Accreditation: The below records are taken from a local paper the Cleveland Standard which printed these in March and April 1933. At the time of placing the records below on this web site, 9th, February, 2010 (77 years after being printed in that paper) the web master of this site believed they were not subject of any copyright at that time. He would like to place on record the help given to him by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, and the work of Hugh W Cook who was a member the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. They have all assisted in some way to the below information being published on this site. We hope it will assist person(s) who wish to research this, and other subject matters relating to the Redcar area and its people.
By Hugh Cook
(Member of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society)
Saxon Days – The Domesday Book Extraction –
Tracing the Ancient Manor – a Danish Settlement
Time that lays low the strongest fortress of antiquity and eats the canker tooth into the finest sculpture of our forefathers, that changes mighty cities into poorest hamlets, and the metropolis of once powerful nations into mere heaps of ruins on the plain – appears now in very many cases to be fast ripening villages into popular resorts. But the beautiful old world village of Kirkleatham near Redcar still retains all its rural charm and remains much the same as it was hundreds of years ago. Therein lies its attraction to the searcher after history and antiquity.
Diving Deep Down Into History
As a member of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society I am leaving no stone unturned in my endeavour to write as much as possible of this village, and its doings in the past.
Diving deep down into the realms of antiquity I trust I shall make records of Kirkleatham one of the chief planks in the platform of my historical writings.
The historical notices of this ancient place resolve themselves into history of the following families, which resided, or held lands here since the Saxon period. I refer to Uctreds and Normans (Saxon and De Percy’s – Earls of Mortain, De Bruces, Thwengs – Lumleys – Belasis – Turners and Newcomen’s)
Many generations before William the Conqueror, landed on our shores, Kirkleatham – the subject of our article – flourished.
Kirkleatham 1,300 Years Ago
It is far back to the Norman Conquest but we have evidences that Kirkleatham was known over 1,300 years ago.
There are records to show that the Danes settled in the village from about 450 50 750 A.D.. and as I shall relate later on, they evidently used positions of the present churchyard as a burial ground for their dead.
These people soon settled around here and “called” the lands after their own names.” These in many cases, sustained the shock of, the Norman Conquest, and even survive in parts of Cleveland to the present day.
Flourishing like the “proverbial green bay tree,” Kirkleatham well held its own until it was practically wasted by the Conqueror’s bloodthirsty war 1067-8.
Before the Norman Conquest
In Edward the Confessor’s time this place, then styled Westlidune, also as Luthunum, had De Norman as an extensive owner. He had a spokeman (or head farm hand), seven bordars (farm hands), and one plough.
The manor was held by Uctred at that period, and he had 900 acres, with five ploughs, then worth sixteen shillings – a big sum in those days.
As we shall see later there was a “church and priest” here long before the Conquest.
Before the Conquest the name Luthunum signified the same at Leatham – lands, therefore we get Kirkleatham – “church lands,” and Upleatham as “upper lands.”
At the Norman Conquest
When the Norman Conquest swept over England and Uctred and Norman, with others who held lands around here were dispossessed by order of that greedy, grasping new Kin William I. Their estates were taken from them, and the followers of the Norman king came into possession.
The Earl Morton or Mortain, a relation of the Conqueror, and one of his “first favourites,” came into possession here soon after the Conquest, and this noble was rewarded with many manors in North Yorkshire, and held those also at Whiston, Treeton, Aston and Rotherham in the West Riding, in addition to several in the East Riding. When last in London I referred to the Kirkleatham entry in that “immortal mine of information – Domesday Book” – and there I found two entries relating to this ancient place. The first one under “lands of Willielmi – De – Perci” the place is entered as “Westlidium” (“signifying the West Lands”) and this entry when translated shows “ a church and a priest” there, with fourteen acres of meadows, and 900 acres of lands, the Earl of Montain being the owner, most of it being “terra wasta” (waste land).
The second extract is under the “Lands of Roberties De Moritoniensn” (earl of Mortain) and here we see that amongst the extensive possessions which the Conqueror granted to Robert De Brus, Lord of Skelton, was Kirkleatham.
Tracing the Ancient Manor
We have already referred to the Saxon owners of the manor, and in 1076 Robert De Brus came into possession and, this family held the manor until 1271, and from the De Bruces the lordship descended to the Thwengs of Kilton Castle, and Marmaduke De Thwengs of Kilton Castle, and Marmaduke De Thweng, who was also Lord of Danby, was the proprietor in 1272.
In a deed dated 1272 we are told that he the lord of “Lithum et Cotum” (Kirkleatham and Coatham).
The family held it until ‘the ‘time of Edward III when Sir Robert Lumley, Kt., came into possession.
The Lords Lumley, were extensive owners around here generations before the Norman Conquest, and are probably the oldest family in the North.
The Dowager Lady Zetland of Marske Hall, is a descendant of this illustrious family, and before her marriage was Lady Lillian Lumley.
