WITHERNSEA: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


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

By a joint Order of the County Council of the East Riding and the Local Government Board, the boundaries of the contiguous townships of Withernsea and Owthorne have been re-arranged. Owthorne village, which adjoins and forms part of Withernsea, has been amalgamated with the latter, and those surrounding farms that were formerly in Withernsea have been added to the township of Owthorne. This Order came into operation on the 26th of March, 1891, but does not affect in any way the ecclesiastical boundaries. The township of Withernsea for rating and all civil purposes comprises the village only, embracing a population of 922. The rateable value is £3,724.

The manor of Witfornes, as this place is called in Domesday Book, was held by Earl Morcar at the time of the Norman Conquest. It was of considerable extent, and was valued in the reign of the Confessor at £66 per annum; but so great was the devastation committed by the Norman soldiery that its yearly value was reduced to £6. The manor was given to Drogo, and has never been separated from the royal fee.

Withernsea was formerly an independent parish. Its church was an ancient rectory, in the patronage of the abbot and convent of Albemarle, and afterwards transferred to the abbot and convent of Kirkstall, to whom it was appropriated, and a vicarage therein endowed. On the 8th November, 1444, says Torre, a commission issued out to examine the parishioners of the church of Withornsea, whose churchyard being so nigh the sea, that by the violence of its waves beating upon it in a certain tempest, was destroyed, that they might make choice of another foundation whereon to build them a new church; accordingly, on the 8th December following, they certified that the place called Priest Hill, within the lordship of Withornsea, was very convenient for the purpose: whereupon the Archbishop decreed that the parish church should be built upon the same place, which being done, William, Bishop of Dromer, was directed by commission to consecrate the same. The old church, and the old village which had clustered around it, disappeared, as did Owthorne within living memory.

The new church was a large and handsome edifice, built chiefly of cobble stones from the beach, with quarried stone for the chancel, buttresses, and battlements. Here and there in the pebble-work may be seen a fragment of hewn stone, which probably belonged to the old church; and in one of the upper windows of the tower is a pillar of apparently Saxon character. There is no specific mention of a church here before the reign of King John, but as there were two priests when the Norman Survey was made, it is reasonable to suppose there was also a church. The new edifice, like its predecessor, was dedicated to St. Mary. The fabric was kept in repair by the monks of Kirkstall; after the Reformation that burden fell on the parishioners, who being too poor to maintain such a costly structure, it was suffered to decay. A violent storm in 1609, stripped off the roof, and for 250 years the church stood in picturesque ruin. About 30 years ago it was entirely restored, re-roofed, and fitted for divine service at a cost of about £12,000, raised by subscription. It comprises a spacious chancel, nave, north and south aisles, vestry, south porch, and western tower, containing one bell. The east window of three lights has been filled with stained glass in memory of Mrs. S. D. Fewson, who was for some years organist of the church. The living is a curacy annexed to Hollym, and held by the Rev. Charles Day.

The village is pleasantly situated near the sea, where the sandy beach affords very good bathing facilities. It was placed in railway communication with the North-Eastern system by the Hull and Withernsea line (18 miles in length) in 1854; and now the village, once a market town, has developed into a quiet little watering place, frequented by those who desire the benefits of sea air and bathing without the dissipations inseparable from over-crowded places. A palatial hotel, with beautifully laid-out grounds, facing the sea, was erected by the Railway Co., at a cost of £10,530, but the anticipated crowds of visitors did not come, and the hotel proved too large and too costly for the requirements of the place. It is now the property of the Withernsea Estate and Investment Co., and is offered for sale. Many good lodging-houses have been erected for the accommodation of visitors and the beach has been improved by the erection of a sea wall, at a cost of over £5,000. In 1877, an iron pier, about 400 yards in length, was constructed at an expense of about £12,000. It extended sea-ward from the platform of the railway station, and at the outer extremity stood a large saloon. During a storm on the 28th of October, 1880, a ship dashed through it, carrying away about 80 yards. The gap was afterwards repaired and connected with wooden piles; but the part extending beyond it, was blown completely over by the fury of a storm on the 25th of March, 1882. The pier was again seriously damaged just ten years after the first accident, by the wreckage of a smack carrying away some of the wooden piles, and making another gap. The pier has since been shortened to 90 yards, by its present proprietor, Mr. D. Murray. The Royal Lifeboat Institution has a lifeboat here, and there is also a life-saving rocket apparatus.

The spiritual interests of the inhabitants are well provided for. In addition to the parish church already noticed, there are chapels for the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists. The former was erected in 1875; and the latter in 1879, at a cost of £1,300; it will seat about 450.

A School Board, consisting of seven members, was formed in 1875, for the united district of Owthorne, Withernsea, Rimswell, South Frodingham, and Waxholme. A school, with teacher's residence adjoining, was erected in 1877, at a cost of £2,000, for the accommodation of 150 children. There are 103 in average attenance.

[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.