The Evolution Of An English Town
by Gordon Home
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

It reads as follows, the lines in brackets having the contractions expanded:—

[Transcriber's Note: The " "s below are my best rendition in plain ASCII of a Saxon ampersand, which is a long vertical bar with a short horizontal bar at the top, pointing to the left.]







Completed under the dial.


The modern rendering is generally accepted as: "Orm, the son of Gamal, bought St Gregory's minster (or church) when it was all broken and fallen, and caused it to be made anew from the ground for Christ and St Gregory in the days of King Edward, and in the days of Earl Tosti, and Hawarth wrought me and Brand the Prior, (priest or priests)."

Along the top of the dial and round the perimeter the inscription reads:—



It is interesting to know that the antiquaries of a century or more ago rendered this simple sentence as: "This is a draught exhibiting the time of day, while the sun is passing to and from the winter-solstice." They also made a great muddle of the words: "& HE HIT LET MACAN NEWAN," their rendering being "CHEHITLE AND MAN NEWAN," the translation being supposed to read: "Chehitle and others renewed it, etc." With Mr Brooke's paper is given a large steel engraving of the stone, but it is curiously inaccurate in many details. At Edstone church there is another sundial over the south doorway as at Kirkdale, and there is every reason to believe that it belongs to the same period. The inscription above the dial reads:—


On the left side is the following:—


From the drawing given here the inscription is palpably incomplete, as though the writer had been suddenly stopped in his work. Nothing is known of Lothan beyond the making of this sundial, so that the fixing of the date can only be by comparative reasoning. At Kirkdale, on the other hand, we know that Tosti, Harold's brother, became Earl of Northumbria in 1055, we know also that the Northumbrians rose against Tosti's misgovernment and his many crimes, among which must be placed the murder of the Gamal mentioned in the inscription, and that in 1065 Tosti was outlawed, his house-carles killed, and his treasures seized. After this we also know that Tosti was defeated by the Earls Edwin and Morcar, and having fled to Scotland, submitted himself to Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, who had arrived in the Tyne with his fleet early in September 1066, that they then sailed southwards, and having sacked Scarborough defeated Edwin and Morcar at Fulford near York only eight days before the landing of William the Norman at Pevensey. Harold having made forced marches reached York on September the 24th, and defeated his brother and the Norwegian king, both being slain in the battle which was fought at Stamford Bridge on the Derwent. Harold was forced to take his wearied army southwards immediately after the battle to meet the Frenchmen at Hastings, and the great disaster of Senlac Hill occurred on October the 14th. This stone at Kirkdale is thus concerned with momentous events in English history, for the murder of Gamal and the insurrection of Tosti may be considered two of the links in the chain of events leading to the Norman Conquest.

A great deal of interest has centred round an Anglo-Saxon cross-slab built into the west wall of Kirkdale church. At the time of its discovery the late Rev. Daniel H. Haigh[1] tells us that a runic inscription spelling Kununc Oithilwalde, meaning "to King AEthelwald," was quite legible. This would seem to indicate that the founder of Lastingham monastery was buried at Kirkdale, or that the site of Bede's, "Laestingaeu" was at Kirkdale if the stone has not been moved from its original position.

[Footnote 1: Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, v. 134.]

The inscription has now perished, but Bishop Browne tells us[1] that when he had photographs taken of the stone in 1886 "there was only one rune left, the 'Oi' of the king's name." "I have seen, however," he says, "the drawing made of the letters when the stone was found, and many of them were still legible when the Rev. Daniel Haigh worked at the stone." There seems little doubt that this most valuable inscription might have been preserved if the stone had been kept from the action of the air and weather.

[Footnote 1: Browne, Rt. Rev. G.F.: "The Conversion of the Heptarchy," p. 151.]

There are several other pre-Norman sculptured stones at Kirkdale. They are generally built into the walls on the exterior, and are not very apparent unless carefully looked for. In the vestry some fragments of stone bearing interlaced ornament are preserved.

Not only at Kirkdale are these pre-Norman stones built into walls that appear to belong to a date prior to the Conquest, but also at Middleton there is a fine cross forming part of the fabric of the church tower. The west doorway now blocked up is generally considered to be of Saxon work, but the quoins of the tower, though bearing much resemblance to the pure "long and short" work that may be seen at Bradford-on-Avon, are composed of stones that are almost equal in height.

The Rev. Reginald Caley has suggested that the original Saxon tower of Brompton church may have been incorporated into the present structure whose walls are of unusual thickness, the stone work in some places showing characteristics of pre-Norman workmanship. At Ellerburne the curious spiral ornaments of the responds of the chancel arch have also been attributed to pre-Norman times, but in this case and possibly at Middleton also, the Saxon features may have appeared in Norman buildings owing to the employment of Saxon workmen, who did not necessarily for several years entirely abandon their own methods, despite the fact that they might be working under Norman masters. There is a very roughly hewn font in the little chapel of Ease, in the village of Levisham. It bears a cross and a rope ornamentation, and may possibly be of pre-Norman origin, although it was being used as a cattle trough in a neighbouring farmyard before the restoration in 1884. The parish church of Levisham, standing alone in the valley below the village, has a very narrow and unadorned chancel arch. This may possibly belong to Saxon or very early Norman times, but Mr Joseph Morris[1] has pointed out that a similar one occurs at Scawton, which is known to have been built in 1146, and the evidence of a Saxon stone built into the south-east corner of the chancel of Levisham church supports my belief in the later date. On the south wall of the chancel of Lockton church I have seen a roughly shaped oblong stone bearing in one corner the markings of a very rude sundial, and I find that there is another on the wall of a cottage in the same village.[2] I am unable to give its position, but from a drawing I have examined, it appears to be of more careful workmanship than the one built into the church wall. At Sinnington church another of these very crude sundials has been discovered, and what may be part of a similar one is high up on the east wall of the chancel of Ellerburne church. At Kirby Moorside a fine cross with interlaced work is built into the porch of the vicarage. At Wykeham there is a very plain cross of uncertain age, and Ellerburne, Lastingham, Sinnington, Kirkdale, Kirby Misperton, and Middleton are all rich in carved crosses and incised slabs. Pickering church only possesses one fragment of stone work that we may safely attribute to a date prior to the Conquest. It seems to be part of the shaft or of an arm of a cross, and bears one of the usual types of dragon as well as knot or interlaced ornament. The font, which has been thought by some to be of Saxon origin, seems to be formed from part of the inverted base of a pillar, and though composed of old material, probably dates in its present form of a font from as recent a period as the restoration of Charles II., the original font having been destroyed in Puritan times (Chapter X.). It would appear that when it was decided to build a large Norman church at Pickering the desire to put up a building that would be a great advance on the previous structure—for we cannot suppose that Pickering was without a church in Saxon times—-led to the destruction of every trace of the earlier building.

[Footnote 1: Morris, J.E.: "The North Riding of Yorkshire," p. 33.]

[Footnote 2: Illustrated, facing p. 209, "Associated Architectural Societies' Reports," vol. xii. 1873.]

Hinderwell mentions a curious legend in connection with the cave in a small conical hill at Ebberston, that has since been destroyed. The country people called it Ilfrid's Hole, the tradition being that a Saxon king of that name took shelter there when wounded after a battle. An inscription that was formerly placed above the cave said: "Alfrid, King of Northumberland, was wounded in a bloody battle near this place, and was removed to Little Driffield, where he lies buried; hard by his entrenchments may be seen." The roughly built stone hut with a domed roof that now crowns the hill is within twenty yards of the site of the cave, and was built by Sir Charles Hotham in 1790 to preserve the memory of this legendary king. In the period that lay between the conversion of Northumbria to Christianity in 627, and the ravages of Dane and Northman in the ninth and tenth centuries, we know by the traces that survive that the Saxons built a church in each of their villages, and that they placed beautifully sculptured crosses above the graves of their dead. The churches were small and quite simple in plan, generally consisting of a nave and chancel, with perhaps a tower at the west end. Owing to the importance of Pickering the Saxon church may have been a little in advance of the rest, and its tower may have been ornamented as much as that of Earl's Barton, but we are entering the dangerous realms of conjecture, and must be reconciled to that one fragment of a pre-Norman cross that is now carefully preserved in the south aisle of the present building.


