Hornsea Parish information from Bulmers' 1892.


Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.

Wapentake of Holderness (North Division) - County Council Electoral Division of Hornsea - Petty Sessional Division of North Holderness - Poor Law Union of Skirlaugh - County Court District of Beverley - Rural Deanery of Hornsea - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

Hornsea-with-Burton parish is situated on the coast, and comprises an area of 3,246 acres, including 360 acres of water surface, and 76 acres of roads and drains. The rateable value is £9,927 and population in 1891 was 2,013, an increase of 177 during the past ten years. The soil is various, the subsoil clay and gravel; and the chief crops are wheat, oats, barley, beans, and peas. Wm. Bethell, Esq., Rise (lord of the manor), and H. Strickland-Constable, Esq., of Wassand, are the principal owners of the soil. The lesser proprietors are J. A. Wade, Esq., Hornsea; Trinity House, Hull; G. A. Potts, Esq., North Cave; W. Ogle, Esq., Derby; Mrs. Nelson, Wold Newton; Mr. S. F. Simpson, Dringhoe; Mr. J. D. Warcup, Mappleton; Mr. G. Dickinson, Barmby; Mr. T. Rogers, Spilsby; and Mrs. Ringrose Ion. The land is mostly copyhold.

Hornsea occurs twice in Domesday Book, once as Hornesse, and in another place as Hornessei; and in the time of Edward the Confessor belonged to Earl Morcar, one of the most prominent figures in the closing scenes of Saxon England. There was then a church here and a priest. The Conqueror subsequently transferred the manor to Odo, a Norman, to whom he gave the whole seigniory of Holderness. Odo, with the consent of Stephen, his son, granted Hornsea to the monks of St. Mary's Abbey, York, in whose possession it remained till the dissolution of religious houses at the Reformation. It was one of the most important possessions of that house, and had usually a man of rank for its seneschal. Hornsea was then a port, and the abbot had the toll of merchandise and ships thereat. The fishery in the mere was likewise a source of revenue but this was also claimed by the Abbot of Meaux, and frequent litigation was the consequence. The abbot's privileges in the manor were enlarged by Henry III., who in 1267, granted by charter still extant, a market to be held weekly on Monday. The abbot had also two fairs; but it appears from an inquisition in the following reign, that the abbot was accused of exacting excessive tolls, of taking chiminage (toll for passing through his domain), and also of setting up without warrant gallows, tumbrel, a pillory, and a prison. The abbot answered the accusations, and pleaded that he claimed the privileges and rights by grant of royal charter and immemorial usage. Another charter for a weekly market was granted by Edward IV. in 1466, but the market became absolete about the beginning of the present century, and the fairs have also been discontinued.

After the dissolution of the abbey, the manor, mere, and rectory reverted to the Crown, and remained with it till the reign of Elizabeth, who alienated the mere, and leased the manor and rectory to the family of Moore. During the Commonwealth several persons were successively lords of the manor; and in 1676, Sir Hugh Bethell, Knight, and Slingsby Bethell, Esq., are returned as joint owners of the lordship. From 1684 till 1760, the manor belonged to the Acklams, who were members of the Society of Friends, and resided at Low Hall, in the garden of which several of them were buried. Peter Acklam died at Bradford in 1760, and the same year William Bethell, Esq., appears as lord of the manor, which still remains in the possession of his family.

The town of Hornsea stands on the coast, 16 miles north-east from Hull, 13 north-east from Beverley, and 40 east from York. A line of railway connecting it with Hull was constructed by the Hull and Hornsea Railway Co., in 1864, and three years later, the line was taken over by the N.E.R.Co., who guaranteed the shareholders four per cent. The station at the terminus is a commodious structure of brick, with covered platform to accommodate 1,000 passengers. Since the opening of this railway, Hornsea has risen into considerable favour as a sea-bathing place, and many rows of terraces of good modern houses have been erected for the accommodation of visitors. It is also, through its proximity to Hull and an excellent train service between the two places, becoming popular for residential purposes. The inhabitants are principally engaged in agriculture, but a few quaint old fishermen's cottages remain to mark the site of the original village.

