Stanwick Saint John Parish information from Bulmers' 1890.


Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of West Gilling - Electoral Division of Gilling - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Richmond - Rural Deanery of Richmond East - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.

This parish includes the townships of Stanwick, Aldbrough, Caldwell, and East Layton, which cover an area of a little over 6,000 acres, and had, in 1881, 787 inhabitants. The soil is generally fertile, and the surface pleasingly diversified with woodlands. The township bearing the parochial name contains 1,363 acres (1,041 acres are under assessment), the rateable value of which is £1,609. The inhabitants number 56, and dwell in scattered houses. Eleanor, widow of Algernon, fourth duke of Northumberland, is sole owner, and lady of the manor.

Stanwick Hall, the residence of her Grace, is an elegant stone mansion with beautiful gardens and extensive park. The hall was, for several generations, the seat of the Smithson family. Sir Hugh, the first of the name located here, was a successful haberdasher in London, where he accumulated a handsome fortune, and purchased the manor and lands of Stanwick of Anthony Catterick, in 1638, for the sum of £4,000. He distinguished himself in the wars between Charles I. and the Parliament, and was created a baronet by Charles II. in 1660, for which he paid into the Exchequer the sum of £1,095.

Another Sir Hugh married the heiress of the Percy family, and on succeeding to the estates and honours limited to him, changed, by Act of Parliament, his name of Smithson for that of Percy. In 1766, he was created earl Percy and duke of Northumberland, and the late Algernon, fourth duke, was his grandson. The latter married in 1842, Lady Eleanor Grosvenor, eldest daughter of Richard, 2nd marquis of Westminster. He was an excellent nobleman, a munificent benefactor to charitable institutions, and died in 1866, universally regretted. Leaving no issue, the dukedom of Northumberland descended to his cousin.

There are here some very extensive entrenchments which extend into the township of Forcett, enclosing an area of several hundred acres. They are evidently the work of a very early people, and appear to have formed part of the great system of earthworks known as the Scots dyke, which has been traced, with more or less continuity, from the Swale to the Tees. The mounds, which are here called Jack-dike Arches, vary in height from five to 12 feet, and are very perceptible in the field adjoining the church. Mr. McLauchlan, who made a minute survey of the antiquities of the district, at the expense of the late Algernon, duke of Northumberland, believes these earthworks to have enclosed an ancient British village.

A number of bronze ornaments, fragments of horse furniture, and weapons of war, were found deposited together in a pit at a depth of five feet in the entrenchments; and not far from the spot were discovered some large iron hoops, which are supposed to have been the tires of chariot wheels. Opinions differ as to the age and people to whom they belonged, but they certainly indicate a degree of refinement and knowledge of metallurgy, far in advance of that possessed by the builders of the earthworks. These relics are now in the British Museum. The old British name of the place has been lost; but when the Angles took possession of it they called it Stanwic, or the stone camp, probably in allusion to the Roman or paved road which passes near.

The Church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is an ancient stone structure, thoroughly restored at the expense of her Grace, Eleanor, dowager duchess of Northumberland in 1868. Domesday Book records the presence of a church at Stanwick in 1086. This Norman or Saxon edifice was rebuilt in the 13th century in the Early English style. During the recent restoration, in removing the old walls, a number of German coins, known as Nuremberg tokens, which were used as a medium of exchange in England in the early part of the 15th century, were found in the foundations, thus indicating a restoration at that period. There were also found relics of the previous Gothic church, and some curiously carved stones which had belonged to the original Saxon edifice. The stems of two ancient crosses were found in the chancel, and now stand in the churchyard near the chancel door. The church consists of chancel, nave, a. transept or aisle, porch, and embattled tower. The east window of three lights is a beautiful piece of work representing Our Lord in His Glory, with S.S. Peter and John on the right and left sides, erected in memory of the late duke Algernon, by his tenants and friends. There are also some marble monuments of members of the Smithson family. A handsome stained glass window has been recently inserted to the memory of Dr. Walker, of Aldbrough, by his widow and children. On it are depicted the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the prophet Elisha, and St. Luke in his twofold calling of physician and evangelist. There was formerly a 15th century brass in memory of Emma, wife of Sir Ralph Pudsey, but this has. been removed. "There is a singularity attending this church" says a writer, "of which, we believe, only two other instances are known in England. The freehold and right of herbage of the churchyard belong to the Stanwick estate, and the inhabitants of the parish have only a right of burial." The living is a vicarage valued at £220 a year, with excellent residence built by her Grace the duchess of Northumberland, and in the gift of J. T. Wharton, Esq. The present incumbent is the Rev. Hy. Pollexfen, M.A.

ALDBROUGH is a township containing 1,807 acres and 400 inhabitants. The soil is fertile, and in a high state of cultivation. The gross estimated rental of the township is £2,685, and the rateable value, £2,421. Eleanor, dowager duchess of Northumberland, is lady of the manor, and the most extensive landowner; Col,. J. G. Wilson, Cliffe Hall, owns 145 acres; Messrs. Hutchinson and Shipton, 22 acres; and Miss Spencely, six acres besides cottage property.

