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 consists of the two townships of Over Silton and Kepwick, with a total acreage of 3,863 acres. Over Silton lies amongst the Hambleton Hills, 8 miles from Northallerton station, and is chiefly composed of moorland. The soil is clay and gravel and the subsoil upper and middle lias.
There are various small plantations in the parish, covering in all 146 acres; of the rest 471 acres are of pasture, and 199 acres are devoted to the production of wheat, oats, barley and beans. (fn. 1)
The manor-house and the village lie in the centre of the parish. The hall is a modern building in the Tudor style with an 18th-century wing at the back. The church of St. Mary lies in a secluded hollow half a mile south of the village and is approached only by a footpath. A little to the west are Carlhow Hill and Gnipe Hill, now more usually called 'the Knipes,' which runs between the two Siltons. Northwest of the village in the Scarrs is a cavern formerly known as Hobthrush, and now as Hobby's Hall or Hobbrush Hole, by tradition the home of a goblin.
About a mile north of Over Silton on the steep side of Thimbleby Banks is the 'Hanging Stone,' (fn. 2) from which an extensive and beautiful view is obtained.
A perambulation (fn. 3) of the common lands made in 1627 gives some interesting place-names. The boundaries were said to run 'by way of the Thrushe pool, Sherwood Leape, a round hill called the North end of the Hoppings, a hill near the Beare pool, a rigg called Wood Howe, a long stone near Motherdale Head, the nine boundary stones (fn. 4) upon the "granid" moor, a place called Pottikeld Sike, and so to the High Street at the going up of Hambleton End, down a greenway leading to the Low "granyd" Moor, to Whetstone Well and along the rigg to Knypes Coate.'
Kepwick is south-east of Over Silton, the village lying on the northern slope of Pen Hill, while north and east of it rise the Hambleton Hills, which are crowned with moorland dotted with tumuli and traversed north and south by the ancient Hambleton Street. Of the 2,742 acres in the township but 332¼ acres are under cultivation. (fn. 5) On the moors are many quarries of limestone, ironstone and sandstone, and a small private tramway was built to connect Kepwick quarry with the lime kilns near the Thirsk and Yarm road, some 3½ miles away, but its use was discontinued in 1893. At the foot of the hills lie Sorrow Beck and the Bridge Beck, the latter running west from the Old Gill, perhaps that 'Holsike' at the head of which lay a meadow near 'Penigbekk' in 1294. (fn. 6) Bridge Beck takes its name from a bridge across which leads the road from Kepwick north to Nether Silton; at a turn in this road are the remains of an ancient cross. Sorrow and Bridge Becks unite west of the village and at the south-west corner of the parish the stream turns Kepwick Mill, successor of the manorial mill mentioned in 1379. (fn. 7) The manor-house of that date probably stood in the Hall Field, a grassfield in the village where ridges, in some cases 2 ft. high, mark its site. (fn. 8) At some later date the Stay House became the manor-house. This is a 17thcentury stone building with tiled roofs, now largely modernized. The ancient portion stands north and south with a wing projecting west from the north end A one-storied kitchen on the south was pulled down in 1899; from this was removed the panel of dark stone now fixed in the wall of the modern south wing, and bearing a double-headed eagle for Lord Fauconberg.
Kepwick Hall, a fine mansion built in 1873, the residence of Mr. C. B. Warner, lies on the southern side of the road and is surrounded by a fine park, successor of the 'Perespark' that belonged to Nicholas Knout in 1379. (fn. 9)
In 1300 the chapel of St. Margaret stood in the more northerly part of the village, (fn. 10) but this disappeared at the Reformation, and there was no chapel here until 1894, when Mr. E. H. Warner built the mission room in memory of his father. The Wesleyans hold their services in the reading room, which also was built by Mr. Warner in 1894.
A 'manor' and 3 carucates of land in OVER SILTON were held by Archil before the Conquest and in 1086 were in the hands of the king. (fn. 11) It appears to have become part of the fee of Mowbray, (fn. 12) and in the 13th century it was held as a quarter of a knight's fee. (fn. 13) Under the Mowbrays a mesne lordship was held in the 13th century by the lords of Sheriff Hutton (fn. 14) (q.v.), of whom the whole vill was held by the family of Malebiche (fn. 15) of Kirkby Knowle.
Land here was held in demesne by Geoffrey de Upsall (fn. 16) in 1257, when he obtained a grant of free warren. (fn. 17) This manor followed the descent of that of Upsall (fn. 18) (q.v.) until 1547, when Robert Roos sold it to Henry Askwith. He died in 1562, (fn. 19) leaving a son Christopher, and on his death in 1569 (fn. 20) the manor passed to his son Richard, who was still holding it in 1588. (fn. 21) In 1601 the manors of Over Silton and Kepwick were held by John Lepton. (fn. 22) He died in 1625, and his son Thomas, (fn. 23) who succeeded him, sold both the manors in 1640–1 (fn. 24) to Thomas Lord Fauconberg; they followed the descent of Newburgh in Coxwold (q.v.) until 1866, when Sir George Wombwell sold Over Silton Manor to Mr. William Bradley Wainman of Carr Head, Yorks., from whom it descended to his daughter Mrs. Hinde, (fn. 25) the present owner.
