A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The ancient parish of Skelton, including the townships of Great Moorsholm and Stanghow, covers 11,803 acres, of which 2,219 acres are arable land, 4,657 acres permanent grass and 578 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is clay, with a subsoil of Kimmeridge clay, and the chief crops grown are wheat, beans, oats and barley. In the north the parish forms a kind of peninsula between the Skelton and Millholme Becks, which have very steep banks, whence the land slopes downwards, rising again towards the centre and also towards the south of the parish, where there are wide stretches of moorland. The greatest height is about 975 ft. above ordnance datum. Skelton village itself is situated on the northern slope.
The whole parish is given up to iron-stone mining, to which the neighbourhood owes its importance, the opening of various mines having caused a large increase in the population since 1871. The mining villages of Boosbeck and North Skelton, to the south and southeast of Skelton village, have stations on the North Eastern railway; Lingdale, further south, is connected by a special line with the Kilton Thorpe branch railway, and Charlton Terrace or Slapewath (Slaipwath) has a tramway running from the mines to the North Eastern railway line which passes it to the north. Rights of mines and quarries are mentioned in 1366 (fn. 2) and 1632. (fn. 3)
The castle is situated on high ground near the Skelton Beck in the north of the parish, and is surrounded by park lands and woods and on three sides by a moat. (fn. 4) The old castle was probably built by one of the Brus family and was the dwelling-place successively of the Bruses, Fauconbergs, Conyers, Trotters, Stevensons and Whartons. It seems to have been used as a fortress and for keeping prisoners in the reign of King John, (fn. 5) and in 1265 it was surrendered to Henry III by Peter de Brus, who was suspected of adherence to Prince Edward. (fn. 6) In 1349 it is described as expensive to maintain (fn. 7) and in 1490 as ruinous and of no value. (fn. 8) Here in the 18th century lived John Hall Stevenson (1718–85), the author of Crazy Tales and a friend of Sterne, (fn. 9) who was a frequent visitor at the castle.
According to Ord (fn. 10) the demolition of the castle of the Bruses began in 1788, when practically the whole of the site was cleared and the hill on which the keep seems to have stood was destroyed. Some terraces which overhung the moat were also removed. Of the old building no trustworthy account has been preserved. Ord says it had a 'magnificent tower,' and it is described in the Cotton MSS. as 'an ancient castle all rent and torn, it seemed rather by the wit and violence of man than by the envy of time.' (fn. 11) It was its ruinous condition in John Hall Stevenson's time that earned it the title of 'Crazy Castle.' The new building, a large castellated mansion in the Gothic style of the day, was erected about 1794, (fn. 12) but has since been modernized; it is now the residence of Mr. William Henry Anthony Wharton. Internal alterations were made in 1892 and in 1908. Near the castle is the old church of All Saints, which stands in a low well-wooded situation at the northwest end of the village, while the rectory is close at hand. North of the castle is a mill on the Skelton Beck, probably representing the site of one of the mills appurtenant to the manor in 1272, (fn. 13) and to the east is a fish-pond also mentioned at that date. (fn. 14)
The older part of the village is that nearest the castle. Boroughgate Lane approaches the western end from the south. The newer village stretches towards the east and is straggling and uneven; in the north-east on high ground is the new church of All Saints. There are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels about the centre of the village, and in the south is the hospital, with Skelton High Green to the west, and to the east Skelton Green, where there is a public elementary school built in 1887 and enlarged in 1892 and 1900. New Skelton lies to the east of Skelton and has a school. Further east is North Skelton, where there is a church mission-room, Primitive Methodist chapel and a Friends' burial ground. Boosbeck lies due south of Skelton village; it was constituted an ecclesiastical parish in 1901 with its church of St. Aidan. There are Primitive Methodist chapels and a public elementary school which was built in 1881 and enlarged in 1894. Between Boosbeck and North Skelton is Groundhill or Groundwell Heads, mentioned in the 18th century. (fn. 15) To the south-east is a house called Glaphowe, and north of this is Glaphowe Whin, where half a carucate was in 1272 held of Peter de Brus by Michael de Galaphow. (fn. 16) South of Glaphowe in the mining village of Lingdale is a church mission room built in 1908 and a school built in 1876; there are also Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels, and a Congregational chapel built in 1880.
