Tadcaster Parish information from Bulmers' 1890.


Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

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

Tadcaster is an ancient parish, comprising the townships of East Tadcaster, West Tadcaster, Oxton, and Stutton-with-Hazlewood, the aggregate area of which is 5,274 acres, and the population at the last census was 2,921. It is intersected by the river Wharfe, which here divides the wapentake of the Ainsty of York from that of Barkston Ash. On the Ainsty side of the river lie the townships of East Tadcaster and Oxton; the remainder of the parish is in the wapentake and parliamentary division of Barkston Ash. The township of Tadcaster East, which comprises that portion of the town which is situated on the left bank of the Wharfe, contains 547 acres and 449 inhabitants. For rating purposes it is valued at £2,494. The principal owners are S. Smith, Esq., Moor Field, Headingley, Leeds; E. Brooksbank, Esq., Healaugh Hall; the Misses Harris, Oxton Hall; J. A. Ingleby, Esq., Tadcaster Mills; J. Fielden, Esq., Grimston Park; and Mr. William Standidge, Tadcaster. There are also several freehold owners of cottage property.

The larger portion of the town stands on the right bank of the river, forming the township of Tadcaster West. Its area is 1,417 acres, and its rateable value £7,947. The inhabitants, in 1881, numbered 1,660. The principal owners are the exors. of the late Samuel Varley, Esq., lord of the manor; J. Fielden, Esq., Grimston Park; Samuel Smith, Esq., Headingley; Charles Shann, Esq., J.P., Tadcaster; E. Brooksbank, Esq., Healaugh Manor; Sir W. E. J. Vavasour, Bart, J.P., Hazlewood Castle; J. A. Bromet, Esq., and T. L. Bickers, Esq., Tadcaster.

Tadcaster is a place of very considerable antiquity, and bears evidence in its name of having been the site of a Roman castrum or fort. The Anglo-Saxons adopted this word but modified it into ceaster or caster to suit the genius of their language. The first part of the name, by which they distinguished this caster or ceaster from others, has passed out of the language without leaving a trace of its etymology behind. Gough, in his Additions to Camden, suggests, but, we imagine, playfully, that it was called by the more modern Anglo-Saxons T'aud Caster (The Old Caster), which became eventually Tadcaster.

The Roman station of Calcaria is generally supposed to have stood here, and the distance from York agrees with that which is given by Antoninus in his Itinerary. Camden supposes it to have been so named from the calx or limestone which is so abundant here. Bede calls it Calcacester, and a hill near the town is still called Kelkbar or Kelebar, in which we may see a portion of its ancient Roman name. Its situtation near the great consular road leading to Eboracum, (York), is another proof of its antiquity, and the many Roman coins and other remains which have been found here clearly prove it to have been the site of a Roman camp or station. Mr. Gibson, Dodsworth, and some other antiquaries, place the Calcaria of the Romans further up the Wharfe, at Newton Kyme, where Roman coins and other antiquities have been discovered; but the termination caster, the distance of the place from York, and the abundance of the Roman antiquities that have been collected, all favor the claims of Tadcaster to be the site of the ancient Calcaria.

At Calcacester, the Venerable Bede tells us, Heina, the first female, in this part of the country, that assumed the habit of a nun, founded a convent in the year 655, but nothing further seems to be known concerning it.

A castle was erected here at an early period, but it had disappeared before Leland's time, who, in his Itinerary, says: "It (the castle) seemeth, by the plot, that it was a right statelie thing," and he further tells us that "Sum say that Wharfe bridge was last made of part of the ruines of the old Castelle of Tadcaster,

