Old Kelfield

History of Kelfield

Kelfield is recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) as Chelchefelt, ‘an estate of one carucate and seven bovates… The estate of Hugh son of Baldric had land for one plough, and four villeins had a plough there’.

In 1833, The Times reported how York Prophetess, Hannah Beedham, preaching from a cart on Queen’s Staith in the city predicted her own death. It would occur, she said, at 9pm on 1st August (now Yorkshire Day). James Sturdy, a ‘respectable’ Kelfield farmer and gardener offered her the parlour of his dwelling in the village in order for her to die with dignity, away from the squalor of Hagworm’s Nest, Skeldergate, where she lived. Here she lay in state for nine days.

Thousands made a pilgrimage on foot, horse-drawn or by boat to Kelfield to be ‘in at the death’. The time, however, came and went, and Hannah Beedham ‘remained an inhabitant of this lower sphere‘. The crowds dispersed and Kelfield resumed its ‘quietude‘. (York Courant, Yorkshire Gazette, July and August, 1833)

The 1871 Kelly’s Directory offers the following description of the village: ‘Kelfield is a township in the parish of Stillingfleet, union of Selby, 9 miles south of York and is situated on the River Ouse. There is a ferry here to Cawood. Thomas Henry Preston Esq. is Lord of the Manor and the chief landowner. The soil is clayey and sandy; the subsoil clay. The chief crops are wheat, oats and potatoes. The population in 1871 was 394 and the acreage 1,729‘.

Old Grey Horse, Circa 1930A swing bridge was built across the river to replace the ferry at the same crossing point in 1872.

Kelfield was originally in the old East Riding of Yorkshire, the river Ouse dividing it from the West Riding, until 1974 when it became part of North Yorkshire. Its population has hardly changed since the 1871 census, though the number of dwellings have more than doubled in the same period.

There may be no school, chapel, post office or shop now, but the Grey Horse Inn (pictured right, c.1930) is still open every evening and during the day on weekends and the fertile fields are still farmed. Kelfield has become ‘a sought after village’ to reside in and now boasts barn conversions and holiday cottages.

Leslie GoltonOne of the village’s longest-serving residents is Leslie Golton who came to Kelfield as a child in the 1930s and knows much of its recent history first hand having lived and worked here nearly all of his life. Les is pictured here (left) on 9 January 2013 in the Village Institute having just retired with 43 years service as a Kelfield parish councillor.

Les remembers his childhood in the village and the first motor cars in the early 1930s: “Willie Dresser (Village Farm) had a car. His brother, Tom Dresser (Kelfield Lodge) had one and so did Johnny Boyle who lived at the corner where the pond is. They were the first three with cars. I went to Kelfield School and if we were in the playground and a car was coming by, everybody used to run to the railings to see it!”

If you have any more information about the history of Kelfield or have photos of the village from years gone by you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. Just message us via the contact page.