The Reverend Kenneth McLeod was the much loved and respected vicar of Kirkby Fleetham Parish and was President of the Society for many years. He researched and produced a short history which is reproduced here. Reading through, there are many interesting anecdotes which reflect both our changing society and aspects of life which remain the same over the years...
"The earliest recorded history of this region comes from the 7th Century chronicler Bede who tells us that St Paulinus baptized some of his very first converts in the River Swale 'halfway between Catterick and Northallerton' which is, of course, just where our parishes lie. St Mary's Church itself dates from the 12th Century and its famous effigy of Sir Nicholas Stapleton, a Knight's Templar and Lord of the Manor of Kirkby Fleetham, is still perfectly preserved in the Choir, quite unlike those effigies , now virtually destroyed, in the Temple Church in London.
In the 17th Century the Smelt family owned Kirkby Fleetham and gave 21 acres of the estate to the poor of the Parish thus founding a charity still functioning today.
Perhaps the most fascinating period of recent history was during the 18th Century when the estate was purchased by John Aislabie of Studley Royal in the name of his son William. John was the disgraced Chancellor at the time of the South Sea Bubble who, following his impeachment, short imprisonment in the Tower and payment of a heavy fine of £45,000, paid in the region of £20,000 for the 3000 acre estate at Kirkby Fleetham. There then follows in the the 1720s a record of tremendous expenditure here at Kirkby Fleetham, including the replanting of the terrace and the refurbishing of the drive with his wonderful gazebos, all we think sadly sold off at the end of the 19th Century. Many skilled workmen were sent in the early 18th Century from Studley Royal to work here and William Aislabie even appointed the Vicar as his factor!
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