HESLINGTON: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Ouse and Derwent - County Council Electoral Division of Heslington - Poor Law Union and County Court District of York - Rural Deanery of Bulmer - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

This parish is situated partly on the outskirts and partly within the city of York. Prior to March 25th, 1884, the parish was divided into the two townships of Heslington St. Paul's and Heslington St. Lawrence, but by a Local Government Order, which came into operation on the above date, the two townships were united, and the parish designated Heslington. Its total area is 2,655 acres rateable value, £4,269; and its population in 1881 was 477. The soil is gravel and sand, and the subsoil sand.

The manor of Heslington formerly belonged to the Heskeths, a junior branch of the Lancashire family of that name, and passed in marriage to the Yarburghs, now represented by Robert Wilfred Bateson de Yarburgh, Esq., J.P., who is lord of the manor and principal landowner. Captain W. H. Key, of Water Fulford Hall, and Matthew Imeson, Esq., Pickhill, Thirsk, have also estates in the parish.

The village is pleasantly situated on the eastern side of the vale of the Ouse, about two miles east-south-east of York, and consists of a few farmsteads and cottages, two inns, the church, two dissenting chapels, a school-house, and the grand old hall, which gives to it the charm of antiquity. The church of St. Paul, rebuilt in 1858, on the site of an earlier structure, is a handsome stone edifice in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch, and western tower surmounted by a spire. The total cost was about £3,000, which was defrayed by George and Alicia Maria Lloyd, of Stockton Hall. Mrs. Lloyd was the daughter and eventual heiress of John Greame, Esq., of Sewerby House, and granddaughter of Charles Yarburgh, Esq., of Heslington. The interior fittings are of oak, and the font of Caen stone. All the windows are filled with stained glass. The reredos was a subsequent addition, erected at the cost of the late Mrs. Bateson de Yarburgh. It is divided into five principal compartments, with smaller ones, and stone columns between. In the centre panel is a Maltese cross, and in the others are the four evangelists. The cross and figures are executed in mosaic work, with very small coloured tiles on a rich gold ground. The chancel floor was also laid at the same time with encaustic tiles, in a pretty design. The registers date from about the middle of the 17th century. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Archbishop of York, and incumbency of the Rev. Frederick Peel, Mus. Bac., Oxon. Its net yearly value is £285, derived from 44 acres of glebe, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and Queen Anne's Bounty. It was formerly in the gift of the Prebendary of Ampleforth, in York Cathedral, and to whom the rectorial tithe, amounting to £190, still belongs.

The Vicarage House, presented by the lord of the manor when the parish was separated from that of St. Lawrence, is an antiquated building in which the Rev. Sidney Smith once resided. A picture of it is given in the last published life of the great wit.

There are two nonconformist chapels in the village, one belonging to the Wesleyans, built in 1844, and the other to the Primitive Methodists, by whom it was purchased from the Independents about seven years ago. The National school, with master's residence attached, is a neat red brick building with stone dressings. Over the entrance is the following inscription :- " This school was projected by the late lamented Yarburgh Yarburgh, Esq., and erected by his sister and her husband, George and Alicia Maria Lloyd, as an affectionate tribute to his memory, 1856." The school will accommodate 90 children, and has an average attendance of 56. The old school, built in 1795, has been converted into a dwelling-house.

A hospital for eight poor men and one poor woman, of the age of 50 years or upwards, was founded in 1608 by Sir Thomas Hesketh (the then lord of the manor), who endowed it with a rent-charge, now yielding £45 a year, out of Castle Mills at York. It was further endowed, by one of the founder's family, with £5 a year, paid by the representatives of the late Lady Amherst; and R. W. Bateson de Yarburgh, Esq., gives £20 annually. According to the terms of the will, if a male inmate dies, leaving a widow, the latter cannot retain possession of the dwelling longer than one month. The original hospital stood near the mansion of the lord of the manor, but in 1795 Henry Yarburgh, Esq., took it down, and erected the present more commodious building on the west side of the hall, but without the grounds.

Heslington Hall, which has long been the residence of the Yarburgh family, is a fine old red brick building in the Elizabethan style. Its walls are almost hidden beneath a mantle of ivy, which adds to its picturesque appearance. An inscription on the south wall of the south wing states that - "this ancient mansion was originally erected by Thomas Rymes, Esq., one of Queen Elizabeth's Council for the northern part of England, and secretary and keeper of Her Majesty's seal for the said Council, A.D. 1578. It was restored, altered, and enlarged by Yarburgh Yarburgh, Esq., in 1854." It retains, however, much of its original appearance, and is a fine example of a mansion of the time of Queen Elizabeth. It consists of a centre block, with north and south wings, enclosing three sides of a square. In the centre of this square, surrounded by a velvety lawn, stands the figure of a hunter in sylvan costume, with a quiver of arrows slung from his shoulder, and holding a deer by the horns. The principal entrance is by an ornamental porch, ascended by steps which lead to a spacious hall, with an elegant and elaborately carved roof. Around the walls are shields painted on panels, 60 in number, bearing the arms of the family and their alliances up to the present time. There are also several portraits of the family and others, by renowned artists. The drawing-room, 30 feet in length, corresponds in style. Adjoining are several other apartments, and there was formerly a gallery 108 feet in length. The gardens are extensive, and contain a number of fine old hollies and yew trees, retaining the fantastic shapes into which they were trained and cut, according to the style of gardening prevalent a century or two ago. This hall is said to have been erected and arranged for the reception of Queen Elizabeth, had Her Majesty visited the north.

