A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
This parish covers an area of 2,167 acres, lying about the road from York to Helmsley. In Oswaldkirk, Rewton and Leythorpe about half the area is pasture, some 340 acres woodland and the rest arable. (fn. 1) The parish lies on Kimmeridge clay in the south and on the corallian beds in the north.
The houses which compose the village are grouped along the road from Ampleforth to Stonegrave on the south slope of a hill. The church stands towards the west end on the south side of the roadway in a churchyard inclosed by a stone wall. In this church Archbishop Tillotson preached his first sermon and here the antiquary Roger Dodsworth was baptized in 1585. On the opposite side of the road is a stone wall about 9 ft. 8 in. long and 3 ft. thick, of 15thcentury date, evidently part of a large building. On the road side are the remains of three buttresses; the middle one is semi-hexagonal and has in its front face, about 12 ft. above the road level, a panel containing a shield charged with a cheveron between three fleurs de lis. In the wall of a stone shed built against this wall are set two similar shields. At the west corner of the road to Gilling stands the 'Malt Shovel,' a late 17th-century stone building now used as an inn. The windows have flat external architraves and the front to the road is symmetrically designed. Inside is a fine old staircase.
Oswaldkirk Hall occupies a delightful situation at the western extremity of the village. Beyond is the steep wooded bank called Oswaldkirk Hay, at the foot of which goes the road leading to Ampleforth. Following the parish boundary north across the fields Stockings Lane is reached. This leads to Beacon House, close to which are some tumuli.
Further on is Salmons Wood, with a beautiful dropping gill. At the northern extremity of the wood the boundary line crosses Low Street, and, skirting Golden Square Wood, runs due east close to the River Rye, thence it turns south past Seamer Great Wood and the hamlet of West Newton Grange. To the west lies Grange Farm, near the site of Newton Grange. The site of the old grange, the birthplace of Roger Dodsworth, is marked by the irregular surface of the ground with an embankment on the north and east. Near Newton is the site of a small chapel, pulled down in 1879 and rebuilt at Sproxton. In 1852 (fn. 2) it was still fairly well preserved, though only used as a store-house for agricultural implements. The architecture was characteristic of the 17th century, when the Cholmeleys occupied the hall. At the east end the altar was raised a few feet to form a family vault, entered by a flight of steps from the body of the chapel. This vault was examined in 1820 and five leaden coffins of the Cholmeley family discovered.
Inclosure Acts were passed in 1803–4 and also in 1805–6. (fn. 3)
In 1086 a 'manor' of 1 carucate was held at OSWALDKIRK by the Count of Mortain, the previous tenant having been Uctred. (fn. 4) With other lands of this fee it became part of the barony of Roos, the overlordship following the descent of Helmsley (q.v.).
This land was probably held by Richard de Surdeval, one of the chief tenants of the Count of Mortain, and may have extended into Ampleforth (q.v.). At the beginning of the 13th century the vill was held by John de Surdeval, who left daughters and co-heirs, Maud, who married Peter de Jarpenvill, and Emma, who married William de Barton. (fn. 5)
William and Emma de Barton were living in 1277 (fn. 6) and were succeeded by their son William de Barton. (fn. 7) He, however, died before 1284–5, when hisson Nicholas was joint lord of the Ryedale portion of Ampleforth and Oswaldkirk. (fn. 8) Nicholas son and heir of Nicholas (fn. 9) left an only daughter Joan, who married Richard de Pickering (fn. 10) before 1316, when he was returned as joint lord of Oswaldkirk. (fn. 11) Richard settled land in Ampleforth on his son Thomas and Margaret his wife, but Thomas died in 1348, leaving a son Richard (fn. 12); on his grandfather's death in 1349 he succeeded to the family property, which was not, however, in good condition. (fn. 13) He was still the tenant in 1355. (fn. 14)
In 1427–8 this fee was held by Sir Richard Pickering, kt., (fn. 15) who made a settlement of Oswaldkirk in 1441 (fn. 16) and died in the same year, leaving a son and heir John. (fn. 17) The successor of John would seem to have been the Thomas Pickering who died in 1509 and was followed by William his son. (fn. 18) William made a settlement of his manors in 1513 (fn. 19) and was knighted after this date. He was knight-marshal to Henry VIII and died in 1542, (fn. 20) when his son William was a young man of twentyfour and attached to the court. (fn. 21) As a courtier and diplomatist he won great distinction, (fn. 22) and as 'a brave, wise and comely English gentleman' he was at one time considered a possible suitor for Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 23) He died in January 1574–5, (fn. 24) having settled his lands in Oswaldkirk and Ampleforth on his illegitimate daughter Hester. Sir Nicholas Bacon and his other trustees received a quitclaim from Anne sister of Sir William and her husband Roger De la River (Delareur) in 1575, (fn. 25) and in 1577 they received a licence to convey the manor to Hester, then wife of Edward Wotton, (fn. 26) created Lord Wotton of Marley in 1603. Hester died (fn. 27) in 1596, (fn. 28) but her husband survived until about 1625, when he was succeeded by his only surviving son Thomas. (fn. 29) He conveyed the manor of Oswaldkirk in 1628 (fn. 30) to Nicholas Pay and died in 1630, his heirs being his four daughters. The lands here fell to the share of Anne, the fourth co-heir, who afterwards married Sir Edward Hales, bart. (fn. 31) Sir Edward died in 1654 and was succeeded by his son Edward, a Roman Catholic and a devoted follower of James II. (fn. 32) He sold the manor of Oswaldkirk in 1674 to William Moore, (fn. 33) who made a settlement of it in 1700. (fn. 34) Mary daughter of William Moore married the Hon. Edward Thompson, M.P. for York from 1722 until his death in 1742 (fn. 35) without surviving issue. At the death of his widow the manor of Oswaldkirk passed under her will proved in 1784 to a cousin John William Banner for life, with remainder to his nephew Arthur Daggett Banner in tail-male, with contingent remainders to Thomas and Mary Banner, son and daughter of John William Banner. (fn. 36) Thomas Banner, who was lord of the manor at his death in 1826, was succeeded by Richard Banner Oakley, (fn. 37) probably the son of his sister Mary. Richard was a minor in 1852. (fn. 38) Lieut.-Col. Henry PageHenderson sold it to the present lord of the manor, Col. J. Musgrave Benson.
