KIRK HAMMERTON: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake of the Ainsty of York (but only a part - see below).

This parish contains the townships of Kirk-Hammerton and Wilstrop, which are separated by the river Nidd, the former lying on the left bank of the stream, being in the Ripon parliamentary division, and the latter in the wapentake of Ainsty, and in the Thirsk and Malton parliamentary division. The parish contains an area of 2,008 acres, with a population of 360.

The principal landowners are Edwin Wilfrid Stanforth, Esq., J.P., Hammerton Hall; A. Montague, Esq., Ingmartin Hall, Wetherby; Rev. J. A. G. Birch; Trustees of W. Atkinson, North Deighton; William Cass, Green Hammerton; John Daniel, North Eastern Railway; William Newsam; Wilfrid Skirrow, and a number of small freeholders. The soil of the parish is entirely freehold, and very rich. Nearly 100 acres of it are woodland, two-thirds of the remainder being arable, and one-third pasture.

The village is small, but clean and picturesque, and stands about half a mile off the road which runs between York and Boroughbridge, and half way between these two places. There is a station here on the York and Knaresborough branch of the N. E. railway. Cattal station, one mile nearer Knaresborough, is also in this township.

The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, occupies an elevated position near the village green. Works of restoration will be commenced at Easter (1890), at a cost of £2,000, from designs by Mr. H. Fowler, of Durham. We take the following from "The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings": "In 1834 it (Kirk-Hammerton church) suffered severe treatment, and was recklessly cut about and enlarged in the meanest of fashion. The whole of the south side, west tower, and east end of the chancel are Saxon. The tower is a little altered, each face has a belfry window, with a midwall shaft, and except the east, each has two small square windows which seem to tell of two floors below that of the belfry. The west doorway has been altered at the head, but the jambs are perfect, and have, at their outer angles, curious shafts. The present door and window of nave and chancel are insertions of various dates. In the 12th century an aisle was added on the north side the length of the nave and tower, and the chapel the length of the nave and chancel. The east window is the original lancet, the west an insertion of the 15th century. In 1834 the church was enlarged on the north side and put in its present form. The roofs are everywhere plastered inside; that of the nave is high pitched and covered with stones and slates, and may be an old one. The chancel roof is flat and covered with lead, but does not seem to be older than the 18th century. There is what appears to be a bowl of a Norman standing piscina built into, the south chancel wall in the 13th century, and the shaft may be concealed in the wall. The font is a good and large one of the time of Charles II. The altar is very curious and of uncertain date, but perhaps as old as the 16th century. It is of oak, and has four square legs with edges chamfered and stopped, and rails which are much worn. It was probably not made for church use. The altar rail is a good one of the end of the 17th century. A table, with the royal arms, hangs over the chancel arch between two others of the Commandment." The tower contains two bells. The chancel arch has to be restored to its original shape, the northern half being at present cut away. In the restoration all the original old church will be retained, and those parts which have been abolished restored. There is to be a nave, chancel, and north aisle - all new. The present old part will stand as a side chapel or south aisle to the new portion. On a board in the vestry we read - "This church was enlarged in the year 1834, by which means 85 additional seats were obtained and, in consequence of a grant from the incorporated society for promoting the enlargement, building, and repairing of churches and chapels, 45 of that number are hereby declared to be free and unappropriated for ever, in addition to 100 sittings formerly provided, eight of which are free." There are tablets, to the memory of some of the deceased parishioners, of recent date.

The living is a vicarage in the patronage of Edwin Wilfrid Stanforth, Esq., of the yearly value of £125, derived from glebe. The present vicar is the Rev. J. A. Gordon Birch, who lives at the vicarage adjoining the church.

The Wesleyans have a small brick building, dated 1821, in which they worship. The National school (mixed) is a good building of brick, built in 1875, to accommodate 72 scholars; number on books, 72; average for 1888, 56. Kirk-Hammerton Hall is a large brick building, opposite the church, and was erected in 1768. It has since been greatly enlarged and improved. The back part looks on to a park of considerable dimensions, and the front is bounded by a running brook outside the boundary wall.

WILSTROP TOWNSHIP is in the Thirsk and Malton division, and contains 1,000 acres, rated to the poor at £1,120 16s., with a population of 80. It consists of five scattered farmhouses. Wilstrop, which has no village, is situated about seven miles west by north of York, and adjoins Marston Moor, the scene of the sanguinary conflict between the troops of Charles I. and Cromwell (see page 79). The lord of the manor and sole owner is A. Montagu, Esq., Ingmanthorpe Hall, Wetherby. Wilstrop Hall, the residence of Mr. John Harrison, was rebuilt, in 1870, of brick, being formerly of stone of very ancient date. The remains of the moat which surrounded the hall are still visible. We read in the history, &c., of York:- "Wilesthorpe was antiently the lands of de Wilesthorpe in the time of King John; but in the time of King Edward I., Sir Robert de Pontefract was lord of the manor, as was his son, Thomas de Pontefract, the 9th of Edward II. The king gave respite to Robert Wilesthorpe not to be made knight from Easter next to come till a year; and it was commanded to the sheriff that he should not detain him in that time. The Right Hon. Lady Petre is the present possessor." Margaret de Wilesthorpe was the last prioress of Nun Monkton, about the beginning of the 16th century. The walls of Wilstrop old hall were in parts two yards thick, and during the process of demolition were found human skeletons, antlers of the red deer, old coins, &c. An old coin, or more probably medal, was found, which is conjectured, by good authority, to be one of the Republic of the Netherlands. It is of silver, and 2¼ inches in diameter. On one side, in the centre, is a cross of Maltese pattern, and in each of its four angles the face of an angel. The inscription is "Dux * et Gubernatores * Reip * Gen * Dux et Gubernatores Repulico Generalis" - (The Duke and States General of the Republic). On the reverse side, in the centre, are figures of the Blessed Virgin and the Infant Jesus, surmounted by 10 stars, whilst there are 7 other stars among the inscription, which on this side reads - "Et * rege * eos * 1560 * B * N * *." B. N. may mean benevolentum nostrum" and if so the reading is - "Rule both of these (i.e., the duke and the states general) our gracious Lord Jesus." the foregoing seems to be supported by the number of stars, 17 in all, which was the number of the united provinces after their formal recognition by all Europe in 1648. It is not improbable that this was a medal struck to commemorate that event, and brought to England by some Dutch soldier under William III. The duke referred to on the coin is the second William.

The above medal is in the possession of Mr. Harrison, of Wilstrop Hall, who is also in possession of a living specimen of the mountain eagle, caught in Cumberland.

[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.