When recently discussing the pedigree of the family with the Dowager Marchioness of Zetland at Marske Hall, that lady laughingly stated: “I think the Lumleys date back nearly to Adam!”
In the reign of Henry VIII, George son of Lord Lumley, becoming a partisan with Lord D’ Arcy in that rebellious insurrection called “the Pilgrimage of Grace,” was apprehended and committed to the Tower of London, and soon afterwards beheaded, with Sir John Bulmer, Kt., of Wilton Castle.
Went to the Crown
After a series of troublesome times, the manor of Kirkleatham in 1537 came to the Crown, and later Queen Elizabeth granted it to Sir Richard Bellases, Kt., by whom it was conveyed in 1623 to John Turner, Esq., ancestor of Sir Charles Turner, Bart. This family held the manor for nearly two centuries.
Later the ownership came to the Newcomen’s (the last of this name, Mr. G. H. T. Newcomen, dying unmarried last year) the present owner being Mrs. K.T.T. Ley Roy Lewis.
We are thus able to trace this manor from the Saxon period through generations upon generations, to the present day.
It’s Variation In Spelling
A place name is often “potted in history,” a real nugget of information, often elucidating a knotty problem. The place names are like a flora of our botanists. They survive catastrophes and devastation’s, which spell the doom of all else.
We frequently obtain by study of these names, a continuity in the picture of our early history.
In Saxon days the place appears as “Luthunum,” and at the survey “Westlidun.” About the twelfth century it becomes “Kirjaletum.” Later on it appears in the deeds and writings as “Kirkelythume,” and “Kyrkelethum.”
In 1650 it became “Kirkelthum,” and “Kirkeludm,” and in 1700 “Krykleetaum.”
Multiplicity of Names
The multiplicity of names for one and the same place is puzzling, but it is a well recognised maxim on the interpretation of place names and names of local objects of antiquity, that the earliest form in which the name is found is most likely to give the clue to its meaning.
Here for instance we get the name of Leatham all through, meaning “lands,” Westlidium, i.e. “Westlands” and later “Kira” or “Kirkleatham” meaning “church lands.”
Further Unpublished History –
and the illustrious Turner Family
In continuing the history of ancient Kirkleatham we shall no doubt unearth a few unpublished facts as to this ancient village in the past, and these will not be acceptable to our readers, so many of whom are natives of the district, as their fathers and grandfathers were before them.
From all that is told of him the last Lord Lumley to hold Kirkleatham and who was attained for high treason for the part he had taken in the rising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 – seems to have been very sterling character and worthy of all the best traditions of a man in high station who tried to do his duty faithfully to mankind. There are still some deeds in, the muniment room at Kirkleatham bearing his signature written in a firm clear hand.
Kirkleatham Ancient Name
Commenting further upon the name of this place – the only satisfactory way of attempting to solve the question is to discover the earliest form of a place name – we find that Kirkleatham in that part of Leatham near the church or kirk and distinguishes it from “Up” and “High Leatham,” and West-leatham (the latter or Domesday Book name now being extinct)
Leatham is derived from Lithe, a slope standing lands, which well suits the ground around here.
More Ancient History
On the foundation of Guisborough Abbey in 1119 Robert De Brus, who was then lord of the manor, gave to the Prior and Canons there all Kirkleatham with that part of “Cotum” which belonged to it, and this grant was confirmed by Henry I. In this deed the name is spelt “Lium.”
These lands were also confirmed by Henry VIII in 1515, being 24 years before the greedy king robbed the priory of all its possessions.
At the survey Coatham was included in the manor of Kirkleatham, and is not mentioned in the Domesday Book at all. The first mention we get of it is in the above grant of 1919.
In 1257 Marmaduke De Thweng, the then owner of Kirkleatham procured a charter from Henry III to hold a “markette and fayre ate Cotum and this charter was confirmed by Edward I in 1293, but there appears to be no record nor tradition of such fair or market ever being held. This “markette ande fayre” may have been held and then totally disappeared without so much as lingering in the traditions of the district., because at this period Coatham was a place of some importance as a port, where salt works were extensively established, and a church stood in the place, with a mill, etc.
In 1400, according to the Libertas Abbati Le Fontibus” (the book of the Abbey or Abbot of, Fountains) an extract – when translated – staes that “Cotuam” “within ye parishe offe Kirkjeldum,” contributed towards the supply of fish to that abbey. In the twelfth century the monks of Bylands Abbey also purchased herrings and other fish from “Cotum Porte.”
By his will dated December 10 1473, Robert Hunter of Easte Coum, directs that certain lands in “ye paryshe off Kyrkelethome,” are to be appropriated for the endowment of “ye chapel of Saint Sepulchres,” and my bodye is to be burryed within that Krkye wych is within ye paryshe off Saynte Cuthberte.” (This refers to the old church that then stood on Coatham sandbanks, and never having been parochialised was demolished about the year 1600.
What little can we glean about this church is what can be found out from a few scattered allusions to it in various deeds connected with the parish of Kirkleatham.