The Forest and Vale in Norman Times

A.D. 1066-1154

In the early years of the reign of William I., when the northern counties rose against his rule, the Pickering district seems to have required more drastic treatment than any other. In 1069 the Conqueror spent the winter in the north of England, and William of Malmesbury describes how "he ordered the towns and fields of the whole district to be laid waste; the fruits and grain to be destroyed by fire or by water ... thus the resources of a once flourishing province were cut off, by fire, slaughter, and devastation; the ground for more than sixty miles, totally uncultivated and unproductive, remains bare to the present day." This is believed to have been written about 1135, and would give us grounds for believing that the desolation continued for over sixty years. A vivid light is thrown on the destruction wrought at Pickering by the record in the Domesday Book, which is as follows:—

"In Picheringa there are to be taxed thirty-seven carucates of land, which twenty ploughs may till. Morcar held this for one manor, with its berewicks Bartune (Barton), Neuuctune (Newton), Blandebi (Blandsby) and Estorp (Easthorp). It is now the king's. There is therein one plough and twenty villanes with six ploughs; meadow half a mile long and as much broad: but all the wood which belongs to the manor is sixteen miles long and four broad. This manor in the time of King Edward was valued at fourscore and eight pounds; now at twenty shillings and four-pence."[1]

[Footnote 1: "Dom Boc," the Yorkshire Domesday. The Rev. Wm. Bawdwen, 1809, p. 11]

This remarkable depreciation from L88 to L1 and 4d. need not be, as Bawdwen thought, a mistake in the original, but an ample proof of the vengeance of the Conqueror. All the lands belonging to the powerful Saxon Earls Edwin and Morcar seem to have suffered much the same fate.

The Domesday account also mentions that "To this manor belongs the soke of these lands, viz.: Brunton (Brompton), Odulfesmare ( ), Edbriztune (Ebberston), Alnestune (Allerston), Wiltune (Wilton), Farmanesbi (Farmanby), Rozebi (Roxby), Chinetorp (Kinthorp), Chilnesmares ( ), Aschilesmares ( ), Maxudesmares ( ), Snechintune (Snainton), Chigogemers ( ), Elreburne (Ellerburne), Torentune (Thornton), Leuccen (Levisham), Middeletun (Middleton) and Bartune (Barton). In the whole there are fifty carucates to be taxed, which twenty-seven ploughs may till. There are now only ten villanes, having two ploughs: the rest is waste; yet there are twenty acres of meadow. The whole length is sixteen miles and the breadth four."

The unrecognisable names all end in mare, mares or mers, suggesting that they were all on the marshes and Bawdwen is probably incorrect in calling Locte-mares—Low-moors. Associated with each place the Domesday record gives the names of the former landowners.

I give them in tabular form:—

Manor in Domesday Modern Name Held by

Bruntune Brompton Ulf Truzstal Troutsdale Archil Alurestan Allerston Gospatric Loctemares Low-moors or marshes Archil Torentun Thornton-le-dale Torbrand, Gospatric and Tor Elreburne Ellerburne Gospatric

Dalbi Dalby " Chetelestorp Kettlethorp " Lochetun Lockton Ulchil Aslachesbi Aislaby Gospatric Wereltun Wrelton " Caltorne Cawthorne " Croptune Cropton " Abbetune Habton Ulf and Cnut Ritun Ryton Canute Berg. Barugh Ligulf Berg " Esbern Wellebrune Welburn Grim Normanebi Normanby Gamel Bragebi Brawby Ulf Chirchebi (?) Kirby Moorside Torbrant Chirchebi (?) Kirkdale Gamel Lestingeham Lastingham " Spantun Spaunton " Dalbi Dalby Gamel Sevenicton (?) Sinnington Torbrand Hotun Hutton-le-hole or Torbrant Hutton Buscel Atun Ayton Gamel Micheledestun Great Edstone " Parva Edestun Little Edstone Torbrant Mispeton, now Belonging to Kirby Misperton Chirchebi

The number of ploughs, of oxgangs and carucates, and of villanes and bordars in each manor is given in Domesday, but to give each extract in full would take up much space and would be a little wearisome.

We know that the impoverished country was, like the rest of England, given by the Conqueror to his followers. The village of Hutton Buscel obtains its name from the Buscel family which came over to England with William the Norman. Hinderwell, quoting[1] from some unnamed source, tells us that "Reginald Buscel (whose father came over with the Conqueror) married Alice, the sister of William, Abbot of Whitby, and at the time of his marriage, gave the church of Hotun, which his father had built, to the monastery of Whitby." This was before the year 1154, and the lower part of the tower of the present church of Hutton Buscel, being of Norman date, may belong to that early building.

[Footnote 1: Thomas Hinderwell: "History of Scarborough," p. 331.]

On Vivers Hill to the east of the village of Kirby Moorside there are indications among the trees of what is believed to have been the castle of the Stutevilles. Robert de Stuteville is said to have come over with the Conqueror, and to have received land at Kirby Moorside as a reward for his services.

The country having received the full fury of William's wrath very slowly recovered its prosperity under Norman rulers. On the slope of the hills all the way from Scarborough to Helmsley, castles began to make their appearance, and sturdy Norman churches were built in nearly every village.

The arches on the north side are of much simpler Norman work. The nearest painting shows the story of the legendary St Katherine of Alexandria.

[Copyright is reserved by Dr John L Kirk.]

The great Norman keep of Scarborough Castle with its shattered side still frowns above the holiday crowds of that famous seaside resort, but of the other strongholds of the district built in this castle-building age it is not easy to speak with certainty. But the evidences of Norman work are fairly plain at Pickering Castle, and there seems little doubt that a fortress of some strength was built at this important point to overawe the inhabitants. Mr G.T. Clark in his "Mediaeval Military Architecture"[1] says that he considers Pickering Castle to represent "one great type of Anglo-Norman fortress—that is, a castle of Norman masonry upon an English earthwork, for the present walls, if not Norman, are unquestionably laid on Norman lines." He thinks that the earthworks would be taken possession of and fortified either late in the eleventh or early in the twelfth century, and that the keep, the chief part of the curtain walls, and the Norman door near the northwest corner are remains of this building. The gateways may be Norman or they may belong to the time of Richard II. (1377-99) but Mr Clark inclines to the earlier date. It is possible that the Norman doorway just mentioned may have been an entrance to one of the towers mentioned by Leland but now completely lost sight of. The architrave has a beaded angle ornamented with pointed arches repeated, and if it is of late Norman date it is the only part of the castle which Mr Clark considers to be "distinctly referable to that period."

[Footnote 1: George T. Clark: "Mediaeval Military Architecture in England," p.372.]

There is no doubt at all that the arcades of the present nave of Pickering church, were built at this time, and the lower part of the tower is also of Norman date. The north arcade is earlier than that on the south side, having perfectly plain semi-circular arches and massive columns with fluted capitals. On the south the piers are much more ornate, the contrast being very plainly seen in the photograph reproduced here.

To have necessitated such a spacious church at this time, Pickering must have been a populous town; possibly it grew on account of the safety afforded by the castle, and it seems to indicate the importance of the place in the time of the Norman kings.

One of the most complete little Norman churches in Yorkshire is to be seen at Salton, a village about six miles south-west of Pickering. It appears to have been built at the beginning of the twelfth century, and afterwards to have suffered from fire, parts of the walls by their redness showing traces of having been burnt. A very thorough restoration has given the building a rather new aspect, but this does not detract from the interest of the church. The chancel arch is richly ornamented with two patterns of zig-zag work, the south door of the nave has a peculiar decoration of double beak-heads, and though some of the early windows have been replaced by lancets, a few of the Norman slits remain.

Middleton church has already been mentioned as containing what appears to be a Saxon doorway in the tower. This may have been saved from an earlier building together with the lower part of the tower, but if it did not come into existence before the conquest the tower and nave were built in early Norman times. The south arcade probably belongs to the latest phase of Transitional Norman architecture, if not the commencement of the early English period. Running along the west and north walls of the north aisle is a stone bench, an unusual feature even in Norman churches.

Ellerburne church has some very interesting Norman work in the chancel arch. The ornament is so crude that it would seem as though very primitive Saxon workmen had been working under Norman influence, for, while the masonry is plainly of the Norman period, the ornament appears to belong to an earlier time. There must have been a church at Normanby at this period, for the south door of the present building is Norman. Sinnington church also belongs to this time. The Norman chancel arch was taken down many years ago, but the stones having been preserved in the church it was found possible to replace them in their original position at the Restoration in 1904. There are remains of three doorways including the blocked one at the west end. The south doorway is Transitional Norman, and is supposed to have been added about 1180. The porch and present chancel belong to the thirteenth century, but during the Restoration some interesting relics of the earlier Norman chancel were discovered in the walls of the fabric that replaced it. A small stone coffin containing human remains with several wild boars' tusks and a silver wire ring was found in the nave.

Lastingham church as it now stands is only part of the original Transitional Norman church, for there are evidences that the nave extended to the west of the present tower which was added in the fifteenth century. It appears that the western part of the nave was destroyed or injured not many years after its erection, and that the eastern part was repaired in early English times. The chancel with its vaulted roof and circular apse, and the crypt beneath, are of the same date as the original nave, and though the capitals of the low columns in the crypt might be thought to be of earlier work, expert opinion places them at the same Transitional Norman date. The crypt has a nave, apse and aisles, and is therefore a complete little underground church. Semi-circular arches between the pillars support the plain vaulting only a few feet above one's head, and the darkness is such that it requires a little time to be able to see the foliage and interlaced arches of the capitals surmounting the squat columns.

At Brompton the Perpendicular church contains evidences of the building of this period that once existed there, in the shape of four Norman capitals, two of them built into the east wall of the south aisle and two in the jambs of the chancel arch. In the massive walls of the lower part of the tower there may also be remains of the Norman building.