The lordship of Tadcaster was given by the Conqueror to William de Percy, whose descendants afterwards became Earls of Northumberland. Matilda de Percy, Countess of Warwick, in 1188, gave the church of Tadcaster to Sawley Abbey, which her father, William de Percy, had founded. The Lady Elizabeth Percy, sole heiress of the Percys, possessed Tadcaster in the early part of the last century. She married, for her third husband, Charles, "The Proud Duke of Somerset," by whom she had three sons and two daughters. The male line became extinct by the death of her grandson, George, in his 19th year. Elizabeth, her eldest daughter, married Henry, Earl of Thomond and Viscount Tadcaster, but had no issue. Catherine, the second daughter, married Sir William Wyndham, and her eldest son, who succeeded to the earldom of Egremont on the death of his uncle, inherited the Tadcaster property. From him it descended to Earl Leconfield*, who sold the larger portion of it to Lord Londesborough. This nobleman sold by auction, in 1873, all his hotels, dwelling-houses, shops, homesteads, orchards, gardens, accommodation lands, and other property at Tadcaster, and realised by the sale the sum of £39,114.

* There was no Earldom of Leconfield, the Earldom of Egremont died out with the 3rd Earl and his illegitemate son was given the Barony of Leconfield. [Martin Stiles, 2009]

The historic associations of Tadcaster are not many, but interesting. In the vicinity, was fought the great battle of Towton, where nearly 40,000 men shed their blood, not "in freedom's battle," but to decide the question whether a puppet or a tyrant should wear the crown. Tadcaster doubtless had its share in the strife and the tumult. (See ante page 63.) The proximity of the town to the city of York, and its situation on the Wharfe, at the spot where the great road leading from York to Leeds and the West crosses the river, caused it to be regarded as a place of importance during a civil war, and its possession was often contested. Here, Sir Thomas Fairfax, with a force of 700 or 800 troops, held at bay 4,000 men, under the Earl of Newcastle, The action took place on the 3rd of December, 1642. Sir Thomas Fairfax, with his Roundheads, was posted in the town; the Royalists marched from York, with seven pieces of cannon. The earl began the attack about eleven in the forenooon, and the fighting continued, without intermission, until nightfall, when darkness compelled them to suspend operations. Under cover of the night, Sir Thomas Fairfax withdrew his small force, and retreated to Selby and Cawood. The following morning, the Royalists marched into Tadcaster without opposition. The number killed on both sides did not exceed 300, bnt the quantity of powder and shot expended seems to have been out of all proportion to the results obtained. If we may believe Lord Ferdinando Fairfax, there were exchanged that day, on both sides, at least 40,000 musket shots, besides those from the artillery. The only person of note who fell in this battle was Captain Lister. Thoresby relates the following instance of filial affection connected with the death of this gentleman:- Some years after the battle, the captain's son was passing through Tadcaster, and finding the sexton digging in the choir, enquired where his father, Captain Lister, was buried, to which the sexton replied by showing him a skull just dug up, which he averred was the head of the captain. On examining the skull, a bullet was found lodged in it, and this testimony to the truth of the gravedigger's words so struck the young man, that he sickened at the sight, and died soon after. It was probably during this war that the trench, the remains of which may still be seen in several places, was thrown up around the town by the troops under the Earl of Newcastle.

The TOWN, which stands near the railway station, and nine miles west of York, is clean and well built, and in the old coaching days was a bustling scene of rattle, horn, and whip. But these old times have passed away, and now thousands are sped rapidly through the town with less noise and commotion than attended the arrival and despatch of a single stage coach in the olden time. But Tadcaster is not yet effete; it lives and thrives, and is probably as prosperous now as when more than fifty coaches halted here daily to change their horses. The market, after falling into desuetude, was revived about forty years ago, and is held fortnightly on Mondays. A hiring for servants is held in November. The chief sources of employment are five breweries, and the corn mills of Messrs. J. A. Ingleby & Son. Tadcaster ales have more than a local reputation; they are known and highly esteemed for their tonic and stomachic properties throughout the north of England. Their excellence is probably derived from the quality and properties of the water, which is very rich in sulphate of lime, and in permanent hardness is superior even to that of the "Metropolis of Beer." The flour mills of Messrs. Ingleby & Son stand on the north bank of the Wharfe. Originally an old soke and grist mill, it was occupied many years by the late Mr. John Allenby, who was killed by a fall from his horse while of his way to York market. Mr. Rishworth next conducted the business, and retired in 1869, when he was succeeded by Mr. J. A. Ingleby, who purchased the property at Lord Londesborough's sale in 1873. Mr. Ingleby, in his desire to keep pace with the spirit of the age for improvements, was not slow in adopting the roller system of milling, and in 1879 he enlarged the premises, and commenced working the first complete roller mill in England. In 1889 a new warehouse was built, with silos holding 6,000 quarters of wheat. The wheat on arrival is emptied direct from the railway trucks through warehouse separator, and distributed automatically to the silos or any other part of the mill. The premises throughout are lighted by electricity.

