SKIRLAUGH: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


Wapentake of Holderness - County Council Electoral Division and Poor Law Union of Skirlaugh - County Court District of Hedon - Rural Deanery of Hornsea - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

This parish, formerly a chapelry under Swine, was formed by an order in Council, dated 26th February, 1867, and comprises the townships of South Skirlaugh, North Skirlaugh-with-Rowton and Arnold, Benningholme and Grange, and Marton. North Skirlaugh, Rowton, and Arnold are in the north division of the Wapentake, and in the North Holderness petty sessional division; and the remainder of the parish is in the middle division of the Wapentake, and the petty sessional division of Middle Holderness.

South Skirlaugh embraces an area of £1,064 acres. Its rateable value is £1,517, and the population in 1891 was 261. The soil is mostly of a clayey nature, but fertile; and the chief crops are wheat, oats, barley, beans, and seeds. The manorial rights belong to Sir Frederick Augustus Talbot Clifford-Constable, Bart.; and the land is held by several proprietors, of whom the following are the most extensive : - The Misses Norman, Hessle; J. Whittaker-Bean, Esq., Hereford; Charles Fletcher-Lutwidge, Esq., Tunbridge Wells; Charles H. Johnson, Esq., Thorngumbald; the Crown, and the trustees of Cawood Charity.

South Skirlaugh is returned in the Domesday Survey as a soke of Aldbrough, containing four carucates. The abbot of Thornton, Lincolnshire, had some land here, and, when summoned in 21 Edward I., by a writ of quo warranto, to prove his right to certain privileges in South Skirlaugh and other places, pleaded his grant from Henry II. The prioress of the neighbouring convent of Swine had also lands in the township, and came into collision with the inhabitants by repudiating her liability to maintain a chantry in the chapel of Skirlaugh. The case was tried in the Court Christian at York, in 1337, and the archbishop decreed that the prioress and convent should find and maintain a chantry in the chapel of South Skirlaugh; that the inhabitants should find, and perpetually, at their own cost, maintain one fit priest to celebrate every day at the chapel of South Skirlaugh, to whom the nuns were to pay a yearly stipend of 36s. 4d., and a penny for every oxgang of land which they held in Skirlaugh; and that the inhabitants were to provide books, chalice, vestments, lights, bread and wine, &c., and to keep the said chapel in repair. The monastic lands comprised about one-third of the township, and at the Reformation passed to lay proprietors, without the liabilities which had attached to their former owners.

The village is pleasantly situated on the south bank of the Lamwath beck, which divides the north and middle divisions of the wapentake, nine miles northeast from Hull, seven miles north-west from Hedon, three miles north-east from Swine, and one-and-three-quarter miles from Skirlaugh station, on the Hull and Hornsea railway. The station stands within the township of Ellerby. An annual feast is held in the village, on the second Saturday after Midsummer Day.

The church, dedicated to St. Augustine, is a handsome edifice of stone, in the Early Perpendicular style, of which it is perhaps one of the finest examples in the county. It was built at the sole expense of Walter Skirlaugh, Bishop of Durham, and was not finished at the time of his death, in 1405. The plan comprises chancel, nave, a north chapel, south porch, and a western tower containing two bells. There is no external variation in the walls or roof to distinguish the chancel from the nave, nor is there any chancel arch to mark the division within. Formerly an oaken screen separated the chancel from the nave, but this partition - the production of an era of elaborate woodwork, and on which, doubtless, much of the interior beauty of the church depended - after escaping the screen-removing edict of Archdeacon Dering, issued in 1720, was taken down about the year 1820. All the windows were formerly filled with stained glass, but this was destroyed during the Commonwealth, and a fragment in one window is now all that is left. A bracket remains on each side of the altar, and the piscina in the south wall. The north chapel has been converted into a vestry, and the nave is seated with box pews. The tower and windows were restored in 1879-80, and the gallery at the west end taken down. In 1884, the roof was thoroughly repaired, and the old "three-decker" replaced by an elegant pulpit of oak, at a total expense of about £1,000, which was raised by voluntary contributions and the proceeds of a bazaar held in Rise Park. The tower is well proportioned and elegant, of three stages, supported by buttresses rising above the parapet in crocketed pinnacles. The parapet is formed of open trefoil arches, with crocketed finials, and a pinnacle, similar to the others, rising from the middle of each side. Around the base is a band of quatrefoils, and encircling the second stage, immediately above the great west window, is a battlemented tablet. In the west front, just above this tablet, is a canopied and crocketed niche, which doubtless once contained the statue of the patron saint. The upper stage is relieved by a pointed window, of two lights, on each side, the dripstone of each terminating in heads. The continuous walls of the nave and chancel are embattled, and are divided into six bays by buttresses, terminating in crocketed pinnacles above the parapet. In each bay is a three-light window, with traceried head, and dripstones terminating in a shield, bearing the arms of the founder. The porch is battlemented, with a richly-moulded inner doorway, and in the second bay is the priests' door, now walled up.