At the adjoining village of Snainton the old church was taken down in 1835, but the Norman stones of the south doorway of the nave have been re-erected, and now form an arch in an adjoining wall. The font of the same period having been found in a garden, was replaced in the church on a new base in 1893. In Edstone church the Norman font, with a simple arcade pattern running round the circular base, is still to be seen, and at Levisham the very plain chancel arch mentioned in the preceding chapter is also of Norman work. Allerston church has some pieces of zig-zag ornament built into the north wall, and Ebberston church has a slit window on the north side of the chancel, and the south door built in Norman times. The nave arcade at Ebberston may belong to the Transitional Norman period and the font also.

Most of the churches in the neighbourhood of Pickering are, therefore, seen to have either been built in the Norman age or to possess fragments of the buildings that were put up in that period. The difficulty of preventing the churches from being too cold was met in some degree by having no windows on the north side as at Sinnington, and those windows that faced the other cardinal points were sufficiently small to keep out the extremes of temperature.

The written records belonging to the Norman period of the history of Pickering seem to have largely disappeared, so that with the exception of the Domesday Book, and a few stray references to people or places in this locality, we are largely dependent on the buildings that have survived those tempestuous years.

Pickering appears to have been a royal possession during the whole of this time, and it is quite probable that the Norman kings hunted in the forest and lodged with their Courts in the castle, for a writ issued by Henry I. is dated at Pickering.


The Forest and Vale in the Time of the Plantagenets

A.D. 1154 to 1485

The story of these three centuries is told to a most remarkable extent in the numerous records of the Duchy of Lancaster relating to the maintenance of the royal Forest of Pickering. They throw a clear light on many aspects of life at Pickering, and by picking out some of the more picturesque incidents recorded we may see to what extent the severe forest laws kept in check the poaching element in the neighbourhood. We can also discover some incidents in connection with the visits of some of the English kings to the royal forest of Pickering, as well as matters relating to the repair of the castle.

In the Parliament of 1295, in Edward I.'s reign, Pickering, for the first and only occasion, sent representatives to the national assembly. The parliamentary return states[1] that the persons returned on that occasion were

Robertus Turcock Robertus Turcock,

but whether this is a mistake by the recorder or whether two men of the same name were returned is uncertain.

[Footnote 1: G.R. Park, "The Parliamentary Representation of Yorkshire, 1886," pp. 266 and 283.]

Among the High Sheriffs of Yorkshire in the fourteenth and fifteenth Centuries were

1390 Richard II. Jacobus de Pykering. 1394 " " " 1398 " " " 1432 Henry VI. Sir Richard de Pykering. 1450 " Sir James de Pykering knt.

In 1311 Johannes de Cropton was one of the members for Scarborough in Edward II.'s Parliament of that year.

Pickering was held as royal property by William the Conqueror, and with a few short intervals it has remained crown property until the present day. It is therefore no matter for surprise to find that several of the Plantagenet kings came to hunt in the forest. It appears to have been a royal possession in the time of Henry I., and also in February 1201, when King John visited the castle,[1] for a charter granted by him to the nuns of Wykeham is dated at Pickering. In 1248 William Lord d'Acre was made keeper of the castle, but towards the close of his reign Henry III. (1216-1272) gave the castle, manor, and forest of Pickering to his son Edmund Crouchback, and from him the property has descended through the Lancastrian branch of the royal family, so that it now forms part of the possessions of the Duchy of Lancaster.

[Footnote 1: Young's "History of Whitby," vol. ii. p. 733.]

From other records we find that King John was also at Pickering for at least a day in August 1208 and in March 1210.

In 1261 Pickering Castle was held against Henry III. by Hugh le Bigod, and some of the wardrobe accounts of the reign of Edward II. have reference to a visit to Pickering. The place must have had painful memories for the king in connection with the capture of his favourite Piers Gaveston at Scarborough Castle in 1312. This visit was, however, separated from that fateful event by eleven years.

"3 August 1323, at Pickering. Paid to William Hunt, the King's huntsman, by way of gift at the direction of Harsike—L1; to Agnes, wife of Roger de Mar, porter of the chamber, gift—10s.: to Guillot de la Pittere, groom of the Queen's chamber, gift—L1; to Dighton Wawayn, valet of Robert Wawayn, carrying letters from his master to the king, gift—2s. To John, son of Ibote of Pickering, who followed the king a whole day when he hunted the stag in Pickering chase, gift by order—10s.; to Walter de Seamer, Mariner, keeper of the ship called the Magdalen, of which Cook atte Wose was master, a gift, the money being given to John Harsike to give him— L1.

"23 August, at Egginton, on Blakey Moor. Paid to Sir Roger de Felton, Knight of the King's Chamber, for his ransom at the time when he was taken by the Scots at Rievaulx in company with the Earl of Richmond, in October, 1322, a gift by the hands of John Harsike, who delivered the money to Sir Roger in the King's presence, L100.

"To Edmund Dorney, the King's palfrey man, who always followed the King when he hunted—L1.

"31 August, at Glascowollehouse. Paid to Ernest, running footman of Sir Robert del Idle, who carried letters to the King, a gift 6s. 8d.; to Dan Thomas de Broghton, monk of Rievaulx, to buy him a coat, a gift—10s."

The entries show that the king journeyed to Whorlton Castle to stay with Nicholas de Meynell. He seems to have gone by way of Lockton and Spaunton Moor, and appears to have stayed a night at Danby. The accounts mention an amount paid on September 1st to certain foresters' servants who set the king's nets to take roe-deer in Whorlton Park, and we also discover that the day's sport was varied by the singing of Alice the red-haired and Alice de Whorlton, who gave "Simon de Montfort" and other songs before the king, and received a gift of 4s.

The poor of Pickering profited by the royal visits. Here are two items in the accounts.

"26 September [1323] at Skipton. Paid, by order of the King, to Lorchon Sewer alms distributed by the King at Pickering—3d."

In 1334 Edward III. was more generous than his predecessor, for we find "26 May. Alms—to Sir Walter de London, King's Almoner, for food for 100 poor on the feast of Corpus Christi at Pickering, at the hands of his clerk Henry—12s. 6d." During the hunting in the forest a hound was lost and recovered as follows:—

"June, (at Beverley), given to Robert de Bridgegate, leading to the King a hound lost at Pickering, a gift the same day 6s. 8d."

The reference to the Scottish raid as far south as Rievaulx Abbey touches an event of great interest. In 1322 the Scots, led by Robert Bruce, had entered England and plundered many places, including the splendid Cistercian monastery just mentioned, and the following record shows that the Vale of Pickering purchased immunity for 300 marks.

"John Topcliffe Rector of Semer Wm. Wyern & John Wickham with others of Pickering with the assent of the whole community, on Tuesday 13th Oct. 1322 purchased from Robert Bruce through the Earl of Moray for 300 marks, to be paid at Berwick, half at Candlemas next & the other half at Trinity next, the immunity of the Vale of Pickering from the River Seven on the west to the sea on the east. Further they say that Nich's Haldane, Wm. Hastings and John Manneser, at the request of the men of the whole community, surrendered at Rievaulx to Robert Bruce on Saturday the 17th of Oct. following, to sojourn as hostages in Scotland until the 300 marks were paid. Further they say that the 300 marks are still unpaid, for afterwards the men of the community refused payment and once for all. Further they said that the said Nicholas William and John are still in prison in Scotland, and all the men and all townships, manors, hamlets, lands and tenements of the said Vale within the bounds aforesaid were preserved from all damage and injury whatsoever through the above-mentioned ransom."

From the Chronicle of John Hardyng we find that Richard II. was imprisoned at Pickering before being taken to Knaresborough, and finally to Pontefract. The lines in his quaint verse must have been written between 1436 and 1465.

"The Kyng the[n] sent Kyng Richard to Ledis, There to be kepte surely in previtee, Fro the[n]s after to Pykeryng we[n]t he nedes, And to Knauesburgh after led was he, But to Pountfrete last where he did die." [1]

[Footnote 1: The Chronicle of John Hardyng, edited by Henry Ellis, 1812, p. 356.]

There seems little doubt that the story of the murder of the king at Pontefract Castle by Sir Piers Exton is untrue, but "nothing is certainly known of the time, place, or manner of his death."

The records of the Coucher Book contain a mass of interesting and often entertaining information concerning the illicit removals of oak trees from the forest, hunting and killing the royal deer and other animals, as well as many other offences.

