HOLME ON SPALDING MOOR: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


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

This is an extensive parish and township, stretching from the Foulness river, which bounds it on the west and south, to a little beyond the Market Weighton canal, and contains, according to the Ordnance Survey, 11,514 acres. The surface is generally level, and the soil of a light sandy nature, with some strong clay and peat land. Wheat, barley, turnips, and seeds are the chief crops. Hemp and flax were formerly grown, and the picking and dressing of the latter afforded employment to a considerable number of the inhabitants. The rateable value is £9,784. The population in 1891 was 1,815, and at the previous enumeration 1,898. Henry Joseph Stourton, Esq., J.P., C.C., is lord of the manor and principal landowner. The other proprietors are Sir William Edward Vavasour, Bart., Hazlewood, Tadcaster; G. T. J. S. Sotheran-Estcourt, Esq., of Estcourt, Tetbury, Gloucester; the Misses Whytehead; executors of Samuel Fox; Rev. G. Gorham Holmes, in right of his glebe; Major Preston, Moreby Hall; trustees of the late George Collins; J. H. B. Southgate; J. M. S. Musgraves, Red Hall, Leeds; Hon. Charles Langdale, Houghton Hall; Rivis' trustees; the Earl of Londesborough, and a number of small freeholders.

The manor and estate belonged for several centuries to the Constables of Flamborough. The last of the family that had possession of it was Sir William Constable, Bart., a lieutenant-colonel in the Cromwellian army, and one of the Commissioners of the High Court who sat on the trial of Charles I. and signed the king's death warrant. Sir William sold the estate to Sir Marmaduke Langdale, the eminent royalist commander, who was created baron Langdale of Holme-on-Spalding Moor by Charles II., when in exile. The title became extinct on the death of the fifth and last Lord Langdale, in 1777, when his estates devolved on his daughter and co-heiress, Mary, wife of Charles Philip, 16th Baron Stourton. The present owner of the estate and lord of the manor, Henry Joseph Stourton, Esq., B.A., J.P., C.C., is the only surviving son of the late Hon. Philip Stourton, by Catherine, eldest daughter of the late Henry Howard, Esq., of Corby Castle, Cumberland.

The greater part of the parish was, prior to the enclosure in 1776, a moorland waste or common, and in many places bogland, which rendered any attempt on the part of a stranger to cross the moor extremely dangerous. "A tradition exists," says Baines, in his History and Directory, published in 1823, "that in times long since passed, when a great part of this region was a trackless morass, a cell was founded, either by the Vavasours or the Constables, at Welham Bridge, on the edge of Spalding Moor, for two monks, one of whom was employed in guiding travellers over the dreary wastes, and the other in imploring the protection of heaven for those who were exposed to the dangers of the road; and there are persons yet living who can remember the time when, in foggy weather, it was considered a dangerous attempt to cross the common without a guide." Others think that the cell was at Monk Farm, on the west side of the moor, and the name, as well as the existence of the site of a moated building, seems to give some probability to the supposition.

The village is large and scattered, and stands on the high road from Market Weighton to Selby. It is distant five miles south-west from the former place, 14 miles east from the latter, and about one mile from the stations of Holme and Everingham (both of which are within this parish), on the Market Weighton and Selby branch of the North-Eastern railway. The church of All Saints is seated on an eminence called Beacon Hill, about half a mile east of the village. It is an edifice of stone, in the style of architecture that prevailed in the 14th century, with additions in the latter part of the 15th and early part of the 16th centuries. A gallery was added in 1767, and the church was repaired and re-pewed in 1842, at a cost of £300. The plan comprises chancel, nave, aisles, south porch, and an embattled western tower with pinnacles, containing three bells. The interior is plain. There are no monuments of antiquity now visible in the church, but Torre, in his MSS., records several testamentary burials here in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, the most notable of which are those of John Constable, of Holme, whose will was proved 1377, and Dame Johana Gascoigne, wife of the celebrated and fearless judge, who hesitated not to commit Prince Henry (afterwards Henry V.) to prison for contempt of court.

