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Township History

In this section, we provide a number of articles on how Rylstone has developed over the ages in response to external political, religious and social forces. This starts with the Norman Conquest and King William's 'Harrying of the North', from which Rylstone nevertheless emerged largely unscathed, and then shows the township's Domesday Entry in 1086. At this time, 'Rilestun' was governed by two lords of Viking origin - Dolfin and Ravenkel - whose descendants eventually gave way to the Norman de Rilstons, and then to the Nortons who were lords in Tudor times.


Mapping of the English counties also began in the Tudor period, and one of our website pages displays a series of maps of Rylstone township, starting with Caxton's colourful 1577 map and proceeding through several 18th and 19th century maps to the first- and second-edition Ordnance Survey maps of the area. These vividly depict how the village developed over the centuries, whilst maintaining its essential character as a small rural community, albeit with some industrial activity in terms of quarrying, mining and weaving, as the presence of quarries, mines, lime-kilns and mills on the maps suggests. 


Rylstone was much affected by the religious outlooks and allegiances of its manorial lords, particularly the Nortons, who were strongly catholic and in opposition to the prevailing protestant faith of the Tudor monarchs. Two articles set out the historical background to two uprisings by the catholic gentry and nobility of the North - 'The Pilgrimage of Grace' (1536) and the 'Uprising of the North' (1569). The Norton family was heavily involved in both. The latter insurgency led to their ultimate downfall and to the seizure of their lands by the crown, including those belonging to Rylstone manor. These were subsequently granted to the Cliffords, who sold off the land, tenements and other manorial holdings to local people or other landowners in the early 17th century. This started the process of villagers being able to own their own land and houses, and the mid 17th century to the late 19th century was a long period of land and house improvement, when properties were extended and rebuilt in stone, walls were put up and the fields made more productive. 

In the late 18th century, the Enclosures Act of 1772 (reproduced here on a website page), enclosed the four common fields of the township, causing hardship for those villagers who did not otherwise own their own land for grazing stock. Villagers were then affected more positively by the 1839 Tithe Award, which recinded the old tithe system, that had existed since Anglo-Saxon times. This required villagers to give a tenth of their produce or revenue to the church, and the new system replaced the 'payment in kind' approach with cash payments. It was itself abandoned a century later.  

For more information on the general township history go to this article via the button:              

'Yorkshire Township (Rilston): It’s enclosure and subsequent agricultural development' by   C.V. Dawe  M.Com.

Another interesting perspective on the history of Craven can be found in the article by the North Craven Heritage Trust, which can be accessed by the button below. This shows the place of Rylstone in the broader Craven area.

In the 1960s Dr Arthur Raistrick ran a local history class . The notes are from this class and they are in preparation for Chapter 2 in his book Old Yorkshire Dales  first published in 1967. Chapter two Discovering a Village is about the history of Rylstone

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