Hessle Town Centre Walk
A Walk Around Central Hessle
Hessle is an ancient town possibly dating as far back as the 6th century. Before the Norman Conquest Hessle was the meeting place for the Saxon Hundred – the local government of the day.
Hessle is recorded in the Domesday Book as having a church and a priest, and a population of around 100.
This walk begins in The Square by the church steps.
The church is the oldest building in the town. The present building can be dated to 1135-54 but before that there was an older church to the west which possibly dated to c 700. It is believed that a chalk and wood church was built by a local magnate, Luhha, around 926. The original church had no tower or spire – these were added by the late 14th c. By the eighteenth century the church was in a poor state of repair and considerable work had to be carried out. In the 1860s the church was massively enlarged to accommodate the growing population and could seat 1000 people. Until 1301 bodies from Hull had to be brought to Hessle for burial, using the pathway along the Humber foreshore. There are records of funeral corteges being washed away by high tides.
Hessle Church was the mother church to Holy Trinity in Hull until 1661 when the two became separate parishes.
Walk across to the central area of The Square
The Square was created around 1921. Before then this drab open area was a hive of houses, gardens, shops and workplaces. It was formed by demolishing all of the buildings on the south side of Cow Lane and creating a new road from the east end of Prestongate to Hull Road. As you can see it is not actually a square but more of a triangle.
On the west side of The Square are two public houses – The Marquis of Granby and The Admiral Hawke, and between them are a pair of old cottages possibly dating from the late 18th c. The two pubs are named after renowned military figures of the 18thc. At the n-w corner of The Square is the former studio of Donald Innes, a renowned photographer. Before Innes it was the shop of Bowser Appleton - a watchmaker, photographer and dealer in fancy goods. This is a Grade II listed building dating from the mid 18thc.
Walk to the east end of the central island.
The other buildings are 19thc but one of interest is the co-op store which may be the former Lysden House which was built in the 1790s for Francis Hall, a Hull merchant. The building was dramatically changed in the late 20thc.
On the south side of The Square is a range of buildings and the Orchard Centre. At the west end is Boots chemist which was previously the property H E Brown, the chemist. He was re-located from the original corner of Cow Lane and insisted on having a clear front to his shop and no urinals outside. Along here was Hessle Fire Station and Griffin’s garage (later Welpton’s) which had its petrol pumps sticking out from the wall with an overhead hose. At the end of the Orchard centre stood Banks’ school hospital which was endowed by Leonard Chamberlain. This was one building with three almshouses below and the school above. To the west was the Griffin Brewery. Hull Road was the Hull-Hessle-Ferriby turnpike road which opened c 1825. Before then travellers to Hull used to go via Anlaby, though those on horseback could follow a lane to the east and then take one of three lanes to the north to join Anlaby Road (First Lane, Anlaby Park Road or Pickering Road). Walkers could cross Hessle Common – a dangerous place where people frequently got lost; hence the practice of ringing the church bell at 7 pm.
Cross the road and walk to Eastgate
Further to the east was Hessle Grange (health centre) and on the east side of Eastgate stood Kingston Lodge, the home of Anthony Bannister, mayor of Hull and promoter of the Withernsea railway. Before Bannister bought the house it was Kingston College where the Voyseys taught. (A son was Charles Voysey who was a leading architect of the 20thc.) On the opposite side of the road was a girls’ school run by a Mrs Schofield and her daughters. This later moved to Lysden House in The Square. As you walk along Eastgate remember that all the land to the east was once fields.
Turn left and then right to the Hourne.
Here is an old school, now a community centre and also a nursery which was opened in 1855 as the National School. It was later replaced by Hessle C of E Primary School.
Retrace steps to Eastgate
Houses along here are mainly late 19th c or early 20th c. As you go round the corner the old School for Domestics is on your left. This was opened by Mary Locke, the wife of Thomas Bentley Locke in order to train girls to be domestic servants. Thomas and Mary lived at Hessle Mount on Swanland Road. He was a banker. Mary was renowned for her charitable works and at Christmas would invite all the girls from the school to Hessle Mount.
At Vicarage Lane turn right to view the old chapel. This was Hessle’s second Methodist Chapel replacing one in Deadman’s Lane, across which it was possible to shake hands. This chapel was opened in 1813 and later replaced by the one on Tower Hill.
Also on Vicarage Lane is the old vicarage (designed by William Botterill, better known for his railway work) built of red brick. Further to the north is North Lodge, another Grade II listed building dating from around 1750.
