A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The parish of Overton, including the townships of Shipton and Skelton, covers 5,815 acres and lies in the plain of York. The soil is entirely alluvial except for a patch of Keuper Marl on which the hamlet of Shipton stands. About half the area is arable land, and Skelton is well wooded, 78 acres being covered by plantations. (fn. 1)
The village consists of a few houses standing on a slight rise on the left bank of the Ouse, about 5 miles north-west of York. By the side of the road is a base and truncated shaft of a stone cross, which has been removed from its original position. Close to the church is a farm-house on the site of the Hall, which for many years formed the chief country seat of the Abbots of St. Mary's, York. (fn. 2) At the Dissolution the last abbot begged to be allowed to retire hither. The house was rebuilt in 1406 (fn. 3) by Robert Warrop, Abbot of St. Mary's, according to an inscription on the woodwork of the parlour mentioned by Dr. Hutton in 1661; he also records other inscriptions and coats of arms in the windows, but it was then no longer possible to decipher them. (fn. 4) The old hall had been demolished by 1736. (fn. 5) Traces of old stonework, re-used, are, however, visible in the house, and part of the encircling ditch or moat is still to be seen.
Shipton is a fair-sized village standing on the main north road not far from Beningbrough station on the North Eastern railway. There are here a public elementary school and a Wesleyan chapel. After leaving the village the road continues due north through Shipton Moor, where it is joined by Chapmans Lane and Amblers Lane, forming four distinct cross roads. Shipton Grange and Hall Farm stand rather isolated in the centre of the parish, with Cross Lanes Farm further north.
Skelton, lying east of Overton, became an ecclesiastical parish in 1870. The village, which stands to the east of the main road, is built round a green with the church at the north end. There is also a Wesleyan chapel here. The cottages are mostly modern, but a farm-house on the east side has a picturesque brick pigeon-house rising above some outbuildings. Immediately to the north of the church stands the manor-house, a former residence of the Lovells. The building has been so much modernized and altered as to leave little trace of the original arrangement; some of the windows to the south front have restored stone mullions and transoms, and the house probably dates from the late 16th century. The house is two stories high and much overgrown with creepers. Its chief interest lies in the internal fittings, of which the staircase is a handsome example of Elizabethan work. The square newels have pierced terminals of steeple form and carved pendants, and the well-moulded rail rests on turned balusters. The string has a good carved vine leaf ornament. The drawing room has oakpanelled walls with a carved arcaded frieze enriched with terminal figures. The dining room also retains its old panelling, though much altered.
In 1634 (fn. 11) the inhabitants of Skelton were sued for stopping up the highway from Huby to York in a place in the forest of Galtres called Corbon, (fn. 12) by making ditches and earth-works. Hall Moor in the north is possibly the 'Halfield' mentioned in 1429. (fn. 13) On the east of the moor is the small plantation of Moorlands Wood, with several ponds near.
The mill that formed part of the manor in the 16th and 17th centuries (fn. 14) has now disappeared. Wide Open Farm, so called in 1429, (fn. 15) is all that remains of the 'Wipestune' that in 1086 was soke of the archbishop's 'manor' of Helperby. (fn. 16)
At OVERTON in 1086 4 carucates were in the hands of the king. (fn. 17) These were granted by William Rufus to the abbey of St. Mary's, York. (fn. 18) Count Alan also held 5 carucates here and at Skelton a berewick assessed at 2 carucates and 6 oxgangs. These had formerly been in the hands of Morcar, who had a hall here before the Conquest. (fn. 19) This land also was granted by Count Alan (fn. 20) to the same religious house. Overton continued (fn. 21) in the possession of St. Mary's until the Dissolution.