Kirkleatham Crown Property
When Kirkleatham came to the crown (owing to Lord Lumley being attained for treason) much of the land came into the market, and this apparently gave birth to a band of local speculators, or “Land jobbers” the chief of which was Christopher Marshall, of Kirkleatham – one member of this family – Peter Marshall – being Vicar of the parish from 1531 – 1558, whilst another was Parish Clerk. A little later on, Queen Elizabeth made a grant of the chapel and its lands to Lawrence Woodnett and Anthony Collyns, two London speculators in church lands.
At this period one Peter MacKenzie inhabited the manor house of Kirkleatham, but when the lease expired he left the district, and we find no further traces of him.
In a grant of Fee Warren made on October 6, 1257, we find Marmaduke De Thweng gives to his son the castellum de Kyltone et maneria de Lithum-et Cotum (Kilton Castle and the manor of Kirgleatham and Coatham)
In another document of about the same date Kirkletham is described as being “Lithum-in-Clivelandis; (i.e., “Kirkleatham in Cleveland).
The Worthy Turner Family
The Turner family, whose memory will always be preserved by their princely charity, ages after their beautiful marble monuments have mouldered into dust, like the bones of those they chronicle – first settled in Kirkleatham in 1623 when John Turner, Esq., (son of John Turner of Rorton in Herefordshire, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Coulthurst of Upleatham purchased the manor of Kirkleatham from Sir William Bollasir, Bt.
This John Turner who had already purchased lands at Skelton, was the founder of the Turner family of Kirkleatham, which has now become extinct for more than 120 years, but their noble name lives on.
The last of the Turners (the third Sir Charles) married Teresa, daughter of Sir William G. Newcomen, an Irish baronet, and he died February 2, 1810, aged 38 years. He died without issue and devised the whole of his estate to his wife, Teresa and the baronetcy expired, like the family who had honoured it.
In 1812 Lady Teresa Turner married Henry Vansittart Esq., of Foxley, in Berkshire, and died in 1844.
The Last of the Turners Monument
It is somewhat pathetic to note that in Kirkleatham Parish Church to see the tombs of the first and last of two Kirkleatham Turners.
On a slab in front of the Communion Table, within the rails, is the following simple inscription to the first member,
“John Turner, gent., obit. June ye 24 A.D. 1643 aetat 63 yeares.”
About 170 years later was interred – nearly in the same spot, the last of this illustrious family, for I notice beneath the marble effigy of a female figure, her hand resting on an urn – really an admirable work of art – is the following inscription,
“Near thys marble are buried the remains of Sir Charles Turner, Bart., who departed from this life Jan XXI AdD., MDCCCX aett XXXVII yeares. At his decease a most worthy and illustrious family became extinct.” The inscription continues:
“Beneath this hallowed vault in awful shade amidst his generous forefathers laid, Lo Turner sleeps – the last of his race; In prime manhood given to death’s embrace, Lamenting still for thee till faith shall join My kindred spirit and my dust with thine.”
“Erected by Teresa, his wife, in memory of the most affectionate of husbands.”
This is surely a fitting last tribute to the last member of the family and likewise an affectionate tribute to Lady Teresa, his wife who died in 1884.
The greed of Guisborough’s Canons – The Village
Stonemason’s work-and the site of the
The very fact that Kirkleatham is mentioned in the Norman Survey of 1080-6 is sufficient proof that at this early date the district was recognised to be of considerable agricultural value. Apparently Guisborough Abbey at a very early date, after its foundation in 1119 was in possession of an appreciable amount of land at Kirkleatham. Thus having gained a good deal of influence here, the Prior and Canons were not only eager to “seek after righteousness” but were eager to seek control over all the lands. Nor was there this their only, desire, for they even aimed at obtaining the advowson of Kirkleatham Church.
The “planked down their ace of trumps” when their opportunity came at obtaining this concession under Sir William De Kylton, who was a personage of moody superstitious nature. Taking advantage of him, the Prior and Canons of Guisborough attempted to obtain the grant of the church advowson. They already had nearly half of the parish of Kirkleatham, but had not yet secured this valuable concession, which they eagerly desired.
Won – Then Lost
Sir William, who was reported to have been on his death bed, was visited by the Prior, who extorted from him the patronage. However to the amazement of all Sir William recovered, and then at once declared the grant was nil on the grounds that he was temporarily insane when he made it.
The dispute continued for some time, and an ambassador was sent to Rome to consult with the Pope. However, after much trouble, the advowson was restored to the owners of Kirkleatham, Sir Robert De Thweng, and Matilda his wife.
In connection with the above, a charter, dated September 7, 1210, and granted by King John, at Bristol, states, that when translated: “Know ye that this day we have granted and confirmed to God and the Abbey of Guisburn, the church f Lium (Kirkleatham) with all its appurtenances in free, pure and perpetual alms and/the Canons of Guisburn shall hold for ever in peace, freely and quietly as the charter aforesaid reasonably testifies.”
