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Brackenbury Lectures
Annual presentations on Lincolnshire history, Methodism and Tennyson

Raithby Methodist Chapel, near Spilsby, has been the venue for a series of lectures given each July to members of three Lincolnshire based societies: the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, Lincolnshire Methodist History Society and the Tennyson Society.

Robert Carr Brackenbury (1752-1818), squire, Methodist preacher and friend of John Wesley, built the chapel at Raithby in 1779 and it is the County's oldest Methodist chapel still in use.

The topics and speakers for the annual lecture, chosen in turn by the three societies, have been as follows: 

1980 Writers in Spilsbyshire - Terence Leach
1981 The Dreams of John Parkinson - David N Robinson
1982 John Rashdall, Curate of Orby - Christopher Sturman
1983 The Brackenburys of Lincolnshire - Charles E Brackenbury
1984 Churches and Chapels in the Local Community - Dr Rod Ambler
1985 Langham Row and the Robinson Family - Betty Kirkham
1986 Spilsby and the Lincolnshire Rising - Anne Ward
1987 Buildings of Delight - Spilsby and Surroundings - Nigel Kerr
1988 (a) From Cock Fighting to Chapel Building - Rex C Russell; (b) Squire, Preacher, Poet and Mystic: Robert Carr Brackenbury - Terence Leach
1989 (a) Tennyson and his Biographers - Professor Norman Page; (b) Willingham and the Rawnsleys - Terence Leach
1990 Louth Street and Lud ford - New Thoughts on some Old Roads - A E B Owen
1991 Young Mr Wesley to Old Mr Wesley: the Making of an evangelist - Revd Henry Rack
1992 Tennyson and Lincolnshire - Professor Philip Collins
1993 (a) Sir Joseph Banks - David N Robinson; (b) Revesby Abbey - Terence Leach
1994 The Persecution of Lincolnshire Methodists - Dr Barry Biggs
1995 A Dream of Fair Women: Tennyson and 19th Century Feminism - Marion Shaw
1996 William Paddison - Linda Crust
1997 Alexander Kilham and the Methodist New Connexion - Alan Rose
1998 Methodists and the Bottle of Gin: The Northern Cobbler and Tennyson's other Lincolnshire Poems - Robin Brumby
1999 The Horncastle Police Force 1838-57 - Brian Davey
2000 Sir Henry Lunn (1859-1939) - Revd Dr John Newton
2001 Tennyson and the Victorian Four Nations - Dr Matthew Campbell
2002 An Aspect of Lincolnshire Schools - Dr Tim Lomas
2003 John Wesley (1703-91): His Soul Goes Marching On - Revd Dr Leslie Griffiths
2004 (a) John Wesley and Lincolnshire Methodism - Linda Crust; (b) The Lincolnshire Landscape in Tennyson's Poems - Dr John Crompton
2005 Origins of the Popular Press - Professor John Tulloch
2006 Growing Old Gracefully: John Wesley's Approach to Old Age - Dr Pauline Webb
2007 Galloping Curates and Nests of Rooks: The Clergy of Tennyson's Lincolnshire - Dr Nicholas Bennett
2008 Lincolnshire Connections with the London Virginia Company 1606-24 - Dr Robb Gibson
2009 Tennyson's Lincolnshire: An Environmental Perspective - Professor Mark Seaward
2010 Living History? - Revd Dr Claire Potter
2011 Lord Hussey and the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire Rebellions of 1536 - Dr Simon Pawley
2012 Why so many Methodist Chapels? Division and Amalgamation in Lincolnshire Methodism - Mervyn White
2013 Tennyson and his Doctors: Medical Practice in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire in the Early 19th Century - Professor Marion Shaw
2014 Edward Trollope, Antiquarian - Professor John Beckett
2015 The Wesleys and Music - Graham Saunders
2016 Tennyson and the Spirit of Place - Professor Valerie Purton
2017 The Life of Sir John Franklin - Catherine Wilson OBE
2018 Lincolnshire Baptists: a Story of Persecution and Survival - Bob Kershaw

2019 Environmental Interpretation of the English Landscape, with particular reference to Tennyson, John Clare and Peter de Wint - Professor Mark Seaward
2020 (No event)
2021 Landscapes of Faith: Portrayals of Nineteenth-century Spirituality - Revd David Leese
2022 Tennyson's Cornwall and The Idylls of the King - Dr Jim Cheshire
2023 Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley: Lincolnshire Connections and His Achievements - Michael Allen

Raithby Methodist Chapel built by Robert Carr Brackenbury 1779



Professor Mark Seward gave the lecture in both 2009 and 2019


Nineteenth Century Lincolnshire GAZETTEER (compiled by Dennis Mills)
The status, acreage and population of every settlement in Lincolnshire

The purpose of this gazetteer is to present enough information on Lincolnshire settlements to provide historians with significant starting points, including firstly their location within the three Parts of the County (Holland, Kesteven and Lindsey). Also, in terms of the 46 medieval wapentakes, which were taxation and militia areas still in limited use at the end of the nineteenth century. Reference is made to them, for example, as late as Kelly's 1937 Directory of Lincolnshire. Download map of Lincolnshire showing wapentakes.

The status of settlements as parishes, townships, chapelries or hamlets is given in the gazetteer. The areas of parishes and townships are shown as recorded in the Table of Population in Lincolnshire VCH, volume II (the only volume), along with selected nineteenth century population data.   

Townships were the most ancient and most fundamental of the administrative areas, going back to at least the development of nucleated settlements in the pre-Christian era. The hallmark of a township was its possession of an independently administered set of open fields, commons and woodland. Crucially, the 1662 Act of Settlement confirmed the township's responsibility for its own poor rate which had evolved under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Parochial status was an imposition by the Church on the majority of pre-existing agrarian townships, but a minority of parishes contained two or more townships.  Townships that were not also parishes appear twice in the gazetteer, once under the parish name and once under their own name. Chapelries have been treated as townships if the acreage and population are available.

For Lindsey and Kesteven the mean average township acreage was 2,177; and the mean maximum population size was 404, using the parish census peaks, which were typically reached in the period 1851-91. Both means were established on the basis of a ten per cent sample, excluding significant market towns.

Holland had much bigger townships, with much larger populations. For all 42 rural townships mean acreage was 5,884 and the mean population size was 1,562, again using the nineteenth century peaks. Spalding and Boston were excluded from these calculations.

Population density was calculated on the basis of acres per person. For the Lindsey and Kesteven sample the average density was 5.39 acres per person, but for Holland (all rural townships) it was much lower at 3.77 acres per person. The difference supports the assumption that the fens were more fertile areas than the largely upland areas.

The A-Z order has been taken from White's 1892 Directory of Lincolnshire. H = Holland, K = Kesteven, L = Lindsey. Acreages and population are from Table of Population, Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire, vol. II. e = estimated acreage given in VCH. Spelling is as in VCH.

For a modern gazetteer see This includes the whole of the ceremonial (ancient) county.

This website has much to offer, including the Photo Gallery, which is arranged by settlements on an A-Z basis.

DOWNLOAD this gazetteer

Lincolnshire Methodist Chapels
Details of closed chapels across the county up to 1970

The Rev William Leary collected information about Lincolnshire's Methodist chapels and published a booklet in 1970.

This publication is divided into two parts: Part 1 (pp.2-9) deals with the eighteenth century and is set out chronologically. Part 2 (pp.10-27) is arranged alphabetically by location.

William Leary, a Lincolnshire man and an ordained Methodist minister, was at one time the Methodist Connexional Archivist and Secretary of the Lincolnshire Methodist History Society. Among his publications are Lincolnshire Methodism (Barracuda, 1988) and a number of village histories.

Download a copy of this publication

In nineteenth-century Lincolnshire much the most common form of self-employment was working as a farmer. Farming businesses ranged extensively from Thomas Sowerby of Withcall, who reported in the 1861 census that he farmed 2,800 acres and employed 45 men and seven boys, down to those with only a few acres. At the bottom of the farming hierarchy was the cottager.

Dictionary definitions of "cottager" are unhelpful. The Oxford English Dictionary, the relevant section of which was completed in 1893, stated: "Cottager: one who lives in a cottage; used especially of the labouring population in rural districts", a definition supported by many literary sources. However, the great majority of Lincolnshire people that lived in rural cottages were not regarded by their neighbours as cottagers but as agricultural labourers.

In Lincolnshire and some other counties the general idea of a cottager seems to have been someone who farmed agricultural land that was insufficient to provide full time work for an able-bodied man; the land was important either to supplement his earnings from another occupation or to provide him with an income after his retirement from his main job.

An illuminating example was provided in 1847 by the Grantham Agricultural Society's prize for 'the best milch cow ... the property of a Cottager, the tenant occupier of not more than ten acres, who is getting his living principally as a day labourer' (Stamford Mercury 22 October 1847).  The term 'cottage farmer' was sometimes used, but "cottager" was much more common.

The name of the "Louth Cottagers and Labourers' Cow Insurance Club" established in 1857 indicated a distinction between cottagers and labourers. Census returns show that some of the members described themselves as cottagers, some as agricultural labourers and some as farmers; but the club rules restricted membership to those with not more than two cows or 15 acres.

The Grantham example shows the cottager as a tenant, which most were, but a significant minority struggled to buy their own land. Ownership was not necessarily to their advantage in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when farm incomes and land values were falling, and repossessions by mortgagees increased: see Billy Paddison of Soloby by Linda Crust (2000; "Soloby" = Saltfleetby).

Cottagers and Enclosure

In earlier generations the usage of "cottager" had often been linked rights of common on open fields. Indeed, Samuel Johnson's dictionary gave as an (incorrect) legal definition "one who lives on the common without paying rent, and without having any land of his own". A detailed examination of small farmers and the use of common land in one Lincolnshire parish, Rippingale, is contained in Fenland Worker-Peasants by Adrian Hall (Supplement to the Agricultural History Review 1992). However, by the mid-nineteenth century enclosure had left little common land in Lincolnshire.

Cottagers in the Census Returns

From 1851 onwards the census enumerators' books show a wide scattering of people who described themselves as cottagers. The census forms from 1851 to 1891 asked the occupiers of agricultural land to state their acreage and the number of their employees. Entries such as "cottager of 5 acres" can be found fairly often; but "farmer of 5 acres" is more common; "farmer" indicated a claim to a higher social status.

The full information required by the censuses was often not supplied, but in one group of 17 parishes, the Saltfleet sub-district of Louth registration district, a high level of completeness was achieved in 1851, probably because the registrar, Joseph Jepson, was particularly efficient in selecting and supervising his enumerators. Jepson had his own ideas about what constituted a cottager: he tended, though his annotations were not consistent, to regard 20 acres as the minimum holding for a farmer worthy of the name; anyone with less was a mere cottager.

For example, the enumerator for Conisholme, put himself down as "Farmer of 4 acres" but Jepson added "cottager". Jepson identified 122 cottagers, of whom only 27 applied that description to themselves; the great majority of the remainder described themselves as farmers. (In the census statistics compiled by clerks in London no use was made of Jepson's annotations: anyone farming land on his own account was treated as a farmer.)

