Parishes: Fylingdales

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

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'Parishes: Fylingdales', in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2, (London, 1923) pp. 534-537. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

In this section


Figclinge (xi cent.); Figelinge, Fielinge (xi-xii cent.); ? Saxeby (xii cent.).

This parochial chapelry lies south of Whitby parish and contains the villages of Robin Hood's Bay and Thorpe, or Fyling Thorpe (Prestethorpe, xiii cent.), (fn. 1) and the hamlets of Normanby, Parkgate, Ramsdale, Raw (Fyling Rawe, xvi cent.), (fn. 2) and Stoupe Brow. The area is 13,325 acres of land and inland water (fn. 3); the foreshore, which extends at the foot of Fylingdales Moor, common to the townships of Fylingdales and Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre, (fn. 4) is 364 acres. (fn. 5) In Fylingdales township there are 1,924 acres of arable land, 2,693 of permanent grass and 257 of woods and plantations. (fn. 6) The soils of the cliffs are Upper Lias shale capped by the Dogger and False Bedded Sandstones and shales of the Lower Oolite. Whitby Abbey had a lime-kiln here in 1394–5. (fn. 7) Alum used to be worked at Stoupe Brow and Peak, and it was stated in 1831 that a decrease of 167 in the population was due to the extinction of this industry. (fn. 8) There are brick and tile-works at High Normanby and at Quarry Hill, Raw. The chief crops raised are barley and oats; most of the land is in pasture. The height varies from 75 ft. to 100 ft. above ordnance datum on the cliffs to 775 ft. on the moors.

The abbot's park is mentioned in 1404, (fn. 9) the woods of Middlewood, Ramsdale and 'Marchescow' (fn. 10) in 1240, when the abbot granted Richard de Fyling estover in the last two and pasture in the first. (fn. 11) The mill of Fylingdales was granted to Whitby Abbey by its founder, (fn. 12) and may have been the mill of South Fyling mentioned in 1394. (fn. 13)

Fyling Old Hall in the township of Thorpe, not far from Fyling Beck and Fyling station, was leased by the abbey in 1539. (fn. 14) It is a sandstone building with a new slated roof, mullioned windows and a wide black oak staircase. Near it a sepulchral urn and old hand-mills were excavated in 1830. (fn. 15) Sir Hugh Cholmley sold Fyling Hall and demesnes in 1634 to Sir John Hotham, (fn. 16) who shut the gates of Hull against the king, but was executed with his eldest son on suspicion of deserting the Parliamentary cause. (fn. 17) The Hothams (fn. 18) held an estate here including the hall and mill until the 18th century. (fn. 19)

Two miles north-east is Robin Hood's Bay, where the manorial courts are now held. No mention of the place under that name has been found until the visit of Leland about 1538, when he described it as 'a fischer tounlet of 20 bootes caullid Robyn Huddes Bay, a dok or bosom of a mile yn lenghth.' (fn. 20) It appears in 1540 among the abbey lands, (fn. 21) as it must always have been, inclosed as it is by them. Possibly it was included in North Fyling (fn. 22) before it was known by its present name. (fn. 23)

Robin Hood's Bay, like Whitby, Staithes and other old fishing villages of this coast, is built in a fissure between two steep cliffs and shows the same sandstone cottages, sometimes whitewashed and usually surmounted by red-tiled roofs, the same high flights of steps from the street to the house, and narrow passages leading from one street to another at a different level. The main street, Station Road, descends from the cliff, where stand the manor-house, the railway station, many new houses and the new church of St. Stephen, passes the Victoria Hotel, half-way down to the village, passes through the village, crossing King's Beck (called Thorpe Beck higher up), and as New Road reaches the beach (composed entirely of scars) by a cobbled exit known as the Way Foot. An embankment protects the houses on the cliff for a short distance on each side. A new hotel near the Way Foot has replaced one washed away in 1843. (fn. 24) King Street, parallel to New Road and nearer to the sea, runs to this point from King's Beck. In it is the Wesleyan Methodist chapel erected in 1779, (fn. 25) in which John Wesley preached. There was already a small body of Methodists here in 1747. (fn. 26) A Congregational society was formed in 1840, when the present chapel, west of Station Road, was commenced. (fn. 27) The Society of Friends established a meeting-house in 1690, and had many members, who, however, all seceded on being forbidden to serve in ships which carried guns. (fn. 28) A public elementary school was opened in 1896. Just south of the Way Foot are Marnar Dale Beck and Yaddow Mills.