Although owner succeeded owner it was not until 1623 when John Turner, Esq., came into possession that Kirkleatham entered upon a period of proper prosperity.
This family, which held the manor from 1623 to 1810 (nearly 200 years) were not merely well known in their own district, but they benefited mankind and their country in general.
The Foundation of the Original Church
Held Living for 70 Years
This Thomas De Thweng must have taken over the duties at a very early age, as according to records he appears to have held the living at Kirkleatham for over seventy years.
Unfortunately history is somewhat silent about the church or churches, previous to the present edifice, which was rebuilt in 1762 – period when church architecture all over the country was at a very low ebb – in fact Robert Corney, the village stonemason, was considered competent enough to act both as architect and builder. He was buried at the eastern end of the churchyard as is shown by the tombstone erected over his remains.
Not much Building History
The church is built on the no-classical eighteenth century style or architecture, and takes the place of an earlier church which apparently did duty from about 1350 to 1761 on the same site.
A sketch of the church drawn in 1708 gives proof that much of the edifice was rebuilt after that date.
The churchwardens’ accounts at this date detail the rebuilding of the “churche steeple”. Most of the original stonework of the tower was again used in the rebuilding in 1762. There was at one time a gallery at the west end of the church containing an organ, this gallery being entered by the doorway in the tower.
Proud Village Stone- Mason
Compared with these glorious specimens of ecclesiastical architecture erected by the worshipful fraternity of Freemasons before the divorce of the speculative and operative masonry (a separation which every true brother of the ancient craft must feel has been carried to far) this church would most assuredly be condemned But if we compare it with all churches in Cleveland erected in the lifetime of the builder, which seems to me to be but justice then Corney, the village stone mason, had every reason to be proud of his design.
To me the edifice appeals. These old churches around this district are beautiful in their rural simplicity.
I have visited parish churches up and down the country which are mostly modern, and have cost anything from £30,000 to £80,000 and although the are edifices of exquisite grandeur, they do not attract me as do the simple £2,000 churches (buyilded syn ye yeare 1560 Anne Dom.” Etc
Although a native of Suffolk – the district named after beautiful churches and their fine peal of bells, the old North Riding churches with their local lore, legend, and history, have always charmed me.
I hope to describe in our next chapter the further history and usefulness of Kirkleatham church.
The Ancient Register Books – A
Curious Will – and Kirkleathams
We must remember though the work of the Danes was rather to throw down than build up- when they settled themselves down in places like Kirkleatham – but their occupation of the district has left permanent trace, not only in local place names i.e. Lazenby, Lackenby, Ormesby, etc., but also in the language of the people, for the East Cleveland dialect especially remarkable for its correspondence with the dialects of Denmark and Sweden even today.
The general tendency to know what is going to happen in the future, but by the large number of readers who assured me they read, mark, learn and inwardly digest these articles on local history every week, one must come to the conclusion that there are many who have the seeing eye, to people, the district in which they live the monks, knights, and squires of olden days.
A Curious Will
Thomas Wright, who died at Marske, whilst he was vicar there, in 1488 appointed Thomas Graistock Vicar of Kirkleatham, as his executor. This quaint document reads:
“May’e ye 3. 1488 I commende my sowle to Godde ande apointe Thomas Graistock, preiste og Leatham, to dispose of ye reste of goodes having ye feare off Godde as seasoned beste ande priffitable for mye sowle and I bequesthe to ye saude prieste, corne and to John Graistock a horse ande Jchhne Browne a briffer.”
Much of the information concerning the church itself the Turner family, and the general history of the parish can be gleaned from the old Parish Register Book, dating from 1559 and are kept in good order considering they date back some 370 years.
I recently examined them. The writing is now brown with age.
The first book is headed “Ye Regyster Book off ye Parishe off Kyrliethyme, containing all ye chrystrynges, marriages ande burials from ye yeare off oure Lorde Godd 1559 – 1622.”
The next book is headed “Primo Die Maij Anno Domini 1622 (May 1, 1622).” These records are interesting and give a vivid account of the doings, sorrows and joys of the village for nearly 400 years.
They are the only church register books as far as I know –which give an account of the Great Fire of London in 1666.
There are enteries of the baptisnms of the Turner family, with theor marriages and deaths. One pathetic entry sates: Febyye 20 Anno Dni 1628, beryed Dorothy dautr of John Turner, gent. Aged 4 years 2 months, 6 dayes, and fower houres”.
Another entry refers to Sir William Turner and states: “Buryed thysday, 10th Febr, 1692, Sirr William Turner KT., off thys parish and Alderman of London. His age beying 77yeares 5 months, wanting thee dayes.”
