top of page

Bishopdale School

The 1839 Tithe Award for Bishopdale lists a School House owned by Bishopdale Township, which was on the site of the later school built in 1880. This later school was built on ground which in 1870 was listed as Common Land. Amongst other things, the Education Act of 1870 charged the Education Department with making provisions for the foundation of school boards in every school district. The school for Bishopdale was built on the roadside below Long Ridge. It was built by the Lodge family of the Rookery in 1880 to accommodate 50 children, a rather optimistic figure considering its situation and the fact that average attendance was around 15. The school had two rooms lit by oil lamps. A removable wooden partition separated the rooms, one for infants and one for juniors. In practice one room was used as a school room and the other as a Chapel of Ease.

In 1922 the Rookery Estate was sold and the school was placed in to the 'Liddon and Lodge Trust Trust', Elizabeth Liddon, née Lodge (1851-1920) being the last survivor of the Lodge dynasty. The Trust was a memorial to the Lodge family with a 999 year lease to Aysgarth Parish, to be handed back in good repair. And if not used at least twice a year it was to go back to the Lodge family, this was obviously rescinded after its closure.


There was just one teacher, who taught all ages from 5 to 14. Numbers had dwindled to just five pupils when the school closed on 31st July, 1928, and the children went by taxi to West Burton, passing [Cross Lanes School] as they travelled, thus signalling its ultimate closure, sooner rather than later. Church services were held in one of the schoolrooms on Sunday and continued to be held there until the 1980's. The building was also used for Parish meetings. It is now converted into a house.

Bishopdale School and Church, 1988. Courtesy of Ann Holubecki.
© Thoralby Through Time

Bishopdale School and Chapelof Ease, Ann Holubecki 1988.

The school was built and paid for by the Lodge family of the Rookery as already mentioned above. In January 1892, John William Lodge the only son of Robert Lodge, its founder and current owner of the Rookery and the School wrote to the Education Authority asking for the Local Education Authority to take ownership of the school, as was the case with the nearby school of Cross Lanes in Newbiggin township, for Newbiggin and Thoralby children.


Below is a transcript of the letter from John William Lodge, courtesy of The National Archives: ED 21/19355.

PARCELS AND TELEGRAMS.                                                 Bishopdale,

   AYSGARTH STATION.                                                                Bedale, Yorkshire 

          (5 MILES)


Bishopdale School, 19 January 1892

The school was designed by Messrs Barker and Alley architects, Manchester for my late father, it is divided by folding doors, each room being 18' 6" by 16 feet. Well lighted, ventilated, two fire places and offices for both boys and girls.


Up to my fathers' death he paid a Mistress and as I can't afford to do so. I want the school put on the same footing as the Cross Lane School Thoralby. There are about 12 to 15 children now, and as soon as the present term is over at Cross Lanes School we shall have some more.

Most of the farmers are willing to subscribe to the school. As soon as your man has inspected the school house &c we intend to form a a committee of managers. 

I thought it better to wait till we could have matters explained to us.

John Wm. Lodge

Following this request the school was taken over by the the Local Education Authority.

Memories of Bishopdale School 1906-1915 as remembered by Mr. Tom Dinsadale (1901-1997) of Dale Foot Farm. Notes from an interview with Maggie Bede, 28th March, 1990, Tom was aged 89.

Tom was born in 1901 at Kentucky Farm, Waldenhead and moved to Dale Foot, Bishopdale in 1906, staying there until 1959. Tom went to school with the Fawcetts, also Closes at Ribba, Fryers at Howgill (who moved to Liverpool to open up a milk house) and Sayers at Myers Garth. Teachers: Miss Parry (lived in New Gill Cottage), then Miss Page (lived with her mother at New Gill). One teacher (can't remember which) caught fire in schoolroom and the children wrapped a coat around her (more details below). There was also a Miss Squires and a Miss Jackson (she lived at the Rookery).

Memories of Bishopdale School 1906-1913 as remembered by Mr. Alfred Lambert (1901-1985) of Thoralby - one of the oldest surviving school scholars of the school, published in The Aysgarth Church Parish Magazine, September 1983 [Alfred was aged 82].

"I who was born in Bishopdale went to the school and was christened at the school. The two other surviving scholars are Mr. R. Fawcett and Mr. Tom Dinsdale both of Aysgarth.

