The History Of Askrigg






Situated in Wensleydale, Askrigg is over 30 miles from the towns of Northallerton,Skipton,Darlington,Settle Kendal. Askrigg shelters in the valley of the river Ure at the foot of Askrigg common, an upland area rising to over 600 metres and forming a watershed between Wensleydale and Swaledale to the North.
The village has no railway link and lies only on minor roads.

Askrigg owes its name to Viking times when it was dubbed ‘Ridge of Ashes’. It is listed in the Doomesday book of 1086 and has been a settlement since at least iron age times.

The village remained of little commercial importance throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries when Wensleydale was extensively used for sheep grazing by the Cistercian monks, who became prosperous on the profits of the wool trade.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, however, secular wealth became important in the dale following the border conflicts in the north and the dissolution of the monasteries throughout the country.

Askrigg was granted a Charter for a weekly market by Elizabeth I in 1587 for the holding of a weekly market on Thursday, and of fairs on May 11th, the first Thursday in June, and the 28th October.Under this Charter “Four Men” are elected annually by the inhabitants of askrigg. These “Four Men” were resposible for regulation of the tolls and the custody of the toll booth – a small two-storied building standing near the market cross, part of the lower story was formerly used as a lock-up or “dungeon” in the days of the old Parish Constables.

The town can also boast of a common seal, bearing the inscription, “Sigillium commune inhabitantium villae de Askrigg”, and a representation of the cross in the market-place.On the seal, however, it appears as only raised on three steps, whereas the current cross has five. The holders of the office of the “Four Men” in 1880 were W.E.M.Winn, Richard Mason, Robert Mason, and Metcalfe Graham. At this time the seal which was made of brass was in the possesion of W.E.M. Winn Esq. of Askrigg.

Askrigg’s prosperity peaked in the eigtheenth century when trade in textiles and knitting was most lucrative and the village supported many craftsmen and gained a reputation for clockmaking.

It aquired a drainage system and cobbled streets during this time and three story houses became fashionable.


There are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels.

There were three almshouses for as many poor widows or single women, with an allowance of £16 a year, erected in 1907 in accordance with the will of Christopher Alderson, a native of this parish, and late of Homerton, London.
There was also one out pensioner connected with this charity.

A market was formerly held here on Thursdays. Fairs were held on the 1st Thursday in June for merchandise and pleasure; 1st and 2nd July for sheep and cattle; the 2nd Thursday in July for hiring servants for the hay harvest; and 28th October for cattle.
A great part of the township consists of high moorland, with capital grouse shooting.

The principal landowners were

  • Capt. R. C. de Grey Vyner of Fairfield House, Skelton, York,
  • Thomas T. S. Metcalfe esq. of Claydon House, Lechlade, Glos.,
  • the trustees of the late J. F. Clarkson esq.
  • the Rt. hon. John Lloyd Wharton P.C., M.P. of Bramham,
  • Basil A. H. Woodd esq. Of 59 Drayton gardens, S.W.,
  • Harold Lowther esq. of Lowther Lodge, Kensington Gore, London S.W.,
  • J. J. G. Lodge esq. T. R. Lodge esq. the trustees of the late Col. W.
    Lightfoot Bankes,
  • the Rev. Charles Claypon Wood M.A. of Ashbourne, Derbyshire.
  • J. E. Riley esq. of Accrington, is lessee, under the Crown, of the manor of Askrigg.

The area, of the township, which includes the hamlets of Newbiggin, Nappa and Woodhall, is 4,891 acres of land and 31 of water; rateable value, £,4,604; the population in 1901 was 462. The ecclesiastical parish had a population in 1901 of 965.

LOW ABBOTSIDE is a small township, consisting of a few scattered farmhouses, on the north bank of the river Ure, or Yore, in the vale of Wensleydale, adjoining Askrigg, on the west and 4 miles north-east from Hawes, in the parish and union of Aysgarth. Here is a Primitive Methodist chapel.

Principal landowners were:

  • Harold Lowther esq.
  • W. H. Tomlinson esq. of Aysgarth,
  • Thomas T. S. Metcalfe esq. of Lechlade,
  • the devisees of the late John Huphreys esq.

  • The soil is of rich quality; subsoil, limestone. The land is chiefly in pasture.
  • The population in 1901 was 140 ; the area is 2.057 acres of land
    and 9 of water;
  • rateable value, £2,554
  • Letter Box cleared 5.40 p.m. week days

Bowbridge Methodist Chapel

Dale Grange, Bowbridge, Helm, Skelgill and Shawcote are hamlets distant about a mile west of this township.

  • Sexton, Richard Halton.
  • Post. M.O.and T. Office (sub-office. Letters should have S.O. Yorks
  • Mrs. Eleanor Thistlewaite, sub-postmistress.
  • Letters arrive about 5.55 am ; dispatched at 6.10 pm ;
  • Sundays, arrive at 5.55 am; dispatched at 5.00pm
  • Public Elementary School (mixed), erected in 1877, for 120
  • average attendance, 90
  • Charles E. Watson Master
  • Railway Station, Joseph Thorpe, station master
  • Carrier William Metcalfe to Richmond every Saturday.

Askrigg early 1900s

Askrigg Station 1950s

Askrigg’s eventual industrial decline came about as a result of the new road built 1795 through Bainbridge to Hawes which dissuaded industries from locating to Askrigg.


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The Dales