New farmhouses, cottages, a pub, and a small church began to appear on the western
side of Kilnsea from the late 1840s. The practical villagers of Kilnsea dismantled
their houses and cottages before they fell over the cliffs. Building materials were
precious, and were saved from the sea where possible. Soon after the enclosure award
had been signed in 1843 the new village of Kilnsea began to appear, mainly built
on the Humber side of the parish, as far away from the sea as possible. The houses
may have been new, but they utilised some of the material from the old houses, whilst
the names of many of the families preserved the continuity of the old village. Farming
and fishing were the main occupations of the people of Kilnsea, and like Easington
to the north certain families have dominated the area: the Clubley family, the Tennyson
(alternatively Tennison) family, the Medforth family, and the Hodgson family, were
the most prominent in the nineteenth century. It was said that had it not been for
sailors getting marooned in the village when their ships got into trouble the people
of Kilnsea would be very inbred indeed, for they could not be bothered to get over
Long Bank (the parish boundary) to go and look for partners!
Before the loss of the village, Kilnsea had several alehouses, shops, and even a
school. After the new village was created it never got larger than about 30 houses,
though it did manage to retain two public houses, the Blue Bell and the Crown and
The former closed in the 1950s, but the latter still flourishes. However there was
no rush to build a new church. After the church went over the cliff, services continued
to be held at Kilnsea, though for weddings, baptisms and burials the people of Kilnsea
had to go to Easington. As a temporary measure, a room in a farmhouse was rented,
and the rescued church bell was hung in the stackyard, being struck with a stone
to call people to worship. Eventually the bell cracked from such harsh treatment,
which rather quashes romantic fables about Kilnsea’s bells ringing under the sea!
John Ombler, of Westmere House, who became the Board of Trade superintendent of the
Spurn beach and sea-defence works, was apparently the last person to be baptized
in the old St. Helen’s. and it was to a large extent due to his efforts that in 1864
the decision was made to build a new church at Kilnsea. The Diocesan Society contributed
£102 to the building of the church, and subscriptions were also raised locally. The
celebrated Victorian architect, William Burges, designed a building of red and yellow
brick, which was erected about three-quarters of a mile west of the former site.
Superficially the new church, which cost £500, bore no resemblance to the old, but
Burges, with a proper respect for tradition, used stones from that church for the
foundations, the buttresses, and the coping. Furnishings and fittings from the old
St. Helen’s soon began to find their way back. The medieval font was rescued from
Skeffling, the holy water stoup from the Crown and Anchor, the church registers were
brought back from Easington, and services resumed on a regular basis.
Sadly in the 1990s falling congregations meant that the church had to be closed.
It has now been deconsecrated and is being converted to a dwelling.
For a time Kilnsea also had a Primitive Methodist Chapel. Henry Hodge, a Hull industrialist,
had been born in Kilnsea, and he became a prominent Primitive Methodist. Finding
that the village of his birth was without a Methodist place of worship he bought
land near the Humber and in 1885 built a chapel, constructed of corrugated iron there.
This so-called ‘iron chapel’ remained in use as a place of worship until it was converted
into a cottage about 1917.
In December 2013, as a result of the North Sea surge, the western side of Kilnsea
was badly flooded. Thanks to the efforts of many local people the Environment Agency
agreed that a flood bank should be constructed, and it was completed in April 2015.
Nevertheless the area will always be vulnerable, being almost entirely surrounded
The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust want to put a new Visitor Centre and coach and car park
in Kilnsea. Many people oppose this. See Keep Spurn Wild.