About a mile west of Robin Hood's Bay is Thorpe, or Fyling Thorpe, at the junction of four cross-roads. Of these, Thorpe Lane passes the Wesleyan Methodist chapel, built in 1892, the Grange and Lingers Mill on Lingers Beck, (fn. 29) and then descends directly east by the new church and vicarage of Robin Hood's Bay to Station Road; Church Lane ascends northwards to the disused church of St. Stephen; a third lane goes southwest past the Green and public elementary school, built in 1812, to Park Gate, a farm-house at the foot of the moor. Ascending the hill to the south, Fyling (new) Hall, Park Hill, the residence of Mr. John Warren Barry, J.P., High Park Wood and Ramsdale Wood and mill are reached. Ramsdale water-mill was stated in the 17th century to have belonged to Whitby Abbey. (fn. 30) There are three waterfalls here, the highest about 14 ft. Ramsdale Beck rises on Kirk Moor and as Leith Rigg Beck flows through Leith Rigg Wood, then as Ramsdale Beck descends through Ramsdale and Low Park Woods, to the south of which are Fyling Park and the hamlet of Ramsdale. From Thorpe Middlewood Lane goes south past the old Middlewood Farm to Mill Beck, which enters the sea south of Robin Hood's Bay and has at its mouth a mill, rebuilt, according to the inscription, in 1839. A lane halfway up Church Lane leads through Raw (where are Guild House Green, Quarry Hill and Skerry Hall) on to High Normanby close to Beacon Hill (625 ft. above the ordnance datum). On the moor is Rigg Hall.

The Bank, Robin Hood's Bay

South of Fyling Old Hall Stoupe Beck rises at Hogarth Hill and receives Slape Stone Beck from Howdale Wood. At Howdale (near which is Brigholm's) (fn. 31) there is a Wesleyan chapel and a public elementary school. The south-east tract of the liberty from Howdale to the sea is known as Stoupe Brow, (fn. 32) and is sloping ground which rapidly ascends from 75 ft. at Stoupe Beck to numerous tumuli, among which are Robin Hood's Butts, 775 ft. above the ordnance datum. At the topmost point is Stoupe Brow or Peak Beacon. Near is the ancient Greendyke. Old Peak on the coast is close to Blea Wyke Point, the southern boundary of the liberty. On the cliffs (400 ft. above the sea) stands Raven Hall; Captain Child's workmen employed in building it discovered in 1774 a stone now in the Whitby Museum with a well-preserved Roman inscription. (fn. 33) The railway company named Peak station, on the Ravenscar estate, Ravenscar. In the old alum quarry here are immense boulders, known as the Two Sisters. Raven Hill Road goes past Peak Chapel to Peak windmill. The moors are covered with tumuli, among them Evan Howe, Biller Howe and Blea Hill Howe, and there is 'a remarkable quadruple rampart half a mile long.' (fn. 34) Blea Hill Beck divides Fylingdales from Sneaton.

Thirteenth-century names in the chapelry are Marleflatte, Godewynegate, Collecrofte, Ryggeflatte, Wreckflatte (fn. 35); others are Thirnath or Thirnhowe (Thorney Browe, xvi cent.), Wragby, (fn. 36) Helwathe (xiv cent.), Agatwayt, Swalowe-hede, (fn. 37) Blakamoore, Brosell-rigge, Haskar-rigge, St. Iles Close, Foulesike alias Wawe-myres, Langthwayte Close, (fn. 38) and Spranghill (xvi cent.; Springhill, xvii cent.), Southwell or Southwaite House (fn. 39) (xvii cent.).