At the forest Eyre, a sort of assizes, held at Pickering in 1334 to deal with a great accumulated mass of infringements on the rights of the forest, the first case is against Sir John de Melsa, Lord of Levisham, who was, according to the jury, "in the habit of employing men to make and burn charcoal out of browsewood and dry sticks in his woods at Levisham, which are now within the bounds of the forest, and he exposes the charcoal for sale, injuring the lord and annoying the deer, by what right they know not. Sir John is summoned, appears, and pleads that he and his ancestors and the tenants of the Manor of Levisham have from ancient time taken the browsewood and dry sticks in the said woods and burnt them into charcoal, and afterwards exposed them for sale, and given them away at pleasure as part of his and their manorial rights. He asks that the officers of the forest may try the question. As it clearly appears to the Court by the answer of Sir John that he is making a claim to take a profit in the forest which he did not claim on the first day of the Eyre, as the custom is, and as proclamation was made, judgment is given that the liberty be seized into the Lord's hands, and Sir John is to answer for its value in the meantime. Afterwards Sir John appears, and prays that he may be allowed to pay a composition for making his claim, and a composition of 6s. 8d. is fixed. Surety, Richard de Naulton. The jury also present that a bridge called Friar Bridge, beyond the Costa, across which people are wont to pass on horseback and on foot going from Pickering to Malton, is in such bad repair that people cannot pass over, but have to make a divergence of about a mile and a half in the forest, treading down and injuring the pasturage of the deer. The Abbot of Rievaulx and all Abbots of that place are bound to repair it. He is summoned, appears, and does not deny that he and they are bound to repair it, but he says that the bridge is not in such bad repair that people cannot pass over it as they are wont and ought to do without doing harm to any one. He asks that an inquiry may be made by the officers of the forest. An inquiry is directed. The foresters, verderers, and regarders, sworn and charged, say on their oaths, that after the summons for the Eyre was issued, the bridge was in such bad repair that people being unable to pass over it made a divergence into the forest, annoying the Lord's deer and treading down their pasturage. Afterwards the Abbot repaired it so that it requires nothing further, and people can quite well pass over it. Therefore as to the present repair of the bridge the Abbot is acquitted, but he is to be amerced because he did not repair it before.

"The jury also present that the present Prior of Bridlington erected a sheepfold at Newland in the forest, 100 feet long and 12 feet broad, injuring thereby the Lord's deer, notwithstanding that on another occasion at the last Eyre of the Justices the sheepfold was ordered to be taken down. By what right they know not. The Prior appears and prays to be allowed to compound with the Lord, and that he and his successors may rent the sheepfold in perpetuity, inasmuch as it no longer injures the deer. Since the foresters, verderers, and regarders prove that it is so the Prior is permitted to compound by the payment of 13s. 4d. (surety Ralph de Morton), and he is likewise given a grant for ever of the sheepfold at a yearly rent of 6d. at Michaelmas. The Prior is to hold it for ever quit of regard. The jury also present that the bridge and road of Pul within the forest, which are common highways for carriages, carts, drifts, and packsaddles are in such bad repair that none can pass over them. The Prior of the Hospital of St John, by reason of his tenure of lands which formerly belonged to the Knights Templars, and the Prioress of Yedingham, are bound to repair and maintain them. They are summoned. The Prioress appears in person, the Prior by his attorney, Walter de Trusseley. The Prioress says that neither she nor any of her predecessors ever from ancient time repaired or ought to repair it, because she says that the Prior, by reason of his tenure of the lands which belonged to the Templars, is bound to repair and maintain the bridge and road as often as need requires, in the same way that the Templars, before the abolition of their Order, from ancient time, by reason of their tenure of their lands at Foulbridge, which the Prior now holds, repaired and maintained the bridge and road. She asks that an inquiry may be directed." The Prior, by his attorney, denies most of the charges seriatim, but the judgment of the Court is that "the Prior be distrained to compel him to repair and make good the bridge and road to the east, and is to be amerced because he has not done it sooner, and the Prioress is to be acquitted because the road to the west of the bridge is not at present out of repair."


This is a typical example of the manner of recording these quarrels over responsibilities and delinquencies in connection with the forest, each side seeming to deny in detail most of the charges brought forward. Most of the cases relating to the stealing of oaks and brushwood and to poaching matters generally are compounded for.

The following is a case of officers of the forest making themselves a nuisance with the local people. "The jury also present that whereas John de Monmouth has 20s [? a year], a toft and two oxgangs of land, with the appurtenances in Pickering, John Scot 30s a year, and William Courtman 5s at the Earl's expense for being fosterers in the West Ward [of Pickering Forest], yet they surcharge all the inhabitants with their living and that of their servants, annoying the country. They are summoned, appear, and compound.... The jury also present that Richard Cockard of Helmsley, John de Harlay, and William Gower, forester, of Scalby, Langdale, and Fullwood, under colour of their office, collect sheaves in autumn and wool and keep servants on board in the country. They are summoned, appear, and make composition...." "The jury also present that John de Shirburn drew the timber of a house in Pickering within the forest of Shirburn without the forest, and John Beal of West Heslerton drew the timber of a barn in Pickering within the boundery of the forest to West Heslerton without the forest, and John de Shirburn and Thomas Bret likewise drew the timber of a house at Pickering within the boundaries of the forest to Shirburn without the forest, injuring the Earl and contrary to the assize of the forest. They are summoned, appear, and each makes composition."

"Henry the Fowler, of Barugh, Adam the Fowler, of Ayton, William Hare and William Fox, catch birds in the forest by means of birdlime-nets and other contrivances." The Clergy were frequently involved in the taking of timber from the forest. "Robert de Hampton, Rector of Middleton, took at different times three green oaks below Cropton Castle, and on a third occasion took there a green oak, without the demesne, without livery of the foresters or warrant.—

"In mercy:—

"The Abbot of Whitby took a green oak in Goathland within the demesne, value 3d, and was let out on bail. He has not surrendered and does not appear to judgment with his bail, and he is responsible for the value and a fine of 3s. Afterwards it appears that his bail are dead, so proceedings against them are stayed.

"Eldred of Ellerburne, deceased, carried off a green oak within the demesne, value 7d. His successor, Edmund de Hastings, is responsible for its value, a fine of 7d and also 7d, the value of vert likewise taken in the Hay.

"Hugh, Vicar of Ebberston, deceased, took a green oak without the demesne without livery of the foresters or warrant; John, son of Geoffrey, and John de la Chymyne, his executors, are responsible.—

"The Lady Beatrice of Farmanby, deceased, took a green oak without the demesne, without livery of the foresters or warrant. Her successor, William Hastings, is responsible.

"The Rector of Brompton, deceased, felled two green oaks without the demesne, without livery of foresters or warrant. The same persons responsible.

"The Preceptor of Foulbridge felled and carried away four green oaks in fence month. The Prior of the Hospital of St John is responsible.

"The Prioress of Wykeham claims for herself and her tenants in Wykeham and Ruston to receive and take housebote and hedgebote in the woods of North Cave heads and Barley, according to the assize of the forest, and common of pasture for all animals except goats in the same woods and the wastes and moors adjoining, that is to say, northwards from Yarlesike.... The Justices consider that before allowing her claims an inqury should be made as to how the Prioress and her predecessors have exercised their rights."

"Sir John de Meaux claims to have housebote and hedgebote for himself, his men and tenants of Levisham in his woods of Levisham, in accordance with the assize of the forest, and reasonable estovers of turves in his demesnes of Levisham, for himself, his men and his tenants, and ironstone and a smelting-place in his woods of Levisham, paying to the Earl an annual rent of 2s and aeries of falcons, merlins and sparrow-hawk, and whatever honey is found in his woods at Levisham, and he claims to have a woodward in such woods. He is ready to prove that all these rights having been exercised by himself and his ancestors from ancient time, the housebote and hedgebote being appurtenant to his free tenement in Levisham, and brousewood and dry wood being taken to feed his furnaces. An inquiry is directed, and it is found that Sir John and his ancestors have from ancient time enjoyed the rights so claimed without interruption. Judgment is given in accordance with the verdict."

"Ralph de Bulmer claims to have a free park at Thornton Riseborough, and to keep hounds to hunt there. He claims that King John by deed granted to one Alan de Winton, then holder of the park, and his heirs, liberty to inclose and make a free park, and to keep his hounds to hunt there; by virtue whereof Alan, whose estate he now holds, exercised the rights. He says that Edward II. inspected the grant of John, and granted to Ralph, that he and his heirs might hold the park with its appurtenances as Alan held it, without let or hindrance on the part of the King or his Justices, Escheators, Sheriffs, or other bailiffs, or officers whatsoever.

"Thomas de Pickering and Margaret, his wife, claim to have a woodward to keep their demesne wood at Lockton, and that no one may lop branches therein or fell any tree without their consent, and that they may fell and give away at pleasure green trees and dry, and give and sell dry trees at pleasure without view of the foresters." In the following claim a mention is made of the "wildcat." "Thomas Wake of Liddell claims to have a free chase for fox, hare, wildcat, and badger, within the boundaries of his barony of Middleton, namely, from the place called Alda on the Costa to the standing stone above the Spital Myre of Pickering, etc."

"Hugh de Nevill is indicted, for that whilst he was bailiff of Pickering, under colour of his office, he arrested one Robert the Dyer, lately residing in Ebberston, bound his hands as if he were a felon, though he had not been indicted, and took from him a horse, harness, and other goods and chattels to the value of 20s. Afterwards he entrusted him to the care of his servant to take to York, but when they reached Malton, the servant let his prisoner escape.

