Sunday, 3 April 2022

The Clarkes of Knedlington

 Now we are in April, the clocks have changed giving us an extra hour in the evenings and I have been transplanting rasp canes so that they are in rows rather than thickets. But on Thursday morning we woke up to snow - an early April fool joke? - and last night we had a hard frost.

I have been researching two local families about which I did not know as much as I should. The Clarke family who played a large part in Howdenshire's history in the nineteenth century.

They owned the Knedlington estate which included large parts of Asselby and Barmby. Thomas Clarke  was born at Spaldington and baptised at Bubwith in 1796. He was the only son of William Clark of Spaldington and his wife Ann [nee Elmer].

In the eighteenth century the Clarke family home seems to have been at Prickett hill, not far from Wressle. It was a large farm, part of the Wressle estate and John Clarke, probably Thomas' uncle lived there all his life, dying there aged 80 in  1822.

Thomas married in 1825, Sarah, eldest daughter of the Rev Eric Rudd of Thorne.  The couple had four sons but only one survived their parents.  Mr Clarke was prominent in local affairs and was involved with the restoration work of the church, the building of the Howden workhouse and the Shire Hall. He lived initially at Knedlington Old Hall but in 1841-2 he built a new hall which he called Knedlington Manor. It consisted of 33 rooms and was designed by Weightman and Hadfield of Sheffield in the Tudor style. There were formal grounds containing several American trees grown from seeds imported by William Cobbett, the famous 19th century pamphleteer and horticulturist.

After the death of Thomas Sinclair Clarke the estate passed to the Rudd family. The last of the Clarkes to live at Knedlington was Eric de Siobalde Sutherland Rudd-Clarke, who died  in 1925. The Manor was sold in 1930 to James 'Jimmy' Mortimer, an entrepreneur! Mr Rudd Clarke's widow married Rev Waring, the vicar of Howden.

Thomas Clarke's Knedlington manor

Knedlington Manor was demolished in the 1950s.

The other family I have been looking at is the Andertons who lived at Howdendyke and owned the chemical fertiliser works there. The first of the family to live there was George Anderton who bought the site in 1857 and built a fertiliser works there. Soon afterwards there was a tragedy  when the new chimney at the works fell and killed seven workmen.

After George's death his son George Herbert took over.  He had a younger brother, Frederick who died aged 19 a month after George celebrated his 21st birthday. GH was known as a benevolent employer. It was said that he never made any worker retire - as long as they could appear at the works they were paid even if they couldn't really work.

After his death in 1907 his widow Laura commissioned a new pulpit in Howden church in his memory. It was carved by Messrs Elwell of Beverley. It is of course still there and in use.

The plaque to G  H Anderton on the wall of Howden Minster erected by his workmen

He had two children, Maud and Eric. Maud married Richard Pilling of Welton hall and this couple took over the works after Eric was killed aged 22 in 1918.

The Plaque to Eric Asquith Anderton in Howden Minster

The family lived in Kilpin Lodge and 'ran' the village of Howdendyke until the late 1950s. There is still a fertiliser works there but many of the houses have been demolished.

It is an interesting commentary on how times have changed that local communities are rarely as influenced  today by resident families as Knedlington and Howdendyke once were.



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