In 1540 (fn. 22) the manor of Overton with all the lands here lately belonging to St. Mary's were granted in exchange to Sir Thomas Heneage and Katherine his wife, who in 1549 (fn. 23) sold it and several other manors to Edward VI. After being leased out by the Crown (fn. 24) the capital messuage was leased by Queen Elizabeth in 1595 (fn. 25) to Sir Thomas Scudamore, who granted a life interest in the manor to John Jenkins, (fn. 26) his father-inlaw. (fn. 27) In 1605 (fn. 28) Sir Thomas received a grant of the manor in fee, and died in 1621, (fn. 29) leaving a son and heir William, who in 1624 conveyed the mansionhouse of Overton to his mother Mary. (fn. 30) William married Elizabeth daughter of William Bourchier (fn. 31) of Beningbrough Hall, and in 1640–1 (fn. 32) lodged a complaint against the Earl of Strafford concerning a mortgage on his estates at Overton. William Scudamore died in 1661, (fn. 33) and was succeeded by his eldest son and heir Thomas, (fn. 34) who in 1664 (fn. 35) sold the manor to Barrington Bourchier of Beningbrough (q.v.). The two manors henceforth followed the same descent, (fn. 36) Overton being now in the hands of Captain Guy Dawnay, D.S.O., of Beningbrough Hall.
Richard de Camera held lands in Shipton and was succeeded by a son Ralph, (fn. 39) who had a son Richard and daughter Agnes. In 1292 (fn. 40) Richard obtained licence to grant a messuage and 6 oxgangs to St. Mary's Abbey; Agnes married John son of Walter le Gaoler, (fn. 41) bringing lands in Shipton as her dower. These lands were given to their son William le Gaoler, who alienated them to the same religious house in 1316. (fn. 42)
Hugh de Longchamp appears to have held lands in Shipton in demesne, (fn. 43) 2 oxgangs of which he granted to his wife Helen the daughter of Richard de Richmond. They had a son David and daughter Emma, who also granted their lands here to the Abbot of St. Mary's. (fn. 44) There were various other grants to the abbey in 1305 (fn. 45) 1315 (fn. 46) and 1322. (fn. 47) Shipton was in the Liberty of St. Mary in 1316 and at the Dissolution the abbey apparently held the manor and rectory. (fn. 48)
In 1549 (fn. 49) John Shipton, who had previously held lands in Shipton, had a lease of the 'manor,' which in 1551 (fn. 50) he conveyed to John Redman. In 1557 (fn. 51) John Redman bought from Queen Mary the manor which was formerly held by St. Mary's. He was still holding in 1562 (fn. 52) and died seised of Shipton Manor in 1574, (fn. 53) leaving no children, (fn. 54) and Shipton passed under his will (fn. 55) to John son and heir of his brother Richard, who died in 1579. (fn. 56) John died in 1600, (fn. 57) leaving three sons, Matthew, John and William, and four daughters. Matthew, the eldest son, succeeded his father and was knighted by King James. (fn. 58) He was holding the manor in 1619, (fn. 59) but before 1625 it had passed to William Scudamore of Overton (fn. 60) (q.v.), whose son Thomas sold it to Barrington Bourchier of Beningbrough Hall (q.v.) in 1668. (fn. 61) Since that time the two manors have followed the same descent, (fn. 62) and are now in the hands of Captain Guy Dawnay, D.S.O., of Beningbrough Hall.
Three carucates at MORTON (Mortun, xi cent.), which seems to have been in this parish, were in the king's hands in 1086 (fn. 63); they had been previously held by Archil. Nothing is known of the overlordship of this land, but in 1271 David le Lardiner held a carucate here, rendering yearly 5s. to the altar of the abbey of St. Mary's, York. (fn. 64) The descent of this portion of Morton followed that of the other lands of the Lardiner family in Skelton (q.v.).
