Danby Parish information from Bulmers' 1890.


Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Langbaurgh East - Electoral Division of Hinderwell - Poor-Law Union of Guisborough - Rural Deanery of Stokesley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

This is an extensive parish lying on the south side of the river Esk. It includes the townships of Danby and Glaisdale, comprising an area of 22,853 acres, of which about one-third are moorland, and contains a population of 2,407. Danby township, area 14,802 acres including moors, is chiefly the property of Viscount Downe, who is also lord of the manor. It is valued for rating purposes at £8,424, and had in 1881 a population of 1,304.

The rateable value of the land and property within the township is £8,424. The soil is variable - clay, sand, and peat earth being sometimes found in the same field. The land is poor on the hillsides, but fairly productive in the lower grounds. A considerable portion is laid down for grazing, and large quantities of butter and cheese are made. Wheat and other cereals are cultivated, but the hilly nature of the district prevents the use of some of the labour-saving agricultural implements. Iron was wrought in the parish at an early period, and twenty-five heaps of scoriæ still remain to indicate the spots where the ancient smelting furnaces stood. These were of very primitive construction, about the height of a man, and were supplied with fuel from the woods which then covered a great part of the parish. The canons of Guisborough had several furnaces or bloomeries in Glaisdale, and in 1272 there were seven furnaces in the neighbourhood of Castleton belonging to the lord of the manor. The ironstone was obtained from the hills, where the ancient works may still be traced in a few places. A thin seam of inferior coal lies at a depth of from 20 to 30 fathoms, but the pits have been laid in for several years.

The manor of Danby was given by William the Conqueror to Robert de Brus, who is said to have built a castle here. It remained in the possession of this family till A.D. 1270, when it passed in marriage with Lucia de Brus to Marmaduke de Thwenge. Robert de Thwenge, the eldest son of this marriage, left at his death an only child, Lucia de Thwenge, who married William, Lord Latimer; and Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of another William, Lord Latimer, became the second wife of John, Lord Neville, of Raby. There were a son and a daughter by this marriage. The former John Neville was summoned to parliament as Baron Latimer, and from him was descended John Neville, third Lord Latimer, who married Katherine Parr, daughter of Sir Thomas Parr, of Kendal Castle, already a widow, though little more than sixteen years of age. Lord Latimer was one of the leaders in the Pilgrimage of Grace, and after his death she became the sixth wife of Henry VIII. She survived the king, and after a widowhood of less than two months she privately married Lord Seymour, uncle to King Edward VI.; but such "indecorous haste," says Froude, "had nearly added a fresh difficulty to the succession to the Crown." The manor passed by marriage to the Danvers, one of whom, Sir Henry Danvers, sold the estate to five freeholders of Danby, who, in 1656, sold it out again in parcels to various purchasers. The manor and several farms were sold to Sir John Dawnay, of Cowick, ancestor of the present Viscount Downe, for £4,102. Another Sir John Daunay, a still earlier ancestor, married Dorothy, daughter of Richard Neville, Lord Latimer, and was high sheriff of Yorkshire in 1544.

Danby Castle. - The original fortress erected by Robert de Brus is supposed to have stood at Castleton, a little further up the valley. This continued the baronial residence until the erection of the castle at Danby. It is now a picturesque ruin, standing on an eminence a little south of the Esk. The date of its erection is not known, but it apparently belongs to the Edwardian era, and was probably built by one of its Neville owners, whose arms appear on the old bridge that spans the Esk near the castle. The ruins occupy a space of 120 feet square, with a court in the centre, and the remains of a tower or wing projecting diagonally from each corner. One basement apartment, a so-called dungeon, remains with its semi-circular ribbed stone roof. A farmhouse now occupies part of the site of the castle.*

* Thomas Ward, author of "England's Reformation," a burlesque poem in four cantos, was born at Danby Castle, which his parents then farmed, in 1652. At the age of 14 he was sent to Pickering Grammar School, where he exhibited considerable ability, and obtained great proficiency in the classics. After leaving school he entered a gentleman's family in the capacity of a tutor, and, having there studied several controversial works, he became a Catholic, for which he was disinherited by his father. Mr. Ward also published "Errata of the Protestant Bible;" "Monomachia, or a Duel with Dr. Tennison," afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury; and wrote the "Controversy of Ordination," and "Notes on the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Homilies." He died in France in 1708.

Danby Lodge, the residence of Viscount Downe during the shooting season, is a modern structure built at different times. Here is a portrait of Katherine Parr, on the back of which is an inscription setting forth that the lady first married Mr. Burghe; secondly Lord Latimer, and lived with him for several years at Danby Castle; that she had by him two daughters, one of whom married an ancestor of the Duke of Leeds, and the other an ancestor of the Viscount Downe. But this latter assertion is at variance with well-ascertained facts. Lady Katherine's first two husbands were, when she married them, mature widowers with families, and she had no children by either; nor is there any evidence that she ever lived at Danby Castle. Lord Latimer's chief residence was Snape Castle.

