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Cross Lanes School, 1742-1964

[This section is under construction]


The main school for children from Thoralby and Newbiggin was at Cross Lanes.


The google satellite and map below show its convenient location for the villages of Thoralby and Newbiggin, and the O.S. map of 1856, shows the crossing of the lanes and the size of the original school building.







"It was founded in 1742 by John Dupont, vicar of Aysgarth and the inhabitants of Thoralby: George Wray, Tristram Hogg, John Sadler, John Sadler Jun., and John Bywell  raised the Sum of Money by Subscription between and amongst themselves and others to build a School for 70 children,  at a place called Cross Lanes which was built accordingly and they constituted themselves Trustees to manage the School.


One Adam Ellis left a benefaction of £20 to the school the Int. to go to the School Master and some other small donations were given at the time for the same purpose – and the Trustees before named gave a Bond to the Churchwardens for the proper application of Ellis’s Donation – and the Trustees from time to time directed that sometimes 5 sometimes 4 sometimes 3 poor children should be taught gratis out of the benefaction money so given - and the Trustees held regular meetings annually and sometimes oftener to fill up the Vacancies of the Poor children to be educated and elect School Masters and for other purposes of the School. In 1748, Elizabeth Withay endowed it with 3 acres of land, the rent of which was to be used to uphold the school-house and all manner of needful reparation, the remainder to the schoolmaster for teaching not more than three poor children." (From the Tenure document in the 1902 Return, courtesy of Northallerton County Record Office, click on button at bottom of page.)

One of the earliest school masters was a Christopher Tennant (1761-1835), however his conduct was deemed unsatisfactory, and the Trustees tried unsuccessfully to have him removed, taking the matter to Court. Click on the button at the bottom of the page for details of the Court Case, 1828.

Although during Christopher Tennant's tenure the school had a very poor reputation and he neglected the maintenance of the building, after his death in 1835, the school gradually became held in high esteem. Initially built for 70 children, the largest attendance appears to have been 77 in 1896, the school was enlarged in 1909 to take up to 120 children, which was very optimistic!

The following is a collection of photographs of the school and its pupils, teachers, trustees and cooks from 1893 up to and including 1964. If you attended the school and you have a photograph of memories you would be willing to share, please contact me.


I would like to say a large thank you to the numerous people who have loaned photographs, newspaper clippings shared their memories and helped to name individuals in the photographs.

Below is a photograph of the school taken in 1955. Courtesy of Francis Frith. 

Three chimneys and 2 large ventilators can clearly be seen.

Google satellite and map location of Cross Lanes School 2021 + O.S. 1856.
© Google 2021
Cross Lanes School, Newbiggin 1955
© Thoralby Through Time

1837: School premises enlarged (Source: Cross Lanes Return, 1902, see bottom of page).


Trade Directory entries


White, 1840: "The School, at Cross Lanes, where four or five free-scholars of Newbiggin and Thoralby are educated was founded in 1748, by Eliz. Withay, who endowed it with 3 acres of land, let for £6 a year, besides which the master has the interest of £20, saved by the trustees."

Whellan, 1859: "At Cross Lanes, between Newbiggin and Thoralby, is a School, founded in 1748 by Elizabeth Whithay, who endowed it with 2A. 2R. 26P. of land. A few children are taught free."

Kellys, 1872: "Here is a small school, partly free, founded in 1748. ... School, William Whalley, master."

1875 and 1876: School premises enlarged (Source: Cross Lanes Return, 1902, see bottom of page) and Newspaper Transcription below: 

"Richmond & Ripon Chronicle – 6th February, 1875



TEA PARTY AND BALL. The school-room between Thoralby and Newbiggin has recently been enlarged in becoming a Government school. In commemoration of the completion of this work a tea party and ball were held in the new school-room on the 22nd ult. The management of this party was placed in the hands of a committee of six local gentlemen, and it is due to these gentlemen to say that they carried out the work entrusted to them in a very efficient manner. A great number of invitations were issued, an no fewer than 150 ladies and gentlemen responded to the call and sat down to a most substantial tea. The dancing was led off by Mr. T. [Thomas] Sadler, of Thoralby, and Mrs. W. Fryer, of Newbiggin, and continued in a spirited manner long into the early hours of morning to the music of the violins played by Mr. W. Percival and Mr. J. Percival. Midway in the dance the party were regaled with lunch and afterwards supper; at intervals also the ladies were refreshed with wine, and the gentlemen with good old English beer. The programme was also further varied by songs given by different ladies and gentlemen. We need scarcely add that all appeared to enjoy themselves thoroughly, and when the meeting broke up a vote of thanks to the committee was carried amidst great applause. On the following day all the old people from Newbiggin and Thoralby were entertained by the committee to tea in the school-room, when a goodly number sat down and partook of the good things provided for them."

Trade Directory entries

Kellys, 1879: "Here is a small school, partly free, founded in 1748. ... School, David Bond, master."

