Adapted from Ref. 1 and an article written by John Kirk in 2000

Kilburn is a small, very picturesque village and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England. With a population of circa 210, it lies on the edge of the North York Moors National Park and is 6 miles north of Easingwold. It is a spur from the famous Cleveland Way; the second oldest long-distance footpath in England.

Overlooking the village on the hillside above is the White Horse of Kilburn, made in 1857 by Thomas Taylor. He had left Kilburn for Australia on board a sailing ship and became a very successful bacon curer in Melbourne. On his return to the UK he passed the White Horse in Wiltshire and decided that it would be a good idea to construct a similar one on the face of the Hambleton Hills overlooking Kilburn, as a distinctive landmark. The village schoolmaster, John Hodgson, designed and constructed the Horse with a team of 31 men. It covers 3/4 of an acre and was cut out of the limestone rock. When the White Horse of Kilburn was completed there was great celebration. Two bullocks were roasted and more than a hundred gallons of beer consumed.

Kilburn is also famous for its oak furniture with the famous Mouse trademark. When Robert Thompson, the founder of the firm Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd, started the business he was as poor as a church mouse and decided that every piece produced should therefore bear a reminder of his humble beginnings. There is evidence of his work throughout the UK and in many overseas countries. The adze finish to the surface area is a distinctive feature.

Example of a mouseman carved mouse

At the centre of Kilburn there is a small village square and The Forresters Arms - a charming, family-run, country inn with roaring fires, real ales, excellent food and comfortable accommodation that combines modern facilities with old world charm and ambience. The bar and restaurant menus offer hearty Yorkshire food, cooked freshly from locally sourced ingredients, and offer real value for money.

The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as "Chileburne". Kilburn, also Kylebourne or Chilebourne, takes its name from the beck that flows by the side of the main street, ciele-burna - cool stream.

The Norman church was built around 1120 and the north aisle added in 1180. The chancel was rebuilt in 1866.

Roger de Mowbray was Norman overlord of the district. In 1147 the Lord of the Manor of Kilburn was Robert Dayville. The settlement at Byland and at Newburgh was not without troubles, for in 1147 Abbot Roger complained to de Mowbray that the Lord of the Manor of Kilburn was being obstructive. Robert's son, John, reached an agreement with the Abbot as to rights of pasture in Kilburn, in return for the constant prayers of the brethren. He also agreed that the Prior of Newburgh and the men of Kilburn should have a reasonable quantity of timber for burning, fencing and mending their ploughs.

In the reigns of Henry I and Henry II, Kilburn Hunting Park came into being and some years later a manor house was built in Kilburn for the Head Forester. The Black Death took its toll in Kilburn in 1349. We are able to deduce this information from the way the taxation returns showed the amount of relief given.

In 1999 a small group Kilburn villagers wished to celebrate the new millennium by producing a booklet that would give a glimpse into the life of the village and would record some of the recent history as remembered by villagers and others at this time. For this purpose, the Kilburn Millennium Committee was set up, a Lottery Grant obtained, donations collected, and a community project resulted in an exhibition of documents and photographs in June 2000 and an extensive booklet of findings which was lodged with the North Yorkshire Archive Office in Northallerton (Ref. 1).

Preceding this effort, back in 1964, the Rev. L. F. Peltor, M.A. the Vicar of Kilburn at that time created a concise guide to Kilburn, focused on the history of the Parish Church (Ref. 2). This original Kilburn guide has been updated many times by several Vicars and Churchwardens and is still available for purchase in the village church.

In 2020 the village will be celebrating the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Church of St. Mary in Kilburn and it seems an appropriate time to revisit the works and pictures from the past and compile them into an easy to use online guide that hopefully will enhance the visitor experience.

In addition to the for-mentioned Rev L. F. Peltor’s initiative to create a guide to Kilburn guide, a great many villagers, ex-villagers, and neighbouring villagers helped produce the Millennium booklet and we should recognise and acknowledge their vision and endeavours. This new online visitor guide draws extensively on this prior body of work.

This guide includes material and photographs collected from many villagers, St. Mary Church Kilburn, York City Reference Library, The Borthwick Institute York, the Northallerton Reference Library, and the North Yorkshire Archive Office in Northallerton.

The original authors and more recent, compilers and editors of this Kilburn Visitor Guide would like to make it clear that we are not historians, and that much of the information here is as we found it or were told it. No attempt has been made to research the information further. Our aim is to help visitors understand more of the Kilburn history and features, in the hope that others might be able to carry research further at a later date.

If you have any questions, comments, feedback or suggestions please contact the Editor/Compiler.