Edmund Bogg.

The old kingdom of Elmet: the land ʻtwixt Aire and Wharfe online

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of foam to its first spring or second summer in a far-away foreign land.

t A small field at this place is named, to this day, the King's Paddock.

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The old kingdom of ei.met. 155

the place is strangely significant of both a church and stronghold,* and
here, says one, any native born can inform the stranger that on this site, in
olden time, stood a church which was demolished and burnt by the Scots in
one of their raids.

The supposed monastery of the most reverend abbot and priest,
Thridwulf, Bede states, stood in the wood of Elmet. In support of
this story, there were found in Manor Garth during alterations, about the
middle of the last century, three stone coffins, one of which may still be
seen in the dog kennels adjoining Potterton Hall ; and in the gardens, etc.,
at the latter place, are various bits of church relics in stone, which tradition
reports are from Manor Garth. t

Passing from the latter place we wander down the pleasant vale to
where the becks meet. A little nearer Barwick the Ass Bridge spans the
Cock, and a few paces to the south in the wood and on the edge of the high
cliff, is a fine view of Barwick (see reprodtiction) .

This spot is also the scene of the apparition of the cliff lady, a crepus-
cular spirit, often seen in years gone by. 'Twas said to be the restless ghost
of a lady believed to have been murdered at Parlington. A belated
traveller relates that, in passing this spot, a carriage emerged from the wood
and crossed the road in front of him, and he distinctly saw the white face
of a lady, but he heard no sound of horses* feet or crunching of wheels, as
the carriage mysteriously glided away. At other times, she has been
revealed by the moonlight washing her dress by the beck side. Apart from
this apparition, in olden time the Padfoot, with huge saucer eyes and clank-
ing chains, nightly held the bridge, to the terror of the village lads and the
continual dread of the superstitious ; and the people feared to pass the spot
at midnight.

The road from Barwick to Aberford, fringing the beautiful domain of
Parlington, is most pleasant ; avenues and groves of fine trees, whose
umbrageous branches cast lovely shadows, alternating with pretty little
dells of sunlight.

* Pelagius, who denied original sin and asserted the doctrine of free-will and the merit
of good works (fourth century), and who was the founder of Pelagianism, one of the heresies
that crept into the early British Church, was a Briton by birth, and his name, in Celtic, was
Morgan ; thus it is quite within the bounds of possibility that he may have been connected
with a religious house here, and the place, Morgau*s Cross, named after him.

t Potterton was formerly noted for the manufacture of a coarse kind of pottery, such
as milk bowls, stewpots, etc.

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The path by the River Cock is even more charming to those interested
in all the wonders of creative nature, luxuriant and beautiful in wildest
loveliness, where bee and butterfly love to flit and roam from flower to
flower. The bloom of the wild rose, the creamy tint of the elder blossom,


and the graceful meadow-sweet, the spikes of the Canterbury bells gleaming
in the hedgerows, the chequered flickering of Hght, imaging the sun*s
form ; while the air is perfumed with the fragrance of flowers and scented
with the odour of meadow grass and pine wood.

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Wandering through such pastoral scenes we are apt to forget the toil and
sorrow of life, yet above us in the woods of Beckhey, twisting and curving
with the beck, are the Celtic earthworks carrying the mind back to the stern
strife of bygone days !

Crossing the water at Becca Mills, now partly in ruins, we follow the
rampart to Aberford.
The word Becca, or
Becka, has a very much
older fonnin Beckhaugh
or hey, making it Norse
and probably meaning
the hillock at the beck,
as the little river is
always designated the
*'Beck." Becca Hall
stands on the north bank
of the Cock, in a small,
yet beautiful park, the
residence of A. T.
Schreibner, Esq. It was
anciently in the posses-
sion of the Grammarys.
In the seventeenth cen-
tury it was in the hands
of the well-known
Carvill family, and from
thence passed to the
Markhams. Sir Clement
Markham, K.C.B., the
worthy historian of the
Fairfaxes, is a grandson

of the Hon. William the avenue, on the road to aberford.

Markham, of Becca Hall.

