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Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Birdforth - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Northallerton - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish lies along the base of the Hambleton hills, whose moory uplands cover a considerable portion of the surface, and hence its name of Over Silton, in contradistinction to its near neighbour, Nether Silton, whose surface is less elevated. It comprises the township of Over Silton (1,235 acres), and the greater part of the township of Kepwick, having a total area of 3,694 acres, and a population of 212. The gross estimated rental of the township is £1,102, and the rateable value, £1,010. It is in the Osmotherley Electoral division.
In the Domesday Book it is recorded that Archil had three carucates of land in Silvetune (Silton). Subsequently the manor and estate became part of the possessions of the family of Belasyse, earls of Fauconberg, and on the extinction of that line in 1825, this estate was inherited by Sir George Wombwell, Baronet, whose mother was the second daughter of Henry, the last earl of Fauconberg. Sir George married Georgina, the second daughter of Thomas Orby Hunter, Esq., of Croyland Abbey, Lincolnshire, and dying in 1855, was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir George Orby Wombwell, the present baronet. Sir George served in the 17th Lancers during the Crimean war, and took part in the disastrous, but brilliant, charge of the light brigade at Balaclava, on the 25th October, 1854, when 600 British cavalry charged an overwhelming number of Russians. He was taken prisoner by the enemy, but effected his escape in a most daring manner. A shell bursting near, his captors were thrown into confusion, Sir George seeing his opportunity, mounted a Russian horse, and galloped back to the English lines. Sir George sold the estate in 1866 to W. B. Wainman, Esq., who, at his death in 1872, left it to his second daughter, Edith, who subsequently married the Rev. T. B. Hinde, rector of Ardwick-le-Street. The reverend gentleman died January, 1885. Mrs. Hinde is also lady of the manor.
The village is situated on an eminence near the foot of the Hambleton hills, seven miles east of Northallerton. The view from the heights above is extensive and beautiful, embracing the whole of the vale of Mowbray and the mountains of Westmoreland.
The Church (St. Mary, formerly All Saints) is an ancient foundation, coeval with, if not anterior to, the Norman era. It was given by Roger de Mowbray, together with two oxgangs of land, to the Priory of Newburgh, and was served by a priest from that house. The impropriate tithes, value £161, belong to the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, who are also patrons of the living. In 1707 it was certified as worth £12. It has since been augmented by grants from Queen Anne's Bounty and other benefactions, and is now worth £79. There was formerly 14 acres of glebe land, but this was lost in the time of the Fauconbergs. The sacred edifice consists of porch, chancel, and nave, with a bell turret at the west end. The entrance to the nave is through a good Norman arch, with zig-zag mouldings, The chancel roof is of higher pitch than that of the nave, and flagged, whilst the latter is leaded. There is a finely carved black oak screen, and the time worn benches are also of the same material. On the oaken roof of the nave may still be seen the arms of Neville and Scrope, archbishops of York in the 14th century. The arch between the nave and chancel is semicircular, and of fine cut freestone. The living, a vicarage, is held in conjunction with the rectory of Cowesby by the Rev. John Oxlee, son of the famous linguist of that name.
Among the Scars or rocky cliffs that rise a little way to the north-west of the village is a cave, in which, according to local folklore, there formerly dwelt a sprite named Hob. Like his namesake, Hob, of Runswick, in the county of Durham, he was of benign and kindly character, and busied himself at nights in churning the farmers cream. Hob has vanished before our modern enlightenment, but his cave is still known as Hobby Hole. About 200 yards west of the village. rises a rugged conical mound called Carlow Hill, a name probably compounded of the two Saxon words carl, a husbandman, and how, a hill.
KEPWICK township is partly in this parish and partly in those of Leake and Cowesby. It comprises 2,930 acres of land, of which, about 1,400 acres are moorland and woods. The gross estimated rental is £1,615, and rateable value, £1,449. In 1881 the inhabitants numbered 168, many of whom are employed in the limestone and freestone quarries, which are wrought by the lord of the manor, among the hills in the eastern part of the township. The manor and estate were long the property of a family named Lepton, from whom they were purchased by Thomas, lord Fauconberg, in 1630. Subsequently they came into the possession of the Cromptons, of Sion Hill and Azerley Hall, and were sold by the late Colonel Crompton in 1871 or 1872, to Edward Warner, Esq., J.P., Quorn Hall, Leicestershire, for £75,000. The estate has since been very greatly improved by the rebuilding or repairing of all the houses, and the erection of a handsome mansion in 1873, at a cost of about £14,000. Very extensive additions were made during 1888 at a further cost of between £6,000 and £7,000. The style of architecture is a mixture of Norman and Elizabethan. In the park are three fish ponds, in which, 10,000 trout were placed in the winter of 1885. Trees have been extensively planted, and devious walks and terraces formed on the steeps that rise north-east of the hall. On these hills have been constructed two reservoirs, one, to supply the house with water, the other, the gardens and terraces. The latter is fed from a spring which pours its waters over a ledge of rock; and a second waterfall, 200 yards in length down a steep incline, is formed by the overflow.
The village is situated about eight miles N.N.E. of Thirsk, and 2½ miles from Over Silton. A little to the east rise the Hambleton hills, where limestone and freestone are extensively quarried on Mr. Warner's estate. A tram line, 3½ miles in length, constructed by the late J. S. Crompton, Esq., at a cost of £16,000, leads from the quarries to the stoneyards and limekiln, near Leake church.
This township is in the union and county court district of Thirsk, and in the electoral division of South Otterington.
[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.