Local artist and Scalby journalist, Jessica Cathcart, wrote the following article to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Scalby Fair in 2002, tracing Scalby’s past and its links to the Crown.
In the Beginning: King William the Conqueror sent his men out to assess the worth of his realm in 1085, and they compiled the Domesday Book in which Scallebi is recorded as a settlement in a forest. It was king’s land, and a part of the Manor of Walesgrif or Falsgrave. A likely origin of the name is Scalli’s farm, Scalli being the occupant’s name and by being Old Norse for farmstead. Newby or Neuebi would be the new farm. The word Scallebi may be linked to scaldi or scaldri, an ancient Scandinavian name for a poet or bard. It is variously documented as Scauby in 1577, and Scawby. Scalby Hay or Haia de Scallebi is documented in 1190 and denotes a hunting enclosure in the forest at Scalby. King Henry III ‘gave free pasture in his forest at this place for all swine belonging to the canons (of Bridlington), at a time when other hogs fed in the forest.’
The powerful Percy family held Scalby land during the twelfth century, and it was included in a gift of land to the Benedictine Whitby Abbey from William de Percy. The lordship later passed to Henry, Duke of Lancaster and on his death in 1362, through Henry’s daughter Blanche, to John of Gaunt, Earl of Richmond. This son of Edward III was granted lordship as Duke of Lancaster, in his wife’s right, by Act of Parliament. On his death in 1399, the title and lordship passed to their son, Henry Bolingbroke, (Shakespeare’s Henry IV) who became King of England that year. Scalby has remained in the lordship of the Duchy of Lancaster, and this title has remained with the monarch.
St. Laurence’s Church, the oldest recorded building in the village, occupies a particularly beautiful and commanding site. Records show its presentation in 1150 by Eustace Fitz John ‘to the canons and priors (of Bridlington)…and a vicarage was there endowed.’ The chancel arch and pillars are of that time and the first recorded priest, inducted in 1238, was Henry Devon. At the Dissolution, the church was given to the Dean and Chapter of Norwich. The tower was added in 1683. Inside the church are a number of interesting plaques, an ancient inscription and alms box.
Scalby’s school was built 1828. The present school building and headmaster’s house replaced it in 1861. It served a wide rural area and only closed in 1950, since when it has been known as The Church Rooms and is a busy social centre for the Parish.
The ‘Scalby Sports’ were traditionally held as a celebration of Old Midsummer’s Day. Booths were set up for the accommodation of visitors, and there were games, sports and donkey racing.
Watery Facts: The Spaw is mentioned in 1829. Any one travelling north along Scalby Road from Scarborough would cross little Scalby Beck, by means of a ford and then climb the hill into Scalby. John Cole was a visitor to Scalby in 1829, and has left a description of the village at that time. He tells us that near the top of the hill, travellers could stop and ‘refresh themselves at the fine chalybeate spring which was sited at the eastern entrance to the village’. It ‘spewed’ out onto the road from what is now the garden of the Holt and the iron content of its water stained the surrounding channel with a russet dye. Mr Frank Mellor recorded that in later years, this spring water was piped away and released into the Sea Cut. The Sea Cut was built in 1804. In 1799 there was severe flooding in the vales of Derwent and Hertford and local landowners looked for a solution to the problem. Mr William Chapman, Engineer, recommended the digging of a canal to link the Derwent at Mowthorpe, to Scalby Beck, which flowed into the sea at Scalby Mills. It has proved reasonably successful in diverting floodwaters away from the River Derwent, although there has since been periodic flooding in Ayton and Malton. There were at one time four working water mills on Scalby Beck along the stretch from Scalby Bridge to the sea.
A great flood is recorded in a document of 1890. One August, in a year not given, there was a great storm and the houses, near the bridges at the bottom of the church hill were flooded to a depth of five or six feet. One man and his family had a lucky escape when their house was washed away, as was Newby Bridge.
Plague, Scalby Grace and William Mompesson: The Plague broke out in Scalby in 1625. It was thought to have been brought in by the wife of a sea-faring man who had just returned from the West Indies. ‘She appeared the following Sunday at Scalby church wearing black silk,’ having but recently recovered from the illness, and many at that service became ill.
