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These are personal histories and memories of life in and around Knaresborough in earlier times. The Family History pages may be of interest to those researching their own family histories.

In addition, Eileen Pullan is writing a blog of her memories of life in Knaresborough during the 20th Century called ‘A Mishmash of Memories’. Click here to read this fascinating blog.

Those researching their own family history may find Jayne Jackson’s work on transcribing the 1939 Survey for Knaresborough from ‘Find My Past’ interesting – it is now available at the Library. There are also the school records for Castle Boys, Girls and Infants from 1866 to 1952 which are not available anywhere else!! Jayne can be contacted on

John Glyn – Memories of a London Evacuee.

When stories of the evacuation of children during WW2 are told,they are usually of the early days of the war. I was 6 in 1940 and was evacuated to Newquay, Cornwall for 2 years until the bombing in London stopped. Upon my return I was able to continue my full time education.

However, in June 1944 the first V1’s (Doodlebugs ) started to hit London and once again my parents thought it safer for me to be sent away to the country. I was one of a group of children who were evacuated from Wood Green, North London and at the age of 10 found myself in Knaresborough. I remember arriving at the Secondary Modern School in Stockwell Road and standing in a line awaiting allocation to my new “foster parents”.I was so fortunate to be billeted with a maiden lady Miss Snowdon and her two brothers ,Harold and Arthur who lived in Cragg Lane overlooking the quarry. They were the kindest people you could possibly meet and they taught me so much in the months that I stayed with them. I didn’t realize at the time that they were in their 60’s, so imagine how they must have felt to have the responsibility of a young 10 year old boy thrust upon them. I kept in touch with them after the war, Auntie Katie being the last to die just before her 101st birthday and I am so pleased that she met my wife and our young daughter.

I went to Castle Yard Junior school my form teacher being Mr Percy Todd who was a fanatical Yorkshire cricket team supporter before the war and related tales of his favourite bowler – Bill Bowles. Among my classmates were Billy Peacock, Cyril Ledgeway, Albert Ibbotson, Clive Watson, Derek Hill, Neil Dodson, J.Thompson, Donald Holdsworth and Keith Walker .Our classroom was not in the main building but across the yard playground. As a class we used to “dig for victory” in the school allotment at the top of Stockdale Walk and go potato picking at a local farm.

During the winter of 1944 the weather was very cold and we were able to make ice slides in the school playground. The River Nidd was frozen over so we were able to walk and slide on that, we also tobboganned down the field opposite Conyngham Hall, usually ending up on the frozen river.

Earlier in the Summer I enjoyed punting, canoeing and rowing on the river and after school made extra pocket money by helping out at the boathouse beside High Bridge. Competent punters were able to punt upsteam through the “Shallows” to the “Pool”.

Below Low Bridge we boys fished for tiddlers with dimpled bottom wine bottles. We corked the bottle, knocked a hole in the bottom and inserted pieces of bread as bait .We then tied a length of string to the neck held this and threw the bottle into the river. The fish would swim into the bottle but could not escape because they kept to the side and could not get out of the hole in the bottom easily. I also recall fishing with a rod, string and bent pin.

Waterside (below the castle) was very busy in the Spring onwards with visitors buying postcards, iceceam, trips on boats and having their photographs taken by the riverside photographer .He used a camera that developed the snap in a small rubber pouch under the camera whilst you waited, the print was sepia coloured but I don’t know how it was printed.

Also, down river past the rapids, were sheepskin tanneries with skins drying outside-the smell was dreadful. Further down river near Low Bridge I was able to visit Mother Shipton’s cave and the Dropping Well to view the items petrified by the water. Further on was the House in the Rock and St Robert’s Chapel which I was able to climb past on a footpath which led to Cragg Top and on to my home in Cragg Lane.

Other memories I have are of getting my haircut with non-electric clippers at the barbers in High Street (one penny ) and visiting the Cinema off the High Street (3 or 6 pence )The films were advertised in the window of a furniture shop in High Street the programmes being changed once a week. Films such as The Desert Song gave we boys the chance to become either French Foreign Legionnaires or Riffs in the Castle grounds.

Sweets were rationed so we bought cinnamon and liquorice sticks from the Olde Chemist Shop in Market Square.

We never swam in the river but took a bus to the Starbeck salt water baths. Because of the petrol shortage the single decker buses ran on gas contained in a balloon on the roof or in a container towed behind.

We travelled to Harrogate for the cinema ,to shop or as special treat to have tea at “Bettys Tea Shop”.

At Easter we painted hard boiled eggs and rolled them down slopes. At Halloween we hollowed out and carved faces in turnips then placed and lit a candle in each. We also played pranks such as knock down ginger. “Knock down ginger” was the game we played on unsuspecting householders on and around Halloween.We would either knock on their front doors and run away or would tie a piece of cotton to the knocker and pull it to knock on the door; being dark, because of the blackout we could do this more than once as the householder would not see the cotton. Simple pleasures and a little different to nowadays!!

Whilst living in Cragg Lane I attended Holy Trinity Church where I was a choir boy and one of my friends was J Shipley, an excellent artist at such a young age. From Stockdale Walk my friends were Terry Danby (who made model airplanes) R. Keith, I. Lund, M. Mainman and Peter Allen or was it Alan Peters? We played many a game on our bicycles pretending to be fighter planes in our named squadrons.

