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Help and advice for SELBY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1835.

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SELBY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1835.

"SELBY, a market-town and parish, partly within the liberty of ST-PETER-of-YORK, East riding, and partly in the lower division of the wapentake of BARKSTONEASH, West riding, of the county of YORK, 14 miles S.E. from York, and 177 N.W. from London, containing 4097 inhabitants. The Saxon, name of this place was Salebeia, whence its present appellation is obviously derived. The first remarkable event in its history is the foundation of a Benedictine abbey by William the Conqueror, in 1070, which was dedicated to St. German, and, in process of time, acquired such extensive possessions and immunities, as to. render it equal in rank to the church of St. Peter at York; the su-. perior of this establishment, with that of St. Mary's, in, that cityj being- the only mitred abbots north of the Trent: at the dissolution the revenue, was valued at £819. 2. 6.; of this magnificent fabric the church is the only part remaining. In the early period of the great civil war> the town appears to have been held for the. parliament, and, although subsequently taken by the royalists, it was eventually recaptured by Sir Thomas Fairfax, when the majority of the king's party were made prisoners, with several horses, pieces of ordnance, and a, large quantity of ammunition. The town is situated on the river Ouse, on the great, road from London to Edinburgh; the streets are well paved, and lighted with oil, and the houses in general1 well built. A new street has been formed, called the Crescent, which consists of excellent and commodious houses, and adds considerably to the improved appearance, of the town, he fertility of the. surrounding district has been greatly increased by a process of irrigation, whereby the water of the rivers Ouse and Aire is detained upon the land until a sediment has own deposited, which forms excellent manure, aad has contributed most materially to the increased %/ahie of the soil. A large quantity of weld, for the use of dyers, is produced in the vicinity, and formerly flax was cultivated and prepared to a considerable extent j this branch of trade, however, has greatly declined, owing to the importation of that article from France and the Netherlands, but flax-spinning is still carried on to some extent there are also some iron-foundries, and manufac- tories for sail-cloth and leather. The general trade of the town has been much improved by means of a canal connecting the navigable rivers Ouse and Aire, thus opening a more direct communication with Leeds and the West riding of Yorkshire, so that the greater quantity of the goods sent to that district is disembarked here, A bridge of timber across the Ouse was opened in 1795, and is remarkable for the facility with which it can be turned, [round, though weighing seventy tons, being opened and closed within the space of a minute. A branch custom-house has been recently established, whereby vessels are enabled to clear out without touching at the port of Hull. The chief article exported is stone, which is sent coastwise: ships of one hundred and fifty to two hundred tons burden navigate to Selby > steam-boats pass daily to and from Hull, and there are daily communications with London, and every port on the coast: here is a ship-yard, in which vessels of considerable burden are built. It is in contemplation to construct a railway from Selby to Leeds, which, if effected, will materially promote the trading interests of the town. The market is on Monday, and fairs are held on Easter-Tuesday, Monday after June 22nd, and on Michaelmas-day, for cattle, horses, cloth, &c.: in the centre of the market-place is a, handsome cross, in the ancient style of English architecture. A petty session for the wapentake of; Barkstone-Ash is held every alternate Monday; and courts leet and baron twice a yearj by the lord of the manor, the Hon. E. R. Petre, who gave the- site for the erection of a town hall, which was. built in 1825, at an expense of £800, raised by subscription it is a. neat edifice of brick, enclosed with an iron railing. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the jurisdiction of the peculiar court of Selby, endowed with £800 royal bounty, and £16(50 parliamentary grant, and in the, patronage of the Hon. E, R, Petre. The church, formerly conventual, and belonging to the abbey, is dedicated to St. Mary and St. German, and was made parochial by letters patent of James I., dated March 20th,l6l8. The ancient monastery stood on the west side of the river Ouse> and the principal buildings were on the west and south side of the church; the barn and granary are yet, remaining, but the gateway was taken down about thirty years ago: over it was the abbot's court-house, with two rooms on the sides for the jury and the witnesses; on one side was the porter's lodge, and on the other a room in which to serve the poor. The appearance of this venerable pile is strikingly impressive; the magnificence, yet comparative simplicity, of the west front, render it