Wapentake of Langbaurgh (East Division) - Poor Law Union of Guisborough - County Court District of Stokesley - Petty Sessional Division of Langbaurgh East - Rural Deanery of Guisborough - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish, situated in the most picturesque part of Cleveland, includes, besides the township of its own name, those of Common Dale, Hutton Lowcross, Pinchingthorpe, and Tocketts, having an aggregate area of 13,165 acres, and a population of 7,232 souls. The soil is of a varied character but generally fertile, except on the moors, which cover a considerable portion of the parish. Ironstone is abundant; but though the mining of the ore has undoubtedly added immensely to the wealth of the district, it cannot be said to have added to the beauty of the scenery. The ferriferous deposits vary in thickness, and at the Chaloner mines the main seam averages about 13 feet.
The township of Guisborough comprises 7,014 acres, including 4,000 acres moorland, and had in 1881 a population of 6,616. The rateable value for the present year is £27,200. The trustees of the late Admiral Chaloner are lords of the manor and principal landowners; Capt. C. T. Greenwood, J.P. and D.L., of Swarcliffe Hall, near Ripley, owns the hamlet of Barnaby, containing five farms.
The town, 10 miles from Middlesbrough, is pleasantly situated in a narrow but fertile valley, surrounded by some of the finest landscape scenery in the north of England. Camden, charmed with the beauty of its position and surroundings, thus describes it: "The place is really fine, and may in point of pleasantness and a graceful variety, compare with Puteoli in Italy; and in point of healthfulness, it far surpasses it. The coldness of the air which the sea occasions, is qualified and broken by the hills between; the soil is fruitful, and produces grass and fine flowers a great part of the year." It is a place of considerable antiquity, but there does not appear any foundation for the supposition of Baxter, that it was the Urbs Caluvium of the Romans; nor has he any authority for the assumption, that it was in Saxon times the seat of a "celebrated monastery."
The name has been variously written Guisborough, Guilsbrough, Gisbrough or Guisbrough (sometimes Gysburne), and by the Norman scribes in the Domesday Book, Ghigesburgh. From that valuable record we learn that Ghigesburgh contained three manors, one of which was the ancient demesne of the crown; the second was held by Uchtred, and the third by Lesing; but at the Conquest, these Saxon owners were hunted down, and their lands given to the Earl of Moreton. The town must have been a place of some note at that early period, for it possessed a church and resident priest. These manors were subsequently transferred by the Conqueror to Robert de Brus, Lord of Skelton.
The Priory, the pride and glory of Guisborough, and one of the most wealthy, magnificent, and extensive monastic institutions in the kingdom, was founded by the second Robert de Brus in 1119. The inmates professed the Augustinian rule. The house was most munificently endowed by the founder, who states in his charter that "by the counsel and advice of Pope Calixtus II. and Thurstan, Archbishop of York, he has founded a certain Monastery of a religious order in Gysburne, to the honour of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary; and that he has given to the canons serving God therein, all Gysburne and other lands which he enumerates, amounting to twenty carucates and two oxgangs, with the churches, mills, and all things pertaining to the said lands." The founder died in 1141, and was buried in the Priory church.
The neighbouring gentry vied with each other in heaping wealth and favours on the prior and canons ; and successive kings considerably extended their privileges. Henry I. confirmed the founder's charter, and granted to them sac and soc, tol, team, and infangentheof ;* and he also allowed them to hold a market at Guisborough every Monday, and a fair yearly on the eve, feast, and morrow of the Assumption (August 15). They had free warren in their demesne lands of Guisborough, Ugthorpe, Bernaldby, Lounsdale, Ureby, Hutton Lowcross, and Bousdale, and a deer park of 80 acres, now called Park Wood. Henry IV. added to their feudal privileges the view of Frankpledge in the parish of Guisborough, the waif and stray in the same, and the return of briefs and writs.
* Sac. The power of imposing fines upon tenants and vassals within the lordship.
Soc. The power and authority of administering justice.
Tol. A duty or toll paid for buying or selling, &c.
Team. A right of trying their bondsmen and serfs.
Infangentheof. The privilege of trying thieves taken within their lordship.
