KNARESBOROUGH: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.


"KNARESBOROUGH, is a market town, parliamentary borough and township, in the parish of its name, which is partly in the liberty of St. Peter of York, East Riding, and partly in the lower division of the wapentake of Claro, West Riding ; 197 miles from London, 59 n.e. from Manchester, 19 w. from York, 18 n.e. from Leeds, 12 s.s.w. from Ripon, 7 from Wetherby and Boroughbridge, and between 3 and 4 n. by e. 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 3rd. In 1646, 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, 300 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 towers, 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. At the first election under the Reform Act, there were four candidates, J. Richards, B. Rotch, A. Lawson, and H. Rich, esquires. The two first named gentlemen were elected. The number of registered votes was 278, of whom 260 polled. The bailiff is the returning officer. The new Boundary Act (an appendage to the Reform Bill) defines the limits of the borough to comprise, the body described in the 4th of George IV, entitled an act for paving, lighting, watching, and improving the town of Knaresborough, &c. and that part of the township of Scriven - with - Tentergate, called Tentergate. By the same act it is appointed one of the stations for receiving votes at the election of members for the West Riding of the county. A court is held in the Toll 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. This parish has long been famous for medicinal springs : amongst these are the cold bath, named St. Robert's well, situated about half a mile from the town ; the dropping well, or petrifying spring, opposite the castle ; and at the Knaresborough spaw, Star Beck, half way between Knaresborough and Harrogate, there is a sulphur spring -- the latter a very ancient well, laid waste about fifty years previous to the year 1822, but was then rebuilt by subscription, since which time convenience has been made for cold and warm baths, for which purpose the water is peculiarly adapted from its remarkable softness, and which has been found highly beneficial , both externally and internally, in various complaints of the human frame : it operates as an aperient and diuretic, powerfully in the latter, yet with great mildness, and the superiority for the purpose of bathing is proved, by the great increase in the number of baths every season ; besides these, there are, more distant from Knaresborough, the sweet spaw, or vitriolic well, in Knaresborough forest, discovered in 1620 ; the stinking spaw, or sulphuric, which tinges silver with the colour of copper, is very foetid, and used only in bathing ; and St. Mungo's, a cold bath, four miles distant. 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, a projector & constructor of highways. This extraordinary man died in the year 1810, at the advanced age of 94 years, having previously published a memoir of his own life, dictated by himself.

The linen manufacture, which is the staple of the town, claims this as its ancient seat, and is now carried on to a considerable extent. The places for divine worship here are the parish church ; two chapels for methodists, one for calvinists, one for the Roman catholics, and a friends' meeting house. 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 living, which is a vicarage, is in the patronage of the dean and chapter of York ; the present incumbent is the Rev. Andrew Cheap. Here is a free grammar school, founded and endowed in 1616, by the 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. 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 Wednesday's, 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 parish of Knaresborough contained, in 1821, 9,101 inhabitants, and in 1831, 10,214, of which last number (including Scriven - with - Tentergate 1,598), 6,894 were returned for the township."

"HARROGATE, is divided into two villages, High and Low Harrogate, in the parishes of Knaresborough and Pannal, in the wapentake of Claro. Both villages have their respective mineral springs ; the principal chalybeate springs being situate at the former, and the sulphurous and saline at the latter place. They are now distant about half a mile from each other, but the approximation of the two places, by the continual erection of new buildings will, at no remote period, render the distinction of High and Low unnecessary. High Harrogate is in the parish of Knaresbro' and diocese of Chester ; Low Harrogate is in the parish of Pannal and diocese of York.

They are both in the liberty of Knaresbro', from which town they are distant from 3 to 4 miles ; 11 s. from Ripon, between 15 and 16 n. from Leeds, 22 w. from York, and at nearly an equal distance of about 200 miles from the capitals of London and Edinburgh. The various hotels and boarding houses, for the accommodation of the company, are conducted upon a scale, in no way inferior, and in many respects superior to most watering places in the kingdom, and commodious and elegant lodging houses annually increase. Harrogate is now considered the principal watering place in the north of England : the season commences early in the spring, and continues to the latter end of autumn. It is estimated that there have been, of late years, upwards of ten thousand visitors annually, and many prolong their stay over the winter. Hunter, on the waters of Harrogate, says, "The nature and principal variety of the Harrogate mineral waters, hitherto discovered, have been long known to the profession, and their beneficial effects extensively experienced by the public ; nor have they attained their present celebrity by any of those adventitious circumstances, which, at one time, caused similar springs to be resorted to, and in a few years leave them entirely deserted ; for, with only one exception, no other mineral springs in England have obtained a longer, more extensive, and equally increasing reputation."

The places for public worship under the establishment are, Christ's church, at High Harrogate, built in 1830-31, and opened for public worship on the 1st of October, in the latter year, the old chapel having been taken down : the Rev. Thomas Kennion is the perpetual curate : also a church, at Low Harrogate, built in 1823-4 ; of which the Rev. James Holme is the perpetual incumbent. A commodious methodist chapel, erected in 1824, is situated between the Harrogates ; and a chapel for independents was erected in 1832, near Prospect place, principally from the materials of the old church. The principal charitable institution is the Bath Hospital, at Low Harrogate, erected in 1824, for the purpose of affording gratuitous relief to poor persons, who come from a distance, and whose complaints require the use of the Harrogate waters ; R. Richardson, Esq. is the treasurer, and Mr. Palliser the secretary ; here is also a school for children, of both sexes, on the Lancasterian system. At High Harrogate is an endowed school for a limited number of children of the poor ; there are also four Sunday schools, a national school, on Bell's system ; and an infant's school, has recently been erected. The principal places of amusement and public resort are the promenade and reading rooms, halls, billiards, races, circulating libraries, and last (though not least), the tower on Harlow hill, near Low Harrogate. This is a most agreeable resort for the visitor, where hours may be pleasantly spent in the survey of the many interesting objects with which the surrounding country abound ; from hence, the spectator is gratified with a most ample and varied prospect. There are five or six excellent telescopes placed on the platform of the tower, with which objects may be examined at the distance of from 20 to upwards of 60 miles. The public improvements which are in operation, and others which are contemplated, bid fair to render this once obscure village, one of the most salubrious and delightful resorts to be found in England. Two suits of public baths are in the course of erection -- one situated near the promenade rooms ; the other, possessing greater local advantages, are constructing in the Crown gardens, contiguous to the crown well, and a recently discovered Cheltenham spring. The situation of the village is high, the air cool and salubrious, and the prospect from High Harrogate and the adjoining heights is rich, beautiful, and extensive. York Minster, at the distance already mentioned, may be distinctly seen ; and still further to the east, the view is terminated by the Yorkshire wolds and Hambledon hills, while the west is more directly, though distantly bounded by the bleak rugged moors of Craven. The population has rapidly increased within the last twenty years, and has fully kept pace with the growing importance of this now fashionable place. Making due allowance for the few visitors who were necessarily included in the census of 1831, the population of both Harrogates is estimated at nearly 4,000."

[Transcribed by Steve Garton ©2000 from
Pigot's directory (Yorkshire section) 1834]