In Windsor Lane leading to Stockdale Walk was a small hall, either for The Boys Brigade or Scouts and they had a bugle band It was great to watch them marching on special days.

June 6th was D-Day and although I was too young to understand the significance of it, it did mean that there were many American G.I’s in and around Knaresborough after that date. Their cars were parked in the Square – Buicks, Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles , Packards etc. We boys used to pester the soldiers for sweets (got any gum chum) and it must be said we were not often disappointed. There were American army hospitals near Harrogate, also Royal Air Force wounded were to be seen around the town in their light blue uniforms with white shirts and red ties.

Just before V.E day a funfair came to a field (now Stockdale Close) off Stockdale Walk. I withdrew all my savings from The Yorkshire Penny Bank and after enjoying the dodgem cars etc had just enough to buy my first fireworks in Harrogate – I remember queuing for over an hour to buy two rockets (we were still being rationed).

The Marquis of Granby public house in York Place (opposite the new swimming pool built after the war) was lit up in neon lights, there being no need for a “blackout ” The gas street lamps were also renovated and lit so brightening up the streets for the first time for five years.

My main memory is of being happy and well cared for , even though I was separated from my parents . I was one of the lucky ones and the lessons I learnt have held me in good stead for the last 60 years.

Female Wartime Workers at D Kitching and Sons Ltd.

Young men from King James' School taken on by Kitching's during the wartime - hard work indeed!

Young men from King James’ School taken on by Kitching’s during the wartime – hard work indeed!

During the Second World War traditional male labour was naturally scarce and many women took over jobs once exclusively the domain of men. D Kitching and Sons Timber Supplies in Knaresborough experienced increased need for their products, notably pit props, during the war years and, to take the place of men gone to war, replacement labour was drafted in. This came in the form of relatively local women, from as far afield as York, who performed this essential war work and lodged as close to their jobs as possible.

The work must have been hard, and the hours were certainly long – a 7.30a.m. start and 6.00p.m. finish with only half an hour for lunch – there may have been tea breaks during the day but we have no information to support this. In fact, we know very little about the lives and work of these women and we would like to know more. Sue Kitching, current [2005] owner of the company, would like to contact as many of the women as possible with the view to a reunion.

D Kitching and Sons Ltd in their old premises at Hambleton Grove - this office and machine shop building would have existed at the time of WW2

D Kitching and Sons Ltd in their old premises at Hambleton Grove – this office and machine shop building would have existed at the time of WW2

From documents of the time it transpires that the women, mostly in their late teens, were usually forestry workers engaged in what must have been strenuous, physical tasks.

On the 18th September 1943 a list of women employees, other than office staff, was supplied to the Ministry of Labour and National Service. From this document we learn that working at Worlds End Plantation, Stockton-on-Forest were five from the Womens Timber Corps (W.T.C.): J. Trippet, W.M. Ackroyd, C.A. Cain, C.I. Free, J.K. Dixon and M. Didlock; another three W.T.C. were working at Blythe Barn Plantation, Bishop Burton: E.M. Vickery, E. Deeman and J. Cocker.

One W.T.C Women seems to have been working on her own at Thorn Wood, Nunburnholme: I.A. Lassey and another on her own at West Wood, Grantley: Kathleen Carass. J. Pemberton (W.T.C) was working as a Tractor Driver at Kilnwick Peroy Estate.

Nine civilians were working at Grimston Wood, Elvington: G.M. Reeves, G. (Gertrude?) Carr, N. Hardy, S. Gatenby, F. (Florence?) Hill, B. Handley, M. Hutchinson, D. E. Biscombe and N. Wray. F. Kay, a civilian, was working on her own at Sessay Wood, Pilmoor.

From other documentary sources we have the names Emily Maud Rigby, Florence Mary Ibbotson, Phyllis Lilian Marsh, Violet Hilton, Jean Elliott, Nancy Nora Thwaites, Eileen Rogers, D.J. Holborow, A.Wray, I.M. Barley, G.M. Reeves and D.N. Hardy.

kitchings5To The Ministry of Labour & National Service in Pateley Bridge, 14th November 1941: “We have been informed by the Timber Control that a number of Land Girls are going to be released from agriculture during the winter months, and if we require any for the pit propping we should apply through the labour exchange. If you have any on your books we shall be obliged if you would let us know.” kitchings4To The Ministry of Labour in York, 3rd April, 1942: “We require about 10 women and girls for Forestry work in a wood adjoining the “Four Alls”, Malton Road and shall be pleased to hear if you have any available. Standard rates of pay plus travelling and overtime.”
Letters relating to the employment of Eileen Rogers

Letters relating to the employment of Eileen Rogers

Eileen Rogers was obviously a very valued employee. She started work with Kitching’s in 1939 and was trained as a clerk. In September 1943 Kitchings received a “Registration for Employment Order, 1941” dealing with women “regarded as available to meet the very heavy demands of the Women’s Service and of expanding war production unless they have special qualifications or occupy a pivotal position”. This particular document related solely to Eileen Rogers.

