Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Ouse and Derwent - County Council Electoral Division of Riccall - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Selby - Rural Deanery of Bulmer - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish includes the townships of Skipwith and North Duffield. The total area according to the Ordnance Survey is 6,268 acres, which includes the whole of the common. In Skipwith township there are 1,759 acres of inclosed land, and about 800 acres of common. This moorland extends into the neighbouring parish of Riccall, and is the largest piece of unreclaimed land in England. The surface is level and scarcely 25 feet above the mean tide-level of the Ouse and Derwent, between which rivers it is situated. Beneath lies a bed of strong brown clay of unknown depth, and above this a stratum of sand of variable thickness. Potatoes are largely grown, also barley and oats. The rateable value is £2,345, and the number of inhabitants in 1891 was 280. The exors. of the late John Arthur Parker Toulson, Esq., are lords of the manor, and principal landowners. The other proprietors are Lord Wenlock, Escrick Park; J. J. Dunnington-Jefferson, Esq., Thicket Priory; and Mr. George Wake, of Ellerton.
On the common, both here and in Riccall, are numerous tumuli or sepulchral barrows, popularly called "Danes' Hills," from a vague tradition that the Norsemen slain at the battle of Stamford Bridge were buried here. These earthworks are of two kinds, the first being small circular trenches, about nine feet diameter, the earth from which has been thrown inwards, so as to raise the centre. These are believed to be the hut circles or pit dwellings of the primitive inhabitants. The others are low circular mounds, from 20 to 30 feet in diameter, standing in a square excavation facing the four points of the compass. Professor Phillips who examined several of these mounds, found burnt bones and carbonised wood, but with the exception of one rather dubious flint arrow head, no other trace of man or his works. Dr. Burton, the author of "Monasticon Eboracense," opened some of them in 1754, and in the centre of one of the largest he found an almost perfect skeleton of a young man, as appeared by the teeth, and part of another. In others he found calcined human bones, ashes, and pieces of decayed iron of various shapes.
Skipwith is mentioned in Domesday Book, and is therein spelt Schipewic. The first portion of the name is represented by ship in our modern orthography; the postfix has various meanings - a camp or station, village, castle, bay, or bend of a river. The place belonged to the fee of the De Stutevilles, and soon after the Conquest was held by Patrick, a younger son of the first, or more probably the second Robert de Stuteville, who took the name of Skipwith, and it remained in their possession until the family sank into obscurity in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The village is pleasantly situated, five miles north-east of Selby, and about two-and-a-half miles east of Riccall station, on the Doncaster extension of the main line of the North-Eastern railway. Near the church is the deep moated site of the ancient mansion of the Skipwiths. A cottage has been built upon part of the site bearing the dignified name of Moat Hall. A few old lath and plaster houses remain in the parish. The church which is dedicated to St. Helen, is an ancient edifice of stone, and consists of chancel, nave with clerestory, aisles, south porch, and an embattled western tower, containing three bells. The lower part of the tower is early Norman, the upper part is more modern. The nave is divided from the aisles by three pointed arches, resting on octagonal piers. The difference of the style of ornamentation, observable in the eastern bay on each side, and the two westernmost show that the aisles have been extended, probably by Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham, whose coat of arms may be seen among fragments of ancient stained glass preserved in the east window. This window is in the Early Perpendicular style. The south porch is Norman. The chancel is parted from the nave by a very fine oak screen of open work, and is fitted with stalls of the same material; and the nave is seated with open benches of pitchpine. There are several monuments to the Toulson and Parker families. Mr. Allen, in his History of the County of York, says :- " The church wall is almost entirely built of sepulchral stones, many of which are very handsome, having crosses flory and remains of inscriptions." This may account for the absence of ancient monuments. The church was thoroughly restored by public subscription in 1877, at a cost of £2,500. The churchyard was enlarged in 1867, and again in 1891, the additions amounting to about an acre of land.
The living is a vicarage worth £300 a year, including 160 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and held by the Rev. Charles Edward Gray, M.A., of Brasenose College, Oxford. The Vicarage House is a commodious residence, of brick, built in 1865, at a cost of nearly £1,400, which was advanced by the Queen Anne's Bounty Fund.
The Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1868, at a cost of £120, and the Wesleyans worship in a chapel converted out of a barn, about one mile from the village.
The school was founded and endowed by Mrs. Dorothy Wilson, of York, in 1714, with £20 per annum. It was furthur endowed with a sum of £400 (less the legacy duty), left by the Rev. Joseph Nelson, in 1817, which now produces £12 8s. yearly. Fourteen children from Skipwith township, and the same number from North Duffield are taught free. The school premises were erected in 1814, and have been enlarged since by the addition of a class-room. There are 63 children on the books.
Skipwith Hall is a large brick structure, built by the Toulson family in the reign of Queen Anne. It is at present the residence of Miss Mary M. Parker.
NORTH DUFFIELD is a township in this parish, lying on the west bank of the Derwent. Its estimated extent is 3,282 acres; rateable value, £4,134; and population, 326. The soil in the south-east part of the township is clay, and in the north-east sand. About 300 acres on the Ings and Carrs are laid down in meadow. This land, which lies low, is frequently flooded in winter, and sometimes in summer in wet seasons, when considerable damage is done to the hay crops. The principal landowners are R. S. Scholfield, Esq., J.P., Sand Hall, near Howden, who is lord of the manor; J. J. Dunnington-Jefferson, Esq., Thicket Priory; Thomas M. Roxby, the Law Life Assurance Co., London; John Vincent Brooksbank, Selby; and Charles Weddell, Carlton, Selby.
North Duffield anciently belonged to the Salvins, a knightly race, to whom it came through the marriage of Sibyl, one of the heirs of Roger de Thurkelby, with Robert Salveyn, in the reign of Edward I. Sir Gerald, his son, was cited to answer Quo Warranto he claimed a market, fair, tumbrell, gallows, and pillory, and he pleaded that the same had been granted by charter to Roger de Thurkelby, his mother's uncle. The Salvins had their principal residence here. Later the manor descended to the Husseys, whose castle stood on the banks of the Derwent. Lord Hussey, of this place, took an active part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, and was executed with the other leaders in 1537. The castle was demolished long ago, but the site where it stood is still easily traceable by the unevenness of the ground. Near the spot is Duffield Hall, a farmhouse, occupied by Mr. William Townsley.
The village is scattered, and stands on the road from Selby to Market Weighton, five-and-a-half miles north-east of the former place, and about two miles north of Menthorpe station, on the Selby and Market Weighton branch of the North-Eastern railway. There are chapels belonging to the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists; the former was built in 1876, in lieu of an older one, and the latter was erected in 1821. The National school, with teacher's house attached, was built by R. Scholfield, Esq., in 1872. It is a mixed one, under a mistress, and attended by about 35 children.
A fair for cattle is held annually on the village green, on the 4th of May.
Blackwood is a large two-story house, standing in a park of 35 acres well-wooded on three sides. It was built by Captain Roxby, about 30 years ago, and is the property of the Law Life Assurance Co., and the residence of Harry Clifford Ferns, Esq.
The township is connected with Bubwith, on the opposite side of the river, by a good bridge of three arches and seven culverts, erected in 1793. Each foot passenger pays a toll of one halfpenny.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.