It is somewhat curious to note the many members of the Turner family who dies in their infancy. The following are some of them: “April 22, 1640, Mary Turner one year: 1681. Charles Turner. 4 weeks, one day: Jan. ye 6th. 1693, Hugh Turner 9 months; Jan. 13 1691. Saville Turner, 1 year. Nine months, 32 weekes, six dayes; June 31, 1675. John Turner, aged 3 weeks, five days; and on August 5 1714, Margaret Turner, in her third year.”
In 1661 a “terrible dispute between ye people off Kirkyleatheme ande Wiltone about ye reparying ye churche” is recorded in the registers. Some of the entries in these books are a marvel of neatness.
At the dissolution of the monasteries the di person of – the monks who had been the chief keepers of the registers gave rise to a mandate in 1538 by Thomas Cromwell, the Vicar General for the keeper of registers of baptisms, marriages and burials in every parish. However this mandate does not seem to have been obeyed in Kirkleatham until nearly 21 years afterwards i.e., 1559, when Queen Elizabeth made an order, that every clergyman was obliged to subscribe the protectation. “I shall keepe ye registerr bookes accordinge to ye Queen’s Majesties injunction soe thys I sware to do.”
By those who can read between the lines a great deal of human interest is to be found in Kirkleatham register Books.
As the church even in the days of her gravest corruption has never ceased to “charge them who are rich in this world that they may be ready to give and glad to distribute laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against time to come that they may attain eternal life.” The rector of Kirkleatham was every year, on the feast of All Saints to give to thirteen poor people by a charity dated 1520, sixpence, a gown of twent pence price, and to distribute to the poor of the parish nine quarters of bread, coin and a like amount of peas.
An Exlensilve Chantry
In 1348 Thomas De Thweng at the age of 65 who became much attracted to Kirkleatham founded an extensive and important chantry in the parish, which was dedicated to St. Cuthbert. This consisted of twelve chaplains and four clerks, and they were to daily say mass for the King and Queen, and for “ye repoase off ye sowles off Roberties De Thweng wythe Matilda hys wyffe, ande foare Thomas ye founder off thys chauntrie.”
Provision was also made for distribution of alms to the poor.
A Curious Allowance
The chaplains and clerks were, according to a deed made on August 5 1348, to receive per annum “A sum off twentie shillings ande a roabe (robe) off six elles off cloak, twelve quarters off sea-coale, twelve pounds off candles, 2 agones off beste ale and winne in their roomes from ye feaste off Alle Saintes to Candlemas.”
College of priests did not long continue, apparently, for in 1412 it was dissolved on the appropriation of the rectory here to collegiate church of Staindrop, near Darlington and part of the income also went to the Dean and Chapter of York.
In connection with this it is also worthy of note that a much worn brass plate on the nave of the church “beseeching ye reader off thys to praye for ye sowles of Thomas Lambert ande Agness, hys wyffe, who dyed in Septembere 1456 ande Marche 1464.” Who were the parents of William Lambert, master of Staindrop, who is also buried near them as there still remains the matrix of a brass of a vested priest, and who gave a valuable box of silver for the Sacrement to the church in their memory.
His parents lived at Kirkleatham and were supporters of the church there Church and the effigies and tombs.
Valuable Church Plate – An
Historical Almsdish – An Ancient
Stone Coffin – and the Interior
of the Turner Mausoleum
With the coming of the Angles 547 – 550 A.D. the Christian Church was banished more towards the western portions of these islands, and in the meantime they are proving themselves skilful in the handling of the plough as in the use of a spear and sword.
It is probable that the period the Angles and their descendants buried their dead where the good folk of the district bury them still – in the “Frith Geard” or “field of peace” later styled the churchyard.
There is a tradition of a fierce and sanguinary battle between the Angles settled at “Mersc” (Marske) and the Danish invaders between Kirkleatham and Marske, but the Danes here as elsewhere were victorious. Thus the district, which we are writing about, and which had up to this period led the van in intellectual progress – now remained for generations the rudest and most ignorant part of Britain.
The Description of the Church
A church of some description stood on this very spot ages before the “Norman robbers” came and ousted the Saxons, even as the Saxons had ousted the ancient Britain’s, and the latter some other race.
The present church compromises chancel, nave, aisles, south porch and western tower, the latter being pinnacled and contains three bells. The roof is supported by Tuscan columns, and these separate the chancel from the nave in rather a peculiar manner.
The font, which is of marble with a fluted bowl, is like the alter table of the 18th century workmanship. Just recently several alterations and extensions have been made at the east end of the church.
The Valuable Communion Plate
The church plate – I found on recently examining it – is very valuable and of most exquisite workmanship. It consists of an Elizabethan chalice of 1572, two flagons, two loving cups, with covers and a patin bearing the arms of Sir William Turner who gave them, whilst he was Lord Mayor of London in 1669.
Each is inscribed, “Thys cupp and cover was given to ye Church of Kyrkeleatham for ye sole use of ye Holie Sacrament by Sir William Turner, Kt. I.d. Mayor of London, Anno Domi 1669”. These are engraved with the Turner arms and crest.