At KEPWICK (Capuic, xi cent.; Kypyke, xvi cent.; Keybock, Quebeck, xviii cent.), as at Over Silton, part of the land was in the tenure of Archil before the Conquest, the rest being held by Gillemichael; the whole was assessed as a 'manor' of 5 carucates and was held in 1086 by the king. (fn. 26)
Like Silton it formed part of the Mowbray fee, and mesne lordships were held by the families of Nevill and Malebiche in the 13th century. (fn. 27) In the reign of Henry III the tenant in demesne of one knight's fee here and elsewhere was Robert son of Mendre, and, later, in 1267–8 it seems to have been held by Joan de Kepwick. (fn. 28) Kepwick was assessed at a fourth part of a knight's fee in 1282, (fn. 29) and in 1284–5 the tenant Nicholas de Punchardon, with Joan his wife, enfeoffed Roger de Benson of the manor. (fn. 30) By 1316 the tenant was Ingram Knout, who in 1310 had been granted free warren in his demesne lands here (fn. 31); he was still living in 1327–8. (fn. 32) An Ingram Knout was tenant in 1367, (fn. 33) and was succeeded by Nicholas Knout; he was imprisoned for debt in 1378, when his lands here included a capital messuage and 10 oxgangs in demesne with 10 oxgangs in villeinage. (fn. 34) Margaret Knout held half a knight's fee here in 1388, (fn. 35) and was living in 1395. (fn. 36) This was probably the Margaret who had three daughters: Isabel, Elizabeth who married William Lepton, and Agnes wife of William Bransby. (fn. 37) In 1427 the sons of Elizabeth and Agnes, John Lepton and Thomas Bransby, were holding the fee with Robert Buscy and John Greenwood, (fn. 38) who may have been sons of other daughters.
The moiety known as LEPTON'S HALL continued in the hands of the Leptons. John was followed by a son Thomas Lepton, (fn. 39) who was living in 1442 (fn. 40) and had a son John. (fn. 41) In 1522 (fn. 42) this land was in the hands of Thomas the son of John; he was succeeded by a son Christopher, who died in January 1586–7, (fn. 43) having in 1567 settled a messuage in Kepwick on his son Roger and Margaret Wycliff his wife. (fn. 44) Roger died during his father's lifetime, and the manor passed to John his son, then aged seventeen. (fn. 45) In 1593 John Lepton had livery of his lands (fn. 46); he made a conveyance of them in 1597 (fn. 47) and died in 1625. (fn. 48) His son Thomas was much in debt and sold Kepwick in 1640 (fn. 49) to Thomas Lord Fauconberg, in whose family it remained (fn. 50) till 1808, when it was sold to Gilbert Crompton. (fn. 51) In 1871 Colonel Crompton sold the manor to Mr. Edward Warner, who died in 1894, and was succeeded by his son Mr. Edward Handley Warner of Quorn Hall, Loughborough, the present lord of the manor. (fn. 52)
Thomas Bransby held part of the fee of Kepwick in 1427 (fn. 53) called BRANSBY'S HOLD, (fn. 54) and his family continued to possess lands there. In 1480–3 (fn. 55) William Bransby was a defendant in a Chancery suit. Ralph Bransby of Kepwick, possibly his son, was living in 1514, (fn. 56) when Henry VIII pardoned him for some offence, the nature of which, however, is not recorded. In 1554 (fn. 57) Thomas Bransby, who married Eustachia Lepton, (fn. 58) sold his lands in Kepwick to Roger Lepton, receiving from him an annuity of £8. (fn. 59)
Robert Buscy was holding part of the fee of Kepwick in 1427. (fn. 60) He was followed by John Buscy, who in about 1480–3 made a settlement of certain lands, among which was Kepwick. (fn. 61) The Buscys retained land here in 1599. (fn. 62) A settlement was made on the marriage of Christopher Buscy with Mary Lepton and of Agnes Buscy with Christopher Lepton. (fn. 63) In 1569 (fn. 64) William Buscy sold his lands to Christopher Askwith of Over Silton.
