Hemingbrough: Brackenholme with Woodhall

A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 3, Ouse and Derwent Wapentake, and Part of Harthill Wapentake. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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'Hemingbrough: Brackenholme with Woodhall', in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 3, Ouse and Derwent Wapentake, and Part of Harthill Wapentake, (London, 1976) pp. 52-55. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/east/vol3/pp52-55 [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section


Most of the land lying eastwards of Hemingbrough township and bounded by the river Derwent was occupied by the townships of Babthorpe, Brackenholme, Hagthorpe, and Woodhall; all four were comprised in the 19th-century civil parish of Brackenholme with Woodhall. Not included in the townships were 130 a. of land, lying between Babthorpe and the river, which were in Barmby on the Marsh until 1935. (fn. 1) Brackenholme was an Anglian settlement, but Babthorpe and Hagthorpe were Scandinavian, as presumably was Woodhall despite the late occurrence of its name: it was first recorded as Grimsthorpe in the 1130s but had acquired its alternative name by c. 1190 and thereafter was always known as Woodhall. (fn. 2) The area of Brackenholme, including Babthorpe and Hagthorpe, was 1,029 a. and of Woodhall 312 a. (fn. 3)

The whole of the civil parish lies at less than 25 ft. above sea-level. The four hamlets stood on the edge of the outwash deposits, close to the alluvium bordering the Derwent. The river now forms the eastern boundary of the townships, but it has changed its course in historic times, having previously flowed eastwards from the neighbourhood of Brackenholme to join the Ouse 4 miles away near Howden. (fn. 4) The 'old' Derwent was already mentioned in 959. (fn. 5) The new course broadly coincided with the boundary between the parishes of Hemingbrough and Barmby, but it isolated on the west bank an area of meadow and pasture belonging to the bishop of Durham's manor of Barmby. The ground is still known as Barmby pasture and Bishop's meadows. In the early 14th century Robert of Babthorpe and the bishop were in dispute about a watercourse near 'Bysshopcauce' (i.e. Bishop's causey), which lay between their demesne lands 'towards Babthorpe beyond Derwent'; (fn. 6) the new course of the river was clearly well-established by that time.

The Hemingbrough-Howden road crosses the civil parish, and Brackenholme and Hagthorpe hamlets both lie beside it; Babthorpe stood just south of the road. From Brackenholme a minor road leads northwards towards North Duffield, passing through the hamlet of Woodhall. The Howden road led to a ferry over the Derwent, belonging to the bishop of Durham, which was mentioned in 1339. (fn. 7) It may have taken the place of a bridge, for timber for 'Barmby bridge' was taken from Brackenholme wood before 1228. (fn. 8) Loftsome ferry, as it was later called from the hamlet on the opposite bank, (fn. 9) was replaced by a bridge in 1804, administered by a private company and having a toll-house at the Loftsome end. (fn. 10) The wooden bridge remained in use, still subject to tolls, until soon after 1930, when a new Loftsome bridge was built near by as part of the improvements to the Selby-Hull trunk road which were made about that time. (fn. 11) Parts of the old bridge still stand. There was a landing-place near by. (fn. 12) The Selby-Hull railway line, opened in 1840, (fn. 13) crosses Woodhall with a bridge over the Derwent about ½ mile north of Loftsome bridge.

The hamlet of Babthorpe was greatly shrunken long before 1850, when only a single house remained on the moated site of the manor-house. Later in the 19th century a lodge and two cottages were built on the main road, and after the estate was bought for smallholdings by the county council in 1920 a second house was built near the moated site and two others on the main road. Brackenholme had been reduced to two farm-houses by 1850. Five houses and cottages were later built at the end of the Woodhall road and a bungalow was added in the 20th century. On the opposite side of the main road stands the moated hall that was all that remained of Hagthorpe in 1850. One other house has been built in the present century. Woodhall consisted in 1850 of the mansion known as Wood Hall, the remains of its predecessor, and possibly two other houses. (fn. 14) Two or three more houses had been demolished since 1835 during improvements made to the surrounds of the hall by Robert Menzies, and at the same time the road was diverted away from the house. (fn. 15) The hall became derelict in the 20th century, but one new house has been built in the hamlet. Farm buildings at Babthorpe, Brackenholme, and Woodhall all include dovecots, and there is a wheelhouse at Woodhall.