It is important to try and recapture the life and times of Bishopdale around 1906. The Lodge, who owned Bishopdale came around 1770-80, reputedly [sic.] Dry Salters from the Manchester area. Records taken from the graves in Aysgarth show that the first record was of an infant girl, who died in 1790. Also John and Elizabeth his wife both died in 1810, at the age of 84 and 85 respectively [see Aysgarth Monumental Inscriptions]. A Robert Lodge who married Alice [Robinson] and lived at East New House (now demolished) died in 1831. They had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son was John born in (1785-1845). 

Alfred well remembers Col. John William Lodge (1857- 1917) a descendent. He was short, well built with flourishing moustache. He never married. He had three sisters Alice Isobel and Elizabeth. Only Elizabeth married a Major Liddon. They had four daughters and one son Major Liddon Junior hence the Liddon and lodge trust as it is today. The Lodge family controlled the Bishopdale situation for about 150 years. They built the Rookery around 1874 but never really completed. The Lodges planted the five true plantations on the North side of Wassett Fell facing the Rookery in the shape of the name LODGE. Alfred also remembers the Lodge family attending Aysgarth Church accompanied by servants and staff who followed the Lodge carriage in a dogcart. All the staff lived in at the Rookery and were not allowed to go out during the evening.

Mr. Alfred Lambert started at Bishopdale school in 1906 at the age of five years old. In those days the farms were owned by the Lodge family so all the families were tenant farmers. The children who attended the school with Alfred were as follows:- James, Polly and Tommy Fryer - Dales head farm, Rankin Waddle - Kidston, Betty Pounder, Bessie, Florrie Metcalfe - Smelter (Mr. Metcalfe was game keeper), Rebecca, Jenny Sayer - Myres Garth. Victor, Septimus Close - Ribba (Eight children in all). Betty and Amy Heseltine - New Gill. Tom and Ellen Dinsdale - Dale Foot. Ammie Florrie, Alice and Rose Thwaite - West Lane House. Betsy, Roland, Lena, Jane and Kate Fawcett - Scar Top. Mary Fawcett - Longridge. Twenty five children altogether.

The school was built by the Lodge family, and according to [Kellys Directory 1909] was opened for 50 children. It was the custom for the country estates in those days to build a school, so that the children on the estate could be educated. In 1841, by the School Site Act special facilities in the conveyance of land for school purposes were afforded. The landed gentry responded with great public spirit, with the result that the vast majority of rural and many urban parishes were freely endowed with sites for Elementary Schools. The Education Act of 1870, among other things charged the Ed. Dept. to make provisions for the foundation of school boards in every district. Hence the schools which were built as the result of the 1870 Act were termed Council of Boards Schools.


In 1906, there were 26 children attending the school one class, one teacher, a Miss Parry (Welch) she started at the same time as Alfred and left in 1913 to go to the school in Walden. The school had two rooms, one being used for religious purposes. It was heated by an open fire place (still in use) and a combustion stove in the second room, upon which the teacher used to warm her dinner of meat and potatoes in a basin. On one occasion after Alfred had left Miss Squiver the teacher, set fire to herself. [See details below]. The school was lit by oil lamps which hung from the ceiling. There was one water tap outside and a double throne earth midden for toilet. The school day began at 9 a.m. with Religious Education and finished at 3.30 p.m. Reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, tables and P.T. were taught. Slates and slate pencils were used prior to paper when there was drawing with coloured pencils clay also used. Alfred remembers the first reader (very few books.) 

'I am a hen and I have five chicks you will have seen me before.'

Three inspectors visited the school. The Religious Education Inspector, after which the day was a holiday. Physical Training - Mr. Prince and a General Knowledge Inspector - Mr. Blades, the Attendance Officer visited regularly - he was know locally as the 'Kid catcher.'

Holidays were given on Empire Day and Leyburn fair days in May and October.

On Royal Oak Day May 29th, the children used to say 'If you don't give us a holiday, we will run away.' and run they did - up the side of the waterfall [Fors Gill] to the Shooting Box on the open Moor above the school. The teacher rang the bell in vain. This was reported to Col. Lodge, who visited the school the next morning rep-remanded with a twinkle in his eye. School was closed in heavy snowfalls or a swollen beck. Alfred who walked down the side of the beck from New House was told by his mother 'If you fall in the beck you will go to Scarborough' Miss Lodge used to arrange and pay for Alfred and his mother (who was house maid at the Rookery for eight years) to go to Scarborough for a ten day holiday, to stay with a Mr. Scott, a retired butler of the Lodge Estate. They travelled by train  from Aysgarth Station and Alfred used to bring a bucket of sand back to New House.