By 1861 Jepson had himself acquired some land, but he did not describe himself as a cottager. His census return read "Farmer of 10 acres. Relieving Officer. Registrar of Births and Deaths. Free Methodist local preacher."

Cottagers and Directories

In the mid nineteenth century Jepson's view seems to have been shared by the compilers of the county directories; farmers with small acreages were usually not listed. For example, the 1851 census for the parishes of North and South Cockerington identified ten farmers or cottagers holding land below 20 acres; all but one were still there in 1861, though with some minor changes of acreages. However, they were not listed as farmers in the county directories published in 1849, 1855, 1856, 1861 and 1863 (except for one apparently arbitrary listing of a cottager of eight acres in White's 1856 directory).

Probably the view was taken that these men were primarily labourers and therefore not worth listing. At this period the directories showed an urban bias; a shopkeeper in a town would have been listed as such, even though his "shop" was just the front room of a small terraced house worth much less that a cottager's holding.

Later in the nineteenth century different listing policies were adopted. White's 1882 directory of Lincolnshire listed about 1,000 cottagers and the number doubled in the 1892 edition; but Kelly's 1892 directory listed only 80.

I have taken a random sample of 50 of White's 1892 cottagers (admittedly too few to give statistical validity), which indicates that (a) about half of White's cottagers were listed by Kelly as farmers; (b) about a quarter identified themselves in their 1891 or 1901 census returns as cottagers or farmers but were not listed by Kelly; (c) the remaining quarter were not listed by Kelly and some possibly ought not to have been by White, since the census returns did not indicate farming on the occupier's own account.

The discrepancy between the directories soon disappeared. White's 1892 directory was the last Lincolnshire edition, because William White Ltd was taken over by Kelly & Co Ltd. Some people retained a clear idea of what a cottager was. For example, in his census return of 1901 Benjamin Kirkham of Legbourne stated that he was a "cottage farmer and general labourer (agricultural)" and consequently that he was both an employee and working on his own account.

By the late nineteenth century the word "cottager" had already begun to be replaced by "smallholder" and this trend was probably accelerated by the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1892 and 1908, although the statutory definition of "small holding" covered a holding of up to 50 acres. Kelly's directories tended to become more comprehensive.

To take as an example the two parishes of North and South Cockerington, the 1919 directory listed a total of ten cottage farmers, four smallholders, three market gardeners, six farmers with at least 150 acres and 20 other farmers.

David W Wright
February 2021

Ladies of Louth use their Vote, 1834
New female voters fail in their support for a levy on the rates to fund church repairs

In the first half of the nineteenth century women in Louth had few opportunities to vote. They were excluded from the parliamentary franchise. Louth's Old Corporation, which lost most of its powers in 1835, comprised seven men who held office for life and filled vacancies by co-option.

The burgess rolls, which recorded the persons entitled to vote from 1835 in the elections for the new Borough Council could have no female names until the Municipal Franchise Act 1869. In some towns Improvement Commissioners were elected; but in Louth the original commissioners were named in the local act of 1825 and all vacancies were filled by co-option.

However, women could vote in the Vestry. This was a meeting of the ratepayers (occupiers of property) at which any ratepayer could vote unless disqualified. Vestry polls were uncommon, but a particularly controversial one took place in Louth in 1834. The issue was a proposal to levy a rate of fourpence in the pound to pay for repairs to St James' Church.

This was not financially important: the occupiers of most houses would have had to pay less than a shilling; but it was seen as a vital issue of principle by the supporters of the Church of England and their opponents. (The debates were set out in a tediously long book, which was printed locally and has been digitised by Google.)

It is not known how many people were entitled to vote. The number of ratepayers was probably about 1,500 (there were 1,678 in 1838 of whom 20.8% were women) but a significant minority (perhaps in the vicinity of 5%) were disqualified by receipt of poor relief; and others may have been disqualified by failure to pay their poor rates.

Since a decision could not be reached by a show of hands, a poll was arranged and conducted over a period of three days. The proposal for the rate was defeated and the vote showed a surprising gender imbalance.


The defeat was by a narrower margin than the above figures suggest, because people occupying property rated at £50 or more were entitled to more than one vote, up to a maximum of six. For example Susanna Beecham, the licensee of the King's Head, cast two votes for the rate. Louth's rating list was out of date and, if the hotel had been properly valued, she could have cast four votes.

A similar poll was held in 1842, with a different result. However, Mrs Beecham could not vote then, because she had remarried and her husband was registered as the ratepayer.

The list of voters is available on Its main interest lies in illustrating the economic structure of the town by linking male occupations to the values of properties and so enabling the substantial tradesmen to be distinguished from their underpaid employees.

Unfortunately this does not work for women. Though some women were obviously wealthy, Miss Elizabeth Ansell of Westgate House being the most conspicuous example, most of the female voters must have had some form of gainful employment, but this was usually not stated. For example Kitty Button, who appears in the 1841 census as a hawker aged 70, is shown in the voting list not as 'Catherine Button, Hawker' but as 'Catherine Button, Widow'.

David W Wright
December 2020

An Abyssinian Prince in Lincoln - Part 1
The City magistrates punish a drunk and disorderly visitor according to his misdemeanour, not his status

At around thirty minutes past midnight on 28 March 1892, PC Dowman, who was on duty near the Stonebow in Lincoln, heard someone knocking on the door of the Lindsey bank with a stick. He found a man who claimed to be looking for lodgings. Dowman directed the man to a nearby lodging house but he was refused entry. As the man was drunk and using "bad language", Dowman detained him.

The arrested man appeared before the magistrates on 30 March. Sergeant Wells, who had taken charge of him at the police station, described him as having been inebriated and "very excited, shouting and swearing for some time". The defendant (who the Lincolnshire Chronicle described as "of exceptionally fine physique) gave his age as 29 and his name as Charles Alexander Theodore, son of King Theodore of Abyssinia. He said that he had been taken prisoner by Lord Napier at Magdala in 1867, brought to England with his brother and given an education at Christ's College, Oxford.

He was, he said, in receipt of an annuity from the British Government and had never been in trouble before. He had got a "little drop" of drink which had "excited him". Advised by the Chairman of the Bench that if he avoided drink he might be a respected and a respectable man, the defendant admitted that his conduct was not that of a gentleman. He was fined 8s with costs and was given 24 hours to pay. (1)

Charles Alexander Theodore appeared again before the City Police Court on 16 April 1892. Described on the charge-sheet as "a coloured man" of 14 Flaxengate, he was accused of being drunk while in charge of a horse in the High Street, St Peter-at-Arches two days earlier. Asked if his name was Charles Alexander Theodore, he replied "Say Charles Alexander Theodore, son of King Theodore of Abyssinia". Inspector Briggs gave evidence that he had seen the defendant riding a horse through the Stonebow, drunk and swaying from side to side with no control of the animal. Briggs had taken him to the police station for his safety before being bailed late the same night.

The defendant begged the Bench's pardon, asked to be considered as a gentleman's son, let off and given one more chance. Mr Mansell, Lincoln's Chief Constable, pointed out that the defendant had also been summoned for alleged misconduct in Staunton Street. This case, which seems to have involved breaking open a locked door, was then heard despite continual interruption from the "excited" defendant.

Having appealed to the magistrates that he was "a gentleman's son, bred and born of kings, and the noblest of kings" Charles Alexander Theodore was found guilty of both charges and fined 10s with costs or seven days' hard labour in default of payment for the High Street offence and 11s with costs or ten days' hard labour for the misconduct in Staunton Street. Warned that if he appeared before the court for similar offences he would be jailed, the defendant promised "honourably and straightforwardly, as a gentleman's son and a prince" that he would behave himself and hoped not to come before the court again. (2)


(1) Lincolnshire Chronicle 1 April 1892
(2) Lincolnshire Chronicle 19 April 189

Mark Acton
20 April 2020

King Theodore of Abyssinia, father of the defendant

An Abyssinian Prince in Lincoln - Part 2
A clash with children in Burton Road leads to a further court appearance

If Lincoln's magistrates had hoped to see no more of Charles Alexander Theodore after his promise to behave himself on 16 April 1892, then they were to be disappointed. He reappeared at the City police court on 19 May, summoned under the Towns Police Clause Act for using profane and obscene language on Burton Road, to the annoyance or obstruction of "passengers".

PC Calvert gave evidence that, on the previous Friday, he had seen a crowd round Mr Smith's butchery shop on Burton Road. The defendant, who had been buying meat, complained to Calvert about the conduct of the crowd and was advised to go away and take no notice. Theodore was followed on his way by some children and, according to Calvert, commenced to use very bad language. He then subjected two militiamen to "very insulting language".

Mr Williams, who appeared for the defendant, pleaded great provocation. A short time previously, some militiamen who shared lodgings with Theodore had "put a powder of some sort on his food".  A complaint had been made to the militia barracks but had not, said Williams, been investigated, though the two men had been withdrawn from the lodging house. Williams said that his client, "a man of irritable temper [who] got very much excited", had been subjected to the greatest annoyance from children. Williams hoped that the magistrates would not think the case deserving of a severe penalty but would help the defendant by appealing to the public to prevent a repetition of the "outrages" calculated to provoke him.

Theodore told the court that there was "no man breathing under the canopy of heaven" who could keep his temper with a crowd of children around him. He said that if the magistrates "got amongst black people and were treated as he was they would lose their tempers". After the magistrates had retired to consider the case, Theodore said that he had bought pipes, cigars and tobacco for the militiamen as well as beefsteaks, sausages and tripe and in return they had tried to drug him, which was "nice conduct for Englishmen".

Though the magistrates had seriously considered a prison sentence without the option of a fine, a probable outcome if the defendant appeared before them again, they settled for a penalty of 30s including costs which was immediately paid. This was the last time Charles Alexander Theodore was to trouble the Lincoln bench. But was he really the son of the King of Abyssinia? (1)

(Part 3 to follow.)


(1) Lincolnshire Chronicle 20 May 1892

Mark Acton
2 May 2020 

The New Barracks on Burton Road, Lincoln

An Abyssinian Prince in Lincoln - Part 3
Queen Victoria's interest in the Abyssinian Royal Family - but did this man have royal blood, as he claimed?

In April 1868 an Anglo-Indian army stormed the Abyssinian fortress of Magdala in a successful operation to free European hostages. The Abyssinian Emperor, Theodore (anglicised version of Tewodros), shot himself with a pistol which, ironically, had been a gift from Queen Victoria. Fearing for their future safety, Theodore seems to have entrusted the care of his consort, Tiruwork, and their son, Alemayehu, to the British and specifically his former friend Captain Tristram Speedy. Both mother and son were to have travelled together to Britain but Tiruwork died on the journey.

