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WAWNE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.

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

This parish, also spelt WAGHEN, comprises the townships of Wawne and Meaux, containing together 5,439 acres, and 393 inhabitants. In the former township there are 3,970 acres of land, the whole of which, with the exception of the Rectory farm (about 300 acres) belonging to the Dean and Chapter of York, is the property of Ashe Windham, Esq., D.L. The rateable value is £4,400. The soil is a deep loam, with a little carr land, the subsoil is clay and chalk; and the chief crops are wheat, oats, barley, and beans.

In Domesday Book, Wagene is returned as a soke, belonging to Aldenburg. William le Gros, Earl of Albemarle and Lord of Holderness, gave the manor and church of Waghen to the abbey which he had founded at Meaux, and they remained in the possession of the monks till the Reformation. In 1629, Charles I. sold or mortgaged to the Corporation of the City of London, all his lordship and manor of Waghen, which then included 3,338 acres of land and marsh, and it remained in their possession till 1651, when the manor and lands were purchased by Sir Joseph Ashe. The property subsequently descended to the Windhams, and the heiress of this family, in 1779, married Sir William Smyth, Bart. Sir William left (with two daughters) four sons, three of whom held successively the baronetcy, and the fourth, Captain Joseph Smyth, of the 17th Lancers, succeeded to the Waghen estate, and assumed the additional surname of Windham. The present owner, Ashe Windham, Esq., is his second son, and succeeded to the manor and estate on the death of his elder brother, William George Windham, Esq., December 26th, 1887.

There is another manor in Wawne, called the Rectory manor, but the court leet for this has been abandoned and no manorial rights are exercised.

The village, which is small and scattered, stands on the east bank of the river Hull, over which there is a ferry, six miles north of Hull, four miles southeast of Beverley, and three miles north-west of Sutton station, on the Hull and Hornsea branch of the North-Eastern railway. The church, St. Peter, is an ancient edifice of stone in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, north porch, and a tower at the west end of the north aisle, containing a clock and three bells. The fabric underwent a thorough restoration in 1874, at an expense of £1,500. The edifice was entirely re-roofed, a vestry and porch erected, the windows reglazed, and the interior restored and reseated with pitchpine. The nave is divided from the aisles by arcades of pointed arches, four on the south, and three on the north. The west window is a Perpendicular one of five lights, and in the south aisle is a two-light stained window to the memory of one of the Windham family. The altar table, of solid oak, is dated 1637, and the octagonal font is also of considerable antiquity. The whole structure is embattled and partially covered with ivy. The living is a discharged vicarage, formerly in the gift of the abbot and convent of Meaux, from whom it was transferred in 1230 to the Chancellor of the Cathedral Church of York, and is now in the gift of the Archbishop. It is worth £260 nett, and held by the Rev. George Wilkinson B.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge. The great tithes amounting to £882 belong to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The churchyard has been recently enlarged by an addition of 1,000 square yards of land, given by Ashe Windham, Esq. The Vicarage is a commodious residence of brick, completed in 1873, at a cost of £1,800.

There is a small Primitive Methodist chapel in the village. The parochial school was built about 20 years ago, for the accommodation of 70 children, and is attended, on an average, by 50. It is mixed, and under the care of a master.

Wawne Lodge is a modern residence, the property of Ashe Windham, Esq., and occupied by his eldest son, Ashe Windham, Esq., captain, 3rd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment Militia, and agent for the estate.

On removing an old wall near Kenley farmhouse, in the village, some 60 years ago, there were found a silver crucifix, a hawk's bell, a dagger, and some other curious relics. At the south-western corner of Gibraltar farm, adjoining the parish of Sutton, the monks of Meaux had their fishhouse, with ponds and mills, by the river bank, at the outlet of the drain called Forthdyke, which was made by the monks and the lords of Wawne and Sutton. They had also a vaccary or pasture for cattle at this spot. At another place, about half a mile from the village, near the carrs, the foundations of a moated house, with traces of what appear to have been fishponds near it, can be distinctly seen. There is no tradition concerning the place, but it is supposed by some to have been one of the fishing resorts of the abbots of Meaux.

Charity - The poor have the rent of nine acres of land at Cottingham, purchased, in 1699, with £50 left by Sir Joseph Ashe. This land now lets for £24 a year, which is distributed between the school, clothing club, and the deserving poor.

MEAUX. - This township contains 1,457 acres of land, and had, in 1891, 76 inhabitants. The rateable value is £1,360, showing a depreciation of £198 since the previous assessment. Sir Frederick Augustus Talbot Clifford-Constable, Bart., is lord of the manor, and the landowners are Robert Wise Richardson, Esq., Harold Road, Upper Norwood, London; the Crown; the Earl of Londesborough, and Mr. William Dale, of Esk, Beverley.

The hamlet consists of scattered houses, situated about two miles north of Wawne, and seven miles north of Hull. There is a small chapel-of-ease here, erected through the exertions and during the incumbency of the Rev. R. J. Crosthwaite, now suffragan bishop of Beverley. It will accommodate about 60 persons, and services are conducted every Sunday afternoon by the vicar of Wawne.

