LONDESBOROUGH: 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 and township is situated on the fringe of the Wolds, and comprises an area of 4,256 acres. The surface is undulating and well timbered. The soil is of a chalky character, and the subsoil principally chalk. The Earl of Londesborough is lord of the manor and owner of the whole parish, with the exception of the glebe. The rateable value is £4,079, and the number of inhabitants in 1891 was 380.

Though Londesborough does not figure very conspicuously in the pages of history, it is nevertheless a place of considerable antiquity, and would appear, from the terminal of its name, to have been of some consequence in Saxon times. At Londesborough, in the opinion of Mr. Wright, the eminent Saxon scholar, and many other authorities, stood the villa or palace of Edwin, King of Northumbria, wherein, in the year 627, the king and his councillors sat in conference, discussing the relative merits of their own pagan creed and the new religion taught by Paulinus. The Venerable Bede has left us a graphic account of the discussion. Coifi, the high priest, counselled the adoption of the new religion; for, said he, "few have served our pagan gods more faithfully than I, and yet few have been less fortunate." To this profound theologian succeeded a noble thane, who thus spoke :- " Often, O king, in the depth of winter, while you are feasting with your thanes, and the fire is blazing on the hearth in the midst of the hall, you have seen a bird, pelted by the storm, enter at one door and escape by the other. During its passage it was visible, but whence it came, or whither it went, you know not. Such to me appears the life of man. He walks the earth for a few years, but what precedes his birth, or what is to follow after his death, we cannot tell. Undoubtedly, if the new religion can unfold these important secrets, it must be worthy of our attention." Others spoke; then Paulinus was introduced to the assembly, and expounded the principal doctrines of Christianity. All present declared their willingness to accept the new creed; and Coifi, crying out, "There is none more fit than I to destroy the idols which I worshipped through ignorance," led the way to Godmundingaham (Goodmanham), and there, in desecration, hurled his lance at the pagan temple, and then fired it with a torch. Edwin and his courtiers were baptised in a wooden church hastily erected at York, and 10,000 of his subjects in the river Swale.

Some writers claim for Londesborough an origin more remote than the Saxon period, and assert that it is the site of the much-disputed Roman station of Delgovitia. Its position agrees with the distances given in the Antonine Itinerary, and a Roman road was discovered some years ago, while cutting a canal in the park. Goodmanham, Market Weighton, and Millington have also been fixed on as the site of the lost Delgovitia. Roman coins and interments have been frequently found while digging in the village and park grounds, but neither inscribed frestones nor foundations, such as one might expect to mark the site of a Roman station.

The lordship of Londesborough was anciently held of the archbishops of York by the FitzHerberts, and it afterwards passed, in the reign of Richard II., to the Bromfletes. In less than a century the male line of this family terminated, and the manor was conveyed, by the marriage of Margaret, daughter and heiress of Henry Bromflete and Baroness de Vesci in her own right, to John, Lord Clifford. This nobleman espoused the Lancastrian cause in the Wars of the Roses, but tarnished his military fame, at the battle of Wakefield, by the murder of the youthful Earl of Rutland, brother of Edward IV. Three months later he himself was slain at the battle of Towton, which crushed for a time the fortunes of the Red Rose of Lancaster, and proved very disastrous to the house of Clifford.