Kitching’s immediately made representations regarding the essential war work Eileen was involved in at Kitchings and her aptitude for this work: “…Has been in our employment nearly 4 years and is very efficient. In the past we have endeavoured to train two Juniors, both were found unsuitable. Numerous Statutory Forms, Licenses and returns, many of a statistical nature have to be completed in connection with the Timber Trade, this work is in addition to normal routine…”

The Labour Exchange was eventually persuaded that Eileen’s work was essential and that she should be allowed to stay with Kitching’s: “Apparently they had overlooked our activities in the Home Grown Timber Trade”.

This account was compiled by Alyson Jackson from information supplied by Robert James who is building a model of the ship.

Robert James – a crew member building a model of the ship.


HMS Knaresborough Castle

Bob James lives in Australia but is a blow-in from Scotland since 1964. He is an ex-seaman of more years than he cares to remember, mainly merchant shipping. However in 1954 H.R.H. decided that he should defend her person by joining her navy for two years (?). After many lumps and bruises he ended up onH.M.S. Knaresborough Castle (the longest name in the navy) – to read his cap tally people would spin him round as he only had a size 6 cap. “This ship is heaven” he thought: “it does not go far as it is in the home Fleet and my time in the R.N. is about up, it’s got a small crew,and I’ve got myself a nice easy job steering her at sea.” Not to be – as they were steaming along one day in the North Sea she blew her engine, and they were towed home to Plymouth,and it was decided to scrap her.

Bob is building a model of the Knaresborough Castle: the model is 5 foot 3 inches long, 9 inches wide the scale is 1-48; the hull is made from fiberglass and the upperworks from 2mm plastic card; she will have a smoke making machine fitted, a sound machine for her guns, and all lights; she will have electric motor and speed controller to give a 16 Knot scale speed; she will carry radio control for turning, and engine forward or reverse; she will have all the guns in small scale as the original had.

Ship's Crest

Ship’s Crest

The HMS Knaresborough Castle, a Castle Class Frigate, was built by Blyth SB & DD Co.Ltd. She was built in 11 months and 13 days and was completed April 1944. Her Pennant No. was F389. She was broken up for scrap at Port Glasgow 16 March 1956. The Ship’s Crest was the same as the Town Crest on the right.

Displacement 1,060-1100 tons
Range 6,200 @ 15 Knots
length 252 feet O.A.
breadth 36 feet 9 inches
draught 14 feet
Crew 90 (120 wartime)
Machinery 4 cylinder triple expansion engine
Boilers 2 Admiralty 3-drum type
Prop shafts 1
I.H.P 2,980
Speed 16.5 Knots ( approx )
Oil fuel 480 tons
Main 1×4 Mk.X1X gun forward"
Close range 2 single20mm Oerlikons (bridge)
2 single Mk 7 40mm Bofors (aft)
A.S. 1 triple ATW mortar
12 Shark A.S. missiles (fired from 4 gun)"
15 depth charges (war time)
2 depth charge throwers (war time)
Radar type 272 later type 277
Boats 1 27 foot whaler
1 25 foot motor boat
1 fast motor boat (Skimmer)
3 Carley life rafts

Raymond Mace – Memories of a crew member.

I joined HMS Knaresborough Castle at Blythe in 1943 and served as a Torpedo man, although she didn’t carry Torpedoes my work covered electrical/depth charges and explosives, mostly electrical though.

We sailed around to the Isle of Mull to “train up” and work as a team, and for the rest of the war we were escorting convoys to Gibraltar. It took us about two weeks going out and the same coming back, as we had to steam out of the Clyde, over the top of Ireland and out into the Atlantic Ocean and past the Med and double back at night, because of spies in Ireland, Spain and Portugal.

I think that we did about 7 or 8 convoys, probably about 30 or 40 ships per convoy, in columns and rows formed into like a big square. There would be 3 destroyers in front, 2 frigates and corvettes on either side with 1 corvette covering the rear. Sometimes, if the convoy was very large, there would be a small aircraft carrier (auxiliary carrier) with us. The leader of the group would be the middle destroyer at the front and he would be in front of the others, and all ships would be searching and sweeping with their Asdic/Radar & Visual. When contact was made one destroyer or corvette would deal with it while the others closed ranks.The main armament used for an attack on a submerged submarine would be the “Squid/Hedgehog” & Depth charges, and it could take some time, more often just giving them a sore head and terrifying them.

The armament on the Knaresborough Castle was slightly different: we had the 4 inch gun up forard followed by the triple mortar (what was known as the Squid) just aft and on the deck above the gun 2 orliken canons each side on the Bridge Wings, and where the Knaresborough differed, was that instead of Boffers we had 2 power driven twin orliken cannons, the ammunition drums being loaded with different types of shell: armour piercing, incendiary excreta, so that whatever you hit it was going to do a lot of damage. Then there was the 2 Depth charge throwers, one each side, followed by the Depth Charge Racks. Depth charges were usually fired in patterns of 5 or 7 – say 1 from the rack,1 from each thrower and 2 from the rack again – total 5 .