The river is navigable up to the town for boats of about 100 tons; and a company is now seeking parliamentary powers to take over and regulate the navigation of the Wharfe, and construct tramways, &c. A bridge of nine arches here crosses the river, which in dry weather sometimes becomes very low. It was on an occasion of this kind that Dr. Eades, the witty Dean of Winchester, wrote the distich -

"The Muse in Tadcaster can find no theme,
But a most noble bridge without a stream."

But, when the doctor again passed through the town later in the year, the river presented a very altered appearance, and caused the doctor to change his opinion. He accordingly wrote -

"The verse before on Tadcaster was just,
But now great floods we see, and dirt for dust." -

The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is the principal building in the town. It occupies the site of a Norman building dating from the 12th century. Alterations and additions were made at different periods till the 14th century, when it consisted of a nave and side aisles, with a capacious and handsome perpendicular tower terminating the west end of the nave. The pillars on the north side were round and somewhat massive, having capitals and basements of good workmanship; those on the south were some inches lower, octangular, and less finished. This fine old church, though still an attractive object, had long presented a deplorable aspect; much of the masonry had perished; some of the walls were out of the perpendicular; several pinnacles and other ornaments had disappeared; whilst the upper storey of the tower overhung the base by several inches, and was pronounced to be unsafe. Inside, the walls and roof had been plastered and whitewashed, and the building was disfigured by old-fashioned pews and heavy galleries. The soil had so accumulated around the edifice that it seemed very undesirable to repair and restore it without raising the whole building to a higher level. At a meeting presided over by the Archbishop of York, in 1875, it was resolved that the church should be entirely taken down, and reconstructed on foundations five feet higher, thus restoring the whole church on its original plan. The work was commenced in August, 1876, and completed in May, 1877, at a cost of over £8,000, raised by voluntary subscriptions.

The church is now a very handsome and well-appointed structure. The interior is faced with bosted limestone. The seats, pulpit, lectern, screens, and choir stalls are of carved oak. The roofs also are of oak, the central one, and that in the south chancel chapel, being panelled and ornamented with gilded and coloured bosses. A Norman arch has been formed out of stones of the old building, and placed around the west window of the south aisle. The clock, which has dials on the south and east fronts of the tower, and is furnished with Cambridge chimes, was presented by C. Shaun, Esq., as a Jubilee memorial. The entrance is by a circular doorway at the west end under the tower. The windows of the aisles are square-headed, and of three lights; and the clerestory windows are similar. The east window, which consists of five lights, is in memory of Anna Elizabeth, wife of Alfred Harris, Esq., of Oxton Hall. The subject is, "The worship of Christ as King." Christ, bearing the orb and crown, stands in the upper part of the central light. On either side of Him are angels with harp and censor. Below the figure of Christ is one of the Blessed Virgin, to whom the church is dedicated, and on either side of her are Saints Cecilia, Catherine, Dorothy, and Elizabeth, The third and lowest tier contains St. Peter in the centre, and on either side of him are Moses and St. John the Evangelist, representing law and the gospel. In the outer lights are figures of Abel, as the first type of Christ, and St. Stephen, as the first martyr.

The window in the tower was erected by the inhabitants of Tadcaster, in memory of the late Thomas Shann, Esq., and his sons, in recognition of the many benefits they conferred on the town. There are other stained windows in memory of the Bromet, Rhodes, Ramsden, Farrer, Upton, Maddock, Smith, and Bradley families. The font, presented by J. C. R. Ramsden, Esq., is of Caen stone, standing upon five coloured marble shafts.

