The past week has been an amazing time of lectures, talks, speeches, award ceremonies, research, and tours.
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of speaking at the Treasure House, Beverley, to a great audience, my topic, Jack the Ripper - The Beverley Connection. The lecture looked at two suspects with links to the Easy Yorkshire Market Town, and two Ripper scares that occurred there. All in all it was a great night and the feedback was excellent.
On Friday I researched a local history project for a local school. It was great fun and I prepared a slide show for the students.
On Monday I had the pleasure of showing the students the slide show, and handing out some maps that I had prepared showing their school and surrounding area dating as far back as the 1850’s when the land was nothing more than cow filled fields. The children loved it, and that afternoon I lectured to no fewer than four classes in four separate lectures!
On Tuesday I had a number of important meetings regarding future local history projects, all of which were really exciting.
Hull History Centre Volunteering Award:
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of being invited to the Hull History Centre for an award ceremony. The centre had recently been nominated, and won, the National Archive Volunteering Award from the Archives and Records Association. It was a lovely afternoon and I was asked to give a speech, which I will post here:
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Mike Covell and I am a volunteer with the Hull History Centre’s WWII project. As far back as the days of a separate local studies department, archival unit, and Hull university archival unit I was researching Hull’s history, so when the Hull History Centre opened I made sure I was one of the first to visit, and certainly one of the first to write a review of what the centre had to offer and keeps on offering.
Since it opened in 2010 I have taken part in several courses, researched here, and even lectured at the centre. So when I heard about the WWII project I got very excited to say the least. I had seen an advertisement in The Hull Daily Mail for volunteers and on one of my next research trips I registered my interest with the staff so that I could become part of what I believe is a very important project.
My family and I had always had an interest in WWII after it was revealed my late grandfather was photographed with his family in their home after a particularly horrific raid in Hull. As the photographer passed down the street, through the mountains or rubble, he saw my family and asked how they were. My grandfather did not answer, but instead smiled, threw his thumb up, and created a piece of local history. His photograph was used as propaganda for the war effort, and to this day still gets used in books and in the local press. With this in mind, and bearing in mind what he went through, I wanted to join the WWII project.
For me the project is an important project for several reasons. It helps us to remember the past. It secures the past for future generations, and it gives us new skills and experiences that we can take forward.
Since the project began we have learned how to correctly catalogue information, how to number the information so that it is easily found and accessible, and how to clean, store, and transcribe this information so that it is available to future generations.
Every time we have a session it is a learning experience. We have uncovered families that changed their names to avoid retribution from German sounding names to names such as “Smith” and “Jones.” We have seen firsthand the destruction caused on the various air raids, and we have learned of the tragedies and heroic stories that occurred on our very streets, stories that up until now had been largely forgotten.
During a recent session transcribing WWII documents at the Hull History Centre I was blown away by the great number of cards in just one of the piles I had in front of me. I kept asking myself about the importance of the cards and the names upon them. What really hit home is that these ladies and gentlemen who gave so much between 1939 and 1945 in this “North East Coastal Town” and received very little for it, but they all had one thing in common. They were all volunteers.
With this in mind the least we can do as volunteers is to carry on what we do and remember them for what they did.
You can read the full report of the award announcement here: http://www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk/Volunteers-Blitz-spirit-helps-archive-award/story-19771061-detail/story.html#axzz2ef5gDx7L
The George Hotel:
Last night I had the pleasure of being invited to the George Hotel Re-launch, which has reopened and looking fantastic inside. They are currently offering a massive range of ales, and freshly cooked locally sourced food, and it was such an honour to be invited to speak at the historic pub. I was also tasked with taking a short ghost walk around Old Town, and it was really well received. The following is the speech I prepped for the night, but ended up making it up as I went along.
Good Evening ladies and gentleman, my name is Mike Covell and I am a local historian, born and bred in Kingston upon Hull. For many years I have been researching hundreds of places and people in Hull, and lectures, taught, advised, and written on the subject for local, national, and international organizations. It is my great pleasure to be here this evening to talk about the history of the George Hotel.
What can I say about the George Hotel that has not been said before? We all know the stories and theories surrounding “England’s Smallest Window,” but what do we really know about the building and its history?
According to Visit Hull and The Hull Ale Trail, The George is the oldest surviving Licensed Public House in Hull, A claim that several other pubs also claim to hold.
But what do we know.
From historical records we discover that the building started off as an Elizabethan Mansion and it was claimed to be the home of the former Sheriff of Hull, John Oversale. Oversale was the Sheriff in 1546 and Mayor of Hull in 1550.
By 1680 the building was a public house, trading under the name Ye White Frere Hostel, a nod to the local White Friars.
But by 1683, Prince George of Denmark married Queen Anne, and the public house took on the name The George.
The sign, however, shows King George IV, and not Prince George of Denmark.
By the 1770’s it was listed as The George Inn and run by the Bamford family.
By the early 1800’s it was run by Robert Hawkins and known as The George.
Throughout the Victorian period it was used as an auction house for the sale of local property, land, and even furniture. It was also used as a place to hear about people of the town going bankrupt! One of the earliest of these was a lady called Charlotte Day, who in 1803 was declared bankrupt after her husband passed away. It was also used as a place for people to come and listen to inquests on the bodies of people who had died in the parish. It was also used by local politicians. One account in the Hull press features local politicians getting voters into the pub for copious amounts of ale, and then getting them to vote. In the Victorian period this was considered the norm.
In 1810 John Woolley took over the pub, and the address changed from 66 Whitefriargate to 23 Silver-street! John Ran the pub until 1831 when his wife Hannah Woolley took it on. In 1851 she changed the name again, this time to The George Commercial Inn and Family Hotel. The 1851 Census shows her here with 7 servants!
In 1863 E Taylor took over and the name was changed to The George Inn and Land of Green Ginger.
In the years that followed M. Bellamy, S. Wallis, Jeremiah Charles Potter, and Hanna Woolley Junior, ran the pub.
In the early 20th century the pub was ran by Jeremiah Charles Potter, Edwin E Spence, David George Bilham, T. B McCann and E. E. Spencer, Samuel Holman, Hewitt Bros, William Ellyard and many more followed.
The name also changed constantly, from the George Hotel, to the George Hotel Vaults, to the George Hotel and Restaurant, and the George Hotel Land of Green Ginger.
Throughout the years the pub has had numerous names, numerous landlords, and numerous uses, but what is common throughout, is that it remained the heart and soul of the local community, and hopefully will continue to do so, under Kevin and Fiona, for the next chapter in its history.