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Local History Articles


The following information is taken from "Bygone Bildale", published by the Bilsdale Study Group.  The book can be purchased for £5.95 inc p&p.  If you have any further comments or information about ownership, please let us know.

"Bilsdale derives from the Old Norse personal name Bildr ie Bildr's valley.

Bilsdale is not mentioned in the Doomsday Book but ELMESLAC or Helmsley appears as a small village of about 30 people. Early in the 12th century Walter Espec was Lord of the Manor which included much of Bilsdale.  He was the foremost noble of his time in the northern counties and fought at the Battle of the Standard near Northallerton in 1138.  He gave land to the Augustinians for the founding of Kirkham Priory and to the Cistercians for Rievaulx Abbey.  The initial gift of land to Rievaulx extended from Laskill to the confluence of Raisdale Beck and William Beck.  Later grants of land extended the Abbey's holdings in the northern end of the dale He died in about 1153 and had no heir so his estates passed to his sister, Adeline, and her husband, Peter de Ros.  Their decendents were Lords of Helmsley until 1508

Beyond William Beck Farm the dale divides into two branches.  The north west area, now Raisdale, consisted principally of two manors, Rydisdale Magna and Rydisdale Parva, held by the De Ver family.  A succession of grants resulted in most of Raisdale being leased to Rievaulx Abbey by the mid 13th century.

The Lord of the Manor in the north east in 1145 was Engelram, whose family originated from Ayresome (Middlesbrough).  By the end of the century it had passed via two female decendents to the De Ver family.This nucleus of land including a manor house in the vicinity of St Hilda's, the settlements of Town Green and Seave Green, as well as Kyrkflatt (Cockflat), Osket (Akitt?) and "the waters of Bilgraine" (Bilsdale Beck?), comprised the Chapel of Bilsdale.  This was ceded to Kirkham Priory in 1200 and became Bilsdale Kirkham.  The boundary with Bilsdale Rievaulx ran along Cold Moor ridge.

In 1508 the Manor of Helmsley passed by marriage to Sir Robert Manners. Following the Dissolution the lands of Bilsdale Rievaulx and Bilsdale Kirkham were granted to Thomas, Lord Ros, Earl of Rutland.  A hundred year later, following the death of the 6th Earl,the land passed to his daughter, Katherine and son in law, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham.   

In 1650  "the castle, manor, borough of Helmsley and avowson of the church, the manors of Rievaulx, Wombleton, Harome, Pockley, Beadlam, Sproxton, Carlton, Cowhouse and the three Bilsdales all descibed as in the posession of Francis Villiers, esq, were granted to the Commonwealth commander-in-chief, Sir Thomas Fairfax and his heirs, but George Duke of Buckingham recovered these estates by his marriage with Mary, only child of Sir Thomas Fairfax, seven years later".He died in 1687 and in 1695 trustees conveyed these holdings to Charles Duncombe, a banker, who became Lord Feversham."

More information about the ownership of the Helmsley estate from 12th Century is set out in "A History of the County of North Riding, Volume 1".

Part of the estate in Bilsdale was sold by auction in 1944, we have copies of the brochure with the prices each property achieved.

Part of Raisdale was sold by Lord Ingleby in the early 1980's.

Published: 26 2022

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