The living is in the patronage of the trustees of Samuel Varley Stannington, Bradford; and the incumbent is the Rev. Theophilus Clarke, B.A., Queen's College, Cambridge. Net value, £200.

The Roman Catholic Chapel of St. Joseph, situated in West Tadcaster, is a red brick building relieved with stone dressings round the windows and doorways. It was erected in 1865, at a cost of £1,100, by the late Rev. Canon Vavasour. The interior is plain, and consists of nave with centre aisle leading up to the altar. There are open benches on each side, affording accommodation for 300. The ceiling is open timbered and boarded, and the windows are Gothic, filled with small square panes of plain glass. The Rev. Gustave Thonon is the priest, and resides at Hazlewood, The Wesleyan Chapel, High Street, is a stone building, erected in 1828, at a cost of £3,300, and will seat 500. In 1886, the sum of £700 was expended in building a Sunday school to accommodate 500 children. The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Hill Side, East Tadcaster, was erected in 1864, and in its present condition cost £1,800. It is a substantial brick building with circular headed windows and a clock. The interior is galleried round, and gives accommodation for 400. The decorations are in cream, white, and gold. There is a building behind the chapel used as a Sunday school.

The Inghamite Chapel, after being closed for a number of years, was opened in January, 1890, by the Congregationalists.

The Grammar school was founded and endowed with lands and £600 in 1568, by Dr. Oglethorpe, bishop of Carlisle, The annual iucome was for the free education of a number of boys. In 1878, the Charity Commissioners took the school under their administration, and it is now managed by nine governors. There are no free scholars now.

Mrs. Henrietta Dawson bequeathed funds for twenty annuitants, viz.:- Ten widows to receive £15 each, and ten spinsters to receive £10 each, with an allowance of about £3 each for the entire number for coals and rent. She also left £20 per annum for the instruction of 40 poor children. The number of annuitants was, a few years ago, reduced to 16, and the accumulation of the remaining funds was invested in consols, to be applied for educational purposes. A scheme was then prepared by the Charity Commissioners, and £4,000 was invested and formed an endowment for a girls' middle class school. A handsome building called "Dawson's Schools' has been erected at London Road, at a cost of £1,300, to accommodate 80 girls.

In 1875, a School Board of seven members was formed for the united districts of East and West Tadcaster and Oxton. School premises of white brick were erected in Station Road in 1877, with departments for boys, girls, and infants. There are playgrounds provided, and a house for the master. The boys' school has since been enlarged by the addition of class-rooms. No. on books, boys, 174; girls, 180; infants, 170.

St. Joseph's Catholic school (mixed) adjoins the chapel, and has a playground attached. No. on books, 87; average, 120.

The Town Hall was built by Lord Londesborough, and here the County Court is held. All magisterial business is transacted in Kirkgate Room, a good stone building, erected by Chas. Shaun, Esq., in 1878. The town is lighted by gas supplied by the Tadcaster and Wetherby District Gas Co. There are two gasholders with a capacity of 22,000 cubic feet. The Police Station is a neat brick building with stone dressings, built in 1856. The force for the district consists of a superintendent, inspector, four sergeants, and twenty constables.

A Burial Board consisting of nine members was formed in 1875, and a cemetery containing 6½. acres was laid out on the west side of the town. It is divided into three portions, which are allotted to churchmen, nonconformists, and catholics respectively.

Tadcaster Poor Law Union was formed in 1862, and comprises an area of 70,152 acres, with a population of 23,955. The following parishes and townships are embraced in the Union:- Aberford, Acaster Selby, Allerton Bywater, Appleton Roebuck, Austhorpe, Askham Bryan, Barkston Ash, Barwick-in-Elmet, Bilbrough, Bolton Percy, Catterton, Colton, Garforth, Grimston, Healaugh, Huddleston-cum-Lumby, Kippax, Kirk Fenton, Kirby Wharfe-with-North Milford, Lead Hall, Ledsham, Ledstone, Lotherton-cum-Aberford, Micklefield Newthorpe, Newton Kyme, Oxton, Parlington, Preston Great and Little, Ryther-with-Ozendyke, dyke, Saxton-with-Scarthingwell, Sherburn, South Milford, Steeton, Sturton Stutton-with-Hazlewood, Swillington, Tadcaster East, Tadcaster West, Towton, and Ulleskelf.

