‘Levington with the church’. Kirklevingtona (1230-50) Middle English kirke (Old Norse kirkja) + place-name. Levetona, Lentune 1086, ‘the settlement on the River Leven’, river name Leven + tun. Kirk for distinction from Castel Levington, a medieval motte represented by Castle Hill.
Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.
Under the heading “Land of the King” it says:
“In Lentune (Levington), Hawart (had) 6 carucates for geld. Land for 3 ploughs. 40s. (a carucate was roughly 100 acres).
These 6 carucates came into the hands of Robert de Brus along with lands in Castlelevington.
Under the heading “This is the Fee of Robert de Bruis” it says:
“In Levetona (the said Robert holds) 6 carucates, In the other Levetona (Castlelevington) 4 carucates.”
See William Farrer’s translation in “The Victoria History of the County of York” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1912).
The de Brus family of Skelton Castle were the overlords of Kirklevington in the 12th and 13th centuries. The local lords were the Percy family. The manor of Kirklevington changed hands more often than most through the centuries.
See “The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923).
An Early Mention
From the North Riding Quarter Sessions, Thirsk, October 1633.
The inhabitants of Kirklevington were presented at the Thirsk quarter sessions “for not repairing and setting up of a yate called Leavington Moor Yate lying betwixt the Lordships of Crathorne and Kirkleavington, whereby there is much corn destroyed and waisted in the towne fieldes of Crathorne.”
An early mention in literature can be found in “The History of Cleveland in the County of York” J. Graves (1808) “It (Kirklevington) stands on a gently rising eminence, running east and west; and consists chiefly of farm-houses, which are decent and commodious; with a few cottages, the mean appearance of which impresses on the traveller, an idea of poverty and wretchedness”
The Lay Subsidy of 1301
Only 12 properties in Kirklevington were subject to tax, although historians reckon that in many villages the number of exempt households might have been at least twice the number of those paying the subsidy. Thus Kirklevington may have had more than 30 properties. The highest tax rating fell on Henry Snel who paid almost 9 shillings out of the village total of just over 62 shillings.
Derived from “Yorkshire Lay Subsidy” edited by W.Brown (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series) (1897).
St. Martin’s Church (Norman, restored in 1883)
Castle Levington (Norman motte)
Town End Farm
The Hollies (early 18th century)
The old school (1857)
Kirklevington Hall (1881)
Kirklevington Grange (1898)
A Few Lost Buildings
Kirklevington Country Club, known as The Kirk. (early 20th century) demolished in 2003.
The village shop (1965) since demolished.
Some People of Note
Charles Dixon (1731-1817) A Kirklevington-born businessman. He ran a paper mill at Hutton Rudby until emigrating to Canada in 1772. He was active in the politics of New Brunswick and heavily involved in local government there.
Thomas Bates (1775-1849) A nationally famous breeder of shorthorn cattle from Kirklevington.
Thomas Richardson (1821-1890) A manufacturer of marine engines in Hartlepool who became the town’s M.P. He lived in Kirklevington for much of his life and built Kirklevington Hall.
Leonie Pratt A Kirklevington-born author specialising in books for children and, under her pen-name Non Pratt, books for adults.
The Hearth Tax of 1673
30 houses in Kirklevington had 1 or 2 hearths, 2 houses had 3 hearths and 2 had 4 hearths. The largest property in the village belonged to William Berry and had 5 hearths. A further 20 houses were exempt from the Hearth Tax.
See “The Hearth Tax List for the North Riding of Yorkshire, Michaelmas 1673” , Ripon Historical Society (2011).
White’s Directory of 1840 called Kirklevington “a pleasant village on the Thirsk road”. John Brown, the blacksmith kept the Crown. There were 2 shopkeepers, a butcher, 2 tailors, 3 shoemakers, a wheelwright, a miller and 6 farmers in White’s list. Bulmer’s Directory of 1890 mentioned a grocer, 2 dressmakers, a joiner, a shoemaker and gardener. The village blacksmith still kept the Crown. Kelly’s Directory of 1913 itemised 11 farmers, a cattle dealer, 3 cowkeepers, a farm bailiff, a gardener, a joiner and wheelwright and a blacksmith who apparently was not at the Crown.
A Selection of Dates
10th century Crosses dating from this century suggest that there was a church here at that time.
1119 Robert de Brus granted the church of Kirklevington to the canons of Guisborough Priory.
1160 About this year Adam de Brus II reversed his grant of Kirklevington church to Thornton Abbey and restored it to Guisborough Priory. He may have been persuaded to deprive Guisborough as a youth when he was susceptible to pressure from older relatives.
1315 A windmill at Kirklevington was mentioned in an inquisition of the Percy properties.
1319 Scottish troops destroyed much of Kirklevington.
1617 The common fields were enclosed.
1703 Red Hall was destroyed by fire.
1734 The Parish Registers date from this year.
1811 Thomas Bates bought half of the manor of Kirklevington and settled down as a cattle breeder.
1803 The Yarm to Thirsk turnpike road was completed.
1846 A new vicarage was built.
1850 The auction of Thomas Bates’ cattle in the year after his death attracted a huge crowd and high prices for the best beasts.
1857 Kirklevington School was built. It closed in 1973.
1881 Thomas Richardson built Kirklevington Hall.
1883 St. Martin’s church was restored.
1884 Thomas Richardson built Kirklevington Hall.
1885 The Wesleyan chapel was dedicated.
1892 Low Worsall was separated from Kirklevington parish after centuries as part of it.
1898 Kirklevington Grange was renovated and enlarged.
1902 A lending library was established in the school.
1922 Kirklevington Mothers Union was formed.
1933 Water was piped to the village for the first time.
1940 Rev. Charles Richardson died and his home, Kirklevington Hall, began to be used by the Army as a regional headquarters.
In this year two R.A.F. Spitfires collided in mid air over the village. One crashed near the River Leven after the pilot baled out.
1951 An R.A.F. Gloster Meteor aircraft crash landed in a field near Kirklevington.
1954 Kirklevington Memorial Hall was opened. It was a wooden building at that time.
1955 Around this time, the garage on the A19 was developed into Kirklevington Country Club.
1962 Kirklevington Grange became a junior detention centre.
1965 The Country Club was acquired by John McCoy. It became known as The Kirk, and featured many well-known performers, including the Moody Blues, the Animals, Rod Stewart, Jimi Hendrix and Dire Straits.
1973 A new primary school opened. The old school was closed.
1975 The route of the A19 road from Sunderland to Thirsk was changed. Before 1975, the A19 main road ran through the middle of Kirklevington.
1976 A severe drought exposed the remains of the R.A.F. Spitfire that crashed in 1940. The plane was later restored and flew again in 2012.
1981 Kirklevington Riding Centre was established.
1982 The Memorial Hall was partly rebuilt in brick.
1988 The junior detention centre became a young offenders institution. In 1992 it became a resettlement prison.
1993 The Memorial Hall was rebuilt.
2003 The “Kirk” was demolished and houses were built on the site.
2012 The parish church was rededicated to St. Martin and St. Hilary.
This list of dates was compiled using “Wander with History” by D.Butler (2014) and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“Kirklevington Township and Parish 1789 to 1918” Kirklevington Research Group (1989)
“Kirklevington Revisited” Kirklevington Research Group
The Kirklevington Community website.