An interesting note records that Sir Posthumous Hoby of Hackness left ‘wainloads of wheat and foodstuffs’ near the the Rosette Inn as food for the many afflicted in the villages of Scalby and Newby. Unfortunately, much was taken away by strangers, before those in need could reach it, and the Scalby Grace dates from this occurrence.
‘O Lord our God, send down Thy word
With trusty sword and sickles,
To cut the throats of all these folks,
That’s robbed us of our victuals’.
William Mompesson –was appointed Vicar of Scalby in 1662, thirty-seven years later. Within the year he left to become Rector of Eyam in Derbyshire, where he achieved lasting fame through his actions of great bravery and devotion as he prevented the spread of a severe outbreak of the Plague into the surrounding country, by sealing off the village. He arranged with the Duke of Devonshire, for victuals to be left for his villagers at a safe spot outside Eyam, until the plague had passed. His wife died in that outbreak.
Houses of Scalby: In the 18th Century, people began to move into Scalby and renovate farmhouses and cottages. John Cole wrote of the number of fine houses and attractive gardens on his visit in 1829. By the mid 19th century the rural and artisan occupations such as farmer, blacksmith, miller, wheelwright and butcher listed in the church registers, were changing to include Surgeon, Solicitor, coachman, groom, and gentleman’s servant. Wealthy visitors to Scarborough liked the village and chose to settle in it. This change in population brought with it a change in architecture.
Scalby Hall was originally long and low, probably built of a similar stone to the stone cottages in South Street. The present mansion, now split into four flats, is built of brick at the back, stone at the front. It occupies a fine site upon a hill, once looking out over gardens that fell away towards the Sea Cut. Its drive curved up through part of Flock Leys from the gothic gatehouse on Scalby Road.
A nearby building, Pear Tree Cottage, is of cruck house construction. It has been carefully restored, and the work recorded, by Mr William Atkinson.
An example of a Yorkshire stone farmhouse is Holly Bank, on Scalby Road (the Back Street in 1890) which is reputed to date back to the fourteenth century.
Yew Court was built in 1742, on the site of a much older building with reputed religious connections, for a Captain Ians who also constructed the two stone circular towers. Bought by Mr John Parkin, a wealthy sailmaker, it became the summer residence of his daughters, the Misses Parkin of Scarborough. Mr Ralph Betson, the Town Clerk of Scarborough lived there in 1761. It was extended and adorned with gables in the 1890’s by a flamboyant member of the hunting fraternity, Mr Tingle Brown, and later bought by Mr William Catlin who succeeded to the entertainments empire of his father, Will Catlin, who was famous for his Pierrots. He lived there for many years until his death in 1962, when it was converted into flats.
Sir Christopher Keld’s Almshouses in the High Street were thatched with mullion windows. Built in the 17th Century by this local benefactor to give shelter to 4 poor widows or widowers of the parish, they were replaced by the present house next to the Gatehouse. Keld Close in Newby stands close to the site of his mansion, Newby Hall and a stone tablet set into an arch there commemorates this fact.
The Old Vicarage was built in 1781 with stone from Cloughton Quarry. In 1829, Cole described it as standing ‘alone at the north end of the village, totally separate from the church’ both in position and architecture, and ‘close to the site of the old parsonage, which is described as being a very humble thatched building.’ He also recorded that the garden was in need of some attention at that time.
Shirley Lodge was known as The Duchy House in 1890, and was the home of the Duchy agent, the Surveyor of Lands. A new Duchy house was built in the 1960’s, next door to it. More recently the Duchy moved its offices on Scalby Road.
The Low Hall stands on Hay Lane. This was ‘a new road’ in 1829 and built twenty years earlier by Sir Richard Vanden Bempde Johnson of Hackness. Low Hall .was built in 1904 by Fred Rowntree the London architect, for John Wilhelm Rowntree, the cocoa manufacturer of York. He stayed at Silverdales on Station Road whilst it was being built. He was the son of Joseph Rowntree, and a prominent member of the Society of Friends. It had its own Pavilion, built with an uplifting view of the valley, which has now been converted into a house. Bought by the Miner’s Union, Low Hall has been a convalescent home for miners for many years, and they have long been a familiar presence in Scalby. The top floor was built as accommodation for guests at Friedensthal.