There were 65 poll-tax payers in Brackenholme in 1379, (fn. 16) though the other hamlets may also have been included in that figure. Only 13 men were mustered at Brackenholme and Woodhall in 1539. (fn. 17) For the two places again 13 households were included in the hearth-tax return in 1672, two of them exempt. Of those chargeable 4 had only one hearth each, 5 had 2-3, and 2 had six. (fn. 18) The population fluctuated in the 19th century between 65 in 1801 and 115 in 1901. (fn. 19) It was 92 in 1931, before the civil parish was united with Hemingbrough. (fn. 20)


In 1086 2 bovates in Babthorpe formed a berewick of the bishop of Durham's manor of Howden, and 3 carucates and 2 bovates were soke of Howden. (fn. 21)

The overlordship descended with Howden. (fn. 22) The demesne lords of BABTHORPE manor were a family taking their name from the township. The first member is thought to have been Ralph of Babthorpe (fl. c. 1190), who had earlier been known as Ralph of Hunsley. (fn. 23) The Babthorpes enjoyed unbroken ownership until the death of Sir Ralph Babthorpe in 1490; his daughter Isabel had married Sir John Hastings, who was in possession of the manor in 1492. Hastings died in 1504 and the estate passed to Isabel's cousin, another Isabel, wife of William Plumpton. At Isabel and William's marriage in 1496, however, it had been agreed that the manor should be assigned to William Babthorpe of Osgodby. Disputes over its ownership were not finally settled, in the Babthorpes' favour, until 1565. (fn. 24)

In 1621 the manor was conveyed by Sir William Babthorpe (d. 1635) to Richard Bowes, (fn. 25) whose family sold it c. 1665 to James Strangeways (d. 1670). (fn. 26) Babthorpe apparently passed like Hagthorpe from Thomas Strangeways (d. 1702) to his son Thomas (later Thomas Robinson), and in 1710 it was sold to Boynton Boynton. (fn. 27) At his death in 1725 Boynton's heirs were his daughters Elizabeth, who married Richard Langley, and Judith, who married John Twisleton (d. 1757). (fn. 28) Babthorpe evidently passed to the Twisletons and from them to John Twisleton's nephew Thomas Cockshutt, who took the surname Twisleton and died in 1764. From Josias Cockshutt Twisleton (d. 1823) Babthorpe passed to his nephew Bache Heathcote, and in 1843 C. T. Heathcote sold it to John Banks. (fn. 29) The Banks family retained it until 1920, when William Banks sold it, then comprising 276 a., to the East Riding county council, together with 17 a. in Hemingbrough and 13 a. in South Duffield. (fn. 30)

The medieval manor-house had a chapel in 1436- 7 and licences to maintain it were granted later in the century; (fn. 31) there are still the remains of moats around the modern farm-house. A Gothic lodge stands on the main road at the entrance to the estate.

In 1086 a carucate and 6 bovates in Brackenholme, out of the 2 carucates and 5 bovates recorded in the township, were said to belong to the bishop of Durham's manor of Howden. (fn. 32) The overlordship descended with Howden. (fn. 33) By 1284 11 bovates in the township were held in demesne under the bishop by Ralph of Babthorpe. (fn. 34) This estate, comprising BRACKENHOLME manor, descended in the Babthorpe family until 1620, when it was sold by Sir William Babthorpe to George Wentworth. (fn. 35) At the death of Sir George Wentworth in 1660 the manor passed to his daughter Anne, wife of William Osbaldeston, (fn. 36) and it subsequently descended like Hunmanby manor in the Osbaldeston and Osbaldeston-Mitford families. (fn. 37)

