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Ceremony in Lincoln's Guildhall

At a ceremony held in Lincoln's Guildhall on 3 May, the Mayor of Lincoln, Cllr Jackie Kirk, presented the Lincoln Civic Award for 2022 to SLHA.
The Chairman of the Civic Award Trust, Henry Ruddock, began the meeting by outlining the purpose of the award and the range of previous winners.
The Award, represented by a fine piece of locally-made silverware, was then received from the Mayor by the Society's Chairman, Ian George.
Ian spoke of the role of SLHA in promoting local heritage and expressed thanks for the great honour of receiving the Civic Award.
Read further details here (from The Lincolnite) 
Photograph: Cllr Jackie Kirk, Mayor of Lincoln, presents the Lincoln Civic Award to Ian George, Chairman of SLHA

May 2022

SLHA events - our continuing service to members

Bulletin updated 2 March 2022

Action taken as a result of Coronavirus Pandemic


We are offering a series of talks accessible online by Zoom; details are being posted on this website (see Events). Several 'normal' face to face events are also being held.

This looks like being our pattern for the future: some live events (talks, conferences, visits) and some on-line talks, which will enable the house-bound and non-Lincolnshire residents to participate.


The shop is currently OPEN on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. We are hoping to extend the opening hours shortly but need to recruit additional volunteers to serve in the shop.

Enquiries about the shop and book sales - and about volunteering - can be made to

Donations of Books: The Bookshop is always in need of book donations, and contributions will be much appreciated. Books can be dropped off at Jews' Court during shop opening hours on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Otherwise, if you have any books to donate please email and we will try to arrange collection.


The latest issue of Lincolnshire Past & Present (No.126,Winter 2021/22) has been sent to members in January. The next issue will be published in April.

Notices and other information will be sent by mail to members from time to time. We also aim to keep members informed of Society business through this website. 


The 2021 AGM was a virtual meeting which took place on-line by 'Zoom' on Saturday 23 October 2021. A summary of the meeting is given in the News section of this website. 


Contact with the Society can be made by email: Please bear with us if responses are less prompt than usual.

April 2022

Lincolnshire Documentary Material
Donation from SLHA to Historic Environment Record

A large collection of hand-written, typed and printed material - mostly unpublished - has been accumulated over the years at Jews' Court through donations to the Society. Regrettably, it has not been possible to manage the collection satisfactorily nor to arrange appropriate access.

The filed material has been donated to the Historic Environment Record at Lancaster House, West Parade, Lincoln, where it will form part of their extensive resources about the history and archaeology of the County.

Richard Watts (Historic Environment Record) and Lee Belt (SLHA volunteer)

April 2022

Visits to two Churches
SLHA outing to Legbourne and Little Cawthorpe

A large group of SLHA members enjoyed visits to the churches in Legbourne and Little Cawthorpe on Tuesday 26 April. The leader for the morning's tour was Jean Howard, Blue Badge Guide, local church member and Churches Conservation Trust volunteer. 

All Saints Church at Legbourne, largely built of chalk, has outstanding Victorian stained glass windows and other significant features, some dating from the medieval period. By contrast, Little Cawthorpe's Church of St Helen, built in 1860 by eminent architect R J Withers, reflects Victorian taste in its style and decoration.

The day was bright though cool, ideal for Jean's guided walk  - a bonus - on the quiet lane and paths between the two churches. Coffee and cake served by church members at Legbourne were much appreciated.

In the chancel at All Saints Church, Legbourne

St Helen's Church, Little Cawthorpe

April 2022

Alan Rogers (1933-2022)
Founder member of History of Lincolnshire Committee

Members of SLHA will be sad to learn of the death on 5 April of Professor Alan Rogers, Honorary Professor of Adult Education at Nottingham University.
It was Alan Rogers who brought the idea of producing a history of Lincolnshire to the Lincolnshire Local History Society, and he was a key member in a distinguished group of East Midlands historians who met in January 1966 to inaugurate the History of Lincolnshire Committee. He served as Chairman of the committee for a period from 1968.
Professor Rogers worked as a member of the academic staff at Nottingham, Ulster and Reading. He wrote a number of highly regarded books on the teaching of adults and several on historical aspects of Stamford.

April 2022

Houses and Gardens
Day Conference in Woodhall Spa

A day conference organised by the SLHA Local History team was held in glorious spring weather at the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa on Saturday 26 March. The theme – appropriate to the venue and the day – was Lincolnshire Houses and Gardens.

