top of page








(Courtesy of the Local Studies Collection, Northallerton Library)

"AYSGARTH. - This, the largest parish of the North Riding, comprises the townships of Aysgarth, High and Low Abbotside, Askrigg, Bainbridge, Bishopdale, Burton-with-Walden, Carperby-cum-Thoresby, Hawes, Newbiggin, Thoralby and Thornton Rust. The area of the whole is 77,308 statue acres; and its population in 1851 numbers 5,635 souls. The parish comprehends the upper part of the splendid valley called Wensleydale, and forms a very diversified district of high morlands and fertile dales, and extends 18 miles in length, from the borders of Westmorland to the vicinity of Redmire and West Witton, and averaging six miles breadth. It is bounded on the south by the hills of the West Riding, and on the north by the river Swale, which like the Ure, rises on its west limits and receives here many tributary streams. The latter river, in its progress through the parish, forms beautiful cataracts at Aysgarth, Askrigg, Hardraw, and West Burton. The moorlands are famed for grouse and other game, and the vales are principally in pasture. The district is noted for its superior dairy productions, butter and new milk cheeses. ... (p.388)


The Church (St. Andrew) stands on a lofty elevation on the south bank of the force, between thr upper and lower cataracts. It is a spacious and handsome structure, consisting of a west tower, and nave and choir, each having side aisles. It was originally erected in the reign of Henry III., but was altered and renovated in the reign of Henry VIII., as may be deduced from (p.389) the following inscription on the screen of the north chapel of the choir:- "A.S. Abbot, Anno D'ni. 1536." It belonged Jervaulx Abbey, and Adam Sedber, or Sedburgh, the last Abbot of Jervaulx, is the person meant by whom the restoration must have been made. This Abbot was attained in the very year the Church was restored, and was hanged in the following year at Tyburn. Here is a very finely carved oak rood-screen and loft, said to have been brought from the Abbey Church of Jervaulx; and part of the Abbot's and some other stalls. One of the later bears a carved tun with a hazel and lion, with the letter w above the tree-the rebus of William de Heslington, Abbot in 1745. In the great east window still remain, in stained glass, the calves of Metcalfe, and the arms of Scrope impailing Neville. Amongst the modern inscriptions is one commemorating Lieut. James Fawcett Wray, 7th Fuseillers, who fell at the storming of Badajoz, in 1812 aged 24. He was the son of George Wray, Esq., of Town Head [Old Hall], Thoralby, and according to the inscription, the tablet was "erected in token of esteem and regret by his brother officers of the Loyal Dale Volunteers.


The Living is a Discharged Vicarage, rated in the King's Books at £19.6s.8d., and now worth about £150. a year, having been augmented in 1734 with £200. of Queen Anne's Bounty. The patronage and appropriate tithes belong to Trinity College, Cambridge, and the present Vicar is the Rev. John Winn. There is no Vicarage House. [Stow House was built in 1876 for the Reverend Fenwick William Stow who lived there for some 27 years.]. Alexander Neville, Archbishop of York, was the Vicar of this parish. (p.390) ...


The Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists, and Society of Friends,* have each a place of worship at Aysgarth; and there is a National School, a good lofty building, with Gothic windows, erected in 1837, by subscription. About 50 children attend.


*The Society of Friends possess several lands and houses at Newsome, near Richmond, at Reeth, Masham, Leyburn, Hawes, Bainbridge, Aysgarth, Carperby, &c., in the hands of trustees, for the poor of the society other charitable purposes connected with the body. There is a house and close of land for the use of the person who has the care of the Meeting House at Aysgarth. (p.391) ...


Bishopdale. - Bishopdale, or Bishop's Dale, like Raydale, branches out of Wensleydale. The vale can have received its name no later than the Saxon period, and probably it then belonged to the Archbishop of York. In Leland's time (three centuries ago) this chase belonged to the King, and "yn the hillies about hit be redde deer. In fairre winters the deare keepe there; in sharp winters they forsake the extreme cold and barenes of them." The Royal Antiquary also mentions "a praty car or pole," which has entirely vanished, unless he confounds it with Lake Simmerwater [Bishopdale Carr]. The valley or dale is sheltered on both sides with high verdant hills, and contains some of as fine meadow or grazing land as can be found in any part of the County. Bishopdale terminates at Kidstones Bank, a steep hill which divides it from the adjacent Langstrothdale. From the road crossing the hill, a beautiful view down the dale is obtained. On either side, the hills, green nearly to each summit, slope down, sometimes gradually, and sometimes with a startling abruptness. Waterfalls of various magnitude abound, "dashing diamonds against the sunshine in giddy merriment." In some of these the water falls from a height of thirty or forty yards into vast and rocky ravines, beautified by a rich variety of foliage. In Bishopdale a very large proportion of the far-famed Wensleydale Cheese is manufactured, and also very (p.406) considerable quantities of butter. Thoralby and West Burton are the only two villages of note in Bishopdale. Lead ore is found on High Scarr.


Bishopdale Township extends from 3 to 6 miles S. of Aysgarth; is 12 miles S.W. of Leyburn; contains 4.805 acres ; and in 1851 it had 77 inhabitants. Its rateable value is £1,757. The houses are scattered at irregular distances from each other. The principal proprietors of the soil are Ralph Lodge, Esq., and Wood Metcalfe, Esq. William Purchas, Esq., is Lord of the Manor. The Rookery the residence of Ralph Lodge, Esq., is seated at the base of a lofty hill, and is embossed in fine old trees. The situation is pleasant, picturesque, and romantic, and at the rear of the house is a thriving plantation. Indeed the scenery of the entire neighbourhood is exceedingly picturesque and beautiful.


