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Burtersett is located in North Yorkshire
Location within North Yorkshire
OS grid referenceSD890892
• London210 mi (340 km) SE
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
EU ParliamentYorkshire and the Humber
List of places
54°17′55″N 2°10′10″W / 54.2986°N 2.16934°W / 54.2986; -2.16934Coordinates: 54°17′55″N 2°10′10″W / 54.2986°N 2.16934°W / 54.2986; -2.16934
The River Ure in Wensleydale, near Burtersett, breaks its banks during floods in 1994

Burtersett is a small village in the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire, England.[1][2] It lies approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) east from Hawes and Gayle.


Oral account of Burtersett, July 1965:

The hamlet of Burtersett or 'Butterside' came into being soon after the Norman Conquest of Britain. The area of land in Wensleydale west of Bainbridge was considered waste, but when William the Conqueror commissioned a survey of the land he had conquered, waste lands were classed as King's Forests. This large area including Raydalside was also King's Forest.

Some years later the North side of this forest was given to the Abbot of Savigny in Normandy on condition he sent twelve monks to minister to the spiritual needs of the French soldiers stationed at Richmond. The rest of the area was policed by twelve foresters or gamekeepers. Two head foresters resided at Bainbridge and ten ordinary foresters settled in clearings up and down the Forest of Wensleydale. Each of these ten foresters had a side to patrol, they made clearings and fenced in certain land and made homes and farmsteads within the side they had to patrol. Butterside was one clearing; Apperside, Counterside, and Marside others. Other clearings were where no villages have grown such as Snaigside, Widdleside, Grayside and Raydalside.

From such humble beginnings Burtersett developed but up to about 1800 it consisted of a few scattered farms, the most substantial being 'Hillary Hall' where John Hillary, an early convert of George Fox, resided. Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand climber who was the first man to scale Mount Everest, is a direct descendant of John and Mary Hillary of Hillary Hall, Burtersett.

In about 1860 suitable stone was found in the hills adjoining the village and quarries were opened. In the 1870s the railroad was extended to Hawes linking Wensleydale with the outside world and this gave a vigorous demand for this kind or stone. The lead mines in Swaledale were closing down and many Swaledale lead miners came to Burtersett in search of work. During the last 30 years of the nineteenth century the quarry owners built 17 new houses for their workers and restored others which had fallen into decay. The opening up of the quarries more than doubled the population of the village.

In 1876 the Congregationalists built a Chapel for public worship and to be used on weekdays as a day school for the younger children. The older children went to Hawes Council School. A day school teacher was appointed.

Methodism has been very strong amongst the lead miners in Swaledale and when they brought their families to Burtersett they soon saw the need for a Wesleyan Chapel for worship. In 1870 a small chapel was built and soon a very good choir was established. There was also a good choir at the lndependent chapel but the choirs always united for any special events at their respective chapels. These choirs were in constant demand as a United choir at many chapels in Wensleydale and sometimes in Swaledale if transport could be arranged. About 1904 the Wesleyan chapel was found to be too small for the congregation and it was extended and renovated.

At this time the decline of the quarries came and many families had to leave Burtersett to find work. In 1912 devotional services were discontinued by the Congregationalists but the Sunday School continued well into the 1940s. Some of the old farms are still in use today. Middlegate farm dates back to 1663. Miss Florence Bone, the Authoress, lived at Fell View and was a Sunday School teacher for many years.

From 1890 to 1914 a very vigorous United Band of Hope was being supported by the members of both denominations and a great day of the year was Whit Wednesday. Members of the Buttersett United Band of Hope joined with Hawes and Gayle at Hawes Town Foot and marched behind one of the two brass bands to Hardrow scaur. Here they were joined by Bands of Hope from Askrigg, Bainbridge, Marsett and sometimes Aysgarth and Carperby with their respective Brass Bands. Supporters came from Swaledale and the Eden Valley. Speeches were given and musical items were rendered by the choirs. The united crowd sang Temperance songs and Hymns. Games were arranged for the children and picnic teas were provided by the Band of Hope committee. The brass bands played selections throughout the afternoon and evening.

In 1927 a Village Institute was formed in the Congregational Chapel. The men and women of the village formed a 'Black and White' Minstrel team and gave concerts. These were held in a loft over a stable in Lowgate, village dances were also hold there. Hot pie suppers and Mill suppers were also arranged. The village water taps are still to be seen, but as the years progressed the water was carried into the farms and houses. Today water is carried from the beck for two old cottages which are still occupied. The old candle mill is still to be seen - candles were made by William Metcalfe, who was called 'Candle Willie'. 14 to 16 candles weighed a pound and these cost 2½d. The candles were used up at the quarries and in the houses. Later paraffin lamps came into use. Hurricane lamps were used in the stables, home and chapels. Electricity was installed in 1951.

The village shop dates back to about 1865. At one time there were two shops in Burtersett. 'Bump Knitting' with thick yarn was done by the women, they made stockings, jumpers and jackets. In the early dayes there was one public house but this had lost its licence before 1900. Nineteen Kits, 18 gallons of milk in each, were taken by float to Hawes then by train to Manchester. English was taught in the schools but mostly Yorkshire Dialect was spoken in the villages (wat thou doing with wishing, put it down in chair).

An alteration was made in the Wesleyan chapel in 1935. A panel was taken out of the woodwork and made into a door, to enable coffins to be taken into the chapel for funerals.

During the last 20 years many old families have died off, and many people have left the village. Sixteen houses have been sold for holiday homes, or for people to come to when they retire. The new population comes from Bradford, Doncaster, Middlesbrough, Ripon, Harrogate, down South and abroad.

All the farms are occupied and doing well. Milk is now sent to Wensleydale Dairy where butter and cheese are made. The Burtersett Women's Institute was formed in 1952 and it is held in the Village Institute. The Women's Institute, with the help of the ladies in the village, hold a Christmas Party every year and every year children receive presents. In 1964 there were 33 children.

The anniversary of the Church is held each year, also the Harvest Festival and sale. It will be the Centenary of the Church in five years' time.[This quote needs a citation]


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 98 Wensleydale & Upper Wharfedale (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2009. ISBN 9780319231586.
  2. ^ "Ordnance Survey: 1:50,000 Scale Gazetteer" (csv (download)). www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk. Ordnance Survey. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016.

External links[edit]

Media related to Burtersett at Wikimedia Commons