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 Strensall lies east of Galtres Forest, and from the 13th to the 17th century was one of its townships. (fn. 1) It covers an area of 2,908 acres, of which 804 are arable land upon which corn and potatoes are mainly grown, 733 permanent grass, 33 woods and plantations. (fn. 2) Its soil is sand and foxmole upon a subsoil of white and grey sandstone. (fn. 3) The land lies generally about 50 ft. above ordnance datum.
A considerable proportion of the population is employed in a tannery in the village. Another industry is indicated by the ordnance maps of 1849, which show Strensall Pottery, then disused, in the north-west of the parish and another named 'Britannia' near the village.
The highway from York enters Strensall from Towthorpe and runs northwards into Sheriff Hutton. (fn. 4) Most of the village lies round a bend in the highway and on either side of the River Foss, which is crossed by a bridge in the middle of the village. Though of some size, Strensall has no features of architectural interest, most of the houses being quite modern. The church stands at the north-west end, the Hall with its moat and large grounds being a short distance further north. On the same site probably stood the manor-house of 1649 (fn. 5) and 1757, (fn. 6) which also had its moat with an adjoining close called Conygarth and a smithy 'in a street near a foldyard.' Other closes in the neighbourhood were the Hall Inge, Pudding Park, Palling, Butt Close, Inge Wall Butt and Long Wall Butt, all adjoining the Foss. (fn. 7) This river enters the parish in the north-east and flows in a south and south-westerly direction into Towthorpe. It is crossed by three bridges, the northernmost of which, Strensall Bridge, (fn. 8) is close to the village and tannery. About a quarter of a mile east of the village is Strensall station on the York and Scarborough branch of the North Eastern railway, which passes through the parish from south-west to northeast. A Wesleyan chapel existing in Strensall before 1857 was succeeded by a new building in 1895. Between 1879 and 1889 a Primitive Methodist chapel was built.
South of the village 'the monotonous plain of Strensall, once a vast marsh,' (fn. 9) is the only considerable portion now left of the forest of Galtres. It is now a permanent military training camp for the northern district and extends into Towthorpe, where are the quarters of the officers and men. The York Golf Club has a course on Lordsmoor Farm near Strensall Common, a wide tract of open moor varied by woodland and water which spreads over a large district in the south of the parish east of this camp. Two prebendaries, in 1214 Simon de Langton, in 1222 Ruffinus, nephew of the papal legate Gualo, received royal permission to impark and afforest the land and wood of the prebend of Strensall, surrounding them with ditch and hedge. (fn. 10) An inclosure of a different nature was made in 1757, with the mutual consent of the archbishop, the prebendary and the farmer of the prebend, Sir William Robinson, the vicar and upwards of forty copyholders; 675 acres of common in the north of the parish and west of the Foss lying between the Roans in Sheriff Hutton and an 'ancient Inclosure' were then inclosed and divided. (fn. 11)
In the reign of Edward the Confessor Sasford and Turchil held 5 carucates in STRENSALL of the fee of St. Peter's, York. This estate, reckoned at the Survey amongst the lands of the Archbishop of York, (fn. 12) was allotted, certainly before 1214 (fn. 13) and probably at an earlier date, (fn. 14) to one of the minster prebends which bore the name of the parish, and from the wealth of its endowment was afterwards known as the 'Golden Prebend.' (fn. 15) In 1291 the prebend of Strensall was valued amongst the possessions of St. Peter of York, (fn. 16) and the return of 1316 recorded that the parish was in the Liberty of St. Peter and that the dean and chapter were its lords. (fn. 17)