The morning session, chaired by Mark Acton, Chairman of the LH team, was opened by Emma Brealey, the hotel’s owner, who spoke about the Petwood’s historic past and its Grade 2 listed garden. The hotel was built for the wealthy heiress Grace Weigall in 1905 as a private house with a large estate.
It played a significant role as convalescent home in World War One and RAF squadron HQ in the second war.  Many notable men and women of the twentieth century slept and dined in the building. The garden was laid out by the eminent designer Harold Peto and has been restored through a major project beginning in 2012.

Holyrood House in Spalding was the subject of Patty Harris’s presentation. This late-fifteenth century building was situated on the east side of the River Welland near Ayscoughfee House and the parish church. Built by the Gayton family, it had a brick-built ground floor with timber and plaster walls above.
Patty recounted the succession of owners and the changes to its name. When the Johnson family were in occupation it served as the meeting place and museum for the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society. After rural district council ownership in the twentieth century it fell into disrepair and, in the absence of a willing developer, was demolished.

A small development of 113 houses covering about 15 acres at Swanpool off Skellingthorpe Road was Lincoln’s first experiment with the Garden City concept arising from the principles set out by Ebenezer Howard. Lesley Clarke, a former resident of Swanpool, explained how this occurred and gave details of the design of the houses and their layout within the estate.
The original plan, formulated by Ruston and Sharpley, was to build about 3000 houses for engineering workers, but the harsh times of the early 1920s prevented this. Developments elsewhere in the City (St Giles, Hartsholme) took place a little later and were built with simpler and less expensive designs and materials.

After lunch, in a session chaired by John Manterfield, Andrew Walker gave an overview of the application of technology in country houses, with particular reference to Lincolnshire. Generally speaking, the gentry were slow to adopt new and more efficient ways of running their households, especially when labour was cheap and plentiful.
Interior plumbing and the provision of baths and hot water were slow to arrive; open fires continued to be preferred to central heating systems; only slowly were candles and oil lamps replaced by gas and later electric lights. Nevertheless, radical changes did occur in Lincolnshire’s larger country houses; whether for reasons of economy, comfort or fashion is perhaps debatable.

Heckington Manor is a large house in the centre of the village with a long and interesting history. Charles Pinchbeck, who owns the property and is currently restoring it, gave an account of the building’s history, its owners and its role in Heckington’s village life.
It was extensively remodelled in the Edwardian period by the Smith family but went into institutional use first as a children’s home, then as a home for old people, before serving as a residential clinic until 2003. Years of neglect and poor maintenance are now being addressed and the house and much the impressive garden are being brought back to their early twentieth-century splendour.

The final speaker was Paul Smith on the topic of Mrs Smith’s cottage and garden in Navenby. Mrs Hilda Smith lived in the brick double cottage – built in the nineteenth century – for several decades and was a keen practical gardener. The small plot at the front of the cottage was devoted to flowers and the entries in her diary list the species she grew.
Similarly, there is detailed knowledge of her vegetable and herb plantings in the small allotment she cultivated near the cottage. Mrs Smith is known to have been a devoted Methodist; she gave much time to the local chapel and was valued for the generous sharing of her flowers and vegetables.
Administration of the conference: Caroline Crane and Kathy Holland 

The Petwood, west front

The Conference speakers:
Back row - Andrew Walker, Paul Smith, Charles Pinchbeck, Mark Acton (KH Committee Chairman);

front row - Patty Harris and Lesley Clarke

March 2022

Lincolnshire Smallholdings
A Twentieth Century Development in the Fens

The Society’s first face to face lecture at St Hugh’s Hall. Lincoln for over two years was given by Dr Shirley Brook on 16 March. Her topic was smallholdings in Lincolnshire in the early twentieth century.
After the First World War there was a national drive to create smallholdings and the Lincolnshire councils were prominent in this movement, especially in fenland areas where intensive farming on a small scale was likely to be sustainable.
Dr Brook gave details of smallholdings in the far south-east of the county close to the outfall of the Nene into the Wash, and also mentioned a holding close to the Witham in Blankney Dales. In many instances new farmhouses and farm buildings were built to a standard design, with associated landholdings of about 50 acres.
It was intended that tenants of the new holdings would be the most disadvantaged in society but in reality it was the more resourceful - and perhaps well-resourced - men and women who seized the opportunity.

