Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Allertonshire - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Northallerton - Rural Deanery of Thirsk - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish is situated in the well cultivated vale of the Wiske, about three miles S. of Northallerton. It comprises the townships of North Otterington, Thornton-le-Beans, and Thornton-le-Moor, whose united area is 3,625 acres, and population 624. Of this area 782 acres form the first-named township, which is chiefly the property of John Hutton, Esq., Solberge; and Robert Hutton Squire, Esq., Holtby Hall. There are 27 acres of glebe land belonging to the vicar, and the N.E.R. Co. own the land over which their main and branch lines pass. The gross rental is £5,267, and the rateable value £4,488. The earliest occurrence of the name is in Domesday Book, where it is mentioned as one of the places within the soke of Alvertune (Northallerton), that is within the judicial jurisdiction of the lord of Alvertune. It does not appear that Otterington was ever constituted a manor, nor have manorial rights ever been claimed or exercised by any one.* The village, consisting of the church and three or four houses, is situated near the Wiske, three miles S. of Northallerton. If we may believe a local tradition, it was once a place of much greater extent, but was destroyed by the Scots during an incursion in 1318, and never afterwards rebuilt.
* Lecture delivered by the Rev. T. Parkinson, at Thornton-le-Moor, December 9, 1882, and published in "The Northallerton and Bedale Times," November and December, 1884, to which we acknowledge our indebtedness for much valuable information.
The Church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a plain ancient structure, erected, it is supposed, in the latter half of the 12th century. Hugh Pudsey. bishop of Durham (1153-1195) and lord of Alvertune, gave this church, of which he was probably the builder, and eight oxgangs of land in Otterington to the hospital of St. James', which he had founded near Northallerton, and the living has been since that time a vicarage. After the suppression of the hospital, the great tithes and advowson were transferred to Christ Church College, Oxford, to which they still belong. The component parts of the edifice are nave, with aisle on the south side, chancel, and a low tower. In 1875, a thorough restoration was effected at a cost of £920, but as much of the ancient work as possible has been retained. During the progress of the work, the fragments of some Saxon crosses were discovered, and also a stone coffin in which only the skull and a few of the other bones remained. The church has undergone several restorations since its erection in the late Norman period, but portions of the original structure are still visible in the chancel and south aisle. The tower was built or rebuilt in 1805, and the spire added in 1865. The two bells in the tower belong to the 17th century; the smaller one is dated 1658, and the other 1689. There are memorial windows to the Rev. F. A. Sterky, late vicar, and his wife, that to the former erected by the parishioners in 1875, at a cost of £40. Another stained glass one has been inserted in commemoration of the Jubilee of Her Gracious Majesty, June 21st, 1887.
There is a tradition that it was the intention of the builders to have erected the church at Perry Trough, where a stone cross formerly stood, the socket of which still remains; but the work of the day was undone at night by the devil and his imps, who carried the stones to the site where the church now stands. This legend, however, is not peculiar to Otterington, as we have heard very similar ones related of other churches in various parts of the country.
The registers, which commence in 1590, are in a very fair state of preservation, and have been with the exception of a few years during the Commonwealth, well kept. From these valuable records of parish history, we learn that on the 21st March, 1593, "the glass window on the north side of the church was blowen downe," and broke both the pulpit and a stall; and on Ascension Day, May 13, 1726, "most of the leades from the cboir to the tower were blown off the church by a hurricane, about 12 yards into the churchyard, and were melted down and laid on again; the parish buying a fudder of lead, which cost £15 10s. This dreadful hurricane almost brought down the tower. Two oak props were sett to support it; the charge amounted to about £35."
This church continued to fulfil its mission of mother church of the parish until 1868, when that privilege was transferred to St. Barnabas', at Thoruton-le-Moor.
In 1880, there was discovered in a gravel pit, midway between the church and Otterington House, a human skeleton, lying on its left side, with the knees drawn up towards the chest. A competent authority declared it to have belonged to one of the pre-historic race of this country, whose grave had once been covered by a barrow or sepulchral mound similar to those on the Wolds.
The poor of North Otterington receive the interest of £189 4s. 6d. stock in the consols, purchased with £200, left by Miss Ann Turner, of Bishop Wearmouth, in 1859.
THORNTON-LE-BEANS. This township comprises an area of 1,614 acres, and is valued for rateable purposes at £1,929. The earliest mention of this place is in Domesday Book, wherein, under the name of Gristorentun, it is enumerated among the berewicks or villages belonging to the manor of Alvertune (Northallerton), then in the king's own hands. It occurs again in the grant by Rufus of the town and manor of Northallerton to the bishop of Durham in 1087; and at that time there were in it five carucates (an uncertain quantity) of taxable land, which had been held in the time of the Confessor by Thurkill, son of Thorald. The manorial privileges are now vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to whom they were transferred from the bishop of Ripon in 1857; but the land is chiefly owned by Earl Cathcart, W. W. P. Consett, Esq., J.P.; B. M. Parker, Esq., and the trustees of Major Coates.
The village is pleasantly situated 3½ miles S.E. of Northallerton. Thorntons are numerous in Yorkshire, and it became necessary, in order to distinguish one from the others, to add to the name, an epithet descriptive of that particular place. Thus we have in this parish Thornton-le-Moor (on the moor), and Thornton-le-Beans. Several derivations of the latter part of this name have been advanced, but it is probably, as the Rev. T. Parkinson observes, "neither more nor less than the leguminous plant, yet grown in the neighbourhood."
