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Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of West Gilling - Electoral Division of Catterick - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Richmond - Rural Deanery of Richmond West - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.
This parish is situated on the north bank of the Swale, and is partly in the wapentake of East Gilling. It comprises the townships of Easby, Aske, Brompton-on-Swale, and Skeeby, covering, altogether, an area of 5,580 acres (including 25 of water), and containing 853 inhabitants; of which 1,257 acres of land belong to the township of Easby. The rateable value of the latter is £2,361, and the population in 1881 was 123. The soil is gravel and sand, with an admixture of limestone. Wheat, oats, barley, and turnips are grown on the higher grounds, the low being chiefly in pasture. The principal landowners are the exors. of R. M. Jaques, Esq., (who are lords of the manor), St. Martin's; Anthony Harrison, Esq., Sandforth House; and L. Jaques, Esq. The name written in old documents, Eseby and Esteby, appears to indicate its position with regard to some other place, probably Richmond, East-by; though it may possibly be from the same root as Ouse, and signify the by, or habitation by the water. It was written Asebi by the scribes of Domesday Book, at which time this manor, containing six carucates of land with five ploughs, was held by Emsant Musard, the Norman, who had received the lands of which Tor, the Englishman, had been dispossessed. Emsant was Constable of Richmond Castle, and was succeeded in his office and possession by his son Roald. The constableship became hereditary in this family, the later generations of which assumed the name of Burton, from their place of residence. Thomas de Burton, in the reign of Edward III., sold the manor of Easby to Henry le Scrope, Lord of Bolton, and it continued in this family until 1630, when Emanuel Scrope, Earl of Sunderland, dying without legitimate issue, devised this and other manors to Annabella, one of his three natural daughters, afterwards married to John Grubham Howe, ancestor of the Viscounts Howe. A century later this and other manors were sold, by Juliana, Viscountess Dowager Howe, to William Burton, Esq., of North Luffenham, Rutland, and this gentleman, the same year, resold the manor or lordship of Easby, and 348 acres of land, to the Rev. William Smith, Rector of Melsonby, for the sum of £5,700. After passing from the Smiths to the Knowsleys and Johnsons, the estate was sold by one of the latter in 1814, to Robert Jaques, Esq., for £45,000; from whom it descended to his son, the late R. M. Jaques, Esq., who was also lord of the manor. This family has long been settled in Richmondshire. Richard Jakes, of Baynbrigge, was one of the foresters to John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond, in the reign of Edward II. Later they were seated at Thornton Rust, where they farmed their own land, and are named among the archers in the muster rolls of the men of Richmondshire, 30 Henry VIII. Francis Jaques purchased lands in Hunton in 1650, and this branch of the family was settled there until the removal to Easby Abbey.
The scenery around is delightfully varied and beautiful, but the chief interest of Easby centres in the ruined Abbey of St. Agatha, by the banks of the Swale, described by Mr. Phillips as "a pictorial combination of ivy-tinted wall, fine trees, bold ground, and beautiful water." Its history may be very briefly epitomised. It was founded in 1152 by Roald, Constable of Richmond Castle, who endowed it with such of the enclosed lands and open pastures in Hudswell as he had not previously bestowed on the Priory of St. Martin, with two carucates and three bovates of land in Easby, and certain estates at Waitwath and places adjacent. Amongst its benefactors were also Roger de Mowbray, Alan Bygod, the Scropes, William de Burton, and others. The monks belonged to the Præmonstratensian order, but were better known as "White Canons," from the colour of their habit.
The Scropes became, by the purchase of the possessions of Roald from his descendant, patrons of the abbey; and, in the reign of Richard II., Richard le Scrope, Lord High Chancellor, gave to the monks the manor of Brompton; and, in the 16th year of the same king, he received the royal license to bestow upon this house an annual rent of £150, for the maintenance of ten additional canons and two secular ones, to celebrate mass for the prosperity of the king and his heirs during their lives, and for the repose of their souls after their decease; for his own soul, those of his predecessors, and all the faithful departed; and for the support of 20 poor men in the monastery for ever. This liberal benefactor was buried in the Abbey Church, where also were deposited the remains of many of his descendants.
