A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The parish of Yarm covers 1,229 acres, of which 301 are arable land, 606 permanent grass, and 42 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is clay and loam with a subsoil of Keuper marls, and the chief crops are wheat, oats and beans. The parish is bounded on the west and north by the Tees, while part of the north and the whole of the eastern boundary is formed by its tributary the Leven. The ground slopes upwards from the river banks to the centre of the parish, the greatest height being 122 ft. above ordnance datum.
A sharp bend of the Tees forms a peninsula a little over half a mile long and for the most part a quarter of a mile wide. It is on this that the town is built on ground nowhere exceeding 25 ft. above ordnance datum. The town has frequently suffered from floods, those of 1753, 1771 and 1881 being especially disastrous. (fn. 2) East of the town the roads from Thirsk and Catterick unite on their way to Yarm Bridge over the Tees. It was along the road thus formed that the town grew up. There was a bridge here in 1305, when a grant of pontage was made to William le Latimer, (fn. 3) and various references to similar grants for the repair of the bridge occur during the 14th century. (fn. 4) Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, built the present bridge probably in or about the year 1400, (fn. 5) and for over three centuries it was the only bridge leading over the Tees from Cleveland to Durham. It was of stone, and consisted of five pointed arches until about 1799, when the northern arch was rebuilt in semicircular form and of wider span. (fn. 6) In the early 17th century the obligation of repairing the bridge was disputed by the inhabitants of Yorkshire and Durham, (fn. 7) and during the civil wars it was a strategical position of great importance, (fn. 8) the arch on the Durham side being at that time used as a drawbridge. (fn. 9) Yarm was garrisoned by Parliament, but was recovered for the king by Sir William Cavendish, afterwards Duke of Newcastle. (fn. 10)
The High Street, about which the town is chiefly built, is long, wide and paved with cobbles. Trees are planted here and there, and in the middle stands the covered market cross with the town hall above, built in 1710. West of the High Street is the viaduct of the North Eastern railway, of forty-three arches, erected in 1849. On the western side of the viaduct is West Street, the 'back street,' and presumably the 'Westgate' mentioned in 1310 and 1621. (fn. 11) Between West Street and the river are fields and the church and graveyard in which stood the grammar school; in 1884 it was removed to a site on higher ground. The Kyrkewend, or Kirkgate, is mentioned in the 14th century, and also Chaumpenaiswend, which must have been close by. (fn. 12) South of the church is an old windmill. In 1272 a mill was appurtenant to the manor, (fn. 13) and it is frequently mentioned during the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 14) On the other side of the town is a water-mill on the Tees, of which the first mention occurs in 1538, (fn. 15) when it was appurtenant to the manor.
At its southern end the town would seem to have been protected by a series of dykes. Henetdyke or Henedyke is mentioned in the late 13th century, (fn. 16) and was probably on the west side of the main road. On the east was the Skytering Beck, (fn. 17) apparently the small stream that still divides the peninsula from the mainland on this side. This beck may have formed part of the Castledyke that is also mentioned at this time. That there was a stronghold here is evident from a gift of land to the hospital of St. Nicholas juxta castellarium. (fn. 18)
In the 16th century the Castle Close was among the lands of the Friars Preachers, (fn. 19) who settled here before 1266. (fn. 20) After the surrender of the house in 1538 the priory was leased to Brian Layton in 1539, (fn. 21) and in 1553 it was granted to Simon Welbury and Christopher Morland, (fn. 22) who apparently sold it afterwards. In 1635 John Sayer of Worsall died seised of 'a house called le F—us,' (fn. 23) and in 1650 the Friarage or Fryery House was sequestrated with the other estates of Lawrence Sayer, nephew of John, (fn. 24) for delinquency. (fn. 25) It was bought by Gilbert Crouch in that year, (fn. 26) after which no further mention of it has been found till 1717, when it was in the possession of one John Mayes, (fn. 27) a Roman Catholic, who died in 1742. (fn. 28) In 1749 James Hartley of the Friarage is mentioned. (fn. 29) Early in the 19th century the Friarage came into the hands of the Meynells. Thomas Meynell of the Friarage presided at a meeting for forming the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company at the 'George and Dragon,' Yarm, in 1820. Edward Thomas Meynell held the Friarage until his death in 1879, when he was succeeded by his uncle Edgar John Meynell, (fn. 30) whose son now holds it, the house being occupied by Mr. Edward Whitwell. Near the Friarage to the north is the Roman Catholic chapel of St. Mary, founded in 1795. The Roman Catholic school was built in 1863. There are three public elementary schools in Yarm, a mixed school built in 1818 and rebuilt in 1880, a girls' school rebuilt in 1880 and an infants' school erected in 1852 and rebuilt in 1898. The Quakers, of whom mention occurs in 1701 and 1721, (fn. 31) have a meetinghouse in the north of the town near the junction of West Street and Bridge Street. Between West Street and the river is the Primitive Methodist chapel, founded before 1831. (fn. 32) The Wesleyan chapel, on the eastern side of the town between the High Street and the river, must have been built shortly before 1764, when John Wesley mentions 'the new house at Yarm, by far the most elegant in England.' (fn. 33)
South of the town by the Thirsk road is the house known as the Spital, (fn. 34) probably near the site of the hospital of St. Nicholas, though no trace of the mediaeval building remains.
