Bolton-Abbey

BOLTON-ABBEY, a chapelry and township, in the parish and union of Skipton, E. division of the wapentake of Staincliffe and Ewcross, W. riding of York, 6 miles (E. N. E.) from Skipton; the township containing 127 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its magnificent abbey of canons regular of the order of St. Augustiue, founded originally at Embsay, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Cuthbert, by William de Meschines and Cecilia his wife, in 1121, and removed to this place, about the year 1151, by their daughter and heiress Adeliza, who had married William Fitz-Duncan, nephew of the King of Scotland. The establishment continued to flourish till the Dissolution, when its revenues were estimated at £302. 9. 3. Of this once stately and magnificent structure the nave is perfect, and appropriated as a parochial chapel; the north and south transepts and the choir are in ruins. The choir, which is the most ancient part of the church, is in the Norman style of architecture, with later insertions; the windows, apparently altered from the original openings, are in the decorated English style. The township comprises by computation 3000 acres, situated in the vale of the river Wharfe, which pursues its varied course through a district abounding with scenery of romantic character, combining features of intense interest, among which the venerable remains of the abbey are conspicuous. The acclivities that inclose the vale are in some parts richly wooded; and in others, masses of rugged rock rise precipitously from the margin of the river, which flows almost under the east window of the abbey. Towards the north of the ruins is a verdant expanse of level lawn, studded at intervals with clusters of elm and ash of stately growth, and skirted by a thick wood of oak, interspersed with protruding rocks of barren aspect. In the distance are the venerable groves of Bolton Park, beyond which are seen the craggy heights of Simonseat and Bardon Fell, finely contrasting with the softer beauties of the luxuriant vale, which, gradually contracting its limits, scarcely affords a passage for the Wharfe between the densely wooded banks which overhang its stream. In this part of the vale is a beautifully picturesque cascade, formed by a tributary of the Wharfe descending from a rocky glen into the river, near its disappearance in the deep cleft of a rock which obstructs its course. The road leading from Skipton to Harrogate passes at the distance of about half a mile from the abbey. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £111; patron, the Duke of Devonshire. A free grammar school was founded in 1697, by the Hon. Robert Boyle. who endowed it with a rent-charge of £20, and other property, making in the aggregate an income of £100; the master has a good house and garden.

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

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