The Town of Hedon was founded in the early 1100s by the Normans. The name is believed to derive from the Norman words ‘heath don’ which refers to Market Hill, the original town centre, although Poulson suggested that the name could have Anglo-Saxon origin.
The first Hedon Charter was granted in 1158 by Henry II, others followed but most notable of these was the charter granted in 1415, which related to powers of self-government. In addition to the charter, Hedon was granted a silver mace, formerly an iron weapon used in the Battle of Agincourt before being coated in silver for presentation. The Hedon Mace, likely to have been presented by King Henry V himself, is the oldest civic mace in England and holds a proud place in the Hedon Silver Collection.
For a short period of time during the 12th century, Hedon minted its own silver pennies, bearing the image of King Stephen who reigned from 1135 to 1154. The front of the coin features the king holding a sceptre and around the edge is the inscription STIEFNE. On the back is a sun cross with a fleur-de-lis in each corner of the cross and the inscription around the edge reads GER.ARD:ON:HEDVH. These coins are incredibly rare so if you have found one please contact Hedon Town Council or Hedon Museum. To date, less than 5 are known to have been found (not all complete coins), one of which is in the Hedon Silver Collection.
The Haven was the making of Hedon, a tributary of the Humber which provided a safe place to unload merchandise without the worries of pirates in the wider waterways. It put Hedon on the map in the Norman era as the 11th largest port in England. The prosperity and status of the town is evident by the magnificence of St Augustine’s Church, and by the discovery of the Pingsdorf Pot. However, when the demand increased for larger ships, and therefore deeper water, Hedon declined as a port. The Haven continued to be used for smaller boats until 1974, when it was filled in. In 2010 the Hedon Blog reported that the Hedon Navigation Trust was attempting to gain funding to re-open part of the Hedon Haven, but unfortunately these plans did not come to fruition.
Hedon, like many small towns and villages, once had a railway station which operated from 1854 to the 1960s, when it was closed down as a result of the Beeching Cuts, along with thousands of others. The station was closed to passengers in 1964 but continued to be used for the transportation of goods until 1968. The station house still stands and track is now a public bridleway which is popular with walkers, bikers and horse riders.
Hedon Racecourse/Aerodrome also had a train station for a short period of time. It opened in 1888 but had no timetable and was only used on race days. It closed when the races stopped in 1909, but opened again for a few months in 1948 for the speedway.
Hedon Airfield officially opened in April 1916, though it was only used by the RAF, but was used unofficially by early aviator Gustav Hamel in 1912, and postcards exist of Hamel standing with his plane on Hedon Airfield. The airfield closed in 1919 but was officially reopened as a public airfield in 1929 by Prince George, who flew to Hedon himself. Footage of the occasion can be found on the website for the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Most famously the airfield was visited by Amy Johnson. On 24th May 1930, Amy Johnson completed her famous solo flight to Australia, the first female pilot to do so, by landing in Darwin in her damaged aircraft. On 11th August the same year, Amy received a hero’s welcome when she landed on Hedon Airfield. The Yorkshire Film Archive website has a video of this great occasion. The airfield was closed in 1939, but saw minor use during World War II.