Alan de Wilton gave 12 oxgangs of land to the hospital, which in the 13th century had half a carucate in Worsall and 18 acres in Staindale Bridge—i.e., in Bulleflat and in that Spitalflat which still keeps its old name. (fn. 35) Alan de Wilton finally granted the hospital to the canons of Healaugh Park, (fn. 36) who retained it until the Dissolution, when it was valued at £5 per annum. (fn. 37)
Yarm was formerly a port of great importance, and in the 12th and 13th centuries carried on a trade with Scotland, (fn. 38) France (fn. 39) and Flanders. (fn. 40) The shipping trade is noticed as early as 1182. (fn. 41) In 1204 the account of the fifteenth amounted to nearly £43, as compared with £158 from Newcastle, £22 from Scarborough and 4s. from Whitby. (fn. 42) The customs on wine seem to have been of considerable importance, (fn. 43) and there was also trade in wools, hides (fn. 44) and salt, (fn. 45) while cloth was manufactured. (fn. 46) The principal exports seem to have been corn and agricultural produce, mention of which occurs in the 14th and 17th centuries. (fn. 47) Many large granaries and warehouses were built in connexion with this trade, some of which in the 'east row' of the town are mentioned in 1732. (fn. 48) By the beginning of the 19th century these had become almost useless (fn. 49) owing to the decline in the exportation of corn. (fn. 50) The shipping of corn was still, however, carried on in 1841, (fn. 51) but by this time Yarm had greatly diminished in importance as a centre of trade.
At the time of the Domesday Survey YARM was entered among the king's lands, 3 carucates here having previously been held of him by Hawart. (fn. 52) Later it became part of the Brus fee, (fn. 53) and in the division among the heirs of Peter de Brus in 1272 (fn. 54) passed to Lucy wife of Marmaduke de Thweng, (fn. 55) afterwards forming part of the inheritance of their granddaughter Lucy. (fn. 56) She married as her first husband William son of William le Latimer before 1295, (fn. 57) and was afterwards married to Robert de Everingham. (fn. 58) In 1313 Robert and Lucy settled the manor on themselves and their heirs, with contingent remainder to Nicholas de Meynell, Lucy's natural son. (fn. 59) Robert died before 1316, (fn. 60) and Lucy afterwards married Bartholomew de Fanacourt. (fn. 61) In 1345 they settled the manor on themselves and the heirs of Bartholomew, (fn. 62) and in 1346 they obtained licence to grant it for Lucy's lifetime to John Darcy of Knaith and his wife Elizabeth (fn. 63) daughter of Nicholas de Meynell. (fn. 64) After Lucy's death in 1347 (fn. 65) Bartholomew de Fanacourt sold Yarm to John Darcy, (fn. 66) who in 1353 settled it on himself and his wife Elizabeth and their heirs, with remainder to the Crown. (fn. 67) John Darcy died seised in 1356, (fn. 68) and his widow afterwards married Peter de Mauley (VI), (fn. 69) who held Yarm in her right. (fn. 70) Elizabeth died in 1368, (fn. 71) and was succeeded by her son Philip Darcy, (fn. 72) during whose minority the king granted the custody of the manor to Sir William le Latimer. (fn. 73) Philip in 1379–80 granted the manor to William le Latimer in tail-male, with contingent reversion to himself, (fn. 74) and on the death of William without male issue in 1381 (fn. 75) Philip succeeded. (fn. 76) He died seised in 1399, and was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 77) who died in 1411. (fn. 78) John's heir was his son Philip, (fn. 79) who died a minor in 1418 seised of twothirds of the manor, (fn. 80) the remaining third being held in dower by his mother Margery. (fn. 81) Philip had two infant daughters and co-heirs, Elizabeth, who afterwards married Sir James Strangways, and Margery, who married Sir John Conyers of Hornby. (fn. 82) On the division of the estates Yarm formed part of