Scroll down for Littlethorpe Village, St. Michael and All Angels, Littlethorpe School, The Canal and Railway, Littlethorpe Potteries, Littlethorpe Pinfold, Littlethorpe Village Hall and The Triangle.

Littlethorpe Village

A Viking influence is evident in Littlethorpe's name. A 'Torp' or 'Thorpe' is an old norse name for a small outlying settlement or homestead, a hamlet or a farmstead.

In the early years of the 11th century, Ripon would have been incredibly filthy but rural areas like Thorpe were probably relatively healthier - especially as it was a scattered community. The Archbishop of York's Manor of Ripon consisted of the township of Ripon plus Bondgate, Bishopton, Bishop Monkton, Sharow, North Stainley, Whitcliffe and Thorpe. In 1086, Torp (Littlethorpe) was recorded in the Domesday book as a vill (a feudal administrative unit containing some combination of farms, hamlets and villages). The population comprised 18 villagers, 21 smallholders, 1 freeman and a thegn - 41 people in all. The land was mostly ploughland but also included 85 acres of meadow, 1 league of woodland, a mill and a fishery. It was an administrative area of Ripon and was called Torp (later Thorpe). The original mediaeval village of Littlethorpe was 200 metres north of present-day Littlethorpe Hall.

Around 1700, the earliest part of Littlethorpe Manor was completed. In 1742, deeds of covenant were drawn up relating to the division of Littlethorpe Moor and, in 1744, the enclosure of common fields of Littlethorpe occurred. By the mid 1700s, the walled garden of Littlethorpe Manor was completed using bricks from Littlethorpe brickworks. In 1788, Roger Pickering built the original Thorpe Lodge and in 1796, there was a major gypsum-related collapse in Littlethorpe.

In the early 19th century, Thorpe Lodge and Littlethorpe Manor were rebuilt. In the census of 1821, the population of Whitcliffe-with-Thorpe was 157. In 1831, a clay works was founded. During the 1860s and 1870s, a great number of fine houses were built as Littlethorpe became a fashionable place for the wealthy of Ripon to live. There was no provision for Anglican worship at this time and those wanting to attend church either had to travel into Ripon or attend a divine service in the school.

The 1901 census revealed that the population of Littlethorpe was 131, living in 30 houses. In around 1907, there was a cricket team in Littlethorpe but Kirkby Malzeard decided not to play them as the Littlethorpe side was deemed 'not strong enough'! Around 1954, Littlethorpe also boasted a football team. In 1964, Miss Pauline Foulds, who had been paralysed from the waist down following a riding accident, won 3 gold medals for swimming at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. As part of local government reorganisation in 1974, Ripon was given city status and Littlethorpe came under North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council rather than the West Riding.

If you are interested in finding out more, download 'A Little History of Littlethorpe' by John Edmonstone.

St. Michael and All Angels

The site for the church was given by Mr. Denison of Scarborough. It was built in 1878 to designs of the architect Robert Hargreave Brodrick after villagers raised the £800 14s 2d needed. The church comprises a nave, chancel, apsidal vestry, organ chamber, south porch and bell cote. It was built of brick with stone dressings, moulded red and blue Staffordshire bricks being used for window jambs and string courses. It was roofed with Staffordshire flat tiles and the floor was laid with Maw’s encaustic tiles. The church was consecrated on 23 April 1878 by the Bishop of Ripon and the Garden of Remembrance was consecrated on 26th October 2008. The church is a Chapel of Ease within the parish of Ripon Cathedral.

c 1945 From left to right:

  • Back row - Charlie Sowerby, Barbara Sowerby, Olive Knowles, George Washington Spence, Rev. Maclachan, A Cockerill, Stella Coleman, Miss Fawcett, Sylvia Varley, Mr Cockerill, Miss Metcalfe, Barbara Ingledew, Mr Bulmer

  • Front row - Doreen Mitchell, Philip Sowerby, Brian Gibbon, David Allen, Florence Mitchell, Geof Graham, John Cockerill, Peter Nelson, Margery Knowles

Littlethorpe School

The creation of a school in Littlethorpe was largely the work of Miss Carolyn S. Serjeantson of Mount Pleasant in Ripon. In September 1851, she purchased the land, upon which the School House stands, from the Leeds Northern Railway Company for the sum of £15. Three years later, in 1854, a trusteeship was set up which allowed for the hiring and firing of a schoolmaster and mistress who must be pious, protestant and teach religious catechism, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, grammar and sewing. The duty of the school was to educate children and poor persons in the township of Whitcliffe with Thorpe or any other township, so long as the child attended within 3 miles distance or less. Scriptures were to be read daily in school. Trustees were appointed to ensure that the school fulfilled its charter. The original trustees were Miss Serjeantson, her sister Jane, the Reverend George Frederick Williamson and the Right Reverend Charles Thomas Longley, Bishop of Ripon. If the school failed or closed, the property would revert to Miss Serjeantson. In 1856 additional land was purchased from the North Eastern Railway Company. In 1877 Miss Serjeantson died, having previously married Reverend Pennyman Wharton Worsley. The school (by then called the Littlethorpe Public Elementary School) closed in 1936 with a final attendance of 12 pupils. The property was sold into private hands 2 years later and has remained so ever since, becoming known as The Old School House. In the early years as a family residence, a pig was always kept in the girls outdoor toilet and a small area of the yard was fenced for chickens! The letters CSS (Carolyn S. Serjeantson) and the date 1851 are still to be seen (though heavily eroded) on a plaque on the front of the building.

