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Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Ryedale - Electoral Division and Poor Law Union of Kirbymoorside - County Court District and Rural Deanery of Helmsley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This small parish is situated in the fertile and picturesque vale of the Rye. It possesses a rich soil, and abounds in beautiful scenery. The area, according to the overseer's returns, is 1,991 acres; rateable value, £2,280; population, 403. The trustees of the late Wm. Rutson, Esq., are the principal landowners, and lords of the manor.
Nunnington and Stonegrave constitute one manor, which in the Domesday Survey is named from the former place, and then also included Ness, Holme, and Wykeham. At the time of the Conquest it was held by Merlesweyn, a Saxon, from whom it was filched by the Norman Conqueror, and given to Ralph Paynel, or Pagnel. Early in the 12th century it was in the possession of a family styled de Staynegrave, who held it of the barony of Pagnel at two and a quarter knight's fees. In 1325, Sir John de Pateshill had the manor, but, after one more descent in the same line, it came, in 1362, to Sir Henry Grene, and remained with this family till the beginning of the 16th century, when Maude Grene, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Grene, conveyed it in marriage to Sir Thomas Parr. Dame Maude was the mother of Katherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII., and of Sir William Parr, Marquis of Northampton, whose estates were forfeited to the Crown through his participation in the attempt to place the Lady Jane Gray on the throne, to the prejudice of Mary, the legitimate heir. Queens Mary and Elizabeth held the manor successively until 1580, when John Hickes, Esq., became possessor, but how is not known. Robert Hickes, Esq., probably his son, followed; and in 1630 occurs the name of John Hollowaie, Esq., and the manor house and part of the estate was then occupied by the Norcliffe family. A few years after this the manor was purchased by the Grahams, Viscounts Preston. Charles, the last that bore that title, dying without issue in 1739, this estate descended to his aunt Catherine, wife of William, Lord Widdrington. She died childless in 1757, and Nunnington manor subsequently came into the possession of her relative, Sir Bellingham Graham, The late Sir Bellingham sold it in 1839 to Wm. Rutson, Esq. This gentleman died in 1867, and the estate is now in the hands of his trustees. The present representative is John Rutson, Esq., of Danby Wiske, eldest son of the above Wm. Rutson.
The Old Hall, or Manor House, is a large, old-fashioned Elizabethan structure, erected on the site of an ancient nunnery, which, according to Dodsworth, was dissolved about the year 1200. The south front was rebuilt by one of the earliest Graham owners, Sir Richard, who was created Viscount Preston of Scotland in 1680, and appears to have resided here. This nobleman was several times ambassador to the court of France, and was subsequently Secretary of State to James II. Lady Catherine and her husband, Lord Widderington, also resided here. He was descended from the old Northumbrian family of that name, and of one of his fore-elders it is related in the ballad of Chevy Chase that"When his leggs were smitten off, He for fought upon his stumps."The hall stands at the east end of the village, and has a frontage facing the south, 123 feet in length. It is the occasional residence of John Rutson, Esq.
The village is prettily situated on the south bank of the Rye, 5 miles S.E. of Helmsley. It is a place of considerable antiquity, and had both a church and a priest when Domesday Book was compiled (circa 1080). There appears also to have been a nunnery erected here in Saxon times, from which the village received its name, Nunnington, that is the Ton, or town, in the Nuns'Ing, or field.
The church, of which the original dedication was All Saints, though it appears to have been in later times ascribed or re-dedicated to St. James, was rebuilt in 1672 by Ranald Graham, Esq., then lord of the manor. It was restored in 1884, at a cost of £1,800, raised by subscription. The stained glass windows were presentedby Mr. J. Rutson, as was also the organ. There are monuments in the church to Lords Preston and Widdrington, who were buried here; and in an arched recess in the wall is the effigy of a knight cross-legged, supposed to represent Peter de Loschy, "a noble warrior and a man of great command," who, according to a legend, bravely killed a serpent, the terror of the neighbourhood, in the thicket of Loschy Hill, near East Newton. During the restoration, in 1884, two stones, parts of an old Runic cross, were found. The living is a rectory, worth £360, in the gift of the Crown, and now held by the Rev. W. Collins, M.A.
There are a hospital and school in the village, which were founded and endowed by Ranald Graham, Esq., in 1678. He endowed the joint institution with a rent-charge of £20 out of the manor of Nunnington. Of this sum £6 was to be applied to the education of six poor children, and the remainder was to be appropriated in giving to each of the six almspeople (three poor widows and three poor widowers) 40s. a year, and the same sum to be appropriated to the repair of the building. The almspeople now receive 50s. per annum.
In 1718, Wm. Anderson left £10 to the poor; in 1730, David Bedford left £40 for the education of four poor scholars, and £20 to the poor; in 1766, Lady Widdrington bequeathed £50 to the poor; in 1782, Richard Marshall left £20 for same purpose; and in 1824 Mrs. M. Marshall left £100 to the poor, and £50 for the the education of four poor scholars. In 1868 Thomas Agar left £42 to the poor. A new boys' school was erected in 1869 by Mr. J. Rutson, in memory of his father.
The Wesleyans have a chapel in the village, a neat stone edifice, rebuilt and enlarged in 1874 at a cost of £400.
The surface of the parish is boldly undulated, and the soil rich and fertile. Highfield farm has long been noted for its excellent breed of pure Leicester sheep.
[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.