The chapel-of-ease, according to the "benefaction" board, was founded in 1770 by Mrs. Heber, whose sister, Mary Musgrove, seven years later, gave the interest of £100 to the vicar of Otterington for conducting public worship in this church eight times a year. The font was the gift of the late Dr. Pusey, who took a memorable part in the Tractarian movement some years ago. The church was thoroughly restored and beautified in 1886, chiefly through the exertions of L. P. Edwards, Esq. The sum of £2,000 was left a few years ago by Miss Hutton towards the support of a curate, and services are now held seven times a month by the curate of Otterington.
The village school is endowed with 2½ acres of land called "Fox-mires," purchased with 60 guineas, left by the above-named Mrs. Heber, for the free education of four poor children belonging to the township. This land now lets for £4 a year.
The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel in the village, a plain brick building, rebuilt in 1863, upon the site of one erected in 1820.
THORNTON-LE-MOOR township, comprising 1,527 acres, is situated just beyond the borders of Allertonshire, in the Wapentake and Petty Sessional Divisional of Birdforth. It is in the Thirsk and Malton Division of the Riding, in the South Otterington Electoral Division, and the Thirsk Union and County Court District, The principal landowners are Earl Cathcart and the Earl of Harewood, joint lords of the manor; John Hutton, Esq., Northallerton; the trustees of the late Major J. W. Coates; Robt. Hutton-Squire, Esq., J.P., Holtby Hall; and Captain H. Clayhills. The soil is gravel and clay, and the chief crops wheat, oats, barley, beans and turnips. The rateable value is £2,711, and the population in 1881 was 335.
At the beginning of the 14th century, Richard Malabis was lord of the manor of Thornton-in-Mora, and had here a gallows, pillory, and tumbrell or ducking-stool, for the punishment of offenders. He gave to the abbot and monks of Fountains Abbey "Nine oxgangs of land with appurtenances at Thornton, with all the men dwelling on the said land, and their following and chattels." Another oxgang was given by Walter Beauvais, to whom it had been granted by the said Richard Malabis. These donations were confirmed by royal charter in 1311. This land remained in the possession of the monks until the dissolution of monasteries, at which time its annual rental was £5 6s. 8d., a sum equal in purchasing power to about £50 of our present money. Shortly after that event, about 1550, Lord Dacre, of Gilsland, possessed an estate here and held the manor, which, in the partition of his property among his three co-heiresses, fell to the share of Elizabeth, wife of Lord William Howard, the famous "Belted Will" of Border history. The further descent of the manor has not been traced to modern times. As before observed, both Earl Cathcart and the Earl of Harewood have, for many years, claimed manorial rights in the township, a dual ownership which leads to the inference that there may possibly have been formerly two manors "whose boundaries are now lost."
The village is small, but its modern-built houses with their trim-kept gardens in front, once part of the village green, give to the place an attractive appearance, especially in summer. A little more than two centuries ago, the land on the north side of the village was still an unreclaimed open moor, an Act for enclosing which, was obtained in 1652. Thornton suffered severely during the Scottish incursion in 1318, and the monks of Fountains, in consequence of the losses sustained by the inhabitants, remitted the whole of their rent the following year.
A chapel-of-ease was erected here at an early period, probably by the monks of Fountains after the manor came into their possession. Services were held in it until 1793, after which, it was permitted to fall to decay. A part of it was afterwards converted into a school, and later, into a Wesleyan chapel and poor's cottage; and Thornton-le-Moor, the largest village in the parish, and three miles distant from the mother church, remained without the ministrations of religion until 1868, when, through the indefatigable exertions of the Rev. F. S. P. Seale, then vicar, the late Major Coates, and Mr. R. Moses, funds were collected, and the present church erected on the site of the old chapel, at a cost of about £1,100. It was dedicated to St. Barnabas, and opened for divine service on the 19th of April, 1868. By Order of Her Majesty in Council the same year, it was constituted the parish church for the parish of North Otterington in place of the old honoured mother church of St. Michael at North Otterington. It is a neat Gothic edifice of brick, with an exterior casing of stone, and consists of nave, with bell turret at the west end, chancel, vestry, and south porch. The nave is fitted with open benches, and the chancel, with stalls for the choir.
The Rev. Thos. Parkinson, the present vicar, inducted in 1871, to whose Lecture on, the History of North Otterington Parish we have already referred, is also the author of two most interesting works to the student of local folklore - "Yorkshire Legends and Traditions" and "Lays and Leaves of the Forest" (of Knaresborough).
The church school was erected in 1858 for the accommodation of 63 children. In consequence of the great increase in the attendance, it was enlarged in 1887 at a cost of £150, and is now capable of receiving 120 children. It is under the care of Mr. J. Boocock, and holds a high position among the schools of the district.
The Primitive Methodists have a chapel here, a small brick building erected in 1836.
The village has a never failing supply of excellent water in its twenty wells and many springs. About half-a-mile to the north on the Earl of Harewood's land is Stockeld's Well, the water of which is intensely cold and somewhat saline. Formerly, most of the inhabitants were employed in the linen manufacture, or the preparatory operation of heckling or dressing the flax; but with the introduction of steam power and the factory system, hand-loom weaving became so unremunerative that it was abandoned here some 20 years ago. Many of the inhabitants are employed in agriculture, but Messrs. Baxter's brewery is the chief support of the village. The ales brewed here are held in high repute by the medical profession for their tonic and stomachic properties and delicacy of flavour which they, probably, owe to some peculiar quality of the water. The business was established nearly a century ago, and now the well-known Thornton-le-Moor ales are sent to all parts of the kingdom, and even the continent. The brewery is a handsome building, 80 feet high, with a tower and chimney that can be seen for miles around.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.