Bedale Parish information from Bulmers' 1890.


Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Hang East - Electoral Division and Poor Law Union of Bedale - County Court District of Northallerton - Rural Deanery of East Catterick - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.

The boundaries of this ancient parish were re-arranged in 1840, and now include the townships of Aiskew, Bedale, Burrill-cum-Cowling, Firby, and Rand Grange, containing an aggregate area of 5,830 acres, and 2,076 inhabitants. Crakehall and Langthorne were formerly in this parish, but in the above mentioned year they were, with part of East Brompton, formed into a separate parish, which will be found on another page. The township of Bedale has a total area, including roads and water surface, of 1,682 acres, and contains about one half of the inhabitants of the whole parish. The rateable value is £5,530. Sir Henry Monson de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, Bart., is the principal landowner, and he and Lord Beaumont are joint lords of the manor, but the latter does not now possess any land in the township.

The earliest owner of the lordship of Bedale of whom we have any record was Scollandus, sewer to Earl Alan, who gave his name to one of the apartments in the Castle of Richmond. His daughter and heiress married Brian Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel, and brother to Conan, Earl of Richmond; but after four descents, the Fitz-Alan line terminated in two daughters, co-heirs, between whom the estates were divided. Matilda, the eldest, received the lordship of Bedale, and married Sir Gilbert de Stapleton, Knight, by whom she had two sons, Sir Miles Stapleton, who became lord of Bedale, and Brian de Stapleton. The male line of the elder brother ended with Sir Miles, his great grandson, whose two daughters and co-heirs became joint owners of the manor. One moiety still remains in the possession of the family, now represented by Lord Beaumont. The other moiety subsequently passed to Simon Digby, who was attainted for his participation in the rebellion of the Earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland, in 1569. His manors of Bedale and Ascough, with the Rectory of Bedale, were forfeited to the Crown, and were granted, by Elizabeth, to Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, and by conveyance they came to Sir William Theckston. In the reign of Charles I. they passed, either by grant or purchase, into the possession of John Peirse, Esq., of Bedale, who was a gentleman sewer of the chamber to that king. Henry Peirse, Esq., of Bedale, was M.P. for Northallerton. He died in 1824, leaving three daughters co-heiresses. The third, Elizabeth, became the second wife of Admiral Sir John de la Poer Beresford, Bart., by whom she had two sons and three daughters. Henry William de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, Esq., the eldest, married Henrietta Ann Theodosia, only daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Thos. J. Monson, and left, besides other issue, Henry Monson de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, who succeeded to the baronetcy of his uncle, Sir George de la Poer Beresford, in 1878. Sir Henry married, the same year, Lady Adelaide Mary Lucy Bernard, fifth daughter of Francis, third Earl of Bandon. She had issue five sons and one daughter, and died in 1884. He married, secondly, in 1886, Henrietta S. Dodsworth, daughter of Sir Matthew Dodsworth, Bart., of Thornton Watlass. Sir Henry is a J.P. and D.L. of the North Riding, and C.C. for the Bedale Division of the North Riding County Council.

Bedale hall, the seat of Sir Henry, is a handsome stone mansion, surrounded by extensive and beautiful pleasure grounds. The dining room is a splendid apartment, 60 feet long by 30 feet wide and 30 high. The walls and ceilings are richly ornamented in has relief. Near the hall formerly stood Bedale Castle, but not a vestige of it is now to be seen above ground. It is supposed to have been erected by Sir Brian Fitz-Alan, who died in 1301.

