KIRKLEATHAM: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake of Langbaurgh (East Division) - Petty Sessional Division of Langbaurgh East - Poor Law Union of Guisborough - County Court District of Middlesbrough - Electoral Division of Kirkleatham - Rural Deanery of Stokesley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

This parish, situated in the north east corner of Yorkshire, south of the Tees mouth, covers an area, exclusive of sea coast, of 4,330 acres, and includes the hamlets and villages of Kirkleatham, Coatham, Warrenby, Yearby, Dunsdale, and West Coatham. The last named place, containing 826 acres, is the property of Sir Chas. H. Lowther, Wilton Castle, and the rest of the parish belongs to the Trustees of the Kirkleatham Settled Estates. The North Eastern railway, from Middlesbrough to Redcar, passes through the parish. A very large increase has taken place in the rateable value of the parish during the last thirty years, chiefly resulting from the erection of iron works, and the development of Coatham as a seaside resort. In 1859, the whole parish was assessed at £5,760, and at present at £31,285. The population numbered at the last census 3,898. The soil is clayey, resting in some places upon stone, and in others on clay.

In the Domesday Book the manor of Kirkleatham is mentioned under the name of Westlidun, and in later documents it is called Lythum. The Conqueror granted the estate to his trusty follower, Robert de Brus; and it afterwards passed in marriage with Lucia, sister and co-heir of Peter de Brus, to Marmaduke de Thwenge, lord of Kilton. The only issue of this union was a daughter and heiress, Lucia, who married Robert de Lumley. It remained in this family until 1544, when George, Lord Lumley, was attainted and executed for conspiring with Lord Darcy, Sir Thomas Percy, and others against the king. Queen Elizabeth granted the manor to Sir Wm. Bellasis, Knight, who sold it in 1623 to John Turner, Esq., a wealthy London merchant. The descendants of this gentleman were raised to the baronetage in 1782, and Sir Charles Turner, the third and last baronet, died in 1810, leaving the whole of the Kirkleatham estate to his widow absolutely. Lady Turner was the daughter of Sir William Gleadowe, Bart., and Viscountess Newcomen, and married secondly in 1812, Henry Vansittart, Esq., J.P., D.L., high sheriff in 1820, and died in 1844. Mr. Vansittart died in 1848, leaving an only child, Teresa, who, in 1841, married her cousin, Arthur Newcomen, Esq., R.H.A., and died in 1887, having survived her husband 39 years. The eldest son, Arthur Henry Turner Newcomen, married Rachel, daughter of Sir Jervoise Clarke Jervoise, Bart., and died in 1844, leaving issue Kathleen, Muriel, and Henry Gleadowe Turner, a minor. Mrs. Newcomen married secondly in 1886, Charles Trotter, Esq., J.P. The estate is now administered by Chancery.

Kirkleatham Hall, the seat of Chas. Trotter, Esq., is a large handsome Gothic mansion, with a front measuring 132 feet in length, and surrounded by beautiful woodlands.

The village is pleasantly situated 2½ miles S. of Redcar. The Church, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, was rebuilt in the Italian style in 1763. Six columns of the Tuscan order support the leaden roof, but the edifice possesses little architectural merit, In the chancel is a full length statue, in white marble, of John Turner, Esq., in his robes as a Sergeant-at-Law, who died in 1688; and opposite it is a marble tomb to the memory of his brother, Sir William Turner. Thomas de Thwenge, brother to Robert de Thwenge, Lord of Kilton, founded in the church of Letham (Kirkleatham) a chantry, consisting of twelve chaplains and four clerks, who were under the government of the rector, and said masses every day for the founder and his brothers. The patronage of the church afterwards came to the Nevilles, Earls of Westmoreland, by one of whom it was given to the College of Staindrop, to which it was appropriated, and a vicarage ordained in 1412. After the Dissolution, the patronage went with the estate, and is now vested in A. H. T. Newcomen, Esq. In the king's books this living is valued at £13 6s. 8d., and is now worth £136 per annum, including 13 acres of globe, with residence.

Adjoining the east end of the church is a handsome mausoleum, erected in 1740 by Cholmley Turner, Esq., and rebuilt in 1839. Here repose several members of the Turner family. The last that was buried within it was Henry Vansittart, Esq., who died in 1848. The mausoleum itself is a memorial of Marwood Wm. Turner, Esq., who died at Lyons, October 10th, 1739, and is nterred here. Within are memorial tablets and monuments to various members of the family. A marble tomb commemorates Sir Wm. Turner, Knight, alderman of London, and lord mayor in 1669, who died in 1692; the tomb of Cholmley Turner, bearing a full-]ength effigy by Schumacher, is a beautiful piece of sculpture; and the monument to the memory of the last Sir Charles Turner, Bart., is an admirable work of art. On the tomb stands the figure of a female in marble, her right hand resting on an urn.

The church registers, kept in an ancient iron chest, date from 1559, and are in a good state of preservation.

