Thursday, 16 July 2020

A Spaldington sprite

Yet again it is raining and I have just put a bucket underneath an overflowing gutter. The garden is growing crops of chickweed as well as rather too many courgettes for us to eat. But the chickweed is useful as the chickens are spending a lot of time in their pen. This is to protect them from the fox.

I heard them cackling one day a couple of weeks ago and there was a lovely {!!!} young fox looking at me from just outside the kitchen window.  Although I let Molly straight out it was too late and we lost a chicken, as did our neighbours.

I have been enjoying a new page - All about Goole - on facebook. Lots of lovely memories are coming up. I am not from Goole but went to school there and have lots of lovely Goole friends.

I am sorry to say that my local history classes will not be resuming in the autumn as my only option was to run them as Zoom courses but having consulted several students they felt that we would not be able to capture the social interaction - ie the interjections [interruptions!] from everyone and the cups of tea!!! I - and they - are hopeful that we can meet face to face in 2021!!

But I am not bored and have been working hard on a new version of my website - WordPress is a challenge but I think I am getting there. And I am trying to write a page about the history of the different villages.

When researching Spaldington I came across this article from the Goole Times of 1875. I knew of Robin Roundcap but this version has some extra detail.

Not far from the Howden station, is the rural village Spaldington, in which place, not very many years ago, was standing an old mansion in the Elizabethan style, known as Spaldington Hall.

The hall was said to be haunted by a genuine ghost of the old school, half ghost and half fairy. This ghost was always known by the name of Robin Roundcap, and was believed to have been the ghost of a family jester in the time of James I. Tradition said that for some mischievous pranks played on his master he was kicked downstairs, and broke his neck. This kind treatment he resented haunting his master during his life, and the house after his death. It is related was very fond of frightening the maids, of hiding their shoes, kirtles, household utensils, and farming implements -  in short, if anything was lost or broken,  it was put down to Robin’s account.

He was credited with wonderful powers of imitation, aud whatever noisy operations were going on the house, or outbuildings, the same noise would heard in the next room, or somewhere not far off. When the boys were chopping sticks, at the other side of the heap they would see sticks flying, but without seeing the axe or directing it.

Robin would frequently reply to questions, sometimes volunteer statements, but was seldom seen with the naked eye, and never twice had he the same personal appearance. The story was, once upon a time a poor unfortunate packman was going up the house to make an honest penny, when he encountered Robin in  a form that so frightened him that threw down his pack and ran away,

It would appear Robin was no Good Templar, for he was charged with drinking the ale barrels dry and a particular fancy he had for eating pasties, cakes, tarts, or, in fact, anything good or sweet. Ill-natured people would have it the servants had the lion’s share of the plunder. One of his freaks was that of getting into the brick oven and putting footprints on all the large rye loaves when baking, or of pushing in large rusty nails to spoil the servants’ knives. The worst freak was get into the churn and spoil the butter and although they tried to burn him out by inserting a red-hot poker, but this only served to prove his laughter, without any beneficial result to either cream or butter.

At last the farmer—who was then occupying the house—became so provoked by the doings of Robin, he resolved to leave the house aud remove to another a short distance from the farmstead, that he might be able to attend the farm without the annoyance he had been subject to so long. When the furniture was being removed to the new abode, the farmer met an old neighbour, who said, 'l see you are flitting when,  to the astonishment of both, Robin bawled out from within—“ Yes, we are flitting". "Well,” said the farmer, “we may as well flit back, for it is no good paying two rents, aud be pested at both houses,”  and he returned to his old residence.

The good vicar was next consulted, and he kindly offered himself, “by book and by bell", to appear in person at the old mansion, to show cause why his unjust spirit should not be conjured down, and set at rest lor ever.

We are not able to give particulars of the charm used by the clerk in holy orders. Robin begged that it should only be for a year and a day. ln the end, the matter was so far compromised, that he was only to be conjured down into an old draw-well, for three generations, which was accordingly enacted, and willow stake driven through him, which was said afterwards to became great tree.

About fifty years ago, the rising generation were anxiously looking forward to his return. But, alas, for poor Robin before his day came, the old mansion was taken down, and a modern house built in its place, so modern that there was not a decent corner for the ghost to lodge in.

