Great Driffield in 1843
Great Driffield is a market-town and parish, situated partly in the liberty of St. Peter of York, but principally in the Bainton-Beacon division of the wapentake of Harthill in the East Riding. The town is pleasantly situated at the foot of the Wolds, near one of the sources of the river Hull, about 193 miles from London, 26 miles east by north from York, 11 miles south-west of Bridlington, and 17 or 18 miles north by west of Hull.
The parish, which contains, besides the township of Great Driffeld, the chapelry of Little Driffield, and the township of Emswell with Kelleythorpe, is a discharged vicarage, in the diocese of York, with a gross income of £154 ; and the church, dedicated to All Saints, is an ancient structure, with a comparatively modern steeple.
The town consists chiefly of one long street, parallel with a clear trout stream, which, below the town, is enlarged into a canal for communication with Hull by the river of the same name. It is lighted with gas, and contains chapels for Baptists, Independents, Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, several Sunday and other schools, a mechanics' institution, and a dispensary. There is also a large workhouse for the Driffield Union, which embraces 43 parishes. There are several branch banks at Driffield, and manufactures of carpets, woollens, and cotton goods are carried on upon a limited scale. Agriculture however forms the chief support of the town, the surrounding district being a fertile corn-country, while the Driffield Navigation affords great facilities for exportation.
The market is on Thursday, when much grain is sold ; and fairs are held at Little Driffield on Easter-Monday, Whit-Monday, the 26th of August, and the 19th of September.
Little Driffield was the burial-place of a celebrated Northumbrian king named Alchfrid or Alfred, who died here in 702 ; and it has been repeatedly stated that his remains were discovered entire, and re-interred, in 1784 ; but Baines shows that this story is incorrect, the search made at that time being entirely fruitless.
The neighbourhood also contains, at the hamlet of Danes Hill, a great number of tumuli, supposed to be the monuments of Danish chiefs who fell in some engagement near the town, but nothing authentic is known concerning them. They are popularly called the 'Danes' Graves.'
The chapelry of Little Driffield lies west of Great Driffield, and the living is a perpetual curacy annexed to the latter. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, was rebuilt in 1807 ; and there is a Wesleyan chapel.
The population of the township of Great Driffield was 2,660 in 1831, and 3,223 in 1841, including 68 inmates of the Union workhouse ; that of the chapelry of Little Driffield, 92 in the former and 154 in the latter year : and that of the whole parish 2,854 and 3,477 at the same periods. Great Driffield is a polling-place for the East Riding.