The wide possessions and numerous privileges and immunities of this house conferred upon the prior almost princely power within his domain, and enabled him to exercise an unstinted hospitality. The privilege of the poor to die of starvation is the concession of later times - then, they had but to ask at the convent door and they received the food and shelter they craved, and went on their way rejoicing. The dissolution of monasteries was long and severely felt by them, for on these houses they chiefly depended for their subsistence. Guisborough Priory maintained the whole town, as we learned from a letter addressed to Sir Thomas Chaloner, and preserved in the Cottonian Library :- "It is manifeste, that that part of the country called Cleveland, hath been wonderfully inhabyted more than yt is nowe; for within the length of a few myles, the lords following have had their seats: at Kyldale Castle, the Perceys, Earles of Northumberland; at Aton, Nevyll of Westmoreland; at Whariton Castle, the Lord Menell; at Skelton Castle, the Lord Somers; at Danby Castle, the Lord Latymer; at Harlsey Castle, Sir James Strangwaies; at Wilton Castle, Sir Ralf Bulmer; at Mulgrave Castle, Sir Ralf - ; at Ingleby, the Lord Eure. All these great personages dwell together in a small cyrecuite, and in the mydeste of them the Prior of Gysbrough, who kept a most pompous house, insomuch that the towne, consystynge of 500 householders, and had no lande but lyved all in the abbey; twoe gate-houses had lodgings, and all houses of offyces appertayninge to a dwelling house, whereof two of the Bulmers Knights within the memory of me were resident, having allowance when they came of a plentiful dyet, at eyther to entertaine strangers, and as many horse in winter in the stable as in summer at grasse . . . But all these lodgings are now gone, and the countrye as a wydowe remayneth mournfull."
Guisborough held a foremost place among the conventual houses of the kingdom; its priors were summoned to parliament, and possessed all the power and authority of bishops within the limits of their several houses. The names of twenty-four priors have been recorded from William de Brus, the founder's brother, who was the first, to Robert Pursglove, in whose time the fiat of Dissolution went forth. The annual income of the priory was, according to Dugdale's calculation, £628 3s. 4d., a sum probably equivalent in purchasing power to about £6,000 of our present money. To the seventeen canons were allotted pensions, ranging from £3 to £6 13s. 4d. each, but to Pursglove, the Prior, was assigned the handsome pension of £166 13s. 4d., partly as a solatium for the loss of his priory, but chiefly as a reward for his services as a Commissioner in the enquiries into other monastic establishments. He was subsequently appointed suffragan bishop of Hull, but his chief claim to remembrance rests on the School and Hospital which he founded and endowed in the town, of which more anon.
Edward VI., in the 4th year of his reign, in consideration of the payment of £998 13s. 4d., granted the site of the priory and estate to Sir Thomas Chaloner, Knight; and Queen Mary, in 1558, granted to him the manor, to be held by military service. The grantee's descendants are still in possession.
Little has been recorded of the individual priors who ruled over this wealthy and important establishment, and of the many canons who spent their lives within its walls during the four centuries of its existence, the name of one only has been redeemed from oblivion - Walter de Hemingford, one of the choicest historians of the 14th century. From this writer we learn that the priory, with its vast store of books, plate, and vestments, was destroyed by fire on the 16th of May, 1289, through the wilful carelessness of a plumber who had been employed to repair the roof. Handsome donations from the De Brus and other local families poured in to repair the loss, and soon there arose from the ashes of the heavy Norman structure a majestic and elegant Gothic pile, the beauty and magnificence of which, despite Time's corroding hand and the yet more destructive vandalism of a debased race, as incapable of appreciating the creations of genius as of executing them, may still be traced in the handful of grey ruins.
The priory was situated at the east side of the town, within an inclosure of about 90 acres, surrounded by dykes and an embattled wall. The work of destruction commenced with Henry VIII., who stript the buildings of their leaden covering; it was continued by the fanatical zealots of the Commonwealth, and an ignorant populace of later times, to whom the stately walls served as a quarry of ready dressed stones which they frequently prostituted to the vilest of uses. Mr. Ord, in his History of Cleveland observes, "At this day we see remains of the ancient abbey in every quarter of the town and neighbourhood. Old houses, old walls, old buildings of every kind, are full of them. I have seen with my own eyes the broken pillars and pedestals of this august pile desecrated to the vile uses of gate-posts, stands for rain-water casks, and stepping-stones over a common sewer. A rich ornamental doorway of the venerable priory forms the entrance to a privy. I have beheld with sorrow, and shame, and indignation, the richly-ornamental columns and carved architraves of God's temple supporting the thatch of a pig-house; 'To such base uses may we return, Horatio.'"