Margaret bore her husband two sons, and a pathetic interest attaches to the eldest, whose story forms one of the most beautiful and touching episodes in the traditionary lore of the north. To save her children from the fury of the Yorkists, who thirsted to avenge the death of the young Earl of Rutland, the widowed mother sent her youngest boy secretly to Flanders, and, Henry, the eldest, then seven years of age, she conveyed to her father's estate at Londesborough, and there placed him in the care of a shepherd, who had married one of her inferior servants. Here he was brought up as the shepherd's own son, without any knowledge of his birth and high lineage. Lady Clifford subsequently became the wife of Sir Lancelot Threlkeld, a kind-hearted man and a Yorkist. When the boy was about 14 years of age, a rumour spread abroad that the son of the Blackfaced Clifford, as the father was styled, was living in concealment in Yorkshire. Fearful lest the rumour should lead to his discovery, his mother had him immediately removed and placed under the care of another shepherd on her husband's estate at Threlkeld, in Cumberland. As heretofore, all knowledge of his noble birth was kept from him, he tended the sheep on the hillside, fed on the shepherd's homely fare, and was clad in a garb suitable to his occupation. Here he lived till the age of manhood, when the battle of Bosworth, the last in the Wars of the Roses, placed the Lancastrian family again on the throne. The young Clifford was restored to his birthright, and to all the possessions of the family, which had been forfeited by the death of his father on the losing side at the battle of Towton. The mother lived to see her son installed in the home of his forefathers, and Wordsworth has commemorated the event in his "Song at the feast of Brougham Castle." The good Lord Clifford, as he was afterwards called, was 32 years old when restored to his estates and had never learned to read. He is described by his descendant, the Countess of Pembroke, as "a plain man, who lived for the most part a country life, and came seldom either to Court or London, excepting when called to Parliament, on which occasions he behaved himself like a wise and good English nobleman."

"In him the savage virtues of his race,
Revenge and all ferocious thoughts were dead;
Nor did he change; but kept in lofty place
The wisdom which adversity had bred.
Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;
His daily teachers had been woods and rule;
The silence that is in the starry sky,
The sleep that is among the lonely hills"

In the early part of the 17th century Sir Francis Clifford, of Londesborough, succeeded his brother George in the earldom of Cumberland. His son Henry was the fifth and last earl of that family. The latter nobleman dying without male issue, his only daughter and heiress carried the estate in marriage to the Boyles, Earls of Cork, from whom it descended to the Duke of Devonshire. In 1846 the estate was sold to George Hudson, Esq., from whom it was purchased, in 1850, by the Hon. Albert Denison Conyngham, who, the same year, was created Baron Londesborough. Burke, in his "Rise of Great Families," thus tells the story of Hudson and Lord Londesborough

"Hudson, the Railway King, as he was called in the days of his glory, built up, for a time, a colossal fortune by a system of hazard, which astonished everyone; and after a thousand hairbreadth escapes, made one false step, and sank at once into ruin no less complete and wonderful than his rise had been. From being the owner of a small shop in one of the minor gates - that is streets - of York, Hudson, by a singular union of skill and intrepidity, came to he the possessor of so much wealth that he was enabled to purchase from the Duke of Devonshire his noble estate of Londesborough. The first in rank and the first in opulence, the noble from the west end of the metropolis, and the merchant from the wrong side of Temple Bar - aristocratic - were alike the invited guests at the table of the Railway King, all paying homage in his person to the deity of Fortune. But while the humble Yorkist was thus sailing before the wind, the gifted and amiable Lord Albert Conyngham, who had embarked upon the same voyage of speculation, met with nothing but storms and shipwreck. While Hudson was making a fortune by railways, his lordship was losing one, and was forced to seek a temporary refuge abroad. But, again, the wheel of fortune went round. Hudson's schemes burst on the sudden, like the soap bubbles blown by some idle schoolboy; he was at once stript of his borrowed plumage, while Lord Albert - the ruined Lord Albert - having inherited a large fortune from his uncle, Mr. Denison, purchased from Hudson the princely property of Londesborough. The career of Mr. Denison himself, to whom the noble house of Londesborough thus owes its rise, was one of the marvels of fortune. A poor lad, from Yorkshire, he made his way to London, and ascending the ladder step by step, raised himself honestly and honourably from the humblest to the highest position in an eminent bank, and died leaving millions of money."

Lord Londesborough, in compliance with the will of his uncle, assumed the surname of Denison only. He died in 1860, and was succeeded by his eldest son, the present peer.