In 1403, Bishop Skirlaw obtained the license of the King and of the Archbishop of York, to found a perpetual chantry of two chaplains, one of whom was to hgave the cure of souls in the chapelry as the stipendiary priests had heretofore. The church estate, comprising 19 acres of land and five cottages, is supposed to have been the endowment of this chantry; and if so, it is fortunate that it escaped the royal clutches at the Reformation. There is no mention of this estate in the will of Bishop Skirlaw, but this can scarcely be accepted as a negative proof, since the chantry was founded during the prelate's lifetime, and the endowment must have been completed before the date of the will. The income from the estate is £45 per annum, less drainage rate of £1 3s. 3d., which is expended in repairing, &c., the church.

There is accommodation for 223. The registers date from 1719. The churchyard was enlarged in 1877 by the addition of half an acre of ground. The benefice is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Archbishop of York, and incumbency of the Rev. William Barnes. Its gross yearly value is £190, of which £166 is derived from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and £24 from other sources. The Vicarage house erected in 1869-70, is pleasantly situated a little distance from the church, in North Skirlaugh.

The Wesleyan chapel dates from 1821. The site for a new one has been secured, and it is proposed to commence building operations in the spring of 1892. The parish Reading Room and Working Men's Institute, formerly the Primitive Methodist chapel, was established in 1886. The Institute is under the management of a committee of 13, elected annually. The room is supplied with daily and weekly newspapers, periodicals, games, &e., and is well attended.

The National school, consisting of two departments with master's house attached, was built in 1860, at a cost of £919, including the purchase of the site, of which sum £664 was raised by voluntary contribution, and £254 was granted by the Committee of Council on Education. There is an average attendance of 45 boys and girls, and 40 infants. The trustees of Langdale's charity contribute £20 per annum towards its support. In the 7th James I. (1609), Marmaduke Langdale, Esq., left £200 for public and charitable uses in North and South Skirlaugh townships. In satisfaction of this legacy, 32 acres of land at Ellerby was obtained in 1656, the net income of which now amounts to £28 3s. yearly, of which sum £20 is given as above. The will of the testator places some curious restrictions on the schoolmaster. He was to teach the children during the week and preach on the Sundays; he was to he a celebate, temperate in his habits, not a company keeper, not to run a fleshinge and eating flesh on forbidden days contrary to the injunction and orders of the holy church and the king's majestie's wholesome and Godlie laws.

There are some extensive earthworks within the township, in which a large quantity of celts, spear heads, sword blades, &c., of a mixed metal, were discovered in 1809. They were wrapped in coarse linen cloth, and enclosed in a wooden box, which was unfortunately broken up by the plough.

LOCAL WORTHIES. - Walter Skirlaw or Skirlaugh, Bishop of Durham, was born here sometime before the middle of the 14th century. He is said to have been the son of a sieve or basket-maker, but this appears to be an inference drawn from his armorial bearings, six ozier wands interlaced in cross. His early education was received in the priory of Swine, whence he proceeded to Durham House, Oxford, where he took his D.D. His first preferment was to the Archdeaconry of the East Riding, and in 1370, was made prebendary of Fenton. He was consecrated Bishop of Lichfield in 1385; the following year he was translated to Bath and Wells, and in 1389, to Durham. He signalised his episcopate by the erection of many beautiful churches and other buildings, his master-piece being the chapter house at Howden. He was a patron of learning, and founded three scholarships in University College, Oxford. He died at his palace at Howden, and was buried with great pomp in Durham Cathedral.