Where so little remains, it would be futile to attempt any hypothetical reconstruction of the priory, for the purpose of locating its various apartments, offices, &c.; the only portion that can be pointed out with certainty is the church, of which the chancel end, about 100 feet in length, and 98 feet to the gable, still remains. From this fragment we may form some idea of the grandeur and magnificence of the noble pile when it stood in its entirety. The great east window, the arch of which is still entire, and contains some fragments of its original tracery, is one of the most exquisite examples of the purest pointed Gothic style to be found in the country. As we gaze through the yawning opening, 60 feet high by 24 feet broad, we are amazed with its vastness and the elegance of its outline. Above this is another window of five lights, which has lighted the roof; and on each side are two massive buttresses, surmounted by octagonal crocketed pinnacles. The two inner ones are ornamented with niches beneath crocketed canopies, in which there once probably stood the statues of saints. Between each pair is a smaller window of beautiful proportions, that may possibly have lighted an aisle or chapel on each side of the chancel. In the thickness of the wall is a spiral staircase that led to the clerestory.
It is much to be regretted that, after the Reformation had swept away the inhabitants of the cloister, the fanatical zealotry, begotten of that great change of faith, should have led to the wanton destruction of these grand old abbey churches, monuments of architectural genius that put to shame the noblest creations of modern days. But, utilitarian though the present age may be, a better and wiser spirit now prevails, and every effort is put forth to preserve these old abbey ruins which dot our land, and point, like the finger-posts of time, to ages and people long passed away.
Much has been done here in late years to recover what was lost, and to preserve what little remains. The mounds of accumulated rubbish have been removed, and the floor, bases of pillars, and foundations laid bare. During the progress of the work many interesting discoveries were made. The floor of the choir was uncovered, and many of the beautiful heraldic tiles bearing the arms of Bruce, which had formed its pavement, still remained in situ. A few inches below was found a stone coffin, containing the skeleton of a man of tall stature and advanced in years. This is supposed to have been the remains of Robert Bruce, the competitor for the Scottish crown against Baliol, and grandfather of the great champion of Scottish freedom. He died in 1294, at Lochmaben in Annandale, and was buried, by his own request, beside his father in this priory. Over it, may be, stood the beautiful monumental tomb of black marble, engraved in Dugdale's Monasticon in 1660. This was subsequently removed into the parish church, and for some time stood near the chancel door. The sides of it may be seen built into the walls of the porch. They are elaborately sculptured, bearing figures of armour-clad knights and their heraldic devices, priors, canons, &c. The slab of the tomb forms the top of the present communion table. One end, if such it really be, was recovered from the County of Durham, and is now preserved in the priory ruin; the other end, which bore the effigy of King Robert Bruce, is, it is to be feared, irrecoverably lost.
Beneath some fallen masses of masonry, about 170 feet from the east window, were found three monumental slabs, one inscribed in 15th century black lettering, and some coffins of stone and oak. In one of the latter was a skeleton of a man, whose height must have been, according to Dr. Merryweather, who measured it, 6ft. 8in., but there was neither inscription nor armorial device to tell the story of this gigantic piece of crumbling mortality. The priory was a favourite burial place of the nobility and gentry of the neighbourhood, and their stone coffins may be seen lying about among the ruins, having "proved more durable than the stately building over which they lavished their treasures."
Mr. Ord, in his "History of Cleveland," has given a fanciful restoration of the priory church, in which he shows a central tower capped by a lofty spire, but the careful examination made when the place was cleared of rubbish and the roots of walnut trees and brambles, did not reveal the traces of any foundations that could have carried such an erection.
The nave and transepts have disappeared entirely, but a building with groined roof, surrounded by heavy buttresses, remains near the site. There have been many conjectures as to its original purpose. A staircase gives access to the upper part, and there is a passage which is supposed to have had its issue in the church. The only other fragment remaining is the round-headed archway that pierced the wall circumscribing the priory and its precincts. This wall was both massive and lofty, and was probably built about 1375, in which year Edward III granted to the prior and canons a license to fortify their convent.
The seal of the monastery had on it the figure of the Virgin and Child under a canopy, with a certain series of words referring to the Blessed Virgin and St. Augustine. A seal somewhat similar was picked up a few years ago at Danby, where the prior had a country house. The priors' signet ring is still in good preservation, and belongs to the fourteenth century period. It also bears the figure of the Virgin and Child, and round the rim of the seal are certain initial letters of a sentence which has been read "Ave Maria nostram ora Gyseburnae domum" (Hall Mary, pray for our house of Gyseburne).
The priory grounds have been beautifully laid out in gardens, and permission is freely given by Mrs. Chaloner to visitors to view them, the ruins, and the gigantic horse chestnut tree, the trunk of which is eight yards in girth.
