KILHAM: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


Wapentake of Dickering - Petty Sessional Division of Bainton Beacon - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Driffield - County Council Electoral Division of Nafferton - Rural Deanery of Buckrose - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

This parish is situated on the eastern edge of the Wolds, having Rudston and Thwing on the north, Ruston Para and Driffield on the south. Burton Agnes on the east, and Langtoft on the west. Its total area by Ordnance measurement is 8,173 acres, and its estimated extent for assessment purposes is 7,861½ acres, the rateable value of which is £8,570. The population in 1881 was 1,209, and in 1891, 1,039, most of whom are employed in the cultivation of the land. The soil is chalky and the surface varied. The lower grounds are watered by the river Hull which has its source in the Beckses, a spring at the east end of the village, and flows through the valley southward to the Humber. The principal landowners are the Earl of Londesborough, who is lord of the manor; H. S. Lee Wilson, Esq., Crofton Hall, Wakefield; Sir Charles Legard, Bart., J.P., D.L., Ganton Hall; Thomas Oddy, Esq., Liversedge; Sir Francis Boyd Outram, Bart., John Milner, Esq., of Middlesdale; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

At the time of the Domesday Survey, the greater part of the manor appears to have been lying waste, but two thegns were occupying three carucates and two bovates of the land which belonged to the king, at a yearly tax of forty shillings. In 1346, the lordship belonged to Thomas Ughtred, the descendant of an old Saxon family, which held lands at Helmsley, in the North Riding, before the Norman Conquest. Kilham soon afterwards passed into the hands of William de Tweng, who dying without issue, it descended to his three sisters. In later years it came into the possession of the Duesberys, from whom it was purchased by the Earl of Londesborough.

The village is situated at the foot of the Wolds, about six miles north-northeast of Driffield, eight miles west-south-west of Bridlington, and four miles from Lowthorpe station, on the Hall and Bridlington branch of the North Eastern railway. It consists principally of one long straggling street, extending from east to west nearly a mile and a quarter. It was formerly called Killom; in Domesday Book it is spelt Chillon and Chillun, which has probably some connection with the Old Norse word Kyll a stream or spring. Formerly it was of greater extent than now, as the sites of ancient buildings show, and had its weekly market which was held on Thursday. This, however, declined in consequence of the increased importance of those at Driffield and Bridlington, and has long been discontinued. There is a cross in the churchyard at Lowthorpe, which is said by tradition to have been removed from Kilham market when the plague was raging in that town, and country people were afraid to visit it. Fairs are held yearly on August 21st and November 13th.

The church, dedicated to All Saints', is an ancient stone structure consisting of chancel, nave, south porch, and massive embattled tower containing a clock and three bells. The style is Early English, but the porch entrance, a fragment of an earlier edifice, is a very fine specimen of Norman Architecture. It is richly moulded and adorned with several varieties of chevron ornament, and above it is some very handsome diaper work. The chancel arch is also Norman, and rests on clustered columns. The ancient sedilia and piscina remain in the chancel. The font is plain and modern. The windows are filled with plain glass. The church underwent considerable alterations in 1866. There are marble tablets to members of the Thompson, Owtram, Anderson, Britton, and Prickett families. The rectory of Kilham was appropriated to the Dean of York at an early period, probably soon after the institution of that office. Drake in his "Eboracum" says : - " By an ancient custom of this church (York), the Dean of it was obliged for ever to feed or relieve, at his deanery, ten poor people daily. This was for the soul of good Queen Maud, and for which purpose he had the churches of Kilham, Pickering, and Pocklington annexed to his deanery." The appropriate rectorial tithe amounting to about £200, is paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the patronage has been transferred from the Dean to the Lord Chancellor. The vicarage is worth £250 a year, including 77 acres of glebe, with residence, and is held by the Rev. Jonathan Crossland, L.Th., Durham.

The Wesleyan Chapel is a high building of brick situated at the west end of the village. It was erected in 1815, and contains several monuments to the Knaggs family. The Baptist Chapel was built in 1818-19, on a site given by "Peter Berriman and Mary his wife." The Primitive Methodist Chapel is a brick building with accommodation for 300 persons. It was erected in 1860, and superseded an older chapel.