Of the other moiety of the manor no such definite history can be related. Peter de Jarpenville and Maud his wife sold their share, probably in or about 1230, to William de Pickering; but they seem to have retained some land in demesne as well as a mesne lordship, for John de Jarpenville (Jarkenvile) was one of the joint lords of Ampleforth and Oswaldkirk in 1284–5 and had considerable possessions in both vills in 1301. (fn. 39) John seems to have left a son Ralph and a daughter Isabel who had been given certain lands in Ampleforth by her father; these she quitclaimed in 1325 to Richard and Joan de Pickering. (fn. 40) Emma daughter of Maud daughter of John de Jarpenville was a tenant in 1352, (fn. 41) but the holdings of the family were small and never became important.
Certain demesne lands were held by the lords of Helmsley (q.v.) and constituted a second manor. (fn. 42) This was granted to Sir John Pickering for life in 1483 (fn. 43); it reverted to the family of Roos, however, and was held by the lord of Helmsley in 1504. (fn. 44) Though no decisive evidence for the sale of this manor to Sir William Pickering has been found, it seems probable that such a transfer took place in or about 1540, (fn. 45) after which date no further evidence for a Roos manor has been found.
The second entry in the Domesday Survey shows that Berengar de Toni held a 'manor' of 1 carucate in Oswaldkirk in 1086, (fn. 46) which may have afterwards become WEST NEWTON. Gamel had formerly been the tenant of this land, which was waste. Berengar died without direct heirs, and the lands he held of his father reverted to the descendants of his brother William, (fn. 47) the founder of the family of Roos, the overlordship following the descent of Helmsley (q.v.). In 1155–8 (fn. 48) Henry II confirmed to Robert son of Robert lands in Sproxton and 2 carucates in Newton which Henry I had granted to his father. The family of Sproxton appear to have held the greater part of their lands in demesne. In the reign of Richard I Richard de Sproxton enfeoffed Peter (fn. 49) son of William of 2 oxgangs in Newton, which his father had held by the rent of 1 lb. of pepper, doing such foreign service as belonged to 2 oxgangs, where 12 carucates made a knight's fee. (fn. 50) Richard de Sproxton was followed by Robert, who in 1228 (fn. 51) and 1241 quitclaimed to the Abbot of Rievaulx his right to a pasture in West Newton. (fn. 52) In 1251 Aubrey (fn. 53) daughter of Richard de Sproxton gave 2 oxgangs to Rievaulx Abbey, a gift which Henry III confirmed. The lordship of the Sproxtons had become a mesne lordship by 1284–5, (fn. 54) when the Abbot of Rievaulx held 4 carucates of Robert de Sproxton. Robert was followed by a son William, who quitclaimed 2s. rent to the abbot for 4 carucates, (fn. 55) and another William, son of Simon de Sproxton, (fn. 56) gave pasture for 80 sheep in Sproxton and common pasture in West Newton. In 1302 (fn. 57) William de Sproxton brought an action against the Abbot of Rievaulx to exonerate him from the service required by the king for the free tenement which the abbot held of William. West Newton continued in the possession of the abbey (fn. 58) and was granted with the site of the abbey to the Earl of Rutland. (fn. 59) It followed the descent of Rievaulx (q.v.), and is now in the possession of the Earl of Feversham. Free warren was granted to the Abbot of Rievaulx in 1257 in his demesne lands in West Newton. (fn. 60)
The nave appears to be of late 12th-century date, but the only detail now surviving of this period is the north doorway, now built up, a small narrow roundarched window immediately to the westward of it and two capitals built into the jambs of the south doorway, rebuilt in the 16th century. Late in the 13th or early in the 14th century the chancel appears to have been rebuilt and probably the nave walls were then heightened. New windows were inserted in the nave in the 15th century, and it may be that the chancel arch was removed at the same time. As originally built, it would appear that the floor sloped downwards from north to south and from west to east, the threshold of the built-up north door being at a considerable height above the present floor level, while the string-course of the north and south walls has a slight fall from west to east. This string-course is cut through on the south wall by the sills of the two nave windows east of the south door, one of which appears to have been inserted at the period that the chancel was rebuilt.