A monastic ruin would scarcely be complete without its legend, and here we have a slight variation of the old, old story, which obscurely hints at the existence of a subterraneous passage from the priory to Plantation field in Tocketts, wherein is a chest of gold, guarded by a raven that keeps constant watch over the precious contents; once only was the treasure invaded by a person who hoped to appropriate some of its ingots, but when he had reached the box, its guardian, the raven, suddenly became transformed into his Satanic majesty, who belaboured the intruder with such terrible severity, and otherwise excited such a fright, that neither he, nor any other person, ever ventured within the precincts afterwards. (Ord's "Cleveland.")
The Chaloners erected their hall near the priory, but in the early years of the present century they removed to Long Hull, and the old hall was taken down. Sir Thomas Chaloner, the grantee of the priory site, was knighted after the battle of Musselburgh, in 1547, and fought by the side of the Emperor Charles V., in Algiers. He stood high in the favour of Henry VIII., who made him first clerk of the council; and Queen Elizabeth marked her appreciation of his abilities by sending him as ambassador, first to Ferdinand, Emperor of Germany, and afterwards to Philip, of Spain. At the latter court, in consequence of the strained relations between the two countries, he was subjected to many indignities. He was a man of letters as well as a soldier, and published, besides several poems, the "Right Ordering of the English Republic," in ten books, which he dedicated to his friend Burleigh. His son and successor, Sir Thomas, was a distinguished naturalist, and was selected by James I. to superintend the education of his son, Prince Henry. For his services he was presented with the sum of £4,000, as a free gift. Though the family owed so much to royal bounty, two of the sons of this second Sir Thomas, in the following reign, transferred their allegiance to the parliamentary party, and sat as judges at the trial of Charles J. One of them signed the death-warrant of the unfortunate king; but was himself afterwards denounced as a drunkard by Cromwell at the dissolution of the obstructive parliament.
During the parliamentary wars a smart engagement took place near the town, between 700 of the royal troops under the command of Colonel Slingsby, and a large body of Roundheads commanded by Sir Hugh Cholmley and Sir Matthew Boynton. The Royalists were defeated and their leader taken prisoner. The spot where the fight took place is still called Wars' Fields.
To the second Sir Thomas belongs the honour of first introducing the manufacture of alum into this country. Observing, it is said, the similarity in the delicate green tint of the vegetation near Guisborough, and that of the alum-producing district of Puzzeoli, in Italy, which he had noticed during his travels in that country, he concluded that it arose from the presence of the same mineral. An examination of the strata revealed the existence of an aluminous salt in considerable abundance. He determined on the erection of works for the extraction of the alum; but being unacquainted with the process of manufacture, so the story runs, he bribed some of the Pope's workmen to accompany him privately to England, whither, says one account, he smuggled them in casks. This so exasperated the Pope, who, till then, enjoyed a lucrative monopoly of the alum trade, that, it is said, he fulminated an anathema against both the seducer and seduced. The first portion of this story may possibly be true, for the alum rocks of Italy had been discovered in a similar way, but the latter part is open to grave doubt. That several of the Popes did, by threats of excommunication, endeavour to preserve their monopoly of this trade, may be admitted, but the anathema is probably the invention of a later time. Those who have read Tristram Shandy will remember the curse of Ernulphus, which varies not one tittle from this anathema, as given by Grose in his Antiquities, but on no better authority than that of "a paper printed at Whitby." The anathema is not mentioned by the early writers; and Dr. Fuller, who wrote his Worthies of England less than fifty years after the establishment of the alum works here, says, the workmen were brought from Rochelle, in France, "whereof one was Lambert Russell by name, and a Walloon by birth, not long since deceased."
The works were situated at Belman Bank, about two miles S.E. of the town, and were carried on until the close of last century. The manufacture was recommenced in 1852 or 1853, but has now been discontinued for several years.
In a sequestered and romantic spot about 1½ miles S.E. of the town there was formerly a spa, which was discovered in 1822. The water had a slightly sulphuretted taste and smell, and is said to have been beneficial in cases of impaired digestion and cutaneous disorders. It flowed at the rate of thirty pints a minute, and was much frequented by the people of the neighbourhood. The spring is supposed to have been drained off by the iron mines, or as some say by a flood which altered the course of the water, and is now covered up by the debris washed down from the alum shale beds.
The town consists chiefly of one long street, which at one end widens into the Market Place, where markets are held every Tuesday and Saturday. A fair for cattle is held on the 19th of September, and for wool on June 27th and July 25th. Hirings for servants are held on the last Tuesday in April and the second Tuesday in November.
