– History of West Burton


This history of West Burton & Walden is based on the booklet written by Julian Bharier & Marianne V. Thompson (ISBN 0 9525905 1 4). Their acknowledgements included: Margaret Ritchie, Jean Kington, Mary Brown, Dorothy Davison, Jean Dobbing, John Miller, Sally Stone, John & Mary Piper, Brigadier and Mrs Wilfrid Ponsonby, Stephen Moorhouse, staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Mrs A Johnson, Mrs K. Deighton, H.E.Moody, Mr. D. Nottage and James Hogg.

Before they died Julian & Marianne kindly gave permission for us to use their booklet as a basis for a revision. We have edited, updated and added to their text.

A ‘Prowl around West Burton’ has also been printed for sale to visitors.

Jane Ritchie and Sally Stone 2020

West Burton, built round its Green, stands on an elevated terrace where the lower, northern ends of Bishopdale and Walden come together. The thousand-year old village maintains its history and traditions while meeting the challenges of changing times.

In its heyday in the nineteenth century, West Burton was a busy cattle and crafts centre with many shops, markets and fairs. Now a small Yorkshire Dales village with about 240 registered voters in the Burton-cum-Walden Parish, it has the good fortune to be populated by many community-supportive people. Some are from families who have lived in the neighbourhood for many generations, others are relative newcomers who have chosen to relocate or retire to rural tranquillity. Many houses are now holiday lets or second homes.

The Green, sold to the Parish Council by the Lord of the Manor as recently as 1969 (for one pound plus legal costs), is the heart of the village. The old octagonal Cross or obelisk is its centrepiece and, with the stocks and bullring, a reminder of when West Burton was the main market town for Bishopdale and Walden. The cricket pitch has long gone but quoits are still played on the Green which also provides a playground for children.

Since West Burton is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, changes to land-use and buildings are subject to certain rules. National Parks came into existence in 1954, but it was only from 1974 that planning applications were carefully scrutinised. From 1974 to 1995, 205 application were considered for the township of Burton – cum – Walden: 46 were for converting existing buildings (mainly barns) to other (mainly residential) uses; 57 for constructing new buildings (some agricultural, some residential); 43 for extensions to buildings (almost all for residential purposes); 26 for building improvements to provide modern facilities; and 20 for the change of land-use. 50 of the applications were later withdrawn or refused, but for the most part the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has supported rational development in the township. It persuaded the Parish Council to allow the village to be designated a conservation area in 1999.

Many small villages in the Dales have declined rapidly in recent years, partly owing to the purchase of holiday houses by occasional residents and partly to the villagers migrating to towns. West Burton still has a general store and a family butcher’s shop. The pub still provides the venue for village darts and dominoes teams. It hosts the monthly village lunches and many other social gatherings. The Chapel is still flourishing and the School is still open. The Fish & Chip van calls on a Wednesday evening.

All the workshops and offices which existed around the Green in the late 19th century have disappeared. Moorside Ceramics, a family business established in 1982 and known internationally for its cat sculptures closed in 2019. The internet has allowed a number of young families to move into the village and work from home.

Farming, mostly livestock despite the arable origins of the area, now only supports three families in the village although there are several others in the Parish. The annual farming timetable remains as it was two or three centuries ago, but many of the farming methods have changed. Contractors are used for making silage which has largely replaced hay.

West Burton has maintained a number of traditional festivals and celebrations. Children who go ‘trick – or – treating’ on Hallowe’en may well appear again on Mischief Night, the evening before Guy Fawkes Day, although this has fortunately lapsed in recent years. School children still dance around the maypole during the popular West Burton May Fair as they did in the 1920s and 1930s, but no longer wear the frilly white dresses which used to be brought out each year. Almost everyone in the village turns out for Bonfire Night to witness as massive a display of fireworks as the villagers feel they can afford through voluntary contributions.

Because of its location, West Burton lagged behind other parts of the country in obtaining access to modern technology. It was 1947 before the village had a public telephone kiosk, though residents could always make use of the telephone in the post office. Walden only got its telephone box by the former chapel in the early 1960s. It was 1948 before the electricity supply came from the National Grid rather than from a small independent generator at the mill. And it was 1980 before a television relay station was erected above Sorrelsykes so West Burton could watch BBC 2 and colour television. It was 1987 before Channel 4 could be received.

The days are past when West Burton boasted a village brass band. Its instruments were donated to the Parish Council and sold for 11 pounds in 1954, the proceeds contributing to the purchase of an auto scythe to mow the Green. The Parish Council still takes responsibility for cutting the Green but a sit on mower is now used.

The Village Hall hosts a range of activities. These include Art classes, yoga, performances by visiting theatre groups and a weekly Parent and Toddlers’ Group. It is used regularly by the primary school, which has no hall of its own, for games and drama. It is now also a venue for a range of celebrations including weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties. The Village Hall Committee, along with members of the Methodist Chapel and the Parish Council, organises the annual May Fair on the last Monday in May working together as the Fund Raising Group.

Sports were once important in West Burton; the Village Hall is home to the indoor bowls club as well as badminton players. The Bishopdale Valley Football Club, which in 1919 was a founding member of the Wensleydale League, is no more. Home games used to be played on the Green, and then on Long Pasture, a field near Eshington Bridge, by courtesy of the owner of Grange Farm. The Reading Room that used to have facilities for billiards is now a house.

The Parish Council operates with a modest budget. This is because its income is based on a small precept and minuscule rents from land it owns at Morpeth Scar, Hudson Quarry and Stony Woods. Even so, it continues to ensure that the Green retains its character. Arrangements are made to cut the grass, dispose of litter, to plant crocuses and daffodils, to remove the turf before the celebrations on Bonfire Night, to prevent vehicles parking on it and to protect any part of it from being destroyed by further encroachment.

The Iron Age to the 17th Century

High above West Burton, one mile to the south east on bleak and windswept Burton Moor, are relics of an extensive Iron Age settlement. The 18 circular huts and nine enclosures which were built of rough – hewn stone are in an unusual honeycomb arrangement. When established, perhaps 2,500 years ago, this settlement was one of up to 15 prehistoric villages in and around Wensleydale. Many of these have since been almost totally destroyed and none, though formally classified as protected historical monuments, has yet been surveyed in detail by archaeologists. Local tradition names these settlements as Egton and Fenton.

The Burton Moor settlement housed the first people ever to live in the West Burton area. Nearby springs provided water for people and cattle, as well as for fields which were crudely cultivated. At 1,500 feet there were few trees, so the inhabitants could more easily protect themselves from wild animals roaming the forests below. Sentries would probably have been posted nearby, on the Height of Hazely or other parts of Penhill, to warn of human marauders.

The fate of the ancient Britons who lived in this settlement is unknown. Nor is it known when people started settling on the current site of West Burton, or Burton – in – Bishopdale as it was called until the late 17th century. It is possible that the Romans, who built camps and towns at York (Eburacum) and Aldbrough (Isurium Brigantium) on their conquering march north, forayed in the Burton area since there were forts at Wensley and Bainbridge and a villa at Middleham. It is also possible that Burton was brought into existence during the Celtic kingdom of Deira (York) in the sixth to the eighth centuries or by the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, which incorporated Deira, in the eighth and ninth centuries.

It is much more likely, however, that the present village dates back to the Danish invasion and settlement of the ninth and tenth centuries. Some evidence for this is that the names of nearby villages such as Aysgarth, Thoralby, Melmerby and Carperby are of Danish origin. Moreover, around the village there is clear evidence of terraces and strip lynchets where cereals would have been cultivated centuries ago. These land patterns strongly resemble those of other, better-surveyed parts of Danelaw. Many of the existing boundaries of West Burton houses, especially on the southern side of the main street, follow the old, slightly curved toft (homestead plus arable land) boundaries. The second wave of Viking invaders, which included more Norwegians, then settled extensively in the area. Many local terms are old Norse words such as beck (small river), foss (waterfall), gill (narrow valley with stream), garth (fenced area), rigg (ridge), fell (high moorland), slack (depression in hillside), and biggin (building).

According to the Domesday Book, which chronicles the results of a survey initiated in 1085 by William the Conqueror to assess his kingdom’s wealth and its distribution, the land in Burton was owned by Turchil (about whom little is known) at the time of King Edward the Confessor (1042 – 66). Its value was then 20 shillings.

The Domesday Survey based the tax on Burton on six carucates, a carucate being the amount of land which could be cultivated in one season by a plough and eight oxen. The tax on Ecinton, a ‘berewick (sub-village) of Burton’ and probably the abandoned village located near Eshington Bridge, was based on three carucates. It was noted that the whole area measured two miles long by one mile wide but that there may have actually been only four ploughs in Burton and only two in Ecinton.

At the time of Domesday, English land not owned by the King was divided among 180 barons and the Church. In return, the barons and the Church had to provide around 6,000 knights for 40 days each year. West Burton had to provide two knights annually to undertake military duties at Richmond castle during August and September. Under the feudal system the knight became the Lord of the Manor. He was served by a bailiff, a chief peasant and various types of free and non-free peasants. Burton became part of the land of Earl Alan of Brittany, one of the principal barons of the era, and the manor at Burton was in the tenure of Earl Alan’s vassal, Goisfrid. Walden, which has always been closely coupled with Burton, appears to have had no separate manor and in the following century the manor at Burton became known as the Manor of Burton Walden. The manor at Thoralby, also owned by Earl Alan, was retained by Bernulf, who had held it before the Norman Conquest.