We had a particularly bad one [convoy], in which we lost 3 landing craft. We had a terrible storm, and we had about 12 of these craft in with the Convoy, being escorted to Gib for landings in the Med I assume. The 3 came into difficulties and had to be abandoned which meant that the crews had to be rescued. One of the other ships (a Castle class Frigate) rescued 2 crews and our ship (the Knaresborough) rescued one crew (about 8 men in the crew). I think that we took most of the night rescuing these men, nearly losing our own life boat crew in doing so. We had storm damage which kept us in harbour (In Addrosian) for a couple of months. While we were in Addrosian the Ship had a couple of dances to chear us up. God that was a rough winter.

Convoy work was very boring most of the time. The ship was very small and cramped with equipment, so there was not room to do much. Winter months we were below decks mostly (apart from watch keeping) because of the weather. Summer months we were able to get on the upper decks (just like being on a cruise!). When below decks in off duty times we would play board & card games, mend clothes, darn socks and write letters. I myself was making a model galleon out of match sticks, it was almost completed when it got damaged beyond repair (weeks of work gone in seconds).

When we got into port, the bigger ships would sometimes put on entertainment for us ie film shows/concerts where the crews would dress up and put on acts like singing, telling jokes and monologues, anything for a laugh. Most ships had there own projector, so weather permitting we were able to put on our own film shows sometimes.

After the war in Europe we sailed down to Freetown, spending about ten months there.The Americans were ferrying some of their troops back home, so they stationed several small ships across the Atlantic, in case any planes came down. We steamed to a spot and just drifted and steamed around that area for 3 or 4 weeks. While we were drifting I fished for Basking and Blue Sharks I think that I caught about 8 altogether. When I left the ship I left a Fishing Hook which was about 12 inches long on the ship hidden in the Low Power room.

Spent Xmas there [Freetown], didn’t seem a bit like it as it is on the Equator and was so hot.

There were two entertainment things worth mentioning: one was the “Crossing the Line” ceremony, which took place when crossing the Equator line (while we were working out of Freetown), in which all the crew that hadn’t crossed the line had to go through this ceremony.

A very big tank is made up of waterproof tarpaulins, the tank being about 12 ft long, 6ft wide and about 3ft deep, with a platform across one end on which there was a throne for King Neptune and a chair for the crew member who hadn’t crossed the line. King Neptune and his men (about 6) climb over the bows of the ship (as though they have just come out of the sea) and they are covered in seaweed. King Neptune is wearing his crown and carrying his trident and each of his helpers is armed with scissors, open razor, comb, shaving brush and a bucket of foam. All of these things were at least 3ft long! The crew member is placed on the chair next to King Neptune who questions and insults him then covers him in foam, shaves him, gives him a hair cut, scrubs him and tosses him in the tank and gives him a good ducking. Then on to the next one, officers and men alike.

The other one is called “Uckers” – it is the same as Ludo only on a giant scale. A big ludo board is drawn on the deck (same colours as the ordinary board) about 20ftx20ft using giant counters and dice. The players are all dressed up as clowns or any funny clothes and do all sorts of funny things while the game is in progress. If [you] get a good crowd it can be quite hilarious.

The ship was a good seagoing ship, it stood up to some very rough seas almost standing on her ends at times and also stood up to quite a bit of pounding when we were depth charging submarines.

I remember receiving parcels from Knaresborough for which we were truly grateful. I wonder if there are people around up there that did the Knitting for us. All those years ago I do remember and appreciate what the people of Knaresborough did for us.

Click small images below for larger photos.

For centuries the Hall stood on the High Street in Knaresborough. Fondly remembered as a hotel in the twentieth century by Margaret Mary Gillingwater, it was the scene of matrimonial dispute in the fifteenth century and a possible visit by the infamous Dick Turpin!

Wintringham Hall

Wintringham Hall

There has been a Wintringham Hall in Knaresborough for over 600 years. Family History records tell us that Alice and Joan Wintringham, daughters of Thomas Wintringham, were born there in 1410 and 1415 respectively. They appear to have married very well into the Plumpton family. Alice married Godfrey Plumpton and Joan his elder brother Sir William Plumpton. They were the sons of Sir Robert Plumpton and his wife Alice. The Plumpton name is well-established, the family having been in the area since the early 12th century and giving their name to the village of Plumpton near Spofforth. The family was well off and well-connected: prior to 1200, William de Stuteville, Lord of Knaresborough, granted to Nigel de Plumpton, and his heirs:

“… for the usual services, and one horse of the value of one hundred shillings, all that part of the Forest of Knaresborough which included Little Ribston, Plumpton, and Rudfarlington; along with the right of chasing the fox and hare throughout the whole forest – reserving to the superior lord the deer, the hind, and the roebuck.”

William was only eighteen when his father died. He fought in the wars in France and was granted a Knighthood.

