Fulford has enough history to rival its big city neighbour York
PUBLISHED: 17:23 06 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:18 20 February 2013
The attractive village of Fulford has enough history to rival its big city neighbour York, as Chris Titley reports Photography by Joan Russell
Every history buff is like a kid in a sweet shop when they come to York. The streets yield up endless treasure: a Roman wall here, a Viking settlement there, the medieval castle around the corner from a wonderfully preserved Georgian townhouse.
So they probably never think of leaving the city centre and going on a heritage hunt in the suburbs. But its surprising how much history can be found a mile or two from York Minster. One place that has more than its share is the leafy village of Fulford.
All Yorkshire folk know that 1066 was about more than an arrow in the kings eye at Hastings. Harold had to take on the Vikings at Stamford Bridge before heading south for his confrontation with William The Conqueror. But there was another key LIFEfight that year which is often overlooked: the Battle of Fulford. This took place on September 20th, 1066 and saw the Vikings defeat the English and York capitulate.
This key moment is Fulfords greatest claim to historical fame but it has a lot more in its past than a days confrontation with Norwegian invaders.
And that heritage is what a new group aims to uncover and promote. The Fishergate, Fulford and Heslington Local History Group was founded last year by medieval historian Louise Wheatley. Our aim is to promote the history and heritage of all aspects of this area of York, from the year dot to the present, said Louise.
I wanted it to be open to everyone to see if people would be interested in their own house, their neighbourhood, the schools, the transport, as well as the bigger issues like land use, archaeology and things like that.
From a modest start all sorts of projects are underway. Some people have lots of photographs but they havent catalogued or studied them.
We have war memorials in several places and that seems to be a focus right now for a big group project because of the anniversary of the First World War thats coming up.
The group has also resurrected a neglected product of local history, Louise revealed. In the 1800s there used to be something called the Fulford Biscuit. It was baked by a family named Leng and it became famous. It was like a water biscuit, and the recipes now lost.
My friend Barbara and I thought why not try and promote interest in us by doing something lighthearted like create a new range of Fulford biscuits?
They baked 16 varieties and sold them at the annual Fulford Show. A recipe book followed and the Fulford Biscuit is back on the map.
History group member Gavin Thomas kindly put together a list of some of the best of Fulfords visible history for any Yorkshire Life readers keen to explore the village. They include:
Fulford Hall: also known as Water Fulford Hall, it is the grandest house in the village, and the old seat of the Key family
Fulford Ings: open countryside only a few minutes from York city centre, and home to much wildlife
Germany Beck: the site of the Battle of Fulford of 1066
Fulford House: the home of the Prendergast family and its where the Oscar-winning movie composer John Barry grew up
St Oswalds Church: the old church is thought to have been built around 1150, and was used regularly until 1866 when the new church was built
Fulford Cross: a medieval cross marking a parish boundary
Ousefield and Danemead: imposing houses designed by renowned Victorian architect Walter Brierley on the Fulford Road
Imphal Barracks: Yorks army headquarters
Although the original Battle of Fulford was nearly 1,000 years ago, the site is again in the wars. For years villagers have been fighting plans by developers to build 700 homes at Germany Beck. One of those spearheading the campaign is chairman of Fulford Parish Council, Alan Smith.
It is a blight over anything else being done, he said. We do feel we are caught between developers wants and City of York Council, who are the planning authority. Nothing is done to the benefit of the Fulford community as it currently stands until basically we give in.
Fulford is a conservation area. Were trying to preserve as much of the character and appearance of the village as it currently stands, with great concerns over road access into this new development.
Another worry is the impact it will have on flooding. As we spoke, large parts of Fulford were underwater after record-breaking rainfall and there are fears that the new road and houses will only exacerbate the problem.
The reason so many residents are working so hard to change the plans is because they love Fulford as it is. It is a big community area, said Alan.
It was a lot better served with local bakers shops, garages, theyve all gone over the last 20 years, such is progress. But the community is a strong one. The good schools here mean theres a good community spirit from an early age.
Fulford was once an agricultural area which produced much of the food and other produce for the city of York. Few farms remain, but the tradition is kept alive at Fulford Community Orchard. Once it belonged to Naburn Hospital, which made way for the Designer Outlet shopping centre a few years back. Fulford residents have worked hard to rescue and improve the orchard and its mixture of plums, damson, pear and apple trees.
Getting there: Fulford is three miles south of York city centre, and easily reached via the A64 and A19. There are regular buses to and from York
Where to park: Theres on-street parking on the Main Street
What to do: Go for a walk on Fulford Ings. Enjoy food and drink at Fulfords pubs and restaurants. Check out the historic buildings