The Old Schoolhouse

Photo taken inside the school c 1916

The canal and railway

Ripon Canal was built by William Jessop to link Ripon to the River Ure. From here, boats could reach York and Hull. It was opened in 1773 and one of the main reasons for the building of the canal was to bring coal to Ripon. Lead and agricultural produce was carried south. A viaduct was built over the River Ure in 1845 to take trains through Ripon and Littlethorpe.The Leeds and Thirsk Railway Company bought the Ure Navigation in 1846 and part of the deal was that they had to keep the navigation open and maintain it. The railways expanded rapidly and the Leeds and Thirsk Railway became part of the North Eastern Railway in 1894. From then on, the canal became neglected and wasn't dredged so boats had to carry less cargo.

The canal was officially abandoned in 1956. The last passenger train ran on 6th March 1967 and the last goods train left Ripon in1969. The Ripon Canal Society was formed in 1983 to restore the canal and this was completed in 1996.

The level crossing

The crossing signal box

Littlethorpe Potteries

The clay works at the potteries were founded in 1831. In 1902, the potteries were taken over by David Rhodes and Alfred Dougill. By 1908, the works had been divided into two parts - the Littlethorpe Brick & Tile Company and the Ripon Brick & Tile Company. W. Hymas bought the whole site in 1910 and sold it in 1915 to F. Richardson. Five years later, in 1920, the site became known as Littlethorpe Potteries. Arthur Fell, the paternal grandfather of Roly Curtis who is the current owner, bought the works in 1922. George Curtis started at the works in 1912 as a bench boy and subsequently married Arthur Fell's daughter. He managed the site until he and his wife inherited the works in 1939. He handed over the works to his son Roly in 1975 but continued to work until he was 85 years old and Roly passed the business on to his son Mark. Littlethorpe Potteries is the only pottery in the country that has continually dug its clay on-site.

Littlethorpe Pinfold

The word 'pinfold' is a saxon word meaning enclosure and a pinfold's original use was to hold stray livestock until claimed by the owner. A fee had to be paid to the 'pinder', who was an officer of the lord of the manor, for the care of the animals before being allowed to remove them. If unclaimed, the animals could be sold to cover the cost of holding them. Drovers could also use the pinfold to pen their animals overnight (for a small fee) on their way to market.

Renovation of the pinfold, instigated by the Parish Council, was completed in 2015 giving it new walls, gate and a stone which reads - " The Parish Pinfold. Originally for confining stray animals. Property of Littlethorpe Parish”.

At some point during the years of extraction of gravel within the parish, Aggregate Industries unearthed a large stone which had carved on one side the letter 'T' and on the other the letter 'G'. This stone is believed to be a marker stone of the Thorpe and Givendale parishes (or townships). The name 'Thorpe' as a parish or township hasn't existed for maybe 300 years and is now known as Littlethorpe. In 2018, the stone was given a new permanent home in the pinfold.

Littlethorpe Village Hall

Following the burning down of the original village hall, the decision was made to build a new one. The Coronation Committee was allowed to use this hall in May 1953 on Coronation Day despite the floor not having been laid but no entertainment was allowed. The first committe meeting held in the hall was in August 1953 even though the hall was still not fully finished.

The completed hall was finally opened on 6th May 1954.

In 2013, a large rear extension was built as a storage room (much needed by organisations which use the hall on a regular basis) and was officially opened by Julian Smith M.P. on 12th October 2013.

The Triangle

Traditionally called 'The Triangle', this piece of land is situated at Railway Crossing in the heart of the village. When Harrogate Borough Council closed their tree nursery around 1990, they offered to provide trees, free of charge, to local parish councils who would use them to enhance their village. The then Littlethorpe Parish Council asked for the maximum allocation and planted them in prominent situations within the village and the Triangle tree was one of these.

In 2016, following the Rio Olympics, a bench was erected at 'The Triangle' to celebrate Jack Laugher MBE becoming Olympic champion with Chris Mears for diving. They won the gold medal in the synchronised 3m springboard competition becoming Britain's first diving Olympic champions. Jack also won silver in the 3m individual springboard event becoming the first British diver to win multiple Olympic diving medals at the same games.