Bedale (St. Gregory)

BEDALE (St. Gregory), a market-town, parish, and the head of a union, chiefly in the wapentake of Hang-East, but partly in that of Hallikeld, N. riding of York; containing 2803 inhabitants, of whom 1250 are in the town, 33½ miles (N. W) from York, and 223 (N. N. W.) from London. The parish comprises 8702a. 1r. 24p., and contains the townships of Aiskew, Bedale, Burrell with Cowling, Crakehall, Firby, and Langthorne, and the hamlet of Rands-Grange. The town, which has been considerably improved of late, is of prepossessing appearance; it is pleasantly situated on the banks of a stream flowing into the river Swale, near Scruton, and consists principally of one street, which is lighted with gas from works erected in 1836. The houses are in general of brick, and irregularly built; the air is pure, and the neighbourhood, which is well cultivated, affords many pleasant walks and much picturesque scenery. Among the more recent buildings is a handsome structure erected in 1840, containing apartments for the savings' bank, a suite of assembly-rooms, and apartments for holding petty-sessions. Several extensive wool-staplers carry on business here, and give employment to numerous wool-combers. An act was passed in 1846, enabling the York and Newcastle Railway Company to make a branch line to Bedale, 7 miles in length. The market is on Tuesday; and on the same day in alternate weeks is a large fair for fat-cattle and sheep, established in 1837. Other fairs are held on Easter-Tuesday, Whit-Tuesday, and July 5th and 6th, for horses, horned-cattle, and sheep; and Oct. 10th and 11th, and the last Monday but one before Christmas-day, for cattle, sheep, hogs, and leather, the supply of the last article being the most considerable of any in the north of England. The horses are generally of superior value, the surrounding country being famed for its breed of hunters and race-horses.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £89. 4. 9½., and in the alternate patronage of Miss Pierse, and Myles Stapylton, Esq.: the tithes have been commuted for £1713. 16. 3., and there are 176 acres of glebe. The church is in the early English style, and has a square embattled tower crowned by pinnacles, and of remarkable strength, having been used as a place of security from the incursions of the Scots: it contains several interesting monuments, one of which is to the memory of Sir Brian Fitz-Alan, lord-lieutenant of Scotland in the reign of Edward I., who resided in a castle near the church, of which there are no remains. A district church was erected in 1840 at Crakehall. There are places of worship for Methodists, Particular Baptists, and Roman Catholics. A school for boys, formerly in the churchyard, was removed in 1816 to a more convenient room erected by Henry Pierse, Esq., in the market-place; it is supposed to have existed prior to the dissolution of religious houses, and was endowed by Queen Elizabeth with £7. 11. 4. per annum, and afterwards by the Countess of Warwick with £13. 6. 8. per annum. The latter sum, together with a gratuity of £50 from the rector, and £10 from the Hazleflatt estate, is paid to the master; the first sum of £7. 11. 4. being appropriated to the instruction of scholars in the old building in the churchyard, which was re-opened as a grammar school a few years ago. Samwaies hospital, a neat stone building, containing apartments for six men, was founded by P. Samwaies, D.D., in 1698; the Widows' hospital was founded by Robert Younge about 1666, for the residence of three widows. There are numerous bequests for the poor. The union of Bedale, comprising 23 parishes and places, contains a population of 8596. Sir Christopher Wray, lord chief justice of the court of queen's bench in the reign of Elizabeth, was a native of the place.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.