The first written reference to Leavening is in the Domesday book of 1086 AD, but we know it existed in Anglo-Saxon times, as it was they who gave it its name. However Leavening occupies a prime site, so it is likely that there has been a settlement here from very early times. It has all that a good site requires, an excellent and reliable water supply, protection from the cold easterly winds by the Wolds. The oldest feature is the Aldro earthwork enclosure situated on the summit of Leavening Brow this dates back to c.2,500 BC. There are several mounds within the earthwork enclosure. Although the Romans had a fort at Malton where they based the Legion IX Hispania, and a villa at nearby Langton, there are no Roman remains in Leavening. A Roman road does pass close by along the top of the Brow.
The Saxon name of the village was Ledlinghe. Four land owners were listed in the Domesday Book. An educated guess at the population at that time is about fifty. As with many settlements in the North of England, Leavening was damaged in William the Conqueror's “Harrying of the North”. Whereas many villages were destroyed, Leavening survived. The Domesday Book suggests that there was another Leavening. If so then there is no trace left now. There was a Norman motte and bailey nearby at Mount Ferrant. It is on the escarpment of Birdsall Brow, one mile east of Leavening.
Early Written References
In 1285 a Robert de Ros of Hamlake (Helmsley) is recorded as holding: In Leminge (Leavening) four bovates, at 5s.
In 1284, a case in Chancery, at the court of common pleas, where:
John...complains of Robert, Prior of Malton, Brother Geoffrey de Langeton and Peter of Levenyng, for assaulting him at Malton and taking his goods and chattels....
In 1315-16, the knight’s fees for Leavening were recorded as being held by Willelmus, et Johannes de Bernville.
In 1339-40, a Rads de Levenynge is referred to in a cavalry muster roll for which he was paid 4d a day.
A Robert Levenyng is listed as witness to a grant of land in 1432 by Robert Lorymer, Rector of Burythorpe.
The Ros family held many interests in the district until the 16th. Century. When the 13th. Lord Ros died in 1542 he left everything to his wife the Lady Eleanor, including;
...And the manor of Howsom, and certain londes in Howsom, Levenyng, Barton and Acclum... Of the value of fourtye poundes, seven shillings and sixpence...
In 1584 with the country on the point of invasion from king Philip I of Spain, Queen Elizabeth caused a muster to be made. This laid down the exact weapons and resources to be provided by each area. Leavening was linked with Acklam and the entry was:
Early Written References
ACKLUM CUM LEAVONINGE
Common Armour (parish responsibility): 1 corslet, 1 calever.
3 Pikemen, 6 Billmen, 7 calevers, 2 Archers: 18 in all.
John St. Quintine, gent, 1 bow, George Craven, gent, 1 corslet;
Thomas Bulmer, gent, 1 corslet; john Lowson, gent, 1 corslet;
William Bulmer, 1 bill; William Boosse, 1 bow.
(East riding Muster Roll, 1584)
In the Middle Ages another feature of the countryside came into being, the familiar winding roads. At this time there were no enclosed field system, when land was cultivated it was divided into acre strips (22 yards by 220 yards). The winding road would follow the boundaries of these strips (which could be grouped in any number) in a zigzag fashion.
Prior to the enclosure Awards another early feature of the village would have been the pinfold. An enclosed area to pen stray animals, for without hedges and fences, straying animals would have been a menace to crops. It was most likely sited where there is now the school playing fields.
The largest single factor giving the English countryside its present look was the Enclosure Awards. These Acts reallocated common land into rectangular pieces of land thus replacing the mediaeval field strips. Hedges were planted to enclose the new parcels of land and new roads were made. In Leavening these were fixed at 30 feet wide. This is much wider than modern roads, which is why there are sometimes wide grass verges on many local roads.
The Act also gave permission for quarries to extract stone and gravel. Leavening’s quarry has now been landscaped into a picnic area after many years as the village tip.
In the village there would have been a corn mill, but it is unknown when the earliest was built. In the rest of the county some have been recorded as early as the 9th. Century. The last mention of a miller (John Milbourn) in Leavening is in 1921, although it is said to have been used until about 1960. The Mill House still exists (now a private residence), but the dam is now dry, it is recalled in the name Dam Lane which leads into it (see photographs).
Of public houses, the Hare & Hounds is first mentioned in 1823, it is now a private residence. George Addison is recorded as having a beer house in 1840, this was probably the Ham & Firkin referred to on Robert Addison’s map and account of the village of the early 1800’s. This probably was the same Board Inn, (see also) mentioned in 1913. Latterly it changed its name to the present The Jolly Farmers.
The village school was originally situated at the crossroads. And was mentioned by J.R. Mortimer (East Riding archaeologist) who spent part of his childhood here from 1836-43. He described the building as being thatched. The building was replaced in 1892 “...for 76 children”. The present school is listed as been erected in 1907 and was built on Back Lane and had room for 100 children. The old school building became the chapel-of-ease to Acklam church. In 1965 it was rededicated by the Bishop of Selby to the Venerable Bede.
Trade Directories show Leavening in the 19th. Century to be at its most self sufficient. In 1851 the census recorded the highest ever population figure of 448. In that year, besides the 12 farmers, there were two butchers, two bricklayers, two boot and shoe makers, two grocers, three market gardeners; and three milliners and dressmakers. The village could also support a blacksmith, a miller, a saddle and harness maker, a wheelwright, a joiner, a basket and sieve maker, a tailor and a surgeon.
Later there came a change in the trade directories where the numbers of trades in the village decreased. As roads improved and the increase in transport the population became more mobile. Finally with the arrival of a bus service, for those without transport, self-sufficiency was no longer a necessity.
In the Second World War, in 1943, a Halifax Mk. III bomber crashed on the brow. Only two of the crew survived.
Today there are a number of professions active in the village: Farmers, cane furniture renovation, farm equipment hire, architect, child minder, blacksmith, painter & decorator, and management consultant to name but a few. Many people who do not work from the village will either work on the land on surrounding farms or commute to Malton or York.