GOODMANHAM: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


Wapentake of Harthill (Holme Beacon Division) - County Council Electoral Division of Londesborough - Petty Sessional Division of Holme Beacon - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Pocklington - Rural Deanery of Weighton - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

This parish lies between Market Weighton and Londesborough, and contains, according to the overseer's returns, 3,293½ acres, exclusive of the land occupied by the railway. The rateable value is £3,967, and the population in 1891 was 315. The soil is a light loam, resting on chalk; and the chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, and turnips. The Earl of Londesborough, who is lord of the manor; Rev. Robert George Willis, B.A., J.P., rector of the parish; W. H. H. Broadley, Esq., Welton; Robert Leighton; Francis Leuty; and Mrs. Margaret Ann Stephenson are the principal landowners.

This out-of-the-way parish, lying on the fringe of the Wolds, possesses an imperishable interest from its association with the most momentous and far-reaching event in the history of Saxon England. Here stood the heathen temple which Coifi, the high priest of the pagan Northumbrians, after hearing the doctrines of the gospel explained by Paulinus, the Roman missionary, profaned with a lance, and then committed to the flames, as a token of his conversion. The Venerable Bede, the monk of Jarrow, to whose pen we owe the "Ecclesiastical History," says the place where the temple stood was called Godmundingaham, and that it was not far from York, and near the Derwent. "The venerable historian," says Bigland, "has fallen into an obvious chorographical error, in describing the situation as not far from York; and near the Derwent; for it is scarcely less than 18 miles from the former, and at least 10 miles from the nearest point of the latter. But Mr. Burton excuses this mistake in regard to distance, by observing that Bede lived a close monastic life in his cell, wrote of places which he had never seen, and that he would naturally describe the site of this temple of idols, with respect to the nearest and most remarkable objects in the country, which were certainly the city of York and the river Derwent." There cannot be any possible doubt that Goodmanham is the place spoken of by Bede. The present form of the name is a modern corruption. At the time of the Domesday Survey, and for some centuries afterwards, it was spelt Godmundham, preserving very nearly the original name; and Camden and some later writers spell it Godmandham and Godmanham.

It is not to be supposed that this temple was a structure of stone like those raised by the Romans; the Saxons had scarcely advanced so far in their knowledge of the art of building; it was probably, as both Drake aud Dr. Gibson contend, merely a place dedicated to Saxon idolatry, enclosed with a hedge instead of walls. Bede himself interprets it as "idolorum locus," a place of idols; and in another he speaks of the temple and its enclosures. In a field a little south of the church are many irregular mounds of earth, called "Home Hills," which are supposed by some to mark the site of the pagan temple, but Drake, Roach Smith, and others, who excavated several of the mounds, pronounced them nothing but vestiges of old chalk or lime pits. Some writers suppose that there was an ancient British temple here before the advent of the Saxons, and they endeavour to strengthen the supposition by attributing to the name a Celtic origin - Godo mynyddig, signifying the "uncovered sanctuary" or "temple of the hilly place ;" but Mr. Wright, in his " Wanderings of an Antiquary," shows clearly that the name is pure Saxon, and simply means the ham or abode of the Godmundings or descendants of Godmund, which was probably the first Saxon or Anglian clan that settled here.

It has also been claimed for Godmanham that it was the site of the Roman station of Delgovicia, but that honour is also assigned to Market Weighton, Londesborough, Old Malton, and Millington. On Rose Hill, between Goodmanham and Market Weighton, on the site of the ancient Roman road, a large quantity of fragments of Roman pottery, broken urns, fragments of Samian ware, and Roman coins have been turned up; and recently, in cutting the new railway, about 20 skeletons and other pre-historic remains were discovered a few feet below the surface.

