A Brief History of Easingwold
Download or listen to an excellent series on the History of Easingwold - narrated by Valerie Taylor and recently broadcast on BBC Radio York
5 programs of about 5 minutes each
The origin of Easingwold stretches back to before the Domesday Survey in 1086 when it was recorded:
YORKSHIRE, THE LAND OF THE KING IN YORKSHIRE
IN EASINGWOLD are 12 carucates of land to the geld, which 7 ploughs could plough. Morcar held these as 1 manor TRE. Now it is in the king's hand, and there are 10 villans having 4 ploughs. [There is] a church with a priest. [There is] woodland pasture 2 leagues long and 2 broad. All together [it is] 3 leagues long and 2 broad. Then worth 32l ; now 20s.
To this manor belongs the soke of these lands: in Huby, 4 carucates; in Moxby, 3 carucates; in Murton [in Sutton-on-the-Forest], 2½ carucates; in 'Thorpe' [in Sutton-on-the-Forest], Sutton-on-the-Forest, Kelsit and Cold Kirby, 17 carucates; in Thormanby, 1½ carucates; in Sandhutton, 6 carucates; in Sowerby [near Thirsk], 3 carucates, and 2 others belonging to the hall, with a mill which renders 20s. All together there are 39 carucates to the geld, which 20 ploughs could plough. There are only 2 villans and 4 bordars having 1½ ploughs. The remaining land is waste. Yet there is woodland, pasture in some [places], 1½ leagues in length and the same in breadth.
After the ‘Harrying of the North’ by the Normans the value had fallen to 20 shillings, such was the devastation caused. The Manor remained in the hands of the Crown for a further two hundred years.
The derivation of the name Easingwold may come from the word Ease meaning ‘rich irriguous land prone to water logging', and Wold or Weald meaning ‘wood or forest’. Another suggestion is that the name could have Saxon origins in the family name of ‘Esa’ therefore, the people becoming the ‘Easingas’.
Easingwold developed as a town of two communities.
Uppleby forms the upper part of the town (of possible Danish origin, from a distinct village of settlers under the leadership of the Dane, Uplleby)
The southern part developed along Long Street, or Low Street, as it used to known, and is thought to have been the settlement of the Angles.
In 1221, the men of Easingwold paid the King with a palfrey, a small horse, for the privilege of holding a market every Saturday. Charles I finally conveyed the market rights to a George Hall in 1638 by Letters Patent. Thus a free market could be held every Friday, plus a cattle market every other Friday from St. Matthew’s Day to St. Thomas’s Day, along with two fairs each year.
In 1646 the present market place was assigned to George Hall on behalf of the town conditional upon him building a Toll Booth and maintaining the surrounding pavement. Both High and Low Shambles were located in the centre of the market place where the butchers bought and sold their meat along with butter, bacon and a variety of other goods. The shambles have since been replaced by the Town Hall, built in 1864, but which now houses a printing company which also produces the local Easingwold Advertiser newspaper for the area. The market has waxed and waned over time being revived again in 1975 and continuing to the present day. Fairs are still traditionally held twice a year and are seen as an event that brings local villagers and Easingwolders alike into the Market Square.
For a victorian view of our history (not always precise with the facts!), see
Today, visitors today can see our market square relatively unscathed from the 'developments' that have afflicted many other market towns in Yorkshire. Commercial development was concentrated along the main thoroughfare of Long Street which means that the Market Square still retains a significant number of Georgian-style housing and is a peaceful place to sit on sunny afternoons. Visit the pubs and cafes located on the east and southern sides and watch the world go by.
In terms of architecture little remains of the timber-framed houses with thatched roofs that were once scattered throughout the town’s streets. However, one timber-framed house can still be seen in a corner of Uppleby which displays close studding and diagonal braces at first floor level. One rebuilt house in Spring Street carries an inscription ‘GOD WITH US 1664’ and also displays the date of its rebuild in 1907. This too was once a half-timbered cottage. Of the other houses that remain, some predate the Georgian period (1714-1830) although individual houses were built or rebuilt during this time. Many of the older houses which remain today had their beginnings in the later Victorian period.
Easingwold Market Cross
The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist and All Saints is situated on Church Hill to the north of the town. The present building dates from c. 1400 when it was largely rebuilt. It comprises a chancel and nave, together with north and south aisles and a western tower. The interior of the church has undergone much restoration in recent years. The surrounding churchyard was extended in 1858 and 1886 and is still in use. The lych gate was gifted from Huntington Parish Church and was erected in 1981.
The Catholic Church in Long Street is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and was designed in 1830 by the architect, Charles Hanson, the brother of Joseph Hanson of ‘Hansom cab’ fame. The church under went alterations in 1870 by Hatfield & Son. The altar was the gift of Madame Stapleton of nearby Myton Hall in 1871. A school was also added alongside the church in the same year.
The present Methodist Church in Chapel Street dates from 1975. This building is the third chapel on the site: the first dating from 1786 and the second built in 1815 at a cost of £970. In 1860 the school was added to the southern end of the site supported by voluntary contribution, school fees and an examination grant. It is noted in John Wesley’s diary that he preached in Easingwold, probably at the site of the present Church. He was reputed to have stayed overnight at a local farm towards the nearby village of Stillington.
Easingwold National School rose to prominence in 1862 and now houses Easingwold’s library in the north-western corner of the market place. A carved inscription can be seen over the main door sporting the Victorian sentiment ‘Learn or Leave’. A charity specifically set up for children allowed seven boys and girls free places for their education.
Present day children receive their primary education in what was the former Grammar School on Thirsk Road, built in 1911. The first building on this site, the Tin Tabernacle, was erected in 1905 and is still part of the school complex today. This location was chosen originally because it was close to the then railway station.