Continue to Northgate and turn left
Northgate was part of the road from the ferry at the Haven and joined the Hessle—Beverley turnpike further along the road. The building on your right used to be the co-op store. On the opposite corner is a florist/vegetable shop which maybe the oldest house in Hessle. Pat Howlett has deeds for the house which go back to the 17thc. Next along is the old baker’s shop with its arch and gargoyle above. This was a bakery until quite recently. A little further along are three artisan dwellings dating from the early 18th c.. These are Grade II listed. Beyond them was another old chapel (United Methodist Church), which was also once the Northgate Club. Further north past the bookshop is Northgate Villas, a terrace of Edwardian houses built for the Brown family who were monumental masons on the adjacent site.
Continuing northwards you come to another terrace of cottages named Clifton Terrace. Further along the road is Brook Cottage. This was once the last house in Hessle. Towards the end of the last century the east wall of the cottage had to be demolished and rebuilt due to the ingress of ivy over many years. A little further along is Rudston’s chapel of rest. The grass in front of the building is where the pond was. Here animals were brought to drink their fill but it was drained and filled in in the 1930s because it was thought to be in danger of pollution from the near by cemetery. In the cemetery is the mortuary chapel of J R ease of Hesslewood—another Grade II listed building. On the east side of Northgate opposite the cemetery stands Swiss Cottage, another claimant to the title “last house in Hessle”. This was a farmhouse but has recently undergone significant development. Nearby stood the village pinfold where stray animals were kept, only being released on the payment of a fine by the owner.
Number 36 Northgate is a fine example of a Georgian town house, though there are few details about it. It was, at one time a nursing home. It was for a time known for the growing of certain illegal plants but has now been bought by someone sympathetic towards restoration work taking place.
Return to Tower Hill and turn right
The Methodist Church was built in the 1870s and designed by William Botterill. The adjacent school room was added around 1912.There are some interesting houses on Tower Hill but not of great antiquity. On the corner stood Hessle’s first police station, the original cell remains and is used as a storeroom.
Along the Weir
The Weir is believed to be so named due to the presence of an underground stream. However previous generations also knew as the Wyre. Nos 16-22 and 24-26 are grade II listed buildings of the mid 19th c. 24 and 26 feature porticos with slender columns and ionic capitals. There are other fine examples of architecture along the street which must once have been a very desirable range of family houses. One of these shops was owned by the Holtby family and more recently a Chinese takeaway. At the roundabout you can see a range of notable buildings. On the corner of Ferriby Road and South Lane stands Peeler House, a former police station built to replace the one you have just passed. Almost next to it is the Town Hall, originally the Parish Hall, built in the 1890s. After passing into the care of the East Riding, for a time, it was bought back by Hessle Town Council for £1 and is now well used by many local organisations. On the opposite corner is Luciano’s which was once Mallinson & Barlow’s shop and the Post Office. The Marlborough Club was once Hessle Institute and provided working men and women with facilities to develop their education.
Prestongate was once one of Hessle’s busiest thoroughfares. This was once the main road from Hessle to Ferriby (Turnpike) and also the main road from Hull to the west! The house on the north west corner is of some antiquity, possibly 18th c. It was once owned by the ubiquitous Spicer family. The Spicers lived in Hessle for several generations and had many interests in the town. They were farmers, coal merchants, landlords and held the rights to the ferry over to Barton at some time. At one point they were accused by Acland of holding others to ransom because of their influence. You may be able to tell from some of the buildings that this was also, once, a street of fine houses. In the 20th c much of it became shops and later many buildings were demolished. The George public house stood a little way along the north side of the street. It was also known as the White Gate and more recently as Top House. It is now a house. Behind the pet shop was the site of Hessle Market which traded briefly towards the end of the 20th c.
To the south of Prestongate is Grove Hill which used to be called Deadman’s Lane. Its name was changed for obvious reasons. There are rumours that it was so named due to the discovery of a body in the lane but the more mundane truth is that it was named after a man by the name of Dedman. There is no evidence that Hessle ever had a manor house but it is believed that to the south of Grove Hill there stood a splendid house which may have been known as the Old Hall. The Locke family resided in a house on this site (before having Hessle Mount built) and before them it was owned by William Wadman. Nothing remains of it now. The house was marked on the enclosure plan and on Iveson’s Survey of 1853.
And so back to The Square.
The west side of The Square is historically known as Southgate. This is where the road from the ferry at the Haven passed through the town on its way to Beverley. There is archaeological evidence from the 1920s (when The Square was created) that shows that the road was constructed of chalk in 10th c. It was mentioned in a charter around that time and formed part of the route from Lincoln to Beverley via Barton which was much used by pilgrims travelling to the shrine of St John of Beverley.