An Exquisite Alms Dish
There is also a most valuable alms dish, 13 inches in diameter, and to this “hangs a tale”.” This is supposed to be of Spanish workmanship and to have been used by some Spanish Grandee on board the Armada.
The alms dish is a fine piece of repousee work on solid silver – a real masterpiece of the silversmith’s art. During a heavy storm in 1740 this plate was washed up by the sea at Coatham, and was brought to Cholmley Turner, Esq., the lord of the manor, who presented it to Kirkleatham Church.
On this dish are engraved animals, fruits and flowers of some time ago I photographed it and enlarged the photo. On this every detail showed up in a most remarkable manner. I presented the print with another photograph of the Communion plate, to the Rev. E.J. Collins, who was then Vicar.
The Tombs of the Departed
On looking around I found the tombs, memorial slabs and monuments very interesting and inspiring.
The brass effigy tomb within the communion rails in memory of Robert Coulthurst is undoubtedly one of the oldest known memorials in the church, and is a type of tomb covering; now comparatively little met with in the North of England. Around this effigy is written: “Here lyeth ye bodie of Robert Coulthurst, gent, of ye Marchante Taylors Hall of London and late of Upleatham. He departd thys lyfe ye 7th daie of August 1631, aged 90 years, whose soule resteth with ye Almightie.”
There is also a thirteenth century stone full of the oldest coffins in England. Exposed to the elements, uncared for, “unhonoured and unsung.” This coffin was dug up many years ago in the churchyard, and experts then declared it was the coffin of a Danish child of some note and would date from about the year 640.
This proves that the churchyard has been used as a burial ground for thirteen hundred years.
In the good old days those who were in charge of the “goods of the church” jealously looked after them., were protected, but in the present day it often makes antiquarian’s heart bleed to see the mean usage many of these church relics are put to.
In Cleveland alone we find many of these valuable relics cast out of the church into the burial grounds, or elsewhere to perish. Surely this wanton sacrilege must be mere thoughtlessness on some one’s part.
The Turner Mausoleum
At the north east corner of the chancel is the Turner Mausoleum built in 1740 by Cholmley Turner, Esb., in memory of his son, Marwood William Turner. The inscription outside says, “Erected in 1740 in memory of Marwood William Turner, the best of sons.
The mausoleum a massive piece of work, in the Renaissance style is octagonal with angle buttresses and is crowned by a pyramidal roof of stone. It is lighted by circular windows in the highest part of the wall.
Contents of the Mausoleum
Interesting Ancient Relics – The
Old Churchyard – Hall – and School
Within the parish of Kirkleatham are many ancient relics well worth noting as we saw last week.
A large blue slab in the nave has evidently contained sepulchral brasses, but some barbarian has despoiled the grave.
There is also an ancient singular iron chest dating back to about 1540-50. The key hole is in the centre of the lid and when locked or unlocked several bolts are moved at once. The church plate was originally kept in this box, and I am told also that the old register, and church books.
One Shilling for Ale
One of the old records of the church states “1731 – Ye spire of thys churche beying demolished, ye sum of one shylling was pade out for ale for ye taking downe of ye olde bell.”
Another record states that one: “Maye ye 12, 1733 five shillings was pade out for woode carted form Dabholm perte.”
A document dated 1465 shows that ye chappell of Sanet Sulpitus ate East Coatum within ye parishe off Kyrkeltham” was then undergoing repairs, evidently some endeavour being made to parochialise it, in order to place it on a status of greater security and usefulness than it had possessed as a wayside chapel. This of course refers to the old church on Coatham sandbanks.
Kirkleatham Ancient Churchyard
After wandering around the ancient graveyard where the dust of Saxons, Danes and Normans mingles with that of the twentieth century dead and where some forty generations of Kirkleatham men and women are taking their last long sleep, I noticed many ancient tombstones dating back two hundred years are or more.
Some years ago whilst wandering around this burial ground I noticed the high level of it from the road. Upon enquiry I was informed that many years ago this graveyard, which at that period was on a level with the road, was overcrowded and in order to cope with this difficulty, several hundred cart loads of soil were tipped there and this raised the land another four feet, allowing for many more burials. Of late years the burial ground has also been extended on the north side, and the whole rural appearance of the ground absolutely spoilt by the cutting down of the beautiful trees which for centuries had sheltered this church and graveyard.
At the entrance gate are two fine stone pillars on the top of which rest two stones containing a carving of a skull and crossbones on each.
In 1736 one of the church bells was sent to York to be re-cast, and it was shipped to the port of “Dabholm” at the mouth of the Tees, and the cartage on the bells to and from the port cost 3s.6d. The church books show that a letter (with reference to this bell) to York evidently urging the bell founders on with the work – cost two shillings and three pence.
A valuable Carved Chest
An old proverb says, “If the mind be blind the eye cannot see and nothing is truer and less recognised.” How much the pleasure of life is lost by this want of thought and the study of art and history all around us?
