[At the present time it has not been proved that Tolkien visited Halsham. However, its proximity to Roos and its known R.C. connections make this highly probable. What follows must necessarily be more speculative than the other locations mentioned on this site]
Even if Tolkien wasn’t actually living in Halsham, it is likely he would have been drawn to the village in his free time, as it is a fairly short walk of about two miles from Roos across the fields. We must never underestimate the importance of Tolkien’s Roman Catholic faith. According to the Victoria County History, there “is little evidence for Roman Catholicism” in Roos, but Halsham is quite a different matter. In medieval times Halsham was the seat of the Constable family, and after the Reformation the family remained loyal to their Roman Catholic faith, and they kept links to the parish even when they moved to their impressive new Elizabethan Hall on the Burton Constable estate. Halsham had an excommunicated recusant in 1595/6, and there were between 8 to 16 Roman Catholic recusants in the 1660s and 1670s. As late as the 18th-century eight Roman Catholics were still living in the village. For a devout Roman Catholic, such as Tolkien, he would have no doubt been intrigued by the only location in the immediate area which maintained links to his faith down the previous four centuries. There is still visible evidence of the faith in the village. The most striking reminder is the mausoleum of the Constable family. This was constructed between 1792 & 1802, and it had been restored as recently as c.1900. I was reminded of the domed buildings in Rath Dínen, the Tombs of the Dead Kings, in Minas Tirith, but the Tolkien scholar and bibliographer Charles Noad has remarked that it is very similar to Sauron’s temple in Númenor, as it is described in the Notion Club Papers. When Lowdham in The Notion Club Papers sees the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford he is reminded of Sauron’s temple, which apart from the blackened colouration perhaps fits the description of Halsham Mausoleum better than the Radcliffe Camera, although in Tolkien’s fiction the dimensions have become truly monumental: “it was in the form of a circle at the base, and the walls were fifty feet in thickness, and the width of their base was five hundred feet across the centre, and they rose from the ground five hundred feet, and they were crowned with a mighty dome; and it was wrought all of silver, but the silver was turned black.” Tolkien would have known the Radcliffe Camera from his time studying in Oxford, and at that time it was black from industrial soot, so if he saw the Halsham Mausoleum he would have been reminded of the building in Oxford. Of course the dimensions are utterly transformed in Tolkien’s fiction, but in an earlier Old English version of the text there is an aspect which does seem pertinent. This states: “it was built in the midst of the town...on the high hill which before was undefiled but now became a heathen fane.” As mentioned earlier Halsham is a small settlement not a town, but the mausoleum was built on the highest point of land in Halsham. When it was being constructed evidence was discovered of a possible prehistoric site. Would Tolkien have approved of ancient remains being disturbed to construct a Roman Catholic monument to the dead, to such an extent that he would consider it a heathen fane? A clue as to Tolkien’s possible stance may be gathered from a letter in which he discusses the Númenóreans of Gondor’s “great interest in ancestry and in tombs”, which he declares is “proud, peculiar, and archaic.” The implication is that he disapproved of lavish funerary monuments, and he went on to have a simple grave himself.
The original order for Tolkien’s posting to Holderness was made on 27th November 1916 from the headquarters of the Lancashire Fusiliers, which at that time was actually in Halsham. However, by the time Tolkien had arrived only a few months later the HQ had been moved to Tunstall, which was more convenient for Thirtle Bridge Camp. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible that the military maintained some presence in the village. The most likely building in Halsham for the HQ is the largest building, now known as Halsham House (1584), but previously it was a former almshouse and school. When visiting the mausoleum I walked past Halsham House, and noticed a strange alcove built into the side of a wall, possibly at the time of original construction, which contained a small statue. On closer examination this proved to be a figure of the Virgin Mary. The Catholic credentials of Halsham are plain to see after a little investigation, but whether this or a similar statue was present when Tolkien was in the area is probably a question which may never be answered. Last year the Lake Evendim smial went to Burton Constable, which at that time included an exhibition on World War One exhibition. Pat Reynolds (& Catherine Thorn) remembered that during the war the Constable family encouraged Roman Catholic soldiers to join them at mass, so this seems a fruitful avenue of research to discover if it is possible to learn where Tolkien worshipped in the East Riding.