In the years 1341 and 1344, Ravenser Odd provided two members for the newly developing concept of Parliament. It was about 1341, that the House became divided into two chambers, that of the Lords and that of the Commons. England was at this time heavily embroiled in the Hundred Years War, and the king was constantly in need of war materials, money, ships, men. Thus it was that in 1346, almost immediately after the Battle of Crécy, fought in the month of August that year, royal demands were made for ports to provide a further 700 ships and 14,000 men for the siege of the town of Crécy. The numbers levied from each port are interesting; Hull, 16 ships and 466 sailors; Grimsby, 11 ships and 171 sailors; while Odd was only expected to provide ONE ship and 28 sailors! This singular item confirms that at this time in its history, Ravenser Odd was already in serious decline.
[Rotulorum Originalium in Curia Scaccari Abbreviato, ii, p. 81; as contained in Boyle, p. 38.]
Also in 1346, was held a further inquisition was ordered into the affairs of Odd, it was ordered by writ issued on the 18 th May of that year, and held three months afterwards. The following is Boyle’s translation of that writ:
Inquisition taken at Ravenserod on Thursday in the feast of St. Lawrence the martyr, in the 20 th years of the reign of king Edward the third after the conquest, before Nicholas Gower, Amandus de Frothyingham, and Peter de Grimsby, appointed by the commission of the lord the king to inquire concerning the impoverishment and destruction of the town of Ravenserod in Holdernesse, in the county of York, by the flowing of the water of the sea often inundating the said town, and concerning all other circumstances, by the oath of Galfrid de Redmar, Hugh de Hoton, Thomas de St. Martin, Stephen de Newton, John de Northorp, John Rolland, Roger Rolland, Nicholas de Thorn, Peter Percy, William Buk, Walter …… ese, and William son of Hugh de Hoton jurors; Who say upon their oath that two parts of the tenements and soil of the said town and more, by the flowing of the sea often inundating the said town, have been thrown down and carried away, and the said town by the flowing of the water aforesaid has been daily diminished and carried away. And they say that many men of the said town, who were accustomed before this time to bear the burdens contingent to the said town, have withdrawn themselves with their goods and chattels from the aforesaid town, because of such daily increasing dangers there, making an abode elsewhere, so that there does not remain there a third part of the men of the town aforesaid, with their goods, who are able at the present time in any way to bear the burdens in this way contingent to the said town, nor sufficient to pay or support the tithes, tolls, and other burdens hitherto assessed upon the said town, and due to be raised there. In witness of which the said jurors have fixed their seals to this inquisition.
[Inquisitiones ad quod Damnum, 20 Ed. III., no. 28; as contained in Boyle, p. 39.]
That such a movement of those people able to remove themselves from the encroaching waters of the sea is confirmed by the change of location of the mercantile trading business of the De La Pole family, as previously mentioned.
The De La Pole’s first appear in the records of Hull, in the rental of 1347, by which time they had acquired various plots and properties, mainly concentrated at the southern end of High Street, at the lucrative ‘Southend’, where the River Hull flows into the Humber Estuary. Plot 63 [Horrox] was held of the king by Sit William De La Pole senior, which comprised one tenement and a street frontage of 43½ feet; his son, Sir William Junior held plot 64 [Horrox] of the king, which also held one tenement but had a frontage of 49½ feet. More important than these waterfront properties however was the De La Pole acquisition of what hade been the residence for the kings’ wardens in the town of Hull, since their charter of 1297. This property consisted of a single plot that extended along the northern wall of the town from Marketgate in the east, almost to Beverleygate in the west, and extending southwards as far as Bishop Lane, that is to say, in modern references, from the City Records Office south to Bishop Lane, westwards to manor Street, thence northwest to the Empress Hotel, returning along what is now Guildhall Road. In 1347, this site “was owned by William De La Pole senior and his tenants. Part lay within the fee of Aton, an additional indication that the High Street plots had once extended westwards into this area. For the remainder of the site he paid 22s 8d. to the king the site included a hall, a house called ‘Gardenerhous’ and a chapel”.
[Changing Plan of Hull, 1290 – 1650; Rosemary Horrox]
The De La Pole’s had been slowy acquiring property in Hull since c1317, when a house was rented from the Rottenherrings for £4 per annum. No evidence has survived that places them in Hull prior to this date.