The old hall, home of the Vavasours, was taken down in 1838 and Old Hall Farm now stands on the site. Is there still a large willow tree there??!!!

I do not have many pictures of Spaldington  - would love to see more - but I found this on the internet of Hobgoblin Hall in the Lake District and imagined that the Old Hall where Robin Roundcap lived may have been like this!!!

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Street names

At last it has rained and everything in the garden has soaked it up and looks much happier - including the weeds of course. Walking Molly I enjoyed seeing her forging her way through the wet grass and also catching the characteristc smell of the elder flowers. Now is the time to be making cordial.

But if the plants have been parched the bees have been making honey as the sun shone. The beekeepers here have been extracting it as fast as they can and now it is for sale outside the house. I have been tasting it and it it fascinating to try and taste the various blossoms the bees have been on.

One of the questions I often get asked is how certain streets got their names. Sometimes the names are ancient such as Bridgegate or Hailgate in Howden. The gate in these names means street and comes from the Viking word gata. The bridge was a stone bridge probably very near where Marsh End joins Pinfold Street  - Bridgegate seems to have extended further than it does today.
Hailgate is from the Viking word halh meaning a nook of land and describes the land enclosed by the giant curve of the Old Derwent alongside which Hailgate runs -it was first mentioned in 1199.

Hailgate, showing how it curves

But it is sometimes not so obvious as Bishopgate was only built in 1834 to  link Hailgate and Flatgate and for much of the nineteenth century was just New Street before being named Bishopgate.

And more recently  there have been new housing developments and the council has often suggested names to the builders which have a link with the past.

So Shelford Avenue takes its name from William Shelford, the engineer of the Hull and Barnsley railway while the other streets off it are the names of stations and other features on the line. As of course this area was the site of the Hull and Barnsley railway station.
Hull and Barnsley track bed and station house [picture courtesy of Arthur Henrickson]

Congregational chapel
Milton Close takes its name from the Milton Rooms which were behind the Congregational chapel  which stood nearby and which in turn took their name from the poet John Milton who wrote Paradise Lost. Milton was an early Congregationalist.

now site of St Helen's Mews

The Vinery is a nod to Howden's former grape growing past whilst Langrick, Loftsome and Welham are named for  local bridges.

Charles Briggs was a former Hailgate brewer  who gave Howden the Ashes and the Shire hall and Carter street takes its name from another prominent brewing family who owned land nearby. Interestingly this is the same family after whom Carter Street in Goole is named.

It is good to see that Howden's history is being preserved in its newer street names - material for lots of school projects -- eventually!!!

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Norwood family of East Yorkshire

The sky is blue, the cuckoo has been calling and we are still confined largely to our homes. But I have a big garden and there is plenty to do - often at the moment watering everything as it is so dry.

I am not a great TV viewer and so have been spending lots of time on the internet. As many of my regular blog readers know I have a website [], write this blog and also write books and booklets about local history. I enjoy reading and sometimes contributing to the local history facebook sites and saw on the Snaith page that someone was interested in the house called Norwood House aka no 1 George Street.

I was interested in this as the Norwood name had come up when I was researching my book about Eastrington - but I was doubtful that there was a connection.  I was right  about Norwood House - but I did nevertheless find a connection to my Norwoods in Snaith!!

First  the  George Street house. Several contributors to the Snaith fb page believed the house was named after a former occupant called [John] Norwood Howard who was a coal merchant. And they were right I think

John Norwood Howard was born at Snaith in 1913. His father too was a coal merchant  and he and  his wife Edith came originally from Lincolnshire. His mother's maiden name was Norwood and this explains why he gave the name to his son.

Norwood was the youngest member of the family. His eldest brother Stanley Hardy aged 19 was killed in 1918. His name is on the war memorial in the church.

George Street

But also in Snaith is Norwood Villa - no 8 Pontefract Road. It looks Victorian and I wondered who it took its name from.

I found a record from 1955 referring to the death of Mr. Robert Hall Fisher,  of  Norwood Villa, a retired grocer,  who died September 1954  and who  left £22,088. Robert was born in 1867 at Beast Fair where his father was a saddler. In 1901 he was a  grocer living next to Plough Inn,  Beast Fair but by 1911 he was retired grocer living  at Norwood Villa with his wife Annie and daughter Lucy  who died in 1964.