Located on the York Road as one enters the town, provides young people from the surrounding area with their secondary education in a building that dates from 1954. Documentary evidence for education in Easingwold dates back to the early part of the eighteenth century. Around 1350 students now have their secondary education in Easingwold and the school is regarded as one of the finest in North Yorkshire. Recently it has acquired additional status as a Specialist Language College which further enhances its high reputation.
The smallest and the last privately owned railway in the country, opened in 1891. A single-track branch line ran from Alne to Easingwold conveying both passengers and goods. Closure to passengers came in 1948 and by 1957 goods traffic too had ceased. The track was removed in 1960 but traces of the route including some bridges can still be seen.
Once in private ownership, was built in true Victorian style at the close of the nineteenth century for the Robinson family. Mr Robinson was one of the town’s solicitors whose practice formerly occupied the ‘The White House’ across the market place. This imposing new house was designed by the esteemed York architects Demaine & Brierley. After a period of inactivity, it was compulsorily purchased. Since becoming the Community Centre in 1984 a Leisure Hall and other sporting and recreational facilities have been added, both indoor and outdoor, which enhance the Centre enormously.
Inhabitants of the town and surrounding area still have the chance to participate in a variety of sporting activities through their respective clubs. These range from carpet bowls, outdoor bowls, football, cricket, golf and tennis to name but a few. All of which have continued reasonably unabated as they have done for many years.
Easingwold had a parish workhouse from at least 1756. It was situated on Uppleby Street and accommodated 30 inmates. Its regime in 1829 was fairly strict, with men, women and children strictly segregated, fires lit only by order of the Vestry, and candles provided only for the sick. Work was performed from 7am (8am in winter) to 6pm with male inmates grinding corn and women doing domestic work. The food, however, was relatively good with four meat dinners a week!
Easingwold Poor Law Union formally came into being on 20th February 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 29 in number, representing its 28 constituent parishes. Easingwold Union workhouse was erected in 1837-8 on Oulston Road. It cost about £2,600 and could accommodate 130 inmates, the first of whom were admitted in October 1838. Women inmates performed domestic work and picked oakum, while men did corn-grinding, stone-breaking and gardening. Boys attended a local parish school, but girls were taught reading, writing and needlework by a pauper inmate. The casual wards lacked toilets and beds with vagrants sleeping on wooden platforms. Further information.....
Easingwold was once home to one of the largest hospital and care centres for those with a learning disability in the north of England. From 1934 until its closure in 1993, it held up to 360 residental pateints, their staff and carers and associated facilitites. The centre was located in the countryside just to the north of Easingwold oopposite Claypenny Hill, the highest point in the Easingwold area. Following the centres demise and closure in 1993 vdue to chasnges in care provision into the community, the whole estate was sold into housing development. The Developers in question, won awards for the design, quality and layout of the housing estate built at the turn of the millenium. A community park (Millfields Park), so called after the medieval name for the area, lies in between the housing estate and the Town proper.
Approximately half of the land is managed by the Woodland Trust and is now a rapidly maturing wood of native trees with footpaths within, making the area a delightful recreation space for the residents of Easingwold and the surrounding Villages. In addition there is a separate skateboard park for the young people of the town. The park is accessed by a main footpath which is sited beside the Sustrans National Cycle Route that runs through the town at this point. This 34-acre site was obtained by Hambleton District Council in 1994 and officially opened to the public in 1999.
Furher information on Millfields Wood from the Woodland Trust.
The park which houses the children’s play area was established in the mid 1950’s as a memorial and legacy of the war years. Band concerts were also reintroduced in 2004 thus giving the Town Band the opportunity to perform from the bandstand usually once a month in the summertime. More....
The old rectory-house or manor-house of the Archdeacons of Richmond known as Easingwold Hall stood at the now crossroads of Church Hill and Millfields Lane / Manor Road. There was a manorhouse here in the time of Edward I, later archdeacons allowed it to fall into disrepair, and at the beginning of the 14th century the buildings were ruinous. There was evidently at this later date great friction between the tenants of the rectory manor and the men of Easingwold on the one side and the Forest of Galtres officials on the other. The rectory manor-house was pulled down in the beginning of the 19th century; its site is now occupied by a farm. The only remains are the garden walls (which can be seen from Church Hill), the fish-ponds (now exists as a wetlands area of Millfields Park) )and a few very old Weymouth pines. Over 300 years ago the hall was surrounded by these trees, the approach to it being through a long winding avenue. The house itself was of irregular shape, having several wings supported by buttresses and surrounded by a parapet. The site is now occupied by our local Millfield Health Centre.
The Millfield Doctor’s Surgery opened in 1993 and stands in one corner of the Millfield, the name of which is taken from one of Easingwold’s four open fields prior to enclosure in 1812 and was built on the site of the original Easingwold Hall (see above)
Pubs, Inns and Breweries
Easingwold has had its fair share of inns, hostelries and public houses throughout the last two hundred years. At its height there were 28 outlets for alcohol in the town in the mid nineteenth century, ten of which were located in Long Street! Today, only two remain now in Long Street and four in the Market Place. Once the town produced its own beer from a number of different brew houses. Nowadays beer is produced elsewhere and transported by road from various breweries further afield. Many houses can still be seen displaying the name of the Inn previously occupying the building.
Compiled with the grateful help of Valerie Taylor, our local historian.
Useful Websites for more Historical Information and Images
Frances Frith Collection of 1960's Postcards
Borthwick Institute, housed in the University of York and is our local historical refernce archives. Much of Easingwold's history is recorded therein.
Easingwold Conservation Area Assessment 2010 Hambleton District Council planning document giving an excellent summary of the architecture and images of Easingwold
Vallis eboracensis - a somewhat over gilded Victorian History of Easingwold & its surroundings