KNARESBOROUGH: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1868.


"KNARESBOROUGH, a parish, market town, and parliamentary borough in the lower division of the wapentake of Claro, West Riding county York, 18 miles N. of Leeds, 16¾ N.W. of York, and 59 N.E. of Manchester. It is situated on the river Nidd, and is a station on the Thirsk and Leeds railway. It contains the townships of Arkendale, Brearton, Bilton, and Scriven. It occupies part of the site of an ancient forest which was 20 miles in length, and is supposed by some writers to have been a Roman station. It was a crown manor prior to the Conquest, and was given by William the Conqueror to Serlo-de-Burgh, Baron of Tonsburg, in Normandy, by whom its stately castle was built. It was afterwards held by the Estotevilles, Richard Plantagenet, who founded a priory here, Piers Gavestone, and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and since that period the manor has continued to form an appanage to the Duchy. The castle was for some time the place of confinement of Henry II. During the Civil War it was held for the king, but after the battle of Marston Moor it was taken by Fairfax, and dismantled by order of parliament in 1648. It was a remarkably fine building, perched on a lofty rock and covering an area of 400 yards in diameter. It was flanked by eleven towers, only one of which is still standing. The other ruins consist of a small portion of the keep and some vaulted apartments of very beautiful and elaborate workmanship, in which the murderers of Thomas-b-Becket took refuge. On the cliffs opposite to the castle is a dripping well famed for its petrifying qualities. About half a mile, below the castle are the ruins of a friary for brothers of the Holy Trinity, founded in the 13th century by Richard Plantagenet, brother of Henry III. Its revenue at the Dissolution was returned at £35 10s. 11d. About half a mile S. of the castle, at a considerable elevation above the river, is St. Robert's Chapel, hewn out of the solid rock, 10½ feet in length by 9 wide, and 7½ feet high, the roof of which is groined. It has an altar on the E. side, and contains carvings of the Trinity and of the Virgin Mary. A little lower down the river is St. Robert's Cave, supposed to have been the residence of the hermit. This cave was notorious as the place where Daniel Clarke was murdered, in 1744, by Eugene Aram, a learned schoolmaster; the crime was not brought home to him till 1768. The town is situated on an eminence on the northern bank of the river Nidd, here crossed by two bridges called High and Low Bridges, one at either end of the town. It was anciently surrounded by a wall, and externally by a moat and dyke. The houses are well built of stone, and the streets are paved and lighted with gas. Knaresborough is governed by a bailiff, who is the returning officer, and the paving, lighting, and cleansing are under the control of town commissioners, who have lately made great improvements in the town. It has returned two members to parliament since the reign of Queen Mary, and is a polling place for the West Riding elections. It is the head of superintendent registry and new County Court districts, and is the seat of a Poor-law Union. Petty sessions are held weekly and county courts monthly. The board of guardians meet weekly in the winter and fortnightly in the summer. The town contains the courthouse, a stone building, situated in Castlegate, a dispensary, market-house, literary institution, newsroom, gas works, gaol, two banks, and a savings-bank. The manufactures of the town are sheetings, towelings, diaper, huckabacks, union checks, hearthrugs, and doormats, which afford employment to a large number of the inhabitants. The town was formerly a place of fashionable resort for the efficacy of its medicinal waters, but they have long since been abandoned for those of Harrogate. There are some extensive quarries of limestone in the neighbourhood. The tithes were commuted for land and money payments under Inclosure Acts in 1772 and 1774. The living is a vicarage* with the curacies of Trinity and Brearton annexed in the diocese of Ripon, value £393, in the patronage of bishop. The parish church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is an ancient and commodious stone edifice erected at various periods. It has a square tower rising from between the nave and chancel, crowned by a spire, and containing a clock and eight bells. It has recently been restored, and has a beautiful E. window. There are also three district churches at Arkendale, High Harrogate, and Bilton, the livings of which are perpetual curacies, vals. £80, £154, and 260 respectively. There are chapels for Independents, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Roman Catholics. The parochial charities produce £586 per annum. The royal grammar school, which has an endowment of £20 per annum, was founded by Dr. Robert Chaloner in 1617. It provides free instruction for boys within the borough of Knaresborough and the village of Goldsborough. A parochial school for 30 boys and girls was founded and endowed, in 1765, by Thomas Richardson; it provides education, clothing, and the apprenticing of the boys. There are National schools for boys, girls, and infants, also Church and Dissenting Sunday schools. There is a day and Sunday school in connection with the Roman Catholic chapel. In the vicinity of the town are traces of a Roman encampment, where many coins of Claudius and Constantine have been found. At Starbeck, between Harrogate and Knaresborough, are chalybeate and sulphurous springs, at which spot the inhabitants of Knaresborough have erected warm and cold baths. The medicinal qualities of these springs are different to those of Harrogate, and more suitable to delicate constitutions. John Metcalfe, the blind architect, was a native of this place. There are many fine seats in the neighbourhood; among them may be mentioned Conyingham House, Plumpton, Ribstone, Allerton-Mauleverer, and Copgrove. Market days are Wednesday and Saturday, thee former for corn, the latter for provisions. Fairs for cattle, sheep, horses, &c., are held on the first Wednesday after the 13th January, 12th March, 5th May, 11th October, and 10th December, also for cattle every alternate Wednesday."

"ARKENDALE, a chapelry in the parish of Knaresborough, in the wapentake of Clare, West Riding of the county of York, 3 miles to the N.E. of Knaresborough. The living is a perpetual curacy* in the diocese of Ripon, value £80, in the patronage of the vicar of Knaresborough. The chapel is dedicated to St. Bartholomew. There is a chapel belonging to the Wesleyan Methodists."