Much later when Wintringham Hall became a hotel it had a plaque on its wall which said

“…………….It was for centuries in the possession of the Earl of Wintringham’s family, hence the letters E. W. on the fallpipe with the Earls Coronet overhead. In the reign of Edward the Fourth (1461-1483) this house was the headquarters of one of the most celebrated matrimonial tangles of that time. The Marriage, after long litigation in the Law Courts was finally legalised by the Consistory Court at York”

This episode relates to Joan’s marriage to Sir William Plumpton. Sir William wished to keep this second marriage of his a secret, which must have been very awkward for Joan and their children, especially when it came to the question of inheritance. Apparently it was said that Joan was being “kept” by Sir William in his house in Plumpton and “… had begot on her divers offspring in amplexibus fornicariis, to the great peril of his soul and grievous scandal of all the faithful…”. On 6 July 1472 depositions were taken from the parish clerk of Knaresborough and others that the marriage had in fact taken place, though clandestinely, about twenty one years previously. Plumpton correspondence By Edward Plumpton, Thomas Stapleton, Camden Society (Great Britain) includes family tree pages x-xi and details of the dispute, in particular pages lxxiii-lxxvii.

Though the hotel was demolished in 1957 it is fondly remembered by Margaret Mary Gillingwater (née Darvill) which has stimulated the creation of this article.

Drawings of the hotel and café by A (Albert?) Walker, 1948

Drawings of the hotel and café by A (Albert?) Walker, 1948

In the early twentieth century Wintringham Hall was a hotel on the High Street in Knaresborough.

The café some time before 1950. The petrol pumps which used to stand on the corner can clearly be seen on the left of the photograph.

The café some time before 1950. The petrol pumps which used to stand on the corner can clearly be seen on the left of the photograph.

On the other side of Park Place was its Cafe and Party Rooms. Park Place led to the old Roxy Cinema and one can imagine cinema goers enjoying a drink or meal in the cafe before their evening’s entertainment. Mr and Mrs Roberts owned the hotel and cafe in the 1940s. There used to be petrol pumps in front of the hotel on the corner of the High Street and Park Place but Mrs Roberts had these removed in the late 1940s to make more parking space.

When she was a child Margaret was told that Dick Turpin had stayed at the hotel on his way to York and this is not outside the bounds of possibility. Turpin fled to York from London in 1737 and settled in East Yorkshire. Most of his activities centred around the eastern side yorkshire, including cattle and horse rustling from Lincolnshire. He was finally discovered and hanged in York in 1739.

In front of the hotel, 1953. Left to right: Mr Charles A Roberts, Mrs Richards, Mrs Mack (a friend of the Roberts), Vera & Mrs Ruth Roberts .

In front of the hotel, 1953.
Left to right: Mr Charles A Roberts,
Mrs Richards, Mrs Mack (a
friend of the Roberts), Vera &
Mrs Ruth Roberts .

The artist A. Walker, who created the drawings shown above, stayed at the hotel and did many drawings and paintings of Knaresborough.

Next door to the hotel was a butcher named Mr Knowles – he kept a cow, a horse and a lot of chickens at the side of the hotel. The shop next to the cafe was Mr& Mrs Walker’s grocer’s shop.

The house was quite substantial having seven bedrooms and three attic rooms which would almost certainly have been servants’ quarters when the house was a private home. The upper floors were served by two staircases: the main staircase had a stained glass window halfway up and the back staircase was for staff use.

One of the bedrooms must have been very strange to sleep in as Margaret remembers:

wintringhamHall10“There was one room that had a box mattress placed over the bath. I think that this was the old original bathroom, the room was only about 6ft wide with a washbasin.”

The guest bathroom facilities were not extensive: only one bathroom with a toilet and one separate toilet. Rainwater was cleverly made use of:

“A workman had gone up into the attic and said above that room there was a wooden water container that was very cleverly designed to catch the rain water from the roof for the bath below. I guess it would be lead lined.”

However, the guests did have en suite facilities of sorts, which Margaret remembers, understandably, none too fondly:

wintringhamHall14“All the bedrooms had chamber pots in little bedside cupboards at the side of the beds. So guess what – we had to empty them (lovely job).”

The rooms were all carpeted and had hot and cold running water – as opposed to jugs of water supplied with a basin.

The hotel had a kitchen, of course, and store rooms, though as Margaret says:

“We didn’t need a big pantry as there was enough shops of all kinds in the town to get anything you wanted.”

She goes on to describe the kitchen:

“The kitchen was fairly large. It had the old fire range in the centre and we had to light the fire in winter to keep warm. It was the usual black range with the oven and water boiler. But the cooking was done on two gas ovens.

You could walk around the fire range at both sides to a washing up area which led to another
room for kitchen equipment. All pots and pans were done by hand (no dishwashers). One small gas fridge in the hotel and one on the cafe side.

We had the kitchen fire and one in the upstairs visitors’ lounge to light in the winter.”

There was no central heating. All of the rooms had fireplaces and the bedrooms all had electric fires.

The hotel in 1953

The hotel in 1953

There was a very small room at the bottom of the stairs which Margaret describes:

“At the bottom of the stairs, this little room was the telephone kiosk, it was only big enough for one person. What it was used for when it was a family house I don’t know.”

The whole of the front of the ground floor was taken up by dining rooms – one on each side of the central hallway.

The photographs of the Public Dining Room show what would once have been an elegant domestic room, probably a family dining room given the presence of an impressive sideboard fitted into a curved recess. The sideboard had a fine brass rail around the back and a wine cooler in the centre.