The Workhouse was built in 1871 to accommodate 120 inmates. It consists of five blocks of brick buildings standing on three acres of ground. The total cost, including the purchase of eight acres of land, was about £10,000. The average number of inmates is 80, who are maintained at a cost of 4s. 6d. per head.

About a quarter-of-a-mile above the bridge is a handsome viaduct of eleven arches spanning the Wharfe. This was erected whilst George Hudson was the ruling spirit in the railway world, but with the collapse of the "Railway King" the line, which was intended to connect Tadcaster with York, was abandoned. The viaduct was subsequently purchased by the North-Eastern Railway Co.

Islington is a hamlet on the York road, about three-quarters-of-a-mile from Tadcaster.

OXTON is a small township of 638 acres, lying on the east bank of the Wharfe. It is valued for rating purposes at £1,050, and in 1881 had a population of 46. Miss Harris, S. Smith, Esq., Headingley, Leeds; the exors. of J. H. Smith, Esq., Skelton, York; and Mr. William Scholefield are the principal landowners.

Oxton Hall, the seat of the Misses Harris, is a handsome mansion standing. in a well-wooded park on the bank of the river. It presents three fronts; opposite the south may be seen a very fine specimen of the cedar of Lebanon, and a large yew, the branches of which cover a space measuring 100 yards in circumference. The hall was purchased by the late Alfred Harris, Esq., in 1872.

STUTTON-CUM-HAZLEWOOD township lies about two miles south of Tadcaster, having an area of 2,672 acres, of the rateable value of £3,770, and a population at the census of 1881 of 346. Sir William Edward Joseph Vavasour, Bart., J.P., of Hazlewood Castle, is lord of the manor, and owner of the whole township, except three small freeholds at Stutton.

The manor of Hazlewood, Hesslewood, or Haslewood, as it has been variously written, and which is situated between Bramham and Towton, has belonged to the ancestors of the present proprietors since the time of the Conqueror. Burke says that the family of Vavasor or Valvasor derived their name from their office, being formerly King's Valvasor, a degree then little inferior to the baronial. Sir Mauger le Vavasor is mentioned in Domesday Book, as holding in chief of the. Percys considerable manors and estates in Stutton, Eselwood, &c. His son, Sir Mauger le Vavasor, was father of Sir Wm. le Vavasor, judge in the reign of Henry II., and one of the witnesses to the charter of the abbey of Sawley. To this abbey he himself made a considerable donation of land. He was succeeded by his son, Sir Robert le Vavasor, who was high sheriff of Nottingham and Derby in the reign of Henry III. In this reign the manor of Hazlewood was mortgaged to an opulent Jew of York for the sum of £350. This Jew made a conveyance of his security to the queen, in discharge of a debt which he owed her; and John de Vavasour, the son of Sir Robert, redeemed it by paying the money. This Sir. John gave to the abbot and convent of Thornton, and to the church and canons of St. Peter, in Howden, stone from his quarry in Theves-dale, near Tadcaster, to. rebuild their churches and repair other edifices. Sir William, his son, in the reign of Edward I., was summoned to the high court of parliament; and in the same reign he obtained a license of the king to make a castle of his manor house in Hazlewood. Sir Thomas Vavasor, the lineal descendant of this baron, so distinguished himself by raising forces and equipping vessels to defend Queen Elizabeth against the Spanish Armada, that the queen, in reward of this zeal, and out of particular regard for one of her maids of honour who was a Vavasour, and acknowledged by her Majesty as her kinswoman, would never suffer the chapel at Haslewood to be molested, where the Roman Catholic rites still continue to be celebrated.