At Xmas, a Xmas tree and presents of books were provided by the Lodge family."

Alfred Lambert (1901-1985), Thoralby postman 1950s. Courtesy of David Joy.
© Thoralby Through Time

Alfred on his postman rounds, uniform, sack and 'wellies, courtesy of David Joy.

"Alfred left the school in 1913 when he went to live in Leyburn. In 1922, the school was out into the Liddon and Lodge Trust as a memorial to the Lodge family and is on a 999 year lease to Aysgarth Parish, to be handed back in good repair!

The school closed as a school July 31st, 1928 - according to County Hall records when the children were transferred to West Burton. After the Lodges left, The Rookery was used as a co-educational boarding school during World War II and later as a youth hostel. The estate was bought by Mr. Green - a timber merchant - who demolished the house and sold off the stone etc. The stables and coach house remained and have made a desirable home for Mr. & Mrs. Sleigh.

Religious services are held regularly in the school. The building has been repaired and decorated and continues to serve the lively community of Bishopdale. 

A Harvest Festival and supper is planned for Sept. 8th, 1983 - may be reminiscent of the Coronation Party [King George V] of 1911 when roast beef and ham was served and enjoyed by all the Bishopdale Community. "

Memories of Bishopdale School 1909-1918  Rankin Waddell (1904-?) formerly of Kidstones Farm. Notes from a visit to Bishopdale Archives, 20th August 1994, Rankin was aged 90.

"He was born at Kidstones, October 4th 1904, and went to Bishopdale School. He had his first fight with Dickie Thwaite, son of Felix (West) Lane House. (Felix was a noted breeder of horses, always having at least one to ride and another on a long rein.) Dickie Thwaite's nose bled so much after the fight that his "rather fierce" sister Rosie had to dunk him in the beck to clean him up. Back in class, where she sat behind Rankin, she kept kicking him with her clogs, so he put his slate there to protect himself. But she cracked the slate and it fell to the floor, and when Miss Parry the teacher picked it up it fell to it fell to pieces. She scolded Rankin and then said "I'll see you afterwards, Rosie". Rankin had been promised 5/- when he won his first fight, so it duly appeared in his money-box.

Rankin Waddell at Kidstones, Bishopdale 1908, aged four, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.
© Thoralby Through Time

Rankin Waddell at Kidstones, 1908, aged four, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.

Rankin Waddell at Kidstones, Bishopdale 1918-19, aged fourteen, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.
© Thoralby Through Time

Rankin Waddell at Kidstones, 1918-19, aged fourteen, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.

The previous teacher, Miss Squires, was recovering from her years as a missionary in China, and felt the cold very much. She wore a voluminous cotton dust-coat over her long dress, and when she stood in front of a roaring fire, this was drawn into the chimney. She was a blazing torch in seconds, but shouted to the children to run out. As there was a 'flu epidemic' at the time, Rankin [aged 13] and Amy Heseltine [aged 12] were the only older ones there. They looked back to see Miss Squires rolling on the floor and trying for coats. The combs in her piled-up hair had melted and run down, adding to the burns. (This was not realised by the young "apprentice" doctor). The coats were not enough, so Rankin pulled down the heavy red curtains to smother her, while she calmly told them what to do. They cut up the girls' needlework pieces to cover her arms, but there was not enough ointment. Some of the younger children had to run to fetch Mr. Heseltine from Newhouse Farm where Miss Squires was lodging, and he took her to the doctor's in his trap [5 miles away at Aysgarth].

This happened quite early in the day, and Rankin's parents were surprised to see him home by lunchtime. He wore then a much-hated woollen cape with a hood, which he left outside on the bink .. it was half burnt half away.

Miss Squires recovered but did not return to teaching."

Memories of Bishopdale School 1910-1924 as remembered by [Joseph] Jeffrey Heseltine (1910-2007), formerly of New Gill Head Farm, Bishopdale written at Yoredale Road, Burtersett Road, Hawes. He is one of the fourteen pupils in the 1920 school photograph below.

