Wapentake of Pickering Lythe - Electoral Division of Snainton - Petty Sessional Division of Pickering Lythe East - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Scarborough - Rural Deanery of Malton - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish is situated in the vale of the Derwent, which river forms its southern boundary. its total extent, by Ordnance measurement, is 12,200 acres, of which about 4,000 acres are open moorland, the remainder a fertile champaign country. The total value of rateable land and property in the parish is £4,275, and the number of inhabitants, 554.
There is little of interest about the place, except the memory of its old abbey, of which the only indications now left are a few traces in the old churchyard walls. The abbey or priory was founded and endowed by Pagan Fitz-Osbert de Wycham, in 1153, for nuns of the Cistercian order, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St. Helen. In 1321, according to Burton, John de Wycham, a descendant of the above Pagan, rebuilt the church of All Saints, and gave it as a chapel, under a new dedication (St. Mary and St. Helen), to the prioress and convent, to whom also he granted, by charter, an annual stipend of twelve marks of silver and several parcels of land, for the maintenance of two chaplains, to offer up the sacrifice of the mass daily for the soul of the founder and for the souls of all the faithful departed. Shortly afterwards, an accidental fire destroyed the church, conventual buildings, and twenty-four other houses, and in consequence of this loss Edward III., in 1327, relieved the nuns for twenty years from the payment of an annual rent of £3 12s. 7d. for lands which they held in the honour of Pickering, part of the Duchy of Lancaster. The priory was rebuilt, and continued to flourish till the Dissolution, when the nuns, nine in number, were sent adrift and their revenues swept into the royal coffers to be squandered by the most lecherous monarch that ever graced the English throne. Henry VIII. granted the priory and lands to Francis Poole, with license to alienate the manors of Wickham, Ruston, and Hutton Buscel, to Richard Hutchinson. Subsequently this family discarded the name of Hutchinson for that of Langley, and, on the death of Richard Langley, Esq., in 1824, the estate passed to his relative, the Hon. Marmaduke Dawnay, who assumed the surname and arms of Langley. This gentleman died unmarried, in 1851, and was succeeded by his nephew, the late William Henry, seventh Viscount Downe, father of Hugh Richard Dawnay, eighth Viscount Downe, and present owner.
The mansion near the site, rebuilt in 1836-9, takes its name from the abbey, and is the occasional residence of the dowager viscountess and her husband, Sidney Leveson Lane, Esq. The park lands cover about 135 acres, and the gardens and pleasure grounds about 15 acres.
The conventual church, which was used as the parish church after the dissolution of the abbey, was taken down in 1853, and a large cross erected on the spot bears the following inscription:- " This cross marks the site of the altar of the church of All Saints, which church was taken down A.D. 1853, and rebuilt upon the site of an ancient and desecrated one to the north of the village." The tower of this old church was all that was left, and it stood a solitary ivy-mantled ruin. It was carefully restored, and a spire added, from the designs of Mr. Butterfield, The new church is a handsome building, in the Decorated Gothic style, erected and endowed by the late Viscount Downe. The living is a donative in the gift of the lord of the manor.
In the west wall of the old churchyard are several tablets to the memory of the Langley family, and a brass to Bartholomew Johnson, musician, who was born here in 1710, and died at Scarborough in 1814. The parish register records the death of another centenarian, Benedict Lloyd, of Wykeham Grange, who died June 3rd, 1847, aged 102 years.
The village of Wykeham occupies a pleasant situation on the Pickering/Malton road, about seven miles west of Scarborough.
Ruston is a small manor and hamlet consisting of four farms, about half-a-mile west of Wykeham; and Langdale End is another hamlet, situated near Hackness, about seven miles N.E. of Wykeham. There is a mission chapel here, erected about six years ago, chiefly at the cost of the Dowager Viscountess Downe.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.