Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of West Gilling - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Richmond - Rural Deanery of Richmond West - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.
This parish lies on the south bank of the Tees, and comprises the townships of Forcett-cum-Carkin, Barforth, Eppleby, and Ovington, containing in all 5,815 acres, and 908 inhabitants. The surface is pleasingly diversified, and in many places highly picturesque. The township of Forcett-with-Carkin contains 2,198 acres of land, and is valued, for rating purposes, at £3,029. The population in 1881 was 206. John Michell, Esq., is lord of the manor and owner of the whole township, except 60 acres, which belong to Eleanor, Dowager Duchess of Northumberland, and eight acres of glebe, belonging to the Vicar of Gilling. The soil is loamy. Carboniferous limestone abounds and is extensively quarried by the Forcett Limestone Co., for use in the ironworks, in and around Middlesbrough. The company's quarries, in which about 200 hands are employed, extend into two royalties, and are connected with the South Durham Railway by a short line about five miles in length.
The manor of Forcett was given by the Conqueror to Alan, earl of Richmond, and it continued an appendage to the earldom until the reign of Henry VII., when it was granted by the king to Sir Richard Cholmley, Knt. Sir Richard died without issue, and the manor reverted to the Crown. It was soon afterwards granted to Sir John Zouch, Knt., by whom it was sold to Robert Lambert, Esq. This gentleman joined in the rebellion of the earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland against Queen Elizabeth and the reformed religion, was attainted of high treason, and lost all his manors and estates in the counties of Durham and Yorkshire In 1582 the manor and estate of Forcett came, by purchase, to the Shuttleworths of Smithells, county Lancaster, and remained in the possession of this family till purchased by the great grandmother of the present owner, in 1785.
The village is pleasantly situated in a fertile and picturesque valley, about eight miles N. of Richmond. Forcett Hall, the seat of John Michell, Esq., is a plain stone mansion, in the Italian style, standing in an extensive and well-wooded park, containing an artificial lake or fish pond, which has been in existence some 600 years. Mr. Michell succeeded his grandfather in 1841, and is a J.P. and D.L. for the North Riding. The Church (St. Cuthbert) is an ancient stone edifice in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave, with north aisle and south porch, and a western tower, containing three bells. It was thoroughly restored in 1859, at which time the aisle was added. The pulpit, reading desk, and screen are of oak, handsomely carved. The registers date from 1595. The living, now a vicarage, was formerly a chapelry under Gilling, and the patronage is vested in the vicar of that parish It is worth £138 net, including 42 acres of glebe, with residence, and is held by the Rev. Peter Bennett, B.A., Trinity College, Dublin. The impropriate tithes amount to £150.
BARFORTH, written Bereford in Domesday Book, is a township, containing 2,027 acres (inclusive of water surface), of which the Earl of Harewood is sole owner and lord of the manor. It is assessed at £1,814, and had, at the last census, 135 inhabitants.
The township lies on the bank of the Tees, and near the river may be traced the grass-grown foundations of the village of Old Richmond, which is supposed to have been standing as late as the reign of Elizabeth, The Scots Dyke which crossed the country from the Swale terminated here. In a hollow near the site of the "deserted village" is Barforth Hall, once the residence of the Pudseys, by whom (probably Sir Ralph Pudsey, who died in 1485,) it is said to have been built, in the 15th century. It is still in a good state of preservation, and is in the occupation of Mr. Braithwaite Gibson. Near are the ruins of a chapel which Longstaffe thus notices in his Guide to Richmondshire:- "The elegant chapel, of the 13th century, but bearing evidence of a Norman predecessor, has, shortly after its erection, been shorn of half its fair proportions, to form a residence for the priest. The altar-stone lies prostrate, the colour still remains on protected parts of the walls, an ancient elder, coeval, one would think, with desecration, springs out of the priest's lodgings, while violets and roses in their wildness, fondly preserve the beauty of this deserted house of God. A picturesque dovecote stands near." In the banks below is "Hell Hole," supposed to be the entrance to a subterranean passage, which can now be penetrated only a few yards.
Little Hutton is an estate and manor in this township, the property of John Michell, Esq., J.P., D.L. It belonged, at an early period, to a family that took its name from the place, and passed, by marriage, to the Berninghams. In later times it became the possession of the Pudseys of Barforth.
EPPLEBY TOWNSHIP, otherwise Appleby, in this parish, contains about 1,100 acres, and 417 inhabitants. It is valued, for rating purposes, at £1,864, and is chiefly owned by General Heastey, John G. Wilson, Esq., Cliffe Hall; exors. of J. Johnson, J. W. Earle, John Wade, and John Michell, Esq., Forcett Hall. There are about 57 acres of glebe, belonging to the vicar of Gilling. This place gave name to a family that owned it soon after the Conquest, and subsequently passed, by marriage, to the Maunbys and Saltmarshes. In 1678 it was purchased by the Shuttleworths; a few years later it was sold to John Tempest, Esq., of Old Durham, and from this family it was purchased by Charles Michell, Esq., whose grandson is the present lord of the manor.
The village of Eppleby is distant about one mile from Forcett. The school, built in 1874, superseded the one previously at Forcett. It is chiefly supported by the lord of the manor. The members of the United Methodist Free Church have also a place of worship in the village. It will accommodate 100 persons, and is in the Darlington circuit.
Ovington is a small township, containing 479 acres, the property of Sir F. A. Talbot Clifford-Constable, Bart., Earl Brownlow, and. Joseph Douglas Awde. Its rateable value is £868, and the number of its inhabitants, 150. The village, with its tastefully planted green, and maypole, is well built and pleasantly situated on the bank of the Tees, about six miles from Barnard Castle. There is a comfortable and well appointed inn, bearing the sign of the "Four Alls," the interpretation of which we believe is - 1st, the king who governs all; 2nd, the soldier who fights for all; 3rd, the parson who prays for all; and 4th, the working man who pays for all. There is a small school in the village, which is also used for divine service on Sunday afternoons. Between Ovington and Wycliffe the river is lined with precipitous cliffs, rising in some places to a height of 300 feet. From one spot about midway a beautiful view of Teesdale is obtained.
The manor, formerly called Ulvington, belonged to a family of that name, from whom it passed, by marriage, to the Wycliffes. It remained in the possession of this family till 1612, when the estates of William Wycliffe, Esq., were divided between his two daughters and co-heirs, who married into the families of Tunstall and Witham. The latter sold their moiety to Marmaduke Tunstall, from whom it has descended to the present owner.
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