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Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Ryedale - Electoral Division of Thornton - Poor Law Union of Pickering - County Court District of Malton - Rural Deanery of Helmsley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This is an extensive parish embracing a large portion of the vast moorland district stretching north-eastwards from Pickering. It includes the townships of Appleton-le-Moors, Hutton-le-Hole, Lastingham, and Spaunton, coutaining 7,142 acres, and 847 inhabitants. The whole parish forms part of the manor of Spaunton, of which Henry Darley, Esq., Aldby Park, is lord, The manor includes about 1,700 acres of undivided common on which any freeholder or common-rightholder can turn an unlimited stray of stock. This privilege formerly extended to all householders within the manor. About 7,000 acres of land in the parish are unenclosed moorland, and 800 acres are heath. Lastingham township contains 690 acres, of which 403 acres are under assessment. It is valued, for rateable purposes, at £565, and is the property of Mr. George William Bayner Wood, Singleton Lodge, Manchester, and several freeholders.
The village is picturesquely situated in a moorland vale, surrounded by hills, and distant about five miles N. by E. from Kirbymoorside and seven N.W. of Pickering. It has been very generally identified with the place called, by the Venerable Bede, Læstingau, but from the discovery of an almost obliterated Runic inscription on a richly ornamented stone coffin lid at Kirkdale, there is some reason to believe that that is the place which Bede calls Læstingau. This name is said by one writer to signify "the water of the Læstingas," and by another the gaut, or district belonging to the Læstingas, a forgotten Anglian tribe, whilst Lastingham implies the ham, or place of their abode.
Læstingau first comes into notice as the place where Cedd, bishop of the East Saxons, founded a monastery for Benedictine monks in the year 648. Cedd was the brother of Ceadda, or Chad, second archbishop of York; both had been educated under St. Aidan at Lindisfarne, and the rules and discipline of that monastery were introduced into Lastingham. Cedd was the first abbot, and ruled the monastery until his elevation to the episcopal see of London (East Saxons), when the government devolved upon his brother, St. Chad. During one of his visits St. Cedd died here of the plague in 664, and was buried in the wooden church which he had erected.
The subsequent annals of this Saxon monastery are very scanty. It was destroyed by the Danes in 870, and it remained a ruin and probably tenantless until 1078, when, in consequence of some disagreement between Stephen, abbot of Whitby, and William de Percy, lord of the manor, the abbot and a portion of the monks retired to Lastingham and took possession of the old ruined monastery, which they began to repair. For their support they received from the king and Berenger de Todeni one carucate of land in Lastingham, six carucates at Spaunton, and other lands at Kirkby, &c. They remained here only three or four years, and then removed to York, where they founded St. Mary's Abbey. The monastery at Lastingham was then wholly abandoned, and its lands annexed to St. Mary's Abbey.
The parish church (St. Mary) is believed to occupy the site of the ancient monastic church, and some antiquarians have even supposed that it was a part of the Saxon monastery. But some of the ablest modern ecclesiologists doubt the existence of any Saxon work in the present structure, and ascribe its erection to the Early Norman period. But whether Saxon or Norman it is an interesting edifice, and one of the most ancient parish churches in the county. It consists of a nave, with side aisles, a semicircular chancel, and a low tower, containing three bells, one of which is said to be Saxon (?). There was formerly a very fine screen of carved oak, in tabernacle work, but some repairs being effected during the absence of the vicar, the churchwardens made a fire with it to melt the lead!
The church has undergone several restorations since Norman times, and not always, unfortunately, in harmony with the original style. It was repaired in 1828-32, when a very fine copy of Corregio's Agony in the Garden, painted and presented by J. Jackson, R.A., was, with very doubtful taste, placed over the altar. The edifice again underwent a very thorough restoration in 1879, under the direction of John Pearson, R.A., architect. The cost was upwards of £3,000, and was borne by Dr. Ringer and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The open timber roof has been replaced by a very fine groined one of stone, and the floor laid with wood blocks in parquetted pattern. The above mentioned painting has been removed to the north side, and the beautiful apse restored to its original form. Eight of the windows are very beautiful stained glass memorials. The font is very ancient, probably Saxon.
Beneath the chancel, and part of the nave, is a crypt, a very fine piece of Early Norman, if not of Saxon work. It measures thirteen paces by eight, and is divided into a centre and two aisles, by two rows of massive cylindrical pillars, which support the groined roof. All the capitals are sculptured, each one differing from the other. There is a tradition that a subterranean passage led from the crypt to Rosedale Priory; and when Whellan published his "History of the North Riding," in 1859, there were persons still living who could remember when it was open for a distance of about 40 or 50 yards.
Several interesting relics of antiquity have been found here, and are preserved in the crypt. These briefly described are:- (1) A portable altar, which might be mistaken for a Roman one, were not its Christian character proved by the cross on the flat top, and the circular perforation for the reception of the little shrine of relics. (2) A piece of stone, which once formed part of a string course, ornamented with a scroll of vine leaves and grapes. (3) The shaft of a small cross ornamented with a pretty pattern. (4) Two fragments of a small cross, resembling in form the Saxon churchyard cross found at Rothbury in 1850. (5) The head of a large cross, larger than the great cross at Iona, or perhaps any cross in Great Britain, and very intricately ornamented. It was discovered during the repairs in 1828. (6) The memorial slab of John de Spaunton, one of the early benefactors to St. Mary's Abbey, York, to which this church belonged. The inscription is scarcely decipherable. (7) The shaft of a 7th century cross, ornamented with a pair of intertwining serpents; the ovals formed by their entwined bodies is very prettily filled by an isolated Latin cross, and their tails form a St. Andrew's cross. This interlacing work is a characteristic feature of the Irish crosses. (8) Two serpents or dragons carved in wood, between which was a man's head. This is believed to be Norman work, and was symbolical of the Christian soul tempted by its spiritual enemy, the serpent. (9) The altar of the Five Crosses, removed from the floor of the church at the restoration in 1879.
