Wapentake of Langbaurgh East - Electoral Division of Lythe - Petty Sessional Division of Whitby Strand - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Whitby - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
Egton is a small but interesting parish situated in the valley of the Esk. Though it has long been ecclesiastically an independent parish, it is returned in the Census Reports as a township in the parish of Lythe. It is in the liberty of Langbaurgh, but was, with the rest of the parish of Lythe, added by the magistrates many years ago to the wapentake of Whitby Strand. Its area, according to the rate books, is 1,125 acres; rateable value, £8,863; and population, 847. The principal landowners are the Messrs. Foster, Ven. Archdeacon Yeoman, Exors. of J. J. Gooch, Esq., and T. Bagnall, Esq. Ironstone, freestone, and whinstone are abundant. The scenery in this part of Eskdale is remarkably beautiful. The valley is here narrowed by the approach of the opposing hills; at the foot flows the Esk, breaking musically as it pours over the shelves of rock that form its stony bed; whilst on either side tower dark cliffs, whose sides are thickly clothed with wood. The North Yorkshire and Cleveland railway passes down the valley, and has a station at Egton Bridge.
Nothing is recorded of Egton previous to the Conquest. When Domesday Survey was made, this place, with Mulgrave, was held by Nigel Fossard, and in the reign of Richard I. it passed in marriage to Robert de Turnham. The heiress of this family in the time of King John married Peter de Mauley, and in the reign of Henry V. a daughter and co-heiress of the eighth Peter de Mauley carried this estate in marriage to the Salvins. It was subsequently purchased from this family by the Earl of Sussex, who sold it to Robert Elwes, Esq. It afterwards became the subject of a chancery suit - Elwes versus Barnard - and was sold by auction, with the approbation of Vice-Chancellor Sir John Stuart, in 1869. The whole estate, containing 12,480 acres, with all manorial rights, was purchased by the Messrs. Foster for £155,100, and has been greatly improved since.
Egton village, one mile from Grosmont station and eight miles from Whitby, is small, and somewhat antiquated in its appearance. The third Baron Mauley obtained a charter in 1259 for a weekly market on Wednesdays, and a yearly fair for eight days, beginning on the eve of St. Hilda. The market appears to have been subsequently abandoned, and another charter was granted by William III. to Henry, Viscount Longvilliers, for a weekly market and four annual fairs. The market and fairs are now held on the Tuesdays preceding February 14th, Palm Sunday, May 13th, and on every Tuesday until July 15th; also on the Tuesday before August 12th, on September 4th, and the Tuesdays before October 11th and November 23rd; also on the second Tuesdays in December and January.
The church at Egton was anciently dependent on the church at Lyth, and it is stated by Torre that " There is a parochial chappell in the town of Egton, within the parish of Lyth, which, together with the chappell yard thereof, on 6 June, 1349, was dedicated by the Bishop of Damascus to the honour of St. Hilda." The value of the living was certified in 1707 at £21. It has, of course, been augmented at various times, and was in 1868 constituted a vicarage.
The old church, which stood about half-a-mile to the west from the town, shewed, as many of our readers will remember, in the round pillars which supported the circular arches, the Norman style of its architecture. On its walls were memorial tablets of the Saunders and Burdett families. Alas for the antiquarian, our interesting old churches one by one are being removed, or fall victims to the process of "restoration," which is so strongly marked a feature of our age. The old church at Egton was taken down, and the present handsome edifice erected from the materials on a site nearer to the village. It is in the Norman and Tudor styles intermixed, and was consecrated in December, 1879.
The old church had only a south aisle, but the present one has aisles both on the north and south sides, and the old round pillars and circular arches have been retained. The tower contains two bells taken from the old building. Many of the old stones have been worked into the present edifice. The entire cost of the new church, together with that of the school and master's house, was borne by the Messrs. Foster, The interior is chastely fitted up. At the east end is a stained glass window, dated 1878, inserted by Mr. John Foster, and underneath it is a handsome reredos. On the south side of the church is a small stained glass window in memory of Johnston James Foster, who died February 26th, 1880; and a brass plate on the wall states that he, with his brothers, A. B. and John Foster, rebuilt the church. The choir stalls are of oak, and the pulpit of carved wood resting on a stone base.
The list of the former incumbents begins with John Smith, M.A., 1698. The present vicar, the Rev. M. E. Jenkins, B.A., succeeded to the living, which is in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and valued at £286, in 1870. The registers begin in 1627, but the entries in the first book are imperfect. Mr. Ord, whose history was first published in 1846, says:- "We found the register books on a shelf in the little parlour of the public-house."