The most interesting feature of the parish is the Hospital, founded and endowed by Sir William Turner, in the reign of Charles II. Sir William was the third son of John Turner, Esq., who purchased the Kirkleatham estate, and while young went to London, where he became an eminent woollen merchant. In 1662 he received the honour of knighthood, and was subsequently both Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London. He built this hospital in 1676, "for the relief of ten poor aged men and ten poor aged women, and for the relief and bringing up of ten poor boys and ten poor girls." He endowed it during his life, with the manors and estates of Ingleby-Barwick and Hutton-Rudby, and with a yearly rent-charge of £50 out of an estate at Stainsby; and bequeathed to it by will a further sum of £2,000, with which was purchased 194 acres of land at Foxton. He also left £5,000 for the erection and endowment of a Free Grammar School. This, with houses for the master and usher, was built in 1710, at a cost of £2,000, by Cholmley Turner, Esq., Sir William's nephew, and owner of Kirkleatham estate, and in consideration of the remaining £3,000, he set apart for the support of the school two farmhouses and 561 acres of land at Brearton, in the county of Durham, The proximity of the school, and the noise of the children at recreation, interfered with the comfort of the inmates of the hall. It was consequently very soon closed, and converted into a residence, now called the Old Hall, but the offices of master and usher continued as sinecure appointments until 1846. The former, salary £100 per annum, was usually held by the land agent for Kirkleatham estate, and the latter, £50 per annum, by the vicar of the parish. The Court of Chancery was appealed to by a late vicar and the churchwardens of the parish, to provide for the application of the charity to its original object. In 1855, a scheme was devised and sanctioned by the Court, and with the accumulated funds a new school was erected at Coatham in 1869. - (See Coatham, page 155).

The Hospital funds are now administered under a scheme sanctioned by the Charity Commissioners in 1884. In consequence of the agricultural depression which has prevailed for several years, the income of the charity has been much reduced, and a smaller number of almspeople is now maintained. Neither the chaplain nor surgeon at present receive any stipend, and the master is allowed to take other pupils to educate with the children on the foundation. The Hospital lands comprise 1,789 ac. 1 rd. 33po., and yield a rental of £1,404 19s. 4d. The offices of Governor and Visitor of the Hospital and School are vested for ever in the owner or owners of Kirkleatham manor.

The Hospital is a large and handsome building enclosing three sides of a quadrangle, in the centre of which, standing on a pedestal, is a statue of Justice with the scales and sword, and the figure of a male and female on either side. In the middle of the front is a small chapel with arched roof, supported by four graceful Ionic columns. The interior furnishings are elegant. The eastern wing of the building is partly occupied by the Library and Museum, In the former are some 3,000 volumes, among which are many rare works and some valuable manuscripts, and etchings by Yandyke. The Museum contains many curios, and a choice collection of articles of interest to students of natural history and antiquity. Here is also a very fine carving of St. George and the Dragon, said to have been the work of a prisoner, and valued at £2,000. The Museum is open to the public (Sundays excepted) on payment of a small gratuity to the attendant, and will amply repay the visit of either student or ordinary sightseer.

COATHAM, formerly a distinct village, now adjoins and forms part of the town of Redcar. William Hutton the antiquarian, of Birmingham, when upwards of four score years of age, made a journey hither, and in 1810, published his "Trip to Coatham," in which he describes the village as "half a street," containing about 70 houses, and separated from Redcar by a green 400 yards in length. It now contains many streets of handsome houses and business premises, and is much frequented in the bathing season. The sands are firm and safe, and a pier, commenced in 1873 and finished in 1875, about 2,000 feet in length, with a spacious saloon midway along, for concerts, &c., adds to its attractions. There is good hotel accommodation, also many private boarding houses; and in addition to its bathing facilities there are many picturesque spots within easy reach of the town. It is governed by the Kirkleatham Local Board of Health.

Christ Church, an elegant structure in the Decorated Gothic style, was erected in 1853-4, at the sole expense of Mrs. Newcomen, of Kirkleatham, The whole design is conceived and carried out with the most exquisite taste. The nave is separated from the aisles by arcades of pointed arches resting on clustered columns with foliated capitals. A lofty and handsome arch of the same character leads into the chancel. In the south wall of the chancel are two sedilia under beautifully sculptured canopies, and in the north wall is a credence table of the same design. The reredos, font, and pulpit are beautifully carved pieces of work in Caen stone. The east window of three lights is filled with rich stained glass. In the centre one is represented the Ascension; in the right and left are illustrated those sayings of Our Lord "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed," and "Why, call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say unto you?" Most of the other windows are also filled with stained glass. The tower is surmounted by an elegant spire. Coatham was ecclesiastically separated from Kirkleatham and constituted a distinct parish in 1860. The living is a new vicarage, worth £160 per annum, of which £100 is from the endowment of the generous foundress. The patronage is vested in the owner of Kirkleatham estate.