The orphaned Alemayehu reached England and, while at Speedy's home on the Isle of Wight, met Queen Victoria at Osborne House. She took a keen interest in the orphaned boy. Alemayehu spent some time with Speedy in India but returned to Britain to be educated at Cheltenham and Rugby Schools before an unhappy period at Sandhurst. In 1879 he left the Military College to rejoin his old Rugby tutor in Far Headingley, Leeds, but contracted pleurisy within a week and died after six weeks of illness. Queen Victoria wrote in her journal that she was "[v]ery grieved & shocked to hear by telegram, that good Alamayou (sic) had passed away this morning. It is too sad! All alone, in a strange country, without a single person or relative belonging to him ... Everyone is sorry."

Unless Queen Victoria was very badly informed, the claims of Charles Alexander Theodore to have been at least a half-brother of Alemayehu seem highly dubious. Had he been in receipt of an annuity from the British Government as he told Lincoln's magistrates then he would, surely, have been a subject of historical record. The first mention found of "Prince Theodore" dates from 1882 and concerns a "young stripling of exotic origin now in Paris". He was "leading a very fast life, and seem[ed] to have a large income at his disposal". The correspondent, who was well aware of Alemayehu's fate, doubted the young man's authenticity and thought he could only be "an adventurer, such as often crop up in Paris". (1)

In 1889 a report appeared concerning Ramsgate Police Court and a "gentleman of colour, answering to the name of Charles Edwards, but whose native cognomen [was] unpronounceable".  This "Abyssinian prince" was fined £2 10s with costs for assaulting two cabdrivers. He was, it was said, almost invariably under the influence of drink though he claimed to have signed the pledge since the assault. (2) In January 1892 "Prince Charles Alexander Edward Theodore of Abyssinia" laid a summons for assault against Francis Hearn, a brewer's agent. A cross-summons was laid against Theodore for the same offence by Hearn. During questioning at Portsmouth Police Court Theodore claimed to have married a clergyman's daughter on the Isle of Wight. He admitted to have gone by the name of Charles Alexander Edwards, to have been committed to Chester gaol and to also having been jailed for contempt of court. (3)

Whether the various Lincoln magistrates before whom Theodore appeared had any knowledge of his history is unknown. They would not though have been surprised that in June 1892 Theodore was appearing before the Clerkenwell magistrates on a charge of being drunk and disorderly in Euston Road. (4) In the following month he was bound over at Windsor for threatening a Jockey Club official who had refused him entrance to the enclosure at Windsor races. (5)

Theodore's death in Brighton was reported in January 1893. (6)  The Illustrated London News reported his demise with an image of Alemayehu before realising their mistake and declaring Theodore an impostor. (7) Further research into Charles Edwards might reveal who "Theodore" really was but until then the mystery remains.

    (1) Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 16 October 1882
    (2) Western Daily Mercury 15 May 1889
    (3) Portsmouth Evening News 21 January 1892
    (4) London Evening Standard 13 June 1892
    (5) Sporting Life  18 July 1892
    (6) Portsmouth Evening News 25 January 1893

    (7) Illustrated London News 11 February 1893

Mark Acton
13 November 2020

Alemayehu and Captain Speedy

The Birth of North Greetwell
A former World War 1 army camp was the nucleus of a new Lincolnshire settlement

The parish of North Greetwell is relatively new. It stands astride the Lincoln to Wragby road, formerly the Lincoln to Horncastle Turnpike, later part of the Liverpool to Skegness trunk road.

The village was the meeting point of Greetwell, Cherry Willingham, Reepham and Nettleham parishes, with the Nettleham boundary being about 12 yards south of the main road. The north side of the road, once open fields, is now occup0ied by a petrol station, a restaurant and a number of dwellings built as council houses. On the south side likewise there was nothing but the Greyhound Inn before the twentieth century. It seems the present settlement sprang to life as an army camp in WW1.

A rectangle of land, bounded by a track, on the south side of the A158 was occupied by a large group of wooden army huts until the middle of the twentieth century. They varied in size but had similar fenestration; many were converted to dwellings.

Local tradition says the camp was occupied by Canadian troops and that a long hutment was a hospital which became a village hall before conversion to a dwelling. Most were akin to Nissen huts, some were long and one looked as if it might have been the commandant's home. The photograph shows one of the last before alteration in the 1950s. One, much changed, still has 1919 carved into its chimney breast.

Land was sold off in parcels. Going east from Westfield Approach, there were 5 plots of one acre each. These and no doubt others must have been bought up by speculators, since the second one was bought in 1919 by Mr Simpson of Lincoln from a lady resident in London.

The dirt track is now well surfaced as Westfield Approach, which runs south off the Wragby Road, and Westfield Drive, which runs parallel to the main road. 

The village today still covers the same area of land with a few offshoots of modern dwellings. There is no village centre and the only facilities are the petrol station and reataurant.

Pearl Wheatley
25 September 2020

Mystery of the Village Cross
Prominent Nettleham family commemorated, but with an odd inscription

There was a problem in Nettleham in the late 19th century. All Saints churchyard was near saturation. A new burial ground must be found. The bishop gave a plot on the opposite side of High Street and by 1887 Sinclair Hood of Nettleham Hall described the layout of the new burial ground to the Vestry meeting. Mr. Hood was a churchman, parish councillor and local benefactor.

Included in the layout was a cross in the central avenue which he and his wife donated. On the south face of the plinth of the cross is the inscription 'TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN THANKSGIVING FOR MANY MERCIES', followed by 'DD' then 'SF' and 'GE Hood 1887'. On the north side are the words 'THANKS BE TO GOD'.

This is quite straightforward but the mystery lies in the inscriptions on the east and west sides. These read continuously: 'THAT IT MAY PLEASE THEE TO DEFEND AND PROVIDE FOR THE FATHERLESS CHILDREN AND WIDOWS AND ALL THAT ARE DESOLATE AND OPPRESSED'. What happened in the village or beyond that caused the deaths of the "fathers"? The first Boer War had ended in 1881 and the second had not started. Also, at that time, there were no fatal casualties in the Greetwell quarries where many of the men worked. So the mystery remains.

Was the plinth just described originally standing on the path? Now it stands on two steps. The lower one is in grey stone and the upper one reddish stone. On the latter are the names of two of Sinclair's children, Alban John Frankland and Dorothy Agnes. It looks as if the other four children of the family might also be named but they are difficult to read through erosion.

This sets the puzzle: who and when did these names appear? On the original plinth we read 'SF' and 'GE' but on the risers we read the full names of those we can read. Sinclair died in 1897. His wife Grace outlived their four sons but died in 1943 leaving two daughters. Did Grace alter the base of the cross or must we look to a later generation?

Pearl Wheatley
16 September 2020 

An Obscure Memorial Plaque
Veterans of conflicts in the Far East remembered in Bracebridge

There is an uncommon memorial plaque in the north aisle of the All Saints Church, Bracebridge. It was erected by the Lincolnshire Branch of the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association to commemorate the County's servicemen who lost their lives in the Malayan Emergency (1948-60) and the Borneo Confrontation (1963-66).

The odd thing is that the memorial does not appear among the comprehensive list on the NMBVA website and, when contacted, neither the national secretary nor the local branch was aware of its existence.  What is the story behind this and why was it placed in this small suburban church?

The plaque reads:

National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association
Lincoln & District Branch
This memorial plaque is dedicated with pride, respect and gratitude to the memory of all the Lincolnshire service personnel and civilians who gaves their lives in the Malayan Emergency 1948-1960 and the Borneo Confrontation 1963-1966.
Also remembered are the Lincolnshire service personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country in other theatres since 1950
We will remember them

7 May 2020

Travel restrictions - 1947
Control of movement - even to another part of the UK - in another difficult time

The travel identity card (see right) came as a surprise. It is dated 18th Feb 1947. I was at Nottingham studying Geography at the time and can only assume this was a necessary document for me to travel to Northern Ireland to do a week of field work.

Several rules are listed inside. The first: "This travel identity card, together with the holder's national registration identity card and ration book*, must be presented by the traveller to the Immigration Officer at the port". (* see examples below)

Then there are two paragraphs about Eire and currency and finally: "Care should be taken with this document. It should not be allowed to pass into the possession of an unauthorised person. If lost or destroyed the fact and circumstances should be reported immediately to the issuing office. A new travel identity can only be issued in such cases after exhaustive enquiries."

In the late-1940s we were still rationed for most food and clothes but I was surprised that we were checked when travelling to another part of the United Kingdom.

Pearl Wheatley
2 May 2020

Born and brought up in Jews' Court
Recollections of an occupant of the building before it was taken over by the LAAS in the late 1920s.

What a splendid thing it is for elderly people to put on record memories of their early life! Imagine my pleasure to receive a letter re-directed from Jew's Court in which there was an invitation to talk to an elderly lady who was born in Jews' Court in 1905. She was living with her son at 57 Church Road, Boston and awaiting an operation in Pilgrim Hospital.

On 29th September 1983 I gladly responded to the invitation and spent an interesting time chatting with Rose Roberts about life at Jews' Court in her childhood and early years. To my amazement I discovered that her father Ernest Wright was also born at Jews' Court, in the 1870s, so the family had a long association with an historic building.

At that time the Court was divided into six tenements. The Wright family lived at No 1 and had three rooms on the first floor - a living room and two bedrooms. The rent was 1/6d per week at first, later raised to 2/6d. This was paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who owned the property along with the adjoining Jew's House.

Rose was born in 1905 and had one Sister Ada. Her father worked at Ruston's and started work at 6.00 am; often he worked nights. It was hard work and for a very low wage of £1.1.0 per week. They were so poor that Rose never remembered a holiday except to visit friends and relations nearby. They used to play in the "square" opposite the house and in winter had great fun sliding and sledging down Steep Hill and the Strait. She enquired if the hand-rail was still there.

Rose described Jews' Court as a nice place to live. They were on the first floor and the other rooms that were let as single bed-sitters were on the ground floor and in the roof. There was a well in the basement room and it was said to have associations with Little St Hugh. Rose looked forward to the summer and the American tourists who used to come to see the well. An American tourist took a splendid photograph of the girls on the steps about 1910 which Rose allowed me to borrow for copying. (The 'well' of course was later discredited and found to have been built by an owner of the house to produce a return for admission charges.)

Rose attended St Martin's School when Miss Herring was headmistress. She remembered it as a very good school, emphasising the essentials of reading, writing and arithmetic. They attended St Martin's Church and Sunday School when Canon Akenhead was the vicar.

Asked for her general memories of Jew's Court and Steep Hill, she described it as a busy place with many people walking up and down the hill. The shops were well stocked with meat, groceries, fruit and vegetables. The Butter Market in High Street, next to St Peter-at-Arches Church, was visited every week for eggs, butter and country produce. Antiques were sold in the shop next door to the Court. Her vivid memories included the celebration of the Coronation of George V around the Stonebow, which was gaily decorated.

She recalled the fun of the Horse Fair when hundreds of fine horses were assembled in High Street for sale and their owners trotted them up and down to show off their fine points. It was a very busy time in Lincoln and the public houses and hotels were crowded. She enquired about the scaffolding surrounding the Cathedral tower. I assured her it had gone but the restoration of the Cathedral was still a very big problem. One of her last memories was of the Prince of Wales coming to open the Usher Gallery in 1927. They lived close by and all the residents of Steep Hill, Danes Terrace and Danesgate were very much involved.

In 1928 Jews' Court was threatened with demolition under slum clearance regulations. The Wright family were very sad to leave. Happily, Jews' Court was bought by the Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society and saved from demolition, and the Jew's House, next door, was purchased by the Corporation. However, it brought to an end a long and happy association with a building which Rose was proud to remind me "was built about 1100".

She treasured the memories of Lincoln as a beautiful and busy place. Later, in 1932, she returned to be married at St Nicholas Church in Newport. Her husband, Jack Roberts, was at that time manager of Halford's shop and lived in Ernest Terrace. Promotion took them away from Lincoln and they lived in various parts of the country.

F T Baker
30 April 2020 (original MS dated 1983)

Jews' Court in the early twentieth century

Riot in Bardney
Costly bread causes navvies working on the Witham to run riot in 1815

Following an Act of Parliament, work to widen and improve the River Witham commenced near Southrey in 1812, where a corner in the river was being straightened out. 900 navvies, or bankers, were employed for this task.

Some of these men - and their wives and children - were lodged in both Southrey and Bardney. Lodgings included farmhouses, barns and outbuildings, and also crafts on the river itself.

On one particular Friday in May 1815, following delivery of bread from Edmond's bakery in Wragby, a dispute arose between the navvies and the baker about the price of bread. A full-scale riot ensued, which started in the Plough Inn, on the west bank of the river in Bardney.

A huge crowd of men drove the landlord away from the public house, entered the premises, removed all the barrels from the cellar, and drank all the beer. They took the inn sign down, took the baker's bread basket and then crossed the river and on to the main street of the village. The drunken mob pelted the baker with his own bread and hung the inn sign in a tree top. They then unleashed their fury on the Bottle & Glass Inn, which received the same treatment as the Plough. They consumed all the beer there and knocked out the ends of the barrels.

The mob then proceeded to the Angel Inn, where Mr Benton was the landlord. Quick-thinking Benton rolled his beer barrels outside the public house, thus preventing any damage to his premises. Several private dwellings were entered and occupiers surrendered any belongings to the mob, in fear of injury or damage. The rioters then demanded their own prices for future bread deliveries.

A constable was alerted, but being outnumbered quickly took refuge in the almshouses. A message was eventually sent to Horncastle police station and 13 constables were alerted. However, because of the sheer weight of numbers, they returned home. One was badly injured and later died from his wounds.

Eventually, the cavalry was summoned, and they arrived with a local magistrate, the Reverend Mouncey of Gautby, who proceeded to read the Riot Act. The ringleaders of the mob were arrested, put aboard three carts and a wagon and taken into custody in Spilsby and Horncastle, where they were later prosecuted and imprisoned.

Nine men appeared before the Quarter Sessions in Spilsby two months later. Three were imprisoned for twelve months, two for six months and four were acquitted.

This "local disturbance" was one of many demonstrations of unrest that occurred in England at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Shortage of grain and other provisions brought about rising prices and this triggered revolts by the poorer classes; riots became common around the country. The most serious outcome of the Bardney riot was the death of a police constable but the relative leniency of the sentences implies that the disturbance was not considered to be the direct cause of his death.

Chris Page
30 April 2020

Ferry over the Witham at Bardney.
The Plough Inn is across the river in this view.

The Mystery of the Missing Manor
Documentary evidence of a significant house in Toynton St Peter but its site is uncertain

The twin villages of Toynton All Saints and Toynton St Peter have a long and well-documented history. They were held by the Willoughby de Eresbys for much of the late medieval and early modern periods, and the boundaries of the manor of Toynton almost entirely coincide with the two modern parishes. However, part of the land was parcel of the manor of Bacon Hall, and was owned in two moieties, only one of which was in the hands of the Willoughbys. The other appears to have been held by the monarch, but no records have been found.

Bacon Hall manor appears to have included lands in the Toyntons and other nearby villages, and a moiety (half share) of the advowson of Toynton St Peter. Bishop Sanderson mentions it in his Index (Monson 7/43 35-36) and notes a family in Toynton called Bacon in the 1370s, but doesn't link the two. The advowson had been split since at least 1261, when William de Cletham was instituted "to a mediety on death of Mag. Richard. P[atron] Roger Bakun de Leck". Perhaps, this is where the Bacon name originates.  

On the 1614 "Surveigh of the Mannour of Toynton", a large field in the western part of Toynton St Peter is described as "Bacon Hall, Kings libr", with a drawing of a two-storey house with a large central stack and lobby entry. By this time, the court rolls for Toynton included "half of Bacon Hall" (e.g. 1 ANC 3/26/19 for 1612). The manor was still being inhabited in the late eighteenth century (by which time it appears to have shrunk considerably), despite not having apparently presented anyone to the advowson for at least two centuries.

The name "Bacon Hall" suggests a building of some standing, but where was it? The manor was spread over a number of parishes, so it is possible that the Toynton lands were only outliers, but why then is the field in Toynton St Peter known, to this day, as Bacon Hall Field (TF 398 633)? The field boundaries are peculiar and there are many earthworks in the field, including a possible rectangular platform in the position marked on the 1614 map. Could there be a missing manor house hiding in a field on the very edge of the fens?

If you have any thoughts, insight or questions, you are very welcome to email Jenne Pape at

Jenne Pape
30 April 2020

Aerial view of Bacon's Field, Toynton St Peter

William Webster of Wyberton
Victorian building contractor of national significance

William Webster was born of humble parentage in Wyberton in May 1819. After apprenticeship with John Jackson, a Boston builder and joiner, he set up business in his home village. One of his early contracts was the restoration of St Peter and St Paul's church in Algarkirk. (Whether he was responsible for work with stone as well as wood at this point in his career is uncertain. White's Directory of 1856 lists Webster as a joiner and the victualler of "The Pincushion" public house.) He was also the contractor for the Boston's Corn Exchange (1855) and Athenaeum (1855) and, further afield, for lunatic asylums in Cambridge (1857) and Hitchin (1858-59).

In 1860 Webster set up business in London and it was here that he won several contracts for projects led by Joseph Bazalgette, including the construction of both sewers and embankments on the Thames in central London. He built part of the Victoria Embankment and the whole of the Albert and Chelsea Embankments. He also worked with Bazalgette in building the massive Southern Outfall Sewer which served most of the city south of the river. It was also Webster's company which built the three major sewage pumping stations: Abbey Mills, Crossness and Western, each an architectural triumph with fine brickwork and elaborate cast iron decoration in the pumphouses. These were large, complex and prestigious projects.

His building company was certainly versatile. After the spectacular and much admired work at the pumping stations Webster went on to build Holborn Viaduct Railway Station, an outfall sluice in Norfolk, the gasworks in Poplar, waterworks in Hampton, Hither Green cemetery chapel and a new bridge at Maidstone. When he died in February 1888 he was a wealthy man. His impressive mansion in Lee (south-east London), which he himself had built in 1869, was named Wyberton House. It would seem that, despite his success on the national scene, he never forgot his Lincolnshire roots.

Regrettably, William Webster's achievements are not well known. Whereas the names of architects, even those of little merit and modest achievement, are recorded prominently in newspaper reports and guide books, and engineers are frequently mentioned, builders are usually completely overlooked. Yet many firms, like Webster's, had a highly skilled workforce which produced work of outstanding technical and aesthetic quality in a range of materials. William Webster deserves to be remembered and his work celebrated.

(Perhaps in a similar way we should take note of the twentieth-century work of Bowmans of Stamford, who undertook many prestigious building projects across the country.)

Ken Redmore
24 April 2020


William Webster's work at Crossness Pumping Station

Rescued from RAF Wickenby
An old office sign, thrown out as scrap, carries the name of a WW2 flying ace

The office sign in the accompanying photograph has an interesting story behind it. It was given to my father in about 1962 by Mary Crawford, a local woman in Market Rasen who, with her partner Mr Gass, traded in second hand materials, not quite a scrap metal merchant, but perhaps the word "tatter" is the right one? They were both getting on in years, and so was her vehicle, an old Bedford lorry hand-painted a bright red. The side panels of the engine cover were missing, as were the glasses and bulbs of the head lights. The tyres were quite bald. I'm not sure how much of this was actually illegal at the time but there was little danger involved because she drove only in daylight and very slowly indeed - you had to watch the lorry for a second or so to see that it was actually on the move.

My father called me out of the house one summer evening to introduce me to them. Mary had brought some gifts for him, and he thought meeting them and being able to make a close inspection of her lorry would be an education. The gifts were an on odd collection of bits and pieces left over from a job lot Mary had purchased from a disposal sale at RAF Wickenby. None of them were of obvious use. However, my father had a reputation as a do it yourself enthusiast who liked repairing and reusing things. He was a solicitor and my guess is that he had provided some small pro-bono legal service for Mary and this was her way of thanking him. He would not have been able to mention it if this was the case. This was probably the explanation for other small gifts that came his way from time to time, bags of vegetables or those parts of a pig he was known to be particularly fond of, for example.

At the time this office sign seemed of little interest and was put aside. I remembered it a couple of years ago after visiting the small museum in the old control tower at Wickenby, which forms part of the modern airfield there. A little enquiry within the family brought it into light. Looking at it with fresh eyes after so many years I see both history and artistry in it. There was nothing unusual at the time for a mundane sign like this to be hand painted by a skilled sign writer, and isn't that a loss?

RAF Wickenby had ceased to be an operational airfield at the end of the war but remained in use as a depot for disposal of munitions until 1956. The land it was built on had been requisitioned under the War Emergency Powers Act of 1939. Under that Act the land was to be in government hands until the end of the "War Period". One might have thought that the War Period would end with the war, but successive extension acts declared the "War Period" to still exist until, rather outrageously, 1960, after which the government was at last obliged to return the land to its owners. No doubt this had triggered the sale of what equipment and materials remained on site, and which Mary had attended in pursuit of her trade.

Squadron Leader "Jim" Hallowes was the last senior administration officer at Wickenby, retiring when the station ceased use in 1956. He actually held the rank of Wing Commander but had accepted a post for a lower rank. As the letters after his name indicate his RAF career had a more exciting and distinguished past, and very much so. Some accounts credit him with the first shooting down of an enemy aircraft over land of the Second World War (the first was at sea by the Fleet Air Arm), although others are credited with sharing in this success. He went on to become a fighter ace with numerous "kills" credited to him. On one occasion he was in the process of bailing out of a burning Spitfire when a German fighter overtook his plane. He dropped back into his seat long enough to fire a burst at the enemy plane and hitting it before finally bailing out. (See his photo right)

The DFM, Distinguished Flying Medal, and DFC, Distinguished Flying Cross, were effectively the same award. Originally the DFC had been reserved for officers while other ranks were awarded the DFM for similar actions. Hallowes won the DFM and a bar before being commissioned and later the DFC as well, so in effect, his awards equate to having won the DFC three times.