Aberford — Aber (Celtic), a confluence, with a ford, a passage over a stream
or river — hence Aberford. The name has, however, been written variously —
Aberforth, Abbeyforth, and Edburforth, the two latter names throwing some
suspicion on the derivation of its name from a confluence at the ford. It
was undoubtedly an adjunct to the great station at Barwick, both in Celtic

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and Angle times, its boundaries reaching to the Norse settlement of
Grimston and Kirkby.

Aberford church is dedicated to St. Ricarius or Ricquier, not the
English saint of that name living during the thirteenth century, but the
St. Ricarius of the seventh century. Although existing in ages so far apart,
strange to say, the lives of the two men have much in similarity, both in
character and incident. The
dedication to St. Ricarius is
most interesting. 'Chis saint
appears to have visited England
about the middle of the seventh
century, the period when the
little Christian kingdom of
Elmet was falling from the
grasp of the Celt into the hands
of the Engle-folk. Why then
should we not attribute this
church to the memory of the man
who may have visited the Celts
in Elmet, and preached to
them in the great station at
Barwick ?

The church, with its former
traces of vast antiquity, is a fine
building, enlarged, and in some
degree repaired, in 1821, when
the early Norman chancel arch
was barbarously used ; it was
rebuilt in 1861, except the

tower and chancel, the former ^

being restored in 1891. The

Registers date from 1540. The patronage of the church passed from the
Grammarys, who presented it to the knightly family of Walkyngham in 1230.
The latter held it until 133 1, when it was appropriated to the provost and
scholars of the house of St. Mary at Oxford, collegiated in that university,
and now Oriel College, to which it still belongs.

The churchyard contains several fragments of antiquity, in shape of
stone coffins, etc., and its situation, high above the street, is very beautiful.

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Near the south wall rest the remains of ** Sammy Hick," the famous black-
smith preacher of Micklefield. The church contains a stained glass window
to his memory. The old people still relate a miracle performed by Sammy
Hick. Between Hook Moor and the south end of Aberford is a disused old
windmill, where the miracle is said to have been performed. There had
been a long spell of calm, dry weather, and there was no flour for the seed-
bread wanted at the love-feast on the coming Sunday. Sammy had great
faith in prayer, feeling certain that the meal would be forthcoming ; so he
went forth with the wheat to the mill, and began earnestly to pray. Strange
to say, his
prayers were ^
an s wered.
The sails and
millstones be-
gan slowly to
revolve, until
grain suffi-
cient for the
purpose was
ground. News
of the mill in
motion soon
spread, and
other persons
with corn to
be ground
appe?ired, but

for them there was no favouring breeze, for, like St. Thomas, their faith
was not even as large as a grain of mustard seed.

One John Walton, vicar of Aberford, who died in 1640, attained the
remarkable age of one hundred and fifteen years. The parish is healthily
situated, which its record of longevity proves. The Register shows that
nearly thirty persons have reached upwards of ninety years since 1780, and
two persons have died over a hundred years, one reaching one hundred and
seven. Amongst the long age records are the names of Helen Hick, who
died in 1795, aged ninety, and one Robert Hick, mason, who died in 1845,
aged ninety-two.

John Hick (doubtless ancestor of Sammy Hick, the well-known
preacher) was a celebrated manufacturer of pins, locally known as a


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Spinner.* This John Hick left ^^£50 to ye poor of ye p'ish of Abbaford,
the interest or clear rent whereof (after a purchase made) is to be divided
amongst them three times every year for ever."

The following tragic event, in connection with this church, is on record,
June 26th, 1347 : — ** A general sentence against those who entered Aberford
Church, and killed John de Byngham, clerk, whilst kneeling before the
high altar in prayer."

Strange to say, Aberford is not mentioned in the Domesday Book,
although the adjoining manors of Parlington and Hazelwood are recorded.

Aberford has always been favoured for residential purposes. When the
Edwards, in succession, for more than a century occupied the throne, and
came north on their rounds of war or pleasure, the quiet little town was one
of their hunting stations. State documents still exist in connection with
this place, enacted by each of these monarchs. From Edward I., in 1302,
one of the barons Despencer, then owner, obtained a charter* for a weekly
market there on Wednesday, and also a yearly fair on the eve, day, and
morrow of the feast of St. Dionis (Denys). The worthy Longshanks knew
the place and patronised it on more than one occasion during his war
journeys north.

