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Howden, East Riding of Yorkshire

Historical Description

Howden, a market and union town, a township, and a parish, in the E.R. Yorkshire. The town stands about a mile S of the Hull and Selby railway, about 1½ mile N of the river Ouse, in a flat but fertile tract of country, 8½ miles ESE of Selby. It is an ancient place, and was originally called Hoveden or Hovendene. The manor belonged to Peterborough Abbey, was forfeited by that abbey to Edward the Confessor, was given by William the Conqueror to the bishops of Durham, was temporarily alienated from the bishops or demised by them at different periods to other parties, had a palace of theirs on the S side of the parish church, which has now passed into private hands. The palace is a ruin; was converted, in conjunction with modern buildings, into a farmhouse; had, to the E, several large structures, which appear to have included an extensive cloister or vault-to the W, a very long range of barns or granaries-on the S, a park extending to the Ouse; and was a favourite residence of some of the most distinguished of the bishops of Durham, and the deathplace of Bishops Pudsey, Kirkham, and Skirlaw. The church succeeded a previous one, noticed in Domcsday book, of which only a few remains are left. It was originally rectorial, in the patronage of the prior and convent of Durham, but in 1267 it was made collegiate for five prebendaries, each of them to maintain at his own cost a priest and clerk, and it afterwards had a sixth prebendary and five chantries. It lost its collegiate character and its revenues at the dissolution of the college in 1550, and soon afterwards began to show symptoms of decay. The choir was relinquished for public use in 1630 in consequence of having become unsafe, and this was subsequently much injured by the removal of the lead, and in 1696 became ruinous from the fall of the roof. But the church as it now stands, though a ruin in the E part, is one of the noblest in Yorkshire, presents a venerable aspect, and is 255 feet long. It belongs chiefly to the 13th century, but includes some fine additions of later date, and the W portion is in good repair and used regularly for divine service. The pile consists of a nave of six bays with N and S aisles, a transept of two bays with an E chantry in each wing, a S porch, a central tower, the ruined choir, and an octagonal chapter house with a S chapel. The nave is 105 feet long and 66 wide, the transept is 117 feet long and 30 wide, the tower is 135 feet high, and the choir is 120 feet long and 66 wide. The W front is very rich, has a recessed great door between two blank arches filled with tracery, shows a window of two orders and four lights with crocketed canopy and decorated geometrical tracery, and is flanked in front with two pinnacled octagonal turrets. The tower is of two storeys, embattled, with NW turret, and has on the first storey two very lofty, blank, transomed, mullioned, perpendicular windows. The choir is beautiful even in ruins, its E end consists of a high pinnacled gable between pedimented buttresses and two octagonal four-stage towers, and its aisles are flanked by niched buttresses and octagonal turrets. The chapter house has a rich arch and vestibule, it had an octagonal stone roof which fell in 1750, and it contains thirty seats with very delicate and beautiful sculpture. The interior of the church -contains a rood-screen with quatrefoils in the spandrils, and two altar-tombs and some other monuments of much anti-'quity and interest.

The town has been much improved, and is neat, respectable, and well built. It has a head post office, a railway station with telegraph, two banks, two chief inns, a town-hall, a market-hall, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Wesleyan, and Roman Catholic chapels, a grammar school, a mechanics' institute, a county police station, a workhouse, and charities about £40. It is a seat of county courts and petty sessions, publishes a weekly newspaper, and gives the title of Baron to the Cradocks of Grimston. An ancient building, called the Moot Hall, was taken down in 1822. The town-hall is a fine edifice opposite the church, and serves for the savings bank. There are also a Liberal club, a Primrose League (Howden Habitation), and a Conservative association. The Wesleyan chapel was built in 1866; it and the Roman Catholic chapel are handsome. The workhouse stands at the W extremity of the town, and is a substantial building in the Tndor style. A weekly market is held on Saturday, and fairs, chiefly for horses and cattle, on 15, 16, and 17 April, and a celebrated horse fair, said to be the largest in the world, which begins on the first Monday after Doncaster races, and lasts three days. The chief local trade, besides that of the markets and the fairs, is connected with a creamery, brick and tile works, some corn mills, and a small boat harbour on the Ouse. Roger de Hoveden, a monkish chronicler, was a native, and Edward II. visited the town in 1312.

The township comprises 2924 acres of land and 187 of water and foreshore; population, 1964; of the ecclesiastical parish, 3236. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords of the manor. The parish formerly contained the townships of Barmby- on -the -Marsh, Asselby, Knedlington, Kilpin, Skelton, Saltmarshe, Cotness, Yokefleet, Laxton, Metham, Balkhoime, Belby, and Thorpe, some of which now form the ecclesiastical districts of Barmby and Laxton. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of York; gross value,, £300 with residence. Patron, the Lord Chancellor.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyYorkshire 
Ecclesiastical parishHowden St. Peter 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Findmypast, in conjunction with various Archives, Local Studies, and Family History Societies have the following parish records online for Howden:


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Howden from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for the East Riding of Yorkshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Howden are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following East Riding newspapers online:

CountyEast Riding of Yorkshire
RegionYorkshire and the Humber
Postal districtDN14
Post TownGoole