‘Leatham with the church’. Kyrkelidun 1181, Kirkledom 1491, ME kirke < ON kirkja + p.n. Leatham. Also known as Weslide, Westlid(um) –un, Westude (for –lide) 1086, ‘west Leatham’. Leatham is the settlement ‘at the slopes’, ON hlith, dative pl. hlithum, probably replacing OE hlith, dative plural hleothum, and referring to the foothill of the Cleveland Hills on which the village is situated. The name is in systemic contrast with other dative pl. names in the district, e.g. UPLEATHAM  from which it is distinguished as ‘west’ or ‘church’ Leatham.

Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.


Domesday Book

Under the heading “Lands of the King” it says:

“In Westude (Kirkleatham) Leising (had) 3 carucates of land for geld. Land for 1 and a half ploughs. 4 acres of meadow there. T.R.E. 10s.” (T.R.E. means “in the time of King Edward the Confessor”)

Under the heading “Lands of the Count of Mortain” there is another entry:

“In Westlidun (Westleatham, the old name for Kirkleatham) 9 carucates for geld, and 5 ploughs can be (there). Uctred had 1 manor there. Now the Count has (it) and it is waste. 14 acres of meadow (are) there. T.R.E. it was worth 16s.”

Under the heading “Lands of William de Perci” it says:

“In Westlide, Norman had 4 carucates of land for geld, where 2 ploughs can be. Now William has there 1 sochman and 7 bordars with 1 plough. A priest (is) there, and a church and 6 acres of meadow. T.R.E. it was worth 10s; now (it is worth) 5s. 4d.

In another section it says that Loftus had the soke (jurisdiction) of 2 carucates in Kirkleatham.

Based on William Farrer’s translation in “The Victoria History of the County of York” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1912)


Early Landowners

The Percy family were the overlords of Kirkleatham at the time of the Domesday survey and continued as such until 1608. The local lords of the manor for a time were the Kilton family but by 1229 the manor had passed by marriage to Robert de Thweng and his heirs. Throughout the 15th century the Lumleys were lords of the manor of Kirkleatham.

See “The Victoria History of the County of York: North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923)


An Early Mention

“A Description of England and Wales” vol.10, F.Newbery and T.Carnan, (1770)” In the midst of this district, five miles north of Gisborough, is Kirk-Leatham, the seat of Charles Turner, Esq; an excellent house, in which convenience is chiefly consulted. . . .  At a small distance are three public edifices, raised by the Turner family; particularly an hospital, a public school, a church, and a mausoleum adjoining to it. The first is a handsome building, inclosing three sides of the court, founded by Sir William Turner, lord mayor of London, in 1676. The foundation consists of ten old men, ten old women, ten boys and ten girls, a chaplain, a master, a mistress, and a nurse. The boys and girls are taken in between the ages of nine and eleven, and leave at sixteen: they are cloathed at going out, and after seven years are expired, upon bringing certificates of their good behaviour, have a benefaction of 6l. 13s. 4d. . . .

The school was erected in 1709 by Cholmley Turner, Esq; who endowed it with 100l. a year for the master, 50l. for the usher, and 30l. for purchasing books, and other uses. It is a large, handsome, quadrangular building, and has a library well filled with valuable books.”


The Lay Subsidy of 1301

For the purpose of this government tax, Kirkleatham was lumped together with Overby (now Yearby) and East Coatham. Movable goods belonging to 77 properties in Kirkleatham, Yearby and East Coatham were taxed, and there would have been other households missing from the list because they were exempt from taxation. Marmaduke de Thweng paid the most tax (almost 16 shillings), followed by Richard Fielding and William Benes (each just over 11s.). In total, these three villages yielded just over £9 9s. 9d.

Derived from “Yorkshire Lay Subsidy” edited by W.Brown, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series (1897)


Selected Buildings

Sir William Turner’s Hospital (1676, largely rebuilt in the 18th century)

St. Cuthbert’s Church (c.1763 on the site of an Anglo-Saxon church)

Old Hall Museum (1709 Built as a school)

Turner Mausoleum (1740)

Former Vicarage (18th century)


A Few Lost Buildings

Kirkleatham Hall (c.1623) demolished in 1956.