CHARITIES. - Ralph Marshall's rent charge, by deed 16 Car, I., £1 11s. 4d. per annum, part of a rent charge of £2 per annum, distributed amongst the poor attending church on Ascension Day and St. Thomas' Day. Alice Gallilee, charity of £2 2s. per annum.
The Congregational church is a plain stone building erected in 1827.
Egton, written in Domesday Book Egetune, and in later documents Ochetun and Aketun (i.e., Oakton), was so named from the oak which once grew abundantly on the hillsides around.
Egton Bridge is a small village picturesquely situated on the bank of the Esk, in the midst of some most lovely scenery.
The Catholic church in the village is a handsome edifice in the Gothic style, erected in 1867 at a cost of £4,000, raised by subscription, the largest contribution being £50. ft consists of a nave with interior circular roof, resting on two arcades of well-formed arches, which separate the nave from the ambulatories or aisles. The sanctuary is a polygonal projection or apse, with the lady chapel on one side and the sacristy. The altar is a beautiful piece of workmanship executed in Munich, and the pulpit was the work of a Belgian artist. The walls are adorned with mural paintings, and handsome statues occupy prominent places in the church.
The whole of the debt on the church was cleared off in 1885, when the consecration took place; and this is, we believe, the only Catholic church in the diocese on which that ceremony has been performed. It is dedicated to St. Hedda, a monk of Whitby, and afterwards Bishop of Dorchester.
The old chapel, now converted into a school, was built in 1798, and a regular mission established; but previous to this the Catholics of the district were ministered to by missionary priests, who kept the old faith alive in the district through the ages of persecution. A complete list of their names has been preserved from the time of the Very Rev.. Nicholas Postgate, D.D., who was executed at York on the 7th of August, 1679, in the 83rd year of his age and 50th of his ministry, for exercising his priestly functions. He was a native of the parish, and educated at Douai, in France. His successor was the Rev. George Bostock, alias West, who lived at Bridge Holm Green with a family named Smith, and said mass secretly in farmhouses and cottages, a sheet being hung out as the signal. He died in 1729, and was followed by the Rev. M. Harvey, alias Rivett, who was imprisoned at York for keeping a Catholic school, and for having said mass at Crathorne and Ugthorpe. He was released in 1745, and withdrew to London. Others followed who resided chiefly at Ugthorpe, and in 1798 Egton was made a separate mission under the Rev. Mr. Woodcock, by whom the old chapel was built upon ground given by Richard Smith, Esq.
At Glaisdale station, about a mile and a half above the village, the Esk is crossed by the Beggar's Bridge, an elegant structure of one arch, bearing the date 1611, but so very narrow that many carts and waggons are obliged to cross the river by the ford close by. Why the bridge has been so called is not recorded, but if there be any truth in the legendary story of its erection, a more appropriate name would have been the "Lover's Bridge." The story has been thus versified by a lady:- The country in the neighbourhood is very picturesque, and is much frequented by pleasure seekers and pic-nic parties. Hard by is Arncliffe Wood, from The summit of which a romantic view is obtained.
On the edge of Egton High Moor, near Goathland beck, is Julian Park, a wild moorland hamlet, but once the site of a castle or hall of the Mauleys, but not a vestige of it now remains. Near it may be traced the ancient Roman road, which led from York, through Malton, to the camp at Dunsley, near Whitby. It was afterwards known as Wade's Causeway, from the Saxon duke, Wada, to whom a ridiculous legend attributes its construction. According to the story, Duke Wada had a cow, which grazed on these moors at a considerable distance from his castle, and which his wife, the duchess, was obliged to milk night and morning. For her convenience he constructed this causeway over the lingy moors, and she assisted him by bringing great quantities of stones in her apron. On one occasion the strings of her apron broke with the weight, and a huge heap - about 20 cart loads - is shewn, which she let fall. The couple were of gigantic size; the cow was also a monstrous beast, and a huge rib, said to have been taken from it (but probably the bone of a whale), was, according to Drake, shown to visitors to Mulgrave Castle.
Egton Grange and Killing Pits are also interesting spots. At both places may be seen numerous remains of ancient British dwellings, consisting of circular pits, varying in diameter from six to 18 feet, and four or five feet in depth. At the latter place they occupy a space 600 feet long by 150 feet broad, and where, from their numbers, it is evident there has once been an ancient British village. These dwellings have been of a very primitive construction, and evidently belong to a very early period. There are several tumuli and other sepulchral remains in the neighbourhood, two of which have been examined by Canon Greenwell.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.