There are several points in history which have been very significant for Seaton Ross. Most of them are the result of historical developments which have affected many other places – such as the coming of the railways, motor cars and so forth.
However, as the eighteenth turned into the nineteenth century, two events combined that almost certainly caused major disruption to the life and even identity of many in Seaton Ross. These are the building of the turnpike road from Selby to Market Weighton in 1793, via Bubwith and Holme on Spalding Moor, and the enclosure of Seaton Common in 1812-14.
Back before enclosure in the eighteenth century there were few roads then recognizable as such – even if one includes the major routes from bridge to bridge and town to town. However, tracks turned into roads and new roads were established as the various phases of enclosure occurred, and this sometimes significantly changed routes.
In 1771 Seaton Ross was almost surrounded by common land on its north west side in the form of Seaton Common. The main route through the village – probably for some time before – was from the south and west via Laytham along what is now West End to the Cross. From here it continued north along a ‘proto-‘ Carr Lane which led across the common to Rytham Gate and on north via Bielby or east via Everingham.
Travellers to York could take a route from the Cross along what is now North End and continue directly northwest across Seaton Common.
Church Lane and South End (as they are now) led into a cul-de-sac (orange on the 1771 map) and, in Southfield Lane, probably degenerated into a farm track leading only to the fields and farms south of the village before petering out.
The turnpike road running east to west across the bottom of the parish was not built until 1793, and so there would have been nowhere else for Southfield Lane to go. However, a 1794 map showing the turnpike, but still with the old road layout in the village, may suggest that the 1812-14 enclosure had more impact initially than the building of the turnpike on the change in routes through the village.
Maps of 1831 and 1851 show that enclosure changed the western route, from its route through the centre of the village and along West End, to a new route from the north end of the village along Breckstreet Lane. A new road, Mill Lane, headed north and divided into a road to Rytham Gate and a road to York. The proto- Carr Lane route was completely covered by newly enclosed fields as was the original route heading northwest from North End. Two new cul-de-sacs were created in West End and Carr Lane (orange on the 1851 map below).
Perhaps only later did Southfield Lane become the main exit to the south and west. Was there then a period when the route ‘through’ the village ran along Breckstreet Lane and Mill Lane, entirely bypassing the main streets of houses?
The main Seaton Ross alehouse – the original Blacksmiths Arms – was situated at the Cross, where the original through routes crossed the village and met. As the rerouting proceeded, new blacksmiths’ forges and their associated alehouses were built on the northern (Blacksmiths Arms – 1813) and near the southern (Black Horse – 1822) ends of the village, on what would later become the main through route. It is, of course, possible this was coincidence.
New roads built after the parliamentary enclosure act of 1745 had to be straight and wide which explains the straightness of Mill Lane and roads north. It seems likely that the very noticeable and winding nature of Southfield Lane is evidence for an earlier enclosure of the fields here – early enclosure took place from 1450 onwards, although the East Riding was normally much later.
Detail – Southfield Lane connection to the Turnpike
Details from two of William Watson’s parish maps, (1827 and 1841) in his scrapbook, show Southfield Lane appearing to stop just one field away from the turnpike road. However, Greenwood’s map of 1828 shows the lane connecting to the turnpike. Watson’s 1828 Book of Roads shows how this apparent contradiction might be caused:
It shows that in 1828 the south end of Southfield lane runs along the edge of a field with a gate at either end! (That field incidentally is part of South Field)
The 6 inch OS map of 1851 confirms that this situation persisted for some while as it also shows this extreme south end of the lane as being inferior to the rest. As our next detailed map is from 1891 it is difficult to know how long this situation persisted.