I then searched further back and found references to the death in 1907 of John Turner Norwood.

There were several newspaper reports of his funeral include the following

May 6th 1907. Deep regret is felt in Snaith, Goole, and district, at the death, which took place on Saturday, of Mr. John Turner Norwood, of Norwood Villa, Snaith. The old gentleman, who entered on his 78th year on May 1st, was born at Camblesforth, near Selby. The greater part of his life, however, was spent in Leeds, where he rose from a comparatively humble position to one of considerable importance in the city. He retired from active business life some twenty years ago, and came to reside at Snaith. He took a great interest in farming, and owned two large farms at Drax, close to his native village. He belonged to the old school of farmers, and being  a prominent local speaker, he often roundly denounced with much originality what he described as “the new-fangled notions of the agricultural schools.” For many years he presided over the monthly petty sessions held Snaith, and though a merciful magistrate, he had little sympathy with offending motorists.

  A quiet, though impressive, funeral was that the late J T. Norwood, J.P., Norwood Villa, Snaith, which took place on Tuesday at Drax. The coffin was of plain oak, with brass mountings, and the hearse in which was conveyed from Snaith had drawn blinds. Moreover, there was not a single female in attendance, the chief mourners being the deceased's brother and nephews from Brighton. 

Amongst others present were Messrs G. F. Ogle, Hartley, and Weddall, fellow magistrates; Blair, J.P., medical attendant; Mr E. T. Clark, magistrates' clerk; Messrs R. B. Shearburn, Snaith Hall; Lealey, H. Rawson, Tillage Works, Goole; A. Hartley, Cowick; Superintendent Burkitt, Goole; Inspector Minty, Snaith; and Sergeant Dove, Selby. The Vicar of Snaith officiated in the church, and the committal service was taken by the Vicar of  Rawcliffe (Rev R. Proude). By request there were no flowers.

There is a plaque in his memory in Snaith church

Plaque in Snaith church, courtesy of Chris Watson

John T Norwood first appears living in Snaith in the 1901 census.  He is living alone apart from a housekeeper.

In 1891 he appears living at 16 East Parade in Goole with his aged mother  Ann and sister. His mother died aged 95 in 1894 and his sister remained in East Parade.

The Norwood family

I then looked at John's parents, grandparents and great grandparents. His father was Thomas Norwood born in 1799 and baptised at Howden. His father's address was then given as Yokefleet Grange. 
He had married Ann Wilkinson in 1827 at Adlingfleet, her home village.

Thomas' father was another Thomas born at Saltmarshe in 1767, a farmer who married Alice Turner at South Cave in 1791. It was this Thomas who eventually settled at Camblesforth and who was buried at Drax in 1816. 

His widow Alice, then aged 41, re-married in 1819. Her groom, Samuel Nicholson was a gentleman farmer of Rawcliffe aged 82. This age discrepancy meant that the marriage  featured in several Yorkshire newspapers. Samuel died the following year and one of his heirs, a nephew also called Samuel Nicholson appears in a chancery case. It would be fascinating to know the human story behind these bare facts.

There is a school book of this Thomas Norwood dating from 1785 in the Goole Museum collection

Thomas Norwood's book now in Goole museum, image courtesy of Chris Watson
page 2 of Thomas Norwood's book, image courtesy of Chris Watson

Camblesforth where Thomas Norwood lived

But another generation back and I was in Eastrington.  Thomas [ 1767-1816] was the son of John and Ruth Norwood [nee England] . He was one of a family of at least seven children. John and Ruth had moved from Saltmarshe to Eastrington in the 1770s to take up the tenancy of Townend Farm, then one of the largest farms in the village. 

I had researched their Eastrington life for my book on the history of Eastrington and had found that John was one of the signatories of my 4x  gt grandfather's [George Wise Nurse] will. They farmed and lived next door to each other.
Station Road Eastrington. The original Townend farm is on the extreme left

There were several Norwood sons so it is understandable that their son Thomas should move to farm at Camblesforth. And equally understandable that Thomas and Ann should farm there too.
This was where their five children,  Thomas Wilkinson, John Turner, Alice, Ann Frances and Ruthella were born. 

Thomas and Ann at some point moved to North Cave where Thomas gave his job as auctioneer in 1851. By then their two sons had left home. John was working as the manager of a Leeds flax and wool business with his sister Alice as housekeeper.

