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Local History

Historic Lincolnshire

The 'Lincolnshire' of our society name is the entire historic County from the Humber to The Wash and the North Sea to the Trent. This was the County for centuries before the local government reorganisation of 1974 which created the County of Humberside stretching over both sides of the river.

A further reorganisation in the 1990s divided the area south of the Humber into two unitary, self-governing counties: North East Lincolnshire (the Grimsby area) and North Lincolnshire (the Scunthorpe area).

The whole of this area has always been within the Ecclesiastical See of Lincoln under the Bishop and remains so today. The many valuable documents generated by the church authorities are deposited in the Lincoln Record Office - Lincolnshire Archives - managed by the present County Council.

County Divisions

Yorkshire, the only county larger than Lincolnshire, was divided historically into three Ridings. Similarly our County was divided for administrative purposes into three plus two County Boroughs. With an area of 5,000 square miles and 100 miles from north to south some divisions were essential.


This was the whole of the north of the County. Its name is an ancient one and implies that it was an island (Lin meaning pool and ey or eg an island).

It was indeed surrounded by water: in the north the Humber, in the east the North Sea, in the south the River Witham and the Foss Dyke, and in the west the River Trent. This fact always contributed to Lindsey's relative isolation and, for example, prevented the spread of foot and mouth disease in 1967 when there was a national epidemic.


This was the south-west quarter of the County. Its name means 'wood' and has been in use since early medieval times.

Most of the area is pleasantly undulating with attractive stone houses and churches. Its county town was originally Sleaford but it also boasts the historic town of Grantham on the Great North Road and the beautiful medieval stone town of Stamford.


This was the smallest County part in the south-east centred on the ancient and prosperous medieval port of Boston. The majority of the area is fenland - the most fertile area of Britain.

Old county directories said Holland 'in its soil, surface, drains and embankments resembles the Kingdom of the same name on the Continent'. In fact many Dutch settlers, business people and engineers have shaped the region. Dutch names are to be found everywhere. The tulip has been widely cultivated here, making Spalding famous for its annual flower parade.


'Lin' as in Lindsey means the pool (Brayford) and 'coln' is short for colonia - the Roman name being Lindum Colonia - hence the name Lincoln.

The city has a commanding site astride the River Witham in the glacier cut gap in the limestone ridge which runs the length of the County from the Humber to Stamford in the south. Kings and queens have stayed in and near the city and granted charters and privileges which are still enjoyed.

It has a charter declaring it a city, charters to allow the holding of markets and to have mayor and aldermen.

History has given Lincoln a bumpy ride. In Roman times it was one of the major centres - a Colonia- of the Empire, in medieval times is was a rich trading centre and in the 19th and 20th centuries it was a leader in engineering manufacturing. Between whiles it sank almost to obscurity.

Now it is a flourishing university City - not content with one but rejoicing in two.

As a tourist centre it is second to none, having many Roman remains, a Cathedral dating from the Norman era, as is the castle, and the High Bridge and abundant references to medieval and later buildings.


Once one of the world's leading fishing ports, Grimsby has an ancient foundation. It is said to be the settlement of Grim, one of the many invaders from across the North Sea.

It was a base for seafarers and, as a result of it fishing industry, food processing grew into a successful trade.

As a County Borough it administered all aspects of local life until the end of the 20th Century.

Today it is the centre of the small unitary authority, North East Lincolnshire.

River Trent at Gainsborough
River Trent, Gainsborough (Lindsey)

Angel and Royal Inn at Grantham
Angel and Royal, Grantham (Kesteven)

Boston Stump and Market Place
Market Place, Boston (Holland)

Brayford Pool, Lincoln
Brayford Pool, Lincoln

Aerial view of Docks, Grimsby
Aerial view of Docks, Grimsby