Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of East Gilling - Rural Deanery of East Richmond - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.
This parish, formerly a chapelry under Gilling West, consists of the townships of North and South Cowton, containing a total area of 3,635 acres, and a population of 394. The township of South Cowton (area 2,239 acres) is in the Northallerton Union and County Court District, and in Brompton Division for the election of a County Councillor. For rating purposes it is valued at £1,613, and had in 1881, 111 inhabitants. The soil and subsoil are clay, and the chief crops wheat, oats, barley, and beans. The principal landowners are W. F. Webb, Esq., Newstead Abbey, Notts (lord of the manor); William Stobart, Esq., Pepper Arden; and Thomas Inman Earle, Esq., Kirkbride, Aldbrough, Darlington.
There can scarcely be said to be any village, as the houses are scattered over the township. The district around was formerly a moor, and on a part of it lying towards East Cowton was fought the famous battle of the Standard, on the 22nd day of August, 1138.
The manor anciently belonged to a branch of the Conyers family, one of whom, Sir Richard Conyers, it is said, built the old castle of Cowton some time in the reign of Henry VI. (1422-1461); and his arms impaling those of Wycliffe, to which family his wife belonged, may still be seen on the old castle tower. From the Conyers the castle and manor passed to Christopher Boynton, whose name appears as Xpofer Boynton on the shields, on the walls of the castle, and church. He was probably a descendant of Sir Christopher Boynton, of Sedbury, but his connection with the Conyers family has not been ascertained. What remains of the old castle is now occupied by Mr. William Shout, farmer and tallow chandler, Darlington.
The Church (St. Mary) is an ancient structure, supposed to have been rebuilt by the above-named Sir Richard Conyers, in the 15th century. The style of its architecture is Early English. It consists of a nave, chancel, tower, and porch, with a "Parvis" chamber above it. The fabric was thoroughly restored in 1883; the nave at the expense of William Stobart, Esq., and the tower, "Parvis," and porch by subscription. The massive oaken roof is 15th century work, and almost all the woodwork throughout the church is also of solid oak. In the tower are three bells, the first is inscribed "Venite exultemus Domino" (Come, let us rejoice in the Lord), and the second, "Gloria in altissimis Domino" (Glory to the Lord in the highest). The third was recast at the expense of Amy Stobart, when the church was restored. On the porch are the arms of the Conyers impaling Wycliffe, and the inscription Orate pro Anima Ricardi Conyers et Aliciæ uxoris suœ. (Pray for the soul of Richard Conyers and of Alice, his wife). Sir Richard founded a chantry of Our Lady in this church, which was valued in the 37 Henry VIII., at £5 11s. 8d. In the east window appears the shield of this family supported by an angel, and beneath it "CRISTOFER CONYERS." Under this window are three alabaster statues, one a male recumbent figure in armour; the other two are female figures; but unfortunately there is neither inscription nor heraldic device by which we may identify the persons represented. According to popular belief they are the effigies of Sir Richard Conyers and his two wives, but this popular belief is a popular fallacy, as the inscription above quoted shows clearly that he had only one wife. Another local tradition says that the male figure represents Sir Robert Danby, of Yafforth, who was killed at the battle of Bosworth Field, in 1485; and the female figures the two daughters of Sir Richard and Alice Conyers, one of whom, Margaret, married the said Sir Robert.
The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Vicar of Gilling, and worth about £138 per annum, The Rev. Robert Bailey Nesbit, B.A., is the present vicar, and W. F. Webb, Esq., the lay rector.
Pepper Arden is a neat mansion, the property and residence of William Stobart, Esq., J.P. It formerly belonged to the Arden family, from whom it was purchased by the late H. Hood, Esq., who almost rebuilt the house; and it was sold by the executors of that gentleman to the present owner.
NORTH COWTON. This township contains, according to the rate books, 1,281½ acres, and is assessed at £1,852. It is in the County Council Electoral Division of Catterick, and has a population numbering 383. The principal landowners are the Earl of Zetland, Aske Hall; J. C. Chaytor, Esq., Croft; Robert Chilton, Norton, Stockton-on-Tees; Mrs. Walker, Maunby Hall; Mrs. T. W. Baldridge, Geneva House, Darlington; Thomas Robinson and Co., Darlington; T. 0. Robinson, Esq., Gateshead; Mrs. T. S. Bourke, Weston-super-Mare; Mrs. Rushford, Harrogate; and Mr. W. Harrison, North Cowton. There are 52 acres of glebe land in the township, belonging to the Vicar of Gilling. Admiral Carpenter, of Kiplin, is lord of the manor.
The village stands on the Richmond and Stockton road, about eight miles N.W. of Northallerton. The Wesleyans have a chapel here, a brick building, erected in 1827, and restored in 1881, at a cost of £100. It will seat about 170, and is in the Darlington circuit. The educational affairs of the parish are managed by a School Board, by whom the old school was rebuilt. Religious service is held in it every Sunday evening by the vicar. A Reading room was established in the village in 1882, by Mrs. Stobart, of Pepper Arden, and it is almost entirely supported by that generous lady. About half a mile west of the village, but within this township, is Moulton station, on the Richmond branch of the N.E. railway.
CHARITIES - The charities of the township are now managed under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, dated February 14, 1883. The total income is about £7 10s., which is distributed on Shrove Tuesday. The township also receives £5 a year out of Dame Calverley's charities.
North Cowton is in Richmond Union and County Court District.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.