In the church is a beautifully carved wooden chest, stated to belong to the 14th century period. This piece of work when carefully examined, is really beautifully carved, and is worth more than passing comment. Last time I saw this relic was amongst the dust and dirt on the ground floor of the church town, and it is a thousand pities that such a valuable relic should be put aside and neglected.
Kirkleatham church at one period had Wilton under its charge, and was also the church for Coatham until 1852. It is also “mothered” the ancient church which stood on the sandbanks at Coatham from about 1300 – 1699 A.D.
The Lovely Surrounding Countryside
Regarding Kirkleatham, nature seems to have formed this beautiful, romantic district in her most lovely mood, as the delightful scenery and extensive prospects with which it is surrounded conspire to attract the admiration of all who visit and contemplate its beauties. It is and ideal spot for a quiet holiday and here we have country, sea, and moorland air – surely a healthful combination for any jaded town workers who wants a few days real rest in one of the most delightful districts of “Beautiful Cleveland.”
Kirkleatham Old Hall
Its Troubled History
Soon after its erection this hall commenced a somewhat “troubled history,” and a decretal order of the High Court of Chancery was obtained by the Vicar of the Church wardens of Kirkleatham to compel the above mentioned Cholmley Turner to carry out the original intention regarding this building as a free school.
This so offended him that he thereupon entirely extinguished the school and converted this “public edifice” into a private residence for his nephew then William Turner, Esq.
This school with the hospital was originally founded in 1676, but a separate building for the school was not erected till the year 1709.
In 1855 a scheme was sanctioned by which the school known as “the Sir William Turner School,” was re-established and removed to Coatham, and a new school was erected on the trustees from Mrs. Newcomen in exchange for the old hall, and the foundation stone was laid on April 25, 1868, by A. H. T. Newcomen Esq. This building which is chiefly comprised of red bricks, is of Gothic design and the Rev. H. D. Littler, M.A. is the headmaster. A new wing costing about £10,000, was added to the school last year.
The Hospital’s History and
Valuable Museum Collections;
also the Curfew Bell
The beast friend that Kirkleatham ever had was a native of the district, Sir William Turner, of Kirkleatham Hall, who was a merchant in the wool and hosiery trade in St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, of which city he was Lord Mayor in 1669.
Sir William was born either at Upleatham or Guisborough in 1615, and he founded and generously endowed the hospital, the school and other institutions for the benefit of the parish.
A Friendly Loan to King Charles II
In 1664 we find Sir William lending £1,600 to the royal roystererj Charles II. viz June 11 £500: July 12 £100: Nov. 10. £500: and Nov 23 £500.
Apparently towards the liquidating, this £1600 the “merry monarch” repaid £1,000, leaving Sir William to lose £600.
The old Cleveland people have a tradition that Sir William Turner was of a good natured disposition and probably forgave the “Royal Roysterer” for his deed of omission.
The Noble Hospital of 1676
Photo F. Brunskill
A short distance from the parish church, which shelters the ashes of Sir William Turner, stands the noble hospital which he founded and endowed in 1676. It is one of the most magnificent of our North Riding charities, and surely the gift is truly exemplified in Psalm 112 v 9: He hath dispersed abroad and given to the poor, and his deeds remaineth for ever.”
In this hospital or almshouses there was ample provision for ten poor men, ten poor women, and twenty boys and girls, but the original numbers have been reduced.
In the centre of the building is the fine chapel with its dome containing an old fashioned striking clock with only the hour hand.
Curfew Shall Toll
One of the oldest customs in England – the Curfew Bell – is still carried out here. From this very tower the curfew bell is tolled every evening a custom so I am told has been religiously carried out since 1676.
An inscription over the hospital tells us that the building was founded and endowed in 1676 by Sir William Turner, etc.
These buildings are of red brick and surrounding three sides of a quadrangle in the centre of which is a figure of Justice.
The inhabitants of these beautiful, rural, ancient hospital-almshouses live simple, peaceful, happy lives.
Attached to the hospital is a museum, which for its size probably houses one of the most valuable collections in England. It contains minerals, stuffed birds, fishes, skeletons, ancient military weapons, costly coins, medals and other unique curiosities.
The library consists of over 3,000 volumes of theology, classic law and general literature. Several of the books date from the sixteenth century, and some of the older maps of the district belong to a far off period. There is also a small pectoral crucifix of jet of the twelfth century period.
The public are admitted to this museum on application to the caretaker at the almshouses.
A Very Valuable Carving – The
Chapel Interior – and a Fine
Stained Glass Window
This week we continue “Ancient Kirkleatham” and the history of this quiet, rural, little place, like “window’s cruise of oil” – seems to last exceedingly well.
Without doubt the search after antiquity has always aroused emulation amongst the wisest of mankind, and is only scoffed at by the ignorant and foolish. The more extensive the enquiries the more glorious are the results.
