Seaton Ross village is located in East Riding of Yorkshire. It is situated approximately twenty miles south east of York and lies close to the towns of Pocklington and Market Weighton. There are around two hundred homes within the village, most of which are located along the winding, main road.
A few years after the Norman conquest in 1066 the North rebelled against William I. To control the area and re-enforce his power the King ordered many areas in the North to be laid waste. The Domesday Book (1086) reference to Seaton Ross shows this clearly:
" Settone : Gamel had 1 manor of 4 carucates* for geld and 2 ploughs can be (there). Now Nigel has (it) of the Count (of Mortain) and it is waste".
* A carucate was the amount of land a team could plough in the course of a year.
The medieval village was centred on a Cross which influenced today's street names: North End, West End, South End and Carr Lane.
The village was known as Seaton until about 1575. This name is derived from two Old English Words – 'ton' a farm of settlement; 'sea' a pool of water or more likely in this case, the marsh that lay to the East of the village. Ross was added in the 16th century when the land came into the hands of the de Ros family.
- St Edmund's Church
The Church in Seaton Ross is a brick construction with stone details. It was built in 1788, to replace an earlier church, and it is dedicated to St Edmund. St Edmund, a King of East Anglia, was martyred in the 9th century for refusing to renounce Christ after an attack by the Danes. His death is depicted in the Preston memorial window in the church. The martyred body of St Edmund was interred at Bury, St.Edmund.
The congregation originally sat in box pews under a plaster ceiling with an ornamented cornice with a Minstrels Gallery at the west end. The original Norman font is in use today as are the eighteenth century pulpit and communion rail. In 1901 Temple Moore, undertook the restoration of the church, which cost £600. He bricked up the lower part of the nave windows and put a new one in the chancel. The gallery was taken down and the panelling of the box pews was used to make the dado and reading desk and new pews were installed. A reredos with curtains either side was erected in front of the east window.
In 1953 George Pace reorganised the chancel by removing Temple Moore’s reredos and a window, designed by Harry Stammers, was inserted in the unblocked east window.
A sundial, signed “William Watson, 1825” is positioned over the entrance to the church.
We know details of the building work and renovations carried out due to items located in the church:
Stone table on the Tower:
"H. Nottingham raised the steeple at his charge from this stone,1788".
Memorandum on a board in the Church which displays the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer:
"This Church was rebuilt at the Expence of the Parishioners of Seaton Rofs, and the Chancel by William Haggerston Maxwell Constable Esqre: The same was furnished with a new pulpit and Reading Desk, and properly ornamented by the Minister of the said Parish in the year of our Lord 1789".
The Stained Glass Windows of St Edmund's Church - The St Edmund Window (North Window) Preston Memorial Window
In February 1928 it was proposed to erect a stained glass window in memory of the late churchwarden, Mr Charles Preston and his wife Mrs Betsy Preston. The subject would be the life and martyrdom of St Edmund, to whom the church is dedicated.
The left hand light (the west light) represents Bishop Humbert and St Edmund on the night before St Edmund was martyred. (Bishop Humbert had crowned Edmund as king).
The centre light shows St Edmund’s martyrdom. He is depicted tied to a tree and pierced by Danish arrows. These arrows are the emblem of St Edmund along with three crowns.
The right hand light (the east light) shows the finding of St Edmund's decapitated head. The legend is that a wolf led Angles to the head by barking ‘Heugh, Heugh’ (Here! Here!).
The cost of the window in 1928 was £100.00 and the designer was Mr Harry Victor Milner a renowned glazier from Whipsnade in Bedfordshire.
The inscription on the window reads: “ To the Glory of God and in memory of Charles Preston who died November 9th 1926 and his wife Betsy Preston who died December 2nd 1926 R.I.P”.
The Stained Glass Windows of St Edmund's Church - The Ascension Window (East Window)
In 1953 Mr George G. Pace reorganised the chancel in St Edmund's Church. The reredos, erected in the early 20th century by the famous Victorian church architect Mr Temple Moor, was removed and taken down. At the same time the East window, depicting the Ascension, was inserted in the unblocked windows.