Looking at the sign today I wonder how he felt about his post-war job at Wickenby. Did it seem a tedious way of putting in enough years to get his pension or, after more danger and excitement to satisfy three lives, did a desk job in the tranquillity of a near redundant and decaying rural airfield feel  like a piece of heaven? I like to think the latter.

Chris Padley
22 April 2020

Belton Park in the First World War and the Army Service Corps
A personal story of service in the Great War and a call to work in the church

Accounts of the Military Camp which sprang up in Belton Park in the First World War tend to concentrate on its use as a training camp for recruits of the 11th (Northern Division) who were to leave in June and July 1915 for Gallipoli, and its subsequent use as a training camp for the Army Machine Gun Corps, formed in November 1915. There seems to be no mention that it was also an Army Service Corps Depot. I mention this because my father, who was a "Driver" in the ASC, spent just under a year at Belton Park. He has left a fairly descriptive account of the Belton Park Camp, but noting that, at that time, the Machine Gun Corps was at Harrowby Camp, closer to Grantham.

My father, who came from Leicester, had received his initial training in learning to ride and in steering horse drawn ammunition limbers at Bradford.  He came to Belton in the second half of 1915.   At Leicester he had been an errand boy and later an office clerk in a hosiery factory, so this was a great change for him. When he came to Belton there were four mounted ASC Companies and a Company of supply provisioners and warehousemen. As the ASC Companies were larger than other Army Companies, this probably represents over 2,000 ASC men. Later, he notes that the Mechanical Transport Division of the ASC (which became the RASC), came to Belton.  Amongst his duties was the collection from Grantham Station of ammunition, in limbers, for the Machine Gun Corps to be delivered to Harrowby Camp.

My father was on a weekly wage of 1 shilling and 7 pence as a driver. As he was a good pianist he soon found himself being employed to accompany the silent movies at the Belton Camp cinema. For this he could earn 30 shillings a night. Some nights he had to do guard duty, but he could swap with someone else, if he paid them 3 shillings, so he would be still in pocket.

In the early summer of 1916 he moved from Belton to the main ASC depot at Park Royal outside London, before being sent on the "Salonica" campaign to drive mule trains for building supply roads in Northern Greece. He was repatriated in the early part of 1918, following malaria, from Greece. This was before the great breakthrough occurred on the Salonica (now Thessaloniki) front in September 1918. At this point Bulgaria capitulated, Serbia was retaken and the Allied forces captured Istanbul.

He spent a few months in northern France as a supplies clerk, before starting training under "Tubby" Clayton, founder of Toc H, to become a Church of England priest. In February 1919 he was sent back to Harrowby Camp to be demobbed. After this he went to a training school for prospective clergy at Knutsford and then to Manchester University, gaining a degree in Economics. This was not the end of his association with the Grantham area. In 1931 he became the chaplain to the 9th Earl of Dysart at Buckminister Hall and the vicar of Buckminster and Sewstern. His memoirs have many anecdotes about this eccentric earl. My father's life illustrates the quite surprising social mobility which occurred to some of the survivors of the First World War.

Possibly other members of the Society may have more information to clarify which army units were at Belton, and if and when, the Machine Gun Corps moved from Harrowby to Belton Park.

Footnote: The limbers used by Machine Gun Corps for the Vickers Machine guns were two carts with two wheels, which were linked in tandem, and hauled by two horses, with the driver saddled on one of the horses. I suspect that if my father was collecting ammunition from Grantham station that he would only have taken a single limber.

Nick Moore
15 April 2020


Neolithic Flint Mines in Lincolnshire?
Information on flint locations in Lincolnshire sought

It might be expected that during the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age, which lasted from about 4,000 B.C to 2,500 BC, flint was mined in Lincolnshire. The broad outcrop of chalk, formed in the Cretaceous Period, runs from the South Downs, through the Chiltern Hills up to Norfolk and on to the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire Wolds. This contains bands of flint which could be mined. The flint mines of Grimes Graves in Norfolk and Cissbury in Sussex are well known, but there are much larger mines at Spiennes in Belgium, Grand Pressigny in France and at Hov in Northern Denmark. Flint occurs in the chalk of the Upper Cretaceous and was quarried by digging pits which were conjoined with tunnels, following seams of flint. Flint used for implements was either sourced from mined flint or from glacial deposits eroded from the chalk.

A study by English Heritage shows that the most northerly flint mines in England are Grimes Graves in Norfolk. A division in the character of the chalk takes place to the north of Grimes Graves. The Upper Cretaceous chalk to the north is harder with less flint. In the Lincolnshire Wolds there appears to be very little flint. This is probably because the upper Cretaceous flint has been largely removed by glacial action, leaving brown stained deposits of gravel behind.

Against this background a recently published book by Katherine Walker, studying continental imported stone axes, makes a claim that the flint used for the production of high quality flint axes could come from Lincolnshire, or a site just off the coast, in the Grimsby area. She bases her claim on a group of slightly over 20 flint axes known as the "Crudwell-Smerrick" type, which take their name from finds in Wiltshire and Scotland. These axes have an almost coastal distribution around Britain. In most instances the axes are in surprisingly good condition and have been considered as "symbols of power". I have long had an interest in these axes, as very fine example came into the Lincoln City and County Museum in 1970 from Helpringham Fen. Unfortunately, this axe, like so many objects, which had been on display in the old Grayfriars museum, never went back on display when it re-opened in the Collection.

The Helpringham axe is very finely polished, with a shallow bevel on each side. The axe appears to have been polished so that a fossil belamite has been exposed as a decorative element on both faces. These axes were studied in some detail by the late Alan Saville of the National Museum of Scotland, who inclined towards a continental and possibly Danish origin. Many similar axes have been found in Denmark and in the Skane province of southern Sweden, areas where flint is available. Most striking is the similarity of the Helpringham axe to some of the 15 axes found in a hoard at Hagelbjerggard on the Danish island of Zealand, close to southern Sweden. The concentration of these axes in northern Denmark and southern Sweden makes me sceptical that the flint used was mined in, or just off, the coast of north-east coast of Lincolnshire.

What evidence is there for flint naturally occurring in chalk in North Lincolnshire, apart from in the overlaying glacial deposits? It has been pointed out to me that some of the quarried chalk blocks at Thornton Abbey, incorporated in the barbican entrance, have a seam of black flint running through them. Have we got any other evidence for the occurrence of non-glacial and flint outcrops in North Lincolnshire? The "Crudwell/ Smerrick" type axes must have been mined. A superb axe of this form, from Fordham in Cambridgeshire, is 27cms long, and could hardly have been fashioned from glacial flint. If anyone can guide me to other evidence for flint occurring naturally in the Upper Cretaceous chalk of North Lincolnshire, I would be most grateful. Meanwhile, I think that any claim that there were Neolithic flint mines in North Lincolnshire, cannot be substantiated.

(Katherine Walker's book is "Axe-heads and Identity: An investigation into axe-heads and identity formation in Neolithic Britain"Archaeopress, Oxford, 2018)

Nick Moore
6 April 2020

Helpringham Axe

Wragby Pig Club
The oldest pig club in UK

A pig club was a simple insurance scheme, run locally, to compensate owners for the untimely loss of a pig.

The Pig Club at Wragby, set up in October 1844, claimed to be the oldest pig club in the country. There is no record of the rise and fall in membership over the decades but when it closed in February 1960 it had been running at a loss for 10 years and there were only 4 pig keepers in the club.

In 1916 each member of the club paid 2/6 to join and 9d per quarter for each pig covered by the scheme. If a pig was lost the club member was reimbursed the value of the pig (assessed by weight) up to a maximum of £8.

An important annual event was the supper held in the club room in the Turnor Arms on the first Thursday in December. Members paid 3d per quarter towards the Supper Fund and were also charged an additional 1/6 on the night.

Perhaps surprisingly, the club president was paid 12/6 annually and both treasurer and secretary received 4/6.

It was an orderly run club: "Any member swearing or behaving improperly, or wilfully offending another member at any meeting shall forfeit sixpence to the society". There was strong incentive to keep up with regular payments. Failure to pay a quarterly contribution led to a fine of 2d; missing the next payment would result in the loss of all the scheme's benefits.

Pig clubs, organised along similar lines to Wragby's, were run in many Lincolnshire villages. Those at Brinkhill and South Ormsby and at Silk Willoughby have been the subject of articles in Lincolnshire Past & Present.

Ken Redmore
3 April 2020

A Conundrum at Stixwould
A carved stone grave cover and two Lincolnshire comparisons

RUBL (SLHA's building recording group) are currently investigating two fascinating post-Dissolution buildings associated with their former monastic sites - The Old Hall at Kirkstead and Abbey Farm House at Stixwould.

Both buildings incorporate stone from the monastic sites, but Abbey Farm House at Stixwould has an enigmatic piece of much-weathered carved stone described as a "C14 cusped and crocketed niche" in the listing schedule (Note 1.).

It's set in to a former outer wall, now inside a lean-to structure and partially obscured by a radiator, clearly the tapering upper portion (70cm) of a decorated tomb top c1330-1350. The ogee canopy appears to have been highly decorated, with carvings in the spandrels above and flanked by crocketed pinnacles.

We've compared it with two similar contemporary surviving examples in Lincolnshire.

The fundamental difference at Abbey Farm House is the absence of any traces of an effigy or indent for a brass, with a flat surface below the canopy, though removal of the radiator may reveal more? It's in a perilous state of deterioration, but the quality of carved detail is exceptional, indicative of a high-status burial, unusually without an effigy or a brass.

The plan is to coincide a site visit of a plumber for the removal of the radiator and a conservator to stabilise and conserve the stone.

Are there other similar tomb tops without an effigy or brass? Is there an explanation we've not yet considered ? Observations and comments are most welcome.

Please contact Richard Croft with comments or requests for a high resolution image for scrutiny.

Images (left to right): Abbey Farmhouse, Stixwould; St Peter's church Norton Disney - Joan Disney (Note 2.); St Peter's church, Kingerby - possibly Henry Disney c.1350 (Note 3.)


2. Monson's Church Notes, LRS 31, 1936
3. St.Peter, Kingerby, Lincolnshire. Redundant Churches Fund 1987

Richard Croft
2 April 2020





Dorothy Hodgkin
From Nettleham to Nobel Prize

There were discussions in the media on who should be portrayed on the new £50 note. Among the suggestions was to have a British woman scientist. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher received a mention having gained a Degree in Chemistry at Oxford University. Also noted has been her tutor at Oxford- Dorothy Hodgkin - a more worthy scientist.

Dorothy (1910-1994) was a granddaughter of Sinclair Hood of Nettleham Hall. At the age of 10, unusual for a girl at that time, she was given a chemistry set. Most of her schooling was in Suffolk under the care of her aunt Christabel while her parents were serving as administrators and archaeologists in the Middle East. Dorothy did visit her parents and did consider a career in archaeology, a subject that is certainly in the Hood family genes. Many members have served in or studied Middle Eastern periods. Three of Dorothy's four daughters made a great contribution to archaeological advances. Dorothy want to Oxford and Cambridge, eventually becoming Research Professor of Minerology and Crystallography in Oxford.