Most of the south-western part of the parish was park, which is first mentioned in 1272, (fn. 17) and occurs as a 'park of oaks with game, called le Wespark' in 1349. (fn. 18) This district is now divided into the High and Low Park; near the latter and close to the Skelton Ellers Beck, where Kill Gill makes a furrow in the hill-side, is a house called How la Hay, which seems to show the site of an inclosure or Haia kept in his own hands by Robert de Brus when granting lands here to Guisborough, (fn. 19) and to which frequent references occur. (fn. 20) Margrove Park, which as 'Maugrey park with deer' occurs in 1349 (fn. 21) and 1361, (fn. 22) lies further east; and beyond it are Busky Dale and Skelton Warren Woods, which are probably the remains of the 'chase of Westwyk with the forest as the highway extends between Stanghow and Kate Ridding.' (fn. 23)
Stanghow forms the western part of the parish. The village is about 2 miles south-east of Skelton village, Stanghow House lying to the south of the road from Guisborough, which forms the main street and runs by Busky Dale Wood, where it is known as Stanghow Ridge, to join the Birk Brow road further west. There is a school built in 1876, one Methodist chapel in the village and another at Margrove Park to the west. South of the village is Kate Ridding (Gaterynddynge), first mentioned in 1272, (fn. 24) when it was brought into cultivation. Aysdale Gate further west occurs first in the early 12th century. (fn. 25) In the extreme west of Stanghow is Charlton Terrace or Slapewath (Slaipwath), mentioned early in the 13th century (fn. 26); alum mines here occur in 1625 and 1665. (fn. 27) The southern part of Stanghow, like that of Moorsholm, is moorland. Here there are many tumuli, the most important of which are Tod Howe at the extreme south-eastern corner of Stanghow and the two Black Howes further north near the Quakers Causeway, which are two of the 'Tres Hoggae' mentioned in a charter of the first Peter de Brus (fn. 28); while Herd How and one of the three Robin Hood Butts (fn. 29) are in the south of Girrick Moor in the Moorsholm part of the parish. Lockwood reservoir is situated on the moor in Stanghow, near the Moorsholm boundary.
Great Moorsholm forms the south-eastern part of the parish. The manor-house is near the centre of the village east of the main street, while St. Mary's Church, two Methodist chapels and a school are on the opposite side of the street. West of the village is Swindale Beck, at the junction of which with Dale Beck is Moorsholm Mill, probably on the site of that mentioned in 1697. (fn. 30) Between the river and Stanghow lies Swindale, first mentioned in 1272, (fn. 31) with which the 13th-century 'Swinelandes' may be identified. (fn. 32) Further south is Swinsow Dale, to the south-west of which is Freeborough Hill. (fn. 33) Still further south is Dimming Dale. The High Moor lies in the south-west and Girrick Moor in the southeast, with the hamlet of Girrick, mentioned in 1672, (fn. 34) further north. East of the hamlet are Petch's Plantations on the bank of the Skate Beck which is mentioned in 1272. (fn. 35) To the north, this stream, under the name of the Cow Close Beck flowing through Cow Close Wood, joins the Stubdale Beck, which forms part of the western boundary of the parish.
In the reign of Edward the Confessor Uctred had a 'manor' and 13 carucates at SKELTON (fn. 38) which in 1086 were held of the Count of Mortain by Richard. (fn. 39) They afterwards became part of the Brus fee (fn. 40) and followed the descent of Danby (q.v.) until the division in 1272 of the lands of the third Peter de Brus, (fn. 41) when the castle and manor of Skelton with five knights' fees (fn. 42) passed to Walter de Fauconberg and his wife Agnes. (fn. 43) Walter died in about 1304 and was succeeded by his son Walter, (fn. 44) who died in about 1318, (fn. 45) his heir being John his son. (fn. 46) John settled the manor on himself with remainder to his son Walter, in tail, in 1344 (fn. 47); he died in 1349 and Walter succeeded him. (fn. 48) Walter died in 1361 and was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 49) one-third of the manor, however, being assigned as dower to Isabel widow of Walter. (fn. 50) Thomas granted his two-thirds of the castle and manor and the reversion of Isabel's third, for his lifetime, to Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, (fn. 51) who held the whole manor on the death of Isabel in 1401. (fn. 52) Thomas de Fauconberg suffered from intermittent insanity and in 1403 the custody of the castle and manor were from this cause in the hands of the king, who granted their custody to Robert