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HACKNESS: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake of Whitby Strand - Electoral Division of Scalby - Petty Sessional Division of Pickering Lythe East - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Scarborough - Archdeaconry of East Riding - Diocese of York.

This parish formerly belonged to the Liberty of Whitby Strand. Its townships are Hackness, Broxa, Harwood Dale, Silpho, and Suffield-cum-Everley, which together have an area of 15,280 acres, and a population of 687 souls. Lord Derwent is lord of the manor and owner of the soil.

The name Hackness has been traced to a variety of sources. Dr. Young says it is merely the old name Hacanos, Hacanes, or Haccanessa in its modern form. Two of its sources are highly descriptive, and having reference to the peculiar openings in the woods which in the landscape, as seen from the direction of Scalby, distinguishes the entrance to the gorge very appropriate. Whether we consider it as two words compounded of two Saxon words signifying "The cleft in the wood," or trace it into an old French word Hachanos, meaning "With the whiskers," it is peculiarly significant. In Domesday Book it is spelled Hagenessa. Hackness is situated in a most romantic vale, six miles N.W. by W. of Scarborough, the drive to it through Forge Valley being a favourite resort for Scarborough visitors. The hand of nature has here been lavish of her embellishments, and has moulded these sylvan scenes into such different forms, as render them at once sublime and beautiful. Springs of water bursting from the sides of the hills in natural cascades, or falling with gentle murmurs, contribute to enliven the scenery, and the Derwent, which has its source in the mountainous country to the north, glides with a gentle stream past the village, to the westward of which the bleak and barren moors form a striking contrast to the luxuriant scenes of Hackness.

A memorial in the record of Whitby Abbey in the time of William II., states that the monks of Whitby made representations to William de Percy regarding the "thieves and robbers coming out of the forests and dens where they lurked," and desolating the monastery. William de Percy, brother of Serlow the prior, gave them the church of St. Mary at Hackness that they might build a monastery there. It is not known how long Serlow and his monks remained at Hackness, but he died at Whitby in 1100. Hackness then became a cell to the abbey of Whitby, and at the dissolution we find only four benedictine monks left of the fraternity of Hackness.

Queen Elizabeth granted the manor of Hackness to Lord Essex, after which it passed to Arthur Dakins Esq., whose only daughter Margaret, took for her third husband Sir Thomas Posthumus Hoby, from whence it passed to Sir John Sydenham, who in turn sold it in 1796 to Sir Richard Vanden Bempde Johnstone, Bart., whose grandson, Lord Derwent, is the present possessor.

The church, dedicated to St. Peter, 1567, and restored in 1870 to the memory of Sir J. Johnstone, Bart., stands in a remarkably beautiful situation, and consists of clerestoried nave with side aisles, chancel, and tower with octagonal spire. The tower contains three bells, and the porch is modern, The chancel arch is very Early Norman, quite plain, with a square abaci, The south side of the nave is Later Norman; other portions of the church are Early English, The chancel has a perpendicular east window, and benches with misereres of the same period. The east window was the gift of the late Archbishop of York. The centre compartment exhibits a figure of our Saviour, and the side lights have angels with harps. On the south side of the chancel is a window with two lights in memory of Sir J. V. B. Johnstone, Bart., and his wife Louisa Augusta; Christ is represented as healing the sick. In the east end of the south aisle is a window of one light, "Sancta Johannes," in memory of the completion of the 50th year of the reign of Queen Victoria, The west front tower window commemorates the memory of Georgina Emily Johnstone, who died 24th May, 1863, aged 30 years. The burial place of the Johnstones is a vault underneath the vestry on the north side of the chancel. In the east end of the south aisle is an ancient cross, believed to have been erected to the memory of the abbess Hilda. There are several monuments to the Johnstone, Hoby, Dakins, &c., families. One in the chancel, of marble, is to Margaret Anne Johnstone, who died 20th June, 1816, in the 24th year of her age, eldest daughter of Sir R. V. B. Johnstone, by Dame Margaret his wife, and who was married 28th October, 1815, to George Johnstone, Esq. "To them were born two daughters; the eldest Providence was pleased to recall, the youngest remained to solace her father in his affliction."