The town is small but well built, and pleasantly situated on the south bank of a stream, in the midst of a rich agricultural district. It is on the Northallerton and Hawes branch of the North Eastern railway, and is distant about eight miles W.S.W. from the former town, twelve miles from Ripon, and the same from Richmond. It consists chiefly of one long street, which widens out into a broad space, in the centre of which stands the ancient market cross - a tall octagonal pillar, formed of one stone, and standing upon a flight of steps of the same shape. The Market, which dates from an early period, is held on Tuesdays for meat, poultry, butter, and agricultural produce, and a Fair for cattle and sheep every alternate Tuesday. This was established in 1837. Annual Fairs are held on Easter Tuesday, Whit-Tuesday, July 6th and 7th, October the 10th and 11th, and on the Tuesday-week before Christmas Day; but these have almost fallen into desuetude since the establishment of the fortnightly fair. The Town Hall is a substantial building, erected, along with some cottages, in 1840, at a cost of £1,012; of this sum, £600 was borrowed, and the remainder was taken from the various charity funds of the town. The loan was afterwards cleared off by a bazaar, and the whole of the rents became available for division among the charities contributing to the erection. The building contains a shop on the ground floor, and a large room above in which magisterial and other public business is transacted. Behind the Town Hall is the Savings Bank, a substantial brick building, with stone dressings, erected in 1862, at a cost of £3,000. At the last yearly audit the funds of the bank amounted to £33,591 10s. 7d., belonging to 1,033 depositors. On the upper floor of the building is a spacious and lofty Assembly Room, measuring 60 feet by 30 feet. The Young Men's Institute was established in 1880, and in 1883 commodious premises were erected, at a cost of £1,000, raised by subscription and a grand bazaar; the site was given by Sir Henry Monson de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, Bart. The ground floor is appropriated to the library, in which there are about 1,400 volumes. On the upper floor are two comfortable and well lighted reading rooms (one of which is set apart for the use of ladies), supplied with the leading newspapers and periodicals. In the rear, but detached from the Institute, is a spacious billiard room, well ventilated, and lighted entirely from above by a glass roof. The walls of the various rooms are elegantly furnished with numerous costly pictures and engravings, many of the latter being artists' proofs - the gift of Sir F. A. Milbank, Bart., and Sir C. E. S. Dodsworth, Bart. The Institute is under the management of a committee of gentlemen, annually elected by the members, and is in a flourishing condition. The town has been lighted with gas since 1836. The works were enlarged in 1860. The original capital was raised in shares of £5.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Gregory, is a noble and handsome edifice, erected apparently about the time of Edward I., when decorated Gothic was beginning to take the place of Early English. An earlier church had occupied the site, which was standing when Domesday Book was compiled, A.D. 1086. This Saxon edifice appears to have been completely taken down when the present church was erected, leaving scarcely a trace behind. What may he supposed to be the only remains of it is part of a tomb bearing sculpture of undoubted Saxon character. On the sides are carved rude representations of the Crucifixion in a tree; the temptation of Eve by a serpent with a human face; and two serpents interlaced biting their tails. A portion of another stone, somewhat similar, was found in digging a grave in the church, and in the churchyard some fragments of a cross, bearing elaborate knot-work with rope border.

The present church, which exhibits in its architecture the styles of at least two different eras, consists of nave with side aisles and chapels, chancel, porch, and a square embattled tower at the west end. This tower is strikingly imposing, and resembles in the massiveness of its masonry and internal construction, a Border pele. It is perhaps the strongest church tower in the north of England, and there can be little doubt that, in the rough old days of Border warfare, it would be frequently used for defensive purposes by the inhabitants of Bedale. If the enemy succeeded in forcing their way through the great western door, their further progress was barred by the portcullis which defended the staircase. The existence of this portcullis had long been forgotten, until it fell from the effects of long corrosion some seventy years ago, leaving the groove to tell its own tale. The lower storey of the tower has a fine groined roof, and in the chamber above this are a fire place and other domestic conveniences, from which it is inferred that this tower formed part of a castle that once stood on the site of the church. The upper stage of the tower appears to have been a subsequent addition, and is probably not older than the reign of Henry VI. Over the western door is a fine pointed window of three lights which was filled with stained glass in 1865, at the expense of Admiral Harcourt and his wife. On the south side of the tower is a massive porch with stone roof.

The church was thoroughly restored in 1854, at a cost of about £2,000, raised by subscription. In carrying out the work of reparation all the ancient features of the edifice were religiously preserved; the clumsy galleries, huge box pews, and other execrable 17th and 18th century deformities were removed, and the interior restored to its original beauty and proportions. The nave is separated from the north aisle by four ornamented arches, and from the south aisle by three plain ones, evidently the work of two different periods. The clerestory is also a later addition. On each side of it are four square headed windows. The aisles are continued on each side of the chancel, forming side chapels. That on the south formerly contained the rich mausoleum of Brian Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel, the noble founder of the church and castle of Bedale, and his wife. The monument was long ago destroyed, but the effigies of the valiant knight and a lady remain, and now lie on the north side of the west end of the nave. The figure of the baron is of marble and finely carved, whilst that of the lady is of coarser stone, and apparently of older date. It may be doubted whether the latter effigy is that of the wife of the noble founder of Bedale and Killerby Castles, or ever formed part of his tomb. She rests on the remains of a distinct ornamental slab, at the corners of which are holes for the affixing of an iron hearse, or a canopy of stone above her. Her mantle is flowing, and envelops in its ample folds the whole of the lower extremities. A chaplet surrounds her brow, and a scroll runs from her fingers. The east window of this chapel is pointed and very wide, consisting of five lights with a large cinquefoil and two circles in the head, and is wholly out of harmony in design and proportion with the rest of the church, In the south wall are square-headed windows, with a door between them; and above the latter is a sun dial and the date 1556. This date probably refers to some alterations or repairs made at that time.