A consequential writ to that above, addressed in 1347/8 to the collectors of taxes in East Yorkshire is of great interest, because it specifies the year in which the destruction of the town was considered to have begun, of which this is the relevant abstract:
The king to collectors of Taxes, etc., Whereas recently we have learned by an inquisition taken at Ravenserod that the town has been daily diminished by the frequent inundations of the water of the sea surrounding the said town, the soil thereof in great quantity has been carried away; and that 145 buildings which belonged to Cecily de Selby, and very many which belonged to others, and forty two places not built upon which belonged to Thomas Galt and to others specified in the said inquisition, which said buildings and places constituted two parts and more of the aforesaid town, have been taken into the sea by such inundations, and the flux of the said water, from the 8 th year of the reign of the king of England even to the day of the taking of the said inquisition; and that the persons who were accustomed to have and hold the said buildings and places, and to dwell in them, and thereof to bear the burdens attached to the same, have withdrawn themselves from that town by reason of such waste and the impoverishment thence arising; and that the persons now dwelling there are so impoverished that they are not able in any way to support and pay the tenths, tolls, taxations, etc. It is commanded that 100 shillings be accepted from the said inhabitants, for the said tenths, etc.”
[Rotulorum Originalium in Curia Scaccari Abbreviato, ii, p. 188; as contained in Boyle, p. 39.]

It cannot be coincidence only that the previously reported North Sea storm of 1334 was exactly the same year in which the above writ names as that when the destruction of Odd began, for the 8 th year of the reign of Edward III, was also, 1334. This could mean that for the very first time, there is a direct link between a known meteorological event and the beginning of Ravenser Odd’s inundation – that date – 22 nd November, 1334!

A petition dated 1347-8 by William de Lithenay, pleads for the confiscation of the bodies, good, chattels of the malefactors who had robbed off the coast of Ravenser of merchandise that amounted to a value of £186 13s. 4d. in esterlings**; and also to take the goods and chattels of their maintainers and receivers; that is to say, the inhabitants of the towns Lubeck, Griefswald, Rostock, Wissemer, and Stralsund, who together with the said malefactors and robbers, took the body of the said William, and carried him to Stralsund, and there put him in prison for a long time, against the peace, and to the great injury of the said William.
** Esterlings The use of the term "sterling" has a historical derivation. In the 12th century, five towns in eastern Germany banded together to form the Hanseatic League - an entity which engaged in substantial commerce with England. In payment for English cattle and grain, the League used its own currency -silver coins called "Easterlings" The English soon learned that these coins were extremely dependable, and it is believed that, under the reign of Henry II, the Easterling was used as a basis for standardizing English coinage. As time went on, the name was shortened to "Sterling"- which is still in use today, referring to the English monetary system, and to a particular alloy of silver.

1348/9 saw the arrival of death to Europe on a massive scale, the Black Death, caused say many by flea bites from infected ships’ rats. Ravenser, being still a port of sorts was open to infection, but there is no mention in the records of there being such a visitation. There has been much debate over the last few years about what disease the Black Death actually was, but new developments have recently provided new evidence. “For a start, archaeological evidence has now proven for the first time that the Black Death was (or at least included) bubonic plague. Over the years, the claims of a variety of diseases have been advanced, including anthrax, haemorrhagic fever and ebola. However, new work in France lays the debate to rest, with the isolation last year [2000 RGH] of the bubonic plague bacterium (Yersinia pestis) in the tooth of a victim from a mass grave in Montpellier in the south of the country, where 90 per cent of the population died from the disease.

