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Hambleton parish population estimate: 210 (2000)

Kilburn today


Kilburn main street The Forresters Arms at Kilburn - very popular in the summer! The White Horse from Kilburn
The famous Mouseman of Kilburn - Robert Thompson makers of extremely fine furniture! High Kilburn today - unspoiled for a hundred years The lovely village of Kilburn, North Yorkshire

Kilburn - a history

Old image of Kilburn villageKilburn, also Kylebourne or Chilebourne, takes its name from the beck which flows by the side of the main street, ciele-burna - cool stream. The Norman church was built around 1120 and the north aisle added in 1180. The chancel was rebuilt in 1866.

Roger de Mowbray was Norman overlord of the district. In 1147 the Lord of the Manor of Kilburn was Robert Dayville The settlement at Byland and at Newburgh was not without troubles, for in 1147 Abbot Roger complained to de Mowbray that the Lord of the Manor of Kilburn was being obstructive. De Mowbray had made a great ditch on the west side of the abbey to mark the boundary, traces of which are still visible at Oldstead.

old image of High KilburnRobert's son John reached an agreement with the Abbot as to rights of pasture in Kilburn, in return for the constant prayers of the brethren. He also agreed that the Prior of Newburgh and the men of Kilburn should have a reasonable quantity of timber for burning, fencing and mending their ploughs.

In the reigns of Henry I and Henry II Kilburn Hunting Park came into being, and some years later a manor house was built in Kilburn for the Head Forester.

The Black Death took its toll in Kilburn in 1349. We are able to deduce this information from the way the taxation returns showed the amount of relief given.

Kilburn Feast has existed from time immemorial. It starts on the Saturday after July 6th. Formerly, on the Saturday, men played quoits in the Square and children ran races in the cricket field. On the Sunday there was an open air service in the Square. On the Monday evening there was horse trotting and later, sulky (two-wheeled carriage) and motor-cycle races around the cricket field, the evening ending in a dance at the village hall. On the Tuesday, celebrations were of a local nature and enshrined the most ancient features of the Feast.

The Lord Mayor, in top hat and sash of office, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress (a young man in female clothing and heavily rouged), toured the village proclaiming his authority for a year and a day and inflicting small fines on householders for the poor state of their gardens. Buns and tarts were collected from the householders and these were taken to the Forresters Arms for the merrymaking later. 

Meanwhile, the Mayoress was very active chasing the females and kissing all he could embrace. The Feast ended, naturally, at the Forresters Arms, where the landlord was appropriately fined a barrel of beer. The merrymaking continued with the singing of a strange song about Old Grimy, to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Free beer from the barrel was available to all, and the final of the quoits match brought the Feast to an end. The Kilburn Feast is still celebrated today in a shortened form and the Lord Mayor and his Lady wife still feature prominently in it.

The White Horse of Kilburn was made in 1857 by Thomas Taylor. He had left Kilburn for Australia on board a sailing ship and became a very successful bacon curer in Melbourne. On his return to the UK he passed the White Horse in Wiltshire and decided that it would be a good idea to construct a similar one on the face of the Hambleton Hills overlooking Kilburn, as a distinctive landmark. The village schoolmaster, John Hodgson, designed and constructed the Horse with his team of 31 men. It covers 3/4 of an acre and was cut out of the limestone rock. When the White Horse of Kilburn was completed there was great celebration. Two bullocks were roasted and more than a hundred gallons of beer consumed.

Kilburn is also famous for its oak furniture with the famous Mouse trademark. When Robert Thompson, the founder of the firm Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd started the business, he was as poor as a church mouse, and decided that every piece produced should therefore bear a reminder of his humble beginning. There is evidence of his work throughout the UK and also in many overseas countries. The adze finish to the surface area is a distinctive feature.

John Kirk
Kilburn 2000

from Baine's Directory of the County of York 1823

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KILBURN, (or High and Low Kilburn) a parish in the wapentake of Birdforth, & liberties of Ripon & Pickering Lythe; 7 miles ESE. of Thirsk. The village is divided into High Kilburn and Low Kilburn. Population 500.

HOOD GRANGE, a farm-house in the parish of Kilburn, wapentake of Birdforth and liberty of Ripon; 6 miles ESE. of Thirsk. Population 30. Here was an Hermitage to Whitby, where Robert de Alnetto, a monk of Whitby lived; but in 1138, through the influence of Roger de Mowbray and Gundred his mother, was converted into an Abbey for monks of the Cistercian order, which was removed to old Byland in 1143, and finally to Byland near Coxwold in 1147. It is now merely a farm-house, the thick walls of which, with its antique windows, and a stone coffin placed in the wall of the west buildings, prove its antiquity.


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Easingwold Tourist Information
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YO61 3AE
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It's a fact

Lawrence Stern, local vicar and author of the for its time groundbreaking (scandalous) novel “Trystan Shandy” lived in Coxwold village and whose home is now a museum with delightful gardens open to the public for much of the year

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