Most of the area around Burton remained covered with forests full of wild animals even into the 17th century. Forests belonged to the King. Walden Chase and Bishopdale Chase were favourite hunting grounds for wild red deer, pine-martens and yellow wild-cats. Some have suggested that the origin of the name Walden is ‘wolf-den’, although it probably derives from ‘weala-denu’, meaning the small valley of Welshmen (or foreigners, i.e. ancient Britons). ‘Burton’ itself derives from ‘burgh-town’ or important town, and indeed, it has always been the most important settlement around Walden and Bishopdale.

Trees were felled to provide more land for cultivation and grazing during the 12th and 13th centuries. The ‘Riddings’ to the east and the west of West Burton are nominal evidence of this. During this period the area grew in value and a track was built through as part of a pack-horse route between Richmond and Wharfedale. The origins of the Back Nook and the lower footpath from West Burton to Newbiggin via Ox Pasture Lane can probably be traced to this track. Goisfrid’s lands later passed to the Lords of Hackforth. In 1480 Thomas Mountford, who also owned lands in Aysgarth, relinquished his claim to the manor when he had no heir. The land passed to the Nevilles at Middleham, and via Anne Neville to her husband, Richard of Gloucester who became Richard lll.

Part of the land formerly owned by Mountford in Burton was leased in 1404 by the Scropes of Bolton. The Manor of Burton Walden then followed the descent of Castle Bolton until the early 19th century when the title fell into disuse. The other part was leased to the Lords of Middleham and became an appendage to the Manor of Thoralby. West Burton today remains part of this manor.

The Manor of Thoralby had earlier been acquired by the Lords of Middleham. At the death of Ralph, son of Ranulph, it went first to his widow and then to his daughter Joan, wife of Robert de Tateshall, who was tenant in 1286-7. He died in 1298 and Joan died in 1310 when the manor reverted to her sister Mary Nevill who had inherited Middleham. After the Battle of Bosworth the Tudors owned Middleham and its lands. In the reign of Charles 1 (1625 – 49), Thoralby, together with the rest of Middleham, was sold to the City of London and between 1654 and 1663 both were put up for sale in parcels. The purchaser of Thoralby was William Norton of St. Nicholas near Richmond, whose son Christopher sold it to his bailiff, Benjamin Purchas, in November 1683. More will be heard later about the Puchas family, whose head was Lord of the Manor until 1860 when the title was sold to the Robinson family. The new Lord was Henry Thomas Robinson, who had married Purchas’s daughter Elizabeth. He was followed by William Burrill-Robinson until the death of the latter in the 1970s. The title then went to a cousin, Robert Chapman-Robinson and has since passed to his sister’s two daughters, now living in the United States.

The Knights Templar

Between the 12th and the 14th centuries a House of the great military-religious Order of the Knights Templar resided on the boundaries of the Manor of Burton Walden. The Order, founded in 1119 to protect the Holy Sepulchre and to ensure safe passage to the pilgrims going there, was introduced to Britain in 1146. Shortly afterwards it obtained lands on Penhill near what is now Temple Farm, less than two miles to the north northeast of West Burton.

The Knights Templar were probably given the land by William FitzHarvey Akar, a Norman baron, and it is said that Roger de Mowbray, the famous crusader, provided the timber from his extensive land-holdings in Yorkshire. Around the end of the 12th century the knights built houses and a chapel. All that now remains of the chapel are the stone base of the altar in the chancel and three stone coffins with cover slabs. Two of the three remaining boundary stones of the Knights Templars’ property, one on the border of the township of Burton-cum-Walden and the other on the border with Swinithwaite, can be seen on the A684 between Leyburn and Aysgarth.

The chapel was dedicated to ‘God, the Virgin and St. Catherine’. St Catherine being the patron saint of linen weavers. She was important to the Knights Templar because their outer garments were made from white linen on which was sewn a blood red cross, their symbol of martyrdom. The badge of the Order combined a cross and a T. During more than a century of existence leaders of the Order introduced many strange rites and customs. One of these involved spitting on the cross in the chapel and it was largely as a result of this practice that many malicious accusations were levied against them.

In Wensleydale the charges against the brotherhood were particularly severe. The master of the House on Penhill, Thomas de Bellerby, was one of a score of Knights apprehended and locked up in York Castle in the autumn of 1309. He, like others, was tortured and killed and the House and the chapel, together with 80 acres of surrounding land and buildings, were taken over by King Edward 11. In the same year, the local sheriff, Sir John Le Gras, carried out an audit of the Templars’ accounts in the area. Receipts amount to 41 pounds came from the sale of livestock, fleeces, cheese and butter. Expenses included repairs to ploughs, food for servants, wages of milkmaids, shepherds and harvesters as well as the stipends of the chaplain and his clerk, together with purchases of wine, to celebrate divine service in the Penhill Chapel. In 1324 Parliament passed a law transferring all the Templars’ property in the area to the Order of the Knights Hospitallers, or Knights of Jerusalem, but 15 years of neglect meant this it was virtually worthless.

In 1540, at the eventual dissolution of the property, the assessors recorded rents received from a large holding of land at Temple Dusker (Dovescar) as well as from five smaller parcels of land in Burton and Walden which had been obtained when the Knights Templar were at their peak. There is evidence that Cross Farm in Walden was one of these parcels. Others could have been at Temple House, at the lower end of the Green in West Burton, as well as around Temple Bridge and Temple Lane near Walden Head. Two of the farms were sold to tenants called Spence, so possibly Hill Top was one of the Templar’s small farms in Walden.

A Thriving Village

As far back as 1301 Burton village, which is located in the Wapentake of Hang West in the North Riding of the County of Yorkshire (now North Yorkshire), had some industry. This included a collier (charcoal producer), dyers, wool-combers and hand-knitters. However, information about Burton-in-Bishopdale in the following 300 years is extremely sparse. There is some evidence of considerable ridge and furrow cultivation, probably of cereals, in post-Norman medieval times. In addition, the present layout of the village around the Green indicates a degree of planning, also dating from medieval times. West Burton Hall, a large house at the top end of the village, was probably the most important building. The old hall, however, has long since vanished. It is surmised that it was destroyed by fire. The stables and coach house of the hall, built in 1707, have been converted into a residence and any remaining stones, steps and other items not destroyed used in other buildings in the township.

It appears that the Reformation, the Renaissance and even the Wars of the Roses between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians passed the village by without any major impact on day-to-day life. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for some months in 1568 in Castle Bolton, just three miles away and clearly visible from West Burton, yet the local import of even this event was seemingly minimal.

By the mid-17th century Burton had become a thriving township. At least five of the existing buildings in the township date from that period. They all have two storeys and are built of coursed rubble with stone slate roofs. Some have casement windows with chamfered (beveled stone) surrounds and stone mullions. Four of the buildings are in Walden: West Rounton Gill Farmhouse (which may actually date back to the 16th century), the barn at Walden Head Farm, which was originally a farmhouse and may also date from the 16th century, Cowstonegill Farmhouse and Whiterow Farmhouse. The other building is the pair of cottages in West Burton called Inglenook. In addition, parts of other buildings, such as Ryder’s Farm, Black Bull House and Wensleydale Cottage, have provided structural and other indications of their existence before 1700.

A constable was sworn in to keep the peace for the first time in 1640. He was needed to quell occasional bouts of riotous behavior as well as to organise the maintenance of roads and bridges. He did not always do the job properly. In 1685 the constable was found at the Yorkshire North Riding Quarter Sessions to be negligent in his duties and was fined two shillings and sixpence.

The stocks, still on the Green, were erected soon after the first constable was sworn in. They were certainly used in 1660 when a Quaker, Samuel Watson of Stainforth Hall, was punished for trying to hold a religious meeting in the village against the wishes of many of the inhabitants.

A lead smelting mill, the only one on the south side of Wensleydale, was built. Burton Mill, originally called Braithwaite Mill, was situated near Cote Farm in Walden to serve the large number of small mines whose remains are scattered over the nearby moors. It was owned by the Purchas family whose home was Braithwaite Hall in Coverdale. The mill was small but important for the village because it created substantial local employment. Records of mill sales exist from 1684 and at the end of the century it certainly had a 12 foot diameter waterwheel, bellows, hearth and utensils. Only the rectangular chimney of the 38 foot long mill now remains.

By 1700 some of the basic features of present-day West Burton had come into existence and the layout of the central part of the village had been firmly established. There was at least one alehouse and probably more, because in 1670 the constable was accused of not making a correct return to the Alehouse Sessions of the North Riding Court. There was at least one butcher because a butcher called John Richardson was charged at the Quarter Sessions in 1605 with sheep-stealing. And there was at least one shoemaker as a Thomas Wharton, shoemaker, was charged in 1699 with selling 20 pairs of shoes worth three shillings and four pence made with unseasoned leather.

Despite such aberrations West Burton was a relatively peaceful and law-abiding village. This was mainly because of the very strict feudal management system. The Lord of the Manor of Thoralby appointed ‘juries’ of 12 people for both Burton and Walden. They issued regular instructions on methods of cultivation or grazing on farmland and repair of gates, bridges and roads. They gave verdicts on who owned what land and who was authorized to carry out which occupations. They also charged and punished any minor misdemeanours of the population. In May 1696, for example, charges were made by the Burton jurors on four people for illegally catching salmon in Walden Beck and three others for illegally killing rabbits.

Village to Market Town to Village

During the 18th and 19th centuries West Burton grew from a thriving village based mainly on farming and mining to a busy, if small, market town celebrating annual fairs and having a wide variety of trades and professions. These were the years when most of the buildings around the Green and all the grand houses nearby were originally constructed, when schools and places of worship were established and when services such as the post and the telegraph first reached the area. During the 20th century, however, West Burton gradually reverted to village life.