"Henry de Rippley, sub-bailiff of Pickering, fined for having seized goods and chattels of Sir Robert de Scarborough, at Ebberston, for which he was indicted and found guilty on his own confession, 3s 4d."

A case in which the poachers showed their total disregard for the officers of the forest is given as follows.

"Stephen son of Richard of Eskdale, Nicholas the Taylor of Whitby, and John de Moorsholm of Sneaton Thorpe, were indicted for having, on Wednesday 23rd March 1334, at Blakey Moor [near Saltersgate], within the forest, hunted with bows, arrows and greyhounds, and taken sixty-six harts and hinds, of which they cut off the heads of nine and fixed them upon stakes in the Moor."

"As regards those who caught hares and wandered in the forest with bows and arrows contrary to the assize of the forest, Mathilda de Bruys is accustomed to hunt and catch hares." She compounded for 5s, Robert Bruce and John Perot being sureties.

The Coucher Book mentions that Henry I. issued a writ dated at Pickering. This would suggest that Pickering Castle was standing between 1100 and 1135, for the king would scarcely have visited the place unless he had had proper quarters for himself and his suite, and the castle alone could have afforded this. A record of 1347 mentions the pillory at Pickering, and suggests a lively scene that took place in the august presence of the Earl of Lancaster. "William de Kirkby and others conspired amongst themselves to indict John de Buckton, Hugh de Neville, John de Barton, and others for that they on Monday, 25th June 1347, took six harts in Pickering Forest and set up the head of one in the sight of the Earl of Lancaster upon the pillory in Pickering town, in consequence of which John de Buckton, Hugh de Neville and John de Barton were taken and imprisoned in Pickering Castle and suffered great loss of their goods. Afterwards, in the same town, William appeared in the King's Bench and asked to be allowed to compound for the offences presented against him, as well as those to which he had already pleaded as the rest. The request was granted, and he paid the fine entered in the rolls."

"The jurors of the several wappentakes of Yorkshire presented that David de Wigan and others on Wednesday, 11th July 1347, violently entered by night the house of Thomas, Vicar of Ebberston, seized him and led him to Pickering Castle until he compounded with them for L2, though," adds the record, "he had never been indicted for any offence" (!) This David de Wigan must have terrorised the neighbourhood at this time, for he and others scarcely a week later "seized Adam del Selley Bridge at Selley Bridge [near Marishes Road Station] and led him with them until he compounded with them for L4." On the same Tuesday they violently seized Robert de Sunley at Calvecote and led him to Pickering Castle until he paid L2. On the 30th July Thomas Oliver of Sawdon was taken in the same manner and detained for five days. After all this David was summoned and he pleaded guilty. By trustworthy witnesses, however, it was proved that he was penniless and had nothing wherewith to satisfy the king for his offences, and "having regard to the state of his health and condition he was let off." We wonder what the Vicar of Ebberston thought of this lenient treatment of such a Barabbas. Geoffrey de Wrightington, a late bailiff of Pickering, seems to have taken part in these offences, and he was also responsible for having seized Hugh de Neville in Pickering Church, and for having imprisoned him "in the depths of the gaol in iron fetters for seven weeks, though Hugh had never been indicted." John Scott of Pickering also spent nine weeks in prison at the pleasure of this desperate fellow. On the 30th August 1346 he took L4 by force from Henry de Acaster, the vicar of Pickering, when he was journeying between Coneysthorpe and Appleton le Street. His methods are well shown by the following. "Geoffrey also on Sunday, 17th September 1346, seized Adam de Selley Bridge by force at Pickering and imprisoned him until he had compounded with him for 6 [? L] and when Adam paid the fine Geoffrey made him swear on the Book that he would tell no one how he came to pay the fine or to be imprisoned." After all this Geoffrey was let off with a fine when called to account three years later.

In the minister's accounts for 1322 appear the "wages of a forester to keep Pickering Forest, a door-keeper and a watchman in the castle, each 2d a day for 34 weeks." There are references to thatch for the porter's lodge, the brewhouse, the kitchen, and small upper apartment within the castle. This thatching took a man three days with two women to help him all the time; the man received 9d and the women 2d each for the work.

The chaplain of the castle chapel received a yearly salary of L3; repairs by contract to the seven glass windows in the chapel cost 10d, and wine and lights 2s. Under the heading of Small Expenses comes "making 14 hurdles to lie on the draw bridge and other bridges to preserve them from the cart-wheels 1s; making a hedge round the fishpond, cutting and carrying boughs, wages of the hedger—4s 6d; making a long cord of hemp 20 ells long weighing 6 stone of hemp for the Castle well—4s 9d; burning after Feb. 2 old grass in Castle Ings that new grass may grow—8d; 8 men cutting holly, ivy and oak boughs in different parts of the forest for the deer in a time of snow and ice, 9 days at 2d a day—12s 2-1/2d; wages of a man sent to the king [Edward II.] with a letter from the bailiff to acquaint the king with certain secrets by letters of privy seal, going, residing there and returning, 9 days at 3d a day for food and wages—3s 9d."

In the Close Rolls of 1324, there is an order to "John de Kelvington, keeper of the Castle and honor of Pickering, to cause to be newly constructed a barbican before the Castle gate with a stone wall and a gate with a drawbridge in the same, and beyond the gate a new chamber, a new postern gate by the King's Tower and a roof to a chamber near the small hall; to cover with thin flags that roof and the roof of the small kitchen, to remove the old roof of the King's prison and to make an entirely new roof covered with lead, and to thoroughly point, both within and without, the walls of the castle and tower, and to clean out and enlarge the Castle ditch. All this to be done out of the issues of the honor as the King has enjoined him by word of mouth, and the expense incurred therein when duly proved will be allowed him in his accounts. Pickering, 10th August, 1323."

About the year 1314 there is an item in the accounts of eighty planks bought at Easingwold and carried to the castle and laid in the gangway leading from the chamber of the Countess to the chapel. The nails for this work cost 5s. 6d.

Soon after this comes the cost of the new hall in the castle. "Clearing, digging and levelling the place within the castle where the bakehouse was burnt to build there a hall with a chamber 14s 1-1/2d, building the stone wall of the hall and chamber, getting and carrying 400 cartloads of stone, digging and carrying soil for mortar, buying 27 quarters of lime—L5 19s 11d; contract for joiners' work, wages for those employed to saw planks and joists, 152 planks for doors and windows, 80 large spikes, 600 spike nails, 1000 broad headed nails and 20,000 tacks, 22 hinges for the doors, 28 hinges for the windows and 2600 laths with carriage for the same—L9 0s 1-1/2d; roofing the buildings with thin flags by piece-work, collecting moss for the same [to stop up the crannies] plastering the floor of the upper room and several walls within the chamber, making a chimney piece of plaster of Paris (plastro parisiensi), together with the wages of the chaplain who was present at the building—L5 1s 10-1/2d." A few years later came some more repairs to the castle: "a carpenter 4 days mending the wind battered roof of the old hall with old shingles 1s, 300 nails for that purpose 9d; a man 10 days roofing with tin the small kitchen, the garderobe at the corner of the kitchen, the cellar, outside the new hall, within the tower and porter's lodge—2s 6d." Hay and straw for the roofs was brought "from the Marsh to Pickering"; two men were employed to clean out the castle well which had been so blocked up as to become quite dry that year and another charge 1s for a new rope and for repairing the bucket of the well.

In 1326 there is a reference to the King's patent writ, dated 7th December, by which the Castle was committed by Edward II. "to his beloved cousin Henry, Earl of Lancaster," and the keeper, John de Kilvington, was "to deliver the Castle and Honour to the Earl together with its military stores, victuals and other things."

From a small green-covered foolscap volume lent me by Mr Arthur Hill of Thorton-le-dale, I have taken the following description of the "Bounds of the Forest of Pickering, as far as the waters are concerned."

"From How Bridge along the Rye to where the Seven falls into the Rye, the whole length of the Seven.

"Wheeldale Beck to

"Mirke Esk to

"The Eske and along the Eske to where Lythe Beck falls into the Eske

"Where the Derwent springs and along the Derwent to where Tillabeck falls into the Derwent.

"Along Tillabeck to King's Bridge.

"Along the Harford to the Derwent.

"Along the Derwent to where the Rye falls into the Derwent.

"Along the Rye to Howe Bridge."