Thomas Wilkinson Norwood
But eldest son Thomas took a completely different and very interesting path.  He received a private school education, possibly at Leeds and in 1847 aged 19 went up to St John's College Cambridge. He received his degree in 1851 and entered the church being ordained priest in 1852.
 His first post was as curate of Bollington in Prestbury in Cheshire. Here he met the lady he was to marry. The vicar of Bollington then was Rev George Palmer who died at the untimely early age of 38 in 1852. His widow was the former Jane Gaskell of Ingersley Hall  and she  was left with a young family. 

Meanwhile Thomas was appointed curate of St Paul's in Cheltenham and was chaplain  to the Cheltenham Union. 
Three years after Rev Palmer's death  in March 1855  at St. Mary's Church, Cheltenham Rev. T. W. Norwood married Jane, daughter of the late Thomas Gaskell Eaq., of Ingersley Hall, Cheshire, widow of late George Palmer Esq.
The family were living in Cheltenham in 1861 but in 1867 Thomas was appointed  curate of St Luke's church in Chelsea.  Jane stayed in Cheltenham.
He obviously made a deep impression on the parish in Chelsea as there is a tablet in his memory in the church erected after his death.

The tablet in St Luke's church Chelsea commemorating Thomas Wilkinson Norwood

 In 1878 he was appointed vicar of Wrenbury in Cheshire,  and remained there for the next 29 years.
Jane died in 1880 in Florence.

He was obviously a very interesting and learned man and there are many references to him in newspapers and on the internet. He was a founder member of the SPAB [Society for the Protection of Old Buildings], alongside William Morris,  a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and wrote several papers on gypsies and their vocabulary which are deposited in Liverpool University archive. He worked hard for the church at Wrenbury apparently personally underpinning parts of it 'a very hazardous undertaking'. He was also a keen archaeologist and left his collection of shells and fossils to Cheltenham College.

He resigned the living in  September 1907 - his brother had died in May - and came to his brother's house in Snaith but died on January 31st 1908.
The brothers left substantial  funds which passed to the children of their sister Ruthella.

I was not sure when I began to look at Norwood House in Snaith where  I would  be led. Family history is like that. I still have not found who lived in the George Street house before the Howard family - the deeds might sort that out - or whether John Norwood built Norwood Villa. I would be delighted if anyone has any more information or pictures.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Beating the bounds

I was listening to the radio this morning and the speaker mentioned that tomorrow is Rogation Sunday.

This is the day when the Church  offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labours of those who produce our food.

The word “rogation” is from the Latin rogare, “to ask.” Historically, the Rogation Days, the three days before Ascension Day, were a period of fasting and abstinence, asking for God’s blessing on the crops for a bountiful harvest.

Traditionally a common feature of Rogation days was the ceremony of beating the bounds, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister and churchwardens and the choir would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.

Different parishes had different customs which ranged from choir boys beating the  parish boundary posts with willow wands, choir boys themselves being beaten with willow wands at every marker so that they remembered where the boundaries were, choir boys' heads being  knocked against the markers for the same reason and in Goole, where the boundary was in the river, being dunked.

In May 1948 for example there was the following  newspaper report:

CHOIRBOYS DUCKED. The ceremony was instituted to impress on the minds of the youngest parishioners the extent of the parish boundaries in order to prevent encroachment by neighbouring landowners, and this " impression included some physical chastisement, which at Goole last night took the form of immersion in the river. Choirboys vied for the honour of being ducked in the river at Goole last night, when, for the first time in the history of the parish, the choir of the parish church carried out the ancient ceremony of beating the bounds.

But it is a very ancient ceremony and in Howden there is a footpath called Paternoster Bank off Station Road. This bank was the original boundary of the parish of Howden and was where the parish met with Howden Common and, further along, with the deer park. In the 18th century it was owned by the town and rented out. In 1815 when it was decided to pave the Market Place part of the money was raised by selling the timber growing on the bank.

It takes its name from the first two words of the Lord's Prayer Pater Noster [Our Father] as this prayer would have been said at each boundary marker on Rogation Day.

Local churches do still hold Rogation Day walks and services but unfortunately not this year. We are all still gardening and baking and discussing whether our sour dough has worked or whether the pigeons have eaten our cabbage plants.