Land here called a 'manor' was held by Sir Ranulph Pigot at his death in 1503; it descended to his niece Margaret Metcalfe and afterwards to her son Sir Christopher Metcalfe. (fn. 65)
In 1086 Hugh son of Baldric held 1 carucate in Kepwick as a berewick to Bagby. (fn. 66) It was granted, however, with Northallerton (q.v.) by William II to the Bishops of Durham, who retained the overlordship until it fell into abeyance. The tenant previous to the grant was Kille son of Erchel. (fn. 67) In the early 13th century this carucate was in the hands of Jordan Hairun. (fn. 68) The tenant of 1 carucate in 1284–5 was the Prior of Guisborough, (fn. 69) who held Kepwick for a quarter of a knight's fee, and had considerable possessions in Kepwick. (fn. 70) The prior held the lordship of 1 carucate of Ralph de Tanton, who created a rent-charge of 15s. a year in favour of the priory (fn. 71); this his sister and heir Osanna (fn. 72) with her second husband John de Langbaurgh quitclaimed to the priory in 1234. (fn. 73) In or about 1300 Eleanor wife of Gilbert Tinckelere quitclaimed her right (fn. 74) in a messuage and 1 oxgang to this house. At the Dissolution the priory's lands here (fn. 75) were in the tenure of Christopher Lepton, (fn. 76) who, it was said, concealed and unjustly detained them from Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 77)
The Abbot of Rievaulx was granted land in Cowesby together with 1 carucate in Kepwick by Robert de Stutevill. (fn. 78) Byland held 4 oxgangs from Robert de Auford's gift which Roger de Benson confirmed, with pasture for 200 sheep. (fn. 79) The Byland possessions, (fn. 80) as well as a messuage held by Newburgh Priory, were granted in 1544 to Roger and Robert Taverner. Meadow that had once belonged to Byland, Guisborough and Rievaulx was in the possession of Christopher Lepton in 1587. (fn. 81) The Prior of Malton was enfeoffed by Nicholas de Punchardon of 6 oxgangs before 1284–5, (fn. 82) and received a grant of free warren here in 1333. (fn. 83) These lands were granted to William Danby of Leake in 1536. (fn. 84)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN (fn. 87) is a small structure consisting of a chancel measuring internally 26 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. 4 in., a modern north vestry, nave 31 ft. 9 in. by 16 ft. 3 in., and a south porch.
The building dates from the 12th century, to which period the nave belongs, but the only detail of this date remaining is the fine south doorway. The chancel appears to have been enlarged in the 14th century, and the porch may be of the same date. Since then the only structural alterations have been the insertion of windows at various times, the modern rebuilding of the chancel arch, and the addition of the vestry. The roof of the nave apparently dates from the 15th century.
The 14th-century east window of the chancel is of three trefoiled lights under a two-centred segmental head containing quatrefoils; the mullions and greater part of the tracery are modern repairs. The north wall is unpierced except by a modern pointed doorway into the vestry. In the south wall is a trefoiled piscina with a projecting three-quarter round basin of 14th-century date. The first south window is of two ogee-headed trefoiled lights under a square head without a label. It appears to be a late 14th-century insertion. The south priest's doorway has a twocentred drop arch. West of it is a small low-side window of a single trefoiled round-headed light; the middle foil is very small. The head, although not modern, appears to be later than the jambs. The pointed chancel arch is modern.
The only window in the north wall of the nave is near the east end and is similar to the south-west window of the chancel. It is probably of 13thcentury date. The south window is a 15th-century insertion of two trefoiled lights under a square head. The south doorway is of two orders; the shafts in the angles of the jambs have much-decayed bases and rather tall scalloped capitals, over which are beaded and chamfered abaci. The inner order of the arch, which is semicircular and all original, has zigzag ornament formed of several small rolls on its face and soffit; the outer order has a large edge roll. The west window is of the 14th century and is of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over in a pointed head. Over the west wall is a small gabled open bellcote. The south porch has a plain pointed arch of two chamfered orders.
The walling generally is of ashlar. Three buttresses of three stages strengthen the north wall; there are two against the west wall and one on the south to resist the thrust of the chancel arch. The east wall has diagonal buttresses, both differing, but apparently original, as they course in with the walling. The parapet of the nave, from the disposition of the stones forming the coping, appears to have once been embattled. The chancel has a gabled eaves roof with some plain old timbers, through which the stone slates are visible from the inside. The nave roof is low pitched and also has old timbers; on the soffits of the three tie-beams are shields with the arms of Nevill and Scrope, Archbishops of York, and on the third are the cross keys of York.
The plain small font is of the 12th century. Round the upper edge of the bowl, which has chamfered angles and is also chamfered below, are two flat fillets tooled in herring-bone fashion. The other furniture is modern. At the west end of the nave are preserved the traceried heads of two bays and two half-bays of a fine screen. There is also a bench end with a poppy head; it is covered with elaborate tabernacle work over a panel in which is a shield, barry of six with a baston, with a helm over and has an advanced diagonal post or standard by its side which is also pierced and panelled. It is evidently a pair with one in Leake Church. Another plainer piece may be a stall division. These clearly do not belong to the church, and were probably brought from Rievaulx like those at Leake.
The church or mission room at Kepwick is a modern stone-faced building in the Perpendicular style, consisting of a nave and chancel under one roof, four bays long, and a south porch. In the east and west walls are five-light traceried windows, and in the west gable is a bellcote containing one bell.
The chapel of Silton was dependent on the church of Coxwold, and in 1199 both were in the possession of the Prior and convent of Newburgh. (fn. 88) Roger de Mowbray, in whose fee it was, confirmed it to them in 1344, (fn. 89) and it remained in their hands till the Dissolution, when it passed to the Crown. In 1546 (fn. 90) it was granted to the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, and has remained in their hands ever since.
A chapel dedicated to St. Margaret at Kepwick is mentioned in 1300 (fn. 91) and again in 1575, (fn. 92) when it was in the tenure of Christopher Lepton. In 1579 it was granted to John Farnham and was waste; no further mention of it has been found. (fn. 93)