Originally a township in Owston Parish, West Butterwick lies four miles up the Trent from Owston and four and a half miles E. by N. of Epworth. The land was part of the Manor of Epworth and included the farms of Yousters and Newland. On the opposite side of the Trent stands East Butterwick and there was a ferry between the two. West Butterwick was also a stopping point on the Hull, Gainsborough ferry route and a stop over for the Humber Keels who travelled further down the Trent.
Although there is little sign of it now, brickmaking was a major village industry, the bricks being taken away by river.
Owston Ferry Parish Registers include West Butterwick entries but in 1841, West Butterwick township was constituted an ecclesiastical district parish in its own right. The Vicarage was in the gift of the Vicar of Owston but in recent years the Vicar of Owston has also acted as the Vicar of West Butterwick.
The church of St. Mary was built by subscription in 1841 in the then popular gothic style with nave, aisles, chancel and a tower with a spire on top. Originally there were 350 sittings, 200 of which were free. There were three chapels in operation in 1872, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist and General Baptist. The Baptists had 19 acres of land, part of which income went to the support of poor Baptists. Both West Butterwick and the neighbouring hamlet of Kelfield belonged to the Sheffield family, who had a seat there and owned a great deal of land in the vicinity of the Trent bank. The tithes which were paid to the Archbishop of York were commuted in 1850 for £411 except for tithes on the South Moor. The poor were provided for from the income derived from the letting of 63 acres allotted as a Turbury in the Enclosure Award of 1803.
A look at the census entries for West Butterwick gives the usual agricultural labourers, plus hemp spinners and 'bottomers', brickmakers and navigators. Old family names like Gervis spread throughout neighbouring parishes and families intermarried, particularly with their Owston neighbours.
One should not think of West Butterwick as an isolated place in the past. It was probably busier and more cosmopolitan than it is today. The Twidale family of brickmakers married girls from South Ferriby, Winteringham, Broughton, Newton-on-Trent and as far away as Newcastle. The River Trent was the highway to both the north, south, east and west.
There was also once a chapel of ease, no doubt for burials when inclement weather made journeying to Owston a difficulty. On its site stands West Butterwick school, right next to St. Mary's Church.
West Butterwick St Mary
West Butterwick Methodist Chapel
Isle of Axholme Family History Society Copyright 2007