Wesleyan tea Festival and Service of Song in Cross Lanes Schoolroom, see transcription of newspaper extract below:

"Richmond & Ripon 15 January 1887


... WESLEYAN TEA FESTIVAL AND SERVICE OF SONG AT THORALBY. - On Wednesday last a public tea was given in the Cross Lanes schoolroom, Thoralby, and to which a good number sat down. In the evening a service of song was given, entitled "John Ashworth," by the West Burton Wesleyan Choir and other friends. The connective readings were read by Mr. A. Harker, of Carperby. The proceeds were for the funds of the chapel."

The school was advertising for a new master in July 1887, see transcription of newspaper extract below:

"Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 29 July 1887



WANTED, for the Cross Lanes School, Thoralby, Bedale, a Certified MASTER with the necessary testimonials.- Address to the Cross Lanes School Committee, Thoralby."

Grand Concert held on the school premises, see transcription of newspaper extract below:

"Richmond & Ripon Chronicle - Saturday 08 June 1889



On Monday evening a concert was given in the Cross Lanes School (kindly lent for the occasion), by the Middleham Circuit Wesleyan Choral Union, the following choirs being present: Leyburn, Bellerby, West Witton, Aysgarth, and Thoralby. The instrumentalists were: - Messrs. F. Kitching, A. Sedgwick, A. Rodwell, D. Croft, and W. Hall, violins: Mr. F. Sedwick, violincello: Rev. W. H. Lockhart, harmonium: conductor, Mr. J. Rodwell, West Witton. The following interesting programme was presented, each piece being loudly applauded: - Anthem, "God our refuge," full chorus; song, "The old sexton," Mr. A.  Blades; chorus, "Jehovah's praise," Preston choir: duet, "What are the wild waves saying?" Misses Lee: chorus, "Cry our and shout," Bellerby choir: duet, "Friendship, "Miss Rodwell and Miss Sedgwick: song, "Alone," Mr. Isaac Siddall: song, "Gates of the west, "Miss Barker; march from Eli, the band: chorus, "Lift up your heads," Preston choir: violin solo, "Life let us cherish," Mr. Kitching (encored): song, "Angels ever bright and fair," Miss Spence: song, "King and the air," Mr. C. Walker: song, "The child of the rose," Miss Sedgwick: chorus, "Lift the heart," Bellerby choir (encored): song, "The last mile-stone," Miss Rodwell: chorus, "Home sweet home," Preston choir (encored) anthem, "Daughter of Zion," full chorus: doxology. Mr. Lockhart acted as accompanist for the anthems. Mr. W. Dent ably preformed the duty of chairman. The whole of the pieces on the programme were very well rendered. Mr. Kitching was deservedly encored in the solo, "Life let us cherish," and in response repeated the latter portion of this well-known and much admired piece, with variations. The duets were nicely sung, as were the solos, each one meriting a fair amount of applause. The choruses were excellent, two choirs only taking choruses as their selection. Bellerby was again encored in the rendering of "Lift the heart." For a country village this is really a wonder. Preston secured an encore in "Home, sweet home," and in reply gave "Father in heaven." The anthems were fairly rendered, Miss Lee taking a solo, "There is a stream," in good style. The room was packed to excess, many being unable to gain admission."

The school attendance officer took several parents to court in December 1889, see transcription of newspaper extract below: 

"Craven Herald – 6 December 1889



... At the instance of Wm. Metcalfe, school attendance officer to the Bainbridge Board of Guardians, the following parents were fined 6d each and costs, amounting to 5s in all, for not sending their children regularly to school: - Geo. Preston, Stall-in-Busk; James Waller, Thoralby; and Mary Byker, of West Burton."

1891: "Education Act elementary education to be provided free."

1893: "School leaving age raised to 11 (previously age 10)."


Kellys, 1893: "School, founded in 1748, for 70 children; average attendance 53; John William Hill, master."

Average attendance was around 50 in 1889, but this photograph below from around 1896 shows 77 pupils, two assistant teachers and the headmaster, John William Hill.

Below is a photograph of Cross Lanes School, pupils and teachers, c.1896,

John William Hill, head teacher, David Bond and Miss Johanna G. Sharp, additional teachers, courtesy of G.V. & A. Sadler. 

Cross Lanes School, pupils and staff c.1896
© Thoralby Through Time

John William Hill was the headmaster in 1896 and there were two other teachers, Miss Sharp and David Bond, and 77 pupils. Only two families of pupils have been identified so far. Thomas Heseltine is fifth from the right on the back row and alongside him stands his brother Robert Heseltine, both of Eastburn Farm, Newbiggin. There are also five Sadler children from Town Head Cottage, Thoralby: John Bywell Sadler stands fifth from the left on the back row; Maud Sadler is second from the left on the fourth row and Maggie Sadler is sixth from the left on the same row; Florence Sadler stands third from the right on the third row and Hugh Vernon Sadler sits on the front row sixth from the left. These children can also be viewed in the 1901 census, Newbiggin and the 1901 census, Thoralby.




