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HAWES: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Hang West - Electoral Division and Poor Law Union of Aysgarth - County Court District of Leyburn - Rural Deanery of West Catterick - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.

HAWES is an extensive township and parish, comprising 16,997 acres of fell, dale, and moorland at the head of Wensleydale. It was, until recent years, a parochial chapelry, but is now ecclesiastically independent. It lies wholly on the south side of the Ure, extending westward to Hellgill Bridge on the borders of Westmoreland, and southward to the hilly boundary of the West Riding. Widdale Fell, Dod Fell, Snays Fell, Stags Fell, and Yorber are lofty ranges of wild moorland; but, in the dales and on the lower acclivities, the land is enclosed and generally fertile. The Northallerton and Hawes branch of the North Eastern Railway, opened throughout its whole length of 39 miles on February 1st, 1877, skirts the parish on the north; and this romantic district, once a terra incognita to all who lived beyond the limits of the dale, is now easily accessible from any part of the country. Veins of lead exist, among the hills, but, since the great depression in the trade, the mines have been abandoned. Coal of an inferior quality is also found in the neighbourhood, and stone and limestone are abundant. Since the opening of the railway in 1877, the quarrying industry of the district has assumed considerable magnitude; and it is estimated that nearly 15,000 tons of flags are sent from Hawes station every month. The land belongs to many owners, the largest of whom are the devisees of J. A. Metcalfe, J. C. C. Routh, James Whaley Fryer, and William James Whaley, Esqrs.; the trustees of Robert Atkinson, and of Thomas S. Willan, John William Smith, Rev. Christopher Whaley, Thomas Hewitson, John Bland Davis, Simon Hunter, 0. F. Routh; the trustees of William Pilkington, Rev. J. D. and Mrs. Parker, Thomas Davis, Joseph Walker, J. L. Wharton, Esq.; the devisees of Jane R. W. Metcalfe and of Richard Metcalfe, John Smith, Mrs. Routh, and Mrs. King; the trustees of James Whaley, George, James, and Henry Whaley, John Cuthbert Whaley; the trustees of Henry Whaley, the Rev. William Whaley; the trustees of Robert Blenkhorn; the devisees of Richard Smith, John and Mrs. Yeoman, &c. There are about 107 acres of glebe belonging to the Vicar of Sedbergh, and 93 acres at Lunds belonging to the incumbent of Hudswell. The Bainbridge Manor Trustees own about 70 acres of land and the manorial rights. The population of the township in 1881 was 1,890; and its rateable value, according to the last assessment, is £13,569.

The town of Hawes is situated on a small stream, about half a mile above its confluence with the Ure. It is much frequented by visitors, who make it a centre for visiting the numerous beautiful waterfalls, caves, and romantic scenery that lie within easy distance around it. Its Market, held on Tuesdays, dates from 1699, when William III., on the 28th of February of that year, granted a charter to Matthew Wetherald, gentleman, and his heirs, to hold a market weekly, on Tuesday, and two Fairs yearly. Hawes is the principal centre of business in the upper part of Wensleydale, and its market is consequently of considerable importance. An Auction Mart was opened in September, 1887, where cattle sales are held every alternate Tuesday. Fairs are held on Whit-Tuesday, Friday after the second Tuesday in June, the 28th of September, and the Tuesdays before November 5 and December 11 for cattle; on the 30th of August and 14th of September for lambs and sheep; and on the first Tuesday after October 12 for rams. Cheese Fairs have been recently established, and are held on the second Tuesday in March, the fourth Tuesday in August, second Tuesday in October, and the first Tuesday in December. The town has long had a reputation for handknit hosiery. The manufacture is now carried on by Messrs. James Smith & Sons, who give employment to about 400 knitters at their own homes, and to fifteen or twenty in the mill.

The monetary business of the district is in the hands of the Swaledale and Wensleydale Banking Co., Limited, and the York City and County Banking Co., Limited. The bank of the first-named Company was opened in 1842, under the management of the late Mr. Oswald Routh Whaley, who held the position until his death in 1888. The Whaley family has been connected with this district for a lengthened period. As early as 1483, Sir James Whalley, priest, was appointed by Richard III. to sing at the chapel of Hawes for one year, and received for his salary seven marks, He was probably a member of the local family which is still represented among the landowners of the township.

The Church, formerly a Chapel of Ease, was re-built in 1850, at a cost of about £3,000. It is in the Gothic style, and consists of chancel, nave with north and south aisles, two porches, and an embattled tower with pinnacles. In the tower is a peal of eight Harrington tubular bells, which were put in by subscription in 1887, at a cost of £150. The east window of four lights, on which are depicted the four salient events in the life of Christ, was inserted in 1874, at a cost of £250. The window at the east end of the north aisle is a memorial of Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe, and Hannah Wood Metcalfe, his sister. The interior has been recently restored and embellished at the cost of Mrs. Metcalfe, of Ings House. The church contains 569 sittings, of which 380 are free. The living is a vicarage worth £160, including 99 acres of glebe, with residence, in the gift of the Vicar of Aysgarth, to whom it was transferred by the landowners on the erection of the present church. It is held by the Rev. George Poulett Harris, M.A., who was presented in 1878. The great tithe, amounting to £186, is appropriated to Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Congregationalists and the Wesleyans have chapels in the town, and the Society of Friends a Meeting House.

A Free School was founded and endowed by the inhabitants about the middle of last century. The endowment consists of the interest of £410. The school is mixed, and attended on an average by 15 scholars.

A School Board was formed in 1876, and new schools, consisting of a mixed and infants' department, with master's residence, was built in 1877-8 at a cost of £3,000. There is accommodation for 320 children, and an average attendance of 150. Another school was erected at Lunds, at a cost of £1,450. The townships of Garsdale and High Abbotside are contributaries to the Hawes School Board for such children as attend the school at Lunds.

The town possesses a good Subscription Library which was established in 1788. There are over 1,500 works on the shelves, in the various departments of literature, science, and art. Both political parties have a club in the town. The Conservative Association was formed in 1882, and took possession of its present premises in 1886. There is a small library, and also a billiard table, the latter presented by Sir Charles Dodsworth. Mr. J. F. Fawcett is the secretary. The Liberal Club was established in 1886, and has a small library for the use of its members; Geo. Grubb, secretary. A pack of beagles, numbering about 25 dogs, is kept by subscription at Hawes, and very fair sport is generally met with. Mr. Geo. Broderick, master; Mr. J. Fawcett, huntsman.

The township also includes the hamlets of Apperset, 1 mile, N.W.; Burtersett, 1 mile, S.E.; Gayle, mile, S.E.; Snaizholme, 4 miles, S.S.W.; Mossdale, 4 miles, W.N.W.; and Widdale, from 3 to 4 miles W. of Hawes. At Gayle are some traces of an encampment, supposed to have been an outpost of the Roman station of Bracchium at Bainbridge, The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel here and another at Burtersett, and the Congregationalists have also one at the latter place.

[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.