Monthly Archives: March 2020

31st March, 2020 Hull Museums Publications 9.

Just to complete the ‘aside’ on Howden manor with a brief mention of three of the six churches within Howdenshire under the authority of theĀ  diocese of Durham. The image above, taken from a leaflet produced as part of a restoration appeal for Hemingbrough Minster, shows a pre-photo view of St. Mary’s church from the south west, the churchyard wall seen in the foreground remains in place. Hemingbrough is a village roughly half way between Selby and Howden near the River Derwent and river transport allowed the builders access to Tadcaster magnesian limestone as the main building material. Much of the cruciform church is of the 13th century, the lofty needle spire (although I read that it has broach supports at its base) having been completed in the mid 15th century. Along with the crossing tower of York Minster and the needle spire of South Dalton church that of Hemingbrough must be one of the loftiest points on an ecclesiastical building in the East Riding. St. Mary’s has much of interest to offer the visitor including a complete 13th century font (if the church is open).

I am not familiar with Skipwith church (s.p.b.) but David Neave speaks glowingly of it (Yorkshire: York and the East Riding (2005, 687-689), especially its window tracery.

Saltmarshe church (s.p.b.) is located in the village of Laxton two miles north of Saltmarshe’s River Ouse-side location. In the field across the road from the Victorian church of St Peter’s stands the surviving east -end of the chancel of an earlier church otherwise demolished when the new church was completed in 1876. A fine 14th century east window survives in the ruin, this probably the earliest built part of the church when it was in use.

A similar situation may be found in Holme-on-the-Wolds (Dalton Holme) where until late 20th century a section of the chancel of the once St. Peter’s church stood as a ruin. No longer there but a section of the graveyard may still be viewed from the road-side not far from South Dalton church.

29th March, 2020 Hull Museum’s Publications 8.

The image above is copied from Bilson’s article but not dated. It shows the buildings that once existed along the west wall of Howden’s Bishop’s Palace courtyard, the only surviving part now, and when Bilson was writing, being the rear wall. The image then was probably made in the early 19th or 18th century, as no Victorian rectory is shown it must have been done before the 1860s. The image also shows the ruined chancel of St. Peter’s church as well as its lofty crossing tower, a prominent landmark then as now in its lowland landscape (very visible, for example, when travelling west on the M62 before crossing the majestic Ouse Bridge; also visible on a clear day from the top of the limestone escarpment scarp slope overlooking Trent Falls at Alkborough as is the spire of Goole church, but not, as some claim, the crossing tower of York Minster).

The huge manor of Howden, and the later area of Howdenshire, were from the reign of William I onwards in the territory administered first by the Anglo-Norman bishops of Durham and later by the Prior of Durham’s College of Secular Canons. The Norman ‘prince’ bishops of Durham exercised autocratic rule over the area, a fact that benefitted Howden in the Middle Ages as having a bishop’s summer residence (just as, for example, did Cawood for the Archbishops of York) and a college of secular canons generated many financial benefits.

A number of churches across the western part of Wallingfen, in the manor of Howden, were chapels of ease to Howden Minster and, from the 13th century to the Reformation, ministered by canons from the Minster. From Skipwith in the north to Saltmarshe in the south (all on the east bank of the River Ouse) most of these chapels of ease (now individual parishes) are fine architectural buildings in their own right.

(to be continued).

27th March, 2020 Hull Museum’s Publications 7.

HavingĀ  been diverted to the early days of Pickering Park, Hull I need to get back to the theme in hand.

Another old booklet I bought at Hull History Centre (s.p.b.s) is entitled ‘The Manor-House of the Bishops of Durham at Howden’ written by John Bilson, F.S.A. this being reprinted from the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal of 1913. John Bilson has been mentioned before in connection with the design of many of the 30 plus Board Schools built in Hull between 1870 and the Great War. David Neave mentions ‘Bilson’ in his analysis of the architecture of Howden Minster ( The Buildings of England – Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, p.485-490) but not in his analysis of ‘The Bishop of Durham’s Manor House’ (p.490-492), although he does give a plan of its ‘Surviving Medieval Features’ (p.491) which corresponds with the folded one in the booklet.

The remains of the Bishop’s Palace in Howden lie to the south-east of the ruined chancel of the parish church of St. Peter which until the Reformation was the base for a college of secular canons. The remains of the Bishop’s Palace are therefore in the north-east corner of the municipal park with its tree-lined carriageway south of St. Peter’s.

David Neave’s plan shows that the Great Hall of the Palace survives as does its north porch opening onto the courtyard of the original complex as do the pantry and buttery to its west. The Victorian Rectory was built in the south-west corner of what had been the Palace’s courtyard. David Neave’s study of the site of the Bishop’s Palace provides a good example of how historic ruins often went through various stages of change before the present time, these sometimes ensuring their preservation and at others hastening their destruction.

(To be continued).

26th March, 2020 Hull Museums Publications/Pickering Park 6.

