A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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This parish now contains 1,831 acres, lying for the most part on the east bank of the River Dove, from which the land slopes up gently towards the north-east. The soil is chiefly alluvial, but the village lies on a patch of Kimmeridge Clay. On the north-east the parish boundary follows the ancient road from Normanby to Kirkby Moorside, and from this a lane leads past Edston Common to the village. Great Edston stands on the summit of a steep hill. The cottages are built of stone and are chiefly roofed with tiles. The church stands at the west end of the single street, and opposite is a pond. The Wesleyan chapel is further to the east.
South of the village, and between the River Dove and Walmouth Beck, is the district known as North Holme, once included in the parish of Kirkdale (q.v.). This township covers 544 acres, occupied by two farms. Of the 2,001 acres in Great Edston, North Holme and Little Edston (in Sinnington parish), 892 acres are arable land, while 1,089 acres are laid down to permanent grass and 15 acres are given up to woods and plantations. (fn. 1)
In 1086 Berenger de Toni was holding a 'manor' and 8 carucates in GREAT EDSTON, the former tenant having been Gamel. (fn. 2) Berenger de Toni died without issue, (fn. 3) and his lands here passed to his sister Adeliza, who married Roger Bigod. (fn. 4) The overlordship continued (fn. 5) in the Bigod family until 1306, when on the death of Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, (fn. 6) without heirs, all his honours and estates passed to the Crown. (fn. 7)
In the 12th and 13th centuries a mesne lordship was held here by the Earls of Albemarle, (fn. 8) whose tenant, Ralph de Clare of Sinnington (fn. 8a) (q.v.), in 1209 sold 2 carucates here to the Prior of Hexham, (fn. 9) retaining 2 carucates 2 oxgangs in demesne. (fn. 10) The most important fee here in 1284–5 consisted of 5 carucates 1 oxgang, held by the Prior of Hexham, and said to be within the liberty of St. Peter of York. (fn. 11) This land was appurtenant to the manor of Salton (q.v.), which it has followed in descent. (fn. 12)
Ralph de Clare was followed by Roger his son, who was said to have sold all his lands here before his death in 1250. (fn. 13) In the case of Great Edston he retained a mesne lordship.
In 1285 Richard de Breuhuse, husband of Roger's granddaughter and heir Alice, (fn. 14) held this mesne lordship, over 2 carucates 7 oxgangs, for a quarter of a knight's fee, his tenant being Walter Romayne. (fn. 15) Walter was assessed for the subsidy here in 1301, (fn. 16) and in 1303 settled this manor with that of Kirkby Misperton on Walter son of James de Holme and his wife Alice daughter of John Cruel of Wrelton and their issue. (fn. 17) Walter de Holme had no children by Alice, but made a settlement on his heirs male by his second wife Iseult with contingent remainders to the heirs male of his brothers Roger and Thomas and final remainder to the heirs male of his daughter Joan. (fn. 18) John the son and heir of Walter by Iseult died without issue male, as did his uncles, and Joan, who was then married to Robert Pert, entered into possession of the manor. (fn. 19) In 1376 her claim was disputed under the first settlement by Walter de Bergh, Robert Thornton and John son of Nicholas de Topcliffe, descendants of Agnes and Alice, sisters of Walter Romayne. The plaintiffs in this suit were presumably unsuccessful. (fn. 20)
Joan's son and heir was John Holthorpe of Hayton, whose son William (fn. 21) had a release of the manor in 1442 from Maud del Clay, daughter of Brian son of Iseult daughter of John de Holme. (fn. 22) Henry son of William Holthorpe made a settlement in 1459 on the heirs male of his aunt Katherine daughter of John Holthorpe. (fn. 23) Katherine by her husband John Stillington (fn. 24) had a son Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, who succeeded to Great Edston on the death of Henry Holthorpe. (fn. 25) He died in 1491 and was succeeded by his brother Thomas. (fn. 26)
In 1534 John Stillington (fn. 27) died seised of the manor, having previously made a settlement on his son Thomas by his first wife Isabel. (fn. 28) Thomas, aged four in 1534, obtained livery of Edston and North Holme in 1555. (fn. 29) In 1564 he sold Great Edston to Richard Simpson, (fn. 30) whose son and heir Roger Simpson was holding the manor in 1585. (fn. 31) He was succeeded here by his second son Robert Simpson, (fn. 32) who died seised of the manor in 1610, leaving a son and heir Henry. (fn. 33)
In 1696 (fn. 34) a Henry Simpson sold Great Edston to Thomas Hayes. The manor appears to have remained in the Hayes family till 1793, (fn. 35) when Thomas Hayes and Mary his wife conveyed it to Gerard Gustavus Ducarel. The principal landowner in 1859 was Mrs. Peacock. (fn. 35a) Miss Huby, the Rev. C. Walker and others held land here in 1890. (fn. 35b) Since 1905 the only manorial rights have belonged to the owners of Salton.
