Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Buckrose - County Council Electoral Division of Leavening - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Malton - Rural Deanery of Pocklington - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.
This parish is bounded on the north and west by the river Derwent and includes the townships of Westow, Eddlethorpe, Firby, and Menethorpe, comprising a total area of 3,016 acres, and a population of 445. In the township of Westow there are 1,190 acres of land, belonging chiefly to the Rev. Charles Best Norcliffe, of Langton, who is also lord of the manor; Colonel Herbert, of Gate Helmsley; Messrs. W, & John Roger Butterwick, of Hartlepool, and Mr. Potter, of London. The soil is light; subsoil, limestone; and the chief crops are barley, oats, and turnips. The rateable value is £1,759, and the population in 1891 was 315.
The village is large, and pleasantly situated on an eminence (whence, probably, it derives its name of Westow, that is, West howe or hill) six miles south from Malton, and one-and-a-half from Kirkham Abbey station, on the York and Scarborough branch of the North-Eastern railway. The church of St. Mary is an ancient edifice of stone, standing about half-a-mile from the village, but conveniently situated for the parishioners resident in Eddlethorpe, Firby, and Menethorpe. It is in the Early English style, and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch, and an embattled western tower. The church underwent some repairs in 1821-2, and in 1864 it was again thoroughly restored and the north aisle added, at a total cost of about £1,400. The ancient piscina remains in the south wall of the chancel, and many fragments of ancient carved work may be seen in the exterior walls of the church. Another relic of antiquity is preserved in the vestry. It is a piece of sculpture, in stone, representing the Crucifixion, with figures of the Blessed Virgin and St. John standing at either side in sorrowing attitude. The tower is divided from the nave by a pointed arch. The lower chamber forms the baptistery. The font is circular and Norman. In the belfry are three bells: one bears the legend Soli Deo Gloria, and the date, 1659; No. 2 is inscribed Jhones Vald me fecit; and No. 8, Ora pro nobis Sancte Petre. This invocation to St. Peter fixes the date of the third bell at some time anterior to the Reformation. The east window is a very handsome stained-glass memorial of Eugene Thomas Curzon Whittell (who died in 1863), erected by his sisters. In the south wall of the chancel is a stained-glass window of two lights, to the memory of Louisa Blanche Foljambe, erected by her husband, Cecil George Savile Foljambe, Esq., of Cockglode, in 1877. The west window is a memorial of Richard Hill, who died in 1861, in his 21st year. There are also some modern monuments on the walls to members of various local families. Amongst them is one to the memory of the Rev. Thomas Harrison, of Firby, who died in 1838, and Alma, his wife, who survived her husband 47 years. There are 400 sittings. The register dates from 1549. In the churchyard is the base and part of time shaft of the old churchyard cross, and also several stone coffins. The living is a vicarage, gross value £320, including 32 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and held by the Rev. Frederick Lawrence, B.A., London University. The titimes were commuted in 1842, for a rent-charge of £689 11s. 6d., of which £114 11s. 6d. belongs to the vicar, and £575, the rectorial tithe, is assigned to the Archbishop of York.
A new Vicarage House was erected in 1869, by the Rev. R. Kitching, M.A. (then vicar), at a cost of about £1,400. It stands near the junction of the Malton, Westow, and Firby roads, in the township of Firby, and is now used for the accommodation of clergymen who, from time to time, assist in the ministerial work of the parish, and the staff clerks employed by the Church of England Burial, Funeral, and Mourning Reform Association. This association, the object of which is indicated by its name, was founded by the Rev. Frederick Lawrence, the present vicar, who is also its honorary secretary. He resides in the old Vicarage House, in the village of Westow.
The Wesleyan chapel dates from 1793, and is in the Malton circuit. It is a small stone building with accommodation for 120. The Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1873, at a cost of £165. It is furnished with open seats of pitch-pine to accomnmodate 100 persons.