In 1086 SKELTON (Sceltun, xi cent.) was assessed at 9 carucates, and was entered among the lands of the king, whose farmer (censorius) had the 2 carucates 6 oxgangs once held by Torber. (fn. 65) A further holding of 2 carucates 6 oxgangs 'belonged to' Count Alan's fee of Overton, while the remainder had been held by the Archbishops of York from of old. (fn. 66)
Possibly the first portions of the royal land to be granted to sub-tenants were Corteburne and Hordrum Wood, which Henry II gave to the ancestors of David le Lardiner (fn. 67) by the serjeanty of keeping the king's gaol of the forest and making and keeping the king's larder, finding salt at his own cost. (fn. 68) For this service he was allowed the upper legs and loins of the deer, as well as various other liberties, including the right to take every Saturday from every baker one loaf or ½d., from every brewer one gallon of beer or ½d., from every butcher a pennyworth of meat, and from every fish-cart four pennyworth of fish. (fn. 69) David le Lardiner was receiving an annual allowance of £7 12s. 1d. in 1166 (fn. 70); he had been succeeded by Thomas his son by 1201–2. (fn. 71) David le Lardiner was living in 1237. (fn. 72) He, or perhaps a son of the same name, died in 1271 (fn. 73) seised of the land called 'Corteburne.' His son and heir David died in or about 1280 (fn. 74) and in 1284 (fn. 75) his son Philip had seisin of the serjeanty of the forest of Galtres.
In 1304 (fn. 76) Philip le Lardiner received licence to enfeoff William Gra of York of a meadow called Corteburne, and wood called Hordrum, containing 30 acres by forest perch. The lawn of Corteburn and wood of 'Hordron' were granted by William to Thomas his son before 1341. (fn. 77) Thomas afterwards alienated them to Thomas son of John Gra, and he in 1360 obtained licence to grant them to Joan widow of William Lord Greystock. (fn. 78) The holding was again alienated by her to John de Skutterskelfe, clerk. (fn. 79) He conveyed it to John Vincent and others and by 1408 it was in the hands of the lords of the manor. (fn. 80)
Little is known of the early history of the manor of Skelton. In 1259–60 Hugh son of Robert de Pontefract was holding land here, (fn. 81) but no indication of his status has been found. In 1318, however, Thomas son of Richard de Pontefract was in possession of the manor, which he then sold to William Gra and Alice his wife. (fn. 82) William Gra had a daughter Ellen, on whom he settled these lands. (fn. 83) She married a Duffield, and was followed by a son Richard Duffield, who died in 1408, (fn. 84) leaving a son and heir Thomas, aged sixteen. Thomas died in 1429, (fn. 85) leaving two daughters, Margaret and Elizabeth; the latter was only two days old, and survived her father but a few days.
Margaret apparently married Thomas Nelson, Mayor of York in 1454 and 1465, who died in or about 1483–4, leaving his lands in Skelton to Thomas his son and heir. (fn. 86) Thomas dying without issue, his heir was his brother William, whose will was proved in 1525. (fn. 87) He was succeeded by Christopher, his eldest son, who in 1528 (fn. 88) settled the manor on his eldest son William and Anne his wife. Christopher died in 1554 (fn. 89) seised of Skelton Manor and a close called 'Corburne'; William his son was forty years old. Bridget daughter of William Nelson married Edward Besley, who in 1573 obtained a quitclaim to Skelton from Christopher Nelson. (fn. 90)
Edward Besley and Bridget were still living in 1605, and in 1611 they being 'recusants' half the manor was granted for forty-one years to Alexander Stratton. (fn. 91) In 1613 they conveyed Skelton to their son William, who in 1628 sold it to Thomas Atkinson. (fn. 92)
In 1633 Thomas Atkinson sold Skelton again to Thomas Lovell, (fn. 93) who was still holding it in 1654, (fn. 94) but sold the manor in the same year to James Brooke. (fn. 95) He died in 1675, (fn. 96) leaving one son, Sir John Brooke, bart., who was holding the manor in 1676 (fn. 97) and died in 1691. (fn. 98) He had two sons, Sir James and Henry. (fn. 99) Sir James was succeeded by a son Sir Job Brooke, who died without issue, when his estates passed to Honora, the only child of Henry Brooke and cousin of Sir Job. (fn. 100) Honora became the wife of John Jenkins, and was holding the manor of Skelton in 1770. (fn. 101) She died without issue in 1778, (fn. 102) when the manor was put up to auction, and purchased in 1784 by Joshua Hepworth for £17,100. (fn. 103) From Joshua Hepworth the manor has descended to the present owner, Major Gresham Williams-Hepworth.
