"HELMSLEY, a parish in the wapentake of RYEDALE, North riding of the county of YORK, comprising the market-town of Helmsley, the joint chapelry of Bilsdale- Midcable with Bilsdale-Birkham, and the townships of Haram, Laskill-Pasture, Pockley, Rivaulx, and Sproxton, and containing 3458 inhabitants, of which number, 1520 are in the town of Helmsley, 23 miles N. from York, and 218 N.W. from London. This place, which was formerly of considerable importance, derives its name from the dark heathy moors in the parish, and belonged, in the reigns of Edward I. and II., to the family of Ross, who built here a strong castle for their baronial residence, which, in the parliamentary war, being garrisoned for the king, was besieged and taken by Fairfax, in 1644, and soon afterwards dismantled by order of the parliament: the remains of this structure, which was erected on an eminence, and surrounded by a double moat, consist principally of detached portions of the state apartments and offices, and part of the keep and gateway. The town is situated on the declivity of a small eminence, sloping gently towards the river Rye, which gives name to the wapentake; the houses are chiefly built of stone, and roofed with slate, and the inhabitants are supplied with water from springs and from a rivulet called the Boro Beck, which, after tunning through the town, disappears at the distance of a mile, and rises again at the distance of four miles. The environs are extremely pleasant, being richly diversified with extensive woods and fertile valleys. The linen manufacture, which was carried on extensively by families at their own houses, has been almost destroyed here by the introduction of machinery. There are mines of coal in the parish. The market is on Saturday: the fairs are, May 19th, July 16th, October 1st and 2nd, and November 5th and 6th, for cattle, sheep, and linen and woollen cloth. A court for the recovery of debts under 40s. is occasionally held. The living is a discharged vicarage, in jthe archdeaconry of Cleveland, and diocese of York, rated in the king's books at £11. 8.6., endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of Charles Duncombe, Esq. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a large and handsome structure, partly in the Norman, and partly in the early, style of English architecture, with later insertions, having a tower at the west end: the interior contains some elegant screen-work, and an hexagonal font of early English character. At Haram and Pockley are chapels of ease, the latter built, in 1822, at the sole expense of C. Duncombe, Esq., of Duncombe Park (a noble mansion, within a mile of Helmsley, built, in 1718, in the Doric order of architecture, from a design by Vanbrugh), who is proprietor of nearly the whole of the parish, which is about sixteen miles long from north to south, averaging nearly five miles in breadth, and contains about fifty thousand acres. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends and Wesleyan Methodists. A National school for children of both sexes is supported by Mr. Duncombe. George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, after he had withdrawn from the court and cabinet of Charles II., spent a considerable portion of his time here, this period of his life having been distinguished by the revelries and profligacy, which soon reduced him to a state of indigence; he died at Kirkby-Moor-Side, in April, 1687. About two miles to the north-west are the interesting remains of the abbey of Rivaulx, or Rivall, so called from its situation in the vale "of the river Rye; it was the first Cistercian abbey in Yorkshire, and was founded in 1131, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Walter Espec, who endowed it with ample revenues, which at the dissolution were estimated at £351. 14. 6."
"BILSDALE MIDCABLE, a chapelry in the parish of HELMSLEY, wapentake of RYEDALE, North riding of the county of YORK, 7 miles N.N.W. from Helmsley, containing, with Bilsdale-Kirkhain, 780 inhabitants. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Cleveland, and diocese of York, endowed with £800 royal bounty, and £800 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Vicar of Helmsley. There is a meeting- house for the Society of Friends."
"HARAM, a township in the parish of HELMSLEY, wapentake of RYEDALE, North riding of the county of YORK, 2 miles E.S.E. from Helmsley, containing 46l inhabitants."
"LASKILL PASTURE, a township in the parish of HELMSLEY, wapentake of RYEDALE, North riding of the county of YORK, 6 miles N.N.W. from Helmsley, containing 91 inhabitants."
"POCKLEY, a township in the parish of HELMSLEY, wapentake of RYEDALE, North riding of the county of YORK, 2 miles E.N.E. from Helmsley, containing 227 inhabitants. A neat chapel of ease was erected in 1822, by C. Buncombe, Esq."
"RIVAULX, a township in the parish of HELMSLEY, wapentake of RYEDALE, North riding of the county of YORK, 2 miles N.W. from Helmsley, containing 212 inhabitants. An abbey, the first of the Cistercian order in Yorkshire, was founded here in 1131, by Walter L' Espec, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and at the dissolution possessed a revenue of £351. 14. 6. The venerable ruins of this once sumptuous monastery are situated near the rural, village of liivaulx, in a sequestered valley, through which winds the river Rye, on every side encompassed by. heights crowned with majestic woods. The principal remains, which are those of the church and the refectory, exhibit a mixture of Norman and early English architecture; the choir, in particular, is a beautiful composition still in good preservation; it is one hundred and forty-four feet long, by sixty-three feet wide, the transept one hundred and eighteen feet by thirty-three, and the probable length of the nave one hundred and fifty feet, dimensions which entitled it to rank amongst the largest, as it did with the most magnificent, abbey churches in the kingdom."
"SPROXTON, a township in the parish of HELMSLEY, wapentake of RYEDALE, North riding of the county of YORK, lmile S. from Helmsley,' containing 167 inhabitants."
[Transcribed by Mel Lockie © from
Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England 1835]