Following on yesterday’s blog and focusing on the ‘entertainment’ section of Pickering Park (see yesterday’s picture).

The Park’s bandstand was planned to be ‘sunken’ and the part of the Park where this once was is somewhat sunken today. I think the intention was to be amphitheatre-like with terraced seating around the central performance area, five access paths and a tree-lining to the whole area. At one point it was minuted (s.p.b.s) that complaints had been made that the bands were ‘inaudible’ and in other park bandstands the floor on which the musicians played was usually raised above the level of the surrounding audience. But it must have been an interesting feature.

The now disused aviary is today below where the gardeners are shown on the map as having had two ‘nurseries’ with potting shed between. The original aviary (see map extract) was where a toilet block now stands (maybe an adaptation of the original building). As I have written about before, keeping ‘exotic birds’ was a popular hobby back then and Park’s aviaries were generally stocked by those donated by bird fanciers. The Parks and Burial Committee always minuted their thanks for such donations.

Backing onto the aviary was the aquarium (see map extract), this the only one in Hull’s four Parks at the time. During the Great War Hull’s Parks had to function with a reduced workforce and it was minuted in 1919 that owing to this the glass aquariums had cracked and leaked.

West of the nurseries was a fascinating section, still there today, where rock-pools, boulders and uneven ground were created as an area for children to explore, Pickering Park’s ‘Kyber Pass’! Cleverly positioned benches allow the visitor to absorb the pleasures of the watery glen.

This area of the Park was/is well supplied with surfaced footpaths.

Today the ‘bowling green’ has been replaced with a walk-through shrubbery and sensory garden maintained by members of the Friends of Pickering Park.

25th March, 2020 Hull Museum Publications/Pickering Park 5.

The map extract above focusses on the ‘entertainments’ section of Pickering Park in the inter-war years. As with the ‘Recreation Ground’ (see yesterday’s map extract) Pickering was forward thinking in providing ‘tennis ground’ and ‘bowling green’ from the outset whereas the three other municipal parks in Hull had had to incorporate bowling greens particularly into spaces available in their original lay-out plan. Even more progressive was Pickering’s ‘putting green’, the building shown on the map between the Bowling and Putting greens survives.

Crown green bowling had very rapidly become a popular activity in the decade before the outbreak of the Great War. The Parks and Burial Committee took-on the responsibility of providing facilities but demand always outstripped supply. Initially one and later two greens were created at East and West Parks but for some years the Pearson Park sub-committee resisted any such development on the basis that the didn’t have the space. Pearson Park now has two bowling greens in the south-east corner of the Park and the creation of these was being discussed by 1920.

The Park’s authority provided the bowls, mats and other necessary items which were then rented by the players who had booked the green for that certain date and time. This required a member of park’s staff to be on hand. Even at one penny per person per game a considerable income was generated. During the Great War the demand for women’s bowling equipment rapidly increased (less heavy bowls). Initially the Parks and Burial Committee were against allowing bowls matches between teams, on the assumption that betting would take place, but by 1914 this had been relaxed.

The map extract above shows that the post-Enclosure model farm called Priory Farm was still functioning with its two foldyards. I have been told that it was still working into the early 1980s. For a fuller consideration of this and similar features in the landscape see ‘A History of Hessle Common (now south-west Hull)’ in section 3 of this website.



24th March, 2020 Hull Museum Publications/Pickering Park 4.

The image above is an extract from a 1920s O.S. 25inch map showing Pickering Park. By then the boating lake, with six islands, this more than in East Park, had been dug (s.p.b.). Christopher Pickering before the Great War had always wanted the digging of this lake to be done by unemployed workmen at the time, these under the authority of the Distress Committee of the Municipal Council. With the onset of War plans for such projects were put on hold and eventually it was agreed that the land earmarked for the lake should be cultivated as a contribution to national food production (given the circumstances this decision was a long time in coming, the Parks and Burials Committee being reluctant to commit their parkland to such use). Even so the soil proved very heavy for arable production, but by 1918 it was minuted that on this site five acres of potatoes had yielded 50-60 tons of potatoes. On more than one occasion children had been caught digging-up the crop, possibly following parental instructions.

The lake today is smaller than the one shown on the map the northern part of which must have been filled-in at some point.

The map extract shows the impact of Pickering’s determination that much of the site should be dedicated to sports pitches.

The area surrounding the Park shows that at that time land west and south of the Park was still post-Enclosure arable fields while to the east the Gipsyville estate was under construction (s.p.b.).

At the south end of the boating lake was a boathouse where the hire boats were stored while on its west side was a ‘bathing pool’ with two ‘diving platforms’. These must have been simple ground level spring boards as the pool would not have been very deep. Pre-War minutes show that on a few separate occasions children had drowned in the park lakes of Pearson Park and George V playing fields. There were particular circumstances in each case, one child in Pearson Park having had an epileptic fit while playing with a model boat.

(to be continued).