Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteKnaresborough


knaresborough 1861 census
knaresborough 1871 census
knaresborough 1881 census
knaresborough 1891 census
harrogate 1851 census
Henry Peacock 1
Henry Peacock 2

Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteKnaresborough


knaresborough 1861 census
knaresborough 1871 census
knaresborough 1881 census
knaresborough 1891 census
harrogate 1851 census
Henry Peacock 1
Henry Peacock 2


In 1854 Knaresborough, with 20 of the surrounding townships, was formed into a poor law union, & is now under the provisions of the Poor Law Amendment Act. A handsome workhouse has been erected there.
Source: Slater Directory 1864 - p 318
Submitted by Betty Longbottom

The following Workhouse Wills have been kindly sent from Tony Cheal,
Harrogate Historical Society and re-Population Study Group
William Calvert  -  23rd September 1808  -  Y035

Late of Knaresborough but now of Scriven with Tentergate
Flax Dresser

To my relation William Andrew, with whom I now live, £200.

To Mrs Whitehead, wife of George Whitehead, Master of the Knaresborough Workhouse, £5 5s.

To Elizabeth Mush, the daughter of Robert Mush of Scriven with
Tentegate, £5 5s.

To my sister, the wife of John Inman of Knaresborough, and annuity of £15. This being the interest of £300. At her death I give to Mrs
Walker, the wife of John Walker of Knaresborough, butcher, to Mrs
Heppel, the wife of James Heppel of Knaresborough, shoemaker, and to Mrs Dobson, the wife of John Dobson, servant to Sir THomas Slingsby, £100 each.

I appoint William Andrew and John Walker executors.

Witnesses   :   Thomas Outhwaite
                      Matthew Outhwaite
                      Thomas Simpson

Codicil  -  26th October 1808

To my relation John Calvert of Killinghall £5 5s.

I revoke the £100 to Mrs Dobson.

The residue of my estate to go to my executors for their use.

Witnesses   :       Thomas Outhwaite
                           Matthew Outhwaite
                           Thomas Simpson

Probate 7th December 1808. Effects under £200.
George Whitehead  -  10th February 1814  -  AB022

Workhouse Master

My Leasehold property in Jockey Lane, Thurcross, and my personal estate  and effects to my wife Hannah Whitehead, and appoint her executor.

Witnesses   :   John Walsh
                      John Allen

Died 9th May 1825. Probate 10th October 1825. Effects under £100.

Small appraisal available.

