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Hornsea Mere is the largest freshwater lake in Yorkshire, situated less than 1 km from the sea on the East Yorkshire coast. It is of glacial origin, shallow only between 1 and 2 metres deep, eutrophic and fringed with reed beds.
Its shallowness has encouraged the development of extensive marginal swamps of Common Reed, Bulrush and Common Club-rush.
In 1260, William, the 11th abbot of nearby Meaux Abbey, claimed fishing rights in the southern half of the mere, only to discover that the abbot of St Mary's in York had done likewise. This led to the so-called Battle of Haraney, the old name for Hornsea Mere, and then meaning Hare Island.
Because neither Abbot would yield, it was decided the matter could be resolved only by combat, with each abbot selecting a knight to fight on his behalf. The battle would be fought on the shores of the mere and the winner would determine who had fishing rights to the disputed southern half.
To prevent arguments about precisely which half was under consideration, a horse was made to swim across the lake on the boundary line in question. The Knights fought all day with neither side being able to claim victory, but the Meaux champion eventually weakened and capitulated. In this way, the York Abbot won the right to fish in the southern half and promptly allowed the monks of Meaux to do likewise.
On 28 the February 1918 Flight Commander Paul Robertson attempted to save the pilot of a Seaplane that crashed and burst into flames at the Mere. For his efforts Flight Commander Robertson was awarded the The Albert Medal (later exchanged for the George Cross). You can read more of this heroic act at the Naval History site. However, read East Yorkshire for Lincolnshire, the London Gazette appear to have got it wrong. Visit; www.naval-history.net/WW1MedalsBr-AM.htm
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