PICKERING, a parish in the wapentake and liberty of Pickering Lythe; 8 miles from Kirkbymoorside; 9 from Malton; and 18 from Scarbro'. Market Monday, Fairs, Monday before February 14, Monday before May 13, September 25, Monday before November 23, for horned cattle horses, sheep, and pigs. Principal Inns, Black Swan, and White Swan.
The town of Pickering, which is said by Fabian, to have been built 270 years before Christ, covers a large extent of ground, irregularly built. It sent members to parliament 23rd of Edward I. but was discontinued in the same reign. It belongs to the Duchy of Lancaster, and has a jurisdiction over several adjacent villages called the honour of Pickering. Richard Hill, Esq. of Thornton, is lord of the manor, and also lord of the honour of Pickering-Lythe.
It is a place of great antiquity, and formerly sent two members to parliament, but it no longer retains that privilege. The town is long and straggling, but it is pleasantly situated on an eminence, at the bottom of which runs a brook, called Pickering Beck. Here is a weekly market on Monday. The church is an ancient and spacious building, with a lofty spire, dedicated to St. Peter, and the living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Dean of York.
The castle here, which has been of much importance to the town, is situated near the western extremity of it, and is thus described by Leland, "The castelle stondith in an end of the towne not far from the paroch church, on the brow of the hille, under which the broke(=brook, =stream -CH) rennith. In the first court of it, be a 4 toures, of the which one is caullid Rosamondes tour. In the ynner court be also 4 toures, whereof the keep is one. The castelle waulles and the toures be meatly welle. The loggings yn the ynner court that be of tembre be in ruine. In this inner court is a chappelle, and a cantuaire Prest. The castelle hath of a good, continuance with the towne and lordship, longid to the Lancaster bloode; who made the castelle, or who was owner of it afore the Lancasters, I could not lerne there. The castelle waulles now remaining seme to be of no very old building. As I remember I hard say that Richard III. lay sumtyme at this castelle and sumtime at Scardeburgh castelle."
The brow of the hill commands a delightful view over the vale of Pickering, celebrated for its fertility. In the reign of King Henry III. William, lord Dacre, was owner of this castle and lordship; it afterwards became the property of Edmond Plantagenet, second son of King Henry III. who was succeeded by his son, Thomas, Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster: in the tyrannic reign of Edward II. he was beheaded at Pontefract. in the year 1322. This manor and castle, with all its appendages, were afterwards given to the lady Blanch, then the wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was in the hands of the crown. -It has now for many years belonged to the family of the present owner, Richard Hill, Esq. In the civil wars, in the reign of Charles I. it stood a siege against the forces of the parliament. -It has a court for actions under 40s. arising within the honour of Pickering. -Grose -Camden -Magna Brit.
Richard II. was for some time imprisoned in the castle here, before his removal to Pontefract; as appears by the following lines, from Hardyng's Chronicle:The kyng then sent kyng Richard to Ledis, There to be kepte surely in previtee Fro thens after to Pykering went he needis, And to Knaresbro' after led was hee But to Pontefrete last where he did dee.This castle was of an irregular figure; in the first court were 4 towers, one of which was called Rosamond's tower; in the inner court were three towers, besides the keep, which stood on a circular mount, surrounded by a deep ditch. The whole of this once stupendous castle is now a mass of ruins. Pickering Forest was an appurtenance to the castle, and was very extensive.
There is here a Subscription Library, and an endowed Free School, of which the Rev. Warcup Putsey, is master. There is also a Calvinist, a Methodist, and a Primitive Methodist chapel, & a Friends' meeting house. The town has an ancient honour court for the recovery of debts, and the trial of actions, where the matter in dispute does not exceed the value of 40s. At Keld Head, near this place, there is a spring so copious, that it is supposed to raise 500 gallons of water in a minute. Pop. 2746.