The artist of the window was Mr Harry J Stammers, who formerly lived in York and did much of his work in this area. Very fine examples of his work can also be seen in the Cathedrals of Canterbury and Lincoln.
The side windows depict Adam and Eve with the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Also shown are the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child holding a Chalice and Host.
The window is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Gillah Ibbotson, who was churchwarden at St Edmund's from 1892 to 1911, and his wife Elizabeth.
The window was given by their son William Kendall Ibbotson.
- Village Hall
The Village Hall started life as the village school.
- The Steam Mill
The Steam Mill at Old Mills, Seaton Ross
The steam engine was built to support an existing, five-sailed windmill and was used on days when the wind was too weak, or too strong to mill. It was totally independent of the five-sailed mill. It did not drive the sails of the wind-powered mill, but worked independently.
A new engine shed housed the steam apparatus which consisted of a 12 horsepower engine and a 16 horse-power boiler. The Steam Engine was capable of manufacturing 15 lasts of corn per week, driving a pair of stones as well as all the machinery in the attached granary building.
The 70 foot chimney, engine shed and granary building became part of the flour mill production at Seaton Ross together with the original wind operated mill. The old windmill at Seaton Ross was dismantled in the early 1950’s with just the tower remaining.
“On the most improved principle to be in excellent repair and well adapted for carrying out an extensive and profitable business”.
Richard Hartley, owner
- The Lady Well
The Lady Well, Seaton Ross
The gradual introduction of Christianity into Britain resulted in numerous sacred wells being rededicated to Christian saints. The most common name for rededicated wells was 'Lady Well' as a dedication to the Virgin Mary.
The Lady Well in Seaton Ross is situated south of the village in the corner of a field and is approached by public footpath from the village. It is clearly marked on the 1851 and 1909 (revised) ordnance survey maps for Seaton Ross.
The origins of the Lady Well at Seaton Ross are unknown. The village had for many years a very prominent Roman Catholic presence and it is possible this could be the reason for its rededication. How long it has been known as a' Lady Well' remains a mystery as there are no known traditions connected with the site.
The well is fed by an unseen source and is surrounded by a thicket of willows and tall weeds. A field drain is located on the north side which pipes murky water into a drainage ditch from the well. A few yards to the east of this pipe there is a strong flow of clean water entering the ditch from an unknown source. This could perhaps be the original lady well spring with its stream now used as a field drain.
“In England, of the Holy Wells dedicated to the Saints of Christianity, the wells of Our Lady greatly exceed in number those of any other saint.
Water throughout the ages has ever been regarded as the symbol of purity. Its presence is seen too in the tenets of Pagan mythology. The Norsemen had a Goddess eminent as the embodiment of purity and known to them as the Queen of Heaven. She was Freya, and her name is constantly on our lips in Freya’s Day, or Friday.
Freya the pure was associated in the minds of our forefathers with clear water as the special spirit of the springs and streams, and as such was worshiped by them. Some shadowy remains of her may be met with still in the White Lady so often supposed to haunt the neighbourhood of springs. Freya was represented by the Lady-Bird one of the most pretty of our insects and this, long before ‘Our Lady the Virgin, Mother of Christ’ was known”.
Ancient Springs and Streams of the East Riding of Yorkshire , The Revd. William Smith, 1923
- The Priest Bridge
Southfield Lane, Seaton Ross
The earliest map record of the Priest Bridge dates from the early 19th century in William Watson’s 1828 'Seaton Ross Book of Roads'.
The book shows the bridge situated near Reangamoor Lane south of the village near “Priest Bridge Closes” crossing over the main (modern day) Southfield Road. It is approximately fifty yards passed the road entrance to St Helens Farm (as you travel south of the village towards Allberies).
The bridge is also clearly defined on the 1851 and 1910 ordnance survey maps. The 1851 ordnance survey map also shows a footbridge south of Seaton Old Hall at the end of Reangamoor Lane along with many other footbridges that are no longer in existence.
The precise date or type of construction of the bridge is unknown. However, many bridges were associated with religious foundations, chantries, or chapels dedicated to the observance of requiems for the soul of a benefactor or patron saint. Local tradition says that the Priest Bridge was built by monks and was part of a route taken by travellers from Howden to York when guided by monks from Bursea Chapel.
