Hutton juxta Rudby, a parish town in the west division of Langbaraugh; 4 miles from Stokesley, 6 from Yarm, 11½ from Northallerton, 38 from York, registration district of Stokesley 1837-1851. Attached are the hamlets of Skutterskelfe and Sexhow, and the chapels dependent on Rudby Church included Whorlton, Seamer, Hilton, Middleton on Leven and East Rounton.
As Arthur H Brown stated sixty two years ago in his book Fair North Riding, Hutton Rudby is ‘still one of those pretty villages that is an instant delight to the eye’. The village is divided into two parts by the steep valley floor of the River Leven: the Viking settlement of Rudby on a hill to the north, and the Anglo-Saxon Hutton or ‘high town’ on the south bank ridge.
Agriculture was the mainstay of the area – by the 18th century Cleveland was becoming famous for its wheat, butter, cheese, cattle and horses. Others were employed in the trades which were essential for village life such as blacksmiths, millers, butchers, carpenters, tailors etc. Bricks were made on Campion Lane, there was a sawmill in Enterpen, and there were even miners who lived in the village and walked to work in nearby Swainby over the fields. However, at the beginning of the 19th century, alongside many other nearby villages, the weaving industry was well established here and the population had accordingly increased (1822 – 76: 1861 – 769). Some flax was grown locally, but most came from the Baltic into the nearby ports of Yarm and Stockton.
On the south bank of the Leven there was once a village mill, originally for corn then, from 1757 – 1830, it produced paper before being converted to being a flax-spinning mill. The linen industry was superseded in the middle of the 19th century by the manufacture of sailcloth for the Royal Navy. It closed in 1908 as there was no further demand though the mill was put to use as a youth / community centre.
Close by the 1755 bridge which links the two parts of the village, is the beautiful church of All Saints, the present structure in all probability being a rebuilding of a 12th-century church. Inside will be seen the monuments to the prominent families who once resided at the nearby Skutterskelfe Hall, an effigy of a 14th century priest, and an Elizabethan pulpit with the name of Thomas Milner, benefactor.
Skutterskelfe Hall (renamed Rudby Hall), was built in the Georgian style in 1838 for the newly-wed 10th Viscount Falkland, Lucius Bentnick Cary, who was a British colonial administrator and Liberal politician. He married Amelia Fitzclarence, an illegitimate daughter of King William IVth. The family were great benefactors of the church and village – the 12th Viscount was even a churchwarden form 1889 – 1895. However, in 1898 the lovely house and estate were sold to the shipbuilder & shipowner, Sir Robert Ropner, famous too for being a great philanthropist and his family benefactors to the church and village. Sir Robert who died in 1924, was succeeded by Sir John Henry until 1936. The next Sir Robert remained at the Hall and during WWII soldiers were billeted there. During this era, the estate provided important employment to men and women in the area and had several tenant farmers. Following the war, the estate was auctioned off in fifty separate lots and the Hall fell into disrepair. However, it was eventually bought and meticulously restored by a chemical company as its headquarters, then again sold, but has now returning to private ownership and opened to the public as a lovely luxurious country house hotel.
Memorials to the above families abound in All Saints church and family tombs are located in the churchyard, also a plaque commemorating those who died during the cholera epidemic in the 1840s and buried in a common grave. However, my favourite monumental inscription is one that we would all love to find giving so much family information; In memory of John WILLES [farmer] d. Jan 12 1789 aged (8?)3. John son of John & Esther ELAND d. Feb 4 1789 aged 16. Sarah wife of John Eland snr d. Oct 28 1789 aged 67. John Eland snr d. Nov 18 1789 aged 73. Esther relict of John Willes d. May 14 1791 aged 77. Esther dau of John & Esther Eland d. May 10 1797 aged 25. John Eland clerk otp for 38yrs d. Apr 28 1822 aged 76. Esther relict of John Eland d. Aug 4 1825 aged 84yrs. Thomas son of John Eland d. May 6 1853 aged 76. Mary wife of James Eland d. Dec 31 1854 aged 78. James son of John Eland d. Oct 27 1862 aged 84. Reverse. Mary Ann dau of James & Elizabeth d. Jan 20 1839 aged 20. Esther Ann dau of Edmund & Martha TAYLOR d. Aug 3 1837 aged 26. Martha relict of Edmund Taylor d. Mar 7 1854 aged 70.
Adjacent to the church on the west side can be seen what was the Bathurst Charity School, founded & endowed about 1740 by Charles Bathurst, esquire for the purpose of educating poor children of the parish. Perhaps the most notorious resident, Charles returned from Stokesley in the evening on 1st December 1730 to his home at Skutterskelfe Hall to find that his butler, David Bandsby, had been quarrelling with some of the stable lads. He tried to appease them by handing out gold pieces and ale. Later, he and his cousin, John Motley, then quarrelled over a horn of ale which Charles tried to force John to drink. Bathurst challenged him to a fight with swords but Motley refused and left the house with Brandsby, whereupon Bathurst told a servant to lock them out. He retired to bed but on hearing that Brandsby had come indoors, decided to go downstairs, taking his sword, to see whether his cousin had also returned and would drink the ale.
When he reached the dark passage near the kitchen, Brandsby allegedly flew out and assaulted him with a red hot poker, four foot long, at which Bathurst defended himself with the sword and killed Brandsby. The coroner’s jury found that Brandsby ‘was surely drunk at the time’. The charge of murder against Charles was changed to self-defence, hence manslaughter, but he seems to have escaped any form of punishment apart from forfeiting his properties of lead mines in Clints and Arkengarthdale to his brother in law, William Turner. However, it would appear that he wished to reconcile his neighbours with the school he had built.
At the top of the steep bank to Hutton, are two public houses, The Wheatsheaf & The Bay Horse leading to the heart of the village and the green with its avenue of trees along the roadside, planted in 1878 to enhance the attractive open space. To the right will be found the Methodist chapel, built in 1879, and the King’s Head Inn, another of the village’s three pubs. Turning right by the post office one finds North End Green. In the rows of cottages here lived many of the village’s weavers who were quick to follow the teachings of John Wesley (1703-91) the founder of Methodism. He visited Hutton Rudby a dozen times between 1759 and 1790, writing in his diary in 1766 that the Methodist society here was “the largest in these parts and the most alive to God”. The house furthest down the hill in the terrace was the original Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. It was built in 1759 to hold 200 people, but was not big enough for the crowds that came to hear Wesley speak, and he had to preach to them outside on the Green.
Sadly, the village has lost most of its traditional parade of shops and businesses, is crowded with parked cars as most residents commute to the neighbouring towns for work, but it still retains its strong community spirit and old fashioned charm.
Deposited Registers (North Yorkshire Country Record Office)
Bpts 1584-1707, 1710-1972 Some transcripts available on open shelf
Mgs 1584-1707, 1710-1972
Burs 1584-1707, 1709-1972
Bishop’s Transcripts (Borthwick Institute, York) commencing 1598-1856 with many gaps in dates.
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/north/vol2/pp283-290: general history.
http://northyorkshirehistory.blogspot.co.uk : genealogies of many families attached to the village.
http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/13063 : general history.
Post Office Directory of 1872
Victorian County History: North Yorkshire vol II (pub 1923)
A History Walk Round Hutton Rudby (published 1997): a brief history told through its buildings and the reminiscences of older inhabitants.
CFHS Journal vol 4 no 9-10 (1991): Charles Bathurst Story
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7763362: Charles Bathurst Petition
MIs – available from CFHS