Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Dickering - County Council Electoral Division of Burton Agnes - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Bridlington - Rural Deanery of Bridlington - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.
Rudston is a parish and township comprising 5,550 acres; the estimated extent, according to the overseer's returns, is 5,258½ acres, and the rateable value £5,154. The population in 1891 was 578. Alexander Wentworth Macdonald Bosville, Esq., of Thorpe Hall; Sir Henry Somerville Boynton, Bart., of Burton Agnes (who is lord of the manor); the Earl of Londesborough, and the vicar in right of his glebe, are the principal landowners. The surface is boldly undulated and well wooded on the higher grounds, presenting some fine patches of sylvan scenery.
To the student of antiquity Rudston is one of the most interesting parishes in the district. Its church is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, with a tower dating from the close of the Saxon period; but the most interesting feature is the monolith, the handiwork of a race which passed away untold centuries ago. This gigantic monolith is one block of stone 25 feet 4 inches in height, 6 feet 1 inch wide on the east side, 5 feet 9 inches wide on the west; 2 feet 9 inches thick on the north side, and 2 feet 3 inches on the south. It has been traced to a depth of 16 feet below the surface without reaching the bottom. Its origin and purpose are shrouded in mystery. It is said by some to have been raised as a landmark by Phoenician merchants, who had established a colony here; others suppose it was connected with the worship of Baal or the sun-god, a form of idolatry practised by the Ancient Britons, and which they are said to have learnt from the Phoenician mariners who visited this country. Others, again, believe the monolith to have formed part of one of those mysterious circles consecrated to Druidism, and Mr. Allen, in his History of the County of York, published in 1829, says an old woman in the village informed him that she could remember the remains of a similar block of stone, standing some yards to the east of the present one. Leland, Camden, and Drake suppose this and the similar stones at Boroughbridge, known as the Devil's Arrows, to be Roman trophies, erected in commemoration of some victory. But it is scarcely conceivable that the Romans, who commemorated their victories by columns and triumphal arches of marble, elaborately carved, would content themselves with raising here an unhewn stone. Others, again, think that, if not its origin, at least its early use is indicated by the old form of the name, Rodestan, or Stone of the Rood or Cross. Other theories have been advanced, but we will only refer to one given by Mr. Thompson in his History of Welton. "Beyond doubt," he says, "the Rudston stone is a Scandinavian 'Beauta Stone.' In A.D. 1865, a relation of Mr. Huffam, of Hessle, a friend of ours, met a Danish gentleman staying at Scarborough, who inquired of him where he should find a place called Rudston, on the Yorkshire Wolds, where he wished to see a 'Beauta Stone,' mentioned in an ancient Saga, still preserved at Copenhagen, which Saga states, as he informed the gentleman, that a Viking, called Rudd, died of malaria whilst in England, and was buried on the Wolds; that, afterwards, his 'beauta stone' was sent over from Denmark, and erected at his place of sepulture, which ever afterwards was called Rudston, having before borne another name." This Viking Rudd story does not appear very probable. With the small craft in use some fifteen centuries ago, it must have been impossible to transport a huge stone like the Rudston monolith, weighing some 40 or 50 tons, from Denmark to England, and then convey the same several miles overland. There may, however, be a substratum of truth in the story, and, if so, it applies, we should rather think, to a tumulus in the parish of Cloughton, which is known by the name of Rudda.
The monolith stands in the churchyard, and this position, under the shadow of the church, seems to favour the supposition that it had some connection with Druidical worship, the church having been erected, as it were, to Christianise a spot once sacred to heathen gods. It is a fine-grained oolitic grit, many miles distant from its parent rock, in the northern moorlands near Whitby, whence it has probably been carried by glacial action, and raised in its upright position by the early inhabitants of the district.
Tbese early Britons have also left behind other traces of their occupation of the district. In the neighbourhood of the churchyard are seven "long barrows" - the sepulchral mounds of the earliest or long-headed Britons. Two of these were opened in 1869, by Canon Greenwell and other gentlemen. One barrow was 66 feet in diameter, and the other was 78 feet, both being five or six feet in height. The examination showed that the original interments had been destroyed by later burials, burnt and unburnt. In one was found a double cist, formed of oolitic sandstone, which had evidently been used for very important burials. Skeletons, both male and female, were found in different parts of the mounds, and with each were a drinking-cup and implements of bone and flint. An urn of the "food-vessel type," ornamented with zigzag markings, and a bronze awl were found near the body of a woman. Other articles of burnt and unburnt pottery were obtained. The later burials were those of the brachycephalic or roundheaded Britons.
The Roman road from York to Bridlington passed through the parish, and many Roman relics, consisting of urns, swords, spears, &c., have been dug up. In 1838, a tesselated pavement was discovered in a field on the left of the road leading to Kilham. It was about nine feet long by four feet broad, and was composed of tesseræ, an inch square; red, blue, and grey in colour.