Kings House (1722) demolished in 1956.

Octagonal Temple in the grounds of Kirkleatham Hall (c.1740) demolished in 1955.

The pigeon cote (c.1770) demolished in 1964.


Some People of Note

Sir John Bulmer (1492-1537) Took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace and was executed for treason.

Sir William Turner (1615-1693) Lord Mayor of London. Founded Sir William Turner’s Hospital.

Tom Brown (1705-1746) A soldier, born in Kirkleatham who became a hero at the Battle of Dettingen (1743).

Teresa Newcomen (1813-1887) A benefactress who built churches, hospitals and convalescent homes. She founded the Community of the Holy Rood.

Philippa Foot (1920-2010) Having spent her childhood in Kirkleatham Old Hall she went on to become Professor of Philosophy at the University of California and enjoyed a world-wide reputation in moral philosophy.


The Hearth Tax of 1673

61 houses had 1 or 2 hearths and 4 houses had 3 or 4 hearths. The highest taxpayer was “Mr. Serjeant Turner” with 18 hearths.

Based on “The Hearth Tax List for the North Riding of Yorkshire, Michaelmas 1673”, Ripon Historical Society (2011)



1801     680 (including Coatham)

1851     789

1901     548 (no longer including Coatham)



It can be difficult to glean accurate information from commercial directories since they tend to mix the rapidly growing settlement of Coatham with the village of Kirkleatham. White’s 1840 directory mentions a blacksmith, a tailor, two shoemakers and the “Turner’s Arms” in the village. Kelly’s 1937 directory makes no mention of any tradesmen in Kirkleatham village, but this should be treated with caution.


A Selection of Dates

c.1200 Sir. William de Kilton granted the church of Kirkleatham to the canons of Guisborough Priory.

1232     Robert de Thweng led protests against Italian priests being granted livings in English churches.

1348     Thomas de Thweng established a chantry at Kirkleatham with twelve chaplains and four assistant clerks.

1546     Record of a chapel of St. Sepulchre in Kirkleatham parish. The site is not known, but it may have been in Coatham.

1559     The parish register began.

1623     John Turner acquired the Kirkleatham estate. He began to build Kirkleatham Hall.

1676     Sir William Turner was granted a royal charter to found a hospital at Kirkleatham. Turner’s Hospital is still in use.

1709     Kirkleatham Free School was opened.

1740     The Turner family mausoleum at St. Cuthbert’s church was built.

1742     Cholmley Turner enlarged and altered Sir William Turner’s Hospital.

1763     St. Cuthbert’s church was rebuilt

1764     Charles Turner made alterations to Kirkleatham Hall, and removed some of the houses nearby.

1768     Arthur Young, the famous agricultural writer, visited Kirkleatham.

1810     The Kirkleatham estate passed by marriage to Henry Vansittart, and later to the Newcomen family.

1830     The old highway was diverted and woods were planted to provide privacy for Kirkleatham Hall.

1870     Kirkleatham ironstone mine was opened. Ironstone was mined here until 1886.

1894     The Urban District of Kirkleatham was formed. Five years later it became part of the Borough of Redcar.

1928     A new vicarage was built.

1939     Various defensive features were constructed to guard against attack during the Second World War.

1948     The Newcomen family sold the Kirkleatham estate to a property investment company.

1958     Kirkleatham Hall School was built.

1970     Kirkleatham Conservation Area was designated.

1970s   A bypass was constructed to take traffic away from the conservation area.

1981     Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum was opened.

1990     The Kirkleatham Owl Centre was opened to the public.


This list of dates was compiled from “Highlights in the History of Cleveland” by Norman Moorsom (1995) and other secondary sources.


Suggested Further Reading

“A Short History of Kirkleatham” W.Hebditch (1930)

“A Short History of the Turner Family and Their Descendants” A.Baldwin (1976)

“Know Your Parish: Kirkleatham” CFHS Journal vol. 3 no. 8, M.Williams (1987)

“Kirkleatham: A History of the Village Estate and Old Hall Museum”, Phil Philo (1992)