Skipton, or Skipton-in-Craven in 1843
Skipton is an ancient market-town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the wapentake of Staincliff and Ewcross, and parish of Skipton, 216 miles north-north-west from London, and 44 miles west from York, is situated on an affluent of the river Aire, and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal passes by the town. The houses are all of stone.
Skipton Castle, a little to the east of the church, was formerly a place of great strength. It was built originally by Robert de Romille, about the end of the reign of William the Conqueror. It was afterwards given by Edward II to his favourite Piers de Gaveston, and after his death was transferred in 1311 to Robert, Lord Clifford. It remained in the possession of this family, afterwards distinguished as earls of Cumberland, till 1643, when, on the death of the last of the earls without issue, this castle, with all the lands I belonging to the family, passed to the countess of Pembroke. It stood a siege of three years against the parliamentary army, but was compelled to surrender, December 22, 1645. In 1649 it was dismantled, and in a great measure demolished, by order of parliament ; but was afterwards rebuilt by the countess of Pembroke, as a residence, not as a fortress. Some parts of the old castle still remain incorporated with the more modern building. The parish church is a substantial and spacious structure, parts of which are of great antiquity.
The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Craven and diocese of Ripon, and in the gift of the dean and chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, of the net annual income of £185. There is a town-hall, and a free grammar-school. The school was founded September 1, 1548, by William Ermysted, canon-residentiary of St. Paul's, London. The present annual value of the endowment is about £550. The average number of scholars is about 55, who are admitted free of expense from any part of the parish, and there are two scholarships to Christ's College, Cambridge. Besides the grammar-school there were, in 1833, nine other day-schools, four boarding-schools, three day and Sunday schools, two of which are national schools, and two Sunday-schools.
The market, which is on Saturday, is a very large market for corn, and there are fairs every fortnight for cattle and sheep. There are cotton manufactures but to no great extent. The vale of Skipton is exceedingly fertile ; it is chiefly used for pasturage. Skipton is a place of great intercourse between Yorkshire and Lancashire, and in a thriving condition. The population in 1811 was 2,868 ; in 1821 it was 3,411 ; in 1831 it was 4,181 ; in 1841 it was 4,842.