Village History

Terrington Arts Tiefrung project.

It shamelessly builds on the work of others, particularly the 1960’s Workers Education Association local history group and Mary Dymond’s subsequent scholarly study,’ Terrington a history of this parish(1964). Other collaborators, now in Heaven, were the Victorian antiquarians of Terrington, John Wright (father and son) and the then Rector, Samuel Wimbush.

The author would like particularly to thank the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, York and the family of Samuel and James Wimbush for the access they have given to source material and their help and courtesy in doing so. Thanks also to our supporters who so generously lent pictures, checked copy and gave technical advice, and especially John Goodwill, Lynn Haywood, Gerard Naughton and Penny Sissons for the use of illustrations

Most importantly, our thanks are due to the many villagers, past and present, and too numerous to list, who have encouraged the project and given us many of the facts and stories which follow.


As you drive through the village, you may see Eric Foster’s cows plodding to the milking parlour at Manor Farm in the middle of the village. The village farmhouse was once a common feature and there were at least three others in Terrington’s main street. But today, this is one of the last in North Yorkshire.

Today, thanks to mechanisation, you can walk the fields all day and scarcely see a soul. But the parish population remains at the Edwardian level, thanks to a modern influx of white-collar self-employment, commuting and retirement, and is vigorous enough to support a thriving school, a shop, a pub and a church.

The Enclosure Acts of the 1770ís, implemented here in 1779, were designed to modernise and clarify land ownership which had been a feudal jumble of rights and responsibilities holding up the agricultural revolution. When George Hicks leased 3 acres of land from Lord Downe in 1722, part of the rent was ‘one fat capon on 20 December as far as can be judged, simply because this had been part of the standard deal on that piece of land for hundreds of years. You can imagine George grumbling ‘This is 1722, you know, not 1322’.

Until then, Terrington had the usual system of open-field farming, including a few large fields divided into strips as allotments for the villagers, and with few of the hedges, fields and farmsteads which form the shape of the countryside today. No doubt, formal and consolidated land ownership brought economic efficiency, but mostly to the newly confirmed owners. Of 1800 acres enclosed, 1200 went to the Earl of Carlisle at Castle Howard and over 350 to the Church.

Many of todayís farming families have been here for centuries, give or take a little marrying in. But there is a paradox. While agriculture remains the vital local industry, it is no longer the dominant employer it was in 1851 when about half the employed population were in farming (and half the rest, incidentally, were servants). Peter Goodwill of Howthorpe Farm summarises it.’My father farmed 300 acres and employed 13 men, I farm 1000 acres and employ two’.

But the old field names still resonate in Lord Morpeth’s Plantation, Bawdy Hill, Lame Hill, Spittle Field, Bean Syke, Cumhag Wood, Little Barlash. And you can still just about see the remains of the old pound for stray animals near the top of New Road.

Many villagers would keep a pig in an outhouse (now often a smart utility room) or a cow on the Moor, which was managed by the Terrington Town Pasture Cow Club. Membership was compulsory and included some compensation for the catastrophe of losing a beast (remember Jackís mum of Beanstalk fame?). Pasture discipline was nothing new. In 1175 one Daniel of Terrington was fined for letting his cattle stray.

In 1663, William Camplemanís two horses vanished. He got into trouble with the Church for going to a fortune-teller, one Walter Johnson of Rillington, for help in finding them.

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