Thursday 16th January - 7.30 Village Hall

Local author Colin Philpott took us on a virtual tour of hidden sites from Second World War Britain  During the Second World War, thousands of sites across Britain, including many in Yorkshire, were turned over to the war effort with their precise role often concealed even from those living close by.  Author and Bishop Monkton resident, Colin Philpott, whose recently published book tells the stories of some of the hidden factories, command centres, spying bases and other wartime locations and reveals how secret they really were.

From Mill to Mill and Beyond

Thurs 12th September 2-4 pm with Sue Hargreaves

The Mill as it looked in 1910


Sue led a group of villagers on a fascinating walk round the village and surrounding area, talking about landmarks as we passed and keeping us amused with her constant flow of anecdotes about village characters and about her own memories of living  as a child here and this is a summary of where she took us and what she told us .....

Our walk started appropriately outside the flax mill named Freedom Mill which later became the Renton & Butterfield Paper Mill. The Main building  is now a handsome residential block.Sue told us her dad used to work there along with Bill Hutchinson, Jan and Gordon Bernard, Angela Wright, Fred Storey, a Mr Atkinson from Ripon and Dave Dixon (landlord of The Ship Inn, Ripon). Alec Renton was the manager and was always there.
The wood pulp was brought there in ton blocks. Sue’s dad once dropped one of these on his foot fracturing all his toes.
The wood pulp was softened with acid, put into brass drums and the dye was added. The pulp then went through a huge distributor tank before being moved round on a chain belt, powered by a water wheel, before being taken off to dry in the sun before being pressed and then sold to be used in numerous ways.
Sue recalled that one of the 'perks' of the job was a ready supply of cardboard ‘spills’ which her dad used to light his Churchill ciggies,
The mill closed in 1975.  This picture must be from about the 1950's -

After a short walk along the Boroughbridge road we got to Albion Farm, which was once run by Jack Chisem (Alan’s Dad) and some time after that by Mervyn Beecroft.  Sue remembered as a child walking back from cricket stopping here to see pink snouts peering back over the wall.

Next to another part of Bishop Monkton’s agricultural heritage. Ivy Farm is now the last remaining working farm left in the village. In the old days there was a big orchard here with some lovely pear trees on the other side of a stone wall, with broken glass on top to stop Sue and her friends scrumping.
Near here there were two large pillars and a gate, but these got knocked down by a tractor and the remains are now in Mr Moon’s garden.

Next we stop outside Low Farm Barn. This is the oldest building in the village and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
This is where Ken and Margaret Morland lived the farm house, not the barn!). Ken was a great cricket enthusiast. He was captain of the village team and allowed one of his fields to be used as the cricket ground.
Many memories still remain about cricket in the early days but the one Sue chose was about Len Holmes (not Hutton!). He played alongside her father (Tony) and her Uncle George (Rowland). Lanky Len (he was 6ft 3inches tall) was quite a pacey if rather wayward bowler in his playing days and later became the club's official (and officious) umpire, particularly officious after he took a fancy to playing snooker in The Mechanics' Institute after Saturday home matches.  Sue recalled what happened. Len did not want to lose his place on the snooker table so close of play sometimes had to be speeded up.  At this time whenever the ball hit  the pads, the home team would shout ‘Howzat?’ in unison.  Len would respond. 'It’s gone 6 o’clock, time I was away and playing snooker. That’s OUT’ and the dreaded shaking finger would go up!
Sue also remembers she and others used to walk through the nearby orchard for 'a wee' where there was a double seater outside toilet!

On now to the sewage works. Not everyone has seen this neatly hidden away village facility, so worth a fleeting visit but not the place for a picnic!