The great tithes, the property of Trinity College, Cambridge, have been commuted for rent charges amounting all together to £76. 15s. ... (p.407)



Burton-with-Walden Township.- This township is situated in Bishopdale. Its area is 6,790 acres; population, 483 souls; rateable value, £3,457. The principal landowners are William Purchas, Esq. (Lord of the Manor of Burton-cum-Walden, which comprises also Aysgarth, Thoralby, Newbiggin, and Bishopdale), John Hammond, Esq., Rev. I. Tennant, and W.R. Wray, Esq. The impropriate tithes were commuted for a rent charge of £135., payable to Trinity College, Cambridge. As above stated, the land in the vale is very good.

West Burton, or Burton-in-Bishopdale, once a market town, is now a pleasant village, consisting of one very broad street of irregularly built houses, seated on a gently rising ground 6 miles E.S.E. of Askrigg, and 8 miles S.W. by W. from Leyburn. It is situated at the foot of Bishopdale, and is sheltered on all sides by lofty moors and fells, in a district abounding with fine scenery. The Bishopdale and Walden rivulets unite below Burton, and flow northward to the Yore below Aysgarth. Here still remain the ancient octangular stone market cross, the remains of the old wooden stocks, and the remnant of modern barbarism, the bull ring. There are two octangular pumps of stone. A very neat Independent Chapel was erected here, in 1851, on the site of an old mansion. It is in the Early English style, buttressed at the side and angle, with a high pitched roof and bell gable. There is also a small Wesleyan Chapel. A school was erected in 1748, at a cost of £80., left by John Sadler, in 1742, who endowed it with an annual rent charge of £16., but it has not been paid since 1793, the devise being considered void. There are Fairs held here on March 10th and May 6th, for horses, cattle, and sheep. Lead is obtained here in small quantities, and there are likewise two coal (p.407) mines and a stone quarry. Near the village a pretty waterfall on Walden Beck.

Flanders Hall, the residence of William Purchas, Esq., is pleasantly situate on the bank of the river.

Sorrow Syke House and Morpeth Lodge, attached, form the handsome residence f the Misses Tennant. The building is modern, in the castellated style, with a round tower and small square turrets at each end. The lawn in front is neatly laid out with statues, flower beds, &c. The house is picturesquely hesitated at the base of a very steep rugged hill called Morpeth Gate, hence the west wing of the mansion is called Morpeth Lodge. From the drawing room, west, there is an excellent view down three dales, viz., Wensleydale, Bishopdale and the vale of Walden. This interesting spot is about 1½ mile from Aysgarth falls.

Walden consists of a few scattered farm houses, and extends in a southerly direction form West Burton for about two to five miles, between lofty moors and fells. The poor of the township have a close purchased with £50., left by one Metcalfe; and a piece of land in Aysgarth purchased with £40., left by John Lupton, in 1784. These closes now yield an annual rental of about £10. They also have an ancient rent charge of 10s. per ann.: and the interest of £30., left by Eliz. Whiting, in 1756, for apprenticing children. (p.408)





Newbiggin Township. - This township, according to Parliamentary returns, contains 2,000 acres of land, of the rateable value of £1,134. The population of the place in 1851 was 130. The principal landowners are John Hammond, William Purchas and John Chapman Esqrs. The manorial rights belong to Wm. Purchas, Esq. The land rises into bold moorland hills, in some of which lead ore is found.


The Village is small, and stands 6 miles S.E. from Askrigg, and 8 miles W.S.W. of Middleham. It contains two good farmhouses, and the rest are old thatched dilapidated buildings. At Cross Lanes, between Newbiggin and Thoralby, is a School, founded in 1748 by Elizabeth Whithay, who endowed (p.411) it with 2A. 2R. 26P. of land. A few children are taught free. The impropriate tithes of this township have been commuted for £28. 15s. (p.412)








Thoralby Township. - Area, 2,480 acres; population, 288 souls; rateable value, £2,252. Lord of the manor, Wm. Purchas, Esq.; the principal landowners are the Purchas family, General Dixon, and J.R. Wray, Esq. The lordship of Thoralby was conveyed from the citizens of London to Major Thornton, Esq., of St. Nicholas, near Richmond, in 1661.


The Village of Thoralby, which is a scattered one, is pleasantly situated on the west side of Bishopdale, 5 miles E.S.E. from Askrigg. In the hills in this locality are lead mines and iron ore; and there is likewise here a mineral spring, and a fine waterfall called Silver Chain Force. The Wesleyans have a small Chapel at Thoralby, built in 1823, and the Primitive Methodists have also a place of worship there. Chapel Close is the site of the Chapel founded by Maria de Neville, Lady of Middleham, in 1316. Littleburn House, an ancient mansion, is now a farmhouse. Matthew, the fourth Lord Rokeby, resided in it, and whilst there published a play, entitled "John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough," which was printed by Mr. Fall of Leyburn.* At Edgley for some time resided the well-known Mrs. Montague, at whose house in London the famous Blue Stocking Club was held. She was by birth a Robinson, and was aunt to the above mentioned Lord Rokeby. Warnford Cottage is the residence of Wm. Purchas, Esq. The poor of Thoralby and Newbiggin have 4½ acres of land left by one Butterfield; the interest of £3. 6s. 8d., left by James Hammond; an annuity of 20s., left by Charles Robinson; and a yearly rent charge of 20s., bequeathed by a person named Harrison. The impropriate tithes were commuted for £69." (p.412)



bottom of page