Friedensthal, (now demolished) was an Adult School Guest House, and run by the Society of Friends from 1904 –1920. This house stood on the site of Wordsworth Close. The building became Uplands School in the 1950’s, and there are locally, a number of ‘old boys’. A house across the road, Hay House, now split into two, served as a boarding house for the school.
Hay Brow stands to the west of the village on Hay Lane. The house was occupied in 1902 by Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell, their two sons and daughter Edith, before their move to Wood End in Scarborough.
The Vicarage on the High Street, known first as Park Villa, then Beaconsfield, and The Croft, was bought and presented to the church by Mrs Tingle Brown between 1928 and 1938.
Wrea Head, a fine substantial house, was built on the northern outskirts of Scalby in 1881, for John Edward Ellis, a Liberal MP and Quaker, from Leicestershire. He was the grandson of John Ellis MP, Chairman of the Midland Railway, whose portrait hangs in the National Railway Museum in York. He lived there with his wife, Maria Rowntree, and their five children. In later years, Wrea Head became a college, and was sold by the County Council in the early 1980’s. It is now a hotel. John Edward Ellis gave The Temperance Hall, now the Methodist Reading Room, to the village.
The Holt was originally a large property whose wooded grounds extended to the public footpath that links South Street to Scalby Road. Its owner in 1890 was Mr James Alfred Cook, the proprietor of the Hull Evening News, and thought to be the owner of the first motor car in Scalby.
The Gatehouse housed the stabling and carriages for The Holt. It is now a home and restaurant. Miss Cynthia Turner lived in The Gatehouse in Scalby and farmed Prospect Farm during the Second World War. She was an accomplished horsewoman, and for a brief time owned a hat shop in London. She was one of the first women racing drivers and raced her Bugattis at Brooklands during the 1920’s. In 1927 she was involved in a spectacular crash on Scalby Road. A Scalby motorcyclist clipped a horse-drawn cart, in dreadful driving conditions. The terrified horse broke free, galloped on, collided with Miss Turner’s oncoming Peugeot, and scrambled over the bonnet. The car was a write-off, and the horse was fatally injured. All three drivers escaped with little more than shock, bruises and scratches.
Ernest Edwin Wilkinson was a garage proprietor with a passion and talent for engineering. He housed Cynthia Turner’s cars at his works at Prospect Garage in North Street (where ‘Hann and Partner’ is now). He too owned Bugattis, and was a founder member of the Bugatti Club in 1928. He held the only Bugatti agency in the whole country.
The Prospect Engineering Company subsequently moved to the Prospect Farm buildings on the site of Scarborough Building Society in Newby, where he also held a Peugeot and Daimler dealership. One of these cars was always on show in the garage window. He died in 1975.
Argyll Lodge, next to the Post Office in the village High Street was for many years the home of violinist Mr Max Jaffa , his wife Jean Grayston and their daughters.
The Nags Head appears in an early 20th Century photograph bearing the name T Laughton, Wine and Spirit Merchant. He was a member of the Laughton family of Scarborough and a relative of the film actor, Charles Laughton and his brothers, Tom and Frank. Both were hoteliers in Scarborough, Tom Laughton owned the Royal Hotel and Frank, the Pavilion Hotel. They each moved to live in Scalby on their retirement. Tom Laughton gave a large number of paintings to Scarborough Art Gallery, and was Chairman of the first Scalby Village Jubilee Committee.
The Scarborough to Whitby Railway Line opened in 1885. The station had a great effect upon the development of the village. Scalby was the first stop and became more accessible to Scarborough people and visitors. The 1821 census shows the population of Scalby Parish was 446. In 1890 it had risen to 600.
Station Road was developed when the railway arrived. The north side was built in the 1880’s and 1890’s, and railway stone was used in the roadside boundaries of those first large properties. The area around the Station was set out in an increasingly suburban style. In The Park there is a terrace of Italianate design and many spacious Victorian and Edwardian houses with large gardens.
