About the Stuart era

Timeline - Stuart


During the 17th century, the yeomen farmers of the Yorkshire Dales increased their fortunes and land holdings, usually at the expense of a growing class of landless poor. Further wealth plus work for the poor, was created through the manufacture of knitted textiles and the exploitation of mineral resources, such as lead and coal. Cattle rearing for the droving trade became increasingly important in the second half of the 17th century sometimes at the expense of sheep. Butter and cheese was also produced for sale to towns outside the Dales.


This prosperity is reflected most obviously in what has become known as the Great Rebuilding where timber frame and cruck farmhouses and barns were gradually replaced with stone structures. Some of the earliest examples are found in Bishopdale. Here a medieval deer chase originally owned by the lords of Middleham, was parcelled up and sold off by the crown in the 17th century. The first of the new style farmhouses built there is called appropriately enough New House and a date stone over the door records the initials of its proud owners Christopher and Elizabeth Clough and its building date 1635.


Others followed all over the Dales. Grassington has a fine example in Church House dated 1694, Old Hall in Gayle was built a year later while, while Coleby Hall near Bainbridge was built much earlier in 1655.


Prosperity led to good works and two fine school buildings date to this period, Dent Grammar School (1604) and Threshfield School (1674), the latter still in use as a school today. The 17th century also saw the establishment of Non-conformist sects such as the Society of Friends, in the Yorkshire Dales and two very early Quaker Meeting Houses were built at this time at Brigflatts near Sedbergh in 1675 and in Countersett in 1710.