The Town Hall, a plain stone building, was erected in 1821, on the site of the ancient Toll-booth. Petty Sessions are held here every alternate Tuesday for the eastern division of the Liberty of Langbaurgh, and a manorial court once a year. The Mechanics' Institute is a neat brick structure, built by Admiral Chaloner in 1861. The Reading Room is well supplied with newspapers and magazines, and the Library contains about 1,000 volumes, In the Lecture Hall, the Oddfellows, Foresters, and Juvenile Foresters hold their meetings. Science classes are taught here in the winter months. The Temperance Hall is a handsome brick building with stone dressings, erected by subscription in 1870, at a cost of over £2,000. A Hospital, for cases of accident, was established in 1865. Two cottages were used for the purpose; but in 1878, Admiral Chaloner erected the present building in Bellmangate, and presented it to the miners, each of whom pays a small sum fortnightly towards its maintenance. There are beds for 12 in-door patients.
The town is lighted with gas, and is on the Guisborough branch of the Darlington section of the North-Eastern Railway, which was opened in 1854, and subsequently extended to Redcar and Whitby. It is under the jurisdiction of a Local Board, consisting of 12 members, formed in the year 1865. Under the direction of this body sums amounting to £6,400 were borrowed for the purpose of sewering the town, paving and flagging the streets, and carrying out other sanitary arrangements and improvements.
Four or five years after the formation of the Local Board, the necessity of providing further burial accommodation became urgent. The old churchyard was in an insanitary condition, and under condemnation by the Home Office. The Local Board by resolution of the Vestry was, therefore, constituted a Burial Board, and during the years 1871, 1872, and 1873, the sum of £4,700 was expended in planning and laying out a suitable cemetery, with separate mortuary chapels for Churchmen and Nonconformists. The site, containing about four acres, was presented by Admiral Chaloner.
The Parish Church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a spacious edifice near the site of the priory, to which house it was given by Robert de Brus. The ministerial duties were performed by one of the canons, no vicarage being ordained. The church, partially rebuilt in 1791 in the pointed Perpendicular style, consists of nave with north and south aisles, west tower, and chancel; the latter containing a fine east window, part of the ancient edifice, adorned with some fine old stained glass that once belonged to the priory church. The lower part of the tower appears to have belonged to an early edifice; the upper part is modern. It contains a clock and six bells, which have been recast. The nave is divided from the aisles on each side by an arcade of six plain arches, In the porch under the tower are the remains of the De Brus monument, already noticed in the account of the priory; and in the church a handsome tablet to the memory of George Venables, Esq., of London, the founder of the Providence School. There are also memorials to Susanna Pickering, who died in 1641; Ann Langton who died in 1664, and others to the Hale, Spencer, Williamson, and Chaloner families. In 1875, the church was refurnished, reseated with open benches, and a very fine organ added, the total cost being about £1,500, which was raised by subscription. An organ chamber and vestry were erected in 1889, at an expense of £600. The living, worth £300, including 77 acres of glebe, is in name a rectory, but the great tithe amounting to £556 is appropriated to the lord of the manor and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The patronage is vested in the Archbishop of York, The present rector is the Rev. F. H. Morgan, M.A., F.G.S., who was inducted in 1862, and is assisted by the Revs. A. P. Mitchell and R. Downie, as curates. The register dates from the year 1661.
The rectory is a well arranged and comfortable residence in the Elizabethan style, erected on the site of the previous house, which was destroyed by fire in 1868.
Near the rectory is The Chaloner Hall, a handsome Gothic structure, built and endowed by the late Admiral in 1881, for the use of the church Sunday school.
The Wesleyan Chapel is an imposing Gothic edifice of red brick with freestone facings, rebuilt in 1886-7, at a cost of £1,700. It is galleried all round, giving a total accommodation for 560 persons. The communion rails and pulpit are of polished oak, and the windows are filled with cathedral glass. Behind the chapel are the school and class-rooms, which were built in 1869, and recently restored at a cost of £150. The chapel which previously occupied the site was built in 1811. John Wesley preached in Guisborough on several occasions.
The Congregational Church, a plain brick structure, was erected in 1811, and will seat about 300 persons. The Primitive Methodists built their present chapel in 1860, at a cost of £488, and the sum of £270 has since been spent in improvements. It is built of red brick in a very plain unecclesiastical style, and has a gallery on three sides. There are about 300 sittings, 100 of which are free. The Wesleyan Free Church, or Chapel of the Reformed Wesleyans, is a neat little structure of brick, with buttressed front, erected in 1878, at a cost of about £500. There is accommodation for 400 persons, but the attendance at present is not very large. The members of the Society of Friends have a Meeting House here, and the Salvation Army a Mission Room, in which they hold their week-day services.
