Tealby was previously known as Tavelesbi, Tauelesbi, Tauelebi and Teuelesby and many other variations.
At one time it was thought that “Tealby” was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “taefl”, meaning chessboard or table and from the Scandinavian word “by”, meaning village. Hence, table village, possibly indicating a flat topped hill. However, more recent study by Professor Kenneth Cameron suggests that “Tealby” is probably derived from the East Germanic tribal-name “Taifali” and the Old Danish word “by” meaning a farmstead or village.
Detachments of the Taifali are recorded in Britain in the early 5th century. Therefore, “Tealby” probably means the village of the Taifali people.
When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1085/6 there were 54 sokemen (peasant freemen), villeins (dependent peasants) and bordars (smallholders) in the village. Although it is not possible to calculate the population, there were probably about 200 people. There were 15 mills on the River Rase plus the sites of 3 more. The river had a major influence on the village for the next 800 years, firstly for grinding corn and then from the early 17th Century until about 1830, for paper making.
The chief raw material for making paper was cotton or linen rags imported from Europe which, after boiling, were beaten to a smooth pulp ( called “stuff”) with water-powered hammers to separate the fibres. Shallow rectangular wooden trays, with bottoms made of reed or straw or phosphor-bronze wire, were then dipped and shaken in the vats of stuff. After draining, pressing and drying on hessian sheets or ropes of horsehair the paper sheets were produced.
The watermark was produced when tinned copper wire was sewn in intricate patterns on the mesh bottom of the trays. One of the early watermarks was a jester’s head in a cap and bells, hence ‘foolscap’.
All Saints Church, which dominates the village, dates from the 12th century, although a church may have existed on the site before the Norman Conquest. Originally, the Church was under the control of the Gilbertine Priory at Six Hills.
The Church is built of orange-brown Tealby ironstone, the oldest parts being the west doorway and the lower part of the tower. There are many interesting features, including the memorials to the Tennyson family. George and Mary Tennyson were the grandparents of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate. In addition to the Church there are three former chapels. John Wesley visited and preached in the village five times.
The main source of income in the parish (3950 acres) has always been farming. Before 1792 one third of the parish was fenced and owned by the inhabitants. The other two thirds were farmed according to the open field system, administered by the Lords of the Manor (Tealby had three). In 1792 the open fields were allocated to the inhabitants according to their common rights and then fenced.
In the first official census in 1801, there were 469 people. By 1841, the population had grown to 996, the number swollen by the people working to build Bayons Manor. The numbers then declined until 1901 (462). During the past 100 years the number has remained at 500 plus or minus about 50. Most of the older cottages in the village date from 1795-1840. They are built of local stone and have clay pantile roofs and Yorkshire sliding windows. There are only twenty houses existing today that were shown on the 1792/3 Enclosure Award Map.
Following the Enclosure in 1792/3, George Tennyson owned about one third of the land. He lived at the original thatched Bayons Manor until 1833, two years before his death. His second son, Charles, persuaded him to add a codicil to his will so that he could be called Charles Tennyson d’Eyncourt, and claim descendancy from Norman Barons. Charles was an MP for 34 years. After his father’s death he took seven years to build the sixty roomed Romantic Gothic styled Bayons Manor. The costs of rebuilding were enormous. Charles died in 1861.
His descendants lived at Bayons until the Second Word War. It was occupied by troops during the war and was sold in 1944. After many years of neglect it was finally blown up in 1964. So, in just 120 years , the Manor was built and destroyed, its occupants having been a major influence on the village. The school was built by Charles in 1856, the roof being modelled on Westminster Hall. In 1889 the school suffered a major fire caused by a faulty heating stove. The school was quickly rebuilt and is still in use today.
During the past 100 years there have been many changes in the village. At the beginning of the 1900’s about 75 people would have relied on the farms for their livelihood. Many people were employed at Bayons Manor and others by local small businesses such as shops, carpenters, millwright, blacksmith, miller, baker etc. Most of the people lived in small cottages, many of which were owned by the Tennyson d’Eyncourt family.
During the last 50 years, employment in the village has declined to less than 20 and most of the residents are either retired or commute to work in the neighbouring towns. The type of housing has changed, with larger new houses and extensions to the older cottages being built.
The shops have all ceased trading (one has become a tearoom). There are two butchers which were established well over 100 years ago. The village has two pubs, one thatched and said to date back to 1367. The Weslyan Chapel (1819) is now used as a graphic design studio. The old farm buildings belonging to Tealby Vale, formerly the home of Michael Grassham, a papermaker, have now been sympathetically developed into holiday cottages.
Tealby is now a quiet rural village with a strong community spirit and many attractive attributes. Tealby is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has a Conservation Area. The long distance footpath, the Viking Way, passes through the village.