In 1826, this estate passed to Edward Marmaduke, second son of the 16th Lord Stourton, who assumed the name and arms of Vavasour, and was created a baronet in 1828. The second baronet, Sir Edward Vavasour, died 23rd August, 1885, and his nephew, the present Sir William Edward Joseph Vavasour, Bart., J.P., succeeded to the titles and estates. Fuller remarks of the Vavasours, - "It is observed of this family, that they never married an heir, or buried their wives." The view from Haslewood is very extensive. The cathedrals of York and Lincoln, which are 60 miles apart, are both within sight from the same point. It may be mentioned here that Aberford, a straggling village about a mile to the south of Haslewood Hall, has the ruins of an ancient castle. Gent writes, "Hesselwood was once a wood indeed, incircling its present edifice with the most delightful groves; but now, being almost cut down, and miserably destroyed, scarce retains its name." Not far from hence, near the spring head of the river Cock, stands Barwick-in-Elmult, which, by report, and as the ruins of its walls seem to testify, was the royal seat of the "Kings of Northumberland." Fuller tells us that when King Henry VIII. made his progress to York, in 1548, Dr. Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, then attending him, affirmed to the King, that within 10 miles of Hasslewood, the seat of the Vavasors, there were 165 manor houses of lords, knights, and gentlemen, of the best quality; 275 several woods, some of which contained 500 acres; 32 parks, and two chases for deer; 120 rivers and brooks, whereof, five were navigable; 76 water mills; 25 coal mines; and three forges for making of iron. And within the limits, as much sport and pleasure for hunting, hawking, fishing, and fowling, as any part of England. - Worthies of England, p. 185.

In this manor is Jack Daw quarry, which supplied stone for the erection of York Minster, and also for its repairs after the conflagration in 1829. White quarry supplies stone and lime for general purposes of the estate.

Hazelwood Castle is a magnificent old castellated edifice, charmingly situated on an eminence, and famed for the extent and richness of its prospects. The front of the mansion consists of a centre and two wings, and the entrance is approached by a flight of 17 stone steps. The entrance hall is 50 feet by 30 feet. Round the walls a beautiful frieze is supported by fine fluted columns, and above the frieze are shields emblazoned with the family arms. The ceilings of the principal rooms are exceedingly rich in gilding and decoration. The castle is about three miles S.W. of Tadcaster.

The chapel, dedicated to St. Leonard, is a venerable structure, erected by Sir William de Vavasour in the reign of Edward I. The King's Charter for the chapel is dated 29th April, 1286, Edward I.; the confirmation is dated 5th June, 1452, being the 31st of Henry VI. Sir William, who died in 1311, left, by his will, his body to be buried in Novo Capella S. Leonardi de Hesilwode, after commending his soul Deo et B. Mariæ Virgini. The church stands on the west of the mansion, and is divided by buttresses into four divisions, in three of which, are pointed windows of two lights each. The other divisions are occupied by a porch on the south side, and a doorway now blocked up, on the north side; the space for the east window is also built up. The statue of St. Leonard occupies a place over the porch. On each side of the altar, which is very curiously carved and gilded, are two Corinthian pillars, supporting a frieze and pediment. A fine painting of the Crucifixion is above the altar, and on a side altar is a fine statuette of the Blessed Virgin and infant Saviour. There are several ancient monuments, and some neat marble tablets, to members of the Vavasour family, also a large and handsome brass effigy, under a Gothic canopy, to Sir E. M. Vavasour, who died suddenly at Chanceux, in France, March 16th, 1847, in his 61st year. At the four corners of the base of the ancient sepulchral cross in the burying ground attached to the chapel, are four statues, the heads of which have been chiselled off, said to have been the work of Cromwell. Inside the church we find other statues in the same disfigured condition, and attributed to the same iconoclastic hands.

The Catholic school is situated at Wingate Hill, between Haziewood and Stutton. It was erected in 1877 by Sir Edward Vavasour. It is a good stone building, with teacher's house, and has 46 names on the books.

[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.

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