Fylingdales Old Church from the South-west


The manor of FYLING, where 1 carucate of land was at geld, belonged to Merewin before the Conquest. In 1086 it was held by William de Percy despite the claim of Hugh Earl of Chester, who stated that it was appurtenant to Whitby. (fn. 40) Fyling and North Fyling were, however, in the soke of Whitby (q.v.) at that time. Both these vills and Normanby came into the possession of Tancred the Fleming, and passed with Hawsker (fn. 41) to Whitby Abbey. (fn. 42)

The Aketon (Heicheton, Eichetun) family (fn. 43) must have been under-tenants of the Percys in South Fyling. (fn. 44) In about 1177–81 Robert son of William de Aketon, with the assent of William his son, granted South Fyling to Whitby Abbey, (fn. 45) Henry II confirming the grant. (fn. 46) A Robert de Aketon confirmed the charter of his father William and grandfather Robert. (fn. 47) Robert de Siclinghall granted to Abbot Roger (1223–44) 1 mark yearly, which he used to receive from the abbey for this vill. (fn. 48)

The abbey retained the manor until the Dissolution, (fn. 49) since which time it has descended with the liberty. (fn. 50)

A family called Fyling and also Scarborough held lands in North Fyling and Normanby in the 13th century. (fn. 51)

John de Everley (fn. 52) remitted to the Abbot and convent of Whitby in c. 1275–85 all his right in the manor of MIDDLEWOOD and other lands in Fylingdales. (fn. 53) This manor is mentioned in 1396, (fn. 54) and the abbey had a hall here in the 16th century. (fn. 55)

NORMANBY (Northmanby, xii cent.) was granted to the abbey by Tancred the Fleming in the early 12th century, (fn. 56) and was then given in exchange by Abbot William to Aschetin de Newholm. (fn. 57) The manor was probably included in the tenements granted to the abbey by Thomas de Hawsker in 1251–2, (fn. 58) and became absorbed like Middlewood after 1396 (fn. 59) in the manor of Fylingdales. Sir Hugh Cholmley before his marriage in 1622 sold Higher Normanby to — Newton. (fn. 60)

The services due to the abbey from the villeinage tenants of South Fyling, Stoupe, &c., included 'tol, tac and mercet.' (fn. 61)


The parish of Fylingdales contains two churches, the older standing isolated on the hill-side above the town of Robin Hood's Bay and the later in close proximity to the railway station. Both buildings are, however, modern, the ancient church of ST. STEPHEN having been pulled down about the year 1821. It contained features of considerable antiquity, the chancel arch being a reputed work of the Saxon period. The church which took its place is a semi-classical building with plain pointed windows and flat plaster ceilings. It consists of a nave of five bays, with galleries on the north and west sides, a shallow quire, south porch and wooden cupola over the west end of the nave.

The new church of ST. STEPHEN, built in 1870 from the designs of G. E. Street, is a handsome if somewhat heavy Gothic building, consisting of a nave with south aisle, quire and tower on the south side. The quire terminates in a semicircular apse, with a ribbed stone vault, and an arcade of four bays having octagonal piers with foliated capitals separates the nave and aisle. The clearstory above consists of two-light windows alternating with quatrefoils. The circular stone font, tapering towards the base, was rescued from a local farm-yard. It has a moulded rim, and apparently dates from the 13th century.

The plate is all of modern date.

The registers begin in 1653.


The chapel of Fyling, appurtenant to the church of Whitby, was granted to the abbey by the founder. (fn. 62) There have been various disputes as to its dependency. The sum of 7s. 6d. was wrongly taken by the Archdeacon of Cleveland as procuration fee in 1353; the abbey then proved that Fyling was a daughter chapel, with no ecclesiastical goods nor any perpetual minister. (fn. 63) It passed as a chapelry with Whitby Church (q.v.) after the Dissolution, and the advowson still belongs to the Archbishop of York. The rectory was granted by the Crown to Theophilus and Robert Adams and the heirs of Theophilus in 1583. (fn. 64) James and Henry Conyers, fishing grantees, shortly afterwards obtained a grant of the same, but were sued by the Archbishop of York in 1588. Witnesses for the Conyers declared that Fyling was a distinct church lately called a chapel and that the tithes were paid at Fyling; but there was neither tithe barn, glebe lands nor incumbent, and the abbey and afterwards the archbishop always repaired the church. Fylingdales had, however, all sacraments and other ecclesiastical rights. (fn. 65)

