Thursday, 12 July 2018

Church visiting - Ellerker to Howden

As I write it still has not rained and the garden is very dry. We have been watering our baskets and the vegetables but the potatoes are very small and  so are the rasps. At least, as the grass has stopped growing, there is no need to cut it.

A couple of weeks ago we visited three local churches designed by architect John Loughborough Pearson.  This was in conjunction with  York and District Organists association who had come up with the interesting idea of visiting the churches and playing their organs.

We began at Ellerker where our friend Diana Bushby is both organist and churchwarden. This was Pearson's first church, built in 1844 and it was lovely to hear the visiting organists coaxing different sounds from the organ. We then, after lunch, visited Scorborough and South Dalton, both churches with magnificent spires.

Then last week with my WEA Howden and Goole local history groups [classes re- start in September] we visited twelfth century Hemingbrough church. One intelligent student compared the spire there with that at South Dalton.  Could there be a connection we wondered? And yes - Loughborough Pearson carried out restoration work in the 1850s at Hemingbrough before designing the Wolds churches- is that where he got his inspiration?

And finally on this  church odyssey we come to Howden. I had a busy day last Friday showing groups around our own wonderful church. In the afternoon - a very hot and humid one - I was with two parties from the Addingham Civic Society  who wondered why a small market town has such a magnificent church.

But I enjoyed most the morning visit where I talked to year 5 from Howden Junior school. They are finding out the answer to this very question - what is the connection between Howden and Durham and why kings of England and Scotland visited  to stay with the Prince Bishops at their palace in Howden.

I was very impressed by their behaviour and interest in their local church. And they found 22 of the supposed 30 wooden mice carved around the church by Robert Thompson of Kilburn - more than most visitors.

Quite a few years ago now I too sat in the church when my daughter, Amy, then a pupil at the Junior School was  involved in school events.

Time moves on and I shall be there again on  Saturday August 4th at 7.30 when, with Peter Sproston, she performs a duet concert as part of the Minster Concert Series. The grand piano on which they will perform will be on loan from Steven Goulden and I am looking forward to hearing it in the lovely acoustic of the Minster.

I shall not be counting mice that night - and neither will she!

Amy Butler, professional pianist and teacher will be performing duets with celebrated pianist Peter Sproston in Howden Minster on 4th August.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Yorkshire Post article about Howden dig

I was delighted to read in this weekend's Yorkshire Post an article by local writer Lucy Oates about the proposed archaeological dig behind the Howden heritage centre. Although no actual digging has yet taken place we hope to find some evidence of the Bishop of Durham's lodgings where bishops, princes and kings stayed in medieval times.

It seems to have been a busy few weeks which is why this blog entry has been delayed. I  have been researching more of the history of Old Goole for a talk I gave to the Marshland History group last Tuesday. There was a good sized audience to hear about the big houses there where, in the nineteenth century, Goole's 'movers and shakers' lived and entertained.

I have also written an article for the Howdenshire Magazine [out now] about Howden's banking history. Not such a dry a topic as you might imagine involving suicides, bankruptcy [literally] and emigration to Australia.

Meanwhile our garden is quite dry and some spinach plants I put in are running to seed, as is the rhubarb. Our seven chickens are laying steadily and we have already taken some honey off and have sold several jars.

In fact I took some to the Hobbies Exhibition in Goole on Saturday which had been postponed from when we were inches deep in snow earlier in the year. This time we had the doors open as it was quite warm. Despite its being half term there were plenty of visitors asking about such topics as the course of the Old Derwent, Marsh End in Howden and Goole ships.

On Friday we are welcoming 30 members of the East Yorkshire Local History Society to Saltmarshe and giving them a talk, lunch and opening our museum to them. We are  always happy to take group bookings and this year hope to have regular openings for passing visitors as well as by appointment. Just contact me through my website

This cupboard in our museum dates from when the cottage was built - 1763- just after George III became king
Later this month, on 28th June at 2pm,  I am giving a slideshow [ Powerpoint really but does not sound the same somehow!] in the Heritage Centre. I am going to show old pictures of Howden and explain how the town has changed over the years. Admission is free but donations to the centre funds will be welcome

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Howden and the Old Derwent.

