top of page

Thoralby's Ancient Buildings,


Thoralby's Ancient Buildings, 

Dalesman, 1950 Vol. 12 p.269

By W.H. Hodkinson

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes)

The following is a transcription from the above Book:

Transcribed from the Dalesman Vol. 12 October 1950 by W.H. Hodkinson pp.269-270

p. 269 Every village and hamlet in Wensleydale has its history and local lore, yet for its size no other village has the quaint charm of Thoralby. Standing in Bishop Dale, that beautiful smaller sister of the major dale, it is surrounded by hills that change colour with every mood of the weather. It was here that Marie de Neville, Lady of Middleham, founded her chapel early 14th century. There were originally two cells for the two monks alongside the chapel. The chantry remained in use until Henry VIII began his dissolution of the monasteries. There are no ruins to remnate the past, just the site, which has become known as Chapel Close [Chapel Garth]. At the foot of the hill that winds down from Aysgarth are three attached cottages, one is now in disuse, that were once a hostelry. You can still see the stone steps from which the travellers would mount their horses.


The other cottage, down Goose Lane, gives the impression of being the private part reserved for "mine host". There are records that show that the


p. 270  in was once sold for £20. At the other end of the village is Littleburn Hall, once the home of the enigmatic Matthew, fourth Lord Rokeby. Now a farmhouse, it is plain and Georgian in style. Why Matthew chose this quiet spot in which to settle is not known. The general idea is that he had wasted the greatest part of his fortune in riotous living. Even then he must have had an eye for beauty, for from his window he would see the serene outline of Newbiggin village and the huge green hillock of Wassett Fell. That Rokeby had some claim to culture, too, is evidenced in his writing a play about the Duke of Marlborough. Whether it was ever acted, no one seems to know, but it was at least printed, presumably at his Lordship's cost. Thoralby has many other old houses, built by men who had sufficient pride in their homes to leave their initials thereon. You can see them, 17th century, 18th century, 19th century. Queer is the inscription over a house built in 1641. The owner omitted his initials, but inserted the words "Ano Dom". Though surely he never expected anyone to suspect any other. Thoralby has its utility building too. In the last century the mill at the foot of the steep hill at the south end of the village was used as a flour mill. Later cheese was made there. Even now, although it has long ceased to be used for such purposes, it is known as the "Cheese Factory". Today it is Thoralby's electric power house. Strangest thing of all about this sleepy little village is its hydro-electrification. For several years the mill stream has supplied the motivating power to light the centuries old cottages of the Wensleydale village.

bottom of page