In 1856 it was sold, comprising 356 a., to John Banks (d. 1881), (fn. 38) and in 1882 William Banks sold it to Thomas Brearley. (fn. 39) It was acquired from Henry Brearley by C. E. Clark in 1899, and in 1907 he sold it to J. M. Jackson. (fn. 40) In 1911 Jackson bought another 92 a. from the devisees of Richard Jewitt, and in 1921 he sold the whole estate to Victor Greaves. (fn. 41) Most of it was conveyed to N. E. Hare in 1929, (fn. 42) and the Hares still owned it in 1973. The house known as Brackenholme is an ornate building of c. 1900, built of white brick and stone with redbrick dressings, and it has extensive earlier farm buildings.

In 1086 a carucate of land in Hagthorpe belonged to the bishop of Durham's manor of Howden, (fn. 43) with which the overlordship subsequently descended. (fn. 44) The demesne lords of HAGTHORPE manor were a family taking their name from the township: they held 6 bovates in 1284-5. (fn. 45) The first known member of the family is Robert of Hagthorpe (fl. c. 1190). (fn. 46) His successors held the manor until the death of Thomas Hagthorpe c. 1500, when it evidently passed to his daughter Joan, who married first Robert Proctor and secondly Thomas Newark. Joan was seised of Hagthorpe at her death in 1535. Land in Hagthorpe apparently passed to her son Geoffrey Proctor, for in 1536 he granted property there to William Babthorpe and others and in 1550 his remaining interest was acquired by Sir William Babthorpe. (fn. 47) The manor, however, went to the Newarks, and in 1584 John Newark's successors Thomas and Catherine Savile and Thomas and Catherine Hardwick sold it to Matthew Hutton, dean of York. (fn. 48)

In 1612 Matthew Hutton's son Sir Timothy sold the manor to Richard Bowes, the son of Matthew's wife Frances by a previous marriage. (fn. 49) The Bowes family (fn. 50) retained it until 1665, when Charles Bowes the younger sold it to James Strangeways. The profits of the manor were, however, enjoyed from 1668 to 1692 by Edward Kirlew and later by his son-inlaw John Fenton, in satisfaction of the debts of Charles Bowes the elder (d. 1648). (fn. 51) When Thomas Strangeways died in 1702, Hagthorpe passed to his son Thomas, who later took the surname Robinson, (fn. 52) and in 1711 it was sold to Boynton Boynton. (fn. 53) At Boynton's death in 1725 the manor passed to his daughter Elizabeth, who married Richard Langley, (fn. 54) and in 1784 another Richard Langley sold it to John Watson. (fn. 55) In 1811 Watson's son John sold Hagthorpe to Jonathan Briggs the elder (d. 1840), the estate then comprising about 150 a. (fn. 56)

The manor was acquired from Briggs's son Jonathan in 1840 by J. F. Carr and his wife Mary, (fn. 57) who died in 1863 and 1871 respectively. (fn. 58) The estate was then held by trustees until 1946, when it was sold, comprising 167 a., to Annie Smith. In 1956 it was sold to Mary Parkin, in 1966 to J. H. Bacon, and in 1972 to M. A. Petit. (fn. 59) Hagthorpe Hall is a long later-18th-century farm-house, but parts of the moat of an earlier manor-house may still be seen. The house had a chapel in the early 16th century. (fn. 60) The outbuildings include several large brick barns and stables, contemporary with the present house.

Between 1133 and 1140 3 bovates in Grimsthorpe (later Woodhall) were given by the bishop of Durham to Durham priory, (fn. 61) and in 1158 the king confirmed a grant of a carucate of land there to the priory. (fn. 62) The carucate holding was given by the priory to Richard of Coldingham between 1186 and c. 1191, (fn. 63) and Thomas of Coldingham held it in 1284-5. (fn. 64) The manor of WOODHALL descended to Margery of Coldingham, and in 1313 her husband Walter de Paxton had it; by 1339, however, it apparently belonged to Richard Browne. (fn. 65) The estate seems subsequently to have been much divided.