Farming and Hunting

The area around West Burton has always been essentially rural, with major emphasis on livestock production. The soil in and around West Burton is loam on a subsoil of limestone and gravel. In the prevailing climate it is not well suited for crop cultivation. Following a series of calamitous harvests in the 14th century and particularly after transport facilities improved in the region, most arable farming was abandoned. One indication of the paucity of the soil is that in the mid – 19th century several women of West Burton were fined for “maliciously trespassing in a certain field ….. in Aysgarth for the purpose of digging and taking away marl” to be used as fertilizer.

Local farming traditions changed very slowly from the early 18th century to the 1940s, after which there was a gradual introduction of mechanisation and some modern techniques. The tupping of ewes in November, followed by their lambing in April, as well as dipping, grazing, shearing and selling the lambs are for the most part still done as they were centuries ago. Most farmers now have lambing sheds and few still leave the ewes and their offspring to cope with the elements. Similarly, techniques for rearing and marketing beef and dairy herds have been handed down through the generations, even though milking machines have replaced milkmaids, tankers have replaced milk carts and animals are now trucked to markets in Leyburn, Hawes and elsewhere.

The larger farms in the area are associated historically with the Manors of Burton Walden and Thoralby or with estates bought or leased from these manors as far back as the 17th century. Between 1683 and 17946 many plots of manorial land were sold to individual farmers and by the latter date there were at least 30 landowners in West Burton. In recent years many farm holdings have amalgamated.

To the east, south and west of West Burton, however, significant changes took place in the early 19th century under the Enclosure Acts. The Royal Assent for the enclosure of lands in West Burton was given on May 3rd 1804 and related to a ‘Common Stinted Pasture called West Burton Pasture’, estimated at 813 acres three roods and 29 perches; also a large tract of unenclosed ground called West Burton Moor or Common, estimated at 1147 acres’. These lands which were released voluntarily by William Purchas, the Lord of the Manor, covered an area in Walden which went from West Burton about three miles towards Walden Head.

The first survey and allotment of land was carried out by Alexander Calvert and the awards were registered at Northallerton on October 8th, 1805. A second survey, carried out by John Humphries and William Morton in 1811 and registered in 1816, covered Burton moor in greater detail. About 30 people shared in the land allocation which rationalized the use of the land and also evened out land holdings. The Public Census of 1851, for example, showed that the average size of holding for the 33 farmers in the township was about 50 acres. Only three owned more than 80 acres and only five less than 20 acres. About half of the farmers also owned upland purely for sheep grazing; these holdings were generally much larger. In the mid-19th century the estimated area of all lands in Burton-cum-Walden was 6790 acres, of which 4915 were meadow or pasture, 1800 were common land and 60 were woodland. Only 15 acres were arable.

Hunting and fishing, both legal and illegal, played an important part in the community in the 18th and 19th centuries. Under an Act of 1710 ‘for the better preservation of game’ a Lord of the Manor could appoint a gamekeeper, whose name had to be registered with the Clerk of the Peace. In 1734, therefore, Benjamin Purchas, Lord of the Manor of Thoralby (comprising the manors of Thoralby, Aysgarth, Burton Walden, Bishopdale and Newbiggin), appointed Will Brown of West Witton as gamekeeper. Before that the Lord of the Manor had to rely on a common informer, such as James Render. In 1699 he had reported on those in West Burton who kept unauthorized greyhounds for killing hares or illegally fished in the beck. Other gamekeepers were later appointed in Swinithwaite and Walden. As a result of their activities the Hang West Petty Sessions held at Leyburn fined a number of West Burton residents in the 19th century for game trespass, salmon poaching, unlawful fishing, using a gaff for catching salmon, breaching the Poaching Prevention Act and possessing game or fish. In 1850 it became necessary to obtain certificated authority to kill hares, and a number of local farmers did indeed give such authority to West Burton residents.

Hunting as a sport was extremely popular in West Burton and there were regular hunts of fox, deer, otter, hare, pheasant and grouse. In 1775 a pack of hounds was kept by Squire Pratt at Askrigg and another pack was kept at Middleham. The Middleham pack became the Thoralby and Burton Harriers from 1810-32 and was later amalgamated with those at Askrigg to form the Wensleydale Hounds. A pack of hounds was kept in the kennels still to be found at Flattlands above Eshington Bridge. The Wensleydale Hounds were financed and supported by many of the wealthier inhabitants of the area including James C. Winn of the Grange, William Lodge of the Rookery and William Purchas of Flanders Hall. Each of these men would house and feed a brace of hounds. A huntsman would blow his horn in the field opposite Palmer Flatt, now the Aysgarth Falls Hotel, to call them in and the hounds would take themselves off to join the rest of the pack. At the end of the hunt they would take themselves off home again when told to do so.

A humorous rhyme of the time, ‘A Song of the Wensleydale Hunt’, by A W King, suggested that this support for the hounds did not always include joining the actual hunt:

“There’s Mr Purchas of Flanders Hall; a-hunting he will go;
He’s nean sae keen o’climming a wall whan a-hunting he does go.
He stands in the road and cracks his joke,
And if hounds are away enjoys his smoke,
But you’ll never persuade him to ride on a moke
When a-hunting he does go.”

Nor did the hunt always go as smoothly as planned. At an otter hunt in the West Burton – Bishopdale area in 1845 involving 200-300 people as well as dogs there were some injuries before the 24 pound otter was killed in a fight lasting three and a half hours. Yet even this hunt had its funny side. The Wensleydale Advertiser reported:

an individual had the misfortune to get a souse over his head sadly against his inclination, yet we hear that it has done him wonderfully good in the way of removing sundry rheumatic affections threatening his lungs from over exertion”

A shooting hut still stands on Wassett Fell, which separates Walden from Bishopdale and the one next to the north Walden road was renovated in 2019. The former wooden shooting box near Walden Head has now collapsed. However, most of the formal hunting ended some decades ago. Nowadays most hunting in the West Burton area is limited to groups of shooters after grouse or pheasants.

The Miners and the Craftsmen

As the Industrial Revolution gained momentum in Britain, prospectors and industrialists became interested in new sources of coal, lead and other minerals. Lead mines had been worked since the early 18th century on Wassett Fell, at Walden Head, at Dovescar and at Wild Garth to the south of West Burton. To these was added a mine actually in the village, by Blue Bridge beneath the waterfall. The Burton Mine grew prosperous in the 1840s. In its peak year, 1846, it produced 400 tons of ore from what was reportedly a dangerous level of about 200 feet below the surface; water seeping in from Walden Beck had to be pumped out constantly. The mine stopped working in the 1870s. A couple of years after it closed it was the scene of a tragic accident. Two men were killed as they attempted to salvage pumps and other material from the mine. The mine entrance was later bricked up to prevent further accidents.

The lead, together with lead from the Braithwaite Mine and other mines in the Buckden and Kettlewell area, was brought in by packhorse and smelted at the Burton Mill. From the mill pack-horses laden with lead pigs went to Yarm for shipment. Until it closed in 1870 the mill had been in constant operation for two centuries. In 1749 it became the centre of a dispute over boundaries and it was burned down by irate miners from Kettlewell. It was soon rebuilt and in 1847 was further enlarged by the addition of a roasting hearth. Some of the lead it processed, especially from the Braithwaite Mine, was found to contain silver. It is perhaps because of this that in the ‘gold rush’ of the mid-19th century West Burton was visited by many gold-diggers who had mistaken it for other towns called Burton in the Midlands where some gold had actually been found. This confusion about Burton repeated itself during the Miner’s Strike when pickets arrived in the wrong village, turning up here instead of at a Burton near Retford in Nottinghamshire.

During the 19th century, coal mining which had existed in the area for 500 years became increasingly important. By 1851 there were nine coal miners’ families living in West Burton as well as three boy ‘coal leaders’ who guided miners and led the donkeys or horses drawing wagons in the pits. The four terraced houses next to the present village store were built as miners’ cottages. They were originally painted yellow and referred to as Canary Row. The best known local colliery was at Dovescar and was called Petticoat Rake; it operated into the 1920s. Peat, as well as coal, was commonly used as a household fuel and the townspeople had (and still have) the right of turbary to cut turf or peat for fuel on Burton Moor.

Quarrying for limestone, sandstone and building stone was also important. Stone was taken from Hudson Quarry; a site a few hundred yards east of Cauldron Falls; and two other quarries at Stony Wood and Morpeth Gate which are also owned by the township and were operated until the 1870s. At least seven stonemasons living in West Burton earned their livelihood from these quarries. The Worton Mining Company had an agent in West Burton, John Cain, and under the Explosives Act of 1875 he was registered to sell mixed explosives for use in the mines and quarries, which he did until they closed a few years later. There were also numerous limekilns scattered around the village.

The number of local craftsmen increased fairly rapidly during 1800–50. The stonemasons contributed substantially to the construction of many new and often quite large houses built in these years by farmers, traders and other craftsmen. By 1851 West Burton also possessed six carpenters, four master cordwainers (shoemakers) as well as three journeymen, three master blacksmiths with one journeyman, eight dressmakers, three tailors, two straw hat makers, two wool combers, a saddler, a farrier, a corn miller, a cooper, a stocking knitter and a seamstress. In 1801 about two-thirds of the households in the township had been engaged primarily in agricultural activities; by 1851 about two-thirds were engaged in non-agricultural activities. Indeed, within the central part of West Burton Township only 17 of the 92 houses in 1851 were occupied by farmers.