Howden church choir

Howden church choir - Rev Graham and music director Andrew Leach

Friday, 1 May 2020

Rawcliffe Bridge farms

The weather is cooler and so I am not so keen on gardening. Today is May Day, traditionally a day of fun and celebration but we are still confined in our own homes and so perhaps that will have to wait.

While we are ' locked down' however we can still talk to our friends. In my case some of these friends - are also students in my local history classes.  We normally come up with interesting topics during our meetings but now I keep in touch with them in other ways and and we have been discussing the area around Rawcliffe Bridge.

This was instigated by a picture which appeared on a facebook post, submitted by Roland Chilvers. The picture was captioned Rabbit Hills farm, Rawcliffe Bridge 1929.

Rabbit Hills farm 1929, courtesy of Roland Chilvers

I sent a copy of the picture to my friend Pauline, who was brought up in Rawcliffe Bridge and wondered if she knew anything about the men in the picture and/ or the farm.

Pauline is a very keen and thorough researcher and this set her thinking. The Rabbit Hills area was an ancient piece of land but after World War One the West Riding council bought the Rawcliffe Hall estate  and divided much of it into farms. In 1923 she found an advert asking for potential tenants for several farms, with preference given to ex-service men.

One of these was George Alfred Almond.  He was an ex-serviceman originally from the Swinefleet area and had married the former Emily Drury at Swinefleet in 1921. This fits in with what another lady, Heather posted. She  said that a member of the long-established Sykes  family  of Rawcliffe remembered that George farmed at Rabbit Hills with his wife Emily. They had two children Jim and Mary. Mary married Rex Wood who had Villa Farm in Snaith and Jim worked at Fisons.

Another friend, Steven, asked his father, David Goulden who used to live in Rawcliffe and he too remembered the Almond family.

George we believe later lived at White City on Rawcliffe Road and a family called Lewis took Rabbit Hills.

Pauline also sent me some of her memories of the farms in the 1940s. 

   I spent my junior school years living at Black Drain Head, a cottage and pumping station at the side of the River Don, about halfway between Rawcliffe Bridge and Newbridge.  Our nearest neighbour was Maurice Baldry at Plum Tree Farm. When we arrived he was a single man and Mr and Mrs Thompson lived with him. When we left in 1948, he was married and daughter Barbara had just arrived. Son Colin arrived not long after.

Then, in memory,  off I went down Johnny Moor Long, first Mr Procter, and then Norman Lifesey’s smallholding at the corner of Greenland Lane, the Torn family at Greenland Hall and Philip & Jean Micklethwaite at the Fox & Duck which was also a pub. It now has its original name, Fox Gate Farm. I liked Jean. Before she married, she was a bus conductress on the Majestic buses that ran from Doncaster to Goole. 

The memory can play funny tricks at times because a lot of people remember the Blue Line & green Reliance buses on the same route, but I’ve yet to find someone who remembers the red buses with wooden seats. (sorry – I got side-tracked.)  Greenland Lane ran straight from Johnny Moor Lane back to the river bank and turned just short of Newbridge.  

Close to where the lane now bridges the M18, were the Scrutons and the Fox brothers and a bit further along, the Chafers. I don’t remember the family but son David started Goole Grammar School while I was there.

When I was asked about Rabbit Hills farm I remembered that there was a farm at the back of the Rabbit Hills but I thought it was Langham Farm.  What did I remember?  Leaving Rose Hill & walking towards the railway station, I passed a farm on the left. That was Mr Scawthorne who was also the village milkman until Northern Dairies arrived.  

At the side of the first entrance to the Rabbit Hills was a large house called “North View” and for a short time, about 1946, the Hedges family came home from India to live there. School mistress Mrs Banham sat daughter Elizabeth with me in a double desk.  The entrance to the wood at the side of this house was the only one I ever used which was quite often when a group of small children, after Sunday school, would be searching for treasures to put on the Nature Table in the classroom on Monday morning. 

The other entrance, which is still there, was opposite the two large houses close to the station. Mr and Mrs Rowntree, who were members of our chapel, lived at Woodlands and Mr & Mrs Hargreaves, both teachers at Goole Grammar School, lived at Wynne House. The lane from this entrance leads to Rabbit Hills Farm. Was there a Langham Farm? 