The ecclesiastical parish of Lastingham now comprises the three townships of Lastingham, Spaunton, and Hetton-le-Hole.
The living is a discharged vicarage, in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and worth £452, including £120 for a curate.
The Wesleyan chapel was erected in 1804, and restored and altered in 1870. It is a plain building, but neatly furnished within.
The National school is a very handsome structure, erected by subscription in 1885, as a memorial of the late Mrs. Harriet Louisa Darley. It will accommodate 102 children, and has an average attendance of 42. It receives £10 a year from Stockton's Charity (See Nawton), and £5 from Betton's. There are also besides in the village a well-appointed and comfortable reading room and library, established and largely supported by Dr. Ringer, and a Church Institute, in which night school and divine services are held during the winter months. Two wells, covered by neat stone superstructures, bear the names of St. Cedd's and Chad's Wells, The former bears a Latin inscription which reads "Cedd, founder of the Abbey of Lastingay, A.D. 664, and was buried in the church at the right side of the altar."
John Jackson, R.A., a portrait painter of considerable repute, was a native of Lastingham. He was the son of the village tailor, and was born here in 1778. He was apprenticed to his father's trade, but early displayed a talent for painting, which he cultivated in his leisure hours. At the age of 19 he went to York, and commenced his career as a miniature painter. In 1804, he removed to London, and studied at the Royal Academy, of which institution he afterwards became a member. He died in London in 1830. His fame rests chiefly on his portraits; but the Agony in the Garden, after Corregio, which he painted as an altar piece for the church of his native village, is perhaps, one of his best works.
CHARITIES. - George Hobson left an acre of land to the poor. This land, on which a cottage was built by the parish, now lets for £5 5s. a year. John James, of Scalby, left, in 1875, the sum of £4 10s. per annum to the poor of Lastingham and Spaunton.
APPLETON-LE-MOORS TOWNSHIP has an area of 2,592 acres, of which, about 1,300 are open moorland. Rateable value, £1,291. H. Darley, Esq., is lord of the manor, and the principal landowners are Robert Petch, Kirbymoorside; John Shepherd, Esq., Rosedale Abbey; and G. W. R. Wood, Esq., Singleton Lodge, Manchester.
The village, formerly called Wood Appleton, but now designated as above, from its situation on the moors, is distant about three miles N.E. of Kirbymoorside. It is a neat little place, with some very good houses. It is surrounded by wild, romantic moorland hills, and is now much frequented by summer tourists.
A handsome church (Christ Church) was erected here in 1865, by Mrs. Shepherd, in memory of her husband, the late Joseph Shepherd, Esq. It was built from the designs of J. Pearson, Esq., B.A., and is in a mixed style of architecture - Early English and Gothic. It comprises nave, north and south aisles, apsidal chancel, and tower containing a peal of bells and a clock. There is some exquisite carving about the font and pulpit, and a handsome carved reredos adorns the chancel. The whole cost was upwards of £10,000. A district, embracing the township, was allotted to it. The living, styled a vicarage, is in the gift of Mrs. Shepherd, and is worth £200. The vicarage, a neat and commodious residence, was also erected by the same lady, at a cost of £2,000.
The National school and teacher's house form a handsome block of buildings, and were also erected by Mrs. Shepherd. This school receives £10 a year from Stockton's charity, for which 12 children are taught free, and also a yearly subscription from the foundress. The Wesleyans have a chapel in the village erected by subscription in 1832.
CHARITIES. - Mrs. S. Glaves, relict of the Rev. John Cass Glaves, left, in 1882, the interest of £100 to be distributed annually, on the 13th of October, among the aged and deserving poor. They also receive three small rent-charges amounting to 25s.
HUTTON-LE-HOLE. This township, situated on the east side of the river Dove, is the property of several freeholders, and contains 2,860 acres, of which 1,800 are waste or common. Rateable value, £1,067. It is included in the manor of Spaunton. The village is scattered, but pleasantly situated on the edge of the moor, amidst wild and romantic scenery. It is distant about three miles N. of Kirbymoorside. The Congregationalists, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists have each a place of worship here. The National school is a neat stone structure, built by subscription in 1874, at a cost of £400. It is licensed by the Archbishop for divine service.
About half-a-mile away is Dowthwaite Dale, through which the Dove winds its way, sheltered on one side by a steep and well-wooded bank.
SPAUNTON TOWNSHIP comprises 1,540 acres, of which 1,287 are cultivated. Rateable value, £1,147. The proprietors are H. Darley, Esq., Mr. S. H. Loy, Mrs. Bentley, and a few freeholders. Spaunton is the head of an extensive manor formerly held by a family which took its name from the place, and resided here in a castle, the foundations of which are still visible near Manor House. The lordship is now held by Henry Darley, Esq., J.P., who succeeded his father, the late Henry Brewster Darley Esq., in 1860. The hamlet consists of about half-a-dozen houses situated on the brow of a hill, half-a-mile from Lastingham.
[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.