Practically all the crafts in West Burton in 1851 have since disappeared. The corn mill, which originally had a waterwheel and supplied provender for cattle, had a turbine installed in 1913. This generated West Burton’s electricity, not always efficiently. Autumn leaves often jammed the turbine. In winter, when electricity demand was highest, the supply allowed only very dim, street and house lighting. Independent generation of electricity from the mill ceased in 1948 when the National Grid reached the village. The blacksmith’s shop and shoeing shed on the Green, which had been a central feature of the village for well over a century, closed in 1930. It is now an antique shop.

Alehouses, Shops and Fairs

As far back as 1552, in the reign of Edward VI, the Government required recognizances for good behaviour from victuallers to be taken before two justices at the Quarter Session. A further act, in 1753, required the Clerk of the Peace to keep a register of such victuallers of alehouse keepers. It was a crime to keep an unlicensed alehouse and in 1719 John Simpson was indicted for keeping one in West Burton. (He was later imprisoned for non-payment of debts).

The earliest alehouse record for West Burton date from 1775 when five people, including one James Richardson, were licensed “to keep a Common Inn, Ale House or Tipling House where they now ….. dwell …. And shall respectively keep and maintain good rules and order and to suffer no unlawful Games to be used”. James Richardson owned the Black Bull Inn, also known as ‘Jemmiss Inn’ or ‘Jimmy’s Inn’, on the Green which remained open until 1924 and is now a listed historical building converted into two cottages Of the four other alehouses little is known except for the names of the alehouse keepers: George Galaway, William Metcalf, William Dawes and Henry Richardson. One many have been at Town Head and one in the Back Nook at or near Ryder’s Farm. Another may have been on the road to Walden. The fourth alehouse was almost certainly the Fox and Hounds, now West Burton’s sole public house, although an auction notice in the Wensleydale Advertiser in 1846 suggested that this only operated from 1787.

By the early years of the 19th century the only public houses left in the township were the Black Bull Inn and the Fox and Hounds. ‘Jimmy’ continued to own the former and John Wellock took over the latter. These two inns gained popularity in the area. There were many occasions in the 1860s, ‘70s, and ‘80s when visiting tipplers from Thornton Rust, Bainbridge, Newbiggin, Aysgarth, Bishopdale, Thoralby and West Witton were arrested by the local police constable for drunkenness and riotous behaviour or refusing to leave the public house. Their cases were heard at the Leyburn Petty Sessions and they were usually fined five to ten shillings plus ten to twenty shillings costs. If they failed to pay they were detained for seven to fourteen days with hard labour at the Northallerton House of Correction. There were fewer cases of residents of West Burton being charged, because these were settled out of court unless, as will be seen later, additional or continuing offences were committed. On at least one occasion in the later part of the century the owner of the Black Bull Inn, Elizabeth Jane White, was charged with serving customers who were already drunk.

Both public houses changed hands frequently between 1900 and 1924 and at one stage the Plews Brewery from the Masham area owned both. The Fox and Hounds, which was turned into a ‘temperance hotel’ during the First World War, was tied for some time to north-eastern breweries, including Camerons, but since 1983 it has been a free house.

The number of shops in West Burton has also declined significantly since the heyday of the mid- 19th century. Now only the general store and the family butcher remain out of up to ten shops. In the 1890s, West Burton had three grocers, a druggist, a saddler and a general store as well as a butcher, a draper and a shoe store. Trade was so good that the village held two fairs each year, the ‘March Fair’ on March 10 and the ‘Burton Feast’ on May 6 and 7th. These were extremely well attended until they fell into abeyance shortly before 1910 when markets at Leyburn and other nearby towns became more important.

Burton Feast days were particularly exciting. They included a fair with roundabouts run by Crow, hence the local term ‘the Crows are coming’ when the Feast approached. Sheep for sale were penned above the school and a bull for baiting was tethered to the bullring still embedded in the Green. The market cross, which was rebuilt in 1820, possibly on the base of a more traditional cross like those at Carperby and Askrigg, was the focal point for gallops and trotting races. The cock, which was pierced with holes and was displayed in the Village Hall until it was burnt down in 1997, was stranded with many coloured ribbons until ‘you couldn’t see t’cock for ribbons’. It was carried from house to house by the children of West Burton who were given a holiday from school. This custom was later revived just once in 1918 for the peace celebrations at the end of the First World War. A copy of the cock was made for the Old Hall Stables weathervane but given a slightly thicker neck. This was blown off in a storm and the intention is to have holes made in the tail so it can be displayed in the Village Hall decorated with ribbons.

Road and Rail, Post and Telephone

West Burton’s road links with other parts of Bishopdale, Walden, Coverdale and Wensleydale have changed considerably since the 17th century. In those days the main packhorse and carriage routes were:

· Over Burton Bridge and up Morpeth (Morphet) Gate along High Lane to Swinithwaite and West Witton

· Over Eshington Bridge and straight to Aysgarth

· From West Burton to Newbiggin and Bishopdale via the Back Nook

· Over Cote Bridge to Carlton and Coverdale

· Up North Walden on the present road line with tracks over to Bishopdale and Wharfedale.

These roads were not always safe. A Richmond Quarter Sessions Report of 1702 notes that ‘John Tiplady, servant to Mrs Robinson of Stockton, was riding on the highway between West Burton and Wes Witton at nine o’clock in the morning and was assaulted by a horseman who robbed him of thirty-one pounds and odd money.’

It was the responsibility of the inhabitants of West Burton to keep the roads and bridges in good repair up to the boundaries of the township and on at least two occasions they were punished for not doing so. In 1698 the Surveyor of Highways indicted them for non-repair of the highway to Aysgarth and Askrigg, which was finally repaired to the surveyor’s satisfaction in 1703. In 1788 they were charged for letting the road to Newbiggin fall into disrepair, although in this instance the Quarter Sessions Justices found the case ‘not proven’.

In addition to the three bridges mentioned above, the inhabitants had to keep Blue Bridge, leading to Hudson Quarry, and New Bridge leading to Sorrelsykes and Edgley, in good condition. As time passed the town constable took over the responsibility of organizing the upkeep of the five bridges and was authorized to allocate part of the taxes he collected for that purpose. There are many records of their maintenance in the first part of the 19th century. For example, ‘for Blue Bridge £17, when a bridge was brought from Leyburn by a builder called Peacock. On this occasion ale was provided for the workmen at a cost of nine shillings and sixpence. In 1828 New Bridge was repaired by J. Hammond (stonemason) and Matt Whitehead (blacksmith) and the materials used included 22 plates and 12 pounds of thro’ nails. Thirteen shillings was paid to Thomas and John Heseltine (stonemasons) for Eshington Bridge’.

A particularly important part of the surveys carried out for the Enclosure Acts was the creation of access roads which provided the basis for today’s roads, tracks and footpaths in the area surrounding West Burton. Six public carriage roads or highways, stipulated to be 27 to 30 feet wide; 12 private roads, 14 to 24 feet wide; two other public ‘occupation roads’; and three public footpaths were established. Until the beginning of the 20th century all roads were gated wherever they crossed farm or township boundaries; some of the original gate names, such as Morpeth Gate, still survive.

As traffic increased towards the latter part of the 19th century there was a corresponding increase in the number of highway offences in and around West Burton. At least six local farmers were regularly fined for riding on their wagons without reins, obstructing the highway or, occasionally, being drunk in charge of a horse and cart. The fines ranged from one shilling to five shillings with costs of ten to twenty shillings; in every case non-payment meant seven days prison with hard labour. Some offences were severely punished. In 1887 the West Burton police constable arrested five young men for ‘playing pitch and toss on the highway’. They were each fined seven shillings and sixpence, three times as much as the usual fine for being drunk in charge of a horse and cart.

By the mid-19th century there had been some consolidation of the highways out of West Burton. New Bridge was upgraded, as was Ellers Lane (B6160), to link with the main Leyburn – Hawes highway. Similarly, the road over Eshington Bridge was upgraded and diverted up Westholme Bank to meet the same highway. In the opposite direction a major advance was that the road from New Bridge into Bishopdale was sent round rather than through West Burton to Newbiggin. Many of the old roads are now no longer fit for motor vehicles, though most are still public rights of way.

The years 1915 – 1920 saw the first motor cars in West Burton, one owned by Willy Hemsley, whose father had run a carriage and pair in the town and the other by James C. Winn of The Grange, whose car was driven by his groom, William Bushby. At the request of the Women’s Institute in 1930 the Northallerton Omnibus Service, whose route between Darlington and Hawes by – passed West Burton, re-routed its buses to provide a two-hourly service to the village.

From the 1840s there were many proposals to provide West Burton with a railway link. These were associated with the North Eastern Railway Company’s line from Bedale to Leyburn, which opened in 1856 and still exists as far as Redmire. It was extended in 1878 to Askrigg and Hawes but this section has been dismantled. One proposal, by the Lancashire and North Yorkshire Union Railway Company, was for a branch line to start at Aysgarth, bridge the Aysgarth Falls and serve West Burton, Walden and Bishopdale. The line would then go through a tunnel into Wharfedale. The townships of the area politely turned down this and similar proposals which were, as the Wensleydale Advertiser’s editor put it, made by ‘a whole host of railway speculators who seemed to regard with a like degree of indifference the engineering difficulties, as they did the natural beauties of our valley’.