A new school was built in 1879-80 at the expense of Mr. Phillips, late of Menethorpe. It is a substantial stone building, capable of accomnmodating 120 children, and attended by upwards of 50. In front is a playground of unusually large dimensions; and near is a good stone house for the residence of the master. The school is endowed with the interest of £50 left by Mrs. Elizabeth Sugar in 1783, for the free education of a few children.
WESTOW HALL, formerly the seat of a branch of the family of Idle, is an ancient house belonging to Sir Tatton Sykes.
Two or three of the farmhouses bear the name of Grange, indicating their monastic ownership in days long gone by. These lands were given by Sir Walter L'Espec, lord of Kirkham, to the priory which he there founded. The parish church was also included in the grant, the rectory being appropriated to the prior and convent, and a vicarage ordained with a small but sufficient endowment for maintenance of a vicar. The patronage belonged to the priors of Kirkham until the dissolution of that monastery, when it reverted to the king, and was by him transferred to the Archbishop of York in exchange for other lands.
At the junction of the Firby, Westow, and York roads is the base of an ancient wayside cross. The shaft is gone, but the socket in which it was fixed, remains, and the children of Westow on Holy Thursday of each year fill it with flowers.
CHARITIES. - Francis Idle bequeathed to the poor of the parish £198 5s. 7d., with this sum, £225 in the three per cent, reduced annuities were purchased in 1766, and the dividends amounting to £6 15s. l1d, are distributed in money and bread. Tomlinson Thompson left a rent-charge of 5/- per annum payable out of Crike Mires; and another rent-charge of 6/- yearly is paid out of Simpkin's estate. Henry Boulton , of Howsham, gave by will, in 1798, the sum of £20, the interest to be applied in keeping his tombstone clean and in good repair, and the remainder, if any, to he distributed in bread from off his tombstone to poor widows and widowers of the township of Westow. Charles Potter, Esq., of Westow, who died in 1885, bequeathed £100 to the vicar and churchwardens, the interest thereof to be distributed amongst the poor of Westow township, at the discretion of the said trustees.
EDDLETHORPE is a small township containing 717 acres of land, owned chiefly by the Rev. C. B. Norcliffe, who is lord of the manor, Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart., and the ecclesiastical commissioners. The hamlet is about two miles north-east of Westow. The whole township is comprised in two farms. The soil is various, subsoil clay and sand, and the chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and seeds. The rateable value is £815, and the population in 1891 was 43.
FIRBY is a small township situated about one mile north-west of Westow, and about the same distance from Kirkham Abbey station, on the North-Eastern railway. There are 526 acres of land, which belongs to Mrs. Clough-Taylor, wife of E. Clough-Taylor, Esq., and daughter and heiress of the late Rev. Thomas and Mrs. Harrison, of Firby Hall. The new vicarage house is situated in this township, and there are 29 acres of glebe land. The soil is various, the subsoil limestone, and the chief crops are wheat, oats, barley, and turnips. A vein of iron ore runs through the township. An attempt was made about twenty years ago to work this vein. Two shafts were sunk, but operations were carried no further, and the scheme was abandoned. The rateable value of the township is £747; the number of inhabitants in 1881 was 42, and in 1891, 23.
FIRBY HALL, is an ancient building, seated on an eminence, whence it commands some very fine views of the surrounding country. The grounds cover about seven acres, and are well wooded.
MENETHORPE, also spelt MENNETHORPE, is another township in this parish. It contains 583 acres of land, the chief owners of which are Henry Francis Dent, Esq., J.P., of Menethorpe, and Thomas Preston, Esq., J.P., of Norton. The rateable value is £1,036, and the population in 1891 was 64. Thirty years ago there were nearly twice as many inhabitants; there were then a goodly number of small farniers, and Menethorpe was a busy little agricultural centre. The hamlet consists of a few good but scattered houses, situated in a narrow alley near the river Derwent, three miles south-west of Malton, and half-a-mile from Huttons Ambo Station, on the opposite side of the river.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.