On Monday evening I went to a meeting about the proposed archaeological dig on the land behind the present Heritage Centre, formerly the HSBC bank.

During the presentation there was some discussion about the route of the Old River Derwent . It has long been a topic of interest amongst local people as the course of the river has changed frequently over the centuries.

As early as 959 AD a land grant refers to the boundaries of Howdenshire as being  "From the Ouse up to Wilbaldes Fleet, from Wilbaldes Fleet to the dyke, along the dyke to the Derwent, from the Derwent to the right to Caerholm, from Caerholm along the dyke all about the wood to the Foulney, along the Foulney to the Old Derwent, along the Old Derwent again to the Ouse.

All these reference points are watercourses and it is interesting that even then there was a Derwent and an Old Derwent. But very confusingly what we know today as the Old Derwent is probably what was in 959 just the Derwent!!

What we do know is that here in Howden there is a watercourse now called the Old Derwent running through the town. In fact it is probable that it was its existence that decided the first Anglo Saxon settlers to build their village along its banks. Hailgate was built alongside the river which is why it curves gently [it takes its name from halh meaning bend].
The river was bridged at three places in Howden - so we had High Bridge, Halebrigg [bridge]  and another somewhere on Pinfold Street/ Bridge gate. The river was then 6 feet deep and 12 feet wide.

The Manor House of the bishops of Durham was built a few metres from the bank of the river and bishops, princes, kings and queens travelled in barges along Ouse and then along the Derwent to Howden.

By 1399 a 'New Derwent'  had been cut - we now call it Howden Dyke - and boats could access Howden  from the Ouse, turning off at Dykesmynn [ myn means mouth].

Sadly after the Reformation the bishops lost their wealth and both the church and the Manor House fell into decay.

After the "New Derwent' was cut parts of the river silted up and gradually the Derwent took the course we know today. The Old Derwent  through Howden became more of a drain. It  was also used as a watersource - and as a public sewer and still runs underneath parts of Hailgate as well as alongside The Ashes.

So fast forward to the nineteenth century when I found this reference in the Leeds Times newspaper.
of 23rd March 1867.

The Town of Howden, in Yorkshire, has been for some time past suffering from a severe visitation of fever, caused, it is supposed, by the unclean state of the Old Derwent, which is used as a public drain.

 The Wesleyan Day School, which abuts on the sewer, has been closed in consequence of the epidemic. Mr. Fielding, the master of the school, and a number of the pupils have died, and a great portion of the remainder suffered severely,  one medical man having no fewer than thirtyseven cases under his care at one time. 

It is expected the inhabitants will take steps to remove the cause of the outbreak, which, if they do not, will doubtless be aggravated during the summer.

On Tuesday a purse of ten sovereigns was presented to Isaac Winter, the driver of the railway omnibus. Winter has lost his eldest daughter from fever, and the remainder of his children having also suffered from the same complaint, the money was subscribed by a number of the inhabitants as a mark of their sympathy with him in his bereavement.

The Wesleyan school was at the end of Flatgate and after its closure was for many years used as a garage. I looked up Mr Richard Fielding, the master who died. He was 40 years old and left a wife and family. He had only been at Howden for three years, coming from a job at Tollerton.

Newspapers record many other problems with the Old Derwent and I believe it is still a bone of contention as to who is responsible for it. Meanwhile tales abound - the boat dug up near Elizabeth Homes when 'deep drainage' was put in,  a similar tale of a staithe  being revealed in the Market Place, the salmon seen by drinkers at the Cross Keys.
Anyone know any more?

Pictured by Jim Smith are three gentlemen putting the world to rights while contemplating the Old Derwent at the Flatgate end of Hailgate. Behind them is the gas works

Goole in Colour

It is still local history weather by which I mean that it is not gardening weather. Every time I think spring is on the way it rains. The daffodils keep picking themselves up but is certainly too wet to prepare a bed for potatoes. So much for the tradition of planting them on Good Friday.

I am looking forward to attending a preview event in Goole Museum on Saturday afternoon. My friend Pippa Stainton of Time Travel Restorations is putting on an exhibition of her work entitled Goole in Colour which will be open to the public from Tuesday April 17th.

