Market Hill - "Ancient burial site?" asks Thomas
Market Hill – “Ancient burial site?” asks Thomas
The Black Death
The Black Death

THERE ARE stories of historic mass grave-sites in Hedon. Thomas Hayton has heard these tales of bodies, possibly plague victims, buried at Market Hill and on Draper’s Lane fields (the old Westlands Fields). He asks whether there are any facts to these local legends?

Can readers give any credence to these stories?

Hedon certainly was affected by bubonic plague (“the Black Death”) in the 12th and 13th centuries and was the scene of a cholera epidemic in 1849. But what happened to the bodies?

Of course a good source of information about Hedon’s past, its local legends, stories and historical facts, is to be found at Hedon Museum – a wealth of knowledge is accessible just by speaking to the enthusiastic volunteers who work there!

The Museum, accessible from Watmough’s Arcade in the town centre, is open Saturday and Wednesdays from 10am – 4pm.

See Hedon Museum’s latest exhibition – A Peep in the Pram.

15 thoughts on “Ancient burial sites in Hedon?

  1. I have what might be and interesting historical fact for the people of Hedon. You may or may not know or even be very interested but there was a Dring family in Hedon in the 17th and 18th centuries and one William Dring was arrested and pleaded guilty to stealing clothes, books and brandy on the 7th October 1784 and was sentenced to 7 years transportation to Botany Bay. He now has 8 generations of descendants in Australia. i have found out a lot about his family there in Hedon. His Great Grandfather Francis Dring was a shoe maker; his Grandfather Thomas was weaver and later owned the New Sun Inn; His father was a Clerk of Customs and apparently ran the customs office from the Inn and he was a Tideswaiter. I would love to know more about the story of the theft in which he had an accomplice Joseph Robinson. If anyone knows any thing about this I would love to hear from them on the email below as I writing a book about William but rather than use my imagination as to why he stole what he did I would like some true facts if at all possible. I am very curious as to why when he had a job and family support he would steal anything. All I can come up with is that he wanted to become a Sailor as the clothes he stole were Sailors attire and the books were about being a Sailor and how to navigate and a guide to Oxford University. Of course there were 6 bottles of brandy and 3 empty bottles as well. We know why he stole these as there were obviously 9 full bottles to begin with. It would be so much fun and very helpful if anyone knows anything about him and his family. I would also love to know if there are still Drings’ living in Hedon.


  2. This has been sent in by Jim Uney:

    Saint Mary Magdalene.

    Although I was aware of the story, Sarah’s Taylor’s mention on the 24th of February of the ancient hospital at Newton Garth, Paull, was of interest to me, especially so when the length of time the institution was in existence is taken into account.

    Founded by William Le Gros in 1179 in the reign of Henry the Second,(1154 to 1189) it would be in existence 330 years until at least 1509 when Henry the Eighth came to the throne.

    Henry’s divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon led to the breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, With Henry placing himself as head of The Church, in his eyes the divorce was perfectly legal, in 1533 who was arguing with him!

    Henry saw the wealthy monasteries in England, with being supporters of The Pope, as being a serious threat, so with the need of funds to fortify places on the South Coast to counter a threat from France, he ordered the closing of the monasteries.

    The Dissolution was enforced by sending government officials, organised by Thomas Cromwell, to visit these wealthy places and close the smaller ones down by 1536,and the larger ones by 1540,Henry was to get the valuable stuff like gold and silver, but the local populace could help themselves to anything else such as expensive building bricks, more on this later!

    The nearby Abbey at Meaux, with a gross annual income of £298-60 shillings and 4pence halfpenny was visited by Henry’s Commissioners in 1535, so being in the area so to speak, is it possible that these same officials, acting on Henry’s orders threw the unfortunate inmates out of the St Mary Magdalena Leper Colony at Newton Garth, because they were closing the establishment down, What other reason could there be, considering that the Hospital was a Catholic backed order, the annual income was a paltry £40, but in their 330 years existence they could have amassed some silverware I suppose! Then again, was £40 not to be sniffed at during those times! The Meaux Abbey’s income was massive in comparison.

    Samuel Standidge, a highly successful whaling ships Captain sailing out of Hull had a Mansion built at Thorngumbald in 1770, obtaining 20,000 bricks from the site of the demolished Hospital at Newton Garth according to reports in various books. It is also reported that Standidge probably obtained the same amount of bricks from a failed project of The Hedon Haven Commissioners, he also being a Commissioner. Did he use the second hand ones from Newton Garth which had been on site for two hundred years (or even longer if they were the originals from 1179), or the supposed load from the Hedon Haven job? Added to the transport cost, I expect there would have been a fee to pay on every load at The Sacred Gate Toll Bar,(came into being 1745) Thank you R Cliffe, Hedon Blog, or did one only pay coming in?