The village stands on the banks of the Gipsey Race, five miles west from Bridlington, and three-and-a-half miles from Burton Agnes station, on the Hull and Scarborough branch of the North-Eastern railway. The church, which bears the Saxon dedication of All Saints, is a beautiful edifice of stone in the Norman and Decorated styles, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, south porch, and an embattled western tower, containing a clock and three bells. The tower, which is the most ancient part of the church, is Early Norman, and is supposed to have been erected about the year 1050. The noble archway, by which it formerly opened into the nave, has been partly walled up to form a small entrance to the ground floor of the tower, now used as a vestry. The chancel dates from 1280, and the nave and aisles were rebuilt about 1330. The church was repaired in 1829, and again thoroughly restored and richly decorated under the direction of Mr. Fowler Jones, architect, of York, at a cost of £2,000, in memory of Matilda Bosville. A reredos of Ancaster stone richly carved, and divided by marble shafts into panels filled with encaustic tiles, stretches across the whole width of the east wall. Above this is a very handsome window of four lights, with elaborate tracery in the head. It is filled with stained-glass, representing the last four scenes in the life of Christ : - the Agony in the Garden, the Carrying of the Cross, the Burial, and the Resurrection. In the north and south walls are three very elegant two-light windows, two of which on each side are filled with stained-glass, by Capronnier, of Brussels, as was also the east window above mentioned. The ancient sedilia with crocketed canopies and the piscina remain in the south wall. The sacrarium rises by two steps, and the walls on either side are richly decorated with emblems of the Passion in quatrefoils. The floor, both here and in the rest of the chancel, is laid with Minton's tiles in beautiful design. The aisles are separated from the nave by three pointed arches springing from circular pillars; at the east end of each there was formerly a chantry chapel, the piscinæ of which remain. The east window of the south aisle represents in its three lights as many scenes in the life of Christ, and is a memorial of the late Lord and Lady Macdonald, erected by their children. There is another window to the memory of Richard Beaumont, captain, R.N., who died in 1877, placed by his widow and children. The stained-glass window at the east end of the north aisle is a memorial of Alexander and Matilda Bosville, of Thorpe Hall, erected by their children, Julia Lady Middleton and her brother, Wentworth Bosville, Esq. There are several handsome monuments on the walls of the aisles; one is to the memory of Lord Macdonald, of Thorpe Hall, and Gunthwaite, Yorks, and Armadale, Isle of Skye, who died in 1833; another to Godfrey Wentworth Bayard Bosville, Esq., who died in 1865; one to Richard and Susan Beaumont, who died in 1877 and 1879. A brass on the north wall of the chancel is inscribed, "In loving memory of the Hon. James William Bosville Macdonald, a general in the army, Colonel of the 21st Hussars, Private Secretary and Equerry to H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge, Commander in Chief, for upwards of 30 years, created for his services in the Crimea, Companion of the Bath, Knight of the Legion of Honour, and of Medjidie, born October 31st, 1810, died January 4th, 1882." He was born at Thorpe Hall, and lies buried in the churchyard. There are monuments to other members of the family. At the west end of the south aisle stands the font, a very fine piece of Norman work, richly ornamented with a diaper pattern. Piercing the wall at the south-east corner of the north aisle is a hagioscope or "squint," through which the high altar could be seen from the north chapel. The chancel is furnished with handsome stalls of carved oak, and the nave and aisles with open benches of pitchpine.
The church is lighted by electricity conveyed by wires from Thorpe Hall, where there is a very complete apparatus of the most improved type. The cost, amounting to £430, was wholly defrayed by A. W. M. Bosville, Esq. The organ, a very fine instrument, was added in 1888, at a cost of £1,500. It stands at the west end of the church, elevated upon eight pillars of wood. The case is a beautiful piece of open tracery adorned with plated pipes and an embattled cornice. The keyboard is in the chancel, and is connected by electric pneumatic action with the organ, which is blown by a small gas engine. The registers date from 1550. In the churchyard is the monolith above described. In another part is the ancient British cist-vaen before mentioned, formed entirely of undressed stones and divided across the centre for two burials. It was dug out of a tumulus between Rudstone and Burton Agnes, by Canon Greenwell, in 1869, and placed here in 1871, as nearly as possible in its original form.
The living is a vicarage, gross value, £310, derived from 261 acres of land and a modus of £44, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and held by the Rev. Charles Smetham Booty, M.A., of St. Catherine's College, Cambridge. The vicarage house was presented to the living by A. W. M. Bosville, Esq., in 1888, and subsequently enlarged by subscription.
There are chapels in the village belonging to the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists; the former was built in 1879, and the latter in 1876. There is a good National school, erected in 1858, and also an Infant school, and a parish library containing about 700 volumes.
THORPE HALL, the seat of Alexander Wentworth Macdonald Bosville, Esq., is a spacious mansion, situated in an extensive park about one mile east of the village of Rudston.
CAYTHORPE is a hamlet about one-and-a-half miles east from Rudston, consisting of two farms.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.