The earliest evidence of settlement in the vicinity of Kirby Misperton village is that of ‘supposed lake dwellings’ with piles 4-5ft apart, discovered by Major M J Mitchelson in 1893 (at grid ref. SE77828065 north of Low Barn, on the opposite side of Costa Beck from field 246). Pottery found at the site dates from around the late Iron Age/early Roman period (200 BC-AD 450)
Misperton is a Saxon name (tun is an Old English word meaning fenced area or enclosure). Saxon village names often begin with the name of the person who founded the settlement or an important person who lived there (Misper’s settlement) or a word describing some feature of the area. Dr O K Schramm has suggested there may have been an Old English word mispel or mispeler donating a medlar-tree, with the name originally being Mispelerton, “village by the mispel tree”, however the earliest recorded spelling of the name is Mispeton in the Domesday Book. Saxon settlements in the region date from around 450-550AD
Built into the fabric of the church are some examples of Anglo Saxon knotwork.
The Kirby part of the name comes from the Scandinavian words Kirk (kirkja), meaning church and by (bœr, býr), meaning homestead or farm, ie ‘village by the church’. Scandinavian settlers settled in the north and east of England from 865AD with those on the east coast being primarily Danes. Place names ending in -by are generally places where they settled first. (-by has passed into English as ‘by-law’ meaning the local law of the town or village).
Kirby Misperton has also been called Kirkby Over Carr, or as it appears on John Speedes map of 1610, Kirkby Overker. A carr (from Old Norse kjarr ) is a marsh or fen, possibly on which low trees or bushes such as alder and willow grow.
According to the Domesday Book of 1086 Chirchebi (Kirby) has 13 villagers and ‘half a church’ with a priest and a mill while Alia Chirchebi (another Kirby) was waste (probably a result of the ‘Harrying of the North’). Mispeton (Misperton) is recorded separately and included among 10 settlements with a total of 21 villagers (so about 2 villagers each). In the Domesday Book villages and priests equate to households rather than total population, so that there would have been around 16 households in Kirby Misperton in 1086.
The mill mentioned in the Domesday Book would have been a water mill somewhere on the River Costa. There is some evidence in field names such as Mill Carr, Mill Holme and Low Mill Close that at some time a mill would have stood in fields north of Low Barn farmhouse.
In 1975 outline planning permission was provided for the erection of eight houses (Shire Grove) in a field called Calf Garth. R H Hayes obtained permission from the owner, Scotia Pleasure Parks Ltd, and tenant, Mr N Bulmer, for archaeological excavations that took place between May 1975 and July 1976 (See figure 2). They found evidence for two dewllings, one from the 17th-18th century and one from the 13th-14th century.
Site 1 was the site of a post-medieval long-house and byre, …
The dwelling was that of a yeoman farmer, fairly prosperous judging by the numerous wine bottles and clay pipes. Houses of this type with thatched roofs, timber beams and brick floors are recorded in the Terriers of K.M.P., 1716 – 1764.
Site 2 was intensely occupied in the 13 – 14th cent. but less so later and appears to have been abandoned by the 16th cent., possibly at the dissolution of the monasteries. It may well have been one of St. Mary’s York messuages. Plough-riggs must have been made over the site after the 14th cent.
Similar houses can be seen at Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole.
Bricks from these houses would have been made locally. Field names from the 1845 tithe map such as Brick Kiln Close and Brick Pond Close indicate early local brickyards. Bricks would have been used for flooring and Hayes states that the Terrier of 1764 described the parsonage as having a kitchen and hall floor of laid brick. The bricks found during the excavations were described as ‘slop-moulded’, ie lubricated with water and probably fired in a clamp kiln. 20cm long by 10-11cm wide, similar to medieval bricks from Tattersall Castle (1431).
The old rectory, which stands within the grounds of Flamingoland, was built around 1825/1830 using stone quarried from Rievaulx near Hemsley. The wing was extended during the incumbency of Augustus Duncombe.
An earlier Parsonage House is described in 1809 as follows:
The Parsonage House is from East to West about 20 yards with a wing at the West end about 12 yards long. One barn 16 yards long. One cow house & stablage there 17 yards long. A garden orchard. Two little garths about the house about two acres more or less. A cottage adjoining the the West end of the barn which was given since the year 1764 by William Blomberg Esq together with a garth belonging to the same adjoining to the same, adjoining to the glebe land with the consent of the Arch Bishop, in lieu of one of less value which stood in Bridge Lane.
Other descriptions of the earlier rectory describe it as “an antique building which has been surrounded by a moat” (Historia Rievalallenses, 1824) and as “a thatched building” (Kirby Misperton School Centenary1855-1955).
Futher information on the history of Kirby Misperton can be found on the Kirby Misperton History website.