In the chapel at the end of the north aisle was the richly ornamented tomb of Thomas Fitz-Alan, the son of Brian Fitz-Alan, and rector of Bedale, to whom the building of a great part of the church is attributed. This, the most elaborately sculptured monument in the church, was destroyed long ago, probably by the fanatical zealots of the Puritan period, but the much mutilated figure of the ecclesiastic lies under a recessed arch which formed the reredos of the tomb. In this north aisle there was also an alabaster monument bearing a Latin inscription to Sir William Ascough, a justice of the King's Bench in the early part of the 15th century. He belonged to a family of yeomen resident at Ascough or Aiskew in this parish, and was the second founder of the Hospital of St. Nicholas, near Richmond. In the pavement of the north chapel is a large and beautiful grave slab, exhibiting a carving in relief of a large male figure and two smaller figures. This, according to local tradition, was the memorial of a Rhinish merchant who resided at Bedale at a remote but unknown date.

The Chancel is supposed to have been the work of Thomas Fitz-Alan, the rector, whose mutilated effigy lies in the recess behind the organ. It is divided from the nave by a yawning arch which strikes the eye as disproportionate and ungraceful. The beautiful east window was restored by the Rev. J. J. T. Monson, the late rector, to whose memory the four light east window of the north chapel has been filled with stained glass at the expense of the parishioners. The fine old sedilia and piscina remain in the south wall, and are still in perfect preservation. On the floor of the choir is a brass plate inscribed to Dr. Samwaies, founder of the Bedale hospitals.

Under the east end of the chancel is a small crypt with a groined roof and the remains of a stone staircase, which appears to have terminated in the sanctuary, probably behind the high altar. This crypt is lighted by one small window with projecting sill, that seems to have served as an altar. It was probably used as a mortuary or chantry chapel. In the crypt are preserved the interesting Saxon relics above described.

Lying at the south side of the west end of the nave, are two recumbent statues, probably representing members of the Fitz-Alan family. There are several memorial windows and tablets to the Peirse, Monson, Beresford, and other families, but not a single memento remains of the Stapletons, who were formerly lords of Bedale and patrons of the living for fully three centuries. A handsome white marble monument on the wall of the south aisle is worthy of notice. It was the work of Westmacott, and represents the full-length figures of Henry Peirse, Esq., who died in 1824, and his daughter, Lady Beresford, who died the following year.

The Church is fitted with open stalls for about 800 persons. A handsome pulpit of Caen stone was presented in 1888 by Sir Henry Monson de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, Bart. In the tower there are a clock with chimes, and a peal of eight bells, two of which were added in 1873, and hung by Mallaby of Masham. Three of the other bells bear 17th century dates, and two of them were cast last century. The remaining one dates from pre-reformation times, and bears the following legend - "IOU EGO: CUM FIAM: CRUCE CUSTOS: LAUDO: MARIAM: DIGNA : DEI: LAUDE : MATER: DIGNISSIMA : GAUDE." The first three letters of the inscription, IOU, are supposed to be the initials of the dedication Immaculattæ Optimæ Virgini (To the immaculate most excellent Virgin). The remainder of the legend may be rendered - Since I am made a watcher by the Cross, I praise Mary with a praise worthy of God: Most worthy Mother, rejoice.

The living is a rectory worth £2,000 a year, including 173 acres of glebe, with residence, and in the gift of Sir H. M. de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, Bart. The present rector, the Rev. John Beresford, M.A., was presented in 1861.

A new Wesleyan Chapel was completed and opened in May, 1887, at a cost of £1,654, which was raised by subscription. It is a handsome red brick building in the Perpendicular style, with moulded freestone facings, and comprises nave, organ gallery, vestries, and a very ornamental porch. It is lighted by five two-light windows on each side, and a handsome rose one in the west end, all of which have stone mullions, and are filled with dim cathedral glass. It is furnished with open benches or stalls, and will seat 300 persons. The old chapel built in 1821, has been taken down and two houses for the ministers erected on the site at a further cost of £1,300. The Baptists have also a chapel in the town. It is a plain but commodious brick building, with round-headed windows and massive porch erected in 1878, at a cost of £1,500, and will seat about 300 persons.