  Looking at local maps, there were two more farms close by: South Farm and Langham Farm. The address for both farms was New Lane. This led from Mill Lane, the short cut from Rawcliffe station to Cowick. The Langham Interchange cut through New Lane but South Farm survived.  So was Langham Farm lost under the motorway? It’s almost half a century since the motorway ploughed through this area and the local people have forgotten what it looked like. Of all my local contacts, only one could remember Rabbit Hills Farm because her Mother worked there for a Mrs J Lewis.
     And there are the Dobeller farms and Pastures farms and Bridge farm, Bankside & Decoy just for starters and no photographs of any of them. I have one photo of Dobella Farm where I was sent to buy fresh eggs.

Pauline and her friend Shirley on the river bank at Black Drain Head

Dobella/ Dobeller Farm
We would be delighted if anyone else has memories or pictures to add to this information or,  of course, corrections.


Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Laxton blacksmiths

Here is another blog post from what is now the 'new normal' of lockdown. Like everyone I am missing seeing my friends in the flesh so to speak but we talk a lot, e mail each other and last week I joined a Zoom conference with around 75 other WEA tutors from all over the UK. It was interesting hearing from  tutors who taught local history in London and Hove  as well as sympathising with those who taught painting, pilates and even soup making. I know we can all go onto the internet but it is not the same as seeing our students round the table all chipping in with their comments.

But enough of that as when not working on the computer I, like millions of others,  have been gardening. The onions are flourishing as are courgettes and sweetcorn [in the greenhouse]  and we have been eating soups made from wild garlic and lovage.

I have also been keeping a close eye on old pictures which have been coming up on e bay. And one which I bought has led me into some interesting if quite sad research. It was a wedding picture and written in pencil on one corner was Laxton 1915. The groom and best man were in uniform but I wasn't certain about where the picture was taken.

Using Find my Past I was able to narrow down the number of weddings in Laxton in 1915 to four. And one in particular seemed to be likely. It was the wedding of cousins Lilian and John Edward Dickinson.

John Edward was 24 and was from Thorne Moorends. He worked in the peat works and lived with his parents and brothers and sisters. His father, Fred was foreman at the works and was originally from Bilbrough.

Lillian, who was the same age,  was the daughter of Laxton blacksmith Wallace Dickinson who was Fred's younger brother. Wallace came to Laxton in the 1880s and in 1889 married Annie Mary Fox of Howden. They had two daughters Lilian and Eva.

Sadly Annie died in 1907 aged 46 and her sister Sarah moved in as housekeeper.  Sarah's son Lawrence, then aged  four also became part of the family. His school admission is online.

I then had a look in the back copies of the Goole Times and was able to find a report of the wedding, described as a 'khaki wedding'.  The reception was held in the Laxton schoolroom and I am fairly certain that the picture is therefore taken outside the former blacksmith's house on Front Street in Laxton. But I may be wrong.

John and Lilian had a daughter Annie who was born in 1916.

But on August 29th 1918, only a few weeks before the end of the war, John Edward was killed and is buried at the Wancourt British cemetery. He is also commemorated in Laxton churchyard.

And then in 1925 Annie died aged only 9.

Laurie Fox grew up in Laxton and then went to work as a blacksmith in Scarr's shipyard at Howdendyke.

Wallace Dickinson died in 1940 and Laurie Fox became the Laxton blacksmith.  His apprentice Herbert Martin eventually followed him in the role and was in fact the last Laxton blacksmith. His smithy has now been rebuilt as a house.

Below are the pictures which tell the story.

Messrs Claude Brignall, Herbert Martin and Clarrie Dowson righting the world outside the smithy

Laurie Fox in Front Street opposite the blackmith's shop with Major Empson's polo pony
A page from Laxton school admission register for 1907.
The wedding of John Dickinson and Lilian Dickinson in 1915
The report of the wedding from the Goole Times

A 1970s view of the house where Wallace Dickinson lived and the smithy

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Good news for family historians

As this crisis continues I am forever grateful that I have a garden to walk round every morning. It must be so difficult for those who do not. Here I walk Molly  around every morning and as there is no hurry to go anywhere else I think I am noticing more.