Royal presentations to the prebend of Strensall were made in the 13th century during two vacancies of the see of York, one by King John of Alexander de Dorset, (fn. 18) the other by Edward I of the famous Anthony Bek, whom he promoted four years later to the bishopric of Durham. (fn. 19) During the following century most of the prebendaries were foreigners, seven amongst their number being cardinals. (fn. 20) William de Flisco, who had succeeded Aymo de Savoy as prebendary in 1325, (fn. 21) was ejected five years later by John de Melburn, controller of the king's household. (fn. 22) In 1331 John obtained permission to attend the Roman court to answer for his action, (fn. 23) and seems to have made good his case, for he retained possession of the prebend until 1346, when it is said that William was reinstated. (fn. 24) After the death in 1405 of one of his successors, Francis Bishop of Sabina, who held Strensall by papal grant, (fn. 25) a fresh contention arose. The pope's provision of Cardinal Raynald was carried out neither at this time nor seven years later, when Roger Corringham, who had successfully resisted Raynald's claim, died in possession. (fn. 26) Thomas Polton, one of the proctors who had pleaded Roger's cause at Bologna, soon obtained the prebend, which he held until and possibly after his promotion to the see of Hereford in 1420. (fn. 27) Other instances in which Strensall formed a stepping-stone to higher preferment occurred in this and the next century, and many of the prebendaries, none of whom after the Bishop of Sabina were of foreign extraction, (fn. 28) seem to have enjoyed its revenues in conjunction with other benefices and offices. (fn. 29)
The prebend of Strensall, which was valued in 1535 as part of the possessions of the cathedral church of York, (fn. 30) is one of the thirty-two which have remained attached to the minster to the present day. (fn. 31) Nevertheless, it did not altogether escape the rapacity of the ministers of Edward VI. In 1547 it was one of certain prebends granted to the Duke of Somerset with the intention that they should be restored to the king for the endowment of the cathedral church of York. (fn. 32) Three days later the duke sold the mansion-house of the prebend in the city of York and a meadow ground called Waybott in the parish of Strensall to Lord Wharton, (fn. 33) and in the exchange which took place a fortnight afterwards the prebend came back to the Crown shorn of these possessions. (fn. 34) The meadow of Waybott was the occasion of more than one dispute in the early years of Elizabeth's reign. In 1560 Geoffrey Morley, then prebendary, leased Strensall to Sir Thomas Stanley, whose claims to rent were resisted by various tenants. One of them, Robert Foster, based his defence on the sale of Waybott to Lord Wharton, from whom he held it by lease. (fn. 35) Another lessee of Geoffrey Morley, George Redmayne, who rented the whole prebend with the exception of the mansion-house at York by a lease of April 1563, lodged a petition against the servants of Lord Wharton for carrying away loads of hay from this same meadow. (fn. 36) Lord Wharton seems also to have laid claim to the whole prebend on the pretext of a lease from the Duke of Somerset. (fn. 37) It is even said that he occupied it during the nominal tenure of George Redmayne, (fn. 38) a statement corroborated by the fact that the tenant of a close in Haxby which belonged to Strensall, on being sued by George Redmayne's executors for arrears of rent, made it his defence that this was due and had always been paid to Lord Wharton. According to the same defendant, Strensall was at that time and had for long been 'in suite and question' between the queen and the prebendary, (fn. 39) but before the close of the reign the latter was restored to the enjoyment of the prebend by an Exchequer decree. (fn. 40) The record of an inquiry held in 1620 shows that the prebendal manor of Strensall, to which, exclusive of the demesne lands and 2 oxgangs appropriated to the vicarage, 36 oxgangs in the parish belonged, was probably still of the same extent as the estate owned by the archbishop in 1086. (fn. 41) The claims of the Crown were revived in 1634, when Charles I leased the prebend to Gabriel Hippesley for twenty-one years. (fn. 42) William Barlow, then prebendary, obtained a grant of the reversion in the next year, (fn. 43) and seems to have succeeded besides in keeping out the new lessee. (fn. 44)
In 1649 the Parliamentary trustees for the sale of cathedral lands sold the manor of Strensall to Richard Sikes of London. (fn. 45) The ejected prebendary John Neyle, petitioner for restitution in 1660, (fn. 46) seems to have renewed the lease granted by his predecessor to Sir William Robinson, (fn. 47) who himself and his heirs as lessees of the prebend were lords of the manor of Strensall until the latter part of the 18th century. (fn. 48) By the Act of 1840 the lands of the prebend were transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 49) and twelve years later they were empowered to sell any part of them. (fn. 50) Since that date the soil has been held by various copyholders, the manorial rights being vested from 1857 to 1889 in Leonard Thompson of Sheriff Hutton and his trustees, and from 1901 to 1909 in William Benson Richardson. Mr. Thomas Hillyard Richardson is the present owner.
