Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Ouse and Derwent - County Council Electoral Division of Escrick - Poor Law Union and County Court District of York - Rural Deanery of Bulmer - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish is situated in the level tract lying between the rivers Ouse and. Derwent, and includes the townships of Escrick and Deighton. The former contains 4,346 acres, belonging solely, with the exception of 91 acres of glebe, to Lord Wenlock, who is also lord of the manor. The soil is of a varied character, but rich and fertile; the subsoil is gravel; and the chief crops are wheat, oats, and potatoes. The township is valued for rating purposes at £7,724, and had in 1881 a population of 589. The origin of the name has not been authoritatively explained, but we may accept the Saxon Esc-hric, signifying Ash-ridge, as probable as any of the etymologies suggested.
The village is situated on the road from York to Selby, six miles south-south-east from the former place, and one mile from the station of its own name, on the York and Doncaster extension of the North-Eastern railway. It is described as one of the neatest villages in the county, the houses and cottages being all of modern type. The allotments system, of which so much has been said of late,. both in and out of Parliament, has been in operation here since 1834, and has been productive of much benefit to the cottagers.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Helen, is an edifice of stone, consisting of chancel, nave, with north aisle, south porch, baptistery, and a lofty embattled tower, with crocketed pinnacles, containing five bells. It was rebuilt in 1856-7, from the designs of F. C. Penrose, Esq., and is said to be one of the best examples of that eminent architect's work. The total cost was about £26,000, which was contributed by the late Rev. and Hon. Stephen Willoughby Lawley, M.A., rector, the second Lord Wenlock, and other members of the family, in pious memory of Paul Beilby Thompson, first Baron Wenlock, who died 9th May, 1852. The church that previously occupied the site was built by Beilby Thompson, Esq., of Escrick Park, in the year 1769, by power under a private Act of Parliament, sanctioning the removal of the church from the immediate vicinity of that gentleman's park to a more central and convenient situation.
The church, which is extremely rich in marble and sculptured ornamentation, is in the curvilinear style of Gothic architecture, which prevailed in England about the year 1300. The chancel is apsidal in its termination, forming a semi-hexagon, and in each side is a two-light window of stained glass. The roof is of oak, and groined, and the vaulted roof of the nave is of the same material, panelled, and supported on handsome arched trussed ribs, carried by angel corbels. The north aisle is divided from the nave by a beautiful arcade of five bays, springing from pillars of dark Devonshire marble, with exquisitely carved capitals. The tower rises from the extremity of the aisle, at the north-eastern angle of the church, and is carried to a height of 100 feet. The lower portion, which opens with a spacious arch into the chancel, forms the organ chamber, and contains a good instrument, by Holdich, of Judd Place, London. The most peculiar feature of the church is the baptistery projecting from the west end. It is, like the apsidal chancel at the opposite end, hexagonal in form, and is built over the family vault of the owners of Escrick Park. The roof is vaulted with stone, and supported by pillars of red Devonshire marble. In the centre stands a handsome font of white marble, by Gio Tognolt, of Rome. Two angel forms, with outspread wings, stand back to back, supporting on their heads the basin or bowl. They stand on a circular base of marble, which rests upon a square base of coloured marble. This building is at once both a baptistery and a mortuary chapel, and the walls are covered with mural tablets of the family of its noble owner. There are also monuments in the nave and chancel. In the former is one bearing the recumbent figure of the first Lady Wenlock, daughter of Lord Braybrooke. It is an exquisite piece of sculpture, in pure Carrara marble, by H. S. H. Prince Victor, of Hohenlohe Langenburg, and, did the church possess no other attraction, the sight of this noble work of art alone would be well worth a journey to Escrick. Her ladyship died in 1868, surviving her husband 16 years. Another monument, bearing the figure of a female kneeling in prayer, with an angel on either side, is inscribed "In beloved remembrance of Jane, daughter of Beilby Thompson, Esq., of Escrick, and Sarah, Lady Dawes, his wife, married Sir Robert Lawley, Bart., MDCCLXIV., died Nov. IX, MCCCXVI, aged LXXIII. Pious, humane, and charitable, she passed the even tenor of her life in acts of pure benevolence to all around her, and particularly to the poor. To perpetuate the memory of her humility and goodness in the minds of those who knew her best when living, and to hold up her example to succeeding generations, this monument is erected by her grateful daughter, Jane, wife of Henry, sixth Lord of Middleton." There is an entrance into the church from under the tower, but the principal entrance is by the south porch. Over this there is a chamber, which is used as a vestry. The approach is from the nave, by a spiral staircase within a turret, projecting a little into the church. The chancel and ambulatories of the church are paved with Minton's tiles. The seats are all of oak, and the chancel is fitted with stalls of the true collegiate form. The five bells in the tower were the gift of the parishioners, and the stained-glass window at the west end of the aisle was presented by the school children. In a niche in the wall is the effigy of a Knight Templar that was formerly in the old church in the park. It is much mutilated, and affords no clew to the identity of the person whom it commemorates. The registers date from 1617.
The benefice is a rectory, valued in the Liber Regis at £23 3s. 9d., present net yearly value £320, in the gift of Lord Wenlock, and held by the Rev. Fred. Fawkes. There are nearly 100 acres of glebe. The tithe rent-charge is £350. The Rectory House is a handsome residence standing in its own grounds of about five acres extent.
