Wapentake of Langbaurgh (West Division) - Petty Sessional and Electoral Division of Yarm - County Court District of Middlesbrough - Poor Law Union and Rural Deanery of Stokesley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This is a small parish comprising a rateable area of 1,071 acres, situated on the south bank of the Tees, and chiefly the property of Edgar John Meynell, Esq., the lord of the manor. The estimated gross rental is £7,168; rateable value, £6,741; and population, according to the last census, 1,485.
At the time of the Norman Conquest, an Englishman, named Hawart, had three carucates of land here, and land for three ploughs; but he was shortly afterwards ousted from his little domain, and this lordship, with ninety-three others in various parts of the country, was given by the Conqueror to Robert de Brus, ancestor of the Scottish kings of that name. Later (temp. Henry III.), it came by marriage into the possession of Marmaduke Thwenge, Lord of Kilton in Cleveland, from whom it passed to the Meinells of Whorlton Castle, and their descendants, the D'Arcy, and the Conyers families. Sir Conyers D'Arcy, Knight, about the year 1556, sold Yarm estate to Sir Henry Bellasis of Newburgh, whose descendants were created Earls of Fauconberg. Subsequently it was conveyed in marriage with Anne, daughter and heiress of Henry, the last earl, to Sir George Wombwell, Bart. The late Thomas Meynell, Esq., dying without issue, the lordship was inherited by his nephew, Edgar John Meynell, Esq., the present owner. (See also North Kilvington.)
The town of Yarm is situated on a low lying peninsula, formed by a bend of the river Tees, about 4 miles above Stockton by road, and 9 by water. Its name is probably a contraction of Yareholm, that is, the holm (island or peninsula) by the water. It is a place of considerable antiquity, and was formerly the principal port of shipment on the Tees, but, in consequence of the increased tonnage of modern vessels and the small depth of water, its trade has been absorbed by Middlesbrough and Stockton, both more conveniently situated, but its dulness is still occasionally enlivened by the arrival of a small coaster, drawing about six or eight feet of water. It once did a considerable trade in corn, but the warehouses are now disused; the manufacture of flour is still, however, extensively carried on; there is also a tannery; and on the opposite side of the river a paper mill. The market, which was held on Thursday, has been disused for some years, and three out of the four annual fairs have been abandoned. The October fair is still maintained; it is held on the 18th, 19th, and 20th, for horses, cattle, sheep, and cheese. This fair was formerly one of the largest in the north of England, between 300 and 400 waggons and carts laden with cheese arriving in the town. The Town Hall is a quaint looking brick building,. standing on arches, and surmounted by a cupola containing a clock, and an ancient bell, which also does service for the church. Petty Sessions were held here until about ten years ago, when they were transferred to South Stockton; the Court Leet has also been discontinued. The town is lighted with gas by a company originated in 1855. The capital is £1,000, in shares of £40 each. The gas is sold at 3s. 6d. per 1,000 cubic feet, and there are about 150 consumers.
The Church, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, is a plain stone edifice, rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, in 1730. The church which had previously occupied the site was of Norman origin, and was unfortunately destroyed by fire. The interior was restored and several alterations and improvements made in 1878, at a cost of £2,500, raised by subscription. It consists of nave, with north and south aisles, chancel, and tower, and is adorned with several very handsome stained-glass windows. the benefice, originally a rectory, was appropriated at an early period to the Priory of Guisborough, and, at the dissolution of monasteries, the impropriation and advowson were granted in exchange to the Archbishop of York, and still remain in the possession of that see.
In addition to the church, Yarm had, in Catholic times, its Hospital and its Friary. The former, dedicated to St. Nicholas, was founded by Robert de Brus, about A.D. 1180. It was endowed with lands in Hutton-Rudby, Hilton, and other places, for the maintenance of three chaplains and thirteen poor persons. This was swept away at the Reformation, with all the other monastic institutions; and its site has passed out of memory. It is, however, conjectured to have stood about a quarter of a mile from the town, on the Thirsk road, at a place called Spital.
There was also a Monastery of Dominicans, or Black Friars, said to have been founded by Peter de Brus, the second, who died in 1222. At the dissolution of religions houses, by Henry VIII., it was surrendered by Miles Wilcock, the last Prior, at which time there were in the house five friars and six novices. The site is now occupied by a modern mansion called the Fryarage, the property and seat of E. J. Meynell, Esq.
A Burial Board was formed a few years ago, and a Cemetery, covering about three acres, laid out, one portion of which is allotted to members of the Established Church, and the other to Catholics and Dissenters. The first interment took place on the 31st of March, 1884.
The Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a neat Gothic structure adjoining the Fryarage grounds, erected by the late Thomas Meynell, Esq., and opened on the 3rd of May, 1860. The founder's family can boast of its unwavering attachment to the ancient faith through the ages of persecution and penal enactments, which reduced so many Catholic families to ruin, and compelled others to conform to the Established Church in order to save themselves from utter destitution; and to them the Catholics of Yarm are indebted for the means of fulfilling the obligations of their religion. For the sixty-five years preceding the erection of the present church, the Catholics assembled in a large room over some of the out-offices of the mansion, which had been fitted out as a chapel, and maintained at the expense of the owner. The west window is a memorial of the late Mr. T. Meynell. The presbytery adjoins the church. The late Miss Meynell augmented the Chaplain's fund to £100 a year. Canon Holland, the present priest, was installed in December, 1887.