"I was born at New Gill Farm Bishopdale on July 26 1910 and went to Bishopdale School when I was five years old. The teacher at that time was Miss Page she lived in a cottage at New Gill. In 1916 she left and a Miss Squire came she stayed at New House Farm with a Mr. and Mrs. Heseltine no relation. 1917 was a very cold winter with a lot of snow. The schoolroom was very cold with just a stove so she moved us into the church end where there was a fireplace she removed the fireguard to mend the fire and was stood with her back to the fire then we heard a scream and her dress was on fire most of us were very frightened but my sister Amy and Rankin Waddell whose father farmed at Kidstones stayed and rolled her on the floor in coats and some curtains witch were on the front of a cupboard. Some of us ran to New House and Mr. Heseltine came with his horse and trap to take her home and get the doctor. She was off school for a long while and we had three different teachers in that time. In 1919 Miss Squire left and Miss Knowles came she lived in a cottage at New Gill she was a older person and more strict with us, she left in 1922 and we got a Miss Jackson a much younger person with more modern ideas. I left in 1924 when I was fourteen. For there part in putting out the fire my sister Amy and Rankin Waddell were presented with a bible each by the managers of the school" (see details below).

Amy Heseltine of Bishopdale School bible, presented to her for bravery, 1917
© Thoralby Through Time

Inside the cover of the bible presented to Amy Heseltine (1905-1986) who put out the burning clothing of her teacher, Miss Squiver. The teacher, having set fire to herself, from the open fire in the schoolroom (see account above).

Bishopdale school photograph, 1920, teacher Miss Knolwles, and fourteen children, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.

Bishopdale School, class photograph 1920, pupils and teacher Miss Knowles. Coutesy of DCM, Hawes.
© Thoralby Through Time

School photographs of Bishopdale (B) children can also be viewed in the Burton-cum-Walden section:

Robinson Memorial C.of E. School after 1928.


Memories of Bishopdale School 1924-1928 as remembered by Mrs. Nora Spence, née Tipaldy, (1919-2007) formerly of Dale Head Farm, Bishopdale written at Home Farm, Aysgarth (March, 1984) Nora was age 65.

... "I started school in 1924 at the age of 5 years. I walked with my brother [Jack Tiplady, aged 10] and sister [Mary Tiplady, aged 13] the mile and half to school and back in the evenings, carrying our lunch with us the teacher making us a hot drink on the stove. At the time we looked on it as an adventure with children joining us as we went along. There was very little traffic on the roads but if the odd car came along and gave us a lift, that was a red letter day. The traffic must have increased in the four years I was at the school because a white railing was put across the front of the porch, a few feet on to the road, to stop us from running straight out onto the road. There were about 12 children attending the school when I started. Our teacher, Miss Jackson, lived in the coachman’s flat above the stables at the Rookery. She taught all ages from 5 to 14. I remember as I grew older helping the little ones with their letters and hearing them read. Even though we had a good enclosed playground our playtimes were spent looking for bird’s nests, playing in the nearby Bishopdale Beck and picking wild flowers. We were always on the look-out for the first taken to the teacher. I remember the teacher letting us dig up a little garden at each side of the porch and buying us snap dragons to put in them. We thought they were wonderful flowers, not having seen them before.

The school had two rooms, one being used for religious purposes. It was heated by an open fire (still in use) and a combustion stove with a fire guard round it in the second room. The rooms were lit by oil lamps which hung from the ceiling. A wood partition divided the two room which could be opened to make one large room. I only remember it being opened for Harvest Festivals each year, when the whole building would be filled. There was one water tap outside and two double throne earth midden toilets one for the girls and one for the boys. Three inspectors visited the school and the Attendance Officer (who we called "The Kid Catcher") visited regularly. Holidays were given on Empire Day [24th May] and Leyburn Fair days in May and October. 

Every Monday at 3 o’clock Mr. Wylie, the Vicar at Aysgarth, would arrive on his bicycle, almost all weathers, cycling up Bishopdale against a head wind is some task, as I was to find out. He would talk to us for half an hour, then visit some of the farms. He would never stay to tea, but would ask for a piece of bread and butter in his hand, and be on his way to the next farm eating as he went. A man loved and respected by all.

Mr Alfred Lambert of Thoralby and Mr R[owly] Fawcett and Tom Dinsdale (all in their 83rd year) are the 3 oldest scholars. Alfred remembers when he started the school in 1906 there were were 26 children attending the school, one class, one teacher, a Miss Parry. The children's families were almost all tenants or staff of the Lodge family who at Christmas provided a tree and presents of books. 