The last proposal, in 1903, was for an electrified railway line through West Burton and Bishopdale with a generating station at West Burton. This scheme was hatched by James C. Winn and Colonel Ralph Lodge, the largest landowner in Bishopdale and was penciled in on the estate maps of the area. However, it appears that a formal launching of the proposal was never made.

Before 1840 it was absurdly expensive for any resident of West Burton to post a letter outside the area. The cost of sending two small sheets of paper to London in 1839 was two shillings and one penny, or nearly one quarter of a labourer’s weekly wage. West Burton had only a ‘Receiving House’ for letters at that time, with rural post office messengers carrying the post to and from the post town of Bedale. Letters arrived on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 12 o’clock noon and were collected at two o’clock in the afternoon.

There was much agitation for postal reform throughout Britain and in April 1839 John Hammond, a solicitor in West Burton, attended a public meeting in Leyburn Town Hall to consider petitioning Parliament to adopt “Mr. Rowland Hill’s Plan of a General Penny Postage”. The petition which was sent from Leyburn joined hundreds of others from other parts of the country and by January 10th 1840 the cost of a letter to London had been reduced to one penny.

West Burton continued to rely on post office messengers such as John Ibbotson, John Butterfield and Martin Mangles but they were often constrained by post office rules. For example, in 1845 the authorities deprived West Burton of direct postal communication with Middleham or Hawes; “all letters must now be carried through Middleham to Bedale one day and then brought back (to Middleham and Hawes) the next”.

On November 16, 1868, William Lawson, the well-educated son of a West Burton grocer and draper, was officially appointed West Burton’s first Postmaster. By 1883, his salary had reached six pounds fourteen shillings weekly with a supplement of half a crown weekly for delivery of mail by either him or a postman. The original post office was at the house now called Hazely, two doors down from the Fox and Hounds. It remained there until 1975 when the Postmaster, Jack Hammond retired. It was able to handle money orders and operated the Post Office Savings Bank. A telegraph link was also installed. This allowed communication with the post office at Aysgarth from where the cables were transmitted by Morse code. Letters still came through Bedale by rail to either Wensley or Aysgarth Stations. It was then taken on horseback by rural letter carriers who were paid fourteen shillings weekly plus an allowance for keeping a horse. For the most part these letter carriers were very conscientious and even received ‘good conduct stripes’ (which added a bonus of one shilling to their weekly wage). One, however, R.F. Gatenby, was cautioned in 1893 for ‘the willful delaying of a parcel’ and for three cases of late attendance.

There was no telephone link to West Burton until about 1930 when the small Aysgarth exchange with some 30-telephone numbers was installed. West Burton post office was immediately connected and other early subscribers included the police station (Peel House) and three private houses. In the early 1930s, the Aysgarth exchange closed down at 8.00pm each evening. After the exchange became continuous, either the postmistress of her assistant had to be prepared to deal with any calls coming in through the night. The only public telephone was actually in the post office until a red kiosk beside the Green was installed in June 1947 after years of deliberation by the Parish Council about its appropriate location. It remained there until it was replaced by a new type of kiosk in 1986.

Local Government

The first meeting of the Parish Council of the Township of Burton-cum-Walden, held on September 14th 1874, in the Fox and Hounds, heralded a significant change in local government from the previous feudal system. It meant that elected representatives of the people of the township could influence local regulations. At this first meeting, it was proposed and carried that:

  • No horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, calves or other animals should be allowed to stray or graze on the Green between the hours of 6.00am and 9.00pm;
  • The Police Officer or other Township Officer should be instructed to impound any animals that did so;
  • The village pumps should be put in good working order;
  • No carriage, gig, cart or other vehicle should be washed at or near any of the village pumps;
  • The Market Cross should be repaired and the old stocks put back in their original position.

The Chairman and councillors also elected other local officials, including an Overseer of the Poor, together with an Assistant Overseer, a Guardian to ensure proper administration of the Poor Laws, a Way Warden to supervise the upkeep of roads, an Income and Property Tax Assessor and a Mole catcher. Four men were also appointed to ensure that the mole catcher did his job properly.

Annual receipts of the council in 1874 were just over thirty-six pounds from rent of the three quarries belonging to the township and a property rate of one penny in the pound. The major expenses were twelve pounds to pay the Overseer of the Poor, ten pounds to pay the Mole catcher and five pounds to repair the village pump, on the Green below the stocks, with a massive iron handle and large spout, continued to be a source of concern until 1908 when a reservoir was built just above West Burton to provide a piped water supply.

Following the Local Government Act of 1894, which created elected councils of urban and rural districts and placed the parish council within the rural districts, new elections took place in Burton-cum-Walden. James C. Winn was elected Chairman and five councilors were appointed. Annual meetings were usually held in March in the School, though the attendance was reportedly small. More attended the annual September meeting of ratepayers residing within the lighting area of West Burton because that was when the charges for lighting the village lamps and after 1913, the tariffs for electric light, were determined.

An important aspect of local government around the turn of the century was the appointment of trustees to administer three charities all of which had originated in the second half of the 18th century. The first, still in existence, was the Poor’s Close. Founded in about 1756, it is a parcel of land of just over three acres above Barrack Wood, which was originally to be cultivated by the poor. Over the past one hundred years, it has been rented out to a local farmer with the revenue used to help the needy of the township. The second was Square Close, a little under five acres near Aysgarth, founded in about 1784; this was eventually sold in 1970, as the annual rent was very low. The third was a Charity for Apprentices, founded by Elizabeth Whiting in the 1750s. In 1942, this became the Whiting Educational Foundation and its very small income was used to provide books or prizes for West Burton School until it too was wound up.

During the first half of the twentieth century, the total annual income of the two charities to help the poor was twenty to twenty five pounds. This was distributed among five to fourteen people for provision of meat, groceries, clothing, boots and coal, all to be purchased from tradesmen in the township of Burton-cum-Walden, whose bills were then submitted to the trustees for payment. In the past twenty years, most of the annual allocations of from the funds of the Poor’s Close have been used to buy coal for the needy in winter or for the occasional party for pensioners.

Many of the Parish Council meetings over the years were concerned with informing the Rural District Council about problems with the roads, water supply, sanitary arrangements or other services for which it was responsible. The rest of the business was purely local: whether or not to hold celebrations in West Burton for the Silver Jubilee in 1935 (yes), the first anniversary of victory in World War II (no), Festival of Britain (no); the coronation of Elizabeth II (yes). Other local matters were how to ensure adequate rubbish collection and disposal in the township and how to cope with natural disasters such as the flood in August 1949 when Walden Beck seriously damaged Blue Bridge and several footbridges.

Preservation of the character of the Green has been a continuing concern at Parish Council meetings. The byelaws for the Green were issued in 1901. These were very strict. The protected the Green from any damage, provided rules for sports activities and forbade all wheeled vehicles or carts except those pulled by hand. In addition, the Green could not be used “for purpose of betting or wagering”, nor could any person on the Green “use any indecent or obscene language to the annoyance of any person”. The fine for offending against any of the byelaws was set at forty shillings.

In 1923, the landlord of the Black Bull Inn was prosecuted for hanging out clothes for drying on the Green and stocking it with hens, other poultry and a goat. In 1932, the council refused permission for the post office to erect telephone poles on the Green. In 1933, fees were charged on anyone selling vegetables on the Green. In 1948, new byelaws were passed restricting the use of the Green on Sundays. Until 1969, a major item on the council agenda was writing out the cheque for one shilling for rent of the Green. Nowadays the main items of budgetary expenditure are for mowing the Green, paying the Clerk and undertaking repairs to village tracks, paths, the Cross etc. and for producing a parish newsletter.

The growth of motor traffic in West Burton in the 1930s was the greatest threat to the Green at that time. Many warnings were given to local residents and outsiders about vehicles parking on or crossing the Green and some prosecutions were made. By the end of the 1940s the pressure was so great that it was finally agreed to widen the road up the village “as it was hardly wide enough for motors to pass” and, most significantly, to allow a proper road to be built across the Green, thus splitting it.

Men of Medicine

West Burton housed the doctor for the entire Wensleydale area until 1860. In the mid- 19th century this was John Irving, who preferred the title ‘surgeon’. He was born in Scotland in 1796 and before moving to West Burton had practised in Grassington. Irving was a heavy drinker and this often led him into trouble. In June 1848 he and three others were charged by the Superintendent of Leyburn Police with being drunk and causing an affray in West Burton. The case was proved and he and the others were each fined five shillings plus costs with 21 days hard labour if they failed to pay.

West Burton residents were little better off in 1904 when Dr. Hime bought the Practice, as he also drank very heavily, relying on a young partner, Dean Dunbar to do most of the work. It was Dunbar who introduced his friend, Dr. William Pickles, to the practice and Pickles was hired as a temporary assistant in August 1912. Pickles, born in 1885 in Leeds, returned later to take over the Aysgarth practice. There he became one of the world’s most famous general medical practitioners of the time through his work on the spread of contagious diseases. He wrote the medical classic ‘Epidemiology in Country Practice’, published in 1939 and the doctor’s house in Aysgarth was visited by many medical experts.

Because of the isolated nature of the practice Pickles was able to trace, by asking people who they had visited and who had visited them, how a particular disease spread from one village to another or how it arrived in the area in the first instance. For example, West Burton suffered badly in 1933 when there was a full-scale influenza epidemic in Britain. He found that the headmistress of West Burton School had contracted the disease while on holiday in Scarborough, but being conscientious had struggled to school for one brief morning session, thus passing on the disease directly or indirectly to 78 other victims in the township. More importantly, he noticed that when the next influenza epidemic struck Britain in 1937, West Burton suffered very little, this indicating at least a four – year immunity once the disease had been contracted, an original finding that gained world-wide recognition.

