‘Thorpe held by the nuns’. Nunnethorpe 1301, Nunthorpe from 1328. Earlier simply Torp 1086-c.1200, ‘the outlying farm’. Middle English nunne prefixed to Old Norse, Middle English thorp. Nunthorpe was an outlying farm of Great Ayton; for a while there was a small Cistercian nunnery there.
Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.
Under the heading “Land of the King” it says:
“In Mortun and Torp” (Morton and Nunthorpe), Magbanet and Aluret (had) 9 carucates of land for geld. Land for 5 ploughs. 4 acres of meadow there. T.R.E. 20s.” (A carucate was roughly 100 acres, geld was a tax that had to be paid. T.R.E. stands for “in the time of Edward the Confessor”)
Under the heading “This is the Fee of Robert de Bruis” (Robert de Brus) it says that he held 6 carucates of land in “Torp” (i.e. in Nunthorpe)
Based on William Farrer’s translation in “The Victoria History of the County of York” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1912)
In the 12th century, Nunthorpe was part of the fee of Robert de Brus, a huge estate that covered much of Cleveland. The Brus tenant at Nunthorpe was Ralph de Neville. In about 1167, Ralph granted some lands in Nunthorpe to the Cistercian nunnery at Hutton Lowcross near Guisborough. At that time, the village was simply called “Thorpe”. The nuns decided to move to Thorpe and they built a new nunnery there. Around the end of the
12th century, they decided to move again, this time to Baysdale. However, they kept possession of their lands in Thorpe. The village became known as Nunthorpe from that time.
See “The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol. 2 (ed.) W.Page (1923)
An Early Mention
From “A New and Complete History of the County of York” vol. 6, Thomas Allen (1831) “Nunthorpe is a chapelry, with one hundred and ten inhabitants. The chapel, a perpetual curacy, dedicated to St. Mary, and valued in the Liber regis, at £36, is in the patronage of T.Simpson, Esq. A small Cistercian nunnery was founded here in the latter part of the reign of Henry II by Ralph de Neville, but afterwards removed to Basedale.”
The Lay Subsidy of 1301
Ten properties were subject to tax in 1301, suggesting that there might have been perhaps thirty properties in Nunthorpe at that time if those exempt from tax are taken into account. The highest taxpayer was Richard Loste, who paid over 5 shillings. Jedburgh Abbey must have held some property in Nunthorpe, for the abbot of Jedburgh was second on the taxation list, paying just under 5 shillings. The total tax accrued by Nunthorpe was just under 30 shillings.
Derived from “Yorkshire Lay Subsidy” edited by W.Brown (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series) (1897)
Nunthorpe Hall (early 17th century)
Grey Towers (1875)
The Vicarage (built as the schoolmaster’s house, 1903)
St. Mary’s church (1926)
A Few Lost Buildings
The medieval nunnery (c.1162) It is not known when the building was demolished.
Mount Pleasant, demolished c. 1865.
“The Box” in Guisborough Road (Gerald Cochrane lived here before the First World War) demolished in 1988.
The Institute (1920) destroyed by fire in 1996.
Some People of Note
Isaac Wilson (1822-1899) A Kendal-born ironmaster who established the Tees Engine Works and the Teesside Ironworks and served as M.P. for Middlesbrough. He lived at Nunthorpe Hall.
William Randolph Innes Hopkins (1828-1920) An ironmaster whose company supplied the ironwork for the Tay Bridge that collapsed in 1879, leading to his bankruptcy. He built Grey Towers.
Arthur Dorman (1848-1931) An ironmaster who founded Dorman Long and Company, one of the world’s largest iron and steel makers and bridge builders. He lived in Grey Towers for part of his life.
Marion Coates Hansen (c.1870-1947) A campaigner for women’s suffrage who became a Middlesbrough town councillor in 1919.
Peter Gilmore (1931-2013) An actor who grew up in Nunthorpe. He appeared in “The Onedin Line“ and some of the “Carry On” Films.
Roderick Liddle (1960- ) The journalist Rod Liddle was born in Kent but grew up in Nunthorpe. He was editor of the B.B.C. programme Today (1998-2002). He became a journalist with the Times.
Sarah Borwell (1979- ) A tennis player from Nunthorpe who played in the doubles championships at Wimbledon every year from 2003 to 2010.
Jonathan Woodgate (1980- ) A footballer from Nunthorpe who played for several football clubs, including Middlesbrough. He played for England eight times.