I was one of the remaining five scholars when the school closed on 31st July 1928. Two having just left a large family moved to another district. We were taken by car to West Burton School, the car coming to Kidstones so we only had to walk across the fields to the road. We passed Cross Lanes School which had only one teacher and went on to West Burton which had two. I remember our fear and apprehension the first time we went to the larger school with many more scholars and though it took time for us to settle in, and for the West Burton children to accept us, we were very happy and soon made friends in our own age groups.

It was sad when thieves stripped the lead off the roof and took the hanging oil lamps. Bishopdale mission room is still used for services, but only monthly now and last year Bishopdale people had the whole building done up and painted and put new curtains up. It looks really nice and at last year’s Harvest Festival at least six old scholars were present, trying to put names to the initials carved on the desks. I suspect the building has survived the Lodge family."

Bishopdale school, showing the two separate entrances. Courtesy of DCM, Hawes.
© Thoralby Through Time
Bishopdale School, showing the dilapidated state of the building when lead removed from the roof, DCM, Hawes.
© Thoralby Through Time

Photographs showing the two separate entrances and the dilapidated state of the building when the lead was removed from the roof, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.

The table below shows the number of children on the school register, Bishopdale having such a small number of inhabitants it was always going to struggle to keep its school open. The teachers during the time period are also shown, there are no figures of the number of children on the school register before 1900 and none for 1919, or after 1925, the decreasing number of children was easily foreseen, hence its closure in 1928. It was agreed that should the number of children in Bishopdale increase significantly then the option to re-open the school should be available.

Courtesy of The National Archives: ED 21/19355 and ED 21/43198.

The following transcripts show some of the correspondence leading to the schools closure, courtesy of The National Archives: ED 21/43198. Initial plans had been to transfer the younger children to Cross Lanes School, but these changed to transferring all the children  to West Burton School.

North Riding of Yorkshire County Council, Education Committee, 27th March, 1928. 


School Accommodation - Bishopdale C.E. School

The Education Committee at their last meeting held this day had before them a report to the effect that there would be 6 children on the registers of the above school at the beginning of April, 1928, together a suggestion by the local Managers that arrangements might be made for the closure of the school and the conveyance of the children to some other school in the neighbourhood.

The Education Committer came the same conclusion that the necessity for the continuance of the school does not exit, and I was instructed to ask the Board to the consent to the permanent closure of the school on the understanding that the children, if satisfactory tenders are received, will be conveyed from "Kidstones" to the Newbiggin Cross Lanes C.E. School, or in the case of of the children 11 years of age and over, possibly to the Burton-cum-Walden, West Burton C.E. School.

I shall be pleased to receive the Board's consent to the proposed closure of the school as early as possible.


I am, Sir

Your obedient Servant,

The Secretary, Board of Education.

North Riding of Yorkshire County Council, Education Committee, 2nd May, 1928. 


Bishopdale C.E. School No. 28 E. 49/28/6

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of the Board's letter of the 1st instant with regard to the permanent closure of the above school. 

I may, however, say that it is the Education Committee's intention to arrange for the conveyance of the Bishopdale children to the Burton-cum-Walden, West Burton C.E. School, No. 42, and to convey any of the children to the Newbiggen Cross Lanes C.E. School.

It is understood that the Managers of both schools favour this course.

I hope to inform the Board in due course of the date of closure of the Bishopdale School.

I am, Sir

Your obedient Servant,

The Secretary, Board of Education.



Memo random to Yorks (N.R.) Local Education Authority

                                  1. Yorks (N.R.)

                                  2. Bishopdale C.of E. School 49/28                             10 August 1928

It is requested that the reply may given below. and duly signed and dated by the Correspondent or an officer authorised for the purpose.

The Memorandum should then be returned, with as little delay as possible, to the Secretary, Board of Education, Whitehall, London, S.W. 1.

Query or Observation

Reference No. }

or Section          E.49/28/9.

With reference to the Authority's letter of 16th May 1928, intimating the closure of the above-named School would take effect on 31st July 1928; it is requested that the Board may be informed of the date on which the children begin their attendance at the school to which they are to be transferred.

7th August 1928.


The conveyance of the Bishopdale children to the West Burton C.E. School will commence on the 20th August, 1928.

The School House today, now a home, 2013.
© Thoralby Through Time

The School House today, now a home, 2013.

bottom of page