In 1964 Dorothy was awarded a Nobel Prize for Chemistry and became one of the very few women to be so honoured for scientific achievements by that time. The citation includes "for her determination of X-ray technique of the study of important biochemical substances". Her research in penicillin began in 1942 and much of her work included finding vitamins in the cure of various complaints.

It is a bit of a stretch to claim Dorothy as a Nobel winner from Nettleham but it would have been good to have one from our local ancestry on the £50 note.

Pearl Wheatley

(First written on behalf of Nettleham Heritage Association)
28 March 2020

Combating the plague in 1665
How Grantham responded - isolation and a pest house

With our thoughts currently focussed on the present Coronavirus, let us remember that our communities have faced similar issues at regular intervals in the past, particularly from outbreaks of bubonic plague in the seventeenth century.

The records of the borough of Grantham include the earliest Corporation Minute book (known as The Hall Book) which runs from 1633 to 1704 (1). This has recently been transcribed by a small group of volunteers and edited by John Manterfield for a future Lincoln Record Society volume, from which draft the following is largely extracted.


The Great Plague in London had taken hold in the summer heat of June and July 1665. The University of Cambridge was closed as a precaution in late July and Isaac Newton (born in 1645) had returned to Woolsthorpe by Colsterworth by early August 1665, returning to Cambridge in March 1666 and again taking refuge in Lincolnshire when there was resurgence in the early summer. (2)

Previous epidemics of pestilence and plague in Grantham had been dealt with since the 1580s by a combination of removing infected persons to isolation in the Pest House. This stood in Manthorpe Fields close to the River Witham and almost opposite the present-day Grantham General Hospital on Manthorpe road. The Pest House was part of the Grantham Grammar School estate and a clause in the earliest surviving lease of 1584 stated that " if it shall happen or chance any time hereafter....the Town and be visited with the plague called the pestilence or any other smiting disease or contagious sickness whereby it shall be thought good to divide the infected people from the whole - then for the "better safeguard of the said Town" upon two days warning all the tenants and dwellers within the said messuage or house were to depart to permit and suffer the infected or visited people to enter into the house. (3)

In March 1663, the Hall Book records that the Pest House should be repaired and this order was repeated a year later. Carpenter William Bury was to be paid 40 s for work undertaken in 1665 but seemingly had to wait for nearly two years as Bury appeared at the Court in person to request a sum of 16s 7d that remained outstanding. (4)

Evidence from Administration accounts relating to those who had died during the plague outbreaks in Grantham in 1625 and 1637 show that infected persons were being shut up in the own homes sometimes with a keeper to look after them. Richard Speedy, his wife Joane and two children had died in May 1637. Richard's brother, Henry, was the administrator of the estate and craved allowance in the accounts for boarding a surviving daughter, Elizabeth, in the time of the visitation. Hellen Selbie was paid five weeks' wages amounting to 20s  for keeping "the deceased's house and to order his three Children of which two then dyed". (5)

Clearly though, prevention was better than cure and the Hall Book details the arrangements put into place in 1665 just a generation later than the outbreak of 1637. On 17 August 1665, several weeks after the plague had begun to take hold in London, the Hall Book records "Whereas the Court this day takeing into consideracion the great mortalitie that is now in London and in severall places of this Kingdome by reason of the contagion of the Plague And that it is very requisite and necessarie that there should be good and sufficient Watch and Ward kept within this Burrough day and night to examine Passingers from whence they come so that by such meanes (& Gods almightie assistance) all suspected persons may be kept out of this Towne and the [sic] preserved from the said dangerous disease". The watch was to be kept by every inhabitant householder upon pain of 10s to be levied by distress on anyone refusing or neglecting their duty. The Constables were appointed to see that the watch and ward were set and "to give the charge to the said Watchmen as by the laws of this Kindome they are comanded and injoyned".(6)

At the next Court on 15 September, the Alderman felt that the order "for keeping stronge Watch and Ward" was "much neglected for want of some persons to Oversee the Watchmen that they doe their duty". Accordingly members of the First and Second Twelves were to oversee the Watchmen as Masters of the Ward and were freed from any watching during the day or night.

Less than a week later a further Court was held on 21 September at which the Alderman informed the Court "that in this dangerous time of sicknes and mortalitie it is very requisite & needfull that the Corps of every person dying within this Burrough should be searched that it may be knowne what disease they dye on And by such meanes with the Aide and Assisstance of Almightie God the contagion of the Plague may be prevented in this Towne or otherwise the persons remaineing in such houses may be forthwith removed".

Four persons were appointed as searchers of corpses and any deaths were to be reported to the Alderman within half an hour so that the corpse could be searched. In the event, the measures appear to have had success and were scaled back on or after 27 October when it was noted that "the Watch being now kept all night was being prejudiciall to the Watchmen by reason of the cold and the lenght [sic] of the nights" and so it was to be kept until 9 o'clock. On 15 December 1665, the Watch was reduced to six and members of the First and Second Twelves were discharged from watching in person. (7)

Given Grantham's position on the Great North Road from London to York and Edinburgh, precautions were certainly prudent and necessary and the Corporation was no doubt thankful to the Almighty that plague had not decimated the town. Let us hope that we too can all survive the present threat from Coronavirus and be thankful.


(1) Lincolnshire Archives (hereafter LAO): Grantham Borough 5/1 (hereafter HB)
(2) Rob Iliffe, Newton: A very short introduction (Oxford, 2007), 18; Newton himself stated that in the two plague years of 1665 and 1666 he was in the prime of his age for invention.
(3) LAO: BNLW 1/1/35/398.
(4) HB, fols. 375v (27 March 1663), 384r (11 March 1664), 403r (23 January 1666) and 411v (25 January 1667).
(5) LAO LCC Ad Ac 25/186 Richard Speedy.
(6) Paul Slack, The impact of Plague in Tudor and Stuart England (London, 1985); G Melvyn Howe, Man, Environment and Disease in Britain A Medical Geography through the Ages (London, 1972); HB, fol. 396r (17 August 1665).

(7) HB, fols. 396v-397r (15 and 21 September 1665), 401r (27 October 1665) and 402r (15 December 1665).

[See photographs of Grantham in our Photo Gallery]

John Manterfield
26 March 2020

Walmsgate Cyclists' Rest
Unusual support for recreation in Edwardian times

In the 19th century a substantial house stood in the parkland at Walmsgate west of A16. In late Victorian times the beautiful 7-acre terraced gardens were made available to the public in return for a donation. Monies raised were given by the owners, Captain and Mrs Dallas Yorke, to local charities.

Walmsgate Gardens became a favourite destination for locals and tourists, many people cycling to reach it. Even in a modern car the long hill up from Burwell or Swaby is quite a climb. So at the turn of the 20th century Captain Dallas Yorke built this single storey building as a Cyclists' Rest. It was opened by his daughter and son-in-law, the Duchess and Duke of Portland on 1st August 1902. Travellers could break their journey, buy refreshments and also purchase tickets for admission to Walmsgate gardens.

In later years I'm told jumble sales were held here. It is now split into two cottages, but I wonder if any of our readers have memories of these or anything else about Walmsgate's glory days before the Hall, gardens and chapel were abandoned. Do please let me know as I'm collecting material about it.

Jean Howard, 01507 604717

Photographs: The former Cyclists' Rest as it is today and an Edwardian postcard issued shortly after the building opened

[We have a few photographs of Walmsgate Hall in our Photo Gallery]

26 March 2020

Big Guns at Grantham
The Bicentenary of Isaac Newton's death was marked in fine style in 1927

For the 200th anniversary of the death of Isaac Newton a conference was held in Grantham on 19 and 20 March 1927.  It was attended by "200 men of learning".

Day one was a series of high powered lectures on Newton's works. The Master of Trinity College Cambridge spoke on optics, Dr. H. Lamb gave a talk on dynamics, The Astronomer Royal talked on gravitation and Prof. L J Mordell of Manchester chose pure mathematics.

The afternoon was spent at Woolsthorpe and Colsterworth followed by tea at Stoke Rochford at the invitation of Mr and Mrs Christopher Turnor when Mr Turnor gave an address on "Countryside in Newton's time".  The mayor attended the dinner and announced there would be a fund to establish a scholarship for mathematics and science for boys at the Grammar School.

On Sunday 20 March the Bishop attended the service in the Grantham Parish Church and a wreath was laid at the statue of Newton.

Reported in the Reports and Papers of the Architectural Societies, 1927

Mystery Photographs
Help us find these unknown locations


Photograph 1.

In the foreground is a 10RB excavator made by Ruston-Bucyrus of Lincoln.  But what is the fine country house in the background?

Photograph 2.

This postcard is entitled "Willoughby", but is it Willoughby in Lincolnshire?  If it is our Willoughby, why photograph these plain cottages?

Thornton Church Organ
A small country church near Horncastle contains a rare old organ of considerable interest

The organ in Thornton Church is one of the oldest in Britain.  It was put in the Choristers' Practice Room at Magdalen College Oxford in 1740, but it may be even older, possibly from the 1680s.

All the pipework except the Cornet and the top notes of the Principal stop is made of wood. It has a bureau type of case, the upper part is dark mahogany but the lower part is older. The keyboard has black naturals and sandwich ivory sharps.

It was originally short octave GG compass and has Open & Stopped Diapasons, Principal, 15th, Sesquialtera Bass, Cornet Treble. It is still hand pumped by an iron lever on the side. The short octave bass has been altered except for bottom G. The upper part of the case is rather after the style of Byfield who may well have renovated it and put it in Magdalen College in 1740.

The organ was given to Horsington church in 1860 by Magdalen College who were patrons of the living and paid for the new church to be built.  Eventually Horsington did not need it and it was moved to Scrivelsby, but was affected by the damp there and so was moved to Stixwould and finally to Thornton.

Its preservation was largely due to the late Rev. William Whaler, incumbent of this group of parishes, who was a lover of old organs. The organ is a great treasure and a little known unique survival among church organs in this country.

Robert Pacey, Burgh le Marsh, July 2010


Prayers for Prisoners
A generous 18th Century will benefits local prison inmates

When the Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society joined the Lincolnshire Local History Society, members deposited their library and papers in the Lincolnshire Archives. Among these papers is reference to a will of 1715.

In this Rebekah Hussey left £1,000 to be distributed, as her Trustees judged fittest, among prisoners that are confined for small debts in Lincoln, Lincolnshire and adjoining counties.

£60 a year was also left "to a worthy Church of England Clergyman that will preach every Sabbath Day to the prisoners at Lincoln and pray daily with them".

Arthur C Benson
A distinguished author from a remarkable family with Lincoln connections

Arthur C. Benson (1862-1929) was 10 years old when he came to live at the Chancery in Lincoln. His father, Edward White Benson was Chancellor at the Cathedral (1872-77), then the first Bishop of Truro (1877-82) and Archbishop of Canterbury (1882-96).