    Which ever bricks he used, they had been substandard anyway, as the owner of Thorn Hall in 1881 had to demolish the place and rebuild it in it’s present style.

    Jim Uney, Hedon.
    Jim Uney Logo

  3. I would like to see places of historical significance in Hedon marked by Commemorative Plaques – Blue House Signs and/or Street Signs and notices.
    It would be great for visitors and residents to be able to read a little of the history of Hedon as they walk around the Town.

  4. I am an archaeologist by trade and as far as I’m aware, the presence of human remains (whether definite or suspected) doesn’t automatically mean you can’t build on the land. We’d be a bit stuck if it did! Obviously a classification as a Scheduled Monument or Listed building is legally binding but ‘just’ skeletons, no. Yeah, stick a car park on our lovely Market Hill…Surely we should be more worried about the loss of our green spaces for the sake of the living, not the dead!

    1. I have many ancestors buried in Hedon and unless plaques are established for their remembrance I would not like their graves to be built on or buried under a carpark.

  5. Neil I have commented on the blog previously that the doctors surgeries are discussing combining into one surgery at a site hopefully not to far from the centre of Hedon, it would be good to have plenty of parking, I am still trying to get further information.

  6. I love History as much as the next man , however when you get a burial plot your rights for ownership only last a certain amount of time, market hill is hardly a monument theres no stones and not even a plaque marking this so called ancient burial site. We have to move forward …our councillors are keen to grant planning permissions for new housing estates and huge old peoples homes without increasing the services they need to cater for these developments, i see the new OAP place on the Burstwick road is nearly complete how many patients will that add to our already oversubscribed surgeries. time we looked at a proper medical center and the two doctors combining and moving to a more suitable place. Its only a matter of time before theres a serious accident on market Hill.

  7. They carried out work at the Boots Chemist some years ago and found skeletons which I believe was found to be from that time. I have always been told that Market Hill was a burial site
    There has always been talk of the white lady who walks Market Hill on dark still nights.

    1. Apparently there are twelve monumental inscriptions to be seen in St Augustine’s churchyard, Hedon,of victims to the 18 49 cholera outbreak in which fifty Hedon residents died, one of which is buried at Paull.
      Does this probably lean to a theory that victims of the epidemic were at least buried in consecrated ground around the churchyard, after being taken to The National School which was used as a Dead House ,This was situated down Ketwell lane near to where the telephone exchange is at present.

      1. I totally agree, if only 12 monumets but 50 deaths, where would they be? Why make the roads around market hill so daft; unless to avoid the consecrated grounds of the church.

        1. One of my ancestors, Sarah Brown, died September 1849 and has a headstone in that churchyard. My experience with genealogy tells me that many headstones go missing, are placed face down or can simply not be afforded in the first place. That does not mean that people were not buried there, just that no headstone was put up or still remains to be seen.

          Checking Parish Records, there were a lot of burials there in 1849. You can see these on Find My Past or at the Treasure House, Beverley.

          1. Change to above. The ancestor is Susanna Brown, Sarah was her daughter, also in the same churchyard.

            I’m still ascertaining whether she died in the cholera epidemic but it looks like she probably did.

            1. Susanna Brown was my great-great-great grandmother. I have a copy of her death certificate and it does state that she died of cholera.

  8. The Black Death did indeed affect Hedon and there are burial sites located in the area. Market Hill is an ancient buriel site hence why this lovely green area cannot be turned into a car park for the doctors surgeries as so often suggested. The construction of St Augustine’s Church was postponed in 1368 because of the black death. There were 3 hospitals in Hedon centuries ago.
    St Sepulchres which stood were Rosedale stands now. This was founded by Alan Fitzhubert who granted 7 acres of land to the lepers of St Sepulchres.
    The hospital of St Leonard stood to the west of a road known as wood marketgate.
    And St Mary Magdalene at Newton Garth which is located on the road between Hedon and Paull. This was founded by William le Gros Earl of Albemarle and the inmates were called ‘infirmi de Hedona’ and ‘Leprosi de Hedona.

  9. There’s a piece of technology called a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) which can be used to identify mass graves. I’d suggest organising one for market hill to see if there really is any substance.
    I personally don’t believe the claims. I imagine bodies would be moves just outside of hedon. Perhaps near Rosedale or big co-op. Even bonds estate.

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