The only interesting feature of the township is the abbey that once stood here, and of which a small fragment remains. It was founded, about the year 1150, by William le Gros, Earl of Albemarle and Lord of Holderness, in commutation of a vow he had made to visit the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and which he was unable to fulfil in consequence of increasing years and corpulency. Having resolved to found a monastery for monks of the Cistercian Order, he communicated his intentions to Adam, a monk of Fountains Abbey, who was celebrated for his piety, his great architectural skill, and his refined taste and appreciation of the beautiful in nature. Adam traversed the wide domain of the potent earl, and selected for the site an eminence in the beautiful but sequestered hamlet of Meaux. This place the earl had recently obtained in exchange for Bewick, that he might convert it into a park. He demurred to the choice of Adam, and desired him to select some other spot; but the monk was inflexible in his resolution, and, striking his staff into the ground, he exclaimed with enthusiasm : - " This place shall in future be called the vineyard of heaven and the gate of life, and shall for ever be consecrated to religion and the service of God." The earl acquiesced, daring not, or caring not, to dispute further with the enthusiastic monk; and, under the superintendence of Adam, a magnificent edifice arose in the wood, adorned with stately pinnacles and towers, and enriched with tesselated pavements. It was peopled with Cistercian monks from Fountains Abbey, and richly endowed, by the munificent founder, for the maintenance of 50 religieuse. Adam was appointed the first abbot.

The possessions of the monastery were numerous and extensive. The founder granted to the monks all his lordship of Meaux or Melsa, and the adjoining wood of Routh, his patrimnony in Wagham, with the advowson of the church, the passage or ferry over the river Hull, lands in Salthaugh, Tharleton, Myton, Mora, Octena, Blanchemarl, Wherra, Schira, &c. The neighbouring gentry vied with each other in heaping favours and wealth upon the brotherhood. They had free warren in the following places, granted by a charter of Edward I. : - Melsa, North Grange, Rue, Waghen, Fishous, Tharlethorp, Salthaugh, La More, Skiren, Blanchemarl, Wharrand, Wathsand, Ruton, Dunelton, Arwhale, Ottringham, Crauncewyke, Heytfield, Oketon, Dalton, Wartre, Sutton, Dringhoe, Erghum, Oustwyk, Ake, Molescroft, Raventhorp, and Ravense. William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle, gave to the abbey a windmill and a watermill at Brough; and Clement, the chaplain, assigned to it a windmill at Seaton, in Holderness. Henry de Hull and Agnes, the daughter of Thurstan de Hull, endowed the abbey with lands at that place for the salvation of their souls. Matilda de Camin conveyed to the monks four oxgangs of land in Wyk de Miton, and pasture for 800 sheep, together with certain tofts, fisheries, saltpans, and all liberties and free customs thereto belonging. Richard de Ottringham assigned to the monks several hundred acres of land, with other property in Ottringham, Drypool, Tharlethorp, Well, and Sutton, to establish a chantry, on condition that they provided seven priests to offer up mass daily in a certain messuage at Ottringham, for his own soul and those of his kindred and ancestors, which chantry was subsequently removed into the porch of the abbey church. There were numerous other grants and bequests left by persons that sought sepulture in the abbey or its cemetery.

Many privileges and immunities were bestowed upon the monks; they were quit of all pleas of murder, free from all tithes and royal exactions; exempt from suit and secular service; they were endowed with sac * and soc, thol and theam, infangthef and utfangthef; and all the same laws, customs, and immunities, which were enjoyed by the church of St. Peter at York. These possessions and privileges were confirmed to the Abbot and Convent of Meaux by 80 papal Bulls, 61 charters of the Archbishop and Chapter of York, and several royal charters.


* Sac. The power of imposing fines upon tenants and vassals within the lordship.
Soc. The power and authority of administering justice.
Thol. A duty or toll paid for buying or selling, &c.
Theam. A right of trying their bondsmen and serfs.
Infangthef and utfanthef. The privilege of trying thieves taken within and
without their lordship.

This order, a branch of the Benedictines, was founded at Cistercium or Citeaux (whence the name) in Burgundy, by Robert, Abbot of Molesmes. St. Bernard was a great promoter of the order, and in memory of his great talents and virtues, it was sometimes called the Bernardine Order. The order was introduced into England in 1128, and spread very rapidly. In Yorkshire they had eight abbeys, eleven nunneries, one alien priory, and one cell. Their houses were invariably placed under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin, and erected in the most secluded spots they could find. Their dress was white, and they were hence very generally known as "White Monks." Their rule was at first very austere. They used neither furs nor linen, and never ate any flesh except in times of dangerous sickness; they abstained even from eggs, butter, milk, and cheese, unless upon extraordinary occasions, and when given to them in alms. They had belonging to them certain religious lay brethren, whose office was to cultivate their lands, and to attend to their secular affairs; these lived at their Granges, or farms, and were treated in like manner with the monks, but were never indulged with the use of wine. The monks who attended the choir slept in their habits upon straw; they rose at midnight, and spent the rest of the night in singing the Divine office. After prime and first mass, having accused themselves of their faults in public chapter, the rest of the day was spent in labour, reading, and a variety of spiritual exercises with uninterrupted silence. On certain occasions a little relaxation was allowed from the rigorous silence, and at these times, usually some festival, a portion of time was allowed for conversation in the locutorium or parlour; at these times, too, they were permitted to walk abroad, but were not allowed to receive nor pay visits. Many of the prescribed austerities were mitigated by order of Pope Sixtus IV. in 1485.

