Parishes: Old Byland

Pages 3-5

A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.

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Begeland (xi cent.); Bella Landa Super Moram (xii cent.); Bellaund (xiii cent.).

This parish, which lies west of Rievaulx across the River Rye, between Morton and Cold Kirby, is long and narrow, covering about 2,738 acres. About 1,050 acres are under cultivation, the chief crops being oats and wheat, and 1,240 are permanent grass. (fn. 1) The northern boundary is a deep gill, through which runs a tributary of the Rye; another tributary forms the southern boundary, and their banks are covered with trees. The soil is principally limestone, the subsoil corallian beds. There are many old quarries in the parish, two being now worked.

The village lies in the centre of the parish, 4 miles from Helmsley, the nearest railway station. It is approached by a lane from Cold Kirby. Another lane known as High Leir Lane runs westward across the highest part of the parish past Wethercotes to Hambleton Mosses and the Hambleton Hills, reaching a height of 970 ft. above ordnance datum on the western boundary. Clavery Ley Lane leads eastward down to the banks of the Rye.

The village is very small and built round a fine green, at one end of which are the stocks and at the other an old Norman font. None of the cottages are of any age, and the Hall on the south side is also quite modern. The Methodist chapel was built in 1872.

In the time of Henry VIII the rector had a dwelling called the 'Hall,' (fn. 2) perhaps on the site occupied by the modern building of that name. A little to the south-west of it is another large house known as Old Byland Grange, and at one time called 'Storer's Farm.' (fn. 3) The only other house of any size in the parish is Tile House, near the banks of the Rye. It stands on what is probably the site of the earliest abbey of Byland, as, according to the account of Abbot Philip, (fn. 4) the first monks built themselves 'parvam cellulam'—'ubi eorum tegularia nunc est constructa.'

Some details of the way in which the abbot used his estate at Old Byland are given in a 16th-century lawsuit between the two chief landholders in the parish. (fn. 5)

There was a water-mill here in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 6)


Before the Conquest Aschil had 6 carucates and land for three ploughs in OLD BYLAND. In 1086 the vill was held by Robert Malet, (fn. 7) who suffered forfeiture in 1106, (fn. 8) his estates being granted to Niel Daubeney, ancestor of the Mowbray family. In 1143 the manor was granted by Roger de Mowbray to the monks who subsequently founded Byland Abbey. (fn. 9) The release made by Hugh de Malebiche of all his rights here (fn. 10) implies some claim upon the manor, though Roger de Mowbray appears to have held it in demesne at the time of the grant. (fn. 11) William Malebiche, a descendant of Hugh, laid claim to Old Byland and other lands in 1267. (fn. 12) The abbot said that he 'ought not to answer because he does not hold the whole of the said manors, for the plaintiff holds a hamlet called "Schalton" (Scawton) and the advowson of the chapel there, which are within the bounds of the manor of Old Byland, (fn. 13) and the master of the knights of the Temple holds 30 acres of land in the same manor, and Nicholas de Bagby holds 10 acres of pasture in the same, and the Abbot of Rievaulx holds 3 roods of land in the same.' The abbot was victorious in this suit, (fn. 14) but the claim of the Malebiche family was not relaxed, and in 1284–5 Old Byland was described as held of Hugh de Malebiche, (fn. 15) who held of Roger de Mowbray.

Mowbray. Gules a lion argent.

When the monks of Byland had removed to their new site in Coxwold parish Old Byland was reduced to a grange. (fn. 16) It remained in the possession of the abbots till the Dissolution, when it was worth £14 15s. 7d. (fn. 17)

After the monastery surrendered in 1538 the manor was divided up among various tenants. The greater part of it was granted in 1540 to Sir William Pickering, (fn. 18) whose son William settled his estate as 'the manor of Old Byland' on Sir Edward Wotton, his son-in-law, in 1576. (fn. 19) It was bequeathed by Mary Lady Wotton in 1656 to her son-in-law Sir Edward Hales. (fn. 20) In 1660 he conveyed it to Thomas Bellasis, second Viscount Fauconberg. (fn. 21) Old Byland has from that time followed the descent of the manor of Newburgh. (fn. 22) It was heavily mortgaged by the fourth viscount, (fn. 23) but never left the Bellasis family. Sir George Wombwell, bart., whose father succeeded to the Bellasis estates, is the present lord.

WETHERCOTES, the demesne land of the abbot, (fn. 24) was granted with the neighbouring grange of Murton to Sir Richard Bellasis, (fn. 25) the 'keeper' of the abbey. (fn. 26) The estate remained in his family (fn. 27) for several generations, and, like that held by the Wottons, was known as the 'manor of Old Byland.' (fn. 28)

In 1614 Sir Henry Bellasis had a grant of view of frankpledge and other manorial rights in his manor of Old Byland. (fn. 29) The manor of 'Murton cum Wethercoates' was among his estates in 1645–6, (fn. 30) and in the hands of the third Viscount Fauconberg in 1717. (fn. 31) The two estates, under this name, (fn. 32) subsequently had the same descent, (fn. 32a) passing to the Frankland family and then to Lord Pelham.

