The History of the Local Area


Steeped in history, Skeeby is a small, ancient village nestled on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The village is situated in a highly rural and lightly populated area, set among a few small market towns and dozens of villages and hamlets. It lies some two miles from the market town of Richmond.

Skeeby was recorded as Schirebi in the Domesday Book:

‘In Skeeby there are six carucates and there could be four ploughs there’.

In other early references, the village is known as: Schireby [11th cent], Scythebi and Scideby [12th cent] Schideby, Skitteby and Skytheby [13th & 14th cent] Skeitby and Skeby [16th cent].

Skeeby may have been the location of either a sacred well or chantry chapel dedicated to St Osyth [a]. This female saint came from Scythia and the origin of the village name may be in an early association with her.

The Crown Patent Rolls also record a hermitage at Skeeby in 1328 [b].

Early Buildings

The earliest remaining buildings in the village date from as far back as the 17th & 18th century. There is a Wesleyan chapel, built in 1861 which is now a house; a chapel of ease to the ancient church of St. Agatha at Easby, built in 1840, which is the parish church; and a small 19th century School, now also a house [d]. There is also a Manor House although curiously the village was never part of a single estate or manor.

In the 12th century, Robert, son of Alexander Musard [e] granted one of Skeeby’s two early water mills to St. Agatha's Abbey [f][g]. In 1205, the abbot gave:

“10 marks and a palfrey for having seisin of 2 carucates of land and a mill in Skeeby” [h]

The existing mill, which was re-built in the late 1800s, now provides the accommodation for The Old Mill Centre.

Gilling Beck

Skeeby straddles the A6108 road which leads into Richmond. It has elongated areas of village green and two streams which follow the roadside. These flow into Gilling Beck, which becomes Skeeby Beck, a branch of the river Swale, which borders the land of The Old Mill Centre.

Gilling Beck disappears from our property under Skeeby Bridge, just at the end of the track that leads to our centre, Mill Lane. The origins of the bridge date from the early 14th century, being widened to its present size by John Carr in 1781/2. Beyond the bridge the river is named Skeeby Beck.

Skeeby Today

The village became one of the earliest conservation areas in Yorkshire and contains two working farms renowned for arable and sheep farming. The small village shop and post office closed some years ago. The village pub, the Travellers Rest closed more recently but the villagers are keen that it re-opens.

The Old Mill

Barbara & Mick are keen to piece together history about Skeeby, especially uncovering the Mill’s place in that story. The Mill was converted into a residential property by the previous owner in the 1970s but the owner before that sold tiles on the site. Other than that, information that has been given to us has been rather sketchy. We do know, however, that in 1890, Skeeby mill was owned by Darwin William, a corn miller [i].

Information collated from British History Online, 'Parishes: Easby', A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1 (1914), pp. 51-64, edited by William Page, 1914 Wikipedia (then search for Skeeby) and personal commentary, quoting from the following sources:

  • [a] Clarkson ‘The History of Richmond’ 1814
  • [b] The Victoria County History – Yorkshire North Riding’ Vol 1 1968
  • [c] The Richmond Review 2007
  • [d] Hatcher ‘Richmondshire Architecture’ 1990
  • [e] fn. 13: See Egerton MS. 2827, fol. 119 d. [f] fn. 147: See Hartforth, Gilling parish. [g] fn 148: See Egerton MS. 2827, fol. 119 d.
  • [h] fn. 152 : See Rot. de Oblatis et Fin. (Rec. Com.),264. [i] Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades for EASBY in Bulmer's Directory of 1890 from Genuki: Easby


The jewel in the heart of North Yorkshire

Richmond is a town of unique character and beauty which has remained relatively unchanged through the ages. It is an historic Yorkshire Dales market town, with Norman castle, Georgian architecture, cobbled market place, monuments and abbeys, the fast flowing river Swale and breathtaking scenery. Situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Richmond is a town that inspires painters and poets, past and present.

Founded in 1017 by the Normans, the town grew up around the castle built on the 'riche-mont' or 'strong-hill' that gave the town its identity and whose massive keep dominates all other buildings around. Richmond was an important regional centre in the medieval period, when royal charters were granted giving rights to hold markets and fairs.

The Georgian era was one of great prosperity for the town, when many distinctive, fine buildings were constructed, and one of the first gas works in Europe was built. Many of the houses built at that time surround the cobbled market place, said to be one of the largest in England, with the Church of the Holy Trinity rising from its centre.

With its diverse variety of shops and numerous pubs, hotels and restaurants, and its proximity to the most stunning scenery, Richmond remains one of the most beautiful and rewarding places to visit in the UK.

Go to Richmond Tourist Information Centre for more information and local knowledge, opened daily from 9.30am - 5.30pm
Friary Gardens, Victoria Road, Richmond, DL10 4AJ
Tel: 01748 828742

See Richmond Online for more information

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