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Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Birdforth - Electoral Division, Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Helmsley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish lies on the eastern side of the Hambleton Hills, between the parishes of Whorlton and Old Byland. It is a wild moorland district, intersected by numerous mountain streams which unite to form the Rye. It comprises the townships of Hawnby, Arden-with-Ardenside, Bilsdale Westside, Dale Town, and Snilesworth, having a united area of 17,897 acres, and a population numbering 666.
The township of Hawnby contains, according to the government plans in the possession of the rector, 2,380 acres 1 rood 20 perches, but the estimated extent in the rate book is 2,750 acres. A large portion of the surface is bleak, wild moorland, and only a small portion under the plough. A thin seam of coal is found on the moor; but, except as fuel for the limekilns, it is of little value. The gross estimated rental of the whole township is £967; rateable value, £877; and population, 231, a decrease of 95 since 1851. The principal landowners are George Wood, Esq., who purchased the manor and estate from Mr. Tennant, in 1878; and George Tancred, Esq., of Arden Hall.
The village occupies a bleak, exposed situation on the side of a steep hill, between the Hambleton Hills and the high moors of Ryedale, six miles N.W. of Helmsley. The Church (All Saints) stands in a secluded spot on the banks of the Rye, a short distance from the village. It is a small ancient structure, apparently built or rebuilt during the Norman era, and subsequently repaired in the Gothic style. It consists of chancel and nave, with a small pointed belfry of wood, containing two bells. The fabric was restored in 1876, at a cost of £600, raised by subscription. During the progress of the work, the fine old Norman chancel arch fell, and a new one has been erected similar in style to its predecessor. The living is a rectory, in the gift of the lord of the manor, worth £225, In the King's Book (temp. Henry VIII.) it is valued at £7 18s. 6d. The present rector, the Rev. Otho Augustus Manners, B.A. and J.P., was presented in 1851. The rectory house, a plain, modern building, was enlarged by the present rector in 1876, at a cost of between £200 and £300. There are about 30 acres of glebe.
The school, erected about 30 years ago, is supported by subscription. In 1757, John Smales left a rent-charge of £3 a year for the education of poor children, but this has been lost.
The Wesleyans have a small chapel in the village, built in 1770, and restored about three years ago. The same body have another chapel on the moors on the borders of Snilesworth.
Ladhill Gill is a hamlet partly in Hawnby, and partly in Bilsdale Westside townships.
ARDEN-WITH-ARDENSIDE is an extensive township, stretching along the eastern slopes of the Hambleton Hills, The surface is very diversified, and in many places the scenery is wild and picturesque, combining richly-wooded hills, heathy moorlands, and grassy dales. Its area, according to the Ordnance Survey, is 4,613 acres. The inhabitants number 122, and live in scattered farm houses. George Tancred, Esq., is sole owner and lord of the manor.
At the time of Domesday Survey Ardene was a berewic belonging to the manor of Bagby, in the parish of Kirkby Knowle, and then formed part of the lands of Hugh, the son of Baldric. Subsequently it came into the possession of the family of Hoton, or Hutton, one of whom, Peter de Hoton, about the year 1150, founded a nunnery here, which he endowed with three carucates of land. It was dedicated to St. Andrew, and inhabited by nuns of the Benedictine order. At the Dissolution the yearly income of the little sisterhood, derived from rents, &c., was, according to Speed, £13 7s. 4d. The nunnery and its possessions were granted, by Henry VIII., to Thomas Culpeper, and subsequently they came into the possession of the Tancreds.
Arden Hall now occupies the site, but the only portion of the conventual buildings incorporated in the present mansion is an old chimney, which was probably that in the nuns' kitchen. It is a popular tradition that so long as this chimney shall stand, the owner of Upsall must pay to the lord of the manor of Arden £40 a year. Certain it is that the owner of Arden receives a rent-charge of that amount out of the park lands of Upsall; but whether the payment is contingent on the existence of this chimney we cannot say. It has been lately repaired by the present owner. The hall stands in a secluded out-of-the-way spot on the bank of a small stream. In the entrance hall is a dummy knight in steel armour. Some of the rooms are pannelled in oak, black with age, executed as far back as 1631, as appears from that date over the fireplace of the morning room. In a small bedroom is a black oak bedstead, richly carved and inlaid with the Tancred arms. This room is called Queen Mary's Room and, it is said, but we cannot vouch for the truth of it, that that much persecuted queen slept here. Two or three stone coffins were dug up some years ago, and are now in the pavement of the yard. Both the front and back doors still retain their ancient mode of fastening - a long wooden bar, which slides into the wall when not in use, and at night is drawn out across the door into a recess on each side.