The Wesleyan Chapel is an octagonal brick building, described by Wesley, who preached here three or four times, as "by far the most elegant in England." The chapel of the Methodist Association was erected in 1838; and that belonging to the Primitive Methodists, in 1835. The Society of Friends had formerly a Meeting House here, but it is now used by the Young Men's Christian Association.
The Grammar School was founded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth (A.D. 1590), by Thomas Conyers, Esq., of Egglescliffe, on the opposite side of the river, who endowed it with five rent-charges, amounting to £9 4s. per annum. William Chaloner, Esq., a native of Yarm, left by will, dated 1799, to this school, £400 in the three per cent. Consolidated Bank Annuities. In recent years its advantages have been very considerably extended by the munificence of Mr. Benjamin Flounders, who died at Yarm in 1847. He had received his education at this school, and by his will he bequeathed to it the sum of £460 8s. 8d.; and he left a further sum of £30,000 to be applied to educational purposes in the manner his trustees should deem most advisable. In 1884, by the death of certain legatees, the sum became available for distribution. The inhabitants of Yarm naturally expected to participate very largely of this munificent bequest, left by their fellow-townsman for educational purposes; but the trustees, in their discretionary power, granted to this Grammar School the sum of £2,500, and with the remainder founded and endowed the North Eastern Counties School at Barnard Castle, The school had long been held in a small antiquated building within the precincts of the churchyard; and with this sum of £2,500, supplemented by a public subscription, the trustees purchased three acres of land on the Spital road, and erected the present commodious premises, with master's house adjoining. The buildings are in the Domestic Gothic style, and are replete with all the most modern conveniences for the benefit and comfort of the scholars and boarders. The schoolroom is spacious, and fitted with the latest and most approved apparatus, and the dormitories are commodious and well ventilated. The playground covers about two acres. The school is conducted under a scheme sanctioned by the Charity Commissioners in 1882. There were formerly eight free boys, called Chaloner's Scholars: these are now reduced to three, and in addition there are two Foundation Scholarships of the yearly value of £4. These are open to competitive examination for boys who have attended the elementary schools.
The National School (mixed) was erected by subscription in 1816, and was subsequently endowed by B. Flounders, Esq., with £1,000 in the three per cent. Consols, for the free education of 50 poor children. In conformity with the Elementary Education Act, the school was placed under Government inspection; and, in 1882, a separate wing was built for the accommodation of the girls. The above-mentioned benevolent gentleman also left £500 for the erection and endowment of an Infant School, which was built in 1852.
The Catholic School was built in 1863 by the late T. Meynell, Esq., and endowed with £30 a year.
The situation of the town on a peninsula elevated but little above ordinary flood mark, renders it subject to inundation. On the 17th February, 1753, in consequence of a sudden thaw of snow on the western hills accompanied by a heavy downfall of rain, the water rose rapidly during the night, and at one o'clock in the morning burst over the embankments covering the town to the depth of seven feet, in the highest part, whilst the lower parts were entirely submerged. So great was the force of the current that many houses were washed away, and great numbers of horses and cattle were drowned. But the most destructive flood on record was that which occurred on the 17th November, 1771. The water rose twenty feet above its usual level, and so rapid was the rise that the inhabitants, unable to escape, were driven for refuge to the roofs of their houses, from which they were removed in boats. Some lives were lost, but the sacrifice would have been much greater had it not been for the timely assistance of parties from Stockton and the neighbouring villages. The other rivers of the north were also similarly flooded, and on the Tyne, so great was the rush of the water that every bridge with one exception, between the source and the mouth, was washed away. The old bridge of Yarm firmly held its place in the face of the roaring current. This structure had been erected nearly four hundred years ago previously, by Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, and consisted of five pointed arches. At the Quarter Sessions of 1804, it was resolved to replace this stone bridge by one of iron with one arch, as the piers obstructed the course of the river. The iron work was undertaken by Mr. Wilson, engineer of the Sunderland bridge, for the sum of £5,560, and the stone work by Mr. T. Weldon for £2,440. The bridge was completed, and preparations were being made for its public opening when, on the 12th of January, 1806, from some defect in the foundations of the abutments, the arch fell with a tremendous crash about midnight. Fortunately the old bridge had been left undisturbed to prevent the stoppage of traffic during the erection of the one which was to supersede it. The scheme was abandoned, the old bridge repaired and widened, and it still remains as Mr. Ord in his History of Cleveland observes "a monument of the liberality and skill of its founder, the good Bishop Skirlaw."
Another disastrous flood occurred on the 10th of March, 1881, caused by the sudden thaw of the snow. The water began to rise on Wednesday afternoon, and continued increasing until on the next day when it stood at a height of five feet in the Town Hall, the highest part of the town.
The North Eastern railway is carried over the Tees here on a handsome viaduct, erected in 1849, at a cost of about £80,000. It is 2,340 feet in length, and consists of 43 noble arches of brick with stone dressings, except the two spanning the river, which are of stone.
CHARITIES. - Benjamin Flounders, Esq., whose munificent bequest for educational purposes we have already mentioned, also left £20 a year to the poor of the parish. Thomas Waldby, William Thompson, and the Rev. John Hopkinson left bequests with which £150 Navy Five per cent. Annuities were purchased. Four small bequests amounting to £45 were left previous to 1778. The following yearly rent charges have at various times been left to the poor; viz., 20s. by John Benson; £2 12s. by Nicholas Mayo in 1696; and 20s. by Robert Bainbridge in 1707 for apprenticing poor boys.
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