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NEW - 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]

NEW - 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).

John Manterfield

[See photographs of Grantham in our Photo Gallery]

NEW - 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)

NEW - 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





NEW - 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.


NEW - 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

Helpringham Axe

Dennis Mills’ Nineteenth Century Lincolnshire Gazetteer
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

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 From Cock Fighting to Chapel Building - Rex C Russell
Squire, Preacher, Poet and Mystic: Robert Carr Brackenbury - Terence Leach
1989 Tennyson and his Biographers - Professor Norman Page
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 Sir Joseph Banks – David N Robinson
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 John Wesley and Lincolnshire Methodism – Linda Crust
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

Raithby Methodist Chapel built by Robert Carr Brackenbury 1779



Professor Mark Seward gave the lecture in both 2009 and 2019


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 ands 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 chapels 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).

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.