Harrogate Workhouse

..............I would be interested in ANY feed-back from the site on this

Tony Cheal
Harrogate Historical Society and re-Population Study Group
Harrogate Herald - 3rd July 1968
Wednesday Gossip
Photo - Whenever I mentioned to anyone, including Harrogate residents whose families have lived in the area for centuries, that I intended sometime to have a look at the old Workhouse, the usual comment was "Really! How interesting. Where is it?" Not surprising, perhaps, that so few people even know there was one in Harrogate as it is tucked away, almost out of sight, yet right on a busy main road. The building is Starbeck Old Hall, now the headquarters of a company of steel structural engineers. Even the entrance gates are part of Harrogate's history, as they were the first of their kind to span the entrance to the Valley Gardens. During the war, when so many
iron gates were taken  for salvage, these were allowed to remain. The Hall itself, erected in 1811, has the same defiant look about it as the old Bachelor Gardens School, with dozens of small-paned windows glinting in the sunlight and an air of "Touch me if you dare". Actually previous owners HAVE dared, but with disastrous results, and STC, who now own it, are anxious to restore and preserve as much as they can. Going through a quaint stone porch and into a small square hall, I was rudely jerked back from 188 by a telephone requesting me to announce my arrival, and I was taken on a tour by a charming young secretary, Mrs Janet Hodgson, who, in spite of her youth, seemed genuinely interested in the unusual office
building. I was shown dozens of small square rooms, many with elegant décor of smart new panelling, clever lighting and soft carpeted luxury, side by side with mellow stonework beautifully restored. Most of the offices are on one floor and the rooms above are unoccupied. The managing director, Mr J A G Petty, told me that the Hall was subject to a preservation order, which means that, although they are the legal owners, there are certain things they
cannot do, like taking anything down or changing some architectural feature. 
He also told me about the old Sun Insurance sign still to be seen there. "In those days insurance companies ran the fire service and if the brigade were called to our burning premises and there was no sign showing, they just turned about and let it burn". Collectors have offered tempting sums for this relic, but STC are not selling.
In one of the offices Mr Byrd-Billingsley, who is a buyer, pointed out some wording obviously scratched by a diamond on a tiny window pane. The date was 1891 and the signature "Sylvester de Medici", which I found particularly interesting because this man and his brother (who had a cycle shop in Prospect Crescent many years ago) were the pioneers, along with Thomas Rochford, of the Coventry cycle chairs and later the bathchairs. I was left wondering why Mr de Medici should have scratched his name on the window pane of the old Workhouse. Before STC bought the property three years ago, it had been let as flats. Downstairs again Mrs Hodgson handed Mr over to Mr Byrd-Billingsley for an inspection of the cellars, which were low, dark, and sinister. He told me cheerfully as he flicked a torch to show the massive oak beams, that a servant girl (who must have been very tiny) was reputed to have hung herself right there. As we emerged into the sunlight again and he brushed the cobwebs from his suit, he said : "We want to retain the
character of the place as much as possible." This is a fairly new firm with works in Claro Road, and although everyone I met seemed very young I felt they were intrigued with their unusual offices and that their interest in preserving this bit of old Harrogate was genuine.

HH - 6th January 1971
Photo - Starbeck Hall, once the Harrogate workhouse, could face demolition. A London financial firm has applied for permission to develop the site and the sub-committee of the Harrogate Planning Committee is to view the building. The hall is on a supplementary list, prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, of buildings worth preservation. If it is to be in anyway altered, or demolished, this must be advertised and listed building consent
or planning permission obtained. It was erected in 1810-11 and served as the workhouse until 1858 when the Union workhouse was built in Stockwell Road, Knaresborough. The Hall was then sold for private ownership and for the last few years has been occupied by a
firm of structural engineers.


..............some additional Workhouse material for you from my Harrogate Database................