The records relating to Pickering are all so accessible since their publication by the North Riding Record Society that those who want to read more details of these picturesque mediaeval days can do so with very little trouble, but from the extracts that I have made, a general idea of the class of information contained in the Duchy Records may be obtained. In this period many additions and alterations were made to Pickering church. The Transitional Norman tower was largely rebuilt, and the spire was added in the Decorated style of Gothic prevalent in the fourteenth century. Below the battlements of the tower there are shields, but the details have almost entirely weathered away. The reticulated windows of the church belong to the same period. They are very fine examples of the work of that time. The north aisle, the chancel, and probably the north window of the north transept also belong to this period, so that work of an extensive nature must have been progressing on the church as well as the castle at the same time. The walls of the nave and chancel appear to have been raised in the latter half of the fifteenth century, and this would be shortly before the remarkable series of wall paintings came into existence. The date of these pictures can be brought down to fairly narrow limits, for the arms carried by the four knights who are shown about to murder St Thomas a Becket belong to the years between 1450 and 1460, according to Mr J.G. Waller. The Rev. G.H. Lightfoot, a former vicar of Pickering, mentions[1] the discovery of traces of earlier paintings of superior execution when the present ones were being restored, but of these indications no sign is now visible.

[Footnote 1: Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 1895.]

When the church was re-opened after the restoration in 1879, the walls of the nave were covered with a thick coat of yellow wash, but there were many living who remembered the accidental discovery of the strange pictures that were for a time exposed to the wondering gaze of the congregation. The distraction caused by this novelty led to the coat of yellow wash that undoubtedly did infinite harm to the paintings. At the subsequent restoration, which was carried out by degrees as the necessary funds were forthcoming, it was found that portions of some of the figures had perished, and it is a most regrettable fact that the restoration included the painting in of certain missing parts whose details could only be supplied by analogy. From Mr Lightfoot's description it seems that in the large picture of St George and the Dragon a considerable part of the St George's body was missing; that the representation of Herod's Feast and the lowest scene of the life of St Katherine of Alexandria were very badly damaged by the attachments of mural tablets. On the whole, however, the paintings when uncovered were in a good state of preservation, and the colours were more vivid than they were left after the re-touching by Mr Jewitt.

; (2) Giving drink to the thirsty; (3) Compelling the stranger to come in; (4) Clothing the naked; (5) Visiting those in prison; (6) Visiting the sick; (7) Burying the dead.

[Footnote A: This appears in another photograph showing scenes from the life of our Lord.]

The martyrdom of St Edmund.

[The Copyright is reserved by Dr John L. Kirk.] ]

Taking the pictures along the north wall in order, the first is the huge representation of St George, then facing the porch entrance on a still larger scale is the figure of St Christopher, bearing on his left shoulder the infant Christ. This position, facing these who enter the church, is the usual one for St Christopher, for he was the patron-saint of travellers, and the size is in keeping with the tradition which speaks of the saint as standing twelve cubits high. He is shown using a tree as his staff, and the Evil One is being trampled underfoot in the form of a serpent.

Adjoining St Christopher is the curious painting showing Herod's Feast, a very rare subject to be chosen for wall paintings. Although this picture has been so much restored the figures were very carefully traced out where only faint indications could be seen, so that it now presents the original work where it was not totally destroyed with considerable accuracy. It is really three scenes, although it appears as one. Herod's daughter is on the right performing a mediaeval tumble dance before the king and queen and their two guests, and on the left St John the Baptist is shown, still kneeling, although his head lies on the pavement. Salome is holding the charger against her breast. In the central portion of the picture she appears carrying the head of St John in the dish. The picture above this shows the coronation of the Virgin Mary, and the wall of heaven is higher still.

The martyrdom of St Edmund in the next spandrel is a most realistic picture. The saint is tied to a tree and is pierced by fourteen arrows. The black-letter inscriptions read "Edmund Prync and martyr."

"Heven blys to hes mede Hem sall have for hys gud ded"

Above this picture is the painting already mentioned of St Thomas a Becket being approached by the four knights who are about to murder him.

On the south side of the nave the chief part of the wall is given up to the legend of St Katherine of Alexandria. She was said to be the daughter of Costus, King of Alexandria, and was married to a son of Constantine Chlorius, the Roman Governor of York.

The upper panel shows the temple of Serapis, and St Katherine endeavouring to convert the Emperor Maximin to Christianity. Further to the right she is shown entering the prison into which she was cast. The emperor, impressed both by her beauty and her arguments, endeavours with the help of several philosophers to persuade her to give up her belief in Christianity; they are, however, all converted by her, and soon after they are executed at the emperor's command. St Katherine is then stripped to the waist and beaten in the presence of the emperor, who is shown on the extreme right as well as the left of the second panel. After further imprisonment the saint is joined by the Empress Faustina, a new convert, who comforts the prisoner, and is shown joining with her in prayer.

Further on, the emperor is shown testing the saint's faith by the wheel, but two angels appear, and having broken the wheels the attendants are overthrown. The last scene, in which St Katherine is kneeling, is so much "restored" that its interest is very much impaired.


It is composed of three pictures. On the right, Salome is performing a "Tumble" dance before Herod, his queen, and two guests, while St John the Baptist is holding up a warning hand: In the centre, Salome has the head of St John in a charger, and on the left the execution is shown.

[The Copyright is reserved by Dr John L. Kirk.] ]

The long and narrow series of pictures over the arches represents the seven corporal acts of mercy, namely, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, compelling a stranger to come in, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, visiting the sick, and burying the dead. Continuing in the same line appear representations of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, healing the ear of Malchus, Christ before Pilate, the scourging of our Lord, and then follow scenes of the Crucifixion, followed by the burial and resurrection. In the spandrel over the third pillar from the west the descent of Christ into Hades, represented by a great dragon's jaw, is shown. Adam holding an apple, and followed by Eve and many other spirits, is shown coming to meet our Lord. Between the clerestory windows there are three paintings which seem to belong to a series associated with the Virgin Mary. The first, which may represent the Assumption, has not been restored, and very little remains to be seen. The second, according to Mr Keyser, shows the burial, and on the coffin appears the Jewish Prince Belzeray, who is said to have interfered with the funeral by raising himself astride the coffin. The legend says that he became fixed to the pall, and only escaped after repentance and the united prayers of the apostles.

Of the third picture only a portion remains, the upper part being new plaster, but the figures of some of the apostles who are shown may have been standing by the deathbed of the Virgin. The coronation scene already mentioned on the north side of the nave would thus complete a series of four pictures.

Just by the lectern at the north-east corner of the nave is a recumbent effigy of a knight wearing armour of the period when chain-mail was being exchanged for plate armour. This was during the fourteenth century. The arms on the shield are those of Bruce, and belonging to this period there has been discovered a license to Sir William Bruce to have a chantry in Pickering Church. There can therefore be little doubt that this nameless effigy is that of Sir William Bruce. The deed is dated "Saturday, the feast of St John the Evangelist, 1337," and it states that a license was given in consideration of one messuage and two bovates of land in the village of Middleton near Pickering for a certain chaplain to celebrate "Divine (mysteries) daily in the Church of St Peter, Pickering (the full dedication is to God, St Peter, and St Paul), for the souls of the masters, William and Robert of Pickering, Adam de Bruce and Mathilda his wife." The two beautifully carved figures of a knight and his lady that lie in the Bruce Chapel are not Bruces for the surcoat of the man is adorned with the arms of the Rockcliffes—an heraldic chess-rook and three lions' heads. Both the knight and his lady wear the collar of SS, the origin of which is still wrapped in obscurity. Traces of gilding are visible in several places on the wings of the angels that support the heads of both figures, as well as in other parts of the carving where the detail is not obliterated. The date of these monuments is believed to have been either the end of the fourteenth or the very beginning of the fifteenth centuries. In the south-east corner of the north transept, almost hidden by deep shadows, there lies a truncated effigy of a man in armour of about the same period as that of Sir William Bruce, but there is nothing to identify these mutilated remains. The sedilia in the chancel seem to be coeval with that part of the church. They are ornamented with some curious carving and some heads, one of them, very much restored, representing apparently a bishop, priest, and deacon; the fourth head is a doubtful quantity.

Close to the sedilia is a piscina decorated in a similar manner.

Near the porch, in the usual position, is a holy-water stoup that has the front part of the basin broken off. This may possibly have happened at the same time as the smashing of the font in Puritan days mentioned in a later chapter. The curious little recess in the west wall of the Bruce Chapel might have been utilised for more than one purpose, but it is difficult to say whether it was for holding a lamp, whether it may at one time have been a low side window, or whether it was at any time used as an opening for a bell rope to be pulled from within.

A hospital of St Nicholas at Pickering is often mentioned among the records of this time, but I am unable to discover the site, unless it was near to where there was a burying-ground in Westgate. The castle chapel was also dedicated to St Nicholas, and some confusion may thus have arisen.

Up to about the year 1880 the town-crier of Pickering was using a small mediaeval bell that has since been handed over to the authorities of the British Museum by the Registrar of the Duchy of Lancaster. The bell is engraved with four figures—a crucifix, St George and the Dragon, the Virgin and Child, and St John the Baptist, and round the haunch runs the inscription "Vilyame Stokeslai." As nothing at all is known of the history of the bell it is difficult to say much as to its origin, but it appears to belong to the fourteenth century, and may be associated with a William Stokesley of Whitby whose name appears at that date.

