GREAT DRIFFIELD, a parish in the wapentake of Harthill, and liberty of St. Peter's; 12 miles from Bridlington, 13 from Beverley, 19 from Malton, 22 from Hull, 23 from Scarborough, 30 from York, and 192 from London by way of Lincoln. The population of this place is rapidly augmenting: in 1801, it amounted to 1329; in 1811, to 1857; and in 1821, to 2303, making an increase during each 10 years of about five and twenty per cent and the ratio of mortality, owing to the combined influence of the salubrious situation of the town and the healthful pursuits of the inhabitants, does not exceed one in sixty per annum.
Driffield is a well-built market town, situated at the foot of the Wolds, and is the point at which the river Hull takes its rise, being formed by the confluence of a number of fine trout streams, which run in various courses in the town and neighbourhood. The town consists chiefly of one large and broad street, running nearly from North to south, parallel to which runs (amidst straggling houses) the main stream in the neighbourhood; which at the Southern extremity of the town, is enlarged into a navigable canal, and which, with the other tributary waters, takes the name of the River Hull, a little below Frodingham bridge. At Wansford, about three miles to the South of the town, there is a large carpet and linen manufactory, and several large flour mills obtain motion for their machinery from the neighbouring stream. The soil in this neighbourhood yields abundant crops, and is in high cultivation; it is exceeded by scarcely any land in the county. The famous short horned bull Patriot, bred by Mr. George Coates, was fed here, and sold for 500 guineas; and Mr. Coates afterwards bred a cow from the same stock, for which he refused, unwisely perhaps, 1000 guineas. The corn trade at Driffield has, during the last half century, greatly increased, and this circumstance is accounted for partly from the central situation of the place, and the prolific nature of the soil; and partly from the facilities which water carriage affords for its transit, both to the London market, and the markets of the populous districts of the West Riding. Thursday is the market day here, and the business done in the article of grain is frequently very considerable. The parish Church, which is dedicated to All Saints is a venerable pile of Gothic and of Saxon architecture; the precentor of York as prebendary of Driffield, is the patron and the Hon and Rev. E Rice, D.D. is the present Rector. The steeple is of more modern date than the church, and tradition relates, that this light and elegant structure was built by one of the Hotham family, to absolve a vow made during a dangerous illness, to undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; or, as another version of the story has it, as the price of absolution for the sin of incontinence. There are here chapels for the Baptists, the Independents, the Methodists, and the Primitive Methodists. The public institutions are few, but highly beneficial; they consist of a Dispensary, to which Dr. Forge is the physician; a National School, established in 1816, in connexion with the East Riding Society, and supported by voluntary subscription, where upwards of 100 children receive instruction, under the tuition of Mr. Nathaniel Chaplain; and a Book Society, held at Mr. Wm. Turner's, in the Market place. There are also a Benevolent Society, for the relief of the indigent, a Religious Tract Society, and an auxiliary Bible Society. The neighbourhood of Driffield is healthful, and abounds with gentlemen's seats, of which there are no fewer than six; viz Sir M.M. Sykes, Bart, Sledmere; Sir Francis Boynton, Bart, Burton Agnes; W. T. St. Quinton, Esq. Lowthorpe; Horner Reynard, Esq. Sunderlandwick: John Grimston, Esq. Neswick; and Charles Grimston, Esq. Kilnwick.
The following is the entire data from Langdale's Topographical Yorkshire Dictionary:
Market, Thursday. Principal Inn, Red Lion.
Great Driffield is a well-built market town, situate at the foot of the Wolds, and noted for the rise of the river Hull, proceeding from several springs which run in various courses in the town and neighbourhood, and forming some of the finest trout streams in the kingdom, and which, in the summer months bring many sporting nobility and gentry to the place. It has a navigable canal communicating with the port of Hull, which has been of great advantage to the place.
The church is partly of Saxon and partly of Gothic architecture, and exhibits a very, antique appearance. The steeple of more modern date, is a light and elegant structure; and said to be built by one of the Hotham family. The work must have been attended with immense labour and expense, as the stone with which it was built, is not to be found at Driffield, nor within several miles of the place.
[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]