The first abbot impoverished the monastery by the erection of several granges and other extravagances, and the monks had also trouble with some of the neighbouring landowners particularly Sir Robert de Turuham, "who robbed the monks of Meaux, and did great violence to them in Wharrom." They suffered occasionally from the incursions of the sea, which rushed up the Humber and overflowed their lands doing irreparable damage. On one occasion (in 1256), the water extended to the woods and fishery at Cottingham, destroying a great number of their servants and cattle, and washing away a considerable quantity of land at Myton and Salthaugh, which was never afterwards regained. These periodical devastations reduced very considerably the value of their lands, which appear to have been let at rents little more than nominal, * and in 1346 the monks were reduced to such straitened circumstances that they were obliged to petition the Archbishop of York for assistance and relief.

* In Waghen the abbot had 193 tenants who paid rents varying from £3 6s. 8d. down to 2d. yearly, the whole amounting to £66 8s. 4½d., besides the payments made in corn, hay, straw, bread, beer, geese, fowls, &c.

The chartulary of the abbey is preseved in the British Museum. It is beautifully written on vellum, and was the work of one of the monks about the close of the 14th century. This chartulary was one of the volumes in the library of Sir Thomas Cotton, and did not entirely escape the effects of the fire which threatened the total destruction of that invaluable collection. It contains a list of books in the abbey library, and if the number is not very large, it should be recollected, as Mr. Poulson observes, that "they were written with a pen on vellum, by the care and industry of the monks." Most of the books have been lost; they were probably condemned to the fire by the furious zealots of the reformation.

When the commissioners of Henry VIII. visited the abbey, the community consisted of the abbot and 24 monks, and their gross yearly income was returned at £445 10s. 5½d., and the net income at £298 6s. 4½d. Richard Stopes was abbot at the time of the commissioners' visit in 1535, but he probably died before the surrender, as Richard Draper occurs as abbot in the pension-book in the Augmentation office, London. He received a pension of £40, and each of the monks £5 or £6 until such times as they could obtain church preferment of equal value.

In the Monasticon it is stated that the site was granted, in the third year of Edward VI. (1550), to John, Earl of Warwick; but it was again in the possession of the Crown in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, who, in 1561, granted the site of the abbey, and much of the property belonging to it, to her favourite, Dudley, Earl of Leicester, upon very indulgent terms. Subsequently, in 1586, it came into the possession of the Alfords, who resided here, and was sold by this family to the executors of Francis Stringer, in 1712. From the Stringers the property passed to the Fitzwilliams, from whom it was purchased by Mr. Wise, and has descended to Robert Wise Richardson, Esq., the present owner.

The abbey is said to have been a magnificent pile, but all that now remains of it is an arched gateway and a fragment of wall. The circuit of the abbey enclosed an area of 60 acres, and the deep moats which protected it are still visible. The site of the church can be traced, and near it a subterranean passage, which has been explored to a considerable distance, and is partly filled with water. Several interesting relics have been found in excavating the site. In 1834, a tesselated pavement was discovered a little beneath the surface, and also a stone coffin containing human bones, and the official seal of one of the abbots. It is circular in form, exhibiting a crowned figure of the Blessed Virgin seated, with the Divine Infant on her knee, and around is the legend, "Maria Virgo pudica pia 'nostri miserere." In the garden of the house close by is preserved the fractured tomb slab of Thomas Burton, 21st abbot, who died in 1437. His effigy, with pastoral staff, is incised on the stone, and around the margin is an inscription. There is another stone, that once bore the brass effigy of a lady and an inscription. This is supposed by some to have been the tombstone of the Countess Albmarle, wife of William le Gros. An old draw-well was discovered in the garden of the Abbey Farm some years ago. It had been filled up with rubbish, and covered by a surface of plaster. Among other relics found therein were an old tankard, a knife with ivory handle curiously inlaid with gold, a key, and a ring.

Meaux Grange, once the residence of the Alfords and later owners, is now occupied by Mr. John Stephenson Wright, farmer.

This township was so named by the first Norman owners in memory of Meaux, their native town, whence they accompanied the Conqueror to England; and this name was subsequently - after the erection of the abbey - Latinized into Melsa. "By reason," says the monkish historian, "of the delight of religion continually to be obtained therein, it might not unjustly be compared to the savour of honey."

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

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