There are over 30 images of Goole which Pippa has restored, sometimes from very damaged black and white originals so that now we can see what Goole may have looked like in Victorian and Edwardian times. She has also researched the background to many of the pictures so that visitors can learn more of the circumstances in which the photograph was taken.

Shown here is the first page of an article in Howdenshire Magazine in which I  have written about the history of Old Goole and illustrated it with some of Pippa's pictures. I have written about the Empson family who were living in Goole in the 16th century and who built the present Goole Hall to replace their much older house. They later built Grove House, shown below, which became the home of John Bennett, entrepreneur and shipowner.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Easter - and Howden heritage

Today is Good Friday - and it's cold. Particularly cold here as we have very little oil and when I ordered more I was told that as the Easter weather forecast was so bad everyone had had the same idea and so we could not have a delivery until after Easter. So it's back to lighting the Rayburn and barrowing logs - I suppose we are lucky to have an alternative heat source.

Last night I went to a meeting of the Howden Heritage Centre committee. It is just a year since we opened and now the whole ground floor is ready for use. The display area is bigger, we have a meeting room, a workroom, an oral history room - and somewhere for volunteers to make tea! We are now looking at putting on some fund raising events and some talks.

One of the interesting projects is an archaeological dig in the back garden of the centre. This building was of course for many years a bank but back in medieval times it was probably part of the Bishop of Durham's Howden palace. The banqueting hall survives but the Bishop's Lodgings and private chapel were very near if not within the garden. We have permission to dig some trial trenches so looking forward to  seeing what's underneath.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Winter weather

I expected to be writing today about the Goole Hobbies exhibition but last week we saw out the end of February with a blast of Siberian weather. So plans were thrown into disarray with a concert at Doncaster I was planning to attend cancelled, as was my Thursday morning history class and Saturday's annual hobbies exhibition in the Leisure Centre.

But compared with other parts of the country we got off lightly with about 6 inches [ in old money!!!] of snow at the most. Worse in fact were the biting winds from the east - we had to block up the extractor fan with cling film to stop the icy blast entering the kitchen. Today the snow here has almost gone but it is a cold rainy day. But on the positive side the snowdrops are visible again and the daffodils are springing back upright.

It seems some time since I wrote of rural, rather than historical events so here is a brief update. Our downstairs cloakroom light stopped working and we had to remove part of the ceiling to get at the wiring. Also removed was an old wasps' nest from some three years ago.

Here is a picture of it - and of the garden and Molly before and during the snow.

The wasp next removed from the roof space. Wasps only use their nests once

Molly in the snowdrops before the 'big freeze'

The bees are safely eating fondant until the warmer weather comes

Molly - and a chicken - exploring the snow

Friday, 2 February 2018

Old Goole history

It's the second of February - a month traditionally known as February fill-dyke. It is wet outside, our pond is full and the sky is glowering but it is winter and it could be worse. On the plus side our snowdrops are beautiful this year and some of the daffodils are in bud. Our eight chickens are laying well and the three beehives have survived the cold - although we are keeping an eye on them.

My two WEA history classes are going well although this term we are studying different topics. In Howden we are in medieval times and had a fascinating talk on Monday by a visiting speaker and ex- student about Howden around 1400.

I am also looking forward to a proposed archaeological dig at the rear of the new heritage centre, formerly the HSBC bank. The area was part of the Bishop of Durham's Lodgings and so should prove interesting.

In Goole we decided to look at Old Goole, a part of the town which has a separate identity and some very proud inhabitants. It even has its own Facebook page!

Many people seem to think that Goole popped up out of nowhere in the 1820s when the Aire and Calder Navigation Co. opened their canal and that there was little history before that. We are finding that the original Goole was thriving before the upstart New Goole and had a long history - although maybe not quite as illustrious as Howden's!

We are researching the histories and inhabitants of Goole Hall, Manor Cottage, Field House farm, Grove and Bleak Houses, the churches, chapels and schools. We are also trying to build a timeline of when the streets were built.

 This week we looked at Field House Farm and its orchards and fruit growing past [anyone know anything about that?] and also at the original Old Goole School. It was held  in the old St Mary's Church and had some very well-read and enthusiastic masters. We think it was associated with the Hook and Goole Charity.