The Public Dining Room, left front, with impressive sideboard in the recess at the back

The Public Dining Room, left front, with
impressive sideboard in the recess at
the back

On each side of the recess was a plaster cast cameo silhouette, we think these may have been of the owners of the house when it was a private home, perhaps the Earl and his wife.

Margaret remembers some of the kinds of food and drink served at the hotel:

“Breakfast: Cereal & English breakfast.

Lunch. & Evening meals: Meat, 2 veg Yorkshire pudding . Plaice & chips. Toad in the Hole. Soup first & sweet to follow.

Afternoon Tea: tea with cakes, bread & butter with jam. or scones.

High Tea: Egg, Ham, or Salmon salads. Mixed Grills , Fish & Chips, Welch Rarebit, sausage, egg & chips.

Sweets & puddings: ice cream , Spotted Dick, Rice Pudding, Queen of Tarts, all made in the hotel.

Mrs Strike used to sit and peel sacks of potatoes and pod sacks of peas. The only things that were brought in were cream, cakes & bread .

It was not a licensed hotel so we had to go out to one of the public houses to obtain the drink the guest required.”

The Visitors’ Lounge was on the first floor together with all of the bedrooms, plentifully supplied with armchairs and ash trays.

In the cellar there were three to four very big rooms. Margaret was not keen on the darker cellar rooms:

“The cellars were used for storing furniture and such like, but at one stage we had our meals down there as it was lovely and cool in the summer time. It was okay in the first room but in the others it was dark and I was not brave enough to explore. The house that is at the top of Park Place on the left hand side, I was told that a tunnel led from that house to Wintringham Hall. That too is a very old house.”

At the back of the hotel was a large garage which was probably converted from an original stable and carriage house. It almost faced the entrance to the Roxy cinema so must have been quite long.

The Staff of Wintringham Hall Hotel 1952. Left to right: Mrs Strike, Margaret's mum Marion Darvill, Ida Blackburn, Mrs Sadler, Mrs Mills, with Margaret at the front

The Staff of Wintringham Hall
Hotel 1952.
Left to right: Mrs Strike, Margaret’s mum Marion Darvill, Ida Blackburn,
Mrs Sadler, Mrs Mills, with Margaret at the front

The cafe also had bedrooms above and party rooms.The total number of staff for both the hotel and cafe would be about 10 to 15. Margaret remembers friends and staff: and their duties:

“Mrs Richards worked in the kitchen. Vera was one of the waitresses. Mrs Ruth Roberts did most of the cooking. Mrs Strike a cleaner.

My mum she was a waitress and also helped with the bedrooms. Ida Blackburn a waitress, who also helped in the bedrooms.

Mrs Sadler in the kitchen and Mrs Mills was on the cafe side as cook.

Myself I worked there in the school holidays, then when I left school at the age of 15 in 1953 I went to work at the hotel to learn the trade.

Mr and Mrs Roberts had the hotel and the cafe so it was back and forth to both .

Her own particular day was long:

“My day started 7.30 in the morning until about 8.00 in the evening .
Sometimes I started at 10.00 in the morning until 10.00 or 11.00 at night. It all depended on how busy we were, so we finished
earlier sometimes. Six days a week.

We took the guests their early morning tea. At night we turned the beds down and placed their night attire on the beds. In the winter time we filled hot water bottles, and if they wanted a late night drink we always made it for them.

They also left their shoes out to be cleaned, there was only 2 or 3 pairs so it was not too bad.

But it was a long day for the hotel workers. I was always told if you could do a job sitting down
do it so that it rested your legs.

The staff all ladies, apart from Mr Roberts, were always laughing and joking even though it was hard work.”

Some of her duties would be unheard of today:

“We had a customer, Mrs Mason, who worked at Nidd Vale Motors Bond End. Once a week in her lunch hour she went to the hairdresser’s at Helen Butler’s opposite Barclay’s Bank. Well I had to carry a big tray with a pot of tea , roast dinner and a sweet, and the High Street full of people. Can you imagine what it would look like now, but that was part and parcel of those times.”

If you have memories of the Hall or would like to comment on this article please email us.

Was there or wasn’t there a medieval stone-built synagogue in Jockey Lane?

Knaresborough Synagogue – Sid Bradley

The few records concerning the site of the Synagogue in Jockey Lane are intriguing. First of all Jockey Lane was previously known as Bare-foot Lane and, also Ten-faith Lane, in acknowledgement of the site of the Synagogue whose gates opened into the lane. There is a footpath on the site, leading to the Market Square, which is shown on old maps as Synagogue Yard.

Hargrove’s History of Knaresborough reads as follows:


So called from the circumstance of a horse-dealers stables being here. It had anciently two other appellations, viz. Barefoot Lane, and Ten-faith-Lane; which names I apprehend were given to it in consequence of the Jew’s synagogue, which formerly stood hereabouts, the gates of which opened into the lane. About the year 1768, Mr Christopher Walton, owner of the place, discovered, in digging the foundations of a building here, a wall of hewn stone, four feet thick, resting on a foundation of brick, of the same thickness; the lime adhered so strongly to the bricks that they could not be separated without breaking to pieces. These foundations range close to the right hand side of the path, leading through the synagogue-yard to the market-place. It is probable that this building was destroyed in the first year of the reign of Richard I when no less than fifteen hundred of these miserable people were massacred at York, besides great numbers in other places, who fell by the hands of an infatuated, and brutal populace. Notwithstanding these severe outrages, they soon became again very numerous in different parts of the kingdom, but were finally banished this country in the year 1290, to the number of sixteen thousand five hundred and eleven.

