Bridlington is a coastal town and civil parish on the Holderness Coast of the North Sea, situated in the unitary authority and ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire approximately north of Kingston upon Hull. The Gypsey Race river runs through the town and emerges into the North Sea in the town harbour. In the 2011 Census the population of the parish was 35,369.
Bridlington is a minor sea fishing port with a working harbour and is well known for its shellfish. It has a mix of small businesses across the manufacturing, retail and service sectors with its prime trade being tourism during the summer months.
The origins of the town are uncertain, but archaeological evidence shows habitation in the Bronze Age and in Roman times. The settlement at the Norman Conquest was called Bretlinton, but has also gone by the names of Berlington, Brellington and Britlington, before settling on its modern name in the 19th century.
The town is twinned with Millau in France and Bad Salzuflen in Germany. One of the UK's coastal weather stations is located at Bridlington. The Priory Church of St Mary and the associated Bayle Gate are Grade I listed buildings. The church stands on the site of the original Augustine Priory.
Historically, Bridlington was an ecclesiastical parish in the wapentake of Dickering.
In 1974 most of what had been the East Riding of Yorkshire was joined with the northern part of Lincolnshire to became a new English county named Humberside. The urban and rural districts of the former counties were abolished and Humberside was divided into non-metropolitan districts. The new organization did not meet with the pleasure of the local citizenry and Humberside was wound up in 1996. The area north of the River Humber was separated into two "unitary authorities"—Kingston-upon-Hull covering the former City of Hull and its closest environs, and the less urban section which, once again, named itself the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The first mention of the town is in the Domesday Book as Bretlinton. It has also gone by the names of Berlington, Brellington and Britlington, before settling on its modern name in the 19th century. There are several suggestions about the origin of the name. All suggest that it followed the Anglo-Saxon custom of referring to a person and the type of settlement. In this case there are different personal names put forward such as Bretel, Bridla or Berhtel to go with -ingtūn as the Saxon name for farm.
The origins of habitation at Bridlington are unknown, though Danes Dyke, a long man-made dyke on nearby Flamborough Head, dates back to the Bronze Age, and some writers believe that Bridlington was the site of a Roman station. A Roman road can be traced into the town and Roman coins have been found in the town. Two Roman coin hoards were found in the harbour area, along with two Greek coins dating from the 2nd century BC - suggesting that the port was in use long before the Roman invasion. It has been suggested that the Roman maritime station of Gabrantovicorum was located in the vicinity of the modern town. In the early 2nd century Ptolemy described Bridlington Bay in his Geography as "Gabranticorum Sinus, with many harbours". None of these harbours has been found, and it is thought that coastal erosion has destroyed all traces, as well as a possible Theodosian signal station at Flamborough and a fort in the general vicinity of the harbour or beyond. In the 4th century Count Theodosius established signal stations on the North Yorkshire coast to warn of Saxon raids. It is believed that Flamborough Head would also have had one of these stations (probably on Beacon Hill, now a gravel quarry). From the Headland an observer can see Filey, Scarborough Castle and the Whitby promontory. A fort at Bridlington would have been well placed to act as centre of operations for these forts. A network of signal stations stretching south around the broad Bridlington Bay has also been suggested. This counterpart to the northern chain would guard this huge and accessible anchorage from barbarian piracy.
Near Dukes Park are two bowl barrows known as Butt Hills. They have been designated as Ancient Monuments by English Heritage. Also nearby are the remains of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery on a farm outside of Sewerby.
ManorThe earliest written evidence of Bridlington is in the Domesday Book. It records that "Bretlinton" was the head of the Hunthow Hundred and was held by Earl Morcar before it passed into the hands of William the Conqueror by the . The survey also records the effect of the Harrying of the North as the annual value of the land had decreased from £32 in the time of Edward the Confessor to eight shillings (40p) at the time of the survey and comprised:
The land was given to Gilbert de Gant, nephew of King Stephen, in 1072. It was inherited by his son Walter and thereafter appears to follow the normal descent of that family. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the manor remained with the crown until 1624 when Charles I granted it to Sir John Ramsey, who had recently been created the Earl of Holderness. In 1633, Sir George Ramsey sold the manor to 13 inhabitants of the town on behalf of all the tenants of the manor. In May 1636, a deed was drawn up empowering the 13 men as Lords Feoffees or trust holders of the Manor of Bridlington.
Walter de Gant, later founded an Augustinian priory on the land in 1133 which was confirmed by King Henry I in a Charter. Several succeeding kings confirmed and extended Walter de Gant's gift: King Stephen granting in addition the right to have a port; King John granted the prior permission to hold a weekly market and an annual fair in 1200. Henry VI granted permission for three annual fairs on the Nativity of Mary, and Deposition of and the Translation of Saint John of Bridlington in 1446. In 1415 Henry V visited the priory to give thanks for victory at the Battle of Agincourt. The town began to be developed around the site of the priory as it grew in importance and size.
The town was originally two separate settlements that have merged over time. The Old Town was about a mile inland and the Quay area is where the modern harbour is located. In 1837, an Act of Parliament meant that the old wooden piers were replaced with two new stone piers to the North and South. In addition to landing fish, the port was used to transport corn. The Corn Exchange built in 1826 can still be seen in Market Place and there used to be mills in the town for grinding. This led to some local breweries to be started, but like most industry, this petered out by the later part of the 20th century.