CROFT ON TEES: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of East Gilling - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Darlington - Rural Deanery of East Richmond - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.

This parish is situated on the south bank of the Tees, and, though wanting in the bolder and grander features of nature, there is a charming combination of hill and dale, with meadow, woodland, and stream. It comprises the townships of Croft, Dalton, and Stapleton, containing about 7,000 acres and 815 inhabitants. It gives a name to an Electoral Division under the Local Government Act of 1888. The area of the township of Croft is about 4,500 acres, and its rateable value £7,447, of which nearly one-third is assessed on the North Eastern Railway Co., for the portion of their line lying within the township. The inhabitants number 537. The principal landowners are Sir William Chaytor, Bart. (lord of the manor), and William Henry Wilson-Todd, Esq.

Croft was formerly the manor and residence of the ancient and knightly family of Clervaux, the first of whom accompanied the Conqueror to England, fought at the Battle of Hastings, and was rewarded with lands at Bootham, in Yorkshire. Soon afterwards they settled at Croft, and for more than three centuries their honoured name was associated with the place. They formed alliances with the noblest families of the district, and Sir Richard Clervaux, "the magnus of his house," who lies buried in the south aisle of Croft Church, claimed kinship with Edward IV. and Richard III., as set forth in the inscription on his tomb. Another Richard Clervaux, in the time of Henry VIII., dying without issue, his sister Elizabeth became his sole heir and representative of the family. She married Christopher Chaytor, Esq., of Butterby, Durham, who was surveyor-general of the counties of Durham and Northumberland, in the reign of Elizabeth. Her grandson, Sir William Chaytor, of Croft, was knighted by James I., during that monarch's progress from Edinburgh to London, to take possession of the English Crown; and Henry Chaytor, his second son, was a colonel in the royal army under Prince Rupert. He was governor of Bolton Castle, in Wensleydale, during the Parliamentary Wars, which place he valiantly defended until reduced to eat horse flesh, and then capitulated on honourable terms. His eldest brother, Thomas Chaytor, Esq., succeeded his father, Sir William, in the possession of Croft, but after one descent his line terminated, and the estate was inherited by William Chaytor, of Butterby, whose grandfather, Thomas Chaytor, was the fourth son of Elizabeth, the Clervaux heiress, and had succeeded to the Butterby estate. This William was created a baronet in 1671. He married a daughter of Sir Joseph Cradock, of Cradock Hall, Richmond, but his children pre-deceased him without issue, and he was succeeded in 1720 by his nephew, Henry Chaytor. The latter married Jane, daughter and, eventually, heiress of Matthew Smales, Esq., of Gilling, and had, besides other issue, William, his successor, who was created a baronet in 1831, and John Clervaux Chaytor, of Spennithorne. Sir William married Isabella, younger daughter, and co-heiress with her sister Anne, wife of his brother, John Clervaux, of John Carter, Esq., of Tunstall and Richmond, and had, issue four sons and three daughters. The present baronet and owner of Croft is his grandson.

Croft Hall, their former residence, was vacated when Clervaux Castle was erected by Sir William Chaytor, about 50 years ago. The latter is a castellated mansion with five towers, surrounded by an extensive park.

The village of Croft is pleasantly situated on the south bank of the Tees, which is here crossed by a handsome stone bridge, of seven boldly-ribbed Gothic arches. About a quarter of a mile below the village, the North Eastern Railway crosses the river into the County of Durham, over a very fine oblique viaduct of four arches, completed in 1840. The railway station and a number of good houses have been built on the Durham side of the river. The village is distant 2¾ miles from Darlington.

The chief interest of the place lies in its Spa, the waters of which are highly reputed for their efficacy in the cure of cutaneous diseases. It was first brought into notice in 1668, and so early as 1713 the water had acquired such fame that it was sold in London, in sealed bottles, at a very high price. There are now four springs, the waters of three being sulphureous, and of the fourth slightly chalybeate. The suiphurous wells resemble those of Harrogate. The water of the New Well, which is slightly stronger than that of the others, has been analysed, with the following results:-

One imperial pint contains
Sulphuretted Hydrogen 2.570 cubic inches.
Carbonic Acid 5.027

Total 7.597 cubic inches

Carbonate of Lime 2.950 grains.
Carbonate of Magnesia 0.570
Sulphate of Lime 17.710
Sulphate of Magnesia 1.715
Sulphate of Soda 2.353
Chloride of Sodium 0.740

Amount of Saline Matter 26.038 grains

The water is used both internally and externally, and a neat building, with a verandahed promenade along one side, has been erected, and furnished with every convenience for hot or cold water baths. A large and handsome hotel erected by the late Sir William Chaytor, and now in the occupation of Mr. Alexander Metcalfe, is elegantly furnished for the reception of visitors. There are also numerous excellent boarding houses. The air is pure, the surrounding scenery picturesque, and vast numbers visit the place annually for the benefit of its waters.