TILEHOUSE GRANGE was leased by the Abbot of Byland in 1535 to Anthony Rookes and Joan his wife for forty years. (fn. 33) They were in occupation when the king granted it in 1543 to Richard Andrews and Nicholas Temple, (fn. 34) who the same year alienated it to Anne daughter of Anthony Rookes and Joan, and a Thomas Allanbridge and his wife Isabel, probably another daughter. (fn. 35) Anne Rookes married Christopher Metcalfe, (fn. 36) and a settlement of Tilehouse Grange was made on them and their heirs in 1564. (fn. 37) Christopher Metcalfe 'of Tylehowse' received a general pardon in 1605. (fn. 38) It must have been sold to a Bellasis at some time between that date and 1645, when 'Old Byland cum Tylehouse' was among the manors of Lord Fauconberg. (fn. 39)

OLD BYLAND GRANGE was granted in 1556 to Thomas Wood and John Brown. (fn. 40) It was then in the tenure of William Storer, (fn. 41) and was probably alienated to him later, for he appears in possession of it (fn. 42) till 1602, when he conveyed a certain messuage, presumably Old Byland Grange, and lands in Old Byland to William and Henry Bellasis. (fn. 43)


The church, of which the invocation is unknown, consists of a chancel measuring internally 15 ft. wide by 13 ft. 6 in. deep, nave 41 ft. by 14 ft. and a south porch with a low tower over.

The plan of the church is much as it was in the 12th century. It was probably then without a tower, and the old stones now built in at the springing of the outer arch probably belonged to the south doorway. The chancel was probably enlarged northwards in the 15th century, with the result that the east window and the altar, being central with the chancel arch, are much nearer the south wall than the north.

In 1909 the church was thoroughly restored at the cost of Sir George Wombwell, when it was found necessary to rebuild the greater part of the chancel walls, while two windows were inserted in the north wall of the nave, and the west window was renewed, stone mullions replacing the wood frame which had formerly been there. Previously to this restoration the only window in the north wall of the nave was a very small modern light near the east end, which has now been filled in. The Archbishop of York, at the reopening of the church, dedicated it in honour of All Saints.

The east window is an early 15th-century insertion of three trefoiled lights under a square head. The south window of the chancel is similar, but has two cinquefoiled lights. To the west of it is a blocked doorway with a three-centred head. The chancel arch is semicircular, quite plain on the east side, but on the west face the jambs have large edge rolls with carved faces for capitals with volutes over, which give them the appearance of rams' heads. Above the capitals are plain chamfered abaci. The arch is moulded on this side with small rolls and a hollow, and has a plain chamfered label.

The two north windows of the nave, as stated above, date from the restoration of the church in 1909, and are copied from the south window, which is of two cinquefoiled lights and of similar detail to the south window of the chancel. The modern west window is also similar. The inner south doorway has simply a wooden frame, but the outer entrance to the ground stage of the tower, which forms the porch, has square jambs and a semicircular arch moulded with an edge roll and a hollow. There is no abacus or label. Set into the angles of the tower wall on a level with the springing of the arch of the entrance are oblong stones of 12th-century date carved with grotesque animals; each stone has at the angle a capital for an edge roll or angle shaft, carved with a head like those of the jamb shafts of the chancel arch. Over the south entrance is a small window to light the tower, the walls of which do not rise higher than the eaves of the nave roof. The sill of this window is composed of a 12th-century stone carved with a geometric pattern. The jambs seem to be parts of shafts ornamented with spiral grooves. Close to the top of the tower walls on the east and west sides are small loop lights. Inserted in the east face of the tower is an old sundial stone. (fn. 44) The floor of the chancel from the east wall to the altar rails is paved with old tiles arranged in small squares and oblongs. In the centre is a circular geometric pattern with diamond-shaped patterns on each side, one of which has ornamental tiles.

The chancel is roofed with a flat open timber roof, the whitewashed beams of which appear to be old; in the middle of the centre beam is a flat carved face. The nave has a flat ceiling roofed with slates.

On the east wall of the chancel is a painted black letter inscription reading '. . ome and gather your . . . unto ye supper ye great God . . .' It is partly hidden by whitewash. In the churchyard is what appears to be an early font.

There are two bells in the tower, the treble being inscribed 'Te Deum Laudamus 1672' and the tenor 'Gloria in altissimis Deo. 1672.'

The plate includes a cup by William Foster, with the York mark of 1570, a pewter flagon and a modern chalice and paten.

The registers begin in 1653.


