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The parish of Foston on the Wolds is situated in what was once the wapentake of Dickering, part of the historical East Riding of Yorkshire (see maps in Introduction). Before the 1832 parish boundary changes it included the sub-parishes and localities of Brigham, Fish Holme, Gembling and Great Kelk. Despite its name, the parish lies at a maximum elevation of 15 metres on the flat lands of Holderness between Kelk Beck and the North Sea, well beyond the curve formed by the Yorkshire Wolds.

In 1066 Foston was a single estate held by Karl. After the Conquest it formed part of the Arundel fee of William de Percy, its tenant in chief. By 1221 it had been divided between four men, either the husbands of female co-heirs or their descendants, one of them being William the Constable of Flamborough. His holding was probably that which in the 16th century was held by the Hildyards and in the 18th by the St. Quintins, who sold it in 1921. At Domesday there were separate estates at Brigham, Great Kelk, Gembling and even the much smaller Fish Holme, all of which over the centuries passed through the hands of the dominant families of the area, including the Hildyards, St. Quintins and Sykes.

The church of St. Andrew in Foston is a Grade II* listed building. The stonework of the late 14th century three-tiered west tower stands in stands in stark contrast to the ugly rendering on the exterior of actual church building. The 12th century nave and early 13th century chancel of the interior with their pointed arches and exposed beams are its saving grace. The church also houses a 12th century tub font and the defaced effigy of a knight with crossed legs.

St. Andrew's, south side - © JThomas, 2019
St. Andrew's, interior - © Colin Hinson, 2008
St. Andrew's, rear - © JThomas, 2009

Over the centuries Pickerings from a number of different families passed through Foston and its sub-parishes. William Puckering of the Puckerings of Bempton and his wife Dorothy Gawan settled in Kelk after their marriage in 1693 and their children were baptised at Foston, but the name ended in the following generation for want of a male heir. John Pickering, founder of the Pickerings of Foston on the Wolds, married Frances Coulson in Foston church in 1738. His origins are unknown but he settled in Brigham in the heartland of the Pickerings of Holderness, so he could well belong to this much larger family. He died a pauper at the age of 90 and was buried at Foston. Robinson Pickering of the Pickerings of Scalby married Milcah Blakestone in Foston in 1802, but all their thirteen children were born and baptised at Flamborough. In 1861, William Mercer Pickering of the Pickerings of Wawne was the beer house keeper in Foston. Finally, Miles Pickering of the Pickerings of Welwick was living in Gembling when he married his second wife Eliza Fincham at Foston in 1894, but the couple did not remain in the parish.

Victoria History of the County of York, East Riding, vol. 2 (not online)
Church of St. Andrew: