Twisleton I

Who’d be a Twisleton? You’re as misspelt as what I just wrote - ‘mispelled’ is American - but you find your cousins sooner because the name’s quite rare. Its etymology is settlement (‘tun’ in old English) on a river fork (‘twisla’). The river valley fork in question for me is between Kingsdale (River Doe) and Chapel le Dale (River Twiss) either side of Whernside mountain in the Yorkshire Dales. Yes, I’m a Dalesman historically though now I tread the Sussex Downs. The southern slopes of Whernside are named Twisleton Scars where stands the defiant cairn featured on the picture.

Twisleton Scars are recorded in Victoria County History as being held in 1316 by William of Twisleton who possessed lands below Ingleborough. Genealogical study affirms the continuity of life across generations and witnesses the unchanging traits of human nature. One of William’s relatives is named in a 1398 petition for the arrest of Thomas de Twyselton with others for breaking into Millom manor in Cumberland. A century later Robert Twisleton’s enrolment in 1513 as a bowman raises the likelihood of my forbear’s involvement in repelling the Scots at the battle of Flodden in Northumberland when King Henry VIII at that time fought for the Pope!
The Ingleton Waterfalls trail opened with 2d (1p) entry charge in 1885 exploiting new access by train to the Yorkshire Dales. One day 1888 as many as 3,840 people visited! Rivers Doe and Twiss flow down in the Falls from Kingsdale and Chapel le Dale either side of Whernside to meet in Ingleton. The land (‘tun’) above the river junction (‘twisla’) is Twisleton, hence Twisleton Lane heading up from Ingleton to the former Twisleton Hall (1717) on Twisleton Scars midpoint on the circular five mile Waterfalls trail which starts in Ingleton. Tickets are now £7 (Children £3).

As John Fiennes Twisleton (me) enjoys Twisleton Scars on the slopes of Whernside, some 500 years back another John Twisleton set off from Yorkshire to be apprenticed to a London goldsmith in 1488 returning the richer to Selby. The research of my late friend David Fiennes, cousin of Lord Saye and Sele, Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham Fiennes of Broughton Castle in Banbury, shows John was great grandfather of Colonel John Twisleton (d1682) who married Elizabeth Fiennes. The Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes are descendants of Thomas Wykeham, great-nephew of William of Wykeham (c 1320–1404) who left his fortune including Broughton Castle to Thomas.

As a youth I went knocking on Vicarage doors in Giggleswick, Horton, Settle and Stainforth. Through the kindness of Canons Eric Allen, Eric Ashby and Edward Miller I gained access to baptism, marriage and burial registers back to the early 1500s. Nowadays many records are online but things were different in the 1970s. The earliest records are in Latin. Two vernacular words leap out in the margins ‘ ‘bastard’ and ‘papist’! Occasionally an entry provokes the imagination as in St Oswald, Horton burial register for 5 November 1614: ‘William Twisleton slaine when a cart upon ye fell’.

‘Twisleton’ leaves its mark on Settle with Twisleton’s Yard and the 2017 Skate and Walking trails inspired by the Centenary of Craven Dialect poet Tom Twisleton (1845-1917). Though there’s Lancashire’s Twiston (previously Twisleton) near Blackburn the place name linked to the local family is Twisleton above Ingleton in the West Riding of Yorkshire. As you walk up Twisleton Lane from Ingleton towards Whernside peak you pass Twisleton Manor Farm on the left to reach Twisleton Hall (1717) now rebuilt as Twisleton Hall Farm. These buildings below Twisleton Scars are the midpoint of the Ingleton Waterfalls trail.

My father Greg Twisleton (1900-1974) born in Settle gave me Fiennes as middle name to associate with the historic southern branch of the family he’d met up with, the Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes clan centred on Broughton Castle (picture) near Banbury with Lord Saye and Sele family head. Imagine my amusement to discover from the current Baron’s son Martin Fiennes that ‘my father gave up the Twisleton-Wykeham bit by deed poll at a cost of £5 at the Post Office in the late 1960s on the basis that it was a bit unnecessary - and hard to fit the whole lot on school name tapes’.