Dr. Pickles used his research to good effect locally, often closing the West Burton School for two to three weeks at a time when epidemics were prevalent and advising the inhabitants of the township how to avoid spreading disease. He died in 1969. The present GP Practice is housed in the old Aysgarth Primary School building, at the edge of Aysgarth Village, and is known as the Central Dales Practice.

Education, Worship and Grand Houses

The larger buildings in West Burton are almost all steeped in history. Some have strong connections with the Lords of the Manor as have the various schools and chapels of the township. Most were built in the 18th century although almost all have since undergone major internal and some external alterations.

West Burton and Walden Schools

As the township became more prosperous in the early 1700s, there was an increasing need for a school. In 1748, one of the residents, John Sadler, erected a stone building for a free school at Town Head at a cost of 80 pounds. He endowed it with an annual sum of 16 pounds for the salary of a schoolmaster to be paid out of the rents of his estate. In 1786, Christopher Tennant was appointed but his salary was discontinued in 1796 because the tenant of the estate refused to pay the rent on some legal quibble. The schoolhouse was then appropriated by one of the townships inhabitants for his own use and claimed as his own property.

Until the 1870s, the children of West Burton and Walden had various options for schooling. Many, of course, did not attend school at all, as they were obliged to work. Of the 119 children aged between six and eighteen in the township in 1851, 70 were in this category, either because they were farmers or craftsmen’s children needed on the farm or in the workshop or because they were in full time paid employment. Thirteen were employed as house or farm servants, seven as coal leaders or coal miners and three as apprentices. Of the 49 children listed as scholars five were ‘scholars at home’, being instructed privately or by their parents, while the remaining 44 attended various schools in the township.

Some children attended a dame school, first run by Alice Beverley, an elderly spinster, at her house and later by Irene French, formerly a seamstress. They reportedly learned ‘next to nothing’. Others attended private schools in West Burton, one of these at what was the Reading Room in the Back Nook. There were three schoolmasters living in West Burton in 1851; Edward Green, who was also the Parish Clerk, John Blades, the 21-year-old son of a local coal miner and William Dodds, a Teacher of Classics from Durham who lived in lodgings. At about the same time Sunday schools were opened by the two chapels.

In January 1859, Elizabeth Brown, who came from Newcastle and was the 30-year-old wife of a commercial traveller, announced in the Wensleydale Advertiser the opening of a ladies Seminary at The Grange. The fees were 23 pounds for those under 12, 28 guineas for those over 12 and a few boarders were accepted at 40 guineas. She later advertised that she was increasing her staff and proposed ‘to have classes for the convenience of ladies in the neighbourhood for the following accomplishments: drawing, French, Italian, German and singing’. Unfortunately, she died a year later and the seminary closed.

Robinson Memorial Church of England School

Henry Thomas Robinson (HTR) (1801-1886) was born at Edgley and inherited the Cliff in Leyburn from his elder brother Ralph who never married. HTR married Elizabeth Purchas (1817-1868) from Flanders Hall and had four daughters. The eldest, Annie, married Charles James Burrill (CJB). They lived at Cotescue in Coverdale when they were first married and later bought Elm House Redmire. They had two children – William Robinson Burrill-Robinson and Bessie. CJB and his second wife Ada Cockcroft’s only child was Margery Freeman (1903-2004) née Burrill. HTR’s second daughter Margaret married Robert Chapman (RC) from Thornton Rust and lived at the Cliff. HTR & RC were in partnership as solicitors. Their firm is now Scotts. One of HTR’s older sisters, Ann (1791-1874), married Benjamin Hudson a surgeon from Huddersfield when she was 50 and he was 58. She was a widow for 19 years and helped pay for the building of the school. She also gave an endowment of £500 of N.E. Railway Stock which was still in her brother’s personal possession when he died. Hence all the legal issues to get not only the capital but also the interest out of HTR’s estate. CJB was one of HTR’s executors and his son (WRB-R) stood to lose some of his inheritance if the case was won by the School (which it was). It was not an acrimonious case, just the legal clarification necessary.

HTR drew up a trust deed for the founding of his school stating he wished it to be called the Robinson Memorial Church of England School. He wanted all the School Managers to be practising C of E members. He died before signing this deed.

HTR’s eldest sister, Jane (1781- 1864), married Henry King of Hull and their son William Robinson King Senior of North Ferriby had inherited Edgley. Although he is named in the Trust Deed as a School Manager this was only in a nominal capacity (as the owner of Edgley), and his son William Robinson King Junior (WRK) who was a solicitor and lived at The Mount was the active representative of the King family until he left West Burton. He became the first School Correspondent (i.e. Clerk to the Governors) when the new Board of School Managers was established. WRK had been very concerned that the future of the school building was unclear without a signed trust deed and took legal advice from a firm in London called Coe & Co. They advised that a new Board of Trustees be appointed and that this Board should formerly adopt the original trust deed as drawn up by HTR. WRK set about inviting those originally named by HTR and HTR’s son-in-laws. The Trustees appointed were: WRK Senior, WRK Junior, JC Winn, William Purchas Junior, Col Lodge, CJ Burrill (HTR’s executor) and Rev. Fenwick Stow.

The School holds this deed signed by all the new School Managers/ Trustees. They were all named individuals apart from Rev Fenwick Stow, described as ‘the Vicar of Aysgarth of the day’ and William Robinson King Senior, described as ‘the owner of Edgley of the day’. When WRK Junior left West Burton he sold Edgley to James Winn who was a School Manager & Trustee in his own right. WRK’s successors as School Correspondents were not solicitors and never informed the Charity Commission when the original School Managers retired or died.

HTR always intended the school to be a state school and he himself completed the original form for grant funding. Over time Education Acts replaced School Managers with Governors, the School Correspondent with a Clerk to the Governors, and decreed what sort of religious education should be taught*. The School Governors were responsible for the running of the school and the actual ownership of the building was assumed to be the Church of England because of the School’s name.

Jane Ritchie put money she was left by Margery Freeman into a charity called The Elm House Trust. £60,000 was donated to the Governors of what is now called West Burton C of E Primary School by The Elm House Trust to help pay for the first floor. The Elm House Trust supported the wishes of the Deed of Foundation that in the event of the school closing, the money benefited people in need in the Township of West Burton. Jane challenged the Church of England to prove that they owned the building as she did not want the proceeds of any sale of the building to leave West Burton in contravention of her great, great, great uncle’s wishes and the purpose of the Elm House Trust. Eventually the Diocese had to agree that they did not own the building. North Yorkshire County Council also confirmed they did not own the building. The Charity Commission was approached to help update the trust deed as it is no longer appropriate to use the proceeds of any sale to provide the poor of West Burton with ‘sheets and blankets’. They were also asked to help re-establish a Board of Trustees.

Richard Nolan, a lawyer in the Law Department at York University, who has come to live in West Burton, gave pro bono legal help and advice to the School and after considerable effort spoke to someone with a legal background in the Charity Commission to agree the best way forward. Before she retired, Sue Whitehouse, ‘Vicar of Aysgarth of the day’** and Arthur Lambert, ‘the owner of Edgley of the day’, agreed that the West Burton School Governors should become Trustees of the building unless and until the School federated and there was no longer a governing body specifically for West Burton School. Arthur decided he should be the last owner of Edgley to be a trustee. In the event of federation the trusteeship of the school building would pass to Burton-cum-Walden Parish Council and Arthur Lambert for his life time. This is the present position.

*1902 Education Act took away School Managers’ right to decide what could be taught.

**Aysgarth Parish is now part of the Penhill Benefice.

On the day the school opened, the headmaster received 19 children. He noted, “This was a less number than I expected although the fact of the school being opened had not been sufficiently made known. I found the children neat and clean. They seemed to have a fair amount of intelligence. I examined them and entered them accordingly. As there had been some delay regarding the furniture of the school, work could not be commenced in the manner I intended it to be”. Within a week a further 24 children had registered and by the start of the new school year in September 1874 there were 53 attending.

Until 1891, parents paid weekly ‘pence’ or fees for their children ranging from two pence for infants to sixpence for the eldest children. In addition, they were charged sixpence per head in each of three quarters for fuel. They also had to provide their children with one set of books and “slates of a proper size to be obtained of the teacher”. The school accounts of the mid-1870s show that the fees contributed about 36 percent to total expenses, the education grant 16 percent, the endowment income 25 percent and voluntary contributions 18 percent. The major item of expenditure was the headmaster’s basic annual salary of 50 pounds.

Discipline was strict. Two weeks after opening the headmaster wrote: “The first class was punished this afternoon for not coming in when the bell was rung; imposition of 30 lines”. A month later he “used the stick for the first time. Jimmy Sayer had played truant – his mother said to do with him as I pleased. I thrashed him before the whole school and again while they were out at play”. In the following years, there were regular punishments, often severe, for shouting in the school porch, whistling, ‘indecent habits’ and lateness.

The headmaster found it extremely difficult to recruit an assistant teacher in the early 1900s. Part of the reason was the very low salary offered, about 35 pounds a year. One assistant, Margaret Tommey resigned four times between 1902 and January 1911, but was persuaded to withdraw her resignation on the first three occasions. Despite repeated advertisements for the position it remained vacant until June 1912. Mrs Alfred Wood was eventually appointed on June 24; she resigned on June 28. At the end of October Miss Fawcett of Hawes was hired but said that she could not teach needlework. The headmaster insisted that she teach it. She resigned in January.

