Bridlington, a market town, municipal borough and seaside resort in the Buckrose parliamentary division of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, 31 m. N.N.E. from Hull by a branch of the North Eastern railway. Pop. (1891) 8919; (1901) 12,482. It is divided into two parts, the ancient market town lying about 1 m. from the coast, while the modern houses of Bridlington Quay, the watering-place, fringe the shore of Bridlington Bay. Southward the coast becomes low, but northward it is steep and very fine, where the great spur of Flamborough Head (q.v.) projects eastward. In the old town of Bridlington the church of St Mary and St Nicholas consists of the fine Decorated and Perpendicular nave, with Early English portions, of the priory church of an Augustinian foundation of the time of Henry I. There remains also the Perpendicular gateway, serving as the town-hall. The founder of the priory was Walter de Gaunt, about 1114, and the institution flourished until 1537, when the last prior was executed for taking part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. A Congregational society was founded in 1662, and its old church, dating from 1702, stood until 1906. At Bridlington Quay there is excellent sea-bathing, and the parade and ornamental gardens provide pleasant promenades.
Extensive works have been carried out along the sea front. There is a chalybeate spring. The harbour is enclosed by two stone piers, and there is good anchorage in the bay. The municipal borough is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors, and has an area of 2751 acres.
The mention of four burgesses at Bridlington (Brellington, Burlington) in the Domesday survey shows it to have been a borough before the Conquest. With the rest of the north of England, Bridlington suffered from the ravages of the Normans, and decreased in value from £32 in the reign of Edward the Confessor, when it formed part of the possessions of Earl Morcar, to 8s. at the time of the Domesday survey. By that time it was in the hands of the king by the forfeiture of Earl Morcar. It was granted by William II. to Gilbert de Gaunt, whose son and heir Walter founded the priory and endowed it with the manor of Bridlington and other lands. From this date the importance of the town steadily increased. Henry I. and several succeeding kings confirmed Walter de Gaunt's gift, Stephen granting in addition the right to have a port. In 1546 Henry IV. granted the prior and convent exemption from fifteenths, tenths and subsidies, in return for prayer for himself and his queen in every mass sung at the high altar. After the Dissolution the manor remained with the crown until 1624, when Charles I. granted it to Sir John Ramsey, whose brother and heir, Sir George Ramsey, sold it in 1633 to thirteen inhabitants of the town on behalf of all the tenants of the manor.
The thirteen lords were assisted by twelve other inhabitants chosen by the freeholders, and when the number of lords was reduced to six, seven others were chosen from the assistants. A chief lord was chosen every year. This system still holds good. It is evident from the fact of thirteen inhabitants being allowed to hold the manor that the town had some kind of incorporation in the 17th century, although its incorporation charter was not granted until 1899, when it was created a municipal borough. In 1200 King John granted the prior of Bridlington a weekly market on Saturday and an annual fair on the vigil, feast and morrow of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Henry VI. in 1446 granted the prior three new fairs yearly on the vigil, day and morrow of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the Deposition of St John, late prior of Bridlington, and the Translation of the same St John. All fairs and markets were sold with the manor to the inhabitants of the town.