Arthur Benson was a distinguished author and brother to novelists E. F. Benson and R. H. Benson, and to Egyptologist Margaret Benson.

From 1915 to 1925, he was Master of Magdalene College Cambridge, and he is chiefly remembered for writing the lyrics of "Land of Hope and Glory" to Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" for the Coronation of Edward VII.

George Boole (1815-1864)
George Boole, born in Lincoln, was an outstanding mathematician. His upbringing was modest, though he showed early talent and became a schoolmaster. His outstanding achievement was to develop the algebraic logic which underpins computer science.

George Boole was a great intellectual and a great man of Lincoln. He was acclaimed a child prodigy in languages, became a professional teacher at the age of sixteen and won the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Mathematics at twenty-nine. This was all achieved by a self-taught man without advanced formal education.

Whilst running his own school in Pottergate, Lincoln, he published 'The Mathematical Analysis of Logic' which laid the foundation for his 'Boolean Logic' that underpins our modern technology. This led to his later work 'An Investigation of the Laws of Thought' which gave birth to much of modern 'pure' maths. It is also at the heart of the work which was used almost 100 years later by Claude Shannon and colleagues to make programming an electronic binary computer possible in the sense we know it today. Boole had no idea that would be the result of his endeavours; his was a pure 'blue sky' concern - to model thought mathematically.

It is notable that Augustus De Morgan (1806-71), a correspondent and mentor to Boole, also tutored Ada Lovelace (1815-52) and was one of the few friends of Charles Babbage (1791-1871). Babbage invented the mechanical computer, and Lovelace the computer program. Sadly, neither of them met George Boole. If they had, perhaps the digital age would have been upon us a century earlier and Lincoln seen as the centre of it all!

Boole's Early Years

Boole was born on 2 November 1815 in Silver Street Lincoln. He was baptised the next day in nearby St Swithin's Church. This was not the current magnificent church which was completed in 1887, more than 20 years after George's death in 1864. The position of the earlier church can still be seen in the small green space between Bank Street and Free School Lane.

This was an important place for Boolean Logic because the minister at St Swithin's, Rev G S Dickson, was one of those who encouraged George's mathematical endeavours by lending him a book on differential calculus.

Another local person who encouraged George mathematically was Sir E F Bromhead of Thurlby Hall, near Bassingham, eight miles south of Lincoln. Bromhead was a patron of many notable 'natural philosophers' in the area.

In 1816 George's parents moved to 49 Silver St and this small area near the centre of Lincoln remained important to George throughout his life in the city. He went to an infants' school in Mint Lane and later lectured to working people in the Mechanics Institute that was housed in the old Grammar School on Free School Lane, between what is now the library and the new St Swithin's.

George's first school as proprietor was in the lane too. Unfortunately, almost every site which Boole would have known in 'down hill' Lincoln has been completely redeveloped at least once since his time. The Grammar School is one of the few places he would still recognise.

George was largely self-taught in everything (which some say might explain his brilliance). However, his uncle was a schoolmaster with his own school on the High Street. Also, he received some formal education at a school in Michaelgate to the north of his boyhood streets.

He started to assist the schoolmaster here when he was only thirteen. To the East of this a couple of streets over, at the foot of Steep Hill, was the Jew's House, a reminder of the medieval Jewish community in Lincoln and its persecution.

As a boy, George was mentored by a Jewish man and this is thought to have influenced his Christian beliefs and the basic assumptions of his Boolean Logic.

To the south of the Jew's House lived another supporter of the young prodigy, his first publisher, William Brooke. His shop was opposite St Mary Le Wigford Church on High Street.

At fifteen Boole gained some notoriety when the local newspaper, The Herald published a poem that George had translated from classical Greek. Some readers refused to believe that such a youngster, especially one without formal instruction in the classics, could have produced it unaided. After a protracted period of public investigation, Boole was correctly credited with the translation.

Boole Begins to Make his Mark

George began to publish mathematical papers in the early 1840s and soon was recognised by the most accomplished mathematicians as one of their best. The Royal Society gave him their coveted Royal Medal and eventually he was awarded top academic honours, despite never gaining entry qualifications for university.

One wonders, if it had existed then, would the University of Lincoln have opened its doors to Lincoln's home-grown mathematical genius? If it had, George would almost certainly never have left the city and his subsequent life in Ireland, his marriage and his five daughters might have been denied him.

At the age of sixteen Boole started work as a paid schoolmaster. This was partly in order to support his family because his father's business as a cobbler had collapsed.

After a couple of abortive attempts at teaching in Doncaster and Liverpool, he returned to Lincoln and taught happily at Waddington College - five miles to the south of Lincoln. After a year he launched his own school in the city and settled down to this way of life for four years before being enticed back to the establishment in Waddington to take over from the proprietor for another two years.

His last period of schoolmastering took place from 1840-1849 in his own school at 3 Pottergate, where a plaque is situated. This is almost opposite his father's grave in Minster Yard, to the southeast of the Cathedral. John Boole died late in 1848 and George's mother Mary, who died in 1854, is buried with him.

Boole began to try to use his scientific acclaim to help secure a university post in England. With his background he was not well placed in the establishment politics of the time and this counted against him. Eventually, with the backing of De Morgan, Bromhead and others, he was appointed as the first Professor of Mathematics in the brand new university at Cork in Ireland.

Boole Moves to Ireland

George's friends and well-wishers gathered to give him a send-off dinner before he left for Ireland in late 1849. They chose to hold the commemorative evening in The White Hart hotel on Bailgate.

Interestingly, he probably took advantage of the new rail link, built in 1846 to head west to Liverpool, where he had taught briefly two decades before.

Fifteen years after leaving Lincoln, Boole died of pneumonia in 1864. This was the result of insisting on teaching whilst soaked to the skin by a thunderstorm.

Boole Remembered

The major Boole memorial in England is the window and plaque in the cathedral. This was paid for by public subscription soon after his death was made known in the city.

It is the fourth stained glass window in the North wall of the cathedral (on the left as you walk through from the main entrance). It is inspired by his commitment to teaching in the city.

The University of Lincoln intends to celebrate Boole's legacy during "BOOLEfest" every November, beginning in 2010. By 2015 the university hope to have worked up to a commemoration which will raise his profile within the city, the county, the country and the world.

Based on text by Dave Kenyon of the University of Lincoln, in turn using original material from Des MacHale's book: 'George Boole' (Dublin, 1985) and the biography of Boole by Eileen Harrison published on the following website:

Photographs by Ken Redmore

Boole plaque in Cathedral
Boole plaque in Cathedral


Former Mechanics Institute, 1849
Former Mechanics Institute, 1849


Boole's school, 3, Pottergate, Lincoln
Boole's school, 3, Pottergate, Lincoln


Plaque outside 3, Pottergate, Lincoln
Plaque outside 3, Pottergate, Lincoln


Boole's father's grave
Boole's father's grave


The location of John Boole's grave
The location of the grave


Memorial window in Cathedral
Memorial window in Cathedral


Canon C W Foster's contribution to Lincolnshire's History
In 1989 the 200th edition of the Victoria County History was published. To celebrate the event SLHA arranged a series of lectures at Jews' Court on Lincolnshire historians, in which Canon C W Foster received prominent attention.

In 1989 the 200th edition of the Victoria County History of the counties of England was published. To celebrate the event SLHA arranged a series of lectures at Jews' Court on Lincolnshire historians. Dr Kathleen Major's contribution was on Canon C W Foster and Sir Frank and Lady Stenton. This and twelve similar lectures were published by the Society in a book entitled: 'Some Historians of Lincolnshire'. (The book is still in print - see Other SLHA Publications.)

On Canon Foster Miss Major said: 'To him we owe the Lincolnshire Archives office and its associated Foster Library - the working library of a scholar so far as I know the finest collection of books in a provincial record office. We also owe to him the foundation of the Lincoln Record Society in 1910. Thirdly - and this may be less obvious - he first brought before historians of the church the fact that the history of the church cannot properly be understood without attention to the administrative and legal records of the daily business of bishops, archdeacons and parish priests.'

When considering the many large collections with which Canon Foster dealt, the most striking in bulk is perhaps the series of Bishops' Transcripts of parish registers. He found these is a very dirty and neglected state but managed to sort and index them, despite difficulties with seven different Carltons, six benefices at the various Toyntons and seven at the several Kirkbys.

Canon Charles Wilmer Foster
Canon Foster (1866-1935)
Vicar of Timberland and
Canon of Lincoln Cathedral

A Guide to Self-Publishing
An experienced author explains how get a book into print - what to consider and what pitfalls to avoid

What do you say to someone who has written about a subject dear to their heart and is considering publishing their masterpiece? Here are some of the more important points to bear in mind when considering publishing a book which has a local rather than a national potential readership.

If you aim to produce an attractive and professional looking book, the cost of printing is likely to be several thousand pounds. For example, a recently published book 150 page book (about 60,000 words plus 200 illustrations), printed in black and white cost £5600. The printer undertook the design work. The print run was 1000.

Dealing with the Printer

Having decided to go ahead with the proposed book and to publish oneself, three estimates for the printing should be obtained. Do try to examine a book produced by each printer to ensure that the quality of the paper and the clarity of the print is what you want. Take a good look also at the quality of the reproduction of the illustrations. If at all possible have the book perfect bound i.e. with a spine and be very sure that the book title is printed on the spine. No one is going to bother to look at a book stacked on the bookseller's shelves if they can't read the title.

The printer will need to know the number of copies required; the size of the pages, i.e. A4, A5 or a special size; the number and type of the illustrations and whether they are to be printed in black and white or colour. It is important to know what extra charge will be incurred if you exceed the number of pages or illustrations estimated.


Having chosen an estimate add to it a suitable amount to cover any cost you might incur for the purchase of photographs or for employing an illustrator, the retailer's percentage and other expenses. Be very careful to obtain permission to use illustrations that are not your own and acknowledge them correctly in the book.

Review Copies

Complimentary copies of the book will have to be sent to magazines, newspapers and other publications so that the book can be reviewed - a book will not sell unless potential purchasers know if its existence. Another means of publicising a book is by advertising but this can be expensive and adds to the cost of producing the book. I have never advertised any of my books but I have published several by subscription. I have found that by offering a reduced price to those who are prepared to support a book by subscribing before they have seen the finished article quite a reasonable sum can be raised.

Library Deposit Copies

Six copies must be put aside for eventual dispatch to the Agent for the Legal Deposit Libraries. It is a requirement of the Copyright Act 1911 that every book published is deposited with the British Library, the Bodliean Library, Oxford; the University Library, Cambridge; the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; the Library of Trinity College, Dublin and the National Library of Wales.


Although it is not essential, I think it is unwise not to arrange for an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to be allocated to a book. If a book is not recorded in this way details will not be circulated to libraries and booksellers and sales will be drastically reduced. If an ISBN is known booksellers can more easily trace the source of a book when potential customers ask for it.

Bar Code

It is probably wise to have a bar code printed on the back cover and a good printer will be able to arrange for this to be done. Some retailers will not agree to stock a book without this.

