HEDON: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


Wapentake of Holderness (Middle Division) - County Council Electoral Division of Hedon - Petty Sessional Division of Middle Holderness - Poor Law Union of Sculcoates - County Court District and Rural Deanery of Hedon - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

Hedon is an ancient municipal borough and parish, comprising 320 acres, situated five-and-a-half miles east of Hull, 10 north-west of Patrington, and 182 north-east of London. The Hull and Withernsea branch of the North-Eastern railway skirts the town to the north, where there is a station. The surrounding country is level, the soil fertile, and in a high state of cultivation. The gross estimated rental is £4,088; rateable value, £3,364; and the population in 1891 was 979, showing an increase of 13 since 1881. The principal land and property owners are the Corporation of Hedon, John Thornhill, Esq., Bakewell, Derbyshire; Christopher Sykes, Esq., M.P., J.P., D.L., Brantingham Park; John Emerson, C.C., Twyers Wood, Hedon; James Watson, Esq., Hedon; Godfrey Richard Park, Esq., Hedon; and Dr. Craven, Hull. The Mayor and Corporation claim to be lords of the manor by virtue of the payment of a penalty of £30.

Though small, and commercially insignificant, Hedon is said to have been a place of some importance in Saxon times, and local tradition avers that the town was destroyed by the Danes, after a battle fought on a spot which has ever since been known as "Danes' field." There is no record in history of any conflict here, but as Mr. Bigland observes, the annals of the period are imperfect, many minor encounters are unnoticed, and it is quite possible that one of the predatory squadrons, "not mentioned in history, may have entered the Humber, and ravaged tho adjacent country." There is no mention of Hedon in the pages of Domesday Book, and this omission would seem to imply that the town was then either nonexistent, or that it was a place of very little importance. The earliest authentic record of it is the charter of Henry II., in which that King grants to the Earl of Albemarle "free burgage in Heddune to him and his heirs in fee and inheritance, so that his burgesses of Heddune may hold freely and quietly in free burgage, as my burgesses of York or Lincoln." King John in the year 1200, confirmed this charter to Baldwin, Earl of Albemarle and Holderness and Hawise his wife and Henry III., in 1272, added still further to the privileges of the lord of the seigniory by granting him a fair in Hedon. This fair was to be held yearly on the eve, the day, and the morrow of St. Augustine, bishop, and for five days following.

Hedon at this time was connected with the Humber by a navigable creek, up which vessels ascended; and as Leland quaintly adds "ships lay about the town." There were then three parish churches which would seem to indicate a considerable amount of prosperity in the town. The neighbouring town of Hull first comes into notice about this time as a port, and though its progress for a while was slow, the natural advantages possessed by its situation eventually attracted to it the trade of the district, and as Leland puts it "the treuth is that when Hull began to flourish, Heddon decaied." The town gradually yielded to its fate; the harbour became overgrown with flags and reeds, and in time was completely silted up. The site is now a luxuriant meadow, and cattle browze lazily where once stately vessels lay at anchor, freighted with the produce of many lands. Such was the importance of the town in the time of Edward I., that in 1295 it received the royal summons to return two members to parliament. The privilege was not again exercised till the first year of Edward VI. (1547), and from that time it returned two members, to each successive parliament, till disfranchised by the Reform Bill of 1832.

Hedon was incorporated by a charter of Edward III., under which the town was governed by a mayor, bailiffs, and other officers, who were to have a seal of two parts; the larger part to be kept by the mayor, and the lesser part by the clerk to be deputed by the king. New charters of incorporation were granted by Charles II. and James II., and in 1860, an Act for remodelling the Corporation was obtained. Under this Act the corporate body consists of nine councillors and three aldermen, from whom the mayor is chosen, and burgesses. There is an engraving of the old seal given in Poulson's Holderness; around is the legend, SIGILLUM UNIVERSITATIS BURGENSIUM DE HEDONA, and in the centre is an antique ship indicating the maritime character of the place. This old seal having been lost or mislaid in 1754, the one now in use was obtained, it is inscribed SIG. VIL. DE HEDON CAMERA REGIS, and shows a fishing boat in the centre.