and John Conyers. (fn. 53) Thomas in 1407 settled the manor in feetail with successive remainders to Walter son of Sir Roger Fauconberg, kt., and his heirs, and in default to the right heirs of Thomas. (fn. 54) He died in the same year, (fn. 55) his heir being his infant daughter Joan, (fn. 56) while his widow Joan had one-third of the manor in dower. (fn. 57) The elder Joan appears to have died in March 1408–9 (fn. 58); the custody of the lands was granted by the Crown to Richard Cheerowe and Thomas Strickland. (fn. 59) Joan was an idiot from birth, but before she was sixteen she married William Nevill (fn. 60) son of Ralph Earl of Westmorland. (fn. 61) William Nevill and Joan made a conveyance of the manor in 1428. (fn. 62) William Nevill was summoned to Parliament as Lord Fauconberg in 1429, (fn. 63) and was created Earl of Kent in 1461. (fn. 64) He died in January 1462–3 seised of Skelton in right of his wife, (fn. 65) who being of unsound mind held no lands after his death. (fn. 66) At Joan's death in 1490 (fn. 67) the heirs were her grandsons James Strangways, son of her daughter Elizabeth, wife of Sir Richard Strangways, (fn. 68) and William Conyers, son of her daughter Alice who married Sir John Conyers (fn. 69) of Hornby. Apparently Skelton came to the Conyers, although the Strangways seem to have held some interest in the manor, (fn. 70) which followed the descent of the manor of West Harlsey (fn. 71) (q.v.). From William Conyers this manor descended with Hornby (q.v.) to John Lord Conyers, (fn. 72) on whose death in 1556–7 it was divided among his daughters and co-heirs, (fn. 73) three of whom, Anne wife of Anthony Kempe, Katharine wife of John Atherton and Elizabeth wife of Thomas Darcy, survived the fourth daughter, Joan (fn. 74) (or Margaret), who died a minor in 1560. (fn. 75) Anne Kempe's share of the manor followed the descent of her third of Hornby (fn. 76) (q.v.) until 1575, and was bought in 1577–8 by Robert Trotter. (fn. 77) He died in 1611 and was succeeded by his son Henry, (fn. 78) who died in 1623. (fn. 79) Henry's son and heir George (fn. 80) was succeeded by Edward, (fn. 81) who married Mary daughter of Sir John Lowther, bart., of Lowther, (fn. 82) to whom he conveyed the manor in 1659. (fn. 83) Edward Trotter was lord of the manor in 1681. (fn. 84) He died in 1708, (fn. 85) and was succeeded by his grandson Lawson Trotter, son of his son John. (fn. 86) Lawson Trotter still held the manor in 1721 (fn. 87) and in 1729, (fn. 88) but afterwards sold it to Joseph Hall, his sister's husband, (fn. 89) probably before 1732. (fn. 90) Joseph Hall died in 1733 (fn. 91) and was succeeded by his son John Hall, who assumed the name of Stevenson in addition to his own. (fn. 92) John Hall Stevenson was lord of the manor (fn. 93) till his death in 1785 (fn. 94); his son Joseph William, who succeeded him, died a year later, (fn. 95) his heir being his son, another John Hall Stevenson, who assumed the name of Wharton. (fn. 96) John Wharton made a conveyance of the manor in 1796 (fn. 97); he died in 1843 (fn. 98) without issue and was succeeded by his nephew John Thomas Wharton, (fn. 99) who died in 1900, his heir being his son William Henry Anthony Wharton, the present lord of the manor. (fn. 100)
Katharine Atherton, third daughter and co-heir of John Lord Conyers, died seised of her third of the manor in March 1625–6 (fn. 101) and was succeeded by her granddaughter Anne wife of Sir William Pennyman, bart. (fn. 102) The Pennymans made various conveyances of their third of the manor, (fn. 103) but Anne Pennyman was still seised at her death in 1644 when her kinsman Conyers Darcy Lord Conyers (first Earl of Holderness) succeeded to her estates. (fn. 104) By the following year this third had apparently come to the Trotters, following the same descent as the first third of the manor. (fn. 105)
Of the remaining third Thomas Darcy died seised in 1605 and was succeeded by his son Conyers Darcy (fn. 106) Lord Conyers, who made a conveyance of his third of the castle and manor in 1619, (fn. 107) and in 1622 conveyed one-third of the castle and lands in Skelton to Henry Trotter. (fn. 108) In 1650 and 1651 Conyers Darcy and his son made conveyances of the estate, (fn. 109) and soon afterwards it was in the hands of Henry Stapylton of Myton, possibly through his marriage with Elizabeth daughter of Conyers Darcy, first Earl of Holderness, and granddaughter of Conyers Darcy Lord Conyers. (fn. 110) In 1654 it was sold by Henry Stapylton and his wife Elizabeth and others to Mary widow of George Trotter and her heirs, (fn. 111) after which it followed the descent of the first third of the manor.