  Tony Cheal
  Harrogate Historical Society and re-Population Study Group
  UE 322 398  -  13th June 1858
  Names mentioned :
  Christopher Earnshaw of Knaresborough
  George Hobson and James Powell, Churchwardens of Bilton with Harrogate
  Richard Ellis and Thomas Gascoigne, Overseers of the Poor of Bilton with Harrogate
  Joseph Jackson of Bilton with Harrogate, Farmer, purchasers
  Piece of land 5,000 sq yds and the house lately used as the Harrogate Workhouse and adjoining the Knaresborough Road
  Some Witnesses : Samuel Powell the Younger of Harrogate
                              John Turner of Beech Cottage, nr Knaresborough
  Harrogate Herald - 7th December 1881
  November 26th, at the Union Workhouse, Ripon, aged 76, Henry Jackson, of Ripon, saddler.
  HH - 5th July 1882
  June 25th, at the Union Workhouse, Knaresborough, Daniel Ford, groom, formerly of Harrogate, aged 71 years.
  HH - 11th October 1882
  October 1st, at the Union Workhouse, Knaresborough, Major Pearson, formerly of Ripley, aged 87 years.
  HH - 31st January 1883
  January 23rd, at the Union Workhouse, Ripon, aged 63, James Moore, drover.
  HH - 21st February 1883
  Feb 9, Sarah Anne Gill, Union Workhouse, aged 43
  HH - 30th January 1907
  The death occurred at the Workhouse Infirmary, Northallerton, on Saturday morning, of Mrs Mary Cornforth, who had attained the great age of 103 years.
  The deceased was born at Knaresborough on June 28th  [sic], 1803, and after her marriage went to reside at Brompton, near Northallerton. Her husband was a weaver, and Mrs Cornforth was also very handy at the loom. There are eight children of the marriage, the majority of whom died in infancy, but there are living 53 grandchildren and 110 great-grandchildren. 
  The Yorkshire Post says : Neither a labour nor a sorrow did the old lady confess her length of days, for when she had been in the workhouse seven years, and had attained her hundredth year, she was in the habit of jumping up suddenly in the midst of her companions, and, slightly raising her skirt, would cry, "Thank God, I am sound in wind and limb. Give us a jig! I care for nobody, and I always paid twenty shillings in the pound". She never wore
glasses, and till a year or more ago, she could see to thread a needle, and could do it quickly. A native of Knaresborough, where she was born on June 29th [sic], 1803, she was in her youth accustomed to field labour, and she was fond of boasting that she had ploughed, and sown, and cut hundreds of acres of corn with the sickle. In due course she married, but eighteen months ago, when interviewed by a representative of The Yorkshire Evening Post, she spoke somewhat slightingly of her husband, who was a weaver from
Northallerton. "it was a pity he ever got me", she said, "for he used to kick and jib in the traces. He came of a good family, really, but he was an orphan, was hard up, and could not pay for his lodgings, so I took pity on him. He disliked work". It will thus be gathered that Mrs Cornforth was what in the North is termed 'a bit of a character', and it was really her propensity to carp at the 'fineness' of her descendants - one of whom was at one time a member of the Northallerton Board of Guardians - which made it impossible to settle her elsewhere than in the Workhouse. Just before her admission to that institution in 1895 she was engaged in leading coals, with a donkey and cart, from Northallerton to Brompton, for her neighbours. In  the Workhouse she was provided with a warmer skirt, but she repeatedly asked for the old one. An examination of it proved what was thought to be a stiff seam to be a long narrow pocket filled with coins. The reminiscences of the old lady relating to the early years of last century were naturally associated with Napoleonic incidents, and she told the interviewer already mentioned that one of her earliest recollections of Knaresborough was the burning of an effigy of Napoleon Bonaparte at the market cross. "The effigy", she said, "was taken to the cross astride a donkey, and I thought it was a live man. Frightened almost out of my wits, I fled home to tell mother that they had thrown 'Boney' on to the fire. She took me to the top
of a hill, where we had a good view of the crowd, and explained to me what it all meant. Eh, but those were times! Bread was four   shillings a stone, tea, if there was any, was an expensive luxury, and we drank hot water out of the kettle; and 'crowdies' generally made our meal. But when bread and meal was dear we had potatoes three times a day. Then came the years when all the corn-ears were bad, and, owing to this, bread was just like treacle when it was baked. Some of us in those days, never saw a bit of white bread. Eh! What a queer man he'd been, poor Bonaparte!. 'Boney'
would have fought to the last; he wanted England for a flower garden", she interjected with a laugh, "but it was vastly talked about when they took him". On her 102nd birthday Mrs Cornforth enjoyed a ride in a motorcar, and when asked if she felt nervous she replied, "Not a little bit; the breeze and the whirl made one feel young again". She told Mr John Weighell, the owner of the car, who drove her round the district, and in the Brompton locality, where she spent the greater part of her life, that the car was a good invention, and she was curious as to the number of miles it could travel in a day. At this time Mrs Cornforth is described as being 'an old lady with a swarthy complexion, healthy looking; of the type that one sees hoeing in the turnip rows or binding sheaves and gleaning in the harvest field. She had a round face, a well-shaped nose, and a bright pair of brown
eyes that held a kindly expression. One gained the impression that at an earlier date she might have leaned to the side of extreme obesity. There was not a quiver of her hands   when she raised them, though it was noticed she held her fingers unbent, but close together'.

Page updated March 12, 2008 by Rossbret