In the 17th century a large holding was built up by the Kirlew family and sold c. 1674 by Thomas Kirlew to Joshua Colston. In 1700 Colston's heirs, three daughters, sold the manor of Woodhall to William Mason. (fn. 66) In 1717 Mason's daughter Frances Barker and her husband conveyed the manor to Mary Henson the elder, (fn. 67) whose trustees sold it in 1743 to John Burton, husband of her daughter Mary. (fn. 68) John Graham bought it from the Burtons in 1747 (fn. 69) and his family held it until Maria Graham devized it in 1801 to John Reeves, the son of her servant Charles Reeves. (fn. 70) In 1835 another Charles Reeves sold the manor and 239 a. to Robert Menzies. (fn. 71) It was retained by the family until 1921, when Charlotte Menzies sold it to Richard Bramley. (fn. 72) The Bramleys still owned it in 1973.

An older house at Woodhall, mentioned in 1570, (fn. 73) was replaced by a new one in 1802, built by John Reeves. (fn. 74) That in turn was enlarged by Robert Menzies (d. 1839). (fn. 75) The square two-storeyed addition of the 1830s is in white brick, with a large Venetian staircase window; its doorway probably remains from the house of 1802. (fn. 76) Wood Hall was derelict in 1973.

Among the lesser estates was that belonging in 1086 to Gilbert Tison, comprising 5 bovates in Brackenholme and 4 in Hagthorpe. (fn. 77) By 1228 it had passed to Eustace de Vescy, (fn. 78) and John de Vescy had it in 1284, when Robert of Menthorpe was the under-tenant. (fn. 79) The overlordship is said to have passed later to the Percy family and the estate to have been split up. (fn. 80) A further 2 bovates in Brackenholme belonged in 1086 to Ernuin (fn. 81) and had passed to Hugh de Collum by 1284. (fn. 82) Drax priory also had a smallholding in Brackenholme. (fn. 83)

Part of the rectorial tithes of Brackenholme and Babthorpe descended, like those of Hemingbrough township, with Hemingbrough manor. (fn. 84) The tithes of 73 a. were still held with that manor in 1842, when they were commuted for rent-charges of £10 payable to Wilson's devisees, Tweedy, and Smith. (fn. 85) Other tithes were separated from the manor in 1802, when Lady Amherst and Sir John Russell sold them to John Watson, (fn. 86) and most of them then descended with Hagthorpe manor to J. F. Carr in 1840. (fn. 87) Those on 106 a., however, were sold by Jonathan Briggs the elder to Robert Menzies and others, (fn. 88) and in 1842 they were commuted for £20 16s., of which £13 10s. was payable to Menzies. (fn. 89)

Another part of the tithes of Brackenholme and Babthorpe, as well as all of those of Woodhall, were granted separately by the Crown after the Dissolution. Those of Woodhall were sold to the Haddleseys and passed in 1637-8 to Edward Kirlew. (fn. 90) In 1650 the tithes of Woodhall and of 40 a. in Brackenholme were worth £12 to Kirlew, and others in Brackenholme, worth £15, were held by Charles Fenwick during the life of his wife, formerly the wife of the lord of Hagthorpe manor, Charles Bowes. (fn. 91) These various tithes later descended with Hagthorpe manor to J. F. Carr in 1840. (fn. 92) Thus Carr had the greater part of the tithes in these townships at commutation in 1842, and he was awarded rentcharges totalling £147 10s. (fn. 93)


It is not clear whether the several hamlets were separate agricultural communities in the Middle Ages. There was certainly some open-field land at an early date, for eleven selions at Brackenholme, together with three tofts and meadow land, were mentioned in the 13th century; (fn. 94) and 8 copyholders had 7 houses and 10½ bovates in 1291-2. (fn. 95) Land in Bush field, Cow close, Wrang lands, Mowres, and Stainsby were mentioned at Brackenholme in 1529, (fn. 96) and in 1699 there were four closes known as Spring field and three as Stonesby. (fn. 97)