Just on the south of the village are the almshouses, an institution
for the aged poor. They were erected in 1844 by Maria Isabella and Elizabeth
Gascoigne to the memory of their dearest father, Richard Oliver Gascoigne,
and their beloved brothers, Thomas Oliver and Richard Oliver Gascoigne,
all of whom were carried off by death within the short space of twelve
months. The institution is for eight pensioners, four of each sex, who have
been tenants on the Parlington or Lotherton estates, and who are upwards
of sixty years old. The hospital is a stately pile of architecture, with a central
tower and beautiful Gothic chapel, and, with the woods of Parlington in
the background, forms a noble picture.

The Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Wilfrid, contains
exquisite old coloured glass windows.

Camden, in his Britannia, says : ** We travelled along the bold ridge of
the Roman military way to Aberford, a little village by the side of the way,
famous for making pins, w^hich are in great request among the ladies.
Below this runs the River Coc, called in books Cocker, and in the descent
to the river are to be seen the foundations of an old castle called * Castle

* The first charter for a weekly market and an annual fair was obtained by Henry-lc-
Grammar}- about the year 12.50.

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Carey/ " This castle, probably built by the Normans on an earlier founda-
tion, is also mentioned by other historians. Its site is in the grounds belonging
to the residence of Miss Wharton, known locally as Abbey House.

Traditions of a monastery erected in 655 by the Scottish bishops, trained
by Columba in lona, linger around this spot. There is no positive evidence,*
yet there are certain vestiges indicative of such a house, which may have
been despoiled and burnt by the Danes two centuries later. But what is

[It^. G. FoiUr.

absolutely more certain, the spot is the site of a Roman fortification, built
to guard the passage of the Cock. It is situated on the tongue of land
between the latter beck and the deep ravine, down which filters the little
stream rising on the confines of Hook Moor, known as the Crow, or Craw.

♦ Burton says that the second of the religious houses built by the Scottish monks in
655 was at Abberford, Newton Kyme, or Tadcaster. All places are on the line of the old
road, but which place has this honour of sanctity seems uncertain.

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That the Nonnans had a fortification on this site we have undoubted proof,
apart from the testimony of Camden and other old historians. As we have
observed, in bygone years a good market and fairs were held, but grew
less each succeeding year and are now things of the past.

\Fr«Mk Dean.

The place is unique in appearance and character, and entirely different
from other villages in the basin of the Wharfe, and consists chiefly of one
long well-built street, rising from the beck to the opposing ridges on each

From different points of vantage, interesting landscapes are to be viewed.
The church, with its tapering spire, surrounded by umbrageous trees, rising
above the house-roofs of the town, forms a very pleasing scene ; the old corn
mill, its waterwheel and ivied cottage, and hard by, the slender aspiring
poplars ; the valley spreading west through lush meadows, with the
twisting stream, and the bold wooded escarpment partly hiding the trenches

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of Becca, which bring to mind far-reaching memories — historic scenes
which pierce the mists of a remote age.

From the bridge, the view north or south, along the course of the old
Roman street, which has oft resounded with the tramp of armies and the
rumble of mail-coaches, has features interesting to the antiquary and his-
torian. The old ruined windmill, minus the sails, perched on the hill slope
east of the town,
silhouetted against
a pale blue sky,
over which huge
pack clouds are
sailing westwards,
casting deep shad-
ows on the land-
scape, and two
quaint white-
walled cottages
abutting on the
circular structure
of the mill, make
a striking picture
in this hill and dale
belvedere; one
which probably
commands the at-
tention of the tourist
more than others,
although only a
thing of yesterday
compared with the
antiquity of objects

around: notably the great Roman way — the Ermyne Street— ninning, as
we have already observed, from Caslleford over Hook Moor, where the high
causeway is still in good preservation.

Thence the present road passes along the side of the old road until
reaching Aberford. A little distance north of the town, beyond Black
Horse Farm, the Roman street bears away to the right of the present road,
and here it is a ver>' conspicuous landmark, running over the fields, a high,
compact ridge.