Where would research about Settle and its surrounds be without Brayshaw? Published 1932 by his associate Robinson using funds from Malham Tarn’s Walter Morrison his ‘History of the Ancient Parish of Giggleswick’ is a historian’s goldmine. The author supervised restoration of Giggleswick Church 1890-2 writing a series of pamphlets put together into a History after his death. Like Twisleton Brayshaw’s a local name going right back. The book starts with this challenging quote from Southey: ‘Show me a man who cares no more for one place than another, and I will show you… one who loves nothing but himself’.

Where do Craven folk find our past writ larger than in the annals of Giggleswick Church dating back to 1558. My family research started at St Alkelda unearthing 145 late Twisletons spanning 18 generations. This picture dated around 1900 from Bluebell Enterprises captures a scene familiar to my father Greg born that year who received Holy Communion in St Alkelda’s days before his death in 1974. Family friends Canon Edward & Lucy Miller are buried through the Lych Gate on the right. The village Cross is controversial. In ‘The Gentlemen’s Magazine’ July 1784 it’s alleged Giggleswick stole it from Settle at a time of rivalry between the  communities.

A friend took this picture of me at Sherwood House above Stainforth in 2018. Over the years I’ve called on the Metcalfe’s and reminisced about the Twisleton family link going back to medieval times. In ‘Stainforth - Stepping stones through history’ (2001) we read: ‘Up at Sherwood House, on the Horton road, the Twisleton family, who may have farmed there from the time of the Dissolution right through to about 1780, were also tanners and, logically enough, also had an interest in tallow production and candle making’. There’s was a smelly occupation suited to Sherwood House’s appreciable distance from Stainforth village.

The inscription RAT 1703 above the front window may link to work done to restore Sherwood House at Stainforth by my forbears Robert and Alice Twisleton. Their marriage in Giggleswick Church  is recorded ‘sexdecimo Maii Anno Dom 1694’ as well as the baptisms of ‘Jeneta filia… Alicia filia… Gulielmus filius ...Agneta filia Roberti Twisleton de Shearwoodhouse’ 1698-1705. With Robert being a popular family name and ages of deceased not noted until the late 18th century it’s hard to finalise a family tree going back earlier than Robert mentioned as father of Thomas Twisleton (1777-1841) who married my great-great-grandmother Nanny (1784-1858) in 1799.

Winskill above Langcliffe continues as a farm. Members of the Twisleton family moved from Sherwood House to become tenant farmers here at Upper Winskill Farm. From these heights Penyghent seems close at hand across the valley. Giggleswick Church baptismal records 1845-1850 mention children of Francis Twisleton styled ‘Whinskill farmer’. The 2017 Tom Twisleton trail visits Catterick Force near Winskill below which Tom the poet and brother Henry broke the ice to bathe one Christmas Day according to Norman Thornber (Dalesman Vol 1 No 5 1939). The Twisleton trail begins and ends at Stainforth Church where Tom and Henry’s father ‘Craven Giant’ Francis Twisleton was buried 1875.

My father Greg gave me this picture of his Uncle Francis Twisleton (1812-1875) ‘Craven Giant’ from the British Workman (1861) speaking to drinkers in a pub. The Settle Chronicle and North Ribblesdale Advertiser of 1 July 1859 reports on Horton Temperance Society’s third annual festival chaired by Francis its founder ‘whose light and playful wit contrasts admirably with the weightiness of the matter’. A diversion occured with the platform collapsing ‘beneath the energetic action of its ponderous president’. 300 people attended from Settle and its surrounds including ‘several reclaimed drunkards, the first fruits of the temperance harvest in this place’.