Much more could be written about this period from many standpoints, but from what has been given some of the salient facts of these centuries stand out clearly. It is plain that the people—rich and poor—drew largely upon the forest for free supplies of timber and venison, despite the severity of the laws. It also appears that the officers of the forest frequently abused their power to the damage and often at the expense of the personal security of the townsfolk and villagers., The importance of Pickering at this time is emphasised by many royal visits and to some extent by the sending of members to Parliament on one occasion. Much building at the church and castle took place in the period described, and it is quite possible that some of the oldest cottages with fork framework date from Plantagenet times, and that the fallen beams we see lying among the nettles of the ruined cottages were taken from the forest without payment or permission.


The Forest and Vale in Tudor Times

A.D. 1485 to 1603

The Wars of the Roses had allowed the royal possessions to fall into a state of great disorder, so that the Duchy of Lancaster records belonging to the early years of the reign of Henry VII. contain many references to the necessity for vigorously checking infringements on the forest that had been taking place. A patent dated 26th of October 1489,[1] says, "To our t[rusty] and w[elbeloved] Brian Sandford Stuard of our honnor of Pykeryng in our Countie of York and Constable of our Castle there and master Forster of our game within the said honnor and to al forsters and kepers within the same and in their absence to ther deputies ther and to every of them gretyng. Forasmuch as it is common unto our knowledge that our game of dere and warenne within our seid Honnor is gretly diminnisshed by excessive huntyng within the same and likely to be destroied, without restreynt in the same be had in that behalf, we desire the Replenisshyng of our seid game, not only for our singler pleasure but also for the disport of other our servantes and subgettes of Wirshipp in theis parties. And therfor we wol and straitly charge you all & every of you that from hensforth ye suffre no manner of personne or personnes of what estate degree or condicion soever he or they be, to have shot sute ne course at any of our game within our seid Honnor duryng the space of iij years next ensuyng after the date herof, without special warraunt undre our seale of oure seid Duchie and if any personne or personnes presume or attempt in any wise the breche of this our special restreinte and commandment, we eftsounes wol and straitly charge you al and every of you, that without delai ye certifie us of theire name or names so offendyng, to thentent that we maye provide for their lawful punycion in that behalf, which we entend sharply to execute and punysshe in example of al othre like offenders, not failyng herof as ye wol avoide our grevous displeasure and answher unto us at their perell."

[Footnote 1: "North Riding Records," vol. i., New Series, p. 123.]

There are many other commissions of this character made out to "Sir Rauf Evers knight," "Sir Richard Cholmeley knight," "Sir John Huthem," "John Pykeryng knyght," "Leon Percy [Lionel Percehay] squyer," and many other influential men of the sixteenth century.

During the reign of Henry VII. there was a prolonged dispute between Sir Roger Hastings of Roxby and Sir Richard Cholmley concerning the alleged riotous and unlawful conduct with which each side accused the other. The pleadings on either side are by no means easy to follow, but the beginning of the trouble seems to date from Sir Roger Hastings' succession to the estate of Roxby. Mr Turton, who has transcribed all the documents relating to the quarrel, thinks that Sir Roger attempted to shift the death duties from himself to one of his tenants named Ralph Joyner, who refused to pay. "After an abortive attempt to recover the sum by distrain" says Mr Turton, it "resulted in an appeal to the Earl of Surrey, and Sir Roger was compelled to pay it himself." The records tell us that this Ralph Joyner was often "in Jeopardy of his liff; And how he was at diverse tymez chased by diverse of the menyall servantes of the said Sir Roger Hastynges, wheruppon the said Roger Cholmley sent to the said Sir Roger Hastynges in curteyse waise desyring hym to kepe the kynges peax, whiche he effectuelly promysed to doo, uppon truste wherof upon Christmas day now Laste paste the said Rauff Jenore cam to his parisshe chirche, called Elborne [Ellerburne] chirche, as belonged to a christenman to doo, in peassible maner, not fearing the said Sir Roger Hastynges, because of his said promyse, Howbeit soon after that comme thedir the said Sir Roger accompenyed with the numbre of xx [twenty] persons diffencible arrayed with bowes, billes and other weponz, And then as sone as the said Roger came nyghe unto the Chircheyerd of the foresaid Chirche, And had undirstandyng that the said Rauff was within the said chirche, he manassed [menaced] and threted the said Rauff and said that he wolde slee hym. And in a great fury wolde have entred the said chirche to have complisshed the same." This bloodthirsty desire was checked for a time by the vicar, who "knellyng upon his knees before the said Sir Roger," and with other "well dissposed personez," induced him to delay his purpose.

"Theruppon the wif of the said Sir Roger Hastynges cam into the said chirche & said unto the said Rauff, 'Woo worthe man this day! the chirche wolbe susspended and thou slayn, withoute thou flee awey and gette the oute of his sighte' wheruppon the said Rauff Jenore flede oute of the said chirche by a bakke doore and cam to Pykeryng, and petyously desired of the said Roger Chalmley that in so muche as he was the Stewardes deputie there and hadde rewle of the Countre, that he myght be in suertie of his liff." The records then describe how Ralph Joyner induced Roger Cholmley, "beyng there Bailly," with "Sir Rauff Evers & other jointly & severally" to bind Sir Roger Hastings to "Maister Bray" for the sum of a hundred pounds to keep the king's peace within the liberty of Pickering. The aggrieved side did not dare to deliver the deed with only their usual personal servants, but had to call upon a number of others owing to the fact that Sir Roger was "a worshipfull man of the said libertie & of great myghte havyng many Riottous personez aboute hym" When the little cavalcade of mounted men and servants reached Roxby they found that Sir Roger Hastings had left for Scarborough. He describes the procedure of the Cholmley party in a most picturesque fashion, stating that within an hour after the delivery of the Privy Seal they "came Ryottously with the nowmbre of xii persons, with bowis arrowes longe sperys in maner and furme of warre." In another place he details their armour and arms saying that they were arrayed with "Cures (cuirass) Corsettes (armour for the body) Brygendyns, Jakkys, Salettis (a light helmet), Speris, Bowes, Arrowes, Sourdis, byllys and Launcegays, (a small lance) with other maner of wepyns defencive." As Sir Roger and his wife rode towards Scarborough they met "Sir Rauf Ivers, which in Curtes (courteous) maner then departed." When he was thought to be on the road homewards to Roxby, however, Sir Ralph Evers was accused of having laid "in a wayte to have murderyd" Sir Roger Hastings at Brompton, for at that place Evers and eight of his servants came upon Sir Roger's men who were being sent ahead to discover the ambush that they had reason to fear. When Sir Ralph found that the men who reached Brompton were only servants and messengers, he was accused of having said to them "ye false hurson Kaytyffes, I shall lerne you curtesy and to knowe a gentilman." Thereupon Sir Ralph "set his arowe in his bowe, seying these wordes, 'And your Master were here I wolde stoppe hym the wey.'" When they reached Snainton twenty persons issued from the house of "one Averey Shymney, servant to the seid Sir Rauf ... arrayed with bowys bent, arrowis, billis and Gleyvis."

There is also a complaint against some of the servants of Sir Ralph Evers who were held responsible for "an assaute and Fraye made upon my lady Hastynges." Thomas Thirlwall, on being examined, said that "my lady came rydyng that ways with vi horses with hir, and oone of hir servantz thet rode afore, had a male [a portmanteau] behynd hym, and with a bowe in his hand bent, and that the said servant rode soo nygh hym th[at] the male touched hym and he bade hym ryde forther and asked, why his bow was bent, and he said that was mater to hym, and the sayd deponent with I^d knyff [in another place it is called a dagger] which he had in his hand cut the bow string, bicause he rode soo nygh hym with horse that he had almost stroken hym downe; And forther he deposith that my lady light downe from hir horse hirself and said that, 'and she liffed, she would be avenged'; and thereupon Ric: Brampton came to hir and said, 'Madame be not afferd, for here shall noo man trouble you nee yours.'"

The accusations of attempts on the part of Sir Ralph Evers and the Cholmleys to stir up trouble between their servants and those of Sir Roger Hastings are very numerous and involved, but despite the elaborate details given by the owner of Roxby the case went against him at the court of the Duchy of Lancaster at Westminster Palace. Sir Roger seems to have been too high handed in his dealings with his neighbours, even for the unsettled times in which he lived. Some of the items against him throw a vivid light on his proceedings. "Itm the said Ser Roger Hastynges with hys household servants, daily goyng and rydyng trough the Countrey more like men of warr then men of peas, in ill example to other, thrught the Kinges markettz and townez of hys liberte of Pykeryng lith, with bowes bent and arrowes in ther handes, feryng [frightening] the Kinges people and inhabitauntes of the same, whereupon the Countrey diverse tymes hath compleyned thame to Roger Cholmeley, there being hys brother's depute and baylly etc."

"Itm the wyeff of the said Sir Roger Hastynges with here awn company of houshold servants as forcaid (?) come into Blandisby Park, and there found a Fat Stott [a young ox] of Rauff Bukton, and with dooges toke the said Stott and slowe hym and ete hym and no mends will make etc.