There was a church with a priest at Old Byland at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 45) It was given by Roger de Mowbray to the monks of Byland in the middle of the 12th century, (fn. 46) and was in the patronage of the abbey, to which at some unknown date it was appropriated, (fn. 47) till the Dissolution. In 1365 William de Ferriby, Archdeacon of Cleveland, confirmed a grant exempting Old Byland from archidiaconal visitation. (fn. 48)

In 1544 the rectory, including the advowson, was granted by Henry VIII to John Broxholme. (fn. 49) It passed from him to a family called Dawson, (fn. 50) and from the Dawsons to the family of Bellasis, (fn. 51) lords of the manor of Old Byland. The rectory belonged to Sir William Bellasis, (fn. 52) who died in 1604, (fn. 53) and has remained in his family. (fn. 54) The perpetual curacy is now in the gift of Sir George Wombwell. The value of the living was increased by Queen Anne's Bounty, the governors of which granted to the curate and his successors a parcel of meadow called Havely Field within the town precincts of Beverley. (fn. 55)


In 1891 Benjamin Kendrew by will left £50 for the benefit of the Wesleyan chapel. In 1904 the sum of £50 was deposited in Messrs. Barclay & Co.'s Bank (Helmsley Branch) in the names of three trustees of the chapel, and the sum of £1 5s. was paid to the steward of the chapel for purposes connected therewith.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xix (2), g. 166(40).
  • 3. Exch. Dep. East. 34 Eliz. no. 34.
  • 4. Dugdale, Mon. v, 351, and see account of Byland Abbey, V.C.H. Yorks. iii, 131 et seq.
  • 5. Var. Coll. (Hist. MSS. Com.), ii, 109. See also Feet of F. Yorks. 30 Hen. III, no. 91; Burton, Mon. Ebor. 331.
  • 6. Feet of F. Yorks. Mich. 12 Chas. II; Quart. Sess. Rec. (N. R. Rec. Soc.), vii, 261.
  • 7. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 257.
  • 8. Ellis, Landholders of Yorks. pt. i, 34.
  • 9. Dugdale, Mon. v, 351, 348; Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, p. 314; Exch. Transcr. 6.
  • 10. Burton, Mon. Ebor. 331.
  • 11. Dugdale, Mon. 348.
  • 12. Baildon, Mon. Notes (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), i, 30.
  • 13. From this it seems that Scawton was a chapelry of Old Byland.
  • 14. Baildon, loc. cit.
  • 15. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 106.
  • 16. Dugdale, Mon. v, 351.
  • 17. Ibid. 355.
  • 18. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, g. 107 (28).
  • 19. Pat. 19 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 17; pt. iv, m. 40.
  • 20. Var. Coll. (Hist. MSS. Com.), ii, 23.
  • 21. Feet of F. Yorks. Mich. 12 Chas. II.
  • 22. See Coxwold, Quart. Sess. Rec. (N. R. Rec. Soc.), vii, 260; Recov. R. Mich. 9 Will. III, rot. 274 6 Geo. III, rot. 214.
  • 23. Com. Pleas D. Enr. Trin. 31 & 32 Geo. II, m. 68.
  • 24. The boundary between Wethercotes and Old Byland in the 16th century was 'Lamb Close Dyke' (Var. Coll. [Hist. MSS. Com.], ii, 109).
  • 25. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), g. 904 (22).
  • 26. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), g. 1172.
  • 27. See Newburgh in Coxwold. Richard's son William was heir both to his father and his uncle Anthony.
  • 28. Pat. 12 Jas. I, pt. xxvi, no. 5.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Royalist Comp. P. (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), ii, 167.
  • 31. Quart. Sess. Rec. (N. R. Rec. Soc.), vii, 266.
  • 32. Feet of F. Yorks. East. 10 Geo. II; Recov. R. Hil. 18 Geo. III, rot. 166.
  • 32a. See Murton in Hawnby parish.
  • 33. Metcalfe, Metcalfe Rec. 269.
  • 34. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xviii (2), g. 107 (8).
  • 35. Ibid. xviii (2), g. 241 (21).
  • 36. Metcalfe, loc. cit.
  • 37. Pat. 4 Eliz. pt. x, m. 47; 7 Eliz. pt. vi. m. 10.
  • 38. Var. Coll. (Hist. MSS. Com.), ii, 2.
  • 39. Royalist Comp. P. (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), ii, 167.
  • 40. Pat. 3 & 4 Phil. and Mary, pt. vii.
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. Exch. Dep. East. 34 Eliz. no. 34.
  • 43. Feet of F. Yorks. Mich. 44 & 45 Eliz.
  • 44. Yorks. Arch. Journ. v, 141.
  • 45. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 257.
  • 46. Dugdale, Mon. v, 348.
  • 47. Lawton, Coll. Rer. Eccl. 531.
  • 48. Burton, Mon. Ebor. 331.
  • 49. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xix (2), g. 166 (40).
  • 50. Exch. Dep. Hil. 20 Jas. I, no. 5. Various other persons appear as grantees of this rectory (Pat. 31 Eliz. pt. vii, m. 31; 43 Eliz. pt. vii, m. 34; 44 Eliz. pt. x, m. 31), but they seem to have been fishing grantees.
  • 51. Exch. Dep. Hil. 20 Jas. I, no. 5.
  • 52. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccxxvi, 113.
  • 53. G.E.C. Baronetage, i, 43.
  • 54. Bacon, Liber Regis, 1162.
  • 55. Close, 54 Geo. III, pt. xxiv, no. 12.