A witness in 1588 said that he had been at divine service in St. Iles Chapel, and that there was a chapel at Stoupe, but a second witness stated that for forty years past no service had been performed except in St. Stephen's Church, and that of the other chapels named one was used as a hay-house, the other as a barn; a third witness stated that one of these two chapels was called Fyling Hall Chapel, adjoined the manorhouse, and by report was only used privately. (fn. 66) Fyling Hall Chapel, however, made a third, in addition to St. Stephen's. (fn. 67) The name St. Ives in the parish now commemorates St. Iles Chapel, and there is also a field called Chapel Garth.


Distributive Charities.—In 1640 Edward Harrison, by his will, devised £1 4s. a year for ever for the use of the poor, charged on land called Storr Grounds. Another rent-charge of 13s. 4d., known as William Bland's charity, issuing out of Flask Farm, was also given for the poor. The two sums are added to the communion money, and the amount is distributed in small doles.

In 1785 Coverdale Richardson, by will, left £200 for charitable purposes, augmented in 1821 by a legacy of £20 by will of Thomas Huntrod. The trust funds now consist of £293 London and North Western Railway 3 per cent. debenture stock.

In 1814 Susan Watson by will left £100, the income to be applied for the relief of poor widows (being housekeepers) and orphan children. The sum is invested in £105 consols.

In 1865 John Estill left £100 for the poor, invested in £107 9s. 5d. consols.

The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, and the annual dividends, amounting to £14 1s. 10d., are, together with the share of Alice Galilee's charity (see under Whitby), distributed at Christmas and Whitsuntide in the vestry of the parish church. In 1907 fifty-eight widows participated therein.

In 1898 Miss Dorothy Barry, by will proved at York 26 July, bequeathed a sum to the minister and churchwardens to be invested in the Government funds, and the income to be applied in the same manner as her annual subscription—namely, two-fifths to the schools, one-fifth to widows, one-fifth to the clothing club and one-fifth to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The legacy was invested in £90 3s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, of which £36 1s. 6d. consols has been set aside as the Barry Educational Foundation.

Educational Charities.—It appears from a board in the parish church that in 1825 Watson Farside gave £50, in 1829 John Watson gave £25, and that in 1830 the sum of £180 4s. was received in respect of a legacy of £300 by will of Thomas Strother, there being an insufficiency of assets.

These amounts were invested in £280 7s. 8d. consols, now held by the official trustees, and the dividends, amounting to £7 a year, are, together with 18s. a year received from Miss Barry's charity, paid to the church schools.