Didier Raoult, Professor of Medicine at the Mediterranean University of Marseilles, found the bacterium in the pulp tissue inside the tooth of a septicaemia victim. Once the bacterium is inside the tooth it can neither leave it, nor be contaminated from another source, as the tooth is closed. His ground-breaking research points the way to identifying plague victims from medieval sites elsewhere ”.
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The Chronica Monasterii de Melsa written between the years 1349 and 1353, whilst not making mention of the Black Death, does continue with a macabre yet intriguing story of the decline of Odd:
When the inundations of the sea and of the Humber had destroyed to the foundations the chapel of Ravenserre odd, built in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that the corpses and bones of the dead there horribly appeared, and the same inundations daily threatened the destruction of the said town, sacrilegious persons carried off and alienated certain ornaments of the said chapel, without our due consent, and disposed of them for their own pleasure; except a few ornaments, images, books and a bell which we sold to the mother church of Esyngton, and two smaller bells, to the church of Aldeburghe. But that town of of Ravenserre odd, in the parish of the said church of Esyngton, was an exceedingly famous borough devoted to merchandise, as well as many fisheries, most abundantly furnished with ships, and burgesses amongst the boroughs of that sea coast. But yet, with all inferior places, and chiefly by wrong-doing on the sea, by its wicked works and piracies (praedationibus), it provoked the wrath of God against its self beyond measure. Wherefore, within the few following years, the said town, by those inundations of the sea and the Humber, was destroyed to the foundations, so that nothing of value was left.
On the 25 th July, 1355, the abbot of Meaux was ordered to gather up the bodies of the dead which had been buried in the chapel yard of Ravenser, and which by reason of inundations were then washed up and uncovered, and to bury them in the church yard of Esington.
[Ocellum Promoniorum, Thompson, p. 176.]

The church of Easington was given by Edward I. to the Abbey of Meaux, and in 1346 it was appropriated to the abbot and monks of that house, and a perpetual vicarage ordained, the patronage of which should be vested in the archbishops of York. The rectory was then one of the richest in Holderness, its yearly value, according to the Valor of Pope Nicholas IV. (A.D. 1288), was £40, a very considerable income when the best grass-fed ox could be purchased for less than 16s.; the best shorn mutton for 1s. 2d.; the best goose for 3d.; and 20 eggs for a penny. After the destruction of Ravenser Odd, and the adjacent parts of the parish, in 1360, the income was very much reduced.
[ ] And it is behind this church that still stands the ancient tithe barn, into which the tithes of Odd must once have been paid!

Photo courtesy of © Stephen Horncastle, to whom go my sincere thanks for permission to use this image herein.

The final demise of the town and port of Ravenser odd came amid looting, piracy and brigandage [says Barbara English], as the government of the place crumbled together with the very land upon which it stood. One cannot help but bring to mind the recent inundations of both south east Asia and the Big Easy, New Orleans. It is claimed that by 1367, the place had finally succumbed to the waves, however, meteorological evidence points to a date of 1362, when, in January of that year blew: " St. Mary's Wind ": A severe gale/storm (at least as powerful as that of October 1987) from between south and west commenced on the 15th (23rd new-style) January 1362 and lasted for about a week. Noted by English, Scottish & Irish sources. (Must have been a sequence of events I would have thought, with perhaps the main-event on the 15th). This storm is regarded as the severest on record for the area, with the exception of that in November 1703 & possibly October 1987.

Of this noteworthy event, one of the sources referred to above is the chronicle of Holinshed, which tells that [here made into modern day English for ease of reading] “It began about evensong time in the south, and that with such force that it overthrew and brew down strong and mighty buildings as towers, steeples, houses, and chimneys. This outrageous wind continued thus for the space of six or seven days, whereby even those buildings that were not overthrown and broken down, were yet so shaken that they without repairing were not able long to stand. After this followed a very wet season, namely in the summer time and harvest, so that much corn and hay were lost and spoiled, for want of seasonable weather to gather in the same. Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, Holinshed, Raphael, d. 1580?, Edward III, p. 395.]

And while the London Chronicle fails to mention this particular storm, it does describe another weather event in the same period in which, on the “xiiij day off Aprill and the morwe after Ester Day, Kyng Edward with his Oost [host – army RGH] lay before the Citee of Parys; the which was a ffoule Derke [dark] day of myste, and off haylle, and so bytter colde, that syttyng on horse bak men dyed. Wherefore, unto this day yt ys called blak Monday, and wolle be longe tyme here after.”
[Chronicles of London, Edited with Introduction and notes by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford, M.A., reprint edition by Alan Sutton, 1977, p. 13.]

Finally, the Chronicle of Meaux provided the closure on the whole, which, sadly was not a reflection of earlier times, it says “That town of Ravenser Odd was an exceedingly famous borough, devoted to merchandise, as well as having many fisheries, most abundantly furnished with ships and burgesses. But ….. by wrong doing on the sea, by its wicked works and piracies, it provoked the wrath of God against its self beyond measure.” Thus ended the days of Odd, in ignominy and shame, to be almost forgotten by time, history and the memories of men. Hopefully this will provide the reader with a sense of then, in a time when as now, the climate was proving to be a fickle thing, first giving, then taking away, if not the lives of people, then their means of livelihood. The story of Ravenser Odd is perhaps not the most staring of tales, but it is a story of real people, the very people of whom the fabric of history is composed.

