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KNARESBOROUGH: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1829.

"KNARESBOROUGH, a borough, a market and parish-town, in the wapentake of Claro, and liberty of Knaresborough an St. Peter's, west riding, is 197 miles from London, 59 from Manchester, 19 from York, 18 from Leeds, 12 from Ripon, 7 from Wetherby and Boroughbridge, and between two and three from Harrogate. The town is situated on a rocky mountain, at the foot of which runs the river Nidd, and was one of the ancient boroughs that were part of the demesnes of the crown, founded under the title of Terra Regia, in Domesday book and other records. The site of it corresponds with the description given of the towns of the Britons, being placed on the bank of a river, for the supply of water, and on the skirt of a forest, for the conveniency of hunting and pasture. The remains of a ditch and rampart, which are still visible, includes an area of nine hundred feet in length and six hundred in breadth. Soon after the Norman conquest a strong castle was built here by Serlo de Burgh, who accompanied the Conqueror to England, and received this manor, with several others, as a reward for his services. This castle, with a priory, were founded in 1257, by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III. In 1648, the castle, with several other fortresses in Yorkshire, were, by an order of parliament, rendered untenable, and its massive walls and once formidable towers have ever since been mouldering away. Originally the site of the castle occupied a circular space, three hundred feet in diameter, overlooking the river; but the ruin now in existence consists only of a part of the south point of the keep, of dismantled towels, dilapidated niches, and a vaulted room, which was used as a prison. About a mile from Knaresborough are the remains of an ancient camp, on the point of a hill, two hundred feet above the Nidd, and from this station there is a fine view of the town and castle. This town was summoned to send members to parliament in the first year of the reign of Queen Mary, from which period it has returned two representatives; the right of election is vested in the holders of burgage tenures, eighty-eight in number, and the bailiff is the returning officer. The electors for the borough of Knaresborough are, for the most part, not inhabitants, but cone into the town on the day of election, and after having exercised their elective franchise, generally return to their homes on the evening of the same day in which they entered it. Its present representatives are the Right Honourable Sir James Mackintosh and the Right Honourable George Tierney. A court is held in the 'roll-booth, once a fortnight, for the recovery of debts within the borough, to any amount; and sessions for the west riding are held here annually, at Michaelmas. The linen manufacture, which is the staple of the town, claims this as its ancient seat, and is now carried on to a great extent. The places for divine worship here are the parish church, four chapels belonging to the different denominations of Methodists, and one for the Roman Catholics. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is neither very spacious nor very elegant; the date of its original foundation is not known, but it appears to have been erected at several times. The patronage of the living, which is a vicarage, is in the dean and chapter of York; the Earl of Roslyn is the lessee, and the present incumbent is the Rev. Andrew Cheap. Here is a free grammar school, founded and endowed in 1616, byte Rev. Robert Chaloner; a charity school, for thirty boys and girls, endowed in 1765, by the late Thomas Richardson; and a national school, erected in 1814. The parish is famous for four medicinal springs near each other, and yet of different qualities-first, the sweet spaw, or vitriolic well, in Knaresborough forest, three miles from the town, discovered in 1620; second, the stinking spaw, or sulphuric, which tinges silver with the colour of copper, is very foetid, and used only in bathing; third, St. Mungo's, a cold bath, four miles from the town; fourth, the dropping well, in the town, and is the most noted petrifying spring in England, so called by reason of its dropping from the spungy rock hanging over it; the ground which receives it before it joins the well has for twelve yards long become a solid rock. From the well it runs into the Nidd, where the spring water has formed a rock that stretches several yards into the river. Formerly these baths were much frequented, but since Scarborough and Harrogate came in vogue they have fallen off. This town gave birth to John Metcalf, usually called 'Blind Jack of Knaresborough,' who, although deprived of sight at the age of four years, obtained, at different periods of his life, considerable reputation as a musician, a soldier, a guide, and a projector and constructor of highways. This extraordinary man died in the year 1810, at the advanced age of ninety-four years, having previously published a memoir of his own life, dictated by himself. In the immediate neighbourhood of this town there are several pleasant seats that ornament the country, which round here is very beautiful : the land is hilly, thickly wooded, in a high state of cultivation, and very productive. The market is on Wednesdays, which is well supplied with all kinds of provisions and the corn market is well attended. The annual fairs are on the Wednesdays after January 13th, March 12th, May 5th, August 12th, October 11th and December 10th, principally for horses, sheep and cattle. There is also a statute fair for hiring servants, held on the Wednesday before November 23rd. The population of the borough and town of Knaresborough, by the census of 1811, was 4,234, and in 1821, 5,283."

"HARROGATE, though generally spoken of as a single place, consists, in reality, of two villages:- High and Low Harrogate; but from the approximation of the two places, by the continual erection of new building, there is reason to suppose that this distinction will soon cease. High Harrogate is in the parish of Knaresborough, and Low Harrogate in the parish of Pannal; they are both in the liberty of Knaresborough and wapentake of Claro, in the West riding. Harrogate, in speaking of it as one town, is about 200 miles from London, 22 from York, 16 from Leeds, and from 2 to 3 miles from Knaresborough. It is, at present, considered one of the principal watering places in the north of England, and several of the inns now receive annually more company than the whole place contained inhabitants forty years ago. The number of hoarding and lodging houses in both the Harrogates, amount to about one hundred, and all alphabetical list is kept at the promenade, distinguishing those occupied and those unlet, which list is regulated daily, and is of great convenience to the visiting stranger. The spawn are highly celebrated, and comprise several sulphureous and chalybeate springs, held in high estimation by the faculty, for curing scorbutic, cutaneous and chronic disorders. Both Low and High Harrogate have their springs, the latter place claiming priority of establishment. The names of the waters are, Sulphur well, Crescent well, Tewit well, Old spaw, and Cheltenham spaw. The Duke of Devonshire is lord of the manor, and hold a court once in the year, called the grand inquest when a constable is elected. The places of worship here are St. John's chapel, in High Harrogate; a neat Gothic church, situated in Low Harrogate, opened for the first time in 1824; and two Methodist chapels The benefice of St. John's is a curacy, in the gift of the Rev. A. Cheap, and incumbency of the Rev. Thomas Kenyon. The living of the new church is in the patronage of the King, and the Rev. J. Holmes is the minister. The charitable institutions consist of an endowed school for the children of the poor of Bilton-with-Harrogate; and an hospital supported by voluntary subscriptions, furnished with baths and medical attendants. The recreations of the place art those afforded by the theatre, the promenade rooms, news and billiard rooms, libraries and races. The surrounding country is highly picturesque and beautiful, abounding with the residences of nobility and gentry. The situation of the town is high, and the air is cool and salubrious. High Harrogate commands a most extensive prospect of the sum rounding country, finely varied by towns, villages, fields and plantations, and the cathedral of York can be distinctly seen, though more than twenty miles distant. In 1811 Bilton-with Harrowgate contained 1,583 inhabitants, in 1821, 1,934; and it is computed to have increased its actual population since the latter census to 2,501 persons."

[Transcribed from Pigot's National Commericial Directory for 1828-29 ]
by Colin Hinson ©2007