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Wapentake of Langbaurgh (East Division) - Petty Sessional Division of Langbaurgh East - Poor Law Union and Rural Deanery of Guisborough - County Court District of Whitby - Electoral Division of Loftus - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This small parish, formerly written Lofthouse, is situated on the coast between Brotton and Easington. Its total area, exclusive of the strand, is 3,737 acres; rateable value, £12,971; and population, 4,318. The land near the coast terminates in a bold ridge of cliffs, presenting a steep escarpment towards the sea, but falling away with a gentle decline towards the village. The rocks are of an aluminous character, and extensive works were formerly carried on for the manufacture of the alum. Ironstone is abundant and is extensively worked by Messrs. Pease & Partners. The mines which adjoin Skinningrove were commenced by Losh, Wilson, Bell, & Co., about the year 1859, and in 1865 they were transferred to the present proprietors. The ironstone is won by handmining. The largest output was in 1881, when it reached 654,000 tons. About 750 hands are usually employed.
The manor of Loftus (Loctusu in Domesday Book) was held in the time of the last Saxon king by the gallant Earl Siward, whom Shakespeare has immortalised in his "Macbeth." After the Conquest it was given to Hugh de Abrincis, Earl of Chester, and to it belonged the soke or liberty of Hinderwell, Boulby, Easington, Liverton, Guisborough, Rockcliffe, Upleatham, Marske, Kirkleatham, Lazenby, and Lackenby. The earl did not hold the manor long, for we find it soon after included in the possessions of William de Percy. In later times the principal estate at Loftus belonged to the Stewards and Moores successively, and by one of the latter was sold to Sir Lawrence Dundas, ancestor of the Earl of Zetland, the present owner. The Messrs. Yeoman have also an estate in the parish.
The village of Loftus or Lofthouse is pleasantly situated about 9 miles E.N.E. of Guisborough. Since the opening of the iron mines there has been a very considerable increase in the population, and now there are within and around it upwards of 6,000 inhabitants. Its market, established by custom, was formerly held on Thursday, but has been transferred in late years to Saturday. A Fair is held on the 24th and 25th of June, and a Wool Fair on the preceding Friday. Numerous streets and many handsome buildings have been erected, and in 1876 a Local Board was formed, with a district comprising 2,560 acres. The Town Hall, a substantial stone building in which Petty Sessions are held fortnightly, is the property of the Earl of Zetland, by whom it was erected at a cost of £5,000. It contains, besides the Magistrates' Room, a Public Hall capable of seating 450 persons, the offices of the Local Board, Reading Boom, and Foresters' Hall. The Oddfellows' Hall, built in 1873, will accommodate 500, and the Temperance Hall about 700. There is a station here on the Scarborough, Whitby & Saltburn line of the North Eastern railway.
The Church (St. Leonard) is a plain edifice, rebuilt in 1811, at a cost of about £1,300, on the site of one dating from a very early period. This was given by William de Sauncey to the prior and convent of Guisborough, and the rectory continued under their patronage until the dissolution of the monastery, when the right of presentation was transferred to the Crown, by whom it is still exercised through the Lord Chancellor. In the valuation of church livings by Henry VIII., this benefice was certified at £10 11s. 0½d., but is now worth £550. The present rector, the Rev. A. H. Cumming, has held the living since 1887. The present value of the tithe rent-charge is £463. The Rectory House is a good white stone building in the Italian style, erected in 1844, by the Rev. H. S. Hildyard, who was then rector.
The Cemetery adjoining East Loftus was opened in 1857, and enlarged a few years ago. It contains two mortuary chapels, in the Norman style, and is under the management of a Burial Board of nine members.
The Catholic Church (St. Joseph) is a neat building in the Elizabethan style, erected in 1882.
The Ebenezer Chapel, belonging to the Congregationalists, was built in 1828. On a stone in the front is inscribed "Si Deus a nobis est, qui contra nos? (If God is with us, who shall be against us?). The Primitive Methodist Chapel is a stone building erected in 1870, at a cost of £1,507. The Wesleyan Newton Memorial Chapel was built in 1876, at a cost of £3,564. It is a handsome brick edifice with freestone facings, and will accommodate 900 persons. In 1885 the front was altered and improved at a cost of £405.
Ample educational facilities have been provided. The present schools form a handsome block of buildings, erected in 1871, at the sole expense of the late Earl of Zetland, by whom they were also endowed.
A little west of the village is Lofthouse Hall, built by Lieut-General Sir B. L. Dundas, who died here in 1844.
Wapley and Street Houses are hamlets in this parish.
CHARITIES. - Thomas Wooddell, in 1735, left a cottage and five acres of land for the benefit of the poor of Loftus and Ugthorpe, which now lets for £8; and a rent-charge of 12s. was bequeathed by Ralph Robinson to the poor of Loftus.
Handale Priory. - This priory, of which not a vestige now remains, stood at Handale or Grindale, about a mile south of Loftus. It was erected by William de Percy, in 1133, and endowed with lands in Grindale, Dunsley, and Staxton. The inmates were nuns of the Benedictine Order, whose gross income at the dissolution was £20 7s. 8d. At that time the little community consisted of eight nuns. The site was granted in 1544, to Ambrose Beckwith, with whose descendants it remained for several generations, and was sold by the last male heir of the family to Mr. Sanderson, of Staithes. It has since passed through several hands, and is now the property of Reginald Bell, Esq.
[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.