Trail: Howden - Tour The Town

Add a bit of history to your time in Howden and use our archive images to peep into the past and see what some parts of the town looked like in years gone by.

(Always be careful of your surroundings when using the app)

Timeless Treasure

This almost timeless view shows Howden Minster in 1915, known as the Minster Church of St Peter and St Paul, which is built on Anglo Saxon foundations.  Following the Norman Conquest it came into the ownership of the Bishop of Durham and underwent a number of alterations until it was fully completed by the 1340s.  However, it gradually fell into decline, and today you will find ruins on the opposite side of the building, which are now maintained by English Heritage.


That’s the end of the trail!  Why not visit the Howden Centre to find out more about the the town?  Go straight on, with the Minster on your right-hand side, and through the Market Place.

The Howden Centre is directly opposite, on the other side of Hailgate, near the supermarket.

A Passage Through Time

The view down this narrow thoroughfare (Vicar Lane) leads inevitably to the imposing presence of Howden Minster in the background which, combined with the ornate vine scroll doorway on the right, makes for a useful point of reference when comparing the archive image from 1920 with the present-day scene.

It’s thought that this was once part of a large early medieval market place, on which temporary stalls have since been replaced by permanent shop premises.

Going ‘Dutch’

The building on the right of our archive image from 1903 is equally recognisable today, thanks to very little, if any, alteration.  This is the Shire Hall, and was originally built as a covered market, modelled on the typical design of a Dutch town hall.  Nowadays it’s a vibrant art centre, hosting concerts, theatre, cinema and comedy performances, as well as parties and weddings.  A tourist information office is also based here.

Set In Stone?

By simply glancing at the stone market cross straight ahead, you’d be forgiven for thinking it had looked like this for centuries, but our archive image taken in 1900 reveals that appearances can be deceptive!  Whilst the base itself is medieval, you can see that it used to be topped by a gas lamp.  The stone shaft that we see today was actually added on 27th May 1909.

It’s also interesting to note how the shop fronts have altered and the cobble setts have been covered or replaced with tarmac.

Writer Way

(Our trail begins on Hailgate, not far from the Methodist Church, as the road begins to bear left towards the town centre. Use ‘View on map’ from the trail’s homepage to reach point ‘1’ and the start of the trail).

Look carefully and you’ll notice that more has changed here on Hailgate than you might think!  A row of buildings pictured in the archive image of 1901 have since been demolished to widen the access to Market Place on the right-hand side.

The house on the right-hand edge of the image is late 18th century and was occupied by the writer Nevil Shute, who is said to have penned his first novel, ‘Marazan’ in this very house.