The manor of Aldbrough, or Aldburne as it is written by the scribes of Domesday Book, belonged, at the time of the Conquest, to Tor, and it had then both a mill and a church.* In the time of Henry I., Aldburgh belonged to Harsculf Musard; it passed thence by marriage to the family of Rollos, from whom it was taken by king Stephen and given to Roald, constable of Richmond. Another Roald, in the reign of Henry III., gave the manor, then worth £49 yearly, to the king, who, shortly after, granted it in exchange to the earl of Richmond.. It remained in the possession of the successive earls until the time of Edward IV., when it was given to Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury, by whom it was sold to the Cathericks of Stanwick. Anthony Catherick, the great-great-grandson of the purchaser, sold the manor to Humphrey Wharton, Esq., in 1610, In the first year of the reign of William and Mary, it was purchased by Sir Hugh Smithson, of Stanwick, from whom it has descended to the present owner.

qc * The Church mentioned in the Domesday Book was probably the Church of St. John at Stanwick, as if there had ever heen one in Aldbrough, some memory of it would certainly have been preserved in local tradition.

The village is large and pleasantly situated about seven miles N. of Richmond. In the centre is a large green through which runs a fine trout stream, much frequented by the local disciples of old Izaak Walton. Aldburghe appears from its name to be a place of considerable antiquity; but not a trace of the old burgh or castle from which it received its Saxon appellation now remains, nor has a single stone ever been found to show the nature of the fortress. The Spenceley family, now represented by Miss Spenceley, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, daughter of the late Geo. Raper Spenceley, Esq., was long resident here; their hall at the north side of the village, according to Gale's Honour of Richmond, having been in the possession of the family ever since 1223. A branch of the knightly race of Tallboys had lands and was settled here from the reign of Edward III. to that of Elizabeth, The first of the family was Ivo de Taillebois, baron of Kendal, in the time of the Conqueror, and in 1861, Emily Tailbois, the last descendant of the ancient house, died a casual pauper in the workhouse at Shrewsbury! Such are the ups and downs of families!

There are chapels in the village belonging to the members of the United Methodist Free Church, and to the Wesleyan Methodists. The latter is a neat structure, erected in 1877, at a cost of about £500, and will seat 180. A chapel-of-ease is now in course of erection, at the expense of the dowager duchess of Northumberland. There are also a school and a library and reading room in the village. A Lodge of the United Free Gardeners, under the name of the Blooming Rose of Stanwick, was established here in 1847, and numbers, at present, about 100 members; secretary, Mr. Thomas Gent.

CALDWELL TOWNSHIP contains about 2000 acres; rateable value, £1,804; population, 175. Earl Brownlow is lord of the manor, and sole owner of the land. The village, distant nine miles N. of Richmond, is now small and insignificant, but appears to have been formerly a place of some importance. The mansion of its ancient owners stood in the Hall Garth, where there are still visible traces of the foundations. A neat Gothic church was erected here in 1844, by the late countess of Bridgewater, the then owner of the estate, who also endowed it with £1,256 14s. 4d., three per cent consolidated bank annuities. The living is held by the vicar of Stanwick.

There is a small school in the village, attended by about 20 children, and chiefly supported by Earl Brownlow. The generous founder of the church also left £9 11s. 4d. to be paid to the schoolmaster for teaching in the church Sunday school.

By a regulation of the township, each cottage has a plot of land and a cowgate attached to it.

A little N.E. of the village are the traces of a camp.

EAST LAYTON TOWNSHIP, containing 1,072 acres, is partly in this parish and partly in that of Melsonby, The soil is generally fertile, and the scenery varied and interesting. The gross rental is £2,079; rateable value, £1,880; and the population, 165.

At the time of the Norman Conquest, Torfin held three carucates of land in Latton, with sac and soc. When the Domesday Survey was made in 1086, Bodin was in possession of Torpin's land; and a few years later (temp. Henry I.) both East and West Layton belonged to Odardus de Layton, who gave the former to his eldest son, John, and the latter to his second son, Henry. East Layton continued in the possession of this family till 1682-3, when it was sold by Brian Layton to Sir John Brooke, for the sum of £5,540. The manor subsequently passed through several hands to the late E. R. Kemp, Esq., and is now in the possession of his daughter, Mrs. Maynard-Proud. Miss E. M. Easton, West Layton manor, and Mrs. Jane Eccles, Newcastle-on-Tyne, also have land in the township.

East Layton Hall, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Proud, is a modern stone mansion, delightfully situated, and surrounded by tastefully laid out grounds. The old hall of the Laytons, a curious and quaint old house, with the family arms above the door, is now an inn.

The village is situated on an eminence commanding an extensive and beautiful prospect of the surrounding vale of Ravensworth. The chapel-of-ease is a small ivy-covered building, formerley used by the dissenters, in which service is held every Sunday by the curate of Stanwick. It is an unecclesiastical looking structure, with accommodation for 60 persons, but will, we are informed, be shortly superseded by a more becoming edifice. There is a reading room and library in the village, established in 1880 by the lady of the manor. The poor have two rent-charges, amounting to 50s. a year.

[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.