The annual reports of Government School Inspectors and the Diocesan Inspectors were generally complimentary in the early years and even more so later on. However, it took many years for the facilities at the school to be upgraded. It was often too cold to work in winter; the coal-heating system was poor and belched smoke, once, in 1914, causing part of the roof to be set on fire. The playground on the Green was only fit for physical training in dry weather while the sanitation arrangements were primitive until major overhauls were made in the 1930s, replacing earth closets with a ‘water carriage system’. Only after pressure from the parish council in 1951 were flush lavatories installed. Following the Education Act of 1944, the school managers arranged for school dinners to be served.

Attendance varied considerably depending on the season and the prosperity of the township. As West Burton reached the end of its days as a market town, total registration dropped from a peak of about 75 at the turn of the century to about 35 in the 1920s, rising again to about 50 in the 1930s and 1940s. The most exciting event during this latter period came on September 1, 1936. The children had an early lunch to enable them to cheer Queen Mary as she passed by on her way from Harewood House near Harrogate to Bolton Hall at Wensley. During the Second World War, the school building was used for billeting and for a while housed 24 children and a teacher evacuated from Gateshead as well as 10 children staying in the village for the duration of the war.

The school continued under the management of the Local Education Authority (North Riding Education Committee) providing an elementary education for children aged five to fourteen. Those capable of passing the Eleven Plus exam went to Yorebridge Grammar School at Askrigg.

In 1959 Leyburn County Modern School opened providing secondary education from age eleven, for children who did not pass the eleven plus exam which entitled them to go to Yorebridge Grammar School.

During the next two decades many schools in the Dales closed as the number of children in the Dale fell. In 1964 Cross Lanes School at the bottom end of Bishopdale closed and West Burton was lucky to survive some years later.

During the 1980s pupil numbers rose again and one group of children was taught in the Chapel schoolroom on some days. In 1989 a new classroom was built on the back of the Victorian building. This enabled around 58 children to be divided into three classes for some years. In 2010, further alterations to the Victorian building saw a first floor added to provide more classrooms, also improving accommodation for school dinners. During the 2000s, children were mainly taught in two classes. In 2014, on the retirement of the Head Teacher, the Governors took the decision to collaborate with two schools further up the dale and share a head teacher. A federation was then formed between Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton Schools. This decision was taken because pupil numbers were falling and in 2018 are down to 23.

Walden School

From 1908 to 1930, a small school operated in Walden (North), about three miles from West Burton. It was in a roadside building which was an active chapel until 1963 and which still bears the names of its original benefactors on stones around its base. When Eleanor Coulthard opened the school on November 1908, nine children attended, six of whom had not been to school before and the others being very backward. Attendance was never greater than 13 but according to the inspectors, the children were always kept happily occupied. Early on, Miss Coulthard had to deal with one unusual problem. In June 1909, she had to write a letter to Mr. Henry Guy asking him to remove the bull from the pasture in which the school stood because it was not safe for the children to pass through.

The teachers changed often. There were 17 in 22 years, only one staying for more than four years and most for less than a year. Nevertheless, official reports continued to note, “The school is conducted on homely lines and fair progress is being made”. Walden School’s most exciting day was perhaps in 1928 when two senior boys were sent by the headmistress to her lodgings at Chapel Green to fetch her wireless set as the children “had not seen or heard wireless before”. They all listened to the dinnertime programme.

One reason for the closure of Walden School in 1930 was the availability of motor transport to West Burton School. For many years Mr Meggison, who ran one of the shops in the village, drove the school car or bus. Yet the Walden children missed many days of school when the roads were impassable, or when Mr. Meggison’s car broke down, or when he had no petrol.

Places of Worship

The township of Burton-cum-Walden lies within the parish of St. Andrew’s Church in Aysgarth, now part of the Penhill Benefice. The present church was rebuilt in 1865. There had been a similar church on the same site since medieval times and this provided the focus for worship in the township. The township paid church tithes on estimated annual production of wool fleeces, lambs, calves, foals and bees. In 1840, the total tithe was 132 pounds. It was payable to the Master, Fellows and Scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge, who were Rectors of St. Andrews.

Non-conformist forms of worship were severely punished locally. In 1670-71, several meetings of Quakers were held in Thomas Simpson’s house in Burton-in-Bishopdale with between six and ten people attending. Each time, based on reports by a local informer, the participants were taken to court and fined; with Simpson himself fined the massive sum of 20 pounds for each meeting.

In the early 19th century there was only one place of worship actually in the township of West Burton. This was the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. The original chapel, now the Reading Room, had been built in 1811 after Thomas Lawson had negotiated to buy land in the ‘Back Nook’.

This was some 20 years after the death of John Wesley and 27 years after the Methodist Conference of lay preachers was legalised and the Methodist Movement founded by Wesley was officially separated from the Anglican Church.

Thomas and Mary Lawson had founded the Wesleyan Society locally in 1795. William Burnitt, the police constable of West Burton, reported to the Clerk of the Peace in 1829 that the chapel had 48 members. He also reported that six Calvinists regularly met in a private house while in another house meetings were held by 15 Ranters, the fanatical sect that denied the authority of Scripture, Creeds and the Ministry.

Missionary meetings were occasionally held in the Wesleyan Chapel, which also became a centre for social activities. The Wensleydale Advertiser of May 9, 1848 reported:

“On Thursday, the 27th ult, a Tea Festival, on a very large scale, was celebrated… in the Wesleyan Chapel. Long before the hour of tea was announced, great numbers of people were noticed from the neighbouring villages, promenading up the green sward. Upwards of 400 partook of tea together with all requisites of the most delicious make. In the evening, a discourse was delivered within the walls of the Chapel. What is still more pleasing is yet to relate. On the following day the interested parties made a second Festival and invited all the old men and women of the town to partake of the beverage that does not inebriate but gladdens the heart, gratuitous, to the number of between 40 and 50, who seemed heartily thankful for the kindness bestowed upon them”.

This first chapel was too small for the 70 to 80 regular worshippers each Sunday and the stone steps leading to the first floor meeting room were difficult to negotiate. In early 1898, William Lawson (son of Thomas and Mary) offered to the society the present more central site, for a nominal sum, with the condition that a new chapel was built within the year. The building of the new chapel and its annex for a Sunday school exceeded estimated costs by about 10% and was completed for £1,029. One of the stained glass windows was included in memory of Thomas and Mary Lawson. The chapel was licenced as a church in February 1899 and the first service was held on 28th March.

In 2018 it has regular Sunday services and the building is open every day for visitors to look round.

Many of the inhabitants of West Burton wanted the former chapel down the Back Nook, to be converted into a community hall when it was offered for sale at 150 pounds. There were no takers at this price and it was finally bought for 70 pounds by James C. Winn in 1899, who eventually converted it into the Men’s Reading Room. Reading Rooms were becoming increasingly popular in Yorkshire at the turn of the century, providing male residents with a quiet place to peruse the newspapers as well as space to hold meetings and play indoor games.

In 1851, the Zion Congregational or Independent Chapel was registered with the Clerk of the Peace and built in that year at a cost of 300 pounds. The site was purchased from John Hammond, the solicitor, for a nominal sum of 20 pounds and the cost was largely met by local voluntary subscriptions. In 1854, it was reported that:

“When the cause at West Burton was started in 1851 the people had strong predilections in favour of State religion and were, with one exception, altogether ignorant of the principles of Congregationalism. Since then, a Chapel has been erected, a Sunday school formed and a congregation of not less than 100 persons gathered”.

And in 1855:

“Our West Burton friends found soon after their aggression on the spiritual darkness of the valley, that there was as much need of education in the dale as there was for the preaching of the gospel, as few, if any, of the young people could read. To meet the wants thus evinced, John Hammond, the valuable deacon of West Burton… at once set about soliciting subscriptions from the landed proprietors towards erecting a schoolroom for the use of the dale”.

This school, located next to the chapel, flourished for some years although the Independent Chapel itself, after initial successes, faced mounting difficulties.

The first minister had been John Harrop who in 1851 was 30 years old and very energetic, founding preaching missions also at Aysgarth, Thoralby and Newbiggin. Under his leadership and again under the leadership of the Rev. J.R.J. Binns in the 1860s the congregation increased. An oil painting of the chapel by I. Dunn in 1852 shows 26 top-hatted men and crinolined ladies emerging from the white-painted building.

By the late 1880s, however, despite the renovation of the chapel and the installation of a new American organ, momentum declined. The manse at West Burton was closed, first temporarily then permanently and the work of the chapel was combined with the Leyburn Chapel. In the following 20 years, various attempts were made to organise a federation of independent chapels in Yorkshire. These attempts eventually succeeded, but the number of worshippers fell away and the few remaining supporters became disillusioned. The Independent Chapel in West Burton finally closed its doors in 1912.

Executive members of the Yorkshire Congregational Union decided in 1920 to sell the chapel to the highest bidder. At a public meeting of the residents of West Burton, the Clerk to the Parish Council was authorised to offer 210 pounds so that it could be used as a still sorely needed community centre. It was to be named the War Memorial Hall. However, the Wensleydale Pure Milk Supply Company offered 220 pounds and it was sold to them to use as a place for collecting milk and drying Wensleydale Cheese until the company went bankrupt in the early 1930s. Later it became a coal depot. It was finally converted to a Village Hall in 1962 with the addition of a toilet block at the front. It continued to provide a community centre for many activities until in 1997 there was a fire which started in the electricity boxes and gutted the building. The replacement village hall was redesigned and rebuilt using some extra land donated by a resident. It was opened in time for the New Millennium by the Rt. Hon. William Hague MP.