But I am keeping busy too with  history and received a call this morning from the Goole librarian who asked me to pass on the news that anyone who is a member of East Riding libraries can log on and have access to the family tree sites Ancestry and Find my Past. Normally you can only use them in the actual library but now anyone can access them from home.

I have been looking at the history of Kilpin recently and found a surprising amount of information for such a small place. But as yet I have found no old pictures - anyone out there have any?

The picture below is the site of the Garden King Factory where as a student I worked on the frozen pea processing line. My job was to stand over a conveyor belt and pick off bits of pod and other unwanted objects. I can still remember the smell of warm peas today.

The other pictures I have taken today in the garden.

An aerial view of Kilpin, now the site of several new houses


Hens having a chat


The bees are being busy in the sunshine

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

History in isolation

I am writing after we have been in 'lockdown' for a week and I suppose we are adjusting to the new normal. It seems odd not to just visit friends or go to the shops when we feel like it. I never would have believed, when I wrote my last blog post that people would be fighting in the shops for bread, milk and toilet rolls!

But on a more positive note we are lucky enough to have a big garden and before lockdown I had just acquired six new hens from the Fresh Start for Hens organisation and I  am very pleased with them. They are apparently from a large egg producing farm near Harrogate and are in good condition - a bit scraggy as they are in moult but are  enjoying scratching around for food and are presently laying well.

It seems too that I am not the only one to  think that growing our own vegetables is a good idea - I just wish I had bought some seed potatoes and other seeds a couple of weeks ago. But I shall plant some of the sprouting potatoes we have in a bag under the sink and although they might not be as good as my usual Arran Pilots I am sure they will grow.

And of course I have lots of time now for local history. I have written an article about a terrible accident at the chemical  works at Howdendyke when the chimney collapsed and the original 'steeple Jack' came to Howden to give evidence. Read about it in the latest edition of the Howdenshire Magazine.

I follow the local facebook page about Howden in the good old days which recently featured memories of shops and so I thought I would include here some relevant pictures .

A view of Annie's fruit bowl, presently supplying Howden with fresh produce

Goole Boothferry Road showing Marks and Spencers

Messrs George Brown and David Bullement fitting the new window in what is now That Teashop

Inside Glews' workshop on Bishopgate showing I believe Messrs David Greenwood and Alan Glew

I hope all readers stay well - and thank goodness for modern technology which helps us keep in touch with each other.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Goole butchers

The snowdrops are out and putting on a good display this year despite all the wind and rain of recent days.
But all the dykes and ponds are full and the fields are standing in water. Roll on summer!!!!

However the weather has given me time to spend some time on the computer answering local and family history queries. One of the most interesting has been from a gentleman in Bavaria who has been looking at German immigrant pork butchers in the 19th century.

He sent me a lot of information about the Hohenlohe area, a farming area from where several families emigrated. These were often second sons of farmers and were already skilled butchers but who  could not make a living in their home area. 

One family from the village of Hessenau were called Strecker and they ended up in Goole. Initially the business was run by sister and brother Barbara and John George but later by John George and his family.

Their shop was on Boothferry Road, near the station. The premises, number 78, is still there. It is almost opposite the Pasture Road junction and next to the present Post office, which is built on the former yard of builders Platt and Featherstone.

The Streckers had been in Goole 29 years when the war broke out in 1914. Mr Strecker was naturalised but the family was still subject to anti - German feeling and moved out of Goole to Wakefield. Their shop was later run by the well- known Goole butchering family of Willie Crapper.

The Strecker family still have descendants in Yorkshire but it is only very recently that they have been able to make contact with their German relatives as they had lost touch as a result of the war.

A pre-war view of Boothferry Road showing the Strecker name on the end of their shop. Much more recently the Morrill decorators had their name there.

The Crapper family were 'English pork butchers'

 This was the shop in 2004 when it was a barber's
In complete contrast I have also been looking at the nineteenth century restoration of Howden church - it was not then known as Minster as it is today - but I think that will have to come in a separate post.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

New term and new decade

Well - it's all over for another year and I hope all readers of my blog have had a good Christmas and New Year. I am taking decorations down and preparing for a new term with my local history classes in Howden and Goole.

The first Howden class is on Monday 13th January at 1.30 pm in the town council offices on Bridgegate and we would welcome new members at this first class - you can enrol after you've tried it out!!

