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Wapentake of Langbaurgh (East Division) - Electoral Division of Hinderwell - Petty Sessional Division of Langbaurgh East - County Court District of Stokesley - Poor Law Union of Guisborough - Rural Deanery of Stokesley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish comprises the whole of Westerdale and the west side of Basedale, containing 9,881 acres. Of this extent about one-fourth only is capable of assessment, the rest being high uncultivated moorland. The soil is generally of a dry peaty nature, and yields fair crops of wheat, oats, barley, turnips, and potatoes. A large portion of the land is under pasturage, and a considerable number of sheep is fed on the moors. The dale is also noted for its breed of pure shorthorn cattle. The rateable value of the parish is £2,249, and the population in 1881 was 266. The principal landowners are Capt. W. H. 0. Duncombe, Waresley, Huntingdon, who is also lord of the manor; Viscount Boyne, Branspeth Castle, Durham; and Mr. Wilson, Hebron.
The village of Westerdale is situated on the bank of a small stream near its junction with the Esk, about 10 miles S.S.E. of Guisborough. The Church (Christ Church) is a plain stone edifice, rebuilt in the Gothic style in 1838, at a cost of £500. It comprises chancel, nave, south porch, and west tower, in which are two bells. The nave was thoroughly restored and reseated in 1874, and the chancel was rebuilt the following year, the total cost being about £700. Westerdale was formerly a chapelry with parochial rights under Stokesley, but was constituted a distinct parish by an Order in Council in 1858. The living is a New Vicarage, gross value, £300, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and held by the Rev. J. R. Ellis. The present value of the tithe rent-charge is £240.
The Wesleyans have a small chapel in the village, built in 1849. The School, built in 1870-1, possesses some small endowments amounting to £11 3s. per annum.
At Crown End, between Westerdale and Basedale, are traces of several British camps, and in another place may be seen the remains of a British settlement, consisting of hut circles or cavities, extending over a tract 1,000 feet in length by 300 in breadth. By the side of the road leading over Westerdale Moor is Ralph Cross, but why so named, or for what purpose erected, has long been forgotten.
Basedale is a secluded moorland valley, partly in this parish, and partly in those of Ingleby-Greenhow and Kildale. Near the head of the dale formerly stood a Cistercian Nunnery, which had originally been founded at Hutton Lowcross, by Ralph de Neville, about the middle of the 12th century. Subsequently it was removed to Nunthorpe, and towards the latter part of the reign of Henry II., by the favour and benefaction of Guido de Bovingcourt, the nuns settled at Basedale. At the Dissolution the sisterhood consisted of a prioress and nine or ten nuns, whose annual income amounted to £20 1s. 4d. The site of the priory with the lands was granted to Ralph Bulmer and John Thynde, to be held by the king in capite. Subsequently the estate passed through several hands, and, about the beginning of the present century, it came by purchase into the possession of the Russells of Branspeth. The late William Russell died unmarried in 1850, and the estates devolved upon his only sister, Emma Maria, wife of Viscount Boyne, whose son is the present owner.
All traces of the conventual buildings have disappeared, but a farmhouse, built near the site, is known as Basedale Abbey.
[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.