The Grammar School was founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1588, and endowed with £7 11s. 4d. out of the revenues of the suppressed chantries. In 1628, the income was augmented by Frances, Countess Dowager of Warwick, with a rentcharge of £13 6s. 8d., payable out of lands at Collow Grange, in the parish of Legsby, Lincolnshire. The school was formerly held in a small building in the churchyard. In commemoration of the third centenary of the foundation, a handsome new school was erected in Wycar, in 1888. It is a red brick building in the Tudor style, with moulded freestone facings and stone mullioned windows, filled with cathedral glass. The total cost was about £900.

The National School was erected in 1846, and enlarged in 1884. It has an average attendance of 188 children. Mr. Wm. Heaton, in 1709, left £100, the interest to be expended in teaching eight poor boys of Bedale to read and write English. This legacy was invested in one-third of the purchase of the farm of Hazleflat in Crakehall parish, out of the rent of which a proportionate interest is received, amounting at present, to £89 4s. 8d. a year, which is added to the funds of this school.

CHARITIES. - Bedale Hospital was erected in conformity with the will of the Rev. Dr. Samwales, a former rector of the parish, who died in, or shortly after 1692, and endowed with the interest of £200, and a rent-charge of £15 a year for the maintenance of four poor aged men. Other benefactions were subsequently left, which have raised the endowment to £68 6s. a year. There are now six almsmen who receive 4s. 3d. a week, a ton of coals at Midsummer, a cloak every two years, and a hat yearly. The Widows' Hospital was founded and endowed by the Revs. Richard and Thomas Young in 1666, for three poor widows. The founders were natives of Bedale, and priests of the Church of Rome, The endowment produces £23 14s. per annum, and each of the inmates receives 13s. 10d. monthly, and an additional 20s. yearly in June. In addition to the above, numerous benefactions have been left to the poor of Bedale. These have been invested in land and property, which now let for about £70 a year.

Bedale Poor Law Union comprises an area of 55,183 acres, and contained, in 1881, a population of 8,270. The total rateable value according to the last assessment is £65,825. The Union embraces the following parishes and townships:- Ainderby Myers-with-Holtby, Aiskew, Bedale, Burneston, Burrill-with-Cowling, Burton-upon-Ure, Carthorpe, Clifton-upon-Ure, Crakehall, Exelby, Leeming and Newton, Firby, Gatenby, Hackforth, Ilton-cum-Pott, Killerby, Kirkby Fleetham, Kirklington-with-Upsland, Langthorne, Masham, Rand Grange, Rookwith, Scruton, Snape, Swainby-with-Allerthorpe, Swinton-with-Warthermarske, Theakston, Thirn, Thornton Watlass, and Well. The Union Workhouse is a stately building on the York road, built of limestone with freestone facings. It consists of a centre and two wings, and is capable of accommodating 100 paupers. The average number of inmates for the past year was under 20.

The soil of the parish is generally fertile and highly cultivated. Good roads traverse the district in all directions, and the scenery is pleasingly varied. The neighbourhood, too, has its attractions for sportsmen, whether they are knights of the line or of the chase. The former may find amusement in the beck, which is well stocked with trout and grayling, and for the latter there is a splendid pack of hounds, under the mastership of Captain Wilson-Todd.

AISKEW is a township, adjoining Bedale, from which it is only separated by a small beck. Its area, including water surface, is 2,035 acres; rateable value, £5,261; and population, 831. Sir Henry Monson de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, Bart., Bedale Hall, is lord of the manor and principal landowner; and the following also have land or property within the township, viz.:- Rev. Thomas William Swann, Orston Vicarage, Nottingham; Sir Charles Dodsworth, Bart., Thornton Watlass; exors. of John Mackay Plews, Esq., Fencote Hall; F. Mattison & Co., Leeming Lane Station; Mrs. Fisher, Orston Priory, Nottingham; Thomas P. Fothergill, Esq., Bedale; H. M. G. Coore, Esq.; Mrs. Buckle, York; Benjamin Purchas, Esq., Bedale; R. Hutton-Squire, Esq., Holtby Hall; and Geo. Barras, Esq., Bedale.

