History of Leven

Little Leven
It is believed that the village of Little Leven began as far back as the days of the ancient Britons, though Neolithic and Bronze Age occupation of the area is known. Finds from Leven 'Carrs' (marshy land) have included axe heads, leaf-shaped swords, and a spearhead.

The 1892 Bulmer's Directory of Hull and the East Riding states that the Manor of Leven was given to the church of St John of Beverley by Edward the Confessor, and is listed in the Domesday Book as being amongst its possessions.

After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1547, ownership of the land reverted to the Crown, to be bought by Sir Marmaduke Constable in 1557. Around 1612 it appears that Sir Thomas Gresham owned some of the land, having received it as a gift from Queen Elizabeth I.

Police Station
Erected in 1852, the police station on High Stile consisted of three cells, a magistrates room, witness and ante-rooms. it was staffed by an inspector, a sergeant and three constables.

It also served as Petty Sessional Division of North Holderness, and magistrates were in attendance every alternate Wednesday. It is now a listed building and currently houses the Leven Surgery.

There have been numerous windmills in the village over the years, though little is known about any of them. What is known, and available images can be found (here).

Rope-making was once a village industry in Leven, as it was in so many villages throughout England, but as mechanised industry and synthetic fibres took over, demand fell for the hand spun product and the ropewalks eventually closed.

Little is known of the villages' two ropewalks, though the 1851 map of the village does show their positions, one near to the Hare & Hounds on West Street, the other, near to what is now Balk Close on East Street. (marked RW on 1851 map)

Although rope making machines had been invented around 1792, they were not widely used until the late 19th century, instead, rope continued to be made by hand using a 'ropewalk', where yarns of hemp were stretched between two revolving sets of hooks up to 300 yards apart, the hooks twisting the yarn together to form the rope. During the process, the rope maker walked backwards along the strands of hemp raking the fibres into position with a tool called a 'top'. Old records show that ropes made in the village were used in the Beverley shipyards

St Faiths Church
appears to have been built on, or close to the site of an earlier wooden church of the same name. The church was built on an elevated section of low lying marshland west of the village, and seems to have lasted until 1843, when all but the chancel was pulled down, this being demolished in 1866 because it was unsafe. (more)

The graveyard continued to be used until 1869 when the new graveyard at Holy Trinity Church was consecrated.

Leven War Memorial
Erected by villagers in memory of those who gave their lives in both World wars (more) Click here for photos and transcription.

White Cross
Situated on the outskirts of the village, it used to stand in the middle of a roundabout where roads from Beverley, Hornsea and Hull merged. The base of the cross is a Grade II listed structure, but the current shaft is a 20th century replacement.

The original cross is believed to reside in Holy Trinity Church, having been found buried in St Faith's Churchyard around 1836.

White Cross Cottage
is believed to have been a turnpike house, where tolls would have been collected from travellers. It is situated close to White Cross, is a Grade II listed building and is now a private residence.

Babes in the Wood
During World War II, refugees and displaced foreign nationals were housed in temporary camps up and down the country. One of these camps was sited in the woods near to White Cross. However, before it became a refugee camp it had been a camp for military personnel, followed by a POW camp. It is believed that Lord Haw Haw mentioned the camp in one of his wartime propaganda broadcasts, saying they knew about the 'Babes in the Wood'.

There were three known smithies in and around the village in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

One of these was in South Parade, another on West Street, and an earlier one is known to have been sited near to Heigholme Hall in the Little Leven area.

Leven Canal
was opened in 1804, having been cut by the order of Mrs Bethel, Lady of the Manor. The 3 1/4 mile long canal started at the River Hull and was constructed to allow barges to reach the granaries and warehouses at Canal Head in the village. (more)

Leven Bypass
In late 1987, after detailed studies, the County Council tabled three schemes for a bypass for the village, aimed at diverting the flow of coastal traffic. The project finally went ahead in 1993 and the bypass was opened on 25th May 1994.

It is interesting to note that although the bypass has been a huge success for the village, diverting en-mass coastal traffic to the east, thereby reducing traffic accidents, noise and pollution, and improving the overall village environment, drivers heading for Brandesburton still tend to use the old road through the village rather than the bypass.

The reason for this is unclear, but may have something to do with the fact that by using the bypass, drivers have to enter Brandesburton from the northern end, causing the need to 'double-back' into the village, as no provision was made in the bypass scheme for an access road to the southern end of Brandesburton.

Other village industries that we know of in the late 18 and early 1900's, all now sadly gone, included a brick & tile maker, chandler, cooper, basket maker, tailor, glazier and tanner.