Smallholding on Blankney Fen

March 2022

Old Houses in the Witham Valley
Re-use of material from Medieval Monasteries

At the Sunday Special held at Nettleham on 13 March Naomi Field spoke about recent visits made by the SLHA Building Recording Group (RUBL) to two houses built near medieval monasteries in the Witham valley.
When religious houses were demolished at the time of the Reformation the materials were commonly re-used in the construction of domestic buildings close by. RUBL visited and surveyed Abbey Farmhouse in Stixwould and Kirkstead Old Hall with this in mind.
The stone-built house at Stixwould has elements – a grave cover, a carved face - built into its walls which very likely originate from the nearby Priory. However, tree-ring analysis of roof timbers in the main range gives a date in the 1740s.
Kirkstead Old Hall, built in more than one phase, has both brick and stone in its construction. The roof of one wing of the building has timber dating around 1500; another range is about 150 years later. More detailed study of both buildings is planned.
Photo awaited

March 2022

Airfield Archaeology
The life of USAAF airmen in WW2

Derwin Gregory* has recently led an investigation of the site of the former RAF Thorpe Abbey near Diss, Norfolk, occupied by the USAAF from 1942. More than 3000 American servicemen were based at the station, which was designed and staffed to meet all their needs.
Dr Gregory, speaking at the Sunday Special at Nettleham on 13 March, explained how his project, led on behalf of UEA, had focussed on the communal and accommodation areas of the site with the aim of understanding better the pattern of life led by the US men.
Despite the site having been thoroughly cleared at the end of WW2, cans and bottles were found which gave clues to the sources of soft drinks and other everyday consumables.
Of special interest was the collection of ‘dog tags’ (metal tokens bearing servicemen’s ID details), buried in a common location. The tags related to men who had lost their lives and the presence of the collection suggested a ritual of remembrance.
Dr Gregory plans to undertake similar fieldwork at a number of former airfields in Lincolnshire.
* Dr Derwin Gregory is Programme Leader, Archaeology and Heritage, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln

USAAF 'dog tag'

March 2022

Gainsborough Town Centre
Re-creation and improvement

Gainsborough is currently the focus of a Townscape Heritage Initiative project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Over a 4-year period this will bring an investment of over 2 million pounds to improve town centre buildings and engage community support and interest.
Details of the project were described by Jonathan Lee and Teresa Workman at an on-line meeting on 2 March. Grants of up to 90% will enable shop and business owners in Market Place and Lord Street to restore buildings, especially at first and second floor levels.
A range of activities are introducing the local community to the history and significance of the familiar streetscape and are aiming to increase appreciation and value.

Gainsborough Market Place, c.1910

March 2022

Ruston in Blue Lagoon
The rescue and restoration of an historic excavator

The oldest surviving navvy excavator made by Ruston Proctor & Co was the subject of an on-line talk by Andy Blow on 16 February.
The 48-ton navvy was made in Lincoln in 1909 and worked in a chalk quarry at Arlesey, Bedfordshire for almost 40 years. When quarrying ceased in 1977, the excavator was left where it stood and became submerged when the pit was flooded to create the ‘blue lagoon’.
Andy described the difficult and expensive process of recovering the navvy and bringing it to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life for restoration and display under the direction of Ray Hooley.
Continued maintenance and care of the machine in its static position at MLL was a problem and in 2008 the excavator was taken to the Vintage Excavator Trust’s site at Threlkeld in Cumbria where, after further restoration, it now shifts huge loads of material as it did in its heyday.
Andy illustrated his talk with a superb range of still images and video clips.
Illustrations: The Ruston Proctor navvy at work at Arlesey (above) and at Thelkeld (below) 



February 2022

Elys Varney
Passing of Classical Linguist and Historian

We report with sadness the death in early February of Mrs Elys Varney of Lincoln at the age of 88. She was a much valued member of SLHA.

She will be especially missed by the many students who attended her WEA classes on classical Greece and Rome.

Elys was born in South London and read Classics at London University before becoming a secondary school teacher. She married a fellow classicist, Roderick Varney, in 1968 and moved to Lincoln. Her husband died tragically in 1970.

She was an active member of many clubs and societies and a regular worshipper at the Cathedral. 

February 2022

Revolutionary Lincoln
A City on Turmoil, August 1911

The theme of Andrew Walker’s on-line talk to SLHA members on 26 January was the riot that took place near the city centre in Lincoln in 1911.
Over this unprecedented weekend – in scorching weather – two individuals lost their lives: Police Constable Alfred Clay and Thomas Starmer, a picture frame dealer.
The lives of many more Lincoln citizens were also significantly affected, including several prominent civic figures, whose actions, or perceived lack of them, were much criticised by an Assizes Judge, Mr Justice Ridley. Nine rioters received prison sentences of between three and six months.
Andrew also examined the event’s origins and aftermath at a time of particular economic, social and political turbulence at both local and national levels.