In a little wood behind the hall is the Nuns' Well, still in good preservation, from which a copious stream continues to flow. Near it, in 1885, was dug up the fragment of a stone cross, three feet in length and one foot eight inches in width; and the same year a quantity of human bones were found beneath the laundry floor.
During a terrific gale and thunder storm in 1884, about 500 trees were uprooted, and in the orchard only two were left standing. The hall on the same occasion was struck by the lightning.
The Tancreds were formerly a family of repute in Yorkshire. William Tanckard was steward of the forest of Knaresborough to the Earl of Cornwall, in the reign of Henry III., and had large estates at Boroughbridge, Minskip, Rowcliffe, and other places in this county. From this William was descended William Tanckard, Esq., whose second son, Ralph, married the daughter and sole heiress of William Lawson, Esq., of Cramlington, Northumberland, and was the ancestor of the Tancreds, of Arden. The present owner, George Tancred, Esq., late Capt. in the Scots Greys, is the eldest son of the late George Cleghorn, Esq., of Weens, Roxburghshire, and assumed by Royal License in 1885, the name and arms of Tancred only.
The old Foss road along the Hambleton Hills, between Yarm and Malton, passes through part of the township. This road was much frequented by Scotch drovers before the construction of railways, and at Limekiln House, formerly a public-house, where the drovers made a stage, many a jovial scene took place.
On the moors are several sepulchral mounds.
BILSDALE WESTSIDE is a long moorland township, extending from Hawnby to Fangdale beck on the west side of the Rye. Its area is estimated at 4,014 acres, including moorland and waste, and the inhabitants in 1881 numbered 148. Its rateable value is £953. The soil and subsoil are sandy, and in some parts gravelly. Lord Feversham (who is also lord of the manor), Duncombe Park, and James Emerson, Esq., J.P., Easby Hall, Stokesley, are sole owners. Easterside, the property of the latter gentleman, is a distinct manor. Coal and ironstone are found here; lime and excellent freestone also abound. Local tradition asserts that the monks of Rievaulx wrought the iron on Bumper Moor, and the heaps of scoriœ which are still visible, give a colouring of probability to the story.
The scenery in many parts of the valley of Bilsdale is extremely picturesque. Easterside mountain top (1,200 feet) when viewed from the rise of the road from Hawnby to Thirsk over the Hambleton Hills, looks like a huge whale sleeping on the face of the deep. "Where the lower ground of this estate," says a writer, "melts into the valley below the waters of the Seth and Rye meet, and the country around from Easterside House has the appearance of being starred by five different valleys which here converge together, forming with the purple heathery moors, the wood sides, and numerous trout streams, a varied landscape of surpassing beauty."
At Wethercote, a hamlet consisting of two farms, are the remains of some ancient earthworks, but to what age or people they belong is not certain. There is also a spot called Chapel Garth where, it is supposed, a chapel stood in the olden time.
Certain lands in the township called Banniscue and Bumper, containing by estimation 300 acres, which at the time of the Commutation belonged to Roger Manners, Esq., are protected from render of all tithes in kind by the payment of a modus of 5s. annually in lieu thereof.
DALE TOWN or DALESIDE is a township containing 1,784 acres, part of which is open moorland. It is valued for Poor Law purposes at £624, and has 61 inhabitants, who live in scattered farmhouses. The land, with all manorial rights, is the property of the trustees of the late Mrs. Hamer. There is neither town nor village in the township, - a single farmhouse alone bearing the name of Dale Town. Ton or town was applied by our Saxon forefathers to a single farmstead as well as to a collection of houses, and in this comprehensive sense it is still so used, by our northern neighbours. Thus Sir Walter Scott, in describing the residence of the famous Dandie Dinmont, says:- "Descending by a path towards a well-known ford, Dumple crossed the small river, and then quickening his pace, trotted about a mile briskly on its banks, and approached two or three low thatched houses, placed with their angles to each other, with a great contempt of regularity. This was the farm-steading of Charlie's hope, or in the language of the country, 'The Town.'"
Murton, is an adjoining extra-parochial district containing 1,745 acres, sometimes included with Dale Town. It belonged to the monks of Byland, who had a grange and a chapel here, in which they provided for the spiritual needs of the inhabitants. The place was in consequence exempt from the payment of tithes, a privilege which it still possesses; and in lieu the landowners (the trustees of the late Mrs. Hamer) pay a modus of 8s. to the rector of Hawnby. It is valued for rating purposes at £773, and had in 1881 only 27 inhabitants. Here is Peak Scar, a limestone cliff, in which is a cavern extending upwards of 100 yards.
SNILESWORTH is another moorland township, comprising 5,105 acres and a few scattered houses. It belongs to the heirs of the late Edward Manners, Esq. Rateable value, £500. Population, 104. There is a small school on the moor, attended by 22 children, and a Methodist Chapel on the borders of Hawnby.
[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.