the inheritance of Margery, (fn. 83) but portions of it were held in dower by her mother, Eleanor (fn. 84) widow of Philip Darcy, and her grandmother, Margery widow of John Darcy. The latter died in 1453 (fn. 85) and the former in 1457, (fn. 86) after which John Conyers and his wife Margery apparently came into sole possession of the manor. (fn. 87) This manor followed the descent of Hornby (fn. 88) (q.v.), and on the death of John Lord Conyers early in 1556–7 (fn. 89) was divided among his daughters and co-heirs, of whom Margaret died a minor in February 1559–60. (fn. 90) Of the other three, Anne married Anthony Kempe, Elizabeth Thomas Darcy and Katharine John Atherton. (fn. 91) The third held by Anne and Anthony Kempe was conveyed with her share of the Hornby estate to William Waller, (fn. 92) who in 1580 sold one-third of the manor of Yarm to Thomas Darcy, (fn. 93) husband of Elizabeth. (fn. 94) Thomas Darcy was thus in possession of twothirds of the manor, of which he died seised in 1605 (fn. 95); he was succeeded by his son Conyers Darcy Lord Conyers, (fn. 96) who married Dorothea daughter of Sir Henry Bellasis, (fn. 97) bart., of Newburgh. (fn. 98) Conyers Darcy apparently sold his two-thirds of the manor before 1614 to Sir Henry Bellasis, (fn. 99) who obtained a quitclaim to this from John Atherton in that year. (fn. 100) This estate then followed the descent of the manor of Newburgh (fn. 101) (q.v.), falling to the share of Anne wife of Sir George Wombwell in 1802. (fn. 102) Sir George apparently sold the manor in the first half of the 19th century to Thomas Meynell of the Friarage, Yarm, who was lord of the manor about 1846 (fn. 103) and died in 1854, succeeded by his son Thomas. (fn. 104) Thomas Meynell died without issue in 1863, and was succeeded by his nephew Edward Thomas Meynell, (fn. 105) who died without issue in 1879. (fn. 106) His heir was his uncle Edgar John Meynell, (fn. 107) a judge of the county court, who held the manor in 1889 and died in 1901. (fn. 108) His son Mr. Edgar Meynell is the present lord of the manor. (fn. 109)
Katharine Atherton's third of the manor passed at her death in March 1625–6 (fn. 110) to her granddaughter Anne, daughter of her son John Atherton (fn. 111) and wife of Sir William Pennyman, bart., (fn. 112) of Marske. (fn. 113) He and his wife in 1632 made a conveyance of their third of the manor, (fn. 114) and in 1639 they sold it to Thomas (Bellasis) (fn. 115) first Lord Fauconberg, (fn. 116) in whose hands the whole manor was thus united. (fn. 117)
The court of the manor of Yarm is mentioned in 1272. (fn. 118) A fourth part of the wreck of the sea between Runswick and Yarm descended with the manor and town of Yarm to Marmaduke and Lucy de Thweng in 1272, (fn. 119) and followed the descent of the manor, the last reference to it, merely as wreck of the sea, occurring in 1639. (fn. 120) The remaining three-fourths were inherited by the other three sisters and heirs of Peter de Brus, (fn. 121) Laderina wife of John de Bellew, Agnes wife of Walter de Fauconberg (fn. 122) and Margaret wife of Robert de Roos. The earliest reference to a market and fairs at Yarm occurs in 1368, (fn. 123) when they were in the hands of the burgesses. They appear again in 1538 (fn. 124) and in February 1559–60, (fn. 125) after which no further reference to them has been found until 1674, when Lord Fauconberg was granted the right to hold an annual market on the first Wednesday in May and for the fortnight following, and two fairs, one for three days beginning on the Wednesday before the Feast of the Annunciation and the other on the 8th and 9th of October. (fn. 126) A weekly market on Thursday was still held at Yarm in 1846, (fn. 127) but had become extinct by 1867. (fn. 128) A fair is still held here on the 18th, 19th and 20th of October.
