ESKDALESIDE-WITH-UGGLEBARNBY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Whitby Strand - Electoral Division of Eskdaleside - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Whitby - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

This parish was formed a few years ago by the amalgamation of the townships of Eskdaleside and Ugglebarnby, which were detached from the extensive parish of Whitby. Its area is, according to the rate books, 6,620 acres, and rateable value, £9,097. Its inhabitants, at the last census, numbered 1,805. A large portion of the parish is barren, unenclosed moorland. The surface rises gradually from the Esk to an elevation of 1,600 feet, forming one of the highest points of the eastern moors. Alum rock is abundant, but the manufacture of the alum has been discontinued since the discovery of valuable seams of ironstone in several parts of the parish. Along the bottom of the valley runs the Whitby and Pickering Railway, crossing the Esk as it winds about by numerous bridges. The principal landowners are the Ven. Archdeacon Henry Yeoman, M.A., who is also lord of the manor; Thomas Bagnall, Esq., Edward Brooksbank, Esq., LL.B., J.P., Healaugh Manor, Reeth; and the trustees of the late Edward Corner, Esq.

Sleights, by which name the parish is sometimes called, is a pleasant village situated on the high ground above the railway station, from which it is approached by a steep road. It is distant about four miles from Whitby. The church was erected in 1762, at the expense of Robert Bower, Esq., Tabitha, his wife, and Mrs. Gertrude Burdett, sister of the latter, and consecrated by the Archbishop of York in 1767. The building is very plain in style, with continuous roof. A gallery was added in 1835, and the interior decorated in 1864. Sleights-with-Ugglebarnby is a consolidated chapelry, but the incumbent is now styled vicar. The living is worth £280, and the patron, the Rev. T. Walker, M.A., is also the incumbent.

The National school, erected in 1834 and enlarged in 1885, is endowed with £600, which produces about £18 a year.

A little below the village, on the banks of the Esk, are the remains of an ancient chapel or hermitage of Eskdale. Its foundation is attributed by Charlton to St. Hilda, abbess of Whitby, but Dr. Young says it is not known when or by whom it was founded, nor when it ceased to be used as a hermitage; but it appears to have been converted into a chapel previous to A.D. 1226, as it is mentioned as the chapel of St. John in the chronicles of the abbey under that date. With this hermitage, is connected a romantic fable of the murder of the hermit, a monk of Whitby, by William de Bruce, lord of Ugglebarnby; Ralph de Percy, lord of Sneaton; and a freeholder of Fylingdales, named Allatson, who broke into the chapel after a wild boar that had taken refuge there, and slew the hermit. The time of the story is laid in the reign of Henry II., and it is said that the descendants of the murderers held their lands of the abbott of Whithy, by the curious tenure of Horngarth and Penny Hedge, still observed at Whitby. (See Whitby Parish.)

The chapel at Eskdaleside was used as a place of worship until 1762, when, in consequence of its inconvenient situation, a faculty was granted by the Archbishop of York to build the chapel at Sleights, already noticed.

A little further up the dale stood Grosmont Priory, of which not a vestige is now to he seen. This convent was founded by Johanna, wife of Robert de Turnham, who, in the beginning of the 13th century, gave a parcel of land in the forest of Egton to the abbot of Grandimont, in Normandy, to establish a house of the same order here. During the wars between England and France, the abbot of Grandimont sold the advowson, whereupon it became prioratus indigena, or naturalised priory, so to speak, and so subsisted till the Dissolution, when there were four monks, whose income was valued at £12 2s. 8d. per annum. The site was granted, in 1544, to Edward Wright, and the following year it was purchased by Sir Richard Cholmley. The descendants of the latter sold it, in 1688, to Sir John D'Oyley, from whom it passed to the Saunders family, but there have been several changes of ownership since.

Ironstone was discovered here in 1836, and since then the populous village of Grosmont has sprung up. The mines were purchased from Mr. James Wilkinson, in 1861, by Messrs. Charles and Thomas Bagnall, who, the same year, erected two large blast furnaces, and added a third in 1875. About 40,000 tons of pig-iron are turned out per annum, giving employment, in one way or other, to 500 "hands." The village is situated at the foot and on the side of a hill that rises steeply from the bank of the river. The scenery in this and other parts of Eskdale is exceedingly beautiful. The North Yorkshire and Cleveland railway, which follows the course of the river, is here joined by the York and Whitby line.

A church was erected in 1842, on a plot of land given by the late R. C. Elwes, Esq., and in 1875 it was rebuilt on a much larger scale, at a cost of £2,500, which was defrayed by Messrs. Bagnall and Mrs. M. Clarke, sister of the late Rev. Dr. Scoresby, the Arctic explorer. The style is Transitional or Early English. It consists of nave, chancel, and two aisles, which are separated from the body of the church by two arcades of four arches, supporting a clerestory. The pillars have floriated capitals, and in front of each, a small circular column runs up to the roof, which gives to the interior the effect of height. Two steps lead from the uave to the chancel, and five steps more to the communion table. Above this, rises the reredos, of Caen stone, with two evangelists at each side. The central panel is of mosaic work, richly gilt, representing the Crucifixion. In the south wall of the chancel is the sedilia, and opposite stands an old oak chair, dated 1632. The east window is a memoral of the late Henry Belcher, Esq., who was chiefly instrumental in the erection of the first church. The pulpit is also of Caen stone and richly carved. The porch and reredos were erected, by public subscription, in memory of the late Charles Bagnall, Esq., who died in 1884. The living is a new vicarage, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and worth £340. The parochial district allotted to the church comprises 3,476 acres, and was carved out of Lythe, Whitby, and Pickering, in 1852. The population in 1881 was 1,595. The present incumbent is the Rev. Henry Robinson, M.A.