Christopher Tomlinson (1981- ) An athlete born in Nunthorpe who broke the British long jump record in 2002, 2007 and again in 2011. He competed in the Olympic Games in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Liam Plunkett (1985- ) A professional cricketer from Nunthorpe who played for Durham, Yorkshire and England.
Ben Gibson (1993- ) A professional footballer with Middlesbrough F.C. who was born in Nunthorpe. He played ten times for the England under-21 team and was selected for the England squad in 2017.
The Hearth Tax of 1673
13 houses in Nunthorpe were listed in the tax returns as having 1 or 2 hearths in 1673, while 2 houses had 3 hearths. A “Mr Turner” had a property with 6 hearths, while “Mr Constable Bradshaw” had 9 hearths, presumably at Nunthorpe Hall.
See “The Hearth Tax List for the North Riding of Yorkshire, Michaelmas 1673”, Ripon Historical Society (2011)
2011 4,866 (Nunthorpe Ward)
White’s Directory of 1840 mentioned Nunthorpe Hall, a shoemaker, a blacksmith, a wheelwright and 7 farmers. Kelly’s 1893 Directory added that the chief crops were wheat, oats and beans, and mentioned “Waller Brothers, blacksmiths, implement makers and temperance hotel”.
A Selection of Dates
c.1162 A Cistercian nunnery was founded at Hutton Lowcross. Between 1165 and 1170, the nuns were moved to Thorpe, which we now know as Nunthorpe.
c.1189 The nuns moved again, this time to Baysdale, but they kept their possessions at Nunthorpe.
Early 17th century Nunthorpe Hall was built.
1801 Nunthorpe Hall was rebuilt by Thomas Simpson.
1853 Nunthorpe station was built.
1855 A Church of England School was built by Isaac Wilson. It was replaced by a new building in 1903.
1873 Upsall Hall was built for the Ironmaster John George Swan, the founder of Cargo Fleet Ironworks. The Hall was sold in the 1960s and became a local authority day centre.
1875 Grey Towers was completed. It was built for the Middlesbrough ironmaster William Randolph Innes Hopkins.
1879 A Post Office was established in Nunthorpe.
1885 Nunthorpe village school was built.
1895 Arthur Dorman of Dorman, Long and Co. purchased Grey Towers and lived there until 1931.
1912 Rookwood Road Congregational Church was opened. The building was later used by the Free Church Federation, the Methodists and from 1968 as a Brethren Gospel Hall.
1920 Nunthorpe Institute opened.
1926 St. Mary the Virgin parish church was consecrated.
1931 Alderman Poole bought Grey Towers and gave it to Middlesbrough as a sanatorium.
1932 Two shops opened on Guisborough Road. Others followed in the early 1950s.
1947 The lych gate at St. Mary’s was dedicated as a memorial to local men who were killed during the war.
1951 Nunthorpe Hall became a home for the elderly.
1960 Nunthorpe Primary School was officially opened.
1961 Connaught Road Methodist church was dedicated.
1962 St. Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Church on Gypsy Lane was consecrated.
Nunthorpe Players, an amateur dramatic group, was formed in this year.
1963 Avenue County Primary School was officially opened.
1963 During the Cold War, a nuclear bunker was constructed at Nunthorpe.
1964 Nunthorpe Secondary School opened. Nunthorpe station was closed to goods traffic.
1966 Nunthorpe Library was opened.
1973 St. Bernadette’s R.C. School was opened.
1976 Chandler’s Ridge School was opened.
Gypsy Lane railway station came into service.
1982 Nunthorpe Cricket Club played in the second division of the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League for the first time. They reached their highest position in 1991.
1994 Poole Hospital was closed.
1996 Nunthorpe Institute was destroyed by fire.
1999 Nunthorpe Library was closed.
2002 Grey Towers was sold to property developers. The house was converted into apartments and a housing estate was begun around it.
2004 Nunthorpe Community Council was established.
2013 The day centre at Upsall Hall was closed.
2017 The Nunthorpe knitting group created displays of knitted poppies at four local sites to mark Remembrance Day, commemorating those killed in war time. A total of 10,000 poppies were knitted.
This list of dates was compiled using the Nunthorpe History Group Website and other secondary sources.
Selected Further Reading:
“The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923)
“The Story of Nunthorpe Church and Village” G.E.Bailey (1976)
“Marton and Nunthorpe” P.Stephenson (1997)
“Know Your Parish: Nunthorpe” A.Burnicle C.F.H.S. Journal no. 6 vol. 4(1990)