Rights of fishery were appurtenant to the manor in 1272 (fn. 129) and 1632 (fn. 130); they were perhaps held by the burgesses, as fishing rights were appurtenant to some of the messuages at various dates. (fn. 131) In 1339 a rent of 10 quarters of salt belonged to the lord of the manor, (fn. 132) but there is no reference to it after 1345. (fn. 133) View of frankpledge occurs first in 1632, (fn. 134) and is frequently mentioned in deeds of the 17th century, (fn. 135) the last reference occurring in 1697. (fn. 136) Free warren is mentioned in 1697 (fn. 137) and coal mines and quarries in 1632. (fn. 138)
It is not known at what date the mesne borough of the lords of Yarm came into existence. As already stated, it was evidently of importance as a port in the 12th century, and may then have had borough rights. By 1272 all the demesne lands in Yarm had been alienated (fn. 139) by the lord, probably to the burgesses, who were apparently merchants for the most part. (fn. 140) It is first expressly called a borough in 1273, (fn. 141) and is called a free borough in 1284–5. (fn. 142) In 1368 it was held by the burgesses at a yearly rent of £16, (fn. 143) they holding the mills, tolls, markets, fairs, perquisites of court and all other profits. The town was governed by two bailiffs, (fn. 144) who were probably sworn in, according to the usual custom, by the steward of the manor.
The borough courts would be presided over by the bailiffs and held in the toll-booth, where the steward of the manor still held his courts in 1808. (fn. 145) The town pillory is mentioned in 1405, when the head of the rebel Sir John Colvill was sent to the bailiffs with orders that it should be displayed thereon. (fn. 146)
Mention of burgage tenure occurs at the close of the 13th century, (fn. 147) when the only service rendered to the lord from the burgage was 2d. for 'gavil geld.' Many of these burgages seem to have been on the western side of the town, and a burgage in Flapper Street is also mentioned. (fn. 148)
Yarm sent two members to the Parliament of 1295, (fn. 149) but is not mentioned in any later return. The increased importance of Stockton lower down the Tees and the sudden rise of Middlesbrough at the mouth of the river diverted the trade and caused the decay of the town.
Various grants of land here were made to Guisborough Priory. (fn. 150) Lands here were also among the possessions of Fountains Abbey, (fn. 151) Healaugh Park Priory, (fn. 152) Byland Abbey (fn. 153) and Mount Grace Priory. (fn. 154)
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE stands on the west side of the town close to the River Tees, which flows past it on the west. With the exception of the west end, which is of 12th-century date, the whole of the church was rebuilt in 1730 in the plain classic style of the day, and consists of a long nave and short chancel under one roof, with north and south aisles to the nave. The chancel projects 9 ft. 6 in. beyond the aisles, and is 20 ft. 9 in. in width, the nave being 75 ft. 6 in. long by 19 ft. 9 in. wide, and the total width across the nave and aisles 57 ft. 6 in.; all these measurements are internal. The west end, which is described below, comprises a small bell-tower built over the gable and flanking staircase turrets. The lower part of the tower is used as a vestry, but a new and larger vestry was added at the south-west corner of the building in 1906. The church was restored in 1878, and handsome Renaissance oak fittings, including the pulpit and the whole of the seating both to quire and nave, were erected. The chancel arrangement is now extended westward to include the first bay of the nave and is 26 ft. in length, with the organ on the north side at the end of the aisle.
The building is faced with ashlar, and has a lowpitched leaded roof behind embattled parapets. The elevations are very plain with five tall round-headed windows north and south and an east window of 'Venetian' type with square-headed side lights externally quite plain, but with Corinthian pilasters and entablature inside. The side lights are now made up.
