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HELLIFIELD PEEL

HELLIFIELD PEEL, the seat of James Hamerton, Esq. in the township of Hellifield and parish of Long Preston, west-division and liberty of Staincliffe.

Hellifield Peel, stands upon a flat, and was once, probably, surrounded by a moat. It was built by Lawrence Hamerton, about the 19th of Henry VI. at which time he obtained a license to fortify and embattle his manor House of Hellifield. It still remains a square compact building, but of too narrow dimensions to accommodate the family in the splendid style in which they then lived, and therefore intended rather as a place of retreat in cases of sudden alarm. The house has been modernised by the present owner.

Hellifield, anciently Helgefelt, or the field of Helgh, its first Saxon possessor, was held by its mesne Lords of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and by them of the Percies, as chief Lords of the fee. In the 9th of Edward II. it appears from Kirkby's Inquisition that Sir John de Harcourt and the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem, were joint Lords of this Manor. Sir Stephen Hamerton, in 1537, joined the insurgents, in the great northern insurrection; and after having availed himself of the King's pardon, revolted a second time; after which, having been taken prisoner, he was conveyed to London, and shortly after attainted and executed. Hellifield was, however, preserved by a settlement for the life of the widow of John Hamerton, who was mother of Sir Stephen. But Hellifield Peel remained in the Crown till 37th Henry VIII. when it was granted by that King to George Brown and his heirs, to be held of the King in capite, for the consideration of £296. 9s. 2d. In the 3rd of Elizabeth, it returned to the family again in the person of John Hammerton, Esq.; and where it has remained ever since. The first of the name of Hammerton that occurs here, is Richard de Hamerton, in 1170, 26th Henry II. --Whitaker's Craven.

[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]