The Wesleyans have a chapel in the village and another in Esk valley. The former was built about 30 years ago, at a cost of £600, raised by subscription.

There are also a good National school, and an Institute with recreation rooms and library, containing between 500 and 600 volumes.

Ugglebarnby. - The earliest notice of this place occurs in Domesday Book, - where the name is written, by the Norman scribe Ugleberdesbi, and in later documents it is sometimes spelt Hugelbardebi, both of which are forms of the same personal name Uglebard, and the Danish affix by signifying a dwelling or farmstead. The present form, Ugglebarnby, is evidently a corruption of the original name, and is probably not older than the Reformation.

At the time of the Domesday Survey, Ugglebarnby was a soke of Whitby, and, with the rest of the manor, was wasted by the Conqueror in 1069.

The village is pleasantly situated on an eminence, about four miles S.W. of Whitby. A Church, or rather chapel, was founded here in the Norman period, and given to the abbey of Whitby. Mr. Charlton asserts that it was built, in 1137, by Nicholas, abbot of Whitby, with the assistance of a freeholder named Ralph, of Hugebardeby; but Dr. Young dismisses this statement as "mere conjecture," and, at the same time, asserts that it was built by the said Ralph, of Ugglebarnby. This Ralph is supposed to have been one of the family afterwards called Everley, who were the owners of Ugglebarnby in the middle of the 12th century. That he had some connection with this chapel is evident from a charter in the abbot's book, wherein the said Radulphus de Hugelbardebi gives two bovates of land, in Hugelbardebi, to the church of St. Peter, in the abbey of Whitby, and to the brothers of the same serving God in his chapel of Hugelbardebi.

The Norman edifice underwent many subsequent restorations, and little of the original style or building was left. In 1872 it was taken down, and the present handsome church erected on the site. It consists of nave, chancel, vestry and tower, in which are three good bells. The style adopted is a severe type of Gothic, and, as seen from several points of view, has a thoroughly effective and pleasing appearance. The roof principals are open framed, and filled with cut and cusped boarding, and supported at each foot with a hammer beam and cut bracket standing from the wall upon a marble column, with moulded cap and corbel at foot. Each hammer beam is formed of an angel, with outspread wings, and holding in its hands a shield, bearing an emblem. The roof is boarded underneath the spars, and divided into panels. In the chancel the roof is in the form of a Gothic arch, panelled, and very elaborately decorated in gold and colour. The communion table and chancel stalls are of teak wood, beautifully carved, and the altar rail and standards are polished brass. The reredos is an elaborate piece of carving, in Caen stone, In the centre is a representation of the Last Supper, by the late Mr. Noble, the eminent sculptor. The pulpit and reading desk are of Caen stone, with marble columns. In front is the figure of St. Paul, The font is also of the same materials, with carved oak cover, supported from a metal bracket. The windows are all of stained glass.

The designs were by C. Noel Armfield, Esq., architect, Whitby, under whose personal superintendence the work was carried out. All the internal decorations have been executed at the expense of the Allan family, of Hempsyke, and the funds for the erection were obtained by public subscription. The living is united with that of Eskdaleside.*

* We beg to acknowledge our indebtedness for much of the above information to a short history of the church, from the pen of the Rev. Dr. Atkinson, of Danby, and published as an introduction with the two sermons preached at the opening, September 25th, 1872.

Iburndale, Little Beck, and Low Dale are hamlets in this township. Hempsyke is an estate near Little Beck, the property and occasional residence of Henry Harrison Allan, Esq. The house is a neat structure, with verandah in front, erected in 1883-4. Three hundred different kinds of wood, it is said, appear in the floors, walls, and ceilings. Several springs of excellent water occur on the estate, which have been provided with troughs for the benefit of travellers. Near one is the inscription

"Man made the trough,
The water God bestows;
Then praise His Name
From Whom the Blessing flows. -
John Allan, Hempsyke, 1856."

One day, in the year 1864, a tramp, who had refreshed himself at the fountain, called at the house and asked permission to append the following

"The stream is pure as if from Heaven it ran,
And while I praise the Lord I'll thank the man."

CHARITIES. - In 1769 Robert Bower left a house and close for the residence of the incumbent of Sleights chapel, but charged with the following yearly payments:- 26s. to the poor in bread; 20s. to the chapel clerk; and 40s. towards the cleaning and repairing the chapel. Tabitha Bower, widow of the above, in 1784, bequeathed £1,400 in the three per cent. reduced annuities, the dividends of which were to be given, in equal portions, to the poor of the townships of Eskdaleside, Ugglebarnby, Aislaby, and the parish of Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York. Richard Chapman, in 1785, left £100, the interest to he applied as follows:- 20s. to the chapel clerk; and the remainder in three equal portions to the poor of Eskdaleside, Ugglebarnby, and Sneaton. William Coates, in 1781, charged his estate of Esk Hall with the yearly payment of £5 to the poor of Eskdaleside. (This rent-charge was repudiated by the late Ed. Corner, Esq., when he purchased the estate.) Mrs. A. Boyes, by will, in 1851, left the sum of £100, the interest thereof to be distributed in coals, about Christmas, among the poor of the townships of Eskdaleside and Ugglebarnby. The Rev. John Carter, in 1856, invested £50 for the benefit of six poor men of Eskdaleside and Ugglebarnby.

[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.