The Prior and convent of Malton held a field lying between Great and Little Edston. (fn. 38) Giles Bateson, one of the queen's footmen, was appointed bailiff in 1545 of the lands of the priory here and elsewhere. (fn. 39)
The oldest part of the present building is the nave, which is of 13th-century date, but the chancel was probably rebuilt and lengthened late in the 18th century; in recent years the church was considerably restored, when new roofs were put on, some of the principals from an earlier roof being re-used, and a wall built across the west end of the church with a two-centred arch opening into the ringing chamber and vestry.
The east window has a semicircular head and a flat external architrave with slightly projecting blocks at the springing and a small keystone, and is filled in with a wooden transom and mullion having leaded glazing. The sill of this window has been considerably raised in recent years. The east window in the north wall is of a similar description, but has an uninterrupted external architrave. To the west of this is a blocked-up square-headed opening, and further west is a blocked-up 13th-century doorway having chamfered jambs and a two-centred segmental chamfered head with a hood mould stopped by muchdecayed abaci. The rear arch is segmental. The two eastern windows in the south wall are similar to the one opposite, but the second one, which has a straight joint in the masonry beneath the sill, was apparently at one time a priest's doorway. The next window has the segmental rear arch and inner jambs of an original lancet, but the jambs have been sloped off to make room for the insertion of two modern lancets. To the west is an original 13th-century lancet with a wide inner splay and segmental rear arch. The lancet has an external splay, and is rebated on the inside for a frame. Next to this is an original doorway with a pointed head having an external chamfer, moulded abaci, and a moulded label with carved stops. Incised in the east jamb are the marks 'I[E]' and on the west '[E]OA.' The rear arch is segmental. Over the head of the doorway is set a Saxon sundial, on which is the following inscription: 'Lodan me wrohtea.' Over the dial in smaller capitals is 'Orologium viatoru[m].' The west window is a 13th-century lancet with splayed inner jambs and a flat head on the inside; the outer jambs have a small chamfer.
The altar rails are of the 17th century, and the table is of a little earlier date. The font is circular and of 12th-century date, and has carved round the base a small arcade of semicircular arches supported on pilasters with chamfered capitals.
The church was granted to Hexham Priory towards the end of the 12th century (fn. 40) by Archbishop Roger, in lieu of an annual payment of 100s. A vicarage was ordained in 1308. (fn. 41) The patronage remained in the hands of the Prior of Hexham until the Dissolution, when it was granted to Sir William Eure, and follows the descent of the Hexham possessions (q.v.) here and at Salton (fn. 42) (q.v.) until 1836, when it was in the hands of G. W. Dowker.
In 1875 Mr. W. Altham presented to the living. From 1887 to 1900 G. W. Dowker and J. W. and R. P. Yates presented alternately. (fn. 43) By 1903 it had passed to Mr. H. W. Pearson, who presented till 1909, (fn. 44) when the living was in the gift of Miss Easterby of Eastergate, Chichester, who now holds it.
An ancient yearly payment, issuing out of certain lands called Ridings in the township of Hutton-le-Hole, and another yearly payment of £1 out of lands called Claygarths in the same township, are distributed amongst the poor under the title of John Wawn's charity.
In 1884 the Rev. Robert Keath Pearson, by will proved 22 March, bequeathed £100 to be invested and the income applied for the benefit of the poor inhabitants at the discretion of the vicar and churchwardens. The legacy, less duty, was invested in £79 14s. 8d. consols with the official trustees. The dividends, amounting to £1 19s. 8d., are duly applied.