Withernsea is one of Yorkshire’s smallest seaside town. It is located on the Holderness Coast, 17 mi east of Hull.
Although Withernsea is now a very small and quiet town, it was some decades ago the main seaside resort for Hull residents. It used to be busy in the summer. Withernsea then had a train station and several hotels. Now there are just the 75, 76 and 77 buses to Hull and two holiday parks.
Withernsea has very few sights to visit. The high street has nothing worthy of notice, and neither does the seafront. The main landmark is a curious crenellated porch, which serves as a gateway to the beach. It used to be the entrance to a pier. This pier, built in 1875, did not exist for long as fishing boats hit it during storms. It slowly deteriorated and was finally demolished in 1893. Although such piers are frequent in the South of England, the most famous ones being in Brighton, they are much rarer in the North. Withernsea Pier was one of Yorkshire’s only two piers, the other -and last remaining one- being in Saltburn.
The Holderness Coast is made of fragile clay soils and its short cliffs are very brittle. It is, in fact, Europe’s fastest eroding coastline, and it is estimated that since Roman times around 3 mi of land have been lost. Withernsea, being in the middle of the coastline, is directly concerned by erosion, and the settlement even had to be displaced in the 15th century, when it was rebuilt at its present location. The original village was left to the sea, and the neighbouring village of Owthorne has also completely vanished. Before becoming a seaside resort, Withernsea was a fishing village. Its church is characteristic of the region, and it is built with pebbles as it is the only stone to be found in Holderness.
Withernsea has a lighthouse, which is oddly located way behind the seafront, in the middle of a residential area. It was built in 1894 and it can be visited from Easter to November. It hosts a small museum dedicated to local history, the Withernsea Lighthouse Museum, and visitors can climb to the top. Admission costs £ 2.50, see the website.
On the road between Hull and Withernsea, it is hard to miss the large village of Patrington. Very typical of Holderness, it has a very large church, nicknamed the ‘Queen of Holderness’ (the equally big church at Hedon being the ‘King of Holderness’).
The church in Patrington mainly dates from the 14th century and it is said to be one of the most perfect parish churches in England. Outside as well as inside, it offers impressive dimensions and graceful harmony. The inside is very bright, and -as in cathedrals- the two transepts each have a small lateral chapel. One of them enshrines a 13th-century statue of the Virgin.