Land in 'the fields' of Woodhall was recorded in 1553, (fn. 98) but at least part of the open-field land there had been inclosed by 1616. At the latter date Woodhall pasture consisted of two adjoining parts, North field which lay in ridge-and-furrow and the Marsh running down to the Derwent; North field was stinted and the Marsh mown for hay. It was said in 1616 that a division between the two parts had been made with the help of a surveyor a few years earlier. (fn. 99) Middle field and Hither field closes at Woodhall, as well as the ings, were mentioned in 1667. (fn. 100)

Extensive woodland in Brackenholme belonged in 1228 to the bishop of Durham and was commoned by the tenants of the bishop, the prior of Durham, and the Vescys. (fn. 101) Part of the woodland area is occupied by modern closes called the Haggs. (fn. 102)

In the 19th and 20th centuries there have usually been only 4 or 5 large farms in the whole civil parish. (fn. 103)


No manorial records are known. Brackenholme with Woodhall joined Howden poor-law union in 1837; (fn. 104) it became part of Howden rural district in 1894, Derwent rural district in 1935, (fn. 105) and the Selby district of North Yorkshire in 1974.


  • 1. See p. 37.
  • 2. E. Y.C. ii, pp. 272, 322-3; P.N.E.R. Yorks. (E.P.N.S.), 258.
  • 3. O.S. Map 6", Yorks. (1854 edn.). The whole civil parish is covered by sheet 222.
  • 4. As shown on O.S. maps.
  • 5. E.Y.C. i, pp. 12-13.
  • 6. Reg. Pal. Dunelm. ii (Rolls Ser.), 1189-93, 1294.
  • 7. Prior's Kitchen, D. & C. Muniments, chamberlain's charty., f. 6d.
  • 8. Ibid. 2. 2. Ebor. 14.
  • 9. e.g. E.R.R.O., QSF. Mids. 1756, B.24.
  • 10. 43 Geo. III, c. 49 (Local & Personal); E.R.R.O., DDTR/Box 8 (uncalendared), case for counsel's opinion, 1891 (giving date of building). See plate facing p. 32.
  • 11. E.R.C.C. Mins. 1929-30, 389; 1932-3, 136.
  • 12. O.S. Map 6" (various edns.).
  • 13. V.C.H. Yorks. E.R. i. 392.
  • 14. O.S. Map 6" (1854 edn.). For the manor-houses see pp. 54-5 and below.
  • 15. E.R.R.O., DDTR/plan 11.
  • 16. T.E.R.A.S. xv. 57-8. There is no return for 1377.
  • 17. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), p. 308.
  • 18. E 179/205/504.
  • 19. V.C.H. Yorks. iii. 498.
  • 20. Census.
  • 21. V.C.H. Yorks. ii. 217. The Summary recorded only one carucate in Babthorpe: ibid. 319.
  • 22. See p. 57.
  • 23. For pedigrees see Burton, Hemingbrough, facing pp. 173, 311.
  • 24. Cal. Pat. 1494-1509, 481-2; Yorks. Fines, i. 315; Feud. Aids, vi. 36, 224, 271; Burton, Hemingbrough, 182-5; Select Cases in Counc. of Hen. VII (Selden Soc. lxxv), p. cxxxv.
  • 25. C 2/Jas. I/B31/38.
  • 26. This paragraph is largely based on Burton, Hemingbrough, 186-9.
  • 27. R.D.B., A/371/531; /642/916.
  • 28. Ibid. K/347/720.
  • 29. Ibid. FW/129/132.
