Days Like These in March

The following collection of events, which took place in or about Bishopthorpe, all occurred in the month of March, but over a number of years during the 19th century.  We hope you find them interesting.


24 March 1828

THE HOUSEHOLD OF RICHARD RAISIN, in the ‘White House’, Chantry Lane, was rudely woken when a burglar broke in and stole silver items worth more than £5.  The burglar, John Renton, was later caught after attempting to sell the silver-ware in Tadcaster and Leeds.  At the Guildhall in York, Renton was found guilty and sentenced to death.  However, the judge spared his life as he was a young man with a family.  The following year, Renton attempted suicide while in the City Jail.

York Courant: 25 Mar 1828.  Yorkshire Gazette: Sat, 29 Mar 1828, p4; & 21 June 1829, p2.


24 March 1835

A CASE OF BASTARDY: At the Guildhall, York, Thomas Foster was committed to the House of Correction for three months, for the arrears of maintenance, for two children belonging to the township of Bishopthorpe.

Yorkshire Gazette: Sat, 28 Mar 1835, p3.


23 March 1846

IN RESPONSE TO THE LONDON & YORK RAILWAY BILL, a petition was presented in the House of Lords from the Archbishop of York, complaining that the projected railway between London and York was to pass within a quarter of a mile of the windows of his palace at Bishopthorpe.  He claimed it would also cut off communication with his farm-house. [i.e. Middlethorpe Grange Farm on Sim Balk Lane.]  It would also pass, for two miles, within 200 yards of the highway leading from the Palace to York Minster, so that “the most reverend prelate could not proceed between York and his residence without being, for two miles, in imminent danger of his life.”

On 30 May 1846, the London & York Railway was renamed the Great Northern Railway and soon afterwards the Bill was passed by the House of Lords, receiving Royal Assent in June.  Archbishop Harcourt claimed he was not an “enemy of the railway” and his objections were heeded.  He, of course, need not have worried – as we now know, this part of the Great Northern Railway was never built.

London Evening Standard, Tue, 24 Mar 1846, p5.  Yorkshire Gazette, 6 June 1846, p4.


30 March 1851

THE 1851 CENSUS was taken, revealing the population of Bishopthorpe to be 406.  There were 94 inhabited houses and 6 uninhabited houses.


10 March 1863

THE PRINCE OF WALES (later Edward VII) married Princess Alexandra of Denmark at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.  The inhabitants of Bishopthorpe celebrated the royal occasion in Farmer Lofthouse’s barn.  Subscribers raised £50; the Archbishop having donated £20.  The money was spent on a huge dinner which was cooked by several ladies in the village.  About 220 people sat down to a bill of fare which comprised of 340lbs of meat, 5 bushels of potatoes, 180lbs of plum pudding, 60 bottles of wine and “other items in proportion”.  The 120 children enjoyed a tea at The Woodman Inn and were presented with a medal.

Yorkshire Gazette, Saturday, 14 March 1863, p4.


8 March 1890

A ‘WIND RUSH’ or whirlwind accompanied by rain and hail began just to the south of Bishopthorpe.  It damaged many buildings and trees.  The Archbishop’s greenhouse lost a chimney.  His gardener described the roar of the whirlwind as so deafening that he did not hear the crash of two falling elm trees in the palace grounds across the road.  The storm crossed the river to Fulford where Captain Key wrote that: “It appeared to me as if two angry thunderclouds met over the Archbishop’s Palace at Bishopthorpe, one coming from the south, and the other from the north-west.  [Then] there was a sort of roar, the hut [in his garden] trembled and all was over in less than a minute.”

The Annual Report of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, 1890.

35 Years at The Ebor

The Bishopthorpe dot net team would like to congratulate Gordon Watkins as he celebrates an amazing 35 years at the helm of The Ebor.

Ebor_2016Way back in 1981 the world seemed a simpler place; Bucks Fizz won Eurovision, Charles and Diana had the wedding of the year, John McEnroe launched his ‘you cannot be serious’ tirade, and Gordon took over at the Ebor.

Over the years Gordon has turned the Ebor into truly the locals’ local, making sure that the pub has always given a warm and friendly welcome but also running a tight ship and ensuring that his own high standards are maintained by all of the bar and kitchen staff.

The Ebor is now well known to visitors and locals alike for the quality of the food and the friendly atmosphere, but throughout everything Gordon has kept it as a ‘proper pub’ which we’re fortunate to have here in Bishopthorpe. Sometimes we take the benefits of village life for granted, but many villages must look at what we’ve got here in envy. Gordon has been key to making the Ebor the heart of the community and we’d like to say thanks Gordon for all you’ve done, and we hope you keep on doing it for many more years.



