is a market town that is situated close to the River Ouse. Its history,
like that of many towns, has been greatly influenced by its position
and its transport links.
is within an area of East Yorkshire that, many thousands of years ago,
was covered by Lake Humber. Parts of this lake gradually silted up
resulting in areas of dry land. Drainage work and the embanking of
rivers by the Saxons and the Danes led to more habitable areas. The
early Anglo Saxons settled these raised sites because of their fertile
originally Heaffudene, comes from the Anglo Saxon words 'heafud'
meaning head and 'dene' meaning valley, the valley in this case being
that created by the river known as the Old Derwent. Hailgate, one of
the main streets in Howden, follows the course of the Old Derwent
exactly. The town grew because of its position at a crossing point of
10th century Howden had a church and was at the centre of a
considerable manor when William the Conqueror gave it to the Bishops of
Durham. Its situation ensured that it was an important stopping point
for the Bishops as they travelled between Durham and London and the
town prospered. This resulted in the construction of a palace by the
Bishops not only for their own use but also in which they could
entertain politicians and even Kings. The magnificent church was built,
a grammar school was founded and finally King John granted the right to
hold a market and fairs. This secured the town's survival even when the
church's powers declined after the dissolution. The fair was originally
used by London merchants and then later developed into an
internationally renowned horse fair during which thousands of horses
changed hands annually.
continued as a coaching town until the introduction of the railways
when its prosperity began to diminish. Goole, on the other side of the
River Ouse, began to grow as a port with links to London and to Europe
thereby hastening the decline of Howden.
fortunes of Howden have now changed again within the last few decades.
The motorways have ensured its position as a desirable area with fast
links to the major cities in the region. The Georgian architecture of
its buildings, the specialist shops and the community atmosphere make
it an attractive place in which to live.
If you are interested in knowing more about the history of Howden then may we suggest for further reading -
Howden, an East Riding market town by Susan Butler and Ken Powls. Paperback, 140 pages, ISBN 0-9515498-2-0. Published 1994.