Sir William Turner's Grammar School is a large and handsome structure in a florid style of Gothic, and was opened on the 1st of August, 1869. It was erected in pursuance of a scheme devised by the Charity Commissioners in 1855, for the resuscitation of the school originally founded at Kirkleatham, and is conducted according to a scheme formulated in 1884. There is accommodation for 100 boys, including 20 boarders, for whose instruction there are four masters, three of whom are graduates of Cambridge University, The curriculum embraces every subject included in a high-class education. There are eight free scholars, who have obtained scholarships by examination from elementary schools in Kirkleatham parish. The income of the school is about £350 a year.

The Convalescent Home and Children's Hospital was founded by the late Rev. John Postlethwaite, in 1860-1, for the reception of poor and deserving persons recovering from sickness, and requiring change of air and sea bathing. Mr. Postlethwaite acquired the site, and built and furnished the original portion of the home for 50 patients, at a cost of upwards of £4,500, borne wholly by himself. Subsequently annual subscriptions were invited, and donations and legacies, and in 1869 the premises were enlarged so as to receive 100 patients. In 1876 a wing was added, containing ten separate rooms, for the reception of mothers with infants and children, and accommodation is now provided for 180 patients.

The Home is open for six or seven months during the summer, when patients are admitted from any part of England. They are provided with medical attendance, board, lodging, washing, baths, and everything necessary for health and comfort free of charge. The nursing is conducted by ladies who give their voluntary services, and there is no payment for official or management expenses to any one. Thus the whole income is available for the purposes of the institution.

The Central Hall, for concerts, entertainments, &c., is a spacious room capable of accommodating 1,000 people. Proprietor, Mr. Cowl.

Warrenby is a village of recent origin, chiefly occupied by the workmen employed at the Coatham and Redcar Iron Works. The former, consisting of two blast furnaces, were erected by Messrs. Downey & Co., in 1873, and the latter, consisting of four blast furnaces, were built the following year, and belong to Messrs. Walker, Maynard, & Co. The Coatham furnaces are at present idle. There is a Mission Chapel in the village under Coatham, and also a Wesleyan Chapel.

Near the village is Tod Point, a projection of land at the mouth of the Tees, and from this point stretches the South Gare Breakwater, one of the most gigantic engineering enterprises of modern times. In the construction of this work, the huge unsightly accumulations of slag from the ironworks have been utilised, and as a writer in the "Yorkshire Post" observes, "The necessity which brought about its construction has supplied the means for its accomplishment." In other words, the extraordinay development of the ironmaking industry, on Tees-side, has provided the material, without which, the South Gare Breakwater would, in all probability, never have been begun. This slag was not only supplied free of cost, but the ironmasters paid from twopence to fivepence per ton for its removal.

The work was commenced in January, 1861, and by the end of the year about a mile of embankment had been formed across the Bran Sands, but a storm then occurring, nearly the whole of it was destroyed. Subsequent storms also did much damage, and greatly retarded the work. During a gale, in October, 1880, nearly 100 yards of the concrete wall, which protects the slag deposited between the levels of low and high water, was swept away. As the work neared the terminus in the deep water, greater resisting power was necessary, and here huge blocks of concrete, many tons weight, have been used. The circular extremity carrying the lighthouse is protected by a wall of this material, the blocks of which vary from 40 to 300 tons weight. The breakwater, which is about two-and-a-half miles in length, was completed and publicly opened by the Right Honourable W. H. Smith, First Lord of the Treasury, on the 25th of October, 1888. In the construction of this stupendous work no less than 4,500,000 tons of slag, besides cement and other materials, have been used, and the gross cost has been £308,369. A corresponding breakwater will approach this from the north side of the Tees, leaving an entrance 2,400 feet wide. The plans were prepared by Mr. John Fowler, C.E., engineer to the Tees Commissioners, and under his direction the whole work has been carried out.

Yearby or Yerby is a small hamlet, four miles N.W. of Guisborough, and on the road leading to the latter town is the village of Dunsdale, formerly inhabited by miners, but now almost unoccupied.

There still remain in the parish traces of its early British inhabitants. A tumulus opened by the Rev. J. Holme, the then vicar of the parish, was thus described by that gentleman in a communication addressed to Mr. Ord, author of the "History of Cleveland;" "The tumulus he writes, "25 yards in diameter and about eight feet high, consisted of loose fragments of limestone rock, on removing which we found, a few feet from the top, the bones of a very large horse's head. A little lower were two skeletons laid across each other, and among the ribs of one of them a dirk or knife, about an inch thick with rust. Below these lay a very heavy sandstone, the cover of a large Kist-vaen, under which was the perfect skeleton, no doubt of some noble warrior, declared by a physician, who inspected a bone, to have been little, if at all, short of seven feet in height."

Near the hamlet of West Coatham there are, or were, a few years ago, still visible the outline of an ancient encampment, about 27 yards square, and about 80 yards further south, a semicircular entrenchment surrounded by a number of hillocks or tumuli.

[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.