The abbey fell in the general wreck of the lesser monasteries, in the 26th year of Henry VIII., when its revenues were valued at £188 16s. 2d.; but this income was liable to certain deductions,* which reduced the sum to £111 17s. 10d. At the dissolution there were, besides the abbot (Robert Bampton), 17 canons. The site and abbey lands were soon after leased for 30 years to John, Lord Scrope, reserving to the King all advowsons and great fees and woods at a yearly rent of £283 13s. 1d., nearly double the sum at which the Commissioners had valued the property. In 1814, they were purchased by Robert Jaques, Esq., as before stated.
* These deductions included various fines and wards to the heirs of Fitz-Hugh and Scrope, and to the Castle of Richmond; certain pensions to the parson of Wensley, for praying for the soul of Richard le Scrope; to the finding of a chaplain and clerk to pray for the souls of Maisters Alan and Henry, of Melsonby, their predecessors and successors, in the chapel of the Holy Trinity, in the cemetery of Melsonby; to a chaplain at Middleham, for praying for the souls of Richard Cartmell and Richard, Earl of Salisbury; and to many other chaplains in different churches for similar purposes. They were bound by various grants to distribute, once a week, to five poor and indigent persons, for the soul of John Romaine, Archdeacon of Richmond, as much meat and drink as came to 55s. 11d, a year; and a like alms, of the value of 15s. a year, to one poor person every day, for the soul of the aforesaid John; to give to ten poor persons, on the day of his obit, one meal of the value of 10d.; and to divers chaplains, on the day of his obit, 10s. They were also bound to spend 26s. 8d. in giving one loaf of bread (called Payseloffe, or Loaf of Peace), one flagon of ale, and one mess of food, to one poor pauper every day, from the feast of All Souls to the feast of the Circumcision; to give the value of £4 in corn and red and white salted fish, to every poor and indigent person on the day of St. Agatha, from an ancient custom of religion; and to give and distribute to the poor a similar alms, according to an old custom and precept of religion, at the Supper of the Lord and two following days.
The ruins, which are extensive, are delightfully situated on the north bank of the Swale, about a mile below Richmond, in the midst of beautifully wooded scenery. The Gatehouse, once the principal entrance to the Abbey, is still in good repair. The upper story, resting on the groined roof of the gateway, has long been used as a granary. The archway at each end of the entrance passage is peculiar, consisting of a semi-circular arch within a pointed one. The former is 17 feet in height, and the latter 14 feet. The reason of this singular construction is not very apparent, unless we suppose the upper story to have been a later addition to the original gateway. The Abbey Church is of the usual cruciform type, and, though much of it has perished, recent excavations undertaken by W. H. St. John Hope, M.A., have laid bare the whole ground plan of the fabric. The original church was about l70ft. long, and 88ft. 9in. across the transepts. The choir, a portion of the walls of which still remains, occupied six bays, and measures 93ft. 6in. by 23ft. 3in. In the north wall are two arched recesses, apparently coeval with the earliest building, popularly supposed to be the tombs of the founder and his wife. Other graves have been discovered and opened, but they contained neither inscription nor armorial bearings to tell whose bones lay therein. The richly-carved stalls of the choir were removed after the suppression of the Abbey, and are now in the chancel of the parish church of Richmond. Another elaborate piece of carving, supposed to have been the screen of the Scrope chantry, may be seen in Wensley Church.
