‘Reclaimed land’ (a peculiar phrase seeing as shallow embanked mudflats were not previously claimed) such as Sunk Island was/is, by common law owned by the ‘Crown’, and the farmers that work the land were/are lessees. Under an agreement made in the early 19th century, between the Crown and the lessees it was agreed that the upkeep of the jetties and embankments was the responsibility of the latter. A further lease of 1802 led to the construction of the Island’s first church (see above early photo), this roughly on the site of the second and current church building (I think this church is now disused but am not sure, it was for some while a decade or two ago a Heritage Centre/museum for the Island). The chaplain was ‘engaged’ by the lessees and the wording of an Act of 1831 states that the tenants paid for the building and for the enclosing of a patch of ground as a ‘burying ground’ (a term that was soon to fall out of fashion, to be preferred by the traditional term ‘grave-yard’ or the new term ‘cemetery’). By the same act Sunk Island achieved parish status, the church (see above) thus became a parish church with the right of patronage invested in the Crown.
In 1836, to improve access to and from the villages to the north (once coastal villages) an Act allowed for the construction of a turnpike road from Sunk Island church to Ottringham. By 1847 an elementary school existed near the church but an inspector found discipline, attendance and achievement poor. A further inspector’s report of 1868 stated that things had much improved. A Nonconformist chapel built on Sunk Island was by the mid 19th century already in terminal decline through disrepair.
In 1877 a replacement church was built on Sunk Island, this with an extended burial ground being then consecrated by the then Archbishop of York.
(To be continued).