The first Goole class at Ilkeston Ave Community centre is at 10am on  Thursday January 16th. Both classes are very friendly and a good way to meet new people.

One of the topics I shall be looking at is the story of Nancy Nicholson who lived at Drax and later at Asselby. After her death there in 1854 pamphlets were published about her colourful life. She was apparently a 'termagant'.

I have been looking particularly at her ancestry and connection with Asselby Hall. This was the home of the Smith/Smyth family from at least the seventeenth century when John Smith's house had 5 hearths, the biggest in the Village.

The family were still living in Asselby when in 1769 Nathaniel Smith died. But then later the same year his only son John  also died. He left all his property in Asselby to his sister Mary, to pass eventually to her young daughters Ann and Sarah.

Mary Smyth had married Rev Joseph Fisher, vicar of Drax in 1765. Joseph was  originally from Cockermouth.  When he died in 1820 after 50 years as vicar aged 82 he was described as   "a man of most eccentric character, but of wonderful and superior abilities being not only well versed the art of physic, but also law and divinity. "

He studied medicine for 2 years at Edinburgh university,  wrote a thesis on dropsy and was subsequently awarded a medical degree from the university of Leyden.

He was also master of the school at Drax.  But as he was away from Drax for long periods he had a hard working curate. This was Rev John Jackson. In 1787 John Jackson married Joseph's daughter Ann and the following year their daughter Nancy was born. She was apparently very spoiled by her parents and seemingly not a nice person.

Joseph's daughter Sarah married Thomas Harrison of Harrington in 1810 and they had a daughter Dorothy.

Time passed and in 1810 a  newly ordained curate, Rev John Nicholson, came to help John Jackson. Rev Jackson died in December that year and was buried in the chancel of Drax church.

The chancel of Drax church

The following year 22 year old Nancy married the curate. It was not to be a happy marriage nor was it a happy time for the pupils of Drax school.

Read School Drax chapel showing alms houses

Apparently Nancy's mother could not bear living with her daughter and moved to Cliffe where she died in 1842 aged 73. The newspaper report described her as

Ann. relict of the Rev. John Jackson, curate of Drax, and lecturer of Barmby-on-the-Marsh, the last surviving daughter of the Rev. Joseph Fisher, M.D., late vlcar of Drax, and granddaughter of the late Nathaniel Smith, of Asselby Hall, near Howden.

If the story is correct Nancy starved the 12 pupils, taught them how to steal eggs and apples, dressed oddly and was very miserly. Her husband took to drink and both were violent. They parted and Nancy moved to her Asselby property, inherited from her mother. She ejected her tenant farmer who was a relative and the villagers were so angry they bought his goods back for him at the farm sale and burned her in effigy.

Rev Nicholson was suspended from preaching in 1828 and died  in 1850 at Newland, near Drax, described in the newspaper as much respected.

Meanwhile Nancy's cousin Dorothy had married a ship's captain. Sadly he was killed in an accidnet and in 1845 she married again at Howden.

 Mrs. Dorothy Wilson, of Asselby Hall, widow of Captain John Jorden Wilson, of Harrington Harbour, Cumberland, and granddaughter of the late Mr. Nathaniel Smith, of Asselby Hall, this county; and also of the late Rev. Joseph Fisher, M.D., Vicar of Drax, and Perpetual Curate of Carlton, in the same county.

 After the death of this second huband she and her children moved in with her cousin and was living in Asselby in 1851.

Nancy died in 1854.   She left nothing to her cousin Dorothy who had cared for her. Dorothy kept an ironmonger's shop in Howden Market Place on the corner of Highbridge but she was in partnership with her son Joseph and they went bankrupt in 1875. The premises were sold, described as

 DWELLING-HOUSE AND SHOP, Situate on the East side of the Market-place, and lately occupied as an Ironmonger’s Shop, by Mrs. Dorothy Taylor. This Estate is situate in the best part of the important town of Howden, and will be found on inspection to be well-built, conveniently arranged, and well worthy of the attention of purchasers whether for investment or occupation.

Asselby hall was demolished sometime after Nancy's death and apparently replaced by Eel Hall
It was said that an oak beam with eels carved on it was built into the gable of the  old hall and that this was incorporated into the attic of the new house.

Life was certainly exciting in Asselby when Nancy was there.

I have not a picture of Eel Hall farm - can anyone help?