CORN MILL  - a place of memories.
Now we came to the village’s other mill - the Corn Mill, full of memories but now converted into tasteful residential houses and flats with neatly trimmed lawns and stone flagged footpaths,
In the old days, when still a mill, this was run by Ken Morland.
Sue’s father once worked here before being a driver’s  mate to Scout Hymas delivering  animal feeds. Alan Chisem and Jack McGregor  also worked in the mill.
The interior of the mill was full of rickety floors with gaping holes through which bags of grain were hoisted up using a system of antiquated chains and pulleys. The whole system was powered by a rusty water wheel. This was clearly long before the days of Health and Safety laws!
Sue related one chilling ‘ghost story’ about the mill, where long ago a mill worker is said to have committed suicide, and how in more recent times people working in the mill had had frightening experiences, hearing footsteps, a disembodied laugh and then a snarl, and the a window swinging open on its own accord. It was all bitterly cold, too.
A dog named Bess they had with  them ventured into where the strange happenings had occurred, and later was found dead with rigor mortis already set in. Some in the group refused to ever step inside the mill again.


This is a place not many villagers have seen. It is where sand and gravel used to be excavated. Sue's Grandad Curtis (who arrived in the village in 1910) used to drive a horse and cart in here and use a shovel to load up the cart with sand or gravel and then take it to the nearby 'cut' where the cargo was loaded onto a narrow boat to be taken to the River Ure and then on to where it had been ordered by a customer.

Now on to the last house in the village. This property has in the past suffered badly in floods with water once up to its second floor window. Since then the house has been completely modernised and the flood risk has been virtually eliminated. Years ago Sue's Auntie Doll lived here and told of the day when a thunderbolt came down the chimney and rolled across the stone floor and out of the door. 
It is near to here that the ‘cut’ started - a waterway, some 12 feet wide and 6ft deep, on whicha horse drawn narrow boat called Rosabel once carried sand and gravel to York or even further afield and came back laden with grain for the corn mill. This could involve a six week round journey.  
Closed many years ago it was one of the 7 pubs in the Parish.

Now our little group walked alongside the old 'cut' (now almost completely silted up and overgrown) to the river where we turned left and followed the River Ure up the Oxclose Locks to hear the final instalment of Sue's story.


Here, by the locks, Sue told us about Bobby Renton's place and how he reared race horses here. He bought one horse at auction despite being told the horse could not jump. Later the horse was sold on to Ginger McCain at Southport, where Red Rum  became a champion thoroughbred steeplechaser, achieving an unmatched historic treble by winning the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and was second in the two intervening years.

Those of us who joined Sue's walk were interested to visit places some of us had never previously seen and hear interesting and amusing anecdotes which added greatly to the pleasure out the occasion.


Farming Life in Bishop Monkton

Friday 9th August 10.30 – 12.30 am with Margaret Simpson

Margaret has lived most of her life in the village, being raised and married into local farming families.  The walk will take us through the village, showing us past and present farms and houses, revealing how village and farming life was, back through the generations to the present day. Margaret will start at her own farm, Ivy House Farm at 10.30am and will no doubt give us some fascinating insight into the history of this farm. Please wear sensible footwear. All welcome.

Markenfield Hall visit - 6th June 2019

An historical gem on our doorstep

Twenty three members of Bishop Monkton Local History Group visited Markenfield Hall on Thursday afternoon. They were given a fascinating talk about the history of the building, parts of which date back to 1310, and about the people who have lived there from medieval times to the present day. The visit concluded with tea and cake in the historic kitchen and a tour of the gardens.

Acknowledgements to 'Bishop Monkton Today' for this report and pictures


From Mill to Mill and Beyond - guided walk - 9th May 2019

Aerial picture of Freedom Mill.

The Groups' first outing of the year, a walk with Sue Hargreaves entitled 'From Mill to Mill', greatly interested the 17 hardy individuals who braved the weather to join it on May 9.
It was repeated in September for a number of villagers who were away at the time or who missed the event 

Acknowledgements to 'Bishop Monkton Today' for this report and pictures

Learn more about Local History - a meeting 24th April 2019 

Over 60 villagers crowded into the Village Hall on Wednesday, April 24 for an open meeting given by Bishop Monkton Local History Group.