The nave is of five bays, and the arcades consist of wide elliptical plaster arches springing from square piers. The north aisle is 16 ft. 6 in. wide and that on the south side 16 ft. 10 in. The walls and piers are plastered, and the ceiling is flat and boarded. There are doorways below the two end windows on the south side.
At the east end of the south aisle is a stone slab with two small recumbent male and female figures, the heads resting on cushions and the hands in prayer. The inscription, which runs round the slab, is much defaced, the only parts legible being 'Here lyeth the Body . . . and was buried the 2nd of July An. Do. 1638.' There is an oak chest dated 1708, and a board with the royal arms of George II, dated 1759, is preserved in the vestry. Of greater antiquarian interest, however, are a number of ancient fragments, including a pre-Conquest coped gravestone found on the site of the grammar school in the present churchyard and probably belonging to the ancient church, (fn. 155) and two cross-heads apparently of later date. There is also a 13th-century fragment with dog-tooth ornament.
The portion of the old church still standing at the west end is of considerable interest, but the architectural evidence is by no means conclusive as to what was the design or intention of the original builders, the upper part having been remodelled and the tower rebuilt. The west front, measuring from the outside of the angle turrets, is about 39 ft. in length, the external width of the nave having thus apparently been about 33 ft., its north and south walls having lain outside the line of the existing arcades. No evidence, however, remains of the plan as a whole, but the design of the west front suggests a building of some architectural merit, being distinctly ambitious in character for a parish church. The angle turrets, each of which contains a vice, measure 7 ft. 3 in. externally on each face, and between them in the middle of the west wall is a wide flat buttress projecting 20 in., carried up the face of the gable to the underside of the belfry window, where it weathers back. The buttress is pierced in the upper stage by a large vesica opening. The turrets themselves, which project 21 in. in front of the west wall, now stop short at the level of the walls of the new aisles, the stairways being exposed at the top on either side, but were, no doubt, originally carried up higher. At a height of 12 ft. above the present ground level is a flat string-course carved the whole of its length with star ornament, which goes round both turrets and buttress and forms the sill of three round-headed windows in the middle stage. The two outer of these in the face of the main wall on either side of the buttress remain unaltered, the heads cut out of a single stone. The middle window, which is pierced through the buttress itself, was altered in the 18th century, the head outside being of that period, and is fitted with a barred wooden frame. Internally the old round head remains, and the opening was flanked on either side by an angle shaft with scalloped cushion capitals. The shafts have gone, but the capitals are still in position. The window lights a small room in the middle stage of the tower. From the vices are narrow stairways in the thickness of the wall leading to the upper stage, lit by the vesica window, below the belfry. This has been at one time open to the nave by a tall pointed arch springing from corbels, now only seen from the inside, the whole of the west wall towards the nave having been rebuilt and plastered in 1730. The vesica, which measures 2 ft. 6 in. across the opening, may be an insertion made through the buttress in the 13th century, to which period the arch belongs. This, however, is by no means certain, and the whole of the upper part of the west front below the existing bell-tower, which seems to be a rebuilding of the 15th century, may be a reconstruction of 13th-century date. The dogtooth fragment in the vestry suggests that other work was done in the church at the same time, but no record of the structure pulled down in 1730 appears to have been kept. The most likely explanation seems to be that all the west front below the upper stage is of one design, c. 1175 or thereabouts, although the round-headed openings in the middle stage have an earlier appearance. The fairly bold projection of the angle turrets and of the central buttress, however, seem to belong to a period which for a country parish church is rather advanced. The completion of the gable and tower may have been delayed and possibly the tower was not finished till early in the 13th century, when the buttress, which had been built in readiness for it, was pierced with the vesica opening. That the front finished with an engaged tower, the west face of which was flush with the gable, seems open to little doubt, but it is not certain whether such a tower was contemplated from the first or whether the turrets were not intended merely to flank the gable, as in the north transept at Durham Cathedral. The probability, however, is that a tower was intended by the 12th-century builders, but was not fully carried out till early in the next century. Possibly the tower, which would measure internally about 14 ft. by 12 ft., showed signs of falling in the 15th century and was taken down and rebuilt in its present form. It now measures 14 ft. 3 in. by 9 ft. 8 in. externally above the roof, the shorter sides facing north and south, and finishes with an embattled parapet and angle pinnacles. The belfry windows are plain pointed openings. The iron vane is dated 1730.
