Howden (St. Peter)

HOWDEN (St. Peter), a parish and market-town, and the head of a union, in the wapentake of Howdenshire, E. riding of York; comprising the chapelries of Barmby-on-the-Marsh and Laxton, and the townships of Asselby, Balkholme, Belby, Cotness, Howden, Kilpin, Knedlington, Metham, Saltmarsh, Skelton, Thorpe, and Yorkfleet; and containing 4680 inhabitants, of whom 2332 are in the town, 21 miles (S. E. by S.) from York, and 184 (N. by W.) from London. This place, which is of considerable antiquity, was distinguished for its collegiate establishment, founded by Robert, Bishop of Durham, in 1266, for Secular clerks, and dedicated to St. Peter and St. Cuthbert; there were originally five prebends, to which a sixth was subsequently added: the aggregate revenue, at the Dissolution, was £101. 18. A palace was erected here in the fourteenth century, by Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, as a summer residence for the prelates of that see; the remains of which have been converted into farm buildings. The Town is pleasantly situated in a richly-cultivated and level tract of country, about a mile north of the river Ouse: the houses are in general built of brick; the streets are well paved, and lighted with gas, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. There is an excellent ferry over the river at Howdenkike; and about a mile from the town, on the north side, is a station of the Hull and Selby railway. The market is on Saturday, and on every alternate Tuesday is a market for cattle. On April 15th, 16th, and 17th, is a fair for horses and cattle, when the great agricultural meeting takes place; and on the 26th of Sept. is a show for horses, which continues six days, and is perhaps the largest in the kingdom: a fair for cattle and all kinds of wares is held on the 2nd and 3rd of October. Courts leet and baron are held occasionally, in a room belonging to the ancient episcopal palace; and there is a county debt-court, established in 1847, whose powers extend over the registration-district of Howden.

The living is a vicarage not in charge, in the patronage of the Crown; net income, £150; impropriators, several proprietors. The church, formerly collegiate, is a spacious and stately cruciform structure, partly in the early but principally in the decorated English style, with a lofty embattled tower rising from the intersection, the upper part of which, raised by Bishop Skirlaw, is later English. The west front of the church is of bold and simple character, and a fine composition; and the east end, one of the richest specimens of the decorated style in the kingdom, has been made secure, and preserved from further dilapidation, at a cost of £280, raised by subscription: three splendid windows of stained glass have been inserted, bearing the arms of the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Ripon, Lords Howden, Wenlock, Hotham, and Galway, and several landed proprietors in the parish who contributed towards the expense; in one of the chantries, also, P. Saltmarsh, Esq. has introduced two beautiful stained-glass windows. The chancel having fallen into decay, the nave was fitted up for the performance of divine service in 1636; the roof is supported by finely clustered columns and pointed arches. The chapter-house is a superb octagonal edifice, inferior only in dimensions to the chapter-house at York; it contains 30 canopied stalls richly ornamented with tabernacle work, exhibiting great perfection in the principal details. At Barmby and Laxton are incumbencies in the Vicar's gift. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, and Sandemanians. A free school is supported by a bequest from Robert Jefferson, Esq., and others, of about £30 per annum; and some considerable benefactions have been made for other charitable purposes. The poor-law union of Howden comprises 40 parishes or places, and contains a population of 14,265.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.