"PICKERING, is an ancient market town and township, in the parish of its name, North Riding ; 222 miles from London, 92 n.e. from Manchester, 26 n. from York, 8 n. from New Malton, and 8 e. from Kirkbymoorside. This town is of great antiquity, said to have been built by Peridurus, a king of the Britons, 270 years before the birth of Christ, and to have derived its name from the circumstance of that prince losing his ring, when washing in the river Costa, which was afterwards found in the belly of a pike. It is situated on the verge of the mountainous regions of Blake, or Black Moors, and crossed at the bottom by a small river or brook, called Pickering Beck, which in addition to the other romantic beauties that Pickering possesses, gives a great degree of pleasing and pictureesque beauty to the town. The remains of Pickering castle are still to be seen standing, on the brow of a hill, near the western extremity of the town, not far from the church. From the extent of the ruins the building must have been very considerable, and from its situation, a place of great strength and security. In this castle Richard 2nd was confined for some time previous to being sent to Pontefract, where he was murdered. A large square tower is now remaining, called Rosamond's tower, but of its origin nothing certain is known. Pickering was formerly the principal town in this district, and Scarborough, though now of much more importance, was in its wapentake. It formerly sent a member to parliament, which privilege it is said to have lost, from failing to pay its representatives their expenses, which in those days were allowed to them. A court leet is held in the castle on the Mondays after Lady Day and Michaelmas, in which small debts are sued for. The government of the town is vested in a constable and magistrate, appointed at the quarter sessions for the North Riding. Great quantities of brooms were made in the town and neighbourhood, the materials for the manufacture of the article being obtained from the contiguous moors ; this trade is now of but little consequence, the demand being very limited. Upon the river Costa, which rises at the Kildhead, are two large flour mills, and upon the Old Beck stream are three others, all within a mile of the town.
The parish church, which is dedicated to St. Peter, is an ancient and spacious building, with a fine lofty spire ; the benefice is a vicarage, in the gift of the dean of York, and incumbency of the Rev. John Ponsonby. The other places are a chapel each for independents, primitive and Wesleyan methodists, and the society of friends. The weekly market is held on Monday ; and the fairs on the Monday before February 14th and May 13th, September 25th, and the Monday before November 22nd. By the returns for 1821 the whole parish contained 3,555 inhabitants, and by those for 1831, 3,346, of which last number 2,555 were returned for the township."
[Transcribed by Steve Garton ©2000 from
Pigot's directory (Yorkshire section) 1834]