John Bigland, author of a "Topographical and Historical Description of the County of York, and other works, was born at Skirlaugh, in 1750, and was engaged as a village schoolmaster at Rossington, near Doncaster, for many years. His first work was "Reflections on the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ," a subject which he had studied for the removal of his own doubts. The success of the book induced him to relinquish the drudgery and worse pay of a small school and devote himself to literature, though he had passed his fiftieth year. "Letters on the Study of Ancient and Modern History," and numerous other useful works came from his pen. He published memoirs of his own life in 1830, and died in 1832, at Finningley, near Doncaster.

NORTH SKIRLAUGH, ROWTON AND ARNOLD, form a joint township, containing 2,247 acres; its rateable value is £2,062; and the population in 1891 was 289. The soil is strong loam and clay; the subsoil clay; and the chief crops are wheat, oats, barley, peas, and beans. Wm. Bethell, Esq., J.P., of Rise Park, is lord of the manor, and principal landowner; and Wm. Wright, Esq., of North Ferriby; Mr. Wm. Billaney, of Arnold; and Mr. Peter Dunn, of Ellerhy, have land here; there are also a few small owners. The township lies on the north side of the Lamwath stream, and is in the North Division of Holderness. The village of North Skirlaugh stands on the bank of the stream, opposite South Skirlaugh, eight miles south-west from Hornsea, and nine miles from Hull, The Vicarage House is situated in the village. Springfield is another pleasantly situated house, the property of Wm. Bethell, Esq., and the residence of his agent, Ralph Hollis, Esq.

ROWTON, is a hamlet consisting of one farm. The Workhouse for the Skirlaugh Union, situated here, is a brick building, erected in 1838-9, at a cost of £2,332, exclusive of the site, which was given by the late Richard Bethell, Esq. The House is capable of accommodating 130 inmates, but the average number of indoor paupers does not exceed 35. The Union comprises an area of 66,898 acres; its rateable value is £28,159; and the population in 1891 was 9,304. It includes the following parishes and townships : - Aldbrough; Atwick, Skirlington, and Arram; Bewholme and Nunkeeling; Bilton; Bonwick; Benningholme and Grange; Brandesburton; Catwick; Catfoss; Coniston; Cowden, Great and Little; Danthorpe; Dunnington; Ellerby; Elstronwick; Fitling; Flinton; Ganstead; Garton-with-Grimston; Goxhill; Hatfield Great; Hatfield Little; Hempholme; Hornsea-with-Burton; Humbleton; Lelley; Marton; Mappleton and Rowlston ; Moor Town; Newton East; Newton West - with - Burton - Constable; Riston Long; Rise; Seaton and Wassand; Sigglesthorne; Skirlaugh South; Skirlaugh North; Rowton and Arnold; Sproatley; Swine; Withernwick; Wyton.

ARNOLD, is a hamlet and village containing 1,691 acres. It was formerley included in the parish of Long Riston, from which it was separated by an Order of the Local Government Board, and amalgamated with North Skirlaugh and Rowton on the 25th March, 1885. A portion of it is still in the ecclesiastical parish of Long Riston. Wm. Bethell, Esq., J.P., of Rise Park, and Wm. Wright, Esq., of Sigglesthorne, are the principal landowners. The soil is chiefly clay, with some carr land, and the subsoil clay.

In Domesday Book, Arnestorp is returned as a soke of Mappleton, and in later documents the name is written Arnall and Arnald. Amongst its earlier proprietors were the Fauconbergs, the Hildyards, and the abbots of Thornton and Meaux.

The village stands a little off the Hull and Bridlington high road, half-a mile south of Long Riston, and one-and-a-half miles north-west of South Skirlaugh. There is no place of worship here, but services are held in a cottage during the winter months by the vicar of Skirlaugh.