Chinese Puzzle

The restaurant, L'Octogone: featured in the York & District Advertiser, 11 April 1979.
The restaurant, L’Octagone, featured in the York & District Advertiser, 11 April 1979.


Do any of our readers have a good memory?  Can you remember the name of the Chinese restaurant which was once situated down by the river at Bishopthorpe?

We’ve been contacted by Paul Woods who told us that regulars of The Oak at Copmanthorpe recently had a heated debate on the subject.  Paul should remember the name because he celebrated his 21st birthday there!  He took up the challenge to find the name and asked members of the Bishopthorpe Local History Group.

Well we couldn’t remember either but knew that the octagon-shaped restaurant advertised in Link, the parish magazine.  Searching back copies in the Archive, we found that, from the late 1970’s until 1982, it was called, appropriately, ‘L’Octagone’.  There was a gap in the adverts from then until January 1989 when it took on the name, ‘Bishops’ – but we can’t find any reference to when it served Chinese food.  The restaurant was demolished a few years ago.

Can anyone answer the puzzle and put the good folk of Copmanthorpe out of their misery?   Please use the comments section or email:

2nd March – and Winter’s arrived!

Garbett Way Snow, 2016As doughty dog walkers exercised their pets in the winter’s first downfall of snow, Ken Haywood, cosy in the warmth of his study, snapped this photograph.  Having experienced a mild season so far this year, and watching daffodils bloom too early, the snowfall reminded us, briefly, what winters were once like.

Typically – for English weather – the snow didn’t last too long.  As excited Bishopthorpe children sat in school dreaming of snowmen and sledges, glorious sunshine appeared after a couple of hours and melted the lot.

Lost Links Unearthed

A trio of Links: On the left – the original Link of January 1970. Centre – the cover had changed by the 1980s to depict different aspects of the two villages. The last Link on the right shows the most recent edition: March 2016. The cover now has photographic images.


Sitting in the Archive room in the Village Hall one Monday afternoon, I heard the lift rumble into action. Keen to meet the visitor I went into the corridor to be met by ‘Link’ editor, Carole Green, trundling a wheelbarrow towards me containing a heavy-looking cardboard box. Carole had found a long-lost collection of early editions of ‘Link’, the parish magazine.

Delving into Carole’s box I found the very first issue of ‘Link’ dated January 1970, price 6d. Until relatively recent times, the Bishopthorpe vicars took on the mantle of editor. In this role, Rev. Canon Mark Green launched ‘Link’ in 1970 by distributing a free copy to every family in Bishopthorpe and Acaster Malbis.  Prior to the appearance of ‘Link’, the content of earlier parish magazines had contained whatever the vicar decided to write about.

Hoping to reach a wider audience Mark Green presented something new with ‘Link’. He explained that the aim of the magazine – and the reason for its title – was to link the many organisations of the two villages. ‘Link’ was a church magazine but he wanted to tread a line between religious and secular content. The parishioners were encouraged to contribute to the publication and, if they disagreed with the views expressed, they should write in and say so.

This fresh approach certainly produced results. During the 1960s, the building of the Bradley Estate to the west of Acaster Lane had seen the population of Bishopthorpe more than double in size. Canon Green was aware that long-established villagers had not always welcomed the village expansion but “made the best of it.” Enthusiastic newcomers formed a very active Community Association and a page in ‘Link’ was devoted to this organisation. Some views that were aired in the magazine irritated a number of people and, as Canon Green said, “they gave the impression that life here began in 1965 and that new brooms were sweeping clean.” However, in his editorials, the vicar dealt with this and other controversial matters as they occurred, with equal fairness.

As 1970 progressed, the folk of Bishopthorpe and Acaster were busy with many aspects of village life.  For example, the Parent – Teacher Association was concerned about the “chaotic traffic situation in Copmanthorpe Lane, particularly in the afternoon when children are leaving school.” Sound familiar?  The most exciting venture was the sixth production of the Pageant at Bishopthorpe Palace. Some of the funds raised went towards a much-needed new heating system for the Village Hall. A smaller sum was given to the Junior School for its project to build a swimming pool.

In wheelbarrowing the lost ‘Links’ into the Archive, Carole added to an almost complete run of the magazine from its inception in 1970 through to 2016. For that period, only one copy is missing – May 1985.  So, if anyone has that issue we would be pleased to add it to our collection.

Within the pages, of ‘Link’ the character of our diverse community is revealed. Read all about it at the Bishopthorpe Community Archive, upstairs in the Village Hall on Mondays, 2.30 to 5.00pm. (Bank Holidays excepted.)

Linda Haywood