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Kirkby Malham Grammar School (1606-1874)


The 19th century saw Malhamdale with numerous Schools, but the Kirkby Malham Grammar School set up in 1606 is the oldest documented one with it’s own building and took over from the Chantry School which was held in the Church from the 15th century.

It was situted in a building to the Northwest of the church, between the vestry and Victorian, north wing of the vicarage. The North wall of the garden between the vicarage and the church appears to be all that is left of the establishment.

Often reported to have been founded by the Lamberts of Calton as a Latin Grammar School, it would appear Benjamin Lambert attempted to endow a school but that his will was illegal. Whitaker says it was actually founded by John Topham by a deed dated12 Oct 1606 and goes on to state:

.......from the goodwill he (John Topham?) bore to Benjamin Lambert, deceased, and to the intent that the charitable work mentioned in his will should not be hindered, conveyed unto Josias Lambert, and other feoffees therein named, all the lands, cottages, rents and inheritances arising of the Manor of Kirby and Hanlith, devised by the will of the same Benjamin Lambert (which is therein stated to have been void in law) in trust to the use and for the salary or stipend of a schoolmaster, to be elected by the feoffees, for teaching a free grammar school in Kirby; the said rents to be paid over to the schoolmaster for the time being, who in consideration is to freely teach all and every scholar who should come to be taught.

He goes on to note from the Charity Commissioner’s Report that :

The only income known to arise from this bequest is about £10 a year arising from about twenty eight different quit-rents from cottages, lands and tenements in Kirby and Hanlith.

Another footnote seems to indicate that this was the only educational establishment at the time and states that:

This parish is divided into thirds, each of which nominates six trustees of the free school - viz., Malham and Malham Moor one third, Kirby, Hanlith and Calton a second, Airton, Scostrop and Otterburn another.

The school building can be seen lying between the vicarage and church, on this map of around1860. It was demolished in 1874 when the new Kirkby Malham United school opened.


The last schoolmaster was Christopher Edmondson who also served as the the Parish Clerk.The first KM United School Accounts for 1872/3 show that Christopher Edmondson’s salary when the Grammar school closed on Aug 23 1872 was £100 per annum, plus half the school fees. He retired when the old school closed and they paid him a pension of £5 5s 9d to cover the period up to Dec 31 1872 and £15 for the year 1873 and 84.

Mention of previous masters appears in the the Parish records and Timothy Parkinson is shown as living in Calton when mentioned in further record entries in 1776 and 1778, that information could point to there being a school in Calton or Airton at the time, but he probably only lived there. The Revd. J. Procter was both the curate and schoolmaster, and the 1841 census shows James Mount son of Robert Mount of Skellands a schoolmaster, but not necessarily at Kirkby.

Stephen Proctor 1736
John Williams 1750-1765
Timothy Parkinson 1773-5
Revd. J. Procter 1822
Samuel Cowper 1833
James Metcalf 1838
James Mount ? 1841
Christopher Edmondson 1873

Shortly before it closed, the school was catering for 25 boys (no girls) and was teaching Latin and Greek as well as Arithmetic, English and History.

For more information see the Kirkby Malham Free Grammar School page and the other schools pages on the Malhamdale Local History Group Education Project.

TD Whitaker, “History of Craven” 3rd Ed 1878 p25
Kirkby Malham Annual Parish Reports and Accounts 1872-3
Bishop’s transcripts 1736, 50 & 61, Borthwick Institute
Edward Baines Directory 1822 p. 541
William White’s Directory 1838
1841 Scosthrop census

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