The town is governed by a Local Board of 12 members, formed in 1863, under the Local Government Act of 1868. Since the formation of this Board a thorough and efficient system of drainage has been carried out, and a good water supply has been provided, at a total cost of about £20,000. The Waterworks are situated on Leys Hill, about one mile from the town, and were erected in 1879. The boring is 265 feet deep, and passes through 128 feet of chalk. The water is purified by a special process, and pumped into a tank at the top of the tower, which has an elevation of 97 feet above the town. This tank holds 66,000 gallons, equal to one day's consumption. The town is well lighted with gas from works erected in 1866, by the Hornsea Gas Light & Coke Co., Limited, at a cost of £3,000, in shares of £2 10s. each. There is also another small gasworks, belonging to Messrs. Jackson & Son, of Hull, who supply eight of the 67 public lamps of the town.

To provide attractions for visitors a Promenade Pier was erected by the Hornsea Pier Co., which was formed in 1865. It is an iron structure, and cost upwards of £10,000. Its length was originally 1,072 feet, but, during a storm in October, 1880, a small brig, called the "Earl of Derby," came into collision with it, and about 200 feet of the pier fell. A long course of litigation, now at an end, ensued, but the pier has not since been restored. Public Rooms were erected in 1869, containing a spacious concert hall, capable of seating 600 people.

The market and fairs, as before stated, have been abandoned, but a hiring for servants is held on the first Monday after Martinmas, and is known as "Hornsea Sittings."

The church, which is dedicated to God in honour of St. Nicholas, is a commodious edifice of stone, in the Perpendicular style, erected in the 15th century, on the site of an earlier structure, and comprises chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, south porch, and a western tower with eight crocketed pinnacles, containing three bells. The tower was formerly surmounted by a lofty spire, which formed a well known sea-mark. From an entry in the parish register made by the Rev. William Whytehead, vicar of Atwick and curate of Hornsea from 1756 to 1817, it appears that this spire was built of wood, and was blown down in the year 1714. Other accounts represent it as standing till 1732, but as Mr. Whytehead most probably had the story of its fall from those who had witnessed it, we may accept his statement as correct. The church was restored under the direction of Sir G. Gilbert Scott, R.A., at a cost of £3,500, in 1867, when the several windows and arches that had been walled up during the decadence of architectural taste that resulted from the dissolution of monasteries, were opened out again, and the appearance of the edifice restored to something like what it was before spoiled by the cheeseparing and tasteless reparations of later times. The aisles are divided from the nave by four pointed arches on each side, and from the chancel, along each side of which they are continued, by three similar but narrower ones. Several of the windows are filled with stained glass, in memory of various local familes. The east window, containing seven lights, was the gift of the late Lady Strickland. Underneath the chancel is a vaulted crypt * - a feature not very common in ordinary parish churches - and the east end of each aisle was formerly a chapel, with its altar, &c. That on the north side is now used as an organ chamber and vestry, a carved screen separating them from the rest of the aisle. The pulpit, of carved stone, was presented by Mrs. Palmes, widow of the late vicar, during whose incumbency the restoration of the church took place. The chancel stalls are of oak, handsomely carved, and the nave and aisles are fitted with benches of the same material. There is sitting accommodation for 762 persons.

* This crypt has a fireplace, with an aperture for the smoke, and, whatever may have been its original purpose, it has occasionally been put to "strange uses." Many years ago an old woman of weak intellect, known by the soubriquet of Nanny Cankerneedle, took up her abode in it; and it was subjected to still greater profanity by the parish clerk, who used it as a place of concealment for smuggled goods. Whilst engaged in this nefarious occupation, on the night of the 23rd of December, 1782, a sudden hurricane arose, which unroofed the church and blew in the great east window. The clerk was stricken with paralysis which deprived him of the power of speech, and the people declared it was a judgment. This violent storm arose from the mere and travelled towards the sea, destroying and unroofing 24 houses (including the Vicarage House), 14 barns, and other outhouses. It overturned the windmill in the field called the Dales, and carried the millstones to a distance of 150 yards. Sheets of lead were stript from the church and wrapped round two sycamore trees standing in Hall Garth; and a woman and child, in bed together in one of the unroofed houses, were blown into the street with the bed under them, but fortunately they received no harm.