"BILTON, a township and chapelry in the parish of Knaresborough, and wapentake of Clare, in the West Riding of the county of York, 2 miles to the W. of Knaresborough. Harrogate is its post town. There are several sulphureous springs in the vicinity. The living is a perpetual curacy, value £154, in the patronage of W. Sheepshanks, Esq. A free school, founded 1785, has an income from endowment of £30 per annum. Other small charities produce £4 a year."

"BREARTON, a township in the parish of Knaresborough, and wapentake of Clare, in the West Riding of the county of York, 3 miles to the N. of Knaresborough, its post town. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Ripon, annexed to the vicarage of Knaresborough. The charitable endowments of the township are worth about £3 a year."

"CONYNGHAM HOUSE, the seat of the Countess Conyngham, in the parish of Knaresborough, in the West Riding of the county of York, near Knaresborough. It is situated on the river Nidd, and was the ancient seat of the Coghills. In the vicinity are two Saxon or Danish camps, called Conyngarth and Gateshill."

"HARROGATE, (High and Low), a township, post town, and watering place and parishes of Knaresborough and Pannal, lower division of the wapentake of Claro, West Riding county York, 3 miles S.W. of Knaresborough, and 15½ N. of Leeds. It is a principal station on the Leeds, Harrogate, and Stockton section of the North-Eastern railway; and may be approached either by the Great Northern, London and North-Western, or Lancashire and Yorkshire railways. The town is situated in Knaresborough Forest, and near the river Nidd. It was formerly two distinct villages, High and Low Harrogate, which are now united by ranges of handsome houses of modern erection, generally designated Central Harrogate. High Harrogate stands on an elevation of 596 feet above sea-level, and commands the view of an extensive and varied landscape, bounded by the mountains of Craven, the hills of Hambleton, and the wolds of Yorkshire. Low Harrogate is situated in a valley, and is adorned with many handsome houses of stone, erected principally for the accommodation of visitors, and with numerous inns and hotels. The town, although irregularly laid out, is well built, and from the salubrity of its climate, and the efficacy of its mineral springs, has become one of the most fashionable watering-places in the North of England. It is asserted that upwards of 40,000 persons annually visit this place to drink the waters and enjoy its baths. The first spring was discovered in 1571 by a Mr. Slingsby, and was considered equal to the finest spas of Belgium. Since that period several others have been found, but the most remarkable are the sixteen springs known as the Bog Wells, situated near the Bath Hospital. Although in close proximity with one another, each spring has distinct mineral qualities. Harrogate is governed by town commissioners, and is well supplied with water and lighted with gas. It contains many fine buildings. The most noteworthy is the Royal Pump Room, a neat octagonal building with four projecting sides, crowned by a large dome surmounted by eight dolphins. The Cheltenham Pump Room, 100 feet long by 33 feet broad, built in the form of a Grecian temple, is approached by a flight of steps surmounted by a portico. Concerts are held in this building during the bathing season. Montpelier Bath, situated in the centre of pleasure grounds, is a large building, ornamented in front by a portico. It contains a lofty entrance hall, lighted by a dome. The Montpelier springs are situated in these grounds. The Victoria Bathhouse, built in 1832, near the townhall, has a cupola, supported by pillars over the Tewit Well. The Bath Hospital was built by subscription on land presented to the town by the Earl of Harewood, for the benefit of the poor, who may require the use of the waters, but are unable to pay for them. The observatory, a square tower, situated on a lofty hill, was built in 1829. On its top are two powerful telescopes, by which objects may be seen at a distance of 60 miles. There are a townhall, mechanics' institute, theatre, assembly rooms, several hotels, and horticultural society. During the season, which extends from the 1st of May to the end of October, two weekly newspapers are published in the town, the Harrogate Advertiser and the Harrogate Herald, the former on Saturday, and the latter on Wednesday. The living of High Harrogate is a perpetual curacy* in the diocese of Ripon, value £250, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to Christ, a modern stone building, with a square tower containing a clock and one bell, has lately been restored and enlarged. Anew church at Bilton was built and endowed by William Sheepshanks, Esq. The living is a perpetual curacy, value £200. There are chapels for Wesleyans, Wesleyan Reformers, Independents, and Quakers. At High Harrogate there is a free school for girls, supported by W. Sheepshanks, Esq. There is also an endowed school for twenty children at Bilton, and National schools for both sexes at High and Low Harrogate. There are many places of interest in the neighbourhood, among which may be mentioned the ruins of Knaresborough and Spofforth castles, Ripon Cathedral, Brimham Rocks, Plumpton Rocks, and Fountains Abbey."

"SCRIVEN WITH TENTERGATE, a township in the parish of Knaresborough, lower division of Claro wapentake, West Riding county York, 1 mile N.W. of Knaresborough. The township is situated on the river Nidd, and contains the hamlets of Scriven and Tentergate. Its manor passed from a family of the same name to the Slingsbys in the reign of Henry III. Striven Hall, the family residence of Sir Charles Slingsby, Bart., is an ancient mansion situated in an extensive park. Near the Hall are Conyngarth and Gateshill camps, the former supposed to be of Saxon, and the latter of Danish origin."

"STARBECK, a hamlet in the parish of Knaresborough, West Riding county York, 2 miles from Harrogate, and 3 W. of Knaresborough. It is a station on the North-Eastern railway."

"TENTERGATE, a hamlet in the parish of Knaresborough, lower division of Claro wapentake, West Riding county York, near Knaresborough. It is joined with Scriven."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013