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r-QLP MKl 5;



Practically 'cultivation seems to have had little effect in lowering the
ridge of this original Roman road. At Nip Scaup, or Nut Hill, by the side
of the ridge, is an old farm, where the family of the Noverleys have
dwelt for hundreds of years. Report says they came in the train of the first
Vavasour, and were huntsmen for that House when most of the land here-
abouts was wild moor, fen and forest. A little distance south, where the old
and new roads part, formerly stood a cross ; Highcross Cottage keeps its
memory green. Immediately to the north of this place there is a length of the
Roman road remaining. It diverges from the present turnpike and passes
over the cultivated fields in the vicinity of Headley Bar ; the present road is


on the track of the Roman way. Apart from the high ridge, other proofs
of this old road are strongly in evidence. Here in the fields, after the culti-
vation year by year, a long line, almost of snowy whiteness, is brought to
the surface. This annual earth-ghost is due to the upturning of the Roman-
way subsoil, chiefly by the plough, but in part by worms, and its subsequent
disintegration and bleaching by the weather. Down in the little valley
immediately to the west, there is a fine well of water, known as the " Duke
of Buckingham's Well." From evidences here there has formerly been a
substantial liouse hereabouts. There is a local tradition which needs no

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comment : it says that the Duke of Buckingham, riding from the battle of
Towton, fell sick of flux ; being advised of the astringent properties of
the well, he drank and was cured.

From Windmill Hill we may behold, mentally, the legions of Honorius
passing southwards never to return; and picture the natives watching
the departure of their imperial masters, to some a source of pleasure, to others
of sorrow ; emblazoned banners wave, yet the cordon is tightly drawn :
Rome calls afar to her sons for help. Thus our thoughts mingle with scenes
of far-off days and present times.


In coaching days Aberford was a place of some fame. The ** Swan "
and the **Arabian Horse," with their quaint settles and picturesque interiors
are evidences of bygone bustle and far greater prosperity. Sixty or seventy
years ago, Bramham Moor, '* the home of howling winds," was quite
enlivened by the passing to aud fro of mail-coaches. Now and again, when
the hounds meet at the crossing of roads, the scene partakes of the character
and picturesqueness of the past. From one coach named the ** True Blue,"

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a native of the moor, now fast approaching fourscore, told the writer that as
a boy it was his duty to obtain a copy of the ** Leeds Mercury," the price of
which was sevenpence-halfpenny.

Bramham Moor is said to have been a rendezvous of Nevison, the cele-
brated highwayman, and the '^ Black Horse," now a farm, is the place
where, report says, he baited his famous mare during his fabled ride on her
from London to York.

In our journey down the vale we follow the south bank and note the
entrenchments known as the Woodhouse Moor Rein, — rein or rine, a strip
or stripe —which extend from Aberford, south east, to Lotherton. Professor
Phillips regards them as part of a system of earthworks of an ancient popu-
lation having its centre at Barwick, but whether raised by Briton or Saxon,
he could not be certain. Doubtless this great system of earthworks, so
complete in their design and carrying out, are pre-Roman, or were con-
structed as a barrier against the invasion of the latter people. They are so
linked together from Wendel Hill at Barwick to the swampy lands of low-
lying Lead, and in some places running on both sides of the river, east
and west, and show by their contour a preconceived design. To this
day they remain a great monument of that very eventful period to the
Briton— the coming of the Romans. Here by the roadside is Mr. Young's
small museum of curios and antiquities, many of which have been found in
the district : flint implements, Roman coins of Constantinus and Faustina,
the famous (and infamous) Empress of Rome.

Hidden in a recess across the road is the old market cross brought hither
from Aberford, which formerly stood by the churchyard near the old
vicarage. It was removed from there during the time of plague, and the fairs
removed hither also, and such was the fear of the plague that the purchase
money was placed in a trough containing water, and taken out by the sellers,
and here in the hedgerow the old cross still rests. A strange and pathetic
interest invests this silent testimony to the fearful plague-time of long past.
'Tis a pity the old stone cannot be removed to its former site, it being a relic
around which, to some extent, the history of Aberford centres. The registers
of the church tell a fearful and pathetic story of that terrible visitation,
when the families of those infected were compelled by force to live with
those smitten fatally, and receive, as it were, their certain doom.

