THE BOOK OF DUCK DECOYS.
| The Watton Decoy exactly resembles the one in Sharpham Park near Glastonbury, which latter is said to have been in existence when Sharpham belonged to the Abbey of Glastonbury.|
Scorborough. -This, like the Watton Decoy, was once a very noted one. It is situated 2½ miles N N E. of Beverley, on the west bank of the River Hull, and in the low-lying land between the river and the high road from Beverley to Driffield.
Though trees have grown up in and round it very thickly, still the pool and the pipes are plainly visible, and it is evident that much care and expense was in former times bestowed upon it. The site of the Decoy was well chosen, for even now, when there is an overflow from the river (formerly an annual, now an occasional occurrence), wildfowl resort to its vicinity in considerable numbers.
Holme Decoy was contemporary in its decay with those at Meaux, Watton, and Scorborough, and was placed on Spalding Moor, also in the East Riding of York, and 5 to 6 miles SW. by W. of Market Weighton.
This district, and to the E. of it Walling Fen, formerly comprised a large extent of wet moor and fen-land, and there are now several large ponds in the neighbourhood, such as Hotham and Houghton ponds, where wildfowl still assemble in considerable numbers in severe weather.
Allen, in his "History of Yorkshire" (1829), alluding to Spalding Moor, remarks that, "People then living could recollect when this moor and its neighbourhood was one great morass, that extended from Holme upon Spalding to Howden on the River Ouse, 10 miles distant."
In my notes of these old Holderness Decoys, I have been most kindly assisted by Mr. F. Boyes of Beverley, who not only supplied me with useful information, but, by surveying the pools, has enabled me to give correct outlines of their shape.
Sunk Island.-A Decoy was constructed here about the close of the seventeenth century, but owing to its exposed position neither trees nor underwood could be induced to grow round it for shelter, and consequently it was abandoned soon after it was completed. (Allen's "Yorkshire," 1829.)*
|* In "Leland's itinerary" is a letter from the Rev. Francis Brokesby, dated in the year 1711, in which an account is given of the state of Sunk island at that time, and in which this Decoy is alluded to. Mr. Brokesby says: "Sunk Island was spoken of as a novelty when I first went into Yorkshire, forty-four years ago (1667), a little after which time this Island was bestowed on Colonel Anthony Gilby, then Deputy-Governor of Hull, by a grant from King Charles II. It is reported to have been at first a great bank of sand (of which there are still many to be seen in the Humber at low water), that thereat other mud and matter stopped till it arrived at its present bigness. The island, when it was given to Colonel Gilby, was never quite overflown but at spring tides. At neap tides it was constantly dry. It is reckoned about seven miles about, and is separated from Holderness by a channel nearly two miles broad . . . . . There are near 2,000 acres enclosed by high banks to keep out the sea . . . . . Some years ago they made a Decoy upon the Island, which is plentifully stored with wildfowl, especially Ducks and Teal, but it turns to little account for want of trees, which will not grow well here, as the ground is too salt."|