"Itm that the said Sir Roger Hastynges the xiii day of October last past [circa 1496] with Force and armz of the nyghtertall [night time] sent his houshold servantes to the Castell of Pykeryng, and abowt mydnyght with lothus [qu: ladders] clame ore the walles, and then and there brake the kinges prison, and toke owt with them oon John Harwod, the which was set there for diverse Riottes by hym made agayns the kinges peas, wherefore he was indited; and aftirward the same nyght when he for thought that he had done, prively sent hym in agayn; howbeit the kings prison and hys Castell was broken."

Such incidents as these enliven the pages of the Duchy of Lancaster Records, and if there were more space available it would be interesting to give many more of these graphic incidents that took place four hundred years ago. In many places one finds references to the illegal taking of oaks from the forest for building houses. Big boughs or the stems of small trees were placed together in the form of an A with the ends resting on the ground. These beams, that formed the bays of a house, are locally called "forks," the name by which they are known in the records of the reign of Henry VII. In 1498 we find that "The abbot of Whitby had as many oakes taken in Godlande [Goathland] as made aftre the maner of the Coutrey iij pair of forkes, with other bemes and wall plaites as were mete for the repairalling of an hows of his in Godlande."

The great legal case between Sir Roger Hastings and the Cholmleys seems to have impoverished the turbulent owner of Roxby, for after the adverse decision Hastings seems to have had difficulty in raising the moneys to meet all the heavy expenses of the trial, and Mr Turton thinks that Roxby was at first mortgaged and afterwards sold to Roger Cholmley, brother of Sir Richard, who had received knighthood in 1509. Sir Richard Cholmley may be considered the founder of the Yorkshire families of Cholmley, and he was in his time a man of great power and influence, holding the four chief offices in the Honor of Pickering, and at the commencement of the reign of Henry VIII. he was appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London. He had no legal offspring, and his illegitimate son, a Sir Roger, who must not be confused with his uncle, was successively Chief Baron and Lord Chief Justice, died without issue. Sir Hugh Cholmley[1] tells us many facts concerning his great-grandfather Sir Richard, who was a nephew of the former Sir Richard. "His chief place of residence," he says, "was at Roxby, lying between Pickering and Thornton (now almost demolished), where he lived in great port, having a very great family, at least fifty or sixty men-servants, about his house, and I have been told by some who knew the truth, that when there had been twenty-four pieces of beef put in a morning into the pot, sometimes not one of them would be left for his own dinner: for in those times, the idle-serving men were accustomed to have their breakfast, and with such liberty as they would go into the kitchen, and striking their daggers into the pot, take out the beef without the cook's leave or privacy; yet he would laugh at this rather than be displeased, saying, 'Would not the knaves leave me one piece for my own dinner?' He never took a journey to London that he was not attended with less than thirty, sometimes forty men-servants, though he went without his lady. There was a great difference between him and his brother-in-law, the Earl of Westmoreland; and, as I have heard upon this cause: That, after the death of his sister, the Lady Anne, the Earl married the second sister, Gascoigne's widow, which occasioned continual fighting and scuffles between the Earl's men and Sir Richard's, when they met, whether in London streets or elsewhere, which might be done with less danger of life and bloodshed than in these succeeding ages; because they then fought only with buckler and short sword, and it was counted unmannerly to make a thrust.... This Sir Richard was possessed of a very great estate worth at this day to the value of about L10,000 a year; ... He died in the sixty third year of his age, at Roxby, ... and lies buried in the chancel of Thornton church [the monument there to-day bears the effigy of a lady and is nameless], of which he was patron, May 17th, 1599. He was tall of stature and withal big and strong-made, having in his youth a very active, able body, bold and stout; his hair and eyes black, and his complexion brown, insomuch as he was called the great black Knight of the North; though the word great attributed to him not so much for his stature, as power, and estate, and fortune. He was a wise man, and a great improver of his estate, which might have prospered better with his posterity, had he not been extra-ordinarily given to the love of women." There is unfortunately nothing left above the ground of the manor house of Roxby, the grass-covered site merely showing ridges and mounds where the buildings stood. It is therefore impossible to obtain any idea of the appearance of what must have been a very fine Tudor house. That a gallery was built there by Sir Richard Cholmley, the Great Black Knight of the North, in the reign of Elizabeth, appears from the record which says "that the saide S^r Rychard Cholmley did send Gyles Raunde and George Raude two masons to the Quenes Castell of Pyckeringe whenn he builded his gallerye at Roxbye to polle [pulle] downe the chefe stones of Masonn work owt of one howse in the same castell called the King's Haull, and took owte of the pryncypall and cheffest Towre of the same castle the stones of the stayres which they did and the said S^r Rychard caused xiiii wayne lodes of the same stones to be caryed by his Tenantes to his owne house at Roxbye."

[Footnote 1: "Memoirs of Sir Hugh Cholmley," p. 7.]

Leland,[1] who wrote in the reign of Henry VIII., tells us that at Wilton there was "a Manor Place with a Tower longging to Chomeley." He also says "This Chomeley hath a Howse also at Rollesley (Rottesby): and Chomeley's Father that now is was as an Hedde officer at Pykeringe, and setter up of his name yn that Quarters." "Thens to Pykering: and moste of the Ground from Scardeburg to Pykering was by Hille and Dale meate (metely) plentifull of Corn and Grasse but litle Wood in sight.

[Footnote 1: "The Itinerary of John Leland the Antiquary," Thomas Hearne, 1745. Vol. i. pp. 64 and 65.]

"The Toune of Pykering is large but not welle compact togither. The greatest Part of it with the Paroch Chirch and the Castel is on the South Est Part of the Broke renning thorough the Toune, and standith on a great Slaty Hille. The other Part of the Toun is not so bigge as this: the Brook rennith bytwixt them that Sumtyme ragith, but it suagith shortely agayn: and a Mile beneth the Toun goith into Costey [the Costa].

"In Pykering Chirch I saw 2 or 3 Tumbes of the Bruses wherof one with his Wife lay yn a Chapel on the South syde of the Quirr, and he had a Garland about his Helmet. There was another of the Bruses biried in a Chapel under an Arch of the North side of the Body of the Quier: and there is a Cantuarie bering his Name.

"The Deane of York hath by Impropriation the Personage of Pykering, to the which diverse Churches of Pykering Lith doith Homage.

"The Castelle Stondith in an End of the Town not far from the Paroch Chirch on the Brow of the Hille, under the which the Broke rennith. In the first Court of it be a 4 Toures, of the which one is Caullid Rosamunde's Toure.

"In the inner Court be also a 4 Toures, wherof the Kepe is one. The Castelle Waulles and the Toures be meatly welle. The Logginges yn the ynner Court that be of Timbre be in ruine, in this inner Court is a Chappelle and a cantuarie Prest.

"The Castelle hath of a good continuance with the Towne and Lordship longgid to the Lancaster Bloode: But who made the Castelle or who was the Owner of afore the Lancasters I could not lerne there. The Castelle Waulles now remaining seme to be of no very old Building.

"As I remembre I hard say that Richard the thirde lay sumtyme at this Castelle, and sumtyme at Scardeburgh Castelle.

"In the other Part of the Toune of Pykering passing over Brook by a Stone Bridg of v Arches I saw 2 thinges to be notid, the Ruines of a Manor Place, caullid Bruses-Haul and a Manor Place of the Lascelles at Keld head. The Circuite of the Paroch of Pykering goith up to the very Browes of Blackmore [Blackamoor was the old name for the moors north of Pickering], and is xx miles in Cumpace.

"The Park by the Castelle side is more then vii Miles in [qu: circuit], but it is not welle woodid."

The site of the Manor House of the Bruces appears to be in a field to the west of Potter Hill where hollows and uneven places in the grass indicate the positions of buildings. The fine old Tudor house of Wellburn near Kirby Moorside until recently was in a ruinous state, and might possibly have disappeared after the fashion of Roxby and this Hall of the Bruces, but it has lately been completely restored and enlarged, and although its picturesqueness has to some extent been impaired owing to the additions, they are in the same style of architecture as the original building, and in time will no doubt mellow down to a pleasanter companionship.

It was in the first year of the reign of Elizabeth that the registers of Pickering were commenced. The yellowish brown parchment book is in fairly good preservation, and commences in the usual manner with this carefully written inscription.

"The Register Boke of these psons whiche Haithe bene Babticed Maryed and Buried at Pickeringe sence the firste yere of O^r Sou'ange Ladye Elizabeth by the grace of god Quene of England ffrance and Ireland defender of the ffaithe etc. Anno dni 1559.

There are no entries of any particular interest belonging to this period; the unusual occurrences belong to the seventeenth century and are recorded in the next chapter. Kept with the registers of Pickering parish there is, however, a book containing the records of some Elizabethan visitations made between 1568 and 1602. The entries, which have been transcribed by Mr T.M. Fallow, are in a mixture of Latin and English and some of them are exceedingly interesting. The following describes a curious scene in Pickering Church.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse