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Exploring the history of Wansford

PUBLISHED: 14:51 22 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:51 22 January 2016

History of Wansford

History of Wansford

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A decade ago, a feature in Yorkshire Life was the impetus for a woman from Wansford to trace the history of her village

Wansford ChurchWansford Church

In the Yorkshire Life issue November 2005 there was a mention of Wansford and photographs appeared – including one of the house where I live! – so I saved the article from the magazine.

I have lived in this village near Driffield in East Yorkshire for 20 years and, as I have a keen interest in local history and no one else had carried out any research, I began tracing back through the centuries. The village is very small – 72 houses in less than 1000 acres – and it is surprising what has happened in the area.

The church, vicarage, school and schoolhouse were designed by the eminent Victorian architect George Edmund Street, who also designed the Central Criminal Courts in the Strand.

When it opened in 1868, the church had a wooden screen and pulpit but after it was completed, Street went to Italy and he returned to Wansford with fresh ideas. He took out the wooden screen and pulpit and replaced them with marble ones. This building replaced a much earlier church which was re-built in the 1300s and was used until 1545 when it was closed because of the Reformation. The site of this church is unknown but next to the entrance to the current church is a stone hexagonal flower pot said to be the font from the old church.

Wansford locksWansford locks

The river Hull and the Driffield Navigation Canal come through the village and in the 18th century a carpet weaving factory was built between the waterways. Richard Arkwright Junior (son of the perfector of the spinning jenny weaving loom) moved to Wansford to supervise the building and installation of the weaving machines.

When it was completed there were not enough people to work the looms, so orphaned children were brought from London to work there. .

Finding details of these children has been difficult. Consulting the burial records of the local church showed in 1799 a young boy name unknown was buried who had drowned in the river. In the early 19th century four teenage girls had been buried. Their occupations had been given as apprentices at the factory but if they had been the daughters of local families this would have been recorded in the register.

The woollen carpets made were of superior quality and Sir Tatton Sykes, setting up his home at Sledmere House, had a carpet made for his library. The pattern of the carpet mirrored the pattern on the library ceiling.

In medieval times Wansford was occupied by husbandmen and their labourers. It is not mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 but was then considered part of the manor of Driffield.

Wansford has been occupied for centuries and the main reason is perhaps the springs where fresh water bubbles to the surface. Water was key to some new discoveries too – when Yorkshire Water put in a new sewerage unit in 2007, archaeological evidence was found which showed there was Iron Age and Roman activity on the site and many worked flints from the Bronze Age have been found. w

Wansford back to its Roots by Sheila Cadman costs £12.99 (£15.50 with pp and £16 by PayPal) from the Trout Inn, Wansford and Bell Mill Garden Centre, Driffield, or from the author at SheilaCad@yahoo.co.uk.

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