  • 1. Ibid. 441.
  • 2. Ibid. 739.
  • 3. Census Rep. (1911).
  • 4. In Whitby parish (q.v.).
  • 5. Census Rep. (1901).
  • 6. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 7. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 617.
  • 8. Pop. Ret. (1831), ii, 786 n.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. 1401–5, p. 425.
  • 10. There was a vaccary at 'Madirscohogh' ('Maiderscow') in the 14th century (Whitby Chartul. [Surt. Soc.], 557, 570), and a beck which runs down Cowfield Hill to the sea is now called Marnar Dale Beck.
  • 11. Feet of F. Yorks. 24 Hen. III, no. 124.
  • 12. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 3.
  • 13. Ibid. 557.
  • 14. Conventual Leases, Yorks. no. 1032; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 566; xviii (1), p. 557.
  • 15. Horne, Official Guide to Whitby (1911), 103.
  • 16. Cholmley, Memoirs, 54.
  • 17. G.E.C. Baronetage, i, 183.
  • 18. Of Scorborough in the East Riding.
  • 19. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dcclxxiv, 14; Feet of F. Yorks. Trin. 5 Anne; Hil. 11 Anne; East. 6 Geo. I.
  • 20. Leland, Itin. (ed. L. Toulmin Smith), i, 51.
  • 21. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 741.
  • 22. See below.
  • 23. For the local traditions see Young, Whitby, 647 n.; cf. 'Robin Hood's Butts,' a name given by similar tradition to three tumuli south of the beacon at Stoupe Brow. A tumulus known as Robbed Howe (pronounced hoo in the Cleveland dialect), on the borders of Sneaton and Pickering Lythe, perhaps gives a clue to the name of Robin Hood's Bay, and strengthens the theory of those (cf. Dict. Nat. Biog. xxvii, 259) who consider that, like Wade of Lythe parish (q.v.), Robin Hood was not a mediaeval figure, but belongs to older legend or myth.
  • 24. Horne, op. cit. 99.
  • 25. Inscription.
  • 26. Dalton, Guide to Robin Hood's Bay. Wesley was here in 1772 and 1774 (Wesley, Journ. [1810], v, 70, 129).
  • 27. Dalton, op. cit.
  • 28. Ibid.; see Croese, Hist. of the Quakers (1696), 43.
  • 29. Inger Close is mentioned in the 16th century (Whitby Chartul. [Surt. [Soc.], 740).
  • 30. Pat. 10 Jas. I, pt. xxv.
  • 31. 'Brygholm,' xiii cent. (Whitby Chartul. [Surt. Soc.], 520).
  • 32. The vaccaries of Stoupe were granted to Whitby Abbey by the founder (ibid. 3).
  • 33. Young (Whitby, 708) gives a drawing. It came into Charlton's possession and was purchased by Young. Near it were traces of ruins and an ancient well (ibid. 709 n.).
  • 34. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 57.
  • 35. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 520.
  • 36. Lay Subs. R. 30 Edw. I (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), 109.
  • 37. There is a Swallow Head Farm now.
  • 38. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 737–42.
  • 39. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxciv, 157; Feet of F. Yorks. Mich. 20 Jas. I.
  • 40. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 263, 292.
  • 41. See Whitby. There were three Fylings in 1179–80 (Pipe R. 26 Hen. II [Pipe R. Soc.], 68).
  • 42. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 33, 363.
  • 43. Apparently of Aketon in Spofforth parish. Cf. Percy Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), passim.
  • 44. Jollan de Aketon was a tenant of William de Percy of 'new feoffment' in 1166 (Red Bk. of Exch. [Rolls Ser.], 426).
  • 45. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 159, 190.
  • 46. Ibid. 159.
  • 47. Ibid. 139.
  • 48. Ibid. 438. For other smaller tenants, including Henry le Scrope (by right of Julia Brun his wife), see ibid. passim.
  • 49. Ibid. 557, 579, 737; Conventual Leases, Yorks. no. 1022, 1032; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 566; xviii (1), p. 557.
  • 50. See Whitby; Feet of F. Yorks. Mich. 1654.
  • 51. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 133–5, 439; Feet of F. Yorks. 24 Hen. III, no. 124.
  • 52. See Ugglebarnby in Whitby parish.
  • 53. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 441–2.
  • 54. Ibid. 579.
  • 55. Ibid. 741.
  • 56. Ibid. 34, 363.
  • 57. See Hawsker in Whitby parish.
  • 58. Ibid.; see also Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 133, 436, 437, 510.
  • 59. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 557, 579.
  • 60. Cholmley, op. cit. 44.
  • 61. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 368–9.
  • 62. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 3. The church of 'Saxeby' was granted to the abbey by Robert de Aiketon with the vill of South Fyling (ibid. 51, 438), and was, it is thought, another church in this parish (ibid. 51 n.; Young, Whitby, 376 n.); it is probable that Saxeby is an alternative for South Fyling.
  • 63. Whitby Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 243. It was assessed as a rectory at this period (Lay Subs. R. bdle. 211, no. 15; Inq. Non. [Rec. Com.], 231b).
  • 64. Pat. 25 Eliz. pt. iv, m. 4.
  • 65. Exch. Dep. East. 30 Eliz. no. 16; Mich. 42 & 43 Eliz. no. 29; Exch. K. R. Bills and Answers (Yorks.), East. 31 Eliz. no. 316.
  • 66. Exch. Dep. East. 30 Eliz. no. 16.
  • 67. Exch. K. R. Bills and Answers (Yorks.), East. 31 Eliz. no. 316.