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.

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