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All about HEDON

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Ghosts in HEDON

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Hedon is an ancient market town in Holderness, 6 miles east of Hull and approximately one and a half miles from the River Humber.
There is evidence to suggest that Hedon was a flourishing port long before the growth and development of Hull.

Hedon does not appear in the Domesday Book, because in 1088 the town did not exist. It was of the many new towns created in England during the early medieval period of prosperity when growing trade needed new outlets. These towns wre planned in the 12th and 13th centuries to reap profits for their founders. At Hedon. The initiative was taken by the Count of Aumale (Albemarle). As was usual with new towns, Hedon was relatively small, and had little common land (i.e. land with free access to all). There was a regularly laid out pattern of streets, in contrast to the winding streets of older towns such as Beverley. The town was founded about 1140 by taking about 300 acres from the Count of Aumale's great 5000-acre manor of Preston in Holderness. The Count of Aumale was the Lord of Holderness, his power base being Skipsea Castle. The castle was demolished in 1220 although the mound still survives as Skipsea Brough, but as early as 1150 Burstwick was being developed as the new centre of the Lordship of Holderness. Hedon was also beginning to develop about this time. Hedon's plan is not as regular as some new towns. The northern area is very irregular and gives rise to the conjecture that a small settlement existed here, centred around a triangular green and church (St Augustines). Hedon Haven was a stream that gave access to the Humber two miles to the south. The Aumales probably chose Hedon because its Haven was their only access to the Humber. Patrington Haven belonged to the Archbishop of York. When the town was founded this early settlement became its hub. The green became its market place, and public buildings such as the Hall of Pleas, the prison and the grammar school were built around it. The first stage of the planned town was laid out to the south, linking the early settlement to the haven. During the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda, Hedon was minting coins for Stephen as the Count was a supporter of Stephen. William le Gros, Count of Aumales obtained a charter from Henry II which granted burgage tenure with same rights as York and Lincoln. In 1155 the Hospital of St Mary Magdalen situated to the east of the town, was granted a licence for an 8 day fair which was held in Magdelan Fields . The church of St James was established between Middle Lane and Sheriffbridge Way in about 1200. A large number of water courses flowed through the town, these were exploited to form harbours and defences. Deepening and widening some of these watercourses improved inland transport and the town was protected from flooding by further embankment. A ditch was dug along the north and west of the town, while to the east the Fleet was widened and provided with wharfes along the east side. A third church, dedicated to St Nicholas the patron saint of seamen was built here. The town ditch was extended eastward to protect this area, which has sometimes bee interpreted as another harbour. The Fleet was still an important wharfe area in the 14th century, with timber from Hull as an important item of trade (hence the name of Woodmarketgate). Finally, to the west of the town, the Fore Bank was built. Its artificial straight sides have caused historical controversy: some historians say it was a harbour ,while others argue that it was part of the town defences. There is evidence to support the harbour theory. The field west of the junction between Fore Bank and the Haven is called Chain Close. The chain was pulled tight across the Haven at night as a defensive measure. If Fore Bank had been purely defensive; surely the chain would have been on the eastern side and not the eastern side. This western harbour obliterated an earlier street. The Counts of Aumale founded and built up three boroughs, Skipsea, Hedon and Ravenser Odd (off Spurn Point) At first they obtained much of the towns profits but the towns gradually gained more independence and administration of their own. Hedon was not a good site for a port, as there were too many problems to be overcome. The Haven frequently silted up and had to be cleared and as vessels became larger the difficulty of navigating the Haven increased. The two rival new towns, Hull and Ravenser Odd grew in size and prosperity and were better able to take advantage of trade. By the 13th century Hedon was in decline. Ravenser Odd was washed away in the 1360's but Hull was by then too well established for Hedon to make a recovery. In the 16th century Leland, a famous traveller made the the following comment about the area. Heddon hath been a fair haven toun. ‚€¶.it is evident to see that sum places wher the shippes lay be overgrowen with flagges and reedes and the haven is very sorely decayed. There were 3 paroche churchis in tume of mynde but now there is but one of St Augustine but that is very fair‚€¶..Trueth is that when Hull did flourish then Heddon decaid.