The Grammar School and Hospital of Jesus was founded and endowed in 1561, by Robert Pursglove, the last Prior of Guisborough, for two wardens, a schoolmaster, and six poor persons of each sex. The founder endowed the joint institution with lands, &c., at Bolam, in the county of Durham, and 68½ acres of land at Smeaton; and other lands and tenements were given by Robert Tristram, Robert Rokeby, Roger Tocketts, and George Conyers. The Charter of Foundation provided that the master should be a priest in orders, and if no priest could be had, an unmarried layman, who should teach freely all scholars applying for instruction in grammar and Latin. The master's salary was to be £10 per annum, with the use of two rooms over the school; and the remainder of the income, after payment for the repairs of the buildings, was to be divided among the alms people. The benefactions to the latter were increased in the 17th century, by a bequest of the Rev. Richard Lumley, of Stainton. This bequest consisted of a house at York, which was sold in 1875, and the proceeds invested in consols; and a farm of 61 acres at Carlton Miniott, which was left for the sole benefit of the perpetual curate of Guisborough, on condition that he should read prayers in the church twice every day to the alms-people, and administer the sacrament to them monthly. Owing to the misapplication of the funds of the trust and other irregularities in the management, the charity was involved in an expensive chancery suit, commenced in 1788, and with proverbial law's delay, not terminated until 1823, The charity has been inspected and reported upon by the Charity Commissioners on several occasions, and is now managed under a scheme issued by that body in 1885. The management is vested in twelve governors, whereof one is the owner of Pinchingthorpe Hall, and heir-at-law of George Conyers above mentioned; seven are representative and four co-optative. Under this scheme, the twelve alms-people have become out-pensioners, with an allowance of £20 a year each, paid weekly, with sheets and clothes. The old buildings have been taken down and handsome premises erected near the site, consisting of a commodious school, with class-rooms, and dormitories for boarders, and a head master's house. The designs were furnished by A. Waterhouse, Esq., R.A., and the foundation stone was laid by the Marquis of Ripon, K.G., Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding, on the 4th of November, 1887. The total cost, including the purchase of two acres of land, was about £5,000, which was defrayed chiefly out of funds which had accumulated during the administration of former governors. The income of the foundation is, however, somewhat straitened at present, and difficulties are likely to arise as to the administration of the two branches of the charity. Five free scholarships, named after the founder of the charity, are provided for by the scheme, the holders being elected by examination from the public elementary schools. Other exhibitions, &c., may also be awarded at the option of the governors. The course of education comprises religious instruction, general English, mathematics, Greek, Latin, French, natural science, drawing, &c. Head master, the Rev. R. D. Eves, M.A. The rector is chaplain to the hospital pensioners, and receives for his services the rent of the farm before mentioned, which lets for about £99 a year.
The Providence School was founded through the benevolent exertions of Mr. George Venables, of London, who, having visited Guisborough, his native place, noticed that though it possessed its endowed Grammar School for the better class children, the poor were wholly without the means of education, and he conceived the idea of supplying that want. For this purpose he resumed the business to which he had been brought up, and devoted to the accomplishment of his object the profits (£270) of seven years' work. With this sum was purchased £350 stock in the 3 per cent. consols. In 1792 a school with teacher's residence was erected by subscription, on a piece of ground given by William Chaloner, Esq. He also solicited aid from the friends of education in various parts of the country, and was thus enabled to raise the endowment to £1,400. Fifty boys and forty girls were taught gratuitously in the school. It soon became necessary to increase the accommodation, and in 1821, a new school was built for the reception of 100 boys and the same number of girls. This building was subsequently enlarged and an infant school added.
In order to meet the requirements of the Education Department, a School Board was formed in 1876, and in the September of the following year, a new scheme for the management of the Providence Schools was drawn up and approved by the Education Department. Under this scheme the property and funds of the Charity were transferred to the School Board, who became thereafter the Governing Body. The old school buildings and site were sold to Admiral Chaloner, for £1,317, and the amount, together with, a further sum of £1,683 out of the Trust funds of the school, in all £3,000, was granted by the Charity Commissioners towards the provision of new schools. A new site was purchased, and upon this the present Providence Schools, with houses for the master and two mistresses, were erected, at a total cost of £7,562. The designs were furnished by Mr. J. M. Bottomley, of Middlesbrough. The schools will accommodate 220 boys, 220 girls, and 326 infants.
The scheme also empowers the governors to provide, from time to time, such Public Elementary School accommodation as they may consider necessary; and in 1879-81 another school was erected at the corner of Northgate, at a cost of £5,068, exclusive of the site, which was presented by the late Admiral Chaloner. By these schools the Board have provided a total accommodation for 1,464 children, amply sufficient for the present and all probable future needs of the township.