deserving of partit cular- notice, as its proportions and decorations merit remark from their singularity and elegance. The entrance is by a large and richly-ornamented Norman doorway supported by six columns, with simply ornamented capitals. The triple arches above the doorway are in the English style, and the decorations partake in character with many found on the north and west doorways, and internal parts of the church. The centre arch forms the west window, being considerably larger than those at the sides, and filled with tracery. The walls of the nave and north transept are Norman, though few exterior arches of that character now remain, being mostly replaced by windows, &c, in the English style, at different periods. The most striking feature on this side is the porch, in that mixed style which prevailed soon after the formation of the pointed arch, baving circular and pointed arches indiscriminately introduced, composed of the same mouldings. Under it is a Norman doorway less enriched, but more elegantly proportioned than that at the west end. With the simple and massive nave is contrasted the beautiful choir, a perfect and splendid example of the early style of English architecture. The proportions are extremely elegant, and the ornaments richly disposed, forming on the whole, perhaps, one of the most chaste and magnificent designs in the kingdom. The npper part of the centre tower fell down, destroying the south transept and the roof erf the western part of the south aisle, on March 30th, 1690. The present tower was probably rebuilt about the year 1700, but- in a style by no means corresponding with the original. The chapter-house is a beautiful building attached to the south side of the choir: the room used for that purpose, now the vestry-room, appears, from its style and simplicity, to be of an earlier date: over it is a room now used as a school. The internal architecture of the choir is magnificent, the ornaments being of the most splendid and elaborate kind j but the object which most attracts the attention is the east window; the proportion of all its parts, the beauty of its tracery, and the slender lofty mullions, supported by transoms, are unsurpassed. In the last century this window contained the Genealogy of Christ, but only a few scattered fragments now remain. The priests' stalls, of stone, are on the south side of the choir: there are several wooden stalls now remaining. The four Norman arches at the intersection of the great cross aisles are composed of a few mouldings and ornaments; the nave in this style is particularly grand and well-proportioned, and almost every pier and cluster of columns differ in design and decoration. Among the many striking architectural peculiarities which this magnificent edifice exhibits are two clusters of columns, or piers, supporting arches in the gallery, on the north side of the nave. The font is simple, with a beautiful and lofty cover of carved wood suspending from the second arch, on the north side of the nave. In the year 1826, a finetoned organ was erected by private subscription, and adds considerably to the beauty of the choir. The only monuments of consequence are those of a knight and a lady, and two slabs, one for Abbot Selby, dated 1504, and the other for Abbot Berwich, 1526: this church has lately received four hundred and twenty-two additional sittings, of which three hundred and twenty-two are free, the Incorporated Society for the building and enlargement of churches and chapels having contributed £300 towards defraying the expense. Its appearance has been much improved by an addition to the churchyard, and the-removal-of some houses which obstructed the view of the west end, "whereby the whole edifice has been thrown open to the market-place: these improvements were effected by the Hon. E. R. Petre, at an expense of not less than £ 2000; the whole has been since enclosed with an iron railing, three hundred and fifty yards in length, at the cost of £ 600, which was defrayed by the voluntary contribution of the parishioners. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics. A Blue-coat school for boys is principally supported by voluntary contributions, augmented by a legacy of £100 from John Herbert, in 1775, which, with other donations, was vested in land; and £ 13 per annum is paid to the master bj the trustees under the will of Joseph Rayner, who, in 1710, bequeathed £100 to be vested in land for the instruction of poor children: twenty boys are clothed and educated on this foundation, and £22. 10. per ann, is likewise paid for the instruction of thirteen poor boys and ten girls on the foundation of Leonard Chamberlain, in 1716, who also endowed an almshouse for seven poor widows. Henry I., the youngest son of William the Conqueror, was born here, during the visit of that monarch and his queen, the year after the foundation of the abbey. Thomas Johnson, a botanist, who published the first local catalogue of plants in the kingdom, besides an improved edition of Gerard's Herbal, and who fell in a skirmish with the parliamentarians, in 1644, was also a native of this place."

[Transcribed by Mel Lockie © from
Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England 1835]