The Church (St. Peter) is an ancient edifice, chiefly in the Decorated style of the 14th century, and consists of nave, with north and south aisle, chancel, and a low west end tower, which is built of a different stone, and is of later date than the rest. The fabric was restored in 1878, at a cost of about £1,700, chiefly contributed by Miss Harriet Chaytor; and in 1887 a new vestry and an organ gallery were built, a neat oak-framed organ erected, and half an acre of ground added to the graveyard, at a cost of nearly £500, raised by voluntary subscription. The nave is divided from the aisles by bays of three pointed arches, above which, on each side, are three clerestory windows, The south aisle has descended with the manor from the Clervaux to the Chaytors. Here is the grey marble altar tomb of Sir Richard Clervaux before mentioned, enclosed by an old carved oak screen. On the chamfer is the following inscription

"Clervaux Ricardus jacet hic sub marmore clausus,
Crofte quondam d'n's Hinc miserere deus,
Armig' Henrici regis et pro corpore sexti,
Quem dens excelsi duxit ad astra poli,
Sanguinis Edwardi quarti ternique Ricardi
Gradib' in ternis alter utriq' fuit:
Qui objit a' o' d'i M'o cccclxxxx."

(Richard Clervaux, once lord of Croft, lies beneath this marble buried. God have mercy on him. He was a squire of the body of King Henry VI., whom God raised to the stars of the lofty Pole; and of the blood of Edward IV. and Richard III., in the third degree the one to the other. Who died A.D. 1490.) At the east end of this aisle is a handsome window of two lights - in one is pourtrayed that brief record of the hidden life of Christ, "And Jesus was subject to them"; and in the other, Christ appears blessing the little children. On the wall is a brass, inscribed - "In Memory of Sir William Chaytor, Bart., of Clervaux Castle, in this parish; he was created a baronet in 1831, represented the borough of Sunderland in the first reformed parliament, and died January 28th, 1847, aged 76: And of Dame Isabella, his wife, who died December 23rd, 1854, aged 73 years; they were both buried in this Church: And also of their eldest son, Sir William Richard Carter Chaytor, Bart.; he represented the City of Durham at the passing of the Reform Bill, and in the subsequent parliament; he died February 9th, 1871, aged 66 years, and was buried in the churchyard of Coverham, in this County. Requiescat in Pace."

The north aisle belongs to William Henry Wilson-Todd, Esq., owner of the Halnaby estate. It was long the burial place of the Milbankes, and contains several monuments to that family. One, a massive marble altar tomb to the memory of Miss Dorothy Milbanke, is described by Mr. Longstaffe as "an incongruous heap of extravagance." On the west wall is a beautiful piece of sculpture by the celebrated John Bacon, in memory of Mrs. Cornelia Milbanke, who died in giving birth to twins, in 1795.

The ancient piscina and triple sedilia remain in the chancel, The canopies of the latter are profusely sculptured. On the opposite wall is a small square recess, with sculptured canopy, but its original purpose is a matter of doubt. The two-light window on the south side and several tablets are memorials of the family of the Rev. James Dalton, who was, for thirty-seven years, rector of the parish. The fragment of an ancient Saxon cross, probably the relic of a very early edifice, was discovered in the wall of the east end of the north aisle during the recent restoration. The living is a rectory in the gift of the Crown, worth £836, including 21 acres of glebe, and held by the Rev. Charles Villiers, A.K.C. The tithes were commuted, in 1841, for a rent charge of £923. The registers date from 1618.

The Schools, a neat Gothic block, were built in 1844, at a cost of £900, on a piece of glebe land given by the then Rector, the Venerable Charles Dodgson, Archdeacon of Richmond.