The monuments are few and of little interest. There is an altar tomb of alabaster to Anthony St. Quintin, the last rector of the church, who died in 1430; and on the walls are tablets to members of the Cowling, Simpson, Wade, Ballantine, and Day families. The epitaph on "Will Day, gentleman," who died in 1616, is a curious illustration of the play upon words then in fashion, the word day being introduced into almost every line

"If that man's life be likened to a day,
One here interr'd in youth did lose a day
By death, and yet no loss to him at all,
For he a threefold day gained by his fall;
One day of rest in bliss celestiall,
Two days on earth by gifts terrestryal -
Three pounds at Christmas, three at Easter Day
Given to the poure until the world's last day.
This was no cause to heaven; but consequent
Who thither will, must tread the steps he went.
For why? Faith, hope, and Christian charity
Perfect the house framed for eternity."

The church, as before stated, was given at an early period to the abbot and monks of St. Mary's, York, by whom the several rectors were appointed. In 1423 Archbishop Bowett appropriated the great tithes to the abbey, and ordained a perpetual vicarage, the endowment thereof to consist of a mansion house to be erected at the expense of the said abbot and convent, the small tithes and two oxgangs of land, and all the tithes, &c., belonging to the chapel of Riston, with a house in that village and two oxgangs of land. The church was rebuilt about this time at the expense of the monks. At the dissolution of St. Mary's Abbey, the impropriate rectory and the advowson of the vicarage reverted to the Crown. The former was subsequently granted away, and the latter belongs to the Lord Chancellor, who presented the Rev. Edmund Lawrence Hemsted Tew, M.A., of Hertford College, Oxford, in 1872. The living, to which is annexed the rectory of Riston, is worth about £400, including 145 acres of glebe, with residence.

There were formerly four guilds or fraternities connected with the church, called respectively the Guilds of Corpus Christi, Holy Trinity, St. Mary, and St. Catherine. The particular object of each of these guilds has not been recorded, but it was most probably the protection of certain local trades, and making provision for the workmen in their old age.

There is belonging to the church an estate consisting of 60 acres 3 roods 12 perches of land, with dwelling house &c., bringing in £113 per annum, which is applied to the repair of the fabric. It is not known when or by whom it was left, but it is very probable, as Mr. Poulson suggests, that this land had belonged to the dissolved guilds, and that the inhabitants had, by some means or other, succeeded in holding it from the royal grasp, and appropriated it for the repair of their parish church. The earliest mention of the church lands occurs in the Town's Book, about 250 years ago.

Several forms of dissent are represented in the town. The Congregational Church, in New Road, is a handsome building in the Gothic style, comprising nave, shallow transepts, porch, and tower with octagonal spire carrying a clock with four dials. It is built of brick, faced with white stocks, and relieved with bands and arches of red stocks, with Yorkshire stone dressings. It was completed and opened in June, 1874, at a total cost of about £3,000. The transepts are divided from the nave by pointed arches. The east end is lighted by three single lancet windows, filled with stained glass; and the west end by a large window of five lights. The windows of the nave and transepts are of two and three lights each. The interior is fitted with open seats, and covered with an open timbered roof. There is a small gallery at the west end, which raises the sitting accommodation to 470. A small organ stands in the north transept. Attached to the church is a Sunday school. The Manse, a commodious building near the church, was erected in 1867, by the late John Bainton, Esq., of Arram Hall. The old Independent Chapel, built in 1808, was sold after the erection of the present church. At the rear of it is a small burial ground, now closed.

The Wesleyans have a chapel in Newbegin, erected in 1870, in lieu of the old one, built in 1814. It is an edifice of brick, with stone dressings, in the Gothic style. The interior is galleried round its four sides, and neatly furnished in pitch pine, stained and varnished. The organ stands in the north gallery under a lofty arch. There are 565 sittings. Adjoining is a Sunday school, erected in 1875, similar in style to the chapel. The total cost was about £4,500. Hornsea is the head of a circuit.

