Guisborough, Yorkshire, England. Further historical information.



GUISBOROUGH, a parish in the wapentake and liberty of Langbargh; 9 miles from Stokesley, and 49 from York. The church of Guisborough is a neat structure, partly rebuilt in the year 1791, dedicated to St. Nicholas (see Churches for photograph); the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Archbishop of York, and the Rev. T. P. Williamson, A. M. is the incumbent. Market, Tuesday. Fairs, the last Tuesdays in March and April; Tuesday before Whitsuntide; third Tuesdays in August and Sept.; second Tuesday in Nov. for horned cattle, horses, &c. last Tuesday in June for long wool, and last Tuesday in July for short wool. Principle Inn, the Cock.

Robert Chaloner, Esq. obtained the Kings Letters Patent for these Fairs and Market in 1814.

There are here also three chapels or meeting-houses, one for the Methodists, a second for the Independents, and the other for the Quakers. Mr. George Venables, of London, a native of this place, left by will a fund for founding a school here, which was opened in 1790, for the education of 50 poor boys and 40 poor girls, and called Providence School, in allusion to the blessings of God upon the founder's labours. Till the year 1821, the children were taught by the old system, but at that time two new school rooms were built by subscription, and 100 boys and 100 girls are now taught on the system of Dr. Bell, the funds left by the benevolent Mr. Venables being applied to defray the charges of the establishment. Mr. Ralph Medd is the master, and Mrs. Isabella Peacock the mistress. The population of Guisborough amounts to 1912. In the year 1129 Robert de Brus founded the priory here for canons of the order of St. Austin. Some idea may be formed of the extent of this establishment, when the priory was in the plenitude of its prosperity, from a manuscript in the Cottonian Library, in which it is said-" That the prior kept a most pompous house, insomuch that the towne, consystinge of 500 householders, had no lande, but lived all in the abbey." At the dissolution the annual revenue was to the amount of £628. 3s. 4d. and the site was granted to Francis Chaloner, Esq. in 1550. Camden says of this place, that it is really beautiful, and adds, that it resembles Putcoli, in Italy, but exceeds it in healthiness." Guisborough is pleasantly situated in a narrow but fertile vale, and consists chiefly of one main street, running nearly East and West. The street is very broad, and many of the houses being built in a modern style, the town has a neat and pleasant appearance. A handsome town-hall, of free-stone, was built in the year 1821, upon the site of the ancient toll-booth, in the Market place, erected upon projecting pillars and arches. with four cast iron pillars in the centre, the lower part or area serves as a shambles, &c. for the market people, and the Magistrates hold their meetings on alternate Tuesdays, in the upper story. The markets are well attended, and are held on Tuesday. Early in the month of May, 1822, a mineral spring was discovered, at about a mile SE. of Guisborough, to which a great number of people daily resort, and who generally obtain relief in rheumatic, scorbutic and bilious complaints; this water, which is a good diuretic, has been analysed by Mr. William Farady, of London, and the result shows that the specific gravity is l000,7. A pint contains three grains, nearly, of dry salts, the salts are Muriate of Soda, Carbonate of Soda, Carbonate of Lime, Carbonate of Magnesia. Carbonic Acid; Sulphate the smallest quantity. An hotel is about to be erected for the accommodation of visitors who may come to Guisborough for the benefit of the waters, by Robert Chaloner, Esq. M.P. the lord of the manor, at a convenient distance from the spring. It is worthy of remark, that the first alum works in this kingdom were erected here in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and it was against the proprietor that the Pope fulminated his anathemas.

The Extract from Langdale's Topographical Yorkshire Dictionary:

The town is of considerable antiquity, and is supposed by Baxter to be the Urbs Caluvium of the Romans, although it does not appear that any Roman remains have been found here. In Doomsday-Book it is called Ghigesburg, and at that time contained three manors, one of which was an ancient demesne of the Crown: at an early period after the Conquest, these manors became united under the fee of Robert de Brus, Lord of Skelton, who, at the instance of Pope Calixtus II. and Thurstin Archbishop of York, in 1129, [Camden states the date to be 1119, making a difference of 10 years, and as Pope Calixtus II. by whose advice the Priory was built, died in 1124, it is more than probable that he is correct] founded here a rich and magnificent Priory for Canons regular of the order of St. Austin, and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. -Chronic. Johannis Brompton.

Few monastic ruins can boast of the stately grandeur of this Priory. The large east window, which forms a part of its venerable remains, is a complete model of the finest gothic architecture, which makes one lament that more of this beautiful structure has not been preserved.

-------------"but all things have their end;
" Churches and cities (which have diseases like to men,)
"Must have like death that we have."

The founder died in 1141, and was buried in this monastery, as were many of his successors; it was also the common burial place of most of the nobility of these parts. The yearly revenues of these Monks were estimated at 628L. 3s. 4d. -Dugdale, and 612L. 6s. 6d. Speed. It was surrendered by Robert Pursglove alias Silvester, in 1540, who had a pension of 166L. 13s. 4d. assigned him out of the revenues. The site was granted, 4th Edward VI. to Sir Thomas Chaloner, and is at present the property of his descendant, Robert Chaloner, Esq. In the Cottoniam Library there is a curious letter, from which it appears that the Prior of Guisborough kept a pompous house, in so much that the towne consystinge of 500 householders had no lande, but lyved all on the abbey" and that "a Steward of theirs was turned out of office, because he had aforehand but onely four hundred quarters of grayne to serve their house." Except the great east window, little remains of this once magnificent edifice, but a small gateway towards the west. The famous Walter Hemingford, a chronicler of much celebrity, whose work extends from 1066 to 1303, was an ecclesiastic in this priory. In those days every abbey had at least one person, whose office it was to instruct youth; and the historians of this country are chiefly beholden to the Monks for their knowledge of former national events. In these houses the arts of painting. architecture, and printing, were likewise cultivated. Here were formerly the first Alum-works in England. The art was first brought by that learned naturalist, Sir Thomas Chaloner, from the Popes Alum-works at Rome, for which his holiness fulminated an anathema against him, as well as against those he had seduced. Here is a Grammar-School and Hospital, situated on the north side of the Church-yard, founded by Letters patent of Queen Elizabeth, dated 19th of June, 1561, granted to Robert Pursglove, clerk, the last Prior of Guisborough, who endowed the same with his lands, &c. at Bolam, in the parish of Gainforth, and with 68L. 0s. 2½p. in the parish of Smeaton, in this county. By a late division of the common fields at Bolam and some additional grants to this charity, its revenues have been greatly increased, - the lands being now 361 acres, and its present rental 375L. 15s. 7½d. per annum. The School-house adjoins the Hospital on the east -The masters salary 50L. - Ten boys on the foundation. -There are six old men and women in the hospital, who have clothing and 5s. per week, with a small dwelling, and 1L. 8s. per annum for coats, -Carlisle's Hist. of Gram. Schools. Mr. G. Venables, an old in inhabitant of the tower, London, died Aug. 1814, was made the honoured instrument of founding a noble edifice here, called Providence School, in which are constantly educated ninety poor children. To accomplish this great and important work, he travelled upwards of 20,000 miles at his own expence. -Gent. Magaz. Sept. 1814.

[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]