The clustered columns which supported the arches leading into the transepts still remain, beautiful even in their ruins, but the central tower is gone. The north and west walls of the north transept are still fairly perfect, though not of their original height. Three windows remain in the north wall of this transept, and three on the east side of the south transept. In each transept was an arcaded aisle of three bays, each of which contained an altar. The nave, with its north and south aisle, has almost wholly disappeared; but the walls of the north chapel, or Scrope chantry, as it is called by some archæologists, still remain of some height, and at the east end may be seen the platform and a fragment of the altar. On the south side of the nave was the cloister, three of the walls which enclosed it being still fairly perfect. The Chapter House, usually one of the most ornate chambers in a monastery, is situated to the east of the cloister. This apartment, 46ft. long by 2lft. wide, has had a vaulted roof of four bays in one span, the ribs springing from highly ornamented brackets, or corbels, on each side, about 8ft. from the floor. This building is in the Early English style, with alterations of a later period. It was entered from the cloister by a fine doorway, with richly moulded arch, resting on several slender shafts standing on the same pedestal, with dog-tooth moulding between them. This door appears, from the style of its architecture, to be coeval with the foundation of the Abbey; but the rest of the monastic buildings are of later date, and were probably rebuilt by the Scropes. Near the Chapter House was the auditorium, or parlour, where, at certain times, the canons were permitted to converse with each other. Beyond this was the refectory, a fine large room, 102ft. long by 27ft. wide, beneath which was a long low apartment, or cellar, with vaulted roof of two spans, resting on a central row of octagonal pillars, now destroyed. The principal feature of the refectory is the fine large Gothic window at the east end, reaching almost from floor to ceiling. It has been divided by four mullions into five lights, and the space above these is filled with peculiar geometrical tracery. On the south side, this grand dining hall was lighted by six lofty three-light windows, in the second of which there is reason to believe, from the projection of the wall beneath some 33 inches into the room, stood the frater pulpit, or lectorium, where one of the monks read aloud portions of scripture, or other pious books, whilst the others partook of their simple meal. Adjoining the refectory on the west was the kitchen, with its huge fire-place and chimney, and contiguous with the latter were the buttery and other culinary offices. North of the church was the abbot's lodgings, and beyond this his solarium, once highly adorned with Gothic groinings. Further still is a group of buildings supposed to have been the infirmary, which was for the reception, not only of sick brethren, but also of the aged and infirm. There are traces of many other buildings, but it is impossible now to say what was their original use. The mill race runs underneath part of the ruins, and, passing the old and still perfect granary, flows into the Swale. On the green, near the Abbey gatehouse, is a venerable and picturesque elm, known as the Abbot's Elm, which appears ancient enough to have sheltered the last occupants of the abbatical chair.
The Parish Church stands near the ruins, and, like the Abbey, is dedicated to St. Agatha. It appears to have been originally the Conventual church, and is so styled in the commission given to Nicholas, Bishop of Dromore, Suffragan of York, to dedicate it in 1424. This is the first notice of the church, but the Early English style of part of the edifice proves that it must have been built between 1189 and 1272, when that style of architecture was prevalent. The south aisle and a chapel on the north side are of the Perpendicular Gothic, and were probably added about 1424, which may account for the re-dedication that year. The "dim shields of Scrope, Aske, and Conyers surround the porch entrance," - dumb memorials of its ancient benefactors, - though what particular portions were executed by the munificence of each is not recorded. Richard le Scrope, Chancellor to Richard II., made this a Collegiate Church; so says Camden, but there is no evidence to prove that, if such had been his intention, it was ever carried into effect. In the north wall of the chancel is an arched recess, containing a very perfect stone coffin, but there is neither inscription nor escutcheon whereby we may identify the owner of the tomb. The triple sedilia and the piscina also remain in their respective places. The south aisle was the burial place of the Askes, and the arms of that family long adorned the window at the east end. In another window was the mutilated figure of St. Agatha, and the fragments of ancient pictures, which time had left in others, were removed some years ago, and replaced by modern sashes of plain glass. The font is a piece of Norman work, and is reputed one of the oldest in the country.
The Church, described by Longstaffe as "a gem of rusticity," was restored in 1867-9, at the joint expense of the late Earl of Zetland and Leonard Jaques, Esq. The chancel arch has been rebuilt, and the walls denuded of their many superimposed coats of whitewash. When these were removed some curious frescoes were discovered, which have been carefully restored by Messrs. Burlinson and Grylls. The church was also at the same time reseated with open oak benches, and will now accommodate about 150.
This church belonged to the abbey, and all clerical duties were performed by the canons. At the Reformation, the king seized the lands and revenues of the monks, but made no adequate provision for future incumbents. King James I. in 1612, granted the rectory and tithes of Easby to Francis Morice and Francis Phillips, who re-sold them to the family of Greenwood, of Oxfordshire. They were held by this family until 1773, when the right was allowed to lapse, and the tithes are now in the possession of the landowners. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of Leonard Jaques, Esq., and worth £184, including 16 acres of glebe, with residence. The present vicar, the Rev. Joseph Blades Palmer, B.A., was presented in 1886.
A hospital for four poor persons was founded here in 1732, by the Re William Smith, Rector of Melsonby, who endowed it with £12 a year ou of Western Leazes, but it is now let in tenements. In 1695, a person named Brown, left 28s. a year to the poor of this parish, and in 1867, the late George Harrison, Esq., bequeathed to the poor of Easby the sum of £100, the interest of which is distributed each New Year.
There are several neat dwellings in the township. Easby Abbey, situated near the ruins, is the residence of C. L. P. Robinson, Esq.; Sandlord House is the property and residence of Anthony Harrison, Esq.; and St. Trinians, the residence of Mr. Charles Marr, of the firm of Croft, Marr, & Co., wine and spirit merchants, Richmond.
ASKE is a township of 1,764 acres, containing 211 inhabitants, and valued for rateable purposes at £1,683. The surface is undulated, the soil fertile, and in high state of cultivation. It is written Asse in Domesday Book, and had, previous to Norman usurpation, belonged to Tor, a Saxon. Soon after the Conquest, the manor was granted to Whyomar, kinsman and sewer* to Alan, the first Earl of Richmond. Whyomar's descendants, under the name of Aske, flourished here for upwards of 500 years. The direct line, terminating in females, Elizabeth, one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Roger Aske, conveyed this estate in marriage, about 1530, to Richard Bowes, one of the Streatlam family, in the County of Durham. Their eldest son, Sir George Bowes, was heir male to the whole family of Bowes, and succeeded to Streatlam Castle and estate. During the Rebellion of the Northern Earls, in 1569, Sir George did good service to the Crown, and was appointed by Queen Elizabeth, Knight Marshal North of the Trent, "an office which gave him an opportunity of wreaking his vengeance on the enemies of the queen and himself, and which he is said to have exercised with great severity." The manor remained in this family until the time of Sir Talbot Bowes, who sold it to Philip, Lord Wharton. The lavish expenditure of the first Marquis of Wharton on elections, and the extravagant and thriftless habits of the second Marquis, so encumbered the estate that in 1727, a decree in Chancery vested it in trustees for the payment of his debts. Aske was sold by these trustees the same year to Sir Conyers D'Arcy. Sir Conyers died in 1758, leaving this estate to his nephew, the last Earl of Holderness, who sold it in 1760 to Lawrence Dundas, army contractor, who was created a baronet in 1762. Sir Thomas, the second baronet, was raised to the peerage as Baron Dundas, of Aske, and his son, Lawrence, second baron, was created Earl of Zetland in 1838. He died the following year, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas, second earl, and Grand Master of the Freemasons of England. He married the youngest daughter of Sir Hedworth Williamson, Bart., but having no issue, he was succeeded at his death, in 1873, by his nephew, Lawrence, eldest son of the Hon. John Charles Dundas, by his wife, the daughter of James Talbot, Esq., of Mary Ville, Co. Wexford. The present earl was born in 1844, married Lady Lilian Selina Elizabeth Lumley, third daughter of the Earl of Scarborough, and has issue two sons and two daughters. His lordship is also Baron Dundas, of Aske, and a baronet, was lord in waiting to her majesty in 1880, M.P. for Richmond in 1872-3, and was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1889.
* An officer who served the dishes and arranged the table. also lord of the manor, Douthwaite's trustees, Sir Henry de Burgh-Lawson, Bart., the exors. of R. M. Jacques, Esq., the trustees of the late Lord Wandesford, L. Jaques, Esq., Mr. Raper, and Mr. Thos. Stubbs. The township is situated at the eastern extremity of the parish, and is included in the wapentake of East Gilling.
