Castles to Cottages

Castles to Cottages

Prior Rick Hudson welcomed members and guests to a packed room.  Later arrivals had to set out more chairs for themselves squeezed in at the back.  He then introduced the speaker, David Neave. David was Senior Lecturer in Regional and Local History at Hull University. He is a good friend of the Augustinian Society having given talks to them for over 40 years.  His topic tonight was “Castles to Cottages. Houses of East Yorkshire from the Middle Ages to 1800.”

Starting with the grandiose he listed 11 castles that once existed in the East Riding.  He discussed in more detail Burstwick Castle, now South Park Farm, which was an important royal residence often visited by Edward I and used as a base for the wars with Scotland. Robert the Bruce’s wife was imprisoned here.  Leconfield Castle, a site that has never been excavated, was a home of the influential Percy family.  The Percy’s also held Wressle Castle built in 1390 by Thomas Percy.  The sixth Earl courted Anne Boleyn, until warned about Henry VIII’s interest in her.  Most of Wressle Castle was demolished in the Civil War to prevent it falling into Royalist hands, and later suffered a fire. The good news is that there will be open days at Wressle in the near future for the first time ever.

David explained that after Henry VIII reinvigorated the Council of the North many appointees built large Tudor houses in the area. Examples were the now lost Bishop Burton Hall, and also Burton Agnes Hall built by the Griffiths family, who moved there from the Welsh borders. David covered other grand Tudor houses such as Londesborough Hall, now demolished although a farm house at Warter houses the rescued staircase from Londesborough.

In the late 1600’s and 1700’s brick houses proliferated and David showed many of these referring to the Toft and Hebblethwaite House in Old Town.  Dutch style gable ends came into fashion and early paintings of Bridlington show some of these.  You might be able to just make out two or three of these on the Augustinian web site header.  Many of the houses of this date have classical details in brick. One such was Barmby Moor Manor House.  David showed a wonderful photograph of 1862 taken by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, alias Lewis Carroll, entitled, “The Elopement of Alice Donkin”It shows Alice on a rope ladder descending from such a feature.

Looking at humbler homes, David explained that cruck framed houses were rare in East Yorkshire because timber was scarce, although one has been renovated at Octon which also has remnants of a “cupboard bed”.  J R Mortimer, the well known Victorian archaeologist, also lived in a cruck framed building at Fimber.  In Holderness, cottages were often “mud and thatch”.  The mud walls were built up slowly and narrowed as they rose. Several at Mapleton lasted into the 1900’s. One or two still remain including one at Beeford.  David humorously explained the logistics of living in a typical “long house”.

The vote of thanks was given by Bro John Walker.  He was present at David’s first talk all those years ago when the projector bulb exploded in spectacular fashion. Noting the full room, he thanked David for another knowledgeable presentation covering houses in the East Riding from the grandiose to the humble.