Guisborough in old picture postcards

Guisborough in old picture postcards

:   Grace F. Dixon
:   Yorkshire, North
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5416-1
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Guisborough is pleasantly situated in a broad valley at the northern foot of the Cleveland Hills, while to the north lower hills separate the area from the neighbouring North Sea. The town is now in east Cleveland, having been displaced from North Yorkshire by the boundary changes of 1974.

Little definite is known of the area in pre-Conquest times, but the scattering of local place names of Scandinavian and Saxon origin on the lower ground, shows the spread of the farmer population. The derivation of the prefix of the name 'Guisborough' is unknown. There have been many variations in its spelling through the centuries, induding Ghigesburg, Gisbourne and Gisbrough. The spelling did not settle down to its present form until weil into the 20th century, but the older spelling 'Gisborough' is retained for Gisborough Priory, Lord Gisborough and all matters relating to the Gisborough estate.

Shortly after the Norman Conquest Robert de Brus, a distinguished folIower of King William, was granted land in North Yorkshire. The local stronghold of the Brus family became Skelton CastIe, five miles east of Guisborough. In 1119 Robert de Brus Il , the second member of the family with local interests, founded an Augustinian Priory at Guisborough. For centuries the Priory flourished and expanded its influence, being rebuilt in the 13th century and again in the 14th century after the disastrous fire of 1289 which caused tremendous destruction. Many gifts of land were made to the foundation, which also acquired rights of trading. mining and manufacturing. The town of Guisborough was dominated by the Priory for 400 years, and its influence may be said to have inhibited other economie activity, with the re sult that the

town never developed its own independent wealthier class of merchants and craftsmen. This subservience to the Priory can be diagnosed as the reason for the prevalenee in the town of cottage-type housing, and the scarcity of better dass town property even in later centuries.

In the mid-16th century, after the Dissolution of the Priory, their lands passed by degrees to the Chaloner family, who have continued as Lords of the Manor of Guisborough to the present day. In earlier centuries their residence was the Old Hall in Bow Street, later demolished. Gisborough Hall on the Whitby Road was built as Long Huil in 1857. The head of the Chaloner family became the first Baron Gisborough in 1917.

A church has existed in Guisborough since Saxon times, presumed to have been located, as is the later church, on a slight elevation at the eastern end of the town. Little is known of its earlier state, the first known view of it being on the sketch of Guisborough by Leonard Knyff in 'Britannia IIIustrata' in the early 18th century. Since th en it has undergone two great restorations, one considered to be around 1800 and the other in the early 20th century. A Quaker Meeting House and various Nonconformist chapels were active in Guisborough in the 19th century, but their early buildings have either disappeared or been very considerably altered.

The Reverend John Graves in his 'History of Cleveland' dated 1808, stated: 'The town of Guisborough, which is of great antiquity, consists chiefly of one principal street running east and west, which is broad and spacious.' This description has remained substantially true for the town centre , as the preponderance here of photographs of Westgate, the

'principal street' and its continuation, the Market Place , would suggest. There was therefore plenty of space for Guisborough's traditional function as a market centre for agricultural produce. In addition to the weekly markets there were in the early 19th century six public fairs in the year. The modern successor of all this activity is the twice-weekly general market held in the 'spacious' street.

Photographically it is not possible to show evidence of the town's earlier industries of woollen and linen textiles and leather working, although there are some vestiges of the 17th and 18th century alum extraction from the surrounding hills. However, a more significant phase was to come when from the mid-19th century ironstone mining began on the northern edge of the Cleveland Hills, there being many mines near Guisborough. The new heavy industries of Middlesbrough were the market for the ironstone, therefore the development of railways was an inevitabie outcome. Guisborough's population increased greatly and new streets were built and there was a need to modemise the town in many ways. At th is time Admiral Thomas Chaloner of Long Huil (1815-1884), then Lord of the Manor of Guisborough, took an energetic and philanthropie interest in town affairs. He is weil remembered for his work in local government and for his varied and generous help in improving the town's amenities. This time of expansion in the town is reflected in the fact that nearly all the main public buildings date from the late 19th or very early 20th century. The town centre is now designated a conservation area, but more for reasons of general townscape than for the presence of many buildings of major architectural interest, apart from the Priory and the Parish

Church. There are, however, several 'Iisted' buildings and these include a number of sm all houses and cottages, usually of the late 18th century, many of which, as is of ten found in Guisborough, incorporate stonework taken at some stage from the ruins of the Priory.