The silver-gilt mace belonging to the Corporation, which dates from the reign of Henry VI., is probably the earliest civic mace now remaining in England. It is 25 inches in length; the head bears three lions, rampant, between corded bands, rising from a coronet, and encircled by a cresting of roses and branches, above which are four crocketed segments meeting in the centre and forming a crown. On the flat surface of the head are the royal arms - France and England, quarterly - between the initials "H.H." and crowned. The shaft is ornamented with longitudinal lines of gabled beading, and there is an iron grip of six flanges. There is another silver mace, 18 inches in length, of the time of Queen Elizabeth. Around the head are three fleurs-de-lis, and on the top the royal arms between the letters

In 1774 an Act of Parliament was obtained for recovering and preserving the haven; a new cut was made which approaches within a quarter-of-a-mile of the town, but it did not achieve the success that was anticipated. The haven is navigable for small craft of less than 80 tons burthen, and a considerable traffic is carried on in coal, lime, sand, gravel, and bricks.

The town consists mainly of one long street, with the Market Place in the centre. The markets and fairs have been discontinued, except hirings for servants, which are held in the week preceding Martinmas and in Martinmas week. It is lighted with gas, from works erected in 1856. The Town Hall is a plain building of brick, erected by Henry Grey, Esq., who represented the borough in Parliament for several years. On the ground floor is a lock-up, or jail, and on the second floor a commodious hall or court room, where Petty Sessions are held once a month, for Middle and South Holderness. On the walls are full-length portraits of the above Henry Grey, Esq., and Wm. Pulteney, Esq., M.P. for iledon in 1705 and subsequent years, who was created Baron Hedon in 1742. There is also a portrait of the late James Iveson, Esq., Town Clerk, presented to the Corporation by the late John Collins, Esq., of Danthorpe Hall.

Hedon is a polling place for the Holderness Division, and under the Local Government Act of 1888, it gives name to a division for the election of a member to the County Council of the East Riding. It includes the followinf places:- Hedon, Preston, Stoneferry, and Sutton.

The church of St. Augustine, "the pride of Holderness," is a handsome cruciform structure, built at different periods, as shown by the variety of its architecture. The chancel and transepts - the oldest parts of the edifice - are Early English, with the exception of the east window, which is an insertion of the Perpendicular period. The nave was rebuilt in the Decorated period, but traces of the previous Early English one remain. The tower and additions to the nave are in the Perpendicular style. A thorough restoration of the grand old church was commenced in 1866, from the designs by G. E. Street, Esq., R.A. Each part was taken separately and completed - the south transept in 1869, the nave in 1877, the north transept in 1881; and, on each occasion, the re-opening ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of York, and a sermon preached by him. More recently, the tower has undergone reparation. The total cost of the work has been upwards of £5,000. The low leaden roofs were taken off, and new ones of high pitch erected; a new west window, of five lights, was inserted; the galleries were removed, and the whole church re-seated with open seats of pitchpine. The tower, which rises from the intersection of the transepts and nave, rests on four massive piers, supporting lofty arches. At the corners are double buttresses, and in the centre of each face is a single one. These buttresses terminate in eight crocketed pinnacles, which rise above the beautiful pierced parapet surmounting the tower. In each face are four large traceried windows, in two tiers. The nave is separated from the aisles by five pointed arches, springing from clustered columns with plain capitals, and is lighted in the clerestory by five double-light pointed windows. The chancel, or choir, is separated from the transepts by an oak screen. On the south side are two large pointed arches, now built up, but which were formerly open to a chantry on that side. Here are also the ancient sedilia and piscina, and on the north side are three sedilia, separated by slender columns. There is a triforium on each side, containing six arches, with a clustered column between each. These triforia are approached by staircases in the angles, and were, previous to the insertion of the east window, continued round that end of the choir, and also communicated with triforia in the transepts. In the east wall of each transept are two pointed arches, now built up, but which formerly opened into two little chapels on each side. In the north transept is a fine recessed doorway, the mouldings resting on dwarf columns, and above are six lancet windows arranged in two tiers. The aisles are lighted by handsome windows, with geometrical and reticulated tracery. Three of them, in the south aisle, are filled with stained glass. One was presented by the late William Watson, Esq., in memory of his wife; another was given by James Watson, Esq., of Holyrood House, son of the above, in memory of his father; and the third is a memorial of the Colley family. Two of the windows of the south aisle have been filled with stained glass, at the expense of William Thomas White, Esq., of Lambert House. In this aisle is an elegant trefoil-headed doorway, with pedimented canopy. There is another fine doorway in the west end. The font is octagonal, with quatrefoil and elegant tracery. The brass eagle lectern was the gift of the late Mr. William Rawson, of Hull. There are mural tablets to the memory of the Waterland, Clifford, Burnham, Soutter, and Watson families. In the south-west corner of the nave is preserved a mutilated effigy, removed from the churchyard. It is, no doubt, the monument of some wealthy burgher of the town, and may possibly be that of Sir John Routh, Knt., who, in the time of Henry VIII., had property in Hedon. In the south transept there is a dark marble slab, bearing a carved floriated cross. There are also some stones, from which the brasses have been torn. In the tower is a clock with chimes, and six bells. The register of burials dates from 1549, and of baptisms and marriages from 1552.