A Free Grammar School was founded here in the 9th of Charles I. (1634), by John Lord D'Arcy of Aston, who endowed it with a rent charge of £30 per annum on 200 acres of land in this parish, now the property of J. R. Lamplugh. It was formerly free for instruction in Latin and Greek to all the boys in the parish. It is now worked under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, and managed by a committee of nine governors. Free instruction has been abolished, but there are scholarships open to boys who have spent three years in any public elementary school in the district of Kilham. The premises and master's house have been rebuilt. Ernest James Allen, B.A., master. The National School was erected in 1847, at a cost of £500.It is mixed and has an average attendance of about 230.

A Temperance Hall, with Reading-room attached, was built in 1880, at a cost of £600. It is let for political and other meetings, and will accommodate about 400 persons. A Cemetery, covering an acre of ground, very prettily laid out, was formed in 1885, and is under the control of a Burial Board of nine members. Against the church wall lies a block of stone, with an iron ring in the centre. This was unearthed during some draining operations in the village last year, and is probably the bull ring that was used when bull baiting was a favourite amusement in this county.

Midway between Kilham and Langtoft, is Hen-pit Hole, where there was formerly one of those intermittent springs, called in the Wold country Gipseys. The "g" in this name is pronounced hard, as in gimlet. The word has no connection with the wandering race of gypseys; it is a corruption of the Old Norse geysir, a gushing spring, and was impressed on our language by the Norsemen, who effected settlements on various parts of the coast of Yorkshire, in the early days of the Saxon Heptarchy. Geysir is still used in Iceland, where it is applied to a celebrated hot spring, with which Lord Dufferin has made us all familiar. This gipsey, after intervals of a few years, used to issue with such violence from the ground as to form an aqueous arch sufficiently elevated for a man on horseback to ride beneath it without being wetted. The origin of this intermittent spring has been thus explained : - The water collected in a cavern or reservoir in the chalk rock beneath; the passage between the reservoir and Hen-pit Hole was siphon-shaped; and when sufficient water accumulated in the reservoir to reach the summit of this siphon, the water began to gush out, and continued to flow till the supply was exhausted. Since the draining of the surrounding country, the flow has been much less copious and at shorter intervals. There is a tradition to the effect that this place received its name from a hen that was drawn into the subterranean reservoir, and emerged at Hen-pit Hole.

About a mile from the village, on the road to Pockthorpe, is a round mound called Gallows Hill, where the remains of mortality are frequently dug up. Human bones and relics of antiquity have been found in no inconsiderable quantity at a place called Sand Pits, on the road leading from Kilham to Rudston. In 1814, a helmet and part of a spear were discovered; on the former were the faint resemblances of an inscription, but the individual into whose hands it fell, put it into the fire in order to make the letters more distinct, and thus utterly obliterated the inscription, which by other means might have been made legible. At different times great quantities of amber beads, and many glass ones of various colours have been found, also brass clasps and pins, and rings made of iron and brass. It is supposed to have been a Saxon burial place.

At the south-western extremity of the parish is a triangular piece of ground called Danes' Graves. It is dotted over with small hillocks, 197 according to the Ordnance map, varying from one to six or seven feet in height. The mounds are clearly artificial, but history has preserved no record of their origin. It would be interesting to know how long the place has borne its present name. Some of the mounds have been examined, and human bones in a good state of preservation were found in the limestone gravel. The opinion which generally prevails concerning this place is, that a great battle was fought somewhere near, and that the Danes who perished in it were buried here; but if such was the case the slain must have been buried without their armour or weapons, as no remains of these have been found. A long line of entrenchments, now nearly filled up, stretches from Danes' Graves to Gallows Hill, and another line extending in an easterly and westerly direction, may be seen about a mile north of the village.

SWAYTHORPE is the name of a farm and farmstead situated on elevated ground about 3½ miles north of Kilham. It contains about 770 acres, and is the property of Lord Hotham. Anciently it was a village of two streets, which may still be traced on the west and north sides of a large pond called Hempdike, and the foundations of a chapel are still visible near Chapel Well.

Charities. - The following charities have been left to the poor of the parish : - A yearly rent-charge of £5, left by a person named Watson; the dividends of £85 1s. 8d., 3 per cent. consols, left by Elizabeth Knowsley, in 1800; and £5, left by Elizabeth Thompson, in 1745.

[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.