The living is a vicarage of the value of £280 a year in the gift of Lord Derwent, and the incumbency of the Rev. Charles Johnstone, M.A., who occupies the parsonage house, erected in 1858.

The village school (mixed), was erected at the expense of Sir J. V. B. Johnstone in 1859. The number in average attendance is 62. It is supported by Lord and Lady Derwent, grant, and fees.

Hackness Hall, the seat of the Right Hon. Harcourt Vanden Bempde Johnstone, Baron Derwent, was built by his grandfather, Sir R. V. B. Johnstone, and is a fine mansion, in a picturesque situation, with beautiful pleasure grounds. It stands near the site of the cell founded for nuns in 679 by Abbess Hilda. Lord Derwent the eldest son of the late Sir J. V. B. Johnstone, Bart., was born 3rd January, 1829, at the palace, Bishopthorpe, married 27th May, 1850, Charlotte, second daughter of the late Sir Charles Mills, Bart., and succeeded his father as third baronet in 1869. In 1881 he was created Baron Derwent of Hackness (peerage of United Kingdom). He was formerly Lieut. in 2nd Life Guards, Major East Riding Artillery Volunteers, and M.P. for Scarborough, 1869-80. Residences: 34 Belgrave Square, London, and Hackness Hall.

Distant about one mile from the seat of Lord Derwent is the handsome mansion of Hackness Grange, the residence of his eldest son, Capt. the Hon. Francis Johnstone, J.P. and D.L. for the North Riding, and C.C. for the Scalby division of the N.R. County Council. He was born on the 26th May, 1851, married 23rd September, 1880, Ethel, eldest daughter of Henry Strickland Constable, Esq., by whom he has a family. The pack of foxhounds started in 1862 by Lord Derwent, then Mr. Harcourt Johnstone, was handed over to the present occupier of Hackness Grange. in 1881.

Matthew Noble, the celebrated sculptor, was born at Hackness 23rd March, 1817. He was a son of Robert Noble, stone mason, and served his apprenticeship with his father. He early developed talent as a sculptor, and attracting the notice of Sir John Johnstone, was, by that gentleman's assistance, enabled to proceed to London and pursue his calling under the guidance of Mr. Francis, the eminent sculptor. He afterwards married that gentleman's niece, who survived him. He rose to great eminence as a sculptor, and executed statues of the Queen, Prince Consort, Earl Feversham, and many other works of great merit now in the museums at London, York, Manchester, India, &c. His first work, and one of his last are now in Hackness Hall.

A floral and horticultural show was established here in 1859, and has now become an annual institution. It is held in August, and is quite a success.

BROXA township, two miles north of Hackness, has an area of 517 acres, rated at £323, with a population of 55. The land belongs to Lord Derwent.

HARWOOD DALE township is five miles N.W. of Scarborough, in a picturesque dale, through which flows one of the sources of the Derwent. The area is 8,247 acres; rateable value, £1,715; population at the last census, 207. Lord Derwent is the owner of nearly all the soil. The church of St. Margaret was rebuilt in 1862 by Sir J. Johnstone, at a distance of about a mile from the old one. It is a small building of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, and a spire with one bell, and sittings for 100, The chancel contains three small stained windows of one light each. The subjects are Salvator Mundi, St. Peter, and St. Margaret. The living is a rectory, united with the vicarage of Hackness. There is a Wesleyan chapel here, erected in 1880.

The school, a mixed one, was built in 1835, average 20.

SILPHO township, five miles N.W. by W. of Scarborough, belongs entirely to Lord Derwent. It has an area of 1,100 acres; rateable value, £628; population, 85.

SUFFIELD-CUM-EVERLEY township, with the exception of one small freehold, belongs to Lord Derwent. Suffield and Everley are two hamlets, the former five miles W.N.W., and the latter five miles W. of Scarborough. The soil of these townships generally consists of loam and sand, with a subsoil of gravel and stone. The crops are wheat, oats, barley, turnips, and seeds.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1890.

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