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The House on Salthouse Lane

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Introduction

The house on Salthouse Lane - Copyright 2005 Ann GoodenI moved into a flat on the ground floor of the house in June 1988. I knew that it had been a seamen's hostel, and someone said that it had once been a bank; but there was no written history of the building, and I decided to remedy that.

The County Archives in Beverley were the first port of call, and there was a “Eureka!” moment when I discovered in the Register of Deeds that the first tenant of the house was one of the Maister family. In the Hull City Record Office I was handed a box of documents relating to the Maisters and discovered the letters from Esther which supplied a wealth of information. Leafing through the card index there I found the sale catalogue which was another goldmine. The Hull Local Studies Library had many odd items which added a great deal of knowledge. The Bank of England Museum sent photographs and valuable information. Hull University's archive was a disappointment– until I stumbled across the will of Jane Wilkinson. Later, the internet was a source of facts about people who had lived in the house.

This history will, I hope, ensure that the house is recognised as a gem of Hull's Georgian past.

The Wilkinsons

In 1776 Jane Wilkinson of Salthouse Lane, Hull, decided that it was time to make her will. She was the last member of the Hull branch of a merchant family which had been prominent in the life of the city in the 17th century. Philip Wilkinson, Jane’s grandfather, was twice Mayor, and his father, also Philip, was Sheriff in 1661. Jane had inherited substantial property in the town and in the East Riding. Her will lists estates in Holmpton, Easington,Skeffling and Ottringham; a house on the west side of High Street, Hull, which was converted into tenements; and her own residence, a house on SalthouseLane.Jane, who never married, had no immediate family to inherit the property; but she had maintained contact with the Whitby branch of the Wilkinsons, and she made numerous bequests to these cousins. The Ottringham property and the High Street building were left to Hannah Mathews. Other cousins and Hull friends received money, as did Jane’s maid,Elizabeth Shillitoe. There was provision for the poor of the parishes of Holmpton and St. Mary’s, Lowgate. The bulk of her property, however, went to Henry Wilkinson. Henry was 64 when Jane died, on September 10th 1779. He had ten children, all of whom benefited under Jane’s will. (Tony Houghton–Brown, a descendant of one of Henry’s three sons who now lives in New Zealand, has supplied a great deal of information about his family tree.) The Whitby merchant became the owner of various estates, including the Salthouse Lane house, a substantial building with a courtyard and garden. Henry probably never considered living there. It was an old property in a desirable area of the city, and it made economic sense to demolish it and build a modern house which could be sold or let. Henry was offered £1400 for the site, but turned it down, and in 1780 built a new house. It was a three-story, square building of red brick, with wide stone steps leading to a centre portico of stone with Doric columns. There were four symmetrically placed chimney stacks. On the ground floor was an entrance hall, breakfast room, dining room, drawing room, butler’s pantry, “best” kitchen, back kitchen and larder. The first floor contained four bedrooms and two dressing rooms. In the “attic” there were five bedrooms for servants, as well as storerooms. Beneath the house was a vault or cellar with a cobbled floor, and adjoining the building was a coach-house and stable. The whole site comprised about a thousand square yards.

The 1784 map of the city shows the house on the south side of Salthouse Lane. The other buildings which appear on the street are a Baptist Chapel next door to the house, and a windmill (used for grinding oil seed) on the north side. Although there was still space to build within the old city walls,a phase of rapid growth was beginning. The first dock had been opened in1778 and a second was immediately planned. The docks would take shipping away from the High Street staithes and alter the character of Hull. The prosperous families began to look beyond the walls for a place to live, and the Salthouse Lane house was the last major private house to be built within their confines. Henry Wilkinson had become a property speculator at the wrong time.

The House on Salthouse Lane by Ann Godden - Page 1

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Copyright © 2005 Ann Godden


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