History of the House
Barmby Moor sits on the main A1079 trunk road that connects York to Hull, The horse chestnuts, which stand south of the York to Hull road and opposite the Barmby Moor House, are a much-admired feature of the village. Throughout the seasons, from the ‘sticky bud’ time of early spring, through the massed white candles of May and June, to the nut-brown conkers of autumn, the trees present a magnificent sight. The avenue is alive with snowdrops and daffodils in the early months -and with small boys when the much-prized conkers begin to fall.
The House opposite the avenue is a place of much interest historically. Originally called the Bunch of Grapes, and later the Wilmer Arms, this elegant Georgian house was a famous coaching inn during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was a regular stopping place for the eleven coaches which passed daily through the village along with the miscellany of chaises, waggons and packhorses which also came this way.
It is reputed that Queen Victoria herself once stayed a night at the hostelry – one particular bedroom is still referred to as the ‘Queen’s room’. What is certain is that the Court Leet usually adjourned there for dinner. And it is possible, likely even, that earlier Henry VIII and his queen, Catherine Howard, journeying from York to Holme, would have changed horses at this inn.
The village church, rebuilt in 1851-52, is stone built in the Perpendicular style. It has an embattled and pinnacled tower, surmounted by a graceful spire. Features of special interest are the font, thought to be 13th century and recently restored, and the inlaid Minton floor tiles. These latter were the gift of Herbert Minton (Stoke-on- Trent), brother-in-law to the first resident vicar, Robert Taylor, whose vicariate ran from 1840 to 1885.
There is a curious stone, about six ft high, on the south side of the church. It is some 22 inches in width at its wide end, tapering to about 15 inches at the narrow one. Rainwater sometimes lodges in a weathered basin on its surface, and in times long past it was believed that this water was a certain cure for warts. It is thought to be a prehistoric monolith, and judging by the fact that the church was built so close to it, it may have been invested with some sort of religious character. That there has been a settlement at Barmby since very ancient times seems certain. Evidence of Stone Age inhabitants has been shown in the stone axes etc which have been found here in the ground.
The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Apparently, it was once a market town of some importance and had a weekly market. When this discontinued, an annual market was held to supply meat for the village feast. The feast was traditionally held on the first Thursday after 11th July and was originally a religious observance, the night being largely spent in prayer. It later developed a secular side, and is held to this day, beginning now on the Friday, with the main events and celebrations on the Saturday.
At one time the village was referred to as ‘Black Barmby’ because of the ‘evil deeds’ which were done on the moor -a then wild stretch of country on each side of the road to York. Happily, to relate, the said ‘evil deeds’ were not committed, as a rule, by the residents of Barmby, but by the robbers, foot-pads and highwaymen who preyed on hapless travellers. The Public Records Office in London houses accounts of these dastardly deeds. The perpetrators of these crimes were hanged at York, but sometimes their bodies were brought back and hung on the moor in chains. It must have been a grisly sight.
In the late 1800’s Rev. Edgar Rees, the vicar of the church who used to frequent the hostelry was posted to Mountain Ash in Glamorganshire, Mountain Ash features as one of our botanicals.
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