About a mile south of the village is Halnaby Hall, formerly one of the seats of the Milbanke family, by whom it was sold, in 1843, to the late John Todd, Esq. The only daughter and heiress of this gentleman married William Henry Wilson, Esq., who thereupon assumed the name of Todd.

Monkend, adjoining the Rectory grounds, formerly belonged to the monks of St. Mary's Abbey, York, and was the most distant part of their possessions. It is now the property of Richard Bowes, Esq., whose descent is thus traced from Sir William Bowes, of the ancient family of "the Bowes," who was successively Sheriff, Lord Mayor, and Member of Parliament for York in the first half of the 15th century. Sir William had a son, named William, who was also Sheriff, M.P., and Lord Mayor of York. Thomas, the fourth son of this William, had a son, Sir Martin Bowes, Knight of the Bath, who was Treasurer of the Royal Mint, Lord Mayor, M.P., and Sheriff of London. He died in 1565, leaving issue by his first wife. From the eldest son were descended the Bowes of Brumby Hall, Essex. Martin, the second son, was the father of Richard Bowes, who was lord of the manors of Hagthorpe, Babthorpe, and Bowthorpe, and J.P. for the East and West Ridings of Yorkshire. He died in 1655, having had issue five sons and seven daughters. Charles, the eldest, pre-deceased his father, leaving by his wife, Susannah - daughter of Thomas Anlaby, Esq., of Etton - three sons and one daughter. Thomas Bowes, the third son, was the father of John Bowes, who held a government appointment at South Shields, where he died in 1729. His son, Richard Bowes, of Darlington, married the only daughter and heiress of Thomas Belasyse, of Haughton-le-Skerne, the last male heir of the Belasyses, of Murton House. Thomas, the second and surviving son of this marriage, also settled at Darlington, and was the father of Thomas Bowes, chief magistrate and bailiff of that town from 1816 to 1846, and was the grandfather of the present owner of Monkend.

CHARITIES - In 1686, Thomas Barker, of East Newbiggin, left 10s. a year to the poor of this parish. Sir Mark Milbanke, Bart., of Halnaby, by will, dated 1680, bequeathed £100 to be invested as a stock for the poor of the parish. The interest of this legacy (£5) was paid by his successors; but, in 1854, John Todd, Esq., who had then recently purchased the estate, in lieu thereof invested £166 13s. 4d. in the consolidated three per cent, annuities. The parish also receives a share of Dame Calverley's Charity. (See Northallerton.)

Dr. Thomas Burnet, an ingenious and learned writer, was a native of Croft, where he was born in 1635. He received his early education at the Grammar School of Northallerton, whence he was removed to Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he had for his tutor, Dr. Tillotson, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. He was the author of "Sacred Theory of the Earth," written in elegant Latin. In 1688, he was elected Master of Charterhouse Hospital, London, and died in 1715.

DALTON UPON TEES township contains 1,539½ acres of land, and 187 inhabitants. Its rateable value is £4,960, of which sum, £3,552 is the assessment of the portion of the North Eastern Co.'s line lying within the township. Dalton is in the Liberty of St. Peter's, and the Dean and Chapter of York are the lords of the manor and principal landowners. The other owners are Mr. Sowerby, Snow Hall, Gainford; and Mr. Backhouse, Hurworth. The village is 1½ miles from Croft railway station. The Richmond branch here forms a junction with the main line. The tithe rent charge is £141 15s., payable to the Rector of Croft.

STAPLETON is a small township lying on the Tees side, containing 940 acres, and 151 inhabitants. Its rateable value is £1,485. The soil is fertile, and produces large crops of potatoes, turnips, and cereals. Robert L. Bower, Esq., is lord of the manor and the largest landowner; the other proprietors are the trustees of Staindrop Almshouses, who own 220 acres, purchased, in 1860, by the Duke of Cleveland as an endowment of that charity; C. N. Coates, Esq., Stapleton; Robert Thornton, Esq., Stapleton; Miss Stelling; and Geo. Stelling, Esq., Barton. The lordship of Stapleton was anciently held by a knightly family of that name, which was seated here before the Conquest, and is still represented in the county. The village is pleasantly situated near the Tees, about 2½ miles S.W. of Darlington. The Congregationalists have a Mission Room here, in which service is held every Sunday evening. A portion of this township is in the parish of Barton.

[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.

Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.