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Kingston Upon Hull History, United Kingdom

Originally called Wyke on Hull, Kingston Upon Hull was not founded until the late 1100’s when the Meaux Abbey monks built a port on the junction of the Hull and Humber rivers. 

The Church of the Holy Trinity was in existence by 1285.  In the early 1300s, The Church of St. Mary was built.  The monks also ran hospitals, or almshouses, for the poor. 

The town’s name was changed to Kingston Upon Hull in 1293 when the king acquired it in order to have a port in Northeast England through which he could supply his armies who were at war with Scotland.  The king expanded Hull and several industries flourished in the town due to the import and export opportunities. 

In 1331, Hull was given independence from the king and became its own town.  Like most of the other towns in England, Hull suffered a hard blow to its population in 1349 due to the Black Death.  Later in the century, though, the town had bounced back and was still a thriving, important town.

Hull underwent many changes under the rule of King Henry the VIII.  The start of these changes began in 1536 with the Pilgrimage of Grace when rebels who were against the new religious changes brought about by the king entered the town.  The king quelled them by making promises that he did not keep and in 1539, the king closed all of the monasteries, friaries, and the Carthusian priory. 

A couple of years later the king ordered that defenses be built near the city.  Small forts and a castle were built on the other side of the river Hull and these were connected by a wall.  Industries continued to flourish and in the early 1600’s the shipbuilding industry opened up in Hull.

There were outbreaks of plague in Hull in 1537, 1575-76, 1602-04, and 1637.  Forty years later, the civil war began and Hull was the only town in Northern England that became a Parliamentarian station.  The royalist army laid siege to Hull, but it was soon lifted.  A year later there was another siege, but this time Hull’s defenders defeated the royalist army in battle.

During the 1700s, the success of the town’s import and export businesses and other industries caused the port to become congested.  A dock opened in 1778 and soon after that the walls surrounding the town were demolished.  During this same period, Hull’s population more than tripled and suburbs grew up around the town.  Several other community and artistic institutions also developed.  William Wilberforce, an anti-slavery activist, was born in Hull in 1759.

In the next century, the population grew by ten times, two more docks were built, and more houses sprang up.  The town underwent many modernizations and became a city in 1897.

It was not without its fair share of problems, though.  In 1832 and 1849 there were cholera outbreaks.  In 1881 there was a smallpox outbreak.  The city was bombed by Zeppelins during World War I.  During the Great Depression many of the dock and shipbuilding employees were out of work.  However, modern industries, like engineering, began to develop in the city.  5,000 houses, 14 schools, and 27 churches were destroyed during World War II.  The city did recover however and is still strong today.


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