Aske, the principal seat of his lordship, is a spacious and elegant stone mansion, the outcome of many additions to the castelette of the Askes and Bowes since it came into the possession of the present family, and the mansion is now one of the most stately of English halls. Many improvements have been effected by the present noble owner. Amongst these may be mentioned the pretty little private chapel and the hunting stables. The latter were completed in 1877, and will compare favourably in architectural design and internal comfort and convenience with any other in the country. There is accommodation for about 50 horses.
The hall is surrounded by an extensive and well wooded park containing a large artificial lake. On the 23rd of Jannary, 1889, Aske was honoured with the presence of royalty, in the persons of the Prince and Princess of Wales, who were the guests of the noble earl during their visit to Yorkshire, for the purpose of opening the new Municipal Buildings at Middlesbrough. Prince Albert Victor, their eldest son, was also a visitor here about two years ago.
On the Richmond and Gilling road is Aske school, erected by the Countess of Zetland in 1876, for the benefit of the children of the workpeople on the estate, to whom it is free, it is entirely supported by her ladyship.
BROMPTON-ON-SWALE, Brunton in Domesday Book is a township lying on the north bank of the Swale. Its total area is 1,700 acres, of which, 1,606 are under assessment. It is valued for rating purposes at £2,654, and contains 360 inhabitants. The most extensive landowners are the Hon. B. J. Stapleton, who is
Brompton, in the time of Edward the Confessor, was one of the estates belonging to Tor, but when Domesday Book was compiled, Emsant Musard was in possession of this, and other manors, which had been unjustly filched from the Saxon owner. It was next held by Harsculf Musard, from whom it passed in marriage to William de Rollos. It was lost to this family by forfeiture in the reign of King John, and given to Roaldus, Constable of Richmond, whose descendants in 1320, sold this and other estates to Henry Lord Scrope. The purchaser sold the manor of Brumpton-upon-Swale to Alexander de Brumpton, whose daughter and heir married John Greathead, by whom she had a son and daughter. The former became a monk, and the latter inherited the estate and married William de Wytton, who, conjointly with his wife, sold the manor to Sir Richard le Scrope, Knight. Sir Richard, who was Lord High Chancellor, gave it to the abbot and convent of St. Agatha-juxta-Richmond, in whose possession it remained until the dissolution of monasteries, when it was seized by the Crown. Queen Elizabeth, in the fourth year of her reign, granted this, and other manors, to Henry Lord Scrope, and Brompton continued in the possession of this family till the death of Emanuel Scrope, Earl of Sunderland. In 1725 the Hon. Mary Wandesforde bequeathed 121 acres, part of the estate which she had purchased from Mr. Wainwright, for the endowment of a hospital for old maids at York. This land is known as "The Maids' Farm," and is now in the occupation of Mr. J. Robinson.
The village of Brompton is situated on the left bank of the Swale, about three miles below Richmond. There was formerly a chantry chapel here dedicated to St. Edmund, but the only memento of its existence now left is the name of Steeple Fields, given to two or three closes near the village. A chapel-of-ease was erected in 1838. It is a plain stone building, consisting of chancel and nave. The latter was divided by a partition, and one portion was used as a school until the erection of the present school premises in 1872.
Citadilla is a hamlet in this township near Catterick Bridge, containing the railway station, two inns, and a few houses.
SKEEBY, or as it is written in old documents Skytheby and Skiteby, is a small township containing 835 acres, the property of Leonard Jaques, Esq., the Earl of Zetland, and the exors. of R. M. Jaques, Esq. The estimated rental is £1,073, rateable value, £971, and the number of inhabitants, 159. The village is distant about two miles N.E. of Richmond. Whitaker says "Here St. Osyth had a chantry, and from her is the name of the place derived, though strangely corrupted." In Domesday Book it is entered as Shirebi. It gave a name to the family of Skytheby or Skiteby who were the owners of the manor before the Conquest, and continued to possess lands in the township down to the reign of Richard II. A chapel-of-ease was erected in the village in 1839, chiefly through the munificence of Lady Charlotte Dundas. The Wesleyans have also a chapel here, built in 1861, at a cost of £300, exclusive of the site, which was presented by Leonard Jaques, Esq.
The great earthen rampart called Scots' Dyke runs through this township. It will be found more fully described on a subsequent page.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.