The manor, before the Conquest, is said to have belonged to the great Northumbrian earl, Ulphus, or Ulf , a great benefactor to York Cathedral, whose horn is still preserved in the treasure room of the minster. At the time of the Survey, William de Colville held it of William de Percy. It afterwards belonged to a family styled de Godmandham, and was conveyed therefrom by the marriage of an heiress to Sir John de Grymston, who died in 1165. It remained for about six centuries in the possession of this family, and was one of their principal residences. It was subsequently held by the Duke of Devonshire, and now belongs to the Earl of Londesborough.

The village stands a good mile north-east of Market Weighton, on a spur of the Wolds, and still retains much of its quaint old-world appearance. One house bears the date 1686, and there are others apparently equally as old. The village is now small and scattered, but the embankments that surround it on all sides seem to show that it was once of greater extent. Mr. Allen, in his History of the County of York, speaking of Goodmanham, says :- " That there have been on all sides of it very extensive erections, is plain, from the disturbed and mutilated state of the soil." The church, which bears the Saxon dedication of All Saints, is an ancient and interesting edifice of stone in the Early Norman style, said by some to have been built out of the ruins of the Saxon temple. This is, however, open to very grave doubt, for it is questionable, as we have seen, whether the temple was a structure of stone or not. It is not improbable, as Dr. Stukeley asserts, "that the apostle Paulinus Paulinus built the parish church of Godmundham ;" but there is not a fragment of this Saxon church retained in the present edifice, the oldest part of which is not older than the beginning of the 11th century. It consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch, and a low massive embattled tower at the west end, containing three bells. The chancel arch is round and ornamented with the billet, beak-head, and zigzag mouldings. The sides bulge a little outwards, giving a width of seven feet at widest part, and six feet three inches at the bottom. Three massive Norman arches divide the nave from the aisle. The double recessed Norman arch of the tower has been filled in and a door inserted, and the basement converted into a vestry. The walls of the church are about three feet thick. The windows are of different periods, and filled with plain glass. The pews are mostly of the old-fashioned box type, and give the interior an antiquated appearance. There are two fonts in the church, one very ancient and of rude workmanship, the other larger and much more elaborate in its ornamentation. The former, according to Dr. Stukeley, is the identical font in which Paulinus baptised Coifi (?). The other font is 16th century work, octagonal in form, with a panelled plinth, enriched with quatrefoil tracery, crockets, &c. Round the upper edge is the following partly defaced inscription "Wythout Baptism no soll ma be saved. Of yor charite pra for them that this font mayd. Robert Clevynge* parson, Robert Appylton" (churchwarden). On the lower edge appears to be "Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum benedicta tu es in mulieribus ;" and in different parts are shields, inscribed "Lade - Jesus - Christus - help," and the arms of Hastings and Grimstone, who were patrons of the living, together with the arms of the See of York, and of St. William.

*Robert Clevynge was instituted to the living of Goodmanham, February 18th, 1522, and died in 1665.

There are six marble tablets in the chancel to the families of Clarke and Blow, and there are tablets in the nave to the Tyson and Leaming families. The church will accommodate about 160. The register dates from the year 1678.

The living is a rectory, in the gift of the trustees of the present rector, the Rev. Robert George Willis, B.A., of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, who purchased it from the late Rev. J. Blow, in 1881.

The tithes were commuted at the inclosure, in 1775, for 732 acres of land. The tithe rent-charge is £37; there is also a corn rent from Londesborough, amounting to about £50 yearly, and £50 is annually derived from money invested in consols.

The Rectory House, built in 1823-4, is a commodious residence of white brick, surrounded by picturesque grounds.

There are chapels in the village belonging to the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists. The former was built in 1828, and will seat about 100 persons; the latter is a structure of corrugated iron, erected in 1890.

The National school was erected in 1872, for the accommodation of 50 children. It is mixed, under a mistress, and has an average attendance of 40. A school was formerly held in the basement of the tower; it was discontinued in 1833, and till the erection of the present school, the children attended Market Weighton.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of East Yorkshire (1892)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1892.

Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.