  • 30. Ibid. 225/2/2.
  • 31. Burton, Hemingbrough, 181-2.
  • 32. V.C.H. Yorks. ii. 319.
  • 33. See p. 57.
  • 34. Feud. Aids, vi. 36.
  • 35. Yorks. Fines, 1614-25, 163.
  • 36. Burton, Hemingbrough, 170.
  • 37. See V.C.H. Yorks. E.R. ii. 231-2.
  • 38. R.D.B., HL/65/83.
  • 39. Ibid. NL/306/450.
  • 40. Ibid. 10/105/101 (1899); 96/220/205 (1907).
  • 41. Ibid. 134/374/324; 236/318/255.
  • 42. Ibid. 384/237/183.
  • 43. V.C.H. Yorks. ii. 319.
  • 44. See p. 57.
  • 45. Feud. Aids, vi. 36.
  • 46. For pedigree see Burton, Hemingbrough, 190.
  • 47. Burton, op. cit. 192-3.
  • 48. Yorks. Fines, iii. 29.
  • 49. Yorks. Fines, 1603-14, 192; Burton, Hemingbrough, 193.
  • 50. For pedigree see Burton, Hemingbrough, facing p. 195.
  • 51. Burton, op. cit. 194-5.
  • 52. Ibid. facing p. 189.
  • 53. R.D.B., A/643/917; D/18/26; for Boynton see p. 53.
  • 54. Burton, Hemingbrough, facing p. 189.
  • 55. R.D.B., BH/443/757.
  • 56. Ibid. CS/388/549.
  • 57. Ibid. FO/117/113.
  • 58. Ibid. IL/113/138; KX/269/351.
  • 59. Ibid. 724/142/124; 1051/284/255; 1454/82/72; 1774/ 142/122.
  • 60. Burton, Hemingbrough, 191-2.
  • 61. E.Y.C. ii, p. 322.
  • 62. Ibid. p. 272.
  • 63. Ibid. p. 323.
  • 64. Feud. Aids. vi. 36.
  • 65. Ibid. 172; Burton, Hemingbrough, 201.
  • 66. Burton, Hemingbrough, 203-4.
  • 67. R.D.B., G/89/203.
  • 68. Ibid. S/133/309.
  • 69. Ibid. T/38/64.
  • 70. Ibid. CD/139/206; Burton, Hemingbrough, 207.
  • 71. R.D.B., EY/60/68; FA/15/20.
  • 72. Ibid. 229/356/316.
  • 73. E 164/38 f. 178.
  • 74. Date and initials on building.
  • 75. Burton, Hemingbrough, 209.
  • 76. Description and illus. in E. Yorks. Georgian Soc. Trans. iii (1), 41-6.
  • 77. V.C.H. Yorks. ii. 319.
  • 78. Prior's Kitchen, D. & C. Muniments, 2. 2. Ebor. 14.
  • 79. Feud. Aids, vi. 36.
  • 80. Burton, Hemingbrough, 168-9.
  • 81. V.C.H. Yorks. ii. 319.
  • 82. Feud. Aids, vi. 36.
  • 83. E.R.R.O., DDX/16/38; Valor Eccl. v. 15; Cal. Pat. 1557-8, 385-6.
  • 84. See p. 39.
  • 85. B.I.H.R., TA. 84S.
  • 86. R.D.B., CF/57/91.
  • 87. See p. 54.
  • 88. R.D.B., FO/117/113.
  • 89. B.I.H.R., TA. 84S.
  • 90. Burton, Hemingbrough, 154, which also mentions earlier leases.
  • 91. C 94/3 f. 77.
  • 92. See p. 54.
  • 93. B.I.H.R., TA. 84S.
  • 94. Hist. MSS. Com. 5, 6th Rep., Brummel, p. 538.
  • 95. Burton, Hemingbrough, 167.
  • 96. Prior's Kitchen, D. & C. Muniments, M.C. 6650.
  • 97. E.R.R.O., DDSA/Box 1, uncalendared.
  • 98. Cal. Pat. 1553, 22.
  • 99. E 134/14 Jas. I East./6; Trin./2.
  • 100. Burton, Hemingbrough, 203.
  • 101. Prior's Kitchen, D. & C. Muniments, 2. 2. Ebor. 14 (printed in Burton, Hemingbrough, 144-5); E.Y.C. ii, p. 322.
  • 102. O.S. Map 6" (various edns.).
  • 103. Directories.
  • 104. 3rd Rep. Poor Law Com. 168.
  • 105. Census.