The village is lighted with gas from works erected in 1866, for the supply of the hall, and it receives water from a reservoir constructed in 1864. There is a good school attended by 160 children, and chiefly supported by Lord and Lady Wenlock. Petty Sessions are held monthly, in the Court Room, at the Police Station. An Agricultural Society was established in 1881; its yearly show is said to be one of the best in the district.
Escrick Park, the seat of Lord Wenlock, was originally an Elizabethan mansion, to which many subsequent additions have been made. There is a fine library, especially rich in Italian topography; it contains also a fine collection of Homers, and part of the theological library of Sir William Dawes, Archbishop of York, who died in 1724. Among the pictures are the portraits of the above Sir William, and the Duchess of Cumberland, by Gainsborough. The park, which encloses about 450 acres, is well wooded and stocked with deer. Holly Carr Woods, adjoining, are planted with rhododendrons, and in the early summer, when laden with bloom, present a most beautiful sight. The gardens around the hall form an attractive feature, especially the Italian garden on the south, which in the summer and autumn mouths is a perfect blaze of colour.
Escrick was anciently held by the Lascelles, as sub-tenants. Roger Lascelles resided at his mansion here in 1280. The Dawnays were the next owners, one of whom was buried in the church of St. Elene, in 1388. A little later the hall and estate were in the occupation of Guy Roucliff, recorder of York, who was buried here, and left by his will 40s. and a quantity of broken lead for the repair of the bell-tower. Sir Thomas Knyvett was subsequently owner of Escrick. He was gentleman of the bed-chamber to James I., and was one of those deputed to search the vaults of the Parliament House, on the 5th of November, 1605, when 36 barrels of gunpowder were discovered, and Guy Fawkes awaiting his time to ignite the explosive. Sir Thomas was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Knyvett of Escrick in 1607, but, dying without issue in 1622, the title became extinct. His estates passed to Sir henry Knivett, Knt., of Charlton, in Wiltshire, whose eldest daughter and co-heiress, Catherine, widow of the Hon. Richard Rich, married Thomas, Earl of Suffolk. Sir Edward Howard, the seventh son of this marriage, was advanced by Charles I., in 1630, to the dignity of a peer of the realm, by the title of Baron Howard of Escrick. The title expired on the death of his grandson.
The present owner, Lord Wenlock of Wenlock, is descended from the Lawleys of Wenlock, county Salop, one of whom was privy councillor to King Edward IV. Sir Robert Lawley, Bart., married Jane, only daughter of Beilby Thompson, Esq., and Lady Dawes, his wife, and by this marriage obtained possession of Escrick, which had belonged to the Thompson family since the latter part of the 17th century. Their son, Sir Robert Lawley, the fifth baronet, was elevated to the peerage, as Baron Wenlock of Wenlock, in 1831, but dying without issue the following year the barony expired, and the baronetcy devolved upon his brother, Sir Francis, who died in 1851, leaving no issue. The baronetcy reverted to the next brother, Paul Beilby Lawley-Thompson, who had been raised to the peerage as Baron Wenlock in 1839. He had, by royal sign manual in 1820, assumed the name of Thompson only, and, by royal license in 1839, he reassumed his paternal name in addition to and before that of Thompson, and his issue were to take the name and arms of Lawley only. He married Caroline Neville, daughter of Lord Braybrooke, and had issue four sons and a daughter. His lordship died in 1852, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Beilby Richard Lawley, second baron, lord lieutenant of the East Riding, and colonel of the Yorkshire Hussars and volunteers. He married Lady Elizabeth Grosvenor, third daughter of the second Marquis of Westminster, and had issue five sons and four daughters. His lordship died in 1880, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Beilby Lawley, third Baron Wenlock, the present holder of the title and owner of Escrick. He married, in 1872, Lady Constance Mary Lascelles, eldest daughter of the fourth Earl of Harewood. He is a J.P. for the East Riding, C.C. for the Escrick Division, Chairman of the East Riding County Council, and at present Governor of Madras.
There have been left to the poor of the parish charitable bequests that now produce about £50 a year, which is distributed in money at Christmas.
DEIGHTON is a township in this parish containing 2,002 acres, belonging chiefly to Lord Wenlock and William Mortimer Baines, Esq., of Bell Hall, Naburn, who are joint lords of the manor; Rev. James Palmes, in right of the glebe; Captain Key, Fulford Hall; and G. B. D. Yarburgh, of Heslington Hall. The rateable value is £3,097, and the population in 1881 was 196. The soil is clayey, and the subsoil clay, sand, and gravel. Wheat and potatoes are the principal crops.
The manor of Deighton belonged to St. Mary's Abbey, York, and was one of the principal country seats of the abbots of that house. At the dissolution of monasteries the manor and estate reverted to the Crown, and were granted away or sold by Henry VIII. on very indulgent terms. At one time the estate belonged to the Robinson family, now represented by the Marquis of Ripon. Deighton Hall, the property of Mr. W. M. Baines, occupies the site of the ancient monastic grange and abbatial residence. It was erected about 200 years ago, and still retains traces of the moat by which it was once surrounded. The ancient manorial chest is preserved here. It contains old deeds and writings connected with the parish dating from the reign of Henry II. The keys are kept by the joint lords of the manor.
The village is a scattered one, and stands one mile north of Escrick and five miles south-east of York. A Wesleyan chapel was erected here in 1880, upon a site given by the late Lord Wenlock. It is a neat building of white brick, capable of seating 140 persons. The total cost was £679, which was raised by subscription.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.