The meeting included a talk by Chris Bagnall about the Group’s new website, BishopMonktonYesterday; a lecture by David Richold about the Village’s Conservation Area and its listed buildings, and a briefing by Annabel Alton about planned walks and outings planned for the coming months.

Local history themed merchandise produced by Morag Gray was sold to those attending. She and Margaret Mason, who has carried out extensive research for the Group, were thanked for all their hard work.

Helpers sought to run new on-line archive
From document in a filing cabinet .....                                                   ... to an accessible website

Chris Bagnall talked about the Group’s new website, which will become the village’s archive. It has been named "Bishop Monkton Yesterday" (providing a sister site to Bishop Monkton Today which is the long-established village website reporting current news and affairs). Both sites will be run independently but there will be a degree of cross promotion.  "Bishop Monkton Yesterday" is being created by Chris who explained why he thought we needed such a site: It would, he said:
  • Make existing information available to everyone
  • Make sure information is there for people in years to come
  • Create an archive where people’s history can be stored and viewed by all
  • Grow the archive by encouraging people to give copies of their personal records and photographs.
  • Help people find their own family histories.
At present material collected is stored in a single filing cabinet housed in a back room at the Village Hall – but in time this information will be transferred to the new website so that it can be accessed by all, and people can add their own contributions.

Chris said he needed several volunteers to join the website team to work on building up the archive and getting data on to the site.  Some were needed to help decide what and where records would go on the website and others to actually add it to the site. Some computer knowledge would be helpful.

Anyone interested in undertaking any of these tasks should contact Chris at Summerfield, Bishop Monkton. E-mail:  Tel: 07860 664611.

The Conservation Area and listed buildings

David Richold, the well known local architect, gave an interesting presentation explaining the extent of Bishop Monkton Conservation Area.

In this area residents are required to observe certain restraints when planning changes to their property. To mention just two:they should not install PVC windows, and should not cut down trees without permission.

David also gave details of the village’s 12 listed buildings.  The first in the list is not in fact a house but a milestone by the side of the A61 and near to the Bishop Monkton turnoff.

David also put a number of historical maps on show and after his talk answered questions about them and his talk from members of the audience.

Three interesting events in prospect

Annabel Alton gave details of three events the Group will be arranging for this summer.

1. A village walk, entitled From Mill to Mill and Beyond. Sue Hargreaves, who grew up in the village, will lead a walk starting at Freedom Mill and walking to the old Corn Mill, describing interesting landmarks and features on the way.
The walk will be take place on Thursday, May 9 starting at 2pm. There is no charge.

2. A comprehensive tour of Markenfield Hall led by a specialist guide on Thursday, June 6 starting from 2 to 4pm.
The visit will include a tour of the historic building, tea and cake followed by a chance to look round the lovely gardens. The cost is £14 per head. 
Bookings to or tel. 01765 676538..


3. A third, and newly announced event, will be a visit to Aldborough, with its fascinating Roman connections. It will take place on Thursday, July 25. Time and price to be announced shortly.
The village of Aldborough was once the site of the northernmost Roman walled town in Britain, called Isurium Brigantum. The name Isurium is thought to be connected with the River Ure, and Brigantum from the Brigantes who were the largest tribe in Roman Britain. In subsequent centuries the town declined in size to the village we see today, but ample evidence of the Roman period can still be seen, such as several impressive mosaics and parts of the towns defences.

The guided  tour is booked specially for the Bishop Monkton History Group and will be run by English Heritage and the Friends of Roman Aldborough. 
Contact Annabel Alton if you are interested in coming on the tour. 

E-mail: - Tel. 01765 676538.

Your chance to join the Group

At the meeting it was announced that the Group was now offering membership to villagers at a cost of £10 per head per annum. Over 30 enrolled on the night.
Further applications for membership should be made to Jenny Goodman, Group Secretary,

Acknowledgements to 'Bishop Monkton Today' for this report and pictures