The lord's court is first mentioned in 1272 (fn. 112); the perquisites in 1318 amounted to 6s. 8d. (fn. 113) Free warren was granted to Walter de Fauconberg in 1280 (fn. 114); it occurs again in 1292 (fn. 115) and 1380 (fn. 116) and is last mentioned in 1650. (fn. 117) Rights of gallows, infangenthef, pillory and tumbrel occur in 1292. (fn. 118) Frankpledge is first mentioned in 1599. (fn. 119) One-fourth of the wreck of the sea between Runswick and Yarm descended with Skelton to the Fauconbergs in 1272 (fn. 120); Walter de Fauconberg was accused of abusing this right in 1275. (fn. 121)
In the reign of Edward the Confessor Uctred had a 'manor' of 3 carucates at GREAT MOORSHOLM (fn. 122) (Morehusum, xi cent.; Magna Moresum, Moryshum, xiii cent.; Michell Morison, xiv cent.) which in 1086 was held of the Count of Mortain by Richard. The half carucate among the king's lands in 1086 (fn. 123) shortly afterwards became part of the Brus fee (fn. 124) to which the Mortain lands were added later. (fn. 125) The whole followed the descent of Danby (q.v.) until 1272, when Great Moorsholm passed to Lucy wife of Marmaduke de Thweng of Kilton (fn. 126) (q.v.), which it followed in descent (fn. 127) until 1609, when John Lord Lumley died seised, his heir being his nephew Splandrian Lloyd. (fn. 128) After this the manor seems to have been in the hands of the Crown for a time, various estates here being held in chief by different people. (fn. 129) The estate held here by Philip Wheath in 1633 (fn. 130) is called a manor in 1636 when his son Joseph had livery of it. (fn. 131) In 1696 William Tullie and his wife Anne, who held Kilton, made a conveyance of lands in Great Moorsholm to Samuel Diggle, (fn. 132) which seems to indicate that the manor again followed the descent of Kilton. In 1806 John Wharton of Skelton and Kilton was lord also of this manor, (fn. 133) after which it follows the descent of the manor of Skelton (q.v.).
A 'manor' of 1 carucate at LITTLE MOORSHOLM, held by Uctred before the Conquest, (fn. 134) was afterwards held of the Count of Mortain by Richard. (fn. 135) By 1257 this manor was in the hands of Marmaduke de Thweng, (fn. 136) and followed the descent of Great Moorsholm.
There was a manor in STANGHOW (Stanhou, Staynehou, xiii cent.) of which the first mention occurs in 1241 when the whole except one toft was conveyed to John Romanus, afterwards Archbishop of York, by Henry Abbot of Byland, (fn. 140) who was probably a mesne lord under the Bruses; in 1272 it was among the lands of the third Peter de Brus and descended with Skelton to Walter de Fauconberg. (fn. 141) It followed the descent of Skelton and Mr. Wharton is the present lord of the manor.
Free warren in Stanghow was granted to Walter de Fauconberg in 1280 (fn. 142) and is again mentioned in 1292. (fn. 143) Rights to coal mines and quarries and view of frankpledge were appurtenant to the manor in 1632. (fn. 144) In 1304 there were twelve tenants called gresmen in Stanghow holding 10 oxgangs. (fn. 145)
Various grants of land in Skelton and Moorsholm were made to the priory of Guisborough in early times by the lords of the manor and their undertenants. (fn. 146) These lands may have constituted the grange granted in 1600 to Edward Carey by Queen Elizabeth (fn. 147); its further history has not been traced.
The mesne borough at Skelton probably arose under the castle shortly after the castle was built. It is mentioned in 1272, when it descended from Peter de Brus to Walter de Fauconberg (fn. 148); it henceforth followed the descent of the manor, the last mention occurring in 1366. (fn. 149) The amount of the farm is not stated. The lord kept the perquisites of a separate borough court, (fn. 150) which was probably presided over by a borough bailiff chosen in the lord's court; the tolls of the borough amounted to 5 marks in 1304. (fn. 151) The lords were jealously guarding their rights in the borough in 1335. (fn. 152) A market on Sunday was appurtenant to the manor in 1227 when Peter de Brus obtained licence to change the day to Monday (fn. 153); it was, however, again held on Sunday in 1292. (fn. 154) In 1319 John de Fauconberg had a grant of a weekly market on Saturday and a yearly fair on Whit Monday and the two following days in place of the weekly market, hitherto held on Sunday. (fn. 155) The lords kept the tolls of both market and fair, (fn. 156) which have long ceased to exist.