This old picture of the goose fair at Settle reminds me of our  family’s involvement as local butchers which was a natural development from farming. St Alkelda’s records mention James Twisleton as a Stainforth (1829) then Settle butcher (1831). 1881 census has Settle High Street residents Francis (28) head of household and butcher second youngest son of Francis the ‘Craven Giant’ (1812-1875). Settle Almanac 1888 has Mrs F Twisleton at the butchers, Francis’s widow. Twisletons continued as shopkeepers on Settle High Street. My father Greg (1900-1974) was born above his parents shop just out of the picture behind the Shambles.

I enjoyed my lunch in the Naked Man the other day. The more so as I thought of how my mother, Elsie (97), now resident near me in Burgess Hill, used to be a regular visitor from her flat behind in Whitefriars Court. There was another reason. Poet Tom Twisleton’s cousin James Twisleton (1826-1907) married the landlady Annie Hamilton in 1859 and ran the Naked Man Inn for a few years. According to excellent local history resources, open to all in Settle Church, they had a tumultuous marriage, divorcing 1884 but being reconciled years later.

Two of Winskill farmer Frank Twisleton’s sons, Tom and Henry Lea inherited his gift of poetic speech. Tom (1845-1917) on the left dubbed ‘The Winskill Bard’ wrote in Craven dialect. Henry Lea (1847-1905) educated at Giggleswick School left farming for banking and emigrated to New Zealand. Poems of Tom, Henry and Tom’s son Henry ran into 7 editions from 1867 to 1953. In 2017 Tom provided inspiration for a year long project in Settle and its surrounds promoting the local Craven dialect among young people culminating in the publication of ‘Tom Twisleton 100 Years On’ available locally.

Twisleton’s Yard was built for James Twisleton, a butcher, around 1832. Census records from 1841 onwards show Twisletons resident in Upper Settle. Attorney Clerk James Twisleton and son James were resident in the Yard April. P & R Hudson’s ‘Settle Streets & Buildings’ notes it was ‘once full of old cottages and workshops. Some were demolished in the 1930s, others were converted into larger houses in 1975’. This renovation of Twisleton’s Yard by John Miller was celebrated in 1976 with a visit from the Duke of Gloucester. The Yard in Upper Settle is an appropriate starting point for the 2017 Tom Twisleton Skate Trail.

It took me an hour to walk up from my B&B in Giggleswick to stand here in front of the old farmhouse rented 170 years ago by my forbear Twisleton’s including the Craven Dialect Poet Tom Twisleton (1845-1917) who was born here. It’s situated more ‘middle’ than ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ Winskill since there’s been so much renovation over the years. The stone walls in front of the farmhouse which divide the fields Tom and his family cultivated go back most of 1000 years to when Sawley Abbey cultivated Winskill. It’s a peaceful and inspiring place with a splendid view across the valley now popular as a wedding reception venue.

My friend and fellow Old Giggleswickian Tom Lord stands here in one of the fields our hero poet Tom Twisleton (1845-1917) cultivated. Tom’s resident at Lower Winskill farmhouse down from where Twisleton tenants operated mid 19th century in between what we now know as High and Lower Winskill. In July Tom Lord hosted the Northern Scythe Championships here. In a revealing poem written to his brother Tom Twisleton observes ‘How many poets rave an’ sing of buds an’ flowers which i’ the spring shoot forth fra every tree; but whilst I’ve power to lift a pen, ye lasses shall inspire my strain, ye are the flowers for me’. A true romantic poet!

In ‘Tom Twisleton 100 years on’ (2017) Hazel Richardson quotes Tom’s poem ‘Husband and Wife’ which starts with a hefty dialect insult thrown by the wife at her wayward husband: ‘Wharivver hev ye been to, ye maupin’ owd tyke’. Though dialect was Tom’s medium of humorous communication it came to be seen, to quote Hazel, ‘as an inferior style of language, and its replacement with Standard English was encouraged. Perhaps some think of it as giving clues to social status and avoid using it’. The project Hazel led for us with young people in Settle during 2017 was geared to rescue the Craven dialect lest we ‘lose those often colourful words with age-old connections to the people and the land of North Yorkshire’


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