The living, according to Torre, was an ancient rectory, long in the patronage of the Constables, till the attainder of Sir Robert for high treason, in the reign of Henry VIII., whereby it was forfeited to the Crown. King James sold the rectorial property and advowson to Francis Phillips and Richard Moore, citizens of London, subject to an annual payment of £20 11s. 8d. to the Crown for ever, the living to be exempt from first fruits and all other payments except the above. These gentlemen disposed of their purchase to Peter Langdale, Esq., of Sancton; and in 1629 the rectory and vicarage were purchased for £1,400 by the executors of the Rev. Mr. Whittingham, rector of Wheldrake, and given to St. John's College, Cambridge, in pursuance of his testamentary instructions. The master and fellows of the college are the impropriators and patrons, under whom the vicar holds the lay rectory, consisting of 1,340 acres of land, awarded at the inclosure, in lieu of tithes, at a peppercorn yearly rent. The tithe rent-charge is £22. The present value of the living is about £600. Vicar, Rev. George Gorham Holmes, M.A., B.D., late fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge.

There was a chantry founded in 1349 by Sir Marmaduke Constable, Knt., who endowed it with one messuage, 60 acres of land and one acre of meadow, for the maintenance of a chaplain, to celebrate divine service therein for ever. The chantry was dedicated to St. Nicholas, and is supposed to have stood on an eminence in the village called Chapel Hill. The last chaplain was presented in 1532.

There are chapels in the village belonging to the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists. The former was erected in 1826, and the latter body built a new chapel in 1880.

A School Board, of seven members, was formed in December, 1874 for the united district of Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Foggathorpe, and Harswell, and new school premises were erected in 1876, for the accommodation of 300 children. The school is mixed, and attended by about 170 children. The old National school, built in 1824, was closed after the formation of the School Board, and is now used solely as a Sunday school. The Catholic school, with teacher's house attached, is a neat brick building, the property of the lord of the manor, by whom it is chiefly supported. It will accommodate 70 children, and is attended by about 50.

Holme Hall, the seat of Henry Stourton, Esq., B.A., J.P., and C.C. for the Holme-on-Spalding Moor Division, is a large brick mansion, with cemented front, surrounded by a beautiful park and neat grounds. It has been built at different times, and was the occasional residence of the Constables and the Langdales.

Attached to the hall is a Catholic chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, which appears to have been a former dedication of the parish church. It is a neat brick building, capable of seating 120 persons. The priest in charge of the mission is also chaplain to Mr. Stourton, and resides at the presbytery near the hall. There is also a cemetery for the Catholics, adjoining the parish churchyard. There are mouments to several members of the Stourton family.

Eastward from the village the ground rises by a gradual ascent to a height of about 40 yards, and from the summit there is an extensive prospect of the flat country lying between the Wolds and the river Ouse. On this hill was formerly a beacon, which gave its name to the Holme Beacon division of the wapentake. This beacon "took its light from Hunsley and Wilton, and gave light to Marchland and the low countries." It consisted of an upright beam of wood, supported by four pillars of brick. At the top of the beam were two arms of iron, carrying at their extremities two iron grates, large enough to hold a 36 gallon barrel. The beacon gradually went to decay, and was finally blown down about 50 years ago. The parish church stands on the same hill, and is a prominent object in the landscape for miles around. Beacon Farm, occupied by Mr. Joseph Reader, is noted for its breed of coach horses. Bonny, one of Mr. Reader's celebrated mares, won no less than 115 first prizes, and her offspring were sold at high prices for export to all parts of the globe.

About two miles east of the village, on the east side of the Market Weighton canal, is the Yorkshire Catholic Reformatory school for boys. The site was given by the late Sir Edward Vavasour, Bart., of Hazlewood, and the present extensive buildings with chapel were erected at a cost of about £6,000. There is accommodation for 225 boys, and the institution is always well filled. There is, in connection with the school, a farm of 400 acres, which is cultivated by the boys who are thus trained to earn their livelihood as agricultural labourers. Boys unfitted for farm labour are taught printing, bookbinding, tailoring, shoemaking, stocking knitting, firewood and matchbox making, or carpentry, according as they show an aptitude for the work.

The following are hamlets in this parish :- Arglam, two-and-a-half miles south-west of the village; Bursea, about three miles south; Hasholme, four miles south-east; Land of Nod, or Holme Landing, two-and-a-half miles east; Tollingham, two miles south-east; and Wholsea, four miles south-east. Holme House is a commodious residence occupied by Mr. John Boast, farmer. It was erected about a century ago, and stands about two miles west of the village.

The poor have land producing about £80 a year, bequeathed by Sir M. Constable in 1485, and by Peter Carlill in 1666.

[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.