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Birkby, North Yorkshire

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St Peter's Church, Birkby
Location within North Yorkshire
OS grid referenceNZ332023
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtDL7 0
Dialling code01609
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
54°24′55″N 1°29′15″W / 54.4153°N 1.4875°W / 54.4153; -1.4875Coordinates: 54°24′55″N 1°29′15″W / 54.4153°N 1.4875°W / 54.4153; -1.4875

Birkby is a village and civil parish about 6 miles north of the county town of Northallerton in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. The population of the parish was estimated at 40 in 2016.[1]


The name of the village, first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Bretebi, is derived from the Old Norse Breta býr, meaning "village of Britons".[2]


The British inhabitants encountered by the Vikings may have descended from Britons pushed back here by the advancing English, or they may have come to Yorkshire from the Lake District with Viking settlers from there.[3] An alternative etymology is a combination of an Old Norse personal name Bretar and the suffix '-by' to give the meaning Bretar's farm.[4]

At the time of the Norman invasion the manor was the possession of Earl Edwin, but was subsequently taken by the Crown.[5] The manor followed the descent of the lord of Northallerton, but a mesne lordship was granted to Henry de Farlington. By 1316 the manor was in the possession of John de Lisle and soon after entered the holdings of the Scrope family. By the middle of the 16th century the manor had passed to the Foljambe family and thence by marriages to the Grimston's, who were still in possession of the titles in 1821.[6][7]

There are the foundations of a medieval settlement opposite the rectory near Hill Top Farm that shows the outline of associated fields that may have been moated with fishponds.[8]


The village lies within the Richmond UK Parliament constituency. It also lies within the Swale electoral division of North Yorkshire County Council and the Cowtons ward of Hambleton District Council.[9]


The village lies very close to the East Coast Main Line and on a minor road that runs between East Cowton and the A167. The nearest settlements to Birkby are Little Smeaton, 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the north-east, Hutton Bonville 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the south-east and East Cowton 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the north-west.[9]


St Peter's church in Birkby dates from 1776. During some 19th-century renovation work the bases of two Norman columns were discovered under the floor of the chancel and others were found under the nave. They had seemed to form part of a much earlier and more ornate building than the one that now occupies the site. Part of the shaft of a Saxon cross was also unearthed, and is now built into the wall of the west end. Adjacent to the church is a rectory.


  1. ^ "Population Estimates". North Yorkshire County Council. 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2020. At the 2011 Census the population was not counted separately, but was included in the neighbouring civil parish of Deighton.
  2. ^ Smith, A.H. (1979) [First published 1928]. The Place-names of the North Riding of Yorkshire (PDF). English Place Name Society. p. 211.
  3. ^ Jensen, Gillian Fellows (1978). "Place-Names and Settlement in the North Riding of Yorkshire". Northern History. 14 (1): 23. doi:10.1179/nhi.1978.14.1.19.
  4. ^ A.D. Mills (1998). Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford Paperbacks. p. 59. ISBN 978-0192800749.
  5. ^ Birkby in the Domesday Book. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  6. ^ Page, William, ed. (1914). "Parishes: Birkby". Victoria County History. A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  7. ^ Bulmer's Topography, History and Directory (Private and Commercial) of North Yorkshire 1890. S&N Publishing. 1890. pp. 371–372. ISBN 1-86150-299-0.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Birkby medieval settlement and associated field system, moated site and fishponds (1016944)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  9. ^ a b Ordnance Survey Open Viewer

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