The Primitive Methodist Chapel is a red brick building, with white string-courses, and ornamental cut stone dressings, and surmounted by a pediment. The vestibule is approached by a flight of wide stone steps. On the lower floor are the Sunday school aud class rooms. The chapel was built in 1864, at a cost of £1,250. The old chapel was taken down, and a house for the minister erected on the site.

A School Board, consisting of five members, was formed in 1884, for the district of Hornsea-with-Burton. So far the school accommodation has been amply sufficient to meet the requirements of the population, and the Board merely undertakes the duty of enforcing the attendance clause of the Education Act. The National School (mixed) was erected in 1845, on a site given by the late Rev. C. Constable. There is accommodation for 200 children, and an average attendance of 165. The Infants' School, situated in Westgate, is a homely-looking building, in the cottage style, erected in 1848, by the late Lady Strickland. It will accommodate 65 children, and is attended by about 60. A new Cemetery, containing two acres, was laid out in Southgate in 1885, at an outlay of £1,600, which included the cost of the site and the erection of a mortuary chapel and board room. The Cemetery is under the control of the Local Board, and since its opening the churchyard has been closed, except to a few having vaults. A parish room was erected by subscription in 1887, on part of the Vicarage ground, at a cost of about £200.

A pleasant Promenade, provided with seats and shelters, was laid out on the North Cliff, in the early part of 1891, and the committee propose providing other attractions as soon as funds are available. A Convalescent Home for 12 children, in connection with the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, at Hull, was opened in 1885. It is supported by voluntary contributions, and from its opening to October 6th, 1891, there have been 529 little sufferers benefited by a sojourn therein. The Drill Hall (No. 3 Battery 1st East Riding of Yorkshire Artillery Volunteers, W.D., R.A.) was built in 1884, and enlarged in 1890. It comprises large entrance hall, drill shed, parade ground, armoury, band, recreation, and store rooms, with residence for the instructor. There are two smooth bore ordnance guns - 32 pounders - mounted on garrison carriages. The company was formed in 1883, and is 50 strong. There is a Coast Guard Station on Cliff road, in charge of a chief officer and six boatmen, who have the control of the Board of Trade Life Saving Apparatus. A semaphore was erected at the watch-house on the cliff in 1890. An Agricultural Show is held here every alternate year, under the auspices of the Holderness Agricultural Society, and is noted for the quality of its exhibits.

The old Rectory House of the Abbots of St Mary's stood within the Hall Garth, and a portion of the moat which surrounded it may still be traced. The old house was granted with the rectory to the Whartons, who sold it to the Moores from whom it passed to Peter Acklam. This gentleman pulled the house down, and erected another residence in Southgate, in 1674. The Acklams were Quakers, and several members of the family were buried in the garden behind the house, where five or six gravestones, some bearing inscriptions, may still be seen. This house, formerly called qLow Hall, now White House, still retains some traces of antiquity. The Old Hall is a large red brick house, with ornamental gables in the Dutch style, erected about the time of James I. Nothing is known of its history or its early occupants.

Opposite the Low Hall stands the shaft of a cross, about eight feet high. From what remains of it, it is evident that it was once a light and elegant structure. There is a tradition that the people of Southorpe and Hornsea Burton used to hold their market here, and it may possibly have been this market for which the second charter was granted in 1446. There was another cross in the Market Place, but this was removed a few years ago, and now stands in the grounds of Southorpe Farm.

