Hambleton parish population estimate: 190 (2000)
What must surely be one of Yorkshire's prettiest villages, Coxwold fits well into its surrounding hills, woods and streams. The main street slopes upward between neat varied cottages set well back from the road behind wide grass verges.
Thew village was winner of the 'Best Kept Village' competition in 1968,1978,1993 and 1998. Today sadly, the village school, shop and post office have all gone, however the village still possesses an inn with a renowned restaurant, a pottery, a furniture maker, tennis courts, a busy Village Hall, a children's play area newly refurbished for the millennium and two historic houses, Shandy Hall and Newburgh Priory which open during the spring & summer season.
Coxwold Church of St. Michael is one of the first buildings you notice in the Village. It is located at the top of the hill opposite Shandy Hall. It has an octagonal tower - one of few in fact in the country.
The other points of note are not seen untill you step inside. St. Michaels Church used to be the estate chuch for the local Newburgh Estate, whose considerable lands stretched to Easingwold. Located either side of the alter are two large, lifesize in fact, marble figures of the Belasyse family in prayer in heaven - a monument to earlier times and somewhat more arrogant attitudes of the gentry.
The other item of note is the communmion rail. Tather than being a straight piece of furniture, that in Coxwold Church has a kink in the middle and produdes into the pews - in this case, the personal pews of the Newburgh Family so that they did not have to leave their benches and mix with the other church goers! It is believed that this is of only one or two in the country.
Coxwold Church is also the home of the annual Coxwold Church Service for Cyclists. Since 1927, the historic Church of St. Michaels has welcomwd cyclists to their own special day. The original creation of Canon Gibson Black, the annual Coxwold Cyclists Servioce was then and still remains, a thanksgiving for the enjoyment of the open road and the comradeship of fellow cyclists. Down the years, many thousand of riders have made the pilgramage to Coxwold Sunday (travelling on their cycles from all over rhe north of England - even Cumbria, Lancashire, Durham and South Yorkshire!), and have experienced the spitual uplift of the service, given by cyclists, for cyclists.
Visitors are very welcome to the Service, but be warned to expect a sea of brightly coloured lycra clothing, rather than ther more formal church attire! The churchyard is a large cycle park,, while the refreshments in the Village Hall afterwards are enthusiastically consumed prior to the long journey home.
A history of the Cyclists Service, 1927 - 1996 (the first seventy years) can be found here: Seventy Coxwold Sundays. It is an immensley interesting read, including some old photographs of Coxwold throug the decades.
A Historical Tour of Coxwold
Past the hospital 'for ten poor persons' founded (1696) by Thomas, Earl Fauconberg, of Newburgh Priory, the village Post Office and the Inn, appropriately the Fauconberg Arms, stands the old Grammar School (1603) which resulted from the generosity of the local 'Dick Whittington, Sir John Harte from Kilburn, who became Lord Mayor of London.
Then we reach the 15th century church of St. Michael, with its octagonal tower dominating not only the village but also the surrounding countryside. Its pinnacle and buttresses invite the visitor inside to see the 15th century and later stained glass, a most unusual communion rail and four enormous funerary monuments to the Belasyse family which occupy almost the entire chancel. The descendants of this family, which obtained Newburgh Priory at the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s, still hold the estate today.
At the western end of the village is Shandy Hall, home of Coxwold's most famous incumbent, Laurence Sterne, the 18th century author and wit, whose works Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey are still in print today, though his sermons are not. Sterne's remains were brought from London in 1969 and reburied by the south wall of the nave but his tombstone, now in the porch, bears an incorrect date of death - 'Shandean' to the last.
|Coxwold Village Website|
Listen to locals Jean Richardson and Dororthy Stevens:
describing life in the now dim and distant 1930's. (courtesy of Yorkshire Sounds)
|Schooldays in Coxwold|
|A girls party at the Church|
from Baine's Directory of the County of York 1823
Will require Adobe Reader to view
COXWOLD, a parish in the wapentake of Birdforth; 9 miles SE. of Thirsk. A pleasant village situate on an eminence; at the entrance into the town from the West stands Shandy Hall, where Sterne resided seven years, and in which he wrote Tristram Shandy and other works. The church is an elegant structure, dedicated to St. Michael and of a very ancient date, supposed to have been built about the year 700. The tower is octagonal, and the chancel was rebuilt in the year 1777, by Henry Earl of Fauconberg. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Earl of Fauconberg. Here is a Free School which was endowed by Sir John Hart, Knight, alderman, citizen, and grocer of the city of London, wherein he provided competent maintenance and a stipend for one schoolmaster and one usher, dated 1600, salary £32.
Here is also a neat Hospital founded in 1696 by Thomas, Earl of Fauconberg, for ten poor men, who are provided with blue coats every two years, with an annual stipend, and £5 a year laid out in coals for their use; also another Hospital for eight poor women, who each receive 40s. and eight bushels of coals annually, and five yards of cloth every two years. This was also founded by one of the Fauconberg family, but at what time is unknown.
In 1760, the facetious Laurence Steme was presented to this curacy by Lord Fauconberg.
In the church are several monuments for the noble family of Belayse, the most elegant of which is that for the Right Honourable Thomas Belayse. Earl of Fauconberg, (in beautiful statuary) who died the 31st of December, 1710, aged 72; the most ancient, is one for Sir William Belayse, dated 14th of April, 1603, and at the bottom is wrote
Thomas Browne dud carve this tome
Himself alone of Hesselwood stone.
In 1822, Birdforth, Byland, Newburgh, Oulston and Yearsley were included in the parish of Coxwold.
in the parish of Coxwold, and wapentake of Birdforth; 5 miles NE. of Easingwold : was the estate of Robert de Mowbray, who was created Earl of Northumberland, by William II. in 1092: the, year following he defeated the Scots, at Alnwick, were Malcolm III. and his son Edward, were both slain; but revolting soon after from the King, he was apprehended, and kept a prisoner thirty years in Windsor Castle, where he died. His estate was given to Nigel de Albini, whose son, Roger, assumed the name of Mowbray, and founded a priory here, for Canons regular of the order of St. Augustine, in the year 1145. Newburgh, the famous monkish historian, was a canon regular in this priory about the year 1200. Population 162.
Princess Margaret, daughter of Henry VII. honoured Newburgh with a visit, in 1503, on her road to Scotland, in order to, consummate her marriage with James IV. of Scotland, which had been solemnised by proxy.