The income of the remainder of the endowment fund of the Venables foundation, about £70 per annum, is applied by the School Board towards the provision of three Venables Exhibitions at the Guisborough Grammar School, such Exhibitions being tenable by boys from the Guisborough Board Schools, for three years, and in bestowing free scholarships at the Board Schools on meritorious scholars.
The Guisborough Poor Law Union was formed in 1837, and comprises the following parishes and townships, viz. :- Brotton, Commondale, Danby, Easington, Guisborough, Hutton Lowcross, Kilton, Kirkleatham, Liverton, Loftus, Marske, Moorsholm, Morton, Newton, Pinchingthorpe, Redcar, Skelton, Skinningrove, Stanghow, Tocketts, Upleatham, Upsall, Westerdale, and Wilton. The total area is 72,090 acres; rateable value, £257,340; and the population, according to the last census, 43,126. The Workhouse is situated in Northgate, and was erected in 1839, at a cost of £2,629, for 120 paupers. It has been enlarged since that time, and will now accommodate 172. The average number of inmates for the year ending March, 1889, was 131.
CHARITIES. - In addition to the Hospital of Jesus before mentioned, the following benefactions have been left to the poor :- £1,000 by W. Punsher, Esq., for six poor widows living in Guisborough, and natives of the town, who are not in receipt of parish relief. A sum producing nearly £25 a year was left by Charles Atwood, Esq., for the necessitous poor; £600 was left by John Smith, Esq., the interest thereof to be used in keeping in repair his own tombstone in Guisborough churchyard, and family tombstones in Guisborough and Seamer churchyards; the residue to be divided amongst deserving poor, and pious members of the Wesleyan Society, of the age of 50, living in Guisborough.
A little east of the town is Long Hull, the seat of Mrs. Chaloner. It is a handsome structure in the Domestic Gothic style of architecture, built by the late Admiral Chaloner, in 1867.
LOCAL WORTHIES. - The Rev. John Oxlee, the most extraordinary linguist that this country has produced, was born at Guisborough, on the 25th of September, 1779, and spent his early youth in that town. After quitting school he removed to Sunderland, and applied himself for some time to business, but this he subsequently relinquished, and devoted his time to study. He became second master of the Tunbridge Grammar School, an appointment which he held four-years. In 1806 he was admitted to Holy Orders, and became curate of Egton, where he married, and took pupils to eke out his scanty living. In 1811 he removed to the curacy of Stonegrave, and from 1816 to 1826 he held also the rectory of Scawton. He was subsequently appointed to the rectory of Molesworth, in Huntingdonshire, where he died in 1854. Though wholly a self-made man, he was a distinguished scholar and an able polemic, and so great was his linguistic talent, that he is said to have made himself master of one hundred and twenty languages and dialects. His published works are numerous. The largest of them all, and the one least affected by peculiarities of time or religious controversy, is "The Christian Doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement, considered and maintained on the principles of Judaism," in three volumes, and is a valuable storehouse of Rabinical learning. His other works are "Three Sermons on the Christian Hierarchy, with tables of the Anglo-Catholic Bishops from the Apostles, Peter, Paul, and John," 1821. Three letters to Mr. C. Wellbeloved, of York, on Unitarian Error and Miscriticism, 1824. Three letters to the Rev. F. Nolan, on the spurious text of the Heavenly Witnesses (1 John, ch. 5, v. 7), 1824. Two letters to the Archbishop of Salisbury, on the same subject, 1828. Three letters to the Archbishop of Cashel, on the three Apocryphal Books, published by his Grace, 1827. A reply to the letter of the Rev. R. Towers, of Ampleforth College, 1833. Three letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the inexpediency and futility of any attempt to convert the Jews to the Christian Faith, in the way and manner hitherto practised, being a general discussion of the whole Jewish question, 1842. Three more letters in continuation of the same subject, &c., 1845. He also contributed to many learned magazines and periodicals.
John Walker Ord, Esq., was another of Guisborough's worthies. He was the son of Richard Ord, tanner and leather merchant, and was born here in 1811. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, and being intended for the medical profession, he was apprenticed to Dr. Knox, the eminent lecturer on anatomy. After a few years he relinquished the study of physic, and devoted himself to literature. He edited the "Metropolitan Conservative Journal," which afterwards merged in the "Britannia." Subsequently he occupied the editorial chair on the "Northern Times." He published two or three volumes of poems, but his chief work is the "History and Antiquities of Cleveland." He died in 1853, and was interred in the churchyard of Guisborough. He was a member of several learned societies.