January 2022

Early Farm Railways
The work of Hayes of Stamford

Members and friends meeting at Nettleham’s Old School on 23 January for a Sunday Special heard Stewart Squires talk on a subject which is one of his particular areas of interest: farm railways in Lincolnshire,
A catalogue from Hayes & Son of Stamford printed in French, possibly for the 1867 Paris Exposition, includes details of a simple farm railway supplied by the firm. Both timber and iron were used in the construction of wagons and rails.
Hayes & Son was a very successful company making a wide range of wheeled vehicles from the 1830s to 1924. They appear to have been linked to the Beverley firm of Crosskill and their award-winning farm railway of the 1850s and 60s.
The widespread use of these light, portable railways in the UK stalled until the early 1900s, though there were early examples in France and elsewhere on the continent supplied by French or German firms.

The audience in Nettleham Old School

January 2022

Twelfth-Century Timber
Investigation using X-ray fluorescence

Richard Croft of the SLHA Building Recording Group gave one of three talks at a Sunday Special held at the Old School Nettleham on 23 January.
He reported on a sophisticated investigation of wooden beams and joists at Lincoln Road Farmhouse (aka The Nunnery), Sixhills. Dendrochronology on this timber, which lies above the first floor in one wing of the building, has given a date of mid-twelfth century.
The timber, of high quality, almost certainly came from the nearby Sixhills Priory, where the absence of joints and carpentry marks suggests it was in use as sarking boards immediately below a lead roof covering.
However, investigation of the timber by X-Ray fluorescence has not shown abnormal levels of lead on the face of the samples, as would have been expected. The mystery remains.

Lincoln Road Farmhouse, Sixhills

January 2022

Roman Remains at Riseholme
… and a link to Peru

The third of the talks given at the Sunday Special on 23 January in Nettleham was by Adam Daubney, Finds Liaison Officer at Lincolnshire County Council.
A range of Roman artefacts have been discovered by metal detectorists close to the rare square Roman barrow in the tiny settlement of Riseholme. These include a box of coins and the remains of a building, all of interest and significance.
Riseholme Hall was the birthplace of the writer and traveller Rosita Forbes who, having visited Pachacamac in Peru, donated a number of ancient pots to the Lincoln’s City and County Museum in the 1940s. It seems likely that she was familiar with the Roman barrow in her youth.

Riseholme Hall

January 2022

Lincolnshire Anniversaries 2022
People, Events, Buildings

* Hereward the Wake, Anglo-Saxon nobleman, died. Based in the fenland, he led local resistance to the Norman rulers
* Bishop Remigius (by contrast a strong supporter of the Normans) moved his see from Dorchester to Lincoln

* Death of John, third Baron de Willoughby (29 March). His tomb is in St James’ Church, Spilsby.

* End of William Byrd’s period as organist and master of choristers at Lincoln Cathedral
* St Leonard’s church, Mumby Chapel, rebuilt after a flood

* Death of Sir William Armyne of Osgodby (Lenton), MP for Grantham. He was buried at Lenton.
* Birth of Sir Richard Cust, MP for Stamford

* A bore was made in Blue Hill near Spilsby in an attempt to find coal
* Tower of St Michael & All Angels, Thorpe on the Hill, rebuilt 
* Somersby Grange built for Robert Burton, attributed uncertainly to Sir John Vanbrugh
* William Sands of Spalding built the distinctive octagonal nave of St James, Moulton Chapel 

* The Exchange Buildings in Boston Market Place, designed by Thomas Lumby, completed
* John Shadford of Scotter selected by John Wesley as one of 8 preachers to spread gospel in America
* Thomas Reckitt, founder of Hull pharmaceutical firm, born in Wainfleet
* Lincoln Cathedral’s north-east chapel of north east transept – probably St Hugh’s original burial place - rebuilt by James Essex
* Spalding Barrier Bank Turnpike Trust (Peakirk to Spalding) formed

