Descriptions of Hull 16th to 18th centuries 9 (12/10/’20).

Richard Blome (1635-1705) is Dr. Woodward’s fourth travel writer (s.p.b.s), his description of Hull and Holderness being taken from his publication of 1673 Britannia, or a Geographical Description of the Kingdom of England, Scotland and Ireland. One of the points Blome made was that Hull’s trade ‘being inferiour to none in England except London and Bristoll’ contrasted with the decline of Hedon’s fortunes where ‘the rise of its neighbour Hull hath wrought its ruin’ (the photo above shows Hedon church in the middle distance, this taken from a point on the public right of way that was the line of the Hull – Hornsea railway).

If Blome actually visited Hull himself, perhaps in the 1660s, he was clearly impressed; that said Blome has sometimes been accused of plagiarism and, as he left little surviving primary evidence of his life, that we cannot know.

Blome states that Hull, although ‘a Town of no great Antiquity’, had ‘fair buildings’, ‘paved streets’ and that ‘the commodious scituation of this Town, hath made it a place very well inhabited’. Here lies the problem, were these generalisations but a thin disguise for the fact that Blome had little evidence and was being promotional rather than factual? He does however reference some facts about the town – ‘one (street) of which resembleth Thames-street in London near the Bridge, where Pitch, Tar, Cordage, Sails and other necessaries for ships are vended’ (London Bridge being the one crossing at that time) and that the ‘great Market is on Saturdays’ (held in Market Place immediately east of Holy Trinity church). Blome also gives quite detailed evidence about the governance of the town, as did previous writers.

Having dealt with Hull Blome goes on to describe Holderness as a ‘Promontory which shooteth it self forth far into the sea’. A strange phrase – was he guessing at the post-glacial origin of Holderness? I think not.