Hedon is a classic example of a new Norman town. Founded in about 1130 by William le Gros (the Fat One), Earl of Aumale and Lord of Holderness, it quickly became a port and market town of great importance. King Stephen (r. 1135 - 1154) ordered a Royal Mint to be set up in Hedon, and the Royal Charter of 1158 gave the burgesses of the town privileges equal to those enjoyed by the citizens of York and Lincoln.
In 1972, however, the government of the day introduced an Act of Parliament which took away Hedon's borough status with effect from April 1st 1974 and overrode all the Royal Charters granted to Hedon over the centuries. Many other small and ancient boroughs suffered this same fate. Even so, Hedon has retained possession of its Town Hall and fine collection of silver, and no Act of Parliament can take away its past glories and history.
Hedon today is a thriving town of some 8,000 people. Many of the working population are employed in the nearby city of Hull, yet Hedon remains fiercely independent and maintains it separateness by resolutely defending the "green belt" which separates the town from its larger neighbour and opposing any attempt to build there.
Houses in Hedon
Hedon now contains a great variety of housing, from the smaller dwellings and the grander houses of the old borough to the modern dwellings of recent years. Developers have provided a wide range of accommodation from bachelor flats and "starter homes" to four- and five-bedroomed detached "desirable residences."
One of the oldest properties in Hedon is Painter's Cottages in Souttergate, dating from 1562. These were bequeathed by George Painter, a Chantry Priest at Holy Trinity Church in Hull, to provide accommodation for three poor men or women of the town. They would also receive three pence per week, half a chaldron of Newcastle coal and six hundredweight of peat or turves delivered free every year. Some years ago internal renovation converted them into two cottages to provide more spacious accommodation.
Opposite Painter's Cottages is Burnham House. Built in 1770, it is a fine example of Georgian architecture. One resident, Robert Carrick, was Mayor from 1884 to 1886; another owner was G.B.Newton of Bros. and Holliday, Ships' Chandlers. He served as Mayor from 1907 to 1909. The house remained in the family for several years, the Newtons serving as chairmen of the Hedon Haven Commissioners.
An unusual three-storeyed house stands in Churchgate. Built in 1840, the property was acquired by Mr.R.Rennardson who established a joinery business on the premises. The house remained in the family for three generations.
On entering the house the visitor is immediately impressed by the beautiful circular staircase rising to the second floor. Being cantilevered from the walls, it leaves an open well through the entire house. The slim graceful handrail takes two complete turns from the bottom to the top. Another unusual feature is a curved door in the entrance hall, made to match the sweep of the wall, which leads into the lounge. A piece of furniture in the hall and another on the first floor landing were specially made by the Rennardsons to fit the unusual angles of the walls.
Lambert House on Sheriff Highway was the home of Colonel William Lambert White (1849 - 1929.) He was an avid collector of ruins and built a room entirely of church stones. Known as the Armoury, the room housed his collection of guns, swords and other weapons. The arms are no longer there but the room, complete with gargoyles and other pieces of church masonry, is enjoyed by guests at the house.
The garden is on the site of St. James', one of Hedon's mediaeval churches, the foundations of which were visible until the last century. Col. White, who had a business in Hull, was an officer in the East Riding Artillery Volunteers, a Justice of the Peace and Mayor on three occasions. He was great supporter of the church and in 1929 he and his wife presented two new bells to St. Augustines as well as having the six old ones recast, to make the present peal of eight bells.
The present owners of Lambert House are B.P. Chemicals and they have restored the house to its former glory. It is now used as accommodation for guests visiting the Saltend plant.
Hidden History - the Kilnsea Cross
Hedon has many objects of interest that remain unseen by the majority of people who live in and visit the town. One such object is the Kilnsea Cross which is situated in the walled garden of Holyrood House, a residential home for the elderly in Baxtergate. The cross is said to have been originally erected at Ravenser, near Spurn, on the site where Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster landed in 1399, to be joined by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland. They overthrew Richard II and Henry eventually reigned as King Henry IV.
As the encroaching sea threatened Ravenser, eventually to engulf the town, the cross was removed to Kilnsea. It was again threatened by the advancing waters and in 1818 it was dismantled and removed to Burton Constable, the Constables being Seigneurs of Holderness.
It remained in a dismantled state in an outbuilding until James Iveson sought permission from Sir Thomas Constable for it to be moved to Hedon to form a centrepiece for a square of houses to be known as Holyrood. The scheme did not materialise and James Watson eventually built Holyrood House on the site. If one walks down Baxtergate and then turns into the small access road down the side of Holyrood House, the cross can be seen in the garden.