* Wesleyan Methodists built new chapels at Long Bennington and on Frith Bank
* Moulton windmill, reputedly the tallest in the UK, was built by Robert King
* Schools were built at Croft (to replace an earlier one) and at Swinderby
* A new permanent library opened in Lincoln
* A dwelling house in Leadenham was licensed for worship
* Sausthorpe Hall was extended and remodelled
* First record of Baptists worshipping in Grimsby
* South Wold Hunt founded
* Appleby Hall enlarged
* Death of Lieut-Gen Gonville Bromhead of Thurlby by Lincoln
* Silver chalice stolen in a burglary at St Mary’s church, Mablethorpe

* Cyril Bland, cricketer, who played for Sussex, born Boston
* Frederick Cyril Nugent Hicks, Bishop of Lincoln
* Dora Abdy in Stamford. She was a pioneer for girls’ education in Africa
* Norman Angell, Nobel Prize winner, in Holbeach

New buildings:
* HM prison opened on Greetwell Road, Lincoln in June
* Belchford Wesleyan Methodist Chapel opened for worship (June)
* New York Wesleyan Methodist Chapel opened
* Bracebridge Heath Primitive Methodist chapel erected
* Gainsborough National School premises in Trinity Street opened (August)
* Dry Doddington school opened 
* Bishop Norton school built
* West Rasen school opened (later served as a chapel)
* High Toynton St John Baptist Church rebuilt at cost of £1200
* Building of Cleethorpes pier commenced
* Barracks at Grantham built (second phase)
* Ingham Lower Mill built at a cost of £1000
* Boultham Park entrance piers erected (designed by William Watkins)
* Gosberton Gasworks built on High Street, cost £1500

Churches and chapels restored or enlarged:
* Cabourne St Nicholas restored by A W Blomfield
* West Ashby All Saints restored by Ewan Christian
* Great Ponton, Holy Cross, restored
* Burgh on Bain St Helen restored
* Lincoln St Mary le Wigford restored
* Brandon Chapel of ease restored by Charles Kirk
* The Primitive Methodist chapel at Potterhanworth enlarged
* Binbrook Free Methodist chapel renovated
* Nettleton Primitive Methodist chapel enlarged

Other events: 
* The two ecclesiastical parishes in Allington united
* Norbertines established themselves at Crowle
* Ruddocks, printer and stationer of Lincoln, established
* The Witham Shield donated to British Museum by Augustus Wollaston Franks
* The Barton to Lincoln turnpike (and also several more) freed from tolls (1 Nov)
* The Great Northern Railway line opened between Bourne and Sleaford, a distance of about 16 miles (2 Jan)
* The Arboretum in Lincoln laid out

* Leslie Manser, VC, WW2 bomber pilot, born in India. He flew from Swinderby and Skellingthorpe
* Brian Tierney, born in Scunthorpe. He was an historian with particular interest in the medieval church

* Rev George Henry Hales, Rector of Stickney, world record hammer thrower
* Sir John Henry Thorold, 12th baronet, of Syston Hall, former MP for Grantham
* Revd E A Woodruffe-Peacock at Grayingham (3 Feb), He was an outstanding naturalist.
* Grosvenor House Hotel, Skegness, built by the Spencer family;
* Kinema in the Woods cinema opened in Woodhall Spa;
* Casino in Skegness, with ballroom and indoor roller-skating rink
* Machine Gun Corps, based at Belton Park, disbanded (15 July)
* Closure of Metheringham Reform Union Methodist chapel
Other events: 
* Unveiling and dedication of many memorials to those who served in WW1 
* Cleethorpes 5-sailed windmill demolished
* Kirkstead railway station renamed Woodhall Junction
* F M Thompson of Louth began making double deck buses for Birmingham

* St Marks Church Lincoln demolished
* Boston Congregational Church closed
* Lincoln St Paul in the Bail church demolished
* Horncastle Holy Trinity church declared redundant
* Welby School closed (July)
* Wrangle Bank Primitive Methodist chapel closed
* Last service held in Langrick Wesleyan Methodist chapel
* Monksthorpe Baptist church – last use of baptistry
* Closure of Keal Hill Wesleyan Methodist chapel in January
Other events:
* Jonathan Kerrigan, actor, born
* Last commercial traffic on Fossdyke
* Hagworthingham Holy Trinity tower fell down
* Scunthorpe Centenary Methodist Church rebuilt in Frodingham Road
* Thomas Cooper Memorial Baptist Church opened in Lincoln's High Street
* Sleaford Methodist church rebuilt
* Flora Murray, Secretary to the Lincolnshire Community Council, awarded OBE
* Creation of Canwick golf course
* Narrow gauge farm railway laid at North Ings, Dorrington

January 2022