Any rivalry, it must be stressed, is now of the friendliest kind, and Hedon has long forgiven Hull for taking away its once flourishing trade. Charters are not always the most accurate criteria by which to measure the progress of a town. As Hedon's 19th-century historian J. R. Boyle, noted, a charter usually confirmed privileges already enjoyed: 'Rights, which were normally conceded by charter, had often already become legalised by long prescriptive use.' But a charter dated 1200 is surely something worth celebrating, even though Hedon had to wait until 1348 before it received its great charter from Edward Ill establishing its corporate status. What is remarkable, as another more recent historian of Hedon, Martin Craven points out (in the publication he has edited for the occasion, The Royal Charter of King John to Hedon 1200) is that this modest looking document, a piece of parchment measuring roughly seven inches by five and a quarter has survived against all the odds and remains on view in the Mayor's Parlour at Hedon Town Hall. Not the least hazard it managed to escape was the boiler at St Augustine's Church. Although conservationists criticise people of today for neglect, those who should have known better in Victorian Hedon had scant regard for their heritage and merrily consigned bundles of precious documents to the flames The future must have looked bright when King John's charter arrived in Hedon. Rebuilding had already started on St Augustine's to create a church more worthy of the prosperous port and as a companion to at least one other church known to exist at the time, whilst shopping on the haven, the natural waterway which linked Hedon with the Humber, the North Sea, and therefore Europe, must have been as a great source of pride as it was of profit to its merchants. Boyle, a typical Victorian historian, is often hard work for readers, but even he became quite lyrical when he imagined a Dutch-like Hedon of 1200 with its 'quaint shipping craft' and 'scenes of striking picturesqueness'. Optimism unfortunately was soon to give way to despair. By 1203-5 Hedon was the 11th port in England, but in sixth position was Hull, and it was Hull, with its more convenient location and access for bigger ships, which was to end Hedon's great days. In 1280 the men of Hedon described themselves as 'few and poor' and the quality of work on St Augustine's declined as the money ran out. Yet a town of great character had been founded and Hedon has plenty to celebrate this year.

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The reason for its popularity as a port was its safe and sheltered location in the Haven.
It enjoyed considerable volumes of trade, mainly grain to the interior,the West Riding  and return volumes of  coal  and lime etc.
The Development of Hull during the reign of Edward I saw the beginning of a decline in the fortunes of Hedon as a port.
In modern times Hedon is a traditional market town with a pleasent rustic ambience.


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Aerodrome (and Racecourse)
The Airport Garage, which stands on the left on the way from Saltend to Hedon, is a visible reminder of the aerodrome that once occupied the land between the road and the former railway. In 1888 a race course was set up here and is reputed to have had the longest "straight" in the country. For some years it was very popular and old photo's record a grandstand with large crowds of race-goers. By 1910,however its popularity has waned, but it was an ideal location to land a plane and lots of people came and watched famous early fliers like Gustav Hamel, who became the first "flying postman". Flying resumed after the Great War and in 1929 Hull Council bought the land as a municipal airport. Hull Flying Club was formed and a hanger and clubhouse were built. The Aerodromes greatest day was when Amy Johnson, the famous Hull lady pilot landed there, that was on 11th August 1930. Sir Alan Cobhams Flying Circus often gave displays from the Airfield, and people were able go up for joyrides. At one time K.L.M. ran a service to Amsterdam .Aircraft were built at the what is now the garage, and flight tested from the Aerodrome. When the Second World War broke out the airfield was requisitioned by the Government, but never again used for flying. In the late 1940's it was used as a Speedway Track but that's another story.

And there's more

More about Hedon


Now for a Spooky yarn
Ghosts in Hedon
The Monk and the Nun
Like every old town, Hedon has its fair share of ghost stories, one of the oldest being that of John Coomber,a monk living at the Hospital of the Holy Sepulchre,which was situated on the west side of station roadbetween the the old Hedon railway station and the Rosedale Community Health Centre.
The story goes that John, fell in love with an ambitious nun named Alice.
Alice wanted to be Abbess and the only way to do this was to get rid of the Abbess Ruth. Alice persuade John to kill Ruth. He stabbed her to death and threw her body into Hedon Fleet, and so Alice become Abbess.
When the Hospital was celebrating the Feast of Stephen, Ruths ghost appeared and told what had happened. As punishment Alice was bricked up in a Cell with a hole just large enough for food to be passed in, and there she remained for the rest of her life.
Then Ruths ghost appeared to John and told him that, if he didnt confess his sin to the rest of the monks, she would haunt him forever.
This was too much for John so he took a rope and hung himself from St. Stephens Cross,one of the boundary markers of Hedon.
The Ghosts of John, carrying a rope, and Ruth are reputed to still wander and are said to appear near to the Hedon Station Crossing.

The Grey Lady
One of Hedons more famous spectres is the Grey lady of the chemists shop.
Several sightings have been reported, especially during renovation work carried out in the 1970s and 1990s.
She reputedly wears a grey dress with a full skirt. a bonnet and shawl. Taps have been mysteriously turned on and doors opened by an unseen hand.During the most recent alterations Ancient bones were found under the floor of the shop.

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