The area to the east of the village was low-lying meadows and pastures. The "The Ings" and "Everingham Carrs, were marshy and liable to flooding. However, the lands around Seaton Ross were drained in the eighteenth century. As passage became easier with improved road systems the use of the bridges diminished. Very little evidence remains today of the bridge.
- Melbourne Airfield
10 Squadron (Shiny Ten), Melbourne Airfield, 1940 – 1945
The airfield at Melbourne was originally only grass, beginning life in 1940 on a very temporary basis and the first bombers to arrive were twin-engined Whitleys.
There were no permanent buildings and it became necessary that in order to carry on as a heavy bomber airfield, improvements had to be made. In 1942 the airfield was closed and concrete runways constructed to cater for the heavy four- engined Halifax Bombers. The main runway was 5500 feet long, which was well above the average runway length, and in addition permanent buildings were constructed.
Melbourne airfield became the home of 10 Squadron playing a very important part in the RAF’s strategic offensive during the Second World War. For the whole duration of the Second World War 10 Squadron operated from Melbourne being the only Squadron stationed there which was quite unique.
A major problem and hazard to the pilot and crews flying from Melbourne in World War 2 was fog. The Vale of York suffered with fog and still does to this day. Melbourne was unique in being the only base operational in Yorkshire to have the system of Fido (Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation). The was a system of using heat to clear the fog by burning petrol from pipes laid along the side of the runway. It was very expensive in he use of petrol – the first occasion at Melbourne used 102,000 gallons but was hugely successful by improving visibility.
Landing a Halifax bomber at night was no easy task even in good weather with the pilot relying on instruments until only a few feet from the ground. The tunnel of light created by Fido was a welcome friend on returning home after a bombing mission. Crews were lucky to last a dozen missions and thereafter lived on borrowed time.
There were also the personnel who looked after the aircraft the “ground crew” who worked in all kinds of weather and often in winter in freezing conditions to service and maintain the aircraft. They formed a close link with the aircrews and often met in the local pubs at Melbourne and The Blacksmiths Arms in Seaton Ross, which was, renamed “The Bombers” after the war. The Blacksmiths Arms at Seaton Ross was the firm favourite of the aircrews and ground crews. Aircrews would often talk of the delicious Sunday afternoon teas (Scones with Jam) served at The Blacksmiths Arms in Seaton Ross.
10 Squadron were the residents at Melbourne for the duration of the war and eventually transferred to Transport Command in 1945. 10 Squadron was replaced by 575 squadron replacing Halifax bombers with Dakotas and joined by RAT flight (Radio Aids Training Flight). In late 1945, 575 squadron moved to another base and in 1946 the RAT flight left and the airfield at Melbourne closed.
Today the airfield is within a working farm and is private property. Several of the old buildings have been restored and the restoration of the control tower is a splendid job. The large aircraft hanger, which housed the bombers, can still be seen from Mill Lane.
A fitting and honourable memorial has been erected at the main entrance to the Melbourne airfield in memory of the very brave personnel who gave their lives in the service for their country during World War 2.
- Improvements are needed!
“How Seaton Ross could be improved! March 25th 1919”
“Seaton Ross is a long village being a mile long. It is in the East Riding of Yorkshire, fifteen miles from York, the capital of Yorkshire.
Although it is a pleasant one, it could be greatly improved. First it could be improved by building a railway station and having a branch from Foggathorpe or Holme. It would be a very good improvement, people could get about better.
Next would be to have a drapers shop, we have two grocers shops. It would be nice to have some pleasure place such as a picture house or music hall or some pleasure grounds. It would be a very nice thing to have a motor garage, either for pleasure or cases of emergency, as no one in the village has a motorcar.
It would be a great advantage to have gas or electric light in our houses and also in the street now the air raids are done with. Another improvement would be to pull down some of the small, low houses, which are not healthy, and build bigger better ones.
It would be much handier if we had a butchers shop in the village as our meat has to be got from Melbourne or Pocklington. There is a cart comes round from Pocklington on a Friday but that is inconvenient if you want any meat during the week.
There are still more improvements, but these are some of the most necessary ones”.
- A half-day holiday!