As a postscript, the name of Ravenser, after Odd, was applied to a later settlement called Ravenserspurn [or variations thereof RGH], which of its self too has historical connections, in particular with the dynastic wars between the houses of York and Lancaster. This is best left to the “The HISTORIE of the ARRIVALL OF KING EDWARD IV. A.D. 1471 to describe:
IN the yere of grace 1471, aftar the comptinge of the churche of England, the ij. day of Marche, endynge the x. yere (4) of the reigne of our soveraign Lord Kynge Edwarde the IV, by the grace of God Kynge of England and of Fraunce, and Lord of Irland, the sayde moaste noble kynge accompanied with ij thowsand Englyshe men (5), well chosen, entendynge to passe the sea, and to reentar and recovar his realme of England, at that tyme usurpyd and occupied by Henry, callyd Henry VI. (6), by the traytorous meanes of his greate rebell Richard, Erle of Warwicke, and his complices, entered into his shipe, afore the haven of Flisshinge, in Zeland, the sayde ij. of Marche; and forasmoche as aftar he was in the shippe, and the felowshipe also, with all that to them appertayned, the wynd fell and not good for hym, he therefore wold not retorne agayne to the land, but abode in his shipe, and all his felowshipe in lyke wyse, by the space of ix dayes, abydynge good wynde and wether; whiche had the xj. daye of Marche, he made saile, and so did all the shipps that awayted upon hym, takyng theyr cowrse streyght over [towards] the coste of Norfolke, and came before Crowmere, the Tuesdaye, agayne even, the xij. day of Marche; withar the Kynge sent on land Ser Robart Chambarlayne, Syr Gilbert Debenham, Knyghts, and othar, trustinge by them to have some knowledge how the land inward was disposed towards hym, and, specially, the countries there nere adioyninge, as in party so they browght hym knowledge from suche as for that caws wer sent into thos parties,from his trew servaunts and partakars within the land, whiche tolde them, for certayne, that thos parties wer right sore beset by th'Erle of Warwyke, and his adherents, and, in especiall, by th'Erle of Oxenforde (7), in such wyse that, of lyklyhood, it might not be for his wele to lande in the contrye; and a great cawse was, for the Duke of Norfolke was had owt of the contrye, and all the gentlemen of whom th'Erle of Warwicke bare any suspicion ware, afore that, sent for by letars of privie seale, and put in warde about London, or els found surety; natheles, the sayd ij Knyghts, and they that came on land with them, had right good chere, and turned agayne to the sea. Whos report herd, the Kynge garte make course towards the north partyes. The same night followinge, upon the morne, Wenesday, and Thursday the xiiij. daye of Marche, fell great stormes, wynds and tempests upon the sea, so that the sayde xiiij. day, in great torment, he came to Humbrehede, where the othar shipps were dissevered from hym, and every from other, so that, of neccessitye, they were dryven to land, every fere from other. The Kynge, with his shippe aloone, wherein was the Lord Hastings, his Chambarlayne, and other to the nombar of v{c} well chosen men, landed within Humber, on Holdernes syde, at a place callyd Ravenersporne, even in the same place where sometime the Usurpowr Henry of Derby, aftar called Kynge Henry IV. landed, aftar his exile, contrary and to the dissobeysance of his sovereigne lord, Kynge Richard the II. whome, aftar that, he wrongfully distressed, and put from his reigne and regalie, and usurped it falsely to hymselfe and to his isswe, from whome was linially descended Kynge Henry, at this tyme usinge and usurpinge the coronoe, as sonne to his eldest sonne, somtyme callyd Kynge Henry the V. The Kynge's brothar Richard, Duke of Glowcestar, and, in his company iij{c} men, landyd at an othar place iiij myle from thens. The Earle Rivers, and the felowshipe beinge in his companye, to the nombar of ij{c}, landyd at a place called Powle, xiiij myle from there the Kynge landyd, and the reminaunt of the felowshipe wher they myght best get land. That night the Kynge was lodgyd at a power village, ij myle from his landynge, with a few with hym; but that nyght, and in the morninge, the resydewe that were comen in his shipe, the rage of the tempest somewhate appeasyd, landyd and alwaye drewe towards the Kynge. And on the morne, the xv. day of Marche, from every landynge place the felowshipe came hoole toward hym. As to the folks of the countrye there came but right few to hym, or almost none, for, by the scuringe (8) of suche persons as for that cawse were, by his said rebells, sent afore into thos partes for to move them to be agains his highnes, the people were sore endwsed to be contrary to hym, and not to receyve, ne accepe hym, as for theyr Kynge; natwithstondynge, for the love and favour before they had borne to the prince of fulnoble memorye, his father, Duke of Yorke, the people bare hym right great favowr to be also Duke of Yorke, and to have that of right apartayned unto hym, by the right of the sayde noble prince his fathar. And, upon this opinion, the people of the countrie, whiche in greate nombar, and in dyvars placis, were gatheryd, and in harnes, redye to resiste hym in chalenginge of the Royme and the crowne, were disposyd to content them selfe, and in noo wyse to annoy hym, ne his felowshipe, they affirmynge that to such entent were [they] comen, and none othar. Whereupon, the hoole felowshipe of the Kynges comen and assembled togethar, he toke advise what was best to doo, and concludyd brifely, that, albe it his enemies and chefe rebells were in the sowthe partes, at London and ther about, and that the next way towards them had to be by Lyncolneshire, yet, in asmooche as, yf they shulde have taken that waye, they must have gon eft sones to the watar agayne, and passyd ovar Humbar, whiche they abhoryd for to doo; and also, for that, yf they so dyd it would have be thowght that they had withdrawn them for feare, which note of sklaundar they wer right lothe to suffar; for thes, and othar goode considerations, they determined in themselves not to goo agayne to the watar, but to holde the right waye to his City of Yorke.
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Richard Hayton © 2005