AD 1738 A Jewish phylactery was found in the castle of Knaresborough, with an inscription in hebrew, which was preserved in the manuscripts of Roger Gale esq, and is a recital of part of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, viz. from the beginning of the fourth verse, to the end of the ninth.”

A copy of the 1890 map of the site showing Synagogue Yard connecting Jockey Lane with the Market Place and buildings which have since disappeared

A reference to the Synagogue in the earliest directory of 1820, is in the name of a William Ruthven a Boot and Shoe-maker.

In the cities of Western Europe, after the eleventh century, particular streets and enclosed places were assigned to the Jewish population. In consequence of which, in the persecutions during the Crusades, thousands often fell victims at once to the popular fury. Decrees of Councils and the ordinance of secular rulers repeatedly denied the Jews the civil rights of Christians and of holding public office. Nowhere could they live amongst Christian citizens, nor be attached to any guild or corporation.

In Knaresborough it would seem that the confines of Jockey Lane, with its access to the Market Place, conformed to these requirements as a centre for the Knaresborough Jewish community.

Before the library was built an exploration of the site was made by Dr. Peter Addyman the Archeologist. No medieaval foundations were discovered except for a well.

I tried to find out if there was a standard plan for a Jewish Synagogue in the middle ages, but without success. However, by reading up The Bible, concordance and various references etc., a good idea can be formed of what might have existed.

The origin of the Synagogue seems to have been in the Babylonian captivity, sited on the high ground outside the city or village.

Plan The Synagogues were so constructed that the worshippers, as they entered and as they prayed, looked towards Jerusalem. At the extreme East End was the Holy Ark, containing copies of the Pentateuch. In front of this was the raised platform for the reader or preacher. The men sat on one side of the synagogue and the women on the other side, a partition five or six feet high separating them. The chief seats were at the east end.

Until Soloman’s Temple was completed in 1000 BC a Tabernacle was used. This was a tent or temporary building, made to be carried from place to place. Whilst in the wilderness it was called the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It was forty five feet long and twenty one feet wide. A curtain divided it into two apartments, the eastern one being called the Most Holy Place, being fifteen feet square. Within The Holy Place stood the altar of incense, the candlestick and the table of shrew bread Within the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat.

Sketch map of the synagogue area in relation to today’s buildings. Sid Bradley

The Ark of the Covenant was a small chest or coffer, three feet nine inches in length, two feet three inches in breadth and height, in which was contained the golden pot that had Manna, Aaron’s Rod and the Tables of the Covenant.
The constitution of the Synagogue was congregational, not priestly, and the office bearers were not hereditary. A college of the elders, presided over by one who was the ruler of the Synagogue, managed its affairs, and possessed the power of excommunication. The officiating Minister was the chief reader of the prayers, the law, the prophets etc.

The modern Synagogue differs little from the ancient. Instead of elders there is a committee of management; and the women are now provided with seats in a gallery

I have come to believe that the actual site of the Synagogue fronted on to Jockey Lane, at the rear of Mr George Heapy’s premises. The dimensions of the original Tabernacle neatly fit into the space, with Synagogue Yard at one side leading to the Market Place. On the sketch plan showing existing buildings, the Tabernacle or Synagogue has been plotted with four feet thick walls, as the building would have to be a strong refuge as well as a place of worship.

When I point out the site to Jewish visitors they become not only interested, but excited. It might be possible to have a plaque placed on the wall of the public library at the Market Place end of Synagogue Yard.

Sid Bradley ©1996

FOOTNOTE The Jewish Authorities say the figures quoted by Hargrove are very exaggerated, both at York and at the banishment. S.B.


Archaeological opinion is that the ruins found by Hargrove could not have predated the 16th century, yet it is known that prior to the expulsion in 1290, no new synagogues were allowed to be built in England after 1222. It is, in any case, hardly likely that a small place like Knaresborough, with a medieval population only in the hundreds, would have had a Jewish community large enough to justify a substantial stone built synagogue. A room of one of the dwellings on Synagogue Yard was probably utilised as the synagogue.

There were more than 120 Jewish communities in medieval England but Knaresborough is mentioned in only one of the sources. Fortunately, two names of Jews of Knaresborough are recorded; Manser and Brunne fil Manaser (who may have been father and son), with the date 1262 attached to one of them (Manser and Manaser were the English medieval forms of the Hebrew name Menashe). The persistence of the name of the alleyway as Synagogue Yard or Lane, and the discovery of the phylactery in the castle, would suggest that there is no doubt that there was a Jewish community in the town, though very little is known about it. There is evidence that Knaresborough was a munitions centre in the 13th century; it manufactured ‘quarrels’ i.e. the special arrows shot by crossbows. It is possible that Jews were attracted to the town to help the financial transactions associated with that ‘industry’, but, other than the two names, everything about this medieval Jewish community remains a mystery.