Reasons for and against the Weekly Half Holiday for Agricultural Workers - March 31st 1919.
"The farm workers ought to have a half-day holiday at least once a week and Saturday afternoon is most convenient. Some of the workers have fields and gardens of their own, and they could work a little for themselves. Or they could go to Pocklington or York, and have the half-day on pleasure".
"It is not nice for the farmer, because if the men are not back to milk and father, the farmer has to do it himself and it make him extra busy".
- Sir Edmund de Mauley
Knight and Lord of the Manor, Seton 1306
Edmund de Mauley, born in 1281, was the youngest son of a great Yorkshire family who owned Bainton and Neswick for over 200 years.
He served in the Scottish campaign of 1301 and became a very close friend of the future King Edward II, serving later as a steward. Although in minor orders, he was one of young nobles at the court of the King.
For his services during campaigns with and for King Edward II he was awarded a grant of the Manor of Seton in 1306. He died at the battle of Bannockburn on the 24th June 1314, when the Scots, under Robert the Bruce defeated the English.
Accompanied by the Earl of Gloucester, Sir John Comyn and Sir Pagan de Typtoft, Sir Edmund was in the leading division of men who charged their horses across the wide, steep sided water filled ditch called Bannockburn. They encountered such fierce opposition that they were killed with many of their men. Many others who turned and tried to cross the burn, were drowned or crushed to death. It is said that you could walk across the burn on the backs of the dead bodies after the battle.
In the south aisle of the nave of the church at Bainton in East Yorkshire, is an elaborate wall tomb of about 1336 containing the contemporary figure of a knight. This wall tomb was set up 20 years after his death as a memorial to Sir Edmund de Mauley who fell at the battle of Bannockburn. The illustrations show the Edmund de Mauley tomb effigy in Bainton church and his shield which bears the coat of arms “On a bend sable three wyverns argent”.
Seaton Ross church is dedicated to St. Edmund. The reason for this dedication may be due to the desire of the Lord of the Manor of Seton in the early 14th century Sir Edmund de Mauley wishing to honour his 'name saint’.
- William Watson
William Watson's simple instrument for finding a meridian line - 1841
During a visit to London in 1840, William Watson contrived the idea of a new kind of instrument. This was for finding a meridian line and for making and fixing sun-dials. The following article, describing his idea, was published in the Mechanics Magazine, February 1841.
"Two tubes a b, c d, are to be fixed fast on the moveable part Q, so that one of them shall point to the pole star, Alrucabbah, while the other points to the fixed star, Capella. The line between the two joints or rings e f, on which the moveable part turns, is to make an angle with the horizontal board S, at the bottom, equal to the latitude of the place, and then (when the instrument is set right) this line will be parallel to the axis of the earth, and the pole star tube will be nearly parallel to it, being only about a degree and half from it. The other tube, pointing to Capella, makes an angle of about 45 degrees from that pointing to the pole star.
Then, by setting the instrument on a level plane, and turning it about until the two stars can be seen through the two tubes, the edges of the square horizontal board at the bottom will point exactly to the east, west, north and south. No matter what o’clock it is when the observation is taken, nor what day of the month it is, nor what time of the year; any time will do when the two stars are visible. When it stands upon the level plane the two stars cannot be seen through the two tubes, but only when it is set right in the meridian. The parallel lines on the bottom board being meridians, any of them can easily be marked upon the level plane on which it stands.
This two-tubed instrument may be used with equal accuracy in a different way, for when the two tubes point to the two stars mentioned, the bottom board will be raised either to the north or south side, according to the difference of latitude, without the observer being at the trouble of making any alteration or preparation for the difference of latitude. Any other two fixed stars would do for this purpose if they were at a considerable angle from each other, but many of them are not visible every night in the year. Perhaps the star Vega instead of Capella, would suit better for this purpose, as it is nearer to the equator, and nearer in the plane with the Pole Star and the Pole, and it is visible
some part of every night in the year when the sky is clear. But Capella and the Pole Star never set in England, therefore they are visible at night, and every night in the year when the sky is clear".
Historical information has been adapted from 'Past Times' articles written by Malcolm Young. These articles appeared in older editions of the Seaton Ross newletter the 'Seaton Ross Times'.