9th July, 2019 Reed’s Island, Ravenser (Odd), Sunk Island 10.

The publication Sunk Island Miscellany (s.p.b.s) references a letter written in 1711 (this included in Leland’s Itinerary and referenced in Allen, T. A New and Complete History of the County of York (1831), written by a local incumbent, presumably of Ottringham or Patrington. After recording that local people state (in 1711) that at the time of Colonel Gilby (s.p.b.s) the channel separating the island from the Holderness mainland was two miles but fast infilling with mud the reverend then goes on to state that now (1711) barley and oats are grown on Sunk Island to a ‘much greater perfection than in any other part of Yorkshire’. Apparently at that time much woad was also grown there, this used for dyeing cloth. At the time (1711) a new venture was being tried on Sunk Island ‘several thousand couples of black rabbits’ were released to a coney warren on the Island ‘whose furs are more valuable than the common grey’.

The letter goes on to state that then (1711) the reclaimed area of Sunk Island was about 2000 acres in extent ‘with high banks to keep out the sea, which otherwise would overflow the island in spring tides’. He also records that there was about 700 further acres of ‘as fine grass as any in England, not inclosed, and therefore frequently overflown at high tides’. Despite this, on these unenclosed grasslands were grazed sheep and horses as even when the tide washed across the grasslands it remained shallow and ‘it soon dry again’. The horse were ‘chiefly of the large size for coaches’.

These observations invite a number of comparisons with the situation in the Humber Estuary today. For example the relatively narrow channel between Reed’s Island and the River Ancholme valley mainland has become, like the channel between Sunk Island and the mainland was in the 18th century, virtually devoid of water at low tide. This, added to the observation about Reed’s Island at the beginning of this 10 blog section, might suggest that Reeds Island in the fullness of time might become part of the coastline.

(To be continued).