COMMONDALE township in this parish, comprises 1,131 acres, and is a narrow moorland dale from 6 to 8 miles S.E. of Guisborough. The gross estimated rental is £1,648, and rateable value £1,430. The principal landowners are the trustees of the late Admiral Chaloner, to whom also the manorial rights belong, Messrs. Ellerby & Dowey, and the N.E. Ry. Co., who have 1 mile 1,028 yards of line in the township. Brick and tile works have been established, and a Board School and Wesleyan Chapel erected for the benefit of the increasing population.
Here, it is said, Colman, Bishop of Lindisfarne, had a hermitage or residence, to which he occasionally resorted in his journeys to Streonshalh or Whitby; and at Skelderskew Grange the monks of Guisborough are supposed to have had a small chapel, which was probably for the convenience of the inmates of their grange. This property afterwards belonged to the Fleetwoods, but their mansion here has been replaced by a farm house.
HUTTON LOWCROSS township contains 1,573 acres, and is valued for rating purposes at £3,284. Sir Joseph Whitwell Pease, Bart., is sole owner and lord of the manor. A seam of ironstone underlies the surface, and mining operations were commenced by Mr. Oliver Davidson in 1852. The ore was abundant, the average out-put being about 220,000 tons per annum, but the mines were laid in about 20 years ago. A seam of jet, probably the richest ever found in England, was wrought in the neighbourhood of Hutton.
The village, formerly called Codhill, is delightfully situated in a narrow sequestered dale about two miles S.W. of Guisborough. It is occupied chiefly by the workpeople on the estate. Almost all the houses have been rebuilt, and, with their trim-kept gardens in front, present to the eye the picture of a little rural paradise. There is a neat Mission Hall with dwelling-house attached, which is used by the Ladies Pease on various occasions. The school, a neat structure, erected in 1857, and improved and beautified in 1871, is the property of, and solely supported by Sir J. W. Pease. It is conducted on the British or undenominational system, and has an average attendance of 146. Divine service is held in it every Sunday morning by the Vicar of Guisborough, and in the evening by the Society of Friends.
Hutton Hall, the residence of Sir J. W. Pease, is a large modern brick mansion, with stone facings, surrounded by noble gardens, parks, and woodlands.
On the site now occupied by the Hall Farm, formerly stood the Leper Hospital of St. Leonard, founded by William de Bernaldby, and given to Guisborough Priory. A few of the old sculptured stones may be seen built into the walls of the present steading.
A convent of Cistercian nuns was founded at Hutton by Ralph de Neville, but this was subsequently removed to Nunthorpe, and its site has long been forgotten.
The origin of the name Hutton has not been ascertained with absolute certainty. By some it is said to come from the Danish hut, and to signify the ton or town of huts; others suppose it to be a contraction of the Saxon howe a hill and ton; and a third and perhaps more probable derivation is the Norse hoot, a hill, and tien, an inclosure. It is not an uncommon place-name, and is found chiefly in the districts peopled by the Norsemen. The latter part of the name by which this Hutton is distinguished from others denotes the presence of a cross, the base and shaft of which may still be seen by the roadside near the station.
The traces of ancient British dwellings are to be seen on Bousdale farm in this townshlp, and in other places in the neighbourhood.
PINCHINGTHORPE township contains 1,206 acres, of which the rateable value is £2,481. The land is chiefly the property of Sir J. W. Pease, Bart., M.P. (lord of the manor), and Richard G. W. Lee, Esq., Darlington, whose estate has been in the possession of the family for more than 300 years. Pinchingthorpe Hall, long their residence, is now occupied by Mr. Richard Hill, wire manufacturer, Middlesbrough.
TOCKETTS, the Toscoton of Domesday Book, is a township containing 938 acres, belonging to the trustees of the late Admiral Chaloner, the Earl of Zetland, and the trustees of Kirkleatham estate. The township is purely agricultural, and is rated to the poor at £823. The tithes payable to the Archbishop of York were commuted for £130.
Tocketts was long held by a family named after the place, one of whom founded a chapel here, dedicated to St. James, which was served by a chaplain from Guisborough priory, and tradition avers that a subterranean passage ran from the priory to Tocketts Hall, The last of the family that possessed lands here was George Tocketts, Esq., who, in 1715, sold the equity of redemption of his estate to certain mortgagees, from whom it was purchased the year following by Edward Chaloner, Esq. The hall was pulled down by this family, and Plantation Farm built near the site.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.