Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

 Thorninghirst: an ancient settlement.


Thorninghirst, often spelt Thorninghurst. Thorninghirst Farm. According to The Place-Names of The West Riding of Yorkshire by A H Smith, early references to this settlement including Thornynghurst 1483 Min Acct 77, Thorning(e)hirst(e) 1578, 1591 collected from Yorkshire wills. The origin of the name is probably ‘thorn wood’.

Many references to Thornghirst in the Fishlake Bylaw Books dating from 1573, in fact Thorninghirst was listed as a bylaw district from 1595, having two representatives at the Bylaw Court.

Thorninghirst is situated in the eastern side of the township of Fishlake one of a number of outlying settlements seen across the area. It has never developed further than a single dwelling occupied. Cuthbert Parkyn, tanner living there until his death in 1558 as evidenced by his will. By the 18th century a substantial residence was built, complete with private chapel, wall frescos and a sunken fence surrounding the property.

Early family names associated with Thorninghirst. 1558 Cuthbert Parkyn, 1573 Thomas Wayte, 1578 Charles Clerke, 1581 John Hill, 1575 William Howll, 1588 Thomas Clarke, 1591 Thomas Parkin, 1624 Thomas Wayte, 1632 William Wayte, 1655 Thomas Wate, 1655 William Johnson, 1703 William Clark, 1730 John Padley 1824 John Vause farmer, 1837 Jane Hunt.

From the census returns…George Hunt 1841, Charles Marsdin, 1871 John H Marsdin farming 220 acres, 1891 John Turner, 1901 Percy Reed. In 1911 Joseph Brownbridge was farming here.

An early view of Thorninghirst front elevation.

A major fire occurred here in about 1884 which was later recounted in a 1934 newspaper article quoted here “The fire at Thorninghurst, over 50 years ago, stands out vividly in the memory of local farmer Mr D Poskitt. What an event a fire was in those bygone days. No fire-engine, no adequate method of fighting the menace. The alarm went out -farmer called and farmer answered. Hands gathered round; everyone willing to do his bit. Buckets were commandeered and a chain formed. For hours black-faced men, tired and scorched by the flames, battled against the seemingly inevitable. Bucket after bucket was passed from pond to fire. The water supply might have given out at any minute and then…but it don’t. It wasn’t skill that saved the day- it was sheer, honest toil. Grimy, tired, hungry - not until hours had passed was the last bucket sent along the chain of dropping men, the last angry flame extinguished. Then- and only then…could they think of food and rest. Thorninghurst had been saved”.

During a conversation at Thorne in 1973 a relative of the Kershaw family who had visiting the farm remembers the walls in one or two rooms had at sometime had decorative wall painting. The owners took pride in polishing them, the subjects included Nelson and Queen Victoria.

On 27th 1976. Mrs Mary Silvester remembers a visit to the house when the Kershaws lived there. At that time the house was split into two the Kershaw brothers in each. The floor levels inside were or are at different levels, stained glass in the windows and very faint wall paintings. In the grounds outside the house is a sunken fence. Also a fine dovecote.

Information from Mrs Elsie Southwell on 18th April 1976. Thorninghirst Farm owed but Mr Brownbridge for a long time. Then Mr Saxson. Then Mr Kershaw.

John Waite has shared the following information. The pigeon cote was 3 storey and the loft was in the gable roof. All floors reached by a ladder. In 1933 there was a house fire and a woman was killed. The house was restored. In 1935 Annie Kershaw and Sydney Waite moved in on their marriage. The house was owned at that time by Frederick Kershaw and Caroline Kershaw, the parents of Annie Kershaw. Annie was living at Bingo Cottage on Sorrell Lane and was married from there . It was sold in 1972 by Jim and Oliver Kershaw to a Mr Burke (for £1800 according to Mrs Elsie Southwell), who brought horses up the stairs and trashed the house and it became derelict. Mr George Gilleard bought the farm from Fred Holgate in 1983 by that time the house had been demolished. The Gilleard’s have since returned the property to a working farm with pedigree cattle and sheep. 

Thanks to Brenda Grafton, John Waite, the late Laurence and Mary Silvester and Elsie Southwell for their contributions. Thanks to Stephanie and Stephen Gilleard for additional information.

Thorninghurst Farm in 1890. From OS 25 inch map. Thanks to OS.

Two Arial view of Thorninghirst 1949. A dovecote can be clearly seen among the extensive outbuildings. Thanks to John Waite.

View of Thorninghist in June 1977 as it was being demolished. Taken to Rob Downing.


The site of Thorninghirst Farm today. Thanks Google earth 2022.


To see more about the history of Fishlake at

Robert Downing December 2022.