Grow Your Own - digging into the past
No livestock allowed is one of the golden rules of a local allotment (please pass that message on to the rabbits!) At a site in beautiful Yorkshire plot holders grow their own bounty ranging from prize winning pumpkins to dazzling dahlias. The soil they are digging in to though contains another kind of treasure – the land has a fascinating history, which the Allotment Committee have been uncovering.
Written by… Tim Barnett, Anne Turner Allotment Committee
The Anne Turner Memorial Allotments were given to the villagers of North Ferriby in 1905 as a lasting reminder of Mrs Anne Turner of Ferriby House, the principle landowner and last of the Turner family to live in the village. The Allotments are governed by covenants which prevent any plot holder from having sheds or greenhouses so the site has retained its attractive appearance without any buildings. No livestock is allowed either but the local rabbits seem to be ignoring this regulation!
When the Allotments were invited to open for the East Yorkshire National Garden Scheme in 2022 we decided to find out more about our benefactor, Anne Turner. One of the most interesting documents was the Will, which revealed her estate was valued in 1902 at the modern day equivalent of £65million and several of those millions were allocated to charitable causes. Anne’s bequest was the last in a history of gifts to the local area from the Turner family, although they had been largely forgotten. These included the rebuilding of the Parish Church to designs by JL Pearson in 1845 and the Ferriby School and Headmasters house built in 1880. A more detailed account of the philanthropy of the Turners will be available at our Heritage Open Day (HOD) in September.
The Allotment site is itself historic, not only as an early example of a privately funded allotment, but also in relation to the history of North Ferriby. The land which is now under cultivation was once part of the Medieval Priory until its dissolution along with all the Monasteries in 1536. The Priory site had become a country house by the 17th century and was owned by the Lillingston family from 1699 until the 1790s. An excellent marble monument to Colonel Luke Lillingston can be seen in the parish church.
Ferriby is also the site of the oldest surviving prehistoric boats, discovered close by on the Humber foreshore. The prehistoric settlement presumably lay in the vicinity, digging on the allotment always holds extra interest for those with an archaeological interest. A replica of the boat will also be on display for HOD.
Today’s new growth
The allotments are made up of 84 plots and each has an individual character as diverse as the plot holders. Ages range from octogenarians to teenagers and we have ‘no-dig’ plots to double dig plots. Specialists grow competition sweet peas, lilies, dahlias and tulips in addition to the practical crops of beans, potatoes, sweetcorn and other salad crops. We hold an annual competition amongst plot holders which in the past has been potatoes, beans and this year we are having a pumpkin competition. The pumpkins will be coming up for judging in September. We will also be coming up to harvest time and surplus produce is often shared amongst plot holders or given to a local food bank.
We look forward to welcoming visitors at Heritage Open Day to see our hard work and learn about historic Ferriby.
Find out more
- North Ferriby Allotments (site currently being developed)
- National Gardening Week - Run by the Royal Horticultural Society, this year’s theme links to the coronation
- Unforgettable Gardens - The Gardens Trust continue to celebrate what gardens mean to us, the threats they face, and how you can help save them for future generations
Discover more stories behind gardens, plants, and green spaces with our earlier posts: