Bedale in 1843
Bedale is a market-town and parish, chiefly in the wapentake of East Hang, but partly in that of Hallikeld, in the liberty of Richmondshire, and the North Riding of Yorkshire. The town, which is tolerably well built, is situated in a rich valley, upon the stream called Bedale-beck, which flows into the Swale, about 224 miles from London, 34 miles north-west from York, 6 miles north-east from Masham, and about 2 miles west of Leeming Lane, and the surrounding country is extremely fertile.
The church, which is a spacious Gothic building, erected in the reign of Edward III, is dedicated to St. Gregory ; and the parish, which comprises the townships of Aiskew, Burrel-with-Cowling, Crakehall, Firby, and Langthorne, the town of Bedale, and the hamlet of Rands-grange, is a rectory, formerly in the archdeaconry of Richmond and diocese of Chester, but now in the deanery of Catterick, archdeaconry of Richmond, and diocese of Ripon, with a gross income of about £2,000. There are also places of worship for Roman Catholics, Baptists, Wesleyans, and other dissenters, and several schools, some of which are partly supported by endowments.
There is a well attended market on Tuesday, and there are several fairs. The poor of Bedale are provided for by numerous bequests, and among the charities in the parish are an hospital for six poor men, founded in 1698 by Peter Samwaies, D.D., who was rector of the parish ; an hospital for three poor widows, founded by Richard and Thomas Young, in 1667 ; and Clapham's hospital for a master and six aged brethren. From an inscription in the church it would appear that there was formerly a castle here, built by Brian Fitz-Alan, earl of Arundel, in the reign of Edward I, and it is said that there are some traces of it in the gardens of Bedale Hall, a mansion in the neighbourhood.
The tower of the church, which is very strong, was formerly used for defence by the inhabitants. The population of the township of Bedale was 1,266 in 1831, and 1,250 in 1841, but the whole parish contained, at these dates respectively, 2,707 and 2,803 inhabitants. The petty sessions for the division of East Hang are held at Bedale.