The Lodge, formerly the shooting box of the Earl, is situated in a park of 400 acres, in which is an avenue of venerable elm trees, upwards of a mile in length, said to have been planted by Garrick, who was a frequent visitor at the hall; and among the yew trees is a shady spot, still called Garrick's Grove. The Lodge has been very much improved and extended by the present noble owner, who intends to make it a residence. The gardens and stud farm are undergoing extensive alterations and improvements, so that in a short time quite a lively aspect will be imparted to this otherwise quiet but romantic spot. The ancient hall of the Cliffords was taken down in 1819.

The village of Londesborough is small but wellbuilt, and stands on the western edge of the Wolds, two-and-a-half miles north from Market Weighton, and two miles from the station of its own name, on the York and Market Weighton branch of the North-Eastern railway.

The church of All Saints is an ancient edifice of stone, in the Norman and Early English styles, consisting of chancel, nave, north aisle, which extends along the chancel, south porch, and embattled western tower, with pinnacles, containing three bells. The aisle is separated from the nave by four pointed arches, and its extension is divided from the chancel by two similar arches. This aisle, or chapel which it probably was of old, is enclosed by screen work, and used as a vestry; and a screen of oak, rich in carving and colour, separates the chancel from the nave. The arcades belong to the transition period, between the Norman and Early English, and there are later additions in the Perpendicular style in the chancel and side chapel. The church underwent some repairs in 1679; and in 1819, the bells and leaden covering of the nave were sold, and the money used in lowering the roof, forming a plaster ceiling, and erecting high backed pews and a gallery. The fabric has been carefully restored by Lord Londesborough, under the direction of Mr. Temple Moore, architect, London. The inner doorway of the south porch is supposed to be of Saxon date; the pillars on each side are cut away. In the wall above are inserted an interlacing Saxon cross and a Saxon sun dial. The east window is a handsome one of five lights, filled with beautiful stained glass, in 1885, to commemorate the coming of age of the Hon. Francis Denison, son of the Right Hon. William, Lord Londesborough, and Edith, Lady Londesborough.

The church contains many monuments of the Clifford family, many of whom whom lie buried in "the vault of the chancel." The oldest is a brass, dated 1493, in memory of Margaret, Lady Clifford and Vesci, daughter and heiress of Henry Bromflete, Lord Vesci, whose first husband was John, Lord Clifford and Westmorland, as stated above, It is interesting to note that Lady Grace Fane, wife of Lord Raincliffe, only son of the Earl of Londesborough, and daughter of the Earl of Westmorland, is descended from the Lord Westmorland mentioned on this ancient monument. Another monument, a slab of black marble, inlaid with white marble, and supported by four marble pillars, is inscribed to the memory of Lady Grisold, Countess of Cumberland, who died at Londesborough, in 1613. In the wall of the side chapel is a marble monument, representing an infant in swaddling clothes, inscribed to Francis Henry, Lord Clifford, firstborn, who lived six hours, A.D. 1619.

The living is a rectory, worth £800 per annum, including 52 acres of glebe, with residence, in the gift of the Earl of Londesborough, and held by the Rev. Richard Wilton, M.A., St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, who was installed as rector in 1889, on the death of the late Right Hon. and Rev. the Earl of Carlisle, presented in 1836, for whom he had officiated since 1866, during which time the Right Hon. and Reverend gentleman was mentally incapacitated. The present rector is also Canon of Givendale, in York Cathedral. He is author of "Wood Notes and Church Bells"; "Lyrics, Sylvan and Sacred"; "Sungleams, Rondeaux and Sonnets"; "Benedicite" and other poems.

There is a hospital in the village founded in 1680, by Richard Boyle, second Earl of Cork and first Earl of Burlington, and Lady Elizabeth (Clifford) his wife, for six old men and the same number of women, and endowed with £100 a year, charged on the Londesborough estate. There is also a charity amounting to about £3 yearly, left by Miss Knowlton for distribution in bread to the poor.

The National school was built in 1830, for the accommodation of 70 children. Average attendance, 44.

EASTHOPRE is a hamlet, consisting of one farm, one mile east of the village. It is separately rated for highways, and is titheable to the parish of Goodmanham.

[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.