Sunday 23 July 2023

Whitgift church - and street names

 I began my post last month with a comment about welcome rain. Well,  now I think it has gone too far the other way. My friend has her birthday on July 15th, St Swithin's day and it seems to have rained ever since. The garden is now sodden and it is difficult to find a space between showers to pick soft fruit.

I am looking forward to Tuesday when the local history groups I attend are visiting Whitgift church. Quite a few years ago I wrote an article about the history of the church and have been re-reading it in preparation for talking about it. It is a lovely church  next to the river and also next to where the Whitgift ferry  crossed from  near Metham on 'my' side of the river. This was a major crossing point from north to south, used by Charles 1 on his way from Hull and on several occasions by John Wesley.

The church itself was apparently re built on 1304 after being destroyed in a dispute over tithes.

 In 1247, the new Rector of Adlingfleet was a Franciscan Friar called John le Franceys [sometimes John the Frenchman]. He was originally a Yorkshireman, but he had travelled throughout Europe, becoming a Papal Legate and a King's Councillor. He had great plans for Adlingfleet, rebuilding and enlarging the church, and taking on the dispute with Selby Abbey. When a dispute over the ownership of a weir in Whitgift became particularly acrimonious, John le Franceys decided to get his own back. 

He demolished Whitgift Church and removed the stones to Adlingfleet where he built himself a stone chamber, attached to what was probably a wooden rectory.  This is still there and has recently been restored. John was not popular in clerical circles and when he was stricken in 1252 by paralysis, dying in 1255  he was mourned 'with dry tears' by the monks of St Mary’s Abbey at York and of Selby.

And of course we shall discuss the famous clock with 13 on its dial. Was it mentioned by Lord Haw Haw and how did it come to be?

Whitgift church - with clock

Another topic which has come up recently is street names. There have been many new names around Howden on the recent developments, selected by builders from lists suggested by the Town Council. I know that several were names which appeared on the war memorial and it would be good to publicise more about them - maybe a winter project!! I do have a copy of a contemporary booklet about those who lost their lives in the First World War. And how many Howden people know why they have an Osana Avenue?

In Goole there is a newish development called Mulberry Gardens which recalls Goole's contribution to the Mulberry Harbour construction - but controversial as it stands on the site of two former streets - Richard Cooper and Phoenix which many local people felt should have been referenced

And most recently there are new houses being built in the centre of Eastrington. They are to be named Watson Drive. 

At least two village families were - and are - called Watson.  My own parents, Doug and Joan Watson  were very well-known in the community. My mother, who lived in Eastrington all her life taught at the local primary school and my father, originally from Driffield was evacuated from Dunkirk during the war, spent three years in North Africa and then taught in Howden. Both were involved with the agricultural society and the village hall while my mother regularly played the church organ. She was also for many years on the parish council and fought to get the present nature reserve created when it was proposed to make it into a refuse tip.

I remember Maud Watson who was the village postlady when I was a child. Her father too had been a postman. My grandmother, who lived a little out of the village,  used to wait until she saw Maud arriving and then shout  'Any sickness in the village Maud?' Maud then replied with all the news.

Maud's son Tom was killed in 1944. He was 22 and an air gunner on a Lancaster when it was hit and crashed in Germany. He had a brother Leslie who  lived in the village with his family until his death in 1996.

I think street names represent so much local history and it is interesting to find out more about them.

Sgt Tom Colbeck Watson with Betty Cox who was an evacuee from Hull and lived in Alma Row.