Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Today is the 716th birthday of Kingston upon Hull

On 1 April 1299 King Edward I, notorious as the conqueror of Wales and the Hammer of the Scots, issued a charter creating a new Borough at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber estuary. The people living here gained a measure of the self-government, and a new name for their community: Kingston upon Hull.

ville nostre de Kyngeston super Hull - "our town of Kingston upon Hull

Of course, there was a settlement here before the charter: Wyke upon
Hull. Wyke had belonged to Meaux Abbey, from which Edward bought it in 1293. Edward was most interested in exacting tolls and taxes on the goods transhipped here, and it was more convenient to do that if the settlement was his own property rather than the monks’. 

In 1299, perhaps as the port prospered, Wyke became a Borough, and its merchants could trade more freely throughout Edward’s expanding kingdom. So 1 April 1299 was a new start for Kingston upon Hull

1 April 2015 is a new start, in a way, for Hull History Centre. From 1 April, Hull City Council’s culture and leisure facilities will be run by Hull Culture and Leisure Ltd. This is a wholly owned not-for-profit company, which has been set up to deliver and improve museums, theatres and halls, leisure centres, parks – and our own service.

However, just as the people of the newly-minted Borough of Kingston upon Hull wouldn’t have noticed any changes on 2 April 1299, so our users won’t notice any changes to the way we operate on 2 April this year. Our partnership with the University is unaffected; our opening hours remain the same; and our staff will continue to be helpful, knowledgeable and welcoming.

And just as the period after 1299 saw the medieval borough with its new name provide the foundations for Hull to develop into England’s second biggest port, so we hope that the new company will provide the framework for us to continually improve our services here.

Martin Taylor
City Archivist

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