The rest of the king's land must have come into the hands of the lords of Sheriff Hutton (q.v.), and was held as one-sixth of a knight's fee. (fn. 104) The land was held of the Nevills by the family of Lardiner, (fn. 105) and follows the descent traced above.
The 2 carucates 6 oxgangs in Overton held by Count Alan at the time of the Domesday Survey (fn. 106) were granted by his brother to the abbey of St. Mary's, York. (fn. 107) The abbey retained these lands until the Dissolution, (fn. 108) when they were granted to Philip and Thomas Lovell in 1545. (fn. 109) Philip died in 1558, leaving a son Thomas, (fn. 110) who married Jane Hungate (fn. 111) and died in 1571. (fn. 112) He was succeeded by a son Thomas, who in 1583 had livery of his father's lands. (fn. 113) Thomas died in 1603, leaving four sons and three daughters, Thomas his heir being then thirteen years old. (fn. 114) He married Mary Booth, (fn. 115) and in 1633 bought from Thomas Atkinson (fn. 116) the manor of which the history has already been traced. From this time the two estates followed the same descent.
Certain lands appear to have been alienated by St. Mary's Abbey before the Dissolution, for in 1528 Sir William Ingleby died seised of the 'manor' of Skelton held of the Abbot of St. Mary's. (fn. 117) Sir William Ingleby had a son William, (fn. 118) who held the manor (fn. 119) until 1576, when it was sold to Edward Besley. (fn. 120) Henceforward it followed the descent of the chief manor of Skelton (q.v.).
In 1268 Robert de Askeby was holding lands in Skelton (fn. 121) and died before 1279–80, when his widow Euphemia claimed dower. (fn. 122) Henry son of Robert died during his father's lifetime, leaving a son Robert, a minor, in the custody of his mother Margery. (fn. 123) Robert de Askeby had a daughter Margaret, on whom he settled the manor of Skelton in 1323 on her marriage with Hugh de Moresby. (fn. 124) In 1337 Hugh de Moresby received a grant of free warren in Skelton and Wigginton (fn. 125) and died in 1349, leaving a son and heir Christopher. (fn. 126) He died in 1370 (fn. 127) and was followed by a son Christopher, who in 1388 sold a quarter of the manor to Thomas Lovell of Skelton. (fn. 128) The Lovells seem to have been a family of some importance. William Lovell was holding land of the Mowbray fee in Brotton towards the close of the 13th century, and in 1315 a William Lovell was a juror for the wapentake of Bulmer. (fn. 129) Three years later Thomas son of Roger Lovell of Skelton was accused of murder, and in 1320 he was imprisoned at York for trespasses in the forest of Galtres. (fn. 130) Thomas Lovell of Skelton was an attorney for John Moryn while the latter was in Britanny in 1362 and for Sir Brian Roucliffe in 1365; he served on many commissions from 1368 to 1384, when he seems to have dropped out of public life, though a Thomas Lovell was made a conservator of various Yorkshire rivers in 1390. (fn. 131) In 1428 Thomas and Elizabeth Lovell were tenants of the Nevill fee in Skelton and Sutton. (fn. 132) It seems probable that the land of this family followed the descent of the land which had belonged to St. Mary's Abbey. (fn. 133)
The remaining 3½ carucates are described in Domesday Book as in the hands of the Archbishop of York or in the Liberty of St. Peter. (fn. 134) When in course of time the two fees became distinct Skelton fell to the share of the dean and chapter. (fn. 135) It does not seem to have developed into a separate manor, but was probably included in that of Alne and Tollerton (q.v.); it is now held by various tenants.