The east window is modern and of three lights with a two-centred head and tracery of late 14thcentury design. There are no windows in the north wall, part of which is occupied by a modern organ chamber. In the south wall are two modern windows of two lights with cinquefoiled ogee heads; the jambs of the eastern window appear to be old, possibly of 14th-century date, assuming that the modern tracery is a version of that which it has replaced. A 14th-century chamfered cornice crowns the north and south walls and is continued upon the nave. At the angle formed by the junction of the south walls of the nave and chancel are traces of the lower courses of the 12th-century chancel. In what manner the junction of the chancel and nave was treated at the period that the chancel arch was removed it is impossible to ascertain, the facing of the curtailed responds being entirely modern.
The easternmost window of the north wall of the nave (a late 13th or early 14th-century insertion) is of two trefoiled lights with an uncusped spandrel under a two-centred head. In the spandrel is a fragment of 15th-century glass, representing a censing angel. Next to this is the built-up 12th-century north doorway, which has shafted jambs and two round-arched chamfered orders, with tooling in a fine state of preservation. The capital of the eastern jamb shaft is richly foliated, that of the western jamb shaft is carved with broad plain pointed leaves. To the west of the doorway is a small narrow roundarched window, widely splayed on the inside, also of 12th-century date. The sills of the windows of this wall are above the string-course already referred to, which consists of a quarter-roll and chamfer and is not returned round the west wall, but cut off flush with its face at the north and south angles. The west window is a single cinquefoiled light, probably of 16th-century date. A modern arcade of three chamfered arches, with octagonal columns supporting the east wall of the modern tower, traverses the west end of the nave. At the south-west angle of the nave wall some rebuilding appears to have taken place at a date subsequent to its original erection; a portion of a chamfered stone has been inserted as a bonding stone. Probably this angle of the building began to show signs of failure, and the largest stones available at hand were made use of. The eastern window of the south wall of the nave is of two lights, and is similar in date and design to the eastern window of the north wall of the nave. The lower portion of this window is of new stones externally, though the interior portion of the jambs appears to be entirely original. The window next to the westward is a modern copy, which seems to date from the early years of the 19th century. The south doorway was apparently rebuilt in the 16th century, and has a four-centred straight-sided arch, with chamfered jambs; the capitals of the original 12thcentury shafted jambs have been reset below the spring of the arch. The capital of the eastern shaft is very similar to the corresponding capital of the north doorway; the capital to the south is of two rows of narrow leaves, the lower row having central beaded ribs. The remaining window in this wall is modern and follows the design of the two windows just described.
To the north of the altar, bedded in the present floor, is a 13th-century tomb-slab sculptured with a crozier in outline, probably the tomb of an abbot from Byland. In the south wall of the nave, below the sill of the easternmost window, is an arched recess; the stones of the arch seem to have been reset. Within the recess, set edgeways, is a tombslab of 13th or 14th-century date, carved with a Passion cross and sword at the side. Among the stones made use of in building up the priest's doorway in the south wall of the chancel is the head of a cross, which evidently formed a portion of a tomb-slab of the same period.
The modern bell-turret is of stone and rises above the west gable of the nave. It is lighted by four singlelight windows with four-centred heads. The parapet is embattled, with crocketed pinnacles at the angles.
The advowson of the rectory passed with that manor of Oswaldkirk which in the time of Henry III was held by John de Surdeval. (fn. 61) After the division of the fee between his co-heirs an agreement for alternate presentation was made, but with the manor the advowson came wholly into the hands of the family of Pickering. (fn. 62) It followed the descent of the manor until the early 19th century. In 1829 Thomas Comber was patron and incumbent, and his trustees retained it until 1882, when it passed to Captain A. Duncombe, who still holds it.
In 1812 the Rev. John Pigott, by his will dated 9 May, bequeathed to the rector £100, the income thereof to be paid to the parish clerk, to be nominated by him. The legacy is represented by £110 18s. 7d. stock, now consols.
The parish is in possession of 8 a. 2 r., purchased in 1762 with moneys given by Mary Fyshe, Mary Thompson and William Sidgwick, of the annual value of £15. By an order dated 2 September 1904, made under the Board of Education Act, 1899, the sum of £4 10s. a year was determined to be the proportion of the income applicable for educational purposes.
In 1820 Thomas Carter gave £50 for the benefit of the school, which in 1857 was augmented by the gift of Mary Bowdery of £250 for education and the poor, the trust funds being represented by £300 consols in the names of private trustees. By a like order of the same date £166 13s. 4d. consols, part thereof, was constituted the Carter and Bowdery Educational Foundation.
In 1878 Mary Bowdery, by her will proved 14 March, bequeathed £500 consols for the school and poor. By a like order of the same date the sum of £400 consols, part thereof, was constituted the Bowdery Educational Foundation.