There is a ring of three bells. The oldest is dated 1664, and is inscribed 'Fili Dei Miserere Mei,' the second has the inscription 'Quantum Valeo. A.D. 1710,' and the third bears the date 1861 with the names of the churchwardens for that year.
The plate consists of a chalice, paten, flagon and almsdish of 1867, made by Keith, London, of quasimediaeval pattern. The old plate was melted down and included in these vessels. It bore the name of the parish as 'Yarome.' (fn. 156)
Until the 19th century Yarm was a chapel to Kirkleavington (fn. 157) and, as a perpetual curacy, followed the descent of the mother church, (fn. 158) the Archbishop of York being the present patron. In 1865 the living was endowed with the tithe rent-charge and glebehouse formerly in the possession of the archbishops, and in the following year it was declared a rectory. (fn. 159) The fact that the chapel had no parochial rights may account for the popularity of the Black Friars, who had a church here. (fn. 160)
A chantry was maintained by the Priory of Healaugh Park in the hospital of St. Nicholas, where a chaplain prayed for the soul of William de Percy of Kildale. (fn. 161) Its endowment consisted of lands in Crathorne originally granted to the priory for the support of the chapel of St. Hilda in Kildale (q.v.), and diverted to the hospital in the time of William's son Arnald de Percy. (fn. 162) At the Dissolution it was erroneously stated that the chantry had been founded by an Earl of Northumberland. (fn. 163)
The Free Grammar School, including the Chaloner Scholarships (fn. 164) :— The official trustees hold in trust for the school £1,179 1s. 6d. consols, and £500 consols as a repair and improvements fund; also £131 5s. 10d. consols, being Margaret Spencer's Memorial Scholarship, founded by deed 1895.
By a scheme under the Endowed Schools Acts, dated 29 June 1882, the following charities mentioned in the table of benefactions were made applicable for the advancement of education in union with the grammar school—namely, Robert Bainbridge's charity, 1707, of 20s. a year; John Benson's, 20s. a year; the Poor's Money derived under the several gifts of Thomas Reed, Mary Reed, Thomas Barker and Ralph Reed, amounting to £45; William Thompson's legacy of £30, Thomas Waldy's legacy of £50 under his will, 1784, and Rev. John Hopkinson's legacy of £50 under his will, 1794, now represented by £157 10s. consols, forming part of the above-mentioned sum of consols; Nicholas Maes's charity by will, dated 1 June 1676, rent-charge of £2 12s. a year. (See also charity of Benjamin Flounders mentioned below.)
In 1799 William Chaloner by will left, in addition to a legacy for scholarships at the grammar school, a sum of £100 consols, the interest thereof to be paid to the minister of Yarm for a Sunday evening lecture to be preached quarterly on the first Sunday after the Epiphany, Lady Day, Midsummer Day and Michaelmas Day on specified subjects.
(a) For the poor, a trust fund of £666 13s. 4d. consols. The dividends, amounting to £16 13s. 4d., are, under the provisions of a scheme dated 18 September 1891, applicable in the supply of coal, clothing, or other necessaries, or in medical or other aid in sickness. In 1906 the sum of £16 was expended in coals and in leading the same.
(c) For the education of infant children of poor persons resident in the parish, the trust fund of which consisted of £575 10s. 10d. consols, the several sums of stock being held by the official trustees.
In 1897–8 certain alterations and additions were made to the National school, and a new infants' school was erected in order to comply with the requirements of the Education Department; towards the cost of this a sum of £348 16s. 9d. consols was sold out of the National school stock and £451 5s. 3d. consols from the infants' school stock. By an order of the Charity Commissioners dated 14 October 1898 the sums of stock so sold out were directed to be replaced within thirty years from the date of the said order out of the income of both the said charities. In October 1907 the amount with the official trustees belonging to the two charities was £1,103 12s. 8d. consols.
The Wesleyan chapel, founded by deed, 1775, is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 17 January 1893, whereby the chapel and the appurtenances are directed to be held upon the trusts of the Skircoat Wesleyan chapel deed, dated 3 July 1832.