The living is a vicarage, net value £180, with residence, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and held by the Rev. John Horsfall Richardson, M.A., of Trinity College, Cambridge. It was formerly held in conjunction with Preston.

The following is a list of the rectors and vicars of Hedon since the Reformation : - William Ranck, 1599; Francis Edgar, 1622; Henry Hibbert, 1625; Thomas Swinburn, 1676; Richard Sissison, 1723; Thomas Jackson, 1730; Thomas Jackson, junr., 1754; Mr. Butt, 1784; John Dixon, 1812; William Wasse, LL.D., 1828; James Hare Wake, B.A., 1839; John Fox, B.A., 1854; Richard Kemp Bailey, M.A., 1867. The following year the livings of Hedon and Preston were divided, and the Rev. Charles Edward Cammidge, M.A., was appointed vicar of Hedon, 1868; John Henry Wicksteed, M.A., 1873; Henry Lowther Clarke, M.A., F.R.G.S., 1876; and John Horsfall Richardson, M.A., 1883.

There were formerly three parish churches in Hedon, says Leland, though only one (the present one), was in existence when he visited the place in the reign of Henry VIII.; it appears, however, from ancient records, that there were four churches or chapels here, which were dedicated to St. Nicholas, St. James, St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Augustine, and that St. Mary's had the right of sepulture. The foundations of one of these churches may still be seen in a field on the east side of the Old Hall, and traces of another are, or were, visible a few years ago. St. Mary's stood on Magdalen Hill, where the foundations were discovered and taken up about 50 years ago by the owner of the estate. The burial ground was also cut through in making a new ditch.

The Catholics of Hedon were without a place of worship from the time that the grand old parish church passed out of their hands at the Reformation till the year 1804, when the present chapel was built. It is a plain edifice of brick, with presbytery attached, dedicated to St. Mary and St. Joseph. The interior has been recently restored and decorated, and new windows, with stained-glass panels, inserted. There is an altar in honour of the Blessed Virgin at one side, with a neat reredos added in 1891. This mission includes the greater part of Holderness, and, previous to the erection of the present chapel, the Catholics of Hedon attended a chapel at Nuthill, in the adjoining parish of Burstwick, which had been maintained in the dark days of religious persecution by the piety of two or three Catholic families. The priest at present in charge of the mission is the Rev. David James Smith.

The Wesleyan Chapel, originally erected in 1818, was rebuilt and enlarged in 1875, at a cost of £1,300, which was raised by subscription. There is a Sunday School attached. There are also chapels belonging to the Baptists and Primitive Methodists; the former was erected in 1801, and the latter in 1873.

A School Board was formed about twenty years ago, and in 1876 the Board erected the present commodious block of buildings on the site of the old National School. There is accommodation for 200 children, and an average attendance of 120.

In the garden fronting Holyrood House, the residence of James Watson, Esq., stands an ancient cross, consisting of an octagonal shaft standing on a base ascended by steps, and surmounted by curiously sculptured emblems of Our Saviour and the Blessed Virgin, in the florid style of the 15th century. It is said to have been originally erected at Ravenspurne, to commemorate the landing there either of Henry of Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV., in 1399, or of Edward IV., in 1471. From Ravenspurne (now under the sea) it was removed to Kilnsea, where it stood till 1818, and thence to Burton Constable, to preserve it from impending destruction by the sea, which a few years later swallowed up the site where it had stood. It was subsequently given to the late James Iveson, Esq., who erected it on the spot where it new stands.

CHARITIES - There are almshouses in the town for six poor widows, and also eight cottages belonging to the Corporation, occupied by poor burgesses. The sum of 26s. a year, left by Mrs. Ann Watson, of Stoneferry, is distributed in bread every Sunday; and 52s. from Cockerill's Charity is distributed in the same manner.

On the outskirts of the town are brick and tile works, carried on by Mr. Geo. Handley for 30 years. Half-a-million drain pipes and bricks are turned out here yearly.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of East Yorkshire (1892)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1892.

Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.