The church of ST. CUTHBERT was almost entirely rebuilt in 1855, but the old design appears to have been followed. It consists of a chancel, an aisled nave, and western bellcote, containing two bells. The style is 13th-century Gothic of the lancet type and the arcades are said to be the old work re-used. They are each of three bays with pointed arches and piers with moulded capitals and bases, and have in any case been completely scraped or recut. The churchyard is entered by a modern lych-gate.
The church of ALL SAINTS (fn. 136) at Skelton is a rectangular building consisting of a chancel and nave, both with side aisles, and measuring internally 44 ft. 3 in. by 32 ft. 6 in. The church as it stands was completed shortly before 1247, and the building presents examples of no other period. Though small in dimensions, as an example of early 13thcentury work it is unequalled by any other parish church in the county. The building was carefully restored in 1814 to 1818, under the superintendence of Henry Graham, but the groining then introduced has since been removed.
The church is divided into three bays, of which the chancel occupies the easternmost, being separated from the nave by a chancel arch. The east window consists of three equal lancets with detached shafts between them both internally and externally. These have moulded bases and capitals with nail-head ornament, and the window-heads are deeply moulded and enriched with dog-tooth and nail-head. Halfway up the external shafts are moulded bands. A line of dog-tooth is also carried down the edge of the outer external jambs. Above the central lancet is a vesica-shaped window in the gable having a moulded hood carried round it. The north and south chancel walls have a deep eastern respond and a single arch on each side communicates with the side chapels. The arches are pointed and of two simple chamfered orders and the responds have each three attached shafts keeled on the outer edge with moulded capitals and bases, those on the east being banded at half their height. In the south-east respond is a trefoil-headed piscina, the bowl of which is supported on carved foliage. Opposite this is an aumbry and on the east wall to the north side is a foliated bracket shaped like a column capital. The north chapel has a single lancet in the east wall with an external label and two much smaller lights of similar form in the north wall. Near the eastern one is an aumbry and in the south wall is a trefoilheaded piscina. On the east wall are remains of the broken corbels supporting the altar. The south chapel corresponds exactly to the north, with regard to the windows, piscina and aumbry, but in place of the western window in the south wall is a small door with a head segmental-pointed internally and two-centred externally with chamfered jambs. At the west ends of both chapels are traces of the mortises for wood screens now destroyed. The chancel and chapels are covered by one high-pitched roof, the east wall being divided only by small gabled buttresses two stages high, and having a pair of low buttresses of similar detail at the two angles. Both internally and externally a moulded string-course is carried round the east wall below the sills of the windows, on the side walls it becomes externally a hood to the windows and door. On the east gable is a very beautiful cross with a moulded base, circular stem and floreated arms. The chancel arch is of similar character to the arcades, of two chamfered orders with a hood moulding on the west face springing from responds with three attached shafts. Above it the wall is pierced with a simple pointed opening in the gable. Resting on this wall is a bellcote of stone, gabled and finished with a cross with floreated arms which is apparently not original. The two bell openings are acutely pointed and divided by a pier of four attached shafts with moulded capital and base. Both arches are included under a main arch, the spandrel being enriched with a quatrefoil having dog-tooth ornament.
The nave is two bays long only, with arcades exactly similar to those between the chancel and chapels. The shafts are all keeled on their outer edges and the moulded capitals have nail-head ornament. The west wall is pierced by a tall lancet window with external banded jamb shafts having moulded capitals and bases and a line of dog-tooth ornament. The head is enriched in the same manner, and above it in the gable is a circular window with a hood moulding carried round. The nave aisles are continuous with the chancel chapels and have each a small lancet window in the first bay. In the second bay on the north is a simple pointed north door. The south door, opposite to it, is the finest feature of the building, and, though considerably restored, is an exact reproduction of the original work. It is set in a gabled projection from the aisle wall and is recessed in four orders. The pointed arch is richly moulded and has two rows of dogtooth ornament which is again repeated on the hood. The latter terminates in carved foliage bosses. The jambs have each three free and one attached shaft with bell capitals enriched with 'stiff leaf' foliage. The bases are of the 'hold water' type and rest on a moulded plinth following the line of the bases. The abacus of the capitals is carried round the projection as a string-course, stopping against the aisle wall. Above the arch is a horizontal string-course and the acutely-pointed gable terminates in a cross of curious form, and having a band of nail-heads round the stem. At the west end of each aisle is a lancet window uniform with the eastern chapel windows. The buttresses of the west end are similar to those on the east. The church is faced entirely in ashlar and the roofs are all modern, blue slating having taken the place of the earlier tiling. On the walls of the nave aisles are painted Scripture texts in frames of scroll work.
