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STONEGRAVE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Ryedale - Electoral Division, Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Helmsley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

This parish comprises an area of about 3,400 acres, and includes the township of its own name, East and West Ness, and East Newton-with-Laysthorpe. The population, according to the last census, is 303. The area of the township of Stonegrave is 857 acres; rateable value, £1,269; and population, 140.

This place, called Stanegrif in Domesday Book, forms with Nunnington one manor, the property of the trustees of the late William Rutson, Esq. (See Nunnington, page 999.)

The village, small but pretty, is situated at the foot of the Cauklass spur of the Hambleton hills, five miles S.E. of Helmsley. The church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was, previous to the restoration, which took place in 1863, one of the most interesting old churches in the county. The west wall, in the opinion of many antiquarians, belonged to the original Saxon edifice, and the lower part of the tower and the north aisle were undoubtedly Early Norman work. The church had been partially rebuilt in the later Gothic period, as shown by the upper portion of the tower and the south aisle and chancel. In 1862-3 all the outer walls, except the tower, were taken down and rebult in the Decorated Gothic style, at a cost of about £2,000. In the wall of the north aisle are three monumental effigies of the Thorntons, who were seated at East Newton as early as 1315. The old oak altar screen was erected in 1636.

During the progress of the restoration some interesting old crosses and other carved stones were discovered, which are now preserved near the entrance to the nave. Amongst them is an ancient cross, which, from the Celtic character of its sculptural ornamentation, appears to belong to the period when the Scoto-Irish missionaries from Iona and Lindisfarne preached the gospel to the pagan Saxons of Northumbria. The head is in the form of a wheel-cross, the shaft is completely carved, the face and back with very intricate tracery, whilst the sides are ornamented with various small panels of Celtic and Anglian types.

The living is a rectory, valued in the King's Books at £33 6s. 8d., and now worth £613 per annum. The patronage is vested in the Crown. The Rev. A. W. Wetherall, M.A., the present rector, and also Rural Dean of Helmsley, was inducted in 1855.

The earliest rector, of whom any record has been found, was John de Staynegrave in 1267, and from that date the list is fairly complete. Among the names are several who have risen to distinguished positions in the church. Richard Talbot, rector in 1409, was subsequently Archbishop of Dublin; Richard Barnes, D.D. in 1561, was successively Bishop of Nottingham, Carlisle, and Durham; William Goodwin, D.D. (1590), was Sub-Almoner to Queen Elizabeth, Chancellor of York, and Archdeacon of Middlesex; Thomas Comber, D.D. (1669), Dean of Durham and author of the "Companion to the Temple;" and Theophilus Barnes (1815), Prebendary of York and chaplain to the King.

A name not less distinguished than any of the above is that of the Rev. John Oxlee, the renowned linguist, critic, and divine, who was curate of the parish for a number of years, previous to his appointment in 1836 to the rectory of Molesworth, in the county of Huntingdon. There is a stained glass window to his memory in the south aisle. His wife lies buried in the churchyard, and on her monument, which was removed into the church at the restoration, is the following Latin inscription from his pen This incription has been thus translated by the Rev. J. Dixon, vicar of Brotherton, near Ferrybridge, one of Mr. Oxlee's favourite pupils

The Charities amount to £2 19s. a year.

EAST AND WEST NESS were united for rateable and civil purposes in 1887. Area, 1,580 acres; rateable value, £1,700; and population, 104. The two hamlets, which adjoin, are distant about six miles from Kirbymoorside. The principal landowners are the trustees of William Rutson, Esq., and lords of the manor of West Ness; Messrs. Kendall, lords of the manor of East Ness; and Mr. W. Frank, of Helmsley. There is a small Wesleyan Chapel here, built in 1836.

EAST NEWTON and LAYSTHORPE for a township containing 912 acres including four acres of railway; its rateable value is £1,066, and population 59.

East Newton was formerly the property of the Thorntons, who were seated at East Newton Hall as early as the reign of Edward I. The three effigies in Stonegrave church are memorials of members of this family. One represents a Knight Templar, the other two, females. From the Thorntons the estate passed by marriage to the Combers, and now belongs to Sir G. Orby Wombwell, Bart., who is also lord of the manor. The Hall, or what remains of it, has been converted into a farmhouse, and is now in the occupation of Mr. G. Wray. Leading from the basement of the house is a subterranean passage extending in a northeasterly direction. It is six feet high and six feet wide, with an arched roof and a flagged footway, and is built up with bricks about 50 feet from the entrance. When, by whom, or for what purpose it was constructed, is not known. An attempt was made to open it out some years ago by Mr. Bateman, but he did not succeed, and it was walled up again.

Laysthorpe is the property and manor of Lieut.-Col. John Kendall, of Scarborough. The Lodge, formerly the residence of the Dowkers, is now occupied by a farmer.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1890.

Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.