On the western side of the town is Hornsea Mere, the largest sheet of water in the county, and the last of the lakes whose memory is preserved in several place-names in Holderness. The surrounding country is flat, and the scenery somewhat tame compared with the mountain tarns of Cumberland and Westmoreland; but an abundance of wood on the northern and western margins, and four wooded islands in the lake, compensate not a little for the absence of mountain and crag, and impart to the scene a quiet, picturesque beauty. The Mere is irregular in outline, measuring, from east to west, about one-and-three-quarter miles, by three-quarters-of-a-mile in breadth, and covers an area of 467 acres. At the west end is Wassand, the residence of H. Strickland-Constable, Esq., whose ancestor, Marmaduke Constable, Esq., in 1595, purchased the Mere, "with the tithe of and in, and the right of fyshinge and fowlinge in or upon the water," from Anne, Countess of Warwick, and it has been ever since vested in the same family. For the last five or six years the public have been permitted to place boats on the eastern portion, on payment of a certain sum per boat, an advantage that has been greatly appreciated by the owners of the twenty or more private yachts which are kept there. There are also pleasure boats to be had for hire at the boat-house on Kirkholme Point. The lake abounds with pike, perch, eels, and roach, and in the olden time, the fishery in the mere was a considerable source of revenue to the Monks of St. Mary's. The Abbot of Meaux also claimed the right of fishery in the mere, by grant of William le Gros, grandson of Odo, who gave the manor and mere to St. Mary's Abbey. In 1260, the Abbot of Meaux brought a writ of right against the Abbot of St. Mary's; and the latter having the choice of trial, decided to rest the issue on wager of battle. The Abbots fought by proxy, and the combat is thus described in the Liber Melsæ

"William, the Abbot of Meaux, provided champions (terones) for the combat, the same number being found by the Abbot of St. Mary's. A horse was first swum across the mere, and stakes were fixed to mark the extent of the boundary of the claim. On the day appointed for the combat, the parties and their champions appeared properly accoutred; the fight commenced, and lasted, according to the narrator, from morning until evening, when the champions of the plaintiff were beaten to the ground, and the fishery ultimately relinquished by the Abbot of Meaux."

The mere is occasionally frozen over to a considerable thickness, affording excellent skating. In the winter of 1890-1 cricket matches were held on the ice and on St. Stephen's Day a sheep was roasted and eaten on it.

It appears from the observations of Professor Phillips, that this mere is doomed sooner or later to extinction. "Hornsea Mere," he says, "is now undergoing some of the changes which are traced in the old lakes cut into by the sea at Outhorne, Sandley Mere, and other places. It is slowly filling up by depositions of vegetable matter and earthy sediment round the shores and islands."

The sea is here, as along the whole Holderness coast, encroaching on the land, and slowly but gradually diminishing the extent of the parish. There is a tradition that Hornsea Church once stood 10 miles inland, and that this fact was thus recorded on the church spire, which was blown down in 1714

"Hornsea broach, when I built thee,
Thou was ten miles from Beverley,
Ten miles from Bridlington,
And ten miles from the sea."

There is, however, not the least probability in this story. From observations and measurements taken at the first Ordnance Survey, and repeated two years ago, after an interval of 40 years, it was found that the waste on the Holderness coast during that period was at the rate of about two yards per annum. It may, therefore, be easily calculated how many thousand years would be required, at the same rate, to reduce 10 miles to something under one mile.

Many places formerly on the coast of Holderness have been engulphed by the sea. Amongst them is Hornsey Beck, once a hamlet in this parish, the last portion of which was swept away about 150 years ago. There was a pier at Hornsey Beck in the reign of Elizabeth, but it had been destroyed by the sea before 1609, as we learn from an inquisition taken that year; and the jury further found that during the preceding 60 years "38 houses and as many little closes adjoining were decayed by the flowing of the sea.

HORNSEA-BURTON, is a hamlet containing about 400 acres, lying on the seaside, one mile south-east of Hornsea. It is united with Hornsea for all ecclesiastical and rating purposes, but has been separated from the manor from an early period.

SOUTHORPE is another hamlet containing about 560 acres, situated about a mile south of Hornsea. It is for all purposes a portion of the parish and manor of Hornsea.

The first lifeboat in connection with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, stationed at Hornsea, was presented in 1857, by Mrs. B. Wood, of Eltham, and named the "B. Wood." In 1864, a larger one bearing the same name, was placed on the station; and was instrumental in saving the lives of 30 men from two wrecked vessels. In 1875, that boat was replaced by the "Ellen and Margaret of Settle," and in 1887 the latter was superseded by another one of the same name, constructed on the latest and most improved principles. These two boats have succeeded in rescuing 42 people from wrecks.

[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.

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