A notable house on Station Road is Boa Vista, with its tall monkey- puzzle trees, conservatory, coach house and large walled garden. The station closed in 1953, 12 years before the line itself was closed. The buildings were demolished in 1974, along with the little humped back bridge that curved as it crossed the railway line. Chichester Close now stands on the site of the station and goods yard.
Scalby Manor, another late 19th Century, was originally called Wyndgate and the owner in 1890 was Mr Edwin Brough who bred bloodhounds. Two of his dogs were the first to be used in the manhunt to track the London Ripper. It later became a country house hotel, and is now a restaurant. Scarborough Council owns the Scalby Manor Caravan Park.
Two artists with Scalby connections: John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) was a native of Leeds and friend of Whistler. He first visited Yew Court in 1875. He was then working on a series of paintings of beautiful young ladies in colourful surroundings. In ‘Il Penseroso’, an unidentified and fashionable model observes us from her seat in the centre of a well-stocked conservatory. She sits among the exotic blooms, holding a Japanese fan. It was always understood that this conservatory was at Yew Court and in 1983 Mrs Catlin confirmed that such a conservatory did exist there. It was demolished in 1962 and the bungalow, Yew Croft, now occupies the site. ‘Queen of the Lilies’ (at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston in 1983) This lovely painting may have been a commission, and if so, the young lady in the garden of Yew Court may be the daughter of Atkinson Grimshaw’s patron, Mr Thomas Jarvis, a wealthy Scarborough brewer. It was painted in the garden at Yew Court in 1877, with the original 18th century building in the background. By this time Atkinson Grimshaw was living at Castle-by- the-sea in Scarborough and was working on the paintings of moonlit scenes for which he is now famous. He returned to Yew Court after ten years, to paint two dusk lit views of the house, one from the High Street and one from Station Road, showing the corner and narrow Back Lane, that is now Scalby Road. Scarborough Evening News writer, Simon Dore traced the history of the paintings in 1983 and he recorded that these paintings remained with the house for over 70 years.
James William Booth RCA (1867 – 1953) was born in Middleton, Manchester. He trained in Manchester, and made a reputation for himself as an artist in both watercolours and oils, and followed his good friend and fellow artist, Fred Jackson, to Staithes, to join the artists’ colony there. Fred Jackson who’s home was also in Middleton, was a great influence on James W Booth. They took lodgings in Hinderwell and shared a studio at Staithes with Laura Johnson (later Dame Laura Knight), and Harold Knight.
In 1901 he made his home in Stoneleigh Lodge in Station Road Scalby. He built a studio at the rear of the house and was a prolific artist. His love of nature led him to evolve his own style, and his favourite subjects were farm animals, country scenes, seascapes and flowers. He exhibited at the Royal Academy many times, and his last submitted work was a large oil painting entitled ‘Toilers of the land.’ A widower for a long time, and suffering from increasing deafness, he married Lilian Hunter, daughter of Yorkshire wicket keeper David Hunter, in 1929. He died at Scalby on August 18th 1953.
Royal Visitors to Scalby: The Duke of York, younger brother of King George III, was entertained to a ‘dejeune’ at Yew Court in 1761 by Mr Ralph Betson, Town Clerk of Scarborough, when he received the freedom of the Borough.
Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, is reputed to have visited the actress Miss Lily Langtry when she discreetly stayed at the Holt on four occasions during the last decades of the 19th century, and to have planted a tree in the garden as a gift, on each visit.
The Jubilee Fountain was erected by the Parish to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, on June 20th 1897. It stands on a small green in the High Street. Other commemorative titles occur on a terrace of brick cottages on the main Scalby Road, which is called Jubilee Terrace, and the OS map of 1893, shows Prince Albert’s Cottages, on North Street.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Scalby Lodge Farm on 2nd July, in 1975. They drove along Station Road to the cliff top farm, then occupied by the late Arthur Johnson, where a marquee had been erected. All the Duchy tenants from the area were invited to the reception, where the Royal guests, following a strict timetable, arrived at 10.25am, and left at 11.00am. After a visit to a tenant’s home in Cloughton, they drove back along Scalby Road and out to Home Farm at Brompton for their next engagement. Mrs Carol Grayson, of the Duchy Office made the arrangements, and the Surveyor of Lands for the Duchy at that time was Mr R H S Hammersley.