Wapentake of Harthill - Petty Sessional Division of North Hunsley Beacon - County Council Electoral Division of Etton - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Beverley - Rural Deanery of Beverley - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.
LECONFIELD or LECKONFIELD is a parish and township containing 3,629 acres (including 28 acres of water), belonging chiefly to Lord Leconfield, who is also lord of the manor. The North-Eastern Railway Company own 1 mile 1,522 yards of railway, assessed at £1,730. The rateable value of the whole parish is £4,923, and the population in 1891, including Arram, was 312. The soil is various, but chiefly a heavy loam. The general crops are wheat, oats, barley, beans, and turnips, and on the carrs rape and mangold are largely grown. About one-fourth of the land is laid down in pasture.
Leconfield is a place of remote antiquity. If we may accept the etymology of its name, Llecen Fylliad, the flat stone in the gloomy shade, advanced by the Rev. G. Oliver, the historian of Beverley, it was the place where the votaries of Druidism were initiated into its mysteries, and passed their probationary noviciate. But quitting this region of fanciful speculation for the solid facts of history, it is recorded that Addi, a noble Saxon thane, who lived about the beginning of the seventh century, built a chapel here for the use of the early christians. At the time of the Domesday Survey, Lachinfield, as the name is therein written, was held in tripartite division by the Earl of Moreton, William de Percy, and the canons of Beverley, under the Archbishop of York. The Percys subsequently appear as lords of Leconfield, and had a residence here. In 1308, Henry de Percy obtained a license to fortify his castle here. This Henry purchased the barony of Alnwick from Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham. Another Henry de Percy, who, at the coronation of Richard II., in 1377, was advanced to the Earldom of Northumberland, obtained from that king a charter for a weekly market at Leconfield every Tuesday, and an annual fair, to be held on the eve and day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the seven following days. Henry Percy, the second earl, who married Lady Eleanor Neville, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland, seems to have made Leconfield his principal residence, as several of his children were born here. The third earl, who was born here, was slain at Towton, on Palm Sunday, 1461, whilst leading the van of the Lancastrian army. The Yorkists were victorious, and the estates of the earl were alienated. Eleanor, his widow, gave the advowson and tithes of the church of Leconfield to the Abbey of Alnwick, but the manor was granted to George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV. The estates and dignities were restored in 1469 to Henry, the only son of the last earl. He frequently resided at Leconfield, and at last fell a victim to royal avarice and arrogance. As lord-lieutenant of the county it became his duty to enforce the payment of a very unpopular land-tax, one penny of which Henry VII. had sworn he would not abate. When this was announced to the assembled multitude, they broke into a frenzy of rage, and bursting into the earl's house, Cock Lodge, near Topeliffe, they cruelly murdered him and several of his servants. The unfortunate nobleman was buried in Beverley Minster, and his funeral obsequies were carried out on a scale of magnificence never before or since witnessed in England. The vast cortege halted one night at Leconfield, on its way from Topcliffe to Beverley.
Henry Algernon, the fifth earl, maintained at his castles of Leconfield and Wressil a splendour and hospitality scarcely inferior to that of the royal court. He prescribed rules and regulations for the conduct of his household, and has left us a minute description of the princely manner in which a baron of old lived, in the famous "Northumberland Household Book." The original MS is still extant, and has been given to the world in book form by his descendant. From it we learn that his household was arranged on the principle of a royal establishment. His council board consisted of the principal officers of his household, who were all gentlemen by birth and blood. He had 11 domestic chaplains, over whom presided a Doctor or Bachelor of Divinity; and he had a complete establishment of singing men, choristers, &c., for his chapel service. The family at Leconfield consisted of 166 persons, and, on an average, 55 strangers were entertained every day, making a total of 221. The annual consumption of food was 250 quarters of malt, 12 quarters of wheat, 647 sheep, 131 beeves, 25 hogs, 28 calves, and 40 lambs; and 10 tuns and 2 hogsheads of Gascony wine. The whole household assembled every morning in the chapel for Divine service at six o'clock; at seven, the earl and his lady breakfasted out of a chine of boiled beef or mutton, with a quart of ale and some wine. Dinner was served at ten, supper at four, and at nine in the evening all the gates were closed, and the family retired to rest.
In 1541, the earl entertained Henry VIII. and his new queen, Catharine Howard, and a gallant train of attendants, at his castle here. His second son, Sir Thomas Percy, was beheaded for his participation in the Pilgrimage of Grace, and subsequently, in consequence of this attainder, part of the estates were conferred upon John Dudley, who was created Earl of Northumberland, and succeeded to the castle and estate of Leconfield, in 1551. On the accession of Queen Mary, Dudley, who had with others conspired against that princess, to place his own daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, upon the throne, was tried and executed for his treason, and the Northumberland honours and estates were restored to Thomas Percy, the seventh earl. This nobleman, for conspiring against Queen Elizabeth, was beheaded at York, in 1572, and died avowing the Pope's supremacy, and affirming the realm to be in a state of heresy. The next earl, Henry Percy, his brother, was suspected of favouring the claims of Mary Queen of Scots, and was committed to the Tower, where he was found dead, slain by three bullets from a pistol. He was succeeded by Henry, ninth earl, his eldest son, in whose time the castle of Leconfield fell to decay. He was accused by his enemies of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot, was sentenced by the Star Chamber to a fine of £30,000, and was confined a prisoner in the tower for many years. This fine so impoverished him, that this and his other Yorkshire castles were unoccupied, and went to ruin. Shortly afterwards, the buildings at Leconfield were totally demolished, and the valuable materials removed for the repair of Wressil Castle. Leland, who visited the castle about 1538 thus describes it: "Lekingfeld is a large house, and standith withyn a great mote yn one very spatious courte. Three parts of the house, saving the meane gate that is made of brike. The park thereby is very fair and large and meetely welle woddid. Ther is a fair tour of brike for a lodge yn the park." The castle stood a little west of the village, and was surrounded by a wide and deep moat, the remains of which are still to be seen.
On the death of Joceline Percy, 11th Earl, without male issue, in 1670, his manor of Leconfield passed to his grandson, Algernon Seymour, Duke of Somerset, from whom it descended to the Wyndhams, and thence to the present owner, whose father was created Baron Leconfield, in 1859.
The village stands on the Driffield and Beverley road, three miles north-west of the latter place, and about one mile west from Arram station, on the Hull and Scarborough branch of the North Eastern railway. The church, usually called St. Catherine, but assigned to All Saints in the Diocesan Calendar, is a plain ancient building with an ivy-mantled brick tower, containing two bells. It underwent some repairs in 1684, and the interior was restored about 26 years ago. The register dates from the year 1551. The living is a vicarage, united with the rectory of Scorborough, gross united value £350, in the gift of Lord Leconfield and held by the Rev. Edwin Watts, M.A.
The National School for the united parishes of Leconfield and Scorborough is a good building of stone, erected in 1858, for the accommodation of 50 children. There are about 30 children in average attendance. It is supported by a voluntary rate and contributions from Lord Leconfield and Lord Hotham.
ARRAM, is a hamlet of scattered houses about one-and-a-quarter miles east of Leconfield. The Wesleyans have a chapel here; it is a small temporary structure of iron, erected in 1879, at a cost of £180.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.