1902 Encyclopedia > Scarborough, England


SCARBOROUGH, a parliamentary borough of England, frequently called " the Queen of Watering Places," situacres, but it is not now more than 17 acres 10 perches, or 43 acres, including store yards, dykes, and holms. The first castle was built in the Anglo-Norman period, and is referred to as being in decay in 1154 - a fact which throws back its origin earlier than 1136, the date assigned for its erection by William Le Gros, earl of Albemarle and Holderness, its first known governor. The list of its governors stretches from that date to 1832. The streets of the older part of the town, immediately south of the castle hill, come down to the sea, but the newer parts of the south as well as the north side are built upon rising ground. A deep valley (Ramsdale) which divides the south side is bridged from St Nicholas Cliff to the South Cliff. The approach by rail is through the upper part of this valley, by the side of which there is a marsh known as the Mere. The town is thus situated in a kind of basin, which opens out to the north towards extensive and lofty moorland ranges. The modern period of its history dates from 1620, when Mrs Farren, a lady resident, first discovered its mineral springs. The town contained 30,504 inhabitants in 1881, but during the season, which lasts from May to October, its population is augmented by from ten to twenty thousand visitors, for whose convenience there is increasingly ample accommodation. The Grand Hotel, fronting the sea on the south bay, stands on St Nicholas Cliff, at the north side of the Ramsdale valley, and is one of the largest in England. An aquarium (1877) stands beneath the Cliff Bridge, and close by is the museum, a Roman-Doric rotunda, built in 1828. The spa saloon, opened in 1800, contains a hall in the Italian-Renaissance style, a theatre, and refreshment rooms. There is a promenade in front protected by a sea wall. The south spring is aperient but contains some iron, while the north or chalybeate spring is more tonic in its properties. The waters, however, are seldom taken now, the town being mainly frequented for the sea-bathing. The grounds of the present spa are tastefully laid out. A foreshore road, made in 1878 by the corporation, and shortly to be extended round the castle cliff to the north side, makes an excellent drive or promenade. The north side has fine sands, a hoist, and a promenade pier, but is not so attractive as the south side, nor are the houses there of so good a character and style. The salubrity of Scarborough is attested by its vital statistics. The mean annual mortality from 1873 to 1882 was 18.4 per 1000. The death-rate from consumption in all England is 2'4 per 1000 ; amongst the indigenous population of Scarborough from 1873 to 1882 it was 1'7 per 1000. The mean annual temperature is 47'9 Fahr. In December, January, and February it is only 0.6° colder than Brighton, whilst in the summer months Brighton is 3.6 warmer.

The town is a royal borough, its charter of incorporation dating from 1161. It returned two members to parliament from 1283 to 1885, when one of the seats was taken away. The limits of the municipal and parliamentary boroughs coincide, - the area being 2348 acres, the population 24,259 in 1871 and 30,504 in 1881.

Shipbuilding, salt-manufacture, and knife-making were formerly common, but the only craft now remaining is jet-manufacture. The fishing trade is, however, very considerable. Disputes about dues for the old pier and the fish-tithe occupy a conspicuous place in the town records ; the pier seems to have suffered greatly in the various sieges to which the town, after it was walled, became exposed. The old town-hall in St Nicholas Street, the new town-hall in Castle Road, the market-hall in St Helen's Square, in the Tuscan style, and the new post office in Huntriss Row are conspicuous amongst the public buildings. There are two theatres. Of the monastic buildings belonging to the Grey Friars, Dominicans, and Carmelites there are no remains, but the parish church of St Mary, conspicuously situated on a mound to the south of Castle Hill, occupies the site of the old Cistercian monastery. The old church was made the site of a battery in the siege of the castle in 1644, and one of its towers fell in 1659. The restoration of the present building took place in 1850. There are other churches and chapels of a much more recent date, including a Roman Catholic church. The racecourse is on the top of a bill, commanding fine views of the moors and of the sea.

The old name of the town was written Skardeburge. It is not mentioned in Domesday Book, but it was probably waste, as Tosti, count of Northumberland, had ravaged and burnt it seine time previously. Thorklen mentions it as having been ravaged by Adelbrecht, king of Northumberland, and by Harold Hardrada. Douglas, the Scottish chief, also burnt it in 1318. Henry II. compelled the count of Aumalo to surrender the castle in 1155. King John visited the castle in 1206 and 1216, and the "house and castle of Scarborough" are mentioned in 1223. When not used as is temporary royal residence the castle was a royal prison. In 1312 the earl of Pembroke besieged it, and in the Pilgrimage of Grace insurrection (1536) it was unsuccessfully besieged by Sir Robert Aske. A detailed survey of it, made in 1538, is still extant, the castle yard and land therein described, with the buildings, corresponding with a survey made in 1839. It was again besieged in 1644-45 and in 1648. 'In 1655 George Fox the Quaker was imprisoned in the castle. In 1645 the town was captured by assault, and in later years its inhabitants were much impoverished by military exactions and expenses. A view of the town and castle in 1485 is still extant. The precise date when the town-walls were dismantled is not known. In 1730 Daniel Defoe, writing from the place, said: "The town is well-built, pleasant, and populous, and we found a great deal of company here, drinking the waters, who have not only come from the north of England but from Scotland."

See History of Scarborough Spine, 1679; Gent's History of Scarborough, 1785; llinderwell'a History of Scarborough, 1798; Cole's Scarbrough Worthies, 1820; Constitution and Byelaws of the Corporation of Scarbrough, 1827; Brief History of St Mary's, Scarbrough,1845; The Geology of Scarbrough, by C. Fox Strang-ways, 1880; Flora of Scarbrough, by G. ilasser, 1881; and Scarborough as a Health Resort, by A. IIaviland, 1883.

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