Mr Freedman also notes that: “the only book on medieval Anglo-Jewry I have found that mentions Knaresborough (by Dr. Robin Mundill) states that in the year 1275, the Statutum de Judeismo (Statute of Jews) was issued which required all Jews to live only in towns where archae were situated. (Archae were the depositories of the official documents relating to the financial transactions of the Jews). 1275 may therefore be the date when the Knaresborough community was dissolved with its members probably moving to York – the nearest city with archae.”

Murray Freedman has written an essay on the subject of the Knaresborough Synagogue which forms part of a published collection entitled ‘Essays on Leeds & Anglo-Jewish History & Demography’.

These pages are dedicated to those who gave their lives in Two World Wars.This research was performed by Alyson Jackson. Details are gathered from “Soldiers Died in the Great War”, “Soldiers Died in the Second World War” and the The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. A synopsis of more detailed information is included for individuals where records exist in the The National Archives. Many records were damaged beyond repair by bombs in the Second World War.In addition, for some men, information has been supplied by others who are all acknowledged at the appropriate points.

Alyson Jackson

The dead numbered 156 in the First World War and 55 in the Second as inscribed on the War Memorial in the Castle Precincts.

Robert Smith writes:

“I have a photograph of my wife’s grandfather, Joe Bramfitt, a market Gardener who lived at the Bungalow, York Road, Knaresborough (at the junction with the Spofforth Road opposite the cemetery).

The photograph is of himself with his horse and cart in the grounds of the castle, on his way to market accompanied by his daughter Alice (my wife’s mother) and her young brother Joe.

Behind him is what appears to be large anti – aircraft gun. I estimate the picture around 1918.

Any further information about the date would be appreciated.”

Can you help Robert? Please address any information you can to Robert via



If you would like to be included in the lists please email and include the names which you are researching (with a date range if applicable), locations (within the area around Knaresborough to Ripon in the north, Harrogate in the west, Leeds in the south and York to the east), plus an email address where enquirers may contact you. You may include a short message to be posted with your listing.

Conrad Plowman has very kindly offered to look up details of certain family names in “The History and Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough” by William Grainge, first published in 1871. Families for which there is a significant amount of genealogical information are:

Place Name
Birstwith Greenwood, Smith, Jowett
Blubberhouses Frankland, Wardman, Rev. Robert Collier
Castley Castelay
Clint Beckwith, Admiral Long, William Mountaine
Dunkeswick Insula or de l'Isle
Felliscliffe Smith
Fewston Frankland, Fairfax, Parkinson
Great Timble Hardisty
Hampsthwaite Bilton, Wilson, Thackeray, Peter Barker, John Parker
Harrogate Sheepshanks, Stockdale, Watson
Killinghall Pulleine, Strother, Leavens
Lindley Lindley, Palmes
Menwith-with-Darley Leuty, Day
Norwood Bramley, Moorhouse, Smithson, Fairfax, Hardisty, Jack Hill
Pannal Tankerd, Dougill, Herbert, Bentley, Man, Torre, Wright
Plumpton Plumpton, Paver
Thornthwaite-with-Padside Wigglesworth
Thruscross John Demaine
Swinden Bethell

See the next tab ‘ Family History Research’ for recent requests for information.

See also Knaresborough Wills for local wills which also contain many other local names in the area – from sixteenth century.There are many other names mentioned, e.g. early owners, lists of vicars for Pannal and Fewston, and extracts from parish registers. Email Conrad for help:

See also 19th Century Directories in the History section for information on names, addresses and occupations in Knaresborough at intervals through the century.

The Knaresborough parish records are held at the North Yorkshire County Record Office, Malpas Road, Northallerton; contact number to book an appointment is 01609 777585.

Harrogate Library holds census records for Harrogate District 1841 – 1891, the International Genealogical Index (IGI) with baptism and marriage details, and some printed parish register transcripts. Telephone number(01423) 502744. Victoria Avenue, Harrogate.

You might also find some useful information on the War Memorial and other articles in the Knaresborough History section.

Information on area registration offices:

Information for local Archives: N Yorks at or west yorks

Other useful Links

You may submit family research requests for posting here using the email

Requests submitted will appear below in alphabetical order by surname. Email addresses can be clicked to launch email program.

Family Name Location Date(s) Email Contact & Information
HAWKSBY Knaresborough c 1832 Pat Fowles –
BARFF Knaresborough c 1840 Ann Hale –
BAINBRIDGE (Bainebrigge) Knaresborough, Lindley Green, Leeds, Ripon, Masham pre-1700 Sandra Bainbridge Cunningham –
ATKINSON Knaresborough, Great Ouseburn, Whixley any Miss V C Wildon –
DOBSON Knaresborough b 1898 Heather Hay –
PROVOST / ROBINSON Knaresborough pre 1850 Stephen Provost –
FARRAR Knaresborough 1750 Sylvia Wilson –
THEAKSTON Harrogate 1773-1815 Amy Crowell –
DIX Knaresborough Unsure Chris Dix –

Boroughbridge is a small town just 7 miles along the A6055 from Knaresborough which is also steeped in history which visitors may enjoy. The Facebook page on Boroughbridge Then & Now is available via the button below.

Boroughbridge Then & Now

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