In the south chapel is a slab with a partially obliterated marginal inscription in black letter to Robert Lovell and Anne his wife, who died 24 July and 25 March 1421 respectively. Some fragments of ancient glass remain in the west window of the north aisle.
The bells were formerly hung in a little covered steeple at the west end of the church, removed in the late 18th century. They are two in number, the first inscribed 'Gloria in excelsis Deo. Richard Maskell Churchwarden 1677'; the second 'Soli Deo gloria pax hominibus Dalton founder York 1782.'
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1538 to 1654. A note at the side of the first page reads: 'This charge to register the names was first given in the 30th yeare of Hen. the 8th Anno Dm. 1538 in the Lo. Abbotts Visitaton holden at Byland. John Darley then Parson of Skelton Octob. 27, 1538'; (ii) mixed entries 1657 to 1750; (iii) mixed entries 1751 to 1790; (iv) baptisms and burials 1791 to 1812; and various transcripts of the earlier registers.
The church of the HOLY EVANGELISTS at Shipton, built in 1849 in 13th-century Gothic style, consists of a chancel, a nave with aisles five bays long and a tower surmounted by a spire at the west end of the north aisle. It has a wooden rood screen and an oak reredos with modern paintings of the Annunciation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, SS. Peter, John, Paul and Stephen. The churchyard has a modern lych-gate. The living is a vicarage, held with Overton.
The church of St. Cuthbert at Overton was in the possession of the Abbots of St. Mary's, York, in 1291, (fn. 137) being apparently appurtenant to the manor confirmed to them by William Rufus. (fn. 138) In 1540, after the Dissolution, it was granted to Sir Thomas Heneage, (fn. 139) and it has followed the descent of the manor (q.v.) until the present day, being now in the gift of Captain Guy Dawnay, D.S.O., of Beningbrough Hall.
The church of All Saints at Skelton belonged with the rectory to the abbey of St. Mary's, York. (fn. 140) After a lease to William Gourley in 1577, it was granted by Queen Elizabeth in August 1590 to Edward Downing and Roger Rante, (fn. 141) and sold by them in the same month to Thomas Scudamore of Overton. (fn. 142) In 1623 William Scudamore, son of Thomas, and Mary his mother, sold the rectory and advowson to Sir William Ingram and Arthur, his third son. (fn. 143) In 1634 Arthur Ingram sold them to Thomas Lovell, the lord of the manor, and they followed the descent of the manor, (fn. 144) being now in the gift of Major E. W. Gresham Williams-Hepworth.
The Free School was founded by Ann Middleton, by her will, 1655, confirmed by decree of commissioners of charitable uses, 18 Charles II. In addition to the school buildings a yearly sum of £40, part of a clear yearly rent-charge of £45 6s., secured by a certain indenture, dated 27 November 1766, was by an order, made under the Board of Education Act, 1899, dated 9 August 1904, determined to be applicable to educational purposes. (fn. 145) The said Ann Middleton also gave an annuity of 20s. for the poor of the township of Shipton. It forms part of the yearly rent-charge secured by the deed of 1766 above referred to, and is paid by Capt. Guy Dawnay of Beningbrough Hall, and is distributed by the parish council in money among the poor together with the interest on £35 in the Yorkshire Penny Bank, the origin of which is unknown, but which may represent a legacy under the will of Richard Carlton, dated in 1788. (fn. 146)