The population of Guisborough did not greatly alter for the first forty years of the 20th century. Then a gradual increase began and was greatly accelerated in the 1960s and 1970s. Now the suburban sprawl, which has turned the town into a dormitory centre for workers on Teesside, has trebled the earlier population to around 20,000.

In preparing this book care has been taken to exclude as far as possible photographs used in other recent publications. Guisborough Museum staff wish to thank all who have helped the project in any way, and especially John Brelstaff for invaluable photographie work. The Page family have kindly permitted the use of items from the collection of the work of their Guisborough forbear, George Page, who portrayed the town so weil nearly a century ago. Photographs 3, 5 6,7,8,9,15,22,24,44 and74are by Francis Frith, 27 is by A.E. Graham of Redcar and 34 and 35 by Aerofilms of Borehamwood. Many photographs are from the Guisborough Museum's own collection, but help is also gratefully acknowledged from Langbaurgh on Tees Museum Service at Kirkleatharn Old Hall Museum in respect of photographs 6, 7,28, 30,47,48,52 and 62. We wish also to express thanks to Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society and to Robin Cook, Stewart Clarkc , Daisy Armstrong and Barbara Grant.

1. The remains of the late 12th century gate house of the Priory seen from the south. This is the earliest now visible part of the Priory buildings. For some decades in the early 20th century the structure was supported by heavy buttresses, and here the larger of the inner arches has in addition a timber support.

2. A very early view of the east end of Gisborough Priory church, which was built in the Decorated style as part of the third phase of building of the Priory. The large tree, long ago cut down but seen here through the arch, helps to accentuate the massive total height of 97 feet reached by the Priory structure which from many viewpoints still dominates the town today. The two stone coffins seen below each of the aisle windows we re finds from early excavations of the site. The unkempt character of the foreground contrasts with the ne at lawns seen in later views.

3. A striking diagonal view of the Priory from the south-west in 1891. Sometimes the term 'Abbey' was erroneously used. The view shows the rich decoration round both the great east window and the aisle windows. On the jambs of the great window, the shields of the patrons were displayed, and here on the north side are those of Brus of Skelton above, and Thweng below. This angle of view also helps to indicate the twostorey internal composition of the arches within the Priory. In the mid-1980s, when restoration of the east end was in progress, there was much additional investigation of its stairs and wall passages. The late 18th century font standing forward of the arch was removed from the Parish Church in 1875 when a new font was donated.

4. An Edwardian summer afternoon in the grounds of Gisborough Priory.

5. An evocation of the delightful gardens in the Priory grounds as seen early in the 20th century. The centuries-old chestnut tree with its many offspring trees forms the right background. Garden decorations included urns on the wall on the left and a sundial at the junction of paths. For a small charge visitors were allowed to wand er in the gardens, which were also aften opened to the public in summer for special events.

6. St. Nicholas' Parish Church, Guisborough, seen fram the west, shortly before the restoration by the architect Temple Moore fram 1904-1907. The view shows the church in the 19th century with a higher roof line, plain windows and a different infill of the arch of the tower. The seat outside was one of the six 'Jubilee' seats placed raund the town to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

7. The west front of the church in 1907 after the restoration. The south-west window with its weathered stonework is the one removed trom the chancel, but its tracery was copied in the new window at the north-west corner. The brilliantly clean new stonework indicates the alterations. The late medieval tower was also restored. The clock seen here was later replaced and the railings were removed for salvage in the Second World War.

8. The eastern end of the church before the restoration. The old chance I window and the plain windows of the nave are still in place. Pinnac!es and a parapet we re a later addition to the chance!. In the foreground is the railed enc!osure containing the tombs of the Smal! family.

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