, for whom a court leet is held every alternate October. The village occupies an exposed situation on an eminence five miles N.E. of Easingwold. At the time of the Domesday Survey, Eureslage, as this place was then called, was held by Thomas de Colvil, of Roger de Mowbray, who held it of the king in capite by the rent of two shillings. A chapel-of-ease was erected here in 1839, near the spot where a chapel had stood before the Reformation. The Wesleyans have also a small place of worship in the village.
On Burton House farm in this township there was found, about 20 years ago, the antler of a stag embedded four feet within the solid rock. When it was removed a beautiful impression of the horn was left in the stone, but the antler partially crumbled away on exposure to the air.
There are several tumuli or sepulchral mounds on Yearsley moor, and in one of these, opened about 18 years ago, there was discovered the skeleton of a female with the knees drawn up under the chin, indicative of an ancient British interment.
[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.