History of Skelton

In the 8th or 9th centuries the name Shelftun or Scelfton, meaning settlement on a shelf, was given to the dwellings set on a ridge of land to the east of the river (now called Ouse) just above the 50ft contour, and the highest place for miles around.

The original settlers must have begun to drain the marshy land around to cultivate it, and dug out the ditches which still surround the village - Hurns Gutter, White Sike, Pennells Drain and Burtree Dam.


Domesday Book records a manor with a hall in Skeltun, belonging partly to St Peter's (York Minster) and partly to Earl Alan, a French nobleman and a supporter of William the Conqueror.

Medieval period

Village laid out with a street plan similar to the old village centre today, and open fields for strip farming.  South Field, North field, Park Field, Well Field.  Brecks Field was a later addition.


Skelton Church built by the Treasurer of York Minster.

16th century

Skelton Manor built.


Parish registers began. Most of Skelton was in the parish of Overton until the 1870's.


Earliest known map of Skelton, at the time of the disforestation of The Forest of Galtres. This shows the parish boundaries which have persisted into the 21st century.


Civil War. Skelton had to pay a £126 tax, and a wagon and horses, to the Royalists.

Troops camped around Skelton the night before the Battle of Marston Moor, crossing the Ouse by "bridge of boats" at Overton.


Skelton Grange built (re-built in the 19th century), by the Place family. Demolished in the 1970s.


Threat from advancing army of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Plans made by some villagers to escape by boat.

Preparations for boarding up of the church.


The Kings Highway was turnpiked, and a toll bar cottage built at Skelton.


Enclosure Act. The End of the open fields.

Land was divided between six landowners.

1806 Map of Skelton


Fairfield Manor  built, owned at one time by racehorse breeders. It later became a  hospital and is now a Hotel.


Skelton Hall built by Mary Thompson. Benefactor to school and church.

1840 Approx

School opened in Pyramid House.


Moorlands House built 2 miles outside the village.

Owned by the Tew family, then became a hospital The wood is now owned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

The house is in private ownership.


C of E School built, replacing Pyramid House. Now the Village Hall.


Churchyard closed for burials, replaced by a burial ground outside the village on Moorlands Road.

1914 - 1918

First World War 57 villagers served in the forces and 6 were killed.

Memorial Lychgate erected at the entrance to the cemetery.

1939 - 1945

Second World War.   22 Men and 2 Women served and 2 were killed.

Evacuees and troops billeted in village.

Air raid shelters constructed under the village green.

1955 - 1959

School moved to Skelton Primary School, Brecksfield.  The old school was opened as Skelton Village Hall.

20th Century

Housing Development

Very few new houses built until after 1945.   Population grew from 274 in 1901 to about 1600 in the early years of the 21st century.  

The Meadows and Brecksfield built in 1950s, The Dell and The Vale from the early 1960s and Grange Park in the late 1970s.   Recently small scale housing development has taken place west of the A19

Get in Touch

Publications About Skelton's History.

Over the years members of the Skelton History Group produced a number of booklets describing aspects of village history.   Copies of these can be obtained for a modest price by contacting Andrea Howlett on 01904 470178.

1.   The First Skelton.

2.  What's In A Name. the origins of place names in and around Skelton

3.  Skelton at The Turn of the 20th century. An imaginary walk around the Skelton of a century ago.

4.  Whatever Happened to Skelton landing? The goods route between Skelton and its' landing wharf on the River Ouse.

5.  Skelton Village 1918 - 1939. The inter war years called by locals.

6.  Skelton in the 50s and 60s.  More recollections of rapid social change.

7.  Memories of Miss Gertrude Gregory. The much admired Headmistress of the old Village school in the 1930s, 40s and 50s is remembered by former pupils.

8.  The Touch of War. How Skelton and its residents were affected by war - from the 17th century Civil war to WW2.

9.  Some Interesting Houses in our Village.  And their History.

10.  Richard Hotham.  An 18th century Skeltonian, became a successful business man, founded Bognor Regis and funded the building of several (still standing) rows of dwellings in Skelton.

11.  An Epic Journey from Skelton to Aberdeen. How Thomas Place of Skelton Grange in 1817 transported his grandmothers' corpse over 350 miles to her family estate in Aberdeen.

12.  Art in Skelton

13.  The Grange.  The grand house that once stood at the west of the village, now the site of late 20th century housing, but commemorated in such road names as Grange Close, The Dell and Arthur Place.

14.  Skelton since the 1980's.

15. Village Trail.  A Walking tour of the interesting sites and sights.  Together with a quiz.

16. Church View. The lane and its dwellings.

Pic of history leaflets.JPG