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WEST TANFIELD, a parish in the wapentake of Halikeld, and liberty of Richmondshire; 6 miles NW. of Ripon. William the Conqueror gave this village, and East Tanfield, to Alan, Earl of Richmond: they afterwards became the property of the family of Fits Hugh. Robert, Lord Marmion, married the heiress of this family, and succeeded to these lordships.

In the eighth of King Edward II. John, Lord Marmion, obtained a licence to make a castle of his house, called the Hermitage, situated in Tanfield wood, about the year 1300. In the reign of Henry VIII. the castle and manor passed by marriage into the family of the Marquis of Northampton, but by the attainder of William Parr, the Marquis, they escheated to the crown, and were conferred by James I. with other estates on Edmund Lord Bruce, of Kinross, in right of descent from whom they are now enjoyed by Charles Bruce Brudenell, Marquis of Ailesbury, who had a mansion in the parish called Tanfield Hall, but which, having fallen into decay, was pulled down in the year 1816. On the banks of the Ure, which at Tanfield bridge is a fine broad expanse of water, stand the remains of Tanfield castle, but it is without history; its origin, and the time and cause of its demolition being alike unknown. According to Grose, which information he draws from tradition, "when Tanfield castle was destroyed, the materials were purchased by several of the neighbouring gentry, and the Earl of Exeter's house at Snape, and the seat of Wandisfords' at Kirklington, were built with them. Little now remains of the ruin; but a handsome parsonage house built by the Rev. William Haines, the present rector, as an expression of gratitude to the noble patron of the living, has risen up nearly on the site, and adds another embellishment to this delightful valley. The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a venerable edifice, and contains many curious monuments of its ancient lords; adjoining to which is the chantry, called Maud Marmion, founded in the reign of Henry III. for a master, warden and two brothers, charged with the duty of praying for the souls of Lord and Lady Marmion, and the progenitors and successors of his family. There is in this village a Methodist chapel; and also a school with a small endowment. The population amounts to 709.

[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]