Four Grand Houses

Flanders Hall, alongside Walden Beck, was rebuilt by William Purchas, Lord of the Manor, in 1767. From its wrought iron gates by New Bridge, the driveway leads to a substantial two-storey mansion with twin gables at the rear. It was completed in 1779-80 and a coach house with stables was built behind it in a similar style to the front of the hall. Around the formal gardens, walls and storehouses are integrated into the design of the hall. Groups of buildings arranged in this way are unusual and of special architectural interest. In 1880 one of the supporting walls of the house collapsed, leading to the local rumour that part of the hall would collapse every 100 years. However, 1980 passed without structural incident. When the Purchas family finally left the hall in 1920 a massive sale of furniture was held.

The Grange, which once briefly incorporated the Ladies Seminary, was purchased by the Winn family in 1867. Standing at the entrance to West Burton, it is an imposing structure which originally, like Flanders Hall had twin gables. These were later combined into a single gable in 1889–90. Apart from large reception rooms, it includes a central circular staircase. The former stables, which were once a tithe barn, are located well away from the main structure, on the other side of magnificent formal gardens. Behind the stables and now on the other side of the road, is the associated farm, Grange Farm.

The alteration work in 1889–90 led to a major mystery in West Burton as reported in the local newspaper:

… the remains of four complete skeletons were found in the ground of The Grange while excavating for building purposes. The first was found at a depth of only two feet from the surface, the remaining three being from four to five feet deep. The jawbone of one skull was found to contain a number of teeth, which were found to be in a complete state of preservation…. It is thought to have been the site of some ancient burial grounds, but of which there is no record to show”. The bodies had been buried in pitch suggesting they were victims of the Black Death. They had all been tall men which led to the theory that they were Scots.

The Mount, at the lower end of the Green, has changed significantly since the house was originally built. In 1908, when the house was put up for sale, it included, apart from substantial residential accommodation, a coach house, well-arranged stabling and two acres of grounds including croquet and tennis lawns, fruit, kitchen and formal gardens, beer and wine cellars and a conservatory at the front. The conservatory has since disappeared, the servants’ quarters, stables and coach-house converted to independent dwellings and the gardens reduced in size. The main house, however, built in 1771 and re-roofed in 1880, remains much as it was.

One of the most intriguing buildings in the area is the reputedly haunted Sorrelsykes Park Hall, about a mile to the north of West Burton. Sorrelsykes Park, then known as Sorysikes Meadow, was owned by Jerome Simpson, a yeoman of Burton, in the early years of the 17th century and was later occupied by his brother Thomas, the man who organised meeting of Quakers. He sold it to William Thornton, also of Burton, in 1665. In 1698, when Ann and Thomas Sagar were arrested for stealing one ewe sheep from Sorrasikes (sic) it belonged to Peter and Catherine Hutchinson. It later came into the possession of Matthew Robinson, who lived at Edgley, and whose daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1720, married Edward Montague, fifth son of the Earl of Sandwich, in 1742. Mrs Elizabeth Montague had had a precocious interest in literature as a child and in the mid-18th century became well known in London literary circles as an essayist, authoress and ‘leader of society’. The hall was built as her country residence on the basis of her husband’s wealth.

Elizabeth Montague founded the Blue-Stocking Club in London which had many eminent literary personalities as members. ‘Blue-Stockings’ later became a synonym for intellectual women. The club was so-named either because members habitually infringed social conventions by wearing informal blue worsted stockings rather than black silk ones or because they regarded blue stockings as fashionably French, or perhaps both. Elizabeth Montague loved finery and introduced a variety of eccentric features to her mansions in London and elsewhere even when, as in the case of Sorrelsykes, it was only a place to relax from her exhausting London social life.

Eccentricity remained to the fore in the 19th century when the Hall, which by then was called Sorrowsikes, was owned by Mrs Hutton, a rich lady who insisted that her footman carry her prayer book into church on a cushion every Sunday. Despite her odd behaviour, she became a benefactor of many of the poor in West Burton. She often invited the schoolchildren for tea and to play in the grounds. The top of the building, which was originally U-shaped, was turreted; an orangery and tennis courts were built and magnificent herbaceous, rose, kitchen and rock gardens were created.

The original front of the hall faces the hill and the former carriage drive is not the present drive, but the one from the Gate House. On the hillside beside the old drive are a group of inexplicably weird follies, including a cone with a large stone fins like a rocket on a launching pad and a narrow-waisted hollow ‘pepper pot’. The most extraordinary folly of all, the complete façade of a chapel including a blank Gothic arch and a bull’s-eye window, was unfortunately destroyed in a heavy storm in 1992.

West Burton for Visitors

Ambitious walkers should obtain the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map (No. 30) of the Northern and Central Yorkshire Dales or the 1:25,000 map of West Witton (Sheet SE 08), both of which provide extensive cover of the region and all its features at about 2 ½ inches to the mile.

Numerous books and booklets have been published for visitors to North Yorkshire and the Wensleydale area. Many include detailed descriptions of recommended walks in West Burton and Walden. Some of the most popular walks are:

  • West Burton to West Witton via Flanders Hall, Sorrelsykes Park Hall and Templars’ Chapel
  • West Burton to various parts of Walden
  • West Burton to Aysgarth Falls

Organised walks in the countryside around West Burton are arranged by the Yorkshire Dales National Park several times a year and concentrate on local flora and fauna. These walks are advertised in the Darlington and Stockton Times (published every Friday), and the National Park Centre at Aysgarth Falls. Other organisations also arrange walks and advertise them in the Darlington and Stockton Times. ‘A Prowl round West Burton’ is on sale at the Shop, Hartle’s Butchers and the Fox & Hounds.


For visitors without their own means of transport there is a bus service run by ‘The Little White Bus’. An up to date timetable can be found on the internet at www.dalesbus.com

Accommodation and Meals

The Fox and Hounds public house is the main place where bed and breakfast accommodation can be obtained. It also serves midday and evening meals. Bed and breakfast is also available at The Grange.

About forty percent of the residences in the township are second homes. Some of these can be rented as holiday cottages or flats. Several can be booked through Country Hideaways, a small family agency in West Burton. Others are advertised through signs on their front walls or windows.


At the general store most necessities, as well as souvenirs and postcards can be found. The family butcher sells local meat.

Smithy Antiques selling antiques and collectables is housed in the old smithy building on the Green.

West Burton May Fair – a History

In the early 1980s West Burton Village Hall combined with the then Bishopdale Valley Sports and Social Club held an event on the August bank holiday Monday. The chapel had various fundraising events until in 1982 they decided to hold a Country Fayre on the late May bank holiday Monday of the following year.

This early May Fair had the usual stalls and teas; organisations such as the police, ambulance and fire brigade attended and entertainment was provided by a fairground organ, dog running, sheep shearing and dry stone walling. A little more exciting were the tractor and trailer rides that started outside the chapel and went up Walden road to the top of the first hill and back!

The day ended with communal singing and a short service in the chapel.

So, for a while there were two events.

There then came a proposal of having one event, a meeting of chapel members agreed to put the proposal to the village hall committee who agreed.

At first there was confusion over who had what. Some chapel members were unhappy with the introduction of a tombola and raffle as they were thought to be forms of gambling. The village hall hosted the teas and thought they should have the profit. Finally it was agreed that the takings would be shared equally between the Village Hall and the chapel (I am not sure at what point the Bishopdale Valley Sports and Social Club folded with the demise of the football team).

The joint event on the late May bank holiday worked well. The Village Green is essential to the Fair and, each year, permission was sought for its use from the Parish Council. After several years the Parish Council said they would like something in return and it was agreed they would have donations from parking.

To organise the May Fair originally a committee of six people was set up each year; three from the chapel and three from the Hall. This evolved into anyone who would like to help organise.

In June 2012 due to the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations the Fair was replaced by a different social event including a water slide for children which proved very popular and is now at the end of the day as everyone gets soaked and needs to go home to dry out.

Since then we have established a series of events over the year run by “The Fundraising Committee”. Typically, this involves a Quiz and supper in February; an event in the autumn which last year was a ‘soup and sweet ‘lunch as well as the May Fair in May.

All proceeds are shared between the chapel, the village hall and the Parish Council for the benefit of the people of Burton cum Walden Parish.

The Fair has evolved over the last 34 years to make it a day to be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. It is a day when many people come back to the village to catch up with family and friends. 2017 saw one resident hosting tea and cakes for her 4 granddaughters, their husbands and 6 great grandchildren.

A busy programme includes Maypole Dancing and Morris Dancers; a dog show; sheep dog running; tours of the school; junior fun run; bouncy activities for children; a quoits competition and closes with egg throwing; the raffle draw and finally hymns in the chapel.

In the past we have had circus acts and birds of prey shows and over the years we have bought marquees and bunting and acquired extra tables and chairs for outside on the day.

The key to success is the small committee that organises the overall event and then asks everyone to help. Each person then takes responsibility for their event whether it be the hot dogs, the teas, the various stalls, the parking or publicity, to name but a few.

Publicity is as important as ever and as well as roadside signs and local publications, information goes into the Parish Newsletter and every resident has a programme delivered through their door.

Why don’t you come along next year and find out what a good day it is? Even in 2017, when, for the first time in years, it rained, (thank goodness for the marquees which take several hours to put up on the Saturday morning) most of the events took place and over £3,000 was raised.

Contact Details

 Long Farthings, West Burton, Leyburn, North Yorkshire DL8 4JX
 +44 196 9663 551

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