Working out the Cover Price

As well as the cost of printing, a professional publisher, in order to arrive at the retail price of the finished book, will need to take into account travel, telephone calls, postage etc. These would typically amount to £200-500. A self-publisher will usually not be so meticulous in recording these items, but they need to be considered.

Based on these figures and a printing cost of £5600, with a print run of 1000, each copy will cost a little over £6 to produce. The usual retailer's percentage is 33.3 or 35, although some well-known bookstores charge much more. If, based on these figures, the retail price is fixed at £10.00 then you will actually receive £6.66 or £6.50 per copy. You have to decide whether this is sufficient. I think in this case I would increase the retail price to at least £10.50. It all depends on how much profit you want to make and how quickly you need to recover your costs.

Despatching Copies

Remember to include in your charge for postage and packing the purchase of suitable materials in which to despatch orders by post.


This brief account is simply intended as a guide and in practice a potential author needs to sit back and seriously consider what they are letting themselves in for.

Perhaps the most important item, which I haven't mentioned, is the content of the manuscript itself. We all tend to think our own work is of interest to others. Put bluntly but realistically it is rare for this to be the case. I have found that many authors of such material will not agree to editing.

One must be prepared to have a manuscript read by several people from different backgrounds. My last book was read thoroughly by three people each of whom found errors and made suggestions. I also arranged for certain sections to be read by specialists in a particular field.

I hope that this paper will be useful - good luck!

John Ketteringham

Three examples of
John Ketteringham's titles
A Third Lincolnshirte Hotchpotch - by John Ketteringham

Lincolnshire Natives and Others - by John Ketteringham

  Lincolnshire Women - by John Ketteringham

Tips for Local History Groups
Basic information and useful contacts to consider

  1. Hold a village walk/trail including a short history as introduction. Invite everyone to exchange information and ask questions. Finish with tea in the village hall if possible.
  2. Develop a website - involve the school and other local groups and societies. Add to the village website if one already exists.
  3. Compile and distribute a newsletter on a regular basis - it need not be a grand colour leaflet.
  4. Keep copies of parish and other local magazines. Rubbish to-day makes the heirlooms of to-morrow.
  5. The Local Studies section in Lincoln Central Library is an invaluable source of documents, large scale maps, census returns and local newspapers. Local libraries have a local history section as well.
  6. Lincolnshire Archives on St. Rumbold Street, Lincoln (phone 01522 782040) have very helpful staff for researchers. The material held here is very wide ranging.
  7. Use the Historic Environment Record (HER) based at Witham House, Lincoln ( or telephone 01522 278070. They hold a wide range of material on Lincolnshire parishes and welcome visitors.
  8. National Monuments Record offer Local Studies Resources pack for £15.00. It includes aerial photos, listed buildings, archaeological sites etc.
    Tel: 01793 414600
  9. The British Agricultural Society publishes a journal twice a year. The subscription is £15.00 p.a. and both this and Rural History To-day, which comes with it, are deposited in Lincolnshire Archives.
  10. The British Association for Local History publishes The Local Historian with Local History News each quarter. These are full of ideas. The web site is which will link into a number of helpful sites.
  11. Arrowfile ( are suppliers of acid free plastic pockets and other special containers for care of archival materials.

Brenda Webster

Nettleham parish magazine
An award-winning local
parish magazine


The Local History Magazine
Local History Magazine - an
excellent source of general
information and news

Writing a Church Guide
Making full use of local people, books, magazines and other sources

Here are some key areas to consider when researching the history of a church and writing a guide.

  • to the Churchwardens
  • to retired Churchwardens
  • to the oldest worshippers
  • to ex-choir boys
  • to previous vicars
  • to school teachers

Ask them about their memories of church events, history and projects.

any photographs that emerge.


  • old parish magazines
  • trade directories (such as White's)
  • Buildings of England volume for the county (Pevsner)
  • King's England book for the county (Mee)
  • Discovering Church Furniture (Shire Publications).

Read (for a Lincolnshire village)

  • Monson's Church Notes, Lincoln Record Society, Volume 31
  • Bonney's Church Notes 1845-48 (pub 1937)
  • Church Furniture by Peacock (pub 1866)
  • Diaries of Bishop Hicks, Lincoln Record Society, Volume 82
  • Church and Society in Medieval Lincolnshire (Dorothy Owen), SLHA


  • library collections (earlier church guides, illustrations, parish magazines)
  • archive material (parish deposits, vestry books, glebe terriers, wills, faculties)


  • church memorials (wall tablets, stained glass, other plaques)

Brenda Webster

East Barkwith church
East Barkwith, St Mary


St Leonard's Church, Kirkstead, interior
Kirkstead, St Leonard

Charity School in Wrangle
The origin of an almshouse and how its inhabitants were supported

The Lincolnshire Historian of 1963 printed this article - so much for sex equality!

In 1555 the Rev. Thomas Allenson left his house at Joy Hill in the parish of Wrangle, Holland, Lincolnshire, as a Bedehouse for the poor of Wrangle and Leake, accommodation being provided for one poor man and one poor woman from each parish. A fifth member of the Bedehouse (and usually referred to as "the five poor people") was to be a schoolmaster.

The establishment was endowed with 30 acres of land in Leake and 21 acres 3 roods in Wrangle; and the field names are still the same after 400 years. The bedespeople had for their use the grounds of the house, called the Pingle, and the Bedehouse "two acres" for their cows.

Probably bearing in mind the rule of Leviticus 19 vv.9 & 10, whatever could be gained from the sale of the "aftergrass" of the Pingle and two acres did not pass into general account but was distributed equally to the five members. Winter fodder was also provided by the endowment for the Bedehouse cows which had the usual grazing rights on the Common.

The parish members each had two small apartments, one of which had a fireplace, but there was no free supply of fuel.

The provisions of the will supplied each of the three men with 6d a week and the two women with 5d each. These amounts were unchanged until 20 May 1705, when "Mr. William Erskine Vicar of Wrangle, did his last will dated 26 April 1705 gave 9 acres of pasture adjoining to the 6 acres of pasture belonging to the Beadhouse nigh a Common called Seadikes for and towards the augmenting of the weekly pay of 2s 4d given by Thos. Allenson, Vicar of Wrangle to 5 poor people, members of the Beadhouse". As result of this bequest, each member henceforward received a shilling a week.

Note: The original four brick-built almshouses on Joy Hill have been converted into a two units and two additional post-war brick bungalows have been added.

Pearl Wheatley, with additional information from Lincolnshire Almshouses by Linda Crust, published by Heritage Lincolnshire, 2002

High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire, 1571
Jean Ingelow's well-known poem is based on fact, but two key elements are from the realm of fiction

The 1571 Flood

We are warned that global warming over the next few decades may well bring about significant rises in sea level and threaten large areas of Lincolnshire around the Wash. Five years ago we marked the fiftieth anniversary of the severe floods along the east coast in 1953.

Inevitably these events cause local historians to refer back to past floods of 1281, 1571 and 1810, and especially to Jean Ingelow's famous narrative poem, ''The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire, 1571'. This is where difficulties arise. This poem is highly atmospheric, but it has to be remembered that it was written in the 19th century and is fiction, not fact!

The Brides of Enderby

Two aspects in particular seem to catch people's imagination. One is the alleged tune played on the church bells, The Brides of Enderby. Although Mavis Enderby is a real place (not to mention the other Lincolnshire villages: Wood Enderby and Bag Enderby), and bells could be used to warn of danger (as was planned in World War Two), there is no such tune or peal of this name. It was just an invention that fitted the rhythm of the verse.

I hope this will not upset the Canadian place which allegedly named itself after this particular Enderby reference!

The Tidal Eagre

The second myth is that the tide came in as a really gigantic Eygre, or tidal bore - nowadays spelt eagre. There is no doubt that Boston-born Jean Ingelow conducted some research in preparing the poem (though sadly, not into bellringing!) and used accounts of the 1810 floods as the basis of some of her images.

She may well have known people who remembered 1810, and an exceptional eagre is commented on in the Stamford Mercury at the time. This is the only reference to an eagre on the Witham although there used to be a modest one on the Welland at Fosdyke, and there is of course a well-known one that appears on the Trent near Gainsborough.

More Information

More can be read about Jean Ingelow's sources in the article by the late Chris Sturman and Valerie Purton in Lincolnshire Past and Present, No. 6 (Winter 1991-2) pp 3-6. A few more flood references are noted in No.10/11 (Winter 1992 -Spring 1993) pp 29-30 of the same magazine.

Hilary Healey


Jean Ingelow
Jean Ingelow (1820-1897)

Lincolnshire's Non-Conformist Heritage
An Appeal: Details and photographs of the county's "lost" chapels are needed for a county-wide survey

The county is dotted with chapels, many of them derelict, some converted into houses, others into workshops or stores. They are disappearing fast.

SLHA is encouraging Lincolnshire people to send in details - ideally with photographs - of their local chapels.

  • Are they Methodist (Wesleyan, Primitive, Free), Baptist or what?
  • Are there interesting inscriptions (foundation stones, dates etc.)?
  • Are there old photographs?
  • When were they built?
  • When did they close? 
  • Where exactly were they in the village/town?
  • What are surviving chapel buildings used for now?

It would be of great value to assemble a county-wide record.

Note: since this piece was published in 2013 a large number of illustrations (over 250) and notes about chapels have been added to the Gallery of this website (see Photo Galleries - Settlement - Chapels). Thanks to all our contributors (2018).
Number of chapel photos now approaching 450 (April 2020)
We have also added William Leary's comprehensive notes about closed chapels, compiled in 1970 (Jan 2023)

Wesleyan Methodist Church, Rasen Lane, Lincoln
Rasen Lane Wesleyan Chapel, Lincoln
(It was demolished in the 1950s)

Lincoln's Town Crier
The Town Crier, or Bellman, had an important role to play in the City

Handbells have been used to make announcements or call an opening of a market or other local activity as far back as Roman times.

The City of Lincoln always had a bellman until 1898. It was an appointment by the City Council.

Many wills lodged with the Lincolnshire Archives record bequests for the remuneration of a bellman. One example was the will of Thomas Palfreyman in 1552 'to the belman of the Citie of Lincoln iiiid (four pence)'.

The last crier, John Foley, died in 1898. He was also Mayor's Officer, Sheriff's Officer and Keeper of the Guildhall. He must have been quite a character since a biography of him notes 'more than one occupant of the Mayoral Chair had found it to their advantage to make a friend of him'.

The role of Bellman or Town Crier was introduced again nearly 100 years later in 1989 and now the local occupant of the post regularly competes with others nationwide for the best crier of the year.

Pearl Wheatley

John Foley, Lincoln Town Crier
John Foley
Lincoln's last Town Crier

Edward James Willson
Lincoln Antiquarian and Architect

An account of the life and work of Lincoln-based architect, Edward James Willson (1787-1854) was given by Christopher Johnson at an SLHA day conference in 2014. Here is the full text of Chris's lecture.