Amongst appurtenances which probably belonged to the manor of Strensall as part of the prebend were free warren granted to the prebendary Gerard de Wippeyns in his demesne lands here in 1292 (fn. 51) and court leet and view of frankpledge. (fn. 52)
Four oxgangs in Strensall, larger, it is said, in dimension than the ordinary oxgang of the parish, formed MOWBRAY'S FEE, (fn. 53) and may have borne the name of the ancestors of one William Mowbray, who with his wife Katherine held land here in 1492. (fn. 54) Possibly here as at Easby (fn. 55) his lands were bought by Sir William Bulmer, for he at his death in 1531 owned property in Strensall (fn. 56) which was forfeited to the Crown on the attainder of his son Sir John Bulmer. (fn. 57) This as Mowbray's fee or land afterwards came into the possession of various freeholders of the parish, whose title was made the subject of a special inquiry in 1620, and was then declared to be based on a grant of Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 58)
The church of ST. MARY is a modern building consisting of an aisleless nave and chancel, with a western tower and south porch. The ancient church was destroyed about 1798 or 1800, when a brick building was erected on its site, which in turn gave place to the present structure. The foundation stone was laid in 1865, and the church is from the designs of Sir G. Scott. It cost £1,700, and conforms in style to the Gothic of the 13th century.
Fixed to a pew end in the nave is a small brass inscription to Mrs. Susan Pool (died 1740), wife of the Rev. M. W. Pool. The western tower is surmounted by a stone spire and contains three modern bells, one of them being a recasting of a mediaeval bell inscribed '+Jacobi in honore saunti+ Walterus me fecit.'
The church is said to have been appropriated to the prebend in 1314, when a vicarage was ordained. (fn. 59) It remained in the gift of the prebendary until it was transferred by the Act of 1840 to the Archbishop of York, the present patron. (fn. 60) The rectory also belonged to the prebend until 1840. (fn. 61) The church, which is a peculiar, seems to have been originally dedicated to St. James. In 1428 indulgences were granted to penitents who visited the church of St. James of Strensall and gave alms for its repair, (fn. 62) and more than twenty years later the vicar of St. James, Strensall, was paid 6s. 8d. to pray for the soul of Thomas Vicars. (fn. 63) A like sum was devoted to the fabric of the church and 20s. expended on the day of the funeral for making a door (in factura j ostii) in it. (fn. 64) Prebendary William Poteman left the church of Strensall his 'vestment of red worsted with the garters and one missal of the use of the church of York.' (fn. 65)
In 1535 the vicar had a dwelling-house with 2 oxgangs (fn. 66) which remained associated with it till the latter part of the 18th century. (fn. 67) The glebehouse, however, was declared unfit for residence in 1818, and in 1834 no return of glebe was made (fn. 68); 96 acres are now said to be attached to the living. At the survey of chantries in 1548 it was found that a sum of money was provided for a light in the parish church of Strensall. (fn. 69)
By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 12 March 1897, varying a scheme of 8 December 1876, the properties constituting the poor and church lands (acquired by surrender by William Turner, 1679) and poor and school lands (acquired by surrender by Robert Wilkinson, 1719) were apportioned as follows, namely:—
The church charity: land part of Paddock Steel or Stile Closes, otherwise New Bridge Closes, copyhold of the manor of Strensall containing 2 a. 3 r., let at £5 8s. a year, of which the vicar and churchwardens were appointed trustees;
Wilkinson's charity for the poor: land copyhold of the manor of Strensall containing together about 60 acres and five cottages, and £199 10s. consols with the official trustees, and £62 9s. 2d. consols held by trustees. The land and stock assigned for the benefit of the poor produce about £70 a year. In 1903 gifts of money were made to thirty-three persons.
Wilkinson's charity for the school: buildings at Strensall used as a school with master's house and garth, land copyhold of the manor of Strensall containing 21 a. 2 r. 21 p., let at £28 5s. a year, and £199 10s. consols with the official trustees, producing an annual dividend of £4 19s. 9d.
The scheme provides that the lord of the manor, the steward, and the vicar shall be the ex officio trustees of these charities (other than the church charity), that three representative trustees shall be appointed by the parish council of the rural parish of Strensall, and for the appointment of co-optative trustees.
Elizabeth Cobb, by will proved at York, 1810, bequeathed to the poor of Full Sutton £80 and to the poor of Strensall £80. The amount given to this parish was with further sums received from the executors of William Cobb laid out in the purchase of a cottage and land containing 2 a. 2 r., now let at £14 a year.