The photo. above was taken at a point on the coast of Sunk Island near Hawkin’s Point, this at low tide and showing Cleethorpes water tower in the distance across the Estuary. It shows the mudflat foreshore, covered by shallow, brackish water at high tide and a little inlet in the vegetated foreshore. Here the silence can be palpable (s.p.b.s).
As with all the parishes of Holderness, George Poulson’s two volume History and Antiquities of the Seignory of Holderness published 1841 contains much thoroughly researched information on the area of Sunk Island. As to the age of the island we have seen that Burleigh’s map of the reign of Elizabeth I shows it existing with a building on it but extant documentary evidence exists only from early in the reign of Charles II. With such a development being ‘new land’ it automatically became the freehold property of the monarch and was initially leased to Colonel A. Gilby, governor of Hull, and the gradually expanding island was much connected with the Gilby family across the following century.
In 1668 it was described as being ‘grazing land’ but this would have been only a tiny part of what we see as Sunk Island today. Figures for the extent of the Island across successive leases can be misleading as the term ‘drowned land’ was often used, this being the area of mud-flat above all but spring tide waters but as yet not embanked. A survey of 1764 documented that as the leasee had been awarded a 99 year long lease further embanking had been financially viable so now 1500 acres was dry land and divided into farms.
As has been previously discussed here (although some months ago) the nature of such successive flood defences is not often made clear. Presumably they were linear mounds of the clay found on the mud-flat dug from a parallel trench. This in turn begs a number of questions.
(To be continued).