Half a mile beyond we turn aside to the right, and a few hundred yards
brings us to Lotherton (Lutterington of old). The surroundings of the
place are wonderfully picturesque. The antique ivy-clad and gabled house

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by the road side, with the large overhanging trees, are typical of the past.
But apart from this picture the tiny hamlet contains a little private chapel,
belonging to an old manor-house, and not much bigger than the squire's pew
in some chapels. Like a jewel in a casket, it is hidden by dense foliage and
interwoven with ivy. In the summer time, with the exception of the bell
gable, it is completely hidden to the passer-by, and to the casual observer
its claims to beauty and antiquity are lost. Yet the little chapel is
capable of teaching a most instructive lesson, which the thinking pedes-
trian cannot afford to neglect. As a relic of an age we are apt to despise as
barbarous, it is a striking reproof to modern times and builders. Only
when one has passed through the

intricate maze of foliage and : v,

reached the entrance doorway do
we grasp the evidence of its anti-
quity. The north doorway, now
walled up, is decidedly Norman —
twelfth century. There is an
ancient holy-water stoup of the
same age as the arch of the north
door. The east window is a small
narrow slit. The deeply recessed
windows, hidden on the outside
by dense foliage, give the interior
an air of gloom. The fittings are
of the rudest description. Through
the cracks in the roof tendrils of
ivy have crept and now hang from
the roof to the floor of the chapel ^ ."
in clusters ! The interior of the ^
building is 54 feet by 2 1 . Needless
to say, service is not held in the
chapel now. The venerable relic
is in a most dilapidated condition,
now evidently used as a pigeon cote,
and a place for fowls to roost in.

The estate was a part of the Archbishop's barony of Sherburn : hence
Sherburn is the mother church— nearly four miles away, while Aberford is
little more than a mile. Richard de Lutterington held a knight's fee there,
in 1202. In 1251 the manor went to Robert Haget, treasurer of York, and

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Gilbert Bernevale, his assign, who died in 1276, leaving daughters,
Albreda and Cecily. Albreda had a son, Gilbert Conday; Cecily was
married to Gilbert Neville, but it was found that Gilbert Bernevale, before
his death, had granted the Lotherton lands to Joan, daughter of Alan Samp-
son, of York, and had placed her in full seisin of them. Afterwards,
however, the Nevilles and Sir Robert Fourneaux seem to have divided the

estate. John Neville, of
Lotherton, took a pro-
minent part in the
disastrous Scottish Wars
of Edward II., com-
manding a portion of
the West Riding men
who were at Bannock-

After them the Gram-
marys occupied, and, in
1495, Sir Guy Fairfax
confirmed Lutterington
and other lands to his
son Guy : ** Rendering
thereof to Sir Guy
one red rose yearly, at
the Feast of the Nativity
of St. John Baptist;"
and so it was that the
little chapel of Lother-
ton, where the knight
has kept his vigils before
starting on his journey
to the Holy Wars, told
the tale of England's
glory from the Crusades
INTERIOR (i^ooKiNG WKST) i,othkrton chapei,. ^^ Marstou Moor ; and

from thence Major (now
Colonel) Gascoigne rode forth to take part in our late war against the Boers.

A mile further down in the vale is the little Church of Lead, or Lede
(another proof of Celtic occupation), erected in the thirteenth century as a

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'The old kingdom of elmet. , 169

private chapel to Lead Hall : in bygone days a place of some importance,
now deserted and falling to ruins. In the early centuries it was the home
of the Teyes family, afterwards the Scargills.

About this very ancient domain Leland tells us not a little of what we
want to know. He saw it about 1540, and thus reporteth : — ** Aberford is a
poor thoroughfare on Watling
Street. Cock Beck springeth
west of it and so runneth through
it, and thence, by much turning
to Lead, a hamlet where Skargill
had a fair manor place of timber.
Scargill, late knight, left two
daughters to his heirs, whereof
Tunstall wedded one, and Gas-
coyne of Bedfordshire, the other.
Cock Beck after crosseth by
Saxton and Towton village and
fields and forth into Wharfe
River, beneath Tadcaster."

In its palmy days this fair
domain, with its then timber
manor-house and outbuildings,
as described by Leland, must,
indeed, have been a charming
spot. In the midst of fertile
meadow land stands the church ;
the ground on either side rising
more boldly, encloses the pictur-

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Online LibraryEdmund BoggThe old kingdom of Elmet: the land ʻtwixt Aire and Wharfe → online text (page 15 of 23)