But by the 1870s it was being run as a National School  and was not in a good state. The blame  was laid at the door of the Vicar of Goole, Dr Bell.
In 1875  it was visited by Goole doctor Parsons in his capacity as Medical Officer of Health and other townsmen. A report in the Goole Times on 29th January 1875  describes the visit.

In the course of the report the state of the school and school-house were commented upon, the former being ill-ventilated ; the school yard needing draining and asphalting, while the house was low and needed ventilation. There was a case of scarlet fever there. 
Dr. Parsons said the house was in a nice situation, but had no back windows, so that it was as badly ventilated as a back to back house. The Chairman said the master and his wife looked as if they were just recovered from some malignant disease. They were in an emaciated state, and looked exceedingly feeble. 
The very poultry were huddled a corner of the yard which was a square piece of puddle, and looked too as if they were recovering from scarlet fever, although it happened to be a beautiful morning. There were 30 to 40 children in the room and the atmosphere was stifling. 
Mr Bowers : Not a single window would open. 
Dr. Parsons : I have spoken Dr. Bell about it, but he declines to do anything. 
Mr. England: I cannot understand how he gets the Government grant. The Government inspector cannot know what he is about. 
The Chairman : It no use setting this sort thing down to prejudice or saying we have any object to gain in making such a report. We have every wish to take a fair view, and cannot come to any other conclusion. 
Mr. Bowers : It is a disgrace to any civilised town. 
Dr. Parsons : Dr. Bell said it would cost too much; he should not do it. I will report to you again on the matter. 
The Chairman : Thank you. Do not you think there should be proper playground ? 
Dr. Parsons : There is a yard. 
The Chairman : But it is one piece of puddle. You could not put children there. 
Mr. Clegg : The school was very badly lighted.

The master, John Brayshaw wrote an indignant reply [which I have edited]

In  your last issue you gave a  report of the Church School, Old Goole in which they state that the school-house is low and badly ventilated.
This house consists of four rooms and scullery. The room on the floor is the living room  There are three rooms on the second floor, one used as a sitting room, the other two as bedrooms, the height of all three 8 feet 9 inches.  Each of these rooms has a window  fitted with sliding sashes opening both top and bottom. 

With regard to the health of the first and second master I can  state that I am the only master of this school, and I don’t recollect being ill of any fever, contagious disease whatever, either malignant otherwise, and it appears to that if there was any malignity in the matter all, it must have been in the person who looked at  me and came to such a glaringly false conclusion ; but I thank God that I am in perfect health, notwithstanding the efforts of the medical officer of health to persuade me to the contrary. 

On the day these people paid their unauthorised visit to our school  81 chiIdren were present and not merely 30 or 40 as was stated, and with regard to the ‘'stench”— not a very polite expression, by the way—l have no doubt that the person who said ho felt it, came strongly disposed find everything wrong, but we are not obliged  to consider his judgment the best in such matters.

As regards the School —It is certified to, by the Education department, as being equal the reception of 112 scholars. The ventilation by windows being considered dangerous from direct draught upon the children, there is a ventilator above, and grates all around the base of the school building, there is grate in the centre of the room, near the stove, from which comes current from the side grates, and with proper attention there can be no risk to health.

The yard has two drains one on each side, and the cause of the wet state which was then viewed by these people, was on account  of the late severe frost and afterwards wet weather, but was  remedied as soon as the weather became settled. 

Every care has  been used in not allowing children connected with houses in which there were fever cases to attend at school. 

To take any notice of the sensational remarks made about  my wife and the fowls would only give an importance to matters that they do not deserve. I would venture to say in respect to the medical officer, that I think little more experience of reality would be of great service him in his office. 

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, JOHN BRAYSHAW, 3rd February, 1875. Master of the School.

John Brayshaw however did not stay much longer at Goole. He was originally a wool comber from Keighley and I think he probably returned there. I cannot find records of him in 1881 and wonder whether his health might really have not been very good.

 The Old Goole Board schools were opened in 1878 and most Old Goole children would attend there. The National School remained open for a time and there was a new master, John Prentis by 1881. John was a widower with three adult daughters. He married at Goole later that year and by 1885 he too had left, to become the master of the Kell Bank school at Malham.

I must admit that reading about the schoolhouse it was probably a wise move!!!

