KIRKBYMOORSIDE, a parish in the wapentake of Rydale; 6 miles from Helmsley, 8 from Pickering, 14 from Malton, and 29 from York. The Church is dedicated to All Saints (see Churches for photograph); and the living is a vicarage in the gift of the King. There are here a Methodist Chapel, an Independent Chapel, and a Friends' Meeting House. The market is on Wednesday. Market, Wednesday. Fairs, Wednesday in Whitsun week, and September 18, for horned cattle, sheep and linen. Principal Inn, White Horse. Pop. 1878.
This manor which formerly belonged to the Earls of Westmoreland, was forfeited; and tradition says, that Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland, by whose rebellion the Estate was forfeited, in the reign of Elizabeth, made his escape from hence into Scotland, in the time of a deep snow, and eluded his pursuers by having the shoes of his horse reversed; and that the descendants of the blacksmith, who turned the shoes, enjoy at this day a house, as a reward for their ancestor's service, at a rent of a farthing a year. The manor remained in the Crown, till the reign of James I. when the favourite Duke of Buckingham, having obtained Helmsley, by his marriage with the heiress of the Earl of Rutland, is said to have begged it of the King, as a garden to that famous mansion. His son George, who married Mary, the only daughter of Thomas Lord Fairfax, after a dissolute life died in extreme want at a humble house in the Market place (see Helmsley). The manufacture of linen is carried on here, but not extensively. The agricultural produce of the country consists of all kinds of English grain, and the mineral productions are lime, coal, and freestone.
"The church is an ancient edifice, in which "is a curious marble monument, with a brass plate, gilt, on which are carved figures of a Lady Brooke and her six sons and, five daughters, all kneeling." --History of Whitby. Here died on the 15th of April, 1687, in a miserable house ill the market-place, in extreme want and misery, the gay, the witty, and profligate George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, of that name. The house has since undergone considerable repairs; and is now in the possession of Mr. Atkinson. His extensive sessions at Helmsley and Kirbymoorside passed into the Duncombe family. In the following description Pope seems to have taken a poetical license, or been misinformed, as there is no tradition of the house ever having been an Inn, and the floor of the room, is of old deal, and shewn to the curious.
In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half-hung,
The floors of plaister and the walls of dung,
On once a flock bed, but repair'd with straw,
With tape-ty'd curtains, never meant to draw,
The George and Garter dangling from that bed,
Where, tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,
Great Villiers lies - alas! how chang'd from him,
That life of pleasure and that soul of whim!
Gallant and gay, in Cliefdens proud alcove,
The bow'r of wanton Shrewsbury and love;
Or just as gay, at Council, in a ring
Of mimick'd Statesmen, and their merry King.
No Wit to flatter, left of all his store!
No fool to laugh at, which he valu'd more;
There, Victor of his health, of fortune, friends,
And fame, this lord of useless thousands ends. -Pope.
From letter to his intimate friend, Doctor Barrow, which the Duke wrote a few days before his death, it seems that he died in the utmost possible penitence, " afflicted," as he says "with poverty, haunted with remorse, despised by my country, and, I fear, forsaken by my God." The parish register simply records his burial in the following manner:- "1681-April 17th, Gorges Vilaus Lord, dooke of bookingam."
[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]