West Witton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

West Witton
St Bartholomews Church West Witton.jpg
St Bartholomew's Church, West Witton
West Witton is located in North Yorkshire
West Witton
West Witton
Location within North Yorkshire
Population347 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceSE062884
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLeyburn
Postcode districtDL8
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
List of places
54°17′29″N 1°54′19″W / 54.29141°N 1.90527°W / 54.29141; -1.90527Coordinates: 54°17′29″N 1°54′19″W / 54.29141°N 1.90527°W / 54.29141; -1.90527

West Witton is a village and civil parish in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire, England. Located in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales it lies on the A684 (the main road between Leyburn and Hawes).

The civil parish also includes the hamlet of Swinithwaite. The population of the parish at the 2011 Census was 347.[1] In 2015, North Yorkshire County Council estimated the population to be 340.[2]

The educator Eric James, Baron James of Rusholme, lived in West Witton, and after his death had his ashes scattered there.[3]


There was a settlement at West Witton during the Iron Age and the Roman occupation of Britain.[4]

West Witton was originally known simply as Witton, and was mentioned (as Witun) in the Doomsday Book.[5] The name is Old English, from widu and tūn, meaning "wood settlement", suggesting a place where wood was felled or worked.[6] By the late 12th century the village became known as West Witton to distinguish it from another Witton, now known as East Witton, 5 miles (8 km) down Wensleydale.

Burning of Bartle[edit]

The village is famous locally for its "Burning of Bartle" ceremony[7][8][9] held on the Saturday nearest 24 August (St Bartholomew's Day).[10]

A larger than life effigy of 'Bartle' is paraded around the village, complete with glowing eyes. Bartle stops at various strategic places to recite the doggerel, before finally being burnt at Grassgill End to much merry singing.

The doggerel is:

On Penhill Crags he tore his rags; Hunter's Thorn he blew his horn; Capplebank Stee happened a misfortune and brak' his knee; Grisgill Beck he brak' his neck; Wadham's End he couldn't fend; Grassgill End we'll mak' his end. Shout, lads, shout.[10]

At Grassgill end they burn the Bartle effigy. This celebration has its similarities to Guy Fawkes night. One local folk-story is that Bartle was the sheep-stealing Penhill Giant.[11]

Popular culture[edit]

St Bartholomew's Church was featured in the British television series All Creatures Great and Small, in the episode "Cats and Dogs".[12] Meanwhile, when filming in Yorkshire, several of the cast stayed at West Witton's pub, the Heifer.[13]


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – West Witton Parish (E04007539)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  2. ^ "2015 Population Estimates Parishes" (PDF). northyorks.gov.uk. December 2016. p. 15. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  3. ^ Roger Young, ‘James, Eric John Francis, Baron James of Rusholme (1909–1992)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, October 2009 accessed 30 April 2011
  4. ^ Archi UK
  5. ^ "[West] Witton". Open Domesday Book. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  6. ^ Watts, Victor, ed. (2010). "Witton". The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978 0 521 16855 7.
  7. ^ http://www.burningbartle.org.uk Official Burning Bartle site
  8. ^ http://www.halikeld.f9.co.uk/traditions/bartle/bartle1.htm Burning of Bartle – photos
  9. ^ http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=704 Burning of Bartle – historical origins
  10. ^ a b Sedgwick, Phillip (16 August 2019). "Villagers get ready for annual Burning of Bartle ceremony". Darlington & Stockton Times (33–2019). p. 32. ISSN 2516-5348.
  11. ^ Dooks, Brian (24 August 2006). "Trail brings village tradition to life". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  12. ^ "St Bartholomew’s Church, West Witton, N Yorks, UK – All Creatures Great & Small, Cats & Dogs (1978)" - Waymarking.com
  13. ^ All Memories Great & Small, Oliver Crocker (2016; MIWK)

External links[edit]

Media related to West Witton at Wikimedia Commons