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A Short History of Skidby

 

Skidby is situated to the west of the A164 Humber Bridge to Beverley road.  The C62 runs through the village and is called Main Street.  Old maps from the 19th century refer to it as Town Street.

 

The civil parish of Skidby encompasses Eppleworth and Raywell and takes in parts of Cottingham, Little Weighton, Kirkella and Willerby.

 

The population is in the region of 1350, contained in about 550 households.  This represents an increase of some 600% over the past 200 years.

 

Skidby was probably founded by the invading Danes around the year 892 AD and the name underwent various changes from Scyteby to Skitby by 1359 and is first recorded as Skidby in 1566.

 

In the Domesday Book the village is described as a berewick or small manor under cultivation by monks or canons of Beverley.  Henry V111 gave the manor to Trinity College, Cambridge following the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1540.

 

The next major event in the chronology of land ownership occurred during the late 18th century with the Enclosure Awards.  This had profound effects on the common man.  Robbed of the strip of land he tilled, the pasture on which to feed his cow, fuel from the wood and turf from the common.  “Gleaning” after harvest was forbidden.  The outcome was a deficient diet and insolvency.  By the Law of Settlement he was not free to roam and in theory had only one parish in which he had rights of settlement and parish relief.  He could be ejected within 40 days of arrival in a new parish by order of the magistrate.

 

St Michael’s Church stands on land granted by Archbishop Walter de Grey of York in 1227.  The present porch was added in 1777 and the tower in 1827, this situated on an older base.  The original nave and bell tower being consumed by fire in 1424.  The tower contains one bell with the Latin inscription “Voco, veni, precare 1706 Robert Jackson and Robert Marr Churchwardens”.  Translated this means “I call, come, pray”.

 

Until 1857 the church was under the care and control of the Vicars and Rectors of Cottingham.  From then on it had the benefit of its own resident clergyman.  The churchyard was closed for burials in February 1898.  The parsonage house was built in 1855 at a cost of £400 and enlarged in 1863 at a cost of a further £400.  This building was sold in 1967 and is now a residential home, its replacement being situated at 32 Main Street.  The church now forms part of a joint benefice with Rowley and Walkington, the present Vicar of Skidby living in Little Weighton.

 

A Baptist Chapel was built in 1819 but closed in 1877 and was in ruins by 1892.  A Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built in 1820 and became a reading room and village hall in 1902 when the present red brick chapel was opened.  The present Village Hall is an extension of the old reading room and dates from 1928.

 

The earliest reference to any form of education is 1575 when the local priest John Browne taught children in church.  It is recorded that “ in 1745 there were neither public nor charity schole”.  In 1803 £150 was bequeathed by John Marshall of Beverley for public fund investment, the accrued interest to be paid to the schoolmaster for teaching as many poor children as the money would admit of.  Previous to the bequest the schoolhouse was probably the home of James Neville who is mentioned in 1793.  Neville’s grave lies close by the church door dated 1808.  In 1811 land was granted by the Lords of the Manor (Trinity College, Cambridge) for a school house.  In 1813 by means of subscription it was built and one shilling per annum paid to Trinity College in recognition.  7 or 8 children were instructed.

 

In 1822 Mary Coltish, late widow of the village, bequeathed £200 for the education of children under 10.  The Marshall and Coltish Trusts were amalgamated in 1923.  In 1843 one scholar was taught for 16 shillings per annum.  The Trust was finally wound up in 2000. 

 

In 1849 a new school and masters house was built, probably on the site of the poorhouse:  extended in 1858 and again in 1876.  It is now a private residence.  The original school was demolished in 1865, the bricks being used to build the present day wall around the church.  In 1964 the new Church of England Primary School was built

 

The Half Moon Inn is probably 17th century but may not originally have been a pub, being occupied in 1795 by a weaver.  In 1810 a pub existed in what is now Church Rise.  The Navigation Inn, used by the Irish navvies building the Hull and Barnsley railway in 1880/85 was probably a hut on Bottom Road.  Duckers Beer House existed in 1900 at 39 Main Street.  

 

No history of Skidby would be complete without reference to one of East Yorkshire’s great landmarks, the Windmill.  The first reference to a mill is in 1316, probably a simple post mill, position uncertain.  The Lord of the Manor provided material for the mill construction and his tenant maintained it.

 

The first reliable record of a mill on the present site is dated 1764 and it is shown on the Enclosure Award maps of 1796.  The mill was wind powered and possessed 2 pair of stones.  In 1821 this mill was sold and probably relocated.  The existing mill was then constructed by Norman and Smithson, millwrights from Hull, for W Watson the miller.  A date stone below the balcony confirms this.

 

Over the next 30 odd years the ownership passed through various hands until in 1854 it was taken over by Jos. G Thompson.  In the 1870’s cheap Canadian wheat made English wheat uneconomical.  This new wheat was very hard and could not be ground using stones.  Thompson stopped milling flour and converted the mill to produce animal feedstuffs.  New buildings were erected around the mill necessitating the raising of the tower by some 20 feet to allow the sails clearance during milling.  The extension is clearly visible where the slope of the original tower becomes more vertical.  The mill continued to be wind powered until 1946 when lightning damaged one of the sails. Wind power resumed in 1948 until 1954 when electricity was installed.

 

In 1962 the business was sold to part of the Weston Group and worked commercially until 1966.  It was then sold to Beverley Rural District Council for a nominal £1 and in 1974 restored to full working order using wind power.  Now owned by East Riding of Yorkshire Council it is the last working mill in Yorkshire and a Grade II listed building.  In 2008/09 the mill underwent extensive renovation to the cap and sails.

 

Brian Watson

 

 

Acknowledgements to the Reverend Arthur Hill, H Matthews and Fiona Jenkinson