 Above the old St Mary's is on the left. The farm house in the background is still there as you leave Old Goole.
Another view. The church/ school was demolished in 1957.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Slideshow of old views of Bridgegate and Flatgate, Howden

My last blog post was a slideshow of Bridgegate going towards Cornmarket Hill. This one goes in the opposite direction, along Bridgegate towards the turn for North Howden and then views of Flatgate. I hope you enjoy it.

Perhaps I should say that using Blogger I cannot upload the slideshow at a quality which is not slightly blurred - but I hope it does not cause too much of a problem

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Slideshow of old Bridgegate, Howden

I have recently upgraded my computer and have been playing with an application which allows me to create and save slideshows.

Here is my first attempt using some old pictures of Bridgegate in Howden. Try opening it in full screen view.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Memories of Balkholme

Christmas Day has been and gone and today the turkey was made into a pie. It has been snowing in the south of the country but here we have nothing but a bit of frost.

In this slightly quieter time between Christmas and New Year I have been looking at  some of my own family history. I found an interesting reference to my Nurse ancestors in a golden wedding report from 1906. Such reports are always fascinating as they allow one a glimpse of ordinary lives of local people. This one tells of a couple from Balkhome who celebrated their golden wedding in 1906 but who could remember events from the 1830s.

March 1906

On Thursday of last week Mr and Mrs William Gibson, Balkholme, near Eastrington, celebrated their golden wedding, and were the recipients of hearty congratulations and good wishes from a large number of residents throughout the Eastrington and Howden district, where both resided the whole of their lives.

Mr Gibson, who is in his 76th year, was born at Balkholme on the 10th of March 1831, and is the eldest son of the late Samuel Gibson, and one of a family of 12 children. He has not been a great traveller, and excepting odd day's outing, has spent the whole of his life at, or within a mile two of, the hamlet of Balkholme. He only attended school  for a few days sometimes," and had to commence work at a very early age to help maintain the family, he and his mother working day in and day out in all weathers for 1s a day—the mother 8d, and the boy 4d a day; whilst his father's wages as labourer, qualified do any kind of farm work, were but 10s a week. At the age of 13 he was hired at Saltmarshe Grange, under Mr Dunnell, where he rose to be foreman.

After twelve years' service, at the of 25, he wooed and wed Miss Maria Johnson, eldest daughter of a family ten of the late Mr W. Johnson, of Goole, two years his junior, Miss Johnson having been born at Goole, on April 28th, 1835. The wedding took place St. Peter's Church, Howden, on the 29th March, 1856: and during their long and happy married life they have occupied a small holding at Balkholme, under T. Martin, of 'Yorkfleet', where they are able to keep a cow  or two, and are spending their declining years in comparatively comfortable circumstances.

He and Mrs Gibson have had only a small family  of three sons, all of whom are still living, married, and doing well —George, aged 48, living at Barmston; Henry (46), living at Mews; and Jack (40), residing in Hull. Their grandchildren number 11. Mr and Mrs Gibson, despite their advanced age, enjoy wonderful health, and have had little expense with doctoring. The former has scarcely ever had had a day's illness in his life, and thinks nothing now of an eight or nine miles walk. In his own words, he has been used "to roughing it," and is a true type of the robust Yorkshireman of the olden days.

When interviewed by our representative, he related several interesting incidents of 60 years ago. He recollects the old coach running between Selby and Hull, and the opening the Hull and Selby Railway; the days when the threshing was done by the flail and horse machine; the introduction of the steam threshing machine, the first coming into Balkholme belonging to Messrs Thompson and Nurse. Wheat was over £4 a quarter, and flour 4s stone. He has mown as much as 18 acres of wheat, and with the help of his wife, tied up, stooked and raked the same ready for leading in 7 or 8 days, at from 7s to an acre.

Balkholme is not exactly a large place but Mr Gibson seems to have been happy there not travelling far for the whole of his life.

The article  was illustrated but few photographs were published then in newspapers so this is what the reader of the Hull Mail saw.

It would not be easy to recognise the Gibsons from this

Maria died in 1916 and William died in 1918

And I learned that my ancestor, probably Isaac Nurse and his brother in law Stephen Thompson who was a machine maker, had a very early steam threshing machine.