The Northallerton and Hawes Railway intersects the township, and the station for Bedale stands on the Aiskew side of the beck. There is another station at the hamlet of Leeming Bar, on Leeming Lane, the old Roman road. Here, also, is the extensive brewery of Messrs. Plews & Sons, which was originally established at Bedale, in 1795, and removed hither in 1868. Here, also, are the works of F. Mattison & Co., iron and brass founders and agricultural implement makers, and the manure manufactory of Mr. Charles Wray.

The village of Aiskew forms a suburb of Bedale, with which it is connected by a bridge spanning the Bedale beck, and contains several genteel residences. The Manor House, the residence of Major R. Bell, late 5th Dragoon Guards, was long the property of the Stapletons, till sold by Lord Beaumont, in 1871, to Sir Henry Beresford-Peirse; Aiskew House, also the property of the above named baronet, is occupied by Captain D. A. G. Lascelles, J.P., late 47th Regiment; and Leases Hall, the residence of Capt. Wilson-Todd, master of the Bedale Foxhounds.

The Catholics have had a chapel here since the early years of the present century. It stood behind the Manor House, but becoming too small for the congregation, another site was presented by Lord Beaumont, and the present church and presbytery were erected in 1878. It is a small neat building, in the 13th century Gothic style, designed by Mr. G. Goldie, architect, London, and comprises nave, chancel, and baptistry. Rising from the west gable is a small belfry, and beneath this a very handsome traceried rose window. The total cost was about £2,000, the greater part of which was bequeathed to the mission by Lady Catherine Throckmorton.

The Primitive Methodists have a chapel in the village, built in 1869, at a cost of £700, and the Salvation Army a barracks, formerly a Baptist chapel. The poor of the township receive the rents of land and cottages, amounting to £18 14s. yearly.

Aiskew, or Ascough as the word was formerly written, gave name to a family of yeomen long resident here. Sir William Ascough, one of the judges of the King's Bench in the early part of the 15th century, was born here. It is related of him, that, discontented with his lot as a yeoman, he left his home secretly and remained hidden from his friends until, by his own industry and talent, he had reached the judicial bench. He was, for some years in the earlier part of his life, master of St. Nicholas' Hospital, near Richmond; we may, therefore, discount this runaway story with the proverbial grain of salt.

BURRILL-CUM-COWLING is a township lying about two miles west of Bedale. It contains 1,071 acres, chiefly the property of Sir Charles Dodsworth, Bart., who is also lord of the manor, and Sir John and Lady Cowell. The soil is clayey and gravelly; the chief crops are turnips, wheat, and barley. The township is valued, for rating purposes, at £1,219, and the tithes at £77 10s. The inhabitants number about 100. The township is in the County Court District of Leyburn.

Burrill is a small village, and Cowling a hamlet of three or four houses, about a quarter of a mile distant. Both places are supplied by water from a reservoir, constructed in 1884, at the expense of the landowners. A chapel-of-ease was erected at Burrill in 1856, chiefly at the cost of the late rector, the Rev. J. J. T. Monson. The Wesleyans have also a chapel in the village, built by subscription in 1857. Hard by is Burrill Gill, a romantic dell, much improved of late by the construction of devious walks, on which seats are placed at intervals.

FIRBY is a small township of 685 acres lying on the south side of Bedale beck, belonging chiefly to Sir F. A. Milbank, Bart. Its rateable value is £1,043, and population 84. The village is small, and stands about one mile south of Bedale. Firby Hall is the residence of Harry Rouse, Esq., J.P. and D.L., for the North Riding.

Near the village is Firby or Christ's Hospital, built by John Clapham, one of the six clerks in Chancery in 1608, for a master and six brethren. For their support he gave a rent-charge of £30 secured out of certain lands at Edmonton, in Middlesex. The income was further augmented by the charitable bequests of other individuals. In addition to a monthly allowance of about 15s., each inmate receives a hat yearly and a cloak every two years, The rector and the four and twenty of Bedale were constituted by the founder governors of the Hospital.

RAND GRANGE is a small township and estate belonging to Sir H. M. de la Poer Beresford-Peirse, Bart. It contains 357 acres and 15 inhabitants. It was formerly monastic property and extra parochial, but is now included in this parish, and rated to the poor at £490.

HUTTON HANG township is ecclesiastically under Bedale, but for all civil business is united with Finghall, and will be found under that parish.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1890.

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