Boroughbridge in 1835
Boroughbridge, a market town, borough, and town, in the parish of in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and in the in of the wapentake of Claro. It is situated on the south bank of the Ure, over which there is a stone bridge. Population 950. It is about 205 miles north by west from London, being about half way between the metropolis and Edinburgh. It sent two members to parliament from 1553 to the time of the Reform Act, when it was disfranchised. Boroughbridge arose out of the remains of Aldborough, the ancient Iseur or Isurium, derived, according to Hutton, from Isis, a deity worshipped here, and Uer or Ure, the river on which the city stood. In accounting for the decay of Isurium (Aldborough) and the rise of Boroughbridge, Hutton remarks, “The first depression Isurium felt was the removal of the royal residence from this city to York, in the days of Severus. The second calamity was the Danes burning the city to ashes in the eighth century ; and the third, which completed her destruction, was turning the great north road, which ran through the centre, by removing the bridge. This made Boroughbridge a thoroughfare, and left Isurium desolate.” (Hutton's Trip to Coatham.)
This town was granted, together with Aldborough and Knaresborough Castle, to Hubert de Burgh in the fifteenth year of the reign of Henry III ; but it was forfeited by his son for aiding Simon de Montfort at the battle of Evesham. Edward II afterwards gave it to his favourite, Piers Gaveston. In 1321 a sanguinary battle was fought here between Edward II and the discontented barons, headed by Thomas Earl of Lancaster, who was afterwards beheaded at Pontefract. Till very lately the manor was in the possession of the Duke of Newcastle, by whose ancestors it was purchased in 1701. The town and parish abound with antiquities, which are continually being turned up by the plough. In 1831 a beautiful tessellated pavement was discovered, which is the best in the place, if not superior to any in the kingdom. The most curious remains are perhaps the Arrows, which are at a short distance on the west side of the town. The sketch, with slight additions, is from Hutton, and will explain the situation of some of these interesting objects.
Many of the inhabitants have British and Roman antiquities to show and for sale :- small heads of brass, chains of gold, signet stones, urns, lamps, tiles, and coins. Some coins have been found of gold, and some of silver ; but the greater number are of brass, and include those of the Emperors Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, Domitian, Severus, Masiminus, Valerian, Aurelian, Diocletian, Constantine, Carausius, and Julian.
The chief importance which Borough bridge at present possesses is from its situation on the great north road, the ancient Ermine Street. It was formerly noted for its traffic in hardwares, but at present its principal business consists in the shipment of agricultural produce. The Ure is navigable as high as Ripon for small craft, and several warehouses connected with its commerce have been lately erected on the south bank of the river. Boroughbridge communicates with Selby and Hull by the Ure and the Ouse ; with Leeds, Wakefield, and the manufacturing districts, by the Ure, the Ouse, and the Aire and Calder navigation.
The chapel of ease is a perpetual curacy in the patronage of the vicar of Aldborough, and in the diocese of Chester. There is a national school for 100 children, established in 1814 ; and an infant school of recent date. The Methodists have a place of worship here. The town also supports a small subscription-library and news-room. The houses are neat and well built. In the market-place is a fluted Doric column ; the market is held on Saturday, and is chiefly for corn ; several fairs are held in the course of the year ; that in June was formerly of great importance for the sale of hardwares, and lasted for a fortnight ; it was attended by some of the principal manufacturers from various parts of the kingdom. It is still frequented by dealers from Sheffield, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham, and continues for several days ; the other fairs are chiefly for cattle.