The township comprises the villages of Castleton and Danby End, the hamlet of Ainthorpe, the dale of Little Fryup and part of that of Great Fryup. The district was originally colonized by some Norseman bearing the name of Dane, who had his by or farmstead here, but no village ever sprung up to mark the spot where it stood.

The church (St. Hilda) is a solitary edifice situated about the middle of the dale. It is a plain structure rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, by the churchwardens about the end of last century, in churchwarden fashion, with windows of the staircase type. The chancel having again become ruinous, it was rebuilt in 1847, by Viscount Downe, at a cost of £700. The old church was a 12th century edifice, but was subsequently restored in the styles of later periods. The tower, through which is the entrance to the church, dates from the 15th century, and contains three bells, two of which are dated 1698. There are galleries on the north side and west end of the nave, erected in 1798 and 1808; on the latter is inscribed "This gallery was erected at the joint expense of the proprietors, by authority of a faculty from the Court of York, 1808." The church, both inside and outside, is plain and without any architectural merit, - a sorry substitute for the Norman structure it displaced. The nave is furnished with pews of a commonplace character, which superseded oaken stalls in 1829. Built into the wall are fragments of some floriated grave slabs, of mediæval style and workmanship; another fragment of antiquity remains in the churchyard - the shaft of a cross, probably of the 14th century, embedded in a thick square stone and surmounted by an old cross of Norman work, found during the rebuilding of the chancel in 1847.

The church was given by the second Robert de Brus to the prior of Guisborough, who thenceforth became the rector and deputed one of his canons to perform the clerical duties. After the dissolution of the priory the rectory passed into lay hands, and a perpetual curacy was constituted. The priors of Guisborough had a residence here, which bore the name of Canon Hall long after the Dissolution. The living, which was made a vicarage a few years ago, is in the gift of the impropriator, Viscount Downe, and worth £155 a year, The present incumbent is the Rev. J. C. Atkinson, D.C.L., who was presented in 1847. In the quiet seclusion of his parish the reverend gentleman has produced a number of works on antiquarian and kindred subjects, all of which possess very high merit.

Castleton, the largest village in the township, is situated near the south bank of the Esk, and took its name from the ancient castle of the De Brus, which stood here. A market is held on Friday afternoons and evenings, but it is of very little importance; two fairs in October, the first for tups and the other for cheese and general farm produce; and an agricultural show about the third week in August. The Wesleyans have a chapel in the village, built in 1871, by subscription, at a cost of £250, including £70 received from the sale of the old chapel, built in 1813. It is the head of a circuit which includes ten places. Chapel steward, Mr. George Meggison; society steward, Mr. Daniel Medd. The Friends have a meeting house, and there is also an iron church for the convenience of Church people.

Danby End is a village picturesquely situated at the end of the dale. There is a Wesleyan chapel here, built in 1811, at a cost of £510; a house for the minister was added in 1872, at an expense of £300, and a Sunday school in commemoration of Her Majesty's Jubilee in 1887, at an outlay of £200. Ainthorpe is a small hamlet, less than a quarter of a mile from the above village. Here the Esk is spanned by one of three bridges within the parish which were, according to a fable, originally built by three sisters, who resided at Danby Castle.

Great and Little Fryup are two romantic dales, branching off southward from Eskdale, and between their openings rise two beautiful conical hills called Stainsbullen and Roundhill. Near George Gap, leading out of Great Fryup on to the moor, is a chalybeate spring, which throws up from 50 to 60 gallons of water per minute.

Many of the farmhouses still bear their old characteristic names. Among these are Stormy Hall, which is said to have derived its name from a tradition that King Henry VIII. sought refuge there in a great storm, when on his way to Danby Castle to visit Lady Latimer. But this story is pure fiction, for it is a well-known fact that Bluff King Hal never came further north than York, and, as we have before shown, it is very doubtful whether Lady Latimer ever resided at Danby Castle. Kadeland House, Wedlands, from wheat lands, and Church House, near the church, formerly called Canon Hall, from having been used by the canons of Guisborough. It is now occupied by Mr. Matthew Budsdale, prize breeder of shorthorns, and to whom was awarded the first prize at the Whitby Agricultural Show in 1888, for the best-kept farm. We may also add that Prince Albert Victor, whilst the guest of Viscount Downe in the shooting season of the same year, visited this model farm.

CHARITIES. - In 1631, Samuel Rabanke left a yearly rent-charge of £18 to the poor of Danby and there are three or four small rent-charges, left by different persons, varying from 5s. or 8s to 20s. Mrs. Ann Campion left £100 for the benefit of Amthorpe School, which, being invested in Carr House Farm, yields £4 10s. annually. The sum of £88 was collected for a similar purpose, and is invested in the Poorhouse, Castleton, and yields £3 10s. a year. There are also two or three smaller bequests invested in the Funds by the Charity Commissioners, together with a house and garden at Ainthorpe. These charities are in the hands of eight trustees, who apply the income to the education of not less than twenty free scholars.

[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.