BENNINGHOLME AND GRANGE, form a joint township, containing 1,470 acres, and 88 inhabitants. It is valued for rating purposes at £1,310. The soil is various, clayey in some places, loamy and peaty in others; the subsoil clay and sand. Wheat, oats, beans, turnips, and seeds are the chief crops. The township was formerly in the parish of Swine, from which it was severed in 1867, and annexed to South Skirlaugh.

At the time of the Domesday Survey, Benningholme was a soke to Aldbrough; and in the 13th century, the manor came into the possession of the Constables. It remained with this family till 1770, when the manor and 690 acres of land were sold to Mr. Thomas Harrison; and in 1859 the whole township was purchased by the Crown. Benningholme Hall, the residence of former lords of the manor, is an ancient mansion hut much modernised. The fish pond remains.

Benningholme Grange, formerly the property of the nuns of Swine, is now occupied by Mr. Samuel Machin. The estate is supplied with water by an apparatus designed by the present tenant in 1875, and constructed by the Crown at a cost of about £100. A copper tube is sunk to the depth of 125 feet, penetrating 71 feet into the chalk. The pump, worked by a windmill cleverly contrived at the top of a tower, discharges the water into a 2,000 gallon tank.

FAIRHOLME, in this parish, was also parcel of the possessions of the Priory of Swine. It afterwards belonged to Marmaduke Langdale, and is now Crown property. In 1880, several thousand tons of bog oak were dug out of the land of Fairholme farm. Several of the trees were of immense length and girth.

MARTON, is a small township in the parish of Skirlaugh, containing 946 acres of land, belonging solely (with the exception of about two acres) to Sir F. A. T. Clifford-Constable, Bart., who is also lord of the manor. The soil is a yellowish clay; the subsoil clay; and the chief crops are wheat, oats, and barley. For rating purposes it is valued at £872, and had in 1891 a population of 70.

At the time of the Norman Survey, Meretone was held by Franco, a vassal of Drogo. It came into the possession of the Constables in the early part of the 13th century, and has descended with Burton Constable through a long line of ancestry to the present owner. It appears to have been formerly divided into East and West Marton. A family named Hedon were settled here in mediæval times, and in the scutage of 1359, Sir John de Hedon, Knight, answered for 30s.

The township lies on the south side of the Lamwath stream, and is in the middle division of the wapentake, and in the county council division of Aldbrongh. The lands which lie along the vale of the stream are frequently under water in wet seasons, and from this circumstance doubtless the place received its name of Meretone or Marton.

The village is small and is situated about seven miles south-south-west from Hornsea, eight north from Hedon, and two east from South Skinlaugh. The nearest railway station is Burton Constable in the adjoining township of Ellerby. The chief industry of the place, in addition to agriculture, is the iron and brass foundry and agricultural implement manufactory of Messrs. Francis Grassby & Co., which was established in 1827.

There was a chapel-of-ease here to the mother church of Swine. It was standing at the Reformation, but there is no record of the time of its erection, nor is the time known when it was demolished. Some of the stones are said to have been used in building a bridge over the Lamwath stream. The font was long preserved at Burton Constable. The site of the chapel is still known as Kirk Garth.

There is a small Catholic chapel in the village, built by William Constable, Esq., in 1789. It is dedicated to the Most Holy Sacrament, and consists of sanctuary and nave, with a small gallery at the end. On the wall is a memorial tablet to Mary, relict of John Chichester, Esq., of Arlington, Devonshire, and second daughter of Major McDonald McDonald, of Ternadrish, Inverness, who was deprived of his estate, liberty, and life for espousing the cause of Prince Charlie, October 18th, 1746. She died at Bath in 1815, and is interred in the vault beneath this chapel. Service is held in the chapel on the first Sunday of each month, at 11-0 am., by the priest from Hedon. Attached to the chapel is a small cemetery.

An undenominational school, supported by a voluntary rate, is held in the old Catholic school, built by Lady Constable. There are 27 children on the books, and an average attendance of 21.

[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.

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