ACASTER MALBIS: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake of the Ainsty of York - Rural Deanery of Bishopthorpe - Archdeaconry and Diocese of York.

This parish, lying on the western bank of the Ouse, comprises an area of 2,000 acres, of the rateable value of £2,871, and has a population of 230. Lord Wenlock, who resides at Escrick Park, is lord of the manor, except the school premises, which belong to feoffees of Knowles Charity.

The village stands on the right bank of the Ouse, 3½ miles south of York, and is small and irregularly built.

The name of Acaster signifies that it was the position of a Roman fort or castrum. The parish derives its second name from the family of Malby, Malbys, Malebisse, Malbysse, or De Malebys. The latter form we find in the roll of Battle Abbey. A Roman coin found some years ago at the lower end of the village is the only trace of the Roman occupation. It is recorded in Domesday Book that Acaster belonged to two men whose names are given as Elsi and Robert. Acaster came into the possession of the Malbysse family in the reign of Richard I., through the marriage of Richard de Malbysse with Maud, daughter of one Robert d' Acaster. Their residence, it is suggested by the late Rev. J. N. Bromehead, was near to what is now known as "Hauling Lane," a modern corruption of Hall Lane, so called because it led to, and past the Hall, The family of Malbysse retained possession of Acaster for something like 200 years. One of the family attempted to rebuild a castle at Wheldrake at the commencement of the 13th century, but the citizens of York offering strong opposition, the project was abandoned. Another of the family, John de Malbysse, was sheriff of the county in the year 1314. He died soon after his appointment, and together with his wife, now lies buried in the abbey church of Rievaulx. Elizabeth, their daughter, married William Fairfax, of Walton, which marriage was of great importance, for it afterwards decided the ownership of the property. Walter, Elizabeth's brother, desirous of visiting the Holy Land, borrowed money for that purpose from his sister's husband, making him heir to his estates in case he should not return. He fell a victim to the black death ravaging Europe at the time. Thus the property at Acaster passed into the hands of the Fairfax family. The manor of Acaster, and after the dissolution of the monasteries, the advowson, or right of presentation, continued in the Fairfax family until about the year 1745; so that the property was theirs for full four hundred years. It was then sold to Lady Dawes, from whom it descended to her son, Richard Thompson, by her second marriage with Beiby Thompson, of Escrick Hall. From him it has been handed down to the Lords Wenlock, the third of which title holds it now.

The following items in connection with the manor of Acaster Malbis may be mentioned, In the reign of Henry III., 1252, the king granted free warren to the abbot of Selby in all his demesne lands here and in other places. In 1347 Sir William de Malebisse, lord of Acaster, confirmed to the canons of Giseburn, in the deanery of Cleveland, all the lands which they held of this fee. In 1444 the manors of Acaster Malbis, Walton, &c., were remitted and quit-claimed by Bryan Fairfax to his brother William, and others.

Holy Trinity Church. - The site of the present church was occupied, up to the year 1360, by a very small and simple building. About that date the estates of the de Malbysse family passed into the hands of the Fairfax family, who pulled the old church down, and so much of its material as was sound was utilised in the erection of a new one. When finished it was unique, both in style and character. Whoever the designer was we have no sufficient means of accurately determining, but it is clear he intended to have a cruciform church, with each limb of the cross of equal length; but want of care or skill left the limbs of irregular length. The walls of the church were very low, and all the roofs rising from them ran up to gables, which were finished with neat foliated crosses. On the roof there was a low, square, wooden tower, and a small octagonal spire, rising from the centre of the building, and containing two bells, beautifully cast and finished, and supposed to have been brought from York Minster. In consequence of the position of the tower the bells are rung from the centre of the building. The side windows were of three lights each; the west window had five lights, and the east window had seven narrow lights. Each gable contained a circle, enclosing in two cases trefoils, and in one case a quarterfoil light, whilst at the east end, over the main window, was a light of seven divisions. From the fragments of glass now in the church it is likely that the whole, or greater part, of the windows were formerly filled with coloured glass. At the west end of the church was a font, and in the chancel, on the eastern wall, was a trefoil-headed piscina, or stoup, which still remains. The whole of the interior of the church was plain, except the pulpit, which is of oak, and carved in a singular, but beautiful, manner. It stands on a base of stone, but bears no stamp of antiquity or evidences of age, but was probably introduced into the church during the repairs of 1831-2. For many years, prior to 1884, the vicar and his wardens felt that some efforts would have to be made for the restoration of the church, which was fast going to decay. Upwards of £700 was raised, and the work of repairing the roof, and restoring the nave and chancel, began at once. No structural alteration of the building was attempted, and in no way affected the old stone work, except to repair it where necessary. Pitchpine open seats were substituted for the old pews, and where the floor was repaired, wood was used instead of stone. The porch was removed to the south side of the church, and the fragments of coloured glass removed and arranged in the east window and the south chancel window. All the other windows of the church are glazed with white plain glass, and leaded.

The partial restoration of the church thus commenced was completed in 1885, at a further cost of about £300.

The living is a new vicarage, in the gift of Lord Wenlock, and the value is £58. The Rev. Richard Blakeney, M.A., vicar of Bishopthorpe, and who resides there, attends to this church.

The Acaster Malbis school is endowed with £29 4s. 7d. per annum from Knowles' charity, which is made up to £40 by a voluntary gift from Lord Wenlock. Other sources of income are the fees of some of the children, and Government grant. There are 38 names on the books. 14 of whom are free. The school itself is built of brick.

The Wesleyans have a chapel of Gothic structure, built of freestone, in 1880, at a cost of £1,200, exclusive of site, which was presented by the lord of the manor. It consists of nave, with central aisle, chancel, vestry, and entrance porch at the north-east corner. There is accommodation for 150. The windows are of cathedral glass, and the seats of pitchpine. The roof is also of pitchpine, and open timbered. The poor of the parish have, in February of each year, flour and beef given them.

[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.