Bibliography and Consulted Sources


Dr. Matthew Townsend , MA Phd (Oxon), Senior Lecturer in English at the University of York

Local History Unit, Hull College, in particular, Mr. C. Ketchell.

Mr. Stephen Horncastle, [photo of tithe barn, Easington]

Local Studies Library, Hull Central Library, Albion Street, Kingston upon Hull


An Historical Atlas of East Yorkshire , edited by Susan Neave and Stephen Ellis, Hull University Press, 1996; The History of Spurn Point, by George de Boer, pp 8 and 9, ISBN 0 85958 65 29

Ravenser and Ravenser Odd: the Early History of Spurn Head by Pete Crowther

Hull Literary Club Magazine, A Record of Transactions, Session 1912-13, vol. IV., part IV; The Lost Towns of the Yorkshire Coast, by T. Sheppard F.G.S., abstract of a lecture, delivered January 27 th, 1913; Reprint edition Malet Lambert High School, 1981

Baines’s Yorkshire , Vol. II, East and North Ridings, David & Charles Reprints, S.R. Publishers Ltd., 1969 edition.

Lost Villages of the Humber Estuary , by Gordon Ostler, Local History Archives Unit, Hull College of Further Education, 1990, page 7.

The Yorkshire Coast , edited by Davis B. Lewis, Chapter 10, Ravenser Odd, by Barbara English, Dept. History, University of Hull, Normandy Press, 1991, ISBN 0950766534

A Regional History of England , Yorkshire From AD1,000, by David Hey, Longman Group Ltd., 1986, ISBN 0 582 49211 4

The Lost Towns of the Humber , by J.R. Boyle, FSA, A. Brown & Son, Hull and London, 1889

The Changing Plan of Hull 1290 – 1650 , by Rosemary Horrox

East Riding of Yorkshire Landscape , by K. J. Allison, Hodder and Stoughton, London, Sydney, Auckland and Toronto, 1976.

The De La Poles of Hull , by Rosemary Horrox, East Yorkshire Local History Society, 1983.

Yorkshire , by Gordon Home part 3 of 4 at

The Lords of Holderness 1086 – 1260 , Barbara English, University of Hull, Oxford University Press, 1979

The National Archive, Kew, London, via their web site at:

The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland , Holinshed, Raphael, d. 1580?, Edward III, p. 395.]


Richard the Third, by Paul Murray Kendall, BCA London, 1973.

Ordnance Survey Landranger Series, sheet 113.

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