The Yarburgh family is one of great antiquity in the country. About the time of the Norman Conquest they were seated at Yarburgh, in Lincolnshire, of which place they were lords, and they continued to reside there for several centuries. About 300 years ago, they settled at Balne and Snaith, in the West Riding, where two of them attained the honour of knighthood. James Yarburgh, Esq., of Snaith Hall, godson to King James II. and one of His Majesty's pages of honour, acquired the lordship of Heslington by his marriage with Anne, daughter and co-heir of Thomas Hesketh, Esq. By this marriage there were seven sons and three daughters: the eldest of the latter married Sir John Vaubrugh, Knt., the famous architect of whom the wit wrote -

"Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
Laid many a heavy load on thee."

Four of the sons inherited the estates in succession, the last of whom, Charles, married, first, Mary Griffin, of Wirksworth, by whom he had a son and a daughter. He married, secondly, Sarah Griffin, of Wirksworth, and by her had two sons and five daughters. Mary, the eldest daughter, married the Rev. Wm. Coates, but died without issue. Four of the daughters of the second marriage died young. Sarah, the third daughter, married John Greame, Esq., by whom she had a son, Yarburgh Greame, Esq., and a daughter, Alicia Maria, who married George Lloyd, Esq., of Stockton Hall, and had issue - George John, Yarburgh Gamaliel, Henry, Edward, and a daughter.

Mr. Charles Yarburgh died in 1789, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry, who, dying issueless in 1825, the estates devolved upon the eldest surviving son of the second marriage, Nicholas Edmund Yarburgh, Esq., D.L., Major of the 3rd regiment provisional Militia, and High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1836. This gentleman was never married, and at his death was succeeded by his nephew, Yarburgh Greame, Esq., of Sewerby, who assumed the surname and arms of Yarburgh. At his death, without children, the property descended to his nephew, George John Lloyd, who, in 1857 assumed the surname and arms of Yarburgh in place of those of Lloyd. He married Mary Antonia, daughter of Samuel Chetham Hilton, Esq., of Pennington Hall, Lancashire, by whom he had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth, and Susan Anne. The former married George William, third son of Sir Robert Bateson, Bart., and inherited the property on the death of her father. Mr. Bateson thereon assumed, by royal licence, the family name of de Yarburgh. Robert Wilfrid Bateson de Yarburgh, the present owner of the estate and lord of the manor, is the eldest son of this marriage.

The parish accounts go back to the year 1716, and contain amusing examples of the spelling and doings of those days. The two largest items in the churchwardens' books were always "pade for the churchwardings dinner at visitation," and "spent in ale at the lection of churchwardins." Of the total amount raised annually for church rate, more than one half was paid away for dinners and ale. Another curious item, which occurs on almost every page, is paid for "foumard's head . . . . fourpence."

The churchwardens were occasionally very unmanageable officials, who gave the clergyman no small amount of annoyance, as the following extract from an old book, dated August 1st, 1647, will show

"At York Castle. - John Garthwayte, clerk, deposeth that one Herbert Cook, being churchwarden of Heslington, detayneth the register book belonging to the sayd towne, insomuch as this that the minister cannot therein record the names of such persons as are baptized and buried within that parish. And the sayd Herbert Cook sayd that he would burn the sayd register before he would deliver it unto him. The said Herbert Cook is an ordinary frequenter of alehouses upon the Sabbath and Fasting Dayes, and he hath been seen drunk several times on those dayes. He is by common fame a babbler and quarreller. He is such a contentious spirit that his neighbours stand in awe of him in respect of suites at law, and he hath now a dozen suites on foot. The parson actually saw him one daye bunching an old man, and he hath often seen him distempered with drink. The sayd Cook, moreover, did undertake, for twenty shillings, to keep all the company of weavers within the city of York seven years in suite."

Formerly, service was held in the church only once a month, and it was conducted with a view to brevity. Within the memory of the older inhabitants a few years back, we are told, football was freely indulged in by the youths of the village on Sundays, in the churchyard. The old church was a Norman building, remarkable for nothing except its antiquity and its dilapidated condition. The pulpit was an old "three decker," reaching almost to the roof, and large enough for York minster; and the high-backed box pews so completely concealed their occupants, that they were not unfrequently used as sleeping apartments.

[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.