John William Hill can be seen living at Heaning Hall, Thoralby, in the 1901 census, aged 34, with his wife Margaret née Stainsby, aged 39. They had 2 children, Elizabeth, aged 2 and William, aged 1, both born at Thoralby.

Band of Hope evening of entertainment held on the school premises, see transcription of newspaper extract below:

"Craven Herald – 26th March, 1897


BAND OF HOPE. - On Friday evening several members of the West Witton Band of Hope gave a miscellaneous entertainment, consisting of songs, glees, recitations and dialogues, in the Cross-lanes School-room, in behalf of a newly-formed Band of Hope at Thoralby. A large and excellent programme was nicely rendered before a large audience. The songs and dialogues were very well given, and great credit is due to those who took part in the dialogues for the excellent manner in which they maintained their parts. Mr. R. Ewbank, of Temple, occupied the chair, and, in the course of his remarks, congratulated the promoters on the successful start which they had made, having enrolled upwards of 100 members in about a week. At the close a vote of thanks was passed to the friends from West Witton for so kindly offering their services and giving such an excellent entertainment. As a result, a substantial amount has been placed in the hands of the treasurer.


1899: "School leaving age raised to 12."


Following a poor H.M.I. Report in 1902 (see Inspectors Report below) a new Headteacher was appointed a Mr. James Hill.

Pupils at Cross Lanes School remember their teacher Miss Haw, in the early 1900s, on being informed of the impending visit of the doctor, sending all the children down to the mill to be weighed by Tommy Sayer.

1902 School accommodation for 78 Senior pupils and 34 Infant pupils, total of 112 scholars. (Source: Cross Lanes Return, 1902, see bottom of page).

1903 - Oct - Next Friday Leyburn Fair and 24, 25 ,26 November Thoralby Feast, to be holidays.

Trade Directory entries:

In 1905 "the school became a Council Non-Provided School, with the average attendance up to 70, and James Hill was master."

1905 – Managers to write to the County Council and ask if they will supply two buckets, for the latrines, the old ones being worn out. From the School Manager’s minute book (1903-1965). It is easy to forget how fortunate we are with modern plumbing today!

1906 – The Report of H.M. Inspectorate, was considered very satisfactory.

Band of Hope evening of entertainment held on the school premises, see transcription of the Wensleydale Wesleyan Monthly, March 1907 an entertaining evening by the Methodist Band of Hope, with numerous locals participating, see transcription below, courtesy of the DCM, Hawes.

"Wesleyan MonthlyMARCH, 1907




An entertainment was given in the Cross Lanes School (kindly lent by the managers), on Friday, Feb. 15th. Although the weather was very unfavourable, a good company assembled, and a very successful evening was spent. Mr. F[rancis]. Sayer of Myer's Garth presided. After a very practical and helpful address by the chairman, the following programme was well rendered: - Duet, "The Drunkard's Folly," Misses M[ary] Dent and M[ary]Gould. Recitation, "Our Opening Address," Geo. D[ent] Willis. Solo, "Little Johnny," Nelly Heseltine. Recitation, "A little girl's speech," Maggie Heseltine. Song, "Childhood," Six Girls. Dialogue, "Blighted Buds of Promise," Adult Members. Recitation, "Jimmy Davy's Heaf," Matt. Heseltine. Song, "Whither, Pilgrims," Nellie Heseltine, Christian Routh, Rebecca Heseltine, and Florrie Saddler. Recitation, "The Last Shilling," Rebecca Heseltine. Duet, "No one cares for me, Misses A[nn] J[ane] Furnish and M[ary] Gould. Recitation, "Leave off before you start," Matt. Heseltine. Solo, "Was it a dream?" Miss E[leanor] Dinsdale. Dialogue, "Norah's Forty Winks," Adult Members. Song, "Joe Perkins," Four Boys. Recitation, "Buying Beef instead of Beer," Grace Dinsdale. Solo, "Cling to the Cross," Miss M[ary] Gould. Musical Dialogue, "Band of Hope," Five Girls and Five Boys. Mrs T. [Annie] Sayer ably presided at the organ, and great credit is due to her for the way in which she trained the children. A collection in aid of Band of Hope Funds concluded a very enjoyable evening."

Below is a school photograph, Miss Mason and Group IIcourtesy of Jean Dobbing (1908). 

School Photographer 1896, G. Maychell, West Witton

Photograph courtesy of G.V. & A. Sadler. Identification of the Sadler children by Adrian Sadler from information supplied by Vic. Sadler and Bill Colton.

Cross Lanes School Photograph by 

G. Maychell, West Witton, Leyburn.

'Teaching Certificate', awarded to John William Hill, 1890. A teacher in Sutton-in-Craven National School and had served the 'required period of probation' in Cross Lanes school. Courtesy of great-grandson, Paul Hill.