The old church of ALL SAINTS is a plain structure erected in 1785, consisting of chancel 26 ft. 9 in. by 18 ft. 6 in., nave 61 ft. 6 in. by 25 ft. 6 in., and west tower 9 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. There is also a kind of transept, forming a pew, in the middle of the north wall, 16 ft. deep by 9 ft. 6 in. wide, with a fireplace at its north end. No record of the former building has been kept. (fn. 157) In 1891 part of a dial stone with an inscription in Anglo-Saxon uncials and in runes, probably of 11th-century date, was found in the churchyard, (fn. 158) and Ord, writing about 1846, mentions 'a vast number of stone coffins' having been found to the north-west of the church. (fn. 159) Three of these, one a child's, are preserved, but the others have disappeared.
The building is of wrought stone with green slated roofs overhanging at the eaves, but is of no architectural interest. The windows are round-headed openings of the usual 18th-century type and the entrance is on the south side of the tower, which serves as a porch. The roofs were repaired and re-slated in 1911. There is a 'three-decker' pulpit against the south wall and a wide west gallery (fn. 160) approached from a staircase in the tower. The chancel is separated from the nave by a semicircular arch, and contains mural monuments to members of the Trotter family and others. (fn. 161) In the floor is a large stone slab with the matrices of brasses representing a man and wife and several children, probably of 15th-century date. (fn. 162) The tower is quite plain and terminates in an embattled parapet, below which are round-headed belfry windows. It contains two bells, both without date or inscription.
The new church of ALL SAINTS was built in 1884–5, and consists of chancel, nave with north and south aisles, and south-west tower forming a porch. It is a very good example of modern Gothic work, and the tower, which was the gift of Mr. J. T. Wharton of Skelton Castle, forms a prominent landmark. The building is in the 14th-century style, and is of stone with red-tiled roofs.
The plate consists of a cup of 1680 made by Marmaduke Best of York, inscribed, 'The gift of Madame Jane Thwenge of Kilton to ye Church of Brotton 1681'; a paten of 1660, with the maker's mark N. W., probably for Nicholas Wollaston (London); and a pewter flagon. (fn. 163)
The church of ST. AIDAN, Boosbeck, built in 1900, is of stone in 12th-century style, and consists of chancel, nave, transepts, west porch and turret containing two bells. The site was given by Mr. W. H. A. Wharton of Skelton Castle. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the Archbishop of York.
The church of ST. MARY, Moorsholm, was built in 1892 by Mr. J. T. Wharton. It is of stone in 12th-century style, and consists of chancel, nave and west tower containing one bell. It is a chapel of ease to St. Aidan's.
The church of Skelton was part of the foundation endowment granted to Guisborough Priory by Robert de Brus early in the 12th century, (fn. 164) the grant being confirmed by Archbishop Thurstan, by Henry I and Henry II, (fn. 165) and recognized by Peter de Brus in 1239. (fn. 166)
The church was appropriated to the priory and was served by a chaplain. (fn. 167) After the Dissolution the church and tithes were granted to the see of York in exchange in 1545, (fn. 168) the grant being afterwards confirmed by Queen Mary. (fn. 169) The Archbishop of York is still patron of the living, which became a rectory in 1866. (fn. 170)
The poor of Skelton receive certain sums paid in respect of the charities of Thomas Conn and others, amounting together to £3 2s. 8d., which in 1905 were distributed in doles of money by the vicar and churchwardens to fourteen widows and two men, cripples, in sums varying from 3s. to 5s. each. The poor of Skelton also receive £6 13s. a year, being the dividends on a sum of £266 5s. 5d. consols, held by the official trustees, derived from the will of Medd Scarth, 1818 (see parish of Carlton, Langbaurgh West).
The poor of the townships of Moorsholm and Stanghow likewise receive £6 13s. a year respectively from the charity of Medd Scarth. The official trustees hold a sum of £20 9s. 5d. consols, producing 10s. 4d. a year, in respect of John Calvert's dole for the poor of Moorsholm, and £28 6s. 7d. like stock, producing 14s. a year, in respect of a charity by the same donor for the poor of Stanghow. The poor of Moorsholm also received 17s. a year known as Barwick's charity, paid by Messrs. Pease & Partners.
The church repair fund charity consists of church rents amounting to 12s. a year and a sum of £474 3s. 6d. bank stock, with the official trustees, representing investment of the proceeds of sales of land producing a dividend of £44 18s. 4d. a year, applied by the rector and churchwardens in repairs, insurance, &c., of the church.