The valuable Boxwood Carving
Continuing our history this week of the museum attached to Kirkleatham Almshouses, I may mention that there is a very valuable boxwood carving in the building. This beautiful carving is most exquisite and represents “St. George and the Dragon.” According to the tradition the carving was done by a Spanish prisoner who took nearly twelve years to complete the work which he did in prison using only a pen knife.
In 1855 this carving was exhibited to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and the royal children. It is carved in one piece and the British Museum authorities in London have offered £6,000 for it, but the trustees will not part with the valuable relic. Sir William obtained the prisoner’s release and return the prisoner presented the carving to Sir William – so I am informed. This carving is only about 18ins in height and is really most beautiful.
The Exquisite Chapel Interior
On visiting the beautiful chapel in the centre of the almshouses I noticed that the roof of this edifice is divided into arched compartments supported by four Ionic columns and from the centre is suspended a large gilded chandelier. The floors are laid entirely with marble and the massive stalls are of solid mahogany.
On each side of the Communion table stands an elegant chair presented to Sir William Turner the founder – by King William III. These chairs look as fine as they would when first presented to the founder – 250 years ago.
Over the Communion table – which stands on the south side of the chapel – (as this edifice does not stand east and west, but north and south) is one of the finest stained glass windows in Yorkshire if not in England. Although not very large this exquisite window cost £506 – a large sum in those days.
Divided into three compartments, the central one represents the “Adoration of the Magi” whilst on one side is a full length figure of Sir William Turner, the founder in his robes as Lord Mayor of London, and in the other compartment is a corresponding effigy of his brother John Turner, Esq., in his scarlet robes as Sergeant at Law. This beautiful window was the
Work of Italian Artists
and when the window was complete the Turner family were so pleased with the work that they presented the artists with a hundred pounds as a gift of appreciation.
Valuable Books – A Hero in
Humble Life – And Yearby’s
Continuing or history of beautiful healthy Kirkleatham, this week if any of our readers are lovers of nature, and there will be plenty I expect – they will find many delights in rambling around the rustic spots whilst their minds will find a hundred subjects for pleasurable contemplation.
The botanist, the student of animated nature, the rambler, the antiquary, artist and photographer, will have no lack of employment for their leisure.
The visitor of cultivated mind or of natural taste will find beauty on every hand.
Personally I often wonder if visitors to these beautiful country spots ever pause to think of the great and mighty forces which have resulted through untold ages in such scenes of peace and pleasure.
The library which I referred to last week and which is attached to Kirkleatham Almshouses contains many rare works, and in this short article I cannot enumerate them. They include a valuable illuminated English MSS of Boetuis, executed in a bold monkish hand and dated 1420.
Valuable Ancient Books
There is also a Sarum Gradual of 1528, a brief dated 1540, and a Vulgate belonging to one Prebendary William Latimer of Westminster, and dated 1584. Another rare book in this library is Foxes Book of the Martyrs, a very well bound volume dating back 400 years, and other works of great value.
The Foxe (Rev, John Foxe) was born at Boston, Lincolnshire in 1517, and was buried in the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, on April 18, 1587.
I am told that this valuable collection belongs to the Turner Free School and was removed here on that charity becoming sinecure.
A hero of Humble Life
In 1715 one Thomas Brown was born at Kirkleatham, the son of the village blacksmith, who turned out to be a hero of some note, whose name became known throughout England. In 1742 Brown joined the army and listed into the Dragoons, and fought very bravely at the battle of Dettingen in Bavaria on June 16, 1743. after having two horses killed under him and having two fingers cut off and his head severely injured, Brown saw the English standard borne off by a French Corporal. He jumped on a third horse and dashed straight in among the enemy and rescuing the standard , he cut his way back again through hostile ranks to his regiment. He received the serious wounds and King George II (who by the way was the last King of England to attend a battle and who was near Brown when the incident happened) offered him a commission, but, unfortunately Brown’s lack of education unfitted him for the promotion.
He was granted a pension and invalided out of the army and went to live at Yarm where he died in 1746, and was buried in the churchyard there.
There is still a public house in Yarm High Street styled th “Tom Brown Inn,” and over the door is a curious painted sign in memory of our hero. The quaint looking house situated between Kirkleatham and Yearby was originally a public house and at one time known as “The Turners Arms,” It was a stage coach calling place a century or so ago.
Yearby was originally “Ureby” the “by,“ denoting that it was a Danish Dwelling of an owner named “Cre” who stated to have been Lord of the manor before the Conquest.
Yearby Bank was a road by which the fish caught at Redcar was conveyed to the monks of Guisborough abbey, Fountains Abbey, and Basedale Priory during the thirteenth and Fourteenth centuries to their kitchens. Salt from the old works at Coatham Marshes were also conveyed along this same road to Guisborough Abbey during the middle ages.
In different documents this place appears as “Ureby” “Eurby” “Yerby” and “Urebye”
We frequently obtain the study of these names a continuity in the picture of early history.
This concludes our history of Kirkleatham one of the most interesting villages in Cleveland.
dean February 4, 2010 History General